I will start with Beauty World / Bukit Timah area where I have been visiting almost every week for 2 – 3 years. This is the first in the series of sharing free and cheap things to do in Singapore. There are typically 3 components to free and cheap activities.
- The activity itself has to be free/cheap
- Accessible via public transport + walking
- Affordable food is available within walking distance
I was looking for a place that has a nice place to exercise and cheap things to eat and Beauty World immediately stood out. Beauty World / Bukit Timah is located in Central Singapore so it is also a good place to meet if you are meeting people coming from all over the island. Although this is a prime area with lots of private property, there are still free and cheap things to do here.
I will share the routes and food places that I frequent at the Beauty World MRT area below.
This is the basic itinerary that I perform weekly below. You can edit it according to your needs.
0830 – Meet at Beauty World MRT and walk to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
0845 – Start exercising at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
0945 – Leave Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and walk to Beauty World Centre
1000 – Brunch at Beauty World Centre
1045 – Leave for home
The total cost for this itinerary is about S$7 per pax (S$0 for activity + S$3 for transport + S$4 for food). Doing this weekly for a year will cost me about S$360 annually.
Things To Prepare
There are a few things to prepare beforehand.
The first thing to check is to see what is the weather on the day on NEA’s website. If it is raining, I don’t recommend proceeding as it can be dangerous on the slopes and the ground will be muddy.
You might want to check at the corresponding NParks website if there are any routes closed to see if you still want to proceed. I only check the website if I am returning after a few weeks of inactivity.
Crowds And Safety Distancing
Visit the NParks Safety Distancing Website to check for crowds. If the place you plan to go to is too crowded, I suggest looking for some other parks to go to. There are many other parks in the Beauty World area that we can visit.
Here is a list of items that you should bring
- Covered Shoes (Running Shoes Or Hiking Boots)
- Water bottle
- Small Bag
- If you need a small bag that is suitable for hiking and running, I recommend the S$4 bag from Decathlon.
- Towel (optional)
- Hat (optional)
- Umbrella (optional)
- Insect Repellant (optional)
Things To Do – Hiking And Running
With so much nature located near Beauty World MRT, it is a prime location for exercising in the nature parks and reserves.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is home to Singapore’s highest hill, Bukit Timah Hill. Making use of the steep gradients all the way to the 163M peak, hiking or running in Bukit Timah Hill can give us a good workout.
Due to covid, the car park and some parts of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve may be closed. Check here and search for “Bukit Timah Nature Reserve” for the latest updates.
Some of the fringe routes might be closed so please check the website for the latest updates.
For the full NParks map of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, click here.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is linked to many other areas of nature and there are also many routes in the nature reserve itself. There are plenty of routes you can take as but I will just focus on those that I frequent.
You can open this link on your phone to open this on Google Maps.
Green – Beauty World MRT To Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – 852M
This is the route from Beauty World MRT Exit B to the visitor centre. When you reach this point, you can do your stretching here, fill up your water bottles at the water point and visit the toilet before going up Bukit Timah Hill. There are no water points and toilets after this point.
Red – Route 1 – Journey To Training Starting Point – 706M
At the start, there will be a 250M steep slope until you reach Kruing Hut where you can take a break if need be. After reaching the Kuring Hut, it will be a comfortable walk to Simpang Hut. Simpang Hut is the common point of the next 3 routes where you can mix and match to cater to your workout needs.
Yellow – Route 2 – Short Gradient Training – 150M
This route leads to the top of Hindhede Quarry. It is a gradual gradient where you can train short sprints. There is also a tower at the end of the road. This route does not lead to the summit and there isn’t much of a view. You can also do some static at the end of the route. If you would like to just reach the summit, you can skip this route and choose one of the next two routes.
Blue – Route 3 – Stairs To The Summit – 153M
A bit further up from Simpang Hut, you will need to choose either the left (slope) or right (stairs) path to reach the summit. The stairs route is the fastest and shortest way up to the summit. However, it is the harder route as it is extremely steep so please be careful. After reaching the top of the stairs, there is a short boardwalk before reaching the summit. I personally recommend treating the stairs as a one-way road. Going down the stairs is not advisable as it is dangerous (falling + impact to knees) and it is quite narrow so you will be going against the people coming up the stairs.
Pink – Route 4 – Gentle Slope Route – 544M
This route is a very comfortable slope up to the summit which most people will be able to complete. If you would like to train with a longer slope than Route 2 (Yellow), this will be your choice. After reaching the top, there is also a place away from the crowd in front of the gate where you can do some static. Most of the people will be standing in the Summit Hut and the area just after the boardwalk.
