Take advantage of the sunshine and fresh air and head out on an outdoor adventure. The kids will love exploring SIngapore's heritage trails!
We’re always looking for new places in Singapore to explore, from Chinatown to Haji Lane, and discovering all the uniquely multicultural aspects of Singapore. Thankfully, the good folks at the National Heritage Board have just the thing up their sleeve – heritage trails aplenty to embark on a more in-depth exploration around the Little Red Dot!
And since we like to try and test fun activities on your behalf, we took walks and bike these heritage trails ourselves. The verdict? Yes, you’ll get a little sweaty, but it’s well worth it for an eye-opening, up-close-and-personal look into Singapore’s history. Who needs air conditioning when you’ve got an outdoorsy adventure?!
So, we’ve picked out seven of the best heritage trails in Singapore to explore with the kids. Keep an eye out for the heritage trail markers if you’re not able to pick up a booklet or map at any NHB museum, and download a digital copy to have on the go. Ready? Mosquito repellent and sunscreen on, water bottles filled… Let’s go!
Heritage trails in Singapore
1. Historical Landmarks of Balestier
45 min on foot
Once a site of American consulate Joseph Balestier’s sugarcane estate, Balestier has an eclectic mix of unique architecture. Think pre-war terrace houses, lavish Chinese baroque shophouses and the modern Balestier Point. Pick up the trail booklet from Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and head to Maha Sasanaramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple, home of the largest marble Buddha statue outside of Myanmar. Cut through Zhongshan Park and check out probably the last surviving water kiosk at Boon Teck Road. And once you’ve refuelled, cross over to Balestier Market for a bite to eat from the former wet market, before continuing your journey exploring the architecture in the area.
2. Tampines Green Spaces Trail
One hour on a bicycle
If you’re looking for a new cycling trail, then look no further! Get the kiddos cycle ready and embark on this biking trail in Tampines that will take you past plenty of green spaces and former kampongs as well as industrial sites. Start at Bedok Reservoir Park, a former sand quarry, and head to Tampines Link passed the temples and ‘ice cream cone’ water tanks at the Tampines NEWater Service Reservoir. You’ll be breezing past shophouses from the former Hun Yeang Village before heading towards Pasir Ris Farmway (home of some of our favourite farms) before ending up at Lorong Halus Wetland. From there, you can explore your way over to Punggol Waterway and Waterway Point (where you’ll find some well-deserved air-conditioning!).
3. Orchard Road’s Historical Gems
40 min on foot; or 30 min with a bus ride
Why not turn a shopping trip into a history lesson with this Orchard Road trail? Start off at the Royal Thai Embassy and head to Shaw House Orchard MRT entrance towards Tang Plaza, which houses C K Tang, Orchard Road‘s first department store. You’ll see landmarks such as Goodwood Park Hotel and Ngee Ann City – the site of a former Teochew cemetery. Try to spot more pieces of Peranakan heritage, such as the old Singapore Chinese Girls’ School and Peranakan Place, the gateway to Emerald Hill, before heading back to civilisation (and maybe a bit more shopping).
4. Serangoon in the 1900s
40 minutes on foot
We’ve already sussed out the best places to visit in Little India, but if you’re planning to dig a little deeper into the history of the area, then prepare to travel back in time to the early 20th century. The Little India trail recommends starting at the Indian Heritage Centre, where you can pick up the trail booklet. But you can also start off at Tekka Centre to catch the early morning market buzz before 9am. Work your way backwards down Race Course Lane, where you’ll find Chinese Clan Associations and large murals. Check out the roads where buffalos once walked and see the colourful Former House of Tan Teng Niah, the only remaining Chinese Villa in Little India.
5. Kampong Life Trail
One hour by bus and on foot
Here’s a forgotten piece of Singapore’s past – the former Bukit Timah Railway Station. Located just a stone’s throw away from King Albert Park MRT station, you can pick up the Bukit Timah trail booklet from Bukit Timah CC and explore the now-abandoned railway station that once connected Singapore to Malaysia. Then head to Sixth Avenue to explore the Masjid Al-Huda mosque and Hoon San Temple. For real adventurers, follow the Rail Corridor down to Fuyong Estate towards the nearby Rail Mall for eats and drinks.
6. Coastal Heritage
One hour on foot; or 30 min on a bicycle
Pasir Ris is one of our favourite areas in the East to visit on the weekends. Rediscover the town’s past by going down the Coastal Heritage trail. Your journey starts off at Pasir Ris Park, which was developed in the 1980s. Head down towards the six-hectare Mangrove Forest, where you can walk along the boardwalk and learn more about the wildlife and mangrove species residing there. Make your way back down to Pasir Ris Beach before crossing the bridge spanning Sungei Api Api. This area is supposedly haunted, so we reckon it’s best you visit here in the daytime! See if you can spot the elephant playground and the former People’s Association Holiday Facilities. End off the trail by going up the Adventure Playground!
7. Kampong Glam Heritage Trail
About one hour on foot
So you think you know all there is about this enclave? Well, think again. It’s not just shopping and food – there’s a lot of rich history waiting to be discovered through the Kampong Glam Heritage Trail. There are three trails for you to explore. The first trail takes you through areas that you’re familiar with, including Arab Street, Bussorah Street, and Haji Lane. The second and third trails are where you’ll learn more about Kampong Glam, going through places like Hajjah Fatimah Mosque, St John Ambulance Headquarters, the Muslim cemetery, and Queen Street Bus and Taxi Terminal. When you’re done, just hit up any food place within the area to refuel!
Love this list of heritage trails in Singapore? Check out these family-friendly hiking trails too!