On this great mixed hike by the West Coast, visit a unique war museum, walk some of the Southern Ridges and visit colourful Haw Par Villa before strolling through West Coast Park, up through Clementi Woods Park and across the delightful NUS campus.
This hike starts at Pasir Panjang MRT station on the orange Circle Line. There is a pedestrian overpass just opposite Exit A which you need to take to cross the road and head towards the Southern Ridges. The hike ends at Kent Ridge MRT station, also on the orange Circle Line.
Tips for Haw Par Villa and West Coast Hike
- Haw Par Villa grounds are open every day, 9am to 10pm.
- Hells Museum in Haw Par Villa is open Tue-Sun, 10am to 6pm.
- Reflections at Bukit Chandu is open Tue-Sun, 9:30am-5pm.
- West Coast Park is open 24/7, and lit 7pm-7am.
- Clementi Woods Park is open 24/7, and lit 7pm-7am.
- The Natural History Museum is open Tue-Sun, 10am to 6pm.
- Take a sun hat, sunscreen and plenty of water along.
- Navigation offline maps app Maps.me works quite well but some of the trails marked are not an option in reality.
- Check out other hikes on our Singapore Hiking Page
From Pasir Panjang MRT we walked uphill to the museum called Reflections at Bukit Chandu. Continuing through the southern ridges, we cut back downhill a little later to visit Haw Par Villa. From there it was a short walk along the edge of a road to West Coast Park, followed by a walk uphill through Clementi Woods Park and NUS Campus over to Kent Ridge MRT.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu
From the MRT we crossed a footbridge over the road and then turned right along the side of the road. A few hundred metres later we headed left up the leafy, quiet Pepys Road, following a few bends, to reach the museum Reflections at Bukit Chandu.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu (Tue-Sun, 9:30am-5pm) is located in a lovely old bungalow, once the residence of the owner of a nearby opium factory. Upstairs in the museum there is a small display about the opium factory and you can enjoy the cool, airy design of the house.
The main part of the Reflections museum is about the final stand of a Malay Regiment who put up strong resistance to the Japanese in the surrounding hills. While small, the museum is well-designed and informative, with some interactive displays and artefacts.
Kent Ridge Park
After leaving the museum via the main entrance, we headed straight across the road to the raised canopy walkway in Kent Ridge Park. There were good views of leafy gardens and the city from this short walkway.
We continued along the ridge for a little while before heading steeply downwards to the left. After skirting around the edge of the park we reached Vigilante Drive and headed down to South Buona Vista Road. We followed this road still further downward until Pasir Panjang Road where we turned right. After a few hundred metres along this road we reached Haw Par Villa.
Haw Par Villa
There is a small car park at the entrance Haw Par Villa (grounds open 9am-10pm every day) before you walk up the minor road to the main entrance gate to the grounds. The grounds are free to walk around and it includes a small museum with a brief history of the villa and the invention of Tiger Balm. You have to buy a ticket to visit the Hell’s Museum (open Tue-Sun, 10am – 6pm).
The grounds of Haw Par Villa are full of crazy, colourful statues. There is a maze of paths and a lot of different sculptures to see. Some displays show famous stories, some show gods and deities and others show Haw Par Villa and the community who worked here. There are a few tall monuments of remembrance to the founding family of Haw Par Villa and Tiger Balm. You could easily spend an hour here, plus extra if you visit Hells Museum.
History of Haw Par Villa and Tiger Balm
Haw Par Villa was built by the sons of the inventor of Tiger Balm, the two brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par. Their father invented Tiger Balm, a medicinal ointment, and the product was launched back in 1924. It was a great hit and the brothers became very rich. Haw Par Villa was built in 1937. The grounds were designed to be a reflection of Chinese culture, which the brothers greatly admired, and they were open to the public from the beginning.
After we had seen most of Haw Par Villa we headed out and crossed the main road opposite the entrance. We turned left and walked along the edge of the sunny road for a few hundred metres before we reached an entrance to West Coast Park.
Bring a Sun Hat
Besides sunscreen like this SPF 30 Nivea Sun Lotion*, you can protect your face against the harsh sun with a sun hat. We always throw hats in our backpack, and use them regularly. They are not very useful in the jungle, but once you get to the open sections you are happy to carry one along. I’ve got this airy sun hat from a great American outdoor brand called Outdoor Research:
Outdoor Research Swift Sun Hat on Amazon*.
You may prefer something with a wider brim, like:
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat on Amazon*.
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
West Coast Park
The park is fairly narrow, but contains beautiful trees and some nice walkways. To the left you can sometimes glimpse huge machinery to do with the big harbour. The first section of the park contains a nice pond, while across Clementi Road is the main part of the park.
There are various playgrounds for children and tropical palm trees. Walking along the edge of the water you can see many ships and the huge harbour. However, there are also a few much smaller, older traditional boats by a little beach.
At the northern end of the park is a boardwalk with a lookout deck over some muddy water amongst the jungly vegetation. It’s quite a fun little trail.
We left the park at the far end and crossed over the main road using a pedestrian bridge. We walked along a short section of the canal on the other side to reach Clementi Woods Park.
Clementi Woods Park
This park is fairly open, with lots of grass, and on a hillside. I’m not sure why it’s called Clementi Woods Park because there aren’t really that many trees. Because the park is on a slope there are some interesting paths and decent views towards the top. We walked through the park to the other side and across Clementi Road to NUS Campus.
NUS Campus to Kent Ridge MRT
NUS Campus is slightly confusing as there are many different routes. We were aiming for Kent Ridge Road along the very top ridge of NUS Campus. There are quite a few campus maps in case you get lost. Kent Ridge Road had no cars and did have a nice breeze because it’s at the top of the ridge. There are also some interesting old houses on the right that were used by British soldiers.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
The Natural Hisotry Museum (open Tue-Sun, 10am to 6pm) is a short detour from the hiking route, at the western end of NUS Campus. It’s a great place to learn about animals and ecology. The centrepiece is three huge dinosaur skeletons, but they also have some cool skeletons of whales and many other animals, everything from butterflies to crocodiles.
At the end of the campus is another large road, which we crossed over to reach Kent Ridge MRT. From here we headed home, after an interesting hike of exploration on the West Coast of Singapore.
FAQs for Haw Par Villa and West Coast Hike
Haw Par Villa grounds are open every day, 9am to 10pm. Hells Museum in Haw Par Villa is open Tue-Sun, 10am to 6pm.
The grounds of Haw Par Villa, with all the strange, colourful statues, are free to get in. You only have to pay if you want to visit Hell’s Museum, which covers a small part of the grounds.
Dogs are not allowed in Haw Par Villa.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu is open Tue-Sun, 9:30am-5pm.
West Coast Park is open 24/7, and lit 7pm-7am.
Clementi Woods Park is open 24/7, and lit 7pm-7am.
The Natural History Museum is open Tue-Sun, 10am to 6pm.