Singapore Day 1

So two years after our uneventful first visit to Singapore, we made our way back again. This time, it’s for the Asian Scientist Writing Prize (more about that in the next blog post). This will probably be my last out-of-town trip this year, so I wanted to make the most of it. Not to mention, the fare, accommodation, and just about everything else in Singapore is costly! So I got down to work and planned our three-day itinerary.

Arrival: 12:29 AM

We took a cheap flight (thank you, Skyscanner!) which left at 9 PM MNL and arrived at our destination at around 12:29 in the morning. Even though it was a little bit past midnight and most of the shops are closed for the day, the airport was bustling with people. We had our money converted to SG dollars and decided to delay buying an SG sim until the morning. While connected to the airport wifi, we hailed a ride with the Grab app. Fortunately, Grab also works there, so we didn’t have to install any apps just to get a ride. 15 minutes later, we were at the doorstep of our home for the next three days.

Airbnb at a residence complex in Geylang

We made the necessary arrangements one week before we left the Philippines to ensure that we have a place to stay in Singapore. After hours of scouring airbnb, we found one that was a bus ride away from most of the areas in the Central region. Plus points because it was also just a ten to fifteen-minute walk away from the nearest MRT station. Before we booked, we mustered the courage to ask the owner if she’d be willing to give us some discount on the fees, and she did! We were able to save around Php 1500. The lesson here is that it never hurts to ask.

Our accommodation was located on the fourth floor of one of the condo complexes in Geylang. They were nice enough to stay awake until we got there at 2 in the morning, so that they can let us in their place. Rather unfortunate because we were expecting to have the place to ourselves, just like the airbnb place we rented two years ago. With this one, we didn’t know that we were just renting a room, and will have to share a bathroom with the owners.

We went to sleep after cleaning up, because we still had a long day ahead of us.

At the gate of our airbnb home in Geylang

9 AM: First stop: Breakfast

During my itinerary planning, I decided that what I really wanted to do was visit as many hawker centers as possible in a span of three days. So for breakfast, the plan was to go to the Aljunied Hawker Center, which was a stone’s throw away from the Aljunied MRT station. For the life of us, we couldn’t find the hawker center. We even asked a few people, but we couldn’t find it. Hence, we just decided to eat at one of the shops at the first floor of the station.

Cost: 3.5 for this breakfast set and coffee

10:30 AM: Bugis

We purchased a tourist sim via Klook and had to pick up the sim at the M1 Shop in Bugis. The shop was a little hard to find, and when we got there, the queue was long and moved at a very slow pace. I think we waited for thirty minutes before someone came up to us to check the mobile voucher from Klook. A few minutes after, they gave us the sim card, and the sales personnel patiently tried to help us make the sim card work on our phones. Unfortunately, our iPhones are carrier-locked, and we thought that using a GPP or R1 tray might help us use the SG tourist sim, but it didn’t, much to our frustration.

After a bit of tinkering around, we were actually able to make it work! The sim came with 15 minutes of local calls and 100 GB data, which was more than the data allocation provided by most sims offered in the airport. The sim’s validity is 5 days only, so I’m not sure if you’ll even be able to consume 100 GB of data!

Cost of M1 Tourist Sim card: $15

12 PM: Mint Museum of Toys

After lots of walking, we were able to find Mint Museum of Toys. Instead of paying the entrance at the museum, we pre-purchased our tickets via Klook. We only had to show them the mobile voucher to get in. Their instructions were to start at the fifth floor and work our way down.

While I’m sure Kyle found it extremely enjoyable, I couldn’t help but want someone to provide more information about the toys. “What am I looking at?” was the prevailing thought in my head the whole time I was there. Maybe in the future, they’ll consider getting a tour guide for the museum, or providing scheduled complimentary tours.

We didn’t stay long in the museum. I can’t really say that I’d consider it a must-see, but if your a toy collector, it probably is.

