You are in the right place if you want a different feel of Singapore. You may discover a wonderful fusion of history and nature at Fort Canning Park, situated in the center of Singapore.
Once a military fortress, Fort Canning Park today is a haven for nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and those seeking a tranquil retreat from the bustling city.
With its rich history dating back to the 14th century, the park boasts various attractions, such as the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel and the Nine Gardens, which offer a glimpse into Singapore’s past and present.
This guide aims to help you explore Fort Canning Park fully by covering its history, popular attractions, what to bring, where to eat, the park facilities, and surrounding attractions.
While many people associate Fort Canning Park with the famous Tree Tunnel, there is much more to explore beyond this iconic attraction. The park has many hidden gems, including historical artifacts, beautiful landmarks, and scenic viewpoints.
Unfortunately, many visitors may not be aware of these attractions, possibly due to the number of stairs required to explore the park.
Some people may need more than a day to explore this park, but with this ultimate guide, you can explore within one day. We have walked this route by ourselves and created this guide for you.
Fort Canning Map
History of Fort Canning
Fort Canning Park’s lengthy and colorful past transcends Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in Singapore.
In the 14th century, it was likely the site of a palace whose ruins were still visible in later centuries (source).
It has been a landmark since Singapore’s earliest recorded history, and its strategic location on a hill made it an ideal spot for military fortifications and observatory points.
World War II Era
Fort Canning played a crucial role in Singapore’s defense during World War II as it housed the British military command headquarters.
This made it a prime target for the invading Japanese forces, and the fortifications were also used as a hub for communication, reconnaissance, and air-raid shelters.
The fall of Singapore in February 1942 marked a turning point in the park’s history, as it became occupied by Japanese forces until the end of the war.
Post-World War II
After the end of World War II, Fort Canning Park saw a transformation from a military base to a green space in the heart of Singapore.
The park was officially opened in 1954, offering a peaceful respite from the bustling city below.
Many historical artifacts, architectural monuments, and stunning vistas may be seen in the park today.
Visitors can explore Singapore’s colonial history by following a walking trail highlighting vital sites and features from the park’s past (source).
Fort Canning Park is open 24 hours a day, making it an ideal destination for visitors anytime. Visitors can explore the park and its various attractions within operating hours.
There are no entrance fees for visiting Fort Canning Park, allowing everyone to enjoy the park and its rich history at no cost. However, some specific attractions within the park, such as the Battlebox Museum, may charge a separate admission fee.
How to Access Fort Canning Singapore and Entrances Available
Fort Canning is a popular destination in Singapore, offering visitors a combination of history, nature, and cultural experiences.
Fort Canning is located in the heart of Singapore, making access to it relatively simple.
How to Get To Fort Canning Park
Travelers can reach the park using public transportation or by car.
The closest MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station is Fort Canning Station (DT20) on the Downtown Line (DTL).
Alternatively, visitors can also use Dhoby Ghaut Station (NS24/NE6/CC1) on the North-East Line (NEL), Circle Line (CCL), and North-South Line (NSL), or Clarke Quay Station (NE5) on the North-East Line (NEL).
These stations are within a 10-minute walk from the park’s entrances.
For those who prefer taking the bus, several bus services are available near the park, including services 32, 54, 139, 195, and 530. Bus stops are located along Hill Street, River Valley Road, and Orchard Road.
Fort Canning Entrances
Fort Canning Park has multiple entrances, making it convenient for visitors to access the park from various locations.
Some of the main entrances include the following:
- Faber Gate entrance near the Stamford Green
- Raffles House entrance at the top of the hill along Canning Rise
- Gothic Gate entrance near the National Museum of Singapore
- Fort Canning Centre entrance faces the National Museum along Canning Rise
- Park Mall entrance opposite Park Mall Shopping Centre
- River Valley Road entrance near the junction with Hill Street
- Armenian Street entrance near the Peranakan Museum
What to Bring
1. Water, as the park is large and requires climbing many stairs. There are no convenient stores within the park, so if you don’t bring your drink, your options are limited to vending machines near the Fort Canning Lighthouse restroom or purchasing a drink from one of the restaurants (check out the “Food and Beverages” section for more information).
This water bottle is our favorite because it is lightweight and space-saving. Its collapsible design means it takes up minimal space in your backpack or luggage, while its durable silicone construction ensures it can withstand the rigors of travel.
2. Mosquito repellent (RECOMMENDED) to avoid mosquito bites, especially if you’re not wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts or moving quickly.
3. Umbrella or Raincoat: During the rainy season, bringing an umbrella or raincoat is also suggested, as there are few shelters in the park.
4. Towel: We have walked Fort Canning Park several times a year, from the hot summer days to the cool temperature in December. The similarities? We always sweat during our walks!
We recommend this towel; it is a game-changer for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
It’s lightweight, compact, and dries quickly, making it the perfect choice for on-the-go drying needs. We’ve used this towel on multiple camping and outdoor excursions, and it’s never let me down.
If you’re looking for a towel that won’t weigh you down, the Gear Aid Microfiber Travel Towel is the way to go!
5. Sunglasses: it is not necessary, but if your eyes are sensitive of UV, you better bring this along.
6. Sunscreen: Finally, as Fort Canning Park is primarily unsheltered, wearing sunblock to protect your skin is important if you spend a lot of time there.
What to Wear
It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and dress when planning to explore a large portion of Fort Canning Park.
The footpath is mainly composed of bricks and many stairs, so wearing a good pair of walking or road running shoes is suggested for comfort.
Trail shoes are not necessary.
Singapore always thinks one step ahead to make their attractions or tourist spots more enjoyable and make you want to return for more.
To make your visit to Fort Canning Park even more enjoyable, the park provides a variety of facilities, including a convenient car park, vending machines for refreshments, and clean toilets for your comfort.
If you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of eating places nearby to grab a bite.
Outdoor Fitness Station
The park features an outdoor fitness station, providing an excellent opportunity for visitors to engage in physical activities while enjoying the green surroundings.
This facility promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, allowing users to exercise in nature.
Jubilee Park is a multi-purpose park within Fort Canning Park, designed for recreational and family-oriented activities.
The park features a variety of amenities and attractions, such as playgrounds with swings, slides, and a splash pad for children.
Adults can enjoy the lush greenery and scenic spots for relaxation and picnics.
In this section, we have gathered all the information about the facilities and their locations in Fort Canning Park for your convenience.
– Carpark A at Canning Walk (Location)
– Carpark B at Percival Road (Location)
– Carpark C at Fort Canning Hotel (Location)
– Carpark at Clemenceau Ave/Jubilee Park (Location)
– Carpark at Registry of Marriage (ROM) (Location)
– Toilet at The Foothills (Location)
– Toilet near Fort Canning Lighthouse (Location)
– Toilet at Fort Canning Hotel for hotel guests (Location)
– Toilet at Le Jardin for restaurant guests (Location)
– Toilet at Fort Canning Centre (Location)
Vending machine beside the toilet near Fort Canning Lighthouse (Location)
Food and Beverages
Fort Canning Park offers a variety of dining options for visitors. Several restaurants are located within the park, including the Tiong Bahru Bakery Foothills, which serves a range of baked goods, sandwiches, and coffee.
For those looking for a quick snack or refreshment, several vending machines and a drink stall near the Fort Canning Lighthouse restroom are located throughout the park.
Attractions and Landmarks
Fort Canning Park is known for its rich history and impressive landmarks. In this section, we will explore some of the most notable attractions within the park.
Named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, Raffles House is a significant historical landmark within the park. The structure was initially a residence for the British governors but now serves as a venue for various events and exhibitions.
The Sally Port is a small hidden gateway, built initially as an emergency exit for the British fort. Today, the restored Sally Port remains a testimony to the park’s military past and a popular spot for visitors looking to uncover hidden gems in Fort Canning.
The Battlebox is a preserved former British World War II underground command center. In this bunker, the British decided to surrender Singapore to the Japanese army in 1942.
Now functioning as a museum, The Battlebox offers guided tours for visitors to learn about the many fascinating wartime stories.
Fort Canning Green
As a popular outdoor venue, Fort Canning Green often hosts concerts, plays, and various cultural events. The picturesque open lawn is surrounded by lush greenery and historical markers, making it a perfect spot to unwind and soak up the park’s atmosphere.
A tribute to Singapore’s historical connection to the spice trade, the Spice Garden showcases a remarkable collection of spice trees and plants. Visitors can appreciate the fragrant scents and learn about the spices that once played a significant role in the region’s economic growth.
Instagrammable Spots in Fort Canning, Singapore
Fort Canning Park is a historical site and a popular location for taking breathtaking Instagram-worthy photos. Here are some remarkable spots to capture the perfect shot during your visit.
1. Fort Gate
This iconic landmark in the park is one of the last remaining structures of the 19th-century fort. The majestic Fort Gate provides a striking photo backdrop, capturing history and architecture.
2. Fort Canning Centre
Fort Canning Centre is a historic building atop Fort Canning Hill.
