My 4-Night and 3-Day Detailed Itinerary in the Lion City.
|MARCH 22 – 25, 2018 (4 NIGHTS & 3 DAYS)|
I’ve always dreamt of traveling. When I was 17, I and my uncle went to Manila by car and it took us 3 days to get there – I loved the experience so I traveled back to Davao by bus 2 times. Technically I have traveled the 3 main islands in the country from the southern region to the northern region of the Philippines in days by land. I was never tired. I never realized how diverse my country was until then – the culture, the food, the languages, the people and the beautiful cities and countryside.
Now I’m 31, through social media, I am even more amazed by the travel goals my friends and co-workers have been doing all over the Philippines.
The Philippines, an archipelago, is known for its breathtaking white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and awe-inspiring topography. In fact, a few of its islands are the best in the world - and I’ve seen many of them. I’ve always dreamt of traveling. However, this time I am more interested outside the country. I like nature and I like the sea, but I can’t swim and I’m not into trekking or mountaineering. So there are only five things I want to experience in another country – culture, historical sites, food, people, and the airport.
I’m writing this travel blog to channel my travel blues and memories I miss. I’m eager to show my trip experiences to people like me with similar interest and financial capability. I’m not a professional and I never care whether I’m a good writer or not. I’m employed, but I’m broke and I can’t buy my own website. I’m earning money to travel. I don’t even have any bank savings. I’m a bachelor who is still living in my mom’s house. So, among the people here who call themselves “poor travelers”, I think I’m the poorest.
Good thing is, with the help of low-cost airlines these days, and holding a Philippine passport that can give us access to 66 countries and territories visa-free, the dream of traveling abroad is much closer to reality.
I. BOOKING A FLIGHT
I never thought of the first country I wanted to go to. It wasn’t an easy decision because I am always in a very tight budget; but if I deferred it, I might not have had another chance. Since I had a friend who was living in Singapore and offered me a place to stay for a few days, I just wanted to grab that opportunity. Another reason was, only Singapore is the only country abroad that we have direct flights from Davao City via Cebu Pacific. There’s Davao to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via Air Asia too. I thought it would be nicer not to pass through a very busy and crowded airport such as Manila.
Although I had been saving money for 5 months, I just booked the ticket 2 months before my flight (from March 22nd – 25th for 10,000 PhP including the travel tax). It was the cheapest ticket with the travel tax though it could have been better if I had anticipated any promotional fares. Anyhow, I paid through a payment center since I don’t have a credit card.
It was my first time to travel so I wanted every thing to be in the right place. I researched about Singapore like its history and culture, and all the must-see places and activities (especially the free ones). I searched for the best and cheap hawker centers (open-air food courts). I also downloaded the MRT and bus route map and have it printed. Morever, I made my final travel itinerary for 4 nights and 3 days. Finally, I changed my pocket money to US dollars in Aldevinco since I heard they had the best rates.
DAY 1: D-DAY
1. AT THE AIRPORT
I was too early. I was at the airport 5 hours before my scheduled boarding time. I already checked in online (without any check-in luggage) days before so I could have my temporary boarding pass checked at the online check-in counter of Cebu Pacific. I received the final boarding pass at and I was told that the immigration gates open 2 hours before the flight. Unfortunately, I had to wait. I changed some of my US dollars to Singaporean dollars at the left side from the immigration gates.
2 hours before my flight, I paid the terminal fee of 700 PhP. I was then asked to fill out a small card at the booth – the Departure Card. Always take note of your passport number, passport expiry date, hotel address where you stay and its phone number, and your flight number. I actually have a small note in my pocket with that information to save time checking all my documents.
2. PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION AT DAVAO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
I’ve heard a lot of gruesome stories about being offloaded even though you are much financially capable. I read some blogs or articles about how to pass the immigration interview especially if you are a solo first-time traveler. The most common advice is – be truthful. Immigration officers have a way of finding the truth when you lie. I must say they’re good at their jobs.
I learned to be confident with my answers and look at him/her in the eyes. Just answer what they ask from you. Usual questions are: When will you be back? Where are you staying? Why do you want to travel? Why this country? What’s your job? How long have you been working? What’s your course in college? Are you seeking employment here or in another country?
Some questions can be too personal but just respond properly and politely. They’re doing this to avoid human trafficking. Try to prepare documents they would probably ask: return ticket, hotel booking confirmation and telephone number, certificate of employment, signed leave of absence, attraction/activity ticket confirmation, and a credit card or an ATM card.
It was my first time to travel so I was subjected to an automatic second inspection interview. It was tough for the reason that I mentioned I was meeting a friend and my pocket money was below 10,000 PhP (which I never expected to be distrusted). The officer even read my friend’s personal messages on my phone. He also asked me about my money several times. I just told him that I already made a list of things to do and buy and the money was more than enough. I also politely insisted that I never intended to go to Singapore via connected flight going to another country for a job. Luckily, he trusted me on this and had my passport stamped.
3. BOARDING THE PLANE (CEBU PACIFIC AIR)
Now, the days of agony were finally over. I got my final security check. I didn’t want to look back, but I was very grateful to the officer who allowed me to go. As I heard, passing the immigration is always based on the immigration officer’s assessment on you. I went into my gate-hold room – Gate 3. I waited for more than an hour for my flight since it was delayed. Mind you, it’s better you have movies or music on your phone during the flight. It’s a 4-hour flight so better anticipate anything against boredom. The plane took off! This is it!
