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Guide: places to visit near me

With three days off from work, I finally have the chance to travel to neighboring countries. However, since I have limited resources, I’ve selected the two countries accessible by bus transport from Malaysia – Thailand and Singapore.

With time consideration, I heard from a local colleague that a bus ride to Thailand will take me 8 hours to Hatyai (but not yet Bangkok – only on the border of Malaysia-Thailand) and only 4-5 hours to Singapore.

While Thailand has a considerably lower cost of living than Singapore, I did some research and found out that there are endless ways to travel luxurious cities like Singapore within budget. Since it has excellent transportation routes and plenty of fascinating tourist spots, I chose to go Singapore, even if I have to eat Chicken Rice for one whole week.

TRANSPORTATION:

Departure: Kuala Lumpur, TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) -> Singapore, Little India (Fare: RM45 = P517.50)

Arrival: Singapore, Katong V Mall -> Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown KL 5 Elements Hotel (Fare: RM72 = P828)

Total Transportation Fare: RM 117 (P1345.50)

From all the three available transportation to Singapore – airplane, bus and train – bus is the most cheap and economical to choose since you can take the midnight tickets and sleep during the travel.

The bus trip is approximately 5.5 hrs from Malaysia to Singapore. Note that you may have to be awake during the last hour because intercity travels will require you to cross two immigration buildings – one exiting Malaysia and another one entering Singapore.

QUICK TIPS:

  • If you can book online, do it so you can be reserved on the shuttle coach ahead of time. I booked mine at easybook.com. They also have lots of promotions including discounts and travel vouchers every month.
  • As advised, choose the midnight schedule (12 AM) so you can arrive early in Singapore and utilize the saved time in roaming nearby tourist spots before checking in to your hostel.
  • Ensure that you have legitimate visa and passport details as there’s a chance that immigration officials in Woodlands Singapore may halt and bring you into rigorous interrogation if you have the wrong documents.

ACCOMMODATION:

Online Booking Fee: RM 205 (P2357.50)

Duration of Stay: 5 Days – 4 Nights

Online Merchant: Agoda

I primarily chose Prince of Wales because this is one of the cheapest hostels with no bedbugs from the Agoda reviews which was a positive sign that it’s well maintained. True enough, I was given a bedsheet, pillow and blanket after check-in. There were also five discount coupons with one free complementary Heineken/Jam Jar from the hostel. The management said they will discontinue the free Heineken/Jam Jar moving forward and that I was the last one who got the red coupon. Lucky me!

The mixed dormitory I stayed has four bunk beds, where most of the time occupants were Western foreigners. Aircon runs 9 PM – 9 AM only. Showers on the ground floor has heater and wi-fi speed is excellent. On one Saturday night, I came home to watch music bands performing laid back music.

Overall, this is a recommended hostel if you want a cheap backpacker accommodation with good quality service and proper maintenance.

DAY 1: LITTLE INDIA + BUGIS: RM 102 / SGD 34 / PHP 1173

Considering the hefty transportation cost for 5 days in Singapore, I planned to avail the Singapore Tourist Pass (STP) for SGD 20 (3-day Pass) which enables me to have unlimited travel on MRTs, LRTs and public buses. Then I’ll use the STP for Day 2-4 so for Day 1, I only visited the tourist spots near my hostel – Prince of Wales.

Therefore, it is important to pick a strategic place where you will book your hostel. For me, I recommend Little India because:

  • Its MRT is an interchange between North East Line (train going to Sentosa, Clarke Quay or Chinatown) and Downtown Line (train going to Botanic Gardens or Bugis)
  • It has plenty of nearby temples and mosques (see below) with the cultural ‘feel’ that immerses your inner Indian.
  • It has access to cheap hawker stalls for as low as SGD 5 per meal – like Tekka Centre – which is home to an exquisite variety of Singapore cuisine.
  • You can also shop for souvenirs on Mustafa Shopping Centre for cheap perfumes or jewelries.

Bugis is also walking distance from Little India so you can buy your STP there, explore the shops on Bugis Street and pray on the nearby temple for blessings.

Itineraries:

  • Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
  • Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
  • Mustafa Shopping Centre
  • Indian Heritage Centre (SGD 4 for Entrance, Free English Tour)
  • Masjid Abdul Gafoor Mosque
  • Haji Lane
  • Bugis Street
  • Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple

DAY 2: SENTOSA + MERLION + GARDENS BY THE BAY: RM 126 / SGD 42 / PHP 1449

By Day 2, I had unlimited transportation thanks to the STP card so I can roam everywhere in Singapore. Unfortunately, it does not cover the cost for Sentosa Express which I paid for SGD 4 (P140). I did not go anymore to the Universal Studios Singapore since I’ve gone there already but for those who are wondering, the entrance fee is SGD 74 (P2590).

