Singapore has always been known to be a very good destination when it comes to shopping, sight-seeing and sampling great food. The combination of East and West would be quite interesting to observe for any traveler. But anyone who has been to Singapore would tell you that because of its size, it is possible to go around Singapore in a day or two.
So after youâ€™ve been to all those malls along Orchard Road and after youâ€™ve had a taste of Singaporeâ€™s wild side, then what could be next in your travel itinerary? If you would like to have a change of environment, get away from glitzy Singapore and would like to keep it low after all those â€œhighsâ€ that you got from exploring the city, then you can hop to another island called Pulau Ubin.
Pulau Ubin is the largest island near Singapore and is the â€œweekend getawayâ€ destination of Singaporeans. It is the last â€œkampongâ€ or village in Singapore. Locals would tell you that big groups of people enjoy going here during weekends because this is one of the very few places left where Singaporeans can experience rural living and with it enjoy the simple things that life has to offer.
Now how do you get to Pulau Ubin? It is quite easy. All you have to do is board bus number 2 from the Bedok MRT station or take a taxi that will bring you to the Changi Jetty which is on the east end and near the airport. Travel time will run from 30 to 40 minutes. When you arrive at Changi, you can check out the hawker stalls and have some snacks. After eating, try to get hold of a bumboat but be prepared to wait for a couple of minutes when you wait in line because each bumboat ride must be filled up with twelve (12) passengers. The bumboat ride would coast you roughly a US$ 1. But if you are in a hurry, you can just pay the boatman around S$15 for the one way trip and the boat will leave even if it is not yet full. These bumboat operators work around the clock but you would have to make special arrangements for night trips.
As soon as you land on the island from the 15 to 20 minute boat ride, you will immediately feel the simplicity of the place. Not much has changed since the 1960s and residents of the island prefer to keep it that way. Private vehicles are not allowed here. Remember to go to the visitorsâ€™ counter located at the ferry point and get a copy of free maps and pamphlets. You can also ask the Park Officers as to how you can make the most of your stay there. These helpful officers will inform you that you can explore the island either on foot or by renting a bicycle from the numerous rental shops near the jetty. If you decide to rent a bike then you can pedal your way around rustic roads under the shade of lovely coconut trees. Bicycles would cost S$ 3 per day and there are biking trails all over the island.
In quiet Pulau Ubin, you can decide to just spend a day and enjoy what you can or you can spend the night and have a feel of the great outdoors by camping under the moonlit sky. There are a couple of places where you can spend the night like the Kampong Ubin chalets or perhaps in any of the campsites but you have to bring your own tent. Remember that you can explore the island on your own or you can join guided tours.
There are just so many places to visit Pulau Ubin and a number of fun activities that you can try:
GO TO CHEK JAWA â€“ Chek Jawa is called an inter-tidal marine ecosystem. You can reach the place by hiring a van from the Ubin Jetty. These vans would charge around S$ 2 for one way for a minimum of 12 persons. The drop off point is Punai Hut and you can walk to Chek Jawa from here.
At Chek Jawa, you can visit the coastal hill forest where you can find amazing plants and animals that are no longer common in mainland Singapore. You will also see flourishing mangroves where a quiet walk on the boardwalk will allow you to see these interesting plants up close. You will see a lot of rock formations and get a feel of a natural rocky shore. There is a sand bar and lagoon where you can also marvel at intriguing creatures.
EXPLORE FARMS, FRUIT AND RUBBER PLANTATIONS â€“ You will see how the people of Pulau Ubin make a living in the island. This will be a refreshing change from the past paced living at the mainland.
TRY THE SENSORY TRAIL â€“ This trail, which can be completed in a little over an hour, was developed to allow people who cannot see to still enjoy the island tour through the use of their sense of touch and smell. You can smell or touch plants that are used for cooking and therapeutic purposes.
SEE BUKIT PUAKA â€“ Bukit Puaka is said to be the highest point in the island. You can see the Pulau Ubin Granit Quarries from here along with breathtaking views of mainland Singapore and also Malaysia. There is an unmarked trail which is quite steep which is why visits are not really encouraged.
SET UP CAMP AT THE BEACHES â€“ There are two popular beaches namely Noordin Beach and Mamam Beach. These beaches are great campsites and permits are not even required. But even if this is the case, campers are required to stop the Ubin Parks Information Counter at the jetty to be briefed on guidelines and policies.
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS â€“ With all the places that youâ€™ll be visiting, it would be a great idea to capture all those priceless moments in photographs.
After spending a full day of exploring the island, you might want to stay for dinner and try out the different seafood restaurants. The best part here is that the seafood are not only fresh here but much more inexpensive than in restaurants that you will find in the main island of Singapore.
So thatâ€™s Pulau Ubin for you. Of course, reading about this getaway in Singapore does not even come close to actually going there and seeing everything for yourself. How can anyone say no to Pulau Ubin? In that island, the air is fresher and the islandâ€™s sights and sounds are guaranteed to sooth the soul.