Hello, lah! I started my Singapore trip by joining the Battlebox tour in Fort Canning Park. Battlebox is the actual bunker used by the British as a hiding place from the Japanese and where Percival made the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese.
I have been a little bit obsessed with WWII after my Kanchanaburi trip. The British soldiers that worked in the railway were the soldiers who fought in the war of Singapore. Doing this hike ties the whole story of my trip, although I did it backwards.
Going to Fort Canning is pretty easy. It was just the next station from where I was staying. Just get off at Fort Canning Station (blue line) MRT and the exit will lead you directly into the entrance of the park.
Fort Canning is a vast park so it took a bit of walking to get to the Battlebox Visitor Centre. The walkway is cemented but I still suggest wearing comfortable shoes. It rained during my tour so the road was a little bit slippery.
The first tour starts at 9:45, and the visitor centre opens by 9:30. I got there even before 9 because I figured I will need a bit more time as I might get lost from walking around. Nearby the visitor centre is the Singapore Bicentennial exhibit that is running until end of this year.
The Battlebox Visitor Centre also serves as a souvenir/gift shop filled with Singapore souvenirs and WWII related items. There were also books about the Kanchanaburi railway.
We started the tour at exactly 9:45, with Syasya as our docent. She was very lovely. We started a really short walk towards the bunker and went inside.
Taking of pictures and videos is not allowed inside the museum. I think that made the experience more special because we were distraction free as we went around the bunker.
The Battlebox is rated as Singapore’s number 1 tour and I can see why. Syasya is very knowledgeable and the tour was very organized. I came out of the tour still remembering that was discussed. You cannot enter the Battlebox unless you join a guided tour. Although it is relatively small, it’s easy to get lost inside. I’m not sure if we were given full access to the bunker, but we did go to a lot of rooms. It felt a little bit like a maze. It is also filled with a lot of memorabilia. Since the war happened barely more than 50 years ago, a lot of the items inside are still well preserved. The bunker was left and closed after the war and was not discovered until 1988 and it opened to the public as a museum in 1997.
The tour lasted for an hour and 15 minutes. It was there that I learned that the British surrendered to the Japanese in the old Ford factory museum in Singapore. I never knew we had a factory in Singapore. I also learned that one of the archaeological digs was commissioned by Shell, a former workplace of mine. I can easily see why this is rated as Singapore’s number one museum.
If you like history and you’re in Singapore, I highly recommend doing this tour. You will learn so much from it. My tour group was filled with a lot of English people who asked a lot of things specific to the war and the British and my docent was able to answer it perfectly. It just goes to show that they do more than just memorize what they have to show around the museum. This is also an easy tour. There are stairs to go down the bunker but after that it’s airconditioned downstairs. It is a little dark and kinda small, so if you are extra claustrophobic it might not be the best place. The tour groups run small though. I think our group barely reached 20 people.
I’m not sure if you can reach the Battlebox Visitor Centre via car but it’s about 20 minutes of a walk from the MRT station.
The Battlebox Tour
Battlebox Visitor Centre
2 Cox Terrace, Fort Canning Park
Easily accessed through the Fort Canning MRT (blue line)
Closes at 5:30 PM daily
Guided tours are available for 20 SGD