A vacation with the kids was long overdue. I had visited Singapore for work a few weeks ago. The place seems feels like a big garden with trees and green cover everywhere. So I decided to take them to Singapore.
We discovered some challenges only after we landed there. This post will help you figure out a way around those.
Connectivity: If you’re with Vodafone, get the iRoamFree plan. We paid Rs. 2500 for 7 days for this plan, and this allowed us unlimited calling domestic or international, data and messages when we landed.
Insurance: Do take an travel/medical insurance policy. I trust Tata AIG with it for all my international trips. I’ve never had to use my insurance so far, but feel warm & fuzzy considering that it’s a Tata brand.
Flights: We took a red-eye Jet Airways flight to Singapore. It departs at 1.30 am from India, and we landed there early morning. Singapore is 2.5 hours ahead of India. On the way back, our flight was at 11.15 am Singapore time. So this worked out perfectly well.
Currency: Before you go, make sure that you get enough Singapore Dollars – while your credit card will work in Singapore, much like India, many businesses only accept cash.
Stay: We had booked an AirBnB for our stay there.
So this was our itinerary –
Landed early morning. Had the Singapore famous Kaya toast and coffee for breakfast at the airport itself. Booked a luxury limo to our apartment, as we were five passengers and had a lots of luggage.
On the way from the airport to the apartment, the driver took us to a Indian travel-agency shop which sold tickets to popular tourist destinations at discounted rates. We got up to 10% discount in some cases. We bought tickets for the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park, the Cable Car, Aquarium & Gardens by the Bay.
Apart from the Night Safari for which you need to plan the exact date you will go, the rest of the tickets were open ended.
We took a cab to the Marina Bay Sands area in the evening, and walked up to the Singapore Flyer. It’s a huge ferris wheel that is 165 meters tall and offers a birds eye view of the entire city. Each round trip takes about 30 minutes. This was totally worth it.
Then we walked back to the MBS shopping mall, and started looking for a place to eat.
We had dinner at Punjab Grill. It’s a bit expensive, but the service was fantastic and the food was delectable – much better than their outlets in Mumbai.
We came back to our apartment late in the night.
If you’re staying in an apartment do stock up on basic grocery items like fruit, bread, cheese, milk, coffee etc.
Two important realizations on Day 1:
- There are very few pure Vegetarian options in Singapore, outside of Little India. Most of the seemingly vegetarian food (bread, pasta) items have egg in them. Even the mushroom soup at the Singapore Zoo had chicken broth in it.
- A typical cab strictly takes only 4 passengers. We were 5 people as I had also taken my 8 year old niece along. So either we took two cabs where ever we went, or booked a 6-seater cab. Grab taxis (that’s like the Uber of Singapore) were easier to find than Uber here. There’s an app for Grab, make sure you download it before you land in Singapore.
The next day we took off for the Singapore Zoo. When we reached the zoo, it began to rain heavily. So we bought ponchos and umbrellas from the Zoo gift shop. The ponchos aren’t expensive, and are good for a couple of uses.
The Zoo was fantastic. We didn’t take the tram, rather preferred to walk it all out. The Singapore Zoo is huge and amazing experience, but all the walking will surely tire out the kids. When we reached the food court at 3 pm, they had run out of vegetarian food. The smoothies were over too. So we shared a couple bowls of fruit. The kids reluctantly ate some fruit.
The zoo closes at 6 pm. We headed out to Phoenix India restaurant on Phoenix Road (about 15 mins from the Zoo), and had a hearty dinner (lunch?) there.
Then we came back to the same Zoo area for the Night Safari. Don’t miss the “Creatures of the Night” show where they bring out the nocturnal animals. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we rested our tired legs by getting in to the tram which takes you around the entire park.
We got done with the Night Safari by 11.30 pm.
Both the Zoo and the Night Safari are a must visit.
On Day 3 we decided to take the Cable car to Sentosa Island. We went up to Mount Faber which is one of the hop points for the Cable car. This is again a must-do experience. We got off at the Sentosa station. Then we walked to the Imbiah station (5 mins from Sentosa station) and boarded an internal cable car to the Merlion station.
From the Merlion station, we took an MRT (monorail) to reach the Waterfront station. From there, we walked to the S.E.A. Aquarium. The Aquarium has some really good exhibits. Plenty of pictures were taken.
After the Aquarium visit, we walked back to the Merlion station. From Merlion to Imbiah, and then back to Sentosa. From Sentosa it was back to Mount Faber. The restaurant at Mount Faber station served us some good vegetarian aglio-olio pasta, margherita pizza and a salad.
