The beautiful Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is located on the doorstep of downtown Singapore. Declared a reserve in 1883, it is a precious asset to Singapore's environment and to its tourist industry. Much of this ASEAN Heritage Park is in fact located on the slopes of Bukit Timah Hill, which boasts the tallest peak in the area. Amongst the reserve's attractions, particularly for nature enthusiasts, are 500 animal species and 840 varieties of flowering plants. Hiking is the most popular activity in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and there are plenty of trails throughout the forest. For the more adventurous, mountain biking, abseiling and rock climbing are also available.
Any trip to Bukit Timah should begin at the visitor centre. Here, you'll find informative displays on the area and its history. You can also talk to staff about which trails and activities are best suited to you. Guided tours are available, but self-guided trails are well posted. Bring a backpack of food and water.
The reserve covers only 1.64 square kilometres, so a day trip means you can see much or all of it. Most visitors choose to climb to the summit of Bukit Timah Hill. From here, you're rewarded with exquisite views of the park, and of Singapore itself. On the way up, it’s likely that you'll run into some of the reserve's wildlife, including the common tree shrew, plantain squirrel and long-tailed macaque. Bear in mind that there is a heavy fine for feeding some of the animals.
Another popular area of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is its old granite quarries. Some of these provide superb photo opportunities, while others now cater for rock climbing and abseiling.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is about 12 kilometres from the centre of Singapore. If you're coming by car, arrive early at the visitor centre to secure a space. Regular buses run to the reserve too. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is open daily and entry is free.