Bukit Timah Hill

singapore

Bukit Timah Hill is barely a climb, but is the high point of Singapore, and a highlight for her visitors.

Designated Singapore’s second ASEAN Heritage Park in 2011, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is home to about 40% of Singapore’s natural flora and fauna. It is so richly green, lovingly conserved, and well-curated, that even the most hardened of mountaineer will admit to Bukit Timah being worthy of being featured on Summits.com.

Country
singapore
Height
164m (537 ft)
Climbing Height
163m (starting from the Visitor Centre at the entrance to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve)
Rank
  • #1 in Singapore
  • Outside of top #50 in SE Asia

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Natural Form and History

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - History

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Geological history

Bukit Timah hill is made up of igneous rocks, considered to be formed in the Lower to Mid - Triassic Age. The Upper Triassic Jurong Formation was thereafter deposited on the Bukit Timah granite which underlies about a third of the island of Singapore.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Modern climbing history

Bukit Timah hill was at one point a dreaded tiger-infested forested area. It was in June 1827 that the hill was first summited by Singapore’s then Resident Councilor John Prince and his men. They had to cut their way through about 22.5 kms of plantations, hills and swamps. They planted a white flag on the tallest tree they could find and this could be seen all the way to Fort Canning Hill, which was then the seat of Government in Singapore. A road to the summit was built in 1843.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Current popularity as a climbing destination

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was officially opened in 1992 and has become a common highlight on itineraries for tourists exploring Singapore. Due to the high number of visitors on weekends and public holidays, permits are often restricted and big groups may be required to obtain permits in advance. The park was closed for renovations in 2014 and reopened in 2016 with far greater facilities for visitors including trails of varying difficulties, boardwalks over swampy areas, rope handrails and non-slip surfaces. Designated Singapore’s second ASEAN Heritage Park in 2011, the Reserve and the hill are home to about 40% of Singapore’s natural flora and fauna.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Overview of the Trail

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Overall Assessment

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Summary of trail accessibility

The trek to the summit of Bukit Timah is quite straightforward and can usually be accomplished in less than 90 minutes. There are well marked trails offering different views of the reserve forest and varying degrees of difficulty.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Trail options

Number of options
3
Summary

There are 3 official walking routes in the Reserve that lead up to the summit, designated easy, moderate, and difficult respectively. All routes start at the same point – the Visitor Center.

This is a short and easy route to the summit at just above a kilometer from the starting point. The trail is a paved road leading North West from the Visitor Center and leads you to a steep stairway labelled the Summit Path.

This trail, classified as moderate follows a more scenic route and leads off to the South from the Main Road that goes up the hill from the Visitor Center.

At 1.8 kilometers this is the longest route to the summit of Bukit Timah and is categorized as difficult. The trail leads off the paved routes and offers a far more diverse experience of the Reserve than the other two paths on your way to the summit.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Most popular trail

The Red Trail seems to be the most popular route with visitors preferring a quick climb but many opt for a mix of routes, going up the easy path and returning via more difficult paths so that they get the most out of their visit to the Reserve.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Standard itinerary

Number of days
1
Summary

The entire trek (up and down) takes less than a few hours.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Day 1

07:30:  It is best to start the trek early in the morning before it gets too hot and humid.

08:15:  A leasurly pace up will bring you to the summit in less than an hour. In the first part of the trek, you will walk on a paved road under tall trees of the forest, and if you are lucky you might spot some wildlife too. The second part comprises steps that bring you to the summit.

08:45:  Start walking down after spending some time at the summit. The walk down should take 30 minutes or less and bring to back to the Visitor Center from where you can choose to either spend some time at the Hindhede Park which holds some attractions for children or embark on a different walking trail through other parts of the Natural Reserve.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Climbing Difficulty

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Terrain

Number of distinct sections
2
Summary

Walking to the summit of Bukit Timah can be a fun family activity as it does not take a physical toll, and the paths are well defined and easy to navigate.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - The main road
Starting from the Visitor Center, this is the first part of the ascend and is a steeply inclined tarmac. After the first resting point, the path turns flat. This is the easy stretch of the climb.
Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - The summit path
The second section of the hike comprises a flight of stairs leading up the summit. There are small and large steps juxtaposed side by side and you can choose to take it easy or push yourself on the larger ones. Following the stairs is a relatively flat boarded path and along the route there are handrails to help you on your way, should you need some help.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Weather

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Overview of climate

Singapore being an equatorial country has hot and humid weather throughout the year and the temperature remains in the range of an average low of 200 and an average high of 300C. There are two marked monsoon seasons – the North East Monsoon between December and March and the South West Monsoon between June and September. However rain is a pretty frequent occurrence in the Island State and it is best to check for the daily forecast before planning a trip to Bukit Timah as entry to the Reserve may be prohibited during stormy weather.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Best time to climb

Bukit Timah Hill is accessible all year round. June – July and November – December are peak tourist seasons in Singapore. February to April is also quite cool and pleasant. The weather does not change much at the summit of Bukit Timah from its base – it might just get a tiny bit cooler and windier. It is best to avoid the hot sun and make this trek early – right as soon as the Reserve opens at 7 am.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Common weather challenges

Rain:  Entry to the Reserve might be restricted during stormy weather and if it rains while you are on the trail, watch out for slippery patches. There is also the danger of falling branches in the forest stretches especially in heavy rain. It is always best to check for the weather before embarking on this trip.

