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Singapore Night Safari: Know Before You Go

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Do you love animals and walking in nature? 
Do you ever wonder what creatures of the night get up to while you’re sleeping?
Does your imagination ever run wild with dreams of new travel experiences and close encounters?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above then a trip to the Singapore Night Safari is a must for you!

During our visit to the Singapore Night Safari, we discovered a lot of things we wish we’d known before visiting. And now here we are to share our tips and experiences with you. I hope you find them helpful.

About Singapore Night Safari

Singapore Night Safari (sometimes called Mandai Night Safari) was first thought of in the 1980s and officially opened in 1994. It’s the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park and consistently wins awards for its innovative ideas.

Attracting around 1.3 million visitors every year, the park covers a whopping 86 acres of rainforest. 

There are around 900 animals from 100 different species to see with around 41% of those being endangered. From lions and tigers to elephants and hippos, there’s a lot for you to see. 

But perhaps the most important thing about the Night Safari is that it’s an ethical attraction.

The park has single-handedly bred threatened species, such as Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, fishing cats, Malayan tapirs and Asian lions to name just a few, to help prevent total extinction.

Night Safari, alongside other top places to go in Singapore like the Singapore Zoo, Bird Paradise (formerly Jurong Bird Park) and River Wonders (formerly River Safari) are all managed by the Mandai Wildlife Group. This organisation is on a mission to “provide meaningful and memorable wildlife experiences with a focus on protecting biodiversity in Singapore and the region.”

Furthermore, the wildlife reserve’s owners routinely listen and act on the guidance set out by local animal welfare organisations such as Acres.

As an example, back in 2005, Acres identified issues with the animal shows at the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari. After providing feedback, changes were made at the zoos, prompting Acres to say: “We hope that other zoos and parks will follow the example set by the Singapore Zoo.”

Please note that the Singapore Night Safari is NOT within Singapore City. It can be found near the Mandai district, Singapore Zoo and the Upper Seletar Reservoir, which are all approximately 16 miles from downtown Singapore. 

Glow in the Dark Stalagmites

Singapore Night Safari Review: Our Barebones Honest Feedback

Before we get into our Singapore Night Safari tips and top things to know before you go, you might be wondering whether it’s really worth it.

Below is our quick and honest Singapore Night Safari review – we’ll think you’ll like our answer!

Before visiting, we’d seen a few bad reviews online but this didn’t detract from its overall four-star rating

We loved the idea of being able to see animals we wouldn’t normally see – and they would even be awake. We couldn’t wait.

And we WERE NOT AT ALL disappointed!

Quite the opposite – it was one of the top highlights of our Singapore itinerary and of our entire honeymoon!

Because we followed some advice we read before our trip, we missed out on long queuing times and hoards of people. 

Instead, we felt like we had free reign of the park, and at times, it often felt like we were wandering around a tropical and wild rainforest as opposed to just a tourist attraction!

Towering trees surrounded us, crickets noisily chirped all through the night and the occasional rustle from the undergrowth made us jump a few times.

And all of this was in addition to seeing so many incredible animals.

Have you ever seen a clouded leopard chilling on a tree branch?
What about a fishing cat searching for its prey in the water?
And have you ever experienced bats whipping past your head at breakneck speeds?

Clouded Leopard inside Singapore Night Safari

All of this and more is possible at the Singapore Night Safari. Can you tell we were completely and utterly impressed?

But for your visit to be just as incredible as ours was, it pays to know a few things in advance. Here’s everything we think you need to know before you go… 

Top Tips For Visiting Singapore Night Safari

All of our Night Safari tips below are based on our own experiences and what we noticed during our visit. We’ve also updated this blog post since our visit to record what’s changed since then.

We hope you find our tips helpful but just shout if you have any other questions about anything we have or haven’t covered. Just leave us a comment at the end of this blog post and we’ll reply ASAP.

Tip #1. Book tickets online to reduce queuing times and disappointment

Do you need to book the Singapore Night Safari online in advance? 

No – but it comes highly recommended by the park itself, as well as by us and every other blog we’ve read about it. 

Booking tickets in advance online from the official Night Safari website reduces the amount of time you’ll spend queuing – and helps to avoid disappointment.

You’ll be able to join the queue at the entrance gate straightaway with either a printed ticket or e-ticket on your mobile without having to pick any tickets up first.

The Night Safari is also a hugely popular attraction, so to avoid disappointment (each entry time has a maximum number of visitors allowed in), it’s best to book in advance. 

We booked our tickets the month before arriving and there were only 300 tickets left for the 7.15pm entry time – so it pays to plan ahead!

