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Revisiting Singapore

Revisiting Singapore

In our last post, we explained how one sentence immediately changed our travel plans as a result of Kieron’s grandmother being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With the decision made to travel to the Philippines in early April, suddenly we needed to find affordable flights in order to get there.

While a part of us was a little disappointed that we had to postpone our round-the-world travel plans until at least July, we knew this was the right decision to make. However, after comparing flights with different carriers and crunching the numbers, we made a fantastic discovery!

Not only could we spend time in the Philippines visiting Kieron’s family in April, we could also travel via Singapore for only a couple of hundred dollars extra. This would allow us to revisit one of our favorite travel destinations for a second time, start our 2011 traveling adventures early and also spend time in the Philippines as we intended! Win-win-win!

Singapore Flyer - November 2008.

Singapore Flyer - November 2008.

On Wednesday April 6, 94 days from today, the two of us will touch down at Changi Airport Terminal 1 and spend 2-3 days in Singapore either side of our Philippines visit. For those who haven’t been to Singapore, Jeremy at Living The Dream explains it best - Singapore is so nice he did it twice!

Our first visit to Singapore was in November 2008 for 3 nights and we certainly made the most of every minute. Shopping on Orchard Road, Sentosa Island, The Singapore Flyer, Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and a river cruise were some of the activities we crammed into less than 72 hours. While each of these experiences was amazing, it still feels like we have unfinished business in this island country, particularly as we were quite inexperienced travelers 2 years ago and missed out on so much.

Here are the 3 reasons we’re most looking forward to going back to Singapore:

Marina Bay SandsMarina Bay Sands

Opened in June 2010, the Marina Bay Sands is the world’s most expensive standalone casino property and an attraction we are extremely looking forward to visiting. While unfortunately a stay in the hotel isn’t in our budget, we will be spending some time (but not much money!) in the casino and enjoying activities such as the sampan rides, the skating rink and possibly the Sands SkyPark and its chocolate bar if we feel like splurging!

Singapore Botanic GardensSingapore Botanic Gardens

Armed with our new Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (Kieron’s awesome Christmas present), we’ll be heading to Singapore Botanic Gardens to practice our photography skills prior to our long-term travel adventure. It will also give us the opportunity to get some exercise at the same time. With 63.7 hectares to explore, we could spend quite a while here!

Chilli CrabThe Food

Because of our lack of research last time around, we missed out on enjoying Singapore’s much-loved cuisine and missed out completely on visiting a hawker center! Our mouths are watering at the thoughts of fresh Chilli Crab, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Satay. Mmmm!

Do you have any suggestions of other must-do experiences in Singapore? Please share them with us in the comments!

Flickr Photos: williamcho, kenleewrites, Scott’s View of the World, chooyutshing

23 Comments

  1. Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    My brother is there at the moment and his photos look so cool! I’d never really considered Singapore before but looks like I need to go there this year for work which I’m really excited about! The Marina Bay Sands sounds amazing… hmmm, now if only I were wealthy enough to stay there!
    Lynda recently posted..Hello 2011!

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      We only had our point & shoot camera last time so it should be good taking the new camera and lens out and hopefully taking some cool photos!

      Ahh I wish I could travel exotic places for work, such a tough life. :P

      If you don’t go for work, it only cost us $600 return! Definitely affordable for a short getaway. Even with the strong Aussie dollar, a $320/night stay at the Marina Bay Sands although tempting is a little beyond our budget.

  2. Posted January 2, 2011 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the inclusion in the post!!

    I love the botanical gardens, and it will give your camera a workout for sure. It is ridiculously easy to get to. There are several 1 SGD buses from Orchard road that get there in a few minutes. My hostel told me there was one from Clark Quay, but I most definitely couldn’t find it.

    I didn’t make it into the casino but it looks fabulous.

    As for hawker centers… Smith Street is most definitely the largest. 200+ stalls, mostly Chinese food, right in Chinatown (3 blocks from the station, 3 minutes walk). Get lost, its mesmerizing. Newton Center (off Newton stop, by Orchard) is entirely sea food. Every other stall is shrimp, crab, etc. The people are ridiculously annoying though. Prices are some of the cheaper in the city that I saw. Don’t be afraid to haggle if you order a lot (I asked for bread and a cheaper price for buying 1 crab, two shrimp, and a beer and got it). Those are my two favorite, hands down. Maxwell is ok (right by Smith) but the same type food. Try popieh and kueh pie tee (spelling will be awful on those). Both are two types of spring rolls and ah-may-zing.

