We ran out of time to drop by at Palawan Beach because we spent one whole day frolicking on rides and attractions at Universal Studios during our first family visit in Singapore. In my next visit in the country, I was happy that I set foot on one of its finest beaches.
Singapore may lack natural resources but with the government’s brilliant mind they developed and created man-made attractions such as the beaches of Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong which attracted a massive influx of tourists every year. Each has different attractions, tone and charm. Among the three, Siloso Beach is the liveliest as it offers various sports activities and is home to the coolest bars and restaurants. This is the most well-loved by fun-loving people because the beach is alive from day till night.
After an awesome nature getaway on a tiny island called Pulau Ubin, I boarded a bus going to Gardens by the Bay, a nature park spanning 101 hectares in reclaimed area. I will be exploring the amazing Gardens again and for the first time, I will visit the two cooled conservatories, the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome which I bought my tickets through Klook, a Hong Kong-based company that sells travel activities at lower prices.
Coming from an informative and exciting visit from Cloud Forest in Gardens by the Bay, I set off to the next cooled conservatory, the Flower Dome which will give me another dose of learning and feast of wonder to my eyes.
Chek Jawa Wetlands or Tanjung Chek Jawa is the most popular tourist destination in Pulau Ubin and the highlight of our trip. The 100-hectare cape is located on the eastern tip of the island and is about 3 kilometers away from the public jetty. What makes it unique is that it is home to several ecosystems found in one area-the sandy beach, mangroves, seagrass lagoon, rocky beach, coral rubble and coastal forest. Indeed Chek Jawa Wetlands is unusually rich in biodiversity.
Just off the northeastern shore of mainland Singapore lies the tiny island called Pulau Ubin. It was pretty amazing how a highly urbanized country retains a rustic getaway where one can reminisce the past and enjoy the charm and simplicity of the olden times. In my third day in the Lion Country, I braved myself visiting Pulau Ubin alone which I considered the most anticipated part of my second visit to Singapore.
I was so grateful to Lyn, my sister in law for telling me about this island which they visited with her family last summer as part of their vacation in the country. I made a Google search about Pulau Ubin and found out that for the nature lover and venturesome people like me, this island will definitely give a unique escape from the grand buildings and glitzy avenues of Singapore.
Pulau Batu Jubin which means granite stone island is the original name of Pulau Ubin but over the time it was shortened to what we now know its name today. This 1,020- hectare island is home to Singapore’s last villages or “kampongs” and is shaped like a boomerang.
About the Past
When John Crawfurd, the Second Resident in Singapore landed on the island in 1824 he declared it a British territory. Major construction projects led to the demand for granite and soon mining operations had started. Other than this, the residents delved into other businesses like prawn farming, rubber tapping and coffee planting.
The mining industry had boomed and it attracted more people to relocate in Pulau Ubin. Schools had been opened, various temples were built and a community service was established.
But in the 1970s the mining industry declined and the granite quarries had closed. Schools were closed, rubber tapping ceased, temples were relocated to the mainland and residents began leaving.
Pulau Ubin today
As of this time, few people are now living on Pulau Ubin. But with its significant history, untouched nature, lush greenery, rich and preserved wildlife, visitors had increased over the years. Singapore had retained its culture and preserved the island from urban development thus making it the country’s last frontier.
The thrill of getting there alone
I was instructed by my brother Choy and Lyn how to go the island. Honestly, it was so easy. This is my first time that I will travel alone by bus. I had a packed lunch, water and crackers to save the day. Before I set out for my adventure, I prayed to God for my safety.
With confidence and faith in God, I boarded Bus 2 (coming from Simei) in getting to Changi Village Bus Terminal which is the terminating point for bus routes in Changi Village. During the trip, I met three fellow Pinoys who will be going to Pulau Ubin too. They haven’t eaten their breakfast yet so they headed to the Hawker Center and I set off for a stroll to Changi Village hoping to see each other on the island.
