From a long time ,we kept planning to go for a trip somewhere out of India. We kept postponing the plan year after year , since going abroad meant spending a lot of money. Finally in June this year we decided it was now or never and that's how this entire trip was planned
Planning the trip:
I started reading a lot of travelogues from various websites, looking at air tickets , hotels, travel options in Singapore etc. The amount of information available online these days is tremendous, so its important to filter out whats needed and what isn't.
The first step though, was to get a Singapore Visa. We decided to get it from Thomas Cook. They take about 7-10 days to get the tourist visa done. It costs about 1900 rupees per person (1500 of which is Visa fees).
To get the Visa, we need to book the tickets and the stay in Singapore in advance. Though, Tiger Airways was way cheaper, husband decided that we would fly Singapore Airlines ( turned out to be the better decision). For the stay, we selected Holiday Inn Atrium after reading a lot of good reviews about it.. We booked the hotel using Cleartrip, and the air tickets were booked from GoIbibo.
With the hotel and tickets booked , getting the visa was easy.
You can book all the Singapore attraction tickets online. Initially, we were advised against this online booking ,since it kind of fixes that plan as to what to do on which day. After we decided to go for it anyway, we realized that these tickets actually are not for one day. They actually are valid for one entry in a weeks time frame. So for example we booked the Universal Studios ticket for 22nd June but the tickets were valid for one entry up to 31st Jun. This means the flexibility was back. Plus you get some discounts if you buy tickets online.
After booking tickets to Universal Studios and 3 bird park/zoo (combo) online,we decided to take about 1000 Singapore Dollars ( 1 SGD = 47 Rs).
We were now all set to leave on 18th night. I was too excited to sleep in the flight and the turbulence made sure, any sleep coming my way would rather go to someone else.
Day 1 , Singapore:
We landed in Singapore early morning at around 6:30, we were out of the airport in about 10-15 mins. I was too tired to look around the airport and so we decided to do that on our way back to Bangalore.We reached the hotel around 7:15 in the morning. The taxi costed around 20-22 SGD.
The hotel staff agreed to give us a early check in around 9. We decided to have breakfast at the hotel for today, while waiting for the room. After asking at least for like 8-10 times we were given a room finally at around 9:15. The room though, was extremely spacious and clean.
After a short nap, we decided to check out a local market for lunch called "Lao pa sat". The lunch was strictly OK, considering both of us prefer vegetarian food. From here, we went to "Gardens by the Bay". We had already taken our EZ pay flash cards (loaded with about 10$ each) which allowed us to ride buses/metros without bothering about paying the exact far. You have to just flash the card while getting in and out of the bus/metro station. The problem how ever was that we didn't know which bus to take to reach Gardens by the bay from our lunch point. We tried asking a few people around, but that didn't help. Finally we found someone who told us how to reach Marina Bay Sands and from there to the Gardens. After all the trouble we went through though, one step into the cloud forest dome and it felt as if it was all worth it.
Gardens by the bay:
It mainly consists of two domes, the Flower dome and the Cloud Forest dome. The variety of plants and flowers you see here are absolutely amazing. The best part is that the domes are constructed in the way the water just slides off the domes and is collected as part of Rain harvesting. The same water is then used to water the plants. These two domes are supposed to be self sufficient in themselves. These gardens are constructed on the land reclaimed from Sea.
We came back to the hotel after having dinner in Little India and dozed off for the night.
Day 2: Jurong Bird Park , Night Safari
In the morning we landed up at Ananda Bhavan for a nice south Indian breakfast and decided to do the Bird Park and Night safari today. In hindsight, i think we should have done the Zoo and Night Safari together on one day. Anyway, we were a little late in reaching the Bird park and could get there by about 11:30. I had already looked up all the show timings online and so we accordingly walked around the park. We were there till about 5:00-5:30 after which we decided to leave for the night safari. We had a quick supper at a Thai restaurant in the mall and reached Night Safari by about 8 PM.
