Gather friends or family members to go city-ploring with you. So, yay to multitasking!

Related: 4 Green Parks in Singapore For Your Next Walk

Tiong Bahru Trail

Now lined with picturesque streets, quiet cafes, and Art Deco and International Style flats, it’s hard to tell what Tiong Bahru was like before it came to be dubbed by some as the Hollywood of Singapore. At the turn of the century, the land along Tiong Bahru Road was mostly used for cemeteries and farmland until businessmen began to build shophouses and homes. From there, Tiong Bahru transformed from a mix of hills and swampy lowlands to one of Singapore’s most coveted residential areas.

The Tiong Bahru Trail — launched by the National Heritage Board (NHB) in 2013 — explores the contrast between Tiong Bahru’s then-and-nows, and makes for an excellent and leisurely stroll.

Featuring ten heritage markers, the trail begins at the famed Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, where residents and people from all over Singapore have been congregating, shopping, eating and making merry for decades. It goes on to explore other unusual landmarks such as Tan Tock Seng’s grave, Singapore’s first public housing air raid shelter, the iconic Tiong Bahru pre- and post-war flats, and Singapore’s first Monkey God Temple, among other things. The trail conveniently loops you back at Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre where you can claim your “reward” by sampling some of the hawkers’ famous “zhao pai cai” (signature dishes).

Distance: ~ 3.9 km
Number of Steps: ~ 4,300
Time needed: ~ 1 hour at a leisurely pace

Download the Tiong Bahru Trail walking guide here.

Good to know: Regular guided tours are offered by Tiong Bahru Heritage Volunteers. Email tiongbahruheritage@gmail.com or go to their Facebook page for updates.

Balestier Trail

Long long time ago, Joseph Balestier, Singapore’s first American Consul arrived in Riau (Bintan) and chose to settle down in Singapore in the 1830s. The zealous horticulturalist carved land out from swampy terrain and dense jungle to establish a sugarcane plantation. 

But Balestier’s business never took of. Hit by business setbacks, ill health and the deaths of his wife and son, he left in 1852. The authorities then claimed the estate and leased a portion to Chinese farmers, and turned another area into a burial ground for paupers and lepers from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (then the Chinese Pauper’s Hospital). 

New settlers began to populate the area in the late 19th century, with wealthy townsfolk like the Aljunieds and a couple of sultans acquiring land to build their mansions. Following their influx, tradesmen and merchants began operating out of shophouses to make Balestier a “very busy place” by the 1910s.

The Balestier Trail, which was launched in 2006, begins at the Gor Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple, which was established by labourers on the northern fringes of Balestier’s sugarcane estate, and is the last reminder of the sugarcane estate. Other notable landmarks include the former Shaw Malay Film Studios that sparked the legend of P. Ramlee, Bin Chan house that now stands as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, as well as surviving traditional bakeries that display racks of fragrant and fresh loaves, and the traditional shophouses. 

Don’t forget to bring home some traditionally made bread and have a sumptuous, true blue Singaporean breakfast of kaya toast and coffee!

Distance: ~ 8.8 km
Number of Steps: ~ 8,700
Time needed: ~ 2 hours at a leisurely pace

Download the Balestier Trail walking guide here; a free mobile app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Jubilee Walk

This trail is a great way to introduce your family and friends visiting Singapore to the country’s history in an active and enjoyable way.

Launched in 2015 to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, the trail marks Singapore’s resilience in the face of adversity over the past 50 years to build an independent and peaceful nation. Warning! You might spend a lot more time than expected as every stop has so much to offer.

The trail begins at the National Museum of Singapore, and then moves onto Fort Canning Park — once the seat of Temasek, the Malay Kingdom of the 14th century. A must-see is the Battle Box. The underground bunker, which used to be the nerve centre for British military operations during World War II, recently re-opened after a $300,000 refurbishment. 

After you’ve reluctantly torn yourself away from Fort Canning Hill, head down towards the Singapore River as you pass landmarks like the Peranakan Museum, the National Archives, the Armenian Church and the iconic Central Fire Station. Around the river, you can explore more historic gems like the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, as well as Esplanade Park (“Satay Club” for the older folks) before heading on to much newer landmarks such as the Helix Bridge, the Esplanade theatres and Gardens by the Bay. 

End your walk with a triumphant trot up to Marina Barrage’s grass roof. Don’t forget to bring a kite and snacks for a sunny picnic!

Number of Steps: ~11,000
Distance: ~ 9.6 km
Time needed: 2½ hours at a leisurely pace (without getting distracted by the attractions)

Download the Jubilee Walk guide here; a free mobile app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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