The amenities found in Changi Village are the hawker center, shops, market, bus terminal, ferry terminal, Sea Sports Club and the Walkway to Changi Beach. There are also the HDB low-rise flats and the Changi Village Hotel. I was aiming to take a quiet walk on Changi Boardwalk and stroll near the Change Beach but I will be running out of time so I have to go now to Changi Point Ferry Terminal.
In getting there:
The only transportation in getting to Pulau Ubin is through a bumboat. Getting down the ferry terminal you will see a right arrow pointing to Pulau Ubin and to the left is Pengerang (Johor, Malaysia). They have a well-organized system of loading passengers so all I have to do is wait for my turn to ride the boat in the waiting area.
It was Sunday and tourists kept coming in. The operator waited for twelve passengers to fill in and later he collected the fare which is S$3.00 per head and per trip. For people who do not want to wait may pay S$36.00 and can leave without waiting but it is for one way only. The boat operates from 5:30 am to 9:00 pm.
Inside the Island
I can’t sustain my excitement as we set off. The water trip lasted for ten minutes only. Stepping into the island was a breeze. Few distances from the port was the welcome signage “Welcome to Pulau Ubin” It was no longer an awkward feeling approaching tourists to take me a picture along with the signage. I started to get used to it when I was also in Hong Kong. I headed inside with a broad smile on my lips. I was so grateful for this stress-free day, to the sunny weather and to those nice people who smiled back at me. It’s time now to explore Pulau Ubin!
I was so excited!
There were a lot of exciting outdoor activities to do inside Pulau Ubin like biking, walking, picnic, kayaking, camping, nature tripping, bird watching, photo shooting, and fishing.
I will be going to Chek Jawa Wetlands so I will be riding a bike in getting there. Sounds exciting right? My brother warned me not to bike solo for my safety. But knowing there were plenty of visitors today and it is so safe to bike in Pulau Ubin even for a girl like me so I will brave this activity.
There were several stores offering bike rental at Kampong Ubin (near the main entrance) with prices depending on the style and condition of the bike. I was surprised when the old rate of S$5.00 was raised to S$25.00 There were the cheaper ones which cost S$15.00 but it is still so pricey for me.
I was told there was the cheapest rate of S$8.00 in the farthest corner of Kampong Ubin. While I was on my way there I was delighted to see again those people I met on the bus. But they told me they will not go on biking and they will not go to Chek Jawa Wetlands because it was located in the eastern end of the island, meaning it is so far to take a walk.
It seemed these three people are nice to be with so I decided to join them. I was so happy to meet Pinky, our tour guide, Rachel and Mavie.
These are the places we visited through foot navigation.
The community had put their efforts to create this area of about a football field in size to conserve and showcase butterflies. More than fifty butterfly-attracting plant species are planted on the landscape. It was so nice seeing butterflies freely fluttering around.
One of the exciting activities on the island is camping and Jelutong Campsite is one of the campsites nearest in Ubin Jetty. Camping overnight is allowed but campers should register at the Police Post and apply for a permit.
The trail was developed to showcase the cultural heritage of Pulau Ubin and engage not only the sense of sight but the other senses as well through the different plants the villages grew. What I enjoyed here is walking around to see numerous interesting ornamental plants, medicinal herbs, fruit trees and other plants that can be seen along the way.
I was mesmerized to see this beautiful and serene lake which was the old granite quarry. This is one of the five quarries in Pulau Ubin but its proximity to the main village and its scenic view attracted tourists to stop and take pictures. As of today, this is a habitat of herons.
Puaka Hill (Bukit Puaka)
They say the best time to visit Puaka Hill, the highest point in Pulau Ubin is nearing sunset to be captivated by the glorious setting of the sun and eventually capture a stunning photo. But since we were on a day tour only we went there and enjoyed looking at the picturesque view of Ubin Quarry, the mainland Singapore, and even Malaysia while standing on the edge. The hike coming from the road is about ten minutes only.
It was midday but the scorching heat of the sun wasn’t disturbing yet because of the lush greenery along the way. It was so serene and peaceful walking on the paved road. There were lots of bikers, young and old.
