How I Had a 5D4N Budget Vacation in Singapore for P7200 (RM 620)

With three days off from work, I finally have the chance to travel to neighboring countries. However, since I have limited resources, I’ve selected the two countries accessible by bus transport from Malaysia – Thailand and Singapore.

With time consideration, I heard from a local colleague that a bus ride to Thailand will take me 8 hours to Hatyai (but not yet Bangkok – only on the border of Malaysia-Thailand) and only 4-5 hours to Singapore.

While Thailand has a considerably lower cost of living than Singapore, I did some research and found out that there are endless ways to travel luxurious cities like Singapore within budget. Since it has excellent transportation routes and plenty of fascinating tourist spots, I chose to go Singapore, even if I have to eat Chicken Rice for one whole week.

TRANSPORTATION:

Departure: Kuala Lumpur, TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) -> Singapore, Little India (Fare: RM45 = P517.50)

Arrival: Singapore, Katong V Mall -> Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown KL 5 Elements Hotel (Fare: RM72 = P828)

Total Transportation Fare: RM 117 (P1345.50)

From all the three available transportation to Singapore – airplane, bus and train – bus is the most cheap and economical to choose since you can take the midnight tickets and sleep during the travel.

The bus trip is approximately 5.5 hrs from Malaysia to Singapore. Note that you may have to be awake during the last hour because intercity travels will require you to cross two immigration buildings – one exiting Malaysia and another one entering Singapore.

QUICK TIPS:

  • If you can book online, do it so you can be reserved on the shuttle coach ahead of time. I booked mine at easybook.com. They also have lots of promotions including discounts and travel vouchers every month.
  • As advised, choose the midnight schedule (12 AM) so you can arrive early in Singapore and utilize the saved time in roaming nearby tourist spots before checking in to your hostel.
  • Ensure that you have legitimate visa and passport details as there’s a chance that immigration officials in Woodlands Singapore may halt and bring you into rigorous interrogation if you have the wrong documents.

ACCOMMODATION:

Online Booking Fee: RM 205 (P2357.50)

Duration of Stay: 5 Days – 4 Nights

Online Merchant: Agoda

I primarily chose Prince of Wales because this is one of the cheapest hostels with no bedbugs from the Agoda reviews which was a positive sign that it’s well maintained. True enough, I was given a bedsheet, pillow and blanket after check-in. There were also five discount coupons with one free complementary Heineken/Jam Jar from the hostel. The management said they will discontinue the free Heineken/Jam Jar moving forward and that I was the last one who got the red coupon. Lucky me!

The mixed dormitory I stayed has four bunk beds, where most of the time occupants were Western foreigners. Aircon runs 9 PM – 9 AM only. Showers on the ground floor has heater and wi-fi speed is excellent. On one Saturday night, I came home to watch music bands performing laid back music.

Overall, this is a recommended hostel if you want a cheap backpacker accommodation with good quality service and proper maintenance.

DAY 1: LITTLE INDIA + BUGIS: RM 102 / SGD 34 / PHP 1173

Considering the hefty transportation cost for 5 days in Singapore, I planned to avail the Singapore Tourist Pass (STP) for SGD 20 (3-day Pass) which enables me to have unlimited travel on MRTs, LRTs and public buses. Then I’ll use the STP for Day 2-4 so for Day 1, I only visited the tourist spots near my hostel – Prince of Wales.

Therefore, it is important to pick a strategic place where you will book your hostel. For me, I recommend Little India because:

  • Its MRT is an interchange between North East Line (train going to Sentosa, Clarke Quay or Chinatown) and Downtown Line (train going to Botanic Gardens or Bugis)
  • It has plenty of nearby temples and mosques (see below) with the cultural ‘feel’ that immerses your inner Indian.
  • It has access to cheap hawker stalls for as low as SGD 5 per meal – like Tekka Centre – which is home to an exquisite variety of Singapore cuisine.
  • You can also shop for souvenirs on Mustafa Shopping Centre for cheap perfumes or jewelries.

Bugis is also walking distance from Little India so you can buy your STP there, explore the shops on Bugis Street and pray on the nearby temple for blessings.

