Singapore’s Last Villages at Pulau Ubin
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Pulau Ubin, also known as Ubin Island, houses the last kampongs or villages in Singapore. If you want a quiet escape from Singapore’s typical pace, wander along the many trails at Pulau Ubin and be transported to 1960s Singapore.
What used to be a cluster of five islets has been united through the building of bunds for prawn farming to form a 1,020-hectare island. Located north-east of Singapore’s main island, Pulau Ubin is reachable by a 10-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. There are no fixed opening hours, but regular services generally run from 8:30 am to about 6:00 pm. Maps are available on the island, so don’t worry about getting lost.
From Tampines MRT station, take bus 29 to Changi Village Bus Terminal. Alternatively, take bus 2 from Tanah Merah MRT station. Other buses that serve the bus terminal are bus numbers 59 and 109. Once at Changi Village Bus Terminal, make your way to Changi Point Ferry Terminal which is a few minutes’ walk away. Catch the bumboat there to reach Pulau Ubin. Tickets cost S$2.50, but you will have to wait for the bumboat to reach its full capacity of 12 or the discretion of the bumboat captain. Alternatively, you can charter the bumboat for immediate departure for S$30.
Chek Jawa Wetlands
Chek Jawa Wetlands is one of the main attractions on Pulau Ubin. An intertidal flat that naturally contains several different ecosystems in a one-hectare area, it is perfect for nature lovers. Chek Jawa Wetlands is open daily from 8:30 am to 6 pm and admission is free.
Officially launched on 7 July 2007, visitors can walk, cycle or even hire a vehicle to get to Chek Jawa Wetlands from the jetty.
Wander along Pulau Ubin’s trails and witness how the local residents live – with the remaining handful of villagers relying on wells for water and diesel generators for electricity. Villagers also depend on traditional farming and fishing for subsistence.
Take the Sensory Trail and experience nature at its finest. The walk takes you through village backyards abundant with fruit trees such as papaya, banana, rambutan and breadfruit, among others. Also in abundance are economic crops, vegetables of various kinds, spices and herbs that villagers planted for their own consumption.
If that’s not exciting enough for you, rent mountain bikes from rental shops and embark on thrilling off-road rides across the island. Those who want to take it easy can take the paved roads instead. The old granite quarry, now disused, is one of the more popular destinations for bikers, as granite hills and the resultant lake make for a rare sight in Singapore.
Of course, there are eateries and provision stores on the island. Grab a bite and delight in the taste of authentic kampong dishes.
Flora and Fauna
Do take note of the macaques on the island. These adaptable monkeys have learnt to distinguish food containers and plastic bags from other bags, and they are not shy about making their desires known. Boars roaming the island are not an unusual sight, and they are not generally aggressive as long as they are unprovoked. Nevertheless, you are advised to be alert and keep all food out of sight if possible as both monkeys and boars, although used to humans, are still wild. Don’t leave your insect repellent behind when you visit Pulau Ubin, as the natural environment means you will encounter mosquitoes and other insects.
Here are checklists of other flora and fauna found at Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa:
Notices from National Parks’ Website
Date Updated: 31 March 2015
- NParks is carrying out upgrading works at Chek Jawa Wetlands to serve you better. The Mangrove Boardwalk and Jejawi Tower will be closed from 29 September 2014 to 31 January 2015, while a section of the Mangrove Boardwalk and Coastal Boardwalk will be closed from 23 January 2015 to 31 March 2015. Other facilities at Chek Jawa Wetlands, including Visitor Centre and Viewing Jetty, will be open for public use.
- The Assembly Area will be closed for resurfacing works till mid-2015.
- Noordin Campsite is closed until further notice due to erosion of the shoreline.