5 Tips for a Great Experience at River Safari Singapore – Amazon River Quest Boat Ride and Jia Jia Kai Kai Panda Experience

4 May, 2014

We visited Singapore’s River Safari recently and was able to experience most of the activities e.g. taking a boat ride on the Amazon River Quest, eating the Panda buns at Mama Panda Kitchen and checking out the River Talk shows and visiting the stars of River Safari – Kai Kai and Jia Jia pandas, without queuing for too long and getting all these done by noon (and this visit was over a weekend!).

We will be sharing with you 5 tips to make your experience at River Safari Singapore a little bit more fun and enjoyable 🙂

Tip No. 1: Saving Time on Queues for Amazon River Quest Boat Ride Tickets at River Safari Singapore

The Amazon River Quest is a slow, open-top boat ride that allows visitors to meet close to 30 species of animals living along the edges of the Amazon River. Animals featured include the jaguar, Brazilian tapir and giant anteater. The boat ride lasts approximately 10 minutes.

The Amazon River Quest boat ride is available at a top-up fee of S$5 (adult) and S$3 (child between 3-12 years) in addition to River Safari admission tickets. Visitors are required to purchase boat ride tickets and book timeslots at Singapore Zoo or River Safari ticket counters.

Limited seats are available and timeslot bookings are on a first come first served basis. Fourteen timeslots are scheduled daily at 10am, 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12pm, 12.30am, 1pm, 1.30am, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm, 3.30pm, 4pm and 4.30pm. Each admission allows one timeslot booking on the day of visit only.

To save time, you should buy your River Safari tickets online at Klook – you might get tickets up to 50% discount or exclusive insider deals too!  That way, you skip the queues (as you receive your e-ticket(s) instantly via email) and you can just show the e-ticket(s) at the entrance and you will be admitted right away!

If you want to purchase boat ride tickets and book timings on the day of visit, head direct to River Safari’s visitor services booth with your e-tickets or you can also book boat ride tickets and timeslots at either the Singapore Zoo or River Safari ticket counters.  Thus, choose the shorter queue at either of the counters.

river-safari-visitor-service-center-singapore

Come early to buy your boat ride tickets and book your timeslots.  The boat ride tickets are usually sold out by noon or even earlier.  When we visited the River Safari, the Amazon River Quest boat ride was still complimentary and we arrived at 8.45am (30 minutes before River Safari’s opening time at 9am) and already most slots were taken up!

I strongly recommend you to book a timeslot around 10.30am so you can check out another River Safari activity – River Talk (at around 11am) immediately after your boat ride.  The timeslot also gives you ample time to check out Jia Jia and Kai Kai – the star attractions of River Safari before your boat ride.

amazon-river-quest-safari-complimentary-ride-singapore-queue

This map summarises what you can expect to see during the Amazon River Quest boat ride.  According to River Safari’s website, 85% of River Safari’s animal collection is designed to be viewed by visitors on foot, while the boat ride lets visitors see the other 15%.  So don’t get too stressed out if you couldn’t secure your tickets to the Amazon River Quest.

You still get to check out attractions such as the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at the Amazon Flooded Forest and the Giant Panda Forest, which can only be accessed on foot.

amazon-river-quest-river-safari-map-attraction

This is where your Amazon River Quest adventure starts!

river-safari-singapore-boat-ride

Expect to get slightly wet if you are seated in the first row!  The following picture shows some of the animals you can expect to see along the boat ride – there will be moments when the animals may retreat to a shadier, less visible spot, for e.g. on a sunny day. In addition, some species may be well camouflaged when they remain still (e.g. iguana, capybara) while others may be smaller in sizes (e.g. palm-sized monkeys such as the cotton top tamarin and emperor tamarin) – so you might not see all the animals indicated in the River Safari Amazon River Quest map above.

amazon-river-quest-boat-ride-river-safari

Tip No. 2: Skip the Queues into Giant Panda Forest to see Giant Pandas – Kai Kai and Jia Jia

The queues to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia – the star attraction of River Safari can be very very very long – i think the queue/wait can take about 1-1.5 hours if you visit them around 11.30am – 12.30pm.  When we were there around that timing, the queues to get into the Giant Panda Forest snaked all the way to the Yangtze River exhibits!  To get a sense of what I was referring to, check out the River Safari park map: http://riversafari.com.sg/assets/pdf/parkmap.pdf

Thus, I strongly recommend that you target the Giant Panda Forest as your first attraction to check out in the morning (as soon as the park opens). Just walk the way in, bypassing the other exhibits until you reach the Giant Panda Forest.  There will be no queues at all if you reach the Giant Panda Forest then.