Purple – Bukit Timah Nature Reserve To Beauty World Centre – 795M
After you are done with everything, you can slowly make your way down the hill and wash up at the toilet. It is time for food. You will need to walk about 800M to Beauty World Centre. We will also pass by the Cheong Chin Nam Road where there is a whole stretch of food outlets. There is an overhead bridge that is linked directly to the top floor of Beauty World Centre where the hawker centre is located.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is conveniently located and can be linked to other nature parks. If you are more adventurous, you can visit the other nature parks together with Bukit Timah Hill.
- Hindhede Nature Park (just next to it)
- Rail Corridor (just next to it)
- Dairy Farm Nature Park (2KM away)
- Chestnut Nature Park (4.5KM away)
- Macritchie Reservoir (10KM away)
I suggest starting your journey at the other parks and ending your journey at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve/Beauty World area as it is more convenient to go home from and there is affordable food located nearby.
Bukit Batok Nature Park
This is our second choice as it is quite a bit further as compared to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The slopes are not as nice as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
However, the good point is that it is a lot less crowded than Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. When Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was closed due to overcrowding, we looked for a nearby park and found Bukit Batok Nature Park. I will focus on the routes that we frequent. Check out the full map of Bukit Batok Nature Park here.
Check the NParks website for the latest updates here.
You can open this link on your phone to open this on Google Maps.
Green – 1KM – Beauty World MRT To Bukit Batok Nature Park
Usually, we will walk towards Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and if it is closed or crowded, we will just continue walking straight to Bukit Batok Nature Park. After exiting from Beauty World MRT Exit B, it is a straight road down Upper Bukit Timah Road to Lor Sesuai, one of the entrances to Bukit Batok Nature Park.
Pink – Route 1 – Gradient Training – 536M
You will be walking on a steep asphalt road all the way to a car park and the Syonan Chureito Memorial. Cars might be travelling so you will need to walk to the grass. There are not many cars travelling on this road though. After reaching the car park, there is a flight of wide stairs that you can climb. It is a dead-end at the top of the stairs. The steps are wide enough for static training.
Orange – Route 2 – Short Running Circuit – 1.3KM
Turning right after reaching the end of the car park, you will be able to turn into an area where is a transmitting station and private property on the later part of the route. As it is state land and there are private residential properties located in the area, don’t make too much noise and don’t veer away from the main road. The end of the route is a roundabout and you can make your way back to the car park.
Blue – Route 3 – Long Running Circuit – 2.5KM
This route is the scenic route where you will be able to run in the park itself and look at the quarry. There is also a toilet and fitness corner along the route. There are many winding routes in the park that you can take. We will just exit the park after running on the straight road and then run along the road back to Route 1.
I saw that some parts of the routes are closed due to a slope failure. You will be able to take alternative paths which will be indicated along the route.
Purple – Bukit Batok Nature Park To Beauty World Centre – 1.2KM
You will be able to make your way To Beauty World Centre for food. On the way, we will also pass by the Cheong Chin Nam Road where there is a whole stretch of food outlets.
WW2 Legacy Trail
I came across this trail at the exit of Beauty World MRT where they had a sign with nearby heritage trails.
You will be able to visit 4 places of interest on this 3.2 KM trail.
- Cheong Chin Nam Road, Chun Tin Road, Yuk Tong Avenue & Tham Soong Avenue
- Former Ford Factory
- Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
- Former Beauty World
You can visit the Roots website for more heritage trails, stories and resources.
Things To Do – Eating
After a good workout, it is time for food. I frequent Beauty World Food Centre 95% of the time with the occasional Prata at Al Azhar along Cheong Chin Nam Road.
Beauty World Food Centre
I think this place serves the cheapest food in the area. My friend and I have been eating at the same stall for most of our visits.
Sheng Li Nasi Lemak
A plate of Nasi Lemak is only S$2.50. The rice is a little inconsistent at times but we still eat at Sheng Li Nasi Lemak due to the rapport built with the auntie.
Update (8 JAN 2022): When I last visited, the nasi lemak stall has closed down. We will have to settle for something else the next time.
Nasi Lemak With Tau Kwa @ $3.20
There is also a variety of food that you can enjoy here.
- Chicken Rice
- Ban Mian
- Dumplings And Xiao Long Bao
- Bak Kut Teh
- Japanese Rice Bowl
Cheong Chin Nam Road Stretch
There is a huge variety of restaurants along the entire stretch along Cheong Chin Nam Road if you have a more expensive appetite.
We occasionally will go to Al Azhar for Prata if we don’t feel like eating Nasi Lemak. There is always a crowd here so be prepared to wait.
If you are looking for free and cheap things to do in Singapore, the Beauty World area is a great place to do so. You can visit the various nature parks like Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Bukit Batok Nature Parks. There is also affordable and nice food at Beauty World Food Centre. If you are in the mood for more expensive food, you can visit Cheong Chin Nam Road for a whole stretch of restaurants.
If you have any other cheap and free activities to recommend in the Beauty World area or the rest of Singapore to recommend, do leave a comment or drop me an email at email@example.com.
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