Singapore, with its burgeoning urban sprawl, might not strike many as a haven for nature enthusiasts and cyclists at first glance. Yet, tucked away from its bustling cityscapes are verdant parks and nature trails that beckon those seeking adventure on two wheels. From serene waterside trails to the echo of history amidst greenery, the city-state is home to several nature parks that are perfect for cycling - here are five of them you should check out this weekend.
1. From Civic District to Labrador Nature Reserve
Setting out from the Civic District, right at the mouth of the iconic Singapore River, begin your adventure from the Esplanade end of Jubilee Bridge. Your wheels will spin over the ground that holds stories of Singapore's colonial past, leading us past five iconic heritage bridges: Alkaff, Anderson, Elgin, Coleman, and Ord Bridge. Soon, the rhythmic beats and ambient sounds from Clarke Quay will fill the air. With its blend of the past and the present, it offers such a delightful contrast.
After about 10 minutes on the route, the journey takes a tranquil turn. As you pedal beyond Jiak Kim Bridge, the lush greenery of the Alexandra Park Connector will greet you. This pathway will be your bridge between urban hustle and serene nature, guiding you through peaceful residential zones, modern housing estates, and inviting gardens that beckon for a quick respite. Travel on for another 30 minutes and you will reach Labrador Nature Reserve via the Berlayer Creek Boardwalk.
Here, you’ll be welcomed by remnants of Singapore's rich mangrove ecosystem, a silent testament to its preserved biodiversity. The park whispers tales of sailors gone by, with its iconic rock formations that hold significance to Malay (Batu Berlayer or Sailing Rock), Chinese (Long Ya Men or Dragon’s Tooth Gate), and British mariners (Lot’s Wife) alike.
Take some time to delve deeper into the reserve's military history, with remnants of old forts and canons standing as guardians of a bygone era. Mysterious undersea tunnels will also add a touch of intrigue to your journey.
Complete the route by cycling through the picturesque Bukit Chermin Boardwalk, just five minutes from the Berlayer Creek Boardwalk (if you're riding). For the next 10 minutes, enjoy expansive sea views as you make your way past the Keppel Bay Bridge towards the Harbourfront MRT and VivoCity Mall.
Cycling distance: 15 kilometres
Route duration: About one hour
Terrain: Via sidewalks and park connectors; mostly flat with occasional humps
Suitability: Beginner to intermediate
Frequently asked questions about cycling from Singapore’s Civic District to Labrador Nature Reserve
Can we cycle at Labrador Nature Reserve at night?
Unfortunately, you cannot cycle in Labrador Nature Reserve at night. The nature park is open from 7:00am to 7:00pm. The restricted timings ensure both the safety of visitors and the preservation of the park's natural habitat. While nighttime adventures along the route might sound thrilling, this schedule is in place to let the flora and fauna flourish without human interruptions. Plus, the designated opening hours offer plenty of time for the best daylight explorations, ensuring you experience the beauty of the park in its full glory.
Where can we rent bikes in the Civic District?
Before starting your journey, there are multiple bike-sharing options available in the Civic District for convenient renting. Companies like SG Bike and Anywheel have stations nearby. These platforms offer hassle-free rentals where you can pick up a bike, use it for your trail, and then drop it off at another station within or near the park. What’s great is that they come equipped with gears suitable for both flat terrains and slopes. It's advisable to check the availability of bikes in advance, especially during weekends, as this is a popular cycling route in Singapore for both tourists and locals.
What can we explore after completing the cycling route at Keppel Bay?
Post your cycling adventure at Labrador Nature Reserve, a delightful detour awaits you at Keppel Bay. This modern marina is not just a visual treat; it's a harmonious blend of urban architectural marvels and serene waterfront promenades. While there, soak in the panoramic views of the marina, luxurious residences, and the vast sea that stretches beyond. With several dining options available, it's an ideal spot to refuel after a day of exploration. If you time it right, you will be able to catch the golden hours of sunset which cast a magical hue over the waters, giving your adventure a picture-perfect ending.
2. From Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to Lim Chu Kang Road
Though cycling within Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is not permitted, that doesn't mean there's no adventure to be had on two wheels. This locale, known for its rich biodiversity, offers a great starting or endpoint for a journey on roads engulfed in green. Consider a leisurely walk within the reserve, getting up close to its thriving mangrove habitat and a myriad of bird species. Then, venture out, and you'll discover a route that unveils Singapore's pristine outskirts, replete with rural charm and tranquillity.
