Ever wonder what Singapore looked like in the 1960s? You can find out by exploring Pulau Ubin, an island northeast of the mainland.
It is one of the country's last kampungs and arguably has the most authentic old-Singapore vibe compared to other kampungs.
Local visitors have been coming to the island for many years, but it is only recently that the government has started to seriously develop it as a tourist destination.
Ride a boat from Changi
Reaching the island requires you to take a 5-minute boat ride from the Changi ferry terminal, which costs S$2.50 per one-way trip. The boat will wait until it reaches full capacity (12 passengers) before departing.
Lodging is very limited once you've crossed over and day trip should be sufficient. We would recommend you to stay at the Village Hotel Changi, as its offers an interesting Ubin Adventure package.
Where to start
From the harbour of Pulau Ubin, visit the information centre close to the jetty before exploring the island to learn about the island's history and all the exotic animals that can be found there.
Turn left toward the west from the jetty to get to the tourist hub - also known as the town - where you can find bike rentals, provision shops and restaurants. The hub is mostly residential homes that have been turned into shops.
How to get around
There are three ways to explore Pulau Ubin: walking around, renting a bike, or taxi. Exploring the island on foot is best when you allocate the whole day - or three hours at least - to walk around.
When you bring along a tour guide, walking would be the most appropriate way to explore. We recommend first time visitors bring a tour guide with you as there is plenty to be learned from this island.
Renting a bike costs S$2.00 per hour. You can also opt to rent a bike for an entire day. Riding a bike can get you around faster and is perfect for returning visitors.
Experience authentic Singapore
Despite being located relatively close to the mainland of Singapore, visiting Pulau Ubin is like on a trip back in time. Most of the land is still a lush green forest and many of the houses are remnants of old architecture.
Until a couple of years ago, residents of the island still relied on diesel generators for electricity as setting up a power cable from the mainland was deemed too costly. However, residents of Pulau Ubin are now enjoying cutting-edge technology as their energy is now supplied by solar-powered micro-grid and biodiesel, courtesy of Energy Market Authority and a consortium of companies.
What the island used to be
Pulau Ubin literally translates as an island of granite because, decades ago, the island was the country's source for granite. The quarries have stopped operating now, leaving large lakes where they used to operate.
You can also examine the mangrove forest close to the centre of the island. There is an old stone-based waterway used by the fishermen back then to farm fish. They used to drain the mangrove lake and collect the fish. What to see
From the jetty, head east to the sensory trail and mangrove forest. Go further out to the east to find the Chek Jawa wetlands, which is an interesting shallow sea shore filled with lively ecosystem.
The northern area is where the campsite is located for those looking to camp on the island. You can also walk through a kilometer-long boardwalk that ends at Chek Jawa.
To the west, you can bring your bike to test out the 8-km long course at Ketam mountain bike park. On your way there, don't miss out on Puaka Hill, which provides a nice overview of Ubin quarry's lake.
The wildlife ecosystem is also an interesting feature of the island. During certain times, rare migrating bird species can be found stopping by the island.