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otters, singapore
Photograph: InfiniteZero/Shutterstock

The best places to spot wildlife in Singapore

Take a walk on the wild side where jungle creatures including monkeys, crocodiles, lizards, and otters roam freely

By Cam Khalid

Save your trip to the zoo for another day, and instead, pack a pair of binoculars for some wildlife spotting at Singapore's nature reserves and parks. These tranquil sanctuaries are home to a variety of jungle creatures including monkeys, birds, monitor lizards, otters, and even crocodiles – crikey. It comes as no surprise as the tropical island boasts rich wildlife and rainforest which was once dense enough for orangutans to swing from one end of the island to the other. With not a ticket queue in sight, here are the best places to spot wildlife in its natural habitat.

RECOMMENDED: The best places to bird-watch in Singapore and the best nature trails in Singapore

crab-eating macaque, bukit timah nature reserve
Photograph: Shutterstock/Shahrul Azman

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Things to do Bukit Panjang

Here’s a sanctuary for a type of monkey that is native in Southeast Asia – the crab-eating macaque. While it's friendly by nature, it might get aggressive when you show your teeth as it might feel attacked. Visitors are encouraged not to feed the monkeys there too. The nature reserve also has turtles and other jungle creatures crawling around. But the main highlight is the summit trail with Singapore’s highest elevation point of 163-metre.

estuarine crocodiles, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Photograph: Shutterstock/Sam Too

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Things to do Lim Chu Kang

Strap on your best walking shoes and trudge through the swamps of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to learn more about the flora and fauna that call this mangrove forest home. This wetland reserve of mangrove swamps, ponds, and secondary forest is also home to 140 species of birds. Take a spot at the observation hides or rent binoculars to bird-watch. But keep a lookout for warning signs about the estuarine crocodiles – they’re known to be around the area albeit uncommon.

wild boar, pulau ubin
Photograph: Shutterstock/Hanjo Hellmann

Pulau Ubin

Things to do Pulau Ubin

At a sprawling 1,020 hectares, Pulau Ubin boasts lush greenery and abundant wildlife, drawing nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the many wonders of the granite island. Be sure to watch out for wild boars, especially at Chek Jawa on the eastern side of the island. Continue your journey towards the mangrove area for spot mud crabs and rare otters. Then get your binoculars out at Pekan Quarry for some bird-watching. There are also on-site telescopes available to see the colourful birds up close and personal – well, through a lens.

collared kingfisher, punggol waterway park
Photograph: Martin Pelanek/Shutterstock

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 nature lovers of all ages. The area is a bird-watching paradise as it attracts many feathered friends such as the common collared kingfisher, black-naped oriole, long-tailed shrike, pink-necked green pigeon, yellow-vented bulbul, rose-ringed parakeet, and white-throated kingfisher.

otters, coney island
Photograph: Shutterstock/Juan Camilo Diaz

Coney Island

Things to do Punggol

Once it was an untouched island with a solitary cow, but these days Coney Island in Punggol is filled with a variety of animals. Everything on the island is kept rustic and undisturbed, so expect to see the native macaques and other wildlife such as snakes and rare birds including the resident baya weavers in their natural habitat. You can also find families of otters hanging around too.

TreeTop Walk at Macritchie Reservoir hiking trails
Photograph: Shutterstock

MacRitchie Reservoir

Things to do Walks and tours Central Water Catchment

The TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir takes you through the different stages of a mature secondary forest. The bridge part rises as high as 27-metres, and you can see as many as 80 different bird species, as well as the different types of trees they nest in. For a glimpse of the monitor lizard, take on the 11-kilometre loop trail. However, sighting is not guaranteed.

pangolin, labrador nature reserve
Photograph: Shutterstock

Labrador Nature Reserve

Things to do Harbourfront

Also known as Labrador Park, this nature reserve is home to a very shy, nocturnal creature – the pangolin. You’ll likely spot it in the evening or night, and perhaps around an area where there’s an ant nest as the tiny insect is its favourite midnight snack. During the day, over 70 different species of birds have been spotted here including the rufous woodpecker, blue-crowned hanging parrot, Abbott’s babbler, and white-bellied sea eagle which is featured in the $10,000 banknote.

monitor lizard, singapore botanic gardens
Photograph: Shutterstock/Gekatarina

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Attractions Parks and gardens Tanglin

Established in 1859, the Gardens is a tranquil respite from the city buzz. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features attractions like a swan lake where visitors can feed the black Australian swans and watch the turtles resurface. Despite its polished facade, the park also has plenty of lizards of all sizes including the massive monitor lizard crawling around.

Be one with nature


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