Scintillating Singapore

Singapore…a country that I relate to the most. With a size similar to where I come from, this little country offers an exciting fun-filled holiday to all.
This extremely clean and sophisticated country has a lot to offer to all kinds of tourists.
Travel around the country is super easy owing to its highly efficient and user friendly transport system. The best part? Since its a small country that is perfectly managed..it hardly takes you any time to get to the attractions.
But, the downside of being such an advanced country is, it may not be so pocket friendly to all.

While travelling with the Minions I kind of felt like the people around were not too accommodating. My kids can put up quite a few tantrums while travelling and few people around gave us the stare. That wasn’t such a good experience but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. While travelling with a 5 and 3 y.o, I kept myself prepared for the worst.

Weather

The island city of Singapore, off southern Malaysia experiences a tropical climate. Be prepared for wet and sweaty weather. We visited during summer in the month of July and the average temperature was about 31 degrees Celsius. It dropped to about 24 degrees Celsius at night.
Weather through out the year generally remains more or less the same. This is not that bad to handle with the kids so pack a lot of shorts and tees for yourself and the kids.

Where to stay

Since Singapore is small, options to stay are plenty and it really just depends on your budget. No matter which area you are in you can get yourself to the attractions easily. We stayed at the Village Hotel Bugis. This was at Arab Street and that’s where we got plenty of Halal food and a mosque nearby. So this is a good option for us Muslim travelers.

The Commute

One of the first things you can do when you get there is get the travel card to make your travel across the city easy. You’ll have an option of two different cards. One is the Tourist Pass and the other is the EZ Link Card. Which one you choose depends on the length of your stay. The cost of the Tourist Pass is refundable whereas the cost of the EZ Link Card isn’t. The Tourist Pass can be bought for travel within Singapore for a max of 3 days. The EZ Link can be topped up as per your needs and does not expire. Both allow you to travel across MRT, LRT and local buses so choose whichever suits you best. Both can be bought across all metro stations or also at 7 Eleven stores in the city.

If you do not fancy travelling this way, just download the Grab App (their version of Uber) on your smartphone and get a taxi to wherever you want to go.

Nevertheless keep this app in handy all the time as you never know when you might need it.

Places to Visit

Walk around to take in this beautiful city. Everything is so well organized that its a pleasure to just walk everywhere.

On our Day 1, after we reached Singapore and had relaxed a bit we headed out in the early evening to get down to business.
We had a quick bite at a nearby restaurant in Bugis named Sultan Restaurant. This is where you’ll get to eat like the locals and I must say I quite enjoyed my first taste of Singaporean rice and Coffee.

After our tummies were sufficiently full we bought our EZ Link Cards at the Bugis Metro Station. We bought three cards since the younger Minion didn’t require one. EZ Cards with us we took the metro to the famous Singapore Flyer. This magnificent giant wheel that lets you hop on while moving (similar to the London Eye) undoubtedly gives you a breathtaking view of Singapore. It takes you about 30-35 minutes to ride it and a few things you can see from the top are the Singapore River, a view of the domes of Gardens by the Bay, the Formula 1 race track, the Esplanade – Theaters On The Bay and lots more. This info is available in the capsule as well as at the counters.

With kiddie toilet breaks after the ride and frequent ‘we are tired’ stops, it was dark by the time we got out of the Singapore Flyer complex.

Having fed snacks to the tired Minions, we then walked our way to The Esplanade Mall. Here we enjoyed a beautiful night view of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and the Singapore Flyer. We were able to let the kids lose here and sit back to enjoy the view.

Makasutra Gluttons Bay is nearby so our feet took us there. This is a busy street offering numerous Asian food stalls. A must do for all foodies this pedestrian street with sufficient seating opens at about 5 pm and stays open late into the night. Unfortunately there was nothing for the kids here so we ended up eating dinner at a nearby McD.

