Reminiscing the Kampung spirit
Back in the 70s, girls weren’t allowed to visit kelongs. It brought bad luck. But #thisis2016.
Now we can, it’s a shame most of us haven’t. Kelongs make up a big part of our history as a nation; that’s how Singapore started out – a small fishing village, aka kampung. Before fish farming, the only way to fish were through kelongs. These offshore platforms were propped up purely by stilts, and fish were guided into the enclosure through funnel-like wooden poles.
We trawled the net for fishing kelongs in and near Singapore that you can visit: here are our top picks.
1. Morelo Kelong Resort, Malaysia
Newsflash: Batam is about TWICE the size of Singapore. What that means is the land doesn’t only house Montigo Resorts. While that may be the first thing that comes to mind, there are other stunning sites in Batam and Morelo Kelong Resort is one place to witness its rugged beauty.
Within a traditional kelong setup, the resort resides in a serene cove off Riau Islands and features modern amenities, so you can sleep in utmost comfort. You’ll also be saved from any fears of Jaws here, as it’s the only place in Batam with an enclosed seawater swimming pool.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Harbourfront Centre Cruise Terminal to Batam Centre. Pick-up from Batam Centre by the resort staff.
Cost: $200/adult, $180/child – price inclusive of transport from/to Batam Centre and all meals.
Contact: +65 8226 6929 | [email protected]
2. Chia Soon Kelong, Malaysia
Chia Soon Kelong, offshore from Pasir GoGok and near Pulau Tekong, is as traditional as a kelong gets. Think cubicle rooms with curtains as doors, toilets that open straight into the sea, and freely roaming dogs. One for the adventurous souls looking for a real taste of the kampung life, don’t expect anything close to 5 star treatment.
Bear with the slight discomfort, and you’ll be rewarded with the most rustic experience. It’s one place where you can simply lay on the wooden platforms and fish in utter peace – all day long. If that bores you, the kelong also provides basic entertainment options like TV, karaoke and mahjong. Kidnap 60 friends and you can even conquer the entire kelong!
How to get there: Take an approx. 1 hour boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Tg Pengelih Jetty, before hopping onto a sampan speedboat to the kelong.
Cost: $70/adult, $55/child (min. 12 pax) – price inclusive of return bumboat ride, seafood dinner, BBQ supper, breakfast and beverages throughout your stay.
Contact: +65 6492 9203
3. Tuas Kelong 5, Malaysia
While technically within Malaysian territory, Tuas Kelong 5 situated along the Straits of Johore is practically a part of Singapore. So close, you can even pick up the signal from SingTel – with 4G data too!
Here, people come for just two things – fishing and sleeping. So don’t expect anything more. Bring your own food or simply cook your catch of the day over a fire. Come nightfall, lay out your sleeping bags on the fishing platform as you gaze at the stars in the open sky.
How to get there: Board the boat to the kelong from Pendas Jetty, which is accessible by car across Tuas Second Link.
Cost: $60/pax for an overnight stay
4. Moonbay Kelong, Batam
For those who rank exclusivity high above anything else, Moonbay Kelong in Batam – just a 15 minute land transfer from Nongsa Jetty – will be your dream kelong. With a minimum of 6 people, the whole kelong will be yours to frolick in. Throw out your rods from the kelong or, if you make prior arrangements, rent a boat to go further out for a bigger catch. You can even jump off any corner of the kelong to take a dip in the sea!
How to get there: Take a 35 minute fast ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Nongsapura Terminal in Batam. The kelong staff will meet you there. Total travelling time under an hour.
Cost: $166/adult, $143/child (1 night stay); $266/adult, $203/child (2 night stay) – price inclusive of return ferry ticket.
Contact: [email protected]
5. Labun Island Kelong, Batam
Labun Island Kelong is one of the best areas in Batam, not just to fish, but also to snorkel. Being an ulu island far out from the main island, the waters are untouched and crystal clear – signs of a perfect home for marine life. From the kelong, you’ll also be able to catch sight of beautiful coral reefs down below!
How to get there: From Harbourfront Ferry Terminal, take a ferry to Batam Centre. Then, travel by land transfer to Galang Baru jetty to hop onto a 10 minute boat ride to Labun Island.
Contact: +628 136 460 3666 | [email protected]
6. Kawal Kelong, Bintan
There’s no time to be bored at Kawal Kelong. Situated off the coast of Kawal Beach in Bintan, this kelong resort is huge with 30 rooms and a ton of activities for the restless folks. On top of the typical karaoke room and mahjong table, they have air gun shooting, banana boat rides, kayaking and even jet skis available for rental.
