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Hillview
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The ultimate guide to Hillview

Beautiful nature parks with native wildlife, hidden quarries and underrated food haunts make Hillview an essential stop in neighbourhood-hopping itinerary

Dewi Nurjuwita
Written by
Dewi Nurjuwita
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Unlike neighbouring Bukit Batok and Bukit Panjang, not much is known about Hillview. You'd probably be surprised to know that Hillview has an intriguing past as a key battleground in World War II. A surviving structure is the Ford Motor Factory, which witnessed the formal surrender of the Malayan Peninsula by the British Commanding Officer to the Japanese. Sure, Hillview is named after Bukit Timah Hill, but there's lots to do in the neighbourhood once you're done hiking at its lush nature parks. 

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Do

  • Things to do
  • Bukit Panjang

Get your trekking shoes on and conquer this 1.64sq km nature reserve, renowned for having one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. Besides hundreds of animal and insect species, it also contains more tree species than the whole of North America. Here's also where you can find Singapore's highest hill, Bukit Timah Hill. Take on a challenge and trek up its 163-metre-high slopes, on trails that wind through pockets of forested areas. 

Weekends are busy with walkers, nature lovers and mountain bikers, so come on a weekday if you prefer a quiet trek. There are four walking trails. A steep paved path takes you directly to the peak, but more interesting are the unpaved trails; route 3 (green) follows a winding forest path, past caves used by Japanese soldiers in World War II. Look out for long-tailed macaques, squirrels and snakes, and listen for the incessant ‘chonk-chonk’ of the striped tit-babbler. Cyclists should wear protective gear as the biking trail is extremely rugged. 

  • Things to do
  • Bukit Panjang

A great destination for nature lovers, Dairy Farm Nature Park is set in a rustic environment with multiple trails for hiking and biking. Highlights of this 63-hectare park include the Wallace Education Centre which houses both the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab (WELL) and an interpretative centre where you can browse the exhibits and try the hands-on activities. Keep a lookout for the striking red and yellow heliconias as well as the monkeys, pangolins and butterflies.

Want a good photo opp? Head towards the scenic Singapore Quarry at the park’s southwestern end to take in the views and also spot rare species of dragonflies flitting around. 

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Hindhede Nature Park
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Bukit Panjang

For a leisurely hike with the family, Hindhede Nature Park located next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has easy trails and well-defined footpaths perfect for families, children and hiking beginners. Scenic and serene, it is also an excellent spot for wildlife watching as it is home to inhabitants like the banded woodpecker, clouded monitor lizard and plantain squirrel – so it pays to keep your eyes open when taking a walk. The main highlight, of course, is the picturesque Hindhede Quarry which is located at the end of the park. 

Former Ford Factory
  • Things to do
  • Bukit Batok

Designated as a national monument in 2006, this Art Deco-style building was an auto assembly plant – and the place where British Forces surrendered Singapore to the Japanese army in 1942.

The factory was restored by the National Archives of Singapore and it is now a museum housing a permanent World War II exhibition on the war and its legacies through pictorial exhibits and film documentaries. Immerse yourself in the factory's past with the augmented reality tour, which allows you access to interactive activities, videos, and close-up views of archived materials.

Eat

iO Italian Osteria
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Bukit Batok

An Italian restaurant is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when looking for food options in Hillview, but iO Italian Osteria is the neighbourhood's lesser-known secret. 

iO has a great many things going for it but perhaps best of all is its array of Italian street stacks. In fact, we’d rather you forego the mains and do it tapas-style, ordering as many appetisers and snacks as you can manage. Among our favourites: stuffed schiacciata, a comforting sandwich with ciabatta-like crustiness and slathered with truffle-flecked mascarpone; suppli, a Roman take on Sicily’s arancini, stuffed with ragu and served again with a ragu dip; and those moreish globes of olives, crammed with minced meat then breaded and fried for a salty-tart-umami flavour bomb.

  • Things to do
  • Bukit Batok

Perhaps more famous for its Plaster Blaster ($5.50), an eggs Benedict-inspired prata topped with ham, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce, Springleaf still does the classic roti prata ($1.20) right. Everything’s still cooked to order, ensuring that you’re always served piping hot prata that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. If the original is too plain for you, Springleaf is also known for its variety, coming up with all kinds of wacky creations like the Prata Goreng, its take on mee goreng that swaps noodles for strips of prata, as well as the Umami 50, an egg prata with luncheon meat, cheese, chicken floss and mayo.  

