Singapore is a beautiful country that lies within Southeast Asia and is always considered to be one of the top destinations to visit within the region. I’m so lucky and blessed that this city-state is just 3Hrs 40Mins or 2,391 km away from Manila, Philippines.
Just about a week ago, I had the chance to finally set foot and explore. It’s technically my second visit in Singapore but first time using my Philippine passport. But how did it happen? Don’t get me wrong, I did not enter illegally in Singapore during my first time (lol).
Well here’s a funny story my mom told me. While she was carrying me in her tummy, she went to visit Singapore and Hong Kong for vacation. Now you guys know where I inherited my globetrotter gene. 22 years after, here I went for my second backpacking adventure without any adult supervision.
By setting foot at the Changi International Airport, I have ticked another entry off my bucket list. It has been a long dream of mine to see the World’s Best Airport and there I finally did it. Disclaimer: when visiting Singapore for the first time, hope you brought your patience with you though. Since it’s a really busy airport, anticipate the long queue by the immigration area. After that, you’re set for an exciting day ahead.
Personally, my first task every time I reach any airport of an international destination is to get a sim card. But how much does a sim card costs on an average in Singapore? Well for my experience, I bought the SGD $18 sim card from Starhub which is inclusive of 5-day internet access with 2GB cap a day, just enough for sharing stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for two people visiting the country in less than a week.
But if you will stay for at max 10 days in Singapore, another telco Singtel offer tourist sim cards for SGD $50, ideal for two people who wants separate sim cards for their unlocked phones. This is is inclusive of 10 days of internet, 20GB cap, unlimited Facebook, WhatsApp and Line, unlimited call and text to and from the two sim cards only and 90 minutes international calls.
Commuting in Singapore
From the Changi International Airport, how can you get to the city? Well, I’m so relieved that Singapore is indeed a tourist friendly city that the MRT station is connected as well from the Airport going to the city. Just look for the signs or ask airport crew on how to get to the Changi Airport MRT station from your current terminal and you should be good. But of course you can still take a cab thru Grab Taxi or Uber but keep in mind that this is the most expensive way to go to the city.
Arriving at the Changi Airport terminal station, look for the ticket booth at your left hand side, if you couldn’t find it, the ticket personnel at the counter before the gates could help you find to get your MRT ticket en route to the city, just ask.
As a tourist, there are a couple of ways to avail your transportation pass to the city. Basically, there are two types of cards that you can get from the ticket booth. First, is the Singapore Tourist Pass and the other one is the Stored Value Cards. The Singapore Tourist Pass is of course, exclusive to tourists only and once availed, you can use this for unlimited transportation around the city (Bus, MRT and LRT) and is available for 1-Day, 2-Days, or 3-Days. On the other hand, there are these Stored Value Cards namely EZ Link or NETS Flash Pay that you can avail for a minimum of SGD $12 (Card costs SGD $5 and travel value is SGD $7).
For the Stored Value Cards, they both are of same use case but differ in some areas. EZ Link easily wins because you can also use it to over 5,000 retail points which includes SMRT cabs, libraries, convenience stores, schools and hospitals aside from buses, MRT, and LRT. NETS Flash Pay on the other hand, is only valid to 2,500 retail points which includes food courts and stalls, convenience stores, book shops, and cinemas. Lifespan wise, NETS Flash Pay wins because you can use it within 7 years, meanwhile EZ Link expires after 5 years. Top up points are available across all ticket booth in train stations.
Singapore from my perspective
Sim Lim Square is the heaven for gadget lovers. Head on to this place via Rochor Station (Downtown Line) and you can feast your eyes to Singapore’s popular tech market in the country. You can find lots of stuff here ranging from smartphone cables to laptops and anything techie you can think of.