Navigating through Singapore's less trodden paths, the journey from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve reveals a different facet of the city-state.
First, you'll cycle along Neo Tiew Road, a scenic stretch that evokes nostalgia. As the urban hustle fades, you're embraced by verdant landscapes, transporting you to days when Singapore was a tad less urbanised. The road is fairly flat and suitable for all levels of cyclists. However, be wary of occasional vehicles, and you are encouraged to stick to the edge and ride in a single file here.
Next, the aroma of fresh produce beckons as you approach Kranji Countryside. This agro-tourism haven offers insights into local farming practices. It's a delightful pitstop where you can sample organically grown fruits or even dive into a farming workshop. Here, the terrain is more gravelly, so reduce your speed and enjoy the rural ambience and charming greenery around you.
Your journey then takes a coastal turn at Lim Chu Kang Jetty. Although it might be closed for operations, its presence serves as a nostalgic checkpoint. While you pause and enjoy serene sea views, remember to hydrate and prepare for the next leg.
Proceeding onto Lim Chu Kang Road, you're presented with a tapestry of urban and natural beauty. On both sides, lush greenery stretches out, offering a serene backdrop for your cycling sojourn. However, this route is also known for its busier traffic conditions. It's crucial to remain vigilant throughout, especially when crossing intersections.
Your ride continues to offer surprises as you approach the former Neo Tiew Estate. The abandoned houses whisper tales of Singapore's kampong past juxtaposed against its modern ethos. The terrain here is relatively smooth, with frequent traffic, so always watch out for them.
After completing the whole stretch of Lim Chu Kang Road, those who crave a looped adventure, completing the journey back to the reserve is an option. Revel in the sights once more but with a new perspective on the return.
Cycling distance: 19.6 kilometres
Route duration: About 1.5 hours
Terrain: Roads, flat & slightly gravelled
Frequently asked questions about cycling from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Can I cycle at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve?
While the wetland reserve at Sungei Buloh is rich in biodiversity and scenic views, cycling is prohibited to protect the habitat. However, you can start with a leisurely walk within the reserve before embarking on your cycling journey from its outskirts to other intriguing destinations in Singapore.
Where can I park my bike at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve?
While cycling is forbidden within the reserve, cycling enthusiasts' needs are catered for. Bicycle racks are conveniently located at both entrances, ensuring your bikes are safely parked as you explore on foot.
What are some attractions I can cycle to from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve?
A whole spectrum of attractions lies near Sungei Buloh. From the agricultural wonder of Kranji Countryside to the solemn Kranji War Memorial, there's a sight for every interest. Those looking for more nature-inspired attractions can head over to the Jurong Frog Farm or relish in the organic delights of Bollywood Veggies.
3. Coney Island
Starting your adventure from the west entrance of Coney Island is a smart choice, especially after parking at Punggol Settlement. This side not only gives you access to the main cycling route, you can return to a delightful array of restaurants and shops at Punggol Settlement after, all of which grant splendid views of Singapore's northeastern coast. A little birdie told us that the east side might be closed for renovations, so it's best to double-check before you make any plans.
As soon as you pedal your way into the island, you are greeted by a continuous stretch of gravel road – the heart of Coney Island's cycling experience. A 2.5-kilometre ride on this distinctive path will bring you towards the east end, but the adventure doesn’t stop there.
For those keen on exploring further, turning left before the east exit opens up a path to the island’s northern coast. As you navigate through the multiple junctions, always lean closer to the northern shoreline. There's a particular joy in riding under the canopy of over 100 towering Casuarina trees, while the gentle sea breeze keeps you company. However, watch out for some sections that can get a bit bumpy. No shame in dismounting and walking your bike if needed.
For beach lovers, the allure of the secluded Coney Island Beach along the northern coast is irresistible. While this is a prominent beach spot, whispers of hidden beach areas abound. Take a break and let the gentle waves wash over your feet, or simply bask in the vistas of shimmering turquoise waters.
Midway through your ride, you might chance upon a unique sight – a freshwater stream, which is believed to be an overflow from the Serangoon Reservoir. This encounter is a beautiful blend of public infrastructure dancing with nature.
