Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Planning a visit to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or just Bukit Timah Hill, in Singapore? How about combining a nature exploration, education, and some history of Singapore with a workout session?
We have suggested routes for a 10Km Full Circuit Trek and a 7Km Hill Loop Trek in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve with all above objectives in mind. These treks are suitable for locals and overseas travellers to get the most fulfillment out of a single visit to the nature reserve.
In this post, we will run through the route for the 7Km Hill Loop Trek. Do check out the 10Km Full Circuit Trek too as some routes may overlap and some are planned in opposite directions for different trekking experience.
If you are interested only in hiking on the hill and not so much into sightseeing, check out this post instead:
The primary objective of the 7Km trek is to discover more about Bukit Timah Hill. The trekking route will bring you to places of interest in and around the hill, explore the rain forests and see wild floras and faunas with as little overlapping on same paths as possible. But, do modify them to suit your own needs.
Read this before you go:
Let's Get Started
1. Get to Beauty World MRT Station on the Downtown Line and exit the station using Exit B. Follow the route to Bukit Timah Hill. A couple of restaurants along Cheong Chin Nam Road may have already opened for business in the morning, you can have breakfast there.
For more budget options, go to the food centre on the top floor of Beauty World Centre (use Exit A). After breakfast, use the overhead bridge on the same level as the food centre to get to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The route is also shown on the map.
2. Just before reaching the foot of Bukit Timah Hill, you will pass under a railway bridge with a short remnant of a railway track from the historical Singapore-Malaysia railway line. You can check it out or wait until after the trek.
3. You will come to the car park for Bukit Timah Hill. The Visitor Centre for Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is just behind the car park. Instead of heading straight towards the Visitor Center, turn left and walk towards Hindhede Nature Park. Enter the park and keep left until you reach Hindhede Quarry.
4. At the look-out hut for Hindhede Quarry. Check out the scenery, the fishes, the terrapins and the birds too.
5. Leaving the quarry, turn left at every junction or follow the signposts to the Visitor Centre. You will notice that Hindhede Nature Park is a big playground for kids. At the Visitor Centre, check out the exhibits and get a rough idea of what to expect in the nature reserve (except tigers, they are history). Read about animals that are truly native to Singapore and hopefully you can spot them while trekking.
The uphill trek to Bukit Timah Summit will start on the main road (tarmac path) beside the Visitor Centre. And do go to the washroom here and get some water too, the next rest point will be couple of hours away. Get some snacks if you like.
6. Follow the main road up the hill and experience the thrill of hiking up a steep 40° inclined slope. Try searching for Malayan colugos on tall tree trunks on both sides of the path at the same time. These "flying lemurs" can be anywhere but the tall trees and sparser tree branches beside the main road make it easier to spot them.
7. Walk on the main road until you reach Simpang Hut, turn right, head straight to a flight of steps that lead to the summit. This will be your first flight of uphill steps. The main road will also lead you to the summit, but it is too easy and you will use it on the way down later, so take the steps. This is also the only flight of steps that has smaller steps on the left side (when going up), use it to make the climb easier.
8. At the summit, take a break. You will only be 163.63 metres above sea level, so it's not something to wow about. Most visitors will go "That's it! This is the summit?". Yup, that's the highest point. You will not regret going up that last flight of steps.
9. Leaving the summit, take the main road. At the first junction, go down Rengas Path and turn right to Diary Farm Loop. Look for more wild floras and faunas along the way. See if you can see some monkeys, squirrels, wild boars and birds.
10. Walk along Diary Farm Loop trail until you hit Diary Farm Hut, turn right to Diary Farm Nature Park. A short distance later, you will reach another tarmac road, turn right again to Wallace Education Centre. There are more exhibits in there about the nature reserve since its discovery in the 19th century and the floras and faunas discovered in time chronological order. There is also a restroom and water cooler for refill.
If you are into birds photography, the area around Wallace Education Centre is a natural habitat for many species of birds. It's a hot spot for many bird watchers.
11. If you are interested to explore Wallace Trail opposite Wallace Education Centre, you may do so. There are more floras here to discover. However, do apply insect repellent, you are going into the woods. Find out more about Alfred Wallace, a Welsh naturalist and biologist, and his relationship with the nature reserve, especially his love for durians. See if you can identify the durian trees (hint: its leave has two colours: shiny bright green topside, dull pale green underneath).
12. Retrace back to Diary Farm Hut and continue on Diary Farm Loop, cross a small bridge along the way and you will come to another flight of uphill steps. This is the narrowest and steepest flight of steps in Bukit Timah Hill. Catch your breath and walk up slowly. Don't stop or you will feel that it's going to take forever to reach the top.
13. At the top of the steps is North View Hut, take a break. Then continue on Diary Farm Loop until the next junction, turn right to Jungle Fall Path. You will come across a small "waterfall" and further along the path will be your third longest flight of steps uphill. Some of the steps here are about a foot high. Hope your legs will not be wobbling at this point. Up the steps and follow the path all the way to the main road.
14. On the main road, follow it downhill. Easy walk. You will pass the first flight of steps that you went up to the summit, pass Simpang Hut, keep left and continue downhill until you reach a junction with a path leading to Catchment Path. Take it.
15. Walk along Catchment Path, ignore Rock Path, and turn right onto Cave Path.
16. Follow Cave Path all the way to South View Path. Along South View Path, this will be your second chance to search for the Malayan colugos. If you are still OK to go for more distance, take Taban Path and circle around to the Visitor Centre. Note that Taban Path will lead you downhill for many steps and uphill (quite short) again. The forest is also denser there, but you will be focusing more on the steps instead of looking around.
17. Back at the visitor centre, wash down and follow the trail to Beauty World Centre or Cheong Chin Nam Road for lunch. Alternately, trek for another 2Km to The Rail Mall along the green corridor and have lunch there (refer to the 10Km trek for more detail at the end of this post).
18. (Optional) If you have some time and would like to visit an exhibition gallery in Former Ford Factory, now called Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies, take a bus there. Almost all buses from the bus stop opposite Beauty World Centre will be able to reach there, except Bus 852. Alight at the third stop.
The gallery is opened from 9am to 5:30pm (Mon to Sat) and from 12 noon to 5:30pm (Sundays), including public holidays, except first day of Chinese New Year.
Congratulations! You will have conquered at least 4 long flights of uphill steps. And should have clocked around 12,000 steps and close to 60 floors climbed (using iOS Health app).
Using iPackTravel, you can map your hiking trail with data for steps count, number of flights climbed and walked distance. My steps count is only 11,215 due to my long legs.
Hope you are not expecting the 7Km trek to be easier than the 10Km trek for Bukit Timah Nature Reserve — due to the longer walking distance for the 10Km trek, I worked out that route to go through lesser uphills. The calories burned for 7Km should be close to that for 10Km.
If the recommended route does not suit your preference, do modify it so you can have lesser uphill climbs or simply go in opposition directions from the suggested route. Enjoy the trek!
No kick? Try the 10Km route: