A guide to Fort Canning Park: Nature, history and the instagram famous spiral staircase
Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Andrew is a massive history lover, particularly on the topics of British colonies, world war two and maritime history (him being a British marine engineer). I always enjoy mixing exploring and learning with getting in some morning exercise. Between us, this makes Fort Canning Park our ideal way to spend a Sunday exploring. We've been to Fort Canning Park many times before. Each visit we discover something new. We have combined our top spots and stories into a single guide to ensure your visit can cover all the highlights this park has to offer.
Getting to Fort Canning Park
The nearest MRT station to fort Canning park is Dhoby Ghaut. Alternatively we often take a taxi to the visitors centre at the top of the hill by the Battle Box entrance. If booking via the Grab app, use our code for your first new ride free (GRAB1HU0ZBZO).
Top Places to visit in Fort Canning Park
1. The BattleBox: The best spot to learn about Singapore's WW2 History
If you're anything like us and enjoy war history, or want to know more about Singapore's past the BattleBox tour is an excellent way to learn more. This former WW2 underground command centre at the top of Fort Canning Hill was the headquarters of the Malaya Command, the army defending Malaya and Singapore during WW2. Walking through this bunker is like stepping back in time. Touring through the dimly lit rooms with relics of the past, gives a first hand experience of what life was like managing the war. You not only learn but also feel the pressure of the challenges faced from within the box during the final hours leading up to the surrender decision. If you're a movie buff, you might also recognise the inside of the box from the movie The Railway Man.
The only way to see the BattleBox is currently by tour. Adult tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at the BattleBox visitor centre. 3-5 tours run per day.
2. Underground Tunnels near the BattleBox Visitor Centre:
Taking pictures while on the BattleBox tour is not allowed. Instead, take a walk past the visitors centre, there is steel gate surrounded by lush greenery, behind it a dark staircase leading to the top of Fort Canning Hill. Open the gate and take a walk through.
3. The view from the the Fort Gate
On top of Fort Canning Hill, surrounded by lush green foliage and ancient majestic trees is the Fort Gate. The gate walls are in part overrun by jungle, making you feel like an early explorer as you venture toward the gate entrance. Something we only discovered on our third visit to the park is a staircase behind the large gate doors, leading to a vantage point atop the gate.
4. Fort Canning Park Lighthouse and Maritime Corner
With Andrew being a marine engineer, this was another must stop for us. The current lighthouse is a replica of the 1903 lighthouse, which became inactive in 1958. Walking around the lighthouse and witnessing the photo's of the early days of Singapore gives a true appreciation for how rapidly the city has changed and developed. Both trees and skyscrapers now mask the ocean view of where the lighthouse stands. This lighthouse also survived Japanese occupation during world war two. This is also a fascinating story to learn more about on the visit.
5. The Spiral Staircase: One of Singapore's most instagramable spots
This is without question the busiest spot in Fort Canning Park. We have seen many photos pop up on our instagram feeds of the famous spiral staircase in the park. Despite several visits to Fort Canning we've never spotted it. This time we did our research to find it. The lower entrance to the staircase can be found off Fort Canning Road road, close to Dhoby Ghaut via the Fort Canning tunnel.
We visited on a Sunday Public holiday weekend, and it was certainly not for the faint hearted. We arrived to at least a 15 person deep queue to get the perfect shot. Everyone was in their ootd ready for at least a few minutes photo shoot per person. We on the other hand were sweaty in our gym gear after a long walk through the park. None the less we waited, perhaps it was the true Singaporean nature in us that did not want to miss out (Kiasu). We loved the photos, but would instead recommend trying to go on a weekday.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to Fort Canning Park. For more details on weekend activities in Singapore you can see the weekend and day trip section of our blog. For Singapore restaurant and bar recommendations you and see our eats and drinks section. Or for other destination guides click here.
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