After our meals, we took a cab to Gardens by the Bay. We checked out Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. You can literally spend a few hours there admiring the variety of flora and fauna, unless you have kids – because they get impatient.
The Cloud Forest Dome has one of the biggest indoor waterfalls. We took a Cloud walk which is a stroll on an elevated bridge across the dome. Must do.
Then we stepped out of the dome to catch the 8.45 pm light and sound show near the super trees. I think this was a little overrated, but the kids enjoyed it.
After the show, we headed to Little India for dinner. We went to a place called – Bikaner Express. Okayish food, and pedestrian service. Avoid.
Then we called it a night, and took a cab back to the apartment.
In Singapore there are designated pickup and drop-off zones for cabs. So find the designated spot, then call up on the cab. All of these zones show up when booking a cab, so it makes coordination with the driver easier.
Instead of calling the driver for last mile logistics, we used to chat with them via the app. It worked out well each time.
This was our day to go to Universal Studios which again is in Sentosa Island.
We headed out early to queue up outside the Universal by 9.30 am. We took a cab to Sentosa Island. The cabbie dropped us off near the Casino entrance.
A few pointers for those visiting Universal Studios with kids –
- Queue up by 9.30 am max. Universal studios opens at 10 am.
- Get the Express pass if you can afford it. We didn’t get them, but should’ve on second thoughts. Without the express pass, we ended up queuing for close to 45-60 minute per ride/show.
- As soon as you enter the gates, head to the USS Store on the left and buy ponchos. You’ll need them later in a few rides.
- Figure out timings for these shows – Waterworld, Monster Rock & Madagascar Boogie (for kids).
- Go right away to Transformer and then Jurassic Park Rapid Adventure. Both of these rides offer an amazing experience. Don’t miss.
- Do Waterworld (1:30 pm) – sit in the splash zone, followed by Madagascar in afternoon.
- Walk towards Far Far Away to enjoy the must see show-Shrek 4D.
- Try and have lunch during off-peak hours to optimize time
- Don’t waste time taking pictures. You can take all your pictures post 5 pm, when your legs have given up.
Once we were out of Universal Studios, we had our dinner at Tino’s Pizza Cafe. We had the Pizza Margherita and Garden Verdure the only veg pizzas options.
Woke up a bit late, then headed out to the Jurong Bird Park. This is one fantastic place. Don’t miss it for anything else. Do check out the Lory Loft. The kids will have fun at the mini water park. A Jurong visit takes ~ 4 hours.
Jurong Bird Park has a proper South Indian restaurant right at the entrance. So we had some good dosas and idlis.
Then went off for some shopping to Suntec City, Tower 5. Suntec City has brands like – Uniqlo, H&M, SuperDry, Gap, CottonOn, Charles & Keith etc.
After our retail therapy, we went to Little India but now empowered with deep knowledge of where to eat, thanks to a school time friend I met at the mall.
Murugan’s Idli. That’s the go to place in Little India. Their food was an amazing experience, although the service left a lot to be desired.
At 11.30 pm, after we had satiated out stomachs, we noticed the presence of Mustafa store right across the road. It’s humongous, and it’s open all 24 hours. So we jumped right in, and shopped until 1.30 am. Get all your souvenirs, chocolates here.
We went to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands to do some window shopping. Had a sumptuous lunch at Punjab Grill, and then headed out to Suntec city to round off our shopping.
Had a quick dinner at Kurry Korner in Suntec city. It’s a hole in the wall, and is good for a pitstop.
Went back dog tired to our apartment, then spent the next few hours packing our bags.
Had pre-booked the same limo for the ride back to the airport. Headed out to the airport at 8.15 am to board our 11.15 am flight.
All in all a very enjoyable though tiresome visit. I think I need another vacation.
Some pointers to help you –
- If you’re a pure vegetarian then carry some theplas or fruit, or even bread+cheese will help.
- Eating out is expensive as compared to India. Outside of Little India, meals for a party of 5 will set you back by ~200 SGD. Drinks are expensive.
- It was rain time in Singapore in May, and the weather is unpredictable. So always carry umbrellas or ponchos.
- Get the Grab or Uber app. Don’t travel without it.
- As a tourist, you can get the GST tax refund from the airport. They might ask you to show the stuff you’ve purchased. So do visit the GST refund counter before you check in the luggage.
- Taxis strictly seat 4 people, unless you have an infant who can be accommodated on a lap.
- All places are always 10-20 minutes away. That was awesomeness for us. In Mumbai even going from Lokhandwala to Juhu circle takes 40 minutes during peak hours.