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Guide to Hiking at Thomson Nature Park

Guide to Hiking at Thomson Nature Park

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Thomson Nature Park is not just a normal park. It has a long history that dates back to the early 1930s. It used to be Hainan Village and was home to almost 100 families of various races.

Today, Thomson Nature Park is home to secondary forest that’s rich in biodiversity. Besides the vegetation and wildlife, you will also find ruins of Hainan Village accompanied by signboards that tell stories from the past.

If you love history, or you love to read stories, I recommend taking the time to read the information boards at Thomson Nature Park and be transported back to the 1900s.

Thomson Nature Park is located at Upper Thomson Road, right next to Lower Peirce Reservoir and Upper Peirce Reservoir. If you’re planning for a full-day hike, you can consider hiking these 3 places in a day.


Brief History

In the 1930s, the Hainan Village came into existence when Hainanese immigrants settled here. The village was well-known for its sweet and juicy rambutans. In 1960s, the village grew to almost 100 families.

In 1980s, the village was cleared and the land was returned to the state. Afterwards, vegetation reclaimed the abandoned land and secondary forest regenerated in this area.

Thomson Nature Park was opened in 2019 to serve as the green buffer for the CCNR (Central Catchment Nature Reserve) as well as to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the site.

Thomson Nature Park - History
Thomson Nature Park - History

Opening Hours

The opening hours of Thomson Nature Park are from 7am to 7pm daily. Entering or remaining in the park after 7pm is not allowed.


How to get to Thomson Nature Park

There are 3 entrances to Thomson Nature Park:

  1. Entrance 1 (Main Entrance): Upper Thomson Road
  2. Entrance 2: Macaque Trail at Old Upper Thomson Road
  3. Entrance 3: Langur Trail Old Upper Thomson Road

Entrance 1 (Main Entrance) is the most accessible entrance via public transport. It is only 200m (about 2 mins walk) away from the nearest bus stop “Aft Tagore Dr.” Entrance 2 and 3 are good options for people who visited Lower Peirce Reservoir before going to Thomson Nature Park.

Thomson Nature Park - Entrance Map
Thomson Nature Park – Entrance Locations (adapted from Google Map)

Ways to get to Thomson Nature Park via Main Entrance at Upper Thomson Road:

  • By MRT: Take MRT to Upper Thomson Station, take exit 5, take bus 167 or 980 and alight at “Aft Tagore Dr” bus stop. Walk about 200m to Thomson Nature Park main entrance.
  • By bus: Take bus 138, 167, 169, 860, 980 and alight at “Aft Tagore Dr” bus stop (bus stop no 56061) or “Bef Tagore Dr” bus stop (bus stop no 56069). Walk to Thomson Nature Park main entrance.
  • By car: Drive to Upper Thomson Road (location on Google Map). There are carpark lots near the main entrance, but take note that parking lots are very limited.
Thomson Nature Park - Main Entrance
Main Entrance at Upper Thomson Road

Ways to get to Thomson Nature Park via Side Entrances at Old Upper Thomson Road:

  • By MRT: Take MRT to Upper Thomson Station, take exit 5, take bus 163, 167, 855 or 980 and alight at “Bef Yio Chu Kang Rd” bus stop. Walk about 600m to Macaque Trail or 950m to Langur Trail.
  • By bus: Take bus 163, 167, 169, 855, 980 and alight at “Bef Yio Chu Kang Rd” bus stop (bus stop no 56031) or “Aft Yio Chu Kang Rd” bus stop (bus stop no 56039). Walk to Macaque Trail or Langur Trail along Old Upper Thomson Road.
  • By car: Drive to Casuarina Road. There are 2 carparks, one at the junction of Old Upper Thomson Rd & Casuarina Road (location on Google Map), and the other one along Old Upper Thomson Road near Nemesu Ave (location on Google Map.
Thomson Nature Park - Side Entrance - Macaque Trail
Side Entrance at Old Upper Thomson Road
Thomson Nature Park - Macaque Trail (4)
Side Entrance – Macaque Trail (Entrance 2)
Thomson Nature Park - Langur Trail (4)
Side Entrance – Langur Trail (Entrance 3)

