Guide To Coney Island
Coney Island is located on an actual island off Punggol, in the most North Eastern part of Singapore. So unless LRT stations like "Samudera" and "Nibong" sound familiar to you, it's going to take some time to get here. That's why if you're coming all the way here, you might as well explore the Punggol area at the same time. Otherwise, you'll end up spending more time traveling than seeing Coney Island.
Punggol is a gem of a neighbourhood full of photogenic locations that can fill up your instagram feed for weeks. And many of Punggol's attractions lie on the coast of Punggol, near Coney Island. Visiting Coney Island without visiting Punggol is like buying a Happy Meal just for the toy. You'll feel hungry and your parents will scold you. But of course, Coney Island is still the main attraction.
Coney Island's charm is in how undeveloped it is. It's full of skinny tall trees that look more fitting in a Japanese anime than in Singapore. If you're lucky, you'll get to see chickens, otters, monkeys and even a cow roaming in the wild. The island is super huge so don't be too disappointed if you don't see them. You'll still have lots of fun exploring one of the most scenic cycling routes in Singapore.
Coney Island - Important Things To Know
Coney island is meant to be undeveloped so it's just trees and some wildlife here and there. That also means you won't find any toilets or water fountains. It's meant to be that way. Though it would have been nice to see a ranger first-aid station or something but there's really nothing here but basic shelters and sandflies. There aren't any lights too so you must get out by dark. The only toilet on the island is ridiculously located at the East entrance, 2.4km away from the West entrance. That means if you plan to head to the East entrance and back, it'll be about 5km and take you roughly 3 hours by foot.
Although there are officially two entrances to Coney island, in practicality, there's really just one. Because nobody goes through the East entrance. And if you exit through the East entrance of Coney Island by foot, you'll have to walk another 15 mins before you end up on a long ulu stretch of road in Pasir Ris and that's another 30 mins walk to civilisation. It's so ulu, GrabTaxi drivers will avoid picking you up even if your note to driver is "will pay $10 extra". Here are some final tips:
- Rent a bike or you will be filled with regret and pee, with no toilet in sight.
- Avoid the beaches - it is full sandflies and people standing too near to each other.
- Bring lots of water.
- Use the toilet near Punggol Settlement before entering Coney Island.
- Coney Island closes at 7pm and it will become completely dark. Get out before then!
Here's our guide to everything you need to see, do and know about Coney Island and the surrounding Punggol attractions.
1. Take #OOTDs at Punggol Ranch Resort
There's only one bus that goes to Coney Island from Punggol MRT and that's bus 84. Once you alight, you'll notice these super iconic hotel rooms from Punggol Ranch Resort. The good news is you don't have to stay here to be taking pictures. And it's along the way to Punggol Stables, which is located all the way at the end. Spend 20 mins here before heading to Coney Island, it will be time well spent.
2. Ride a horse for $10
An absolute must do is the ($10) horse ride at Punggol Stables. It lasts for around 10 minutes. It's also fun to feed the horses and you can buy carrots from the counter inside the shop. We noticed our horse aggroing a bit so we gave it carrots and it calmed down.
Address: 900 Punggol Road, Singapore 829168
Contact: 6690 0900
3. Eat the famous Sembawang White Bee Hoon
If there isn't a crazy queue, nomnom on the Sembawang "White Bee Hoon" ($6, $10, $15) at Punggol Settlement. The dish is what you'd imagine hor fan and hokkien mee would be like if they had a baby. It will be the most delicious thing you put in your mouth. The White Restaurant is super value for money but their queues are crazy - it was a 2 hour wait at 5pm when we went there on a weekend.
Tip: If the queue is too long you can opt to 'dao bao' and eat it hobo-style somewhere else. Maybe at the turtle pond. If you're looking for something else, level 2 has more affordable options than the seafood restaurants you see on the ground level. We hear the nasi goreng up there is good.
4. Rent a hipster bicycle!
It doesn't matter that your hipster bike lacks the full range of gears for rugged terrain. Rent it because Instagram. You can get these bikes either from the bike shop at Punggol Settlement or at "Go Cycling" which can be seen from the main Punggol End road. Rent it for 2 hours ($8) then head to the West entrance of Coney Island, a 2 minute bicycle ride away.
We cycled past lots of folks on Coney Island trudging along because they didn't know they had to walk for 3 hours. Newsflash: the island is 45 hectares in size - that's about 45 football fields put together. Some walkers were dehydrated, others were curled up in balls and crying and some played candy crush on their phone while pretending to look busy. Remember to use the toilet before entering Coney Island!
5. Plan your cycling route
It's decision making time! When you reach the East entrance, you can either turn back (Route A) or cycle through (Route B).
Route A: (2 hours+)
With this option you don't go all the way through Coney Island. Turn back at beach C or D. Once you've reached that point you've seen all of Coney Island. You can slowly take your time to explore Coney Island. If you started out taking the main path, you can cycle along the coast and inner paths on your way back.
Route B: (3 hours+)
With this option you cycle through Coney Island and out the East entrance which will land you in Pasir Ris. Yes, that was the day I learned Punggol was next to Pasir Ris.
Old directions: Go straight then turn right when you hit the main road and cycle through that long ulu road (above) till you see the Lorong Halus Wetland sign.Turn right again and cycle all the way down and you'll reach the Wetlands.
