Botanical garden and park
1 - 2 Hours
FIrst Aid kit
Fort Canning is a small hill slightly more than 60 meters high in the southeast portion of the island city-state of Singapore, Fort Canning Hill, originally known as Bukit Larangan (or "Forbidden Hill" in Malay) has been a local landmark in the city since Singapore's earliest recorded history. It has been the exclusive address of many of Singapore's rulers and colonial leaders dating back to the 14th century when it was the site for the palatial resort of former Majapahit kings, then in colonial times became the location for the residence of colonial governors starting with Sir Stamford Raffles.
Located at the junction of Canning Rise and Fort Canning Road in Singapore's Central Business District, it is only slightly more than 60 meters high but has a long history intertwined with the city-state – not least due to its location as the highest elevation within walking distance of the civic district. Key historic events have taken place upon this hill, including the establishment of the infant Botanic Gardens and the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese by Lieutenant General Percival.
It was recorded as Bukit Larangan prior to the arrival of Stamford Raffles in 1819, which means "Forbidden Hill" in Malay. Raffles was told of how local settlers were wary of ascending the hill as they believed it was the site of palaces built by their ancestral kings. The Keramat Iskandar Shah at the foot of the hill was believed to be the resting place of the last Malay king of the island, and was venerated by Muslims. When some of the vegetation was removed, ruins of ancient brick buildings were revealed, validating these folk legends. Little could be known from these ruins, however, or that of the hill's ancient history.
Contemporary archaeological excavation has, however, built up more evidence of its role, and that of Singapore as a whole. Relics were uncovered on the hill suggesting the existence of a regional trading hub prior to their destruction by invading foreign forces since the 14th century, and the possible site of the hill as the centre of this trading post. Impressed by the historic significance of the hill, and the commanding view it offered over the colony he had established, Raffles built his first residence on the hill. Completed within two weeks, it was a wooden bungalow 100 ft long and 50 ft wide with Venetians and an attap roof and verandas at both the front and back.
A keen botanist, he also built Singapore's first botanical gardens there in 1822, headed by surgeon Nathaniel Wallich, who had had earlier success in setting up the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta. At least 48 acres of land was staked out, including the Government Gardens on the slopes of the hill, where nutmeg and cloves had been planted since 1819. Fruit trees were also abundant on the hill, remnants of a possible royal garden under the ancient Malayan kings. Unfortunately, rising costs of maintenance and the lack of government support saw the closure of the experimental spice gardens in June 1829 but not before Wallich had produced a new strain of orchid, the Vanda Wallachia.
The residence continued as home to the colony's governors, thus subsequently earning the name Government Hill, until late 1859, when increased security concerns led to the hill taking on a military role, with the demolition of the governor's residence and the building of a fort with an arms store, barracks and a hospital. The fort was named Fort Canning after Viscount Charles John Canning, who was then Governor General and the first Viceroy of India. Government Hill was thus named after the fort and has remained so ever since even after the end of its military role more than a century later.
Under the British Army, the fort served as the headquarters of the Singapore Base District until the spread of World War II into the Asia Pacific in 1941. In February 1942, Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival established his command post of the Malayan Command at the fort in his ill-fated attempts to defend the island from the invading Japanese forces. The Japanese also used the fort for its military until the end of the Occupation in 1945, whereby the British army resumed control.
As the island moved towards self-determination, the British handed over control of the fort to the Singaporean military in 1963 and was home to the headquarters of the 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade until December 1966 when it was in turn handed over to the Singapore Armed Forces. The SAF proceeded to build the Singapore Command and Staff College on the fort, which officially opened on 13 February 1970. The hill was renamed Fort Canning Park with the planting of a fruit tree by the then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 1 November 1981.
Now a park overlooking Orchard Road in the heart of the Civic and Cultural District of Singapore, Fort Canning offers a variety of recreational activities, historical, educational, entertainment and cultural experiences.The park also serves as an important green lung for Singapore's downtown city area. The unique blend of historical relics, lush greenery and expansive lawns has made Fort Canning a hub of cultural and artistic activity. It has been a venue of choice for staging a myriad of outdoor events and activities like theatre carnivals, art festivals, starlight cinemas and Ballet Under the Stars performances, Shakespeare in the Park, WOMAD, Singapore's largest music festival, has been a regular feature of the park's calendar of events since 1998. The Fort Canning Tunnel passes directly under the hill.
Besides rich in heritage, Fort Canning Park also has interesting flora and fauna that you should try and spot. Explore the park and see what you can find, or tap on one of the do-it-yourself walking trail guides we have put together to help you explore the park.
Fort Canning Park is rich in heritage and those who enjoy photographing pieces of history and heritage will enjoy roaming the park grounds.
There are many places within Fort Canning Park that you can visit. Check out the Sally Port, ASEAN Sculpture Garden, Fort Canning Green (The Old Christian Cemetary), Spice Garden, Keramat Iskandar Shah, Archaeological Dig and Exhibition Area, Maritime Corner@Fort Canning, Parit Singapura and Princess Pond.
- The National Parks Board appears to run free guided tours from 4 - 5.30pm on Saturdays
- If visiting, please cover yourself with mosquito repellent as it has many mosquitos, natural to a place that is full of greenery.
- Sign up for one of the FREE Saturday afternoon tours on the park's website
- Bring a bottle of water there are no water fountains around.
How to get there:
Alight at Fort Canning Station (Exit B), Clarke Quay Station (Exit E) or Dhoby Ghaut Station (Exit B).
Clarke Quay Station: Come out from Exit E, turn left and walk along Coleman Bridge. Turn left again at the end of Coleman Bridge and head towards the pedestrian overhead bridge (100m away) along River Valley Road. Cross the overhead bridge and you will enter Fort Canning Park.
Dhoby Ghaut Station: Come out from Exit B, cross Penang Road, turn left and keep a lookout for the tunnel leading to Fort Canning Park.
Park Size: 18 hectares
Park lighting hours: 7.00pm to 7.00am
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible (from drop off at Cox Terrace roundabout)
|January to December|
|Monday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Tuesday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Wednesday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Thursday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Friday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Saturday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Sunday||12:00 AM - 11:59 PM|
|Last Admission||09:00 PM|
Things to carry
First aid kit
Things Not Allowed