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Photograph: Chuttersnap/Unsplash

The best kid-friendly hiking trails in Singapore for the family

Hiking is fun but when you have the kids in tow, it's better to stick to simple trails – with incredible views, no less

By Delfina Utomo and Cam Khalid
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Despite challenges like uneven terrain, wild animals and unpredictable weather, hiking is a really fun and popular activity in Singapore. But when you add the kids to the mix, it's best to put their safety first. Trust Singapore to think about the kids too and have some of the best kid-friendly trails around for when you want to bring the young ones hiking. Pack some sunscreen, their favourite cap, water bottle and maybe a light snack for when the tantrums kick in mid-hike. 

RECOMMENDED: The best hiking trails in Singapore and the best secret and hidden parks in Singapore

Dairy Farm Nature Park
Photograph: NParks

Dairy Farm Nature Park

Things to do Bukit Panjang

New to the hiking game? Start with the 63-hectare Dairy Farm Nature Park. The main trail is paved, so you don't have to rough it out Bear Grylls-style with the little ones. Make your way to the Wallace Education Centre for hands-on activities and exhibits that tell the story of Dairy Farm’s changing landscapes. Keep a lookout for the striking red and yellow heliconias as well as the monkeys, pangolins, and butterflies along the way. For a chance to spot rare species of dragonflies and the critically endangered birds known as Little Grebe, head towards the scenic Singapore Quarry at the park’s south-western end.

Pasir Ris Mangrove Trail
Photograph: Shairazi/NParks

Pasir Ris Park

Attractions Beaches Pasir Ris

Go for a jaunt through this beach-park-mangrove forest combo with the kids in tow. While the coastline view is a plus, explore the mangrove swamp using the boardwalks and bird-watch at the three-story viewing tower. If you're lucky, you might spot mudskippers, tree-climbing crabs, and also monitor lizards in the waters. There are also playgrounds, maze gardens, and even pony rides to keep the kids entertained.

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Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Photograph: Nparks

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Things to do Lim Chu Kang

Strap on your best walking shoes for the swamps of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and learn more about the flora and fauna that call this mangrove forest home, including 140 species of birds. There are also shorter, gravel trails, including the 300-metre Forest Trail and 2-kilometre Migratory Bird Trail, the for the mini explorers to spot mudskippers, monkeys, climbing crabs, and even the estuarine crocodiles if they're lucky. Tiny tots who aren't ready for the big hike, can their bit of fun at the Junior Adventure Trail.

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park
Photograph: PUB

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Things to do Bishan

One of the largest parks in Singapore, the 62-hectare Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is home to a wide array of interesting flora and fauna. Intersecting the length of the park is the starting portion of the Kallang River, which flows down from Lower Pierce Reservoir. With its open lawns and gently sloping grassy banks, families can take a picnic break while soaking up the stunning views of the waterways. There's also an inclusive playground that features a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round and wheelchair swing.

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Henderson Waves
Photograph: Flickr/Bill Rosgen

The Southern Ridges

Things to do Bukit Merah

Even if your little ones aren't quite ready to take on the rugged terrains, they can still be one with nature at The Southern Ridges. The lush green space features 10-kilometre of pram-friendly trails with park connectors to Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park, and Labrador Nature Reserve. Cross the highest pedestrian bridge known as Henderson Waves, cut through a secondary forest via Forest Walk and Canopy Walk, and explore the Berlayer Creek which home to a myriad flora and fauna.

Kranji Marshes
Photo: Urban Redevelopment Authority

Kranji Marshes

Things to do Lim Chu Kang

Home to 170 species of birds, 54 types of butterflies and 33 different kinds of dragonflies, this nature reserve is the perfect recreation area to take the kids out to observe and enjoy the island's wildlife. At 57 hectares and with a range of natural and green habitats, Kranji Marshes is Singapore's largest freshwater farmland. Climb to the top of the Raptor Tower for the ultimate bird's eye view of the grounds – take note, not the entire park is open to public but there are many hideouts and spots to go bird-watching with your kids. 

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Jurong Lake Gardens
Photograph: Zinkie Aw/NParks/Facebook

Jurong Lake Gardens

Things to do Jurong East

Deemed as the largest nature wonderland in the heartlands, Jurong Lake Gardens is Singapore's latest national garden, spanning a whopping 90-hectares. Beyond the flora and fauna, the grounds are specially landscaped and designed for families and the community to come together to play, learn, and bond. Children can burn their energy by taking on the various obstacle courses, hopping about at the sunken trampolines, flying across a zip line, and scrambling up a tower to go down a tube-like slide.