All other exhibits along the way can wait – you can revisit them at a later time.  Although for good photo opportunities, I recommend that you take a few photos at the Mekong River exhibit area (with the huge aquarium) and take a look at the crab-eating macaque display (as this area will get very crowded later in the day).

I think there are also crowd-control measures taken during peak periods so if you visit the Giant Panda Forest early, you won’t be shooed out to make way for the huge crowds queuing outside. 🙂

Here at the Giant Panda Forest, you get to meet China’s gift to Singapore, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia. Also sharing this climate-controlled biodome are the rare red pandas (see picture below – it looks like Firefox – the browser icon :-)) and elegant golden pheasants.

river-safari-singapore-red-pandaAnother advantage of visiting the Giant Panda Forest early (right after opening time at 9am) is that you get to see Jia Jia and Kai Kai at their more active state as they feed on bamboo shoots after bamboo shoots.  Yes – that’s all you see them doing – eating and then moving to another area to eat another set of bamboo shoots!

river-safari-singapore-jia-jia-panda-attraction

Kai Kai getting really comfortable with his bamboo shoot feast! 🙂

river-safari-singapore-kai-kai-panda-attraction

Once they are done eating, they will stroll back to a huge door which I assume is back to their sleeping areas so yes – eat sleep eat sleep!  That’s why sometimes visitors only see one of the pandas because the other is resting/sleeping after a bamboo shoot feast.

jia-jia-shy-panda-river-safari-singapore

Tip No. 3: Eating (or more the case of Taking Photos of) Panda Buns at Mama Panda Kitchen

The Mama Panda Kitchen is located just outside of the gift shop of the Giant Panda Forest.  During lunchtime, it is almost impossible to find a seat here and there are very very long queues for food at this Mama Panda Kitchen – perhaps because this is the only restaurant/cafe in the River Safari.  The other food outlet – River Safari Tea House is located at the entrance.  When we visited the Mama Panda Kitchen after our visit to the Giant Panda Forest, the place is quite empty and there were no queues so if you want to check out the Panda Pau without the hassle of queuing – go to Mama Panda Kitchen at around 9 – 10am.

river-safari-singapore-mama-panda-kitchen-restaurant

The Panda Pau (or Panda Bun) comes in two flavours – Red Bean or Chocolate Custard.  The Panda Pau cost $2.90 each or $11.50 for 4 pieces.  The Panda Pau looks very good and cute – excellent for photo-taking (and in fact we spent most of the time taking numerous photos!) but taste-wise, it is not amazing.  The red bean or chocolate custard fillings is quite minimal so most of the time, you are eating the bun flour itself.

panda-buns-river-safari-mama-panda-kitchen

One of the numerous photos we took with the Panda Pau!  Another bonus of checking out the Giant Panda Forest and the Mama Panda Kitchen early is the polar bear feeding time – around 10am.  There is a glass display just outside the Mama Panda Kitchen where you can see Inuka, our locally-born polar bear swim in the cool pool during feeding time!  Inuka is part of the Zoo Frozen Tundra display – you won’t get to see the polar bear at other times in the River Safari.

river-safari-singapore-zoo-mama-panda-buns

Tip No. 4: Learning about Animals at the River Talk Presentation

At around 11am, there is a 20-minutes educational show called the River Talk where the zookeepers will bring out a few animals to introduce them to the public.  It is held at Amazon Square at 11am and 4pm daily – i think the Amazon Square is under renovation right now but it will be held around the same area – please check with River Safari staff to confirm the timing and location.

If you plan for your Amazon River Quest boat ride around 10.30am, you will come out just in time for River Talk!  You can volunteer for parts of the River Talk presentation where you get to be part of the show!

river-safari-animal-encounter-show

river-safari-singapore-animal-encounters

And of course photo opportunities with some of the River Safari animals – like the proud pelican in the picture below! 🙂

river-safari-photo-opportunity-animal-encounters

Tip No. 5: See River Safari Animals at their Most Active State during the Morning Feeding Sessions

Immediately after River Talk, the River Safari staff will proceed to do feeding sessions with animals along the trail leading to the Amazon Flooded Forest.  This is where you can check out the animals at their most active state – Makan time!  One must-see exhibit is the squirrel monkeys – you will walk among the squirrel monkeys at the Squirrel Monkey Forest.  Don’t worry about being attacked by them – they are more afraid of you than you them.  You will see them running about in all directions but come feeding time, you see them gathering around their food – this is where you get the most photography opportunities.