Constructed as British army barracks in 1926, it now serves as a venue for events and exhibitions.
Visitors can enjoy a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere amidst lush greenery. The center also offers function rooms for events.
3. Sang Nila Utama Garden
Inspired by the 14th-century Majapahit Empire, this garden features stunning landscapes and traditional Balinese design elements. The garden’s vivid colors and intricate details create an exotic atmosphere for your snapshots.
4. Hotel Fort Canning
Nestled within the park, this luxurious hotel showcases modern architecture that contrasts beautifully with the surrounding greenery. The outdoor terraces and swimming pools make an excellent backdrop for your Instagram feed.
5. The Fort Canning Tree Tunnel
This is a very popular photo spot in Fort Canning Park, Singapore. The tree tunnel comprises a Yellow Rain Tree with a large, shady, umbrella-shaped crown, creating a beautiful canopy over the pathway.
Be ready for the long waiting line; because of its popularity, people are lining up to take photos here. Buckle up, everyone! 😎
6. Pancur Larangan
It is also known as the Forbidden Spring and is a historical attraction in Fort Canning Park in Singapore. This freshwater spring was once used as a bathing place by the noble ladies of the royal court in ancient times.
Today, the spring has been recreated on the western slopes of Fort Canning Hill in a 14th-century Javanese style. The garden features a mural wall handcrafted in natural volcanic rock, designed by Mr. Eng Siak Loy.
This beautiful garden is a popular attraction for visitors to Fort Canning Park, allowing them to experience Singapore’s rich history and culture.
Want more in-depth guides like this? Check our other Ultimate Guide to Singapore destinations:
Sentosa Beach Clubs: In-Depth Guide To Unwind At Singapore’s Tropical Paradise
Where to Eat at Fort Canning Park
1. Tiong Bahru Bakery At Foothills
Tiong Bahru Bakery at Foothills is a popular spot in Fort Canning Park, known for its delicious baked goods and charming atmosphere.
The bakery’s modern and industrial decor has sleek metal accents and plenty of natural light.
We ordered our usual favorites from Tiong Bahru Bakery, Kouign-amann. This croissant was flaky buttery, with just the right amount of sweetness. We also enjoyed a cup of latte, which was rich and flavorful.
One thing that stood out about Tiong Bahru Bakery at Foothills was its location within Fort Canning Park. The bakery offers a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee or afternoon snack while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
2. Le Jardin Restaurant
Le Jardin is a charming and cozy restaurant in Fort Canning Centre.
The restaurant’s floral-themed decor added to the serene and peaceful atmosphere, making it the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a meal.
The menu at Le Jardin offers a wide variety of French-inspired dishes, and we were impressed by the quality and presentation of each dish we tried.
We had the Jerusalem Artichoke soup as an appetizer, which you found warm and hearty.
The Ora King Salmon was our favorite dish of the meal. The salmon was perfectly cooked and melted in our mouths, and we loved the creamy sauce.
To drink, we shared a pot of Lily Rose tea. The tea had a lovely rosy aroma that you could smell before even tasting it, and it served as the perfect palate-cleanser between bites.
3. The Salon at Hotel Fort Canning
The Salon offers an impressive range of dishes catering to local and international palates. You can indulge in signature renditions of Lobster Nasi Lemak, HFC Curry Chicken, Hokkien Mee, and other international favorites such as Grilled Australian Angus Striploin and Stuffed Chicken Roulade, and a selection of wood-fired pizzas and pasta.
For those seeking privacy, The Salon provides three private dining rooms and an alfresco area that is perfect for special events, surrounded by the lush greenery of Fort Canning Park.
4. Tisettanta Lounge at Hotel Fort Canning
Tisettanta Lounge is a warm and inviting space that offers a wide selection of drinks and snacks, served in a cozy enclave with comfortable leather seats and contemporary jazz music playing in the background.
You can choose from various wines, beers, cocktails, and spirits, all paired with delicious bites that are perfect for casual business meetings, lively group celebrations, or intimate dates.
Are you looking for other dining options in Singapore? Check our guides below:
19+ Best Places To Eat At Orchard Road (Local’s Guide)
Events and Activities
Fort Canning Park offers various events and activities catering to different interests and age groups. This section highlights some popular events held at the park, including Shakespeare in the Park, Garden Beats Festival, and Film Screenings.
Shakespeare in the Park
One of the most awaited annual events in Fort Canning Park is Shakespeare in the Park.
This open-air theatre production brings the works of the legendary playwright to life, set against the beautiful backdrop of Fort Canning Park.
