Saturday, June 29, 2013

Getting to and around Pulau Ubin island in Singapore

There is more to Singapore than meets the eye...


A Pulau Ubin lake (former quarry)
Singapore has a few little islands used for different purposes (e.g., leisure, military, chemical/ energy and waste), however, there is one nice little island called, 'Pulau Ubin'. It's a less known island which is great for the adventurous type and those keen to explore, whether that's you prefer discovering a new place on foot or riding around on a bicycle.


So how do you get to Pulau Ubin?



There is only one way to get there and that's by bumboats. Bumboats operate from Changi Point Ferry Terminal from about 6am until about  8-9pm. So here's how to get to these bumboats and to Pulau Ubin.
Changi Point Ferry Terminal entry/ exit point
  1. First, find your way to Changi Point Ferry Terminal - This is about 3 minutes walk from the Changi Bus Interchange and Changi Village. There are no direct trains, but the closest MRT is either Tampines, Simei or Tanah Merah MRT. It'll take you 25-35 minutes on the bus from Tanah Merah MRT. If you're going by cab, they should know where it is if you tell them you want to go to "Changi Point Ferry Terminal" or "Pulau Ubin". This should cost roughly 10 dollars. Check www.gothere.sg/maps to plot your route ;)
  2. Wait for a bumboat -  There is no need to bring your passport as there is no immigration clearance and custom checks are carried out on your way to the island. Here you just need to wait for a bumboat, where the bumboat operator is happy with the number of passengers joining the ride. Normally they will depart once there are 12 passengers. The fare is $2.50 SGD each way, $2.00 SGD for a bicycle. $30 if you want to charter a bumboat to yourself (that's 12 x $2.50 SGD as 12 passengers is the maximum that are legally allowed to take) 
  3. Depart on bumboat (ferry) - You will board and pay the bumboat operator. The journey to Pulau Ubin then normally takes 10-15 minutes. Please keep in mind that each bumboat is different, some have windows, some have a back area where you sit, etc. Just be prepared with a raincoat/ umbrella if it looks like it'll rain on the day.
  4. Arrive on Pulau Ubin - You're there. You can now look around and hire a bicycle, eat some seafood, visit the wetlands or one of the old quarries. You'll find some places at Pulau Ubin you can check out below.
    Pulau Ubin town area - where you can hire bikes and eat seafood
  5. Departing from Pulau Ubin - Once you're ready to head off. Just return back to the Pulau Ubin Ferry terminal (so follow the same process but in reverse). Once you reach the Singapore mainland, there will be some custom checks via a security scanner. 

What to do at Pulau Ubin?

Follow one of the walking/ cycling trails

There are trails from towards the east, west and north, with most folks heading westwards towards a wetland called, Chek Jawa Wetlands. 
Chek Jawa Wetlands boardwalk

Check out Chek Jawa Wetlands

The pathway there is flat at first, but do expect some steep hills up and down and to walk at times. When you do reach the main area before the wetlands entry you'll feel relieved and pleased, and may even play witness to a few wild hogs grunting about. The trail towards Chek Jawa is made of bitumen, while others are rougher pathways.


The Chek Jawa Wetlands park is only open from 8:30am to 6:00pm. Please also note that there is a bicycle bay where you'll need to park your bicycle. It's normally quite safe (as there is only one way off the island, i.e., via bumboat..) but just note where you have parked your bicycle for later.

You may also see some wild boars as I did - see quick video here


Hire a bicycle


When you arrive there are a few bicycle stores you can hire bicycles from. There are normal push bicycles and a dual seat bicycle (with two seats for two people). Prices range from $8-10 for a bicycle a day on normal weekends*.


View from a Pulau Ubin seafood restaurant 
*Public holidays it's much busier and it is more expensive to hire bicycles (Up to $15 SGD on public holidays). So aim to arrive before midday to secure a bicycle - otherwise bring your own to the island.

Eat some seafood, drink some coconuts
You can eat at one of the seafood restaurants. There are about 3-4 main restaurants on the island. There's also coconuts that are sold at mini marts in town and also at drink stores scattered around the island. Coconuts cost around $3.00-3.50 SGD each and seafood prices are similar to those at coffee shops in town. At last check, one restaurant was selling chilli crabs for $45.00 SGD a kilo.
Bumboat fares

Destination: Pulau Ubin, Singapore
Costs: $2.50 SGD per person, $2 SGD per bicycle for one way. 
Opening hours: 6:00am to 8:00pm (there may be further bumboats available after 9:00pm but please be wary of lower frequency)
Surroundings: Three-four seafood restaurants, one motel (Celestial resort motel), scattered drink stores, a mini mart, four bicycle hire stores

Photos: More photos of the island can be seen in this Facebook photo album.

If you like Pulau Ubin, you may also be interested in Sungei Buloh, Wetlands reserve (northwest of Singapore) 

Helpful websites:
Check www.gothere.sg/maps to plot your route ;)

You can find a map of Pulau Ubin at:
www.nparks.gov.sg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulau_Ubin


Maps/ trails:
Pulau Ubin map from Singapore National Parks


  • Pulau Ubin map - you can download it a readable version of this from Singapore National Park map
  • Tree trail from Singapore National Park - Trees to be spotted along with a map


Update 30/11/2013 - New proposed plan for Pulau Ubin from the URA centre
New proposed plan for Pulau Ubin
Updated: 07/02/2014 - Added Singapore National Park map links for easy reference

Updated: 21/08/2014 - Added video of wild boar on Pulau Ubin Island


Updated: 29/09/2015 - Revised version of this post can be found on my travel blog

Related:
Video of wild boar at Pulau Ubin
Getting to and around Sungei Buloh wetlands reserve