While you're out enjoying all that Singapore has to offer, remember to observe good hygiene measures and practice safe distancing. Stay safe!
They say that nature heals; nature gives the overworked cogs of your brain some rest; nature reduces anxiety and stress. Which is what makes hiking in Singapore so great! Now, if only there weren’t so many people around.
Given the travel restrictions, it’s understandable that the walking trails here have been a bit congested as of late. It seems like everyone’s trying to reattune themselves with Singapore's native backyards. From Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to MacRitchie Reservoir, pictures of these popular hikes are all over social media feeds today.
We get it; it’s no fun hitting trekking trails when you also have to navigate through crowds. But we’ve got your back, plucky adventurer. Here are some of the best places to hike in Singapore that go off the beaten track — just make sure to check these hiking spots out before everyone else does!
1. Trekking is a breeze at Tampines Eco Green
One quiet hiking spot in Singapore can be found in the east: Tampines Eco Green. Interestingly enough, this park is located within the heartlands of Tampines — a savannah of sorts bordered by HDB estates.
Surprisingly, you won’t be able to even see the flats from inside the grounds. Instead, this full-fledged ecological park offers rugged marshlands, secondary forests and freshwater ponds along easy walking trails. Wondering why there aren’t any lamp posts around? The aim is not to disturb the over 75 species of birds, 20 species of dragonflies, 35 species of butterflies and 32 species of spiders that have made Tampines Eco Park their home.
Keeping to its fully off-the-grid principle, the structures dotted around the park (benches, signboards, bird hides) are made out of recycled materials. Even the toilet that can be found in the park is eco-friendly — its odour-free system utilises bacteria and wood shavings to convert human waste into compost!
Difficulty level: 1 out of 5. It’s an easy stroll down clearly-marked, even trails.
How to get there: Alight at Tampines MRT station and walk 20 mins to the park via Sun Plaza Park.
2. Take incredibly long nature walks at Chestnut Nature Park
Granted, Chestnut Nature Park is not exactly hidden, but Singapore’s largest nature park (a breathtaking 81ha in size) is well worth the visit for its secluded vibes.
The expansive nature park offers several hiking trails of varying difficulties as well as dedicated mountain biking areas. Prep for a long trek for this one, since hiking across both the northern and southern trails will stretch as long as 5.6km
Known to be a relatively quieter park to venture in, you won’t find big crowds here — just the tranquil sounds of nature, including a bustling stream. Hilly terrains, granite boulders and an open field of tall lalang are among the natural elements hikers will face.
Eventually, trekkers will find a grove of trees that leads to the observation tower at Chestnut Nature Park, where folks can admire the vast greenery thanks to Singapore’s National Parks Board and its biodiversity conservation efforts.
Difficulty level: 2 out of 5. Well-trodden paths are easy to navigate, but it’s a long walk.
How to get there: Park your vehicle at Chestnut Nature Park carpark and begin your route from there. Alternatively, from Bangkit LRT station, head towards Bangkit Road towards Chestervale Condominium. Take the tarmac track leading to Zhenghua Nature Park, make a right turn, walk along the track to get to the underpass, leading to Chestnut Nature Park.
3. Climb up through thick vegetation at Bukit Batok Hillside Park
Speaking of abandoned places, not many would know that there is a forgotten park in Bukit Batok. Little is known about the origins of Bukit Batok Hillside Park, an area that can be found in a secondary forest along Bukit Batok Road.
A trodden path at the edge of the forest will bring hikers to some uphill stone steps that lead to a dilapidated sheltered walkway resembling the torii gates of Kyoto, Japan. Nature has reclaimed this abandoned park, with vegetation growing over what used to be walking trails, wooden boardwalks, artificial rock installations and broken lamp posts.
Folks will have to navigate steep terrains and thorny vegetation to find old structures like pavilions and a well — traces of what would have been a vibrant recreational park in this part of Singapore. Wander upwards to the top of the hill for an open view of the vicinity, though right now you’ll most likely be greeted by the view of BTO flats being constructed.
The lack of information about this spot adds to the mystery, making Bukit Batok Hillside Park one of the more surreal trekking places in Singapore.
