With the current circumstances, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be any international holiday trips happening soon. M and I decided to look within our own tiny country for new places to explore. One destination that we’ve always wanted to visit was to Pulau Ubin! The last time any of us been there was 6 years ago. Given this long amount of time, the place would definitely feel foreign to us and could also serve as the “overseas” holiday we almost had. Therefore, we embarked on our day trip to Pulau Ubin!
Pulau Ubin is a separate island located at the northeastern part of Singapore. The island has little in common with Singapore other than the fact that it uses the same currency. It is home to the last remaining kampungs in the country. The island is a throwback to the 60s where people lived in villages and there were no skyscrapers.
Time spent: 5-6 hours
Money spent: $60-80 for 2
The island is very accessible from mainland Singapore.
Head over to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal which is located just beside the famous Changi Village Hawker Centre. Once you’ve reached the ferry terminal, follow the signs and head to the waiting area.
At the waiting area, there’ll be a boat driver coordinating the boats. Simply tell him the number of people in your party and he’ll arrange you into a boat.
As of August 2020, the cost of a one-way ticket is S$4. You will pay this directly to the boat driver. After the 10 minutes boat ride, you’ll arrive at the Pulau Ubin Ferry Jetty.
Due to social distancing measures, the capacity of the boats have been reduced. This has therefore, increased the price of the boat rides from S$2.50 to S$4.
Things to do
Pulau Ubin is a small island and is very easy to explore within a short day trip.
We’ll just put it out there and say that cycling is the best way to explore the island. The wide paths and the low number of vehicles makes the island a great cycling destination. There are no private hires or taxis in Pulau Ubin. Distance between attractions is also quite a distance away, so most people will probably opt for this option to explore Pulau Ubin.
There are a couple of bicycle rental shops in the main Ubin village. We’ll recommend you shop around with a couple of shops rather than just going with the one nearest to the jetty. We paid S$10 for a regular bicycle and S$15 for a huge mountain bicycle.
Each rental is for an entire day and they only accept cash. The bicycle rental price in Pulau Ubin is definitely more affordable than that of mainland Singapore!
Don’t be overwhelmed when you see the first bicycle shop near the jetty. There are a couple more shops further down the street.
Alternatively, we recommend pre-purchasing your bicycles online before your trip. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email confirmation which you can show the bike owners to redeem for your bike!
For our recent trip to Pulau Ubin, we spent about 4 hours cycling around the island. Along the road, you’ll get to see many old villages and kampung huts where people are still living in them!
Hiking to the top of Bukit Puaka for a bird’s eye view of the famous Ubin quarry
The bird’s eye view from the top of Bukit Puaka is one of the most iconic images of Pulau Ubin and undoubtedly so. The beautiful view is only a short 10 minutes hike away from the trailhead. Be cautious that because this is such a low hanging fruit, the route itself is quite heavily trafficked.
The trailhead for the hike is located about 2km away from the jetty. You can either get there by a 20 minutes walk or 5 minutes bike ride. It is very obvious as there is a very big sign that identifies it.
Camping in the nature
There are 2 main camping sites on the island for campers looking to escape from the hustling busy life. They are the Jelutong campsite and the Mamam campsite. Jelutong is located very near the jetty village whereas Mamam is a 45 minutes hike away.
I have camped at the Jelutong campsite almost 10 years ago during my days in junior college. From my memory, the campsite wasn’t very developed and was surrounded by trees. However, rest assured that both campsites are served by toilet facilities so you won’t have to need to answer the calls of nature in nature.
Mamam appears to be a campsite situated right beside the waterfront. We’re excited to try camping there in the future!
Relaxing walk along Chek Jawa boardwalk
The Chek Jawa wetlands is one of the most popular attractions on the island. Located about 3km away from the jetty, the best way to reach Chek Jawa will be by cycling as it will only take about 15 minutes.
The wetland is home to a huge diversity of wildlife. The boardwalk makes for a very picturesque location too!
Pro tip: While you’re there, be sure to head up to the Jajawi view point where you can have a bird’s eye view of the wetlands and neighbouring Pulau Tekong!
Food to eat
Ah ma drink stall
While you’re cycling back from the Bukit Puaka hike, be sure to head over to Ah ma’s drink stall for a refreshing coconut drink! Each coconut costs S$5 and is cut fresh in front of your eyes. Its prime location beside a lake makes this the perfect place to relax and chill.
Season Live Seafood
After the long day at the island, head over to the Season Live Seafood for a round of freshly caught seafood. When M and I went 2 weekends ago, we managed to snag a seat right beside the water! The sounds of the crashing waves really set the laidback mood for the entire trip.
The prices and selection at this restaurant are very similar to Tze Char stalls in Singapore. We ordered the Hokkien Mee and Seafood Beehoon during our visit. The Beehoon tasted mediocre but the Hokkien Mee was a really surprise! Despite it being cooked the black Malaysian style, the sauce was really tasty and unlike anything I’ve had before. Highly recommended!
Both the Seafood Beehoon and Hokkien Mee costs S$4 each. Pretty worthwhile for a generous serving coupled with amazing views.
Our insider tips
Bring enough cash
Despite the nation’s call to move towards a more cashless society, Pulau Ubin still operates on the more primitive cash system. Everything from the bike rentals to the restaurant meals have to be paid in cash. Be sure to draw enough cash for your trip at the Changi Village hawker centre before heading over. We’d recommend drawing about ~$100 just to be safe for a trip for 2.
Insect repellant to keep the mosquitoes away
As a predominantly forested area, there are a lot of mosquitoes in the area. Be sure to get an insect repellant before stepping foot on the island to prevent becoming food for the mosquitoes there!
Bring your own drinking water
The water on the island is not potable unlike on mainland Singapore. You cannot drink straight out of the taps on the island. Therefore, we’ll highly recommend you to bring your own bottles of water.
If you run out of water while on the island, you can purchase bottled water from the restaurants or drink stalls at the main Ubin village or Ah ma’s drink stall. There are also vending machines located near the entrance of Chek Jawa so you needn’t worry if you’re at that part of the island. It’s still better to bring your own water because of environment.
Visit in the early hours of the weekend
The best time to visit the island in our opinion is to visit early in the morning during the weekends. If there are too few people heading over to the island, there might not be enough people to fill the boat. The boats will only set sail once it hits its capacity, otherwise you can choose to pay for the whole boat which costs about ~S$50.
Also, the crowd will be significantly thinner in the early mornings as compared to midday afternoon. You will not want to be caught in a situation where the bike rental shops run out of bicycles or spend hours queueing for a boat ride.
Due to the bans on international travel, we expect Pulau Ubin to get more popular as time goes. We’re glad to finally be able to make this day trip that’s so near our homes yet we’ve always put it off for more exotic travel destinations. We hope that this guide can help you guys find some things to do within Singapore while we ride out these crazy times together.
Over the next couple of months, we will be looking for more exciting things to do in Singapore and we’ll share it here on our blog if we find anything interesting! Be sure to share with us any interesting ideas if you have in our comments section below too!
If you’re looking for some inspiration for future travels, check out our previous trip to Kyoto, Japan! This amazing historic city charmed us with its quaint architecture and we can’t wait to be back as soon as we can.