From a TreeTop Walk to shady hiking trails and a cafe, here’s why MacRitchie Reservoir Park is so much fun to visit with kids
MacRitchie Reservoir Park just might be our favourite park in Singapore. It’s huge, with shaded hiking trails, an amazing TreeTop walk, a beautiful reservoir for water sports like kayaking and canoeing (not to mention waterfront yoga), and endless opportunities for spotting wildlife like monkeys, snakes and monitor lizards.
There’s also an on-site café and handy amenities like a parking garage and restrooms, all of which make MacRitchie extremely kid-friendly.
Ready for some fresh air with a side of social distancing? Here’s everything you need to know for exploring all 12 hectares of MacRitchie Reservoir Park with kids (or on your own)…do note that pets are not allowed due to its extensive wildlife, so leave Fido at home!
MacRitchie Reservoir is one of four reservoirs within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and was constructed way back in 1867. The park offers a fantastic network of nature trails that are well-maintained but refreshingly rustic – think tree roots and rocks, and no pavement for strollers (although the front park of the park is paved so there’s plenty to see with a bub in tow). MacRitchie’s natural terrain actually caused a bit of an uproar a few years back when someone complained about it in a letter to The Straits Times – the overwhelming response from the general public was that MacRitchie’s ruggedness is special and should be preserved at all costs (whew!). It’s one of the few places in Singapore where you can walk through the jungle and feel miles removed from the city.
MacRitchie has six different nature trails that range from 3km to 11km in length. The 11km trail – perhaps our favorite running route in Singapore – travels in a big loop around the reservoir, while the 9.5km route traverses the park and terminates at Rifle Range Road near Bukit Timah. The 4.8km loop that runs near Lornie Road is perfect with kids, as the terrain is relatively flat and mostly features a wide gravel walkway, along with plenty of shade (and opportunities for wildlife spotting!). The route can be shortened at any point if you just turn around, rather than follow the loop to the boardwalk; otherwise your best bet with kids is to walk along the reservoir boardwalk from the jetty (to the left if you’re facing the park) to the boat rental centre.
We all know Singapore’s not exactly Switzerland when it comes to hiking, but MacRitchie offers some of the country’s hilliest terrain, with occasional rises that require you to hold onto trees or put your hand down on the ground to balance yourself as you scramble up a muddy patch. With thick vegetation and lots of shade, it always feels just a couple degrees cooler than anywhere else in Singapore – one of many reasons that runners absolutely love it. MacRitchie is also popular for group hikes; note that if you plan to visit with a group of 30 or more people, you’ll be required to fill out a group hiking application form, as there’s a cap of 100 people in groups max per day in the nature reserves.
Besides the aforementioned shade, MacRitchie is beloved by runners in Singapore for its varied, challenging terrain and oh-so picturesque scenery. When you follow the 11km loop, at various points you’ll run along the water, you’ll traverse a meadow adjacent to a golf course, you’ll cross freshwater streams, and you’ll feel your quads burning as you dash up the occasional steep hill. Around the midway point (near the golf course) you’ll also pass Jelutong Tower, a 7-deck observation tower that offers stunning, unimpeded reviews of MacRitchie’s lush rainforest. There are shelters situated throughout the trail (handy when the downpours start), but it’s wise to bring your own water bottle because there’s not much else around.
Many schools and other organizations host races and cross country meets at MacRitchie Reservoir Park – if you’re keen to take your trail running to the next level, one of Singapore’s most elite running clubs, MacRitchie Runners 25, trains at the park every Sunday. Momentum Bootcamps holds occasional weekend group running classes there as well.
MacRitchie offers up myriad opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, with rental rates starting from $15/hour (click here to see the full list of offerings from the Singapore Canoe Federation). MacRitchie Reservoir is tranquil and calm – perfect for beginners – and there’s even a designated area close to shore for novice paddlers. Note that children must be age 7 or higher to accompany adults, although the SCF also offers a Kid in a Kayak programme geared toward kids ages 10-12.