Tip #2. Arrive early for the fire show and to reduce queuing times

We wanted to ensure we had as much time as possible to see everything so we chose the earliest entry time of 7.15pm. 

Being organised travellers, we arrived early (at around 6.40pm) and joined the queue straightaway. 

And boy, are we glad we did! 

We not only got the chance to see the Thumbuakar Fire Performance at 6.45pm, but we were even let into the park early at 7pm – that’s less than 20 minutes of queuing time!

Other Singapore Night Safari timings include 8.15pm, 9.15pm and 10.15pm.

The Fire Show at Singapore Night Safari

Tip #3. Don’t miss out on the walking trails!

You’ll be sorely disappointed if you think that the Night Safari tram takes you to every single animal enclosure. It doesn’t. You’ll see more on two feet than you will on four wheels.

So make sure you don’t skip the walking trails – they are so much fun and you’ll see a lot that you would miss out on by only using the tram service.

There are four walking trails in total: the Fishing Cat Trail, East Coast Lodge Trail, Leopard Trail and the Wallaby Trail. 

My husband and I walked at a leisurely pace around every single trail and it took us around two hours in total.

Tip #4. Skip the trams and take to foot first

We had read various reviews and blogs that recommended skipping the tram and walking around the park on foot first. It turns out that this was EXCELLENT advice!

Just as we were setting out on foot at 7pm, we saw hundreds of people queuing for the tram.

So not only did we miss out on extra queuing time (we got the tram later on at 9pm and there was no one in front of us), but we also got a chance to walk around the park practically by ourselves.

We saw less than a dozen other guests while we were on foot and only a handful of staff who we met while crossing roads.

It was simply INCREDIBLE to feel like we had the park to ourselves – just us and the animals!

Leopards inside Singapore Night Safari

Tip #5. Don’t miss out on the tram later though!

But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go back to do the tram ride later on.

The Night Safari tram runs at scheduled times throughout the night and allows you to see some animals and parts of the park that walking alone cannot offer, such as elephants, male lions and free-roaming deer.

But almost everyone heads for the tram first resulting in long wait times.

Instead, head out on foot first and get the tram later – we can almost guarantee you that there will be no queues after 9pm!

Tip #6. Don’t expect to get amazing photos of the animals

As this is a park dedicated to nocturnal animals, they’ve done a great job of keeping the lights low to mimic moonlight – and flash photography is strictly forbidden.

You’ll need to squint and keep your eyes peeled for the animals at times, but this also means you shouldn’t expect to get amazing photos unless you have professional camera equipment.

We just about managed to get a few good shots of the animals with Scott’s old Huawei phone, which has a decent night mode… but as you can see, they’re still not exactly epic shots.

That said, you’ll probably find it therapeutic to simply put your phone away and look at the animals without any pressure to fill up your Instagram feed.

Fruit Bat inside Singapore Night Safari

Tip #7. Squint hard and look everywhere… the animals could be lurking anywhere!

Although some of the animals choose to sit front and centre within their enclosures, others sometimes shy away into the shadows.

But if you take the time to look and squint into the darkness, then you should be able to see most if not all of the animals.

And once you’ve found one, its mates probably aren’t too far away from it!

Tip #8. Remember to use your Night Safari map

The Night Safari covers 86 acres of rainforest. 

Although the walking trails are well signposted and nicely laid out for you to follow, you could run the risk of missing out on seeing something if you don’t use your Night Safari map!

Screenshot of the official Night Safari map
Screenshot of the official Night Safari map | Source: Mandai.com

Tip #9. Take plenty of water and snacks

Singapore has a very humid climate. If you’re not used to it, then it feels like you’re walking around in a permanent sauna or oven – and there is no relief from the heat even after the sun goes down.

And as the Night Safari is set within a rainforest, its humidity is doubled!

Take plenty of water and snacks with you to keep your energy and hydration levels up.

And if you’ve chosen to follow our advice of taking to the walking trails at the Night Safari then you can fill up your water bottles in the many water fountains dotted around the park. Just find any toilet facility and there will be a water fountain somewhere next to it.

Tip #10. Invest in a battery-powered handheld fan

Although there are powerful fans dotted around some of the enclosure huts, there’s a fair amount of walking to do out in the humid Singapore air.

A battery-powered handheld fan like this one from Amazon is perfect for taking in your backpack ready to be used when you just need a few minutes break from Singapore’s humidity – and they often cost less than a tenner.

The Night Safari tram is also a great relief from the heat. It’s open on all sides so you get a very welcome breeze as it whips around to each attraction.