Since it was already dark, we decided to just to the shows and the tram ride in the Night Safari, The line to get into the Tram was so long that we decided to do the one show first. Unfortunately, the line was even longer when we came back after the show. After waiting for about 45-50 mins, we got into one of the trams. The ride was super fun as you get to see the animals in there natural habitat. We finished the tram ride and while leaving caught glimpses of the "Thumbukar show" which was a surprise since I though we missed the show which is generally at 7PM. All the shows are an absolute must watch in the Bird Park and the Night Safari. We reached the hotel around 12PM midnight.The best part about Singapore is that the public transport system, which we are now used to, is so safe and well maintained that you can safely travel at any time in the night.
Day 3: Singapore Zoo
We planned to do only the Singapore Zoo today, since tomorrow we wanted to go to Universal Studios, the main reason to come to Singapore. Since we had already gone to Night safari yesterday, we knew the route to get Singapore Zoo and reached there around 10 AM. Again almost all the shows in the Zoo are totally worth the time. ( We missed the feeding and some pet dog show). We left the zoo around 6 and went to have dinner with some friends at Clarke Quay.
Day 4: Universal Studios
When i was studying in the US, i never got a chance to visit Universal Studios. My husband though has been to the one in Florida. We were both excited to go to Universal. We decided to reach Universal by 9-9:30 AM and hence had our breakfast in the hotel itself. The buffet breakfast in the hotel wasn't complimentary in our package and costs about 26 SGD per person. This was very expensive for us since the vegetarian fare was only a range of breads and waffles.
We reached Universal at around 9:30 and did almost all the rides. We missed only the Dino Flyer but that was same as the Puss in the boots ride. We caught glimpses of all the street shows but most of the time spent in Universal was in the line waiting to get on the rides. Since we had not taken the express pass, it took anywhere from 45-60 mins of wait time every ride.
Although all the rides in Universal are really good, the best was the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster. It the worlds tallest dueling roller coaster. It has two cars, called the Human and Cylon, which are both running at the same time. We got it sit in the first row of the Human roller coaster and the drop, which is apparently like falling 14 floors, was extremely scary. My husband did the Cylon coaster too which has about six 360 degree turns....
For the Transformers ride, we waited for about 30 mins, but it was totally worth it, The virtual reality effects were really fun.
The only ride we didn't have to wait for was the Mummy Returns ride. We just walked in and sat in the roller coaster car. This ride for me was more scary as it the flips and turns of the coaster are in complete darkness.
For both the Mummy returns and the Battle star galactica rides you have to keep all your belongings in a locker, which is free for the first 90 mins.
After an adventurous day at Universal , we decided to see the Songs of the Sea show in the night. This show is a must must must watch and was the highlight of the entire trip for me.
We reached the hotel back around 10:30 PM and dozed off with a feeling that the trip was almost coming to an end.
Day 5: SEA Aquarium
All the days in Singapore have been hectic and it didn't really feel like a vacation. So we decided to take it a little esy today. The plan was to just go to the aquarium and possibly try to do some shopping since tomorrow was going to be our last day in Singapore.
The SEA aquarium is beautiful and is home to thousands of fishes and some incredible sea creatures.
Once back from the SEA, we went to Bugis street, which is popular for its street shops. We bought some souvenirs and went back to Little India for dinner.
Day 6: Back to Bangalore.
Today was our flight back to Bangalore. We checked out of the hotel at 12, and left our bags at the hotels store room. Our flight back was at 8 in the night and so we decided to go back to Bugis to do some more shopping . We came back to the hotel by about 3 and left for the airport. We reached the Changi airport in about half hour and after checking in the luggage just relaxed in the airport. Changi airport is huge and one can easily spend about 4-5 hours just in the airport.
The flight was on time and we reached Bangalore at around 10:30 in the night. This marked the end of our vacation. The trip though a little hectic gave us a life time full of memories.
Some important points to note if you are planning a trip:
1. Public transport system is one of the best ever in Singapore. You can buy a EZ-link card at any metro and just keep adding money to it . This card can be used in all the buses and trains so that you don't have to worry about giving exact change. If you have any money leftover you can always take the card back to the metro strain get it cancelled and get the remaining money back.
2. Book tickets to Universal and all the zoo/bird parks online from India. Doing this will help in carrying less cash to Singapore. Plus you get some discounts for booking online.
Overall this trip was one of my most memorable trips and I hope this write up justifies the amount of fun this trip was.
Until next time...........