5 Secret Hiking Spots You Did Not Know Existed In Singapore

The Crazy Rich Asian movie has put Singapore on the pedestal for being known as a country known for its rich architecture and food. Yet beneath its glamorous surface, there is an unpolished, gritty side to Singapore that the world does not know exists.

Despite being known as a clean, concrete jungle, Singapore has many natural aspects to it. Hence, the name city in a garden. From forgotten landmarks to World War 2 bunkers, Singapore has lots of hidden and abandoned places that, if you put in a little effort to find, could open up an interesting look into Singapore’s forgotten history.

So, if you think you know everything you need to know about Singapore, here are five secret hiking spots that we think you should take out your hiking shoes for.

1. Keppel Hill Reservoir

As long as you are willing to go the beaten path, bashing through wild grass and tall ferns and getting slightly scratched by sharp and thorny stems and plants, you will find Keppel Hill Reservoir. Dubbed the forgotten reservoir, Keppel Hill Reservoir was, until a couple of years ago, not found on modern maps.

The exact history and when it was first built is unknown. However, it was first officially named Keppel Harbour Power Station Reservoir in 1905 and served Tanjong Pagar dockyards as a freshwater supply. A year later, it was rechannelled to support a nearby Government Beri-Beri Hospital. However, due to its limited capacity, its use as a reservoir dwindled and surrounding residents used it as a swimming hole. During World War 2, Japanese soldiers took over the reservoir, using it as their personal pool.

By 1954, its location was forgotten on several survey maps until 2005, when a team of paranormal investigators came across the forgotten reservoir while looking for the lost tomb of a Japanese naval engineer. It was only in 2014 that the National Heritage Board confirmed its existence and historical significance. In fact, just close by is another historical site known as Seah Im Bunker, which was said to be either an ammunition storage facility or an air raid shelter during the World War 2 period.

2. Tanjong Rimau

Located on the Western edge of Sentosa, one of the many off-shore Singapore islands to explore, Tanjong Rimau is also known as Siloso Headland. Remaining mostly untouched, the site can be accessed through the edge of Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa via a rocky slope or through a short walk down Fort Siloso. A two-hour guided tour is available as the place can be a little dangerous due to its remoteness.

Highly recommended to visit during low tide; you can enjoy the site’s natural wildlife and beauty, with the opportunity to spot unique starfish and corals that you did not know existed in Singapore. Proper footwear is recommended as there are lots of slippery rocks and tidal pools that are home to the venomous stonefish, which delivers a deadly toxin when stepped on.

3. Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park

Located only 10 minutes away from Bukit Gombak MRT station is Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park, an entire park that has been abandoned and forgotten for years. While the exact origin of this park is not clear, studies have revealed that it was established in the early 1990s and was shut down for unknown reasons in 1995.

Hiking through the forested park will bring you a peek into a bustling park, from man-made stone steps to an old well and the park’s famous “Japanese torii gates”. Do note that this forested park will soon be “long gone”. As part of the government’s move to promote greater ecological connectivity in Singapore, Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park is part of NPark’s effort to create green buffers. While the park will still exist, it will be developed and enhanced by 2024.

4. Alexandra Woodland

This 26-hectare patch of forested wilderness is located along another recently developed Rail Corridor. Adventurous individuals hike through Alexandra Woodland for one main purpose – to get a look at the ‘Lost Ark’, a man-made recreational wooden deck that was crafted from huge fallen trees. It is probably one of the easier hikes on this list, but it offers a great respite from the hustle and bustle of life. On the ‘Lost Ark’, you can enjoy a simple picnic with a view of a natural pond. Just be mindful of your surroundings, leaving the site as it was discovered, and be mindful of stepping on young saplings and plants.

5. Dover Forest West

Dover Forest, a 40-hectare forest, is a secondary regrowth forest that has close to at least a century’s worth of history and is also home to both locally and globally endangered wildlife species, such as the oriental pied hornbill, changeable hawk-eagle, and straw-headed bulbul. Initially used as a rubber plantation before World War 2, it was left abandoned and untouched. Over the years, it has been split into Dover Forest West and East, with the eastern half cleared for public housing projects in late 2022.

As of today, Dover Forest West is the only remaining half of the original Dover Forest, at least until 2031. The now 15-hectare forest remains a forest and not a public park. As such, there are no human developments, such as marked trails or written signs. You can, however, find ribbons tied by previous hikers to find your way through the lush forest. But it is still best to rely on your GPS to avoid getting lost.

Conclusion

More than just delicious food and rich architecture, Singapore offers a great deal of places that serve as ideal respite from the busy working life. While some are well-developed and easy to find, others take a little more effort and navigational skills to hike through. Yet, all in all, they offer great satisfaction in the end.

Whether you are new to Singapore or looking to move out of your family home, ST Residences offers some of the best serviced apartment rentals you can find. With convenient and affordable service apartments all over Singapore, from Balestier and Novena to the CBD, you can easily access these secret hiking spots through public transport. Contact us today to find out more about our service apartments!

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