Sunset over jetty on Pulau Ubin island

Pulau Ubin

Almost a timewarp to the Singapore of the 1960s, the little island of Pulau Ubin is the perfect counterpoint to the city’s urban sprawl.

It’s a train, bus and bumboat ride from town — but it’s well worth the effort. Mangroves on one side, overgrown quarries-turned-lakes on the other, and virgin rainforest in between — all of it snaked through with walking and cycling paths. Singapore is famous for its green spaces, but this is it at its most uncharacteristically wild and untamed. There are even some original kampong villages, populated by people whose ancestors came with the first Malay settlers, adding to the sense that you’ve stepped back in time.

Hop off the ferry and it’s easy to get your bearings. The first thing you’ll see is the bright red temple to the God of Prosperity, where Chinese Opera performances are staged during the Hungry Ghost Festival (Aug-Sep). Whether you’re walking or cycling, there are big signboards with maps of all the routes, and plenty of bike hire shops where you can get kitted out. If you’re cycling, you can easily cover the whole island in a day, and it’s not really possible to get properly lost. Keep a lookout for pygmy pigs as you pedal along well signposted cycle paths, stop off in the middle of the island for a fresh seafood lunch, and check out the old Tudor-style holiday home that now serves as a visitor centre. Pulau Ubin is a little slice of Singapore before it became, well, Singapore.