Sunday, May 22, 2016

Singapore Travel Tips

Planning - 

Two months in advance would be standard like any other place to get a reasonable flight ticket fare. I normally use Lonely pLanet guide book rather than sitting in front of the internet for hours to plan my travel. It helps to read this book once before you leave so that you can decide what to see and what to skip. However, I am always lazy to do that and end up reading about an area the day before I head there. 

Accommodation - 

There are a few cheap hostels in Little India and Chinatown. They account up to S$ 20 for dormitories. I found less hostels offering private rooms. Your next best option would be some cheaper hotels in the same location around  S$ 60-100. I chose Hotel Ibis in Bencoolen street for its location. I wanted to be away from places concentrated with certain communities and be located centrally. Surprisingly, Ibis was walkable distance from Little India, Downtown, Arab Street and many other central locations and thus made it the perfect place to stay. I would highly recommend this place if you are okay to spend a little more on accommodation. 

First thing to do after Landing - 

Like always, I withdrew money from ATM instead of going for an exchange counter. SIM cards are easily available at the airport. There are good tourist packages available. No matter if it is Singtel or Star hub, all have comparable rates and offers. Make sure you get some good data package to use it while you are traveling. 

The next very important thing would be to go to an MRT station and buy a EZlink card. This is a card used in Metro and buses for paying.  They are available in any MRT stations and you can top them up there. A non-refundable S$ 5 is charged and then a top up of your choice can be done. I would recommend about S$10 or 15 for the first few days. 

Traveling within Singapore - 

Bus is the most convenient and cheapest mode of transport in Singapore. The connectivity is too good. If you want to get to some place quicker, then MRT is preferred. There are bumboats and ferries to some of the islands like Pulau Ubin and Sister Islands. You may want to check the timings for the later. 

Hotel Ibis was offering free Bamboo bicycles for guests to travel around the city but there is no point bicycling there. For bicycling, I would recommend Pulau Ubin or some other islands. 

Exploring an area by foot has its own charm as you get to observe a lot. 

Surprisingly, taxis are not very expensive as well, as compared to other developed nations. Of course they are distance apart from buses or MRT. From and to the airport by Metro is your best option. I spent S$2.5 oneway to get there. A taxi would have cost me S$ 25. 

Food - 

Singapore is a heaven for food lovers. There are all kinds of food, available in all kinds of ranges. There are high end restaurants, mid range pubs and food joints and inexpensive Hawker centres. You will always find a Hawker centre very close to where you are. Here, you could find a lot of stalls selling really good food at an inexpensive price. Many Singaporeans eat here. It is also easy to find a few stalls that sell only vegetarian food. If you walk to Little India, you can find a lot of Indian restaurant. Almost any place in Singapore, would have at least one Indian option. However, to find pure vegetarian food could be challenging. 

I strongly recommend Kaya toasts in several Kaya toast joints. This Malay jam made of egg and coconut is yummy. Try Kopi, the local coffee. Also, the ice-cream sandwiches and of course the rice balls with interesting fillings. For non-vegetarians there are a lot of options  but unfortunately, I cannot be of much help. 

If you wish to have food from other countries, those are always available. KFC, McDonalds, Mexican restaurants, food joints  and several Italian restaurants are easily available.

Communication - 

Wifi is available in the hotels. The country is very well connected, network wise so your data package will have no issue. You can get to any place you want with the help of google maps. I would not recommend any other local apps. Make sure you put your iPhone (Assuming you are using one) to the "Low battery mode" if you use the google maps extensively while traveling. It works like magic. 

Culture and People - 

I found Singaporeans very friendly and warm. They are also more interactive than the people of HK. Almost everyone speaks English, including old people so it is not a problem to get around here. Since the country heavily relies on tourism, the people are extremely friendly to the tourists and travellers. 

There are a few Buddhist or taoist temples where you are expected to behave in a certain way. There are no signboards telling you anything, but I think its common sense.

What to buy - 

I found Singapore extremely expensive. I would rather buy in the US. I bought a few art material but not that they are popular there or anything. I would strongly recommend buying some bottles of Kaya jam and the local Kopi powder if you are a coffee fan and even if you ar not as it tastes brilliant and is not acidic. 

Daiso and IKEA are two places that would be of interest if you are a shopping freak but then they are not unique to this country anyways. I would recommend the stalls in first level at Lucky Plaza on Orchard road for the magnets and other gift items. They seemed of the best price and quality. 

There were lot of discount sales at every mall. So, you could pick some real good stuff for  a reasonable price. Electronics are also a good shopping option here. However, I prefer to buy all my electronic gadgets from the US; for it's reasonable pricing, variety and assured quality.

But, for me, it is impossible to return from anywhere without buying anything.

What not to miss - 

Bicycling in Pulau Ubin Island
Kaya Toast and Kopi
Eating at a Hawker Centres
View of the Singapore Skyline at night from Marinabay Sands
Gardens by the bay light show

Links to all my post related to Singapore -   All posts with Label Singapore  

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