The cabin crew gave us a card to fill out – this time the Arrival Card. Again, you’re going to need that small note with your travel information and a pen. I had my pen in my bag in the cabin so I had to open the cabin myself in the middle of the flight. Tip – just make your pen and that little note handy.
4. SINGAPORE CITY LIGHTS
I suggest you sit on the left side of the plane next to the window if you could reserve a seat. You get the best view of Singapore’s city lights at night. My heart beat so fast. I had many thoughts in my head. “Am I really in the sky above another country? Am I going to breathe Singapore’s air in a few minutes?” I was very excited!
5. TERMINAL 4, CHANGI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SINGAPORE
It was very huge and new. I heard it had just opened a few weeks before we arrived. I was surprised when we entered the first security check. I didn’t expect it was very close to the entrance. I didn’t realize the security personnel was speaking in English. I actually didn’t understand what they said at first. Then they were doing hand gestures as well. Leading us to the security check. There, they looked strict and they don't smile. It was almost unwelcoming.
After the security check, we had to walk straight to the immigration gates. It was quite a long walk so I really thought the airport was so huge! The good thing was there were moving walkways. I wasn’t very familiar with it so I was a little dizzy after getting on it!
6. MOVING WALKWAYS, ESCALATORS & CARS
In the Philippines, or in other western countries. We stand still on the right side of the escalator, and let people walk on the left. In Singapore, it’s the opposite! They stand still on the left so it was my first mistake. Moreover, the driver’s seat is also on the right. I think this is an important thing tourists should know.
7. SINGAPORE IMMIGRATION
Because I had a stressful time at Philippine immigration, I was again nervous when I saw the Singapore Immigration gates. On the other hand, I was very impressed by how modern-looking they were compared to Davao’s immigration booths.
The officer checked my passport as well as the arrival card. He asked me how long I was going to stay. I just answered what he asked. He then asked me if it was my first time to be there, I said it was and I was very excited! He smiled and said, "Welcome to Singapore". It was the first time I saw someone there who smiled. It was just 2-3 minutes and I already got my passport stamped. Fast, efficient and such a friendly immigration officer. I actually didn’t expect it. Anyhow, always be polite and smile. Overall, the immigration process for incoming passengers was very smooth and fast.
8. AIRPORT FREE WI-FI
In Davao, or in any other airports in the Philippines, we just connect to the airport Wi-Fi directly, right? Though it may be limited, it was just too easy to do. It was my second mistake! Before you arrive at the immigration gates, there are one or two Wi-Fi Password kiosks where you can have your passport scanned and obtain the Wi-Fi password. Another way is, your local phone number should have auto roaming services enabled beforehand.
Since I already passed through the immigration gates, I couldn’t just go back to find the Wi-Fi kiosks. I bet we weren’t allowed to.
9. PASSENGERS EXIT AT THE ARRIVAL HALL
My friend was also waiting for my message to tell him that I already arrived at the airport – which I couldn’t do. I couldn’t also ask other people to borrow a phone or anything. Another viable solution was to buy a 30-35 SGD (1,200 PHP) 4G sim card that was sold at the arrival hall. It was too expensive! I should be in a tight budget, but I didn’t anticipate that. However, if there were no other ways, I could just buy it.
30 minutes later, I was just standing at the arrival hall when a miracle happened, there was an unsecured connection! “Yes! An angel!” It was in Chinese so I didn’t know if it was from an establishment or from a person who was also waiting at the hall. I immediately tried to connect to it and it was successful! I sent a message to my friend using Kakaotalk. When I already established the information that my friend needed, the connection got lost. I was just very lucky. A few minutes later, my friend arrived. Later I learned that I could have gone to the customer service counter to ask for a password. Anyhow, I didn’t see it coming.
10. 4G SIM CARD
My friend told me that there was also a 15-SGD (600 PhP) sim card so there was no need to buy the 30-dollar ones. Since I would just stay for 4 days, the 15-SGD sim card was fitting. It can be used for 7 days with 100 GB local data. “100 GB!” So much better than in the Philippines! The internet was so fast and nowhere in Singapore had a weak signal. You can also change your money at the same counter. It’s on your left when you go out from the passenger’s exit at the arrival hall.
You are going to need this. Aside from checking and posting on your social media, you ought to use apps like Google Map to see directions around Singapore. Anyway, I actually use Moovit for my public transit guide. It gives you detail information and direction when using MRT or bus, and even on foot. Just make sure your GPS is working well.
11. SHUTTLE FROM TERMINAL 4 TO TERMINAL 2
Hungry! After I bought my sim card, we headed to the waiting lounge for the free airport shuttle. We arrived at Terminal 2 around 10 minutes. This time, they had more restaurants and fast food compared to Terminal 4. I was hungry, but I wanted to find a cheaper place to buy food to take away.
I was told that a fast-food restaurant might be the cheapest. Anyhow, my friend said that McDonald's in Singapore has the most delicious food compared to other McDonald's in other countries he had been to. So I followed his recommendation – the McSpicy! It was very juicy and hot! It cost around 9 SGD (360 PhP). 360 pesos! It was quite expensive but I think it was one of the cheapest there. No regret though, it was so much different from the Philippine McDonald's. It was large enough!
12. CHANGI MRT – GREEN LINE / EAST WEST LINE
If you have the MRT Map, you will notice different colors of lines. Take note of it. Changi Airport is connected to the Green Line or the East West Line (Terminal 2 downstairs). Don’t worry, you will see signs/directions above you all over the place so you won’t get lost – they’re in English and very easy to understand. The airport is really vast so expect a lot of walking. I think the MRT stops running around 11:00 PM so better be quick if you arrive late at night.
