Pulau Ubin is an Island located in the north east of Singapore. This is one of the last remaining rural areas of Singapore. Pulau Ubin means “Granite Island”. The name was given to the island because of many granite quarries which are now abandoned. The stone from the island was used to make floor tiles and was also used in the famous structures like Singapore-Jahore Causeway and Istana. Istana is the president house of Singapore located at the Orchard Road.
Initially, the stone quarries supported a few thousand of residents in the Island. When the quarries were abandoned, the population of the island decreased a lot. Now only a few residents live at the island which has an abundance of flora and fauna. The island is home to many visiting and resident birds, and to some endangered species of birds.
The Island has become a tourist hot spot with so many attractions like historical sites, abandoned quarries, coconut rubber plantations, fish farms and the last remaining Singaporean traditional village. You need a full-day tour to explore all the beautiful attractions of this 1,020-hectare island as well as the Chek Jawa wetlands which is one of the Singapore’s richest eco-systems.
History of Pulau Ubin
Pulao Ubin might be older but its history is known from a map that was created in 1828 with a sketch of Singapore, including Pulao Ubin written as “Pulo Obin”. Initial population was dominated by the Malay community. There were more than 2000 people living on the island during 1950 to 1970 and a school was also established in the island.
The island became famous for its granite since the British founded the Singapore. These granite quarries were closed in 1970s and the population of the island started to decrease. The established school was closed in 1985 and later demolished in 2000. Besides quarries, the residents also worked in poultry, farming, and fish farming. The poultry farmers were ordered to shift their poultry farms to government approved farms in 2005. The residents were accommodated by the government housing packages.
There was an urban redevelopment master plan for the Pulau Ubin island by which HDB apartments were to be constructed on the island and the island was to be connected by the mainland Singapore by MRT. When the plans were made public, the Singaporeans opposed the plans and made appeals to the government for the preservation of the biodiversity. As a result, the redevelopment plans were removed.
Pulau Ubin was also found suitable for campsites. National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) of Singapore opened its 25-hectare camp on the island. The island is now very well preserved. The wildlife and environment are also well protected, and the island is now a very famous attraction in Singapore for nature lovers.
How to reach Pulau Ubin
You can reach Pulau Ubin by a bumboat that leaves from Changi Village. The admission is free and there is no opening or closing hours. The bumboats usually follow the sunrise and sunset, that is why it is recommended to go early at sunrise and leave before sunset. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach the Pulau Ubin from Changi Village.
There are no ATMS on the Island and the businesses and shops do not accept cards or NETS. So, make sure to take cash with you otherwise you will not be able to buy or rent anything. Other things you might need for your trip include the camera (of-course), water, insect repellent and sunblock. Wear proper & comfortable shoes for hiking because you will want to hike around once you are there.
The restrooms and information center on the Island are well maintained. You can get a map from the information center at no cost. There are small shops and restaurants on the island, from where you can buy water, juices and eatables but payment is by cash only.
12 Tourist Attractions in Pulau Ubin Singapore
The Natural environment of the island is totally wonderful. The emerald island has an abundance of wildlife and plants. There are seagrass lagoons and mangroves. Walking is a pleasure in this beautiful and calm environment. You will be able to see many crabs, mudskippers, junglefowls and other wildlife. There is a fruit orchard in the area that has many durian trees, mangroves and breadfruit. You will also meet dragonflies and birds in the lovely green environment of Pulau Ubin.
Outdoor Activities in Pulau Ubin
There are numerous options of wonderful outdoor activities in this island. You can rent a bike for a day from the shops near the main jetty and roam around while exercising your legs. The terrain is a mix of flat and bumpy trails that is why cycling around the island is more fun and challenging. Just keep an eye for any holes or wild animals. The map is going to help you find the awesome viewing points and spots. For more challenging experience, you can head to the trail towards Ketam Mountain. This is a 10-kilometer trail filled with adventure.
If you are planning to camp, then you will find serval camping sites across the island. Maman campsite is considered as one of the adventurous sites of the island.
This is a lovely garden with a variety of flowers and plant species set on a hill. As the name suggests, these flowers and plants are surrounded by a lot of beautiful butterflies. If you reach here in the pleasant weather, you are going to get mesmerized by the huge number of butterflies. The view from the hill garden is also very enchanting adding more beauty to the experience.
