Monday, September 29, 2014

What to do in Singapore? A travel guide to the Lion City!

Singapore has always been known to be very expensive and modern despite being a small island country. If you don't plan your trip well, it might drain your savings or worse you'll end up regretting to have traveled to this Lion City. 

Immigration Officer at times may not let you leave the country even if you already have a boarding pass or have traveled other Asian Countries in the past. This is not to scare you but to just let you know this could happen to you too. There were people who were denied and were banned from going in because they didn't pass the small talk. Some were crying and others were even mad and begging. Immigration officer might ask for some documents to make sure you are travelling for the right purpose (Hotel Confirmation, size of the bed that you reserved, credit cards, Company ID's or even itineraries). There are also times that you will be denied entry if the immigration officer thinks you are there to work. My friend was brought to the interrogation room for questioning. It took him an hour to convince them that he was there for a vacation. 

Singapore is stricter now in allowing other Asians to get in to their beautiful Garden City. Some of those who went to Singapore took advantage of the tourist pass when they were actually there to look for work. Once the 30-day pass is almost over, they would exit to neighboring countries for a day like Indonesia or Malaysia then come back again to have another 30-day pass and continue working or job hunting. 

Now let say you are already in Singapore. Here are some tips that I have for you.

1. Take the Public Transport.

Singapore is very organized and their train system is the fastest way for you to get around the city. It is also one of the cleanest in the world and has access to every part of Singapore. You have the option to buy the EZ Link Card for $12 and use $7 of its value or get a Tourist Pass pass for $20 for 3 days of unlimited rides. In my case, I just paid per trip since I only have few places to visit. 

2. Check in at a better hotel.

You don't really need to always stay in a budget hotel just to save a lot from your trip. Most of the time, being in a better hotel gives you not just the comfort and relaxation you need but also the experience of being treated well from the extra amount you allocate for accommodation. I can highly recommend Hotel Jen. It's  a 4 star hotel located in Singapore's most vibrant place, Orchardgateway. You can check my hotel review here.

3. Eat in a hawker centre.

If you are a fan of chinese or indian food then you have to go where the locals eat. Lau Pa Sat is a good choice. They have delicious noodles, chowfan, barbeques and rice meals for just around $5. If you decide to splurge some more, then you can try authentic Arabian Food at the Arab Street. 

4. Money Changer near your hotel.

Since I only had few pesos to spend, I decided to just had it changed at Changi Airport. 1 Singaporean Dollar is equivalent to more or less P36. If you have a lot change, then you better go to any bank in Singapore or at a money changer near your hotel. I'm sure there's a lot.

5. Walk and Take it easy. 

You'll enjoy Singapore more if you walk and walk. They have impeccably clean and safe streets. Tourist Spots are near each other (Merlion Park, Esplanade, Helix Bridge, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and Fullerton Place). You guys should try the ice cream being sold at the end of the bridge. It's really good and cheap! If you want to see the whole of Singapore, you can ride the Singapore Flyer for $25 or pay $23 to have a tour in Marina Bay Sands Skypark. I didn't pay when I was there.  All I did was go to KUDETA Club atop Marina Bay Sands and ordered a glass of beer and there I am. 

6. Bar Hop

We literally dance the night away from one bar to another in Clarke Quay. I enjoyed wiggling with the foreingers and shaking our butts together. We hopped from one bar to another and left our things at The Pump Room. I just find it amazing that even after 2 hours, they were still there, untouched. Such a good feeling knowing you are in place where people don't steal.

7. Don't spend too much on buying Souvenirs.

When you are in a vacation, think about the things that will make you happy and not about the people you left at home. This is your moment. But if you really need to buy something for them, go to Chinatown or Bugis for cheap and good souvenirs. 

8. Feel like a kid in Universal Studios (additional $55)

There are some online shops that offer the Universal Studios Ticket lesser than its actual price. Take advantage of that instead of buying it on the spot. It was raining when I arrived in Sentosa that's why we never really got the chance to try their rides. So after having a photo opp near the Universal Globe, we just spent our money buying some chocolates at the Hersheys Store. 

9. Side Trip to Bintan Island Indonesia (additional $55 for a Roundtrip Fare)

For only 55 Singaporean Dollars, you can go to a wonderful resort like Bintan Lagoon in Bintan Island Indonesia. Take the ferry from Tana Merah station. Travel time is approximately 1 hour. Enjoy some water sports activities like snorkeling and surfing More about this resort experience here. More details here.

Once you come back to Singapore, don't be nervous when it's taking time for Immigration Officer to stamp your passport with another 30-day entry pass. They just wanna sure you're not back to look for work. 

10. Side Trip to Malaysia.

It will take 5-6 hours bus ride from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and will cost you less than P800 one way. You can also go the southern part of Malaysia, the Johor Bahru, in a matter of 45 minutes. From the Woodlands Train Station, Take the bus and pay around P100. Then check out the Royal Abu Bakar Museum and the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. 

Some reminders though:

1. As much as possible travel lite. 
2. Bring your passport with you all the time.
3. Have en extra Cash or Credit Card for emergencies.
4. Buy a prepaid sim and register for a 1 week data plan.

In my case, I just registered to Smart's all day roaming for only P500 to avoid the hassle of finding a good network provider in Singapore. They now have coverage in 10 Asian Countries; Singapore (Starhub), Indonesia (Indosat), Malaysia (DiGi and CelCom), Hong Kong (via Hutchison), Japan (NTT DoCoMo), Macau (Hutchison), South Korea (KT), Thailand (True), Taiwan (FarEastOne) and Vietnam (Vinaphone). When I checked my bill, there were no unwanted data charges. This is also available to prepaid subscribers.

To register:

1. Text ROAM ON then send to 333 before leaving the country.
2. For prepaid subcribers, load P500 for a one day subscription of ALL-DAY SURF ABROAD.
3. Check your mobile network settings and Make sure you are connected to SMART’s Conexus Roaming Partner 
4. Dial *133# to access the USSD Menu. Press ANSWER then enter 5 to choose DATA ROAMING.
4. Choose your location from the list of countries and roaming partner.
5. Select the All-DAY SURF ABROAD 500. You will receive a confirmation upon successful availment. 
For more information, check out  #SmartAllDaySurfAbroad 

Budget Travel to Singapore
Affordable Travel To Singapore
Blog about Singapore


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