With the possibility of leisure travel being nowhere in sight – or least for the foreseeable near future! –, many Singaporeans are turning to exploring their own backyard. It may or may not come as a surprise, but Singapore is so much more than just a concrete jungle; in fact, the city offers plenty of green spaces and hiking trails!
Who doesn’t love the outdoors?
Indeed, NParks has reported a significant increase in human traffic visiting nature reserves, gardens, and parks. Some swarm the popular trails such as Bukit Timah Hill and Macritchie Reservoir; others try to escape the crowds by discovering the lesser-known routes, such as Kranji Marshes and Tampines Eco Green.
This increase has been reported to spike since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many viewing such outdoor adventures to be ‘safer’ activities. It seems as if social media has also been harnessed to boost such a trend; the ‘Singapore Hikers’ Facebook group has amassed a staggering 23.4K members to date! Referring to themselves as a ‘special interest group to bring like-minded people together to explore the wilder side of Singapore”, the group has a few simple entry requirements: “you must be a nature lover, love trekking or hiking, and is not afraid of bugs or the sun!”.
The ‘Exploring Singapore Hiking Group’ Facebook page organises group hikes that explore different parts of Singapore as well. Upcoming events include a ‘Round Bukit Timah Hill Hike’, as well as a ‘Bishan-AMK Park to Lower and Upper Pierce Reservoir Walk’. A quick look at its discussion thread also revealed many looking for hiking companions – perfect for finding hiking kakis!
Fun in the sun
Other than hiking trails, many also turned to parks for some fresh air. Reports in July saw enormous crowds at Sentosa and East Coast Park, prompting NParks to segment the more crowded beach fronts and close selected sections. Sentosa recently announced that they’ll be requiring beachgoers to book slots, especially if they’re planning to visit the Tanjong, Palawan, and Siloso beaches on weekends and public holidays.
Individuals will be issued wristbands, which will allow them to only enter the allocated beach zone during their specified timeslot. They’ll also be allocated ‘safety rings’, which are spaced apart along the sand. Each booking is limited to five people, for two time slots in the morning (8am and 1pm) and afternoon (2pm to 7pm). Bookings can be made up to five days before the intended visits, and extends to beach volleyball or any court-based games.
Check before you go
Nparks has come up with an extremely useful Safe Distancing Portal, where one can gauge the number of people at public green spaces based on zones demarcated by colour. Orange zones indicate high visitorship; yellow zones have moderate human traffic; green zones have relatively low numbers.
How about other activities?
Cycling has also seen a boom in recent months, with sales of personal bicycles going up, accompanied by a corresponding increase in ridership for bike-sharing companies. SG Bike’s marketing director claims that they “see increased usage around neighbourhoods and outdoor parks such as along East Coast Park, Gardens by the Bay, and the Marina Bay area”. Bicycle retailer Treknology3 also noted a 20 to 25 percent increase in demand for bicycles and accessories, as compared to the same period last year.
Hopefully, this love for cycling continues into the future – boosted by the Government’s plans to triple Singapore’s cycling path network to 1,320 kilometres by 2030. This will put most residents living in Housing Board flats within 250 metres of a cycling path by 2026, which is a mere six years away.
Other dino-mite options
More and more walking, jogging, or cycling paths are opening up, such as the much-acclaimed route that links Changi Airport and East Coast Park. Spanning a length of 3.5 kilometres, the ‘Jurassic Mile’ takes things up a notch with life-sized dinosaurs found along the route. Visitors can marvel at more than 20 different pre-historic creatures from nine different species, including a gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Speakers playing safari-themed music complete the experience – now, this is something that we certainly didn’t see coming!
Do note that visitors will have to reserve slots, should they be planning to visit on weekends and public holidays. Visitors will be admitted every 30 minutes, and are permitted to stay for up to an hour. Cyclists can rent bikes from either GoCycling from Hub & Spoke next to Terminal 2, or from any of the bicycle shops at East Coast Park. Those that rent from GoCycling are able to return their bikes at any of their nine outlets around Singapore, including the one at East Coast Park.
If you prefer a guided experience, the ‘Singapore Cycling Tours’ Facebook page regularly organises various tours that traverse different parts of Singapore. Routes include the ‘North-South Traverse 33, Marina Bay to Woodlands Waterfront’, or a curated ‘Journey to the West’ expedition that explores the Jurong area. ‘Let’s Go Bike Singapore’ also offers various themed cycling tours, such as a ‘Historical Singapore Tour’, and ‘Marina Bay Night Tour’. Their ‘Bike & Bites Food Tour’ will even bring cyclists on a tour of the local food scene, including the sampling of local snacks and drinks.
Are you up for it?
Whether it be cycling, running, jogging, or simply taking a stroll, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in Singapore. It’s time for some fun in the sun!