I thought this is the end of our visit to Pulau Ubin but I was so happy when Pinky suddenly declared, we will proceed to Chek Jawa Wetlands.
The first half of our adventure was definitely one for the books and I cant sustain the thrill and excitement as we set out to our next.
Chek Jawa Wetlands here we come!
- Be ready to get sweat for Singapore is a tropical country.
- Be prepared physically because you will need it as you explore the island.
- It’s best to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, bring sunglasses, hats, sun block and hats.
- Bring spare clothes because you will perspire while doing the desired activities.
- Bring water to avoid dehydration.
- Bring food, snacks to save you from starving.
- If you are planning to go on biking, use backpack for your comfort instead of a sling bag.
- Ask for a lock if you plan to go biking.
- Do not feed animals nor provoke them.
- Do not rush when you walk or bike, take a moment to rest and savor the lush greenery.
- Bring insect repellant.
- And of course, don’t forget your cameras to capture the moment.
- Be a responsible tourist, leave no trace.
How to get there from mainland Singapore:
As I’ve said it is so easy and convenient to go to Pulau Ubin. From mainland Singapore, ride the MRT, alight at Tanah Mera station then take Bus No. 2. You will never get lost because the terminating point is the Changi Village Bus Terminal. Walk your way to Changi Point Ferry Terminal and ride the bumboat.
Boat fare: S$3.00 per trip – with a maximum number of 12 persons per trip
Surcharge for bike: S$2.00 per trip
For special trip, no waiting time – S$36.00
Operating hours: from 5:30 AM to 9:00 AM
Water trip takes about ten minutes only.
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I had a hard time leaving Pulau Ubin reveling in its natural charm. It took me until 3 pm to bid good-bye to this little island and set off to Gardens by the Bay. Since it was already late in the afternoon, I have to catch up on a quick visit to its famed cooled conservatories Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. Yes, I was alone and again, I was so excited!
I’ve been to five countries in Asia and so far, the best among them is Singapore when it comes to cleanliness, safety, efficient transport system, environment (pleasant and smoke-free) and language (English as a common language). It simply amazed me how a small country, a once hinterland and lacking natural resources had progressed rapidly. Their jaw-dropping man-made attractions, grand buildings and luxury shopping malls attracted an influx of tourists from around the world. With that, I’m so excited in getting back to the “Lion Country”.
This is my second time to travel solo outside the country. As much as I wanted my family to travel with me, they simply can’t. My hubby was so busy with various projects in his company and my children did not want to be absent from school. Since Singapore is so safe for female solo travelers I braved this trip and made sure that this is another record-breaking adventure like I did in Hong Kong and Macau!
Singapore is surging with great places to explore. This time, I wanted to see and visit places I had never been. I will be staying for five days in my brother’s condo unit which is few distances away from the MRT Station. This saves a lot in my budget. Hotels are quite expensive in Singapore but if you are on a budget there are homestays, apartments, and rooms ranging from P1,500 to P5,000 depending upon your choice of accommodation.
Stored Value Card
Since I was solo, I’m the boss of my itinerary. I made a keen study of the transportation which I found it now easy as 123. My brother gave me a stored value card, the NETS Flashpay card loaded with cash that I will be using in MRT, LRT, buses and in grocery stores. EZ-Link is the other card but with limited retail stores to purchase.
Plane fare going to Singapore is quite expensive but I booked in advance a two-way fare via Jetstar Asia for only P6,000. This is another savings for me. Though it was a low-cost airline from Australia I never get scared during series of strong turbulence. Captain announced ahead of time the expected turbulence. Coming from a good experience I won’t hesitate to fly with them again in my future travels. And one good thing is, the seat width in the restroom is wider so the comfort level is better.
Changi Airport Singapore
It was so amazing to set foot again in Changi Airport which is in its 5th year as World’s Best Airport according to Skytrax World Airport Survey. The airport continues to innovate and expands their facilities for customers thus making travel experience relaxing and memorable.