Difficulty level: 3 out of 5. It’s an uphill trek that will see you occasionally bashing through light vegetation and trekking on long-disused boardwalks.
How to get there: Across the road from Block 315 along Bukit Batok West Avenue 2, find an opening into the forest — the trodden trail to Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park should be visible from the pavement.
4. Get lost in the Marsiling Tunnels
Wanderers looking for more abandoned places (and aren’t afraid to get dirty) can look yonder to the north of Singapore to find Marsiling Tunnel. A bunker used by the British military as a storage facility for petroleum during World War II, this underground tunnel counts among one of the spookier trails in Singapore
Getting there is easy enough — one simply has to find the tunnel’s semi-concealed entrance among dense foliage after bashing through a forest next to Woodlands Waterfront carpark. The hard part comes when you wander into the depths, where you’ll have to trudge through ankle-length mud alongside rusted pipes. As you would have guessed by now, wearing flip-flops will be unwise.
Headlamps will be required since it’ll be completely dark underground. Other sports accessories you may want to consider are arm pockets for your smartphones or maybe a water and impact-proof case to store your belongings.
Those afraid of creepy crawlies might do well to avoid this trek altogether since the walls and ceiling of the tunnel are covered with fat geckos and their eggs. To make things even more exciting, there are sinkholes that one can drop into chest-high muddy waters.
The tunnel comes to a dead end, so visitors will have to make their way out the same way they entered. Best not to wander into the tunnels alone though, so be sure to find some experienced guides to take you down below.
Difficulty level: 4 out of 5. With proper lighting gear, outfit and confidence, walking through the underground tunnel should be manageable. Not for the squeamish and those who are afraid of getting dirty.
How to get there: From the bus stop near Woodlands Waterfront carpark, walk down Admiralty Road towards Marsiling Crescent. Make your way further down the stretch to find an opening past the barricade. Enter the field to find a semi-trodden trail that leads to the entrance of Marsiling Tunnel.
5. Toughen up for the mighty Clementi Forest
Even if you’re not a fan of the great outdoors, you would no doubt have heard about Clementi forest. Interest in this untouched plot of land hasn’t died down ever since a local nature lover shared gorgeous footage of his trek off the beaten path, capturing the forest’s early morning beauty in all its majestic glory.
Located off the Green Corridor, this once-hidden gem promises a vast vista of raw, lush greenery — something that you would have thought extinct in our urban Singapore.
Since this spot remains undeveloped, there aren’t any paved paths. And that means this is a proper nature walk in Singapore: you’ll have to clamber over fallen trees, trudge through muddy ground, roam on uneven ground, and bash your way through knee-high vegetation.
It’s common for people to slip and fall while trekking into Clementi forest, so be sure to gear yourself up properly with the right outdoor or sports attire: hiking boots, thick socks, and durable leggings. The best time to hit this trail is during daybreak, around 7:00am. You’ll get to catch the bright morning mist merging among the tree-filled landscapes. Very Jurassic Park feels.
Wander further into the forest and find the abandoned Old Jurong Railway track, which will lead you to an old train tunnel. And since this trail is not for the faint of heart, you won’t find as many people as you would at public parks!
Hiking difficulty level: 5 out of 5. Be prepared to navigate slippery, muddy ground, climb over fallen logs and bash through prickly foliage.
How to get there: Alight at the bus stop opposite Ngee Ann Polytechnic (12109) along Clementi Road. Walk towards the canal behind the bus stop and follow the semi-trodden path into the forest.
Hidden nature charms await you!
As it turns out, Singapore does have some hidden secrets to discover when it comes to natural wonder. Sure, it could get a little muddy at times with more than a few mosquito bites to endure on these hiking spots — this is the great outdoors after all. Of course, pack some sprays and patches as well as sunscreen before you head down.
A concrete jungle this city-state may be, but there still exists plenty of real jungles to explore and get lost in, if only for a little while.
We can’t wait to venture on our next walking trail in Singapore, we reckon you can’t too!
For more updates on Changi Airport, follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram and YouTube. You can also sign up for a Changi Account and have the latest news and articles delivered right into your inbox.