Part of Singapore’s largest nature reserve, MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a lush green oasis located in the geographical heart of the country. Also known as MacRitchie Nature Reserve, this popular public park is a nature-lover’s dream offering visitors forested hiking trails, scenic views from high above the treetops, and plenty of opportunities for staying active in or by the water.
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, this is the place to do it. Whether you plan to visit for a quiet early morning stroll, or you’re bringing the whole family for an active day outdoors, there is something for everyone here. Keep reading for a fun list of things to do at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, as well as helpful tips for enjoying your visit!
Fun Ways to Spend a Day at MacRitchie
Hike the MacRitchie Nature Trail
The eleven kilometers (seven miles) of walking and hiking trails inside the nature reserve are collectively known as the MacRitchie Nature Trail. To walk the full loop would take around four hours depending on your speed and fitness level. If you’re not up for such a lengthy hike (and the sweat fest that is sure to come with it), the main trail has also been broken down into smaller, separate trails of varying lengths and difficulty. You can check out a map of them here.
More detailed maps with a full list of trails are stationed at each park entrance and at regular intervals along the trail. I suggest taking a photo of the first map you come to with your phone and using that as a guide. But if you’re worried about getting lost, don’t be. All of the trails are well-marked and well-traveled, so wandering offtrack into the forest accidentally would be fairly hard to do.
How to get to the MacRitchie Nature Trail: There are several different starting points for the nature trail, one of the most obvious being the trailhead near the main visitor’s center beside the reservoir. But if you’re looking to check out all of the other spots on this list, the best place to start is the trailhead by the Venus Drive car park. A couple trails begin from the entrance on Venus Drive, but the one you’re going to want to hop on is the Venus Loop Trail which links up with the Venus Link Trail.
Walk Across the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk
Suspended between the hills of Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang, the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk is an aerial suspension bridge hanging approximately 80 feet above ground level. Those brave enough to traverse the bridge will be treated to a gorgeous panoramic view of the surrounding nature reserve and nearby Upper Peirce Reservoir.
The TreeTop Walk is free to visitors, but if heights make your knees go wobbly, you may want to skip this one. Between the height and the fact that the bridge itself wobbles when lots of people are on it, it can get a little scary for those of us prone to acrophobia. Going early is best if you’re on the fence. The bridge gets quite crowded mid-day, and as it’s only one-way, sometimes it can take a while to get across when you have to wait for everyone to finish their selfies before moving on.
The TreeTop Walk is open from 9am to 5pm Tuesday through Friday, and 8:30am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Entrance is via the Ranger Station on the Peirce Track.
How to get to the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk: Given its location deep in the park, there isn’t really a quick way to reach the bridge. You’ll be doing quite a bit of walking no matter which way you go, but I recommend starting from the Venus Drive car park on the Venus Loop Trail mentioned above. This will lead to the Squirrel and Drongo Trails, respectively, before hitting the Terentang Trail and finally the Peirce Track. Alternatively, you can take the Venus Link Trail straight to the Pierce Track. (This cuts off a little time, but isn’t quite as scenic.)
Enjoy the View from Jelutong Tower
An alternative spot for accessing a bird’s eye view of MacRitchie is Jelutong Tower. An observation tower featuring several different decks at varying heights, Jelutong Tower is also a perfect spot for getting up close and personal with the critters that make their homes in the surrounding trees. (Aka, bird-watching and monkey-spotting.)
Personally, I think they’re both worth a visit, but if crossing the suspension bridge seems a little too precarious a situation to put yourself in, you’ll probably like Jelutong Tower much better. It’s sturdier and not nearly as frightening to stand on top of, but there are a ridiculous amount of stairs to climb. Thankfully, when you start to get winded, there’s always another deck level to stop and catch your breath on.
How to get to Jelutong Tower: After you’ve made your way across the TreeTop Walk, since you can’t turn around, you’ll be funneled onto the Petaling Boardwalk. Follow this trail until it intersects with the Sime Track. (The Sime Track will take you back to the Venus Link Trail where you started.) At this intersection, take the Petaling Trail a short ways until you spot Jelutong Tower hidden in the trees beside the path.
Stroll Along the Boardwalks
MacRitchie’s boardwalks are some of the best places to take a stroll in the nature reserve if you’re just looking for a walk, not necessarily a hike. All of the boardwalks run alongside the reservoir and provide beautiful nature and water views. Benches scattered along the boardwalks make for exceptionally peaceful spots to relax away from the busier areas of the reservoir.
There are two main sets of boardwalks in MacRitchie Nature Reserve – Jering Boardwalk and Chemperai Boardwalk to the west of the main visitor’s area, and Prunus Boardwalk and Petai Boardwalk to the east. My favorite of these are the two to the west, but if you’ve got time to walk them all, you won’t be disappointed.
How to get to the boardwalks: If you enter via the main visitor’s entrance, you’ll be able to spot signs for the boardwalks fairly easily as you make your way to the water. Alternatively, if you’re coming from Jelutong Tower, take the Golf Link Trail (watching out for rogue golf balls) until you hit the Jering Boardwalk. Continue and you’ll hit the Chemperai Boardwalk before coming to the main visitor’s area of the park. From here, just follow the signs to the Prunus Boardwalk.
Splash Around in the Submerged Pathway
I’m guessing this was designed more for kids than adults, but I’m calling it – splashing around in the submerged pathway is obviously fun for everyone. So take off your shoes, roll up your trousers, and get in there!
