5 Tips for a Great Experience at River Safari Singapore – Amazon River Quest Boat Ride and Jia Jia Kai Kai Panda Experience4 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.
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.
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.
This is where your Amazon River Quest adventure starts!
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.
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.
Another 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!
Kai Kai getting really comfortable with his bamboo shoot feast! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
And of course photo opportunities with some of the River Safari animals – like the proud pelican in the picture below! 🙂
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.
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!
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
Tel: (65) 6269 3411
9.00am to 6.00pm daily
(Last ticket sale at 5.00pm)