Singapore is a safe haven that enjoys calm and stable tropical weather. Located just 1 degree north of the equator, the country does not face the danger of earthquakes, volcanoes, or typhoons. It’s hot and humid all year round, which may be too annoying to some (honestly, I prefer the seasons), but with an abundance of rainfall, it is a great place for nature to flourish. While the coastal area of the island is urbanized tremendously, still the city area is relatively lush with rainforests that occupy the central region.
All in all, Singapore does not lack places for fun and exciting outdoor activities, and here is a list of places to go that are suitable for all walks of life.
Central Catchment Nature Reserve (MacRitchie) & TreeTop Walk
The reserve is located in the central part of Singapore and wraps around the MacRitchie Reservoir. It has 6 walking trails ranging from 3km to 11km. Route 1 is relatively easy and could be completed in 1 hr; while Route 5 and 6 are considered more difficult that might take 4-5 hours to complete; Route 6, however, is the highlight of the reserve with TreeTop Walk, a free-standing suspension bridge known for its scenic nature views.
Enter the trails from Windsor Nature Park. The Venus Loop and Squirrel Trail are the easy part of the walk where the boardwalk is flat with a stream on the side. Enter the Drongo Trail and head to the Tree Top Walk. Try to look for a flying animal on the TreeTop Walk – they are a master of camouflage, like Malayan Colugo, flying dragon, and paradise tree snake. Although it is known as a ‘flying lemur’, the Malayan Colugo cannot fly and is not a lemur. Unique to the forest of Southeast Asia, this mammal can glide more than 100m by spreading its gliding membrane.
As you make your way to the TreeTop Walk, spot the many well-hidden secrets of the forest with tips on how to observe nature; Listen to the sounds of the forest and learn the language of nature; Reach out and touch the different textures that nature has to offer; set your mind thinking with these interesting nuggets of information about the forest; find out more about the useful products and benefits that nature provides.
Singapore Zoo & Night Safari
The Singapore Zoo is located on the margins of the Upper Seletar Reservoir within Singapore’s heavily forested central catchment area. The zoo comprises 3 parts: Singapore Zoo, River Safari, and Night Safari. They are three zoos and you need three separate tickets to enter (or, they do have a combo). Sure, it’s a great way to do business, and it is also because the area is quite big that you couldn’t finish in a day, and the three zoos have different themes that feature different kinds of animals.
Star attractions: Come hang out with these arboreal creatures as they swing, lounge, and play right above you in the world’s first free-ranging orangutan habitat.
The Singapore Zoo is a classic safari that offers quite an animal collection; it is divided into different zones according to the continents or regions of the world.
It is a total adventure with over 2,800 animals inhabiting the zoo’s lush tropical rainforest: Check out the white tiger, Malayan tapir, pygmy hippo, cassowary, Asian elephant, lion, cheetah, white rhinoceros, Komodo dragon, mandrill, chimpanzee, and leopard. My favorite is the free-ranging orangutan boardwalk, they are just too cute to ignore! The Fragile Forest is my other favorite place – it’s a new walk-in aviary and visitors could get up close with over 300 butterflies, a ring-tailed lemur was jumping beside me in the zoo and the flying fox was just huge!
More, catching an animal show, watching a feeding session, or feeding an elephant… interacting with such pure and sweet animals will definitely make your day.
The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore. It is a 12-time winner of the Best Attraction category awarded by the Singapore Tourism Board. The concept of a nocturnal park in Singapore was suggested in the 1980s, and honestly, it’s a must-see in Singapore. So, if you ask which you would choose among the three zoos if you could only visit one, I would recommend the Night Safari. The only drawback at the Night Safari would probably be too hard to take a nice picture of the animal in the dark.
However, I enjoy the tram ride the most. It circulates the entire park and it enters locations where you may view the animals closely. The tram ride used to have interesting and informative live commentary, but sadly it’s now replaced by a recorded broadcast.