Performances usually occur in the evening, allowing viewers to enjoy the ambiance and immerse themselves in the engaging stories and plots.
Garden Beats Festival
For music lovers, the Garden Beats Festival promises a day filled with good tunes and good vibes.
This music and lifestyle event features international and local artists, offering an eclectic mix of genres ranging from indie-rock to electronic music.
Apart from the performances, various food, art stalls, and sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives can be explored at the festival.
Film enthusiasts can also catch outdoor film screenings at Fort Canning Park. These events usually take place during specific occasions or festivals, providing a unique movie-watching experience under the stars.
Keep an eye out for organized events featuring film screenings in the park to make the most of your visit.
Surrounding Places of Interest
Fort Canning Park is located in the heart of Singapore, making it a convenient starting point for exploring the city’s many attractions.
Some nearby places of interest include the National Museum of Singapore, Clarke Quay, and the Singapore River.
The National Museum of Singapore is just a short walk away and offers visitors a chance to learn about Singapore’s history and culture.
Clarke Quay is a popular dining and entertainment district with various restaurants, bars, and clubs.
The Singapore River is also nearby and offers a scenic walk along the waterfront with stunning city skyline views.
Other nearby attractions include the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Esplanade, and the Marina Bay Sands.
The Old Hill Street Police Station is another nearby place of interest located close to Fort Canning Park. The historic building is just a short walk from the park and is known for its distinctive rainbow-colored facade.
The building was once used as a police station but has since been repurposed as a government office building.
Visitors can still admire the building’s unique architecture and take photos of the colorful facade.
The Old Hill Street Police Station is a popular spot for tourists and locals and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Fort Canning Park.
What is unique about Fort Canning Park?
Fort Canning Park is a unique destination in Singapore due to its rich historical significance and lush natural beauty. The park is situated on a hill once the site of a royal palace and later a British military base.
Today, visitors can explore the park’s many historical landmarks, including the Fort Gate, the Battle Box, and the ASEAN Sculpture Garden.
In addition to its historical significance, Fort Canning Park is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including over 700 species of plants and trees. The park’s many gardens and green spaces make it a popular spot for picnics, outdoor concerts, and other events.
Why should I visit Fort Canning Park?
There are many reasons why you should visit Fort Canning Park in Singapore. Here are just a few:
Rich history: Fort Canning Park is steeped in history, and visitors can explore the park’s many historical landmarks, including the Fort Gate, the Battle Box, and the ASEAN Sculpture Garden.
Recreation: The park offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, jogging, and picnicking.
Why is Fort Canning called Forbidden Hill?
Fort Canning Hill was originally called Bukit Larangan, meaning “Forbidden Hill” in Malay.
The hill was considered sacred by the Malays, who believed that it was the final resting place of the ancient kings of Singapore.
As a result, the hill was off-limits to the general public, and only the ruling elite was allowed to enter. The belief that the hill was haunted also contributed to its reputation as a forbidden place.
When the British arrived in Singapore, they renamed the hill Government Hill and Fort Canning Hill after the construction of Fort Canning, a British fortification, was completed.
However, the name “Forbidden Hill” still holds a special place in Singapore’s history and culture, and the park’s official name includes the original Malay name, Bukit Larangan.
How long is the Fort Canning Park trail?
Fort Canning Park has several trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. The longest trail in Fort Canning Park is the Fort Canning Reservoir Loop, which is approximately 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) long.
However, other trails in the park are shorter in length, such as the Jubilee Park Trail, which is about 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) long, and the Spice Garden Trail, which is about 0.4 miles (0.6 kilometers) long.
Visitors can choose the trail that best suits their interests and fitness levels.
How do I get to Fort Canning Tree Tunnel?
There are several ways to get to the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel, which is an underground crossing with a spiral staircase on the edge of Fort Canning Park. Here are some options:
By MRT: The closest MRT station to the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel is Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. From there, you can take Exit B and walk towards the entry at the start of the tunnel at Fort Canning Link.
By bus: You can take buses 7, 14, 14e, 16, 36, 64, 65, 77, 106, 111, 124, 128, 139, 162, 162M, 174, 174e, 175, 190, 700, 971E, NR6, or NR7 and alight at the bus stop along Orchard Road or Penang Road. From there, it’s a short walk to the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel.
By car: If you’re driving, you can park at the Fort Canning Park car park, which is located at the park’s entrance on River Valley Road. From there, it’s a short walk to the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel.
Once you’re in the park, the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel is located near the entrance at Fort Canning Link. You can refer to the park maps or Google Maps for directions to the Tree Tunnel.
