Singapore is a neighboring country of Malaysia. It’s about 5 hours away by bus, passing by green scenic spots on the way.
We came here on our third day of travel and stayed overnight. We booked with Transtar Travel for our bus, and it was a wonderfully pleasant experience—reclining seats, a lot of leg room and several control buttons to adjust the seat position, a fleece blanket for warmth, a meal and bottled water, coffee, and tea, and the service of their very attentive personnel.
On our way back, we would have wanted another Transtar Travel experience, but there was no available bus on our preferred time of travel. So, we boarded the Five Star bus of The One Travel and Tours instead. Not as comfortable, and the travel time was a lot longer than we anticipated—7 hours!
A useful tip for bus travelers from Malaysia to Singapore or vice versa: always allot enough time in your travel for unexpected incidents (such as the bus taking a longer time to reach your destination, or your co-passengers being held up in Customs for a very long time). This was a lesson we learned the hard way–we got left by our plane (MLY to PH) and we had to rebook because our arrival from Singapore was delayed.
Where to Stay: AirBnB
AirBnB accommodations are great—they’re not only cheaper, but most are also furnished. We got an apartment for three people, well-equipped with amenities, although lacking in toiletries. We encountered a little glitch during our arrival as we were not familiar with how the ID machine at the door worked, but we were able to settle in pretty nicely.
Another good thing about an AirBnB apartment is that you get a chance to be in a quiet, non-commercial neighborhood. Ours was in a peaceful street, Tiong Poh Road, that’s within walking distance to the Tiong Bahru market, where we got most of our meals. We didn’t cook, but we were able to bring home the leftover food we had and had it heated in the microwave the following day.
Dining in Singapore
There are various restaurants in SG, but they can be pretty expensive, what with the exchange rate already at around Php35 to SGD1.
Our first meal was in the food court outside Sentosa, right before we crossed the bridge leading to the area. It appears popular to employees working inside Sentosa, as it was packed when we arrived at lunchtime. They have various food item, from complete meals to dessert and drinks. Nothing fancy, just a place where you can find different varieties of food—from Chinese to Indian.
Our dinner was at Lau Pa Sat, where we met C’s friends. The place is set like a midnight market, similar to Philippines’ Banchetto–an open, high-ceilinged building with tall columns, which houses several vendors offering various types of food. There’s an area that offers different types of satay. We had lamb, mutton, and prawn with peanut sauce.
Our other meals were brought from the Tiong Bahru market. The entire second floor is a big food court. My cheapest meal there was breakfast the following day: peanut porridge for 1SGD. There is also a store that offers SG’s fried carrot cake—I have not tried this, but C liked it.
Places to See in Singapore
We only stayed overnight, so we were unable to really explore SG and only went to see a couple of major attractions—both worth the long trip.
Our first stop was Universal Studios. Perhaps the most popular destination in Singapore, this is a good place to visit for people who are looking for some extreme but safe fun—and it’s good for kids, too. I especially liked the Transformers, Jurassic Park Rapids (prepare to get wet!), the Madagascar boat ride, The Mummy, and the Waterworld show. Of course, the roller coasters (Human and Cylone) were exciting, though I’m not really a big fan.
Useful tip: if you’re getting a ticket, better buy the Express Pass, too. For an additional SGD50, you can be sure to try each ride without having to go through the very long lines. We initially bought the regular pass, but we decided to get the Express Pass upon arrival when we saw the lines—waiting time can be extremely long, with some rides having as long as 2 hours wait.
Our second stop the next morning before going home was Gardens by the Bay. We took an Uber car and asked to be dropped off to the Merlion Park where we had a short stroll, took photos, and just enjoyed the scenery. From there, we walked to the Marina Bay Sands where the garden is located.
Being a nature lover, I enjoyed Gardens by the Bay even more than Universal Studios. It’s a huge garden paradise that’s open to the public, except for the main attractions—the conservatories. There is a cute walkway to the entrance, and there are different-themed gardens (i.e. Indian garden, Chinese garden, etc.) for those who want to enjoy a quiet time alone or with friends.
We went inside the Flower Dome, and it was a spectacular experience. The dome houses a wide range of flowering plants and trees, a burst of color that is both a treat to the eyes and to one’s sense of smell. The dome features various sections, with each section highlighting a unique floral display and arrangement—orchids, roses, and other plant varieties from different countries. There are benches for sitting, and they even have a wheelchair lift leading to the California Garden section. If you have the time, you can probably just sit there for a whole day to enjoy the view—I even saw someone who was reading a book in one of the corners in the garden. As for photos, the background is awesome, but photos won’t do justice to the place—it has to be experienced to really enjoy it.
The other section we visited was the Cloud Forest, the second conservatory. Visitors are welcomed by a high waterfalls, so be sure you have a jacket or a raincoat because it’s chilly inside. The structure is designed like a mountain, with the outer part covered in different varieties of mountain plants (the higher you go, the rarer the kind of plants you get to see). The inner part of the mountain is divided into six different levels that are accessible via a lift or a combination of stairs and escalators. Each level showcases a different display—one level, for instance, has an exhibit of stalactites and stalagmites. The outer layer can be enjoyed by walkways and open paths leading to the top. The plants included mushrooms, rare flowers and plants, and what appear to be unique architecture and works of art from various regions around the world, like Tibet. They provide an audio tour for a fee for those who want to get a little bit deeper into the history and origin of the plants featured.
These two places were the only destinations we visited in Singapore, and I’d love to go back someday.
We didn’t buy any souvenir except for a ref magnet, but SG has its own China Town for those who are looking to buy some. But, if you’re dropping by Malaysia, better get your souvenirs and ‘pasalubong’ there because it’s cheaper. One of my travel buddies bought Cadbury chocolates for SGD5, only to find out that the same item is offered in Malaysia at MYR6 (about SGD2 only).