Singapore is really an amazing country simply because even their territory is small compared to other neighboring countries, they still compete economically and innovatively. In fact, Singapore was once listed as the most progressive country especially in Southeast Asia region. If I could choose 1 word to describe Singapore, I think it would be innovative. As grew up in the busy and noisy streets of Manila, the moment I saw the city from a window pane of a train, I couldn’t help to compare the difference between Singapore and Manila especially in terms of convenient public transportation, buildings, other infrastructure and lastly their economic growth. The first question that comes to my mind is “Why?”. Why can’t we do it in the Philippines as in Singapore? Since we have more tourist destinations, attractions and places to visit here in the Philippines while they only have man-made attractions. The tourism industry is also one of strategies for growth and development, isn’t it?
Aside from being a progressive country in Asia, Singapore is also one of the safest Asian destinations. Actually, that the first thing that I’ve noticed. In fact, there are more CCTV cameras than security personnel in every public place especially inside the mall and even MRT station. They could even leave their belongings or gadgets in a food court without thinking that someone may get it. People are so disciplined.
Despite being one of the most expensive city not only in Southeast Asia but also in the world, there is still a way especially for the first timers and budget travelers to minimize the expenses if you are just prepared and know how what to do, where to eat and where to go.
OUR UNPLANNED TRAVEL
Last November, AJ and I had an awesome 3 days 2 nights vacation in Singapore. Actually, 3 days is not enough for us to just wander around and visit all of the attractions in Singapore. But even we stayed shortly, we still enjoyed the things that we have experienced in Singapore. That’s why we promised that we will visit this beautiful country again. I think unique and jaw-dropping man-made attractions is one of the reasons why so many people continue to visit Singapore
So here’s our Singapore travel guide especially for the first timer like us that might help you before visiting Singapore.
SINGAPORE TRAVEL GUIDE
HOW TO GET THERE(MANILA TO SINGAPORE)
There are several airlines operates direct flights daily from Manila to Singapore such as Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airline, and AirAsia. The cheapest regular fares are often offered by TigerAir, Jetstar, and Singapore Airlines. Actually, you can get affordable seats for as low as PHP 5,000.00 – PHP 6,000.00 for a round trip if you book one month in advance prior to your travel date. Visa is not required for Philippine passport holder. The travel time from Manila to Singapore is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes.
If you are a couple traveler and first time to travel abroad like us, you might be asked by the immigration officer about some important and personal matters regarding your relationship so both of you should answer the question accurately. Actually, the immigration officer curiously asked our Facebook account to prove that we were a real couple hahaha It’s so surprising since that was our first time to travel abroad. She also asks for our photos, how long we been together, where have we been in the past few months. We immediately responded while stuttering and saying the places that we have already visited. It is really important to bring company IDs(if any) or government IDs also.
HOW TO FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS TO SINGAPORE
You can search cheap flights through Skyscanner. I use this app frequently to compare and find cheap airfare rates.
FROM AIRPORT TO CITY
Most tourists arrive at Singapore Changi Intl Airport. Changi Airport listed as one of the best airports in the world. It’ easy to go to city from airport since it’s connected to MRT and shuttle buses. So below are the option you might want to choose:
- From Changi International Airport, go to the basement at terminal 2. Follow the sign “Train to City”
- Then ride the train going to Tanah Merah Station. From Tanah Merah Station, you have to transfer to another train. (Green line). Since it was our first time to visit Singapore, the train brought us back to the airport because we didn’t know that we have to transfer to another line which is the green line. So it’s better to ask also some locals there.
- The MRT opening hours is 5:30 AM Mondays to Saturdays and 12:00 AM during Sundays.
By Airport Transfer
Aside from MRT, there is another hassle-free transfer from Singapore Changi Airport that you might want to choose. You can book an airport transfer to your hotel which is good for 3-9 persons. For hassle-free transfer. BOOK HERE VIA KLOOK.