The Raffles Hotel, a five-star hotel at the heart of Singapore, accessible via Esplanade Station (Circle or Yellow Line). This place is renowned for the famous Singapore Sling (priced at SGD $29) which they serve for tourists at the hotel’s Bar & Billiard room. Starting next year, 2017, Raffles Hotel Singapore will embark on a careful and sensitive restoration programme which will be carried out in three phases.
Phase One begins in middle of February 2017 and will see the Raffles Hotel Arcade undergo restoration works.. This includes the Long Bar, the banqueting facilities and the retail arcade. Take note that the Singapore Sling will still continue to be served at the hotel’s Bar & Billiard room. The other areas of the property operate as normal.
Sometimes when in Singapore, you just got to avoid riding the subway. You can’t see that much view while you’re underneath. Feel the rich metropolitan vibe of Singapore by riding a bus heading to Downtown Singapore. Let the concrete jungle awake your modern senses on a sightseeing trip using your Singapore Tourist Pass or Stored Value Card.
War Memorial Park is another nice place to see the Singapore skyline, located along Beach Road in the Downtown Core of Singapore’s Central Region. The Civilian War Memorial is located at the center of the park as a memorial to civilians who died in Singapore during World War II. It is a 1.4-hectare park managed by the National Parks Board accessible via MRT Circle Line Esplanade Station.
Also located within the vicinity of the Esplanade, you can find the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, known for hosting Singapore’s big events. It’s also a nice place to visit during the day given its picturesque look.
Just beside the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is the National Gallery of Singapore. This place is renowned for being the world’s largest public display of modern Southeast Asian art. Ticket starts at Php 534 (Philippine Peso) but you can get a discounted pass at Klook thru this link. You’re welcome!
Every time I visit a new country, I look forward to see the places where to get panoramic shots of iconic places. Also along the Esplanade is where you can find Singapore’s icon, the Merlion. This is a free park for everybody. Don’t forget to get your wackiest or most creative picture with the Merlion.
Art is well and alive in Singapore. If you love graffiti walls, head on to Haji Lane via Bugis Station (East-West / Green Line). It’s almost a ten minute walk from there. You might get the sweat but it’s worth all the hassle. You can also find hipster looking shops and cafes from here.
The Old Hill Street Police Station (formerly known as the MICA Building), home to the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and is a colorful colonial landmark located at the junction of River Valley Road and Hill Street.
It officially opened in 1934, and was the largest government building in Singapore at the time. It used to house the Hill Street Police Station and Barracks. The nearest station from this place is Clarke Quay (North East or Purple Line).
Ready for some shopping for your family and friends back home? Bugis Street is the best place to get the cheapest goods from the city. Here, you can get bundle of 4 Singapore souvenir shirts at just SGD $10 or a SGD $10 Merlion landmark figurine to display at home and whole lot more. Don’t miss out the street food they offer from here. It’s delicious!
Looking for an upscale venue to shop? head on to the Marina Bay Sands or the ION Orchard. The Marina Bay Sands has its own station (Marina Bay Station) by the North-South or Red Line. Marina Bay Sands is also an iconic Singapore landmark that attracts millions of tourists yearly. It also houses almost all high fashion brands you can think of. An overnight stay at the Marina Bay Sands is currently part of my bucket list. If you’re going to ask me how much it is to stay here at night, it starts at SGD $520 or almost 19k in Philippine peso.
If you want another place to get a nice panoramic shot of the Singapore skyline by night, head on to the Fullerton Bay Hotel, they have an open area for you to take photos of yourself with the skyscrapers or even Marina Bay Sands behind you. The nearest station from here is Raffles Place via East-West Line / Green Line or North-South Line / Red Line.
ION Orchard is just one of the many malls along the Orchard Road. Fast retail shops and high fashion stores are also in this place. Lots of restaurants to try out too. Don’t forget to stop by in front of the ION Orchard to simply look or take a photo of the place that shines so bright by dusk – it’s beautiful. The nearest station is Orchard via North-South or Red Line if you want to visit the famous Orchard Road for an evening of shopping.