I spent a couple of nights camping in Pulau Ubin as part of my 4 Day Solo Trip to Singapore. There are not many options for camping in Singapore, with a couple of places in the mainland but apparently you need to get permissions, book in advance, etc…
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So when I found out that there’s an option to camp in an island stuck in time being part of a country that is so developed I had to get there!! (btw, it’s also free!)
How to get there
To go camping in Pulau Ubin I had to take a bus to Changi Village from downtown, it’s possible to combine MRT + Bus for a faster route but as I was not in a rush I took the slowest option to see more of the city. Check out here for “cheap” hostels in Singapore.
It took me just under 90 minutes to get from the Royal Lodge Hostel to Changi Village with the bus No. 2.
Once there you walk 2min to the “ferry” terminal and take a 10min boat to the Island ($3 each way)
First impressions in Pulau Ubin
It is said of the island of Pulau Ubin to be what Singapore was in the 60’s.
Although “undeveloped”, it’s actually well prepared for visitors. There are restaurants, several bike hire places, and the size of the island is small enough to walk it pretty much completely through a number of paths. There are x3 camping sites which are free, they have toilets, fire pits and well maintained.
In House No. 1 which is now the visitor centre of the Chek Jawa Wetlands I found out that the island was ready to be developed in the early 2000’s but a local naturalists found a wide amount of biodiversity and after extensive consultation the government decided to defer the development.
Hopefully this will never happen and will be maintained in its current state so we don’t lose such an important ecosystem for our planet.
Exploring Pulau Ubin
As soon as I got off the boat and started walking, I felt in a different country already. First you just cross a very small village and then have the Jelotung Campsite nearby. The NCPP and Maman Campsites are about 3Km away each.
I headed to the Mamam Campsite as on the map it seemed to have the best location to pitch my tent, right on the opposite side of the island.
It takes 25-30min walk through a paved way with some jungle patches to arrive. I arrived at around 13:00 on a Saturday and the place was deserted so I was able to pick any spot! soon afterwards some people arrived, but we ended up being only 6 tents, of which 4 were of local people getting away from town with their families.
I befriended two of the families and two other solo travellers and prepared myself for a relaxing evening with a nice bonfire!
If you plan to cook your own meals when camping in Pulau Ubin, take a look at my easy camping food ideas post for some inspiration.
One of the things that shocked me upon arrival to the campsite was an ugly fence on the water, one of the friendly locals told me it was installed about 15 years ago to stop illegal migrations from other countries embarking in neighbouring Malaysia right in front of Pulau Ubin (my phone was actually picking up a Malaysian network) towards mainland Singapore.
I always feel a real sorrow when hearing the things some governments across all continents do to “protect” themselves from people looking for a better future.
Runing to the Chek Jawa Wetlands
On the following morning I woke up early under a cloudy dark grey sky but was feeling like going for a short run. I decided to go to the Chek Jawa Wetlands which is just about 3km away from the campsite. After just 10min it started to rain a little bit.
By the time I got to the beautiful boardwalk of the wetlands there was a magnificent storm, constant lighting a heavy rain were a fantastic shower, I love a good storm and this was not going to stop me for a bit!
MY CAMPING ESSENTIALS
I arrived to House No. 1 and learnt that to get the best view of this area is better to come in low tide.
It was not the right time of the day for me but I still loved my visit anyway! by the time I was leaving it was fun to see how surprised the staff, which were about to “open” to the public, were as when I came in running I saw them sleeping and they didn’t see or hear me because of the storm. (I’d like to know if anyone dared to go on that weather!)
When I got back to the campsite it was still raining so I decided to take a mini nap and stayed lazying reading in the tent.
I stayed chilling the rest of the day. As this was a Sunday all the locals and the other solo traveller went back to mainland and I had the place for myself, this caused the fauna to be even more curious and the monkeys and wild boars that I saw briefly on the previous day were now “invading” (that’s what they must say about me) my space to my great delight!
At one point I could count about 20 monkeys surrounding me, just looking for food and playing between them.
The wild boars were also looking for food (all night long!) and kept their distance to what was comfortable to them, they did wake me up a few times in the evening when getting closer to my tent though.
I was gladly surprised of being able to light a bonfire after the stormy morning, the day before was not easy either and a friendly guy provided some fuelled-tissue which made it easier.
After two nights camping in Pulau Ubin, early on the following day it was time to pack my stuff and head back to town, my time in Singapore was almost over and heading towards more Adventures in Malaysia.
I left the country with great memories in such a short period of time, everyone I met was very nice and I got a little bit of insights into how life is for them which is something that I’m always curious about.
If you’re looking for a weekend camping in Pulau Ubin or just a day hiking in Singapore, the Island of Pulau Ubin is definitely a great option. It has beautiful places and it’s super simply to get there from the mainland.
I hope you enjoyed and feel free to drop any comments/questions!!
If you’re looking for more ideas on where to go camping check out the rest of my camping adventures around the world!