Singapore, the neighbouring country of Indonesia and Malaysia, who doesn’t know it? The popular Orchard Road with its extraordinary lighting and decoration, especially during festive seasons. The high rise building in the CBD area and the amazing infinity pool of Marina Bay Sands Hotel is alluring. The nightlife in Boat Quay and night shopping in Bugis Street; the well-known Tiong Bahru Bakery, which is a must-visit – claimed by one of my friends, and also the artistic Haji Lane area with the interesting mural arts and also the colourful Little India and Chinatown which almost every corner is instagrammable.
Not to forget to visit the Universal Studio Singapore, take a photograph with the Merlion statue, or your visit to Singapore won’t be valid. Those are a few things that most of my friends or maybe most of the visitors will do and go for during their visit to Singapore. If this is your first visit to Singapore and you ask for recommendations, yeah, I would recommend some of those into your itinerary. But if it is not, probably, I would suggest some of the places below. I mean, let’s do something else than eat and shopping in Singapore.
Singapore is indeed a little dot in Asia. It is even not noticeable on the map if we don’t look closely. It is also true that Singapore is a bustling country with commercial high rise building, shopping malls, and residential (HDB) on almost every corner of the land. While all those points are true, it is also true that Singapore also has hidden gems that might not appeal to some of us, even to some locals themselves. There are quite a few, but here, I will only share three of them.
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Central Catchment Nature Reserve –MacRitchie Nature Trails & Reservoir Park
MacRitchie Reservoir Park is located at the southern-eastern end of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve – the large green lung right in the centre of Singapore. It is is highly visited by nature lovers and sports enthusiasts. It serves as a popular starting point for visitors who wish to hike the MacRitchie Trails.
The very first time I was here was in year 2005 or 2006 I guess – the first or second year of my years living in Singapore. I went with a group of my church friends, 9 of us. I was staying in Woodlands area at that time and I took the MRT train to Ang Mo Kio MRT and took the bus from Ang Mo Kio bus interchange to MacRitchie. Now, the nearest MRT station to MacRitchie Reservoir Park is Marymount (based on the official website).
That was actually my very first time to do such a long walk or hike in the park. I remember that we all struggled to reach the treetop where the long bridge over the trees was. Some of us stopped halfway and made the u-turn back, and only two or three of us made it to the treetop. I remembered one friend and I stayed together intending to reach the treetop. We laughed, struggled, laughed, and struggled again until we finished the walk. We felt accomplished, as if we had gone through a warzone and finally reached victory. You know, at that age, everything seems to be so beautiful and fun.
There are two entrances – from Venus Drive car park and MacRitchie Reservoir Park. And based on the map shown above, there total of six routes. However, I think I have only done two of them. The first time I went there with friends, we got to the Treetop from the MacRitchie Reservoir Park. I remember that we went through the long wooden path by the reservoir. And yes, if we were to get to the Treetop from there, it is about 4.5 km one way, almost doubled the distance if to start the walk from Venus Drive car park. It also explains why we all were suffered so much at that time. Haha..
Click on the photo for bigger view.
It is hard to believe that we still can find this green patches in Singapore given it is so developed already. I am glad that they keep the green lands. As for now, I would be happily choosing to start from MacRitchie Reservoir Park if I have to choose. It is a longer route, hence, we get to see more things and different scenery. If you have more time to spend in the park, I recommend going for this. Else, the shorter route to the Treetop is actually not that bad either. What the most important is to enjoy the walk in nature! Orh, don’t forget to bring water and some light snack with you!
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Park
The peak of this Bukit Timah is the highest point in Singapore. And this is also one of the favourite spots for those who want to train for their next hiking trip or simply for exercise. It is common to see many people, especially the locals, spend their weekends here. Although the total area of this reserve park is not as big as Mac Ritchie, it is still a nice place to see greenery with nice views.
Not far after we enter the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Park, there is one point where the path is going steep for a good few hundred meters. It can be quite challenging for some people. However, that’s where the fun is – not flat ground all the way. Unlike at MacRitchie, we have a few more route options at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Park – from easy to difficult level, and even they are Mountain Biking Trail and Kampong Trail.
I had only been there once, and I think that the one I took was either the easy or moderate route. We did reach the summit. At that time, a few friends and I were separated from the groups. The group somehow ended up Dairy Farm route, and based on their feedback, it was a long journey and involved a lot of steps. Nevertheless, we gathered up together in the end and rewarded ourselves with a good meal at the nearby hawker centre.
I did take some photos, but somehow I couldn’t find it on my hard disk (sad!) Anyway, here are some of the photos.
Click on the photo for bigger view.
To find out more information about Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Park, please click here.
In a vast city like Singapore, Pulau Ubin can be considered the last ‘Kampong’ or village in Singapore. Some say a stroll on Pulau Ubin takes you back to Singapore in the ’60s. A walk with simpler pleasures of life. One probably can’t imagine that Singapore was once a kampong like any other neighbouring countries.
I finally got here to look at this island on my second last visit to Singapore before all the COVID-19 craziness happened. I stayed in Singapore for so many years but never had a chance to visit even once! Or actually, I didn’t take a chance to check out this part of Singapore. After the visit, it turned out I pretty like this place. Perhaps, anything greens just turned me on. Haha…
To get there, first, we have to to Changi Point Ferry Terminal which is located behind the Changi Village Hawker Centre and bus terminal. From there, we will take a bumboat to cross to Pulau Ubin which takes only about 10 minutes. The maximum capacity for each bumboat is 12 pax. The boat is big enough to load a few bicycle along – if you plan to cycle in Pulau Ubin with your own bicycle. The cost for each person is S$3, plus S$2 for each bike.
I love the simplicity of the island. It is still quite serene, and natural as it is. There are bike rental shops available near the jetty at S$10 per day up to 6 pm. If we don’t know how to cycle or if we are coming with family or friends with exploring the island on a bike is not a desired option, there are mini vans available that can send you direct to the spot you want to visit. On the map, we can see that there is a training area assigned for experienced cyclists, too.
Click on the photo for bigger view.
Pulau Ubin itself is pretty big. At some area as we cycled, we could still see some old houses. The cycling was fun – the breeze, the smell of the fresh air of the greens. So good! The Check Jawa is interesting. We can park our bike at the entrance and have a walk along the coastal area and enjoy the view. There are many spots to explore on Pulau Ubin. Unfortunately, that day when I went there with my friends, it was raining. Hence, we couldn’t explore much. Hope to visit there again one day.
To find out more about Pulau Ubin, please click here.
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Click here to check out this nature walk experiences in Singapore
on Instagram Story (Photo + Caption).
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Due to the long pandemic lockdown, many new hiking or trekking trails are discovered. I saw numbers of nice photos have been shared by my friends on social media. And I must say that only few that I have seen before. If I told people that there are various wild birds in Singapore as well, both residents or immigrants, I bet no one would buy that. The fact is one of my friends who are into bird photography, very often to get shots of beautiful birds around Singapore.
“If one truly loves nature one finds beauty everywhere”Vincent Van Gogh
Those three places I mentioned above were based on my own experiences before the pandemic. There may have been changed a lot in terms of visiting regulation or operating hours. So, if you plan to go there during your visit to Singapore next time after country borders are open, it is advisable to check the reference links I provided for the latest updates.
So, next time if someone asked you where have you been in Singapore, probably you already can give a little bit different answer than the usual one – going to shopping malls and having good foods.
Till we all can travel again soon!