New directions: A reader alerted us on a more efficient cycling route. There's actually a short-cut to the Lorong Halus Wetlands on the right the moment you exit Coney Island. Look out for it because it isn't so obvious. Take the path highlighted as the dotted line in the map and you'll get to cycle along the river and reach Lorong Halus much quicker. You'll find more Instagram opportunities at the Wetlands and a much needed water cooler.
Finally, go over sunrise bridge (above) and that will take you back to Punggol with about half an hour of cycling, via Punggol park. Congrats, you've just completed your first DIY cycling route in Singapore! Route A is a subset of Route B. And this list is arranged in order of the activities you can do while taking Route B.
6. Take a wefie at the entrance of Coney Island
The East and West entrance looks exactly the same. So if you're going for route B and some guy keeps walking into your photo, head over to the East gate to take a picture. And now on to the Coney Island guide!
7. Check out the boardwalks
Following these paths will lead you to the edges of Coney Island.
8. Photo hunt at the bird shelters
I didn't see any birds, but if you're good at spotting them you should be able to. I heard lots of chirping so they really are there.
9. Pose infront of Japanese looking trees
I never thought I'll see these trees in Singapore.
10. Find the mysterious Haw Par Villa
The brothers who started the Tiger Balm empire were like the Tony Stark twins of Singapore. Except that they were born in the 1880s. To imagine how eccentric they were, just look at Haw Par Villa which they built for funsies. They actually bought Coney Island and it was for a time called Haw Par Island. And they built a magnificent villa there in 1937. Sadly, it felt into neglect after being damaged during the Japanese Occupation, like most of their properties.
Today, the 80 year old villa still remains. It is fenced up and structurally unsound. If you have to visit it, Nparks warns that "Members of the public should not to attempt to visit the villa on their own, as it is situated within a mangrove area that is subject to rising of tides. ". So we strongly discourage you from visiting it too, unless you're prepared to assume all responsibility.
The best way to find it is by heading to Beach B and looking for this sign.
It'll then lead you there. Alternatively, you can follow them on one of their guided tours which makes a stop at the villa. Note that registration for the Npark tours are already full for 2015.
11. Find the Coney Island cow
Update: Unfortunately, as of 23rd October, the Coney Cow has passed away.
This Brahman bull has roamed Coney Island for many years. I didn't manage to find the bull, but blogger hpility did! He found it 50m of the main cycling path, roaming around the lalangs. It's shy and gentle, just don't try riding it like a horse and you should be good. We recommend following Npark's advice - stay calm and walk away slowly. Do not feed it or use flash photography.
Fun-fact: The cow is under the care of NParks so it undergoes regular veterinary check-ups every six months!
12. Go relic hunting
I do not want to know how long that chair has been there.
13. Find the secret beach
The secret Coney Island beach
The official beaches demarcated as Beach A-D by Nparks are not beaches at all. They're even smaller than our HDB flats. So here's a picture of a real beach at Coney Island. Not going to tell you where this is and spoil the fun. See if you can find this secret stretch of beach yourself!
That's the entire official 'Beach D' in the picture!
14. Find the lalang fields
The above picture was taken at the lalang fields near Beach D. It's the least crowded of the beaches as it's the longest walk in from the main cycling path. If you have to visit an official beach, make it this one.
15. Find a dragonfly
It's not everyday you get to see this in Singapore. Coney island is home to over 80 species of birds and have some plants that are extinct on mainland Singapore. Nature photographers will have an amazing time here.
16. Find the tree stumps and stepping stones
17. Make it to the East entrance
Over here you'll find the most sought after attraction in Coney Island, the toilet. For those doing route A, here is where you turn back. For those on Route B, look out for the cycling path on the right when you exit the East entrance and it will tale you straight to Lorong Halus.
18. Explore Lorong Halus Wetland
You'll have to cycle for about 10 minutes from the East entrance before reaching Lorong Halus. We saw someone taking her graduation photos here, so this place has to be photogenic. It's also where you'll find an all-important water-cooler.
19. Take pictures all the way back to Punggol
Cycling through the photogenic sunrise bridge takes you from Lorong Halus Wetlands back to Punggol.
If you'll like to extend your cycling session, you can head down to the beautiful Punggol Waterway park and find the remains of the Instagram tree along Punggol Waterway Park.R.I.P Instagram tree and damn you lightning!
We were exhausted so we headed straight back through Punggol Point Park. You'll find plenty of photo opportunities on the way back to Punggol Settlement.
20. Visit the Ice-cream uncle
Joy in your mouth for $1. He can be found near the last Punggol End bus-stop.
21. Visit the turtle pond at Punggol Settlement
Just don't try feeding this little cutey with your fingers. Turtles bite and don't let go.
Visiting Coney Island
If you're well prepared, Coney island makes for a super fun day out dating, cycling, exploring or if you're looking to do something different in Singapore with your friends. Remember to wear comfortable clothing, bring lots of water and rent a bike. Wish print media could have educated people more other than just saying it was open. A lot of people had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
If you found this guide helpful, do comment and share it with your friends! Hope you guys have a great time at Coney Island! You can find more pictures in our Facebook gallery over here.
Getting to Coney Island
Opening hours: 7am to 7pm.
Directions to Coney Island:
Bus: Take bus 84 from Punggol MRT to Punggol Rd End.
Taxi: Tell the taxi driver to stop at Punggol Settlement at the end of Punggol Rd. You'll see the iconic Punggol Ranch Resort on the way.