You can even slide into their enclosed swimming pool in the sea! Source
Run by a Singaporean couple, you know you’ll be in good hands. Almost all facilities listed are free with a stay in the kelong, so you can concentrate on relaxing while you’re here!
How to get there: Take a 2 hour ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pinang Ferry Terminal. From there, a free land transfer to the resort can be arranged.
Cost: $180/adult; $130/child; $60/additional night – price inclusive of return ferry and land transfer, as well as all meals and activities.
Contact: +65 9789 6513 | [email protected]
7. Blue Mountain Kelong
Saving the best for last, Blue Mountain Kelong nestled among islets along the Riau Archipelago, is where I’ll be headed. Here, you’ll get the traditional experience of a kampung life, amidst a landscape comparable to that of Maldives in pictures – and best still, on a budget.
And the entire kelong is made completely out of Javanese wood! With private rooms all equipped with sea-view balconies, and more than 10 free activities including a campfire on the beach and jungle trekking off the island, it’s way more than you’d expect from a kelong.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Harbourfront Centre Cruise Terminal to Batam Centre. Pick-up via land transfer and boat ride from Batam Centre by the kelong staff.
Cost: $208/adult, $168/child (1 night stay) – price inclusive of all transport and meals
Contact: +65 9384 2929 | [email protected]
If you’d like an experience without sleeping over, here are 3 fishing kelongs in Singapore’s very own backyard you can take day trips to!
8. Lim Chu Kang Jetty & Kelong, Singapore
UPDATE: This place is no longer open to the public. Trespassers will be arrested.
Source: Filbert Koung
If Lim Chu Kang rings a bell, you either live there, know of it as a place you’ll never go, or confused it with PCK Pte Ltd. But we discovered that besides being ulu, it showcases a rustic side of Singapore only too rarely trod. More than an insta-worthy jetty, it also serves as a dock for nearby fishing kelongs.
Source: Filbert Koung
Just opposite the jetty, you’ll catch sight of the rickety kelongs. While the owners prefer to remain private, ask around and you’ll surely find a friend who knows someone who can bring you in for a visit. Assuming the whole world is linked by six degrees of separation, and with Singapore so small, it’s far from impossible – and you’ll truly be livin’ the kampung spirit.
How to get there: Take bus 975 to Lim Chu Kang Ter, then walk to the very end of the road.
9. Uncle Tan’s Kelong, Singapore
Source: John Heng
There are few places in this world that make me feel right at home. And I don’t mean the idyllic cosy fireplace in fairytales. but the kind where you won’t hesitate to get seconds and feel comfortable clad in a tee and FBTs. It’s the real you free of camouflage. Uncle Tan’s Kelong, just off Pulau Ubin, comes close to being one of those second homes.
This feeling of homeliness exudes from the get-go. No website or landline, you’ll find only Uncle Tan’s mobile number. Making a reservation feels more like calling up an old friend for dinner – but at his place. Bring your own drinks, and everything from food to transport via a private boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal will be arranged for you. A+ for hospitality!
Source: Kenneth Goh
How to get there: Take a ferry from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. A round trip costs $70 per boat, and can fit a maximum of 12 pax.
Contact: +65 8356 9547 (reservation must be made at least 3 days in advance)
10. Smith Marine Floating Restaurant, Singapore
You won’t find a fresher catch than Smith Marine. Not your typical kelong, it’s the first halal kelong restaurant in Singapore and only officially opened last year. Leave your fears of unstable structures behind as this 5,000 sq ft modern kelong boasts a solid base, tiled floors and a roof over your head.
If you’d like some hands-on action, you can even have a go at it in their sure-catch pond. Your haul can be served up to the table at $35, or if you prefer showing it off to your family, you can dabao it for $15. Find out more about our verdict on Smith Marine’s seafood here!
How to get there: Take a ferry from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. A round trip costs $100 per boat, and can fit a maximum of 12pax.
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm daily, Closed on alternate Mondays Contact: +65 9792 7609 (reservation must be made at least 3 days in advance)
Fish for your favourite kelong
Kelongs aren’t just for old men to fish on armchairs all day long. This list proves it. From living the slow kampung life, to making the biggest catch among your mates, swimming in crystal clear waters, and a whole array of adventure activities, there’ll be something for everyone. Before they disappear, take your pick and let time slow down aboard your choice kelong.