Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Getaway | Pulau Ubin, Singapore's Offshore Kampong & Nature Reserve

We had a long weekend last week with the local Hari Raya Puasa and National Day celebrations, so it was the perfect opportunity to get-away. However, we hummed and hawed before deciding to just stay put in Singapore and go for a one-day getaway to Pulau Ubin, one of our offshore islands. I've never been before and it was definitely Lil Pumpkin's first time there too. Exciting!

Pulau Ubin is the 2nd largest offshore island of Singapore, after Sentosa. Redevelopment on the island started in the early 1980s and most of the inhabitants were resettled in Singapore. However, the rich biodiversity along the coast at Chek Jawa at Pulau Ubin was also discovered in the course of redevelopment and the surge of interest from nature-loving Singaporeans and the local media halted plans of redevelopment to conserve Chek Jawa's coast and wetland. Currently, Pulau Ubin is still very much a kampong {Malay village} and provides a relaxing getaway destination for many Singaporeans... which included us now :)

We reached Changi Point Ferry Terminal to take a bumboat to Pulau Ubin about 10.30am. Apparently we weren't the only ones that thought of going away to Pulau Ubin because there was already a long queue when we reached. Took us about 30mins before we could get our ride. There's no immigration clearance or custom checks, but on the way back, our belongings were scanned and we had to go through a metal detector.
Bumboats will only sail off when there's 12 passengers, luckily there was no trouble with gathering enough people that day! It costs S$2.50/pax per ride and you pay it directly to the operator on the bumboat. The ride took just about 15mins and nobody got sicksick.. phew!
First thing we did when we reached was to rent a tandem bike with a child seat {S$15}. I was very excited about our bike ride actually as the last time I wrote a tandem bike with the boy was on Rottness Island nearly a decade back! There are several bicycle shops very near the Pulau Ubin pier where you get off the bumboat, but there aren't many tandem bikes with car seats as you can imagine. Hot stuff! Better to grab one asap. If you don't intend to rent a bike, you can bring your own, walk, or take a van ride around the island.

After getting our bike, we stopped by the first restaurant we saw to have lunch, Sim Lam Huat {新南发}. A very homely place managed by 2 friendly sisters. We had seafood fried rice, fried beansprouts with salted fish, mince pork omelet and ginger kampong chicken. The whole meal came up to just S$30 and was really delicious! A good idea to have a restroom break here before you start exploring the rest of Pulau Ubin, as toilets around the island are pretty scarce... unless you don't mind going au naturale and doing it in the bushes ;p

There's another popular seafood restaurant, Season Live Seafood {海味活海鲜} a few minutes down the street with a prime location at the waterfront overlooking the sea. It's super crowded but I heard the prices are pretty reasonable too and a must-try dish is their chilli crabs.
It was drizzling when we left the restaurant, but that didn't deter us from cycling all the way to Chek Jawa! Took us about 25 minutes. The boy was very excited to see the plants & animals in the wetlands at low tide that's not commonly seen in mainland Singapore. You can also walk out on the coast too but you have to register for a guided tour with NParks at least 2-3 weeks before the trip, and it costs S$60/pax.

Chek Jawa {open from 8am - 6pm} is an intertidal area, with its various eco-systems unveiled at low tides of 0.5 metres and below. Unfortunately when we reached, it was high tide so we missed seeing the rich marine life on the wetlands it is famous for. You should check the tides table for the rest of 2013 here to avoid disappointment. We did enjoy our walk on the Coastal Broadwalk and the cool breeze at the Viewing  Jetty. Lil Pumpkin helped to take the photo of the boy and us above. Not bad, huh?

Don't forget to check out the little cottage overlooking the Viewing Jetty - House No. 1. It was built in the 1930s with Tudor-style architecture and adaptations to our tropical climate. It was also designated a Conservation Building by the Urban Redevelopment Authority {URA} in 2003 and is probably the only building left in Singapore with a working fireplace!
The route to and from Chek Jawa rather tedious and although you can walk, I highly don't recommend it. Not a good idea to bring the stroller too as you have to pass by many gravel roads that's rather bumpy. On the way back we took time to stop and enjoy more of Pulau Ubin's rural lifestyle.

Pulau Ubin was truly an eye-opener especially for us city-dwellers. Such a fun and enriching weekend getaway for the family! We'll be back for sure to explore more of Chek Jawa's unique nature area at low tide!

  • Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Slippers and sandals are not appropriate. 
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, umbrella and poncho just in case of weather changes.. and a set of new clothes for the kids!
  • There are drink kiosks around, but bring sufficient water to quench your thirst.
  • Water from public toilets and wells are not suitable for drinking or bathing.
  • Stay on designated roads and tracks to protect the wildlife and not get lost.
  • Don't feed the wild animals!

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mail4rosey said...

So glad you got to see something close to home that you hadn't! It sounds great and I love that all three of you could ride the bike together with a child seat! Fun!

Unknown said...

Looks fun! I so need to cycle or do some exercise, haha, been wanting to go to Pulau Ubin for the longest time, it has probably been over a decade since the last visit! Glad you enjoyed the weekend, Ai!

Theresa Mahoney said...

Definitely looks like a fun little vacation. I think tandem bikes are so fun, but I have the hardest time steering them. I usually make hubby to all the work while I sit in the back and peddle lol.

Susan said...

It's been so long since I last visited Pulau Ubin too. Sounds like a fun way to spend the weekend. Are the roads easy to ride the bicycles? I've heard about accidents happening as the roads are very bumpy.

Ai Sakura said...

mail4rosey: I love riding on the tandem bike! Unfortunately for hubby, not so much ;p

Summer: Thanks, we enjoyed our first visit there :)

Theresa: hahah the hubby THINKS I don't cycle too.. but I do!!

Susan: The roads are bumpy but still doable. It's the cyclists that are more likely to cause the accidents as some don't follow the signs, and not all ride on the left!

Stacy said...

That tandem bike!! *hearts* I'd be really excited too! Lovely pics of the day.