If you arrive at Terminal 4, the new terminal where Cebu Pacific passengers enter, there’s a free airport shuttle on the far right after you exited to the arrival hall. This shuttle takes you to Terminal 2 – the main terminal. I didn’t expect that it took like around 10 minutes to get to Terminal 2. Not only the buildings were big, but also the premises was immensely huge!
13. EZ-LINK CARD / YOUR MRT & BUS CARD
You will definitely need this card unless you want to use Uber or taxi which by the way very costly. You can buy an EZ-link Card that costs 12 SGD (less than 500 PhP) with a 7-SGD travel value inclusive of a 5-SGD card cost. It’s prepaid. You can buy this at the MRT station at Terminal 2. An MRT or a bus ride costs around 1-2 SGD (40-80 PhP) depending on the distance. However, I think buying a 30-SGD Tourist Pass for a 3-day pass (unlimited MRT and Bus rides) is much better. It’s unlimited for 3 days including the monorail to Sentosa Island (where Universal Studios is). You’ll pay 30 SGD (1,200 PhP) because you also need to pay the refundable rental deposit of 10 SGD. It’s actually good since you’ll still have money (400 PhP) when you return the card. Also, it’s 16 SGD for 2-day pass and 10 SGD for the 1-day pass.
My good friend lent me his extra card. I just saved 12-20 SGD for transportation! I used MRT a lot. It was convenient, fast, and very cool – figuratively and literally! It’s one of my favorite things to do in Singapore. Using the bus is also great. Just don’t forget to tap when you enter and exit or else you’d end up paying up more or not able to exit at all.
14. DON’T SMOKE ANYWHERE
I’m proud of Davao. No smoking in public places and in enclosed places is strictly enforced. It’s rare to see any cigarette butts on the street. Just like Singapore that also boasts its cleanliness and orderliness throughout the city. However, you can still smoke outside an establishment like 2-3 meters away from the building. There are designated places to smoke. You will see some lines drawn on the ground where people are allowed to smoke. I don’t smoke so I won’t have to worry about it. If you want to smoke, it's better to try to find a group of white-collar people smoking to make sure you are in the right place. Throw your cigarette butts in the right bin.
Moreover, you can’t spit anywhere. Also, gums are not sold – so you can’t see people chewing gums either. If you missed these things and ignored these laws, you might find yourself paying fines as big as your monthly salary!
15. GOING TO SPEND THE NIGHT
I had to buy food and my friend had to smoke so we stayed a bit longer at the airport. I think it wasn’t possible to take the MRT since it was too late. So we had to take a taxi outside. He offered me to stay at his place since it was actually too big for him. Luckily, I was able to cancel my booking on time. I secured a hostel booking if ever I lost contact with him. I didn’t pay it on the day of reservation (Booking.com) so I didn’t need to hassle myself for a refund. Moreover, the place was much nearer to the airport compared to the one I booked which was a bit far. As a result, I was also able to save 53 SGD (2,200 PhP) for my accommodation (which I also expected)!
16. ACCOMMODATION – MOONSTONE LANE
11:45 PM. Moonstone Lane, Singapore
We arrived. This is a residential area. There are high-rise apartment buildings and/or condominiums all around. I was not sure if there were any hotels or hostels nearby. However, I would suggest you search in Chinatown or around downtown for cheaper accommodation.
Before we slept, I tried this local beer that somehow tasted like San Miguel Pilsen. I heard it’s around 2.50 SGD (100 PhP).
DAY 2: THE ETHNIC ENCLAVES
I got up. I was charged up to see the first sunrise I was going to see in Singapore. I went to the veranda and I felt it was a little strange because it was still very dark. In the Philippines, the sun rises at around 5. It was already 7:00 AM and it was like 5:45 AM in the Philippines. I realized that although we had the same timezone, sunrise was around 7 AM and sunset is 7 PM. That was so cool! I took a shower and got myself ready.
2. THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND ON YOUR FIRST DAY
DIRECTIONS. Singapore’s internet is very fast. You can use Google Map or Moovit pretty easily. My friend had to go to school that day so I would be going out solo which was my main plan. I asked for the nearest station from our place and I had my MRT map handy. Make sure you have enough battery for the day!
NO JAYWALKING. Although there are pedestrian signals and signs, there are some roads don’t have. Usually, these are smaller roads. However, there are even smaller roads where you are prohibited to cross, so just look for signs if it’s all right to cross. Or perhaps, just observe where local people can cross if there are no pedestrian signals on smaller roads.
MRT / SUBWAY. There are 5 main MRT lines. You can see it on the map that they have their corresponding colors. Even in some guide apps, they show you the color of the line too. I think it’s easier to memorize the colors: East West Line (Green), North South Line (Red), North East Line (Purple), Circle Line (Orange), and Downtown Line (Blue). MRT Map here.
Make sure you’d become more familiar with the lines and where to transfer. Anyway, you can see maps in the stations in case you get confused. Also, there are directions and signs everywhere. Try to follow the flow of the crowd. Don’t be shy to ask. I heard Singaporeans are willing to help. I was actually shy so I just relied on my maps, my app, and my friends. I should have talked to local people more.
TAXI. Taxi is quite expensive in Singapore, but you ought to use it when you’re traveling around midnight or dawn. So try not to come back to your place too late if you’re in a tight budget. Another option is Uber or Grab – which is cheaper than the taxi.
WHERE TO EAT – HAWKER CENTERS. If you are on a budget trip, hawker centers must be the best place for you to eat. It’s like an open-air food court where you can try local and traditional food that is cheap but pleasant-tasting! It costs around 2-5 SGD per meal (around 150 PhP).
