What to do in Singapore? An unusual adventure perhaps? Why not check out Pulau Ubin Island.
Upon arrival into Singapore, Thijs and I met with Yitch – a local friend who I’d met back in 2016 with IBM, when we all met in NYC for a “Millennial” get together. Over Thai food and hipster beers we reminisced about our time there and filled Thijs in on random IBM gossip.
During our chats Yitch recommended we head to Pulau Ubin for an untypical day out in Singapore. It’s here you can visit Singapore’s nature and see the mangrove swamps (something I had never even heard of, never mind seen before). So, we took the local advice and worked out a route from the central part of the city, out east past the airport to the island Pulau Ubin, “Granite Island” (when translated from Malay).
Here’s my guide on how to get there, what to see and some top tips when it comes to the bikes, maps, routes and timings on Pulau Ubin Island:
How to get to Pulau Ubin
Take the green EW1 metro line to the end, the final stop is Pasir Ris. From here, you have to take the 109 bus to Changi Point Ferry Terminal. There’s a bus station right at the metro station but the 109 arrives at a stop on the main road, Pasir Drive 1. Come out of the station and head left (assuming the little bus station is to your right), head under a covered passage and up the main road. Turn right and head up (with the metro station now behind you) to the bus stop,which has a whole host of buses coming there.
Upon arrival to the ferry terminal you don’t need to buy a ticket, the captain will charge you on board and it will leave when there was at least 12 people, but no more than 20.
The journey from the centre of the city took about 2 hours, so bear this in mind when planning your day.
What to do in Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin takes you back in time to Singapore in the 1960s. This boomerang shaped island is home to forests, wetlands, gravel roads, mystery quarries and an interesting variety of wildlife – a little taster of what life was like in Singapore 50 odd years ago! If you time your visit with low tide (about 2 to 3 pm) you can see the coral reefs at the Chek Jawa Wetlands as you walk around the board walk. Make sure climb the stairs to the view point over looking the mainland too!
We hired bikes to explore the island. As soon as you arrive there are a multitude of places that rent them out, starting at $8 (Singapore dollars, around £4.60). Once you’ve got yourself a bike, get exploring!
TIP: Be sure to check the chains and wheels when you’re picking a bike to take. We had some issues with both mine and Thijs’ – the chain actually came off and despite his best “I’m Dutch and I know how to fix bikes” efforts, we had walk the bike back and switch it halfway through the afternoon haha!
Where we cycled on Pulau Ubin
We first cycled to the east side of the island to Chek Jawa. The roads end and you have to park your bike and explore the wetlands by foot. Just near the bike park there’s some information and vending machines with refreshments but I suggest you take your own as there are some cheeky monkeys there stealing things as people buy them haha!
From here you can climb up Jejawi Tower for views across the water back to mainland Singapore, and take the boardwalk I mentioned earlier around the wetlands.
After a lunch stop near the bike rental shops, we then headed across to the other side of the island. There’s a number of quarries you can find and climb paths to. It’s possible to camp on the island too and we saw a number of young outdoor groups visiting for the weekend!
TIP: There’s plenty of signs and maps to guide you around the island, however I did find it handy to also take a look at Maps.Me as it gave a little insight into where the quarries were, and where some of the paths ended so you knew not to take a bike up to the view point (just to bring it back again).
A really fun day out in a place I hadn’t read about in guides on Singapore – definitely not on the typical Singapore bucket list!
Are you always looking for something different? (I am). Sometimes I’m a bit sick of seeing the exact same photos on instagram (hahah), especially knowing that someone had to arrive at 5am to take the shot or heavily edit it to make it look ‘instagram worthy’.
I think it’s often way more fun to go somewhere a bit unexpected and visit somewhere everyone else isn’t heading to. What do you think?
Read more about South East Asia:
- 18 things to do in Melaka, Malaysia
- My guide to Koh Tao, Thailand
- Confessions of a party hostel, Bangkok, Thailand
- All Travel Diaries