Walk through Yunnan Garden, visit the distinctive Hive building and explore the luscious NTU campus, surrounded by jungle.
This walk starts from Yunnan Garden Bus Stop. To get there take the 179 bus from Pioneer MRT station on the green East-West line. The walk finishes elsewhere on NTU Campus at the School of CCE Bus Stop, also on the 179 bus route which heads back to Pioneer MRT.
Tips for NTU Campus Walk
- It’s best to visit on a weekend when it’s quieter.
- Check out other great hikes on our Singapore Hiking Page
At the bus stop you will immediately see Yunnan Garden before you. Head into the gardens, towards the red pagoda. Yunnan Garden is designed in Chinese style and is dotted with scenic little red pagodas. Traditional Chinese gardens also have geometric pathway designs, often interlocking with seemingly endless ways. There are lovely willow trees in the garden, another common sight in parks in China. Yunnan Garden was designed in 1955 and you can see this date painted on the middle of a large heritage arch.
Initially, keep on the left side of the gardens and head up the boardwalk to visit The Hive, a famous building on NTU Campus.
Once you reach the top of the gardens, you should be able to see the distinctive structure on your left. The architect who designed the Hive at NTU is Thomas Heatherwick, a famous British designer. He designed it to look like a beehive of interlocking honeycomb structures, and thereby encourage social networking, similar to bees. It’s also eco-friendly, with maximum use of natural light and motion sensors to detect if anybody is in each room. The centre is a public atrium and you can wander in on the ground floor to marvel upwards at the wavy structure above. There are student classrooms inside the Hive so don’t make too much noise!
Once you’ve finished looking at this modern building, return towards Yunnan Gardens to check out the large, older building on your left.
Chinese Heritage Centre
This unique building with Chinese renaissance-style is the Chinese Heritage Centre. The roof in particular has a Chinese design, with upturned eaves and green tiles, while the distinctive red brick making up the rest is evocative of Ivy League Universities in America. If you look closely at the upper central white section of the building, you can see that the inside is open to the air. This is to allow a breeze to regulate air circulation inside. You can visit within by appointment only, though you can make use of the bathroom facilities.
Head back into the gardens down the central steps. You can wander around the centre of the garden, through the trees, plants and red pagodas. The heritage arch is in the centre near the road on the outer edge of the garden. Once you’ve explored most of the garden, head towards the waterfall.
Umbrella or Rain Jacket?
Unlike in most places, we prefer to carry an umbrella in Singapore as wearing rain jackets in this hot and humid climate is not great and getting a little wet is not so bad in these temperatures. I’ve got a great storm-proof umbrella, which has an asymmetric shape that turns into the wind and can withstand high wind speeds:
Senz Umbrellas Automatic Passion Red on Amazon*.
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
Waterfall in Yunnan Garden
Here you can admire the gushing waterfall. At the bottom is a pond lined with plants that help to clean the water. Head up the boardwalk towards the top of the waterfall and the lookout. There are great views of the waterfall and back across the gardens from here. Return slightly and head left towards Nanyang Lake.
Above the waterfall is Nanyang Lake, a series of small interlinked lakes. In the first pond we spotted two otters hunting a group of golden fish. They spent a while whirling around amongst a large shoal before separating out an unlucky pair. Together the two otters herded the pair of fish towards an increasingly narrow, shallow area of the pond. One of the fish darted through the otters’ paws to the safety of the deep. The otters drove the other up into the shallows where it ran out of water and then sprung on it with deadly force.
There are several boardwalks along and across the interlocking lakes with several types of fish, from tiny blue to huge and spotted, swimming about in the water. The whole design of this lake and wetland area is to improve the water quality as it runs along. When it rains on campus, a lot of water ends up here and as it flows through Nanyang Lake it gets cleaned. Plants filter out the particles rain picks up, such as soil and dirt, and drop them to the bottom of the lakes. As the water passes over the waterfall, it gets aerated and is much cleaner than when it arrived.
At the far end of the lakes turn left along the road Student Walk to enter NTU Campus proper.
Gorgeous rain tree-lined roads divide the main sections of NTU Campus. There are many sections of covered walkways to protect from the rain and the sun, and especially at the weekends the roads are not busy. After 200 metres walking along Student Walk, instead of heading straight on up the hill, turn left and then quickly right to walk along a covered walkway through the grass and jungle.
When this walkway ends, turn left then right along Nanyang Avenue. Along the sides of this road you can see many residences where students live. After about 600 metres you reach a roundabout and turn left. There’s a nice path on the very outside of campus, mainly covered with spongey blue. This material is slightly soft so that it’s better for your knees when running.
You’re now on Nanyang Crescent. This is a walkway around the edge of campus and next to jungle used by the military. It’s a lovely quiet road, and the trees are close by on your right. You can hear and sometimes see many birds, including colourful kingfishers. On your left, again you can see many halls of residence for students.
Continuing along Nanyang Crescent, you begin to head around a large bend encircling the National Institute of Education, a self-governing part of NTU. The path heads slightly uphill. Take the first road on your right, Nanyang Drive. Head upwards and cross over to the bus stop. This is the end of the NTU Campus walk.
FAQs for NTU Campus Walk
The Hive is on NTU Campus in the northwest of Singapore. To get to the Hive NTU, take the 179 bus to NTU Campus and get off at Yunnan Garden. Head up the left-hand side of the park and you will see the famous Hive building to the left.
To get to NTU Campus, head to Pioneer MRT station on the green East-West line. Then take the 179 or 179A bus which has several stops on Campus.
Yunnan Garden is on NTU Campus in the northwest of Singapore. To get there, take the 179 bus from Pioneer MRT station to Yunnan Garden stop on NTU Campus.
Yunnan Garden was built in 1955. You can see this date painted on the large Tori gate within the garden.