Cost of Mint Musuem Entrance for two: $26 (or Php 957) instead of SRP $30

2 PM: Vivo City

We headed to Vivo City, the first stop to Sentosa. Again, we pre-purchased a three-attraction pass for Sentosa via Klook, because we wanted to see the Merlion, the Tiger Sky Tower, and Madame Tussauds. Upon getting to the counter to exchange our voucher for tickets, we were told that Madame Tussauds counted as two attractions because of the Images of Singapore boat ride that came with it. That’s okay, I wasn’t really in the mood to climb the Merlion anymore after hours of walking.

One short train ride after, we arrived at Sentosa island!

2:30 PM: Sentosa Island

Our first stop was taking photos at the big Sentosa sign.

And around the Merlion.

Before making our way to the Tiger Sky Tower.

The ride was about five minutes long, tops. But the view of Singapore from the top was worth it!

And then we made our way to Madame Tussauds, the wax museum. The experience started with a boat ride, and ends at the start of the wax museum. They had a lot of wax figures of Singaporean personalities that I wasn’t familiar with, but it just goes to show that they’re very nationalistic and proud of their own. For me, it was exciting for me to see the wax figures of legends and icons that I was familiar with. And while it was obviously a great experience for me, I can’t say that I had more fun than Kyle.

He had a little too much fun. Even guests were having their photos taken with him. Kids were excited to see him, too!

After that, Kyle just changed to more comfortable clothing, and we were on our way back to Vivo City again for our next stop.

Total cost for two people:

Sentosa FUN Play 3 pass: $92 or Php 3424 ($46 each)

Sentosa Train Ride: $8 ($4 each)

4 PM: Back to Vivo City

Back in Vivo City, we decided to drop by a toy shop, and rest at the Vivo City deck for a while. At this point, I just wanted to rest, but we didn’t pass up on the chance to enjoy the view from the deck.

4:45 PM: MRT Station

At the MRT station at Vivo City, we decided to buy a three-day SG tourist pass, which we should have done at the airport, or first thing at the MRT station earlier that day. The three-day pass cost us $20 plus a $10 deposit, but we could get a refund on our deposit if we return it at the airport at the end of our trip. The pass gives you unli access to the MRT, LRT, and buses, but excluding special bus and MRT rides, like the ride to Sentosa and the night bus. This also saved us the trouble of having to reload our card every time we needed to ride the MRT.

6 PM: Tiong Bahru Food Centre/ Tiong Bahru Market

We hopped off the train at Tiong Bahru station and walked a couple of blocks to Tiong Bahru Market. It’s a bit isolated from the malls as it is situated in a quiet neighborhood. Take note that this is our first time at a hawker centre, so we were pretty amazed by how closely it resembled a food court. We walked around before finally deciding what to eat. It wasn’t easy because some shops look like they offer the same thing, and we weren’t all that familiar with the local food, so we decided to get whatever looked good.

Our problem with food trips is that Kyle and I both have small appetites! So the truth is we were only able to order Swee Kueh, Oyster Omelette, and Avocado Juice.

Swee Kueh – $2.5. I didn’t like it so much. I was expecting it to taste like puto, but the thing that looks like bagoong doesn’t help with the taste.

Oyster Omelette $6 – I loved this. You can’t get cheap oysters like this in Manila.

This set us back by about $15, including a Milo Dinosaur we bought after finishing our Avocado juice.

The Tiong Bahru Food Centre was clean, well-lit, and spacious. There were plenty of seats, so we didn’t have any difficulties at all of finding a seat. The tables were kept clean, and most people observed the Clean-as-you-go policy by placing their trays at the respective tray stations. Food was cheaper compared to restaurants, so hawker centres are the ultimate foodie paradise in Singapore.

And just like that, we were already full and couldn’t eat any more. We decided to take a bus home. The whole time, I was monitoring our route via Google maps because I didn’t know where the bus stops were, and I wanted to make sure that we get off the stop with the shortest distance from our home = less walking.

First SG bus ride! We used our Tourist pass for this.

While walking on our way back to our airbnb place, we saw a convenience store and decided to pick up a few stuff: mints, 2 bottles of 1.5 L water, and some chocolates. That set us back by $10.

We retired after a long day of walking, eating, and sightseeing. We had two more days to go that are just as jam-packed with things to see and food to eat, and we couldn’t have been more excited for it.-HANA

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