Bukit Timah Nature Reserve: A Guide to Singapore’s Ecological Treasure


Bukit Timah Nature Reserve stands as one of Singapore’s ecological treasures, located just 15 kilometres from the bustling Downtown Core. It occupies the highest natural point in Singapore, Bukit Timah Hill, and serves as a sanctuary for a rich tapestry of wildlife and native flora. This reserve, forming part of the Central Nature Park Network, is distinguished by its impressive biodiversity, boasting over 840 species of flowering plants and more than 500 species of fauna.

Designated as an ASEAN Heritage Park, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a significant conservation area that plays a vital role in the study and preservation of tropical rainforest ecosystems within a highly urbanised city. Visitors to the reserve can engage with the environment through a network of trails suitable for hiking and biking, offering both leisurely and challenging routes through the lush greenery.

The reserve also hosts a visitor centre on Bukit Timah Hill, where individuals can learn about the various species that inhabit the region. Whether it’s the shy forest animals that roam the undergrowth or the vivid plant life that thrives in the reserve, the centre provides educational insights into the ecological importance of this green haven amidst the city.

Overview of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve stands as an ecologically significant zone in Singapore, known for its dense rainforest and wealth of flora and fauna. At the summit of Bukit Timah Hill, the highest elevation in Singapore at 163 metres, the reserve spreads over 1.64 square kilometres and is recognised as one of the ASEAN Heritage Parks.


This richly biodiverse environment is Singapore’s premier nature reserve and encompasses the country’s largest fragment of primary rainforest. Its existence hearkens back to 1883, marking it as a pioneer in Singapore’s nature conservation efforts.

Visitors to the park enjoy access to well-maintained trails, some revitalised with new steps, boardwalks, and rope railings. These pathways invite exploration of the reserve’s wildlife, which includes several rare and native species.

The reserve operates within the Central Nature Park Network, which plays a role in safeguarding the region’s ecological balance. Embodying a haven for both nature enthusiasts and native species, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve remains a testament to Singapore’s dedication to preserving its natural heritage.

Location and Accessibility

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is easily reached from various parts of Singapore, offering both private and public transport options. It is situated on Bukit Timah Hill, renowned for being the highest natural point in Singapore.

Getting to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

The reserve is located near the Central Region of Singapore, approximately 13 kilometres from the city centre. For visitors consulting a map, it sits directly across Hindhede Dr, 589318, Singapore.


Public Transport Options

Visitors can take multiple bus services or the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) to reach Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The following public transportation routes facilitate access:

  • Buses: Seven specific bus services offer a convenient route:
    1. 67
    2. 75
    3. 170
    4. 171
    5. 184
    6. 852
    7. 961
  • MRT: The nearest MRT station is Beauty World, which is approximately a 10-minute walk to the reserve’s visitor centre.

Parking Facilities

For those travelling by car, there are parking facilities available. The main car park is accessible from Upper Bukit Timah Road, turning into Hindhede Drive. Here, about 200 metres from the main road, the parking space is provided for visitors’ cars.

Trails and Hiking

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offers a variety of trails suited for both hiking enthusiasts and casual walkers, alongside paths dedicated to mountain biking, each varying in difficulty to cater for a broad spectrum of outdoor activity lovers.

Main Hiking Trails

The park provides several marked trails for hiking. The main ones are:

  • South Trail: Beginning from Sunbird Hut, this 2.1km trail is a loop characterised by granite boulders and tall lalang plants.
  • North Trails: Two alternative trails, offering both challenging and moderate hiking experiences across a mixed distance.

Biking Paths

Mountain Biking: Certain trails are specifically designated for mountain biking, featuring rugged terrain that challenges bikers of intermediate to advanced ability.


Trail Difficulty Levels

The reserve’s trails are categorised by difficulty:

  • Easy: Suitable for beginners and those looking for a leisurely hike
  • Moderate: For regular hikers seeking a more strenuous activity
  • Difficult: These trails demand a high level of fitness and are ideal for experienced hikers and bikers

Flora and Fauna Diversity

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve stands as a significant conservation area in Singapore, renowned for its rich biodiversity. It provides sanctuary to a remarkable variety of native plant species and serves as a crucial habitat for diverse wildlife.

Native Plant Species

The nature reserve is notable for supporting over 55% of Singapore’s indigenous plant species despite its modest area. These plants form the ecological backbone of the reserve.

  • Primary Forest Trees: Dipterocarp species, the forest giants which constitute the emergent layer.
  • Understory Plants: Ferns and small shrubs that flourish in the dappled sunlight under the canopy.

Wildlife Habitats

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is critical for the conservation of native fauna, hosting a myriad of animals within its boundaries.

  • Mammals: Residents include plantain squirrels, flying lemurs, and various species of bats.
  • Bird Species: The reserve is a haven for birdwatchers with its avian diversity that includes the greater racket-tailed drongo and the red-crowned barbet.
  • Reptiles and Amphibians: Frogs, lizards, and snakes thrive in the moist, tropical climate.
  • Insects: Home to an impressive array of butterflies, beetles, and other insects, the reserve is a hotspot for entomologists.

Historical Significance

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve stands as a testament to Singapore’s commitment to conservation amid urban development, a legacy that began in the late 19th century.


