Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Camping at Pulau Ubin

This is the longest stretch i have been in Singapore in the last year or so - six consecutive weekends !! There was a pumping desire to get out and Pulau Ubin seemed a very good prospect for a weekend getaway.

Pulau Ubin is a small island on the border of Singapore and Malaysia and is part of Singapore. It is 'unspoilt' in the words of a Singaporean... You can rent bicycles at throwaway prices (<$10 per day - depending on the type of bike) and explore the entire island on a day trip from Singapore. The trails are neatly marked and well maintained.

My camping gear was lying idle for a long time and i wanted to put them to use. So, I decided to pitch up my tent at Ubin.

There are 3 camping sites on the island:

Jelutong Campsite: This campsite is the nearest to Ubin Jetty - less than 10 mins walk from the entrance. This was crowded when i reached. I presume that must be true irrespective of the day you go. But, I heard that the coastline is pretty long at this campsite and can accommodate quite a few tents.
<< Added Later: I went camping once more and found this campsite empty - Guess you can't predict >>

Noordin Campsite: 3+ Kms from the entrance. This is towards the farthest end of Ubin and gives a view of Johor straits. Not as busy - but then space is limited too because of the international border cutting through the coastline. The coast is not wide too so that adds on to the space constraint. I would say it can hold 10 tents max..

Maman Campsite: This is just less than 3 kms from the entrance. I did not have a chance to visit this. I would assume this is not as crowded as Jelutong.

It was 530 PM by the time i stepped in Ubin. Went straight to the Police check post to register - Registration is compulsory for all campers. You don't have to de-register - you give all the details just once. Day hikers/bikers need not register.

I went straight to Jelutong and found a bunch of tents pitched up. The last thing i wanted was a party night at Ubin. It was 545 PM and the sun was coming down. I had an hour or so before sunset. I knew i would not be able to check both Noordin and Maman without walking in the dark. I have had some bad experiences pitching up tents in the dark and hence wanted to avoid that. I decided that i would camp at Noordin irrespective of the state of the campsite.

Reached Noordin around 615 PM and found an extended family having a fishing weekend. I walked towards the end to find a spot that is a little peaceful. That's when I met Raman, the head of that family. He was a very nice guy - mix of Singapore/Malaysia (the name sounds Indian though!). Apparently, he was a regular visitor of Ubin. He warned me of the high tide that night. He recommended me to pitch my tent as far as possible from the shore - I did just that, pitched it right next to the railings beyond which there was a forest.

I finished my dinner and was sleeping when i was suddenly woken up by the sound of waves. It was close to midnight and the sea was swelling. At about 1245 AM, water was less than half a meter away from my tent. One big wave and my tent would have been under water. It was not life threatening but the thought of sleeping in a wet tent reminds me of that scary night at Colorado (The Colorado hike)

But then, Raman had pointed out precisely the area until which waves might reach - he was bang on. Because, i pitched my tent about a meter away from his 'line' and escaped the scare...

The next morning, i headed straight back to Singapore to get back to the Monday-Friday grind.

End of a really short and sweet weekend outing...



  • There is no immigration/customs as Ubin is a part of Singapore. Your bags are scanned on your return.
  • Singapore citizens/Long term pass holders: You don't need your passport. Just your IC should suffice. 
  • If you are a visitor to Singapore, it is advisable to carry your passport

How to get there?

By public transit

Reach Tanah Merah MRT (Singapore)
Take bus No 2 (Bus no 2 runs in both directions - make sure you take the bus that has the last stop as 'Changi Village bus terminal'
Get down at Changi Village bus terminal (last stop of bus no. 2)
Changi point ferry terminal is a couple of minutes walk from the bus terminal
Take the ferry to Pulau Ubin (S$2.5 per person flat fare unless you charter the whole boat for S$30)

By Car/Taxi
Make sure you reach the correct ferry terminal - there are 3 more ferry terminals in the same region. Mention Changi point ferry terminal or Changi village bus terminal to the taxi driver

Pics and Video blog

Changi point ferry terminal

Right at the entrance of Ubin

Chinese festival at Ubin

My MSR hubba hubba tent overlooking international border

Noordin Campsite
Raman shows me a Stingray

Video blog