Singapore is famous for its glittering skyline studded with skyscrapers, as well as its food scene, shopping, museums, and various tourist attractions.
It’s not really a place that many would think to visit solely for outdoor activities, but Singapore has a surprising amount to offer. Whether you want to work up a sweat on a cross-country trek or scuba dive to the depths of the South China Sea to explore the local marine environment, here are eight outdoor activities you didn’t know you could do in Singapore.
A Cross-Country Hike
Singapore is a small island, so a cross-country hike won’t take as long as you are probably expecting.
The Coast to Coast (CTC) Trail is one of the best ways to do this. This 36km trail links Coney Island in the north-east of the country to Jurong, which lies in the west. It usually takes about seven hours to complete, although this depends on how often you stop to explore various areas that catch your interest.
The trail takes you through some of the island’s most impressive outdoor areas, from the world-famous Singapore Botanic Gardens to the beautiful and serene Macritchie Reservoir. Try to plan your hike so that it ends at the Jurong trail head – this area is home to some exquisite shopping malls and restaurants, such as the Westgate mall, where you will be able to treat your skin to some free luxury product demonstrations at the OROGOLD store here.
If you would prefer to see more of the city, the Central Urban Loop is another 36km trail that takes you through the heart of Singapore. On the other hand, beach lovers will love the 42km Eastern Coastal Loop, which links seven parks and beaches together.
For those wanting more of a challenge, the 150km Round Island Route is another popular option. Although the trail is still being officially established, there’s nothing to stop you from taking your own route through areas that haven’t yet been finished.
Adventurous Mountain Biking
For those who love to get their adrenaline pumping while on two wheels, head on over to the largest nature park in Singapore; the 81 hectare Chestnut Park.
Located in the southern side of the park, the 1.8km mountain biking trail has been designed to offer numerous challenges to bikers as a way to keep locals returning.
The trail certainly lives up to that aim, with a number of different jumps, sharp corners, and berms to keep you on your guard.
Unlike many of the other mountain biking trails out there, this one doesn’t have uncomfortably steep climbs. Instead, it makes use of the landscape’s natural gradients to take you on gentle climbs, while still offering up thrilling downhills sections.
Don’t have a mountain bike of your own?
Not to worry, as you can rent one from the kiosk at the park, while also picking up a few refreshments to take with you on your ride.
Once you’re ready to take things a little slower, spend some time exploring the incredible biodiversity that you will find throughout the park. There are numerous native tree species planted here, from the Singapore Walking Stick Palm to the Braided Chestnut Tree, many of which are hard to see anywhere else in the world.
Kayak Through the Mangroves
Kayaking is often one of the best ways to explore a natural area, as it gives you such a unique perspective of the biodiversity all around you.
It’s also a great activity for beginners – those who have never kayaked before are able to try something new yet safe, while kayaking experts can indulge themselves by paddling over to some of the more challenging river sections.
The best place to go for a kayaking stint is the Mandai Rivers; Sungei Mandai Besar and Sungei Mandai Kechil.
Here, you will find mature mangroves that offer up the perfect mini adventure, intermingled with remnants of one of the last kampongs, meaning traditional villages, on the island.
Wildlife encounters are also common when kayaking in this area. In addition to spotting some of the 112 bird species seen above, you may also have the chance to see dolphins, kingfishers, and hornbills, as well as the largest resident population of mangrove horseshoe crabs in the world.
If you’ve already kayaked along the Mandai mangroves, or enjoyed it so much that you’re looking for more water adventures, other good kayaking spots around the country include:
- The Seringat Trail, which takes you from the sandy beaches of Sentosa to the equally-picturesque beaches of Seringat Island
- Sungei Khatib Bongsu, where you will find lush umbrellas of native canopies above as you make your way down a natural river
Many of these areas are only accessible by kayak, giving you a glimpse into a part of the country that most tourists never get to see.
Bird Watching and Wildlife Spotting
If you want to spend some time in nature, then Coney Island is the place to go.
This 133 hectare island hasn’t been around for long – it only officially opened in 2015, and comes from land that has been reclaimed, with the process beginning back in the 1970s.
Today, this is one of the rare places in Singapore that features mostly untouched surroundings. There is such a diversity of different habitats here, from coastal forests and lush grasslands to hidden sandy beaches and dense mangroves.
All of this makes Coney Island a chosen spot for local wildlife, many species of which are endangered. Rare birds, butterflies, and native macaques are just a few of the creatures that you will see here, as well as plenty of snakes if you decide that you are brave enough to venture off-path!
