Humans are inseparable from nature—we all have an inherent need to be close to plants and animals that also live on Earth. Being in nature not only makes us feel better, it also benefits our physical well-being. Children, especially, learn to stay active and solve problems through unstructured play in outdoor settings in their crucial stages of development.
Although Singapore is relatively urban, it’s not difficult to find and explore green spaces designed for both the young and the young at heart. Here are the six nature trails we recommend for those searching for new outdoor activities or things to do with your children on weekends.
1. Singapore Botanic Gardens
This UNESCO Heritage site is home to one of the oldest primary rainforests remaining on the island. More than 80% of the 314 species of flora found here are either rare or endangered, making it an excellent place for children to learn about the importance of conservation and the rich biodiversity in Singapore.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a huge park, with many different themed gardens and nature trails for kids to explore and learn. For something manageable, especially for preschool kids, Iit’s recommended to start with the Eco Garden trail that circles the Eco Lake
Here, kids can discover plants of economic importance through human history like bamboos, fruit trees and spices. The Ethnobotany Garden comprises four zones and a small museum, The Centre of Ethnobotany, where one can learn about rubber, nutmeg, sugarcane, and other natural commodities that were common in the olden days of Singapore. Then, end the trail at the beautiful Eco Lake and spot the family of Black Swans that call the lake home.
You can also head to the Jacobs Ballas Children’s Garden as your last stop to reward your children with some fun on the sand pit, suspension bridge, tree house, and slide.
Then, end a day of fun with a meal at the Little Spot Cafe. They have an extensive kids menu with plenty of choices of mains and desserts for the kiddos.
Things to note: Singapore Botanic Gardens is massive, so you should do some prior planning before deciding which part of the park you wish to explore. It may take up to half a day for those who do not wish to be in a hurry. Do bring sufficient water, insect repellent, sunscreen, and umbrellas as shelters are few and far between. Nonetheless, this is probably one of the most kid-friendly places in Singapore, with no lack of dining, rest and play options.
Address: 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Opening Hour: 5:00am to 12:00am
2. Dairy Farm Nature Park
As the name suggests, Dairy Farm Nature Park used to be a dairy farm. It was opened in the 1930s by Fred Heron, the then Managing Director of Cold Storage, who saw the need to introduce locals to high-quality fresh milk. Though the farm is long gone today, what’s left is the Dairy Farm Nature Park, which opened in 2009.
The park has three nature walks—all easy enough for casual hikers and families. Two of these nature trails lead to Singapore Quarry and Dairy Farm Quarry. At the Singapore Quarry, there is an extended platform built over the water to bring visitors even closer to nature. This is also the best spot for bird-watching with the kids. The trail to Singapore Quarry starts from Car Park A and will take about 30 minutes, which is great for exposing kids new to hiking.
On the other hand, the pathway leading to Dairy Farm Quarry is rockier and less even. So, be mindful with every step, especially if you are bringing young children. Nonetheless, its stunning, enormous rocky landscapes make both sites Instagrammable.
It’s worth a trip for the whole family; for children to learn more about natural quarries, and for parents to stay active. Quarrying, after all, is an important part of our history, as granite blocks from quarries were mined to construct public housing.
The third nature trail leads visitors to the Bukit Timah summit. Children may enjoy conquering the highest point of Singapore. As they do so, they will also bypass the Wallace Trail, a 2.2 km footpath and the Wallace Education Centre, which showcases the vast biodiversity in the region.
Things to note: Unfortunately, the three nature walks are not interlinked. One will have to walk back to the starting point at Dairy Farm Road Carpark A before proceeding to another route. There are no restaurants within the park, so do bring along some of your own snacks and water. Do not feed the monkeys in the park, and avoid bringing plastic bags as the monkeys may mistake them for food and attempt to snatch them.
Address: 100 Dairy Farm Road, Singapore 679057
Opening Hours: Daily—Open 24 hours
3. Changi Coastal Walk
Changi is not just a place for chalets and its famed nasi lemak; it’s also a brilliant destination for a walk by the coast. Unlike the boardwalks at Macritchie Reservoir and Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, where visitors will uncover an array of flora and fauna, the boardwalk in Changi is more about learning its history on a scenic route.