Is Fort Canning wheelchair friendly?
Yes, Fort Canning Park is wheelchair friendly and accessible for people with disabilities. The park has several facilities to ensure that visitors with disabilities can enjoy the park’s attractions comfortably.
These facilities include wheelchair-accessible paths, ramps, and toilets. Additionally, some of the park’s historical landmarks, such as the Fort Canning Battle Box and the Fort Gate, have been modified to make them wheelchair accessible.
Visitors with disabilities can also contact the park’s management for assistance or to arrange for special needs services.
Overall, Fort Canning Park is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all visitors, regardless of their physical abilities.
What are the new gardens at Fort Canning Park?
Fort Canning Park has recently added nine new gardens, each reflecting the hill’s rich heritage and history. These gardens were developed based on historical records and provided a way for visitors to re-experience the storied narratives tied to the once-forbidden hill. Here are the names of the nine new gardens:
1. Pancur Larangan
2. Sang Nila Utama Garden
3. Raffles Garden
4. First Botanic Garden
5. Farquhar Garden
6. Armenian Street Park
7. Jubilee Park
8. Spice Garden
9. ASEAN Sculpture Garden
Each of these gardens has its unique features and attractions, showcasing different aspects of Fort Canning’s history and culture. Visitors can explore these gardens at their own pace, learning about the hill’s rich heritage and enjoying the park’s natural beauty.
Why was the Fort Canning tunnel built?
The Fort Canning Tunnel was built to alleviate traffic congestion in the central area of Singapore.
The tunnel directly connects River Valley Road and Fort Canning Road, allowing motorists to bypass the busy intersections at Clemenceau Avenue and Orchard Road.
The tunnel was constructed in response to the growing traffic volume in the area, causing significant delays and inconvenience for motorists.
The tunnel began in October 2003 and was completed in January 2007 for S$40 million.
Today, the Fort Canning Tunnel is an integral part of Singapore’s transportation infrastructure, providing a critical link between the central and western parts of the island.
Why was the Fort Canning Tree tunnel built?
The Fort Canning Tree Tunnel is an underground crossing with a spiral staircase on the edge of Fort Canning Park. It was built to provide a safe and convenient pedestrian link between Dhoby Ghaut and Fort Canning Park.
The tunnel was constructed as part of a larger project to enhance the park’s accessibility and to promote walking and cycling as sustainable modes of transport.
The tunnel’s unique design, spiral staircase, and lush greenery make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Today, the Fort Canning Tree Tunnel is a beloved landmark in Singapore, showcasing the city-state’s commitment to sustainability and green urban planning.
Can dogs go to Fort Canning Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed in Fort Canning Park. However, dog owners must follow some restrictions and rules to ensure the safety and comfort of all park visitors.
Here are some guidelines for bringing dogs to Fort Canning Park:
1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Owners must clean up after their dogs and dispose of waste properly.
3. Dogs are prohibited in certain park areas, such as the Spice Garden and the ASEAN Sculpture Garden.
4. Owners should be mindful of other park visitors and keep their dogs under control at all times.
5. Owners are responsible for any damage or injuries caused by their dogs.
Overall, Fort Canning Park is a dog-friendly destination in Singapore, but it’s vital for dog owners to follow the rules and be considerate of other park visitors.
Is there a pet-friendly restaurant in Fort Canning?
Yes, there is a pet-friendly restaurant in Fort Canning Park called Le Jardin. This French-themed restaurant is located on Level 2 of the Fort Canning Arts Centre and offers indoor and outdoor dining areas.
The outdoor garden area is pet-friendly, equipped with marble table tops and vintage, retro-style rattan chairs and vases of fresh flowers on each table.
Le Jardin serves French and European cuisine, and its menu includes a range of dishes such as steak frites, duck leg confit, and seafood linguine.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s a popular destination for pet owners who want to enjoy a meal with their furry friends in a beautiful garden setting.
Can you cycle in Fort Canning Park?
Yes, cycling is allowed in Fort Canning Park. The park has several paths and trails that are suitable for cycling, including the Jubilee Park Trail, which is about 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) long, and the Spice Garden Trail, which is about 0.4 miles (0.6 kilometers) long.
However, cyclists should be aware that some areas of the park may be crowded with pedestrians, especially during peak hours.
It’s important for cyclists to ride at a safe speed and to be mindful of other park users. Additionally, cyclists should be aware that cycling is not allowed in certain areas of the park, such as the ASEAN Sculpture Garden and the Battlebox.