As you navigate back, the coastal path won't directly lead you to the Wwest entrance. Instead, the path diverges, offering a serene ride on a raised wooden boardwalk that cuts through a mangrove. This thoughtful design not only provides a smoother ride but is also a conscious effort to preserve the delicate mangrove ecosystem.
On your way out, consider making a brief detour to Beach Area A, a quaint spot compared to the vast expanse of Coney Island Beach. Before you exit, don’t forget to snap a quick picture at the signature Coney Island signage, marking a memorable end to your journey.
Cycling distance: 5 kilometres
Route duration: About 30 minutes
Terrain: Slightly gravelled cycling paths
Suitability: Beginner to intermediate
Frequently asked questions about cycling at Coney Island
Is cycling allowed on Coney Island?
Absolutely! Coney Island welcomes cyclists, offering them an opportunity to explore its unique landscapes on two wheels. The dedicated routes are specifically designed to accommodate both beginner and seasoned cyclists, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey for all. Moreover, with its diverse terrain and scenic spots, cycling is one of the best ways to immerse oneself in the island's natural beauty and vibrant ecosystem all year round.
Where can I rent a bike at Coney Island?
Several spots cater to cycling enthusiasts. You can head to the GoCycling stop at Punggol Jetty or another one near the west entrance of Coney Island. There's also the Bike Stop at Punggol SAFRA for more options.
What are some attractions I can cycle to from Coney Island?
Once you've explored Coney Island, nearby attractions beckon. Consider heading to Punggol Waterway Park or marvel at the architectural beauty of Jewel Bridge at Sunset Strip. For those who wish to venture further, Pasir Ris Park awaits with its lush greenery and tranquil vibes via the Lorong Halus Park connector.
4. From East Coast Park to Singapore Changi Airport
Another route that melds the thrill of cycling with the allure of nature is the path from East Coast Park to Singapore Changi Airport.
Kickstart your cycling journey at GoCycling located at East Coast Carpark C4. Begin by pedalling your way towards Carpark G. As you move forward, make a quick stop at the twin jetty and relish the serene view.
Continue your journey, passing by the lush East Coast Park Area H, and as you pedal on, the cityscape begins to transition. Merge with Tanah Merah Coast Road and continue riding on the side path until you reach the bustling Changi Airport Connector.
Upon reaching the Connector, the Changi Jurassic Mile awaits you. Here you’ll find Singapore's largest permanent outdoor display of life-sized dinosaurs. From herbivorous to carnivorous species, from defensive dinosaurs to flying creatures, it’s home to more than 20 different prehistoric creatures from nine species. And don't forget to gaze up at the tallest dinosaur, standing proudly at almost five metres!
After this route, make your way down to Hub & Spoke, an ideal spot to take a breather, and maybe grab a bite. If you're considering starting your ride from here on another day, there's a GoCycling outlet right here. Before cycling back to return your bike, take some time to explore the marvels of Jewel Changi Airport, including its food options.
Cycling distance: 13 kilometres
Route duration: About 45 minutes
Terrain: Via sidewalks and park connectors; mostly flat with occasional humps
Frequently asked questions about cycling from East Coast Park to Singapore Changi Airport
How long is Changi Airport Connector?
Changi Airport Connector is a well-constructed path that spans approximately 3.5 kilometres in length. A popular bike route in the east of Singapore, it conveniently links the vibrant East Coast Park to the bustling Changi Airport. The route is especially favoured by cyclists and joggers looking for an extended stretch to exercise while taking in some scenic views. Along the way, individuals are often treated to captivating sights, including Jurassic Mile.
How to get to Changi Airport Connector?
For those keen to embark on a cycling journey from the Changi Airport Connector, there are several buses you can take. Opt for buses 24, 27, 34, 36, 53, 110, or 858, and ensure you alight at Changi Airport Terminal 2. From there, just look out for the clear on-ground signage, which will guide you directly to the start of the pathway at Hub & Spoke. The ease of access makes it a favourite starting point for many cycling enthusiasts.
How much does it cost to rent a bike in East Coast Park?
If you don't own a bicycle, fret not! East Coast Park offers an array of bike rental options to suit various cycling preferences and needs. Typically, you can expect rental rates to fluctuate between S$8 to S$20 per hour, depending on the type of bicycle and the rental service provider in Singapore. It's always a good idea to check with specific rental shops or look out for promotions to get the best deal before planning your route.