You and your little ones will get to enjoy a splendid view of the coastline. You can also walk past two recreational clubs built during the colonial era and even experience what it’s like on a kelong or fish farms floating on the sea.
The 2.2 km coastal walk is divided into six distinct sections. Nearest to Changi Ferry Terminal is the Creek Walk. Here, you can catch a glimpse of the bumboats travelling to and fro Pulau Ubin. Next is the 600m-long Beach Walk, where you can walk alongside the lalang plants growing by the beach and enjoy a picturesque view of the sea.
The beach area is a great place to learn more about the rich marine biodiversity in Singapore. Parents and their little ones may sign up for guided tours at intertidal zones to spot crabs, sea stars, corals, and many other coastal creatures. After the beach, there is the Sailing Point Walk. It was named after the Changi Sailing Club, started by a group of British soldiers stationed here just before World War II.
After climbing up a flight of stairs at the Cliff Walk, families will find themselves at Kelong Walk. As the name suggests, this part of the nature walk is built on stilts and stretched out above the water, like old kelongs. The proximity to the open waters makes Kelong Walk a popular fishing venue,. you might even catch a glimpse of what the angler has caught for the day. Halfway through the Kelong Walk, see if you can spot the Changi Beach Club, also opened by British soldiers before they left Singapore.
The boardwalk officially ends at Sunset Walk, with an unobstructed view of the waters. If you’re late in the afternoon, you could stay and catch the sunset, or even see the lights coming from Punggol in the evening.
Things to note: Changi Point Coastal Walk is friendly for children but not strollers— unless parents do not mind carrying them up and down the stairs at specific parts of the walk.
There are two ways to exit the boardwalk; one is going back to the starting point at Changi Ferry Terminal while the other is exiting at Gosport Road, which is linked to Netheravon Road with buses leaving Changi.
Address: 7A Gosport Road, Singapore 509710
Opening Hours: Daily—Open 24 hours
4. Southern Ridges
This is a 10km-long nature trail that intersects Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Park, Hort Park, Kent Ridge Park, and Labrador Nature Reserve. In this open space above the forest, you and your little ones will have the feeling that they are submerged in the green without worrying about walking on uneven, battered paths.
The most notable attraction along this trail is Henderson Waves—the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, built 36m above ground. Over here, you’ll walk past Alkaff Mansion—a picturesque colonial bungalow built in the 1910s that had been turned into a cafe and restaurant. At the end of Henderson Waves is the 1.3m-long Forest Walk, an elevated walkway made of metal that meanders through the top of the most massive secondary forest in Southern Singapore.
Following this, you’ll find yourself at Alexandra Arch, another iconic bridge in the area and, subsequently, Hort Park, a nine-hectare green space with English-themed gardens and gardening workshops being held all through the year.
There is a Nature Playgarden inside Hort Park that’s specially designed for preschool children to connect with nature. There are different sections in the playgarden which allow children to build their own houses using the provided wooden tools. They can also play catch on the collection of logs near the fig trees.
At Hort Park, visitors may continue their nature trail towards the green and tranquil Kent Ridge Park. They can also proceed to Labrador Nature Reserve to see significant landmarks like the Red Beacon—a replica of an ancient marine navigation aid and Dragon’s Teeth Gate, a rock that stands at the mouth of Keppel Harbour, where it used to be a pirate hiding space.
For younger kids, you can shorten the route by starting at Hort Park. This 60 to 90 minutes trail will bring you through Hort Park, Alexandra Arch and Forest Walk, before ending off at the peaceful Telok Blangah Hill Park.
Things to note: Southern Ridges have mostly levelled walkways that are friendly to family walkers and strollers. However, as most of the nature trail is not covered, it’s best to bring along sunscreen and an umbrella. For the more experienced hikers, they may choose the longest path which starts from Mount Faber to Labrador Nature Reserve.
Address: Henderson Road (Where Henderson Waves is)
Opening Hours: Daily—Open 24 hours
5. Punggol Waterway Park
This park was built around the Punggol Waterway—Singapore’s first man-made canal drifting through the entire town of Punggol. The 12-hectare park is divided into four zones. The Nature Grove is where visitors can relax and admire the stunning landscape of the park. The Recreation Zone comes with a play area for the little ones to release their energy and a fitness corner for those who’d like to have a workout.
