Climbing Bukit Timah, Singapore Asia>Singapore>Bukit Timah

Bukit Timah   

Country   Singapore
Height   163 metres (535 feet)
Vertical Elevation   ~120 metres visitor centre)
Rank   221/243
Location   Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Nearest town   Singapore
Start/Finish   Visitor Centre
Climbing time   45 minutes return
Distance  

<1.2km each-way

Grade   2/5 Climb
See also   NA
Date Climbed   March 2012

Climbing Bukit Timah

| The Mountain |

The sign at the top of Bukit Timah emphasises the fact that you have reached the highest naturual point in Singapore. Infact two telecommunications towers sitting at the summit tower above the 163.8 metres which is Singapore's highest 'mountain'. Nevertheless, the hike up Bukit Timah is certainly a pleasant detour to the normal hustle and bustle that is Singapore. While the view from the summit is restricted by surrounding trees, it is exactly those trees which makes this hike so pleasant. Set within Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, a series of hiking trails and mountain bike trails meander through tropical forest, including a resident tribe of monkeys.

First climbed in 1827, by Singapore's then Resident Councillor John Prince, this first climb took five hours to cover a distance of 22.5 kilometres of plantations, hills and swamps, including tigers. Nowdays, you can drive to the summit carpark and follow a well paved road to the summit and be back to the car in less than an hour it takes to complete the 1.2 kilometre walk.

| When to go |

Singapore experiences a tropical climate with hot, humid weather all year round. Temperatures remain high with daytime averages of 30°C (86°F). Humidity is usually above 75%. November to December is the rainy season. June to August is the best time to travel.

| Access |

Finding Bukit Timah is really quite easy. The Bukit Timah visitor centre is well sign-posted off the main road (Upper Bukit Timah Road). Having said this, when we got into out taxi and asked to be taken to Bukit Timah, we were instead taken to the much larger, nearby Bukit Batok Park. Ensure you are taken Bukit Timah, and not one of the nearby other Bukit XXX Parks.

By far the easiest way to get to Bukit Timah is by Taxi. From downtown (Orchard Road), the taxi fare should be no more than SG$10-15 each way. This is a quick and direct way to get to the starting point. However, don't expect to be able to get a taxi back easily. The starting point carpark is on a turn-off on Upper Bukit Timah Road, and few taxis will natually drive to the carpark (other than dropping off other would be climbers). Therefore, you'll need to walk back to the turn-off and even here hailing a taxi isn't easy. We waited for sometime before an empty taxi actually drove by. I'd suggest having a taxi number to call and order a taxi to pick you up (we didn't have a number).

Alternatively you could get a train and walk. The nearest train-station is Bukit Batok, however you'll be walking a couple of kilometres to Timah. While this is fine to do, you'll be dripping in sweat by the time you get there.

| Fees |

There is no fee to climb Bukit Timah. There is a visitor centre at the park entrance, however apart from a drinks vending machine, there is nothing else in the centre (other than some displays). ie there is no food or people to answer any questions.

| The Climb |

Climbing Bukit Timah couldn't be easier. The park itself contains a number of different hiking trails and also includes a number of mountain-bike trails. I don't know what standard these are, however I did note a guy riding a full downhill bike, so I'm guessing there are some good trails.

At the entrance of the park, you'll pass the resident tribe of monkeys. The complated ignored us and allowed us to get quite close to take a few photos. There is quite a good sized carpark right at then entrance, a big visitors centre. However, the centre itself is pretty sparse. A few old looking displays and information boards, some toilets and not much else. There is a drinks machine, so we bought a couple of bottles of water for our hike (a worthwhile purchase). There is a sign which says that the park staff no longer man the centre.

An obvious trail (which is infact a service road) leads away up the hill behind the visitor centre. Here there is also a big map which outlines the various hiking trails you can follow. In reality, there are four trails, each clearly colour-coded. If you simply follow the road, you'll get to Timah.

The trail/road is super easy to follow. You won't get lost. The road is paved and there were a good number of other people also climbing when we were (midweek). The trail is reasonably steep in some place, but there are a few rest stops along the way. We passed a woman pushing a pram up the hill the trail, so it can't be that bad. At about 700 metres, there is shortcut directly to the summit. This is up a steep flight of stairs. Again, this is a very short section and we chose to climb the stairs on the way up and walk down the road on the way down.

The summit itself is a large grassy knoll. The summit is marked with a boulder which gives you the GPS coordinates of the actual summit. There is hut right by the summit boulder, in case it's raining or to shelter from the summit. We sat in the shade enjoying the screaming and yelling of a half-dozen kids running around. There are two big telecommunications towers also on the summit and that's about it.

While the sign at the base on the mountain indicates a 45 minute return trip, it took us 15 minutes up and 10 minutes back. It felt much longer, but I think this was the heat. It's hot and sweaty and that water certainly helped.

 

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