In 1963, Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had a vision of turning the nation into a Garden City, committed to having clean land, clean water and clean air. One of the best places to witness Asia’s greenest city (ranked by Green City Index) is to trek along the Southern Ridges, especially the gorgeous Henderson Waves.
It’s a place to experience the beauty of both “garden” and “city”, just like Gardens by the Bay without the Light Show, as you walk through an incredible 10km stretch of natural trails and manmade bridges in the South of Singapore. It connects various spots including Kent Ridge Park, HortPark, Labrador Nature Reserve, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park.
Combining the latest in architectural design with the best of nature, the Southern Ridges won the prestigious Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence in 2010 for being a stellar example of how to develop such an extensive and beautiful recreational space in a densely populated city.
Not only is this walking trail home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, but it is also one of the best spots in Singapore to enjoy panoramic views of the city, harbour and the Southern Islands. It’s the beauty of nearby Bintan or Batam but with a dose of city life.
For more ideas of things to do in Singapore (over 100!) check out my extended and always updated guide here.
Walking Route along the Southern Ridges Singapore [MAP]
From garden workshops and birdwatching to historical battle sites and fine dining with a view, the scenic 10km Southern Ridges trail offers a huge array of things to see and do. Everything below is listed from north to south, starting off at Kent Ridge Park and ending at Harbourfront.
Catch the MRT to either Kent Ridge or Pasir Panjang stations. I would recommend starting from Kent Ridge MRT as the walk to the park is a little bit quicker and you also start right at the beginning of the course. From Pasir Panjang, you may have to back track a little. Walking time from Kent Ridge MRT to Kent Ridge Park is about 10 mins in total.
Tip: Start your route from Kent Ridge at 5:30am or at 5:30pm (depending on the time of year), so you can catch the sunrise (7am) or sunset (7pm) at the peak of Mount Faber!
To hike the entirety of the route from North to South could take around 4 hours, so plan your day accordingly. The trek is easy to moderate and all paths are clear and well maintained. You will need to be moderately fit for some of the elevated points if you wish to go up and down the stairs.
But remember, there are several MRT and bus stations at various intervals on the journey. So you don’t have to do the entire thing in one go.
Unless otherwise stated in the text, most parts of the route mentioned below are open 24/7 and the safety lights on the bridges and parks are on from 7pm-7am daily. Note that there is no wheelchair or bicycle access to most of these stops as there are many stairs to go up and down.
Remember to bring a torch if you’re visiting at night as some of the areas will not be lit up. An umbrella is also a good idea if starts to rain. And lastly, there is a S$5,000 fine for feeding monkeys, so please do not give them food if you cross paths. It hurts them in the long run as they can become aggressive if they know they can get food from humans.
So what will you see along the Southern Ridges path, read on to find out where to go, from North to South.
Kent Ridge Park
Javan Myna & White-crested Laughingthrush at Kent Ridge Park. Wikipedia JJ Harrison (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Begin your walking journey of the Southern Ridge at Kent Ridge Park. This 47-hectare historical park is the place where one of the last battles of World War II was fought for Singapore. You can learn more about the history of the Battle of Pasir Panjang at the park’s Reflections at Bukit Chandu Museum, which is set in a restored colonial bungalow close to the former battle site.
Note: Reflections at Bukit Chandu Museum is closed for restoration until 2021. More information here.
For fitness buffs, Kent Ridge Park not only has a jogging track but also 20 fitness stations. For the more adventurous, it also has one of Singapore’s four MTB trails.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll across this 280m elevated wooden boardwalk connecting Kent Ridge Park to HortPark. The walk cuts through the Adinandra Belukar, a distinct type of secondary forest that regenerates after exhaustive agriculture exploitation.
Here, you’ll see a rich variety of flora and fauna as well as squirrels, lizards and birds in their natural habitat.
HortPark is Singapore’s horticulture paradise for those with a green thumb. This 9-hectare park is a one-stop center for gardening-related recreational, educational and research activities.
HortPark has a series of themed garden displays, such as Water Gardens, Edible Gardens, and Pitter Patter Potter Garden to learn about various planting methods. Look out for their monthly Gardeners’ Day Out event, which includes a farmer’s market and food bazaar (selling edible items from people’s own gardens!), guided tours and seminars, as well as interactive gardening workshops.
HortPark is open daily 6am-10pm.
Designed like an opened leaf, this 80m bridge is the only section of the Southern Ridges that intersects closely with Singapore’s urban landscape. Connecting HortPark to the Forest Walk leading up to Telok Blangah Hill, Alexandra Arch overlooks the bustling Alexandra Road below.
