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How to experience Singapore in 4 days

Singapore is supposedly one of the most accessible countries in South East Asia, to not just Indians, but people from many other nations in the region! 

 

Skyscrapers and lush gardens - thats SG!

 

And to add a cherry to that cake, it is also a very beautiful country, with lush greenery all-year-round, countless attractions to spend hours at and it even boasts of a multi-cultural demography!

 

 

For most first-time travellers, Singapore tops as a great destination. Mostly because of the relative size of the country, the ease of exploring the place, the easy availability of familiar food, reasonably priced hotel rooms and a fast straight-forward visa process. So if you have been planning your own little Singaporean getaway, we'll help you with a few details to make it even more easier!

 

The best part about the country is that there is something for everyone - age, group size and even how you choose to explore (solo, family, off-the-beaten-path, etc.) - and its all quite easily doable!

 

  • Jurong Bird Park, The Singapore Zoo, River Safari and the Night Safari: You CANNOT miss doing this Park-Hop!
     

 

  • Universal Studios Singapore, Sentosa:

    On Sentosa Island, this is the best place for a family-fun-day! The park is divided into a Sci-Fi zone (featuring the Transformers franchise), the land of the Mummies (The Mummy series), the Jurassic Park, Far Far Away land (for all you Shrek fans out there) and Madagascar (including the penguins and their hijacked ocean liner)! A one day ticket costs SGD 76 (INR 3,800) and there are some great deals online. Kids and senior citizen tickets are usually discounted.

    You can easily spend a full day enjoying these rides. Weekends are more fun, with the parade and the fireworks shows, but the park can get very crowded. Some of the rides at Jurassic Park, Revenge of the Mummy and even in the Transformers section, queues can be extremely long (upto 60 mins of wait time). 

    The food courts inside the park are quite good, but vegetarians might have a little bit of difficulty in finding familiar food - but you'll find lots of popcorn and ice cream stalls all over the place.
     

Have you been longing to meet Shrek and Fiona?
 

The Food Court inside Jurassic Park feels just like the cafeteria in the original movie!

 

  • Adventure Cove Waterpark and S.E.A. Aquarium (at Marine Life Park, Sentosa):

    If you are looking to have some wet fun, and a respite from the equatorial heat, then look no further. This waterpark on Sentosa Island has a big wave-pool, a couple of exhilarating slides and even a lazy river that takes visitors through all the other parts of the park. The best part of the Adventure Cove Waterpark are undoubtedly the snorkelling pond "Rainbow Reef" (yes, an artificial reef that you can go swimming with real fishes in)! Set aside 3 hours at minimum (opens at 10 am) for the aquatic fun. Tickets cost SGD 38 (INR 1,900). 

    The South East Asia Aquarium is the second largest aquarium in the world with nearly 45 million litres of water and over 100,000 animals. It is home to dolphins, sharks, manta rays and even Poison Arrow Frogs! Set aside about 1.5-2 hours for this place. Tickets cost SGD 39 (INR 1,950). 

    Don't forget about Dolphin Island where you get to play with Dolphins in their pool!
     

Riding the Cable Car over the Adventure Cove Waterpark

 

Poison Arrow Frogs are tiny, colorful and deadly

 

 

  • Resorts World Sentosa:

    It features a wonderful collection of outdoor and indoor attractions. Even getting into the island can be a lot of fun, if you choose to take the cable car from Faber Peak or the Bayfront stations. The island is so lush and green and amidst this greenery, you can go berserk on the Skyline Luge and zip-line all the way from the end of the beautiful Imbiah Nature Trail to the Siloso Beach (a white-sand-turquoise-water beach at the southern side of the island). Other attractions include 4D movie theatres, the Tiger sky tower and a Butterfly park (at Imbiah Lookout).

    You even get free shuttle services to move around within the island and it will take you upto the Casino (below the Universal Studios entrance). We were very amazed at how well designed the place was! You can expect to spend about 6 hours there before heading back into the city.

    Weekdays are a lot less crowded and you can get onto rides much faster. Individual tickets for each ride are available on the spot - or you can get yourself a FUN DAY play max pass for about SGD 115 (INR 5,750) and play on 20 different attractions. If you want to include Universal Studios also, there are combo passes as well. Booking online is usually recommended.
     