What to Bring

Here are the things that I recommend you to bring when visiting Thomson Nature Park:

  • Water. There is a water fountain near the toilet, but during a time like this, I recommend not to use the fountain and bring your own drinks.
  • Mosquito repellant. I didn’t and I got so many mozzie bites on my legs.
  • Sunblock. Thomson Nature Park is not entirely shaded, do wear sunblock to protect your skin if you’re planning to spend a lot of time at the park.
  • Umbrella/raincoat (optional). Well, technically if you see dark clouds are forming above your head, you can run to exit the park in 5 mins, so umbrella/raincoat is more useful for people who can’t run fast (eg: families with young kids or elderly).

What to Wear

Thomson Nature Park is a well-developed park. The trails at Thomson Nature Park are mostly well-paved with tarmac, while a small portion of the park is earth trail. I think it’s alright to wear pretty much anything.

Do take note that the trails may be slippery when it’s wet, so it’s best to wear footwear with good grips, especially if you visit during rainy season.


Facilities

1. Carpark. There are carpark lots near the main entrance (location on Google Map). There are 30 carpark lots inside the park and they are scattered among 4 clusters:

  • One cluster is on your right side as you pass the gantry
  • One cluster is on your left side as you pass the gantry
  • One cluster is slightly further inside, on the left side
  • One cluster is right opposite in front of the toilet

There are also parking lots for motorcycle and bicycle but they’re quite limited (less than 5 lots each).

If the carpark inside Thomson Nature Park is full, there are 2 alternative carparks at the south of Thomson Nature Park:

Do note that if you park at these alternative carparks, you’ll have to walk about 650m to get to Macaque Trail (Entrance 2) or 800m to Langur Trail (Entrance 3).

Thomson Nature Park - Carpark - Car parking lot
One of the Carpark clusters
Thomson Nature Park - Carpark - Motorcycle Bicycle parking lot
Motorcycle and bicycle parking lots

2. Toilet. There is only 1 toilet and it’s located near main entrance (location on Google Map).

3. Water fountain. There is a water fountain just beside the toilet. However, given the current situation, I recommend that you bring your own water.

Thomson Nature Park - Toilet
Toilet at Main Entrance

Suggested Routes

There are so many combination of routes that you can take at Thomson Nature Park, and you can explore the park in whichever direction as you wish. But, if you really need a recommendation, below is my suggested route. Btw, I highly recommend that you do not skip rambutan trail because there are so many interesting ruins inside.

The main problem that I faced was that the trails are not shown in Google Maps yet, so it’s quite a pain to figure out whether you’ve walked through certain route or not, because all the trails do look very similar after a while. Eventually, I found that Street Directory app does show the actual trails, so I recommend that you make use of Street Directory to find your ways when you’re inside the park.

Thomson Nature Park - Suggested Route
Suggested Route (Image adapted from NParks’ map)

Things to do at Thomson Nature Park

1. Rambutan Trail

Rambutan Trail is a short trail (0.4km long) located near the Main Entrance. To get to Rambutan Trail, when you pass by the gantry at the main entrance, turn right to the carpark, walk to the end and you’ll see the entrance to Rambutan Trail. Rambutan Trail tells the story of Mr Han Wai Toon and Mr Looi Im Heok.

Mr Han Wai Toon was a hardworking man originated from Hainan Island. Despite having little formal education, he rose from being a simple clerk to being the owner of a productive garden with over 400 rambutan trees. Along the trail, there are remains of the stairs leading towards Mr Han’s farmhouse.

Mr Looi Im Heok was a rubber merchant in Malaya before he settled down in Singapore. He moved to Hainan Village in 1938 and built a bungalow as well as a school called Tong Poh Primary School. His son, Mr Looi Kim Eng, set up a workshop called Looi’s Motor in 1961, which became a meeting place for motorcyclists and motorsports enthusiasts. Today, Looi’s Motor is a thriving business located at Kaki Bukit.

Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Rambutan Trail’s starting point at carpark
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Rambutan Trail

2. Main Entrance Area

Bounded by Rambutan Trail, Carpark and Lorong Pelita, is a 2-storey concrete hut with spiral staircase, lookout rooftop and “Thomson Nature Park” sign attached to the rooftop railing. At the first storey, you can find information boards about Thomson Nature Park.

Thomson Nature Park - Main Entrance
Thomson Nature Park - Main Entrance
Thomson Nature Park - Main Entrance

Across the hut, there is a small and photogenic lookout deck to up your Instagram game.

Thomson Nature Park - Main Entrance

3. Ruins and Figs + Stream and Ferns Trails

There are 2 main trails at Thomson Nature Park: Ruins and Figs Trail (Red Trail) and Stream and Ferns Trail (Yellow Trail).

Ruins and Figs Trail focuses more on the ruins of Hainan Village as well as fig tree roots that can still be found on site. Meanwhile, Stream and Ferns Trail focuses on the stream that was once used by the residents of Hainan Village and beautiful ferns that surround the stream.

Both trails overlap with each other at many sections. For simplicity, I will combine both of them in this section.

Because I love ruins, my priority when hiking at Thomson Nature Park was obviously looking for ruins. I tried to follow NParks’ map to locate the ruins, however, I couldn’t find some of the ruins along Lorong Pelita. So, don’t beat yourself too hard if you can’t find some of the ruins as well, just enjoy your hike 🙂

Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Ruins and Figs Trail marked with red paint
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Ruins and Figs Trail marked with red paint
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Story of the Ho and Tan Families who share a common property
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Lorong Pelita, an actual road in the past
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Information board about life at Hainan Village
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
There are some elevation gain/loss along the trails
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Old village houses wrapped in vines
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Story of the Han Family
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Stream and Ferns Trail marked with yellow paint
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Ruins and Figs - Stream and Ferns Trail
Roots overtaking the road

4. Langur Trail

Langur Trail is a very short board walk trail (0.15km long), which also serves as an entrance to Thomson Nature Park. Don’t skip this trail because of its short distance because there are hidden gems here.

First, there is a small lookout deck for you to admire a very old tree. And near to the entrance, there is a ruin, which isn’t indicated in NParks’ map.

Thomson Nature Park - Langur and Macaque Trails
Thomson Nature Park - Langur Trail
Small lookout deck
Thomson Nature Park - Langur Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Langur Trail
Ruin
Thomson Nature Park - Langur Trail
Langur Trail Entrance/Exit

5. Macaque Trail

Named after a type of monkey, Macaque Trail (0.35km long) is primarily an earth and gravels trail, and it also serves an entrance to Thomson Nature Park.

During my hike, I didn’t see any macaques on this trail (thankfully!), but I did see some monkeys outside, along Old Upper Thomson Road.

Thomson Nature Park - Macaque Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Macaque Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Macaque Trail
Thomson Nature Park - Macaque Trail
Macaque Trail Entrance/Exit

Nearby Parks

If you want to combine your visit with other parks, here are some parks located near Thomson Nature Park:

  • Lower Peirce Reservoir. Lower Peirce’s Casuarina Entrance is just 750m away from Thomson Nature Park’s Macaque Trail entrance.
  • Upper Peirce Reservoir. Upper Peirce Reservoir is located about 2.2km from Thomson Nature Park’s Langur Trail entrance.

Nearby Food

The nearest place to eat near Thomson Nature Park would be the row of restaurants at Casuarina Road, which is about 550m from Macaque entrance. The restaurants on Casuarina Road are Casuarina Curry, Ming Chu Chair Lao Ban, Casuarina Bistro, Tamako Meal, Chui Xiang Kitchen and Ban Leong Wah Hoe.

If you prefer a more budget food option, the nearest hawker center is at Sembawang Hills Food Center, which is 1.2km away from Macaque entrance, or 2km away from main entrance of Thomson Nature Park. Alternatively, you can take bus from “Bef Tagore Dr” bus stop and alight 4 stops later at “Bef Sembawang Hills Fc” bus stop.

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