Pilgrimages to Kusu Island from the main island of Singapore and beyond began even before Stamford Raffles ever saw the island with his own eyes. At its peak, Kusu Island was visited by 23,000 people in a single day. This year, however, the crowd will be limited to 500 people per day due to the ongoing pandemic.
This pilgrimage season, which is based on the ninth month of the lunar calendar, will begin on 17 October and end on 14 November. Pilgrims that make their yearly visit usually make their way to the Tua Pek Kong temple or to the shrines of the three Malay Saints. This year, all pilgrims are required to use SafeEntry for mandatory contact tracing purposes. They will also have to make a reservation via this webform. The safe distancing measures that have been put in place on the mainland of Singapore will also apply here: each applicant is only allowed to register up to five people. Bookings start on Monday.
Upon successful booking, a confirmation email will be sent to applicants, who will then have to present it to the counter staff at the Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services. Pilgrims will also have their temperature taken before they board the ferry.
As there will be an enforced maximum capacity of 30 people for the temple and 15 people for the shrines, the Singapore Land Authority anticipates that long queues may form. If possible, pilgrims are advised to visit during the weekdays to reduce the possibility of waiting in line.
Curious about the history of Kusu Island? Don’t know why it’s called Turtle Island but decidedly not turtle-shaped? Check out our article from August on Kusu Island to read a quick run-down on the whys and hows of Kusu Island!