Eco-Tourism and Adventures in Singapore
In this section, we list some of the larger and more interesting natural enclaves such as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Pulau Ubin, where the flora and fauna have more and less been left to take their own course. These green-lung areas, while well-known to locals, are slightly off the beaten track for most tourists. For information on Singapore's more famous national parks and nature attractions, such as the Botanic Gardens or the Zoological Gardens, see our Attractions section.
If you're really into ecology and the environment, the Singapore Environment Council (+65 337 6062) and the Nature Society of Singapore (+65 741 2036) are always happy to help with your queries. They will also be able to give you the names of nature guides, who can bring you on a "green tour" or bird-watching excursion of Singapore.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Bukit Timah Hill is Singapore's highest point, at a mere 163 metres. The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (4685736) is a 164-hectare primary rain forest reserve just a half-hour ride from the heart of the city. It is located along Upper Bukit Timah Road, at the end of Hindhede Drive. Admission is free, and the visitor centre opens daily from 8.30 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening. The reserve is a popular spot during the weekend, with visitors ranging from teenagers on mountain bikes to groups of serious joggers.
The park is clearly marked with trails, and you can breathe in the sights, smells and sounds of an authentic primary forest as you walk. This essentially, was Singapore hundreds of years ago, before development. Tall timber trees, liana vines and huge ferns abound in the forest. The place also boasts of an abundant wildlife - watch out for the noisy long-tailed macaque, who may just decide to follow you on part of your walk, swinging from tree to tree.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 06:00 – 19:00 (night walking within the reserve is not encouraged)
- Location: Bukit Timah Hill, about 12 kilometres from downtown Singapore
- Price Range: Free entry to the Reserve
Central Catchment Nature Reserve
If your idea of a true nature adventure is to trek for hours on end, always running the risk of getting lost, then Central Catchment Nature Reserve would probably come closest to satisfying you. This 2,000 hectare reserve is made up of the forests around the Upper Peirce, Peirce, MacRitchie and Seletar Reservoirs. You can enter the Upper Peirce forest via the Old Upper Thomson Road. There's no admission fee, which also means there's no visitor centre and you are left to your own devices. Unlike the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, though, the forests of the Central Catchment are secondary forests.
You can hike for quite a long distance here, as the park leads right on to Bukit Timah Reserve and beyond. Bring a hat for protection from the blazing equatorial sun and lots of water.
This is one of Singapore's several offshore islands which has been left more or less untouched by urban development. Getting there is all part of the fun - take a bus or taxi to Changi Point jetty, which is about 40 minutes from the city centre. Then, take a bum-boat ride to the island. The boats leave when they're full and charge SG$ 1.50 for a one-way ride. There is no admission fee to the island. Spend the whole day on Pulau Ubin, dividing your time between biking on the rocky trails, bird-watching, swimming on the beach and trying out the fresh seafood.
Bikes can easily be rented , though don't expect a state-of-the-art 10-speeder; the rusty, rickety machines on offer are part of the island's charm. You'll pass mangrove swamps, coconut and rubber plantations, an unused quarry lake, even a Buddhist temple. Don't be surprised to see wild pigs roaming the island, or huge flying fox bats at night.
- How to get there: To get to Pulau Ubin, take an exotic bum-boat ride from Changi jetty.
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
The Sungei Buloh Nature Park is a great place for bird-watching, being a regional stopover for birds on their North-South migrations. An 87-hectare wetland reserve, the park is a little less than an hour's ride by car from the centre of town. Admission is SG$ 1.00, and it opens from 07:30 -19:00 on weekdays and 07:00 19:00 on weekends and public holidays. The park gives you an idea of the mangrove swamps that once surrounded Singapore.
There's a visitor centre, boardwalks and bird-watching hides, from which you can spot night herons, or the white-breasted water hen. Also keep a lookout for various species of butterflies, mud-skippers and monitor lizards. If you're interested in aquaculture, prawn and fish farming is carried out in the park.
- Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 07:30 - 19:00, Sat - Sun & Public holidays 07:00 - 19:00
- Address: 301 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718925
- Tel: +65 6794 1401