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Hillview: Things To Do + Where To Eat, Drink And Shop

Find out why Hillview is a must-visit especially if you’re a fan of nature, heritage and food.

The Hillview district is almost a hidden secret – but we think it won’t stay that way for long.

Nestled between Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Bukit Timah, Hillview suburb is slightly off the beaten track in Singapore. But Hillview is more than just an upscale residential area. This neighbourhood used to be an industrial area with big factories like Hume Pipe Company Factory and the Former Ford Motor Factory.

This industrial heritage means Hillview is a great hiking destination, with plenty of ex-industrial space turned into walking and biking trails, lush reserves and nature parks. You can also find secret (but worthy) cafes and bars to add to your cafe-hopping list.

Next time you’re around the area, here’s everything there is to do in Hillview. If you like nature, we’d go as far as to say it’s a must-visit region of Singapore.

*Disclaimer: At the time of publication, in view of the Phase 2 Heightened Alert measures, dining in is prohibited at all eating establishments until 18 August 2021. Take outs are still allowed. We’re doing our best to be accurate, but please double check with the restaurants before you visit. It goes without saying, the safety of everyone remains the top priority.

Things to do in Hillview

1. Visit the Upper Bukit Timah Road Truss Bridge 

Upper Bukit Timah Railway Bridge nature trail. It's one of the Things to Do at Hillview, in SIngapore
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After two years of conservation, this traditional truss bridge reopened in March 2021 as a highlight of the Rail Corridor – a 4km nature trail system built along the original railway line between Singapore and Malaysia. When this railway line was shut down decades ago, nature took over. The railway turned into a long and thin nature reserve through the middle of Singapore.

A few years ago, work began on turning this magical space into a nature park, complete with rest stops and viewing platforms. There are many access points onto the trail, but for this Central section, you enter near Rail Mall and the Upper Bukit Timah Bridge.

Now a listed monument, this bridge makes for the perfect photo opportunity. From the bridge, you can walk or bicycle along the trail to landmarks like the Old Bukit Timah Railway Station and see another recently restored truss bridge at Bukit Timah.

Upper Bukit Timah Railway Bridge
Address: Upper Bukit Timah Rd. (Access via signposted stairs at Rail Mall)
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Daily)

2. Learn how Singapore faced WWII at the Former Ford Factory

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If you love Art Deco style, you’ll swoon over the Former Ford Factory. As the name suggests, it used to be an assembly plant for Ford motors. But in 1942, this building is where British forces formally surrendered control of the Malayan Peninsula to the Japanese. Subsequently, the Imperial Japanese Army took over this factory and used it as their military headquarters in Singapore, for all of World War II.

Some years ago this Art Deco building was restored by the National Archives of Singapore and turned into an unusual museum. The main factory area is still closed to visitors, but the office area is open. It contains a permanent exhibition on how Singapore survived World War II.

Oral history accounts, film clips from the time, vintage posters and photos bring that tumultuous time to life. Food shortages, secret police raids and the grind of daily life under the Japanese Occupation suddenly seem real. Free admission for Citizens, Permanent Residents, children aged six and below. Everyone else pays $3 entry.

Former Ford Factory
Address: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., 588192
Email: enquiry@nlb.gov.sg
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Tue. to Sun.)

3. Hike or bike at Dairy Farm Nature Park 

Dairy Farm Nature park is one of the best things to do at Hillview in SIngapore
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This lush 75-hectare park is right next to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It has multiple trails for hiking and biking, ranging from easy, paved strolls to hot and sweaty hikes up nearly vertical trails. The most photogenic path leads you to the scenic Singapore Quarry. Now a deep lake surrounded by trees, it has a viewing platform, making it the perfect spot to take a Selfie.

The most famous walk is a 2.2-kilometre nature trail, named the Wallace Trail. Dedicated to famous English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, this trail stretches from Hillview MRT station to the Wallace Education Centre. The centre has a permanent exhibition on Wallace’s contributions to natural science in Southeast Asia.

