Guide: Pulau Ubin, Singapore’s favourite island

Guide: Pulau Ubin, Singapore’s favourite island
July 11 10:59 2016 Print This Article

Pulau Ubin -from Nparks

Pulau Ubin – from Nparks

Just $3 and 10 minutes takes you to a land of Kampongs and dirt tracks- a picture of what Singapore was like before it became a city state. Accessible, cheap and peaceful, Pulau Ubin is a favourite amongst many Singaporeans.

History of Pulau Ubin

Previously called ‘Granite Stone Island’, Pulau Ubin used to be mined for granite from the mid 1800s. Business thrived in the 1930s, leading to the creation of Kampongs and a few thousand inhabitants. Land was also cultivated for crops to both consume and sell, providing communities with fresh food to enjoy together!

The granite industry began its decline in the 1970s. Commercial crop cultivation stopped in the 1980s, and the last operational quarry was shut down in 1999. Today, about 24 households remain on Pulau Ubin, relying on wells and diesel generators for electricity.

Getting to Pulau Ubin

Getting to Pulau Ubin is simple. From Changi Point Ferry Terminal, a $3 bumboat ride takes you to Singapore’s favourite island in 10 minutes. Enjoy the journey’s view of skies and sea, void of Singapore’s usual cityscape.

Bumboats leave when 12 people are ready to board. Be prepared for a short wait, unless you’re willing to pay the full fare of $36. Bumboats can be hired at any time of the day, but do make earlier arrangements if you plan to make a trip after sunset. Only cash is accepted!

Getting around Pulau Ubin

In Pulau Ubin, either cycling or walking is the way to go. Once you alight at the jetty, turn left and you’ll find many shops offering their bicycles for rent. If you prefer to bring your own bicycle, it will cost another $2 to bring it on the bumboat. Whether you rent or bring one, we recommend picking a bike with a basket to put your bag in.

Tip: Be sure to check if your bike is working well before you set off!

Whether you plan to hike or cycle, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and light clothing. As it does in Singapore, Pulau Ubin gets extremely hot in the mid afternoon so a hat and a pair of sunglasses is useful. Do also bring insect repellent, we left with quite a number of mosquito bites. Shelters are scattered across the island to take refuge in during your journey, and remember to drink lots of water! In case of sudden rain, bring a poncho or an umbrella- or just click here for the weather forecast.

What to do in Pulau Ubin

Chek Jawa Wetlands

You cannot miss a visit to the Chek Jawa Wetlands, a fascinating example of Singapore’s richest ecosystems. Opened to the public in December 2000, multiple habitats can be found in the wetlands. Marine life is best seen during low tide, ideally at 0.5m and under. Be sure to check this tides table to avoid disappointment!  

The best way to explore will be by attending the Chek Jawa Guided tour led by one of Npark’s nature guides. The 1 hour tour costs $60 for a group of 15 people, click here for updated dates and details.

To get to Chek Jawa, pick a van for hire at Ubin’s main village. The ride costs $2 per person and like the bumboat, only leaves when 12 passengers are ready. Cycling there is also welcome, but be sure to park and lock your bicycles at a designated lot by Punai Hut. If you prefer to travel by foot, it is an approximate 40 minute walk.

Tours & Walks

Pulau Ubin is a natural landscape filled with life waiting to be discovered. If being amongst nature isn’t your forte, don’t fret! There is an abundance of different walks and tours to guide you through.

Go for a free tour with members of the Naked Hermit Crab, a group passionate about sharing the wonders of Chek Jawa’s biodiversity. Discover what living in Pulau Ubin was like by attending the 2 hour Kampong Tour, the 2.2km walk will educate you on Pulau Ubin’s heritage with stories of history.

If you’re looking for other free tours in Singapore, we’ve got you covered as well!

If you prefer to explore on your own, take on a Pulau Ubin Tree Trail with this thorough and engaging guide– learning at your own time and pace. Or wander along every path and tick off what you see on these checklists.

Tour guide training

If being a participant isn’t enough, why not be a guide? Share your love of nature by training to be a volunteer guide for either the Chek Jawa wetlands tour or the Kampong tour- or both! Your new hobby is just an email away.

Volunteer Programmes

A precious island needs to be properly preserved and protected. Pulau Ubin is well taken care of by volunteers doing their part, from surveying fireflies to monitoring orchids. Join monthly inspections of the forest ensuring no harm is being done, or collect mangrove plant propagules while learning how they protect us from natural disasters. Expand your knowledge and keep Ubin beautiful by putting in time with the land. Information on different volunteering opportunities can be found here, with registration and policies on Ubin volunteering found here.  

A rundown of Pulau Ubin events in 2016 can be found in this PDF. For updated information and registration for the many activities offered, click here!

If you’re thinking of spending the night, we’ve got all the information you need on camping in Singapore.

What to Eat/Drink

There is a selection of family restaurants and convenience stores in Ubin town to pick from. If you need a little help deciding, here are the ones we thought were worth mentioning.

Pak Ali

Even in Singapore, Pak Ali’s lontong has made a name for itself. Their coconut curry is thick and flavourful, paired perfectly with fragrant rice cakes. You have to be fast because this exclusive dish is sold only on Sundays- and is often gone before 11am!

Season Live Seafood

Season Live Seafood is a tad pricier than you’d expect food in Pulau Ubin to be, but the prawn rolls are worth it. Built right on the shore, this restaurant serves fresh seafood that tastes great after a cycle around the island.

Open Wednesday to Monday, from 10am to 6.30pm
59E Pulau Ubin

Cheong Lian Yuen Coffee Shop

Friendly staff and tasty food earned Cheong Lian Yuen Coffee Shop a recommendation from the locals. What they serve depends on what the fishermen catch that day- freshness is assured!

20 Pulau Ubin

Things to note on Pulau Ubin


Shelters are scattered across the island, and there are toilet facilities at Pulau Ubin’s campsites. There is no street lights in Pulau Ubin, so be prepared for darkness beyond the main village after sunset.


Unlike Singapore, tap water in Pulau Ubin is non potable. Bottled drinks and water is available for purchase in the main village, either from convenience stores or from the family restaurants.

Wild animals

Although you’re not restricted to the paved roads, be aware that wild animals are present. Keep food in closed bags and do not aggravate them- monkeys and boars are most commonly spotted.

Steep slopes

Be wary of steep slopes especially if you’re riding a bicycle- there are signs to warn you in advance so take heed. Safety first!

Useful numbers

NParks Info Kiosk: 65424108
Police Coast Guard: 63775540/63775542
Ubin Police Post: 65428664/96611591

share your experience by using #singaporenbeyond on social media!

Featured photo by Walter Lim

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Singapore n Beyond
Singapore n Beyond

Sharing getaway and itinerary ideas in Asia and insider knowledge of Singapore

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