My youngest daughter just completed her school project on the River Mekong. She taught me that no other river in the entire world has so many species of large fishes! Well if you wanted to delve into the Mekong and other rivers, you should head to the River Safari. This is the only river-themed wildlife park in Asia. As much of the attraction is outdoors, it is also one of the more ‘covid friendly’ attractions out there. Be sure to check the current advisory on group size and what shows are running etc.
So what exactly is the River Safari?
Adjacent to Singapore Zoo, this is (yes you’ve guessed it) a river themed wildlife park. It is part of Singapore’s ‘Big 4’, aka the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari, all run by Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Of the four, it’s actually my favourite. The Park is easily manageable in half a day, the ride River Quest is great fun and you get to see the pandas.
Planning Your Trip
The Park is open every day of the year. Entry is time-based, so you must purchase online and select your entry time before you visit. When booking your ticket, if you have kids tall enough (above 1.06m), book the Amazon River Quest add on. Definitely the best part of the park for my kids!
The Park is open 10am to 7pm with last entry at 6pm. You may want to plan your ticket time around the shows (see below). Typically morning time the animals are most active.
We booked an 11am ticket and we left the park around 3pm. The Park seemed pretty empty on the day we visited. Keep your eye on offers. You can currently book a 2-Park admission for $50. This allows you to visit Singapore Zoo and River Safari at $50 within 7 days.
For more ideas on what to do in Singapore, check out Viator, for discounted tickets and passes.
To keep it easy, we just hopped in a Grab taxi. Public transport can be a faff, depending on where you are coming from. At a number of MRT stations close by, they do run a shuttle. The loop shuttle service from Khatib MRT Station (NS14) to the Singapore Zoo Coach Bay is available daily.
The Mandai Express is currently suspended.
- Once Upon A River at Boat Plaza is on 11.30, 2.30 and 4.30pm. This is a very sweet show where you can see the capybaras, pelicans and beavers (all token feeding is suspended).
Due to safe distancing, there is a max capacity of 50. I would advise turning up with plenty of time as we weren’t able to get into the 11.30 show.
These shows are closed due to safe distancing measures: Keeper’s Chit Chat, Manatee Mania Wildlife Tour, River Trails and the Reservoir Cruise.
Park Set Up
The park consists of a total of 10 different ecosystems around the world, including the Nile, Ganges, Congo and Mississippi. It’s very easy to navigate with kids – much of it is covered outdoor, perfect for these Covid times.
Amazon River Quest
As mentioned, you can purchase a ticket for this online or on the day. You need to meet the minimum height requirement. This ride is joyous for all ages. Not quite the big drops of Splash Mountain but a slightly bumpy river cruise with an amazing view of the animals. We loved watching the Giant Anteater burrowing away and the squawking of the flamingoes. They now take time to clean each boat between rides. We were lucky enough that the park was so empty they let us keep riding for a second time.
Giant Panda Forest
Seeing the pandas is a highlight of the River Safari. Not only is the air con on full blast but you can see a couple of Red Pandas before Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the Giant Pandas. If you’re there on a local school holiday or weekend, there might be queues. We had the Giant Panda Forest all to ourselves. Not only that but Kai Kai was on fine form, laying on his back stuffing his face with bamboo.
However, recent events mean that only Kai Kai is in the exhibit. What is that recent event? Well, these guys just became parents. Jia Jia gave birth on the 14th of August 2021. She and her cub are currently bonding in the nursery ward.
Squirrel Monkey Forest
The Squirrel Monkey forest is a walk-in enclosure with no nets between you and the monkeys. These squirrel monkeys are the most abundant monkey species in the Amazon rainforest. they were bouncing around everywhere and provided lots of giggles for the girls. There are Rangers who ensure that there’s no monkey business!
Keep an eye on the timing if this is a highlight for you to visit. When we were there, it was closed between 1 and 4pm.
Amazon Flooded Forest
The final exhibit at the River Safari is for the most part, a large aquarium. The manatees are mesmerizing. Unfortunately, the river otters (normally darting around) were asleep.
Remember to bring your own water bottle and there are various fill-up stations throughout. For those craving a coffee before entering the park, there’s a Starbucks at the entrance.
We ate lunch at Mama Panda Kitchen by the Giant Panda Forest. You can get your ubiquitous theme park chicken nuggets and chips here.
We will always love the River Safari, especially the pandas. I think it would be fun to combine this with the Night Safari on another day to get a different view into the Parks. You may also want to check out Rainforest Lumina. This is a multimedia exprience through the Singapore Zoo at night. Although it is beautiful, we were disappointed that we didn’t get to see any animals. So for that reason, I’d recommend you stick to the Night Safari instead.
For further info, check out this more in-depth blog by Prepare Travel Plans.