You may not be travelling overseas this June, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still go on holiday with the family. Instead of a hotel staycation, though, why not embark on a camping adventure?
While Singapore doesn’t have massive national parks or sprawling camp grounds like in some other countries, the island does have well-maintained, designated camping areas along various parts of the coast and on Pulau Ubin. At these spots, you can enjoy cooling sea breezes, beautiful natural views, and, in some cases, recreational facilities and activities that will get your family moving and bonding in no time.
So, get your tents and sleeping bags out of storage, apply for a camping permit, and start planning your outdoor adventure now. These seven tips will point you in the right direction.
1. Pick your camping site
Sleeping “rough” under the stars may not sound appealing, but camping is a great way to connect with nature, put your survival skills to the test, and get out of your comfort zone and live simply for a few days. The experience also gives you the opportunity to bond and have fun with your loved ones and teaches your kids about teamwork and cooperation. Plus, it’s restorative because it takes you away from the stresses of city life and encourages you to unplug and enjoy your natural surroundings.
There are a number of places in Singapore where pitching a tent is allowed. East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park and West Coast Park are among the most popular. Be sure to only camp in the designated areas – Area D and Area G at East Coast Park, Area 1 and Area 3 at Pasir Ris Park, and the designated area within Area 3 at West Coast Park. Toilets and outdoor showers are conveniently located at these sites.
According to NParks, camping is also allowed at the Jelutong, Mamam and Ubin Living Lab campsites at Pulau Ubin. To get to Pulau Ubin, catch a ferry from Changi Point Ferry Terminal; the ride takes about 10 minutes and costs $3 per person each way.
You must have a camping permit in order to camp at any of these sites. Apply for one at any AXS station or online at nparks.gov.sg/activities/fun-and-recreation/camping.
2. Pack light, pack smart
Bringing only the essentials ensures a quick and fuss-free clean-up when you’re vacating the campsite.
A few extra sets of clothing should be first on your packing list. Remember to bring a thin sweater, socks, and leggings or long pants to sleep in, too, as it may get chilly during the night. Depending on what activities you have planned, you may also need to pack swim apparel and an outfit for hiking or cycling.
For a safe and comfortable trip, bring a small first-aid kit, toilet paper, drinking water, towels, a headlamp or flashlight, sunscreen, insect repellent, an umbrella, toiletries like soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, sunglasses, a hat, and a couple of folding chairs. For entertainment, pack playing cards and a couple of travel-edition board games.
Your tent should be roomy enough for everyone to sleep in comfortably. And don’t forget the sleeping bags, sleeping pads and pillows.
3. Camping-friendly activities to try
If you’re near the water, you can go night-fishing or seashell-hunting or take walks along the beach. On a clear night, stargazing is a relaxing way to pass the time.
During the day, you can hike, swim, fly kites, have a game of frisbee or volleyball, kayak, explore the surrounding area on bicycle or foot, go bird-watching (bring your binoculars for this), look for unusual flowers or plants, or get your kids to sketch or paint the scenery.
You may also want to try traditional camping games and activities, like telling scary stories and going on a scavenger hunt.
4. Protect yourself from the wildlife
It’s not uncommon to come across wild animals while outdoors. You may not be able to prevent some of these curious creatures from getting close to your campsite, but you can take precautions to ensure they don’t enter your tent, eat your food or disrupt your sleep.
For one, keep all your food and beverages stashed away, preferably in food containers or a large cooler. Don’t leave open bags lying around and make sure your tent is closed while you’re sleeping or if no-one is in it. Spray insect repellent onto exposed skin to keep mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies away.
If you do encounter a large wild animal, say, a stray dog, boar or monkey, don’t provoke it. Don’t take your eyes off it or turn your back to it, either. Bright lights and loud noises may be enough to keep them at a distance.
If you’re bringing your dog with you, make sure it’s on a leash and supervised at all times.
5. Bring a first-aid kit
You can purchase a basic first-aid kit from any pharmacy. This typically contains items like plasters in different shapes and sizes, sterile gauze pads, bandages, safety pins, antiseptic wipes, disposable gloves, and medical tape. It’s essential to know how and when to use these items, too, in case there’s an accident.
Before your trip, read up on how to treat cuts, scrapes and other simple wounds and injuries and encourage everyone you’re going camping with to do the same.
6. Be considerate of other campers
NParks has a set of terms and conditions that all campers need to follow. You will come across these when you apply for your camping permit.
Some of these include being considerate of other campers by not conducting any activities that might inconvenience them, not playing loud music, and keeping the area around your tent clean.
Additionally, keep your group size small to minimise noise, be respectful and courteous of your fellow campers, don’t litter, and leave natural areas as you found them so that others can enjoy them too.
7. Remember these general safety rules
Anything that involves fire and/or open flames, within or outside your tent, is not permitted at any time. This means no campfires and no cooking on portable stoves.
Always be aware of any risks or hazards around your tent – for instance, don’t pitch your tent right under a tree that has a broken branch, and take cover if there’s lightning.
Get to know your immediate surroundings – find out what services are nearby and where you can go if you need help in an emergency. If you have any valuables, store them in a safe place inside the tent and keep an eye on them.
Don’t let your kids wander too far away from the site by themselves; they should have an adult with them wherever they go. And if you notice anyone suspicious hanging around your campsite or tent, don’t hesitate to question them.
Finally, keep your flashlight within reach, especially at night, in case someone in your group has to use the bathroom or needs help or attention.
Don’t Miss These SAFRA Camping Events!
SAFRA Family Day Out & Family Night Camp
Look forward to craft workshops, stage programmes and a scavenger hunt. The event will be nature-inspired. One of the stage programmes will be a show-and-tell about frogs.
SAFRA Family Day Out: 17 June, 10am to 7pm
SAFRA Family Night Camp: 17 June, 6pm to 18 June, 9am
Venue: Gardens by the Bay, Supertree Grove
SAFRA Family Day Out package: $5 per family (up to five people) for SAFRA members *waived for the 1st 200 SAFRA members*, or $10 per family (up to five people) for guests
Add-on for SAFRA Family Night Camp: $160 per family (up to five people) for SAFRA members, or $200 per family (up to five people) for guests
Registration deadline: 12 June
Find out more and register at safra.sg/SFDOJun2023
BMT Kids Camp at SAFRA Yishun
Let your kids experience the Basic Military Training Children’s Edition (BMTCE), where they will learn to build ruggedness through perseverance in the outdoors. They will be put through, and learn:
- Military drills and songs
- Outdoor tent pitching and basha (canvas tarp tent) building
- Cooking in the outdoors
- Jungle navigation
- Basic self-defence techniques
When: 19 June, 8:30am to 21 June, 5pm (3D2N)
Venue: SAFRA Yishun Adventure and Sports Centre
SAFRA Adventure Club member: $243
SAFRA member: $270
Price includes: Army T-shirt, utility bag, green military canteen and Jockey Cap
Age groups: 5 and 6 years old, 7 to 12 years old
This is a children’s camp and parents will not be able to participate, however, parents are welcome to witness their children’s passing out parade at 4:30pm on 21 June.
Registration deadline: 12 June
Find out more and register at safra.sg/whats-on/bmt-kids-ys
NSmen, sign up for your complimentary 1-year SAFRA membership and enjoy discounts on dining and shopping purchases at over 2,000 merchant outlets islandwide, as well as members’ rates at more than 45 sports facilities at SAFRA clubs! What’s more, your family can enjoy the privileges too – your 1st dependent pays $10/year, and it’s free for your 2nd dependent onwards. Click here for more details.
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