Before dinner we did go see the famous Merlion Park where the Merlion spouts water. This too is in the vicinity hence we walked to it. This attraction is very busy most of the time and trying to get a decent picture here without a lot of other faces is a challenge. Apart from that it was a huge excitement for the kids and after you walk out of there one does wonder about this magnificent structure that is the mascot of Singapore. History lovers can read up its history at the location.

The Merlion Park will give you a view of the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer and the Central Business District.


Breakfast was at the nearby Mihrimah Restaurant in Bugis on Day 2. Be prepared to eat rice all the time as that’s what Singaporeans have for breakfast as well. You get to choose your platter and end it with their refreshing cold/hot coffee.

Sultan Mosque five minutes away was our next stop. This mosque named after Sultan Hussain Shah is a national monument. You will have to be modestly dressed to enter the mosque and ladies will have to cover their head. Robes are also provided at the mosque. You cannot visit during the prayer times so you’ll have to check the visiting hours since prayer times keep fluctuating.

There are plenty of ice cream stalls around the mosque (and everywhere else too) and owing to the weather you’ll definitely end up eating a lot of ice cream during your Singaporean holiday.

Chinatown was next so we took the metro to it. Chinatown is a contrast to the rest of the city. Your eyes will now feast on Chinese style low rise buildings as opposed to the tons of high rise buildings all around Singapore. This is obviously the right place for Chinese fried rice, noodles and satay. You’ll also find plenty of souvenir shops and boutiques. There are also about two temples and a museum to see here. Though we didn’t visit these attractions we did enjoy shopping and eating the Chinese way. Finding Halal food here was a challenge but a bit of search and asking around did lead us to a halal stall.

After lunch at Chinatown, the much awaited Gardens by the Bay was next. This itself has many attractions and will take you one entire day to see each and every attraction, so plan it according to your liking. We with the kids walked around the gardens and visited the Flower Dome – the largest glass greenhouse in the world; and the Cloud Forest. These are a must see and I’m sure the children will enjoy too.
The Flower Dome features plants found in the Mediterranean regions and countries like Australia, South Africa and South America. The sheer size of this dome is amazing and one cannot help but wonder how they maintain this huge space with its varied fauna.
The Cloud Forest is the higher but smaller dome which replicates cool and moist weather conditions of the tropical mountain regions. It also houses a man-made 115 feet waterfall.
Gardens by the Bay will leave you at awe with God’s wonderfully created flora and fauna and the engineering behind it.

To end our day we walked through the Marina Bay Sands Mall to reach the metro station. This attraction too can take up a lot of your time but we were too tired to go through it in detail. An integrated resort on the Marina Bay, it is one of the most famous and expensive properties in Singapore. It contains about 2,000+ rooms, numerous shops at the Mall, a museum, two large theaters, art and science exhibits, the world’s largest casino, the infinity swimming pool, Sky Park and much much more.

Day 3 started again with breakfast at Sultan Restaurant in Bugis, after which we headed directly to the Jurong Bird Park. This time we used the Grab App and booked a taxi to take us there. Jurong is away from the city so it’s best to take a taxi.

Asia’s largest bird park – Jurong, has 10+ wonderful exhibits and 3 shows that run through out the day. It also houses a play area for children with water fountains to beat the heat. Visiting the park will take up most of your day. There are few eateries at the location where you can grab a meal or snack.

The Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo was what we had planned next and it fit well into our itinerary for the day. We Grabbed another taxi to the zoo and reached on time for the safari. The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo and this was quite an adventure. Seeing the wild animals in their habitat at night was quite a thrill. It houses about 2,500 animals. This is an open air zoo so it made our visit all the more exciting and kind of creepy. Watching lions,tigers and hyenas walking around in the open without any fence separating us was kind of scary.

Being done with the Night Safari, we had had enough thrill for the day and retreated to good old Sultan Restaurant near our hotel for a yummy and filling dinner.

The Day 4 itinerary comprised of Little India, Mustafa Centre and Orchard Street. Our Indian roots cried out to us and we just had to visit Little India. There isn’t much to do here, so this can be your day to relax and walk the streets of Little India. The area is obviously known for its Indian restaurants, and also jewelry and tailor shops. There is a temple here to see and Jalan Besar with its small cafes serving Indian chai (tea), coffee and snacks.

