Top 10 Things to Do in Tekong

Top 10 Things to Do in Tekong

Located off the eastern coast of Singapore is the elusive Tekong Island, where only a group of Singaporean males are selected to attend an 8-week retreat!

You may be familiar with the islands of Sentosa and Pulau Ubin, but there are other islands near the Singapore mainland worth visiting too. Located off the eastern coast of Singapore is the elusive Tekong Island, where only a group of Singaporean males around the ages of 17 to 20 are selected to attend a wonderful 8-week retreat at one of the camps located on the island. For those who are not fortunate enough to be chosen for this retreat (or those who might be attending soon), here is a glimpse of 10 things that you can do in Tekong!

Disclaimer: This is a parody, and yes, that includes the images too. Tekong is the place where young Singaporeans recruits go to for their Basic Military Training as part of their compulsory enlistment. 

1. Eat at the Cookhouse!

The Cookhouse is the only place on Tekong where starving diners can come together for a hearty meal in good company. It is therefore not surprising that the Cookhouse is the most crowded place during meal times, where you can always see those that frequent it waiting patiently in line to get their food and also rushing to finish their meal. 

Image credit: Garry Knight

There is no better way to start the day than with a hearty fusion breakfast at the Cookhouse! From fresh baked beans in a can to delectable spread of Kaya and Margarine in their tins and toast, breakfast at the Cookhouse promises to always be a good way to start your day! Sadly, it resembles nothing like what is pictured above. 

If you are not a breakfast person, the Cookhouse also provides good lunch and dinner offerings, with a rotating menu every alternate week. A popular crowd favourite is their Western fare, where you can enjoy a generous serving of  “tender chicken thigh glazed with some of their savoury brown gravy”.

Image credit: Timothy Tsui 

Even before the reopening of Funan Mall this year, Tekong had already implemented a cashless meal plan system at its own Cookhouse cafeteria. Embracing the notion of a cashless society and technology, visitors need only scan their personalised identification cards to be eligible for a free meal during their stay in Tekong! 

As highly-valued and frequent patrons of the Cookhouse, the meal system also allows its regular visitors to leave their feedback about the food standards. There will also be friendly personnel, easily identified by their arm bands, stationed by the scanning machine to assist you if you require any help. 

Running on a tight schedule, dining time is mostly kept to an hour to make space for the rest of the visitors who have not had their meals (shame on those of you who always go for long lunch breaks).

With all these perks at the biggest cafeteria on Tekong, you might want to consider enquiring about reservations at the Cookhouse for your next company* event? 

*According to the English dictionary, a company is an organisation that sells goods and services to make money. In military jargon, a company is made up of a few army platoons.

2. Visit the refurbished medical centre on Tekong

Whether it is because of the infamous Tekong Cough or a scheduled vaccination, people living on Tekong island would likely have had the opportunity to visit the Tekong Medical Centre at least once. The state-of-the-art medical centre is equipped with some key medical equipment and instruments  similar to those of its other counterparts on mainland Singapore. 

Image credit: Navy Medicine 

Upon arriving at the medical centre and completing registration, you will be asked to wait patiently for the doctor at a holding area. When it is finally your turn to see the doctor, you will be often greeted with a cynical gaze, particularly if you are requesting for an MC. For some, a visit to the Tekong Medical Centre is their free pass for a restful and relaxing day on Tekong, but for the others, this is their only chance to rest and recuperate back in their rooms.

Did we also mention that the Medical Centre has access to helicopter evacuation services to mainland Singapore for serious medical emergencies? 

So the next time you are visiting Tekong, you might just want to check out the impressive Tekong Medical Centre… or not. 

3. Fall-in before moving off on Tekong

As part of security and safety protocols on the island, there is a strict attendance tracking and reporting policy. There is also a strong emphasis on fostering togetherness and camaraderie, which is why falling-in is an instituted practice that you should be part of, at least once, when in Tekong. This is also said to be one of the most systematic and efficient ways to gather everyone before moving off to another place in true Singaporean style

Image credit: Max Pixel

Feel the surge of adrenaline in your body as you scramble to fall-in alongside your fellow Tekong enthusiasts, before setting off for your next activity! With the all-too-familiar and much-feared voice of a live countdown timer reverberating through the air, there is no way that you can miss the cue to assemble and fall-in, even in the deepest of sleeps. 

In fact, this is probably a more effective wake-up call in the wee hours of the morning than the crowing of a rooster or your phone alarm. After all, there is no way to snooze this human alarm because if you snooze, you lose (your weekend)?

