Day tripping to Pulau Ubin – a fun family day of bumboats, bikes and cheap seafood!
If you want to experience a glimpse of what life was like in Singapore 60 years ago, Pulau Ubin (Which means Granite Island in Malay) is definitely the place. Full of sleepy kampongs, beautiful island scenery, exotic temples, local wildlife and of course delicious seafood & local fare, Pulau Ubin truly has it all in the fun day out with kids department.
Here are Sassy Mama’s Top 5 things to do and see on the island…
1. Bike and Picnic in Tropical Splendor
Rent a bike when you arrive off the ferry in Ubin Village. Prices range from $8-$20 for the day and you can rent it all — kids bikes, bikes with baskets and baby seats, and of course tandem bikes. Make sure to give your prospective bike a good trial run before you take off exploring, as you don’t want to run into problems while you’re on the other side of the island.
While you are on a bike tour around the island’s rustic roads make sure to stop off in one of the beautiful places along the way to lay out a blanket and relax under a palm tree, next to a lily-laden pond or stunning and expansive quarry. Before you leave the house make sure to pack a light lunch or snack and of course something to quench your thirst. While you are picnicking you will be able to sit back and unwind in island paradise and enjoy life in the slow lane. Just don’t forget to pack the bug spray!
2. Chek Jawa & House No. 1
Although a little bit of a trek on a bike with small children (catch one of the taxis or mini buses offered in Ubin Village), this nature sanctuary on the South East part of the Island is something to behold. It’s full of amazing wildlife, including wild boars, monkeys, and mud lobsters to name a few. Get lost on the shady 1km boardwalk through beautiful mangroves. Or climb the 20 metre Jejawi Tower to see Pulau Ubin in all its tropical glory.
On the way into Chek Jawa make sure to stop off and check out the 1930s Tudor Style House that also doubles as the area’s welcome center. Not only will you be transported back to the 1930s, but visitors are also treated to viewing one of the last wood burning fireplaces in Singapore.
3. Wei Tuo Fa Gong Temple (Buddhist Temple)
Wei Tuo Fa Gong Temple is an 80-year-old Temple tucked away on the western part of the island. Because of its location and lack of signage a lot of people might miss this colourful and serene temple. (To find it, make sure to take your first right after Jelutong Bridge on the way to the Ketam Mountain Bike Park). Once down the short dirt road you will be delighted by a riot of colours and sounds.
Thousands of colourful Buddhist Prayer flags are carefully strung up around the temple grounds while beautiful Buddhist chants are quietly broadcast on loudspeakers while you walk around. While you are there make sure to check out the carp and turtle pond. The turtles here are plentiful and are super friendly (turtle food can be purchased on site).
4. German Girl Shrine
After you experience the colours of the Wei Tuo Fa Gong Temple, travel by bike into the Ketam Mountain Bike Park, where you will discover the German Girl Shrine housed in a wooden hut beside an Assam Tree. This quirky Taoist shrine has been on the island for almost 100 years and it shrouded in mystery. Legend has it that it was erected to commemorate the death of a young German girl who was fleeing her home on the island when British Troops were coming to arrest her parents during World War I.
Today it’s a quiet place to stop, have a water break and check out the Taoist shrine, where Chinese believers come to seek good health and lottery numbers.
5. Stop for an icy cold drink in one of the local Kampongs
To fully appreciate the laid back Ubin life, don’t forget to stop off at one of the coconut water/refreshment stands along the way. Most often you will be treated to a local serving up cold drinks with a little bit of island charm thrown in for good measure. Pulau Ubin’s total population is currently 38 people, so it is a real treat to meet the locals and learn about the history of the island, all while beating the heat. Our favourite refreshment stop is the Oh Yeh Oh Yeh drink stand on the way to Ketam Mountain Bike Park on the western part of the island. There are lots of great insta-moments to be had!
Transport: Catch a 10-minute bum boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal from 8:30am – 5pm daily.
Cost: Each way is $3, payable to the Bumboat Captain. (Captains generally wait for 12 people before they will leave for the island; in all the times we’ve been to Pulau Ubin we have never had to wait more than 5-10 mins)
Logistics: Cash is king on the island. If you are planning a day out make sure to bring enough for the bumboat, bike rentals, lunch, coconut water stops, and taxis.
For a family of four expect to spend around $90-$120.
Admission to the Island is FREE.
What to bring: Sunscreen, water, hats, umbrellas, insect repellents and bandaids.