A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking in Singapore

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Singapore actually contains a fairly well-blazed network of trails that allow a person to traverse between the relatively more unperturbed hills, forests, and coastlines, interspersed with a smattering of historical and cultural sites reflecting the urban establishments that today dominate the island. In this guide, I will attempt to give a quick run-down of the prominent hiking spots in Singapore and the round trips that can be easily appended to it by utilizing the well-developed public transport system that runs along the polymorphic landscape between civilizations past and present. Even in Singapore, nature reverberates coyly throughout the concoction of skyscrapers, expressways, and cookie-cutter suburban estates, providing an occasional city-dweller surprise of seeds dropping from untrimmed trees, blooms emanating from hidden bushes, and lizards frisking through gaps in the pavement.

If you’re looking for a good place and a good time to start hiking in Singapore, look no further. It’s always a good time to get some fresh air and re-enter our symbiotic relationship with nature. Singapore may not be exactly famous for its jungles and hills – the tallest hill is less than 200 meters, and Bukit Timah Hill often serves as the punchline of jokes about gentle, leisurely, and easy nature walks, situated pleasantly just off the prestigious housing district of Bukit Timah – but it does possess one of the most complete sets of day hikes that’s easily reachable by the metro trains.

Overview of Singapore’s Hiking Trails

The steep slopes of the Bukit Timah Hill Woodlands are home to an enormous congregation of mammals, butterflies, birds, and insects in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. On weekends, there are progressive hikes, as well as lunch-time potters by nature lovers. There are leaflets published by volunteer groups. Informational sessions for both students and corporate groups are also available upon registration. There are around five thousand species of flowering plants as well as around three hundred and seventy variations of birds in Singapore, not to mention approximately seventy-five species of reptiles and amphibians. Although their numbers have decreased due to habitat destruction, from time to time, people might still sight monitor lizards, the hawksbill sea turtle, as well as some other species, living in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Visit the Bukit Timah Hill.

Largely made up of rugged hills and an untamed environment, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has, since its opening in 1883, offered hill climbers a brisk and exhilarating workout amid some of the richest diversity of flora and fauna. In Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore’s flora and fauna are well protected. Learn about the interesting facts and myths of the tropical rainforest, as well as its importance, when you visit the Reserve. Highlights of this reserve include: Nature enthusiasts and biodiversity referents will be interested to note that the Reserve is home to Singapore’s highest peak, Bukit Timah Hill, which is 162.5 metres in altitude. A visitor centre was built in 1990 in Bukit Timah to function as an introduction component.

Preparation and Safety Tips for Hiking

– Let someone else know. Share with someone your route and estimated finish time so that they’ll know to call for help if you didn’t return or check in by then.

– Start early to avoid crowded and hot conditions. It’s harder work than you expect, so don’t overestimate your ability or how long it will take you to complete the hike. Be cautious and don’t expect to hike a much shorter hike in a dramatically quick time.

– Keep an eye on your time and the weather conditions. Bring in at least a little light, and weather (e.g. sudden thunderstorms) can alter your hiking plans.

– Don’t go hiking if you are injured, unwell, or out of form. If you’re injured, don’t keep pushing it to complete your hike

– Use caution and don’t get in the way of the hikers. It is considered though hiking is safer when we are with someone else and therefore we are at a higher risk of serious injuries.

– Dress appropriately: You’ll be exposed to the sun while hiking, so a cap and sunscreen are necessary, as well as sunglasses to protect your eyes. Although hiking can get sweaty, it’s still a good idea to wear moisture-wicking and quick-drying clothing that’s suitable for stretching and outdoor activities. Also, prepare a light shell jacket for unexpected drizzle

– Pack an extra jumper or fleece if you’re hiking in a little cooler weather.

– Packing list: Water, light snacks, a map or a GPS, your mobile phone, a whistle for making noise if you get lost, a torch, a small pocketknife, a basic first aid kit, and a small garbage bag are all useful items for a hike.

– Stay on trail: As always, you only have the right to access the areas you’re hiking if you stay on the well-defined trail

– Don’t wander off the path to investigate unauthorized areas or connect two separate paths with an unofficial trail.

– Respect nature: Don’t pick plants or disturb wildlife. While it might be acceptable back home to trespass through someone’s backyard when you’re lost while on a hike, this won’t be well-received by the police or residents in Singapore, particularly near densely populated areas.

