Singapore River Safari is one of four Wildlife Reserve Singapore Parks offering differently themed animal parks. Thereby, River Safari is themed around life in and around water. However, it is much more than a huge aquarium. Their key attraction, however, are two Giant Pandas. I visited the park on the 1st May 2019 (which is a bank holiday in Singapore, so that the park was likely more crowded than it would be in average).
Singapore River Safari – Location & Admission
While the Jurong Bird Park is currently at a different location (it will be moved, though, in the future), River Safari, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo are at the same place. They are close to the Upper Seletar Reservoir in Mandai, Northern Singapore, close to the border to Malaysia. Opening times are 10:00 to 19:00 daily.
The access to the park is rather limited. The most straightforward by public transport is a designated bus from Khatib metro station. Using this connection leads to several issues: first of all, this bus is not included in the Singapore tourist ticket for the local transport. You need to have a prepaid card to pay the 1 SGD fee. Moreover, the bus leaves roughly every 15 minutes – and as its capacity is quite limited, you may not be allowed to board the first one. Even though I did not run into this problem, my transfer from One Farrer Hotel to the zoos was more than one hour. Other bus connections followed by a metro ride even lead to longer travelling times. Thus, I recommend to do it as the locals and grab a taxi to the attractions.
As I visited the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari along the River Safari, I opted to take the four park park hopper ticket, which includes the Jurong Bird Park and costs 80 SGD (roughly 51 EUR). For another 10 SGD, you add all tram and boat rides in the parks. The adult entry to the River Safari itself is some 35 SGD.
Singapore River Safari – The Zoo
You visit Singapore River Safari in a round route, which you walk in a given direction (clockwise). There is no opportunity to shortcut – in some cases, you may skip a habitat for a quicker route. There are some “Cool Zones” to relax between the open walkways. However, most of them are covered and ventilated.
The First Areas
The first areas you pass through are dedicated to aquatic life at the Mississippi, the Congo, the Nile and the Ganges. There are some interesting animals like the Alligator Gar or Snapping Turtle. While many habitats are just open basins, the Ganges one also features a major aquarium which you only explore through the side. I struggled a bit to take pictures of all animals – so for example you miss Macaques in the Mekong River habitat in this report.
Yangtze River and Panda Bears
There are far more than just fish and turtles in this park – the Yangtze are for example features the Yangtze alligator. To me, the highlight of the park were two species, which you would not necessarily name when you think of river life at all: in a designated habitat, River Safari features both kinds of Panda Bears. It was very hard to spot the Red Panda, who was still quite sleepy. Therefore, Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the two Giant Pandas were very active and just lovely to watch.
Reservoir Cruse and Amazon Riverfront
To join the next areas, you first cross the Seletar Reservoir on a bridge. The next attraction you can take is a cruise over the lake on a boat. I expected more of that, honestly. There was very limited potential to spot wildlife other than the one of the adjacent Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
A much more impressing water right is the Amazon River Quest, which is a very modest white-water ride through animal areas. Quite a lot of animals to see in a short ride and a nice way to spot them. However, similar to my comments on the Night Safari tram ride, you sometimes just would love to stop and really watch them. You can do the ride again, of course. However, the ride is charged (one trip was included in my Plus Ticket) with 5 SGD per adult.
Squirrel Monkeys, Otters & More
After passing Tamarins and Freshwater Stingrays, the Squirrel Monkey forest was another highlight of the visit. The monkey are in an accessible habitat, which also features some Aguti.
The final section of your visit is the Amazon Flooded Forest, which is a really lovely finish of your vist. There are some large displays including eels, otters and piranhas. The definite highlight, though,were the manatees to me.
Singapore River Safari – Services
Singapore River Safari features exactly the services you may expect from an animal park: you can buy food and souvenirs at several locations. I tried the signature Panda Cappuccino close to the Panda habitat, which was quite nice. There were also some quite interesting souvenirs like reversible plush toys. Free WiFi is available in most areas of the park.
Singapore River Safari – My View
I unfortunately did not make it to the Jurong Bird Parkon that trip – but the other three Wildlife Reserve Singapore Zoos are just great. It is a huge matter of taste, but I felt that River Safari is the best of the three parks I visited. I like the general design, but of course I just fell in love to the Red and the two Giant Pandas. It is also the least hilly place, which is just a plus in the Singapore climate. The two boat rides have much higher potential, but I would still absolutely recommend to visit this place – if your schedule allows to take the long trip from city center. However, due to the weaknesses, I do not assign the five star category here.
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