Pulau Ubin may not have the white sandy beaches of Gili Island or Phuket, nor is it exactly the day-trip getaway of your dreams but the eccentricity and charm of this little offshore island makes it a magical place. One of the two remaining kampongs in Singapore (the other being Kampong Buangkok in Yio Chu Kang), Pulau Ubin is just a 15-minute boat ride away from the mainland. Whether you’re a nature lover or a thrill seeker, here’s how you can soak in the tranquillity and discover a myriad of hidden treasures on the island.
To get to Ubin, board a bumboat at Changi Point Ferry Terminal (daily, 6am-7pm). Boat fares are priced at $3/person for a single trip and each ride takes about 15 minutes. Take note that the boats to Ubin run on an irregular schedule as they only depart once they have 12 people on board. Fees are paid directly to the driver and are collected before the boat jets off. An extra $2 is charged if you bring along a bicycle.
There are no ATMs on the island, so be sure you’ve got all the cash you need for the trip before jumping on a boat to Ubin. You'll need it for renting bikes, having a seafood meal or slurping up a coconut while you're on the island. The nearest POSB and OCBC cash machines are located near the Changi Village Hawker Centre.
Sleep beneath the stars by pitching your tent at any of the two camping sites: Jelutong and Mamam. Jelutong is situated closest to the village and faces the mainland, while Mamam is further north of the island. Both locations have toilet facilities nearby, however, Jelutong is the only spot that is equipped to accommodate a campfire. Note that the water available at both campsites is not safe to drink, so you'll need to boil it or bring bottles of your own.
If you're planning to stay overnight then pop by the Pulau Ubin Police Post to register your stay with the island's officials.
A paradise for nature lovers, Pulau Ubin has plenty to offer with its lush greenery and abundant wildlife. Go bird-watching, visit the abandoned quarries and learn more about its native plants as you roam around the island. Head east to Kampong Durian, where you can explore the Ubin Fruit Orchard along the way. Within its vast compound, you'll find local fruit trees including those growing Java apples and rambutans. Click below for more recommendations.
If you love history and ecosystems, head to the East of the island to check out old restored houses and the Chek Jawa wetlands. Walk down the boardwalk to observe Fiddler crabs as they scuttle along the shore. Don't miss climbing up the 20-metre tall Jejawi Tower for a bird's-eye view of Ubin. Read more for kampong houses that you can visit in Ubin.
From maneuvering tricky slopes on Ubin's mountain biking trails to kayaking around the island and hiking up the rocky and steep Puaka Hill, there are lots of activities to get your heart-pumping among these natural terrains. Serious cyclists should head west to the Ketam Mountain Bike Park where a 10-kilometre-long trail around Ketam Quarry awaits. Aside from the death-defying trail, you can also visit an eerie shrine and go kayaking – read more to find out how.
They say the people make the place. Though it is only a 15-minute boat ride, life on Ubin is so different. If you wanted a glimpse of Singapore in the early days, this is the closest you'll get. Get to know the locals who are still residing on this tiny island.
Visit an 81-year-old ah ma at her drink stall located along Jalan Jelutong. She sells much-needed cold coconuts, water and soft drinks, providing a brief respite from the sun during your adventurous day out at Ubin. Here are some other locals we had a chat with.
From the view high atop Puaka Hill to the memorable murals at the drink stall, there are seven spots on the island that we think are the most photogenic for your next social media post – a cheeky mural to a scenic boardwalk that doesn't look a thing like Singapore.