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  • Restaurants
  • Bukit Panjang

Opened by chefs Roberto Galbiati and Antonio Manetto, Acqua E Farina brings the best of South and North Italy to the sleepy west of Singapore. Chef Galbiati, the former owner of Galbiati Gourmet Deli, hails from the north and specialises in pasta. Don't miss his risotto allo zafferano e salsiccia ($23) – al dente grains of Arborio rice cooked with thin slivers of saffron and topped with juicy fennel-scented pork sausage. On the other side of the coin lies chef Manetto who used to run Bella Pizza and Bella Pasta at Robertson Quay. Having grown up in a small town close to Naples, he makes his pizzas the traditional Neapolitan way, making sure his dough rests for at least 30 hours to ensure that the crust is light and fluffy when it comes out of the oven. Try the signature Pizza Acqua E Farina ($25) topped with spicy salami, tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and sautéed spinach or for something a little more unique, the Sicilian boat pizzas (from $25).

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Bukit Panjang

In the mood for something healthy? Head to SunnyChoice, a vegan and vegetarian-friendly cafe at The Rail Mall. The clear standout is the Hakka thunder tea rice, which uses fried enoki mushroom 'ikan bilis', cashew nuts and mani cai atop brown rice to go with its fragrant herbal soup; but other dishes from laksa, and assam 'fish' to bibimbap and chicken rice are also fresh, healthy and delicious. The Rail Mall outlet also has a little grocery store on the side where you can pick up healthy snacks and pantry items. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Bukit Panjang

Drop by The Cat Café's second outlet at The Rail Mall to meet its 11 friendly fuzzies. Feel free to interact with these rescued cats: there's Cheesecake, a calico cat that loves napping atop the brown cat condo; Marshmallow, who'll meow its way into your heart in exchange for kibbles; a stern-looking Mochi and many more that make up this motley bunch. A small selection of food and drinks are also available. In exchange for $16, you get a choice of soft drink and unlimited cuddles with the cats for two hours. Can't bear to leave? Top up $4 for every half hour after. 

Joyden Canton Kitchen
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Bukit Batok

For a place that will impress the in-laws, turn to Joyden Canton. This traditional Cantonese restaurant has an extensive menu serving classics from the Guangdong province of China such as pork chops ($19) coated in homemade angelica root barbecue sauce, and steamed cod fish ($32) dressed in ginger sauce and served on a bed of silken egg whites. And what's a Cantonese restaurant without a range of comforting double-boiled soups? Don't miss Joyden's collagen-rich pig tail soup ($8) that's packed with black beans, black-eyed peas and peanuts – each bowl is encased in wax paper and boiled for four hours to extract maximum flavour, nourishing your body with each spoonful.

Drink

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Bukit Batok
  • price 2 of 4

Knock down a pint or two at this friendly British-style neighbourhood restaurant and pub, an institution amongst locals in Hillview. The bar is located halfway up a hill, but it's all worth it when you're greeted by a solid range of fresh taps, award-winning craft beers like Pirate Life, Garage Project, Yeastie Boys and BrewDog, and bottled drinks from James Boag’s, Grolsch, Hahn Superdry and more. 

If you're feeling peckish, tuck into the pub grub like the classic BLT sandwich ($16), scrambled eggs, the Jolly Roger Burger ($22) and Bangers and Mash ($19).

Serving up a great range of home-cooked meals and wide range of craft beers, cider, spirits and wine.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Bukit Batok
  • price 1 of 4

Perhaps everyone's go-to place for affordable wines in a chilled out atmosphere, the Wine Connection Bistro at HillV2 is no different. There are both indoor and al fresco seating here, so you can take your pick. For those who need an introduction, the bistro serves a classic menu with a wide selection of over 250 wines imported directly from vineyards around the world. Whether it's a glass of rosé from Portugal or Malbec from Argentina, you'll easily find your poison here. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Breweries
  • Bukit Panjang

This cool kid on The Rail Mall block is a craft beer and bar bistro situated right beside the historical steel rail bridges of The Greet Corridor. Choose from up to eight craft beers on tap, as well as a rotating variety of bottled and canned craft beers and ciders from around the globe. Its tap offerings change every week, keeping things fresh for people who want to try new beers. Pro tip: pop in on Tuesdays for $12 pints, all night long.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Bukit Batok

This community mall may be small, but don't underestimate it. HillV2 has everything you could possibly need – from dining options such as iO Italian Osteria, Kinsa Sushi and Tandoori Culture to cafes such as Cedele Bakery Kitchen and Starbucks and even beauty salons. Need to grab a bottle of wine before your next house party? Wine Connection Bistro has you sorted. 

 

 

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centres
  • Bukit Batok

As the biggest thrift store in Singapore, Praisehaven is stocked to the brim with second-hand furniture, clothes, books, household accessories and more – you can find practically everything in this store including scooters and full sets of furniture. It'll take some time to sieve through all the offerings but trust us, when you do find something good, it's really good. 

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