Like what I described in my first visit in Singapore, Changi Airport is by itself a wonderful universe to explore. I suggest this should be included in the itinerary to have a better view of the exciting attractions inside the airport. But since I was running out of time, I decided to explore the airport on my last day. For now, I will savor its beauty and elegance beginning from walking at the impressive carpet down to the walkway at Terminal 1.
Changi Airport has breathtaking interiors. And despite the state of the art architecture, the airport has a surreal tropical setting that will bring you closer to nature.
What I enjoyed much this time is watching the moving sculpture, the Kinetic Rain which I did not pay much attention before. The copper-plated aluminum raindrops weighing 180 grams are suspended by a thin wire where computer-controlled motors are attached.
I was mesmerized watching the glossy raindrops as it floated and moved slowly up and down. I felt the world had stopped from moving. It took me several minutes standing there amazed by this beautiful sight.
Another attraction I passed by at Terminal 1 was the Social Tree towering at almost nine meters tall. One can share and save their photos and videos to any of the eight touchscreen photo booths. If you want to be part of Changi Airport history, go share your photos there. You may retrieve it in your future visits.
Free WiFi service is available both in public and transit areas in the airport. For a hassle and fast service in getting the password of free WiFi service, I headed to the information counter and presented my passport. In an instant, I was given a print-out password. I now had an internet connection which is consumable for three hours. I immediately informed my brother upon my arrival because he will fetch me as what he had promised.
Aside from the counters, some chose to obtain the password from the WiFi kiosks located across the terminals and gate-hold rooms with three-hour access to the internet. In Changi Airport it is so easy to stay connected as there are more than 400 internet stations available to enjoy the free WiFi service. This is another thing I like in here.
On my way to immigration, I passed by several stores and boutiques offering luxury goods and necessities. But I was not into shopping, I just let enjoyed my eyes feasting on beautiful bags and shoes.
Then I proceeded to the immigration after filing up the embarkation form. I grabbed a map and headed to the arrival area. I was already famished so I took a seat and ate my packed lunch. My brother arrived at 4:00 pm. I was so happy seeing him again and felt so proud because he has a very good job in this country. He is a manager in a Business Consulting and IT Solutions company.
It was my brother’s off from his work today. Since this is his free time and his wife Lyn is at work, he volunteered to go with me.
As per my itinerary, I will visit Flower Dome and Cloud Forest in Gardens by the Bay on my first day. But it was almost 5:00 pm and I do not want to indulge in a rush visit so I decided to move it on Sunday. Instead, I will visit temples and mosques in Telok Ayer and Chinatown.
I can’t hide my excitement as we set off to MRT station. My mind was thinking of the authentic food, places that I should explore alone and the thrill of visiting Pulau Ubin, Singapore’s last frontier. Can’t wait for another unforgettable trip!
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 1: Our First Day in the Lion Country
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 2: Visited 14 tourist spots in Day 2
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 4: Universal Studios Singapore
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 5: Affordable Buys at Bugis Street
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 6: Lunch Treat at Wisma Astria
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 7: Window Shopping Along Orchard Road Shopping Belt
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 8: Orchard Road and Clarke Quay
- Singapore Family Trip-Part 9: Child Delight in Singapore Zoo
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|Part 4: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: The Peak Experience||Loreland Farm Resort: Changed and Evolved||Dinner at Mesa Filipino Moderne, Greenbelt 5, Makati City||Vigan: As we Travel Back in the Past – part II||Ramen Night at Kimono Ken, Blue Bay Walk|
This day marks our last glimpse of Singapore. My brother (our generous provider hehehe) made us choose which of these zoos we like best to explore in our last day – River Safari, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari or Singapore Zoo. Since we can’t decide which is which, he finally declared the latter. With his family who had been there once, we set off early so we can fully enjoy our one whole day family getaway.
After our shopping of affordable buys at Bugis Street, Bogs and Allan (my hubby’s former office mates, now based in Singapore) treated us a heafty lunch at Food Republic (our version of Food Court) at level 4 of Wisma Atria shopping mall in Orchard Road.