Coney Island is also a part of Singapore that’s truly dedicated to sustainability. You will notice quite a bit of woodcrafting around the park, from rustic benches to signposts to a beautiful mangrove boardwalk – all of this has been created from wood harvested from fallen trees around the island.
A Stroll Through History
Outdoor activities don’t necessarily have to be strenuous.
Instead, a leisurely stroll through a natural yet historic area can be so fascinating and educational, which is exactly what you will find at the Thomson Nature Park.
There are five trails here that you can take, each one taking about an hour or so to explore.
Some of the different natural and historic features that you will be able to see include:
- Rare wildlife, such as the Raffles banded langur, an endangered monkey, the Malayan porcupine, and the Sunda pangolin
- The ruins of a Hainan village from the 1960s
- An old rambutan plantation
- An old farm and traditional village houses, including old street signs
For those who really want to kick things up a notch, give bungy jumping a try.
There is only one place in Singapore where you can go bungy jumping, and this is at the Sky Park by AJ Hackett on Sentosa island.
This bungy jump stands 50 meters above the beautiful Siloso Beach, giving you incredible views as you take the leap. To add to the experience even further, you can also opt to end your jump in the warm waters of the bungy pool set up below.
Don’t want to go it alone?
You don’t have to if you give the Giant Swing a try. This one-of-a-kind experience can accommodate up to three people, taking you 40 meters above Siloso Beach where you then swoop downwards on a giant swing.
The Top Swing is another option for solo adrenaline seekers. Enjoy your favorite childhood playground activity, but 47 meters above the ground with your dangling feet pointing towards the sandy beach below.
If the idea of bungy jumping or swinging through the air just doesn’t appeal to you…
This venue also boasts a Skybridge, which also runs 47 meters above the ground. This bridge is completely safe for people of all abilities to try – although it may be exposed with some see-through sections, as well as a stomach-churning glass cube, it can be enjoyed as a leisurely stroll.
Once you’re done with all of that, you will find a relaxing beach bar located just nearby. Whether you want to make the most of being back on solid ground by laying out on the beach, or want to enjoy some privacy in a cabana, AJ’s Bar and Beach Dining is always a hit with both locals and tourists.
Zip Line Through the Sky
Sentosa is known for being home to a wide range of different activities. In addition to kayaking, bungy jumping, hiking, and more, you also have the opportunity to zip line through the trees.
MegaZip can be found at Siloso Beach, not too far away from the bungy jumping venue listed above.
Here, you will find the very first three-wire zip line in the region, meaning that you will be able to race your friends and family as you speed 60 km per hour through the air, with the line running for an exhilarating 450 meters.
The zip line sits 75 meters above the ground, giving you an amazing birds-eye view of the island down below.
Snorkeling and Diving
Singapore’s unique location means that waters around the island are packed with an abundance of marine life.
One of the best ways to experience this up-close and personal is by heading into the water with a snorkel or your scuba diving gear.
Where should you go?
The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, which actually consists of two small islands:
- Pulau Subar Laut (Big Sister’s Island)
- Pulau Subar Darat (Small Sister’s Island)
The second isn’t currently open to the public, since it is being used for conservation and habitat enhancement to encourage species recovery. This is where the first turtle hatchery in Singapore is, with a large amount of research and technology being dedicated to increase the survival rate of hatchlings.
However, Big Sister’s Island is all you need.
Many would say that this is one of Singapore’s best hidden gems, as many locals themselves don’t even know about the endless fun that can be had on this gorgeous speck of land.
Both snorkeling and diving can be enjoyed here, with divers in particular being especially well-catered for with two dive trails to choose from. One is shallow and one is deep, showcasing how different the marine biodiversity is at each of these levels.
There are plenty of great swimming spots here too, but once you’re done exploring the water, take a look at everything that Big Sister’s Island has to offer on land too. Sheltered beaches and intertidal walks are just a few of the things that you will come across, each one surrounded by beautiful, untouched nature.
The only downside to Sister’s Islands is…
There isn’t any public transportation to take you here – you will need to charter a boat. This can be done from the Marina Bay area, which is the part of the country that boasts some of the best architecture, restaurants, and shopping. While you’re here, make your way over to the famous Marina Bay Sands, where you will be able to browse and try out 24K gold-infused skin care at the OROGOLD boutique.
Singapore is known for being a highly populated city, and so many of the most popular attractions here are city-related, from chic bars and sleek restaurants to glitzy shopping malls. However, Singapore has another side too…this island used to be covered in lush rainforests, and while the majority of this may no longer be around, each of these outdoor activities gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the impressive natural beauty that Singapore has to offer.