Although many tourists plan to visit Sentosa Island when they come to Singapore, not many have heard of Pulau Ubin. The island is off eastern Singapore and it takes a while to get there, but if you are a nature lover and want to see what Singapore used to be like some 50 years ago, there is no better place to experience that than at Pulau Ubin. You will also get relief from all the traffic and people.
Chek Jawa Wetlands
One of the highlights of the island is Chek Jawa Wetlands, a large intertidal flat which at low tide reveals one of the richest ecosystems found in Singapore. It has 6 different ecosytems; a coastal hill forest, mangroves, rocky shore, coral rubble area, sandy shore and seagrass lagoon. It was discovered by accident in 2000 by a botanist on a field trip during low tide. Visits to the area were allowed only via guided group tours organised by the National Parks during low tide times. Eventually, in 2007, a boardwalk through the mangroves, a 20 metre high viewing tower and other facilities were built and the area was opened for the public to enjoy 7 days a week, free of charge.
Getting around Pulau Ubin
Most people rent a bicycle as an easy way to get around the island. However, if you’re an avid biker with your own bike, you might not like the standard of the rental bikes you can hire. You can in fact bring your own bike if you have one, and it will cost $2 extra on the boat ride there.
If you intend to walk, it’s possible too but be prepared to spend the whole day there and pack a picnic lunch with plenty of water. A walk east to Chek Jawa and back will take 3-4 hours. If you head west, it might take a little more time.
Getting to Pulau Ubin
To get to the island, you will need to find your way to Changi Point and then take a bum boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, a ferry terminal where you can catch boats to Pulau Ubin and also to Malaysia. Do not confuse this with Changi Ferry Terminal which is along a quiet stretch of the coast, east of the airport runway. Changi Point Ferry Terminal is located at Lorong Bekukong in Changi Village where there are low rise flats and a hawker centre.
The easiest way to get there is of course by taking a taxi to Changi Point and then boarding a bumboat to Pulau Ubin. You would tell the taxi driver to send you to Changi Point Ferry Terminal. And if there is any confusion, just mention that you are going to Pulau Ubin.
The other way is to take the MRT, bus and boat. Take the green line in direction of Pasir Ris and get off at Tanah Merah station. Go to the bus stop at Exit B and take Bus Service No. 2 all the way to Changi Point, where the bus terminates.
Walk to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal and wait at the Pulau Ubin waiting area. You do not need to buy any tickets. A boatman will usually approach you and ask how many of you there are. He will depart when he finds 12 passengers for the journey. You pay the boatman $3 when you get on the boat. Note that if you go on a weekday, you may have to wait a much longer time for the boatman to find 12 passengers and you may have to wait an even longer time to get back. So it’s best to go on a weekend or public holiday.