Weekends are one of the best times for spending with your loved ones. This week, you might have attempted the Northern Explorer Loop; another lovely Loop awaits you this weekend from the list of Park Connector Networks (PCN) by the National Parks (NParks). As a matter of fact, NParks have made it possible for you to cycle the whole of Singapore just on the Park Connector Networks alone.
(For this article we shall assume that you’ll bring your own bike or rent a shared bike. If you wish to rent a bike, the PCN pitstops are available. However, do note that Pasir Ris’s PCN pitstop has closed down.)
The 42km Eastern Coastal Loop (ECL) or Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network (ECPCN) links up 7 Park Connectors to connect districts from Changi to East Coast Park in the Marine Parade area. You traverse through Changi/Changi Airport, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Tanah Merah, Bedok, Siglap/Telok Kurau and finally East Coast Park/Marine Parade, then loop back via Kembangan to Bedok and Pasir Ris. Throw in a trip to Pulau Ubin island if you wish via bumboat at Changi Village’s jetty.
Estimated time is 4-8 hours to cover the entire 42km ECPCN stretch including Changi. Activities that can be done along the trail are cycling (duh), rollerblading and water sports such as canoeing and yacht-surfing. The coastline can be seen along various stretches and it is indeed a scenic route with easy access to car parking facilities, toilets and eateries.
Journeying Through the ECPCN
Start off at Pasir Ris Park. There, you can cycle, rent canoes or yachts and hold court with your loved one just immersing in the lush quietude and smell of earth at the Mangrove Boardwalk (do note you’re not allowed to cycle inside). There are various exotic plants and wildlife you can discover inside. You can also birdwatch from the 3-story high Bird Watching Tower located within the mangrove forest. Seaside escapades await; you can also set up tent on the beach subject to approval.
After Pasir Ris Park, head on to Changi by way of Loyang Avenue. You can however skip this route in favor of getting to Tampines straight – we shall come to that later. Changi Village is home to Changi Beach Park, which fronts one of the oldest coastlines in Singapore. It also sports quite a clean beach and there is a jetty where you can take a bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin to further explore a rural part of Singapore or take a bike ride there on Ubin’s hilly Ketam MTB Cycling Trail. Try spotting the kampongs there.
Come back by way of Changi Ferry Terminal => Coastal Park Connector, an extremely long ride through shade-y trails that lead you straight to Bedok and then East Coast Parkway. The excitement you get cycling on Coastal PC is riding beside the Changi Runway, watching the planes land and take off. This is however the “rural” trail – you’ll see mainly (Changi airport) trees and nature and miss out on the district-to-district ride-through. To avoid that, try cycling back the same way via Loyang Ave to Pasir Ris; take the long bridge over at Blk 124 and enter Tampines. Hit Sunplaza Park/Tampines Eco Green, enjoy the hedges and bird-watch, discover the freshwater habitat set within the Eco Green (you’ll cycle on grass most of the way).
Exit the Eco Green/Sunplaza Park, bike your way past the Tampines malls and head on to Bedok Reservoir side. There, stop and bask in the lush quiet of water, walk on the pebbled grasspatch by the reservoir/in Bedok Reservoir Park, do anything water-related. Spot the Little Tern or White-Bellied Sea Eagle. Having quenched your thirst for reservoirs, get on your metal horse and head on for a quick meal at Bedok Food Centre. Then stop by the Bedok Jetty for a glimpse (again) of water before cycling the final stretch through Bedok Park Connector to East Coast Park/Marine Parade.
By now you’ve probably had enough of seasides, or are ready to embrace the biggest one yet of the whole ride. East Coast Park is thrice the size of Pasir Ris Park and a lot larger than Changi Beach. It is however one of the best parks for roller-skating, couple bike-riding, family outings and picnics. There are a few out-jutting rocks you can sit on with your loved one basking in the song of the sea. Be prepared to climb a little. Oh, there’s also a haunted spot at East Coast Park: the Amber Beacon Tower. A murder happened there in the foregone year of 1990…
To complete the ECPCN, cycle back to Pasir Ris via Telok Kurau Park and Siglap Park Connector, passing Kembangan MRT. Should you wish, you can detour to explore the affluent estate: private condos thrive here by the diamond dozen. It also tests your uphill riding abilities. Once you hit Bedok, it’s back the same way you came from Pasir Ris.
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