Off-the-beaten-track experiences in Singapore

The public perception of Singapore may often be that of a hi-tech, hyper-modern city full of gleaming skyscrapers and shopping malls, but this is also a very green city with lots of open spaces. We’ve rounded up our favourite places that many visitors don’t hear about, and some of the fantastic outdoor activities that you can do in each.

Off-the-beaten-track experiences in Singapore

Cycle along the Railway Corridor

Ten times longer than the High Line in New York when it opens in full, this new nature reserve links existing green spaces from the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in the north to the Central Business District in the south, via some of the city’s most exclusive neighbourhoods – so it's great way of seeing different areas that might otherwise be under your radar.

Singapore is already one of the greenest cities; this project takes things to a new level with its emphasis on wildness and conservation rather than manicured nature. The railway in question was built by the British colonial government in Malaya and returned to Singapore in 2011. One of its highlights is the observation deck with views over the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Go for a hike

Among an array of lovely spots to go hiking in and around Singapore, the MacRitchie Reservoir Park on the site of Singapore's oldest reservoir has an 11km circular walking trail, panoramic forest views and a thrilling 250m-long freestanding suspension bridge, the TreeTop Walk, where you can amble at 25m above the ground and see first-hand the various layers of the rainforest. If you’re a keen birdwatcher, don’t miss the seven-storey Jelutong Tower, from which you might spy the chestnut-bellied malkoha and orange-bellied flowerpecker.

For a totally contrasting but equally delightful excursion, we love the densely vegetated Bukit Timah Nature Reserve with its ruins of a Malaysian kampong (village), including a stone well, an outhouse and a kitchen – atmospherically overgrown by creepers – and a stream where villagers once bathed and did their laundry.

Explore Singapores islands

The city’s offshore islands are a whole other world and one well worth taking the time to see. The best-known is Pulau Ubin, which despite being just a 10-minute bumboat ride away is a great place to immerse yourself in wild nature and the rustic charm of one of Singapore’s last kampongs. Cycling around the island is a good way to get the measure of it (there’s bike hire in the village), or you can walk 40 minutes or catch a van to the Chek Jawa Wetlands, where you can stroll down the 1km boardwalk and observe wildlife including carpet anemones, mudskippers, mangrove-dwelling fiddler crabs, wild boars, and long-tailed macaques. At the entrance of the mangrove forest, you’ll reach the 21m-tall Jejawi Tower - worth climbing for its wide views over the island.

Another great island is St John’s Island, famed for its friendly cat population. Once a quarantine centre, it was transformed into a place of swimming lagoons, beaches, picnic grounds, hiking routes, and more. From St John’s jetty there’s a link bridge to Lazarus Island, a fantastic spot to lounge on white-sand beaches.

Yet another favourite of ours is Kusu Island with its serene Chinese temples and mythical tales of tortoises that have led to its being host to a tortoise sanctuary. Many people come to climb the 152 steps to the top of the island, where there are three keramats (holy shrines of Malaysian saints) said to grant wealth, health, and fertility.

To book your Singapore holiday or break, call your Travel Counsellor today.

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