Singapore, this is one travel totally unplanned, but still we enjoyed our 4 days and 3 nights in the Lion City!
We got a call, Titus and I, from my brother in law. Kuya Tantan and his gf, Princess, just scored a good Manila to Singapore airfare deal from JetStar, and heyyyy, ‘why don’t you two come with us?’ ‘To where?’ ‘To Singapore”.
For a few months now, Kuya Tantan has been trying to get us to fly with them to somewhere, anywhere. We’ve declined after each offer; we are trying to save funds since there’s still a long list of things to spend-on for our soon to be new home in Cebu. Mayhap because ya Tantan knows we will again decline, he offered to pay for our airfare, plus it’s a ‘celebration trip’ him quitting corporate work, plus turning a major birthday milestone.
How can we decline after all that, eh? 😉
So we booked our round trip Manila to Singapore to Manila promo tickets from JetStar, great timing since this airline was having one of their Friday frenzy sale at time of booking. No check-in baggage allowance on the way there, we secured 20 kilos of prepaid baggage on the way back, in preparation for our shopping hoard, that did not materialized btw, hehe.
Lest I forgot, we also availed of a travel insurance via a third-party Insurance company. We always do whenever we are flying overseas. You should think about purchasing travel insurance too for trips abroad, remember that medical emergency in other countries is a lot more expensive compared here in the Philippines.
Arriving in Singapore
It’s our first time in Singapore!!!!
First surprise > Singapore Changi Airport is really big, huge! The walkalators stretched looong too! 🙂
Everything was a breeze, even the presentation of our passports to the immigration officers. Some Filipinos may have a more stressful experience with Singapore immigration, but for our group everything was smooth-sailing. I was prepared to answer any question the MI officer may ask, but he just look at me, look at my passport, keyed-in some things and I was on my way out of the airport. My companions’ experience was the same.
Before leaving the airport, we gravitated toward this kiosk located just before the airport exit doors. The plan was to ask about how to commute from Singapore Changi airport to our hotel near Orchard Road. The kiosk attendant suggested that since we were a party of 4, taking a taxi is more economical versus taking buses. We made some calculations, and figured out, what the heck, let’s take a taxi.
*Taxis in Singapore charges a surcharge fee during peak hours, late night trips. The surcharge fee is can be seen in the right-bottom portion of the taxi meter. You will pay the cost of the ride plus surchage fee, as applicable. Taxi drivers there do not refuse passengers and they follow an app similar to Waze.
Also, different taxi type, charges different flag down rate and succeeding rate per kilometer. I don’t know what is the distinction between red, blue taxis, and other taxis.
The attendant also convinced us to buy ticket vouchers for Garden by the Bay, Flower Dome, Cloud Forest PLUS Universal Studios Singapore. They have different packages at discounted rates to see the famous tourist spots of their city-state. These were undated vouchers so we can go to these top Singapore attractions on any day that we like.
GREENS ALL AROUND!
Singapore is a nature city! Greens are everywhere! This is something that metropolis all over the world should aspire too. Trees lines up the expressway and roadsides, pocket gardens exist even in their major business district. They also have a sprawling Singapore Botanic Garden, a UNESCO Heritage site, which we explored in a rush on our first few hours in the city.
Pocket of trees, Orchard Road
We spent 4 Days / 3 Nights in Singapore, and this is an overview of our itinerary. The exchange rate as I am writing this blog post 1 USD = 1.35 SGD | 1 SGD = PHP 38.16. Last June the forex rate for Singaporean dollar to Philippine peso was SG$1 = Php 36. The PH peso has devaluated lately, sad.
DAY 1 Itinerary in Singapore – Arrival in Singapore, Singapore Botanic Garden, Garden by the Bay, Flower Dome, Cloud Forest
First Stop *Actually, the plan was to go the Gardens by the Bay first, but due to my navigational prowess, we took the wrong train and ended up in the Botanic Garden. We realized too late that Gardens by the Bay is DIFFERENT from the Singapore Botanic Garden haha. If you plan to explore the Botanic Garden, allocate at least half a day to better appreciate what the place offers.
Also, don’t miss seeing the National Orchid Garden inside the Botanic Garden, entrance fee for the orchid exhibit is 5 SGD. The Botanic Garden itself has no entrance fee, lots of nooks and theme-gardens to explore there. One of the popular orchids housed there is the “naked man orchid”. See, just how naked the orchid is hehe.
Second Stop From the Botanic Garden, we took the train again to exited at Bayfront MTR Station, took Exit B and walk following the underground linkway. Exited via the Dragonfly bridge into Gardens by the Bay.
We arrived past 6 PM, the attractions close at 9 PM. We rushed through everything huhuh. Titus and I have talked about going back to Singapore and explore Gardens by the Bay, Cloud Forest, and Forest Dome on a leisurely pace in the future.
If you don’t like walking, there is an available tram that can take you to and from the ticketing booth up to the Flower Dome / Cloud Forest complex. We availed of this since we were already lacking time, lol.
