Singapore 101 – 5 Best Kept Secrets of the Island
Life on a small island can easily bring on a mild case of claustrophobia. Don’t judge a country by its dimensions though, especially not if the tropical weather is playing hugely in your favor. Invest in a good daypack, a pair of funky, comfortable walking shoes and a small tent. Spoof up on your basic survival skills and sense of adventure and challenge the borders. Guaranteed, you’d be pleasantly surprised.
A few adventures to get you started :
Camping – Pulau Ubin/Pulau Hantu
Pulau Ubin is a kampung [village] about ten minutes sail by bumboat from Changi Jetty. Admission to the island is free and so is pitching your tent and spending the night. There are no cars on Pulau Ubin and renting a bicycle upon arrival is the best way to reach the island’s secluded beaches. Bumboats operate to and from Pulau Ubin from sunrise to sunset and will set you back around US$1.50. Although the Sentosa Holiday Chalets and Camp Laguna have been closed for developments and are no longer available, pitching your tent on the beaches until 7pm is still allowed. Overnight camping on Pulau Hantu, Sentosa’s Sister Island is still permitted and subject to a camping permit.
Swimming – Kusu Island
20 minutes by Ferry from Marina South Pier and for US$10, you can take a day-trip to Kusu Island. Kusu is home to a Buddhist Temple and frequented by Buddhists. Part of the island now, is equipped with tables, benches and barbeque facilities on a beautiful grass-lawn with plenty of trees facing a private bay. New bathroom facilities with running water are also available. Arrive well prepared, the island has no shops. The last ferry back to the city departs at around 4pm.
Fine city – Ice-Cold Beverages/Tiger Tour
Singapore might be a ‘fine’ city where you are fined for spitting, littering, eating and drinking on busses and chewing gum. However, if you’re non-Muslim, you are allowed to consume alcohol in public. You’re able to find a good spot at any of the rivers around the city, enjoy a couple of ice-cold beers and there are bound to be some dragon-boaters rowing by, who would welcome cheering. For US$7, go on the Tiger Beer tour and enjoy a favorite local beverage straight from the tap.
Many, small local travel agencies don’t advertise and when they do in newspapers, it’s generally in a local language. These great specials are missed out on by foreigners and tourists. Friends translate the travel section and I’ve managed to go on many of these inexpensive trips, including a 5day cruise [all inclusive], trips to bordering Johor Bahru on a Singapore City bus for less than US$1.50 and cottage accommodation for two in the sea for US$9/p sharing. Many of these specials relate to travel, meals and attractions in and around Singapore.
Free events, movies and performances
I found the local orchestra rehearsing in the Theater’s foyer and realized that performances are occasionally rehearsed at the Theatre in the open for all to enjoy. I have since kept a close eye on the local theater’s calendar and in the meantime found that movies are often screened free of charge as well.
Singaporeans might come across as reserved, they are very friendly though and asking anyone, you would get great tips on value for money meals, favorite kopitiams [coffee-shops] and bargain shopping. In my opinion, not many Singaporeans are interested in backpacking and camping as such and you’ll have to keep your eyes and ears open if adventure travel is your cup of tea!
Be sure to check out our tips for having an indie experience in Singapore.