You should be able to hail a taxi without any problems in most parts of Singapore. Taxis and Grab are also available at Changi Airport. The fare usually drops at SGD 25-40 or PHP 933 -1494.00 to Singapore City proper. A ride to the city takes about 30 minutes.
Lastly, another cheap transportation to get to Singapore City is via Bus. The travel time is about 1 hour. Bus stops are located in the basement bus bays of Terminals 1, 2 and 3. For Terminal 4, the bus stop is located next to Car Park 4B (only services 24, 34, 36 and 110) and near the SATS Inflight Catering Centre 1 (for services 27, 53 and 858). Please prepare the exact fare as no change will be given. Alternatively, a stored-value EZ-Link card for multiple rides can be purchased from any Changi Recommends store or the Changi Airport train station.
PLACES TO VISIT
There are a lot of places to visit in Singapore. It may be small but it’s also packed with different tourist attractions, sites, museum, theme parks, zoo to name a few. Shopping? Dining? Adventure? I think all of the kinds of things that you might want to experience are already in Singapore.
- Universal Studios Singapore
- Marina Bay Sands
- Gardens by the bay
- Merlion Park
- Singapore Zoo
- Singapore Wax Museum
- Jurong Bird Park
- Singapore Flyer
Book early and get discounted ticket via Klook
Sadly, we were not able to visit other tourist attraction aside from Universal Studios Singapore, Marina bay sands and Gardens by the bay because we have only two days do it since I was just assigned by my friend as his wedding photographer.
We arrived at Changi Intl Airport around 2:30 PM and we headed directly to our hostel then to the venue of the wedding. The event ended around 11 PM. So we have no more time to wander around but to take some rest after the exhausting journey.
We woke up around 7 AM to prepare and to visit Universal Studios Singapore. We booked a 1-day pass ticket via Klook. It was very convenient instead of buying it in USS since there are a lot of tourists, especially on weekends plus the price is cheaper and you can also get a discount coupon on your meal for $5.00. You can buy a ticket here.
USS opens at 10:00 AM daily but closing hours vary between 6:00pm-9: 00 pm on different days. I suggest viewing park opening hours before your visit because we don’t want you to experience what we’ve experienced. We thought that the park will close around 8-9 PM, we haven’t done any research since it was an unexpected travel haha. So the park closed at 6 PM, At the end of the day, we haven’t experienced all of the rides but we have experienced their one of the best “The Revenge of the Mummy” and the “Transformers: The Ride 3D”. Your Universal Studio Singapore visit wouldn’t be complete if you do not try these two rides. I will make a separate blog and guide to USS soon.
How to get into Universal Studios Singapore.
- Public Buses: RWS8, 188R, 963R
- Nearest MRT station Harbourfront (NE1/CC2)
- Sentosa Express: Waterfront Station
- Go to harbourfront by taking the northeast line.
- Walk into VivoCity Mall and go to level 3 of the Mall where you can see the Sentosa Station
- Board the monorail train.
- Alight at waterfront station. You can see the famous landmark of USS which is the rotating Globe when you are near the waterfront station.
STAY CONNECTED IN SINGAPORE
If you are planning to stay in Singapore for 3-5 days, I highly suggest availing a data sim or pocket Wifi especially if it’s your first time to visit Singapore.
4G SIM Card
Since 4G Sim card is in demand, I recommend to reserve it in advance. You can buy it at Klook. Aside from 100GB Local 4G data, 500 minutes local calls and 20 minutes international call are also included.
4G Pocket Wifi
This device can be shared with up to 10 devices which is great especially if you’re traveling with a group. You can conveniently pick it up right upon your arrival at Changi Internation Airport. It is available for rent via Klook.
DAYS TO SPEND IN SINGAPORE
Since Singapore is a small country, 2 days is enough to see most of the major tourist spots and travel highlights in Singapore. But I personally recommend spending three to five days stay in Singapore especially if you want to explore more tourist destinations and attractions around the country.
WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE(BUDGET HOTELS/HOSTELS)
We all know that the worth of living in Singapore is very expensive. Hotels, Hostels, Backpackers inns and other accommodation in Singapore are expensive as well. However, there’s still a lot of budget-friendly accommodation that can be found in this expensive City.
I have made a list and consolidated it so you can easily find your preferred hotels/hostel. For budget hotels, the room rates are ranging from PHP 800.00(SGD 21.40) – PHP 1200.00(SGD 32.10). I suggest booking your room early as possible since prices will be higher as closer to the date of your trip. Cheaper rooms also tend to get fully booked especially during holidays and peak seasons. You can check the list of budget, mid-range and high-end hotels and hostels below.
7A Hamilton Road, Kallang, Singapore, Singapore
290A,Jalan Besar, Kallang, Singapore, Singapore agoda
30A, B, C, Penhas Road, Kallang, Singapore, Singapore
12 Lorong 10 Geylang, Geylang, Singapore, Singapore
10 Lorong 18 Geylang, Geylang, Singapore, Singapore
165 Kitchener Road, Little India, Singapore, Singapore
38 Hongkong Street, Clarke Quay, Singapore, Singapore
Fragrance Hotel – Emerald
20 Lorong 6 Geylang, Geylang, Singapore, Singapore
8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, Sentosa, Singapore, Singapore
39 Scotts Road, Orchard, Singapore, Singapore
100 Orchard Road, Orchard, Singapore, Singapore
New Society backpackers hostel is located at Jalan Besar Street near Lavander and Ferrer Park Station and a walking distance from Bugis Street. Aside from the cheaper rate, the location is also good, the room is clean and cozy with free access to Wifi, they also offer a free breakfast for all their guests. So, if you’re looking for budget accommodation, new society backpacker hostel is right for you.BOOK NOW
WHERE TO BOOK
You can book a room online with these trusted booking sites. Click below to see latest prices and reviews.
Search more Singapore Hotels
WHERE TO EAT
Actually, there are a lot of cheap restaurants in Singapore that would really make you satisfied even if you’re on a budget. I noticed that most of the foods are Indian and Chinese Food, but if you are still craving for a Filipino food, you can go to Lucky Plaza where it’s called the little Manila in Singapore. We haven’t tried to eat Filipino foods when we were in Singapore but some of Pinoy that we have met there said that the Filipino foods there are a bit pricey. Anyway, you can enjoy Indian and Chinese delicacy under SGD 10.00.
There are a lot of them in Little India and Chinatown. Hawkers are also good if you are on a budget and looking for a wide array of local foods. Makansutra has lots of delicious, Indeed a good meal paired with an amazing view. Honestly, some meals cost only SGD 2-5. It’s located at Glutton’s Bay near Merlion Park and Marina bay sands. Check out these 5 Hawker Center in Singapore
- Old Airport Road food center, located at Block 51, Old Airport Road, Geyland, Singapore
- Maxwell Road Hawker Center located at 1 Kadayanallur Street.
- Chinatown Food Street located at Smith Street, Singapore.
- Chomp Chomp Hawker Center located at 20 Kensington Road, Singapore.
- Singapore Food trail located at Singapore Flyer 30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore.
Our Budget for food: SGD 4-8 (PHP 150.00 – PHP 300.00) x 2 meals/day (since our hostel offers free breakfast) = SGD 8-16 (PHP 300 – PHP 598.23) x 3 day = (Drum roll…) The total budget for food would be ranges around SGD 25-48. (PHP 934.73 – PHP 1794.68).
SHOPPING AT SINGAPORE
Shopping is a stress reliever for some traveler and it should not be missed especially when traveling abroad. So here are some of the best shopping centers in Singapore that will surely give you what you’re looking for:
One of the most popular shopping centers in Singapore is the Bugis Street. If you are looking for cheap chocolates and other souvenirs, Bugis street is there for you. Bugis street is like the Divisoria of Singapore.
