Escape the metropolis by taking a stroll in this lush park and learn about the city's wartime history while you're at it.
Fort Canning Park may only be a small hill, yet its importance to Singapore cannot be ignored. It was once the home of the ruling Malay Kings, and later became one of the residences of Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. Later still, Fort Canning Park became the site of a military barracks and hospital. Remaining features from all of these periods make this a fascinating site to visit. In its own right, the park is a tranquil green space, which serves as a peaceful haven from the city.
Those who want to know more about the park should join one of the free walking tours. There are three of these to choose from, which variously teach you about its inhabited past, as well as its flora and fauna. Among the species that can be found in Fort Canning Park are nine types of heritage tree, and an abundance of dragonflies (at Princess Pond) and butterflies (in the Butterfly Garden). Also visit the aromatic Spice Garden, located on the site of a former botanical garden created by Raffles.
The reason many come to Fort Canning Park is for its fascinating ruins, which tell much about its past. The Archaeological Dig & Exhibition is a functioning excavation site, where thousands of artefacts have already been found. Here, you can see the Keramat Iskandar Shah, the ornate burial ground of an unknown ancient leader. Also visit the grand Fort Gate and adjoining wall – these are all that is left of the fortress which occupied this hill from 1861 to 1926.
Other interesting places to visit in the park include Raffles' old bungalow, complete with cannons and a gunpowder store, the "Battle Box" bunker, which is nine metres underground, and the notorious spot where Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in the 1940s.
Fort Canning Park is in downtown Singapore, not far from the Orchard Road shopping district. It can be easily reached on foot from many downtown hotels. The park is open daily, and there is no admission charge.