    You also know of our dessert buffet experience. 18+ SGD pp, but sooooo good.
    Jeremy recently posted..Happy New Year from Phuket- Thailand

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Perfect – thanks for all the advice Jeremy. The backup battery will be packed, now it’s just a matter of deciding which lenses to take!

      The casino does look amazing, but everything there is expensive so I’m not sure how much time we’ll spend there.

      We’ll definitely head to Smith Street to experience the food and the atmosphere, hopefully we’ll be mesmerized enough so that the people don’t irritate us! Have noted the spring rolls and will be sure to try them.

      It may be a toss-up between the dessert buffet and the chocolate buffet at the Marina Bay Sands – either way, we’re going to be feeling extremely sick afterwards!

  3. Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    If you didn’t visit the Night Safari last time you where in Singapore, you really must add it to your list. When we went it was quite expensive to get to , being about as far out of town as you can get in Singapore, but worth it. It is a very different “Zoo” experience.
    bruce recently posted..Is Bali a good base for the Long Term Traveler

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the tip Bruce – Jeremy had the night safari in his blog post as well so we’ll definitely look into it a bit more.

      I think we looked at doing it last time but ruled it out as we used public transport to get to the Zoo and as you say, it is quite a distance.

  4. Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    If you missed it last time (and do drink), a Singapore Sling from the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel is a must-do. It’s a little pricy, but something about the drink in the original Victorian-era setting, with the paddle fans (and delicious peanuts) makes it so amazing.

    Newton Circus is one of my favorite hawker centers. Changi village is a nice one as well…you can watch the planes coming in (directly overhead) to land at the airport from the beach, while experiencing a very local hawker center (Newton Circus is a little more tourist oriented).
    Brett recently posted..Photo of the Week- Christmas Treats at Tokyo Disneyland Resort

    • Posted January 3, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      Hey Brett, thanks for the comment.

      We’ll definitely be taking in a Singapore Sling at Raffles, $16SGD definitely isn’t too expensive for this experience. We would have done it last time but didn’t have the proper attire and were too underdressed!

      Thanks for pointing out Changi Village, sounds very cool! Any tips on must-have meals in the hawker centers?

  5. Posted January 3, 2011 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    During the day (at least) they are not as strict on dress code at the Long Bar…we went in wearing Shorts, T-Shirts and Flip Flops back around New Year’s Day 2010! They definitely seem to be more strict on dress code at the Marina Bay Sands though, so that should make it easier to bear the extra clothes…

    Our favorite items are the chili crab (with extra little rolls for the sauce) and the BBQ Stingray! Also the fried carrot cake and Hainan Chicken Rice. We didn;t try the Laska, but it has been highly recommended. If doing the crab, you pay per kilo, so be sure to look at your crab and get the price in advance from the hawker to ensure no unplesant surprise. For seafood, I likely recommend Newton Circus over Changi Village…but be sure to note that all hawker stalls have a hygiene score posted somewhere…if they’re an A or a B, they should be ok anywhere!
    Brett recently posted..Photo of the Week- Christmas Treats at Tokyo Disneyland Resort

    • Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Oh ok, that just proves how unprepared we were last time… we would have been straight to Raffles if we knew that!

      Thanks for the recommendations, definitely giving the chilli crab a try and the chicken rice… the BBQ stingray sounds exotic. What did that taste like?!

      It’s awesome that Singapore has hygiene scores posted for the hawker stalls – if only our Western countries implemented something like this!

  6. Posted January 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Just to note, I am pretty certain the Singapore Sling at the Raffles is approaching $30SGD now, but I am not sure if they have a cheaper option available.

    To clarify my last comment too, the people at Smith are awesome. The people are Newton are a bit more… pushy.
    Jeremy recently posted..Happy New Year from Phuket- Thailand

    • Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      Wow, that’s definitely not cheap! Might have to go a cheaper option!

      Smith Street is now a definite stop on our itinerary, thanks so much for all your advice! :)

  7. Posted January 3, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Ok…looking back at our photos…in January 2010, a Singapore Sling was S$24 (A$18.32) regular, S$33 with the souvenir glass that you can keep. You can also buy the glass standalone (and lots of other souvenirs) from the Raffles gift shop, but it comes out a little cheaper for the glass with the drink (if you want to keep a glass). Alcohol in general is pretty expensive in Singapore…

    Stingray sounds exotic, but it’s actually quite good! I don’t like fishy fish, and had no issues with the stingray.
    Brett recently posted..Photo of the Week- Christmas Treats at Tokyo Disneyland Resort

    • Posted January 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for finding this information for us Brett… I guess we’ll set ourselves a budget before we leave and see if a Singapore Sling can fit into it!

