Telok Blangah Hill Park

Feeling burnt out after a long day at work? Tired of squeezing with the endless crowds in the city? Hankering for some peace and quiet?

Telok Blangah Hill Park – a part of the Southern Ridges – is just the place for a retreat from the crazy world and to regain some semblance of sanity.

With three spacious car parks within the park, locating free parking is a piece of cake.

Don’t be surprised to be greeted by the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) upon entering the park.

The tranquil environment is conducive for both humans and animals to sprawl out and have a picnic.

For a secluded picnic spot away from prying eyes, head on over to Picnic Hill Top…

…up a short flight of stairs…

…that leads to a pavilion at the top of the hill…

…where individual picnic tables provide a peaceful spot for a private party. Just as long as you don’t mind the mozzies having a picnic as well.

As we descend Picnic Hill, the trail branches off and brings us to Alkaff Mansion, built in 1918 by Syed Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Alkaff. The Alkaffs were an affluent family who made their riches trading in spices, coffee and sugar, and used the mansion as a retreat for the family and to entertain their guests.

Sitting on the top of Telok Blangah Hill, the two-storey Tudor-styled Bungalow commanded a sweeping view of Keppel Harbour and became a popular venue for high society parties and gatherings in the 1930s.

More recently, the high society of today gather here to wine and dine in the up-scale restaurants sitting within this government-owned preserved historic building. The mansion now houses three newly opened restaurants: UNA (a Spanish restaurant), TXA (a pintxo bar), and Wildseed Cafe & Bar.

Mostly, we prefer to just walk around the elevated garden compound, which serves as a convenient platform for us to spy on the birds hiding out in the sprawling network of trees below.

Without fail, the resident Lineated Barbet (Psilopogon lineatus) challenges us to a game of hide and seek as he coos soothingly but incessantly from his hiding place among the dense tree foliage.

Most of the time, we fail to find this master of disguise as his green body and brown breast camouflage very well against the leaves and branches. But once in a while we might be lucky enough to spot his leafy green body and comical orange spectacles.

From the pavilion next to Car Park 2 is a little trail that leads downhill to the Stream Garden, a pocket of undisturbed calm suitable for a meditative stroll.

A pretty stream meanders along the garden like a major artery, feeding water into a little pond sitting at the heart of the Stream Garden.

The highlight of our hilltop hike is without doubt the Terrace Garden at the summit of Telok Blangah Hill.

The stairs at the foot of the hill may seem daunting, but the short climb is definitely well worth the effort…

…for the panoramic view of Sentosa…

…and the picture postcard scenery…

…of the famous bougainvillea terrace garden of Telok Blangah Hill Park.

These terraces are a favourite haunt of several species of grass birds, such as the Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

…the Orange-cheeked Waxbills (Estrilda melpoda)

…the White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata)

…and the Javan Munia (Lonchura leucogastroides)

…who are often caught with their beaks stuffed full of grass.

The terrace garden is also a great place for the birds to set up home and make babies, like this pair of cute floofy Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier).

Another one of our favourite places to hang out is the Forest Walk, an elevated walkway meandering through the secondary forest of Telok Blangah Hill.

The 1.3-km long metal walkway with heights ranging from 3 to 18 metres zig-zags through the canopy of the tall trees and provides us with an eagle’s eye view of the forest and its interesting inhabitants.

Sauntering along this metal bridge, we may be offered another chance at spotting the ever elusive Lineated Barbet (Psilopogon lineatus)

…or the various other colourful and eye-catching birds, like the Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

…the Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis)

…or the Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos), a resident species of crow that is much less common than the House Crow.

If at any time we feel like taking a short-cut, there are stairs planted along the walkway that allow us to do just that.

For a more intimate encounter with the forest and its creatures, we could opt to take the Earth Trail that runs underneath the metal walkway.

Just try not to attempt this at night, unless you find some thrill in walking in pitch darkness.

Before long, the earth trail will eject us onto Lock Road at the entrance of Gillman Barracks…

…before it resumes a short way down the road…

…down a creepy overgrown path…

…through thick jungle vegetation…

…that at times seems to disappear beneath the tall grass…

…and that requires some stream hopping…

…before a flight of stairs suddenly appears out of nowhere…

…and thankfully leads us back to civilisation.

From there, the forest walk will eventually connect us to HortPark via Alexandra Arch, a bridge with an interesting curved arch structure…

…that comes to life at night (from 7pm to 12am) with a dazzling colour-changing LED light display.