11 Things To Do In MacRitchie Reservoir – Hiking Guide With Treetop Walk, Kayaking & Bamboo Grove

Things to do in MacRitchie

Nature lovers are no strangers to MacRitchie Park, a go-to location for hiking, IG shots or a much-needed breather from the rigours of corporate life. But while the famous treetop walk is often the star of the show, there are plenty of other things to do in the area that have been lying under the radar as well.

Here are 11 things to do in MacRitchie that will make you want to revisit the park pronto:

*As of 16th December 2021, the TreeTop Walk has since reopened to the public. Do still keep in mind safe-distancing measures & expect a wait time especially on the weekends.

Plan your visit

Especially for those going hiking, it’s important to plan your trip before heading down to avoid getting lost among many road forks.

Popular trails and their attractions include:

  • 3KM Green Trail – Prunus and Petai Boardwalk
  • 7KM Orange trail – quickest route to the Treetop Walk
  • 11KM Yellow Trail – longest trail that covers essentially all the park’s attraction

Other trails of mid-level length and difficulty include the Purple, Blue and Pink trails. Check out NParks’ Macritchie map for all the trails.

Beginners could take one of the shorter routes and still have a great experience. But as they always say, go big or go home. We embarked on the 11KM Yellow Trail with bonus detours along the way to cover as many attractions as possible, which added up to a grand total of about 14KM. Refer to our full route on Google Maps – it’s actually doable, even for non-fitspo peeps. 

How to use this guide: Follow the points below in sequence if you’d like to conquer the same route, or pick out some of the unique attractions and visit them on their own.

1. Explore the reservoir on a kayak

From the entrance, the first sight that you’re likely to catch is people kayaking away in the tranquil waters. Most might enter the area to hike but for a change of scenery, you can also rent a kayak from Paddle Lodge to explore the reservoir park from the waters.

Several different types of boats are available for rent from $12/hour. Both single and double sit-on-top kayaks are priced the same at $15/hour, so you can buddy up if you are on a budget. Those with a 1-star kayaking certificate can also rent their closed deck kayak ($12/hour) and canoe sprint single kayak ($20/hour).

You’d have to make an advanced reservation for these kayaks though. Click here to make your booking, and payment can also be made by PayNow or Paypal.

2. Go freshwater fishing

MacRitchie is one of the few public places in Singapore you can fish at – at least legally. Since it’s a freshwater body, there’s no need to worry about getting sandy or sticky, as you would while fishing by the sea.

Image credit: PUB

While fishing here is free, there are no rod rental stores nearby so you’ll have to bring your own equipment. The designated fishing area lies near the Paddle Lodge and is marked by a sign that says “MacRitchie Reservoir Fishing Ground”. 

3. Find turtles and monitor lizards along the Prunus & Petai Trails

Snaking along the eastern end of the reservoir, the tranquil ~2KM Prunus & Petai Trail starts near the entrance of the MacRitchie Nature Trail. With a flat, planked route combined with a scenic view of the turquoise reservoir, it’s not hard to see why it’s a favourite spot among joggers.

Get there by sunrise to catch the light magically peeking through the canopy

There’s plenty of interesting plants and wildlife along this route, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled. Other than a wild boar spotted from a distance, below are some of the many animals we chanced upon:

Spot the second monitor lizard lurking on the left

A large turtle surfacing for a snack

Look out for giant spiders the size of your hand. Eek!

14KM hike tip: Instead of taking a right down to the Yellow Trail trailhead, we recommend going left down the longer but more scenic Prunus & Petai Trail.

Difficulty: Easy
Other trails leading here: Green Trail

4. Have a photoshoot amidst the Arashiyama-like bamboo grove

After completing the Prunus & Petai Trail, the flat boardwalk will make way for something that resembles more of a dirt path with a slightly steeper incline. 

We spotted some bamboo trees in this area – and while they aren’t abundant, they’re enough to snap a shot to bamboozle your friends into thinking you’re in Arashiyama, Kyoto.

5. Head up to the Treetop Walk

Head towards the Ranger Station

After walking 2KM (approx. 30 minutes), you’ll come across this fork in the road. Head left to continue to the treetop walk, but if there are signs that it might start raining cats and dogs, you might want to turn right to exit the park.

Watch out for the monkeys in this area!

Ranger Station

Continue following the arrows pointing towards the MacRitchie Treetop Walk and in about 15 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Ranger Station

The most equipped rest stop of all, there are water coolers, benches where you can sit down and relax your feet, and clean toilets. If you need to answer nature’s call, this is the only place to do it throughout the whole trail, aside from the toilets at the park entrances.

Pro-tip: To avoid getting lost, follow the wooden pole markers on the floor that are colour coded according to the trail route you’re currently on.