The Night Safari has an impressive collection of cats. Check out the White African lion, Malayan tiger, Asiatic lion, spotted serval, clouded leopard to other mammals like hippopotamus, hyena, civet, binturong, pangolin, porcupine, loris, and different kinds of owls. I was happy to have seen tarsier, a rare primitive that lives in Bohol, and Malayan Tapir that I don’t usually get to see.
Fishing Cat Trail: Ever seen a fishing cat on the hunt for prey by the stream? how about an endangered Sunda pangolin all curled like a ball of scales? Our innovative exhibits along this trail will let you appreciate these animals and more, as they are in the wild.
Leopard Trail: Get within a whisker of cat action as our leopards, lions, golden cats, and more go on the prowl! Look up for Malayan flying foxes and giant flying squirrels as you explore their walk-through habitat.
East Lodge Trail: See the endangered Malayan tigers, babirusas, bongos, and more along this trail where animals of the savannah and the tropics live side by side. If you’re lucky, you might even hear the notorious ‘laughs’ of the spotted hyenas!
Wallaby Trail: Walk among wallabies on this Australasian-inspired trail and see the inhabitants of Naracoorte Cave, Singapore’s first man-made cave.
Hop on our open-sided tram and journey through 6 of the world’s geographical regions! From the Indian Subcontinent to the Asian Riverine Forest and more, this 40-minute tam ride leads you on an amazing adventure into the nighttime wilderness! The ticket offers unlimited tram rides and it usually gets very busy when the zoo just opens at night. The last tram runs at 11:30 pm and it gets quieter. If the queue gets too long, try to come back later at 11 pm and you could save some time walking through the trail first. The walking trail intertwines the tram route and some of the animals could be seen either on foot or by tram.
This prize collection of “VIP Orchids” has become an important attraction of the National Orchid Garden. The hybrids from the orchid breeding program are stunning.
Singapore Botanic Gardens & Orchid Garden
Founded in 1859, Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 160-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district. It is one of the three gardens and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It showcases the best and most spectacular tropical flora set in a stunning verdant landscape.
The view and design of the gardens are very dynamic.
The Garden is divided into several gardens, like the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, Healing Garden, Bougainvilleas & Bamboo Collection; the star attractions are small tropical rainforest, ginger garden, and the national orchid garden.
The rainforest is a six-hectare patch of original vegetation that once covered most of Singapore. This precious remnant has the distinction of being only a 15-minute walk from the busiest shopping street in Singapore. It is an incredibly diverse community with over 300 species of plants. The forest structure is complex and multilayered with the tallest trees exceeding 40 meters.
The displays in the orchidarium are enchanting – the orchidarium simulates the natural environment where the majority of the world’s orchid species grow. The orchid family Orchidaceae is probably the largest family of flowering plants with an estimated 25,000 – 30,000 species. They occupy almost every habitat, but are mostly tropical and epiphytic, perching on forest trees for support only. Check out some of the VIP orchids (Outstanding hybrids from the orchid breeding program of Singapore Botanic Gardens are used to promote goodwill and foster closer ties between nations since 1956. This prize collection of “VIP Orchids” has become an important attraction of the National Orchid Garden.) that were given to many important figures and guests from all over the world, like Michelle & Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Diana Princess of Wales, and more.
The Southern Ridge is a 10-kilometer trail that connects parks along the southern ridge of Singapore. Some of the attractions along this trail include its greenery and connecting bridges. This chain of green open spaces spans the rolling hills of Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, and Kent Ridge Park before ending at West Coast Park.
The connection bridges and features are all mindfully designed and constructed that it is an admiration of nature, and modern architecture at the same time. The routes, namely, Forest Walk, HortPark, Canopy Walk, Floral Walk, Henderson Waves, and Alexandra Arch, are all so unique and built above trees that offer breathtaking views of the harbourfront skyline and beyond. It is an area steeped in history and is home to some of nature’s greatest gifts of flora and fauna. It is also one of the best spots in Singapore to catch panoramic views of the city, harbor, and Southern islands.
