Little Guilin


Little Guilin is home to remarkable granite stone outcrops that sit upon a filled in quarry in Singapore.

Discover Little Guilin

Contained within Bukit Batok in Singapore, is the scenic Bukit Batok Town Park, better known as Little Guilin, (or Xiao GuiLin) on account of its similarities with Guilin, a city in China. This city is home to breathtaking landscapes and limestone karst hills, which are reminiscent of the granite rock formations, at Singapore’s Little Guilin. These rock formations, nestled within the surrounding hills, sit upon the shimmering waters of a tranquil lake, creating an idyllic scene that captivates each visitor.

Contrary to common belief, Little Guilin is not merely one spectacular scene with an accompanying viewpoint; it holds an array of treasures waiting to be explored. As you traverse the 400-metre trail along the western edge of the lake, you are sure to discover the rest of the park's hidden gems.

Little Guilin 2
Guilin in China.

The History of Little Guilin

Bukit Batok Town Park, and the neighbouring Bukit Batok Nature Park, spans 77 hectares in the Bukit Batok planning area, encompassing subzones such as Bukit Gombak, Hong Kah, Brickworks, and Hillview. Originally, a granite quarry extracting Gombak norite occupied the area and explains how it got its name, Bukit Batok, meaning "coughing hills," from the sounds of quarrying machinery.

As the demand for granite led to quarrying below sea level, posing an ecological threat, the government closed the quarries in Bukit Batok. Abandoned, one quarry filled with rainwater over time, transforming into a small lake. In 1984, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) planned to fill it and construct a road but were swayed by the beauty of the rugged granite outcrops and green hills. Instead, the quarry became Little Guilin, a park with granite-block retaining walls, concrete footpaths, lights, and seating.

Little Guilin
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Urban Redevelopment Authority's 1996 initiative linked the Town Park and Nature Parks through connectors to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Sungei Pandan, enhancing the residential landscape. Located in Bukit Gombak, a short walk from Bukit Gombak MRT station, Little Guilin evolved beyond a recreational space. It served as a venue for Chinese opera, dance, and music performances and gained attention as an alternative tourist destination showcasing Singapore's diverse landscapes.

The transformation of abandoned quarries into parks in the 1980s was not unique to Little Guilin but a trend in Singapore. Over the years, these former quarries, including those in Bukit Timah, Woodlands, and Pulau Ubin, have transformed into scenic spots, each with its unique story.

Inside Little Guilin

Park Layout

Spanning 42 hectares, Little Guilin's grand allure lies in its resemblance to the iconic granite karsts and emerald waters of Guilin, China. Inside, the park is divided into three distinctive areas.

On the left side, facing Bukit Batok East Ave 5, a picturesque bank to the lake features trees, grass plains, and stone seats. This area once housed a nature trekking track, the Bukit Gombak Trail, but is currently closed off.

In the middle section, one of two granite dome-shaped shelters complete with stone benches invites visitors to relax or seek cover from the rain or sun. And then the right side mirrors this arrangement, boasting close proximity to a convenient bus stop.

Both the middle and right parts, serving as retaining walls for the lake, are located just behind Bukit Batok East Ave 5. Internally connected by a small path, which may or may not be flecked with avid joggers throughout the day, they are accessible both by the roadside and internally. On the left, an independent section remains reachable directly from the roadside.

Bukit Gombak Trail

The former nature trail was a walk through the park, with signposts that led to different lookout points across Little Guilin. As well as playgrounds, a World War II Memorial Site and other hiking trails such as the Riffles Range Nature Park less than ten minutes away. Unfortunately, after a series of landslides in 2007, the National Parks Board permanently closed off the trail. However, it is still possible to wander through the park and along the connectors to other parks across Singapore.

Little Guilin 1

Things to do at Little Guilin

The versatile nature of the park caters to the diverse interests of its visitors. It attracts nature photographers, birdwatchers, anglers, picnickers, and joggers alike. Little Guilin holds the prestigious code 9V-0006 in the international Parks On The Air award program, making it a regular 'activation' site for Amateur Radio operators utilising portable equipment. And there is usually Chinese dance and other activities held in the park throughout the week. With its scenic landscapes and multifaceted appeal, Little Guilin is also a popular spot for a wedding day backdrop.

For more examples of China in Singapore why not read the following articles:

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