At night, the bridge is lit up with beautiful changing LED lights that are lit up between 7pm-12am daily.
If you’re not hiking the entire path but want to see the Alexandra Arch, it’s only about a 10min walk of around 500m from Labrador Park MRT. You can then catch any of the following buses – 61, 963, 120, 51, 57, 93, 97E, 97, 100, 166 and 175.
The Singing Forest
Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of native birds. A project sponsored by STMicroelectronics, the Singing Forest in HortPark was launched in 2010 to enhance the already-rich biodiversity of the area by planting trees specially selected from 38 native species to attract various species of birds.
The best time for birdwatching is between 7am and 9am every morning.
This elevated, 1.3km metallic elevated walkway linking HortPark and Telok Blangah Hill Park zigzags through nature, going up and over treetops to let you observe forest and fauna under your feet. Alternatively, you can get closer to nature by trekking along the Earth Trail, a natural dirt path that runs underneath and parallel to the Forest Walk.
Located next to Gillman Barracks, the Forest Walk is an alternate ending/starting point of the Southern Ridges Singapore trek if you want to only cover half the journey. Nearby, you can explore Labrador Nature Reserve for fishing and barbecue activities by the sea.
Lighting hours differ here slightly and are from 7pm-12am and again between 5am-7am daily.
Telok Blangah Hill Park
Themed “Recapturing the Past Splendour”, this hilltop park has been a popular gathering spot for trading communities since the early 19th century. Today, it remains a well-known area for visitors to practice tai chi, go jogging, or enjoy a meal at the park’s many picnic tables.
The highlight of Telok Blangah Hill Park is the Terrace Garden. It has a series of beautiful white semi-circular terraces reaching the top of the park where you can enjoy 360-degree views of Singapore.
The Alkaff Mansion used to be a fancy Italian restaurant but has since closed.
Sembcorp Forest of Giants
In 2010, Sembcorp pledged $1 million to plant a massive forest of over 600 rare trees that originally dominated Singapore’s landscape before the onset of urbanization. Called the forest of “giants”, you will be awed by some of the 55 species planted here that can reach amazing heights of above 80 meters.
Standing 36 meters above Henderson Road, this is the most iconic section of the Southern Ridges. It is also the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
Henderson Waves’ artistic, distinctive wave-like structure consisting of a series of rolling wooden curved ‘ribs’ makes for a great photo-taking spot, as well as a good place to relax with a book or have a picnic. It’s a popular Instagrammable destination in Singapore.
Henderson Waves Bridge at dusk. Wikipedia Eustaquio Santimano (CC BY 2.0)
The easiest way to get to Henderson Waves Singapore without the hike through the rest of the Park is to get off at Redhill Station MRT (EW18, East-West Line) and from there take Bus 145 for 7 stops to “Bef Telok Blangah Hts” which is about a 10min ride. Buses 131, 176 or 648 also pass by this stop.
As soon as you get off the bus you’ll see the Henderson Waves Bridge already. You may have to cross the street, then go up the stairs next to the bridge and you’re there. Happy IGing!
Mount Faber Park
Trek up to Faber Point of Mount Faber Park, which is the highest point of Mount Faber (Singapore’s 4th highest peak) and enjoy views of the city through binoculars at the park’s viewing deck.
As one of Singapore’s oldest parks, Mount Faber Park is also where you can learn about the country’s key historical events from beautifully carved wall murals. Plus you can take a photo here with a mini-Merlion statue against the backdrop of the harbour.
Singapore Cable Car
Now that you’ve reached the highest point of the Southern Ridges, you can finish your journey with a relaxing and scenic cable car ride from Mount Faber down to Harbourfront MRT.
Or you could head even further down to Sentosa island where more adventures await! From your cable car, you will get to travel through a skyscraper and cross the harbor, as well as get an overhead view of the dolphins at Adventure Cove. Tickets cost S$26 and can actually be booked online here. The Cable Car is open daily from 8:45am-10pm.
If you’ve opted out of taking the cable car, congratulations! You’ve reached Marang Trail, the last leg of your journey. Or the first if you’re going South to North.
The 800 meter shaded footpath has a series of stairs winding through a forest rich with flora and fauna. Covering an elevation of 70 meters (the equivalent of a 24-storey building), the Marang Trail is the perfect way to enjoy the serenity of nature before finishing your journey at the bustling Harbourfront area.
If you’re starting at Marang Trail then the best way to get there is to get off at Harbourfront Station MRT and take exit D. The trail starts right from the exit.