Once as famous as Charles Darwin, Wallace started travelling through this region in 1854. Over eight years, he accumulated an astonishing 125,660 specimens, including more than 5,000 species new to western science. 

Dairy Farm Nature Park
Address: Along Dairy Farm Rd.
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Daily) 

4. Explore Bukit Timah Nature Reserve 

Walking around Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is one of the best things to do in HIllview, Singapore
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This 163-hectare reserve is home to Singapore’s highest peak, Bukit Timah Hill, which stands at a fairly modest 163-metres. If you’re hoping to hike up a mountain in Singapore, trekking up this hill is as close as it gets. But the real reason to come here is the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve itself. It has one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world, so you can expect to see a huge variety of plants and wildlife when you walk or bike here.

There are a total of four routes with different difficulty levels to explore in this reserve. If you are pushing a stroller, the easy red trail to the summit is just over 1km, and paved all the way. The moderate green or South View / Cave trail and Taban Loop is almost 2km. It veers off the paved path and you have to climb steep steps up the hill and back down again, before you rejoin the path. The hardest trail of all is the Dairy Farm loop trail. Marked in yellow, it’s 2km (from the summit).

If mountain-biking is your thing, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has a 7km mountain biking trail that winds through the secondary forest, past the Singapore Quarry, and through Dairy Farm Nature Park. The trail is fairly rough and not recommended for beginners. Be aware this mountain biking trail is only for mountain bikers. Rangers will fine any walkers and hikers $200 if they catch them on the trail.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Address: End of Hindhede Dr.
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Daily)

5. Stroll around Hindhede Nature Park 

The lake view at Hindhede Nature Park, is one of the best things to do at Hillview suburb in SIngapore
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Boasting easy trails and well-defined footpaths, Hindhede Nature Park is an excellent spot for families, children and beginner hikers. Because this nature park is located next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it’s a home to various bird and animal species, including the banded woodpecker, clouded monitor lizard, plantain squirrel and greater racket-tailed drongo. So try to bring binoculars and get in some wildlife watching. As you go on your leisure stroll, head on to the main highlight of this place – the beautiful Hindhede Quarry and lake. At the end of the park, it’s the perfect spot for a rest. 

Hindhede Nature Park 
Address: Along Hindhede Dr.
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Daily)

Where to eat and drink 

1. Acqua e Farina 

Italian restaurant Aquae Farina in The Rail Mall is in our list of things to do in HIllview, Singapore
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Craving for Italian food? Get your fix at this Italian restaurant which serves up the best dishes from Southern and Northern Italy. Headed by Italian chefs Antonio Manetto and Roberto Galbiati, the food is authentic. Chef Manetto grew up in the south of Italy, in Naples, so he makes pizza the traditional Neapolitan way. A proud native of the northern city of Milan, Chef Galbiati specialises in pasta. So you can expect delicious handmade stuffed pasta like ravioli and tortellini. There’s also a wide selection of desserts – from panna cotta and creme brulee to tiramisu and profiterole cakes. They’re all handmade in the restaurant.

Acqua e Farina 
Address: 400 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., The Rail Mall, 678050
Tel: 6462 0926
Opening hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:45 to 10 p.m. (Tue. to Thurs., Sun. and PH.); 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:45 to 10:15 p.m. (Fri. to Sat.)

Reserve on Chope here.

2. Sixteen Ounces Craft Beer Bistro

Sixteen Ouces Craft Beer Bistro restaurant in HIllview, Singapore
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Located right beside the historical Upper Bukit Timah Road truss bridge, Sixteen Ounces serves up to eight craft beers on tap, plus a rotating variety of bottled and canned craft beers and ciders from around the world. It also dishes out local fusion food, like tacos, burgers and rice bowls, from the Taco Mantra Kitchen. And when dining in is allowed, their specials are one of the fun things to do in Hillview. You can look forward to specials like Taco Tuesdays (taco and selected beers) and Call The Shots Saturday ($5 shots, all day).