      I can’t stand fishy fish either so that’s good, may just have to give it a try!

  8. Posted January 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Hey, we hope the best for your grandmother!
    We love Singapore too, the food is awesome there. Chili crab is a must, but I saw you had mentioned it too!
    Dina recently posted..Merry Christmas from Canada!

    • Posted January 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Dina, we can’t wait to get stuck into the food over there!

      Think we’ll be very full after our time there! :)

  9. Posted January 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Singapore sounds amazing but as the comments say above pretty expensive, we’re probably heading there sometime in July/August maybe, so will be interested in what you get up to :-)
    So excited for you guys – Can’t believe it is 100 days before you head off!
    Kirsty recently posted..Partying with a Thai Rock Band

    • Posted January 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s very easy to overspend in Singapore but we’ll be doing our best to keep within a strict budget while we’re there. With that said, it’s still much more expensive than other parts of SE Asia but it’s a completely different vibe and one you just have to experience. :)

      We’ll be sure to write plenty about our experiences there and hopefully will be able to help you out a bit. 89 days until this mini-trip and the time between this and our RTW will absolutely fly by! Can’t wait!

  10. Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    One thing you guys might like if you’ve got a few more days in Singapore is to take the bus across the border to Johor Bahru in Malaysia. You can get a nice air-conditioned coach direct from the centre of Singapore all the way out to the causeway and into JB, allowing you to experience the massive contrast between the two countries in a really short space.

    The food is much cheaper, the currency is different, you have to pass through immigration twice (through two different complexes) and JB feels a lot more “Asia” and rougher/dirtier.
    Justin Morris recently posted..48 hours in Graz–Part 1

    • Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the suggestion Justin – we were lucky enough to take a bus from Singapore all the way to Kuala Lumpur on our last Asia visit. It really is amazing watching the difference between Singapore city and the Malaysian towns we stopped in… one thing we couldn’t believe was how good the roads were, until we hit KL of course!

  11. Posted January 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    1. Consider having dinner or a drink at the new Ku De Ta Restaurant atop the Marina Sands Skypark. The food is not cheap, but dining/drinking at Ku De Ta gets you around the $18 per person admission fee to just the Skypark. Go for lunch on a weekday at the Pool Terrace and you can use the infinity pool, too.

    2. The Botanic Garden is huuuge – definitely bring good walking shoes and, if you have, a macro lens for your camera. The only part that charges admission is the Orchid Garden at $5 SGD per person. In addition to the flowers, there’s a “Cool House” in this area with some really cool carnivorous plants. If either of you have a student card bring it along – then admission is only $1. There are also free guided walking tours through the garden on Saturdays with topics like “Medicinal Plants”. You can see some of my recent macro photography from the Botanic Gardens here — http://www.idreamofdurian.com/2010/12/macro-photography-bugs-on-plants.html

    3. Singapore is such a great place to eat! I second what a previous commenter said about bbq stingray – I’m not usually a fish person, but I love grilled stingray with sambal chili sauce. Newton Circus hawker center has a bad reputation for ripping off tourists, so if you do go here remember to confirm seafood prices (usually quoted per 100 grams) before ordering. Other great hawker centers are Lau Pa Sat downtown and Maxwell Hawker Center in Chinatown.

    • Posted January 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      Hey Tanya, thanks for taking the time to put together such a detailed comment!

      The Skypark is something we are considering – we read on the Marina Bay Sands website though that the pool is hotel guests only which turned us off a little, nice to know that we can use it! That could be a deal breaker to swim in one of the world’s great pools. :)

      I wish I had a macro lens, but will have to make do with my prime 50mm. Do you think the Orchid Garden is worth the price of admission? Absolutely love your photos!

      I think we’ll definitely give the stingray a try, two recommendations are enough to convince us! Will be sure to post about it after we’ve given it a try.

  12. Posted January 12, 2011 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    There’s no shortage of plants at the Botanic Gardens, so unless you have a special interest in orchids you can skip the chargeable Orchid Garden and still see plenty of flowers to practise your photography skills on.

    There’s 2 parts to the infinity pool at the Skypark — the ‘viewable area’ where everyone’s taking pictures and a very private area that’s only accessible to hotel guests (you can’t even see it). The Ku De Ta Poolside Terrace is within the guests-only poolside area of the ‘viewable pool’. So, if you eat/drink at the Poolside Terrace, there’s nothing to stop you from using the pool.
    Tanya recently posted..Amazing Thailand- Air Travel

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