Must see and explore: The Garden by the Bay and the light show! You can watch the light show and visit the Garden by the Bay even if you will not buy a ticket. This is open to the public.
If you want to enter the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, you need to buy ticket. Do buy because the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest is amazing! It is a must experience if you ask me especially if it is your first time in Singapore.
Singapore’s Flower Dome is spectacular! Do you want to see giant cactus plants? They’ve got lots in the domes’ succulent garden section, different species too!. Have read about baobab trees and you want to see one, they have a section dedicated to this amazing African tree! Fancy orchids and flower blooms, lots and lots of them. This place is beautiful! The Flower Dome is a must-see! So please do!
The Cloud Forest delights! The Singapore heat made us sweat as we ‘ran’ from Botanic Garden to Bayfront area. Imagine our surprise when icy blast hit us straight as we entered the super cool Cloud Forest. We rushed near the waterfall, getting a bit wet from the spray and mist, and not minding it. That place was super refreshing!
Other attractions inside the Cloud Forest conservatory includes Lost World, Cloud Walk, Crystal Mountain, TreeTop Walk, and more.
We run out of time. :/ We missed the Light Show, we missed getting near the Super Tree Grove. :/ We also did not have time to explore the DragonFly and Kingfisher Lakes. :/ We really must go back to Singapore soon hehe. Maybe, we’ll chance upon a piso fare promo to SG, that will be a treat!
Before leaving the Garden’s area, we took a group pic with the famous Marina Bay Sands building at the background, most tourists do, so we did too! Haha.
Day 2 in Singapore – Universal Studios Singapore, Merlion Park
Singapore is HOT. I think a few degrees hotter than the usual temp in our home in Liliw, Laguna. Nagulat talaga ako sa init. Maybe because my last 2 trips abroad prior to Singapore was to Hong Kong during the ‘winter’ months, so I may unconsciously expect that their country will be on the cool side too, despite reading from my research that it’s humid and hot normally in Singapore.
Universal Studios Singapore – we got the ticket for this Singapore theme park at the airport kiosk. I forgot how much we paid for this, but the selling point that we responded positively to was that we don’t have to queue long lines to buy tickets at the main ticketing booth by the gate of Universal Singapore.
The things I enjoyed the most about our visit there is the WATERWORLD show, don’t miss it! It’s live action show. If you don’t want to get wet, don’t sit at the bottom bleachers. Just don’t, you’ll know why when you go there to watch. Heheh.
Now, I also enjoyed the Transformers The Ride. For me, the Transformers ride is more adrenalin-pumping-ride versus Hong Kong Disneyland’s Ironman. We were in HK Disneyland last February, Singapore in June so the Ironman Experience was still fresh on the mind to compare the two rides.
When it comes to the parade, my undivided vote goes to Hong Kong Disneyland. The HK Disneyland’s Flights of Fantasy parade simply is the best! The Universal Studio Singapore parade is okay. Kids will probably love the roaring dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, plus they will get to see Bumbleebee and Optimus Prime, and oh the Minions too!. 🙂
For lunch, we exited Universal Studios and took our lunch in a ‘food court’, actually it’s a hub of stalls offering mostly Malaysian and Chinese Cuisine. You’ll find Malaysian Food Street on the right side as you exit Universal, a few meters from the entrance gate of the theme park. We went for nasi lemak and roti prata both are delicious!!! Grabe ang sarap! It was good decision not to dine inside the theme park and to go outside. We also had merienda there of chendol to ward-off the heat, it’s a desert of shave ice with other ingredients. I didn’t like it much, I much prefer our halo-halo.
After a fun day in Universal Studios, we took a taxi and made our way to a famous street food area in Singapore that was recommended by our taxi driver – Lau Pa Sat. The address is 18 Raffles Quay Telok Ayer Festival Market. The other recommendation is Maxwell Food Center and the street food scene in Chinatown. We choose to go to the first option – LPS.
We wanted to get the famous Singapore chili grab for dinner but we skipped it in favor of satays. Lol. There are stalls in the Lau Pa Sat complex offering lots of cuisine, we even found one stall selling cebu lechon. 🙂 We don’t want lechon, we want Singaporean street food!
We finally decided on the tables set-up on the street, not inside the covered complex. If you go looking for street food, you’ll notice that a low of hawkers can speak a few lines of Tagalog. ‘dito na kayo’, ‘mura lang dito’, ‘this is the favorite of artista Michael B’. We settled for satays on store no 8 and 9 that the attendant says the favorite of Michael B. We were not sure if Michael B or any other Filipino celebrity did dine at their store, we just wanted to eat because we were getting hungry haha.
Satays are marinated grilled meat on skewers, like the barbeques available in the street corners in the Philippines. For satays, you can choose chicken, goat / lamb, beef meat, and yes, prawn satays are available too!. One order of satay is normally 8 sticks but you can order the number of sticks that you prefer. We got the chicken, beef, prawn satay package. Pasencia na, I already forgot the prices of the food. :/
From Lau Pa Sat, we walked all the way to Merlion Park. Close to 1 kilometer walk, I think.