Lush greenery below the Mount Faber Line, Sentosa Cable Car

 

The Imbiah Nature Trails are wonderfully refreshing

 

 

  • Singapore Botanical Gardens:

    The gardens were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, and if you visit the gardens, you will see why! 82 hectares of land has been maintained as part of the natural rainforest and modern gardens in the heart of the city. Walkways, elevated bridges, little ponds and waterfalls surrounded by flora of all kinds characterise this garden. There is no entry fee (except for visiting the National Orchid Garden) and is accessible from 4 different gates. Plan to spend at least 3 hours here, preferably early in the morning - it can get very hot and humid later and it might even rain!

 

Waltzing in the gardens, anyone?

 

  • Gardens By The Bay:

    The best time of the day to visit the Gardens is 5 pm - this way you get to experience the gardens in both sunlight and after dark. There are two waterfront gardens - the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. These are both housed in gigantic pillar-less glass greenhouses and are temperature controlled. The Flower Dome exhibits flowers from different parts of the world like the Mediterranean, California, South Africa and more. 

    The Cloud Forest is a MUST-SEE! Featuring the world's tallest indoor waterfall, the Cloud Forest plays a host to delicate plants growing in tropical highlands. You can take an elevator to the top of the waterfall and walk your way down (on a skywalk) as you observe different types of shrubs, ferns, and other such plants.

    The most popular pictures of Singapore often star the Supertrees just outside the domes. These Supertrees are really tall and stunning! In fact, every evening there are sound and light shows at the Supertree Grove (yes, its free!) for about fifteen minutes. Some Evening City Sightseeing tours usually include a visit to this show.

    You can even rent a bicycle to ride around inside the Gardens. 
     

Take a stroll on the skywalks at the Supertree Grove

 

Velvety ferns growing inside the Cloud Forest Dome

 

  • Singapore Flyer: 

    If you want to catch expansive views of the city (day or night) then there's no better place than the top of this giant ferris wheel! Every gondola carries up to 28 persons and is air-conditioned. One full ride takes about 30 minutes and the ticket costs SGD 33 (INR 1,650) - last tickets are sold at 10 pm daily.

 

The Singapore Flyer

 

  • Marina Bay Sands SkyPark Observation Deck:

    At 57 stories high, this static observation deck is accessible to visitors and MBS hotel guests alike. It offers excellent view points from where the Spice Islands of Indonesia and even parts Of Johor Bahru, Malaysia are visible. After dark, you'll be able to spot the SuperTree Grove at the Gardens below, the Spectra fountain show, the well-lit Art Museum and the twinkling Marina! All this at a cost of SGD 23 (INR 1,150).

 

The Spectra Light and Water Show, by Marina Bay Sands

 

 

  • Clark Quay and Singapore River Cruise:

    Save atleast one evening in the country for this. Kick back in the river side cafes, restaurants and bars as you join people from all over the world blowing off some steam from a hectic day of work or sightseeing. These quaint buildings have stood since the early 1900s and are remnant of the culture of old Singapura! Some fun things you could do include Karaoke nights, pub-crawls and the Singapore River Cruise! But keep in mind that eating out here can be quite expensive.

    For SGD 25 (INR 1,250) this traditional Bumboat cruise on the Singapore River, the lifeline of the country, takes one back through time. We feel that the best time to do this is in the evening, when the whole neighbourhood lights up and offers overwhelming views of the modern city whilst narrating about how the quays developed from the late 1870s. 

 

The Merlion and the Singapore skyline in the background

 

Legend has it that when the Founding King of Singapore was washed ashore from his sinking ship, onto the island of Temasek, he came
across a majestic creature which he believed to be, a Lion. He later named this island as Lion City in Sanskrit ("Singa-pura")

 

  • Little India and China Town:

    If you are craving for some authentic Indian food (banana leaf meals in foreign land anyone?) then head over to Little India! With a huge variety of shops and restaurants selling authentic Indian merchandise and food, Little India is also extremely popular for budget shopping. And if its Chinese street food that you are hungering after, then there's no better place than Chinatown. Chinatown bears a stark contrast to the rest of the city - red and gold themed streets all around and if you happen to visit during the Chinese New Year month, the place is even prettier - with lanterns and other decorations of the like all around. If you are hungry, you'll find yourself torn between spring rolls, vegetable-fungi noodles and roast duck! And the menus are very wallet-friendly - SGD 10 (INR 500) for a plate of fried noodles and a glass of chilled Milo or beer. Meat-on-skewers cost about SGD 0.5 (INR 25) - all this and more at the Hawker Centre on Smith street. Don't miss visiting the famous Mariamma Temple nearby!