Essential Gear and Equipment

Closed-toed, rubber-soled shoes are best suited for hiking, as they are specially designed to help support the foot. While it is tempting to buy a cheaper pair of shoes from a department store, these shoes offer less support and can cause blisters from the lack of traction and reinforcement where the shoe meets the foot. Before hiking, make sure to properly break in the shoes over the course of a few weeks to allow the foot to adapt. It is also important to tie shoes tightly enough to give support to the foot but not too tightly that it restricts circulation. Opt for synthetic or wool socks when hiking for the prevention of blisters, their moisture-wicking properties help to keep the foot dry and prevent friction. While ankle boots offer additional protection on difficult trails, they are not necessary for casual treks.

A comfortable, properly fitted backpack is essential for a comfortable hike. If carrying a lot of gear on a long hike, it is important to have a backpack with proper straps and padding. Check that the bag fits snugly to the body, is not too large, and remains comfortable on the shoulders and back. Waterproofing is also helpful. When fitting a backpack, it is important to pay attention to the torso length, hip size, and shoulder width, and to fit the pack in the order that it will be worn for maximum comfort. When purchasing a pack at an outdoor store, always have the salesperson assist with fitting.

Weather Considerations

Even with drier weather and moderate temperatures, it is always important to bring at least a liter of water and some snacks. The former is necessary as the equatorial sun can dehydrate someone very quickly, while the latter is important to sustain energy because due to the heat, no one could possibly eat before humanely descent sweaty.

The most unpredictable facet of Singapore hiking is the weather. The equatorial climate in this part of the world means that rainforest rain can come down so heavily that in a matter of minutes, a dirt trail can turn into a dark muddy river. At other times of the year, the heat and humidity drain energy faster than the battle with rain and mud. Therefore, the crucial time to go hiking in Singapore is during the so-called northeast monsoon, typically from December to March. As the winds originate in the northeastern part of the South China Sea, they bring dry and cool air to the island, pushing off both rain and humidity for much of the day. This makes hiking relatively easier and much more enjoyable.

Safety Measures and Emergency Protocols

Before starting any hike, make sure that you have read, memorized, and understood the instructions given by the park authorities regarding your trip, including those of weather borders and your National Parks Service. Always overestimate the amount of time it may take to complete a hike, and start your exploration as early as possible in the day, as this will increase your chances of being able to return to your transport before darkness falls. If you plan to hike camp away overnight, check local guidelines about obtaining a necessary permit and be prepared to show authorities your valid ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport. Each time you embark on a new hike, file your hiking trip plan (HTP); this is perhaps the best way to guard against a mishap. If you’re only planning an informal day hike, email your HTP to a friend, and also tell another friend the basics. Provide them with clear, concise details about the date, time, and duration of your planned travel, the specific trailhead where you will commence and conclude your hike, your basic route, your preference of Romania, and an estimate about your necessary equipment and the type of mobile phone you are carrying to use on the trail access.

Plan your hiking trips carefully, and it will help you to remain safe while on the trail. Neither should this lull you into a false sense of security: take the time to learn the basic emergency protocols, including how to recognize and prevent heat-related injuries. Do remember to protect not just yourself, but also your fellow hikers and the trail itself, and always prioritize the well-being of others over your desire to stay on schedule. If you are new to hiking, begin with short, easy hikes. As a hiker, you should be aware of the potential risks of a hike and take the necessary precautions to prevent them. Precautions taken will also aid in minimizing the potential brutal effects of these risk factors.

Exploring the Biodiversity of Singapore’s Hiking Trails

For the future, when you plan hikes on your weekends and public holidays, you can be on the lookout for the various different plant species that have already become familiar to you. With such information, such as the approximate locations of these plants, you can write up a report and submit it to the nature reserves or the Nature Society of Singapore for them to study and understand your findings as well. For example, you might have found a unique orchid when going into the forest! If you are lucky, maybe the orchid would be an entirely different species that has not been discovered and recorded before! This can provide future entertainment and excitement as you hike through and enjoy its beauty. It is a very simple way for you to also be participating in helping to conserve the many different types of plant species found in Singapore. It is also beneficial in having you become much more aware, as well as appreciative of what you come into contact with. As you learn about different species of flora located in the various trails of Singapore, you become closer to nature and, in turn, ready and determined to undertake the call to conserve the natural forest reserves of this tiny country called Singapore.

