Bukit Panjang, where the hills come alive

Bukit Panjang means “Long Hill” in Malay. Not knowing this origin; visitors are often amazed by the many hills and lushness of vegetation surrounding the area. Most of these visitors tend to compare and contrast the stark differences between this western area of Singapore and the rest of the country.
Bukit Panjang was originally called Zhenghua, before the government decided to rename it because it was better known to Singaporeans by its distinctive long hills.

A land of seven parts

Bukit Panjang lies in a long, quirkily shaped rectangle. Source: www.ura.gov.sg
Bukit Panjang comprises of Senja, Saujana, Fajar, Bangkit, Jelebu, Dairy Farm, and its largest sub-zone, the Nature Reserve. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is part of this last sub-zone, marked out by its greenery as illustrated on the map above.
Apart from this wide swathe of greenery, Bukit Panjang has other pockets of nature, too.

Fresh, fruitful, and fulsome

Dairy Farm Nature Park is nearer to Bukit Panjang’s southern end. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is, of course, Bukit Panjang’s largest catchment of vegetation, and home to one of Singapore’s very few remaining primary rainforests. There are at least four other parks in Bukit Panjang: Rifle Range Nature Park, Zhenghua Nature Park, Dairy Farm Nature Park and Hindhede Nature Park. Many Malayan plant specimens were first gathered from this reserve, host to Singapore’s highest hill, and home to a large proportion of the nation’s native flora and fauna. Not all the other nature parks in Bukit Panjang are such ecologically diverse superstars, but they are impressive as a whole.
While Chestnut Nature Park escapes Bukit Panjang’s purview by a mere wisp, and sits right next to Bangkit within the reservoir-rich Central Catchment Area, it’s close enough for Bukit Panjang residents to stroll through or have a picnic in.
Some of the hipper, more happening streets in Bukit Panjang, home to chic cafes and elegant eateries, also command unrivalled views of greenery from their doorstep.
The Rail Mall, with its stretch of homogeneously framed shops, faces a ripe wall of flourishing plant life. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth