If you wonder how Singapore was like in its early days, make a trip to Pulau Ubin and you’ll know! A tour around Pulau Ubin, an island off the northeastern coast of Singapore, will bring you back to the kampung (village) days of Singapore in the 1960s.
While most of the early inhabitants have moved over to settle on mainland Singapore, there are still families who chose to live there, enjoying the relaxed and simple pleasures of life. The island is open to hundreds of mainland Singaporeans and tourists daily to discover its nature and biodiversity.
We had lots of fun with our friends on the island. It was an outing to explore the island, and to enjoy the wilderness you won’t find in city Singapore.
What’s fun over there? What can you find?
What’s Fun at Pulau Ubin?
As Pulau Ubin is located off the coast of mainland Singapore, the only feasible way to reach there is by the bumboat, which we boarded at the Changi Point Ferry Terminal.
A boat ride of about 30 minutes brought us to the island’s jetty.
Moving inwards, there are many bicycle rental shops for us to choose our bicycles. If you want to travel around the island, the best form of transport is the bicycle.
You can walk but you wouldn’t want to, as you’ll wear out easily. Alternatively, you can also take its mini-vans which will bring you to specific places.
For about SGD$10 or less, you can rent a bicycle for the whole day, and it can literally bring you to almost every corner of Pulau Ubin! If you can, get a mountain-bike which makes riding easier for you up the hills and slopes on the island.
If you’re not confident of riding a bicycle yourself, don’t fret! You can rent a 2-person bicycle, just like what our friends did, and get an experienced biker to ride with you.
Our group of 14 got a bicycle each, and we set off to explore the island!
Now you may ask, “where do I cycle?”
Just before we set off, we obtained an island map from the information counter. To be safe, everyone of us keep a map in case we split up along the way.
Can’t read maps? Don’t worry too!
Touring the island yourself is much simpler than you think. Proper roads are built for easy riding and road signs are planted at every junction to direct you.
For us that day, we didn’t follow our map religiously too.
As we cycled, we spent our time enjoying the cool breeze and seeing the palm trees sway along the roads, instead of rushing from destination to destination, which we usually did in our daily lives.
Along the way, we found a hut where we took our 15-minute rest. The weather was hot that day, just like a typical sunny day in Singapore.
Little did we know we had ridden for almost half and hour. We hydrated ourselves with plenty of water and rested our legs. Then we set up this cool hammock in between 2 palm trees.
We thanked our friend Jonathan for bringing it along!
Just see how relaxed Valerie is lying on the hammock. If you have one, bring it along with you to Pulau Ubin!
We continued our discovery of the island and here is one amazing scenery we found. I don’t know where I am, but I can say the view behind me is amazing.
The lake, the foliage, the cliff, (and me) comes together as a appealing portrait of the nature of Pulau Ubin. This is also one of the advantages of not following the map religiously – it brings you to places you can’t find on the map!
If there’s one activity which I love to do at Pulau Ubin, is fruit picking! It’s almost impossible to find fruit trees that produces edible fruits in mainland Singapore, but you can find them in Pulau Ubin! There are rambutan trees, papaya trees, and durian trees!
With my 2 other friends, Edward and Jonathan, we travelled around the vicinity with a simple goal of picking 2 fruits – rambutan and durian.
After near 30 minutes of “fruit hunting”, we found our first fruit – a bunch of rambutan which fell off its tree.
Next we moved on to complete our goal, by finding the durian. Durian is a tropical fruit, also known as the King of Fruits. It releases its ‘fragrance’ (some called it odor) when it has ripened.
It made our job easier this time – to identify the durian smell as we cycled!
Interestingly, we can only pick the durian when it fell off the tree – which means it is ripe. Otherwise its not.
As you see the picture above, there are many durians hanging high up in the tree, but there are just as many people waiting below for them to drop (including us).