Sun:  Make sure to be well prepared with sunscreen if you are taking this trip in the hot sun.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Safety tips

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Climbing safety

Dehydration:  Though this is a short trek, the slopes are steep and can rob you of energy. Ensure that you stay hydrated throughout especially considering the hot and humid weather.

Insects:  While walking through a tropical forest, insects can be menace and it is advisable to use insect repellant before you start.

Slippery surfaces:  Some amount of rain is never too surprising for Singapore and though the trails are mostly laid out in anti-slip surfaces, it pays to be cautious if you are taking the longer and more rugged paths.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Personal safety

This is a popular trek and you are very unlikely to encounter any personal danger or be completely isolated unless going on one of the longer trails.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Safety for women travelers

Singapore has a reputation for being a safe country and women can expect to have a hassle free experience.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Recommended equipment

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Footwear

Any sturdy and comfortable footwear from flip-flops to sneakers will suffice. The only thing to look out for is a firm grip for slippery surfaces.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Clothing

Loose and comfortable clothing suited to tropical weather. Some visitors carry an extra pair of clothing in their bags as it can be a sweaty affair.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Bags

Small, light-weight backpack for essentials.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Weather protection
  • Have a small umbrella / poncho in your backpack in case of unexpected rain.
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sun glasses
Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Climbing support

Not required

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Navigation tools

Not required

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Medical equipment

Not required

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Food
  • A bottle of drinking water
  • A few dry snacks, fruit or chocolate (optional)
Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Hygene sanitation

Hand sanitizer (optional)

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Connectivity

Mobile phone(s)

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Documents

Any ID card (to get your permit at the starting point of the hike).

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Support facilities

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Resting stops and facilities

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Rest stops

The walking trails are equipped with huts along the way, which are basic tin-roof shelters where you can rest and catch your breath. The Kruing Hut is right after the first steep incline on the Main Road, followed by the Simpang Hut before the Summit Path. There is also a Summit Hut at the summit.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Base camp

Given the short trek, there is no designated base camp but the Visitor Center at the start of the trails offers facilities like wash rooms and also a designated area to clean your shoes in case they get muddy.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Guides and porters

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Do you need a guide?

There is no requirement for a guide as the Reserve provides sufficient signage to guide you along on this short trek.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - How to find a guide?

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Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Tips while working with guides

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Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Porters

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Do you need a porter?

A small bagpack on your back will suffice; no porters required.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - How to find a porter?

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Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Tips while working with porters

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Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Food & water

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - At the start of the hike

There are no facilities available within the Reserve for food and water so it is better to refresh yourself at the Shopping Centre near the Reserve before embarking on the trek.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - During the hike, along the trail

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Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - During the hike, at base camp

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Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Network connectivity

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Phone and data (3G) connectivity

4G network connectivity is available all along the route and at the summit.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Accessibility

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Getting there

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Nearest airport
Changi airport, Singapore.
Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - From the airport to the starting point

The Bukit Timah Hill is 30km from the airport, but most hikers will go here from their hotel / home. There are 2 possible ways to get to the Reserve – by MRT or cab.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Climbing permits

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Is a permit needed?
Yes, you will need a permit; at times there may be restrictions on permits owing to the high number of visitors or inclement weather.
Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - How to get a permit?

The permits can be purchased online or at the entrance to the Reserve.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Special Tips

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - For amateur climbers

  • Get a map of all the walking trails and mix it up for a varied experience.
  • The view from the summit of Bukit Timah is not particularly enticing – the tree cover makes it difficult to see too far around and the summit itself is home to a few relay towers so it is a pretty dull area. Take a picture with the GPS stone placed at the summit but otherwise make sure to get your fill of the tropical flora and fauna by going on as many of the routes as possible. The trails are clearly marked and all the shelters have detailed maps showing where you are and which way to go, so there is no fear of getting lost.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - For advanced climbers

  • This is a one and a half hour max climb with no special skills required. If you want to make an adventure of it, opt for a mountain run instead of walking, or go for the longer and less visited routes.
  • There are also specially tailored adventure trek routes around the Reserve and including the summit, devised by adventure enthusiasts that you could check out online before trying it out yourself.

Climbing Bukit Timah Hill Singapore - Other Mountains in singapore

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