Arrive at the MacRitchie Treetop Walk*

*Update: MacRitchie Treetop Walk has since reopened to the public after being closed for a year. Check here for updates, details and alternative routes.

After the Ranger Station, the dirt road makes way for a steep asphalt path and this is where the muscles you’ve accumulated on leg days will be put to good use. Power through ‘cause in a bit, you’ll reach the entrance to the IG-worthy trophy to your hike: the HSBC Treetop Walk.

Suspended 25M above the forest floor, the iconic bridge has a spectacular 360° view of the lush greenery around, with the neighbouring Lower-Pierce Reservoir in the distance. The best part? There are no high-rise buildings in sight. Tell yourself you’re on another island and that may as well be true.

Feel your Tarzan self and wander forward, but not back as this bridge is strictly one-way because of its narrow width.

Difficulty: Easy – Medium
Other trails leading here: Orange and Blue Trails
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 9AM-5PM | Sat, Sun & P.H. 8.30AM-5PM (Closed on Mon)

6. Climb up the Jelutong Tower

There’s more to come despite having seen the star of the show. After several flights of stairs, you’ll reach an underrated gem, the Jelutong Tower.

Jelutong Tower from above
Image credit: @yongsukhur

Blending in with its surroundings at ground level, it might be tempting to give this attraction a miss. But climb up its eight storeys and you’ll be rewarded with a 360° view that rivals that of the Treetop Walk. 

You might be at the top of the canopy layer here, but it’ll feel like the top of the world.

Other trails leading here: None
Difficulty: Easy – Medium

7. Take a picnic along the golf link

Breaking out of the forested area, the trail next takes you into an airy, open space. Flatly paved, this portion is a walk in the park in both the literal and figurative sense. 

This serene area has lush manicured fields of the Singapore Island Country Club on one side and MacRitchie Reservoir on the other.

Pro-tip: Bring along a picnic mat and some sandwiches as this is a great spot to have a lunch break.

Other trails leading here: None

8. Wander along the waterfront Chemperai Trail

A friendly 1.5KM-long, the waterfront Chemperai Trail requires just a short 30 minutes to complete, offering sights like ixora flowers and a lone fallen tree along the way.

Watch your head!

Although similar to the Prunus Trail, this one is significantly less crowded because it lies further from the park entrance, perfect for those who are looking to have a quiet and relaxing stroll.

Benches along the way for a break

Other trails leading here: Purple Trail
Difficulty: Super easy

9. Explore the Zig Zag Bridge

Zig Zag Bridge and
bandstand pavilion from above
Image credit: Airlaxy

Most bridges are just functional, but the Zig Zag Bridge is an aesthetic one, whose true beauty is best seen from above. Use it as a quick and easy way to get across the reservoir or relax on one of its bends during the cooler hours of the day.

View from the bridge

In the middle of the asymmetrical bridge lies a bandstand, a landmark preserved to commemorate the old days, when school sporting events were held in the reservoir park. While the pavilion itself is cordoned off, you can still walk right up to its entrance for a closer look.

Other trails leading here: Purple Trail

10. Walk across a submerged bridge

Image credit:

No, the architect did not accidentally build the bridge too low. During rainier seasons, the 40M-long Submerged Bridge gets intentionally covered ankle-deep with water from the reservoir.

Image credit:

While the quirky bridge is a cooling treat for the toes especially after a long hike, it only floods when there is super high rainfall. Consider yourself lucky if you catch it submerged! If you’re heading in barefoot, watch out for splinters and slippery portions.

Other trails leading here: Purple Trail
Opening hours: 8AM-7.30PM

11. Refuel with affordable food at the Mushroom Cafe

All that walking ought to leave anyone hungry and exhausted, so get that growling tummy fixed with a hearty meal at the Mushroom Cafe, located near the park entrance. 

Starving peeps can load up on carbs with dishes such as Laksa and Prawn Noodle Soup, priced affordably at $4.90 and $5.90 respectively.

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Singapore’s nature spaces might seem limited, but look again and you’ll find plenty of new things to do, even if you’ve been there several times before. 

The next time you head to MacRitchie, don’t just take the shortest route to the TreeTop walk – stop by the reservoir area, head up the Jelutong tower, or hop on a kayak to enjoy its lesser known but very much scenic attractions.

Getting there: The best way to enter the nature park is through the main entrance, where most of the attractions and the start point to the 11KM MacRitchie Nature Hike lies. If you’re driving, head to MacRitchie Reservoir Car Park. 

Via public transport, alight at the nearest MRT of Caldecott, which is one bus stop, or a 12-minute walk away from the park entrance.

Read our other nature guides here:

Photography by Shi Neng Yi and Kurtis Ma.
Cover image adapted from (L-R):
@Airlaxy, TheSmartLocal
Originally published on 15th July 2020. Last updated by Josiah Neo on 21st December 2021.

Kezia Tan

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