Last year, I was able to go to Singapore when I was one of the loan staff for our company’s international affiliate in SG. I, together with 10 other Filipino auditors stayed there for a month. Staying in the country for work is very much different than staying there for the sole purpose of travelling. And due to our busy demanding schedule, I had a limited time visiting the country. But of course, I couldn’t resist exploring what SG has to offer especially for first timers like me! And so let’s start with…
What to Visit in Singapore?
There are a lot of tourist attractions in SG to choose from. One famous attraction is Sentosa Island. Allot two days when you plan to visit this island because one day is not enough. One whole day for Universal Studios Singapore and one day exploring the rest of attractions there is in Sentosa like the Trick Eye Museum.
For kids and kids at heart, you will enjoy Sentosa Island so much. One day is not enough to explore the island since it offers a lot of attractions. Universal Studios Singapore should be visited for one day while the rest of the island for the next day. If you have a limited time then I guess it’s still okay to do it in one day. Just skip other attractions and just enjoy at USS and explore the rest of Sentosa either by walking or riding the cable car. Getting here is easy. Just go to VivoCity where you can take the Sentosa Express directly connecting you to Sentosa.
Every day, from the apartment where we were staying to our office located in the Business District, we usually passed by Orchard, the shopping capital of Singapore. After work, I and my friend would usually hang out here to check out dresses for sale from Forever 21, H&M, Aeropostale, etc. Aside from the endless choices of stores, you can also try out and buy some ice cream from the street vendors just outside the malls. It is a must-try, for sure.
I noticed that Filipinos usually hang out in one place during weekends, and that is in Lucky Plaza. For those who are craving for Pinoy food, you can buy from our very own Jollibee! You can buy chocolates here for a cheap price! But of course, it’s still way cheaper to buy from Mustafa.
Bugis Area + Haji Lane
Bugis Junction is like the Divisoria in Philippines. You can find cheap buys from food to clothes! There are also malls around Bugis and it’s also near Haji Lane where you can strike a post on the murals outside the stores.
From our office in the Central District, we were able to go to Chinatown by just walking. It’s quite far but it’s tolerable since we always walk as long as it’s not raining. It’s also like a Divisoria in Philippines. We bought keychains and t-shirts here since it is cheaper than those in Bugis.
Singapore Art Museum + Books Actually
I’ve always been a fan of museum and anyone who knows me well will agree. Upon getting there, I already searched for things to do for free. When you love museums as much as I do and you’re on a budget, then I suggest you to visit Singapore Art Museum at Friday night from 6 pm onwards. Admission is free so that will save you 10 SGD. Another thing I love is bookstores so I went to Tiong Bahru district just to see this famous bookstore BooksActually. I love their books but one thing I don’t like is that it’s very difficult to go here just for a book. But if you still want to give it a visit, then do so. Just remember that from the Tiong Bahru station, you will have to walk a lot just to get there. So ready your google maps!
One of the best way to explore SG is to ride a boat that will pass by Singapore River. You can either choose a day tour or night tour with one stopover at any of the landmarks along Singapore River. To name a few are Merlion Park, Marina Bay and Boat Quay. What we did is we purchased a ticket from Boat Quay and as our starting point where we dropped off at Marina Bay for our stopover. Then ride again going back to Boat Quay. By the way, a ticket cost 25 SGD for one person. You might think it’s expensive because it is, but it’s worth it.
There are a lot of things to do from watching the lights show at Gardens by the Bay to having your picture taken at Merlion Park and even Fullerton Hotel.
Getting around Singapore
is actually easy. You can either travel by bus or by MRT. For budget travelers, you should not eye riding taxi as it cost a lot. By the way, make sure to download applications like MRT for an easy-travel guide around Singapore. Not only it shows the approximate time of each travel, it also shows the price based from distance. Don’t forget to buy EZ link card and tap it with load for an easy travel around the city. Buses still accept cash fares but it’s more expensive than having an EZ link card. I also don’t suggest you to buy the tourist pass unless you have a limited time in SG but if not, then buy EZ link!
There are no wi-fi in public area so you need to buy a sim card. Don’t forget to bring your passport at all times as it is also necessary to purchase the sim card.
Where to eat?
Speaking of must-try’, as I mentioned before, try the ice cream at the streets of Orchard. For lunch, eye for their Hawkers (or food court) as food is cheaper here compare to the restaurants found in malls. Also try Koi café at Bugis, I forgot what I ordered but according to reviews, they have one of the best milk tea in SG. When you found yourself in the busy streets of Robinsons Road, don’t forget to buy from Old Tea Hut. I always order Gula Melaka Tea and Gula Melaka Coffee both priced at 2.10 SGD. Don’t forget to taste their kaya toast, it’s perfect for breakfast or even just a snack!
Where to Stay?
As for where to stay, I won’t be able to recommend one that is for short term that is affordable. But you might want to check out the Metropolitan Y. Our company was the one who paid for our accommodation so I’m not really sure as to how much the price range is. But you can check their website and try to search it in google for more information. I can say that they have a great facility. We stayed at their apartment style room which offers a more home-feel vibes than the hotel rooms. The unit where I stayed has two rooms. Each room has its own restroom. There’s a washroom near the dining area, a kitchen and a sala set with TV with cable. There’s two swimming pool one located at our building and one Olympic size pool at the back of the main building (hotel). There’s also a gym and access is free.
It was a very long stay at SG and definitely worth it. I wasn’t able to visit other tourist spots like the Night Safari or Botanic Garden, I wasn’t able to ride Singapore Flyer but I guess that just means I will always have a reason to go back to Singapore.