Singapore is a beautiful mix of the old and the new; of the sensible and the absurd. However, this gorgeous travel destination definitely isn’t the easiest on the pockets. This tiny nation of modern luxuries can cost you the highest than the rest of its Southeast Asian counterparts.
Despite its dollar-stretching reputation, Singapore continues to be one of the most visited countries in Asia. With its world-class attractions, rich culture and diversity, and accessibility with direct flights to its surrounding regions, one can’t resist its urban allure.
Travelling to Singapore as a Couple
Visiting Singapore wasn’t part of my 2018 go-to places. I didn’t even have that list to begin with!
However, an opportunity to travel to Malaysia came in September and I wasn’t one to let it pass by. Since Singapore is just an hour away from Kuala Lumpur via air travel, I figured why not visit the popular ultramodern city as well?
I guess it helped that both husband and wife have savings to fund the unexpected trip.
Yes, I was travelling with my husband! I was even surprised to find myself with him on foreign soils knowing that travelling doesn’t interest him. I guess you change for the people you love. Chos!
DAY 1 – SINGAPORE TRIP
Our morning flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore actually just took no more than 45 minutes. I was even surprised when the pilot announced that we’re landing on Changi Airport as I finally decided to take a nap on the plane.
To get started, we dropped by Changi Recommends located at the arrivals hall in Terminal 4 to purchase our Singapore Singtel Hi! Tourist Sim ($30 SGD) and EZ Link Cards ($10 SGD with $5 credit).
The Singapore Singtel Hi! Tourist Sim already packs 100 GB data, unlimited local calls, and 90 minutes international calls anywhere for 10 days.
Meanwhile the EZ Link cards are contactless smart cards used for the payment of public transportation fares (MRT, LRT, bus) in Singapore.
You can top up the cards in 7-Eleven stores or in MRT/bus stations.
You shouldn’t miss getting these cards before exiting the airport, unless you’ve chartered a private car for the duration of your stay in Singapore.
We availed Changi Airport’s shuttle service ($9 SGD/pax) for a stress-free transfer from the airport to our hotel.
The shuttle service kiosk is located just beside Changi Recommends in Terminal 4.
We were the last passengers to disembark from the city shuttle because of our hotel’s location, which was wonderful and very accessible.
We checked in at J8 Hotel in Lavender.
Take note that the bulk of your expenses when touring SG is going to be your accommodation. While we don’t have the means to check ourselves in a luxurious hotel, we found great accommodation and service in a boutique hotel near the downtown area.
The accommodation in Singapore is quite expensive. You can stay in posh hotels in Kuala Lumpur with a Php 15,000 budget, but that budget in Singapore will only afford you a modest room with a small space for 2 nights. If you’re travelling alone, you might as well just opt to stay in hostels that will only cost you no more than Php 1,000 a night.
That being said, I booked a room with a patio at J8 Hotel not only because it fitted our budget, but because I read good reviews about it online. It has 20th century-style architecture on the outside, but don’t be fooled by its old facade. The hotel actually has modern amenities when you get in. The main selling points for me are its friendly and accommodating staff and great breakfast choices which are included in your booking. You might want to consider staying there if you’re looking for a modestly priced accommodation in Singapore.
The Merlion Park was our first stop as it’s the most iconic attraction in the country. Plus, it’s free!
You might be surprised to discover that the area is pretty crowded, so pick a good spot when taking your obligatory Merlion photo.
Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum & Gardens by the Bay
Across Merlion Park you’ll find the architectural and engineering marvel that is the Marina Bay Sands Resort. A lotus-shaped building, which is the ArtScience Museum, stands as an accessory to the high straddling three luxury hotel towers. Just a few walks down, at the back of the resort, is the massive Gardens by the Bay.
Our agenda for that day was to visit ArtScience Museum and Gardens by the Bay.
To reach these areas, we had to walk under Singapore’s sweltering heat through the Helix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge shaped like the DNA linking Marina Centre with Marina South in the Marina Bay area.
We had a fun time at the ArtScience Museum, exploring the Marvel Studios and Future World ($32 SGD/pax).
We then walked toward Gardens by the Bay to visit the Supertree Grove, Flower Dome, and Cloud Forest.
You can buy tickets to both conservatories at the gate but you can get a discount if you purchase them in advance through Klook. We bought a 2x pass to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest ($46.25 SGD) via the Klook app. Unfortunately, the Cloud Forest was undergoing maintenance when we got there so we only used the pass to get into the Flower Dome.
Before heading to the Supertree Grove, we had our dinner at Satay by the Bay where you can get set meals for as low as $4-6 SGD. My traveler friend Clint (instagram: @yourbuddyclint) told us ahead of our trip that a satiable meal would cost us around $15 SGD each. He wasn’t far from telling the truth when you account for the cost of the drinks! You’re better off refilling your water bottles with free tap water as they’re very safe to consume.