    A couple of minutes away from there is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, believed to house the tooth of Lord Buddha, a legendary relic that is highly revered. The Temple itself was built at a cost of SGD 75 million with over 250 kgs of gold, donated by devotees. The entry is free and the temple and museum are open from 7 am to 7 pm, but note that there is a dress code for visitors.

 

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

 

Hawker centre in Chinatown, cafes on one side and shacks on the other

 

  • Orchard Road and Bugis Street:

    The most grandiose part of the city is this 2 km shopping stretch. Popular for the huge collection of big brands like Chanel and LV, and ginormous shopping malls, Orchard Road is a boulevard to take a long stroll on, feasting on ice-cream sandwiches. Towering glass buildings and elaborate lighting features captivate just about any walker's attention. The glamorous Road eventually leads to the President's house, The Istana ("palace"). About 1.5 kms from there, the Bugis Street shopping zone is the exact opposite. If you want to shop till you drop, this is where you want to be! Its a great place to spend a couple of hours picking up SGD 15 (INR 750) dresses, shoes for SGD 10 (INR 500), watches and wallets for SGD 5 (INR 250), leather bags for SGD 10 (INR 500) and even drones at the most reasonable prices (its a no-bargain zone though). We even sipped on Iced Milos and Strawberry drinks for SGD 1 (INR 50) while shopping!
     

The Orchard Road Boulevard is lined with so many Angsana trees

 

Other places to visit in Singapore include Fort Canning Park, which is perfect for early mornings in the city. Mount Faber or Faber Peak as it is fondly known, is a very calm spot in the middle of an extremely busy city (check out The Southern Ridges). The TreeTop Walk in central Singapore is another nature trail in the central catchment area of the city.

If you are looking for something off-the-beaten-path, there are the Southern Islands - St. Johns, Kusu and Lazarus islands. One can easily plan to spend a full day exploring these islands starting from the Marina South Pier (connected by MRT). Lazarus Beach is a lovely white sand beach, in turquoise water and is very peaceful, not a lot of people visit these islands, especially on weekdays (so fewer ferries). 

Another great cultural centre in Singapore is the Arab Street in Kampong Glam. A quaint street named Haji Lane is a must-see here! Featuring numerous cafes, restaurants and accessory stores, Haji Lane is extremely popular with the younger generations.

 

Sultan Mosque on Arab Street

 

Here is some more information on how to plan your own trip to the Lion City: 

 

1. Getting there:

  • Now this is THE best part: cheap flights. REALLY! In fact, there are many low cost carriers operating daily flights from many airports in India, including Bangalore.
  • Tiger and Scoot Air, Air Asia, Singapore Airlines, Indigo, Jet and many more airlines fly there at excellent value. In fact, If you book well in advance, a return trip can cost under INR 10,000 (per passenger).
  • We booked our tickets about 45 days ahead and still managed to buy the tickets at INR 12,000 on a Scoot Air flight (direct in four hours).
  • As most of you already know, our style of packing is very minimalistic - so the 7 kg allowance was more than enough for our rucksacks. For a trip under five days, it should be sufficient for just about anyone.
  • The Changi International Airport is very big! It has five terminals and 'sky' trains connecting them. (And yes, the duty free stores are huge!).

 

2. Where to Stay:

  • This depends on whether you want to go all out on luxury or you just want a place to crash, but be close enough to the main sights in the city.
  • There are so many hotels in the central zone of the city, especially around Little India and China Town. Room rates can start from as low as INR 1,500 in these neighbourhoods.
  • Make sure that you find a place close to an MRT station, you can save on travel time that way!
  • We stayed at Fragrance Pearl, a hotel in the Fragrance chain that has many units across the city. It was a 20-minute drive from the airport and was about 500 m from the nearest MRT station. AC rooms with Wifi and parking facilities are available for a wallet-friendly price. It cost us about INR 3,000 a night.
  • For a more luxurious experience you can consider the Hotel Marina Bay Sands (~INR 25,000) or the Fullerton Hotel (~INR 18,000). These are in the best locations and are absolutely amazing!
  • There are innumerable BnBs as well. If you want to spend a night in Sentosa, rooms start from about INR 5,000.