There are times when you might also fall-in to drink water together (yes, you are not reading it wrongly). More commonly-referred to as a Water Parade, the tradition involves the religious recitation of the core values of the Tekong management before everyone takes out their bottles and drink up, in synchronised fashion.

Image credit: pxhere

From the time the bottle is taken out, to the removal of the bottle cap, every action is carefully planned and coordinated even the amount of water to drink! 

There is no better way to foster a spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie than through life’s essential needs drinking water especially on a hot sunny day. Granted that the weather on Tekong can be unbearable sometimes because of the sweltering heat, this might probably be the best way to ensure that everyone remains hydrated. 

So the next time you are in Tekong, you might just want to fall-in and participate in one of the longstanding traditions of a water parade!

4. Get intimate with nature

Image credit: Artem Beliaikin

Get up close and intimate with nature and we mean very, very close!

Take a compulsory 5-day outfield trip with your roommates on an adventure of your lifetime in the wilderness of Tekong. 

During this outfield adventure, you will get to spend a few nights out in the forested terrains of Tekong, sometimes rolling on muddy grounds and damp grass, and even sleeping in your own cozy man-sized burrow that you will dig for yourself. The experience becomes even more magical when it rains, as your burrow transforms into a makeshift therapeutic mud bath as the water slowly fills up. It just doesn’t get more “comfortable” than that! 

Image credit: Geograph

You will also be introduced to the rich biodiversity of the jungles of Tekong, such as the legendary CB leaf and the banana leaves that you might have to (unfortunately) use to clean yourself. You are also reminded not to leave any waste behind during your outfield visit as it might harm the environment, which has flourished from the accumulation of generations and generations of human manure the only kind of waste permitted on Tekong

Image credit: Eira Tansey

Enjoy an afternoon picnic with that convenient vacuum-packed food that will be distributed during meal times. Who needs homemade sandwiches when you have delicious pre-made beef goulash. fresh from the pack? With the company of your sweaty outfield companions in the blazing afternoon heat, this outfield experience promises to be one of the most memorable outdoor dining experiences that you will have on Tekong!

Highly-recommended for nature lovers and those who enjoy a great summertime tan, this outfield experience should definitely be on your to-do-list when in Tekong.

5. Get a quick hassle-free haircut

Tekong also offers a unique one-stop haircut service, where you will be given a choice of haircut of only one style.

Providing highly-affordable haircuts for only $2, the team of experienced hair-stylists is dedicated to ensuring that everyone walks away with the same haircut (although some might argue that the haircut is really not the same, particularly those who might have suffered an uneven cut). 

You first walk up to the chair and take a seat when it is your turn to get a cut, followed by orders to remove your top.

Sitting half-naked and maybe feeling slightly vulnerable and exposed, you are now in full view of those who are waiting for their turns as the makcik slowly shaves your head. Though the gaze of everyone else might be a little uncomfortable and awkward as your hair slowly falls off your head, you decide that the best thing to do is to just close your eyes. But before you know it, the haircut is over, and you shaved off a few grams just like that. 

You realise that shampooing has never been any easier (or necessary?) after the haircut. There is also no need to spend those extra minutes styling your hair in the morning since there is none left to style.

With that, you are now ready to enjoy Tekong even in the most scorching heat of the afternoon sun! 

6. Spot unique wildlife not found on the mainland

Sometimes the best places to find wildlife are those that are untouched by mankind. The most common animal found on Tekong is the wild boar, which roams in packs as they go on a hunt for food. To see a wild boar, all you have to do is to leave some food out while having your outfield picnic. 

Besides the wild boar, you might find other animal species which you definitely would not see back in the mainland (if you see them on the streets, please call Wildlife Reserves Singapore).

In fact, for one species of animals, Tekong Island provides the perfect sanctuary for it to survive. 

Image credit: Tambako the Jaguar

The leopard cat, believed to be the last wild cat species in Singapore, is known to be found in large amounts on the offshore island of Tekong, more than that of the mainland. Having a constant supply of food source while being free from other predators that share the same kinds of food, the leopard cat has been able to survive and thrive in the forests of Tekong.

7. Improve your housekeeping skills with the stand by area programme

Image credit: I99pema

On the island of Tekong, every guest’s biggest nightmare is the stand-by area, which is the local lingo for area cleaning inspection. During the area inspection, the bunks and communal toilets are checked thoroughly. Mattresses are flipped, cupboards are emptied and fans are stripped to make sure that there is no presence of dirt or dust around. Penalties are then meted out according to how much filth is found. Most of the time, check-out timing at the end of the week depends on how well the rooms and common areas are cleaned.