Kampong Tour of Pulau Ubin
You can go back in time here to learn the interesting stories and history about old Singapore. There are only a few residents left in the island that can tell you the old stories when the place was a thriving fishing and farming village. This place is a wonderful break from your everyday routine and the digital world. You can also learn about the old cooking styles and the spices used. You can also learn about history of different sites in the island.
Teck Seng’s Place
This kampong house turned into a museum is a wonderful place to learn about the old traditions and culture of Singaporeans. The owners of the house moved to the mainland and returned the hours to the government. The house was turned into a museum and all the original furnishing was maintained. Check the Pulau Ubin information center for the viewable timings of the house.
House No 1 of Pulau Ubin
This is a Tudor-styled house which was built in 1930. After renovation in 2005, it has become one of the beautiful tourist attractions of the Pulau Ubin island. Currently, it serves as a visitor center in Chek Jawa. From the back of the house you can view the Changi Village and another island called Pulau Sekudu (Frog Island). Pulau Sekudu is uninhabited and can be visited.
Chek Jawa is a wonderful attraction in the Pulau Ubin. It is home to Singapore’s largest wildlife collection. You have to walk by foot to reach Chek Jawa. The wetlands have many mangroves and rocky shores. These shores are ideal places to see the marina life like crabs, fish, sea-stars, snails and mudskippers. You will see many plants and animals which you cannot see anywhere else in Singapore. Many of these animals live on a hill overlooking Chek Jawa. You will also find some rare species of birds and plants. Another interesting attraction is the unusual shapes of the mangroves and trees in the area. These unusual shapes are a result of high tides, sea water and soft mud.
The sandy shore of Chek Jawa is also home to different kind of birds and marine creatures. You can relax and watch these birds preying on the fish. Behind the sandy shores, there is a seagrass lagoon. This lagoon is full of seagrass and seaweed and provide shelter to marine creatures during low tides. If you visit in summer, you will see many sea cucumbers along with the seagrass. You can also be stunned by seeing beautiful, colorful and huge carpet anemones in this area. Some visitors also found squids, mantis shrimps and sea hares.
Some of the more rare and interesting sea creatures like Knobbly Sea-star can be seen in the coral rubble area. This area is a shelter to more fragile creatures as it does not expose at low tide. Some of the creatures include octopuses, seahorses, colorful sponges, fan worms and flat worms.
Kayaking among the Mangroves
You can rent a kayak and explore the wonderful island to enjoy like a true adventurer, but you must book in advance. There are some kayaking tours available with different difficulty levels, but the slots are limited. So, it is recommended to plan and book properly.
Camping in Pulau Ubin
The adventurous night under the stars is always a wonderful experience and a great refreshment for our daily busy life. There are several camping sites in the Island. You do not need a permit to camp in Pulau Ubin unless your group is not more than 40 people. Just take your necessary camping equipment and take your usual necessary precautions.
The camping sites are usually not crowdy, so you will have a very quiet experience in the natural environment. The only sounds you will be hear are of birds, animals and insects under the star filled sky. Three more famous campsites are Jelutong Campsite, Mamam Campsite and Endut Senin Campsite. All of them have their designated campfire pits. Mamam campsite has a view of sea and Malaysia in the background.
Puaka’s Hill is the highest point of the Pulau Ubin. The 74m high hill is not an easy climb but the wonderful views are worth the climb. Once you are on top, you will be amazed with the superb top views of the island, quarries, sea and Malaysia.
Quarries of Pulau Ubin
You will see the clear views of Ubin Quarry from top of Puaka’s Hill. Ubin Quarry is located in the west part of the island. Another quarry located in the west part of island is Ketam Quarry. This was the last remaining quarry which was closed in 1999 and turned into a tranquil reservoir. Balai Quarry is located on the eastern part of the island and is the nearest quarry to Chek Jawa wetlands.
Wei Tuo fa Gong Temple
Wei Tuo Fa Gong temple is an 80-year-old temple, located near the Puaka’s Hill and the Ubin Quarry. This is a multipurpose temple with shrines dedicated to different gods and religious figures from Buddha and Hindu spirits. There is also a small shrine called Na Du gong Shring, which is dedicated to Datuk Gong.
There is also a German Girl Shrine in Pulau Ubin, which is dedicated to a young German 18-year-old girl. It is believed that she was trying to escape from the British Military during the World War I and fell off a cliff. Her body was found by the plantation workers.