TISSUE. I also noticed one thing, they didn’t give tissues. I was not sure. However, I noticed some people were selling tissues around food complexes. So it’s better to bring your own.
WATER. Bottled water cost from 1-3 SGD (40-120 PhP). This is too much. I could buy 10-15 PhP per bottle in the Philippines. So it’s better to have your own tumbler or have your own bottle refilled in your place before going out. Walking a lot in hot weather – I had to buy 3 times/day.
TOILET/ RESTROOM. In the Philippines, there’s (always) a toilet in a restaurant or a café. Even in some carenderias, there are toilets. On the other hand, when I was in Singapore, I hadn’t seen one. Maybe there were but I didn’t see one – even in the malls. I’m a person who needs to go to the restroom from time to time to freshen up. However, they have restrooms in all MRT stations – and they were amazingly modern and clean! I like going to the restroom every time I went to the station like every time I left and arrived. I just noticed one thing though, there weren’t any trash bins for tissues inside the cubicle. Maybe I just missed to notice it.
3. THE TOUR BEGINS NOW:
1ST STOP: LITTLE INDIA
It’s a free tour. I have read lots of travel blogs about Singapore. Little India is always on the list. It is a very colorful ethnic district in Singapore. As the name suggests, the majority of the people I saw were Indian Singaporeans. You can go shopping for souvenirs and try some authentic Indian cuisine. I haven’t been to India, but when you get there, I think it’ll feel like it. There’s an MRT station in Little India (Blue and Purple). So it’s easy to get there. If you stay in the downtown area, you can use the Downtown Line (Blue).
It’s breakfast time. I got hungry. I hadn’t had breakfast yet. I found a good hawker center just right after you get out from Little India Station. It’s at the right from the exit. Although it wasn’t as big as other hawker centers in Singapore, I had the chance to try local food that’s called “Laksa” for 3 SGD (120 PHP)! It’s a spicy noodle soup based on curry coconut milk. It wasn’t very strange since Filipinos also have Ginataan. It was my first time to eat a kind of local food, and it was very delicious! I want to learn how to cook it when I get a chance!
2ND STOP: BUGIS STREET
I wanted to meet my cousin whom I hadn’t seen for years. She works in Bugis Junction – a modern and fancy shopping mall in Singapore. It’s quite famous though. However, what’s more, famous is Bugis Street. From Little India Station, I took the Downtown Line (Blue). Bugis Station is just 2 stations away.
You can buy cheap souvenirs and pasalubong here. It’s like San Pedro or Uyanguren in Davao. I was very thankful to my cousin because she left work just to show me around the place. It was supposed to be my first day walking around Singapore but I already ended buying some pasalubong. A pack of snack and chocolates were not very expensive. I could buy one for only 1 - 4 SGD. Some are even cheaper than in the Philippines. I also bought SG key chains for souvenirs – 10 SGD for 20 key chains (20 PhP each). In addition, I also had my money changed there to SGD since they have better rates than the bank. Overall, I spent 23 SGD (920 PhP).
I just profoundly understood that 10 SGD is NOT 10 PhP. Be mindful on spending. 1 SGD is around 40 PhP – enough to buy one meal in the Philippines.
I WENT BACK TO MY FRIEND’S HOUSE.
I was already a little exhausted. Also, I thought it would be a hassle to bring a big plastic bag of pasalubongs if I continued to walk around. So I had to go back to the house. I only needed to transfer one station in Little India – at least I learned how to transfer stations this time. Just follow the signs above you. When I got home, I took a nap for 2 hours.
I was definitely like a kid like my friend described me. Going to another country is like learning new things like a baby especially when you’re alone, but it is a part of your adventure.
3RD STOP: CHINATOWN
The place where I was staying was near to Potong Pasir Station – North East Line (Purple). So going to Little India and Chinatown was just using one line. Chinatown is connected to two lines – Purple and Blue. Similar to other Chinatowns around the world, they have these typical old Chinese buildings and decorations. Temples and lots of shops were there. Since I already bought some souvenirs and pasalubongs. I didn’t need to visit some stores. So I just looked for a hawker center to eat lunch. I heard they have the best hawker center in Singapore.
It’s late lunch. I finally found a place to eat. It was bigger and cleaner than the place where I had my breakfast. I bought this seafood noodle soup for 4 SGD (160 PhP). The taste is much different from Laksa. This one looks like Japanese ramen, but there was some kind of strong taste from a specific ingredient I, of course, didn’t know. Let’s say it was strangely delicious!
4TH STOP: SINGAPORE COLONIAL STREETS
A do-it-yourself walking sightseeing tour gives you time for yourself to enjoy the colonial history of Singapore. You don’t need to go to a museum to experience the rich history of the country. The old buildings here are preserved well and painted beautifully in the midst of taller modern buildings around the city. This is something I look forward to seeing when I go to a different country.
From Chinatown, I walked to Telok Ayer to enjoy the view on the streets. I didn’t care how hot the weather was. All I wanted was to walk around and took pictures (with my mediocre phone camera).
I GOT LOST SOMEWHERE.
Later, I realized I found myself lost somewhere I didn’t remember where. I wanted to go to Merlion Park for my next destination. However, I ended up walking around in an area where I couldn’t see a lot of people and that was near the cargo ports. It was funny and scary at the same time. All I needed to do was to follow my Moovit app. Then I realized maybe I entered some wrong information. I looked for my MRT Map again and finally found the nearest station – Tanjong Pagar (Green Line). Thanks to my friend too whom I called for help.