Tip #11. Pack your umbrella, coat or waterproof poncho

Singapore is known for its sudden downpours of rain. They come with little to no warning – especially at night when you can’t see the clouds – and quickly flood areas in a matter of minutes.

So make sure you pack an umbrella, coat or waterproof poncho in case you suddenly get caught in the rain!

Tip #12. Wear comfortable shoes and light layers

As mentioned before, the park is dimly lit. There are also a few uneven paths, as well as steps and slopes, so a comfortable pair of shoes is a must.

We’d suggest wearing a comfy pair of trainers that are lightweight and breathable.

And as Singapore is so humid, it also pays to wear lightweight clothes and pack a jacket, coat or umbrella in case it rains.

Tip #13. Set aside four to six hours for your visit

The duration of your visit to the Night Safari in Singapore will vary based on whether you’re travelling with children or anyone with accessibility issues and what you choose to do while you’re there.

But we’d suggest setting aside four to six hours for your visit.

We followed every single walking trail at a leisurely pace and it took us around two hours in total. The Night Safari tram takes 40 minutes (not including wait times).

Please note that these timings don’t include queuing times or time spent getting to the park.

Fishing Cat inside Singapore Night Safari

Tip #14. There are a variety of ways to get to the Night Safari

The Singapore Night Safari can be found at 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore, 729826.

From public transport options to taxis, there are several different ways to get here depending on what works best for you and how much time you want to spend getting from A to B.

Using public transport to get to the Night Safari

The nearest MRT station is Khatib on the North-South line. You’ll likely need to get two trains if coming from Singapore City. This is a great option if you already have a rail card or tourist pass.

There’s a shuttle operating between Khatib MRT Station and the Night Safari, which costs just S$2. It runs every 15-20 minutes with the last shuttle back to Khatib at midnight. 

Cash isn’t accepted on the bus; you have to buy your ticket at the Night Safari Coach Bay upon your return. This sounds strange and it’s something that took the bus driver two attempts at communicating to us as we just didn’t understand.

If you’d rather just pay a one-off fee to get to the Night Safari then there are several direct buses from Singapore City, which include the Safari Gate Bus, Singapore Attractions Express and StarIsland Travel Bus. Details of costs and timings can be found here.

Driving to the Night Safari

If you’re driving to the Night Safari then please note parking charges apply. The first hour is S$3 with additional hours costing S$2 each up to a maximum of S$10 per car.

A taxi from Singapore City to the Night Safari (or vice versa) will cost around S$15 to S$25 depending on the time. All taxis are metered though so you don’t need to haggle over pricing. 

To ensure you get a taxi when you need one, it’s better to call in advance or book via the Grab mobile app. Uber isn’t used in Singapore but Grab works in the same way.

Tip #15. Pay for the Night Safari shuttle upon your return

If you want to catch the Khatib MRT shuttle bus to the Night Safari then you pay for the shuttle upon your return if you don’t have an EZ-link or NETS FlashPay card.

You’ll get your ticket at the Night Safari Coach Bay before boarding the return shuttle, which will cost you S$2 per adult. This ticket covers the first shuttle you got and the second one you’re about to take.

If you’re unsure about anything, just ask the shuttle driver when you first get on and he or she will point to a sign that indicates payment on return from the Night Safari park itself.

Apologies to the driver who took two attempts to tell us this when we visited – we were very confused at the time! ;-)

Tip #16. Singapore Night Safari isn’t the same as Singapore Zoo

Something that often confuses visitors is whether the Night Safari and Singapore Zoo are the same thing and just operating at different times.

Let’s get this settled once and for all: they are COMPLETELY separate attractions!

They’re located right next to each other (it takes just 5 minutes to walk between the two entrances), but they operate at different times, offer different animals and attractions and have separate entry fees.

Tip #17. Don’t miss Rainforest Lumina at Singapore Zoo (now sadly closed)

Rainforest Lumina at Singapore Zoo

Sadly, Rainforest Lumina had its final season in 2022, so it’s no longer possible to see it. This is such a shame because it was amazing!

During a 45-minute walking trail, we followed lights, sounds and virtual animals. We even had the chance to play various games throughout our visit.

Despite this attraction being closed, we decided to keep this section in our blog post, so you can see how it once looked. I have to say, though, I truly hope they launch it again one day because it was an incredible experience.

Inside Rainforest Lumina at Singapore Zoo

Well, there you have it! Our top Singapore Night Safari tips to know before you go, so you can have just as incredible an experience as we did! Have you got any questions about anything we either have or haven’t covered? Excited to visit and just want to shout it from the rooftops? Then leave us a comment below as we’d love to hear from you!

Are you looking for more things to do in Singapore? Check out our 4 day itinerary for ideas!

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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