In the afternoon, I went to Gardens by the Bay by strolling on the Raffles Place area, onto the Helix Bridge, and through the walkway on Marina Bay Sands. It was one of the most beautiful tourist spot I have ever seen in Singapore and the one I’ll recommend especially when you avail the entrance fee to the Cooled Conservatories – Cloud Forest and Flower Dome – for SGD 28 (P966). I also got lucky because there was an event called Garden Rhapsody – Retro Fever on the Supertree Grove where there were bright lights dancing to the 80’s tune and it was truly magnificent.

Marina Bay near the Merlion statue was very beautiful during the night. As I was walking on the Jubilee Walk Trail, I can see the splendid Marina Bay Sands shining through the calm waters. With the area still full of tourists, I suddenly remembered the song “The Night is Still Young.”

Itineraries:

  • Vivo City, HarbourFront
  • Sentosa – Waterfront, Imbiah and Beach Stations
  • Marina Bay at Raffles Place
  • Esplanade Theatres and Marina Bay Sands
  • Helix Bridge and Jubilee Walk Trail
  • Gardens by the Bay – Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, Supertree Grove
  • Makansutra
  • Singapore Flyer

DAY 3-4: BOTANIC GARDENS + ORCHARD + CLARKE QUAY + CHINATOWN: RM 60 / SGD 20 / PHP 690

From Little India, I went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens for my morning jogging. The habitat was very huge with lots of interactive trails such as Healing and Evolution Gardens. Since it belonged to one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the place was also properly maintained with some area (near the Ginger Garden) still renovated. It was also near to some of the buildings of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

When I took the Orchard exit from the Botanic Gardens, I rode the bus using my STP to the sightly Orchard Road. Foreigners were bustling with branded paper bags from shopping malls such as Ion, Wisma Atria, Tangs, Takashimaya and Lucky Plaza. As a major tourist attraction full of retail and entertainment hubs, it was one of those places the millennial will usually coin as ‘Instagrammable.’

To compensate from the tiring walk escapades, I decided to relax near the historical riverside they call as Clarke Quay. With various restaurants and nightclubs such as Hooters and Zouk (still closed for renovation), it may well be considered the party capital of Singapore.

Tourists can further enjoy their stay in the dazzling quay with G-Max Reverse Bungee (SGD 45 = P1575), Singapore River Cruise (SGD 22 = P770) or probably just chill on the Read Bridge with an ice cold beer while listening to some street performers.

The next day, I went to the colorful Chinese enclave in Singapore, the ethnic Chinatown. Starting from Pagoda street, I saw different kind of shops ranging from hot tiger balms to big ruby dragon statues. There were also Chinese and Indian temples near the area along with the Chinese Heritage Centre (with an admission fee of SGD 15 = P525).

I also went to two famous hawker centres along the vicinity, the Chinatown Food Street and the Maxwell Food Centre, especially the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice which gained popularity from featuring of Anthony Bourdain on one of his No Reservations program.

Across the Maxwell Food Centre, there were museums such as ‘Red Dot Design Museum and the Singapore City Gallery (formerly URA Gallery). Entrance is free of charge and the whole gallery aims to show the physical transformation in the last 40 years which are both educational and interesting. It also exhibited the city diorama of Singapore with accurate representations from buildings all over the country.

At night of Day 4, I met some of my friends in Singapore to have dinner on one of the restaurants situated along Robertson’s Quay. We walked from Clarke Quay and onto the pedestrian footpath located near the contour of the riverside. Suffice to say, the food was extremely delicious.

Itineraries:

  • Singapore Botanic Gardens – Foliage, Healing, Evolution, National Orchid
  • Orchard Road Shopping Malls
  • Clarke Quay – Singapore River Cruise and G-Max Reverse Bungee
  • Chinatown – People’s Park Complex and Centre
  • Masjid Jamae (Chulia)
  • Sri Mariamman Temple
  • Chinatown Food Street and Maxwell Food Centre
  • Singapore City Gallery
  • Robertson’s Quay

DAY 5: KATONG + EAST COAST: RM 63 / SGD 21 / PHP 724.50

Early morning, I checked out from my hostel, ate lunch at Geylang Road and surrendered my STP to get the SGD 10 deposit. Then I went to Katong V Mall which is bus pickup point going back to Malaysia. The shortest route was through Paya Lebar station and to the free shuttle pickup from Paya Lebar Square to Katong V.

Since I still have 2 hours to departure, I walked along the streets until I hit the serene waters of Singapore, the beach side of East Coast Park. It was styled as an urban getaway where families and friends can play volleyball, ride bicycles, celebrate fun events, fry barbeques and waddle in the waters. Overall, it’s a perfect place to relax and relieve stress.

Itineraries:

  • Geylang Road
  • Paya Lebar Square
  • Katong V Mall and nearby Shopping Malls
  • East Coast Park
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