How to get to Bugis Street
- Ride MRT and take the EastWest line
- Alight at Bugis Junction
Mustafa Centre offers a unique market-style shopping experience. Designer products are in abundance at low prices with everything from textiles to watches and electronics on sale. The Mustafa Centre is situated right in the heart of Singapore’s Little India. Taken the North East Line on the MRT and depart at Farrer Park Station, the mall is within easy walking distance.
Orchard Road is also one of the popular shopping havens in Singapore, it sells everything that you might be searching for. Designer threads, fast fashion, upscale restaurants, ethnic wares, art galleries and relaxed hangouts – you name it, Orchard Road has it.
BUDGET AND EXPENSES
Like what I’ve said, Singapore is one of the most expensive travel destinations in Asia. In fact, it was twice as expensive as in the Philippine.
The table below is the total expenses in PHP per pax during our trip to Singapore.
|EXPENSES||in PHP per pax|
|Philippine Travel Tax||1620|
|Universal Studios Singapore||2500|
By the way, I have created a list of attractions and transportation with its prices that might help you to set your own budget. The prices posted below are discounted rates. Expect to spend more if you pay the walk-in prices on the day of your visit.You can lessen the expenses if you book your flight and accommodation early or a month before your actual travel date.
Note that the prices posted below are subject to change.
SGD 12 | EZLink Card – It can be used for MRT and buses. It Includes SGD 7 initial stored value and SGD 5 non-refundable card cost.
SGD 68 | Universal Studios Singapore – 1-day discounted ticket pass for adultGET DISCOUNTS
SGD 22 | Gardens by the Bay – (Enter the Cloud Forest to see the world’s tallest indoor waterfall| Cloud Forest + Flower dome)GET DISCOUNTS
SGD 22 | Marina Bay Sky Park – Enjoy unobstructed 360-degree views of Singapore’s skyline and the city below.GET DISCOUNTS
SGD 22 | Singapore Cable Car Skypass – 30 Minutes durationGET DISCOUNTS
SGD 46 | Sentosa FUN pass – 1-day pass for adultGET DISCOUNTS
SGD 34 | Singapore Zoo – 1-day admission for adultGET DISCOUNTS
MONEY SAVING TIPS
- Choose hostels – Staying at hostels is far cheaper than staying at hotels. Aside from its cheaper rate, it also gives you an opportunity to socialize with other travelers and backpackers. Staying at hostels is also best if you are traveling in a group of 3-5 persons. You can use Agoda, booking.com, and Airbnb for booking a room online. I can share with you Airbnb discount coupon if you signed up through my referral link. Just click this link and it should be direct you to Airbnb website.
- Take public transit like MRT and buses – MRT and buses are very convenient and efficient in Singapore. You can use your EZLink card when riding MRT and buses.
- Eat at hawkers centers.
- Chewing gum is not allowed in Singapore.
- Spitting is also prohibited in Singapore.
- Always check if you have left anything behind when you alight.
- There’s a free 3 hours internet at Changi Airport. Simply scan your passport at WiFi Kiosks to obtain a password.
- Get travel guide and magazine upon arrival at the Changi Internation Airport.
- Buy EZLink card since it can also be used for buses aside from MRT. It can be purchased from the TransitLink Ticket office located at selected SMRT Stations.
- You have to alight at Tanah Merah station and switch to another line if you are coming from the airport.
- Eating and drinking inside the public transportation are highly prohibited.
- Buses do not give change. So prepare exact amount or buy EZLink card.
- Follow their rules if you don’t want to have a penalty of SGD 5000.00.
- Water is a bit pricey
- Most of the establishment especially malls has no or even less security personnel but it was surrounded by CCTV.
- There’s a free Wifi connection in Universal Studio.
USEFUL TRAVEL APPS
XE Currency – Mobile app for converting currency.
GET THE GUIDE
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