Sixteen Ounces Craft Beer Bistro
Address: 398 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., The Rail Mall, 678049
Tel: 6219 9304
Opening hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Tue. to Sun.)

Reserve on Chope here.

3. Springleaf Prata Place 

Springleaf Prata Place, in Hillview, Singapore
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This eatery is famous in Singapore. It’s not fancy, but it’s a must try in Hillview because it offers tasty, authentic and affordable southern and northern Indian cuisine. As its name suggests, this relaxed little restaurant is famed for prata, a Southest Asian fried bread that’s like a croissant mixed with a pizza, but better. The menu features a wide variety of prata toppings, which include sweet options like banana chocolate and savoury options like mozzarella cheese. The alfredo prata is a masterpiece of fusion food, with rosemary chicken, mushrooms, mozzarella and alfredo sauce sandwiched inside a crispy prata.  

Springleaf Prata Place 
Address: 396 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., The Rail Mall, 678048
Tel: 6219 2540 / 9654 0711
Opening hours: 8 to 12 a.m. (Daily)

4. YuBa Hut 

YuBa Hut, in Hillview, SIngapore
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If you want Japanese food in double-quick time, this fast-casual Japanese restaurant should ease your hunger pangs. It offers a broad range of traditional and fusion Japanese cuisine, including maki rolls, donburi rice bowls and fresh sashimi. Don’t miss its signature Aburi style dishes, like the Salmon Aburi Don ($14.90) and Tamago Aburi Don ($10.90). 

YuBa Hut
Address: 454 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., The Rail Mall, 678071
Tel: 8927 5075
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Daily)

5. The Cat Cafe 

The Cat Cafe houses rescued cats in Hillview, Singaproe
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Love cats and coffee? Pop by this cat cafe in Hillview for the best of both worlds. The cafe is home to 15 rescued cats, which makes it an ideal spot to unwind and recharge in the company of adorable felines. Some are happy to be petted, others just gaze regally down on you from their cat perches, like furry queens and kings.

As you pet your new furry friends, you can treat yourself to this cafe’s freshly baked pastries, top-notch tea, and freshly brewed coffee. It’s a cut above many cafes because the staff only use locally roasted coffee beans. Visitor numbers are limited, to keep the cats happy. So you are smart to call ahead and book for this cafe.

The Cat Cafe
Address: 392 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., The Rail Mall, 678046
Tel: 6977 9579
Opening hours: 3 to 9 p.m. (Mon.); 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Tue. to Fri.); 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sat. to Sun.)

6. The Jolly Roger 

The Jolly Roger restaurant and pub in HIllview SIngapore
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This British-style neighbourhood restaurant and pub is not that well known because it’s nestled within the quiet, residential district of Hillview. But it’s got a wide range of wines, spirits, award-winning craft beers and an extensive cocktail selection. Locals speak highly of the home-cooked meals, including an all-day breakfast menu, pasta, burgers and an English Roast Dinner ($25). 

The Jolly Roger 
Address: 15 Chu Lin Rd., 669907
Tel: 8874 7123
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Daily)

7. iO Italian Osteria 

io Italian Osteria in Hillview district, Singapore
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What is it about Italian food in Hillview? Another place to get your Italian food fix is iO Italian Osteria in Hillview, the sister outlet to popular Italian restaurant Etna on Duxton Road. This osteria serves the “greatest hits” of Italian food, from woodfired pizza to pasta and gelato. If you’re not in the mood for a big meal, you can sample cold cuts or graze on authentic Italian street food bites. These include Hand-cut Potatoes With Rock Salt And Rosemary ($9), Tender Meatballs in Hearty Tomato Sauce ($9), and Savoury Porchetta Pork Belly (from $9). 

iO Italian Osteria 
Address: 4 Hillview Rise., #02-01, HillV2, 667979
Tel: 6710 7150
Opening hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.); 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sat. to Sun.)