Itineraries:

  • Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
  • Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
  • Mustafa Shopping Centre
  • Indian Heritage Centre (SGD 4 for Entrance, Free English Tour)
  • Masjid Abdul Gafoor Mosque
  • Haji Lane
  • Bugis Street
  • Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple

DAY 2: SENTOSA + MERLION + GARDENS BY THE BAY: RM 126 / SGD 42 / PHP 1449

By Day 2, I had unlimited transportation thanks to the STP card so I can roam everywhere in Singapore. Unfortunately, it does not cover the cost for Sentosa Express which I paid for SGD 4 (P140). I did not go anymore to the Universal Studios Singapore since I’ve gone there already but for those who are wondering, the entrance fee is SGD 74 (P2590).

In the afternoon, I went to Gardens by the Bay by strolling on the Raffles Place area, onto the Helix Bridge, and through the walkway on Marina Bay Sands. It was one of the most beautiful tourist spot I have ever seen in Singapore and the one I’ll recommend especially when you avail the entrance fee to the Cooled Conservatories – Cloud Forest and Flower Dome – for SGD 28 (P966). I also got lucky because there was an event called Garden Rhapsody – Retro Fever on the Supertree Grove where there were bright lights dancing to the 80’s tune and it was truly magnificent.

Marina Bay near the Merlion statue was very beautiful during the night. As I was walking on the Jubilee Walk Trail, I can see the splendid Marina Bay Sands shining through the calm waters. With the area still full of tourists, I suddenly remembered the song “The Night is Still Young.”

Itineraries:

  • Vivo City, HarbourFront
  • Sentosa – Waterfront, Imbiah and Beach Stations
  • Marina Bay at Raffles Place
  • Esplanade Theatres and Marina Bay Sands
  • Helix Bridge and Jubilee Walk Trail
  • Gardens by the Bay – Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, Supertree Grove
  • Makansutra
  • Singapore Flyer

DAY 3-4: BOTANIC GARDENS + ORCHARD + CLARKE QUAY + CHINATOWN: RM 60 / SGD 20 / PHP 690

From Little India, I went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens for my morning jogging. The habitat was very huge with lots of interactive trails such as Healing and Evolution Gardens. Since it belonged to one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the place was also properly maintained with some area (near the Ginger Garden) still renovated. It was also near to some of the buildings of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

When I took the Orchard exit from the Botanic Gardens, I rode the bus using my STP to the sightly Orchard Road. Foreigners were bustling with branded paper bags from shopping malls such as Ion, Wisma Atria, Tangs, Takashimaya and Lucky Plaza. As a major tourist attraction full of retail and entertainment hubs, it was one of those places the millennial will usually coin as ‘Instagrammable.’

To compensate from the tiring walk escapades, I decided to relax near the historical riverside they call as Clarke Quay. With various restaurants and nightclubs such as Hooters and Zouk (still closed for renovation), it may well be considered the party capital of Singapore.

Tourists can further enjoy their stay in the dazzling quay with G-Max Reverse Bungee (SGD 45 = P1575), Singapore River Cruise (SGD 22 = P770) or probably just chill on the Read Bridge with an ice cold beer while listening to some street performers.

The next day, I went to the colorful Chinese enclave in Singapore, the ethnic Chinatown. Starting from Pagoda street, I saw different kind of shops ranging from hot tiger balms to big ruby dragon statues. There were also Chinese and Indian temples near the area along with the Chinese Heritage Centre (with an admission fee of SGD 15 = P525).

I also went to two famous hawker centres along the vicinity, the Chinatown Food Street and the Maxwell Food Centre, especially the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice which gained popularity from featuring of Anthony Bourdain on one of his No Reservations program.

Across the Maxwell Food Centre, there were museums such as ‘Red Dot Design Museum and the Singapore City Gallery (formerly URA Gallery). Entrance is free of charge and the whole gallery aims to show the physical transformation in the last 40 years which are both educational and interesting. It also exhibited the city diorama of Singapore with accurate representations from buildings all over the country.

At night of Day 4, I met some of my friends in Singapore to have dinner on one of the restaurants situated along Robertson’s Quay. We walked from Clarke Quay and onto the pedestrian footpath located near the contour of the riverside. Suffice to say, the food was extremely delicious.

Itineraries:

  • Singapore Botanic Gardens – Foliage, Healing, Evolution, National Orchid
  • Orchard Road Shopping Malls
  • Clarke Quay – Singapore River Cruise and G-Max Reverse Bungee
  • Chinatown – People’s Park Complex and Centre
  • Masjid Jamae (Chulia)
  • Sri Mariamman Temple
  • Chinatown Food Street and Maxwell Food Centre
  • Singapore City Gallery
  • Robertson’s Quay

DAY 5: KATONG + EAST COAST: RM 63 / SGD 21 / PHP 724.50

Early morning, I checked out from my hostel, ate lunch at Geylang Road and surrendered my STP to get the SGD 10 deposit. Then I went to Katong V Mall which is bus pickup point going back to Malaysia. The shortest route was through Paya Lebar station and to the free shuttle pickup from Paya Lebar Square to Katong V.

