For most Indians, Singapore is usually the first abroad destination they travel to. Being their first trip abroad, travel agencies take a lot of advantage of this. That is why I have made things simple, crisp and clear on how to travel Singapore in a completely new, unique and in a budget friendly manner.
There are lots of blogs and videos on how to get a Singapore Visa, so I will not be looking into that today. I will be taking you through the essence of Singapore and how to explore it like a local.
One thing people forget about mentioning, is that with a valid multiple entry Singapore visa you can visit Philippines for 15 days and you will get a Philippines visa on arrival with your Singapore visa. And just like that your next destination is also decided !
Singapore is the cultural hub of Asia and is a fusion of Indian, Chinese and Malay culture and cuisine. You can see a blend of these cultures in everyday things like walking on the road or to how people interact with each other. For a country who got independence much later than India it has done very well for itself and is the perfect example for a city of the future.
Singapore can get very expensive if you do not watch out. Internal transport can get very expensive so what are the fist things to do when you reach Singapore ?
First thing is to buy a local sim card at Singapore Airport. Vodafone sim card should be fine if you plan on staying in Singapore for 1-2 Weeks. This will give you access to Google Maps which will easily help you travel around with public transport.
Next thing is to buy a EZ-link card. This is a universal prepaid card that works across all public transports in Singapore and you can buy one from any MRT station or a Seven Eleven departmental store. You can recharge it at the MRT stations as well. Now that you have an EZ-Link Card, you can easily travel literally all over Singapore and you will not need anything else. Singapore by far has the best public transport system in the world so do take advantage of that.
There are a few apps that you should download before you come to Singapore.
- Google Maps is a Must
- City Mapper is an awesome app that helps you with getting around with public transport. It is very easy to use and has some great features like reminding you to stand up in advance when on a bus before your stop. You can download it here
- SG BusLeh is another useful app for Singapore and gives you live updates on where the buses are and how crowded or empty they are. Must have when you travelling through the very efficient bus network of Singapore. You can download it here
- Grab – Just like Uber, Singapore has grab and can be useful when you are in a hurry to instantly get from one place to another.
There are a few other things to know before you go to Singapore especially for us Indian travelers. The law and order is very strict there and there are a lot of fines for things you might consider normal back in India
- No Spitting – Fine 500 SGD
- No Jaywalking ( Which means you cannot walk on the street aimlessly, you must follow signals)
- No littering
- No Smoking in Public
- No Chewing Gum
Now that you are all set to explore Singapore, lets explore the must do things in Singapore when you really want to feel the essence of Singapore. There is something for everybody in Singapore and I am sure no one will be bored in this modern-day metropolis
For Kids and Families
Usually all the first timers I see are ones travelling with Kids and families. For them there are a few places that are a must visit. For people travelling with kids the places that you must visit are Universal Studios, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore zoo and night safari which can be clubbed together. Sentosa island which has the adventure cove, dolphin show, wings of time water and light show in the evenings are perfect for kids.
Budget Tip 1 – You can get a discount to all these places if you are travelling through Singapore Airlines
Budget Tip 2 – If you plan on going to all these places you can club the tickets into 1 universal ticket at any of the ticket counters and they will give you a nice big discount.
It is not mandatory to visit all the above mentioned places, research a bit yourself, see what interest you and your family and plan accordingly because all these places can get pretty expensive.
Another must visit place is Gardens by the bay which has the cloud forest and the flower dome. I thought the flower dome was a bit over rated but i highly recommend you visit the cloud forest. It replicates the scenario in a tropical forest with waterfalls and mist. It is really magical.
Try and go there in the evening as there are light shows in the nearby Super tree grove at 7.10 PM and 8.10 PM everyday. Make sure you reach there early as it gets really crowded if you want to be on top of the tree during the light and sound show.
Once you are done from here walk down from behind the gardens by the bay and via the double helix bridge all the way to the Singapore flyer. The evening lights are magical and the city just comes to life in the evening. If possible take a ride in the Singapore flyer, the views from up there in the evening with lights on is breath-taking and makes you realize how humans have taken such major strides in architecture and city planning.
For the shopaholics
Singapore is a shoppers Paradise. From big label brands to street shopping there is something for everyone. Take a stroll down Orchard road for at least window shopping through possibly all the luxury brands in the world.