If Singapore has been suffering from a dry spell, the submerged pathway likely won’t be very…submerged. In that case, head over to the zigzag bridge instead for a dizzying run alongside the reservoir. The bandstand over that way often has cool things going on as well. (We saw an amazing Singapore photography exhibition one time we visited.)
How to get to the submerged pathway: The submerged pathway, zigzag bridge, and bandstand are all located within sight of each other in the visitor’s area. If you enter via the main entrance and head towards the water, you can’t miss them.
Go Kayaking in MacRitchie Reservoir
Beginners and seasoned water sport enthusiasts alike are welcome to go kayaking in the reservoir. The first thing I thought when I heard that was, they let people kayak in the country’s drinking water?! But don’t worry, it gets treated before it comes through your faucet.
The waters in the reservoir are calm, making it a perfect spot for novice kayakers to learn. There are even special designated areas (look for the yellow buoys) just for beginners. More advanced kayakers are welcome to explore outside of the buoys. Even if you don’t plan to go kayaking yourself, it’s fun to walk down to the reservoir near the visitor’s area and watch the pros race each other.
Where to rent kayaks at Macritchie Reservoir: Kayaks can be rented for a fee from Singapore Canoe Federation. The kiosk is located by the reservoir on the eastern end of the main visitor’s area near the fishing area. No need to book ahead. Current rental prices can be found here.
Spot Monkeys on the Trails
Long-tailed macaques are the most common monkey found in Singapore. There are around 1,500 of them in the whole country and they all live in MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Just kidding. But it certainly feels like it. Spotting them as you walk along the trails, and even in areas where you wouldn’t expect to find them (like, the restrooms – yikes), won’t be difficult.
After an unfortunate monkey incident in Thailand, I now stay a minimum of 100 feet away from monkeys at all times, which is generally pretty good advice, I think. So is not holding food anywhere a monkey could spot it. These little guys move surprisingly fast, so it’s best to keep water bottles and snacks packed away.
Assuming you’re not holding any food and you stay a safe distance away, the monkeys in MacRitchie will probably completely ignore you, making it easy to sit by and watch their silly antics. The babies are my favorites, but they’re also the least predictable, so don’t be surprised if you crouch down to take a photo, only to find one standing right beside you with his hand on your knee. (I was pretty proud of myself for not screaming, but truthfully, it was only because I was frozen in fear.)
Where to find monkeys in MacRitchie: You’re very likely to spot a few over by the TreeTop Walk which is sort of terrifying. Heights + wild monkeys? No, thank you. But the one place you’re nearly always guaranteed to find groups of them hanging out are along the Prunus and Petai Boardwalks. From the main visitor’s center, walk east along the reservoir until you see the signs for the boardwalks and then follow the path. It won’t be long before you cross paths with these furry little
Grab a Bite to Eat at the Mushroom Cafe
Unfortunately, there’s no picture for this one because I never remember to take any when there’s food involved, but if you’re looking for a yummy place to grab lunch, then head straight to the Mushroom Cafe. Every time we come here and plan to stay longer than a couple hours, this is where we eat. Serving up delicious local fare like chicken curry, nasi lemak, and laksa, the prices at Mushroom Cafe are just as good as the food.
Where to find the Mushroom Cafe: The Mushroom Cafe is located close to the main entrance in the Amenities Centre where you’ll also find water fountains, showers, and a rest area.
Tips for Visiting MacRitchie Nature Reserve
How to get to MacRitchie: Unfortunately, there’s no MRT station nearby, but taking a bus is also super easy. The closest stop to the Venus Drive car park will be either of the two Flame Tree Park bus stops (53071, 53079) on Upper Thomson Road. If you prefer to head to the main entrance, take a bus to the MacRitchie Reservoir bus stop (51071) on Thomson Road instead. From the Orchard area of Singapore, the journey will take around 45 minutes. If you’re driving, there are car parks available at both Venus Drive and the main entrance.
What to wear: I’m fairly certain the fogging Singapore carries out in residential areas sends all the mosquitoes running straight to MacRitchie, so if you plan to hike and tend to attract these little blood-suckers, I recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves. As for footwear, if you’re taking any of the forested hiking trails, you’ll want to wear trainers. Some of the trails are fairly steep and there are a LOT of stairs to climb following the TreeTop Walk.
Things to bring: A refillable water bottle. There are water fountains around the park where you can fill up, and tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Singapore. Mosquito repellent. The mosquitoes are at their worst on the forested hiking trails, but they also like to hang out along the boardwalks along the water. Mosquito repellent is a must. Sunscreen. The sun is strong in Singapore and you’ll likely be sweating buckets thanks to the humidity, so make sure you wear a sunscreen designed for sports-level performance.
Also, bring cash. The Mushroom Cafe and the Singapore Canoe Federation do not accept credit card payments. Likewise, if you need to rent a locker if you’re kayaking, you’ll want to have a couple $1 coins on you.
Clean up after yourself. I think this probably goes without saying, but please pick up your trash. It’s so bad for the environment and the wildlife when you leave it behind. Not to mention, Singapore has very strict litter laws, and if you’re caught leaving a mess, you’ll be facing some pretty steep fines.
Watch out for wild boars. Monkeys aren’t the only wild animals you’ll spot along the jungle paths. These guys are far less comfortable with humans than the monkeys, so they’ll likely run away if they see you, but if they don’t, definitely keep your distance.
Opening hours at MacRitchie are from 7am to 7pm. But certain areas within the park, like the TreeTop Walk and the kayak rental kiosk have shorter operating hours, so it’s best to check the website before you go.
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