Heritage

Phoenix Park: Ex-British Secret Service Base Turned Historic Site In Singapore

Phoenix Park, Singapore


For those who have been around the Tanglin area enough, Phoenix Park may seem like a modest row of old buildings from the outside. But unbeknownst to Singaporeans, this is a site steeped in history, having served as a key government site since colonial times. 

It now stands as a quaint little office complex filled with chic cafes and restaurants the public can visit. Whether you are a history buff or a budding photographer looking for a charming photo op, here’s what you can do here:

Other historical buildings in Singapore:


Colonial-era buildings that house a rich history


Phoenix Park was officially constructed in 1949 by the then-British government and used to house key offices during the period of their administration.

A famous example is the British spy agency, Security Intelligence Far East, which operated from Phoenix Park. The agency regularly dealt with top secret information, and it’s not hard to imagine someone like James Bond having worked here.

The site was used by the Japanese as a golf course during World War 2
Image credit: @shyuechou

After the British left, the complex was handed over to the Singapore government. Subsequently, the Internal Security Department (ISD) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) both made Phoenix Park their headquarters.


Block A is shaped like a naval ship at the bequest of the Supreme Allied Commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Image credit: LHN Group

Much like other British colonial buildings from the 1940s, Phoenix Park contains rows of semi-detached longhouses that sport a monochrome black-and-white look – think Wessex Estate and Beaulieu House.

Fast forward to the present day and you’ll discover that the complex is now home to offices, schools, and various shops. 

However, the original design of the buildings still remains and is not something you’d ordinarily find around Singapore. In fact, Singapore declared it a historical site in 2012 due to its cultural significance throughout the years.


Things to do around Phoenix Park


If you’re a keen explorer of lesser-known sites in Singapore, the park complex is open to the public, although entering the schools or office buildings is off limits. There are restaurants located within the park itself to wind down after your adventure too.

If you’re feeling peckish for some English food after learning about our colonial roots, Spruce is a European restaurant that will satisfy that craving. They’ve got a delicious brunch menu with burgers and cocktails, set against a scenic backdrop of lush greenery and wide-open spaces.

You can also come by during the evenings when the place is filled with fairy lights for a magical dinner date
Image credit: @spruce.sg

You can also check out the German food stand, Bread, Beer, & Brez’n. From bratwursts to authentic German cakes and bread, this eatery will transport you to Germany without you having to leave your seat.

The white walls of the surrounding blocks serve as the perfect backdrop for that OOTD. Bonus points if you’ve got a film camera!
Image credit: @struttingaround

And with retro aesthetics being all the rage now, take advantage of the historical buildings to achieve a natural #vintage filter for your photos.


A piece of history at Phoenix Park


As philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Learning about our nation’s history from Social Studies is important, but definitely not as exciting as seeing it IRL

For those who are looking for a break from the concrete jungles and towering skyscrapers, Phoenix Park will appease both your curiosity and camera roll at the same time.

How to get there: The closest MRT station is Redhill MRT Station. From there, take bus 32 for a couple of stops until you reach Tanglin Road. Phoenix Park is located right along that road.

Check out other Insta-worthy photo spots:


Cover image credits: Singapore Trails, @spruce.sg

Tay Jin Heok

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