A day trip to Pulau Ubin is an excellent way to get off the beaten track in Singapore and enjoy a slower pace of life for a few hours. This 1,020 hectare island is the second largest of Singapore’s offshore islands and is just a ten minute boat ride from Changi. A visit here allows you to step back in time to the days when Singapore was a rustic village, with traditional kampong houses, swaying palm trees and little traffic. It also makes for a fun adventure with the kids.
Pulau Ubin began its days as a settlement in the early 1800s when several Malay and Chinese families moved in, attracted by the good fishing and farming prospects. It has since hosted a booming granite quarrying industry, and even boasts a piece of World War II history, being the first landing point of the Japanese in 1942, who falsely lead the British to believe they would attack from here before moving in from the north-west.
With the war firmly in the past and quarrying having ceased in 1999, the island has now returned to its sleepy farming and fishing days, with around 100 villagers still living in the kampong houses dotted throughout the countryside. This makes it an excellent place to visit with the kids, as there is virtually no traffic, other than other daytrippers exploring on their bikes.
Bike hire shops line the path as you alight from the boat in Pulau Ubin, where you can inexpensively hire mountain bikes for the day, including children’s bikes, child seats and tandems. Strap everyone in and head off along the well-signposted biking trails for an adventure, keeping an eye out for wild boar along the way! Shelters are provided at intervals, allowing you a shady place to rest, and all are furnished with maps to check your location.
The star attraction of Pulau Ubin is the Chek Jawa Wetlands, one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems, where you can explore the mangroves and coast via boardwalks, and climb the 20-metre Jejawi lookout tower. Chek Jawa is a few minutes walk from the main trail – you will need to leave your bike at the gate so be sure to ask for a lock when you hire the bike.
Getting to Pulau Ubin is easy – bumboats run from Changi Point jetty in Changi Village (not the Changi Ferry Terminal). The boats run from sunrise to sunset and leave once they have 12 passengers on board. It costs just $2.50 per person, however if you don’t want to wait for the boat to fill up, you can pay the difference to the driver.
If you’re looking for other off the beaten track suggestions, see our article: Off the Beaten Track Places to Take the Kids in Singapore.
Looking for something more mainstream? Then check out Singapore’s Best Family-Friendly Attractions.