Start your walk from Mount Faber Park, one of the oldest parks in Singapore and the Mount Faber Cable Car connects to Sentosa island. Then continue to the Henderson Waves – Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge – which spans Henderson Road to connect Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill Park. Together with a series of other interesting trails, they provide a seamless link through a soothing sanctuary of greenery that was previously not accessible:
Henderson Waves: At 36 meters above Henderson Road, Henderson Waves is the biggest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. It was built with the purpose of connecting the two hills of Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill. The bridge has a unique wave-form made up of seven undulating curved steel “ribs” that alternately rise over and under its deck. The curved “ribs” from alcoves function as shelters with seats within. Slats of yellow balau wood, an all-weather timber found in Southeast Asia, are used in the decking. Look out for carvings of the slats marking the height you are at on various points along the bridge.
The waveforms will be lit with attractive LED light from 7 pm to 2 am daily, giving the bridge an illuminative glow.
Faber Walk: Faber Walk meanders through Mount Faber Park, one of the oldest parks in Singapore, and ends at the Henderson Waves. At its peak, the park offers panoramic views of the southern part of Singapore and the Southern Islands. At night, the park transforms into one of the more romantic spots on the island, where people can enjoy the breathtaking sight of the city’s twinkling lights and ships at sea.
Hilltop Walk: The walk runs through the 34-hectare Telok Blangah Hill Park, once a gathering place for trading communities that flourished in the area in the early nineteenth century. The trail connects on one end with the Henderson Waves and the other with the Forest Walk leading to Alexandra Arch.
Forest Walk: The walk is a steps-free elevated walkway with earth trails, that meanders some 50 meters through the secondary forest of Telok Blangah Hill; The raised walkway, with heights ranging from 3-18 meters, brushes the canopy of trees and offers a bird’s eye view of the forest. The modules of the elevated walkway derived their design from the triangular-shaped leaves of the fast-growing “Mile-a-Minute” plant. The ground-level earth trails offer a more rugged experience, bringing you closer to the wildlife found in the area.
Canopy Walk: The last bit of the Southern Ridges and once known as Opium Hill and site of one of the last battles of Singapore in World War II, and HortPark – the gardening hub. Elevated 16 meters at the center, Canopy Walk takes you through the secondary forest with groves of Temusu and dominant trees of the adinandra belukar. Move quietly and you may just see some of the rich wildlife that lives there, such as squirrels, sunbirds, doves, lizards, and white-crested laughing thrushes.
Garden by the Bay
The Garden by the Bay used to be a new attraction in Singapore (not so much now), and it’s another outdoor area connected to Marina Bay Sands; it has three major attractions – the Supertree Grove, the Flower Dome, and the Cloud Forest. There is more like the FarEast Organization Children Garden, Satay by the bay, and the Meadow.
What I love about the Garden was easy to access. It’s closely connected and within walkable distance to the Bayfront MRT Station and the Marina Bay Sands (the connecting bridge is separated from the hotel though). It is more than a typical Botanical Garden, the park has a theme and it is a trendy place with exciting design elements that make the garden lively and multi-dimensional. Check out: Best Things to See and Do in Marina Bay and find out more about what to see and do there!
Sentosa is an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road, cable car, pedestrian boardwalk, and monorail. By Sentosa Station, Tiger Sky Tower has panoramic views that can stretch as far as Indonesia. On the south coast, Palawan Beach is lined with food stalls and bars and has a suspension bridge to a small offshore island. Palm-lined, crescent-shaped Tanjong beach is more tranquil.
I included Sentosa in this article but I feel like the small island in the South of Singapore should have its own article; Besides Sentosa is so much more than beaches and resorts – in fact, it has a lot of thrilling and high-adrenaline activities that may appeal to daredevils. Like the Skyline Luge, iFly Indoor Skydiving, Zipline, Surfing, and more.
For family travelers, consider S.E.A. Aquarium, Trick Eye Museum Singapore, Universal Studios Singapore, Sentosa Nature Discovery, and Fort Siloso Sky Walk.