5 Must-See Places in Singapore That Are Off the Beaten Track

singapore tourism
Image: Singapore Tourism Board

Take your travels further than the big-ticket Lion City attractions, and you’ll find there’s plenty of space and beautiful nature to soak up, as well as a raft of wholesome activities to enjoy in Singapore.

Take your travels further than the big-ticket Lion City attractions, and you’ll find there’s plenty of space and beautiful nature to soak up, as well as a raft of wholesome activities to enjoy in Singapore.

Singapore is a city loved for its vibrant nightlife, burgeoning culinary scene, and buzzing shopping districts. But tear yourself away from the busy satay-selling hawker stalls and luxury malls, and you’ll find that there’s a softer, calmer side to the Lion City too. If it’s a change of pace you’re after, try breaking free of the crowds and venturing to one of these lesser-known parks, farms, and beaches to reset and recharge.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Nature-lovers and keen wildlife photographers will have a field day visiting the 202-hectare Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Choose one of the four wheelchair-accessible walkways meandering through the web of natural mangrove forests, ponds, and mudflats, and spend some time soaking in the scenery.

Make sure you have your camera at the ready to catch a lasting memory of any native fauna you spy, including mudskippers, water snakes, otters, estuarine crocodiles, herons, and kingfishers. If you’re a bird-lover in particular, you’ll be happy to know there’s so much birdlife at Sungei Buloh that it has been named as a site of international importance for migratory birds. From September to March (migratory season), you can even get a glimpse of the visiting plovers and sandpipers.

How to get there: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is just a 35-minute drive northwest of downtown Singapore and Changi Airport. Public transport users can reach the reserve by taking the MRT to Kranji MRT Station and transferring onto SMRT Bus 925M.

Bollywood Veggies

Take your culinary adventures out of the Michelin starred restaurants of the city and get back to the source at Bollywood Veggies. Founded in 2000 by husband and wife team Ivy and Ho Seng, this 10-acre show-farm in the northwest Kranji countryside showcases the very best of Singapore rural living; and the connectedness between land, community, and country.

Drop into the Poison Ivy Bistro for a cheap and cheerful plate of chicken rendang or farm-fresh stir-fried greens, mushrooms, rice, and soup, before taking a stroll through the banana palms and rambutan trees on the property. There’s a farm store, food museum, and culinary school on the property too, and umpteen other farms in the area you can visit to extend your countryside experience further.

How to get there: Bollywood Veggies is a five-minute drive from the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. It will take approximately 45 minutes to reach by car from Changi Airport and 35 minutes from Marina Bay Sands.

Southern Ridges

The Southern Ridges is the 10-kilometre stretch of green, open spaces that connect Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park, and Labrador Nature Reserve. Its most well-known attraction is Henderson Waves — a 36-metre high and 274-metre long sculptural walkway in the canopy of the forest between Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park. It’s a popular spot for walkers and photographers to visit, especially between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, when the undulating waves of the bridge come to life in a fantastic LED light display.

henderson waves
Image: Singapore Tourism Board

The entire trail offers a great mix of history, flora, and fauna, as well as panoramic views of the city, harbour, and Singapore’s Southern Islands. To ensure you visit at a time with less congestion and where a 1-metre distance can be maintained between yourself and others, you can visit Safe Distance @ Parks for real-time updates on the visitorship of the park.

How to get there: You can reach the Southern Ridges by car and public transport. Take the MRT to HarbourFront station and head up Marang Trail, where your journey begins at Mount Faber Park.  Alternatively, Mount Faber Park is just 10 minutes from Sentosa, 15 minutes from Marina Bay Sands, and 25 minutes from Changi Airport by car.

Tanjong Rimau Beach

Not to be confused with the famed stretch of white-sand beach on Sentosa Island, the cliffy, tidal Tanjong Rimau Beach is a far cry from its resort-style neighbour. It sits beyond the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa at the very north-western tip of the holiday island, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy beach clubs and theme parks. As there’s no sandy beach, it’s less of a ‘flop and drop’ spot, and one that you’ll likely share with more hermit crabs, corals, and eels than people. Wait for low tide to make your way down the rocky path onto the ‘beach’, and gently tiptoe your way through the tidal pools looking for critters. Or go exploring the many caves along the cliff face. Just remember to wear reef shoes and watch your step on the fragile corals and seagrasses.

How to get there: Take the cable car from HarbourFront MRT station across to Sentosa before walking down to the north-western point of the island. There’s also a shuttle bus on Sentosa to ferry you from one point to another.

Chestnut Nature Park

Hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching; there’s something for everyone within the 81-hectare bounds of Chestnut Nature Park. The park is actually split into two regions — north and south — and has umpteen hiking and biking trails running through both sections. Take the northern hiking loop for a leisurely 3.5km walk through the native Braided Chestnuts, Singapore Walking Stick Palm, and Jelutong trees, or opt for the shorter 2.1-kilometre southern loop.

singapore chestnut
Image: Singapore Tourism Board

Direct your gaze to the canopies and you might even spot the straw-headed bulbul, brown chested jungle flycatcher, or banded woodpecker. Mountain biking enthusiasts can venture into either section, with experienced mountain bikers free to tackle the harder trails, bike park, and ‘pump track’ in the section north of Chestnut Avenue. Beginners are best to stick to the less challenging loop in the southern section.

How to get there: It’s a short 20- to 25-minute drive to Chestnut Nature Park from the airport or Marina Bay area. Bring your own bike or hire one from the kiosk within the reserve.

For all its hustle, bustle, and action, Singapore is a city filled with a surprising number of less crowded, nature-filled options for the quiet-seeking traveller. From national parks to wetlands, beaches to farms, there are endless ways to escape the crowds and find some zen.

For more information regarding real-time visitorship and the COVID-safe measures implemented at the city’s parks and public spaces, visit Safe Distance @ Parks.

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