Fishing is also permitted in MacRitchie Reservoir Park; the designated fishing spot is just past Mushroom Café, near the water sports centre.
One of MacRitchie’s most popular features is its TreeTop Walk, a free-standing 250m-long suspension bridge that gives you a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy from 25m above the ground (proceed at your own caution if you’re afraid of heights!). The TreeTop Walk is the first of its kind in Singapore, and connects the two highest points in MacRitchie – Bukit Kalang and Bukit Peirce.
The TreeTop Walk is relatively narrow and allows for one-direction traffic; entry is at the Ranger Station via Peirce Track. The TreeTop walk closes at 5pm sharp, and visitors are advised to start hiking from the Ranger Station by 4:30pm. The TreeTop Walk is also closed on Mondays (except public holidays).
Note that the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk is about a 4.5km walk from the main MacRitchie Reservoir Park entrance at Lornie Road (about 1-2 hours depending how fast you walk). However you can also park closer by at Venus Drive, which is 2.5km and about 45 minutes-1 hour away on foot.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park is absolutely one of the best places in Singapore to go for an (almost) guaranteed monkey spotting. Be warned, though: MacRitchie’s Macaques are quite fearless, so it’s important to use common sense and follow park regulations to not antagonize them (don’t feed them, don’t scream at them, don’t use flash photography…like we said, common sense!). We’ve often spotted Macaques near the bandstand and the jetty (to the left of the parking area, if you’re looking at the park), but they can be anywhere along the trail and seem to like the TreeTop Walk, too.
MacRitchie is also popular amongst bird watchers. Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, Eagles and Owls are just some of the majestic birds you can spot within the park; check out the nature guides for the Chemperai and Prunus Trails for more, including additional info on the unique and varied flora that you’ll spot along the way!
In addition to monkeys and birds, MacRitchie is home to Monitor Lizards, Squirrels, Colugos (Flying Lemurs), Skinks, Tree Snakes and Whip Snakes.
To the right of the Lornie Road entrance is Mushroom Café, which serves up lots of local dishes (laksa, nasi lemak, curry puffs, mee siam, kaya toast) alongside not-exactly-healthy sides like French fries and chicken nuggets, as well as desserts (including ice cream). Our favorite post-run treat is fresh coconut; you’ll also find sodas, coffee, tea and Milo. Click here to see the menu. Note that the café is open-air, with fans but no aircon.
Mushroom Café is part of MacRitchie’s Amenities Centre, which features bathrooms, showers, lockers (bring $1 coins), and drinking fountains.
- MacRitchie Reservoir Park is open daily from 7am to 7pm
- The TreeTop Walk is open from 9am-5pm (Tuesday to Friday) and from 8:30am-5pm on weekends. It is closed on Mondays (except for public holidays)
- Mushroom Café is open daily from 7am to 9pm
- Kayak rentals are available daily from 9am to 10:30am, and from 2pm to 4:30pm
The main entrance to MacRitchie Reservoir Park is located on Lornie Road at the intersection with Thomson Road, maybe about 15 minutes by car from Orchard (depending on traffic). The two-level parking garage has 300 spaces and rarely fills up (unless there is a big race or special event going on). Marymount MRT is about 20 minutes away on foot, but many bus lines stop right outside the park’s entrance. Note that the Venus Drive carpark closer by to the TreeTop Walk is located off Upper Thomson Road.
A water bottle and sturdy walking shoes are a must if you plan to explore any of MacRitchie Trails. However if you’re just going to stick to the boardwalk area near the entrance, or are planning on waterfront yoga, flip-flops or sandals should be fine. As ever, a hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellant are vital. Most of the park is not stroller-friendly, so pack your baby carrier! Once again, dogs are NOT allowed in the Nature Reserve (though we have seen them in the paved area near the entrance and café).
MacRitchie Reservoir Park is located at Lornie Road near Thomson Road, see www.nparks.gov.sg for more!