Not far from the well-known Little Guilin at Bukit Batok Town Park is the abandoned Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park. Just a 10-minute walk from Bukit Gombak MRT station, this is a place you've got to be prepared to get dirty to explore. Two poles beside the bus stop by the edge of the forest are all that marks its entrance, where you'll find manmade stone steps leading up into the park proper. Vegetation has largely overtaken what likely used to be proper trails. Still, the tread of many feet have left enough of a track for the would-be adventurer to follow. Take these up the hill face and you'll come across some highlights: a small well, a crumbling wooden boardwalk framed by torii-like gates, pavilions (we hear there are three in total) – and if you climb up high enough – an open hilltop.
Little is known about the history of Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park. People familiar with the area say there used to be a farm on the other side of the park, and some nearby residents have petitioned to keep the regenerating forest intact – a valid concern considering that Tengah, the vast forest facing the nature park, has quite recently been cleared to make way for housing blocks. While it still remains (and fingers crossed that it does for a long time), head down to check out this hidden gem – just bring along your trusty mozzie spray, wear good hiking shoes, and keep your skin covered to protect yourself from the occasional thorny vine.