Singapore is a bustling city known for its shopping districts, but that's not all it has to offer. The city-state is also home to a plethora of natural attractions, and one of these is the trifecta of Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and River Wonders, situated in the northern area of the city.
These three gems are all nestled within the same region, even sharing the same entrance gates. They are part of the Mandai Wildlife Reserves Singapore ecosystem, which also includes Jurong Bird Park. Hence, not only do they serve as popular tourist attractions, but they also function as conservation sites, preserving a diverse range of animal species.
During our recent trip to Singapore, we opted to explore River Wonders. We initially planned to visit all three sites but, due to time and financial limitations, we decided to focus on River Wonders first.
For those not familiar, River Wonders, previously known as River Safari, is a unique wildlife park where visitors can discover animals from river ecosystems worldwide, including the Nile, Amazon, Mekong, and beyond.
River Wonders, located at 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826, is not accessible via MRT or LRT lines. Therefore, the primary means of public transportation to the venue is by bus. There are three types of buses visitors can take:
My wife and I took advantage of the specialized shuttle service provided by the Mandai Wildlife Reserve. The fare is a modest SGD 1, payable using an EZ-Link or similar payment cards.
To catch this bus, you'll need to head to the Khatib MRT station (NS14), where a dedicated bus stop with a "Mandai Shuttle" signboard is located right outside the station.
The shuttle operates from 8:00 am to 11:40 pm and will drop you off at a designated stop within the River Wonders area.
SBS Transit buses numbered 138 and 927 also ply to River Wonders. Bus number 138 can be boarded from Ang Mo Kio MRT station (NS16) and Springleaf (TE4), while bus number 927 originates from Choa Chu Kang MRT station (NS4).
Both buses stop directly in front of River Wonders, which is also where you'll need to return to catch your ride back.
If you're visiting on a Saturday, Sunday, or school holiday, the Mandai Heartlands Express bus is an option. However, do note that the fare is SGD 3 for adults and SGD 1 for children.
This bus can be boarded at Heartbeat@Bedok, Sengkang MRT Station (NE16), and the Tampines Hub Coach Pick-up Point. Check the official website for a comprehensive list of pick-up locations.
During our visit, the ticket price for River Wonders was SGD 42 for adults and SGD 30 for children aged 3 - 12 years. These rates apply to foreign tourists, with special lower prices available for local visitors.
For those keen to explore Singapore Zoo and Night Safari as well, it's worth considering the bundled tickets starting from SGD 88, depending on your chosen package. These bundled tickets offer the flexibility of being used on different days, meaning you're not restricted to visit all attractions on the same day.
Upon entering River Wonders, visitors will embark on a journey along a path, with various exhibits or aquariums on either side, each themed around a particular river ecosystem.
Informative boards at each exhibit offer insights into the story of the river, while detailed descriptions in front of each aquarium introduce you to the animals within. Here are some of the highlights:
Immerse yourself in the vibrant life along the Congo River, located in Central Africa. This exhibit introduces a host of fascinating animals, including the African dwarf crocodile, Tanganyikan butterfly cichlid, and the Large spot catfish. These creatures provide a glimpse into the rich biodiversity found along this massive river.
Known as the longest river in Africa, the Nile River exhibit brings to life the aquatic creatures that dwell along its length. Among the inhabitants are the African arowana, a predatory fish with an upward-facing mouth; the ferocious African tigerfish, known for its sharp, protruding teeth; and the peculiar Giraffe catfish, so named for its long, slender form and dark patches reminiscent of a giraffe's pattern.
Delve into the spiritual and natural ecosystem of the Ganges River at this exhibit. Originating in India, the Ganges River is profoundly sacred to the Hindu community. This exhibit houses an array of species native to this river, including the Goonch catfish and the Indian gharial, a type of crocodilian.
An additional highlight of the Ganges River area is an open pond brimming with Horseshoe crabs, a species under protection due to its endangered status. Visitors are strongly cautioned not to touch these creatures, despite the open nature of the pond, to maintain safety and respect for the animal's wellbeing.
Experience the vibrancy of the Mekong River ecosystem, a waterway that meanders through numerous East and Southeast Asian nations. This exhibit features animals that call the river home, like the captivating Arowana fish, the Giant freshwater stingray, and the hefty Mekong giant catfish.
Take a journey to China with the Yangtze River exhibit. As the longest river in Asia, the Yangtze River nurtures a variety of unique species, including the Chinese softshell turtle, the ancient Chinese giant salamander, and the prehistoric sturgeon.
A star attraction of River Wonders is the Giant Panda Forest. Here, you can observe the adorable pandas, Jia Jia and Kai Kai, living in a meticulously designed habitat that mimics their natural environment, replete with lush bamboo groves.
Embodying the grandeur of the Amazon, the largest river in the world by discharge volume, the Amazon Flooded Forest is River Wonders' most expansive aquarium. This immersive exhibit houses diverse creatures like gentle manatees, fierce piranhas, and electrifying eels.
One notable feature here is the 'walk-under' aquarium teeming with playful otters, providing an ideal backdrop for photo enthusiasts, surrounded by aquatic life.
River Wonders goes beyond static exhibits, offering interactive experiences like the Amazon River Quest and Once Upon A River, designed to entertain and educate visitors of all ages.
In the Amazon River Quest, visitors embark on a simulated journey down the Amazon river. On a boat, visitors get an up-close look at a host of animals native to the Amazon, including elusive jaguars, shy tapirs, and peculiar pangolins.
This unique experience requires an additional ticket, priced at SGD 5, and offers an unparalleled opportunity to understand these creatures' natural lives.
Once Upon A River is a dynamic animal show where various species take the spotlight on a charming stage. Visitors can not only observe these animals in action but also have photo opportunities and some hands-on experiences.
The show unfolds at 11:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 4:30 pm at the Boat Plaza and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Pre-registration on the River Wonders website is necessary to secure a seat.
For those seeking sustenance during their visit, Mama Panda Kitchen, situated near the panda exhibit, offers a range of delightful dishes. A Starbucks coffee shop at the entrance serves as a pit stop for caffeine aficionados.
If you're looking to take home a piece of River Wonders, the River Wonders Shop near Starbucks offers an array of souvenirs, including t-shirts, plush toys, and other themed memorabilia.
In conclusion, River Wonders offers an array of engaging and educational experiences, making it a must-visit destination for anyone venturing to Singapore, especially for families. From a river voyage to animal encounters, it's a place where fascination meets education, enabling visitors to explore global river habitats without leaving the city-state.
The facility's primary commitment is not just to showcase a rich collection of global riverine species but also to contribute to their conservation. By doing so, River Wonders instills in visitors a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures, their habitats, and the urgent need for their protection.
So, why wait? Plan your visit to River Wonders, and prepare to embark on a global river journey without leaving the heart of Singapore. It's an experience that will both thrill and educate, leaving you with a richer appreciation of the natural world and its incredible river ecosystems.