Tampines Eco Green
Photograph: Delfina Utomo

Tampines Eco Green

Things to do Tampines

Continue along the Pasir Ris park connector towards Tampines and you’ll come across sprawling greenery formed by open grasslands, freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest – you’d never guess they wrap around one of the most populous neighbourhoods in Singapore. Wade through the greens as you take on the walking trail within the sanctuary to uncover its rich biodiversity, featuring many species of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and spiders. No cycling is allowed in the park, though, but it's perfect to take a stroll with the little ones and watch them take in everything. 

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The Learning Forest
Photo: Delfina Utomo

The Learning Forest

Things to do Tanglin

Located in the Botanic Gardens, the Learning Forest was designed to integrate with the existing 6-hectare rainforest to form an enlarged forest habitat. Unlike the rest of the Botanic Gardens, the Learning Forest is a little more rustic and sprawling, segmented into different areas like the bamboo garden, an arboretum of wild fruit trees, and wetland ecosystems for curious sorts to explore, discover and like its namesake, to learn about Singapore’s rainforests. There are lots of clearly-marked paths and trails that you and the family can follow throughout the park.

Hindhede Nature Park

Things to do Walks and tours Bukit Panjang

If you're looking for a leisurely hike with the family, head to Hindhede Nature Park located next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve which has easy trails and well-defined footpaths perfect for families, children and hiking beginners. Scenic and serene, it is also an excellent spot for wildlife watching as it is home to inhabitants like the banded woodpecker, clouded monitor lizard and plantain squirrel so it pays to keep your eyes open when taking a walk. The main highlight, of course, is the picturesque Hindhede Quarry which is located at the end of the park. 

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Punggol Waterway Park
Photograph: NParks

Punggol Waterway Park

Things to do Punggol

Located in a quiet, tranquil area in the northeastern part of Singapore, this park offers four unique themes with something in store for visitors of all ages. The Nature Cove features a picturesque view of the Waterway, with a relaxing lawn area for families to spend lazy Sundays. But the kids will love the Recreation Zone where there are activities like water play and sand play, The Heritage Zone offers gorgeous greenery along the stretch of the old Punggol Road, where families can take a walk down memory lane, and the Green Gallery consists of a peaceful trail along the park's natural terrain. If you want to get active with your family, go for the cycling or inline skating activities, or admire the views from the Rope Bridge and Kelong Bridge.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Attractions Parks and gardens Tanglin

This family-friendly spot was established in 1852 and are a tranquil respite from the city buzz. Highlights include the National Orchid Garden with the world’s largest collection of orchids – some 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, including the national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim. There is also a swan lake where the kids can feed the black Australian swans, and the Evolution Garden Walk, a well-landscaped plot containing the fossilised remains of ancient trees. 

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Fort Canning Park
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Fort Canning Park

Things to do City Hall

While the grown-ups will appreciate the history of this modest-sized mound in the heart of the business district, the kids… well, they don’t need any excuse to tumble around in a park as verdant as this, do they? As the kids get a little exercise exploring the many nooks and crannies of Fort Canning Park and its many colonial-era relics, they can also learn more about the paramount roles it played in the defence of the island and even before the British arrived, when it served as the residence of Malay royalty on an organised tour.

HortPark

Things to do Kent Ridge

NParks’ 23-hectare HortPark will make for an aesthetically pleasing walk but there's also lots for the younglings to learn from. Explore the 20 themed sections with the kids including a Balinese-themed garden, a stunning Silver Garden made up of light-reflective plants, and other research greenhouses. There's also the Pitter Patter Potter Garden decked with vibrant hues, the Butterfly Garden with, well, colourful butterflies, and a playground for families.

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Lower Seletar Reservoir Park
Photo: Public Utilities Board

Lower Seletar Reservoir Park

Things to do Yishun

Go for a walk or run with the kids along this park that looks out onto Lower Seletar Reservoir. Facilities and amenities include a fishing jetty, a People's Association Water Venture outlet that provides kayak rentals, and a water park where the young ones can splash around after a hike. 

More trails and ways

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