Singapore is an interesting city and country all rolled into one. The most common words I’ve heard used to describe this bustling and busy city are clean, efficient and modern. However for such a modern city, they have done an excellent job adding an exceptional amount of greenery to the landscape. Unlike most concrete jungles of the world, there are many parts of Singapore that really do resemble a city within a garden.
For the hiking and cycling nature lovers of the world, Singapore will not be the first choice in destinations. As a Canadian living abroad, I have often missed and longed for the natural beauty and mountains of Western Canada. However over time I’ve found a few tropical oasis’s to spend my off days. If you are passing through this small country, and would like to see some of the more natural beauty of the area, here is list of my favorite places worth spending the day:
Travel Back in Time on Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin is a small island reachable from the main island by ferry (called a bumboat). Going to Pulau Ubin is like going back in time to see what Singapore was like 40 years ago when the island was simply made up of villages. Cycling the island is pretty much all you can do here and the bike trails are well maintained. The small village life is simple and quiet. The nature and jungle are abundant with life. It is not uncommon to spot a few wild boars that are very accustomed to being ogled by visitors. You can take your own bikes or leave them on the main island and rent bicycles for a few dollars once you get off the ferry. Bring plenty of water or buy it before you go. Once outside the main village, you may not see any place to restock.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Before Singapore the city existed, the land was mostly a swamp. To see what Singapore has created in a such a short span of time is a wonder in itself. If you are interested in seeing what this country was like before people inhabited the area, check out Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. This beautiful reserve is not the easiest place to get to if you don’t have a car, but is worth the trip. The trails are very well maintained, with lookouts scattered all around the reserve. A good place for bird watchers at certain times of year! Giant monitor lizards are easy to spot near the entrance basking in the sun or swimming through the murky water. I even spotted a crocodile on my first visit (from a safe distance), but was informed by the ranger that it was an extremely rare sighting as he was not a normal visitor to the reserve.
Getting Connected Via the Park Connectors
The park connectors are an impressive accomplishment. Many of the country’s national parks are connected to each other via “park connectors”, which allows one to travel around the city from one park to another through safe and secure bridges and pathways. It is a great way to get around by either foot or bicycle in a much more pleasant environment than the busy city roads.
The Botanical Gardens – An Oasis Within the City
Easy to get to and extremely well maintained, the botanical gardens offers an impressive man made natural oasis in the middle of the fast paced city. A great place to bring the family for the day. The orchid garden within the park is the only area that carries a cost to enter and it is impressive. I’d recommend bringing a picnic lunch and enjoying it within the gardens.
Singapore caters primarily to tourists seeking man made wonders as opposed to natural ones. However if you are coming through this South East Asian island, the above spots are worth a visit. With that said, Singapore the city is worth a see too. The country is a good example that many different races and religions can live together in harmony within a small island.
Sam Walker is a freelance writer with a passion for cycling and traveling. He has written numerous articles on cycling and bicycle repair, including a recent series of articles on the bike repair stand for those interested in home bicycle maintenance.