What to expect on NHB’s refreshed Ang Mo Kio heritage trail

A total of 15 new sites are featured in the refresh.

Janella Ching

Will give you my Disney+ password if you promise to watch the shows I recommend.

Published: 22 September 2023, 3:11 PM

Ang Mo Kio is well-known to many Singaporeans for its lush parks, hidden hawker gems and ever-recognisable vintage dragon playground. However, the town has more to offer.

National Heritage Board (NHB)’s newly-refreshed Ang Mo Kio Heritage Trail aims to spotlight some of the lesser-known areas in the town.

The refreshed trail boasts 40 heritage sites following the addition of 13 new sites, and 10 site markers including two new markers: one at the Church of Christ the King, and the other at Liuxun Sanhemiao.


One of the two new site markers has been set at the Church of Christ the King. The marker presents obscure facts and anecdotes about the site, and also includes a map of Ang Mo Kio for participants’ wayfinding. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JANELLA CHING


With humble beginnings dating back to the 1800s, Ang Mo Kio has grown from a plantation and farming land into the bustling Housing and Development Board (HDB) heartland it is today.

However, the origin of its name still remains a mystery. According to NHB, some think it comes from the Hokkien term for tomatoes, while others feel it was named after a “red-haired Caucasian” or a bridge.

Since the Ang Mo Kio Heritage Trail’s initial launch in 2011, NHB has discovered new stories of the town through fresh research and community interviews. 

Visitors can re-explore Ang Mo Kio through the trail’s three thematic routes: Iconic Landmarks, Hidden Heartland Gems and Scenic Fringes.

The Iconic Landmarks route showcases the prominent buildings and sites of Ang Mo Kio new town. It spans over 5.5km and takes 1.5 hours to complete with public transportation. 

Highlights include Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club and HDB Block 710, also known as the “VIP Block”.

Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club is the largest bird singing and display arena in Singapore. It all started in the 1970s, when three hobbyist friends began meeting up regularly with their caged birds at the present location. They first hung the cages on trees, and the poles seen today were eventually installed in 1987.


The site can accommodate over 1,000 cages and often hosts bird singing competitions. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JANELLA CHING, YOUTHOPIA/CHLOE THAM


Block 710 at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 is dubbed the “VIP Block”. In the 1980s and 1990s, it hosted foreign dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese Premier Li Peng, to view daily life in a HDB estate. PHOTO CREDITS: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


Queen Elizabeth at the rooftop viewing gallery of Block 710 in 1989; Bird’s eye view of Ang Mo Kio from Block 710’s rooftop in the present day. It is not open to members of the public. PHOTO CREDITS: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE, YOUTHOPIA/JANELLA CHING


At 7.5km long, the Hidden Heartland Gems route takes an hour and 45 minutes to complete with public transportation. It explores overlooked gems around Ang Mo Kio and reveals lesser-known anecdotes of the community.

Participants will encounter Ang Mo Kio Joint Temple, which houses three temples: Gao Lin Gong, Kim Eang Tong and Leng Sam Giam; originally from Ang Mo Kio’s former villages. 

The three temples were affected by the town’s redevelopment in the 1970s, and hence formed the joint temple in order to lease the site.


The intricate carvings that line the pillars and facade of the temple were hand-crafted by artisans from China. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


According to Kim Eang Tong representative Mr Lim, temple members would validate their religious faith by facing various forms of physical danger, and coming through unscathed.


Mr Lim said that temple members would lay stacked on top of one another, on a bed of nails similar to the one pictured above. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JENN LEE, YOUTHOPIA/JANELLA CHING


The route also features the Church of Christ the King – the only Catholic church in Ang Mo Kio. A gold statue of Christ the King stands at the front balcony of the building.


The church was established in 1982 and rebuilt in 2002. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JANELLA CHING


The third and final route, Scenic Fringes, allows visitors to rediscover the serene outskirts of Ang Mo Kio. Stretching to about 12 km, it is the longest route and takes 2.5 hours to complete with use of public transportation.

It features Lower Peirce Reservoir, Singapore’s second and largest impounding reservoir. During its official opening in 1912, an inscription stone from Aswan, Egypt was erected and it remains standing at the reservoir to this day.


The reservoir was renamed in 1922 in honour of municipal engineer Robert Peirce, for his contributions to the project from 1901-1916. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


NHB’s heritage trails aim to preserve the history of places in Singapore, invoke nostalgia in Singaporeans and serve as a reliable source of information for visitors and new residents. 

Those interested in the trail may download its companion guide and map from NHB’s heritage portal.

More upgrades await Ang Mo Kio – the addition of the new Cross Island Line by 2030, improved accessibility for wheelchair and personal mobility vehicle users, enhancements to shop fronts and buildings, revamped children’s playgrounds, landscaping works and more sheltered rest areas.

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