Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Travels | Exploring SG on a Budget: Where to Go, Where to Eat, and Where to Shop! Part 1

I used to work in Singapore. For three years, I juggled between saving up and splurging. Thus started the hunt for more affordable choices for recreation, food and shopping!

Armed with an online map and loads of pictures, let me help you find your way in Singapore should you decide to visit the Lion City!

Places To Visit

Indeed, a trip to Singapore is not complete if the itinerary does not include a day of fun at the famous Universal Studios Singapore or the acclaimed Singapore Zoo; but Singapore has a lot more to offer besides these expensive parks such as photo sessions with the  Merlion at One Fullerton or the one in Sentosa and leisure parks which come with cheap entrance fee, if not free.

1) Sentosa

Sentosa island offers a lot of things to do for any tourist. After all, Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom, Underwater World Singapore, Dolphin Lagoon, S.E.A Aquarium™ and Resorts World are in Sentosa among many other attractions as well as beaches and waterparks. Visit their website for more details of the places you can see while at the island.
The fish spa pool looks so inviting!

                                                                                                                                                It is wise to check the places you'd want to go online first as these tourist attractions might offer promos on their websites. And Sentosa is no exception! We wanted to see the dolphin show in 2012 but by adding around ten Singapore dollars, we get to see the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom plus a ten-minute fish spa, too.
Beautiful butterflies await you at Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom.

Graceful dolphins will surely amaze you at the Dolphin Lagoon.
To get there, take the monorail on the fifth floor of VivoCity, which is accessible by taking the NE (North-East) or the CC (Circle line) and alight at Harbourfront Station.

Sentosa Express also offers a ride to the island from the bus stop in front of Vivo City. Once inside Sentosa, shuttles can take you anywhere in the island, but take the monorail for faster travel. For more photo opportunities or a walk by the sea, take the Sentosa Boardwalk.

Found inside Sentosa island, USS can be costly at S$74 for adults and S$54 for children with ages 4 - 12. But the rides are spectacular and the theme park offers photo opportunities with various movie characters such as Shrek and Princess Fiona, the O'Connells from the Mummy, Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe and many more!
The iconic USS globe tells you that you have found what you were looking for.

The adult rides can be quite exhilarating but there are several kiddie rides for entertaining young ones, as well. Souvenir shops also abound the theme park but in case you have left the premises already, a theme store is found outside the gates of USS as well.

To get to USS, you can take a monorail train from VivoCity. VivoCity is accessible via bus or train, NE line, and alight at Harbourfront Station.

A cheaper alternative for you is to walk from VivoCity to Sentosa via a covered walkway. For only S$1.00 (price may change in time), you can enjoy more photo opportunities by the sea! And don't worry about getting tired, the entire walkway features a walk-a-lator!

3) Singapore Zoo

If you have the time, go visit all of Singapore's four main zoos: Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Bird Park at a discounted price (Park Hopper)!

Personally, I prefer Singapore Zoo alone and you'll need one day to enjoy the whole zoo with the scheduled feeding times and animals shows scheduled all throughout the day. The zoo prides itself in providing an environment similar to the animals' natural habitat.

The Zoo is worth visiting!
Whichever your choice is, check out their website for promotions and better deals. After all, you'll miss the long queues, too, if you buy your tickets online.
Should you decide to get the Park Hopper package, Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari are found in one place, Mandai Road. A shuttle from there can take you to the Bird Park in Jurong.
A Bengal tiger takes a dip in the pool. The pool separates the tiger's home from the spectators.
The baboons enjoy a huge space for playing with caves to protect them from the harsh weather.
Ibexes, in the meantime, walk around freely atop the boulders. 


Tired? Hungry? Sit back and rest while you watch animal shows.
Ask a staff or get a copy of the Zoo's program for timings.
4) Night Safari

You can visit Night Safari after your time in Singapore Zoo, provided you're not yet tired. The entire zoo is 28 hectares big while Night Safari is 40 hectares!
The Night Safari is the world's first nocturnal zoo.

                   5) River Safari

The River Safari features a river cruise for a small fee exclusive of the entrance fee, but you need to sign up for a time slot early at the park's entrance. We had to return another day because the cruise' schedule was already full!

Book your cruise upon arrival at the River Safari!

The easiest way to get to the Singapore Zoo, Night and River Safari is taking bus 138 at the Ang Mo Kio bus interchange. AMK station is along the NS line. But for those staying at the West side of Singapore (Jurong, Boon Lay among others), take the train along NS line as well, but alight at Choa Chu Kang. Bus 927 also takes tourists to Mandai Road.
Bus 138 in Berth B1 at AMK interchange.

