Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Complete Singapore Trip Guide and Tips for First-Timers

Complete Singapore Trip Guide and Tips for First-Timers
This tips and guidance from about Complete Singapore Trip Guide and Tips for First-Timers.

By Marcos Detourist.
Start here and plan a trip in Singapore. See travel tips & guides on must-visit sights, budgeting, places to stay, ways to save money & more.

Singapore is South East Asia’s most prosperous city and smallest nation by land area. In recent years, newly developed mega-attractions and casino driven integrated resorts had transformed this “all work” economic powerhouse into one of the region’s most popular destinations for leisure travel.
Because of its compact size, Singapore is very easy to travel and generally safe. It is a top choice for first-time international travel, family trips, and those seeking to indulge in metropolitan luxuries. While costs are significantly higher than the rest of Southeast Asia, a lot of people continue to visit Singapore because of its unique and top-notch attractions that cater to almost every type of traveler.
I honestly didn’t expect to travel to Singapore as often as I have, considering the high number of seemingly more “exotic” and adventurous destinations elsewhere in the region. Singapore was just too irresistibly accessible with so many direct flights to other cities all over the region as well as convenient border crossings to Malaysia & Indonesia.
Singapore continues to be a worthwhile jump-off point to Southeast Asia and a fitting “last stop” for indulging in urban comforts before the journey home.

Get Started

To help you plan a trip, here are some of my favorite sights & experiences during my frequent trips to Singapore. Followed by a quick summary of my top travel tips.

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Visa-free travel for Philippine citizens — 80% of all nationalities, including Filipino tourists, do not need to apply for a visa before arriving in Singapore for short visits. Scroll down to the extra tips for the list of things you might need to prepare.
Traveling on a tight budget is possible — I’ve included a lot of money saving tips on this guide in case you are traveling on a limited budget. Spending less does not mean that you have to miss out on awesome travel experiences in Singapore. You can achieve cheaper expenses by knowing where to find and book the best travel deals. Scroll down to the budget breakdown to get an idea of how much money you might spend on your trip.
Book your room early — Book your room as soon as you know you are going because prices rarely go down the closer you are to your trip. Also, cheaper rooms tend to get fully booked sooner, especially during holiday and peak seasons. Click the links below to compare prices & reviews by other travelers.

Singapore is compact and easy to travel DIY — Getting between different areas of the city is very convenient. Singapore has a small land area and the infrastructure is highly developed. It’s easy to go on a do-it-yourself (DIY) trip, even on your own. Plus all signs are in English and most Singaporeans can speak/understand English. Public transport is very efficient. It’s the best way to get around if you want to travel cheaply. I’ve included an easy-to-follow itinerary, later in this guide, to save you time in planning everything yourself.

Best time to visit Singapore — Singapore gets little weather variations the whole year round. Any month is generally good to schedule your visit. If you just want to go sightseeing, however, you need to be aware of popular holidays and events, which usually happens from January-February, June-July, September-October. It’s super peak season for hotels. Book your accommodations well in advance.
Spend two days or more — With a 2-day trip in Singapore, you can already see most of the major travel highlights. Though, I recommend spending three days or more, especially if you want to enjoy multiple theme parks/attractions and explore the different cultural districts. If you are spending a long layover at Changi Airport, don’t miss the free city tours for transit passengers.
Make sure to scroll down to see recommended places to stay, sample itinerary, budget estimates, breakdown of expenses, ways to save money & a lot of extra tips.

Where to stay

Book your stay near MRT train stations if you plan on getting around conveniently by public transport.
Clark Quay (Riverside), Chinatown, Little India & Bugis are the most popular places to stay for backpackers and budget travelers.
You can find most of the mid-range and luxury hotels in Orchard Road, Marina Bay, Promenade/City Hall area & Sentosa Island.

Singapore hotels & hostels

Here’s a list of top rated hotels & hostels in Singapore. Click below to check rates, discounts & guest reviews. Click the “Book now” buttons to see a list of trusted booking & compare rates.

Top sights & things to do

Merlion and Singapore Skyline
Merlion Park — Pretty hard to miss anyway because of its prominent location at the mouth of the Singapore River. Not only could you get a good photo with the Merlion statue, Singapore’s most iconic monument, but there are amazing views to be seen of the Singapore Skyline, Marina Bay Sands, The Esplanade: Theatres by the Bay, and the Singapore Flyer.