The Merlion is the iconic symbol of Singapore. For tourist, the park is a must visit. The statue is located in front of the Fullerton Hotel and overlooking Marina Bay. Go there at night for the light show, visit in daytime if you want good clear pictures. 😉
From the Merlion, you will also see impressive building architectures one after the other, plus boats ferrying tourist across Marina Bay.
Day 3 – Little India, Food Trip, Shopping
Our Day 3 itinerary in Singapore was more on exploring malls and window shopping. Lol. The Great Singapore Sale just started when we visited. Unfortunately, Singapore shopping is perfect for those who can afford luxury brands, because yes, you will see big name brands offering their famous products at discounted prices. Shopping is not so kind to ‘budgetarians’ like us because we can’t still not afford haha.
Except for Kuya Tantan who was able to score a new model of Tag Heur watch at hugely discounted price in one of Singapore’s posh malls. He checked in Mall of Asia for the price of the watch he bought, the new model was not yet available in stores in Manila, but the price of the older Tag Heur model was more expensive than the new version, so he was ecstatic with his find hehe. The 3 of us contented ourselves with window shopping haha, save for chocolates, we bought lots at a store manned by a Filipina.
We did have the time to go to Little India to see the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, a Hindu temple and the colorful painted stores in the street. We also visited this famous wall painted in bold, striking colors. Several tourists were already there taking pictures and selfies when we got there. This is despite the fact that it was drizzling on and off that day.
*We bought souvenirs reef magnets and keychains in a store in Little India.
Lunch at Little India street food – It was raining so hard when we exited the MTR Little India Station. So before we walk to the temple and stores, we first took lunch at a street food complex near the MTR station. As you exit MTR Little India Station, turn left and just follow the alleyway to get to Tekka Market.
We just choose a stall randomly lol. Titus had mutton stew, a big serving of it! I had roti prata and milk tea. Kuya Tantan and Princess bought their lunch from Banana Leaf stall, a combo meal of chicken, fish, with different sauces and gravies.
Other recommendations for Tekka Market we found out later on from a foodie friend is Sky Lab Cooked Food for their prawn vadai (think savoury donut-like dish that eat alongside green chili) and Yakader Muslim Food for good biryani meal.
Oh, before I forgot, you can find several jewelry stores offering gold and silver necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, all other types of jewelries in Little India. If you will buy, inform attendant that you are a tourist and thus you wish to avail of the Singapore tourist tax refund. You can file for Singapore GST tax refund at the airport to get a few bucks back from all qualified purchases in Singapore.
Pretty buildings around Little India
Day 4 – Finally Chili Crab!, last minute pasalubong shopping, going home
Before flying to Singapore, we know we want Chili crabs. It’s one of the non-negotiables for our trip. So after completing our last minute shopping, we dropped by the mini street food center nearby our hotel, ordered chili crab and the other equally famous Singaporean dish of hainanese chicken. Ang sarap ng kain sa Singapore!
Food trip in Singapore!
Hmmm, the food offerings in this country is very varied and sumptuous. But generally, comes at higher prices. Example: Titus and I were totally shocked, in a food court inside a mall, my husband ordered one siomai. Price is SGD 1, so that’s about 36 pesos. We expected one order will have at least 3 siomai pieces, but no, 1 SGD will give you literally one piece of siomai. Ang mahal, hahaha.
So prepare your funds when you travel to Singapore! 😉 Sayang if pupunta ka tapos sobrang tipid sa food, when it is food trip that makes a Singapore vacation all the more special.
AFFORDABLE HOTEL IN SINGAPORE
Our accommodation in Singapore is Hotel Supreme. This is an old hotel offering affordable rates, comes with free breakfast of unlimited sandwich bread, strawberry jams, and coffee only. The rooms in this Singapore hotel is clean, although you can clearly see the wear and tear and the passing of time on the room’s fixture like the cabinet and bath tub. There is Wifi in the room but sometimes the signal is weak. Aircon is decent, we were able to sleep comfortably.
But nevertheless, when we go back to Singapore, we will again consider staying in this hotel. Why? The daily rate is affordable, and best of all Hotel Supreme is just a few meters walk to Orchard Road – specifically OGG Shopping Mall, Orchard Central Mall, Orchard Gateway, etc. There are also MTR stations that is walking distance from this Singapore hotel – Dhobby Ghaut MRT Station and Somerset station.
Based on our 4D/3N stay in Hotel Supreme, this is one hotel that is popular among Filipinos. During breakfast, almost all other guests present in the breakfast room are Filipinos hehe.
This is one long post in Penfires, lol. So I’m parking it now. Will we go back to Singapore? Yes, of course! Food tripping there is three thumbs-up! The taste, the choices, more than makes up the higher prices. Plus, we plan to revisit the top tourist attractions we explored on the rush this time and check-out a few more popular spots our next time in the Lion City. 😉
Singapore see you again soon!