Updated: 4 days ago
Planning a visit to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, particularly Bukit Timah Hill, in Singapore? How about combining a nature exploration, education, and some history of Singapore with a workout session?
We have recommendations 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.
The summit on Bukit Timah Hill is only 163 metres above sea level and can be reached in around 15 minutes using the main path — it is just a resting point. There is no achievement to aim for the summit. The main objectives for going to Bukit Timah Hill are hiking and checking out the wild floras and faunas.
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 have read Conquer 10Km in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, skip this section and the next one and go straight to the details for the 7Km Hill Loop Trek. Note that the 7Km trekking route is a smaller subset of the 10Km route.
The primary objective of the 7Km Hill Loop 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.
Find wild animals:
The secondary objective is to have a little more challenging workout in the nature at a walking pace. Note that the trek is recommended for fit travellers as there are quite a number of uphill and downhill flights of steps. If you have not been exercising regularly, take it as an opportunity to have some workout. It will be a matter of perseverance and pushing yourself a little. If the going gets too tough, just find the way to the main road.
Read on for more details on the 7Km trek and tune your expectations. Try not to give up when the toughest part is just about to be over.
Points to Note
Before going into the details, do take note of some important points below to make your visit to the nature reserve more enjoyable.
Keep to Designated Paths
1. Do not walk on closed paths with "No Entry" signs. Conservation efforts are going on to grow trees on the paths to prevent soil erosion. But many seedlings were killed by trespassers. Some hillside paths are prone to falling trees due to soil erosion, caused by heavy rains in recent months, and are closed off for safety. As deterrence against trespassers, the fine for first-time offender is S$200, second-time is S$2,000.
2. Do stay on designated paths as there may be snakes (some venomous) and big ants (that really bite) in the bushes. For pregnant women and people with medical conditions, do stay on the main road (accessible by ambulance) and avoid going on the hillside paths. Due to the large number of steps, a medical team may take longer to carry sufferer to the ambulance and then to a hospital, thus, delaying treatments.
Plan Your Visit
3. For travellers, keep your itinerary to Singapore loose and visit the nature reserve on a day with nice weather. Do check the weather forecast again on the very day. Other than heavy rains, sunny and light afternoon drizzles are considered "nice" weather.
4. Try to start early, between 7:00 to 8:30 am, as the afternoon sun can be burning hot outside of the monsoon seasons. Do take precautions against heat stroke and drink lots of water.
5. For long distance trek, you might want to standby some snack bars as you won't be able to get any of them in the forests. There are drinks and snack vending machines in the Visitor Centre.
6. Do wear proper walking shoes. High heels, platform shoes and slippers are not recommended even for just a short walk up to the summit on the main road (steepest part is 40°-inclined).
7. The distance of 7Km is an approximation on Google Map. Do get your steps and flights-climbed tracker app ready, or use iOS Health app, to measure your pace at your own time. You can also use iPackTravel (iOS only) to map your trail and extract the step counts, flights climbed and walking distance from Health app.
8. Do check out additional articles mentioned in this post. They are related to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve too.
7Km Hill Loop Trek
The recommended 7Km Hill Loop will exclude Dairy Farm Nature Park and cover only Bukit Timah Hill and Hindhede Nature Park. This trail is not exactly similar to the 10Km trek as they may go in opposing directions on some paths. The 7Km trek is, in fact, more strenuous than the 10Km trek, but the latter has longer distance to cover.
See the 7Km trail on Google Map.
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 around 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.
Again, 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 recommendation. Enjoy the trek!
No kick? Try 10Km: