Camping in Singapore
So you’re looking for another destination for a weekend getaway, but prices are cray expensive. Well, it’s time to consider camping in our own backyard! While most of us stopped our tent adventures at OBS, camping is still a cheap and fun getaway option.
Roast marshmallows over a campfire, share stories about your greatest fears, and build - or at least try to build - your tents. With camping no longer permitted at Changi Beach Park, Noordin Beach in Pulau Ubin, and Sisters' Islands, you're only legally allowed to camp at 5 places in Singapore. Here's a guide to them all!
1. Pitch a tent on Pulau Hantu Besar - The private island
For hardcore campers who want to rough it out like Bear Grylls, Pulau Hantu is as wild as Singapore gets. You’ll really be on your own here, without 7-11s or the backup plan to Uber home. Pulau Hantu translates as "Ghost Island" in Malay, and legend has it that Pulau Hantu was born so spirits of two great warriors of the sea could live on. Be warned, faint-hearted souls.
We visited the gorgeous private beach at Lazarus Island - which sadly doesn’t permit camping - and Pulau Hantu takes exclusivity a step further. The 13-acre island will be all yours come nightfall. To reward you for your guts, you’ll be treated with unbeatable zen, a private white sand beach and snorkelling in the reefs.
You have to obtain a camping permit at least 7 working days in advance by contacting the Southern Islands Management (email@example.com) with your name, contact number, camping dates, and number of campers.
Getting there: No regular ferry service is available, but you can hire a private boat at West Coast Pier or Marina South Pier. Costs vary, but is approximately $40/pax for a minimum of 10 pax.
Note: Overnight camping will not be available at Pulau Hantu Besar from Sep 2016 to Dec 2016.
2. East Coast Park - Gotta watch the skies from dusk to dawn
Every Singaporean has been to East Coast Park, but few have seen its beauty from dusk till dawn. A home away from home, camp here if you’re looking for the best of both worlds between comfort and adventure. You’ll be fully equipped with barbecue pits, *clean* toilets, and even trusty old Macs for when the pit gets taken over by noob chefs!
Activities at ECP will keep everyone entertained with sandcastle building, in-line skating, prawning and watersports like surfing and kayaking available. It’s also your last chance to see the Big Splash before it disappears for good in October.
Get a permit to camp here - in areas D and G of the park - by applying online or at an AXS machine when you arrive. You can also book bbq pits online at $16 or $20 a pit. Read on for life-saving tips on the application process and things you die die must bring!
Getting there: Nearest MRT Bedok Station
3. Pasir Ris Park - To tick off #Couplegoals
#Couplegoals isn’t complete without a romantic night under the stars. Pasir Ris Park is the perfect choice for camping on the quieter side of the island, yet fuss-free with all the modern facilities you need. Chill in the tent as you watch planes fly past and stay up all night talking about your dreams.
When the day breaks, you can explore a 6-hectare mangrove trail, get lost in a maze garden, learn stand-up paddle boarding, or go for a pony ride at Gallop Stable. This will surely be a special date that you’ll look back on with fond memories when you grow old.
Likewise, you need to apply for a camping permit online or at an AXS machine at the park. Camping is permitted in areas 1 & 3 right beside the waterfront. While most things are available at your "campsite", for first-time campers, be sure to read our 1st-hand tips below.
Getting there: Nearest MRT Pasir Ris Station
4. West Coast Park - The king of playgrounds
West Coast Park is the play haven. Not just for young kids, but for everyone who’s a child at heart. There are 7 massive play areas - from a flying fox installation to a spiderweb maze, and even a ninja obstacle course. Right beside it, you’ll even find a giant lawn where you can run freely and let your worries be set free on a kite.
Area 3 is the heart of the park where all the main attractions are, and that’s where you can pitch your tents after applying online. Have a taste of the wild and admire the stars, but still have all the necessities of the 21st century life. With 7-11 closeby, bbq pits - reserve them for just $20 here - and supper options right across the highway, WCP is the epitome of 1st world camping.
Getting there: Nearest MRT Clementi Station
5. Pulau Ubin - Journey into the kampung life
There’s no camping without getting out of your comfort zone - apart from glamping, that is. And an overnight stay in a tent on Pulau Ubin is sure to keep you on your feet, as you’ll have to keep a lookout the rare wild boars... among other things.
A 10-minute bumboat ride away, you’ll feel like you jumped into Back to the Future - SG version. It’s the last real kampung in Singapore, where less than 100 villagers still live the idyllic life of the 60s under old wooden roofs. Staying overnight means you have time to ride up granite hills, explore Chek Jawa and its mirror-like tide pools, and immerse yourself in the rustic village. Just be sure to check the tides!
You can make Jelutong or Maman Beach your home for the night. If you’re new to camping, choose Jelutong as it’s right next to Ubin town and even has facilities for a campfire. While toilet facilities are available, the water isn’t suitable for drinking or bathing. So remember to pack dry shampoo and talcum powder!
No permits are required, but campers are advised to inform the officers at Pulau Ubin Police Post on the day they’re camping. You can also be briefed on camping do’s and don’ts at Nparks Info Kiosk at Ubin Jetty. For more information, call the Info Kiosk at +65 6542 4108.
Getting there: Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Ubin Jetty ($2 per trip).
Life-saving tips for your camping adventure
We might be a small city, but there’s still a ton of places we can go to escape and have little adventures. Remember there’s life beyond the web and many wonders of nature for us to explore a short journey away - we just need to pick a spot and get packing.
Of course, you don’t want to get psyched up for a camping trip only to realise that you forgot to bring the most important thing - tents. Here, we give you the low-down on all the things you need to know about camping, from applying for permits to other life-saving tips!
1. East Coast Park, West Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park - Campers above 16 years old with a valid residential address in Singapore can apply for a permit online or from any AXS station. Display the permit outside the tent at all times!
2. Pulau Ubin - A camping permit is not required, but you’re strongly advised to inform the officers at Pulau Ubin Police Post upon your arrival. However, if your group exceeds 20 people, write to NParks_Public_Affairs@nparks.gov.sg in case there are other large groups of campers on-site at the same time.
3. Pulau Hantu Besar - Apply for a permit by contacting the Southern Islands Management (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, contact number, camping dates, and number of campers.
4. These are the only places in Singapore where outdoor camping is allowed. Do note that camping is no longer permitted at Changi Beach Park, Noordin Beach in Pulau Ubin and Sisters’ Islands.
Things to bring
1. Tents. From the most basic ones to things that look more like sheds, make sure they can survive both wind and rain. Scan your surroundings before setting up your tent - watch out for rat holes! Buy a tent from only $29.90 at Decathlon if you don’t already have one.
2. Sleeping bag. Invest in an airbed or inflatable pillow for utmost comfort.
3. Lots of water and drinks. To stay hydrated. Coconut water, like the 1L packs from Coco Life, will be useful as coconut water hydrates better than water.
4. Torch light/battery-powered lamps + extra batteries. They’ll be useful as lights that you can hang inside your tent.
5. Head lamp. It’s a lifesaver for pitching tents in complete darkness. We got ours on sale at under $5 from Decathlon - no need for anything fancy here.
6. Dry shampoo and talcum powder. In case you won’t be able to shower.
7. A portable charger for phone addicts. Please don’t bring a flat one.
8. Mess tins, solid fuel and disposable cutlery for cooking. For a full camping experience. Don’t use two solid fuels in one as the fire will be too strong. To replace, just put it above the old solid fuel and they will mesh together.
9. Food. Hungry campers are the worst. Pack simple fare like bread and spread, or level up your chef game like we did. We combined instant noodles with sausages and baked beans for our own easy-to-make Korean army stew!
10. Trash bags. Clean up after you cook, especially in the islands, or deal with stray dogs nosing around your tent for food in the middle of the night.
11. Tons of tissue paper and wet tissue. They ALWAYS come in handy, especially if toilets are unavailable or unclean.
12. Ziploc bags. Waterproof all your valuables at night in case it rains.
13. A jacket. It can get cold at night.
14. Swiss knife. Great for just about everything.
15. Mosquito coils/insect repellent. You don’t want to get bitten by sandflies or get Zika!
Stay cool with Coco Life
Besides forgetting your tent which will be your home for the night, the last thing you’d want while camping is to be short on water. And carrying a gallon of water isn’t exactly an option when your bag’s going to be filled with a scroll of things to bring.
Instead, bring a few packs of Coco Life, made from 100% coconut water. They come in 330ml and 1L packets, perfect for whichever need you have. It contains natural electrolytes to supercharge your hydration levels on-the-go, and a sip of this will put water to shame. Grab one for your next camping adventure!
This post was brought to you by Coco Life.