You might notice that while hiking along the trails of Singapore, a huge variety of plant species are part of the greenery that lines the sides and the roofs of the trails. Many of these species are actually quite unique, and you will have the chance to view quite a diverse selection of unique plant species. Also, in fact, besides the trails themselves, many parts of the forests have yet to be discovered and mapped. It is believed that even the Nature Society of Singapore is not aware of most, if not all, of the plant species that are found within Singapore’s forest lines. The rainforest itself is just too vast, and it is therefore incredibly difficult to properly explore every square inch of the nature reserves. The only entrances into these reserves have been carried out by the relevant authorities that hold the power to allow the available trails to be “laid out,” if you may. These authorities, with their knowledge of the forests and the biodiversity within them, know which parts of the nature reserves can be developed into trails and the specific ones that just cannot. Therefore, as a nature lover or avid hiker, you should make an effort to study and learn the various different plant species of the forests and maybe contribute to the knowledge that is available to the public.

Flora and Fauna to Look Out For

At Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore’s last batch of primary rainforest is the haven for nature enthusiasts who enjoy hiking up steep terrain, enjoying good chatter, and taking in fresh forest air. The heliconias and tall forest trees provide some cool shade. Keep a lookout for the large insects such as stick insects, cicadas, and large, beautiful butterflies. The trail is relatively easy at first but becomes more challenging as hikers make their way to the summit. It is a common sight to spot groups of hikers all heaving and puffing at some of the steeper stretches, so do pace yourselves and bring more water and energy snacks on this trail.

MacRitchie Reservoir Park was one of the first reservoirs to be built in Singapore, and the surrounding primary forests are considered to be of high conservation significance. The MacRitchie Reservoir is also famous for the Tree Top Walk, which is the first of its kind in Singapore and is set up 25m above the forest floor. Configured like a freestanding suspension bridge across the two highest points (Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang) in MacRitchie, it offers hikers a panoramic view of the community of plants, animals, and insects that live in the forest canopy. The Tree Top Walk is the highlight for hikers in MacRitchie.

Popular Hiking Trails in Singapore

MacRitchie Reservoir

Book a tour with local naturalists and explore the small paths that lead off this popular muddy tract. This is the decibel level at the tree top walk proving that there can occur serene moments in a noisy forest. The tour in MacRitchie can at times feel a little rushed, but what makes it a good pick is the diversity of lands that are explored. The distinct feeling that you are in a forest, the warm intake of oxygenated air, the feeling of vitality every time that you cross trails of other couples. All these make any walk in this trail a worthwhile experience, but to really appreciate this place, take things slow.

There isn’t a better feeling than taking off your shoes after a full day’s trip to MacRitchie Reservoir. The hiking is the real draw and it is smart to take your time with a gentle ramble rather than to attempt to constantly keep up with the frown of fitness walkers or joggers. The tree top walk is the main draw and it seems like it is weak in comparison to the others in the region. It is in the attention to detail that it shines, and the learning about the plantation and fruits, trees and flowers if you take the time to explore on the ground. Stick to the main trail and it might not be too memorable an adventure if you are pressed for time.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

However, despite being honorable mentions for their superb hiking trail experience, they have fallen short due to the shorter trail comparing to the top 5 hiking trails mentioned above. This is why the top 5 listed are the best hiking trails in Singapore. Brief on other popular hiking spots: MacRitchie Treetop, Jurong Lake, Punggol, Hindhede Hiking Trail, Windsor Nature Parkway, Eagle Point Nature Trail, Berlayer Creek Hoe Hiking Trail. Do visit these places and go hiking as well!

Second on the list is the largest stand-alone rainforest in Singapore, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. There is no better way of describing Bukit Timah Nature Reserve than saying it is a haven for nature lovers. Birds, squirrels, monkeys, butterflies, flying lemurs – Bukit Timah Nature already describes the home for so many other living things other than humans. Approximately 1.7 km long, there are many signages along the track that provide visitors with information of the type of trees, animals and even of the interesting old abandoned building from World War II. Perfectly safe, the stairs are well built with handrails for you to hold on and great views of the jungle.