Check with River Safari staff for the feeding session timings – i think there are morning and afternoon sessions.

squirrel-monkey-feeding-time-river-safari-singapore

Most of the River Safari is sheltered so you are not exposed to the hot sun – but bring along insect repellants, umbrella and some snacks and water for your trip to the River Safari!

river-safari-singapore-covered-walkways

Getting to River Safari

By Public Transport: Take bus 927 from the Chua Chu Kang bus interchange (next to Chua Chu Kang MRT station) to the Zoo. The bus journey takes about 20 minutes. River Safari is located next to the Singapore Zoo. Just follow the signages to River Safari or ask Zoo staff.

For more information on getting to River Safari from city area (Orchard Road, Chinatown, Little India, Suntec) by Safari Gate or Singapore Attractions Express, refer to this: http://riversafari.com.sg/visitor-info/safari-gate.html and http://riversafari.com.sg/visitor-info/singapore-attractions-express.html

80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826
Tel: (65) 6269 3411
[email protected]

Opening Hours:
9.00am to 6.00pm daily
(Last ticket sale at 5.00pm)

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

Comments (35)

  • NattieReply

    9 June, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for your helpful tips, we are visiting this coming Wednesday

  • ManojReply

    5 October, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the tips. We will be visiting this October and hope to have a great time.

  • mayo0512Reply

    9 October, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    thanks for your tips! will surely be using this as we visit this october.
    i just have one question though, do we really need to ride the river quest or is it optional?

    also, we will be buying the promo for park hopper 3in1 (sg zoo, river safari and night safari). any comments for this combo?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      9 October, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      The Amazon River Quest Boat Ride is optional and there is an additional charge of S$5 for adults.

      The park hopper sounds good – you can check out the River Safari in the morning and then Zoo for the rest of the day before visiting Night Safari.

      Do be prepared for a long and tiring but fun day!

  • SathishReply

    17 December, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Hi, Thanks for the excellent tips.

    Do they allow infants to be carried along in those rides?

    We are planning for a trip in March with 3 kids – 2 infants and 1 child.

    The question applies not only to this, but for the other attractions in Singapore as well. Is there any restrictions in taking infants along with us?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      17 December, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Pl see guidelines for the Amazon River Quest ride: http://www.riversafari.com.sg/boat-rides/guidelines.html
      Children must be 1.06m and above to experience the boat ride.
      Children between 1.06m and 1.35m must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
      Guest must be able to transfer onto the boat unaided.

      These guidelines are quite typical of rides in other attractions

  • Ann BenwickReply

    17 January, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much for such great tips. We’re really taking it into consideration. My question though, do you think we would be getting the most out of the 4 in 1 park hopper deal if we do that all in 1 day? Will we be able to see all or is that too pressed for time? I’m a single mom travelling with my 18 year old daughter and her 3 siblings who are under 12. Or would it be better to choose the 3 in 1 which would be the SG Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari? What do you think is more worthwhile? Thank you so much in advance for your time.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      17 January, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Hi ann. I don’t recommend 4 in 1 park hopper as you wont have time to see all 4. While 3 of the parks – zoo, river safari, night safari are located together, jurong bird park is located about 20 minutes away by car. Even if you choose the 3 in 1, the children (under 12) might be exhausted from the whole day out – Singapore is also very hot and humid. I suggest Singapore Zoo (or River Safari) and then Night Safari in the evening.

  • Ann BenwickReply

    18 January, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Thank you! That helped me in planning our day a lot. I appreciate it.

  • srinidtaReply

    23 April, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for your tips. I heeded all of them and had a wonderful time at River Safari with no crowd to battle! 🙂

  • Great Deals of Up to 50% off in Quality-Assured Unique Travel Experiences with Klook | Singapore Travel BlogReply

    27 June, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    […] I did a quick comparison of Klook’s prices for a few Singapore and Hong Kong attractions like River Safari, Universal Studios Singapore, Gardens by the Bay, Disneyland Hong Kong and the prices are […]

  • TaniaReply

    25 August, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Hi..thank you so much for your tips.. I definitely follow your advice.. Got pics with Panda at no hassle.. Easy walk in and out!!..thanks again

  • IshitaReply

    28 August, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Hi,
    Me and my husband have taken a combined pass for the Zoo and River safari
    which of them should we visit first in the day we are planning to reach as soon as they open.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      29 August, 2015 at 7:50 am

      go for the river safari – check out the pandas early before the queue starts to get very long

  • AbhishekReply

    27 February, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Hi
    Need help.

    1. My son is 96 cm in height. Will he be able to do river safari. We are 7 adults
    2. As per blog, this is what I am planning.