The Heritage Zone allows visitors to stroll down the Old Punggol Road to learn more about the history of Punggol Kampung. You will see many flora and fauna commonly found in Singapore at The Green Gallery. Those with little ones can enjoy a simple picnic in the grassy areas.
On top of its four themed zones, there are also many photo-worthy bridges in the park. Some of them may be good venues to teach the little ones photography.
The Adventure Bridge is a pretty stable suspension bridge for the younger ones to have fun on. On top of that, The Sunrise Bridge is believed to be a brilliant spot to watch sunrise and sunset. Beyond that, Punggol Waterway is not only a park for nature walks but also a great venue to cycle and engage in other leisure activities like bird watching, jogging, or simply unwinding.
Things to note: The Waterway Park is a nature trail in an urban setting. There are many amenities around the park, so there’s no lack of space to take a break or even have a picnic. Do note that monkeys are rampant in the area, do not feed them, and look after your belongings.
Address: 10 Sentul Crescent, Singapore 828851
Opening Hours: Daily—Open 24 hours
6. Rail Corridor
The Rail Corridor is a 24km long green passage. It’s built on the railway line which used to run between Singapore and Malaysia before ceasing operations in 2011. This nature trail can be divided into three segments: northern, central and southern rail corridors.
The northern segment is away from the main road, but it’s best known for viewing the wilderness of Singapore. The more popular central segment is located near the old Bukit Timah railway station and historic steel bridges. The relatively less known southern segment bypasses Clementi Forest—a stretch of primary forest believed to be the second largest wildlife habitat after Bukit Timah Hill.
The southern segment is also connected to the old Tanjong Pagar railway station, which is currently under renovation till 2025. It will take up to seven hours to finish hiking the entire railway corridor. As such, it’s recommended for families with kids to stick to just one segment (the central segment, which is 4km long, is usually recommended). The other two segments are 10km long. Unless you’re up for a long journey, of course.
Those who wish to explore the northern segment of the corridor, they may wish to start from Kranji MRT station. Nonetheless, visitors can look forward to the 3km long track parallel to the Pang Sua River, which is pleasant and cooler. Visitors will eventually find themselves at Rail Mall (the end of the central segment).
Visitors who are exploring the central segment of the corridor may wish to start from the scenic old Bukit Timah railway station. Although there is no more train service between Malaysia and Singapore, the KTM railway platform, track, and station sign still exist.
Over here, you can also look forward to seeing two steel truss bridges (Hindhede Crossing and Upper Bukit Timah Truss Bridge). Both are heritage sites that should keep kids entertained as they play around the old-school settings. As mentioned, Rail Mall connects the central and northern segments, so you may choose to continue walking or exit the walk here.
For those who are going for the greener southern segment, they will have to take a bus and alight at the Melati Blk 2 bus stop near Singapore General Hospital. About 100M from the bus terminal, there’s a small sign indicating the start of the railway corridor. From here on, there is a concrete pathway that brings visitors into the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood.
The first interesting landmark that visitors will see is a long and dark underpass that’s great for some interesting photos. Once through the tunnel, visitors will find themselves at the Wessex Estate and be greeted by the black and white colonial houses. The highlight of the southern segment is, of course, Clementi Forest. Unlike other trails, hikers will enjoy wandering deep in the forest—though it might be a bit risky for the little ones to explore.
Finally, the southern segment finishes at the old Bukit Timah Station.
Things to note: The central segment of the rail corridor is a popular hiking and cycling spot. Do take note that it can get relatively crowded on weekends and holidays. Parts of the rail corridor are literally on the remnants of the old railway track, so it may not be friendly to strollers. The entire railway corridor remained unsheltered, so do bring sufficient water, insect repellent, sunscreen, and an umbrella.
- Central Segment: #1 Railway Station, Singapore 599938
- Northern Segment: Kranji MRT Station, 10 Kranji Road, Singapore 739520
- Southern Segment: Melatic Blk 2 Bus Stop, ID10399
Opening Hours: Daily—Open 24 hours
Needless to say, nature is a great antidote for the stress of city living. If you need a little recharge this week or just somewhere unique to let loose with your little ones, head to one of these nature walks and you won’t regret it!
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