In this runner’s humble and honest opinion if you get the opportunity to experience Singapore, the best way to see it is by foot. That is, if you can take the heat. Singapore is known for its particularly hot and humid year-round weather but more so in the summer, as it is one degree north of the equator.
Singapore is a sovereign city-state in southeast Asia, otherwise known as a small country, made up of one main island (26 miles wide by 14 miles in length), in addition to 62 smaller islands, all located off the southern tip of Malaysia and north to the Indonesian Riau Islands. Gaining final independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, it is a country that initially had trials and tribulations to get its feet on the ground before becoming the country for what it is known as today: an international financial and global commerce hub. The city center is comprised of a concrete jungle and home to 5.6 million people. Don’t let all the shopping and modern architecture dupe you into thinking there is no natural beauty here though. 10% of Singapore is made up of parks and natural reserves, in fact, a combined 68 parks in total, to get your fill of peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of city life.
As a runner, you have several options to experience new and modern architecture, cultural heritage, and nature all within the boundaries of this small country. I’ve listed below some personal favorite running routes, as well as some touring information, to keep you healthy in both mind and body.
East Coast Park is a coastal, beach lined public property with a little more than 5 miles/9 km of running, walking, and bike paths in one direction, or about 11 miles/17 km up and back. Easily accessible by public transport, bike shares or car, you’ll find this palm-tree shaded area of Singapore to be serene and tranquil. Along and within the park are several areas for outdoor BBQ pits and picnic tables, or if you prefer, restaurants, a few children’s playgrounds, a ton of water sports activities, public washrooms with showers, access to fishing on the jetties, or just lounging on the beaches before or after your sport.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are home to plentiful nature reserves, a children’s learning section and garden, and an outdoor symphony stage while providing miles of walking and running paths. A loop within the Gardens can get you around 4 miles/6 km, but you can venture around and make it longer or shorter depending on your time and needs. However, I highly suggest that you take the time to stop and smell the “roses” and take advantage of the 150-year-old UNESCO world heritage site. Be sure to experience the multiple sections including national treasures to exotic foliage and to savor all the smells, colors and textures as your senses will be in overdrive.
A 5 mile/8km looped run that begins and ends at the architecturally famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel will take you around the marina, passing the unofficial national symbol of Merlion Statue a half lion/half mermaid fountain, over the intricately designed Helix Bridge and then into and around bay south, home to the Gardens by the Bay park with its massive Supertrees. Nighttime is a real treat to visit the Gardens by the Bay with its magical light show. Before or after your run, take a moment to visit the two indoor conservatories: Flower Dome and Cloud Forest to experience the always changing floral displays and a 35-meter man-made indoor waterfall.
The MacRitchie Trail is an active enthusiasts dream. The trails, ranging from almost 2 miles/3 km to 7 miles/11 km, surround a reservoir and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. A mix of concrete path and onto the natural habitat of tropical rainforests, you will more than likely run into wildlife from monkeys to owls. If you are looking for a nice view overlooking the reservoir check out the 7 story Jelutong Observatory Tower. But absolutely, do not miss taking yourself to experience life among the Tree Tops with the Tree Top Walk on a 250m suspension bridge. If you would prefer things lower to the ground other than running, you can take to the water in a kayak or canoe.
These are just a few running route options. Of course, there are hundreds of various other places to explore like Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street and more to enrich yourself in multi-cultural areas, to name a few. If you don’t want to do the touring thing all on your own, there is a running tour group, Go Running Tours, that will help you and guide you on your adventures as well. After your workouts, be sure to grab some traditional street food, like pepper crab or stingray, in the famous Hawker Centers to replenish your energy and wash it down with a sugary Singapore Sling cocktail or Tiger Beer, which is brewed locally.