Super stroller-friendly and compact, with a wide variety of wildlife (plus the new baby panda Le Le!), River Wonders, formerly known as ‘River Safari’, is the perfect day out with kids
We know the Singapore Zoo is the big name when it comes to Singapore’s amazing wildlife parks, but if we’re being honest, its sister park, the River Wonders (formerly River Safari Singapore), is totally underrated but absolutely perfect for a day out with kids, thanks to its 7,500 aquatic and terrestrial animals with the current star of the show being baby panda Le Le!
New baby panda Le Le at River Wonders (River Safari Singapore)!
River Wonders has been in the news because the first panda cub in Singapore was born on 14 August 2021 to parents Kai Kai and Jia Jia! Kai Kai and Jia Jia arrived in Singapore in September 2012, on a decade-long loan from China. According to Straits Times, the new baby panda will return to China when it turns two. Pandas at River Wonders are one of the star attractions with Singapore being just one of only nine countries to have received pandas on loan from China.
The baby panda had no name for nearly three months but Le Le (叻叻), was the winning name chosen on 29 December 2021 via an online public poll. Singapore has loved getting updates on Le Le’s progress but now you can get a glimpse of him in a special nursery in the Panda enclosure at River Wonders. Viewing times are scheduled for 20-30 minutes around 10.30am and 3.30pm daily (subject to change over the next few weeks), as these reflect Le Le’s present routine. If you are lucky you will see Le Le playing with specially created enrichment toys and learning to walk (or Le Le might just be sleeping when you visit!). Visitors can take photos and videos of baby panda Le Le through the glass window of the nursery.
Ready to plan your trip to the River Wonders (River Safari Singapore)? Here’s everything you need to know to before you go:
Getting to River Safari Singapore
Animal Shows at River Safari Singapore
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 to the River Safari, and there is ample park on site as well (most affordable if you have a WRS annual pass!).
We love River Wonders because nearly all of the park is either indoors (air-conditioning hello!), or under covered walkways, which is just perfect for when a flash thunderstorm strikes.
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 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 Otters and Pandas), reptiles (crocodile-like Indian Gharials, Green Anacondas), and sea creatures (Electric Eels, Giant Freshwater Stingrays), among many others.
You’ll find Singapore’s two famous Giant Pandas, Jia Jia and Kai Kai (plus their new baby), 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. Look out for the red pandas while you are here too!
The animal show at River Safari Singapore is called ‘Once Upon a River’ and is free to attend. Shows are limited to maximum capacity of 50 people so get there early to get a place (expect long queues). No animal feeds are taking place currently. This animal show is really a hit with kids and worth doing at least once. River Safari staff weave lots of information about reducing plastic and its harmful effect on animals and the Capybaras that feature are just so adorable (and big!).
Timings: 11.30am, 2.30pm and 4.30pm
Where: Boat Plaza
With river in the name, it only makes sense that the River Safari Singapore would offer some options to get out on the water! There are two different boat rides (one currently closed due to the pandemic).
1. Amazon River Quest
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. Your kids need to be atleast 1.06m and above to experience the boat ride and kids between 1.06m and 1.35m must be accompanied by an adult). You can only go if you book your tickets online ahead of time! On this 10-minute boat ride you’ll have the chance to spot even more animals up close, including a few Jaguars (who seemed a little sad pacing back and forth repeatedly in their small enclosures), Red Howler Monkeys, Tapirs, a Giant Anteater, a Capybara, and many more.
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 13-27 September 2021.
2. Reservoir Cruise
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: Reservoir Cruise is temporarily suspended due to safe distancing measures. Fingers crossed it will come back again soon!
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 of hours – half a day at most – so if you pack a few snacks you should be fine!
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. 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.
Safety Measures & Closures
As with the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, River Safari Singapore is operating at limited capacity – which is great, because 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.
At the moment, Keeper’s Chit Chat is temporarily suspended due to safe distancing measures, and shows are operating at limited capacity. Note that the popular Amazon River Quest will also be closed for annual maintenance from 13 – 27 September 2021. Click here for the latest information on closures and openings.
River Wonders (River Safari), 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826, www.wrs.com.sg