For those familiar with the road cycling scene in Singapore, the Mandai "Loop" is probably one of the most popular routes.
However, for leisure cyclists, this cycling trail is slightly more obscure and unknown. You may only know Mandai for the Singapore Zoo and the River Safari but there's certainly more to this area than meets the eye.
If you have not tried it before and are curious to do so, join us on this virtual tour, and hopefully our little guide will be helpful when you do decide to embark on this ride!
The Shell petrol kiosk along Upper Thomson Road is one of the most popular meetup spots for groups intending to ride the loop together.
Those in the know, however, will fondly remember the old Longhouse Hawker Centre just one block down which used to be the original meeting point.
An alternative meet-up spot is the carpark at the MacRitchie reservoir entrance which provides ample parking for those who live far away and intend to drive to the starting point.
Pro-tip: Busy roads tend to be dusty - a good pair of cycling glasses shields your eyes from debris. During dusk and dawn rides, they also help protect your eyes from the sun's glare.
Roughly 2km from the Shell petrol kiosk, watch out for a nondescript left turn into Old Upper Thomson Road.
This hilly area used to be home to kampongs in the late 19th century and the winding road was part of the main channels to the city.
Halfway through, near Casuarina Road, you have the option of continuing on the multi-use Park Connector or the road itself.
As it was in the middle of the day and there were few pedestrians, we decided to take the leisurely option of the PCN.
Pro-tip: It should almost go without saying, but always wear a helmet when cycling on roads! Besides being mandatory by law in Singapore, helmets help minimize brain injury in the occurrence of a crash or accident.
About 1.5km after exiting Old Upper Thomson Road, and past the SLE flyover, turn left onto Mandai Road.
It's a relatively empty road as most vehicles would either have gone onto the expressway or headed north on Sembawang Road.
About a kilometre into Mandai Road, there is a slight climb onto a flyover that spans the SLE.
It takes you along a scenic view of Upper Seletar Reservoir on your left.
We took the opportunity to have a quick rest and snap a few photos from the lookout point.
Pro-tip: Road cycling apparel is intentionally made to be figure-hugging in order to reduce aerodynamic drag. While minimal, it makes a big difference over longer distances!
Continuing along Mandai Road, it transforms into a three-lane road and traffic gets a bit heavier, but if you keep to the left (roughly 1.5m from the road shoulder) you'll be fine and most vehicles gave us a wide enough berth when passing.
Around 4km after the Upper Seletar Reservoir lookout point, we passed the entrance to the Singapore Zoo (and also the T15 Track trailhead).
In about 2.5km we arrived at yet another famous Shell petrol kiosk, this one serving as a halfway point for cyclists who need to take a break or fill up their bottles.
Pro-tip: Did you know you can lose between 500-1000ml of water per hour from your body during a typical road ride? Stay hydrated with at least 2 water bottles on your bike - because the petrol kiosk may not always be close by!
After the Shell petrol kiosk, turn left onto Woodlands Road. It's a relatively empty stretch of road save for a few heavy trucks and buses until you start to approach the Bukit Panjang area.
At this point, you will travel southwards along Woodlands Road, then Upper Bukit Timah Road until roughly 6km later when you turn left onto Dunearn Road.
Continue riding for around 5km, until you pass underneath the Adam Road flyover. After around 350m, look out for a left turn onto University Road.
It's a quiet ride from here on out as you pass by old bungalows and various landed properties. You will end up at Kheam Hock park, where you'll take a left turn.
Almost immediately you're in a tunnel going under the PIE and soon climbing up Kheam Hock road, passing by a Chinese cemetery just by the roadside.
Pro-tip: Nobody wants to have a mechanical issue with the bike while riding by a graveyard. Ensure your bike is in tip-top condition or at least bring some tools & spares along for the ride!
Lornie Road used to be a bustling road connecting Bishan to the Bukit Timah area.
Today, it’s quite an eerily quiet stretch of road.
It does make for a pleasant ride though, and it's worth noting that the accompanying pavement serves as part of NParks' Coast-to-Coast trail network.
After about 2.2km, you will pass by the aforementioned MacRitchie Reservoir carpark, signaling the last few kilometres of the loop.
One final left turn onto Upper Thomson Road and 1.5km later, and you're back at the Shell petrol kiosk where you started!
Pro-tip: Use a cycling computer to track your mileage and measure your performance. You can also use mount your smartphone to the handlebars with a smartphone mount and use apps like Strava.
That concludes our guide to the Mandai Loop, and we hope you found it useful! Here's a handy route we created on Google Maps so you can follow it easily on your smartphone!
Apart from enjoying the serenity of this cycling route, don't forget to also stay safe and hydrated on this loop.
If you enjoyed this guide, click below to explore more scenic cycling routes in Singapore!