Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is one of my favourite places in Singapore. It has everything you might want – excellent facilities, relatively few visitors, and many opportunities to spot a variety wildlife. I’ve spotted crocodile, monitor lizards, spiders, otters, kingfishers, and many other species of birds here.
Time: 2-4 hours
Guidebook: Lonely Planet Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei (Travel Guide)
Sungei Buloh sits on the Johor Strait with views directly over to Malaysia. In fact it is so close that you can often hear the construction work in Danga Bay across the water. This position makes reaching the reserve by public transport is a bit difficult, but taxis are not too expensive and there is free parking if you drive yourself. The advantage of this location is that the reserve often has fewer visitors than more popular places such as MacRitchie or Labrador Park.
Sungei Buloh is divided into two halves, with the administration offices and bathroom facilities in the middle. From this centre, the left half consists of tidal mud flats surrounded by raised banks on all sides. The paths run atop these banks, offering views both inland and out. This area is a great place to see all kinds of birds wading and feeding in the mud. Along the paths are several wooden blinds and hides with seating and wildlife information. On the far side of the mudflats is a large observation tower – climbing to the top gives great angles on birds feeding below and those taking off or landing.
If you’re lucky, you might spot otters here at low tide. It is also possible to spot crocodiles from the bridge between the administration area and the mudflats. It can be difficult to spot them in the water, but they can also be seen basking on the banks downstream.
The other side of Sungei Buloh (to the right of the main entrance) is a coastal path through mangroves. You have a good chance of spotting crocodiles on the seaward side – they are often laying in wait in the shallows. If you see a group of people looking at the same spot in the water, chances are they have spotted a crocodile.
The mangroves are a good place to spot monitor lizards and spiders such as Giant golden orb weaver (Nephila pilipes). As they give way to the forest, there are also plenty of dragonflies and birds including sandpipers, plovers, and kingfishers.
The coastal walk has a few side routes, including a boarded platform over the water and an inland path through jungle. They all meet up at another admin building next to the second car park. This marks the far end of the park. From here you need to return the same route to the main car park, which is a good chance to try the alternative routes you missed on the way here.
Before leaving, the dragonfly pond next to the main car park is worth checking out. As you’d expect, the Singaporean National Parks webpage has very useful practical information about Sungei Buloh.
Although far from the centre of Sungei Buloh, there are several areas of interest nearby. Kranji cemetery is in the vicinity, as are a couple of the sites on Singapore’s WW2 trail. If you’re visiting in the evening, Singapore Zoo’s night safari is also well worth doing.