Super stroller-friendly and compact, with a wide variety of wildlife on display, River Safari Singapore is the perfect quick day out with kids
We know the Singapore Zoo is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to Singapore’s amazing wildlife parks, but if we’re being honest, its sister park, The River Safari, is totally underrated but absolutely perfect for a day out with kids – particularly younger kids.
There is so much more to the River Safari than just pandas (though they are clearly the star attraction, and with good reason as Singapore is one of only nine countries to have received pandas on loan from China). For starters, nearly all of the park is either indoors (air-conditioning, cha-ching!), or under covered walkway, which is just perfect for when a flash thunderstorm strikes.
Can’t decide between the Zoo and the Aquarium? The River Safari offers the best of both worlds with its 7,500 aquatic and terrestrial animals representing nearly 240 species, including one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals.
Getting to River Safari Singapore
Safety Measures & Social Distancing
What you’ll find at River Safari Singapore
Animals at River Safari Singapore
River Safari Boat Rides
River Safari Tickets & Opening Hours
River Safari Nursing Rooms & Stroller Rental
Food at River Safari Singapore
The River Safari is located on Mandai Lake Road, right next to Singapore Zoo. The nearest MRT is Khatib on the North-South Line (with the $1 shuttle bus), or take bus 927 from Choa Chu Kang MRT. Note that there is also the 926 bus (which connects from Woodlands and Marsiling MRT stations), but this is only available on Sundays and public holidays.
It’s easy to take a taxi or ride share to the River Safari, and there is ample park on site as well (most affordable if you have a WRS annual pass!).
As with the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, River Safari Singapore is operating at 25% capacity – which is great, no crowds! You’ll just want to be sure to book a time slot before arrival, as these are subject to availability. Note that there are different booking portals for WRS Members and Non-Members.
Face Masks are required at all parts of the park, and there is hand sanitizer located throughout to help you keep hands clean.
Through September, three Park Experiences – Keeper’s Chit Chat, Manatee Mania Wildlife Tour, and the Reservoir Cruise – are temporarily suspended due to safe distancing measures, and shows are limited to a maximum capacity of 50 people. Note that the popular Amazon River Quest will also be closed for annual maintenance from 14-28 September. Click here for the latest information on closures and openings.
As Asia’s “first and only river-themed wildlife park,” the River Safari projects a strong message about projecting fragile freshwater ecosystems, and in addition to the pandas, it showcases threatened species such as manatee (soooo cute!) and Mekong giant catfish.
It’s because of these elaborate exhibits – constructed to mirror iconic rivers such as the Mississippi, the Mekong, and the Nile – that much of the River Safari Singapore is indoors.
Across the River Safari’s 11 “zones” representing different geographic ecosystems you’ll find a wide variety of animals (like cute and cuddly Otters and Pandas), reptiles (crocodile-like Indian Gharials, Green Anacondas), and sea creatures (Electric Eels, Giant Freshwater Stingrays), among many others.
If you take the Wild Amazonia River Quest Boat Ride (which costs extra at $3 for children/$5 for adults), you’ll have the chance to spot even more animals up close, including a Jaguar, Red Howler Monkeys, Tapirs, a Giant Anteater, a Capybara, and many more.
You’ll find Singapore’s two famous Giant Pandas, Jia Jia and Kai Kai, in the Yangtze River Zone. Thankfully there are fewer crowds than normal, but they’re still just as likely to be sleeping or non-visible, so adjust expectations accordingly. Their habitat is also huge (nothing wrong with that, of course!) so they can be a bit tough to spot for photos.
With river in the name, it only makes sense that the River Safari would offer some options to get out on the water!
Amazon River Quest is a super cool open-top boat ride designed to simulate a journey along the Amazon River. Passengers have the chance to spot all sorts wildlife among the lush vegetation. Note that the boat ride involves moderate acceleration, elevation changes, and minor bumping, so it’s not recommended for pregnant women. Children are also required to be a minimum of 1.06m, and those under 1.35m must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets cost $3 for children (or $2.40 for members) and $5 for adults ($4 for members).
NB: Amazon River Quest will be closed for annual maintenance from 14-28 September 2020.
Another boat ride option at River Safari is the Reservoir Cruise, a peaceful and relaxing ride in a covered boat that goes around the Upper Seletar Reservoir (with ample opportunities to spot Zoo residents, like the Giraffes!). This boat ride comes at no additional cost and has no height restrictions – and little ones love it.
NB: During Phase 2 the Reservoir Cruise is temporarily suspended due to safe distancing measures. Fingers crossed it will come back again soon!
As aforementioned, advanced booking is currently required for River Safari Singapore; click here for ticketing options. For local residents, tickets are currently priced at $19.20 for children and $28.80 for adults, though with the National Day special (vaid through 31 August) you can get two adult tickets for $52.20 (which works out to 55% off the regular price), or one adult ticket & one child ticket for $46.80. Other multi-park tickets are also available.
Note that cash payments are not available at River Safari Singapore to minimize the spread of germs, so bring along credit cards and ATM cards like Visa PayWave or MasterCard PayPass, and be prepared to show your electronic ticket on your phone upon arrival.
River Safari Singapore is open daily from 10am to 7pm. Amazon River Quest runs from 11am to 6pm, and the Giant Panda Forest is open from 10am to 6:15pm.
River Safari has four nursing rooms with changing facilities, located at the Entrance Plaza, the Giant Panda Forest, the Boat Plaza, and the Amazon Flooded Forest. How cute is that manatee wallpaper?!
If you’re bringing a car seat, you can rent a storage locker, priced at $5 for three hours, $1 thereafter (for a small locker) and $10 for three hours, $2 thereafter for a large locker (85 x 45 x 90cm).
Another handy feature of booking ahead is that you can reserve a wagon or stroller in advance. Wagons ($18 each) can accommodate up to two children with a combined weight of 35kg, while an umbrella stroller ($15) can hold a child weighing up to 15kg.
There are relatively slim pickings at the River Safari in comparison to the Zoo: you’ll find a Starbucks in the entrance plaza, and “Mama Panda Kitchen,” serving Chinese food like admittedly adorable panda buns, at the Giant Panda Forest.
All that said, it’s easy to do the River Safari in a couple hours – half a day at most – so if you pack a few snacks you should be fine, mamas.
River Safari, 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826, www.wrs.com.sg
Lead image and image #5 by Blub Creative; Image #4 by Syazana Hishamuddin; All other images via Wildlife Reserves Singapore