5TH STOP: MERLION PARK
From Tanjong Pagar Station (East West Line / Green Line), I got off at Raffles Place (nearest station to Merlion Park). This time my app was working perfectly. Exited to the right. Walked along Battery Road towards Fullerton Road. From there I saw a lot of people going in the same direction. That time I knew I was going to the right place.
I eventually saw the sea nearby. Then I finally arrived at Merlion Park – where you can find the country’s famous landmark! From there I could also see the majestic Marina Bay Sands. Finally, I could sit and take a rest. I bought bottled water at 7-Eleven for 2 SGD (80 PHP). Not enough though. That time I just enjoyed the view and watched the people who were having fun taking photos of each other.
6TH STOP: HELIX BRIDGE & ART SCIENCE MUSEUM
One disadvantage of a traveling introvert – the difficulty to ask someone to take my photo. However, I shouldn’t miss the fun. I just awkwardly took selfies of myself though.
It looked near, but walking to the Art Science Museum took some time. Anyhow, you can just walk around – they’re connected. I got so much pain in my legs already. However, the view was magnificent. A lot of tourists were there too so it wasn’t very strange to take selfies every where.
It was around sunset. The building lights started to be visible. The skyline was getting even more beautiful as the sun went down. I wish I had a better camera to give justice to this beauty. I met another friend, Jacob, in a few minutes. It was a good thing for having someone take your photos. I was also relieved to finally talk to an actual person.
7TH STOP: GARDENS BY THE BAY
Gardens by the Bay was one of the attractions I was really excited about. Through the Helix Bridge, we went downstairs to the left and walked for around 10 minutes. A few meters away, I was already mesmerized by the beauty of those futuristic colorful tree-like towers. I only saw those in pictures and videos. That time, I was exactly looking at them in person. I didn’t fail to touch it to confirm I wasn’t dreaming. It was an amazing view and experience.
You don’t need to pay when you get there. It’s free! Unless you want to get inside the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest which I thought unnecessary for me at that time. Tickets may cost around 30 SGD (1,200 PhP).
8TH STOP: LAU PA SAT
From Gardens By The Bay, we walked to Bayfront Bay Station and took the Downtown Line (Blue Line), and got off at Telok Ayer Station. We walked to Lau Pa Sat that was just 5 minutes away on foot from the station. It was like Roxas night market in Davao that has tables and chairs on the streets. Many foreigners were there and the staff could even speak Korean when they noticed my friends were Koreans.
My friend and host, Jeff, wanted to meet me in Lau Pa Sat for dinner. He said they have the best Satay – a Southeast Asian dish that consists of pork and/or mutton on a barbecue stick with a local sauce that contains peanuts. It was really good that I thought it could be addictive – juicy and delicious! We were a party of 4 including Jeff’s friend so we ordered Satay and prawn (around 50 skewers or more) for 60 SGD or 2,400 PhP! A jug of beer cost 20 SGD (800 PhP) – which they ordered 9 jugs for the rest of the night that cost 180 SGD (7,200 PhP)! Thanks to them I extremely enjoyed an expensive night life in Singapore drunk! Because they wanted to treat me as to welcome me in Singapore, I was able to save 60 SGD (2,400 PhP)!
WE GOT HOME. THE DAY HAD ENDED.
We took a taxi home since there were already no MRT running. I couldn’t remember much at that time because we were very drunk, but it was the best night with the greatest friends I ever had in a foreign country! Actually, the best experience so far!
4. DAY 2 TOTAL EXPENDITURE
Food (2 meals) – 7 SGD
Bottled water (2) – 3 SGD
Sugarcane Juice (2) – 2 SGD
Pasalubong – 23 SGD
MRT – 4 SGD (Free)
Lau Pa Sat – 60 SGD (Free)
Total: 35 SGD
(Total + MRT & Night Life – 99 SGD)
Overall, I spent 35 SGD (1,400 PhP). However, you can actually spend 17 SGD (680 PhP) without a drinking night out at Lau Pa Sat, sugarcane juice and some souvenir – though you can adjust your budget for it. If you refill your water in your hotel, you can even save up to 3 SGD! Moreover, the attractions I went to this day were absolutely free.
DAY 3: FREE & EASY
1. THE TOUR BEGINS NOW:
I didn’t have any concrete plans this day. Based on the itinerary I made beforehand, I should have gone to JB (Johor Bahru, Malaysia). I heard it was just around 1-2 hour bus ride from Singapore. I thought I could go to another country for a short while. However, if I went there, I would spend too much time queuing in immigration again and consume amounts of time on the bus. So it was better to stay in Singapore and just get free and easy!
I got up around 9:00 AM. I still had the hangover from the other night. It was great and I wanted to enjoy this day too. So, I contacted my other friend to meet up somewhere for lunch.
1ST STOP: BUGIS STREET
It’s lunch time! I was back to this place again. My cousin told me that they have the best hawker center – just adjacent to the mall. I got off Bugis Station and met Jacob there. It took time for us to find a good seat to eat because there were a lot of people. We just want to relieve a hangover. Finally, we found this stall that sold fish porridge. It looked good so I ordered one. Little did I know, it was the most delicious fish soup I ever tasted! The bowl was big and it was a lot for one person. I thought it was the best for people who have hangover indeed.
2ND STOP: TOA PAYOH SENSORY PARK
From Bugis, we took the Downtown Line (Blue) going to Newton Station. We took off at Newton Station and transferred in North South Line (Red) going to Toa Payoh. Honestly, there was nothing much to see in Toa Payoh. I just went there to visit Jacob's place. We stayed for a while to rest since it was drizzly.
