The River Safari is a river themed zoo featuring the world’s largest freshwater aquarium and river ecosystems from around the world. It is also home to a pair of adorable pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia.
Look out for the pre-historic Mississippi paddlefish in the Mississippi River exhibit, the first aquarium you come to. You’ll also see the alligator snapping turtle and the alligator gar, another pre-historic fish.
Continue along the Congo, Nile, Ganges, Mary River, Mekong and Yangtze Rivers. You’ll see giant catfish, the Chinese giant salamader and hungry pirahnas. Along the way there is a “Touch Pool” where you can touch corals and starfish.
Squirrel Monkey Enclosure
Inside the Squirrel Monkey enclosure you’ll be able to see these cute monkeys up close. They are playing high up in the trees but also do come down and walk along the railings and low branches. Be careful not to hold any items such as bottles of water, plastic bags or fruit as they may snatch it from you. Parents with young children, especially babies, be sure to put all the baby toys away.
Since 2012, the River Safari acquired 2 giant pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia, which are on loan from China for 10 years. They live in a climate controlled enclosure with plenty of space to roam about. It’s not guaranteed that you see the pandas, or any of the other animals. As I went in the late afternoon, they were sleeping in their dens. You might like to try going in the morning when they perhaps might be more active. There are no panda feeding times so consider yourself lucky if you see them.
There are 2 river cruises you can go on at the River Safari. The River Safari Cruise is free with your ticket and takes you round the Seletar Reservoir. The other is the Amazon River Cruise which takes you on a 10 minute boat ride past different closures featuring 30 different species of wildlife from the Amazon forest. However, it’s not guaranteed that you will see any of the animals especially if the weather is hot. The main attractions would be the Jaguar, Capuchin monkey, Black Howler Monkey, Flamingos, Brazilian Tapir and Giant Anteater. You will see all of these or a different species at the Singapore Zoo.
Amazon Flooded Forest
The highlight for me was seeing the manatees in the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit. You’ll know when you’re there when you enter a dimmed underground section with a massive aquarium, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Don’t rush off so fast if you only see a few large fish floating through the water. Look carefully and you’ll see several large manatees. They may be in a corner or swimming at the other end of the aquarium.
It takes 1 1/2 – 2 hours to complete the whole loop. The most it will take is 2 1/2 hours if you go on the river cruises.
Would I recommend the River Safari?
Yes ! But get a combo ticket that includes the Singapore Zoo. It makes your trip all the more worthwhile.
How to get to the River Safari
The River Safari is located next to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. You can take a taxi there but it is a long way away compared to other attractions and will cost you about $15-20 each way depending on time of day and where you take the taxi from. On weekdays it is cheaper after 9.30 am. Opening hours are from 10 am – 7pm.
Train and Bus
1 City Hall MRT – Jurong East Interchange – Choa Chu Kang. Switch to Bus 927.
Take the East-West Line (Green Line) to Jurong East Interchange and change to the North-South Line (Red Line). Alight at Choa Chu Kang and take Bus No 927 from the bus interchange to the zoo. The bus ride is 20 minutes.
2. Bugis MRT – Bukit Panjang MRT/LRT – Choa Chu Kang MRT/LRT. Bus 927.
Take the Downtown Line from Bugis (or Little India or Newton) to Bukit Panjang MRT (30 min or less) and switch to the LRT to Choa Chu Kang (15 min). From there, take Bus 927 (20 min).
3 Orchard MRT – Ang Mo Kio MRT. Change to Bus 138..
Take the North-South Line (Red Line) from Orchard MRT to Ang Mo Kio (15 min). Take the underpass to the bus interchange and take But No. 138 to the zoo (40 min bus ride). Bus 138 is at the very last Berth in the station. When you enter the bus station from the underpass, walk straight to the end and turn right.
1. Bus 190 from Orchard MRT to Choa Chu Kang. Switch to Bus 927.
From Orchard Turn bus stop (Orchard MRT Exit B), take Bus No. 190 to Choa Chu Kang bus interchange (35 minutes) and then switch to Bus No, 927 to the zoo (20 min).
Whichever route you choose it will take an average of 1 hr 15 min from the city including waiting times. I would take the bus only route if I were near Orchard MRT station. Note that the bus is not from Orchard Road but in the opposite direction. Therefore you would take Bus 190 from Penang Road (Dhoby Ghaut MRT), Somerset Road (Somerset MRT), Orchard Turn (Orchard MRT Exit B) or Scotts Road (bus stop outsideThong Teck Building). If you go in the morning or early afternoon, the bus is almost empty, the roads are free and you’ll enjoy the scenery from the bus more than the train. If you get a double decker, that’s a bonus! Make sure you sit on the top deck.
Food and drinks at the River Safari
There are ample food and beverage outlets a the wildlife reserves. However prices are higher than normal, especially for drinks. For a family, it could add up quickly. There is a Kentucky Fried Chicken there which is the cheapest overall. If you are on a budget you can bring your own drinks and sandwiches or some fruit. When you change from the train to bus, you will pass through or be be next to a shopping centre with a supermarket. You can stop here and buy water and snacks for your trip.
You can get a re-entry stamp to go back into the River Safari or Zoo if you exit for a meal or other reason.
You can bring your own picnic lunch if you want to save money
If you want to take a taxi, it is cheaper after 9.30 am on a weekday.
If you are on a tight budget, the bus and train cost about S$2 – S$2.50 only.