Just off the coast of Singapore, you will find Pulau Ubin, this tiny island of Singapore was once home to thousands of settlers and is now down to approximately 40 villagers today. This beautiful green island of Singapore is nothing like the Indonesian neighbours such as Batam or Bintan Islands.
The bumboat ride is only minutes away, for starters, and the wildlife and its surroundings on this tiny island are beautiful. So whether you make it a day trip or stay overnight at one of the campsites, it is your choice.
The word Ubin means granite in Malay, as Pulau Ubin was once known for its granite quarries, which are no longer in use.
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How to get to Pulau Ubin
How to go there: Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, which should not be mistaken for the Changi Ferry Terminal. Bumboats operate from 6 am to 7 pm daily. There are no scheduled times; they fill them up as people arrive at the ferry pier; the cost is currently $4 or $6 if you bring your bike. If there are no ferries there (especially after 7 pm), call the hotline on 1800-471 7300 for assistance. No tickets are needed; cash is only paid on board before you leave.
Things to know before you go to Pulau Ubin island
- If you arrive at the ferry terminal early, head to the Changi Village Rd Market and Hawker Centre for that all-important Kopi before your bumboat ride. Try Gyi Lim at 01-80 B (it is only a few minutes walk) for your morning fix. I highly recommend it.
- A few things are only open on the weekends, including Teck Seng’s Place and other places of interest.
- Bikes are the best way to get around the island, but walking is also possible.
- Cash is only on the island of Ubin, so remember to bring small notes if possible.
- Lather yourself with insect repellent and sunscreen before you go, and bring it along for good measure. A day out in the wilderness might see you both bitten by mosquitoes and burnt to a crisp.
- There are plenty of places to hire bikes, so do not be fooled by hiring one from the first vendor you see and check your bikes; you could not change the gears on the bike I hired, which made climbing hills enjoyable!!!
- Bring water, as there aren’t many shops around the island and water isn’t advisable to drink here.
What to do in Pulau Ubin
Start at The Nature Gallery
Although there isn’t much to see here, it is an excellent start to your island adventure. It will only take a few minutes to read what the wildlife is like on this tiny island, along with places of interest. It is a few short metres from where you step off the jetty.
Cycle to Chek Jawa Wetlands
Chek Jawa Wetlands is one of the few places in Singapore with a natural rocky shoreline. The artificial Chek Jawa Boardwalk allows you to explore and around the wetland area. Head further along, and you will find the Jejawi Tower, where you will see a panoramic view of the island.
Join a walking tour
If you want to do something a little different and discover Pulau Ubin on a guided tour, check out the website for what’s on during the school holidays here. There are a few different types of tours, so book in advance as they fill up quickly, and there aren’t all that many to choose from as groups are still restricted.
Pay your respects at the German Girl Shrine.
Parked a little way off the track is the German Girl Shrine, dedicated to a German girl who lived and died there. Her parents owned a plantation on the island, and before the war broke out, the British captured the owner and his family. However, it is believed that the girl escaped and unfortunately fell to her death as she fell off the cliff’s edge and into the awaiting quarry. Her remains and her silver crucifix are stored in an urn that they placed on the shrine.
Kayak Through the Mangroves
What better way to experience this beautiful island than kayaking through the mangroves? Children as young as seven can join in the fun as this is a leisurely beginner-level tandem paddle. So book your spot on this kayaking adventure here. This four-hour adventure will have you seeing wildlife that can only be seen via kayak, so it is worth the splurge.
Take some photos of Pekan Quarry.
Head to the Lookout point for Pekan Quarry, which you will find at Ketam Hilltop View Point. If you are travelling via bike, there is a sign that says “Cyclist this way only”, which is the only reference to where the viewpoint is. It is worth checking out, as there are lots of birds found around here, and of course, the quarry itself is beautiful and peaceful.
Stop by Chek Jawa Visitor Centre (House No. 1)
The visitor centre was once a home built as a holiday house sometime in the 1930s for Landon Williams. This Tutor-style house is the only remaining one of its kind in Singapore; its distinct architecture will have you feeling like you have stepped on the shores of the United Kingdom.
Visit Teck Seng’s Place
This historic Kampung house was once home to three generations of the Chew family. Teck Seng’s place is only open every second weekend and public holidays, open between 10 am and 2 pm. Step inside this charming museum where visitors will experience what living in the ’70s in Pulau Ubin village was like for themselves.
Wander through Butterfly Hill
I hardly ever see butterflies these days due to the decline of human activities. These include severe weather, deforestation, and the rise of industrialised agriculture. So Butterfly Hill was a welcomed stop, with many butterflies fluttering around in their natural habitat. Nature is abundant here on Pulau Ubin, and this little part of the island is the perfect location for them.
If you want to stay the night
If you want to do more than a day trip to Ubin Island and time is not a factor and camping is your thing, then you can experience a proper campsite on this tiny island. There are two campsites to choose from Jelutong and Mamam. Both locations have toilets, but not much else is happening. Although the grounds are temporarily closed, rules change so often that it is worth checking if you can camp here before you go.
Where to eat in Pulau Ubin
If you are anything like me, food is your number-one thought on any day trip. If you are okay with local cuisine, then you will not be disappointed, remembering that some restaurants do not open on Tuesday and others only open on the weekend; here are your choices.
Ah Ma’s Drink Stall
Okay, so you can not eat here, but you can stop by for juice or a fresh coconut!! Who doesn’t love a fresh coconut on a hot day? This little family-run business is a great place to stop for a drink and a great photo opportunity.
Smith Marine Floating Kelong Restaurant
Smith Marine is the first of its kind in Singapore. It is a floating Chinese restaurant between Singapore and Pulau Ubin and offers superb freshly caught fish of the day. To get there, you have to book a return ten pax bumboat at the cost of $100, so I suggest you get a group of 5 together before attempting to book here.
Cheong Lian Yuen Seafood
It might not be much to look at, and it is not fine dining. Instead, the plastic outdoor setting has its rustic charm. Situated next to the water (literally), this little restaurant has delicious fresh food. Service is friendly, but it is so busy they do seem quite rushed off their feet. For more information on Checong Lian Yuen Seafood, look here.
Season Live Seafood
The Season Live Seafood is not open on Tuesdays, but every other day it is open between 10 am – 6 pm on weekdays and until 630pm on weekends. You may want to plan your visit well because the wait time can be extended (up to 1 hour). Food was good local cuisine right next to the water’s edge.
Other things to do in the area
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