For a side trip, we found this small park - Sensory Park. I saw this in some travel blogs about Singapore. It was okay. It was a park for residents around the area I guess.
3RD STOP: ORCHARD ROAD
From Toa Payoh, we took the North South Line (Red) going to Orchard Station. There we got off and went to Orchard Road. This road is Asia's most famous shopping street – from fashion to entertainment. We just looked around and looked for some super cars on the road. It was short but worth the time.
4TH STOP: MARINA BAY SANDS SKYPARK& THE SHOPPES
We thought we shouldn't miss it. It is one of the top attractions in Singapore. It is the large decked area on the top of the Marina Bay Sands – you get the best view of Singapore’s skyline. The ticket cost 23 SGD (920 PhP).
From Orchard, we took the North South Line (Red) going back to Newton Station. There we got off and transferred in the Downtown Line (Blue) going to Bayfront Station. We got off and walked around in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands – it’s one of the largest luxury malls in Singapore. You can find almost all international luxury brands there that was just a dream to afford.
We then went into the Marina Bay Sands to buy tickets. I was amazed at what I saw inside the luxury 5-star hotel. It was huge and modern-looking. Unfortunately, there were a lot of guests at that time and we thought it would be crowded. So we went out and decided where to go to get the best view of the city.
5TH STOP: SENTOSA ISLAND VIA SINGAPORE CABLE CAR
I was thinking of going to the Southern Ridges – the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore! You can check it out. However, I thought a cable car ride to the resort-island of Sentosa would be better. I hadn’t had any experience of getting on that. Although my Korean friend told me it is a common transport in Korea or in other metropolitan cities with highlands, I hadn’t. I also had a terrible fear of heights, so I thought it could mean a lot for me to overcome. Finally, we decided to get there to also witness the picturesque view of the city up above.
From Marina Bay Sands, we walked to Bayfront Station then took the Downtown Line (Blue). We got off at Chinatown Station and transferred to North East Line (Purple) going to Harbourfront Station. We got off at Harbourfront and walked to the Singapore Cable Car station. Just follow the signs above you and you won’t get lost. The regular ticket price for adults was 29.50 SGD (1,180 PhP). There’s another option to choose too but it was more expensive – it's another cable car ride that tours you around Sentosa Island. Anyhow, when we got at the ticket counter, the staff said that if we wanted to get a discounted price, we should be back at 6:00 PM. We didn’t know exactly how much discount we could get, but why not. Anyway, we went back to the mall and grabbed something to eat. A regular sandwich cost around 2-3 SGD (80 PhP) so it was definitely okay.
We came back to the ticket booth at exactly 6:00 PM. We only paid 18 SGD (720 PhP) each instead of 29.50 SGD! We got 12 SGD off. I don’t know if it was a one-time thing, but it doesn’t hurt if you go there at 6:00 PM. Try to come back to Harbourfront at 7:00 PM since you’d get the best view of the sunset! I thought I wouldn’t complete my Singapore tour without this. We had some time in the resort-island and took a lot of photos. We decided to go back at 7:00 PM to witness the sunset and it was a pretty awe-inspiring experience!
6TH STOP: CLARKE QUAY
Jeff wanted to introduce me to another thing he liked about Singapore. The best Kebab in the country! We had to meet in Clarke Quay – the famous historical riverside quay in the country. Singapore night life is so much alive in this area in case you want to go to a pub or club. However that time, I just wanted to eat.
From Harbourfront Station, we took the same line (Purple Line) going to Clarke Quay. It was just easy to get there. We got off Clarke Quay Station and we found ourselves very exhausted from walking. So we sat down at the riverside while watching how beautiful the place was. We also saw some buskers in the area – which is not common in the Philippines. Then, we met Jeff. He introduced me to the place where he said the cashier was also a Filipino. I was finally able to talk to a fellow Filipino. We bought this famous Kebab with fries for around 11 SGD (440 PhP). It was amazingly tasty! However, I couldn't finish all because I already got very full. I think it was a lot for one person.
Anyway, we got them to take away and ate at the small bridge-park nearby. My friend told me that you could eat and drink there while enjoying the view at night. However, there’s also a curfew in Singapore that you’re not allowed to drink alcohol in public places after a specific time – I guess it is 10:00 PM.
WE GOT HOME. THE DAY HAD ENDED.
The day had passed really fast. It was early, but we needed to go home to take a rest. I was very exhausted, but this day was very ecstatic. We took an Uber ride then.
2. DAY 3 TOTAL EXPENDITURE
Food (Fish Porridge at 4 SGD, Kebab at 11 SGD) – 15 SGD
Bottled water (2) – 3 SGD
Cable Car – 18 SGD
Total: 36 SGD
Overall, I only spent 36 SGD (1,440 PhP). You can also consider adjusting your budget though.
DAY 4: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS (MY LAST DAY IN SINGAPORE)
I think I woke up early. I felt a little melancholic. I knew this was the last day of my trip. However, I should enjoy it no matter what. Last day was dedicated to Universal Studios! If I’m not mistaken, I heard there are only 4 Universal Studios in the world – 2 in the USA, 1 in Japan and 1 in Singapore. Since I was already in SG, it was a must to try this out although I was very anxious about roller coasters.
