What to expect on NHB’s new Woodlands Heritage Trail

The trail can be completed by foot, bicycle or public transport.

Liam Willett

Aspiring cat dad.

Published: 28 October 2022, 5:52 PM

Woodlands is known to many for the checkpoint, Singapore’s gateway into Malaysia. However, there is much more of the northern town to be discovered.

This includes its early days as an area dotted with coastal and riverside settlements, the role it played during World War II, and the stores of varied communities who have called Woodlands home for decades.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) has curated the new Woodlands Heritage Trail featuring 15 heritage sites and supplemented by eight heritage trail markers. 

This new heritage trail traces the rich military history of Woodlands, the evolution of its communities and places of worship, and its transformation into the modern estate today.

The trail has been developed with contributions from the community and is presented to uncover the area’s lesser known stories through three thematic routes – Communities of Woodlands, Woodlands at War, and A Journey through the Woods.

Woodland’s military history

One of the areas that the Woodlands Heritage Trail delves into is the area’s rich military past. From the 1920s, Woodlands became an area of military significance as the Causeway formed a connection between Singapore and Malaya.

Military installations along the trail include the art-deco inspired building of the administration block of former KD Malaya, a Malaysian naval base that occupied the area from the 1950s to 1997. This administration block is one of the remaining buildings of the former KD Malaya, while the rest of the base has since been demolished in 2021.


While the administration block is not currently accessible to the public, it can be viewed from the outside. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/LIAM WILLETT


At the nearby Woodlands Waterfront Park, the former Malaysian Base Jetty for KD Malaya, offers panoramic views of Johor strait. The mooring anchors, originally used for mooring naval ships, now serve as seats, and the storage shed is now in use as a restaurant, with the hoisting equipment inside preserved.


The Malaysian Base Jetty, previously used for official events such as commissioning new ships, is now part of Woodlands Waterfront Park. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/LIAM WILLETT


There is also a clear view of the causeway, which opened in 1924, and served as an important site during World War II. 

It was blown up in 1942 when the last Allied defenders crossed Malaya into Singapore to prevent the Japanese from crossing into Singapore, and was eventually rebuilt and expanded over the years to the causeway seen today.

A short bus ride away is Kranji War Cemetery, a former burial ground for a prisoner-of-war camp expanded into a resting place for over 4,400 fallen Allied soldiers who died in Singapore and Malaya.


On top of the hill of Kranji War Cemetery is the Singapore Memorial, with the names of over 24,000 soldiers who died without known graves, including soldiers from the Malay Regiment who died during the battle of Bukit Chandu in 1942. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/LIAM WILLETT


Beside Kranji War Cemetery is Kranji State Cemetery, where Singapore’s first president, Yusof Ishak, and second president Benjamin Sheares are buried.

Woodland’s past Kampong communities

Another area that the trail introduces is the different religious institutions and community landmarks that originated in Woodlands and continue to serve residents today. 

These religious institutions include the two temples, Hong Tho Bilw and Shang Di Miao Chai Kong, established in the 1940s and 1930s respectively. The temples were originally situated at Kampung Hock Choon, a farming village in Woodlands and Kampong Lorong Kechil, formerly at the site of Singapore Turf Club.


Hong Tho Bilw Temple and Shang Di Miao Chai Kong Temple were originally located in Kampong villages, but have since been relocated to new sites in the 1990s. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/LIAM WILLETT


Visitors may access the locations via foot, bicycle or public transport. 

The map and companion guide can be downloaded from NHB’s heritage portal while limited printed copies of the guide are available at Marsiling Community Club, Fuchun Community Club, ACE THE Place Community Club, Woodlands Galaxy Community Club, Woodlands Community Club, the National Museum of Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum, and NHB’s headquarters at Stamford Court.

A video of highlights of the Woodlands Heritage Trail can also be viewed on Roots SG’s Youtube channel.

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