Since I still have 2 hours to departure, I walked along the streets until I hit the serene waters of Singapore, the beach side of East Coast Park. It was styled as an urban getaway where families and friends can play volleyball, ride bicycles, celebrate fun events, fry barbeques and waddle in the waters. Overall, it’s a perfect place to relax and relieve stress.

Itineraries:

  • Geylang Road
  • Paya Lebar Square
  • Katong V Mall and nearby Shopping Malls
  • East Coast Park

6 Things To Do In Singapore When It Rains

Rain, and the wave of cool air it brings, is always welcome in Singapore. However, if it starts to rain as often as it has these past few weeks, people can start to get a little frustrated and bored of the indoors. If you’re one of them, don’t fret – we’ve compiled a list of six things you can do when it begins to pour in Singapore. So bring your brollies out, embrace the rain and explore a side of Singapore you never knew.

1. Check Out A Museum

Singapore has some of the region’s finest museums, so why not spend a day in the rain feeding your cultural soul? If you’re feeling artsy, explore the art museum (Singapore Art Museum), where you will be wowed by modern contemporary art by some of Asia’s finest artists. The museum is housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings; a former school built in the 1800s by the British. Right across the street is the National Museum of Singapore, which delves into the country’s history culture and often has special exhibitions. It recently displayed works from the House of Liechtenstein, in an exhibition aptly titled ‘Princely Treasures’.

2. Shopping At Orchard Road

Orchard Road, Singapore’s answer to Paris’ Champ Elysees is any shopaholic’s paradise. The best part about it is its maze of underground tunnels, which means you can hop from mall to mall, store to store, without ever having to step out in the rain.

3. Ice Skate

It might be raining outside, but in some parts of Singapore, it snows inside. Why not head to J Cube Mall in Jurong to try your hand at ice-skating? A 15-minute introductory lesson costs $27, while a two hour skating session starts at $22.

4. Catch An Arthouse Film

The rain sounds like a perfect setting for an indie, arthouse (preferably foreign) film to indulge your inner hipster and make you question the meaning of life. The Picturehouse, by Cathay Films, is perfect for this and offers international and regional films. Check out its website for a list of films on display.

5. Go Under The Sea

The last thing you might want to be in the rain is wet, but a trip to Resort World Sentosa’s S.E.A Aquarium, home to at least 800 different marine creatures. Come face to face with stingrays, sharks, eels and sea anemone, and be treated to a hands-on experience, literally, at the Discovery Touch Pool. Tickets begin at $38 for adults to visit this world’s largest aquarium.

6. Have A Cup Of Tea

Perhaps the nicest thing to do on a cold, rainy day is to have a warm cup of tea with a book or a great friend. There’s no place better to do this than Jones the Grocer at ION Orchard. Pick a table that faces the balcony, and be calmed by the pitter-patter of raindrops while drinking its signature Japanese Genmaicha green tea.

Another gorgeous place to have a high tea is The Tiffin Room at the Raffles Hotel. If you’re alone, the thoughtful staff will graciously place a magazine at your table. High tea is served at two sittings, one just after 1pm and the other at 3pm. The spread, served in a buffet style, is a delightful of Western classics (think scones, cakes, tarts and pastries) and Asian specialities such as dim sum. There are few varieties of tea here, but a glass of champagne might make you forget all that. Prices begin at $50 (exclusive of champagne), and be sure to dress appropriately (smart casual will do).

Tipping in Foreign Countries

Tipping is a common practice of leaving money for services. Each country has its own tipping etiquette. In some countries it is expected, while in others it is considered an insult or impolite act. Sometimes wrong tipping etiquette can potentially spoil a good vacation. So always keep some idea about the tipping techniques of various countries before planning an international travel.

In US, tipping is usually considered as a common practice. The act of giving ten to fifteen percentages above the bill before leaving is considered a good etiquette for the traveler.

Tipping is customary in Europe. It is welcomed and highly expected in countries like Mexico, Canada and Russia. The guest must leave something to hotel staffs and drivers, above the service tax added on the bill.