2. WHERE TO BUY TICKETS
It was drizzly. We took the MRT to Chinatown. My friend told me that there was a Korean travel shop in Chinatown that sold cheaper Universal Studios tickets. Normally, you pay 76 SGD (3,040 PHP) for adults; however, we only paid for 67 SGD (2,680 PHP) each. I actually forgot where it was exactly because we walked for like 10 minutes after we exited the station. Later, I realized it’s better to book a ticket online beforehand such as on Klook. They offer cheap and discounted tickets for as low as 63 SGD (2,520 PhP).
Universal Studios opens at 10:00 AM. I heard that the park is always crowded during weekends and queues are annoyingly long. So it’s better to go there during weekdays if you’re an impatient tourist. Anyway, we took a taxi since it was raining. Taxi fare was around 10-15 SGD (600 PhP).
3. BRUNCH AT SENTOSA
We arrived at Sentosa Island. We could also use the Sentosa Express (Monorail Line) from Harbourfront to Sentosa where Universal Studios is located. However, if you take a taxi or uber to Sentosa, going back to Harbourfront in mainland Singapore through the monorail is free.
We had our late breakfast first at a Bak Kut teh restaurant at Sentosa. Bak Kut teh is also a local food – a pork rib or pork bone cooked in broth. It was around 10 SGD (400 PhP). It is similar to Bulalo in the Philippines. It was really really good that the broth itself tasted like real meat! This is the best local food in Singapore by far!
One thing I noticed was that many high-end restaurants had a touch screen ordering system. In addition, if you return your tray, you automatically get a dollar. I was really impressed by how modern and fast Singapore has become.
We finally entered the park. It was very mesmerizing that it looked like a mini fantasy world inside. I was very excited to look around. I was told me to hurry up since there would be long lines of people queuing. There were a lot of people!
I actually brought my backpack since I decided to go to the airport directly after. For many rides especially the coasters, you’re not allowed to bring a bag, phone, wallet, and anything that may detach and fall. So we had to look for a locker inside the park – it’s close to the roller coaster. It is actually free for an hour, but more than an hour costs up to 15 SGD. So we had to take our things out before an hour and change. It’s going to need to fingerprint for security.
5. THE RIDES BEGIN NOW:
1ST RIDE: TRANSFORMERS
I heard there are 24 rides and attractions in Universal Studios, but we only rode the most famous main ones. However, my friend really insisted to try the roller coaster first; however, I strongly detest roller coasters. I tried once in Star City in Manila, I almost died of fear figuratively and literally. So he strongly recommended trying Transformers Ride first to warm up.
I did not expect it was to be very fun! The whole experience was 4D and I couldn’t feel any better! We waited in line around 45 minutes though, but the fun was beyond explanation.
2ND RIDE: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA DUELING COASTERS
Again, I detest roller coasters especially that includes flipping and twisting. I don’t really want to imagine the feeling of rapid descend. I’m abnormally afraid of high places. Well, a cable car ride was not that bad for me, but Battlestar Galactica is the most famous ride in Universal Studios. It is generally not good for people who have weak hearts and acrophobic (morbid fear of heights).
Anyway, it is a pair of dueling coasters – an inverted one (the Cylon) and a traditional seated one (the human). You have to queue for each coaster ride. We did the inverted one first. I just closed my eyes and screamed like a baby! Though it could be really fun for others, it is something really unforgettable that I won't do again. So we didn’t go for the second one.
3RD RIDE: ANCIENT EGYPT’S REVENGE OF THE MUMMY RIDE
Another long queue, but the whole building was very vividly interesting and creepy at the same time. It really looked like you were in a real ancient Egyptian setting. I didn’t get bored of waiting because of this.
I thought my misery of those kinds of rides earlier had ended. This ride was awfully scary too! It was a high-speed dark ride. It was very similar to Battlestar Galactica but less scary and more interesting for me since it was dark. It felt like I was in the mummy movie and I was the first character to die.
4TH RIDE: THE LOST WORLD’S JURASSIC PARK RAPIDS
It’s a white water raft system so you should expect to get wet. I was warned that I was going to get wet if I tried this one so it was best if I had a raincoat on that were sold at the area. However, Jeff told me it was not necessary. It was the longest queue I had seen in the park. We had to wait for almost an hour to get our turn. Anyway, I already had a horrific share of experience in the Battlestar Galactica and Mummy Ride, so I thought it wouldn’t harm me anymore.
Overall, it was a very interestingly fun ride except for the fact that we got soaked! The lower part of my bag got wet and some of my money too. It was fortunate that my passport was securely put inside a thick plastic envelope. I strongly suggest you buy that pricey raincoat that cost around 5 SGD (200 PhP).
We supposed to watch the water show at the Waterworld next to our last ride. However, it took time for us to wait in line so we couldn’t be there on time. It was a waste because I heard the show was simply a must-see. I heard the show starts at 1:30 PM, but we finished the Jurassic Park Rapids at 2:30 PM. We had to meet another friend, Honey, at 3:00 PM at VivoCity (the largest shopping mall in Singapore) so we had to leave the park soon after. We only spent roughly 4 hours there.
It was a shame because I wanted to try all the rides since I paid 67 SGD. However, Jeff told me that the other rides were good for kids (but I’m still a kid at heart), and we didn’t have enough time.
6. LUNCH-DINNER AT JPOT RESTAURANT, VIVOCITY
We took the Sentosa Express monorail for free going back to Harbourfront at 3:00 PM. We stayed at VivoCity to wait for a friend. While waiting, we were outside to take a rest and enjoy the view of the sea. It was relaxing. Then, Honey finally arrived. We had dinner at JPot that serves a hotpot dining Singaporean style.