Malls – Vivo City, Suntec City, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands are the best places to shop if you are looking to do some clothes and accessory shopping
Sim Lim Square is for all you electronics lovers. It possibly has all types of electronics, and you will be able to get a Tax refund at the airport for all the things that you buy. It really is like candy land for all the geeks out there. If nothing go for the experience and at least buy a Pen Drive !
If you like local and street shopping you have to go to Bugis Street. You have to go there at least once and experience the vibe there. It is colorful and full of flavors and aromas. There are food stalls and shops selling cheap bags, accessories and clothing for men and women. For sure, I know that all Indians will love this place. If you are good with bargaining, you can get a pretty good deal here. But do not go overboard, It is considered rude.
Inside Singapore there is small part called Little India and you will transferred directly from Singapore to any street in India. When in Little India you have to go Mustafa Market. Like the Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok it sells anything and everything. You can get your souvenirs and cheap cosmetics in Mustafa market. It is a must visit when in Singapore.
Food and Nightlife
Singapore is a fusion of Indian, Chinese and Malay culture, this is reflected even in the food scene. The best place to experience local flavors is at hawker centers. There are tons of hawker centers in Singapore, just pick one and ask the lady across the counter to give their best dish and you will be blown away by the flavors.
Insider Tip: In Chinatown there is Hawker Chan which is the first of its kind to get a Michelin star rating even though it is a hawker. Get there early as the place is so famous that it can rub out of food. You have to try the noodles there.
When you think of Singapore the Marina Bay Sands is one of the first things that comes to your mind. On top of Marina bay Sands there is a nice place called Ce La Vie, which literally translates to, this is the life. When on top you do realize the charm of a human life. You have this amazing view and a top of the world feeling with the best drinks and food in your hand, you could not ask for anything else in life and feel like going “This is the Life”
There is a 20 $ entry cover charge which is redeemable over food and drinks, which i think is totally worth it for what you are getting in return.
After sundown you have to go down to Haji Lane. Haji Lane is a very hip and jazzy neighborhood with walls painted with amazing graffiti and live music being played in the bars nearby. You have to spend one evening here.
The next night you should go to Clarke Quay. This place is the party capital of Singapore. all nights here are filled with live bands, breweries, and amazing food.
Unique and off beat Experiences
Usually all the blogs and videos tell you about the most common places like the Merlion and Universal studios. But on this blog and my YouTube channel I focus on the hidden gems, the road less traveled and the off beat places that are under rated and no one hardly ever talks about. There is something about such places that gives me high while treading its path.
I like to think that every destination has such places. The hidden gems of Singapore are
- East Coast Park – You feel so much like a local when you are here, people cycling, having a nice picnic, a group of boys playing with Frisbee, an old couple holding hands and listening to the waves. This place is really shows the high quality of life of the citizens of Singapore
- Palau Ubin – This is a small island est of the main island of Singapore, you can take a ferry to get there. On the island of Palau Ubin, there are no cars and people get around on cycles. It is really quite and peaceful, and a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A half day trip should be enough
- Henderson waves – This is another architectural marvel which people usually do not talk about as much others. a wooden platform made to look like waves on top trees is really a piece of art. You must check it out if you have the time.
- Fountain of wealth – Located right in the middle of the city, the fountain really comes alive at night and puts up quite a show. Be there by 7.30-8.30 PM for an amazing water display.
- Tower Club – This place is actually exclusive and only members get access to it, thanks to my Jeej we were able to have lunch on the 64th floor and check out the gym on the 70th floor. Who wouldn’t want to work out here.
- Changi Airport – You must consider Changi airport as a destination in itself. People usually miss out on this. Get there early and enjoy the butterfly park, the free movie theatre, a swimming pool, free massage chairs and amazing free WiFi.
- Shaw cinemas – If you get a chance you must catch a movie in one of Singapore’s state of the art movie theaters. When we were there we saw Avenger’s Infinity war and got a cool first day first show poster.
- Ikea – If you like home decor and furnishing check out the Ikea store in Singapore. They have some really cool products that you will not find anywhere in India. Since the only Ikea store is in Hyderabad you must check this out. The collection is completely different .
So I hope this gives you a brief idea on how to travel Singapore in a completely new way and look at it from a completely new perspective. Once you break away from the chains of tour operators and agents you will not want to travel like that again.
For a more visual tour of Singapore feel free to check out my How to travel Singapore video below. Until next time, keep on traveling