6) Merlion

The Merlion represents Singapore's humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning 'sea town' in Old Javanese.

The Merlion in Sentosa.

The Merlion head symbolizes Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay.

Reach the Merlion in Sentosa by taking the monorail from VivoCity and alight at Imbiah Station.

If you would like to visit the Merlion near One Fullerton, you can either take the NS mrt line and alight at Raffles Place Station and cross Collyer Quay to get to the hotel.

This Merlion was originally found at the mouth of Singapore river to welcome tourists. A boat ride from gives chances to snap a photo with the Merlion behind you. But it was moved in 2002 to its location today and one can enjoy watching the lights coming from MBS at night.

Marvel at Singapore's flora and fauna for free! This park also cultivates Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.

Its Bukit Timah Gate is located just outside the train station Botanic Garden (circle line), and this park attract joggers and shutterbugs with its lovely surroundings and beautiful landscape.

The other entrance which is also accessible by public transportation is Tanglin Gate, which is nearer to Orchard road, Singapore's premier shopping district.

Just make to wear comfortable shoes as the park is extremely HUGE. But benches, water fountains and restrooms are everywhere in the park so one can take rest or refresh after a long walk.

A map marks your location and other interesting places in SBG.

Covering a whopping land area of 74-hectares, the Singapore Botanic Gardens spans from Tanglin to Bukit Timah.

Each area boasts of different attractions. At the Tanglin core, find various gardens such as the Bonsai garden and the Sun garden as well as the Swan Lake and Botany Centre.

Kids will surely delight at the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden in the Bukit Timah core for a small fee.

Animal lovers will surely enjoy seeing animals roaming freely in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Enjoy performances at the Symphony Lake while feeding carps and turtles.
Fish food are available at vending machines in the area.

A concrete pavement gives joggers and visitors a comfortable walk inside SBG.

Find interesting spots to have your pictures taken!


SBG has become a popular venue for photo-shoots.

8) East Coast Park

The East Coast Park offers a lot of activities for families and friends. They have bike rental shops, catching-prawns houses and tables for picnics. Barbecue pits and spaces for pitching tents  are available as well, though a permit has to be acquired.

If you suddenly have the urge to take a dip in the beach or just want to refresh after a day of fun under the sun, shower amenities are available at the park, too, so pack in an extra set of clothes.

For those staying in the West, you can visit West Coast Park instead.

The nearest MRT to East Coast Park is Tanah Merah station along EW line (East-West), then take bus 14 or 45 and alight 5 bus stops later.

You can also alight at Bedok station and take bus 14 from the Bedok Interchange. The park is only 13 bus stops away.

10) The malls!

Singapore's premiere shopping district, Orchard Road, has several malls all clustered together which offers branded shops, some of which aren't available anywhere in the Philippines. These malls lit up wonderfully at night and their Christmas decorations are a sight to behold during the holiday season.
Tang Plaza on the left and ION Orchard on the right.


And the list can go on and on. Perhaps I will write another entry. But, where can you go when you get hungry? Check these out!
*Did I mention that travelling around Singapore is as easy as 1-2-3? You can check gothere.sg for directions to a place where you want to go. Gothere.sg will even give you an estimated time of your whole journey.

*Don't forget to get a copy of the SMRT map at the control station in any SMRT train station. The SMRT map will show you all train stations and which ones will overlap so you can plan ahead.

 *Get your own Singapore Tourist Pass (STP) at selected train stations. If you are staying longer, opt for an EZ link card though you will be charged of the normal fares. Having an STP or EZ link will save you time from lining up to get one-way tickets every time you travel by train. And you can also use them for travelling via buses! What fun!

EZ links may come in different colors. This one's one of my faves!

                                                                                        *Most tourists take the MRT as it is the fastest and easiest way to travel. But taking the bus is the cheapest  way to travel around Singapore. There may be traffic jams during rush hour, but it is just because of the traffic lights and nothing comparable to the, uhm, nightmarish Manila jams (excuse me for the term). Just make sure to press the buzzer to signal the driver that you are alighting at the next bus stop early. I had to walk back before because the driver won't stop (for safety reasons) when I buzzed a bit late (Geez, imagine this discipline in Manila. The people will GO crazy.).

Disclaimer: Some routes may have changed from the time I have written this. Singapore's transportation improves rapidly so better check gothere.sg to find your way in case my suggestions become inapplicable.

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