Southern Ridges

The Southern Ridges park connector sits on the highest ridges in the southern part of Singapore, offering panoramic views of the city, harbor, and the Southern Islands. This part of Singapore is unique, comprising of mature secondary forests and the luxuriant tropical understory is rich in biodiversity. Look out for the buttery yellow kurrajong trees, the tall Dipterocarps such as the Nyatoh trees, trees with pockmarked growth that produces the Pengarahan fruit, texture bark like the Angsana trees and other typical secondary growth species. The bird activity is also much higher, and other wildlife includes squirrels, crickets, red jungle fowls, and tree-climbing crabs. Durongs or giant woodlice are found here and are usually seen when they feast noisily on nights after a heavy downpour.

Comprising 10 km of connected parks and trails, the Southern Ridges is perfect for a sweaty weekend hike or weekday evening walk. Coming in three main paths, you can opt to take on the 5 km stretch of the Southern Ridges from the West Coast Park to the Hort Park, choosing your desired route. For non-weekenders, the Southern Ridges can be done in the evening due to the extension of opening hours for the Alexandra Arch, Forest Walk, Henderson Waves, and the entire Southern Ridges Park connection. All four mentioned parks close at 12 am and the walkways close at 7 pm. Check out The Southern Ridges trail guide for a complete guide on how to get to the start of the trail, path symbols and park amenities, hilltop food and beverage outlets, topography, wetland, rest stops, level of difficulty, distances, estimated walking time, sunset timings, and the best time to visit!

Community and Resources for Hiking Enthusiasts

Interested in doing some volunteer work? You can volunteer to clean the trails at Nature Society and have fun maintaining the routes up and down while discovering the hidden forest wonders! Hiking isn’t your only choice if you want to get out and move. Hiking may be one of the most popular outdoor sports in Singapore, but don’t forget about the dozens of other sports that can range from beginner to extreme levels of difficulty. The adrenaline junkies will love mountain biking or abseiling, while calmer walking, birdwatching, and photography are great for those seeking a subtle connection with nature. You could even get active outdoors in less conventional ways—practice yoga, pilates, or qigong in the parks (e.g., Sunrise Yoga at Marina Bay and Qigong movements in Bedok Reservoir Park). You can have a unique experience unlike anything you would inside a gym.

There’s an extensive community of hiking enthusiasts in Singapore organizing activities almost daily via Facebook groups. Check out hiking programmes being organized by Outdoor Kaki, Singapore Hiking Group, Go Hike Up, Passion Magazine, and NTU ODAC.

Joining Hiking Groups and Clubs

If you are considering the many options for trails outside of Singapore, you might want to join a special-interest hiking group like the Mountain Torq Kinabalu Via Ferrata or Singapore Adventurous Nature Lovers. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, then join The Green Corridor – a community group dedicated to fostering greater public awareness about the protection and preservation of the Green Corridor. Other groups such as the MacRitchie Forest Park Volunteers, as well as teams of volunteers restoring areas in Bukit Timah, hold regular hikes and nature tours that enable you to explore protected nature reserves. The Raffles Museum’s Toddycats, Simei East Trinity and other environmental groups also conduct exploratory hikes throughout the year. Follow the activities of these groups and find group adventure inspiration in these pages and links. And of course, there are always the after-dark activities of the latter organization for night walks at MacRitchie! This is where the critters come out. Happy hiking!

Online Resources and Apps for Hiking in Singapore

AllTrails provides geolocated information about hiking, cycling, and beekeeping trails. It currently covers North America, and the search section’s international function can be used for searching information about trails in other countries including Singapore.


gothere.sg is an award-winning Asia & Pacific travel planner connecting you to what’s happening and where to go, through the magic of location-based services on maps. Visit their maps and select the “Show in Map” checkbox for “Nature & Adventure” trails in the search options, and you can see some of the more popular hiking trails in Singapore. These maps even include altitude profiles, which is very useful to gauge the difficulty of the trail.


Whatshikers is an online platform that connects people who enjoy walking, hiking, and trekking. It’s a space for people to find, host, and share walking tours and longer treks, make friends, give advice and opinions or simply ask questions. Be sure to check out the Hiking Experiences created by Whatshikers members!


There’s a wealth of online resources and mobile apps for hiking in Singapore. Let me share them with you.