Singapore Travel Tips and Stuvves

Getting Around

  1. You may visit the SMRT website to check the shortest way via train to get from Point A to Point B. You can also see how much and how long the trip will be.
  2. Buy a Standard ticket if you won’t be using the MRT that much. A trip is valid for use on the day of the purchase. The ticket can be used for up to 6 times within 30 days. Simply charge the ticket at any General Ticketing Machine located in all MRT stations.
  3. I used the MRT a lot because it’s very efficient so I bought an EZ-Link card for 12 SGD ($ 9/ ₱ 403). You may buy this at the ticket offices in the stations or 7-Eleven stores. This is more convenient to use if you don’t like fumbling for change to buy one-way tickets. Like the standard ticket, you may recharge this one as well.
  4. It’s an unspoken rule to keep left on escalators if you’re not in a hurry. The right side is saved for those who are.
  5. Avoid taking taxis as much as you can if you want to save money. I only took a taxi when a. I had to go to the hotel from the airport for the first time, b. it was already late and the MRT was closed, and c. I was alone and I had to carry a lot of pasalubong from Bugis Street.

Must-Sees and Dos

  1. Universal Studios Singapore – Make the most of it by going to all the themed zones: Hollywood, New York, Sci-fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar. Decide which rides are worth the long wait. For example, is the 5-minute Transfomers 4D ride worth standing and queueing for 2 hours? Yes, definitely.
  2. Marina Bay – Ride the Singapore River Cruise at night to see some of the great sights like Singapore Flyer, Opera House, the Merlion, Clarke Quay and the financial centre skyscrapers around Marina Bay area. You can also just stroll along the bay and take in the Singapore vibe and atmosphere.
  3. Gardens by the Bay – My favourite spot in Singapore. The place is so lovely with all the giant trees surrounded by purple and green lights. The park is open 24 hours, I think, since we went there at 1 AM in the morning. No entrance fee to get in. Watch the lights and sound show at the Supertrees Grove as they come alive at night.
  4. Singapore Art Museum and National Museum of Singapore – Singapore knows how do things right, and their museums are not an exemption. Visit SAM if you’re curious about Singaporean contemporary art and National Museum if you’re more interested in SG’s history and culture.
  5. Haw Par Villa – It really is Singapore’s most WTF place to visit. This theme park is all sorts of gruesome and bizarre, I love it! You wouldn’t believe that these statues and dioramas are actually meant to teach young children about traditional Chinese values e.g. courtesy, family interdependence, and filial piety. Admission is free and nightmares are guaranteed.

Food

  1. Makansutra Gluttons Bay – Singapore street food haven around Marina Bay area. Eat chili crabs, grilled everything and other street food for a more affordable price.
  2. Lau Pa Sat Festival Market – A more sophisticated hawker centre at the heart of Singapore’s financial district. There are lots of great choices, from Indian to Chinese, even Japanese or Indian cuisine.
  3. CMK Eatery – Here’s the best place to eat out in Little India because a lot of Indians eat here all the time so you’re sure food’s always fresh.
  4. Liang Seah Street – A food hub in the Bugis area. These restaurants are more expensive than, let’s say, the hawker food centres that are very common in Singapore.

Shopping

  1. Orchard Road – From luxurious shops to bargain stores, Orchard has it all.
  2. Haji Lane – The stores don’t open until 4 in the afternoon. I love the independent vibe of these stores but the stuff they sell are usually overpriced. Worth a visit at least for window shopping.
  3. Bugis Street – I usually buy my souvenirs at I Love Bugis Street and chocolates at Bugis Confectionery World at Bugis Street. I don’t recommend buying clothes from the boutiques. They look cute when displayed but they look weird once you try them on. And the catch is, you can’t try them on inside the store. Plus, they’re not cheap at all.
  4. Mustafa Centre – It’s an amazing multi-storey department store located in Little India that’s open 24 hours full of cheap perfumes, electronic parts and stocks of all kinds of stuff.

More Budget Tips

  1. Eat in hawker centres. Singapore is loaded with them, from malls to food strips to every corner of the city. Food is much cheaper, you can eat a full meal with drinks for under 3 SGD ($ 2.27/ ₱ 100). This will be your food paradise if you’re fond of Chinese or Indian food.
  2. Stay with a Singapore-based friend or make a new one. Singapore is pretty expensive, accommodation included. You will save a lot if you can stay with a friend or a relative. If you don’t have one, try Couchsurfing. I actually haven’t tried that one but it sounds promising if you don’t mind staying with a stranger.
  3. Make the most out of free attractions and activities e.g. Gardens by the Bay, Haw Par Villa, Merlion, Jurong Gardens, and other parks and temples.

Enjoy-lah!

A Week in Singapore: Part III (Jurong Gardens + Haji Lane + SAM)

Legoland Malaysia is accessible from Singapore via direct coach services. Since I’m a sucker for theme parks, well any kind of park, I wanted to go that Sunday. We booked 2 Superior Coach roundtrip tickets online for S$44.50 (₱ 1477/$ 32.77) the night before. We woke up early since the departure time was 8:31 AM. We arrived 8:00 AM at the Lavender Station, nobody seemed to be waiting for the Legoland bus so we ate at Wendy’s while waiting. We waited until 9:00 AM but nobody came. My friend left his phone at home so he called their office on a payphone. They told him that they were calling him to inform us that they changed the departure point from in front of Wendy’s to the back of Wendy’s. They argued for a while as they didn’t want to give us a refund, telling us it’s not their fault we didn’t bring the phone. Bummer. So there were no other ways to get to Legoland at that point, so we decided to do other things.

Although disappointed, we hopped on the train and went to Jurong Gardens, located in Jurong East. It’s divided into two, Japanese Garden and Chinese Garden, connected by a bridge. Everything was nice, just nice. Nothing exciting. Also, it was blazing hot so we didn’t stay long.

After a glorious siesta, we went to Marina Bay area to have dinner. We rode a ferry around Marina Bay and got off near the Esplanade Opera House. Here you can walk to the Makansutra Gluttons Bay, Singapore street food haven. For me, it’s always better to eat at hawker centres like this one than at restaurants. It’s way cheaper and you get to choose from a variety of food choices.

Of course, you can’t leave Singapore without trying their famous chili crabs. We also ordered shrimp paste rice and some spring rolls.

Since my friend worked Mondays to Fridays, I explored Singapore on my own during the day. I visited the eclectic Haji Lane, one of the places I really wanted to see. Stupid of me, I went in the morning, which was almost senseless because the stores don’t open until 4 in the afternoon. The only advantage was I got to take pictures of the shops, which was prohibited according to the store signs. It reminded me Cubao X, artsy fartsy independent local stores which sell rare and specialty products, usually expensive. I also passed by Arab Street to take pictures of the Sultan Mosque and look at some jewellery and textile shops.

The following day, I decided to see what Singapore art was like. I took the MRT and got off the Bras Basah station. From here, Singapore Art Museum or SAM is within walking distance. Non-Singapore residents must pay S$10.00 (₱ 332/$ 7.36) to get in. It’s a contemporary art museum with nice art installations and interactive exhibits. The love letter playlists exhibit was particularly my favorite. It’s one of those I could have easily done it, but I didn’t type of art. After that, I bought some souvenirs and chocolates at Bugis Street.

Early morning the following day, I had to catch my flight back to Manila. We went to the airport by their very efficient MRT. I loved Singapore from how clean and safe the streets to how culturally diverse it is. I swore I’d be back.. so I did two months later haha.