After dinner, we headed back to the Supertree Grove to catch the first showing of Garden Rhapsody at 7:45PM. It’s a free light and music show that takes place at the Supertree Grove.
We took the MRT going back to our hotel after the show and retired for the night.
DAY 2- SENTOSA
Universal Studios Singapore & S.E.A. Aquarium Marine Life Park
Resorts World Sentosa is home to a slew of enthralling experiences. There are a lot of things that you can do and places to visit when you go to Sentosa. So it’s a must that you schedule an entire day on the island.
You can get to Sentosa by taking the monorail or riding a cable car, but the pedestrian boardwalk (accessible from VivoCity) is a great option as well if you fancy a stroll.
Of course, we took the Sentosa Express monorail ($4 SGD/pax) as it’s the fastest although not the cheapest option. The ride is free when you get back to VivoCity.
We embraced our thrill-seeking inner-child in Universal Studios Singapore (USS). There’s an enticing selection of attractions, rides, and entertainment at this Hollywood movie theme park. We got an unlimited day access ($72.72 SGD/ pax) to the amusement park by purchasing our tickets from Klook.
There are seven movie-themed zones and 18 movie-themed rides. Our personal favorite was the Revenge of the Mummy in the Ancient Egypt zone and Jurassic Park Rapid Adventures in The Lost World. If you’re one heck of a thrill-seeker, you can try Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi City). Well, we didn’t have the guts to try it!
There are also 30 restaurants and food carts inside USS, so you’ll never have to worry about getting hungry.
Note: Food prices in USS are more expensive than what you’ll find in Hawker Centres. Drinks are expensive as well. So bring your own water bottles like we did and save a lot of money by using purified water taps throughout the park.
After an enthralling experience in USS, we also visited the S.E.A. Aquarium in Sentosa, which is just a walking distance from the theme park.
We purchased our S.E.A. Aquarium tickets ($32.94 SGD/ pax) via Klook.
The S.E.A. Aquarium used to be the world’s largest aquarium until it was overtaken by China. It’s home to more than 100,000 marine animals across 50 different habitats. It’s highly recommended that you visit this attraction when going to Sentosa.
DAY 3- Last-Minute Shopping
Chinatown & Bugis Street
Since it’s our last day in Singapore, we decided to check out from our room in the morning before heading out to do some last minute shopping and visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Luckily, the hotel we were staying at has a room where you can leave your luggage after checking out.
Because we’re not some fancy jet setting people, we did our souvenir shopping in Chinatown and Bugis Street. There are a lot of affordable items that you can buy in these little merchant places, especially souvenir items such as keychains, paperweights, bags, clothes, and even chocolates and treats that are not always available in the Philippines.
The happy kid in me was delighted to find out I could purchase 5 large Toblerones just for $10 SGD and other flavours of KitKat for a cheap price in Bugis. Since we have 25kg luggage allowance for our return flight to Cebu, we had ample room to check in our souvenirs.
From our hotel in Lavender, we booked a Grab car to transport us to Changi Airport Terminal 4 by 4PM.
FYI: Budget airlines like AirAsia and Cebu Pacific operate at Changi Airport Terminal 4.
As our return flight to Cebu is at 9PM, we had a lot of time enjoying the amenities in Changi Airport and that included playing tennis and darts (x-box) in the entertainment area. I even had the chance to avail of the free tasters and tried out expensive perfumes.
There are still a lot of places in Singapore that we were not able to visit as we ran out of time. However, we will definitely be back to this amazing metropolis with our little daughter in tow next time.
If you think relationships in and of themselves are hard work, travelling as a couple from the Philippines (or wherever you are) proved to be the extreme.
Singapore’s hot and humid climate (I almost fainted) and a bit confusing (but impressive) public transport combined with different temperaments, agendas, and forbearance can be a recipe for disaster to a couple travelling alone.
In one unexpected twist, we got lost on our way back to our hotel from VivoCity because of my doing. And I had to bear the brunt of my husband’s annoyance because I didn’t listen to him. Oops!
Tip: Always have your Google maps handy, as well as the app/site Rome2Rio so you’ll know which public transport to take to your destination.
Despite all the minor setbacks, we emerged stronger with a deeper understanding of each other after the trip. It’s a rewarding and memorable experience to stand the test of time together somewhere we have never been to, without someone to guide our paths, and being spoken in a language we don’t speak.
I planned the sightseeing and entertainment, my husband was the map reader and expert luggage packer. We were a team and I wouldn’t have it any other way.