Reserve on Chope here.

8. Jiak Modern Tze Char 

Jiak Modern Tze Char restaurant in Hillview, Singapore serves affordable food with a home-cooked feeling
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At this halal restaurant, the name says it all. The word Jiak means “to eat” in Hokkien, and is commonly used to ask people if they have already eaten – or to invite them to eat. Tze Char roughly translates as affordable Chinese food, in home-cooked style. So you know this place serves authentic tze char dishes that are comforting, inexpensive and halal – such as Curry Assam Fish Head ($20), Claypot Beancurd (from $10) and Salted Egg Prawns (from $18). 

Jiak Modern Tze Char 
Address: 4 Hillview Rise., #02-04, HillV2, 667979
Tel: 6265 1097 / 8875 2493
Opening hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Daily)

Reserve on Chope here.

9. Tandoori Culture 

Tandoori Culture Indian restaurant in HIllview, Singapore
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A favourite amongst Indian expats, Tandoori Culture restaurant in Hillview prides itself on serving authentic North Indian cuisine using excellent quality ingredients and fresh spices. As well as all the usual crowd favourites like chicken tikka and tandoori lamb chops, this place has a huge variety of vegetarian dishes. There’s even a few “Indo Chinese” dishes, like Gobi Manchurian ($13.90), crispy cauliflower bites in spicy chilli sauce. 

Tandoori Culture 
Address: 4 Hillview Rise., #02-03, HillV2, 667979
Tel: 6710 7127
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Daily)

Reserve on Chope here.

10. Spruce 

Spruce brunch restaurant in Hillview, Singapore
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Spruce is famous in Singapore for brunch favourites, such as the Spruce Signature Steak Benny ($29), poached eggs and steak in pepper hollandaise sauce, on ciabatta bread. The restaurant also has an impressive collection of wine, whiskey, cognac, beer and cocktails, so you can sip a fancy drink and gaze at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve through floor-to-ceiling windows. When eating in is allowed, the restaurant also offers a good high tea set.  

Spruce 
Address: 4 Hillview Rise., #01-01, HillV2, 667979
Tel: 9759 5790
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.); 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Sat. to Sun. and PH.)

Reserve on Chope here.

Where to shop

1. HillV2

HillV2 Shopping Mall in Hillview, Singapore
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A part of a residential building, HillV2 is a small and upscale mall that serves the Hillview community in Singapore. It’s just two floors, but the shops inside feel more posh than other suburban malls. There’s dining options like Wine Connection Bistro, Bing Bing Ice Cream Gallery, Cedele Bakery Kitchen and the compact but well-curated Hillview MarketPlace supermarket. There’s even a 24-hour gym. 

HillV2
Address: 4 Hillview Rise., 667979
Tel: 6593 3278
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Daily)

2. Praisehaven Mega Family Store

Praisehaven Salvation Army Thrift Shop is in Hillview, Singapore
(image: Muneerah Bee)

Located just next to Hillview MRT station, the Salvation Army’s thrift store is the biggest secondhand store in Singapore. This makes it a great place for bargain hunters and eco-conscious shoppers who want to reuse, recycle and upcycle. Unlike some secondhand stores, this warehouse-sized place is neatly organised and the items are in good condition. They also accept donations, so you can drop off your used stuff before hunting for new treasures. If you buy something bulky, like furniture, they can help you arrange delivery. Note that the store only accepts cash, NETS and Paynow, no credit cards.

Praisehaven Mega Family Store
Address: 500 Upper Bukit Timah Rd., 678106
Tel: 6718 2513
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. to Thu.); 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Fri. to Sun.)

By Muneerah Bee, September 2016 / Last updated by Jayme Chong, July 2021

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