 

3. Getting around:

  • The MRT is the best way of getting around inside Singapore on a budget. It is extremely clean and well connected. In fact, if you get a Singapore Tourist Pass, it works out even better.
  • You can easily pick up a pass at the Changi Airport or most major MRT stations that are listed on the website. There is a refundable deposit of SGD 10 (INR 500) and the packages cost SGD 10 (INR 500), SGD 16 (INR 800) and SGD 20 (INR 1,000) for a 1 Day, 2 Day and 3 Day pass, respectively. You get unlimited rides on both the MRT and the buses. The MRT operates from the Airport as well.
  • If you want to spend lesser time walking between the stations and the attractions, you can always hail a Taxi or an Uber. The prices are on the higher side, but if you are a group that's travelling, it might just be a lot easier to take a comfortable cab ride than the MRT.
  • Another interesting way to explore the city is by a Hop-on-hop-off bus (open deck/AC). You can choose between 24 hour and 48 hour passes from SGD 40 (INR 2,000). The only downside to these are that they ply on specific routes only, but connect the main attractions well. Also see HiPPO Pass information below! They even organise Evening City Sightseeing Tours under SGD 50 (INR 2,500) including a snack voucher.

 

4. Visas:

  • It is often said that for first-time international travellers, Singapore is an easy-to-visit destination. How? The Visa process is actually very straight-forward and you get it in an electronic form - you don't really have to visit the Embassy in person (unless specifically required). 
  • For Indian citizens, you can go to your nearest Thomas Cook or any other authorised travel agent and have them do it for you at a nominal processing fee. We paid INR 1,800 per applicant (including the Visa fee of SGD 30 (INR 1,500) and it took about 5 working days for being processed.
  • The tourist Visa is generally valid for 1 year (multiple entry).

 

5. HiPPO Pass:

There are a number of tourist passes that can be bought online, at the tourist kiosks, and even the Airport. These can be one-day, two-day, three-day or even five-day passes. We decided to give it a shot with the three-day HiPPO ALL-DAY PASS for a cost of SGD 367 (INR 18,350). It might seem expensive for 3 days, but if you intend to visit the 4 parks, Universal Studios Singapore and Sentosa island, Gardens By The Bay, River Cruise, Night Bus tour, Cable Car, Flyer, Marine Life Park, Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck, you will notice that you would be saving a lot more, than if you had purchased the tickets at the respective counters (after tackling queues). This pass also includes a 48-hour hop-on-hop-off bus service. But this does not cover MRT.

 

6. Suggested Itinerary:

Family-friendly: 

  • Day 1 - Jurong Bird Park - Zoo - Night Safari (optional)
  • Day 2 - Universal Studios - Gardens By The Bay - River Cruise (optional)
  • Day 3 - Resorts World Sentosa - Marine Life Park - Night City Bus Tour (optional)
  • Day 4 - Botanical Gardens - Orchard Road/Bugis Street (shopping)
  • In the evenings, depending on how much time and energy you've got, you can plan to visit Little India, Chinatown or Clarke Quay

Marathon:

This is what you can actually pack into 4 days, but it can be quite strenuous considering the number of places you'd be covering:

  • Day 1 - All-day-all-four Park-Hopping - dinner at Little India
  • Day 2 - Universal Studios - SEA Aquarium - Gardens By The Bay - River Cruise - dinner at Clark Quay
  • Day 3 - Mount Faber Peak - Resorts World Sentosa - Adventure Cove Waterpark - Night City-Sightseeing Tour (dinner at Chinatown)
  • Day 4 - Botanical Gardens - Orchard Street, walk to Bugis
  • Day 5 (or swap with one of the days above) - Day trip to St. John's Island, Lazarus Island and Kusu Island (6 hours minimum) - Haji Lane

 Of course, there are a number of ways to see the city; depending on the days you can spend there in addition, add more places from the list of attractions we've told you about! 

 

Tip for vegetarians - if you can't find any vegetarian dishes on the menu, don't fret! You can always tell the waiter
that you would like to eat something without egg/mushrooms/meat and they will gladly do it for you!
Singaporeans are known to be very kind and considerate. 

 

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Nice. Very helpful

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