Looking to get stuck into a Singapore day trip with a difference? It’s worth making the trip to Pulau Ubin, one of Singapore’s best island locations located just off the East Coast of Singapore. It’s home to Singapore’s last authentic kampong (village) and one of the most unique cultural experiences you can enjoy beyond the city. The bum-boat ride is fun, the cycling is a good laugh and there’s plenty to see on the little island – plus, the whole she-bang is affordable.
The adventure begins at the Changi Village Ferry Terminal. Each ferry will depart as soon as 12 passengers cross the ferryman’s palm with silver ($2.50 one way)!
If you’d rather not wait, the ferryman will take your group with a fee of $30. The littlies, regardless of age, will definitely enjoy the 15-minute wooden bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin!
Upon arrival, the Pulau Ubin Taxi Kiosk is on the left of the jetty. For families with younger kids, we recommend that you book a mini-bus taxi – marked with the distinctive ‘PU’ license plate – to take you around the island. For the weekend warrior, there are tandem bikes available too. Parents with older kids, rent your bicycles (the best way to get around the island, we think!) from Ubin Town.
Looking exactly the part of a 1960s Singaporean kampong, the small village is a wonderful mish-mash of old wooden buildings with restaurants, bicycle rental stores, and the odd provision shop. After renting your bikes (training wheels included), it’s time to explore the island!
Named ‘Island Granite’, Pulau Ubin had many quarries, which used to supply granite to local construction industry. Though now abandoned, the scenic spots make really great photo stops! In fact, the hill and water combination of the quarries are reminiscent of traditional Chinese brush paintings (to us, at least).
Pulau Ubin is also a haven for nature lovers, and rightly so. The main attraction is Chek Jawa, located on the southeastern tip of the island: a pristine six-in-one ecosystem (mangrove, sandy beach, coastal forest, sand flats, mud flats, and coral rubble) teeming with wildlife. There are two main boardwalks (coastal and mangrove), a lookout jetty, and the 21-metre high Jejawi observation tower. Remember to check out House No. 1, situated behind the Information Counter, and on the way to the viewing jetty, a Tudor-style cottage with the only remaining fireplace in Singapore!
Head back to Ubin town for lunch (or early dinner, depending on what time you arrived) via the one-way road system from Chek Jawa. Note that the terrain on the way back would probably require some bike-pushing (which might mean more work for parents). After your meal, return to Singapore with the same type of bumboat, which should fill up a lot faster!
If a day trip isn’t enough, stay overnight at Celestial Ubin Beach Resort. A short walk from the Ubin jetty, they have outdoor facilities like water sports, flying fox, and beach volleyball. If the littlies are really looking to bask in the nature of Pulau Ubin, consider camping outdoors at Noordin Beach, Mamam Beach, or Jelutong Beach! Permits are not required, but do register your particulars with Pulau Ubin Police Post (to the right of the jetty) in case of emergencies.
Final tips: do bring plenty of water, snacks, and insect repellent; ensure you have sufficient cash, and respect the wildlife! The wild boars and monkeys all over the island would appreciate it.
Images: Caracteras, HardwareZone, Thinkstock, Celestial Ubin Beach Resort.