Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to Explore Singapore in Cheap–Day 1

This is a series of blogs where I am trying to let people know about some tips and tricks to visit Singapore that are not available on internet,

Prior to this one,

1. Flight Booking

2. Before Travel

  Next is Day 1,

  So the day 1 is all about travelling and getting settled for fun to begin,

1. Changi Airport – So you have arrived to “The Best Airport in the world” and it’s not simply called the best in the world. It’s called because it has everything to keep you engaged in your transit. You would want to be in transit here. There are loads of things that you can do at Changi Airport and its very useful because if you are arriving early in a day then you need something to kill time with because every hotel in Singapore weirdly has 3 pm check in time. Spend your time napping, seeing butterfly park, relaxing with free massagers or watch a movie inside the airport for free. There are kids small play areas and wooden block drawing sections to keep little ones engaged.

2. Local Sim Card – Don’t buy sim card at Airport because the minimum value SingTel sim card they have is of $30+, you don’t need that, you just need $15 one that offers 4 GB data with 5 day validity which is available in any 7-Eleven with additional offers and there are plenty of 7-Eleven. As I mentioned before, hotels usually provide a phone for your disposal, so decide on buying a local sim based on that. If you go to any shopping street you might find even cheaper and better Sim Card options.

3. Local Travel – Just outside Changi you will find the MRT (Tube/Metro) station where you can buy EZ Link card, card’s cost is $5 and you can top it up with any amount you need. Each person would need 1 card, it cost us $55 for 2 of us including cost of the card for 8 days with daily travel in MRT and Buses. I found Tourist EZ Link card to be little expensive in compared to this. One thing to remember, if you have any balance left in the card, you can get it refunded at Changi Airport MRT station on your return but kiosk closes post 7:30 pm, either get it refunded before and use single card to travel to the airport.

4. Taxis – You would find that taxis are costly, if you compare to local transport ? yes but otherwise I don’t think they are that expensive. Some taxis even accept EZ Link cards. But beware of cancelling an Uber, it might cost you the total trip cost. Try local Uber, Grab, if you are new user they usually have offers such as first 2 rides free. There is Taxi stand where you can hail a taxi otherwise there is free Wi-Fi on Airport and you can use that to book Uber or Grab.

5. Child Concession Card – Usually kids below 7 are free but it’s better to get a concession card done for them, its free and it’s fun for kids to swipe at each terminal.

6. Attraction tickets – Collect all the tickets if you have a full proof plan or can collect as and when needed. I suggest “Slashed Price Singapore” to buy all the attraction tickets, I couldn’t find cheaper tickets and all worked like charm. Their Facebook page lists the WhatsApp number to chat and finalize on tickets. Most of the tickets are e-tickets that they will send on WhatsApp or email and all can be redeemed at attraction kiosks or ticket centers.

Friday, August 4, 2017

How to Explore Singapore in Cheap–Before Travel

This is a series of blogs where I am trying to let people know about some tips and tricks to visit Singapore that are not available on internet,

Prior to this one,

1. Flight Booking
   Next is Things to do before Travel,

1. Room Booking – People would say that Singapore is so small and public transport is so good that it virtually doesn’t matter where you are staying which may be true but what if you just don’t want to get into the hassle of catching a public transport to do any and everything ? What if you could just go out of your hotel and start shopping or enjoy the Singaporean Delicacies? It would save loads and loads of energy.
a. So my tip here is to get you hotel booking around major shopping streets or the area that you are more fascinated with, Bugis ? Chinatown ? take a pick. I had a 3 year old daughter for whom we had to look for a proper Indian food every morning, there was one right next to our hotel and one major daily task tackled in a breeze. I stayed at Summer View Hotel, It was comparatively expensive due to its location but it was worth it.
b. Save money and do not go for a fancy hotels, you have zillion things to do in Singapore and you will come back to hotel just to sleep. My hotel didn’t have swimming pool and my room didn’t have a window, did it matter ? No, because after getting exhausted from all day outing, you just need a cold shower and a fluffy bed…. may be a chilled beer as well before the bed.
Use Booking.com to book the tickets, it really gives you a vast variety of hotels and you get to choose between non-refundable or refundable bookings, of course refundable bookings come with premium price but affordable.

2. Visa Photos – There is a slightly different requirement than regular passport size pictures, so include minor expense this in your overheads.

3. Visa – You need confirmed return air ticket and hotel bookings to apply for this and this can be applied 30 days before travel date only.
a. Apparently you can get the visa done on your own but I could not find on net, if you can then well and good as it’s going to cost you just $30.
b. If someone you know in Singapore who has PR, they can apply for you.
c. I took help from a travel an agent (Eastern Travel Needz – Facebook, Google, Call/Whatsapp - +919880782160) who got it done for me in a week for ₹2450 rupees per person, very comfortable experience.

4. Travel Insurance – You can get this done directly from any firm, Reliance, New India, etc. usually its going to cost around ₹600 per person, child till 12 years is not applicable.

5. Planning – This is the core part and there is no end of what all you want to do in Singapore, I would say that I covered probably all important attractions but that might come up to just 30% of what all is out there. So plan well and plan smart, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and keep a plan that has buffer so that you don’t get stressed out if you want to take an unplanned break in the middle of the trip which we had to take due to exhaustion.

a. Attractions – I will not list down what all you can see in Singapore, go look on internet and you will find zillion of references, so go ahead and make a day wise plan, in next few blogs I will try to show you how did I plan and give you an estimate of how much time would one activity typically take.

b. Day-wise planning – Very important, plan your days so that you have some control over your limited trip. You can always move things around but without plan you will lose time and opportunity. Here’s list of what I planned for, didn’t plan for and what I could and couldn’t cover.


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c. Luggage Essentials
i. Food – Pack lots of snacks, they were very useful when there was nothing available to eat. We packed a rice cooker and some rice that was really useful for lunch packing for kid. Beware that you will not get normal curd anywhere in Singapore, we tried a lot and all you get is sweet yoghurt or extreme sour curd from Indian restaurants.
ii. Clothes – Pack 1 top for each day and bottom can be repeated maybe once, that really worked out if you are not interested in getting your clothes washed, which is possible for some really interesting prices, I think minimum was 20 SGD for 4 KGs, which is roughly ₹1000.

d. Currency for Travel – I contacted a friend who had a friend at Singapore, took all SGD from him and later transferred him in Indian rupees, I saved at least ₹3000 with this but if not then you can find out from different people, who is giving the best rates, usually it will be travel agents.

e. Roaming – If you don’t mind paying huge bill then go ahead and get the roaming activated, in fact AIRTEL’s new plan is quite good, ₹1200 for 10 days and you get international incoming free. Else buy a local sim card once you reach Singapore. Or, almost all the hotels provide a mobile phone for your disposal till you are staying with them, you can use it for finding routes, make local calls and in our case calling to India was FREE !! Strangely It did not have incoming call or SMS enabled, hence there was issue in booking Uber or Grab. I would recommend buying a sim card for $15.