    A. First thing, get to the pandas
    B. Then safari
    C. Then amazon quest

    Want to know how much time it will take. I plan to do zoo after that.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      29 February, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Children must be at least 1.06m to take the ride for Amazon Quest. Yes – get to the pandas first and then go to Amazon Quest – this will take about 1.5 to 2 hours. then take your time to walk around the river safari

  • Moutushi GhoshdeysarkarReply

    6 March, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks a bunch for the detailed information. Planning to visit in May 2016.

  • SaraReply

    26 May, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Hi,

    Very usefull.

    I ‘m planning to go on July 2016.
    Would you advise suitable time for safari river cruise? It is the same time with amazon river quest?

    Thanks

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      28 May, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      safari river cruise is exactly the same as amazon river quest. i had recommended 10.30 am but timings could have changed since I went there last year.

  • Marjorie SanchezReply

    31 May, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Hi,

    We are planning to visit River Safari this July 2016. But since we’re arriving probably 12 noon in the safari, do you think we can still see the Giant Pandas and enjoy the whole tour? Appreciate your tips.

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Marj

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      31 May, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      expect some queues for the giant panda – 4-5 hours is still enough to see the whole of the river safari. if the Q to see the panda is long, then visit other exhibits and do the boat ride and see other shows first.

  • hinaReply

    25 August, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Hi. Thankyou so much. this definately helped. Also, River safari takes how much time approximately? if I got for thre 10:30 am slot, I get free by?

  • GkReply

    20 September, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Hi…
    i will be travelling with my wife and 2 kids(2yrs and 7yrs).
    so what is your suggested itinerary?
    For river safari.. we can take infant along?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      8 October, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Same suggested itinerary = – go see the pandas first and follow the rest of my suggestions. I think you cannot carry infant for river cruise – please check with river safari directly.

  • Chirag ModhReply

    15 October, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Hi,
    I will be traveling with my wife and 2 kids( 7yrs and 1yrs) in last week of Oct. We will be reach river safari by14:00 on first day. Can I visit river safari and Night safari same day. Will it be tired experience

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      16 October, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      you can visit both safaris in the same day. But your 1 year old will be quite tired. Bring a comfortable stroller for him to take a nap in between the river safari and night safari trip

  • ShamReply

    28 October, 2016 at 3:51 am

    How long does the river safari last and is it worth it to just visit there only to do the river safari?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      29 October, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      You can complete exploring river safari in half a day. whether it is worth it, depends on what you want to see. If you are referring to just the river cruise part, then not worth it as you will find it hard to see the animals during the cruise as they are sleeping or hiding in the day. But the park is worth visiting.

  • SheeraReply

    16 January, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Hi, thank you for your tips! I have one question. Is there any problem with the tickets that you bought through klook? I’m just afraid that the tickets cannot be used later as I’m the one who is being responsible to purchase the tickets for my friends and I.

  • KrunalReply

    11 March, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    How much time does the it take to complete the River Safari Visit. Including all the activities done.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      11 March, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      half a day – from morning to lunch time

  • RashmyReply

    14 March, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Hi, thank you for all your tips.. I am travelling in April 18 to 23 with my 58 yr old mom and kid s (11 and 9 yrs). Do you think I can do the zoo and the river safari on the same day? If yes, which one do u suggest we do first?

    Thanks,
    Rashmy

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      15 March, 2017 at 6:06 am

      do the river safari in the morning. the zoo can be done in the afternoon but it will be a long day for the family so plan for a few breaks in between

  • See Wan HongReply

    25 May, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I plan to bring my motorised scooter as I cannot walk long distances. Can I go for the River Safari with my scooter?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      25 May, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Can I bring in any form of recreational transportation (such as skate-scooters, in-line skates, roller-blades, bicycles, tricycles and pull-trolleys) into the park?
      We regret that all forms of recreational transportation (including all the above examples) are prohibited as they may cause a hindrance to or compromise the safety of other guests in the park.

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