Of Mangroves and Wildlife : Singapore’s Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Some time in the first week of August, I was invited by three of my friends to watch Singapore’s pre-National Day Fireworks Display at 8:00pm that evening. Not wanting to get caught in the traffic jam across the Johor-Singapore Causeway Link, we set off for Singapore at 10.30am. Although it happened to be a Saturday, there was strangely not much traffic and we managed to breeze across the Causeway in record time! Since we had plenty of time on our hands we decided to explore some of Singapore’s nearby attractions in the northern part of this small but vibrant city. The Singapore Zoo? I’ve been there countless of times especially during my children’s growing up years. We were Friends of the Zoo then! River Safari? Not under the scorching heat of the noonday sun. Singapore Orchid Garden? Nice place but spending five hours there? Not really! Besides, one of my friends has a phobia of flying insects – butterflies, in particular.

Finally, we settled for Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. I am ashamed to admit that I had never made any real effort to visit this Wetland Reserve during my many years of working in Singapore.

It turned out to be a walkabout that I enjoyed immensely because it was fun to return to nature, away from the fast pace and towering buildings of digitally-connected Singapore. This Wetland Reserve showcased a rare and unique side of Singapore that I never knew existed.

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One of the many views seen along the Mid-Canopy Walk

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Lotus pond at one of the two entrances to the Reserve

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore’s last surviving “wild” place. Here, you will find 202 hectares of mangroves, mudflats, ponds together with lush walking trails, boardwalks, bird-viewing huts and lookouts. This Wetland Reserve has been designated an ASEAN Heritage Park for its rich biodiversity. This secondary rainforest is ideal for watching migratory birds as they brave the long journey from Siberia to Australia during winter.

The Reserve is also a good spot to catch a view of monitor lizards, mudskippers, tree-climbing crabs, mud lobsters, snails and spiders. Many species are shy and observation hides are available where you can observe the flora and fauna undisturbed.

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Giant spider spinning its web across the wooden balcony of the Main Hide

Believe it or not Sungei Buloh is also the only place in Singapore where you can catch sight of estuarine crocodiles, and I was lucky enough to spot one on that day!

An esrtuarine crocodile resting under the shade. Seen from the Main Bridge at the Wetland Centre
An esrtuarine crocodile resting under the shade. Seen from the Main Bridge at the Wetland Centre
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View of Johor, Malaysia from one of the five huts along the Mangrove Boardwalk
Colourful prints and artwork decorate the wooden roofs of the huts along the Mangrove Boardwalk
Colourful prints and artwork decorate the wooden roofs of the huts along the Mangrove Boardwalk

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Painted stones from one of the many children's activities organised at the Wetland Centre
Painted stones from one of the many children’s activities organised at the Wetland Centre

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Main Bridge across the Sungei Buloh Besar River

All too soon, the hours flew by and it was time to make our way to the East Coast for the fireworks display.

There are still many parts of the Reserve that I did not have time to visit. If you happen to be a nature lover, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve should be at the top of your to-do list in Singapore. It is open from 7am to 7pm daily and admission to the reserve is free. The Visitors’ Centre has educational exhibits, an audio-visual show, a cafe, vending machines, clean toilets and lockers. It links to the Coastal Trail (1.3km), Forest Trail (300 metres) and Mid-Canopy Walk (150 metres). The 1.3km Coastal Trail links to the Wetland Centre, where the Migratory Bird Trail (1.95km) and Mangrove Boardwalk (500 metres) are found. Several observation pods can be found along the trails, most notable being the Aerie Tower with views of Malaysia.

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9 thoughts on “Of Mangroves and Wildlife : Singapore’s Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

  1. Don’t be ashamed about not visiting. Not many locals do. I just did so two months back, and I’m a true blue Singaporean who has also done national service in the forests not that far from Sungei Buloh!

    1. Hope you will make it a point to have a little walk at Sungei Buloh one of these days. I was impressed by the efforts made towards its conservation. Visitors can simply take a leisurely stroll and just enjoy the surroundings. Very family friendly. Along the way, there are lots of things to see like fish farms, prawn farms, Koi rearing, organic farms, nurseries, etc. Quite an eye opener! 🙂

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