Tipping is not a common practice in most of the Asian countries. But it is highly appreciated to get things done faster and better. In these countries a service tax of 10-15% will be usually added on the bill. One can offer some kind of tip for better service in India, Pakistan, Egypt and Middle East Countries. But tipping is unlawful in some Asian countries like Japan and Singapore.

In African countries tipping is not a mandatory service but it is always acceptable. Service charges will be usually added in their bills. Tipping is not a common practice in Australia too.

Sometimes your tipping gesture can be misunderstood as an insulting act. So if you are in a foreign country and don’t know their tipping rules, better to observe what the locals do and follow the same.

Tips For Travel to Singapore

Singapore is a small country in size but an economic giant especially in South East Asia. Singapore is situated at the south tip of Malaysia, just one degree north of the equator.

The city is a blend with the culture and religions of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European. The four main religions are celebrated by the different ethnicity and the auspicious day like Muslim celebrating the end of Ramadan, Vesak day for the Buddhist, the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Christmas and Easter for the Christians, New Year Day and the Lunar New Year celebrated by the Chinese are officially public holiday for all. Food is a passion to many and a very much talk about topic amongst the locals due to the wide selections of multi ethnic food and European cuisines.

Though it is relatively easy to travel in Singapore, it is always good to find out some useful travel information before you begin your trip. Here are some useful travel tips for Singapore:

Visas for Singapore All travellers to Singapore are required to go through immigration clearance upon their arrival into the country. The granting of social visit passes to visitors is determined by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the point of entry. Visitors must satisfy the following basic entry requirements before they are allowed to enter Singapore:

  • A passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Valid Singapore visa, if applicable
  • Sufficient funds to last for the intended period of stay in Singapore
  • Confirmed onward/return tickets (where applicable)
  • Entry facilities to their onward destinations, e.g. visas.
  • Completed Disembarkation/Embarkation Card
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if applicable

Electricity connection

Visitors to Singapore must check if their electrical appliances can handle the voltage of 220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. The power plugs used in Singapore are of the three-pin, square-shaped type. If your electrical device does not accept the voltage and the appliance plug shape is different, you will need a voltage converter and a plug adapter. However, most hotels in Singapore will provide transformers to visitors with electrical appliances of a different voltage when requested.

Sales tax refunds in Singapore The Goods and Service tax in Singapore is 5%. To qualify for sales tax refunds, you need to have a minimum purchase amount ranging between SGD$300 to SGD$500. To claim your GST refunds, pack the items in hand luggage, and present the item(s) and the receipt at the Global Refund Services after immigration and security when leaving Singapore. Also allow an extra 15 minutes before departure. The refund payment can be made by cash, credit card payment or cheque. A small handling fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

Myanmar Travel – Tips for Getting Around

If you are visiting Myanmar, there are many excellent and exciting sites you will want to see. However, if you do not have the proper tips for getting around, you will never get to the different places you have in mind. The first tip to know for successful Myanmar travel is that the main international airport is located in Yangon. It is called Yangon International Airport and has direct flights to Bangkok, Taipei, Singapore, Calcutta, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Chiang Mai, and Guangzhou. Look into updated flight schedules well in advance before booking your flight.

As a foreigner hoping to enter Myanmar, you are required to possess a valid passport and a Myanmar visa. You can obtain your needed visa with three photos and your valid passport at any Myanmar Embassy or Consulate. As of May 1, 2010, foreigners to Myanmar can apply for their visa when arriving at Yangon or Mandalay international airports. No prior arrangements with travel agencies are necessary anymore. There are different kinds of visas you can purchase at varying prices. For example, one is a 28-day tourist visa available for $30 USD per person. A 70-day business visa can be purchased for $40 USD and is extendable. Children under the age of seven do not require a visa for Myanmar travel.

Money is an important topic to discuss when you are planning a trip to Myanmar. The currency used there is called the Kyat, pronounced “chat.” The exchange rate is six Kyats for one US dollar. Authorized money changers in Yangon will help you obtain the official currency of the country during your Myanmar travel. Meanwhile, restaurants and hotels also accept Euros and the exchange rate is 1440 Kyats for one Euro. Exchanging back into US dollars at the airport is not advisable. The exchangers there will only give you one US dollar for every 450 Kyats. Keep in mind that banks in Myanmar are closed on Sundays.

The cost of your hotel and dining experiences during your Myanmar travel will depend very much upon what part of the country you are in. Prices can double if you are in certain areas. For example, a hotel stay can cost $30 USD per person in one place while the same service can be obtained in a different location for $15 USD. When it comes to tipping, local restaurants expect about 200 Kyats per person.