Few of Singapore’s offshore islands are of any significant size, and those that exist tend to be confined to industrial or military use (Sentosa being the extravagant exception). Not so PULAU UBIN. Covering an area of ten square kilometres, it’s a pleasant anachronism offering a taste of what rural Singapore was like half a century ago, and is managed as a national park. The island warrants a half-day visit for its wetland site, Chek Jawa, and for its scattering of quaint wooden bungalows – though the scenery may underwhelm if you’ve been to kampongs in Malaysia or Indonesia.
One of the more unusual things you can do on Pulau Ubin is a cooking class in one of the island’s old houses. Run by self-styled “food sorceress”, the friendly and articulate Ruqxana Vasanwala ($130 for a half-day), they focus on a wide range of local dishes, some quite unusual. If your visit doesn’t coincide with one of her Ubin sessions (currently on the last Saturday of the month; book places at least a couple of weeks in advance), you can take advantage of regular classes at her home in Siglap, east of Katong. For schedules, a list of dishes covered in each session and to book, go to wcookerymagic.com.