We ended up having a traditional South Indian lunch here and walked our way to the nearby famous Mustafa Center. This is a huge and crowded shopping center that sells A to Z. This is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs and gifts for loved ones.

The evening brought us to Orchard Road. This is dubbed Asia’s most famous shopping street and is home to the world’s famously expensive fashion brands. Orchard Road is lined on both sides with both local and international department stores, boutiques, spas, beauty salons, hotels, cafes……you name it, its got it all. According to our research back then, there’s always some kind of fair or activity going on so you could check their official website for details.

Day 5 was all about the Singapore Zoo. The zoo locally called the Mandai Zoo is within Singapore’s heavily forested area. The Night Safari, River Safari and the Jurong Bird Park are all nearby, but one could never do all in the same day so you’ll have to keep coming back to this area if you want to do it all. You can plan your itinerary and buy your tickets in advance at any of these locations. The Zoo will typically take you 4 hours to complete.

The heat and sweat had worn us out so we relaxed for the evening, gave in to the Minions demanding McD and called it an early night to be sufficiently rested for Day 6 in Singapore, which would be our last day.

Day 6 and Sentosa Island it was. This spectacular man-made island resort is off Singapore’s southern coast and you can effectively get there via the metro. It’ll take you about an hour by metro but only 15 to 20 mins by taxi, the choice is yours. Some of the interesting attractions here are – Resorts World, Universal Studios, Butterfly and Insect Kingdom, SEA Aquarium, the cable car ride, Sentosa Skybridge, Sentosa Bungy Jump, Fort Siloso and Siloso Beach. This island was made purely for entertainment so there’s tons of things to do here. Do your research in advance and choose according to your liking. You can get into Sentosa via The BroadWalk (which we took), the Sentosa Express and Sentosa Gantry (which is the drive-in.) There is an entry fee and different passes for the attractions are available at the counter.

We enjoyed almost the entire day here, took the metro back to the hotel and returned the EZ Cards before we left the station.

Here are a few tips to consider during your family vacation to Singapore.

TIP 1:
Keep yourself hydrated at all times while sightseeing as it can get really hot.

TIP 2:
Do not forget to carry sunscreen. Getting a tan is very easy here. Unless you intentionally want to sport a tan, make sure you apply sunscreen before stepping out. Carry one that’s appropriate for the kids too. I have read that products that range between SPF 30-50 are OK to use. Double check on that. Or the easier thing to do is carry an umbrella or make the kids wear a cap / shades. I did not carry sunscreen or buy one there and regretted this when we returned.

TIP 3:
Like any holiday there’s going to be a lot of walking involved if u want to commute the local way, so make sure you have super comfortable footwear on. The other option is to just get a taxi to wherever you want to go. But that would involve shedding extra bucks and strip you of the local travel experience.

TIP 4:
If you have a little one still on diapers, make sure you don’t forget to carry the diaper rash cream. Owing to the heat the little ones might experience rashes. Keep changing them at appropriate intervals and this will be avoided. The city has clean and abundantly available baby changing rooms.

TIP 5:
If you are going to do what we did – taking the metro and walking to the attractions : carry a backpack full of essential kiddy stuff and tons of snacks on the go.

TIP 6:
When at Sentosa Island you don’t have to do each and every attraction. Decide what’s best for you and your family. If you are a couple or alone, making a choice should be easier. With the kids depending on their age, choose the attractions that you and they can enjoy together. Here’s what we did with the kids at Sentosa – S.E.A Aquarium, Fort Siloso with its SkyWalk,  walked around plenty, visited the Merlion and took Sentosa Express back to Vivo City metro station to head back to the hotel.


Hope you enjoyed reading my Singapore experience as much as I did reliving every moment of it. Feel free to leave your comments below and ask me any questions.
Don’t forget to hit the thumbs up and share.

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