5. Rail Corridor
The Rail Corridor in Singapore offers a unique blend of heritage, nature, and modernity stretched over 24 kilometres. Beginning your journey from Melati Blk 2 Bus Stop, ride a short distance to Singapore General Hospital. From there, an inconspicuous concrete cycling path marked with a modest sign heralds the beginning of this memorable ride, while the sight of an old, overgrown signal building silently echoes tales of the past.
As you advance, the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood gracefully sidles up on the left, followed by the charming Masjid Hang Jebat, where a water station offers a convenient pitstop. Further down, an underpass invites daring photographers to capture its unique, dark ambience. Emerging on the other side, the Wessex Estate and its colonial architectural relics appear, juxtaposed by the ornate Sri Muneeswaran Temple.
Approaching the 7-kilometre mark, find yourself in Buona Vista. Stop for refreshments near the MRT station if you need them.
Venturing deeper, the Rail Corridor flaunts nature’s beauty through Clementi Forest’s serenity and the man-made waterfall at the Bukit Timah Diversion Canal. The old Bukit Timah Railway Station, albeit under renovation, stands as a testament to Singapore's railway history. The path ahead offers picturesque bridges and tranquil jungle sights, culminating at the Rail Mall for a delightful gastronomic break.
Riding northwards, the last 2.2 kilometre brings you to an almost deserted trail. Head-high tall reeds line the narrow path on dirt.
The cycling route concludes near the Kranji MRT, but not without surprising adventurers with a concealed section showcasing towering trees. However, first-time explorers should careful not to go into the closed-off segment near Kranji MRT, though it's easily bypassed for a swift return to urban life.
Cycling distance: 24 kilometres
Route duration: About 3 - 4 hours
Terrain: Gravel and dirt pathways
Suitability: Intermediate to advanced
Frequently asked questions about cycling at the Rail Corridort
Where can I eat along the Rail Corridor?
The Rail Corridor in Singapore combines scenic views with delightful dining options. For a relaxed evening, visit Stickies Bar @ Sungei Kadut. Seafood lovers should head to 566 Seafood Restaurant in Mandai Estate, while Karu's Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant offers authentic Indian flavours. The Rail Mall is also a gastronomic hub with choices ranging from Springleaf Prata Place's crispy prata to Green On Earth's vegetarian mala pot. Pasta enthusiasts can enjoy Acqua e Farina, and if you're in for a unique experience, The Cat Cafe promises coffee with a side of feline company.
What is the cycling speed limit at the Rail Corridor?
Cyclists should adhere to the 10km/h speed limit to ensure safety for all users of the corridor.
Is the Rail Corridor open at night?
The Rail Corridor prioritises the nocturnal activities of wildlife. Hence, while it is open, it isn't lit at night. However, specific access points, essential walking paths, benches, public restrooms, and the Bukit Timah Railway Station area have lighting. Visitors are advised to leave the corridor by dusk and be cautious if they find themselves in the corridor after dark.
Tips for planning your cycling routes
Purpose of your ride
Before setting out, clarify your ride's objective. Are you cycling for exploration, fitness, or relaxation? With that, you can plan your route for the best experience.
Match the length of your route to your stamina and pace. Ensure you allocate sufficient time to complete the journey without feeling rushed.
Consider the weather and time of day. Schedule breaks to drink water, have a snack, and enjoy the scenery, especially during hotter hours of the day.
Utilise digital tools
Popular apps like komoot and Ride with GPS can be very useful tools. Set your start and end points and mark any significant landmarks or spots you want to visit in the chosen app. Get insights on the path type, be it gravel, paved, or boardwalk, and any potential elevation changes. Leverage the shared experiences, secret locales, and advice from other app users. Plus, with GPS tracking, you can ensure loved ones know your whereabouts. Of course, ensure you’re always connected, whether through a data plan or a Wi-Fi router.
Many of these cycling paths in Singapore are strategically located near MRT stations or bus stops, ensuring both locals and tourists can easily access them.
Gear up right
Your bike is just the start. Arm yourself with essentials: a helmet for safety, ample water for hydration, sunblock to fend off the sun, some snacks for energy, and a repair kit for unforeseen issues.
As urban life in Singapore speeds up, the gentle pedal strokes through these nature parks offer a soulful escape. Embrace them not just as routes, but as pathways to stories, memories, and moments of quiet reflection.
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