Our Singapore Family Getaway
Last June 2015, we went on our first family trip abroad. Yes, I know this is a late post, and it's been waiting in my draft posts to be published... finally!
Mainly, I wrote this post because I'd like to document our travel abroad - it's our first, so you know, it's a big deal! :) But, I'd also like to share our experience and some tips for traveling with the family.
This is a lengthy post, but I've highlighted the key points for you to easily read through all of this...
As you may know, Singapore is one of the leading city-states and island-country in Southeast Asia, if not the world! Often referred to as the Garden City, Singapore is rich in landscape and culture.
Singaporean locals are a mix of Malays, Chinese, and Indians, so their official language is also diverse: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. But don't worry, they mostly speak in English so it's not very hard to ask around and talk to people. Oh, "Manong/Kuya" there is "Uncle", and "Manang/Ate" is "Auntie". Cute right? hihi...
Before going there, we were already telling our kids about the place and showing them some pictures, like a little orientation. We also told them that we'll be riding the airplane and that made them very excited. It's important to get to know about the country you're going to, right?
We were going to Singapore not only for leisure, but also to visit our relatives, Ate Joy (my husband's cousin) and her family. So we we're very lucky to have a place to stay for 3 days, we saved a lot by not booking a hotel anymore.
Some helpful tips and what to bring:
We left for Singapore on June 26 8pm and arrived at around 12 midnight already. Yes, it was 4 hours of flight, so it's best if you have something to keep the kids occupied. It's also helpful to bring a pillow or neck pillow if you want to sleep during the flight. There is no difference in Philippine time and Singapore time.
We were picked up by Ate Joy and her husband and rode a MaxiCab or Limo Taxi since we had some luggage and there were about 7 seven of us (2 toddlers included), and we all fit inside. Overloading is against the law in Singapore, so is eating and drinking inside public vehicles or transportation.
It's helpful to know the laws in the foreign country you're going to. Singapore is also know as the Fine City, because it has penalties and fines for a lot of things, including chewing gum, spitting, and littering among others.
It's also important to know the climate so you'll know what to pack. June was still a sunny climate in Singapore. They have tropical rainforest climate, much like a humid temperature, so expect it to be hot. It's helpful to pack some sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, light shirts or blouse, and perhaps a fan to keep you cool. Bring a water bottle handy, but remember not to drink while you're riding the bus or train!
Get to know the public transportation; Singapore has one of the best ones so it's very easy to go around via train or bus. They have the EZLink stored value card that you can use on the LRT and the bus. You can get one at ticketing offices at bus interchanges or LRT stations. If you're not up to commuting via train or bus, you can always get a taxi :) Singapore is a small city, so they know where to go...don't worry, you won't get lost in Singapore :)
If you have young kids, it's advisable that you bring a stroller along since you'll be doing lots of walking and commuting!
Our 3-day itinerary (June 27-29)
Ate Joy was the one to help us plan our itinerary. Since we had young kids, the following were the most recommended places to go in Singapore:
Day 1: Singapore Zoo and River Safari
Day 2: Madame Tussauds Sentosa, Universal Studios and Marina Bay Sands
Day 3: City Tour, Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Orchard Road
She got us tickets already as a tour package/promo from a local tourism office, where she's a regular costumer, so we bagged discounts, yay!
Sorry I don't really have tips on where to buy tickets, but I believe that you get up to 10-30% discount on published ticket rates if you buy ahead online. Just go to the website of the place you want to go to, and purchase your tickets online, as they usually have promotions.
Day 1 at Singapore Zoo and River Safari
Singapore Zoo and River Safari were the first places we went to since it was just a bus away from Ate Joy's house.
It has to be one of the best zoos in the world, because it's very big, clean, well-maintained, and the animal enclosures are spacious and mimicking their natural habitats. They even have a petting zoo and water park, so better pack some swimsuits. The river safari is an amazon-themed aquarium and zoo.
We spent the whole day at Singapore Zoo and River Safari. They are open from 8:30am to 6:00pm.
For more information, you can head on to http://www.wrs.com.sg/
For now, I'll let the pictures do the talking :)
Day 2 (AM) Madame Tussauds Sentosa
The next day we took the bus then the train to head to Sentosa.
If you don't know yet, Madame Tussauds is a wax museum of famous celebrities and politicians. Madame Tussauds Sentosa has a little tour at the beginning about Singapore itself. We spent half a day inside the wax museum.
For more information, head on to https://www.madametussauds.com/Singapore/
Day 2 (PM) Universal Studios and Marina Bay Sands
We spent our afternoon at Universal Studios. There are only certain rides for young children, they have a height requirement for most of the rides. My 1-yo still entered for free.
Most of the time, we spent taking photos with mascots and performers. My husband, my sister, and I got to experience the "adult" rides because Ate Joy and Kuya Brian were willing to watch over the kids. The kids enjoyed the parade later that day.
For more information: http://bit.ly/19Ru4X0
We went straight to Marina Bay Sands for dinner and to meet my college friend, Glai.
Day 3: City Tour, Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Orchard Road
For our last day in SG, we had quite a lot to do and go to. We went to the SG Flyer to get city tour bus tickets. We took the Green Route around the City and hopped off at Merlion Park. Unfortunately the Merlion Fountain was being repaired, so we didn't have our photo there :(
Back at the SG Flyer compound, we rode the big ferris wheel and had a marvelous view of Singapore! We also had lunch there. In the afternoon, we took the Orange bus route to head on to the Gardens by the Bay, we had tickets to the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. We loved it here because the place was airconditioned, and the theme for June was Nursery Rhymes, so the flowers were staged in pretty nursery rhyme themes.
By dinnertime, we met with Ate Joy at Orchard to celebrate her son Bryce's 3rd birthday. We also had this time to buy souvenirs and whatnots at Lucky Plaza. It is the cultural centre of Filipinos in Singapore. Buy your chocolates at Choc Spot! imported chocolates are cheap and affordable! Toblerone, Hersheys, Cadburry, Ferrero... you name it they have it!
Overall, our trip was tiring but loads of fun! 3 days were not enough! There were a lot of places we wished we had gone to but didn't have the luxury of time. We also didn't get to buy much pasalubong (souvenirs), and didn't get to seize the Great Singapore Sale which was ongoing last June. *Sigh* But hey, we have another reason to go there!
We also had less time to explore the airport, which was massive and amazing! I mean they have foot massage machines, televisions, and lounge/sleeping areas..and a lot more which we didn't get to see...
Places we want to go to next time we visit Singapore:
- Legoland Malaysia (it only takes about an hour of travel from SG to Legoland)
- Jurong Bird Park
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Explore more of Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands
- Take the hop on hop off city bus tour for a day
- SEA Aquarium, and all around Sentosa
- and eat at Makansutra
Whew, that sounds like a lot, right? It'll definitely take us more than 3 days next time, haha.
Happy 50th anniversary Singapore! We enjoyed our time there...
Till next time!