Hardcore nature junkies and hiking enthusiasts may not agree with me on this but venturing into the wilderness is not always synonymous with a good hiking experience. Here to change the game, urban hiking will definitely prove to be more of an adventure than climbing Bukit Timah Hill.
Unlike designated hiking trails, flexibility in plotting out a personalised route is one of the unique features of urban hiking. There’s a catch though — you should always start in the concrete jungle but end in the embrace of nature.
For first-timers, embark on this route through the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore which will take you across an expressway not just once, but twice.
Begin your hike with a warm-up stroll along the boardwalk outside The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands that will reward you with a classic view of our cityscape as well as take you past iconic landmarks like the crystalline Louis Vuitton store and ‘lotus’ (ArtScience Museum).
At the end of the boardwalk, you will find yourself right beneath the Helix Bridge which is pretty Insta-worthy if you ask me. Spend some time taking photos, hydrate yourself and get ready to roll out — a highlight of this trail is just right ahead.
I mentioned at the start that you will be traversing the expressway not just once but twice. If you were skeptical then, it’s time to tighten your shoelaces ’cause we are heading up the highway!
Do take note that the highway I’m referring to is the one shown above and not the flyover beside the Helix Bridge. You will have to venture a little further before finding a flight of stairs on your right that will bring you onto the expressway.
They say the first time is always the most memorable and I must admit — I was shook (literally). Somehow, when heavy vehicles drive past, you are able to feel tremors under your feet but I guess this adds up to the thrill factor.
Also, I have no idea how an oBike ended up there.
Pro-tip: Buy a can of beer or two before heading up to enjoy a nice, cold brew while people-watching (or car-watching). You will find it surprisingly therapeutic, but please, don’t do anything silly.
Before making your way out of the expressway, be sure to stop for a top-down shot that is sure to impress. After which, continue straight ahead and exit onto Raffles Boulevard.
Upon exiting, you will find Marina Centre Bus Terminal located on your left. Hidden in an obscure corner of the interchange is a short flight of stairs that will bring you up onto East Coast Parkway (ECP) — the second highlight of this trail!
Fun fact: Recruits from Basic Military School (BMT) march past this section of the ECP as well during their 24km route march. For those who have served, relive the good ol’ days spent singing ‘purple light’ with your squad.
This stretch of the expressway also gives you an alternative view of Gardens by the Bay as well as Marina Barrage in the distance. On a sunny day, you may even catch some kayakers paddling in the shimmering waters beneath.
It would have been awesome to continue along the ECP but well, the path terminates when you are directly above Bay East of Gardens by the Bay. As they say, all good things must come to an end.
Thankfully (or not), this is not yet the end though.
Remember the golden rule of urban hiking — ‘start in the city, end in nature’? We have only completed the urban leg thus far. From here on, follow the park connectors which will bring you all the way to East Coast Park for round two.
Have you earned bragging rights from hiking above the BKE yet? You can now take it one step further by hiking on an expressway twice in a single day.