Fort Siloso, National Monument and Singapore’s “Only” Well-Preserved Coastal Fortress

Fort Siloso, Singapore’s “Only” Well-Preserved Coastal Fortress
Fort Siloso, Singapore’s “Only” Well-Preserved Coastal Fortress

Exploring Fort Siloso on a sweaty, deserted, Tuesday morning.

Fort Siloso is one of the oldest travel attractions of post-independence Singapore, but if you ask me, I think it has never been a star.

Though nowadays promoted as Singapore’s “only” well-preserved coastal fortress, I had never once, in over 40 years, encountered crowds near or within it.

When I first visited in the late 70s as a rugrat, my only memory of the place was that it was hot and boring, somewhat creepy too. In the late 80s, when my secondary school class voted on where to go for a history excursion, not a single person voted for this relic. We ended up going to the National Museum.

Yeah …

Jump forth to 2022, the decommissioned artillery battery was recently gazetted as Singapore’s 74th national monument on Feb 15; the date, of course, the day when British Singapore surrendered to Imperial Japan in 1942. Here’s the truth, though. I didn’t visit last Tuesday because of this. I went because I was bored stiff and looking for somewhere different to wander through. I didn’t even know about the gazetting till days later.

As for the visit, it was as I remembered the place. Very warm and humid, desolate, and rather unsettling within the empty underground corridors.

I can’t say I learned anything new too; I know my local WWII history well. On the other hand, sweaty discomfort aside, it was an unusual hour among the barracks and preserved pounders.

I reiterate what I wrote in an old Singapore video game tourist article. This historical site would be awesome as the venue for a real-life survival horror game.

Approach Via Fort Siloso Skywalk

I’ve completely forgotten about this lofty 11-storey tall new attraction! Have to say, it was quite a joy walking among the treetops. The views of Siloso beach and Harbourfront were splendid too.

Fort Siloso Skywalk
The scenic treetop Skywalk, all 181 metres of it, has a certain sense of tropical adventure. I love the way it leads into the “forest” without any hint of what’s beyond.
View from Fort Siloso Skywalk
Glorious panoramic views too! I’m sure it’d be even better on a less overcast day.

Stately Pounders, Silent Corridors, and Stoic Statues

The Skywalk ends at the higher grounds of Fort Siloso, and because of this, it took me a short while to get my bearings. My memory of entry into the fort was that of the old, winding route from the beachfront.

In the end, I still got everything wrong! I was hiking uphill and trudging up staircases for most of the visit! Visiting tip: check the maps and vicinity before proceeding from the Skywalk. That is, unless you want to include a leg workout in the experience.

Fort Siloso Map
It’s not a labyrinth but checking the map for the best visiting route is still a must!
This seems new to me, I think it was erected for the new entrance. At the rear is one of the complexes.
9.2 inch breech loading coastal gun
9.2 inch breech loading coastal gun. According to resources, this has the most successful history of all British heavy ordnance.
Fort Siloso Singapore
Wax British soldiers within one of the command posts, on the lookout for naval enemies approaching from the South. (As is well-known, Imperial Japan came from the North, instead. WWII in this region for Britain was really such an embarrassment)
Fort Siloso Tunnels
There was just another family around when I visited, so the tunnels were silent and utterly atmospheric, if you know what I mean.
I think these are new. Some parts of the tunnels have information displays like this. Notice how there’s Japanese text too.
Singapore National Monument: Fort Siloso
The Fire Director Tower and 12-Pounder QF Gun at the furthest end of the fort. With its sea view, I always considered this spot the, erm, star attraction of Fort Siloso.
Fort Siloso Museum
This display within one of the barracks looks new to me too. It gives a rundown of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore between 1942 and 1945. Quite well done, in my opinion.
Guns of Sentosa:13-inch mortars
Preserved 13-inch mortars. You know, weirdly, the spotlight appearance of these guys stuck in my head since young. It’s what I associate with Fort Siloso Singapore too.

Surrender Chambers Wax Statues

What used to be a major Sentosa attraction on its own in the 70s and 80s, is now a part of our 74th national monument. (A delightfully AIR-CONDITIONED part too) It’s housed in one of the previous monorail stations too. Number 5 or 6, I think.

Walking down the short aisle of the Surrender Chambers was thus nostalgic for me in many ways. The motionless statues moreover reminded me of the latest ongoing military conflict: the Russo-Ukrainian War.

I’m not going to discuss that awful tragedy beyond saying, history repeats itself. In my opinion, often to the dot too. I can only pray a Ukrainian version of the Japanese Occupation will never happen.

Fort Siloso Surrender Chambers, Sentosa.
Older British officers surrendering to older Japanese warlords. War is indeed a game dictated by old men, in which young men die.
Surrender Chambers Sentosa
Disgraced Japanese officers surrendering to Allied military leaders, leaders that included the Americans and Chinese. War is also a game concluded by older men, the aftermath of which is weathered by the commoners.

The Life of A British Empire Soldier

These mini-displays are near the old entrance and surrender chambers. I don’t know whether they are new but I don’t remember seeing them when I last visited the Fort in 2008.

Not much to learn from these too, although I enjoyed them. Never a huge fan of artillery that doesn’t shoot lasers, I found these displays more engaging than the guns. The accompanying narrations were also quirky.

Fort Siloso Bunk Display
A British colonial-era army bunk. With a dog as the bunk IC?
British Colonial Soldier at Sea
This was a great concept! A forlorn wax soldier gazing at an impressionist painting of a sunset.
Sentosa Historical Attraction
Okay. Honestly, this didn’t go down too well with my Chinese pride. But it is history as it is.
Leaving Fort Siloso via the deserted skywalk has a strange, loopy time-traveling feel. It’s like “returning” from the colonial era to the present.

How to Get to Fort Siloso

There are two ways to reach this Singaporean historical attraction.

By Sentosa Express

From VivoCity, take the Sentosa Express and alight at Beach Station. Once there, head over to the bus interchange and ask about the free tram service to Siloso Point. (The last station before the tram reverses direction) From there, it’s a 10-15 minutes walk to the Skywalk. You will pass by Siloso Point Cable Car Station too.

By Cable Car

If you’re using the aerial route, ride all the way to Siloso Point Station. From there, it’s a very short walk to Fort Siloso Sky Walk.

With Sentosa connected to the mainland by the Broadwalk, you can, of course, WALK all the way from VivoCity. (The easier L-shaped route is to follow the monorail tracks to Beach Station, then head to the end of Siloso Beach) If you opt to do this, kudos. You’d do mighty well in an army route march!

Fort Siloso is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily, with final admission at 5.30 pm.

The skywalk lift, you’d need it, operates from 9 am to 10 pm.

Admission to both are free!

Check out my visit to Madame Tussauds Singapore too. The wax museum is, of course, located at Sentosa too.

Read my other Home Tourist photo essays.

Fort Siloso, Singapore’s “Only” Well-Preserved Coastal Fortress
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Fort Siloso, Singapore’s “Only” Well-Preserved Coastal Fortress
Visiting Fort Siloso on a sweaty Tuesday morning. And finding the entire complex as desolate as it has always been.

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