The complete Round Island Route (RIR) will be a continuous 150km recreational route that runs around Singapore. Don’t be daunted – this is a purpose-built route with dedicated pathways and runs past many landmarks in Singapore. We round up some points of interest you shouldn’t miss on your attempt to finish the first 75km of the RIR! This guide is written in the clockwise direction.
And if you’ve already registered, or are planning to sign up for the SAFRA Wheels & Feet Charity Challenge, the locations mentioned here will help to get you started!
Rower’s Bay – Seletar (Starting Point)
Featuring a boardwalk, this starting point is populated with flora and fauna. Its popularity with kayaking and dragon-boating enthusiasts inspired its name. As you traverse the park connector, you will be passing by remnants of Singapore’s colonial era at the Seletar Aerospace Park. In 1923, the British developed this area to house a Royal Air Force station that served Singapore from 1928 to 1971. Be sure to stop by the Heritage Trees as well as Blk 398 Canteen, Singapore’s very last kampung kopitiam (village coffee shop).
Certain parts of the path between Seletar and Punggol are narrow. However, Punggol has very wide tracks that can accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists. Stop by Punggol Point for a quick break, or a good meal (or make a detour to SAFRA Punggol), which is located along the PCN network. The big attraction here is Coney Island Park, which houses a wide variety of habitats, including coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves, and casuarina woodlands. It is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, some of which are critically endangered or extinct in the wild. Be sure to have lots of memory space on your camera!
A short hop away, Pasir Ris houses a Mangrove Boardwalk. These have been built in the mangrove forest for you to get an up-close look at the inhabitants. Bird-watching enthusiasts can also observe avian life from the three-storey high Bird Watching Tower located within the mangrove forest. You can even temporarily swap your transportation to a water-bike or even a horse – yes, there is a stable.
Don’t forget to look out for the brightly-coloured Eco-Ark, a floating modern fish farm dwarfing the traditional kelong next to it. The Eco-Ark is one of a handful of floating closed-containment fish farms in the world, and is home to 30 tonnes of fish, including barramundi, red snapper fingerlings and groupers.
If water-biking in Pasir Ris hasn’t worked up an appetite, the climb between Loyang and Changi will. Stop by Changi Village for a wide variety of dining options, as well as a visit to the retail shops to replenish your supplies.
The newly opened Changi Bay is a great photo opportunity. On a good day, you will be able to see as far out as Malaysia. As you ride next to the sea, you’ll want to stop to look at the concrete tiles placed along the coast; they provide habitats for marine life.
This is also where you’ll put yourself and your equipment to the test on the long road to East Coast Park. Be careful and keep left as there will be path users who tend to go faster than the speed limit of 25km/h.
East Coast Park
Here, you will find plenty of dining options, ranging from hawkers to restaurants. Being a hugely popular park, do take it slow along this stretch as you’ll have to share the path with crowds of people, both on foot and on wheels.
Photo ops include the futuristic-looking Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant. Before you cross the bridge to Marina Bay, do slow down at the last tree. Known as the “otter tree”, it’s a favourite spot for the Marina otter family to rest after a day of hunting. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to spot the entire family frolicking under the shade. Resist the temptation to touch or interact with them though – they may bite.
Once you’ve gone past Gardens by the Bay, you may choose to cross over to the Youth Olympic Park, or circle around the Marina Bay (note: higher human traffic). This part of the park connector will require you to cross a total of four bridges, so it is recommended that you take it easy on this segment. It is usually full of joggers and people walking with their families or pets. This path takes you through the heart of Clarke Quay as well, which will be very crowded during the evening.
You will pass an iconic landmark: the Zion Road Food Centre. Despite being one of the smallest food centres in Singapore with 32 stalls, many claim that it houses some of the best hawker stalls in Singapore, with those selling char kway teow, fried carrot cake and prawn noodles being the most well-known.
The last leg of the RIR Phase One will take you through Alexandra, and also past the most unusual HDB properties – terrace houses. Built in the 1960s by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), these houses are rare as there are only 285 of such public “landed property” homes in Singapore.
You will pass by the iconic Alexandra shopping belt, which is full of car dealerships as well as Ikea and Queensway Shopping Centre, popular for its sportswear. The park connector will bring you on a good climb and descends right to the doorstep of Labrador Park, from which you can either choose to have your victory meal at the nearby Gillman Barracks or at SAFRA Mount Faber, located 2km away.
When completed, the Round Island Route will be the longest recreational connection in this network. For now, stay safe, stretch well, and equip yourself for the 75km Phase One trip – and don’t forget to stay hydrated!
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Photos: Kelvin Low