River Safari Singapore – Free Admission on your Birthday!

The husband planned a day out on my birthday two weeks ago and we started off with an outing to the River Safari in the morning which I was really excited about as I hadn’t been there since its soft opening in April 2013. And it was really a good time to visit the park then as all the exhibits and boat ride were up and running so we could enjoy a really comprehensive tour.

The River Safari is nestled between the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari and features Southeast Asia’s largest panda exhibit as well as the world’s largest freshwater aquarium.

(This blog post contains photos that could be ‘spoilers’ if you haven’t been to the River Safari so advance at your own risk, haha!)

We reached the park around 8.45am on a Friday morning and there wasn’t any queue at all at the ticketing booth so ticket purchase was a breeze. We managed to book the first Amazon River Quest Boat Ride at 10.00am (this is complimentary!) too so remember to do the same when you’re there buying tickets.

The River Safari opened its doors at 9.00am so we had some time to explore the zoo entrance area for some photo-taking, at the same time, to try out my new camera which the husband had gotten me for my birthday.

Since my birthday coincided with the festive season too, there were traces of Chinese New Year decorations and flowers around the park.

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Chinese New Year marks the arrival of Spring (æ˜Ĩ)

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Ushering in the Horse year

Get a Birthday Badge if you visit any of the Wildlife Reserves Parks in Singapore (zoo, bird park, night safari or river safari) on your birthday. This badge entitles you to 10% off retail and F&B and complimentary ice cream too!

Get a Birthday Badge when you visit any of the Wildlife Reserves Parks in Singapore (zoo, bird park, night safari or river safari) on your birthday. This badge entitles you to 10% off retail and F&B and complimentary ice cream too. Oh, did I mention admission to the park is free too? 🙂

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Help my husband! He’s being attacked by a crocodile!

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Here we go!

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The moment we entered the park, there were staff volunteering to take pictures for us with these cute pandas.

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Early morning view…so serene and beautiful

While the recommended route was to head left when we entered the park, we decided to go right instead so we could spend about an hour exploring the right hand side of the park before going for the boat ride which was also located on the right side. Below is the park map from River Safari for reference. Click on the map to enlarge.

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First stop…we were greeted by a school of piranhas and freshwater stingrays

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I was thrilled to see two park keepers feeding the ‘ferocious’ creatures and was anticipating some ‘flesh-tearing’ action from the piranhas but…

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the piranhas swam away when the pieces of fish meat were thrown into the pool. Only the stingrays crawled slowly towards their meal.

Moving on to the world’s largest freshwater aquarium that showcases the annual flooding of the Amazon rainforest…

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This fellow looked so moody…

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because of an itchy nose, lol. It kept rubbing its nose against the wall right in front of me…awww…cute!

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The manatees swimming with the gigantic arapaima

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Red-bellied Piranhas…not very red, are they?

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Electric Eel

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Ghost Knifefish

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That’s the other half of the park

Back to the outdoors…to the Squirrel Monkey Forest…

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Do you see me?

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Squirrel Monkey

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There were so many of them…just roaming freely everywhere

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Lucky monkeys!

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Jaguarundi…looks like he’s getting a really good snooze

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A view of the Upper Seletar Reservoir


Perfectly on time for the boat ride.

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Off into the Amazon rainforest!

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Caribbean Flamingo

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This cute Capy was just standing there motionlessly for us to take pictures! So posey, lol.

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Scarlet Ibis


The whole boat ride took about 10 minutes. We didn’t manage to spot all the animals such as the Brazilian tapir, two-toed sloth or maned wolf as they were hiding somewhere, sleeping away. Word of caution – you might get a little wet during the boat ride! Before you head down to River Safari, just make sure you check up the boat ride closure dates here.

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After the boat ride, we had to cross this bridge (viewing deck) to get across to the other side of the park

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Panda Sculpture

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This was one of the two restaurants in the park that served up Szechuan cuisine

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Reason for coming here was to try these cute Panda buns!

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Kid’s corner for the little ones

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The rest of the restaurant which was just empty

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Paw buzzer so we could collect our order once ready

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I was totally disappointed when I took this bun out from the bamboo steamer…the eyes were too big and the nose had peeled off….this was so not cute!

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Just a normal pau with red bean filling

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Fried prawn dumplings that tasted like frozen food heated in the oven

Entering the Giant Panda Forest…

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Red Panda

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Here’s what they eat everyday

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Kai Kai sleeping in the open

The temperature within this bio-dome was kept at between 18-22 deg C to simulate the pandas’ natural habitat so it was really nice and cooling in here. No wonder Kai Kai could sleep with his legs open wide! And he was so soundly asleep that he didn’t even stir a bit. Bliss!

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I think pandas at 6 months would be so adorable to play with!

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Lol, hilarious story

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Too bad we didn’t get to see Jia Jia who was hiding in her den. Do you see her head peeking out from underneath the right hand side of the bench?

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Grrrrr….watch out for my bear paws! This shop offers everything panda so you can get plushies or memorabilia from here.

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There was some animal show going on near the exit of the Giant Panda Forest (next to Mama Panda Kitchen). I even got the chance to touch a hedgehog. Cool!

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Do you see what’s lurking in the water?

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Mekong Giant Catfish

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Indian Gharial

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Mississippi Paddlefish

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Alligator Snapping Turtle

Including the 10-minute boat ride and a 20-minute tea break at the Mama Panda Kitchen, the entire tour of the park took us just under 2.5 hours to complete. Before we left, we stopped by the manatees area again and saw this manatee airing his belly. Cute!

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And we got to see the Giant River Otters too!

The park wasn’t huge but I liked the way it was built as viewing of the exhibits was in a one-way direction (whether you go left or right from the entrance) so we wouldn’t miss out anything or do any detour unlike being in the Zoo next door. The exhibits were categorised by the different rivers of the world such as Mekong, Yangtze, Ganges, Congo & more so it was quite a journey of discovery to see the land or aquatic animals living in each respective river region. Most of these exhibits were aquarium-based and it was pretty amazing to get up close and personal with some aquatic creatures that we don’t normally see elsewhere like the piranhas or giant catfish. The tour might be short but it was definitely an eye-opening experience for me.

River Safari
80 Mandai Lake Road
Tel: (65) 6269 3411
Opening hours: 9.00am to 6.00pm daily
Admission fees:
$25 (per adult)
$16 (per child aged 3-12)
$12 (per senior citizen aged 60 & above)



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