Pulau Ubin: Singapore’s Jurassic Park

This east coast island closely resembles a Hollywood movie, and reminds you of pre-colonial days when Singapore itself was nothing more than a jungle full of wild animals.

I recently ranked Pulau Ubin as the 7th best attraction in my list of the top 10 attractions in Singapore.

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I couldn’t get my experience at Bang Krachao out of my head when visiting Pulau Ubin. I think they are both very similar activities to get away from their respective cities, although clearly Pulau Ubin takes a little longer to travel to across the water, as opposed to the 5 minute ride to Bang Krachao.

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For some reason, despite being in Singapore many times, it took me a long while to think of visiting Pulau Ubin. I always knew it was there, and that many people enjoyed it, but I always liked the idea of staying on the mainland. Before Sir Stamford Raffles arrived and colonised Singapore for the British, much of Singapore mainland looked like what Pulau Ubin is today – raw and pure! There are no proper roads on Pulau Ubin, and the main way of getting around on the island is either by bike, or by taking leisurely hikes – and all the while avoiding the path of some pretty ferocious wild boar! Cars do exist here, but I don’t think it is a very wise method of transport for enjoying everything on offer on the island. You need to be able to hear and smell the environment to maximise your attention, and in a car that is not really possible.

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Pulau Ubin is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife experts. You can get similar terrain over at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve near Kranji MRT Station, but over here at Pulau Ubin there is a larger sense of isolation, so the wildlife you come to see is more authentic in its own undisturbed habitat. You can get to Pulau Ubin by ferry from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, and I found that the boats do not usually leave until they are close to being full. I had a little wait – in fact around 30 minutes wait – before we sailed the short way across to the wilds of Pulau Ubin. The ferry costs around $4 per person, and this is a round trip back to Singapore mainland, obviously. I hear that if you pay a full $30 then the boat will take you on your own to Pulau Ubin, without waiting for any other passengers. However, this is not really possible on a backpacker’s budget!

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It surprised me to see hornbills here, as I thought they were only seen down in Indonesia. As always, though, there were monkeys, but I did wonder how they got on to this island in the first place, as monkeys cannot swim. Maybe there were deliberately left there by man, or maybe the monkeys there now are descendants from monkeys that have been there forever. Regardless, they were still up to their tricks, as unsuspecting tourists that their plastic bags of food rummaged on more than one occasion.

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