Hiking in Singapore

Challenging sport or leisurely pastime? Either way, hiking can be a fuss-free way to burn calories while enjoying the lush greenery along the way. Compared to walking, hiking through different terrain covers longer distances and is usually more vigorous. 

You also don’t need any coaching or sophisticated gear to get started. All you have to do is choose a suitable hiking or nature trail to match your fitness level. This makes hiking suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Benefits of Hiking

A 2016 study, published in Creative Nursing, reported that just 10 weeks of regular moderately-intensive activity produced positive effects on participants’ cardiovascular health. 

Regular hiking can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as build stronger bones to prevent osteoporosis. 

Mr Phiruz Mohd., a 58-year-old committee member of local hiking group Temasek Rural Exploring Enthusiasts and qualified first-aider, recommends undertaking strength training before attempting a difficult route in order to avoid injuries. A proper warm-up before setting off is also essential.

Places to Hike in Singapore

Trail 1: Pasir Ris Park

With kids in tow: Pasir Ris Park
Distance: 10km (Pasir Ris Park Loop)

Despite its 10km length, this gentle trail—just like a flat park connector—is suitable for all ages. Family-bonding aside, time there can be educational as well. Drop by the Kitchen Garden and learn about edible plants with culinary and medicinal uses, as well as an open-air butterfly garden right next door. 

Visit the mangrove forest in the heart of the park to spot giant mudskippers or catch a glimpse of mud crabs. The recommended start and end-point for a full trail is at Carpark E.

TIP: Take a shorter route by starting your hike from Carpark C. You still get to pass by the Kitchen Garden, butterfly garden, and mangrove forest.

Trail 2: Pulau Ubin Island

Nostalgic throwback: Pulau Ubin Island
Distance: 3.2km (Tree Trail)

Pulau Ubin is home to Singapore’s last kampung and the Chek Jawa Wetlands, a unique cape that houses some of Singapore's richest coastal and intertidal ecosystems. The Tree Trail takes you on a route with more than 10 types of trees, including jackfruit and rubber. There are also two perepat trees — the only mangrove trees to obtain the Singapore Heritage Tree status. 

The trail also passes former coconut and rubber plantations, and a traditional Malay village-house. The end-point is at the jetty outside House No. 1 (the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre), a Tudor-style cottage that has been designated as a Conservation Building. From the jetty, you can even enjoy panoramic views of the sea.

TIP: There is a 1.5km Sensory Trail that caters to the visually handicapped with a levelled terrain and notices in Braille.

Trail 3: Chestnut Nature Park

Varied landscape: Chestnut Nature Park
Distance: 3.5km (Northern trail), 2.1km (Southern trail)

Singapore’s largest nature park is also its newest. At almost 81ha, it is the size of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The park is divided into Northern and Southern halves. Skirting the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, it is also the first park to feature separate mountain-biking and hilly hiking trails. 

Hike from this park to Dairy Farm Nature Park at Bukit Timah – 4.3km away – for a longer route. Bird lovers may also be able to spot the endangered Straw-headed Bulbul. 

Chestnut Nature Park Hiking Trails

On the Northern trail, expect to see durian trees and remnants of villages, while the Southern trail boasts granite boulders and fields of tall Lalang grass.

The Northern Trail does not form a loop, unlike the Southern trail. So, factor in extra time for the return trip.

Trail 4: Coney Island Park

Rich biodiversity: Coney Island Park
Distance: 3.6km (West Entrance to East Entrance)

In this ecologically-sustainable park, natural vegetation has been preserved and beaches left as they have always been. Most of the roads here are unpaved too. Some of the flora and fauna found here are critically endangered species – some of them presumed nationally extinct in the wild. About 80 species of birds are also found on this island.

TIP: Bring drinking water because there is no piped water on the island. 

Coney Island Park Hours: As there is also no electricity, the island is only open from 7am to 7pm.

How to Prepare for a Hike

Do your prep work. Check the weather forecast and map a suitable route before you start. Check the National Parks site to see if any paths are closed for maintenance work.

Be prepared. Wear comfortable covered shoes with good grip. Opt for lightweight and breathable clothes. Bring insect repellent and water.

Stay contactable. Tell someone where you are headed. Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged.

Be a responsible hiker. Take nothing from the environment and do not litter.

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