My friends here are all Koreans who work and study in Singapore. They were my students back in the Philippines. Basically, they didn’t know each other, but it was good to see that they got along well because of me. Anyhow, itt was a great time. I had fun with their company and the food there was very delicious (and expensive) as well. I’ve tried Shabu Shabu before, but this one was different. I got Bak Kut Teh again for my soup.
7. GOING BACK TO THE AIRPORT
We went to a café after we finished lunch. We had our share of talks and laughter. I miss these guys. I couldn’t imagine I was going home already. Time passed like it didn’t care. My flight was 9:55 PM so I should be at the airport by 7:00 PM. I thought I was going to be late so we hurried up since we decided to take a bus to view the city streets at night one last time.
8. FINAL STOP: TERMINAL 4, CHANGI AIRPORT
From VivoCity, we walked to Harbourfront Station, then we took the North East Line (Purple) going to Dhoby Ghaut. We got off Dhoby Ghaut Station and walked to Orchard Road. We waited at the bus stop for BUS 36 (to Changi Airport). We waited for around 20 minutes, and when it arrived there were a lot of people inside. I thought I was going to be late. I heard the bus travel time is 45 minutes, and it has 20 stops before arriving at the airport. Mind you.
We arrived at the airport at 8:10 PM. If you are not sure where to get off, ask the bus driver or the person next to you. Actually, we missed the stop that was supposed to be for Terminal 2 (the main terminal). Anyhow, we were the only passengers at that time so we could talk to the bus driver comfortably. The driver dropped us off somewhere at the airport. We walked upstairs and looked for the signs that led us to Terminal 2. We walked a lot since the airport was amazingly huge. Finally, we arrived at Terminal 2 and waited for the free shuttle going to Terminal 4.
Terminal 4. I found the Cebu Pacific check-in counter pretty easily – just at the terminal entrance. I presented the printed boarding pass I got from checking in online and my passport. The staff at the counter printed the final boarding pass for me.
9. AUTOMATED IMMIGRATION GATES
8:45 PM. Automated Immigration Gates, Terminal 4, Changi Intl Airport
I had to say goodbye to my friends. I really appreciated them sending me off at the airport. I used to send them off when they left the Philippines. Now, I got the same feeling of loneliness leaving them carrying only memories of my trip. I hope to see them again. I owe them this unforgettable trip.
The Automated Immigration didn’t have any people who check your passport and departure card – except that security personnel at the gate who assisted passengers. I just scanned my passport and boarding pass myself, then my fingerprints to enter the gates. It was absolutely modern and time-efficient!
One tip though, when booking your flight, you must input your name exactly what’s printed on your passport. My family name was in uppercase letters while my first name was in lowercase on my boarding pass. It was okay, but security personnel approached me and checked my passport. He then allowed me to enter after confirmation.
10. FINAL SECURITY CHECK
Then, I proceeded to the final security check. It was so strict; but if you don’t bring any liquids or any metallic stuff in your bag or luggage, the check would be just quick. There weren’t a lot of people that time so it took me only 2 or 3 minutes to complete.
11. GATE 2
The gate-hold area was also vast, there were a lot of small restaurants, duty-free shops, cafes, and even a sleeping lounge! Terminal 4 is the best! You won’t get bored waiting!
I still had a good amount of money left so I had them changed to pesos at a money changer booth going to Gate 2. Again, the rates in Bugis was better. I should’ve changed some to pesos there too. Unfortunately, I couldn't have my 9 SGD (360 PhP) changed. I couldn’t buy it since I had no pesos left. I could’ve bought coffee with it but I preferred not to because I might have wanted to sleep during the flight. Well, it’s a legit souvenir though!
12. DAY 4 TOTAL EXPENDITURE
Breakfast (Bak Kut Teh) – 10 SGD
Lunch (JPot) – 33 SGD share (Free)
Bottled water (2) – 3 SGD
Universal Studios – 67 SGD
MRT/Taxi – 7 SGD (Free)
Total: 80 SGD
Overall, I spent 80 SGD (3,200 PhP) excluding transportation and lunch.
13. BOARDING THE PLANE (CEBU PACIFIC AIR)
Cebu Pacific was again delayed for a few minutes. Well, as I said before, I didn’t mind it as long as it wasn’t an hour. During the flight, the cabin crew gives Filipino passengers another card/paper to declare to Customs in the Philippines.
Good bye now, Singapore!
14. ARRIVAL: DAVAO, PHILIPPINES
IMMIGRATION GATES: There were three lines for the incoming passengers. One for regular passengers, one for Overseas Filipino Workers (OWFs), and one for passengers who travel with senior citizens and children. Unlike in Singapore Immigration gates, here was slower.
CUSTOMS: I didn’t have any checked-in luggage so the officer didn’t bother to ask more. I headed to the arrival exit at once. Finally, I was breathing Davao’s air again!
III. WELCOME BACK.
It was definitely an unforgettable first trip! Not only because of the places did I go to, but also my friends who were there to make my stay more fun and indulging. I got teary-eyed. My first trip abroad was something I will treasure all my life. I will travel again to another country next year (bitten by a travel bug), but if I had a chance to go back to Singapore, I would definitely do it again!
IV. TRAVEL BUDGET – 4 NIGHTS & 3 DAYS IN SINGAPORE
PLANNED BUDGET: Budget without Airfare, Travel Tax, and Terminal Fee: 164.82 USD (215 SGD)
ACTUAL TOTAL EXPENDITURE: Budget without Airfare, Travel Tax, and Terminal Fee: 119.10 USD (155 SGD)
PS. If I was able to do my planned budget, I would still have some money left.