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Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore Overview

Bukit Brown Cemetery, popularly known as Kopi Sua or Coffee Hill among the local communities, is a former cemetery situated at 36C Lorong Halwa, Singapore. Estimated to hold about 100,000 graves, this Chinese cemetery is said to be the largest outside China.

The massive cemetery was opened in 1922 by the municipal authorities of Singapore but has been abandoned since its closure in 1973. After many renovations, parts of the cemetery were removed to make way for the installation of roads, and the deities which were situated beside the gates were also relocated to a different, sheltered place within the cemetery. At present, the extensive, overgrown cemetery is home to a variety of birds and animals and is thronged by nature lovers who come here in search of a temporary escape in the midst of nature. The lush greenery surrounding the tombs, the spectacular Heritage Tree right in the heart of the park, the self-guided trail of 25 tombs, and the tranquil atmosphere make this place one of a kind. Being a significant part of the cultural heritage of Singapore, the 212-acre Bukit Brown burial ground is home to several departed Singaporeans, belonging to Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese and Teochew origins. Many graves are embellished with extraordinary Peranakan tiles which draw in several tourists, including ceramic experts from afar.

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History of the Bukit Brown Cemetery

In spite of being abandoned, the Bukit Brown Cemetery is a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. Originally established in the early 20th century as a private burial ground for Chinese clans, this extensive space was named after George Henry Brown, the first owner of the land on which the cemetery stands today. In 1919, the acquired land was passed onto the hands of the municipal authorities after the Chinese communities of Singapore started demanding a municipal cemetery for them. After the inauguration of the Bukit Brown Cemetery, it was managed by See Tiong Wah and Tan Kheam Hock as a public burial ground. By the early months of 1929, about forty percent of the total officially Chinese burials were housed in this cemetery.

The Bukit Brown Cemetery stopped serving as a burial ground since 1973. In the month of February 2012, Minister Tan Juan-Chin had announced that 5000 graves were to make way for the development of a new four-way lane that was supposed to cut through the cemetery. A month later, the number of graves that were supposed to be exhumed came down from 5000 to 3746. In 2015, the cast iron gates at the mouth of the beautiful Bukit Brown Cemetery were removed in order to be refurbished and reinstalled at the entrance of a new access road which lies in close proximity to the original location. At present, a separate shelter houses the deities that were previously located beside the cast iron gates. The cemetery is a popular spot among nature enthusiasts owing to the various species of flora and fauna thriving here.

Interesting Facts about the Bukit Brown Cemetery

  • Several Chinese pioneers, including the co-founder of Nanyang University, Tan Lark Sye are buried here.
  • The oldest grave in this cemetery belonged to Fang Shan, who passed away in 1833, around forty years before the site was used as a burial ground.
  • The largest tomb in this cemetery, occupying around 600 square metres, belongs to a Chinese Merchant, Ong Sam Leong. The tomb has a long fifteen-metre long platform, ornate with figures of lions, deities, and a Sikh guard.

Tips For Visiting Bukit Brown Cemetery

  • If you wish to explore Bukit Brown Cemetery, wear pants, apply bug spray and a good amount of sunscreen.
  • Make sure to carry water with you.

How To Reach Bukit Brown Cemetery

By Bus: The bus stop at Lornie Road is the nearest bus interchange at a distance of ten minutes from the cemetery and the buses 52, 852, 855, 157 and 165 arrive there.

The nearest MRT is the Caldecott MRT station and is a 24-minute walk from the Exit B to the cemetery.

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