Cultural Heritage

Established in 1883, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is one of Singapore’s earliest forest reserves. Nathaniel Cantley, then-Superintendent of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, suggested its establishment. During World War II, the Reserve became significant for another reason: as a strategic point, it was one of the last stands against the Japanese invasion.

Protected as a nature reserve, Bukit Timah is home to Singapore’s highest natural point and the largest primary rainforest on the island. Its Cultural Heritage stems from its longstanding history and its role in Singapore’s colonial and wartime past, serving as a green bastion amidst rapid urbanisation.

Conservation and Protection

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve sets a high standard for conservation and protection efforts, integrating both legislative measures and ecological bridges to maintain its rich biodiversity.


The Eco-link@BKE is an ecological bridge that spans the Bukit Timah Expressway, enabling wildlife to move between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve safely. This bridge is a significant conservation structure, fostering genetic diversity by allowing isolated animal populations to interbreed, vital for their long-term survival.

National Parks Act

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is safeguarded under the stringent regulations of the National Parks Act. This Act is a legal framework that provides protections for national parks and promotes conservation efforts. Specific measures include controlling access to sensitive areas and regulating activities that could impact the reserve’s ecological balance. The National Parks Board oversees the application of this Act, representing a strong commitment to conserving Singapore’s natural heritage.

Recreational Facilities

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offers a range of amenities catering to leisure and education for visitors of all ages, emphasising family-friendly facilities.

Picnic Areas

Visitors can enjoy numerous picnic spots throughout the reserve, some furnished with benches for convenience. These areas allow families and nature enthusiasts to relax among the greenery.

Visitor Centre Amenities

The Visitor Centre serves as a hub for those looking to learn more about the reserve or partake in recreational activities. Amenities include:

  • Restrooms: Clean and accessible facilities.
  • Vending Machines: Offering drinks and snacks.
  • Informational Displays: Presenting facts on the local flora and fauna.

Guided Tours

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve provides guided tours for those interested in a structured exploration of the area. These tours can be both educational and enjoyable, highlighting the rich biodiversity of the reserve.

Educational Opportunities

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offers educational experiences that engage visitors with its rich biodiversity and conservation efforts. These opportunities are designed to deepen the understanding of tropical rainforest ecosystems.

Nature Education Programmes

At the Visitor Centre, guests can commence their journey into the educational facet of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. This centre serves as an informational hub where one can obtain resources or join Guided Tours led by knowledgeable guides. These tours are a gateway to appreciating the reserve’s diverse flora and fauna, fostering a connection between visitors and the natural environment.

Conservation practices and the significance of safeguarding biodiversity are integral parts of the education programmes. Participants learn about the local efforts to preserve distinct species and habitats. The reserve’s status as a protected area makes it an ideal outdoor classroom where conservation concepts become tangible.

By interacting with the reserve’s diverse ecosystems, individuals gain firsthand exposure to the complexity and interdependence of various species. Real-world examples highlight the importance of each organism in maintaining the ecological balance within Bukit Timah’s lush landscapes.

Connecting Parks and Trails

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is central to a network of green spaces and trails that provide continuous routes for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

Green Corridors

The Rail Corridor, a green thoroughfare, offers a seamless connection between various green spaces. It creates a beneficial link for biodiversity while serving as a recreational space for visitors. Through this corridor, connectivity between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and other green spaces such as Dairy Farm Nature Park and Chestnut Nature Park is significantly enhanced.

  • Rail Corridor
    • Connects to Dairy Farm Nature Park
    • Leads to Chestnut Nature Park

Nearby Nature Parks

Surrounding the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are several other nature parks that contribute to the extensive network of green spaces. Hindhede Nature Park is known for its serene setting and family-friendly trails, while Zhenghua Nature Park presents a peaceful haven that supports a variety of wildlife. Together, these parks create a cohesive ecosystem that supports conservation efforts.

  • Hindhede Nature Park: Offers family-friendly trails and a serene atmosphere.
  • Zhenghua Nature Park: A peaceful environment supporting diverse wildlife.

Additional Points of Interest

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offers various sites that attract visitors beyond the main trails. From scenic quarries to historical stations, these spots enrich the visitor experience.

Hindhede Quarry

Located near the entrance of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Hindhede Quarry presents a picturesque spot perfect for nature photography and tranquil reflection. It features a serene lake and is surrounded by cliffs, making it a scenic backdrop for visitors.

Singapore Quarry

Singapore Quarry is another serene spot, positioned to the west of the Reserve. It’s a habitat for various species of dragonflies and a favourite with bird watchers. The quarry has been rehabilitated into a wetland haven with a viewing platform to observe the thriving aquatic life and birds.

Bukit Timah Railway Station

The Bukit Timah Railway Station is a historical remnant of the rail corridor that once connected Singapore to Malaysia. This station, no longer in operation for trains, stands as a monument to Singapore’s railway heritage and is situated close to the Reserve’s green spaces, adding historical context to the natural surroundings.

While not included in this section’s highlighted points, Diary Farm Quarry and the former Granite Quarry are also integral to the Reserve’s geography and history, having played their role in Singapore’s industrial past.

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Annie Goh

Annie Goh was born and raised in Singapore, and grew up on a steady diet of hawker food, fine dining, and everything in between thanks to her parent's passion for food and adventure. After spending the early part of her career travelling the world, Annie has now come home to share her love of Singapore with the world.

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