Nestled in the Southeast of Singapore, you’ll find the historical hilltop park of Fort Canning. It is here Singapore has witnessed so much of history, from old palaces to the 1942 surrender to the Japanese. Today Fort Canning has been well put together, with nine historical gardens with paths winding through. The paved paths and manageable size, make it the perfect spot for a family stroll, with a side of history.
To bring the history to life, download the BALIK SG mobile app. Then watch history come alive at 16 augmented reality (AR) Discovery Points. Alternatively, NParks has a very easy to follow map with all the historical markers featured. Don’t worry about strolling around with your face in your phone, these are all clearly signposted in the park itself.
Where To Start
You can access Fort Canning from various MRT stations. We walked up from Dhoby Ghaut and started at No 1, the Fort Wall (I sometimes feel the need to be a bit ordered!). Jetlag & Mayhem were happy as there were swings by the Old Married Soldier’s Quarters. We then followed the numbers on the map, stopping to read the history at each marker.
There is so much beauty in Fort Canning Park, from the Fort Gate to the Lighthouse. There are toilets dotted around the place and the paved path would make it easy for a stroller. That said, there are a lot of stairs (it was of course a strategic hill post) but there’s also a windy path. Our dog also came along for the ride.
At No 4, you’ll see the much lauded Battlebox, which bills itself as an ‘unforgettable journey into an authentic WW II secret Command Centre built 9 metres underground in the late 1930s’. This is the former WWII British underground command centre and part of the headquarters of Malaya Command. It was here that the British made the decision to surrender Singapore to the invading Japanese on 15 February 1942. I still haven’t been but my parents visited (back in the old days) and said it was brilliant.
I’m a Lighthouse fiend and usually get my kicks traveling through Australasia. Now I’ll have to settle with the Fort Canning Lighthouse, built on the southern side of Fort Canning Hill to guide ships safely towards the Singapore Harbour.
The Spice Gardens were once the site of Singapore’s first Botanical and Experimental Gardens started by Raffles in 1822. This is a lovely little part of the park to enjoy the smell of lemongrass, nutmeg and clove.
A contrast to the WW II relics, the Sang Nila Utama Garden, named after the Palembang prince, is a re-creation of South-east Asian gardens of the 14th century. You can close your eyes and almost pretend you are in olden day Java.
If the kids have had enough walking and history, steer them to Jubilee Park. Here you’ll find a super kids playground, opened in 2019.
Where To Eat
I’m a devoted Tiong Bahru Bakery fan and the impetus behind our trip to Fort Canning, was the opening of their new Foothills property. This is cleverly located next to Jubilee Park. There was a long queue for tables so next time I’ll bring a picnic blanket and sit in the grassy area just in front.