The longest walk in Singapore is the 36-kilometer Coast-to-Coast Trail, which runs from the island’s northeast coastline to the western central part of the island. We decided to explore the top third of it on Sunday morning.
The name “Coast-to-Coast Trail” is misleading, since this is not a “trail” in the traditional sense (it’s paved for nearly the entire way), and it only hits one coast (at its northern terminus). You’re guided along the way to nine different checkpoints by Phil the Leaf, who tells you each time that you are “Phil-nomenal”:
We chose to start at the top of the trail, at Coney Island. Officially known as Serangoon Island, this small island was given its nickname by an entrepreneur in the 1950s who thought that a new moniker would inspire more visitors to his new resort. The name stuck, and Coney Island has been turned into a nature reserve with tidewrack-cluttered beaches:
From here, the Coast-to-Coast Trail runs generally south and west along a series of waterways in an area known as Punggol (favorite fun fact of the walk: punggol in Malay means throwing sticks at trees to bring fruit down).
There’s a lot of construction going on at the trail’s edge.
The walk at this section is hot, exposed, and sunny. If you’re walking, make sure you check the map on your phone for directions — the trail signage in Punggol is iffy.
Once you leave the coast behind, you soon get to the developments of Punggol town.
From here, the trail winds its way along Punggol Waterway Park, a delightful green space with bike and walking paths…
… fun bridges …
… more fun bridges …
… history panels (I love that you can learn about “suspicious characters and trouble-makers”) …
… wild creatures …
… and even a water park!
From Punggol, the trail continues along a paved path by a river …
… to Sengkang Riverside Park …
… and out to the Sengkang Floating Wetlands:
These constructed wetlands are a great place to learn about Singapore’s wetlands plants — and they are also home, strangely and delightfully, to orange slice benches and a giant mangosteen hut!
Once you leave Sengkang, the river grows less wild — it becomes a canal rather than a waterway with natural edges
There’s not much to see at this point; you do have the option of taking a diversion to Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the last of Singapore’s traditional neighborhoods, but that’s about it. Then you leave the canal — and the trail (a sidewalk, really) begins running along a six-lane road:
This is by far the least appealing part of the walk. Fortunately, once we turned the corner and start the long, straight stretch down Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, we found mottled shade from elegant trees …
… and plantings with beautiful flowers:
Parallel to the trail up a hill on the right run two long, sparsely-shaded parks: Luxus Hills and Ang Mo Kio Linear Park:
We next passed a development where there appears to be an old tree farm of some sort — and where we ignored the “Private Property No Entry” sign to pick up a coconut:
This leg of our Coast-to-Coast journey ended next to Nanyang Polytechnic Institute, a giant school of science, tech, business, and design:
If you’re considering walking this trail yourself, here are some things we’d recommend putting in your pack: several water bottles, band-aids (or plasters, as they’re called here), Body Glide, a small towel, a hat, and cash for snacks at the hawker stalls. We’ll continue south from Ang Mo Kio on our next outing!
Free coconut! I’m in
coconut picnic! fun!
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