Excursions For a Half or Whole Day
For a Half Day
Pulau Ubin: The boomerang-shaped island with just 200 inhabitants is a favourite getaway. With its thatched huts, rubber plantations, mangrove swamps and traditional fishing kelongs, Pulau Ubin – known as Stone Mountain because it is rich in granite – offers a vision of a disappeared Singapore. A number of seafood restaurants serve the staple foods of prawns, black pepper crab and lobster, all washed down with the local Tiger beer. The ten-minute boat ride from Changi Point jetty costs S$1.50 (S$2.50 with a bicycle) and ferries leave regularly 0600-2300. Visitors can charter the whole boat for S$18.
For a Whole Day
Johor Bahru: Singaporeans flock to Malaysia’s Johor Bahru – known as JB – for food, bargain shopping, golf and beaches. Situated just across the causeway, it should take less than an hour by car, but its popularity means traffic can be backlogged for three hours or more. A train journey from Singapore Railway Station could be the wiser option. With its blend of historic and modern architecture, JB’s most striking building is the Royal Bakar Mosque, whose majestic domes and minarets overlook the Straits of Johor.
Riau Islands: The Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan are a Singaporean’s doorstep getaway, with luxury resorts, fairways, beaches, duty-free shopping and delicious seafood. Ferries leave daily from the World Trade Centre and the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Main operators include Auto Batam Ferries (tel: (65) 271 4866, WTC or 542 7105, TM); Channel Holidays (tel: (65) 270 2228, WTC); Bintan Resort Ferries (tel: (65) 542 4369, TM) and Dino Shipping (tel: (65) 273 8213, TM).
Malacca: The fifteenth-century seat of the Malaya Sultanate, Malacca – a three- or four-hour drive from Singapore – was colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British in their attempts to gain control of the region and the lucrative spice trade. Its quiet demeanour belies its historical significance: Malay folk hero Hang Tuah wandered its streets, while St Francis Xavier preached on St Paul’s Hill. RMG Tours has a daily departure, at 0830, costing S$75 (concessions available) including lunch.