Walking, trekking, hiking, whatever you wish to call it—is the simplest form of exercise. We all know how to do it, so there shouldn’t be any excuses for this one! You can easily turn walking into a fat burning exercise, or use it to destress. Even in crowded Singapore you can certainly still find lush nature spots to enjoy a tranquil hike. Here are some of our favorite gems.
South Ridge Hike (From Kent Ridge to Mount Faber and beyond)
For a slightly more urban hike, try the South Ridge trails, which winds through the West side of the city. With high rises and highways never far off, it’s not exactly peaceful, but the city view from the top of Mount Faber is one of the best.
The trail is paved or bridged the whole way, so the walk is quite relaxed and suitable for almost anyone.
The trail first leads you through Kent Ridge Park, where you can spend a little time enjoying small ponds or lounging on park benches. From Kent Ridge, follow the South Ridge signs, to wander through shady pathways curving through neighborhoods of the West-side. Then comes the relaxing expanse of Telok Banglah Hill Park, where you can take a rest in the shade and use the toilet if need be!
About half way through the hike, the ascent to Mount Faber begins on an elevated bridge through the treetops, known as Forest Walk. Although my stomach drops looking through the metal mesh to the ground a few stories below, the bridged path offers a different view of the West coastline (if oil refineries and landfills are your things, it’s stunning).
Signs warn against feeding and taking pictures of monkeys, although I’ve never encountered any. The slow incline of the metal bridge eventually takes you to the infamous Henderson Waves Bridge, the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. Unfortunately, the bridge isn’t quite as unusual or spectacular looking while you’re on it, but it’s something to cross of your bucket list in Singapore. Benches built into the curves of the bridge offer a resting point as well.
After the bridge, you continue up to reach the Mount Faber lookout points, which include some light dinning options, if you’re in need on an in-hike snack. At this point, you’ve probably been walking for around an hour and a half to two hours, so you might decide to take the cable car to Sentosa and go for a quick dip on one of the imported beaches. Otherwise, walk down to HarbourFront and take the rail over to enjoy some R&R. After all, to reap the benefits of exercise you must let your body recover!
Trail: South Ridge Trail
Length: about 9km (differs on where you begin and what trails you take)
Duration: about 2 hours
Calories burned: apprx. 800
Tips: Lather on the sunscreen because the rays can be quite intense on the bridges. Sandals can be worn on this hike, but it’s always best to wear proper walking shoes to avoid a sore back or feet.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This is a hike for those more interested in getting outside for a refreshing walk with nature. Personally, I love forgetting being surrounded by six million people in the city, and the chance of spying a two meter long monitor lizard makes you feel a little bit like Crocodile Dundee!
Whilst walking in the wetlands, one is oblivious to the city sprawl beyond the thick mangrove trees. The air is still and quiet. The cooing and screeching of birds replaces the drone of traffic and construction. Peace is something that seems to flow naturally, rushing in to take the place of the high paced city feel. If you are lucky enough to do on a weekday, you might hardly see another soul on the wide gravel paths.
The trails offer an opportunity to do up to a 7 km walk. All of the trials are flat and well groomed, so this hike is for anyone. Numerous lookouts along the way offer a way to connect with nature even further and give an excuse to take a break and sit down. If you’re an avid photographer, this place is great to practice nature shots. Birds rest still on rock islands, slowly dislodging themselves and walking to the waters edge before drawing themselves up to soar over the water. If you sit still long enough at the water’s murky edge, you can spot the slow shadows of creepy crabs moving across their log homes. Rumor has it that you can spot a crocodile once in awhile in these parts, and although I have convinced myself once that a rather large monitor lizard was a croc, I’ve never actually seen one (crossing my fingers that one day I will!).
Every so often lookout towers annex the trails. A swift run up the stairs can burn some extra calories and leads you to an overlook of green, watery expanse. Beyond the wetlands you can see the sprawl of Singapore, but if you keep your gaze inward, it looks as though you could be trapped in the winding refuge of any wild jungle.
Trail: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Length: 3-7 km (depending on route taken)
Duration: 1-5 hours (depending on walking speed and route)
Calories burned: apprx. 400-600 (depending on route taken)
Tips: Load on the mosquito repellent because they’re really hungry at the wetlands! Also, the timings on the routes map are very generous.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Bukit Timah is my personal favorite hike on the island. I love the way the hundreds of steps on the Dairy Farm Loop makes your thighs burn, the occasional glimpse of a monkey or monitor, and (this might be exclusive to only me) the reminiscent connection of feeling like I’m on the set of my favorite television show of all time—’Lost’.
It’s simple really though, although you do feel as if you can get lost in the jumble of trails in Bukit Timah. These trails challenge and exhaust, but damn does it feel good when you’re finished! If you do the ‘step’ hike as I call it, following the Diary Farm Path to the Seraya Loop and then on to Jungle Fall Path you travel well over 500 steps and get a burning sensation in your thighs and glutes that lets you know it’s working!
This trail is not for those who are weak in the knees or just starting a fitness routine. Just the hike on the paved path to where the trail splits gets the heart racing. From that point you will split off onto Dairy Farm Path and up and down you will go for a total of 4.3 km. Thankfully, this trail doesn’t get too hot because it’s protected by shade, but the terrain is rugged so wear trainers.
The other option is to explore Bukit Timah by bike trail. The mountain bike path is a jagged trail that winds through the thicket. The path is quite thin, and although there are no steps, it’s quite challenging. On this hike you also must be careful of mountain bikes. Be sure not to get run over fearless thrill seekers racing through the forest! Keep your eyes peeled for monkeys and monitor lizards. Overall, a fun trek, but you must keep your eyes and ears open!
Trail: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (Dairy Farm Loop, Mountain Bike Trail)
Intensity: Moderate to Difficult
Length: (DairyFarm Loop) about 4.3 km; Mountain Bike Trail: (6 kms)
Duration: 2-3 hours
Calories burned: (Dairy Farm Loop) apprx. 1000; (Mountain Bike Trail) apprx. 600
Tips: Wear trainers because the trail can be quick slippery/muddy, bring a bottle of water, and wear sunscreen.
MacRitchie Reservoir Tree Top Hike
I’ll be honest, in the way of trekking, MacRitchie leaves something to be desired. The ‘tree top hike’ really intrigued me, but after walking over the quarter of a kilometer bridge, I felt…cheated. Of course, it is beautiful and if MacRitchie is most convenient for you, then by all means, get out and walk there. The foliage is beautiful, the tree top bridge has a view (encumbered by only one industrial building), and the trails are nice and easy.
Personally, I just feel you can get a better work out at Bukit Timah, more natural at the wetlands, and a better treetop view on the South Ridge trails. However, MacRitchie is quite accessible.
Trail: MacRitchie Reservoir Treetop Hike
Length: 3-10 kms (depending on which trail you take)
Duration: 2-5 hours
Calories burned: apprx. 400-600
Tips: Wear trainers because the built up wooden bridges can be quite slippery and bring along a bottle of water.
Remember to always check the maps before getting out to these spots. Don’t get lost and don’t follow any animals into the jungle. No matter what hike you’re doing, it’s always best to have backpack with a bottle of water, sunscreen, and bug repellent!
Written by Wanderlush. Want to read more about living a life of bliss? have a wander through her blog here.