Thursday, August 24, 2017

How to Explore Singapore in Cheap–Attraction Cheat Codes

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

3. Day 1

Next is “Attraction Cheat Codes”,

Singapore is not easy to travel if you are not willing to walk. The public transportation is more than good but you got to walk inside a Zoo or Sentosa. I checked my walk meter and it logged 67 km of walking in 8 days, which A LOT of walking for any standards. So overall we travelled 67 km in walking, 47 km in taxi, close to 300 km in bus/MRTs and 10,000 km in airplane.

ZOOs

I had already decided to visit all the 4 parks and if you are going to all the 4 parks then the best option is to choose Park Hopper Pass. It really saved some time and money, and with Slashed prices I got a further 5% discount.

River Safari - River Safari is just next to the zoo, its 90% air conditioned and completely covered. River Safari cruise will take 15-20 minutes but overall it will consume your one hour and it is not that great, so you can skip it. You can complete this in about two hours including Amazon River quest, provided there is no rush.

Singapore zoo - Singapore zoo is not gigantic but it's big and you need lots of time to explore it. We went to Singapore zoo after visiting river Safari at around 2 p.m. and Zoo closes at 5, hence 3 hours weren't enough with a 3 yr. old.

Night Safari - Night Safari is one of its kind experience. If you can then try to reach little late, around 10pm, so that rush is less and you need not stand in a long queue to get onto Tram. Try to go for Night Safari on a day where you have done something in the morning, come back to hotel have dinner and then go to Night Safari.

Jurong bird park - Jurong bird park is on the totally opposite side of the city but it doesn't take the entire day to see the bird Park. You can come here in the morning, finish it by lunch time, go back to hotel take rest and head to night Safari in the evening. Don’t miss the Parrot feeding for $3 SGD, you get to feed the parrots while they sit on your hand and you get to click pictures of the same.

SENTOSA

Luge - It's good, small kids can double with parents with extra cost of $3 SGD. This is the first thing you see once you get down from cable car.

Segway - Segway ride is ok if you've not done before.

Megazip – Unlike all the videos you see on YouTube where people shot themselves using selfie stick; strangely the selfie stick isn’t allowed for Megazip. Things that can be tied to your harness are only allowed, hence if you want to shoot your video with your phone; you need to buy a $10 pouch from them!! So just plan better for this activity.

SEA Aquarium – SEA aquarium is amazing to look at, zillion kinds of fishes and immense information to read. I think to do justice with this place is to give at least couple of hours but without reading description this can be completed inside an hour.

Universal Studios - Let me make it pretty clear, whatever plan you make for USS will not workout, it's the most visited place in Singapore. There is no off peak time or season in USS. I found a very neat post on how to maximize your trip to USS and did exactly that but didn't work even 10%. So I give you a full proof solution, “The Express Card”. We reached USS at 10 am and by 2:30 pm I could finish just one ride and I was a single rider. Immediately purchased a Limited Express card that allows single express entry to all the rides and voilĂ , we did rest of all the rides in the remaining time. How much ever internet say; you can’t plan for USS, it’s just always immensely crowded. So just include Express card cost to your travel. Try to go as single rider even if you are in a group, that would give you better chance of getting onto ride faster.

TRAVEL IN SENTOSA

Singapore cable car - Try to go on non-peak hours you might get full cable car for your group, otherwise you might have to share it with fellow passengers. If you just want to enter in Sentosa then just Mount Faber line ticket is enough for you. Child under 3 is free. If you are staying for a longer duration and going to visit Sentosa more than once via cable car then checkout the Cable Car membership, which is like $40 SGD for a year.

Cable car inside Sentosa – If you want to travel via cable car inside Sentosa then check beforehand if your Cable car pass/tickets covers that or not.

Sentosa express monorail - Inside Sentosa you can travel for free in Sentosa Express monorail.

Resorts World Sentosa bus service - if you are coming out of Sentosa and you are in vivo city then just go to the Vivo city bus stand. Board any Resorts World Sentosa bus and it will drop you to the nearby public bus stand for free.

Rest of the Attractions

River cruise - If your are doing it in evening then better get in the cruise by 7:30-8:00 pm because they close by 8:30-9:00 pm for a complete round. Sit on the right side on the boat because strangely 95% of the commentary is for the buildings/area on the right side of the boat, even when it turns around.

Garden by the bays - Garden by the bays is not only about Flower Dome, Supertree Grove or Cloud Forest. There is so much more to Garden by the bay, these three things are probably just 25% of the entire Garden by the bays. It's a place where you can walk, cycle, run and even meditate. There are lots and lots of different Gardens that are not publicized and yet are gorgeous. So I would suggest an entire day at Garden by the Bay. There is a show at GBB every evening which is amazing, I would suggest to take Singapore flyer 10-15 min before this show starts so that you enjoy the show from Flyer, same goes for Marina bay sands observation deck. Except Flower Dome and Cloud forest everything is free at Garden by the Bays, even Supertree Grove and its show.

Clark quay – Evening at Clarke Quay is recommended on entire internet and I found it quite ok, its expensive and there is some strange rule regarding drinking being prohibited after certain hours in evening, which again changes from restaurant to restaurant !! I was drinking at a place where drinking limit was till 1 am whereas next to that was already closed as their drinking limit was 11:30 pm !! Watch out when you order for happy hours, they open all the bottles and serve !! I was the only person drinking and they served me 3 open bottles at the same time !!

Connectivity across Singapore – Across Singapore you will get a free Wi-Fi SG@Singapore, you just need to go to the login page, fill in OTP and you will be online. This facility is available inside all the parks as well but connectivity is limited to a place where a Wi-Fi router can be mounted, restaurant or cafeteria.

Travelling with Toddler/Kids – Do not even think of visiting Singapore without Pram/Stroller.

Travelling in Singapore using local transport – Now everyone boasts about how good the local transport is in Singapore but here is an issue, in MRT there is a clear display on where you are currently and which is the next station, not so much in the buses. Buses doesn’t have any notification about what is the next stop or where you are currently, so how would you know where to get down ?

You would ask the bus driver but you know what, bus drivers have no idea where they are and where they are going, they just follow map all day long !! Google maps is your best friend here, it will tell you which bust to catch from where and where to get down but even this won’t tell you where you are and when you should get down. So open google maps, start driving navigation with destination stop name where you need to get down and press STOP button on the bust once you are just 200 m away from arriving to the destination. If I was not equipped with this, I would have got screwed for sure because there was literally no way of knowing on the bus.

EAT – 2nd most thing that you will find in Singapore after people is eating spots, there are zillion of it but beware of Hawker centers, non-famous ones usually close downy 7:30 – 8:00 pm. Also remember to buy your alcohol before 10:30 pm because Alcohol is not sold post 10:30 pm, read this.

I think I covered almost 40% of all the Singapore attractions and the most important ones, did I miss something ? Yes I would have loved to do iFly, missed going to Casino, would have loved the Wings of time show at Sentosa and also missed daily laser show at MBS but that’s ok, I really had a good time and hope you also do.

Write to me at ankkkit@hotmail.com if you need some more info that you would like to know.

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.

Write to me at ankkkit@hotmail.com if you need some more info that you would like to know.