Pulau Ubin is a small island situated in the north east of Singapore with less than hundred villagers living there today. It is one of the few rural areas to be found in Singapore that is completely free from signs of urban development, Its wooden houses, wooden jetties, relaxed inhabitants, rich and preserved wildlife, abandoned quarries and plantations, untouched nature in general makes it a favorite spot for Singaporeans to get away temporarily from stressful urban life. Rent a bicycle from the several bike shops near the jetty at S$3-6 and you are ready to explore the island at your own pace.
There are several interesting places that you should not miss while in Ubin:
Old Charm Kampong
The island resembles a big kampong (village in Malay) of the past with the main village located near the jetty. Look out for the many village houses, which used to be a common sight in the 60’s and 70’s in main land, scattered across the island. Its residents still rely on wells for water and noisy diesel generators for electricity. Some villagers also depend on traditional farming and fishing for subsistence, while others tend to their provision stores and eateries. Near the jetty, you will be able to locate the last surviving Wayang (Theatre in Malay) stage in Singapore which used to be common sight in some villages in the past. You will also be able to spot quite a few Kelongs (Malay word for offshore platform for trapping fishes) near the coastline of the island.
Chek Jawa is a piece of wetland located on the south-eastern tip of Pulau Ubin. It is unique in that several ecosystems can be observed in one area — sandy beach, rocky beach, seagrass lagoon, coral rubble, mangroves and coastal forest. The area rich biodiversity is most evident during low tide. The place was almost lost to a land reclamation work but was temporarily halted due to its rich biodiversity, its fate in future remains unclear. New amenities in Chek Jawa Wetlands were operational since 2007 include an information kiosk, boardwalk, viewing tower, viewing jetty and a visitor centre. Impact of human traffic on Chek Jawa Wetlands is reduced with the use of the boardwalk. Check out the free guided tour provided by National Parks here.
Click here for a virtual tour with pictures captures the richness of Chek Jawa.
The name Pulau Ubin literally means “Granite Island” in Malay, which explains the many abandoned granite quarries there. The disused granite quarry on the island is now filled with water and its surroundings is now lush with vegetation.
Try the seafood restaurants near the jetty, they can not be any fresher and the food there are generally cheaper than those in Singapore mainland.
How to get there?
Admission to the island is free. Bumboats to and from Pulau Ubin operate from sunrise to sunset. Special arrangements will have to be made with the boatmen for trips after dark.
Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal ($2.50 one-way). Boats will leave when there are 12 passengers but you can also opt to pay the difference for the boat to leave immediately.
How to get to Chek Jawa? Upon arrival at the Ubin jetty, visitors can hire a van (the vans usually charge $2/person for 12 persons, one-way) or rent a bicycle from the main village. A walk from the jetty to Chek Jawa would take about 40 minutes. Bicycles will have to be parked at designated lots, do remember to ask for a bicycle lock when you rent your bicycle.
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Last updated on Jan 2010