For those who want to raise their standard of housekeeping, Tekong is definitely the place to be. With thorough checks on the overall cleanliness and arrangement of the housing quarters, you will definitely realise how much disgusting stuff accumulates inside your room. You will also know which spots are tougher to clean, making the next stand-by area more smooth sailing for you.

Parents, you can be assured that your children will be able to handle their housework more efficiently after a retreat to the wonderful island of Tekong.

8. Develop a daily sleep routine

We all know that daily sleep routines are the hardest to follow, hindered by the number of distractions keeping us awake at night. Whoever said that their new year’s resolution was to go to sleep and wake up early for the whole year probably gave up by the first month. My plan to sleep by midnight every day probably went up in smoke by the third day.

If you have trouble keeping up with any sleep routine at all, Tekong Island is the best remedy for your uncommitted self. Every night, all personnel will gather together as the staff in charge recites the list of activities to be done the next day. After which, the staff will recite the lights out, reveille and fall-in timing for breakfast – that’s the time for you to sleep, wake up and go for your first meal of the day. The timings are almost the same everyday, as Tekong personnel do need their beauty sleep too.

To people who have weird sleeping hours, you will definitely get used to the sleep schedule as time goes by. The lights go off at around the same time each day and staff do patrols to ensure that everyone goes to sleep, or at least pretends to. In the morning, everyone wakes up at the same time as multiple alarms ring in harmony and the lights get switched on. Once you become accustomed to the sleeping hours at Tekong, developing a healthy sleep schedule becomes second nature.

9. Stay healthy with the tailored fitness programmes

Image credit: Spc. Mike MacLeod

Your stay at the wonderful island of Tekong also comes with free classes aimed at improving your fitness. As part of the training schedule, there are 2.4km runs and swimming lessons aimed at fulfilling your cardio requirement. For a more intensive training, there are also gym lessons at the outdoor SOC (standard obstacle course) grounds, along with an army favourite – the route march – where you get a chance to utilise your vocal chords while toning your leg and shoulder muscles as you walk long distances while carrying a field pack.

With a plethora of fitness activities scheduled for you, you need not worry about whether that last meal you ate would make you unhealthy or whether you’ve been drinking too much bubble tea. Enjoy your junk food in peace and come to Tekong for the guided fitness sessions that will help you get back into shape. 

Instead of having to spend so much money on that gym membership you rarely use, this all-round fitness package is entirely free for you (they even pay you money to meet certain fitness requirements). With this in mind, go ahead and utilise everything to train yourself and achieve the beach bod that you’ve always wanted!

10. Attend rifle lessons for free

In a country where citizens are not allowed to own weapons, participants of the Tekong Island package actually get to hold and use a rifle. In fact, it’s compulsory for guests to learn how to use the rifle. In the first week of the retreat, these guests are bestowed with a rifle during the initiation ceremony, the first key event of their 8-week stay in Tekong Island. 

Image credit: Howardfu

Throughout the stay, guests will learn how their rifle works and how to care for it. The staff say that the rifle is akin to a “brother”, so guests must protect it with their lives and take care of it like they would take care of a sibling. 

Part of the Tekong package includes rifle lessons, where guests aim at targets from different distances. For with exceptional rifle skills, they are given the title of marksmen. Besides shooting, they will also be expected to carry out drills with the rifles to train their rifle awareness, culminating in the urban operations training held outside the camp. In groups of three, participants have to storm abandoned buildings while maintaining levels of rifle discipline. 

All these lessons are free as they are included in the package. If you want to try your hands on handling weapons under careful supervision, a stay at Tekong Island is definitely a must-do.

With so many exciting things to check out on Tekong island, we hope that we have managed to convince you to want to visit the beautiful quaint island at least once!

Do look out for their exclusive vacation packages, which usually include a two-month long stay on the island and complimentary access to many of their facilities, such as their medical centre. There really is no better way to spend two months of your holiday break on this paradise island of Tekong!

Okay okay, here is the real list of fun things to do in Singapore!

About Authors

Daniel Lim
Daniel Lim

Daniel recently returned from his Exchange Programme in the United States, where he got to embark on his first ever solo travels around a few countries in North America and Europe. You can sometimes find him at the airport watching planes take off, marvelling at them as they roll down the runway and lift off into the skies; reminiscent of his very own travel experiences. He thoroughly enjoyed himself in his most recent travels, and hopes that you too, will be able to find your own unique travel experiences as you write your very own story.


Lucas Neo

Lucas is always at home researching for his next travel destination. When he’s not doing that, he’s most likely heading to the airport to catch a flight to an exciting location. Lucas enjoys wandering around and exploring beautiful attractions, but he never turns down a spot of retail therapy too.


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