Statues of children playing by the river with a view of heritage buildings and bridges along the Singapore River at the Civic District in Singapore
Riverside Promenade and a boat passing through the Singapore River
Singapore Riverside and Civic District — This relaxing promenaded riverside area is a short walk away from the Merlion Park. Take a stroll down memory lane and get acquainted with the city’s early development and colonial history. A happening nightlife scene can be experienced at Clark and Boat Quay.
Colorful lanterns at night, in Chinatown, Singapore
Chinatown — Experience Singapore’s multi-cultural diversity by taking a walking and food tour of Chinatown. Visit a church, a mosque, Indian and Chinese temples all in one walk. Go on a food adventure and try dishes from Singapore’s different cultural influences at affordable hawker centers of Chinatown.
Marina Bay, Helix Bridge & Art Science Museum, in Singapore
Marina Bay — Marvel at Singapore’s new urbanscape by taking a walk around Marina Bay. Visit Marina Bay Sands, the Helix Bridge, Singapore Flyer, and Esplanade: Theatres on the bay. Amazing overlooking views can be seen from the Skypark of Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer.
Super trees, at Gardens By The Bay, in Singapore
Man-made Waterfalls at the Cloud Forest Dome in Gardens By the Bay, Singapore
Gardens by the Bay — An ambitious project set to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden.” The main attractions here are the 25 towering man-made Supertrees and two equally extraordinary biodomes.
Elephant Show at Singapore Zoo, Singapore
Singapore Zoo — An impressively maintained zoo where you can find a wide array of animals from around the world. The River Safari is also worth checking out.
Overlooking Palawan Beach in Sentosa, Singapore
Sentosa Island — Spend a fun day on rides and themed attractions or relax at the beaches of Sentosa. The island is home to Universal Studios Singapore, the first theme park of its kind to open in Southeast Asia and the second in Asia after Universal Studios Japan.

Singapore itinerary

Here’s a sample 4-day itinerary that you can follow during your trip. Scroll down for the budget and list of expenses.

Day 1 — Old & New Singapore

10 AM— Singapore-Changi Airport arrival.
11 AM — Singapore hotel check-in
11:30 AM — Lau Pa Sat hawker center
12:30 NN — Merlion Park & Singapore River
3 PM — Gardens by the Bay
7:45 PM — Garden Rhapsody Light & Sound Show
9:30 PM — Marina Bay Sands Wander Full Light and Water Show

Day 2 — Universal Studios Singapore & Sentosa

9 AM — Sentosa Island.
10 AM — Universal Studios Singapore.
5:30 PM — Option 1 — Marina Bay Skypark.
Option 2 — Singapore Flyer.
Option 3 — Esplanade Roof Terrace.
Option 4 — Wings of Time Open-Sea Light Show.

Day 3 — Legoland Malaysia side trip

9 AM — Singapore departure.
11 AM to 12 NN — Legoland Malaysia.
5:15 PM — Legoland Malaysia departure.
7 PM to 8 PM — Singapore arrival.
8 PM — Makansutra Gluttons Bay dinner.

Day 4 — Heritage & shopping

9 AM — Singapore Chinatown.
12NN — Shopping.
3:00 PM — Hotel check-out & Singapore Airport transfer.
3:30 PM — Singapore Airport & flight check-in.
6:30 PM — Singapore Airport departure.
If you only have 3 days to spend in Singapore, you can skip “Day 3” of the itinerary posted above
Go to the Singapore itinerary4 days guide for the budget estimates, expenses breakdown, and step-by-step do-it-yourself (DIY) tips for the itinerary above. Scroll down for more budget & money saving tips.

Budget & expenses

Here’s a list of typical costs when traveling in Singapore. This country is one of the most expensive travel destinations this side of Asia. It is generally twice as expensive as Malaysia or at least three times more than traveling around other countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Transport — One train or bus ride within the city costs between SGD 0.8 to 2. For a whole day of sightseeing, you may likely spend between SGD 5 to 10. The Singapore Tourist Pass, which offers unlimited MRT & bus rides, costs SGD 10 for a 1-day pass and SGD 20 for a three day pass.
Accommodations — Booking a room or bed in Singapore is noticeably more expensive than neighboring countries. A dorm bed in a backpacker hostel or guesthouse starts from SGD 11 per night and averages from SGD 15 to 30 per night. A room for two in a budget hotel would set you back SGD 50 to 90 per night. Most mid-range hotels offer rooms for around SGD 100 to 200 per night. If you are staying in a luxury hotel or resort, room prices usually start at SGD 300 to 500 per night.
Food — A meal at hawker centers costs around SGD 3 to 15. Hawker stalls are Singapore’s version of side street stalls and low-cost eateries. Mains at casual restaurants start at SGD 10 to 15.
Activities — Admission fees may take up a huge chunk of your expenses if you plan on visiting many themed attractions, rides, and museums. Many museums offer free admission, while most usually cost SGD 10 or less. Entry to theme parks & attractions are priced between SGD 20 to SGD 70.
Daily budget — A backpacker’s budget may hover between SGD 30 to 45 or USD 21 to 32 / PHP 1,000 to 1,600 per person per day for accommodations, transport, and meals. Excluding activities & flights. This is assuming that you stay in hostel dorms, use public transportation and eat at hawker stalls. You can achieve the low end of this budget estimate by following the money-saving tips posted below.
Keep in mind that these are estimates. As you know, actual budgets/expenses may be different depending on a person’s traveling style & time of visit. Also, you might also want to spend more on food for unique dining experiences, and on hotels for more a comfortable stay.
Total budget on a 3-day trip — Including Universal Studios Singapore and Gardens by the Bay (Cloud Forest + Flower dome), expect a total budget starting at SGD 177 or USD 126 / PHP 6,300 per person for the entire three days. This budget can be achieved by booking discount tickets posted below.