Nov 20, 2010

Singapore: Palau Ubin

When in Singapore everybody rushes to Sentosa Island but one offbeat item in one’s itinerary was the Palau Ubin Island. Pulau Ubin is a small island situated in the north east of Singapore, to the west of Palau Tekong. Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna – it was a fishing village 20 years back and now can be explored on foot or on bicycles.

The name Pulau Ubin literally means "Granite Island" in Malay, which explains the many abandoned granite quarries there. The word ubin is said to be a Javanese term for "squared stone". To the Malays, the island is also known as Pulau Batu Ubin, or "Granite Stone Island". The rocks on the island were used to make floor tiles in the past and were called Jubin, which was then shortened to Ubin. The island is known as chioh sua in Hokkien, which means "stone hill".

For more outdoor adventures, Pulau Ubin is a good choice. You can choose to go on a halfday trip or you can even extend it to an overnight trip! Spend a day exploring this island. You can rent a bike or hike round the island. Make sure when you arrive that you head for the police post to inform them that you are visiting the island. Pack a picnic so that you can stop anywhere for a bite. Bring insect repellent and wear light-coloured and loose attire as it can get hot and humid. Bring along your trusty umbrella too just in case the weather changes.

More infos:
Admission to the island is free. There are no opening or closing hours, but regular services only run during daylight hours. The NParks Information Kiosk is open 8.30am-5pm. Bumboats to and from Pulau Ubin, and public transport on the island operate from sunrise to sunset. You can take bus 2, 29 or 99 and drop at Changi Village. Take a boat from changi jetty. It is about 15-20mins ride and the cost is SGD2 per trip.

Photos are courtesy of Don D.

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