Malaysia and Singapore are both easy to explore and are great destinations for a first-time traveler. Commuting is easy in both countries, and it helped that Malaysia has its hop-on, hop-off bus for tourists—makes it easy to see everything without much detailed planning needed. Plus, there are many Filipinos in both countries.
To end this post series, let me line up a few notes to help you plan your trip and help you get the most out of your Singapore and/or Malaysia travel.
- Current exchange rate is Php11.50 to MYR1 and Php34.50 to SGD1. You can exchange your money here or in your destination country. Instead of exchanging our Php in money changers at the airport, we decided to withdraw them from the ATM upon arrival because, apparently, the charge is lower especially if you are in a group and you decide to pool your money together in one account and do just a single withdrawal upon arrival. Just be sure to call your bank to activate your account for international use. If you have a credit card, you may also call your provider to let them know even if you don’t plan to use the card—just to have backup when you accidentally over-shop. :p
- Bring adaptors. This is one thing we forgot; good thing the staff at Chaos Hotel KL were kind enough to lend us two units when we needed them and our AirBnB apartment in SG was already equipped with one.
- Our biggest lesson, of course: if traveling cross country, be sure you don’t do your cross-country trip the same day you’re about to head home because delays can cause great hassles (i.e. being left by your plane and having to rebook). Another lesson: be sure you double check with your bus operator how long the trip will be. Apparently, it varies from one bus operator to another. While our bus trip to Singapore took only five hours, our trip back to Malaysia took us seven hours!
- Do not over-pack. This one seems like a no-brainer, but we still make this mistake, nevertheless. We had to spend an extra day in Malaysia, but we were still over-packed and had stuff we were unable to use throughout the trip. If you want to bring extra, an extra underwear and shirt will do.
- Bring something from the Philippines. I’ve always planned to do this but often forget, and our recent trip showed me how important this is (to me, at least). As I have already mentioned, the staff in Chaos Hotel are Filipinos, and they’re chatty and friendly. One of them is from Manila, and he told us he hadn’t gone home for four years. Good thing he was with his cousin, but still—I can imagine how homesick he must feel. It would have been great if we bought something from the Philippines for them—dried mangos or some local food—to remind them of home. These can also be used as tip to locals we meet so they can get to know specialties from the Philippines.
So there… My first out-of-the-country trip—finally! Here’s to more trips, and more writing, in the future. Happy travels!