While many others are waiting patiently for durians to drop, the impatience in us get us to search among the durian trees for any durians which had already dropped, but overlooked by pickers.
Thankfully, our efforts never gone to waste! We found a fresh and ripe durian among the leaves.
If you, like me, who love durians, you will know that that durian would definitely taste good!
(Disclaimer: I’m not encouraging you to visit Pulau Ubin regularly to pick lots of fruits home, but to enjoy the fun of picking fruits from the nature. It’s good education for kids who thought fruits are produced by supermarkets! )
Chek Jawa is another attraction in Pulau Ubin that you can check out. It’s made up of several different ecosystems in one small area.
You will see animals and plants that are rare in mainland Singapore.
The mudskipper is one interesting fish which you can see in the soft mud of the mangrove swamp of Chek Jawa. However, they usually blend well with the mud, so give a closer look if you must, to spot them. If you’re lucky, you can see fiddler crabs too.
Then there’s the Chek Jawa boardwalk, which is launched in 2007. It’s about 1.1km long, and it’s for walking only.
Bicycles are not allowed, so you have to leave your bicycle outside the boardwalk. (Do remember to ask for a bicycle lock from the bike rental shop if you intend to visit Chek Jawa).
Alternatively, you can take a one-way $2 van ride, from Ubin jetty to fetch you to Chek Jawa.
Chek Jawa Photos: coolinsights
As the sun sets, we gradually made our way back to the jetty, and back to mainland Singapore. We might have lost our way, but we followed the map and road signs which directed us back.
And of course, enjoy our fruits of labour after a long day’s tour. Definitely an enriching and fruitful trip for many of us.
Entrance Fee: FREE
Bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal:
$2.50 per ride (as of 2011), which will bring you to the Ubin Jetty. Maximum of 12 pax per boat.
Bumboat service operates from 6.00am to 8.00pm.
When you reach Pulau Ubin terminal, be sure to check with the timing the last bumboat will depart, as you might not want to miss it.
Bumboats will depart when it’s filled with 12 passengers.
When it’s getting late, you might have to book the whole bumboat to get back to mainland Singapore, if there’s not enough passengers to fill the boat.
MRT and Buses to Changi Point Ferry Terminal
1) Take the MRT and to Tanah Merah MRT Station (Exit B)
Board bus service no. 2.
Ride is about 30 minutes
2) Take the MRT and to Tampines MRT Station
Board bus service no. 29.
Ride is about 20 minutes.
Both bus services will terminate at Changi Village Bus Terminal, and Changi Point Ferry Terminal is just a 5 minute walk from it.
Oh! Do you know Changi is one of the best places to catch sunrise in Singapore?
Important Things To Bring To Pulau Ubin
1) Water – Lots of it. If you go on a hot day, you are sure to melt under the sun there. You can either carry bottles of water in your bag, or buy it at Ubin before you set off for cycling. You cannot find water once you leave the jetty into the wilderness of Ubin.
2) Mosquito repellent – As we are in nature, you are bound to get bitten by mosquitos. Mosquito repellent may not block you completely, but it can minimize your bites!
3) First-Aid kits – The first aid kits like your bandage, plasters, ointment will come in handy when you get a cut in the wild. I’m not cursing you to fall down while cycling, but the tendencies are quite high given the rocky grounds there.
4) How about your passport? NAH. You’re still within Singapore!
Yay or Nay?
You’ll love Pulau Ubin if
- you need a break from the city life
- want to experience kampung lifestyle again
- you want to explore nature and wildlife
- you want to pick your own fruits (provided you can find them!)
- want to organize a group outing, and somewhere outdoors (and cheap!)
You’ll not love Pulau Ubin nature walk if
- you don’t want to perspire
- you cannot put up with mosquitos (there’s a lot of them!)
What Say You?
Pulau Ubin is one place that we always visit regularly. We hope you have lots of fun exploring this fascinating island too! Share with us your adventure in the comments below!
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