It is with great enthusiasm that I’m scribbling down the memories of our family trip to Singapore during the month of March 2017. It was our first family trip abroad, and which better country can you select other than Singapore !
We were a group of five, including two couples and an infant. Our trip consisted of 6 days itinerary including the days of arrival and departure. Our flights were Tiger Airlines and Singapore Airlines from Kochi and Kolkata respectively, both being direct flights. Our accommodation was arranged through AirBnB for a 2 bed room flat in Geylang region. The accommodation was an excellent condominium with all required facilities and stay was very comfortable.
We relied on public transport, including buses and metro, as well as taxies for our conveyance. We bought sim cards at the airport exit using our passports and withdrew some money from the SBI (State Bank of India) ATM just at the exit of the airport. From the MRT (metro) station at the airport, we bought the EZ link cards for future use and took a taxi to our accommodation. The EZ link cards come in different packages including 1-day pass ($20), 2-day pass ($26), 3-day pass ($30) excluding an additional $10 rental security deposit. Another important thing is that you need to buy a normal card and recharge it for your use even if you are not going to take the above-mentioned unlimited passes. It can be used on all the metros (MRT and LRT) as well as the buses, and you get the refund at the airport terminal during your departure. Uber as well as the normal taxis are both not as costly as European cities and they are convenient if you are a group of four people.
On the first day, after meeting an acquaintance at Choa Chu Kang, we headed for the Singapore Zoo for the Night Safari that lasted for around an hour or so. It was indeed fun going around the living areas of all animals sitting safely in a tram. There were also a few shows around, but due to the heavy rush we skipped many. The queue for the Night Safari is a long one and you need to be prepared for the same. My suggestion is that if you are going for the Night Safari, you may skip the zoo, which is a little time consuming and a little tiring, to be frank.
On the second day, we had gone to the much celebrated and famous Universal Studios at Sentossa Island, which is also the largest in South East Asia. The Universal Studios was divided into many themed areas like Madagascar, Ancient Egypt, Jurrasic Park, Far Far Away, Hollywood etc. Each area had around 4-5 rides in which one or two are mild ones that can be enjoyed by infants also, and one signature ride that would really blow your head off. The most enjoyable ones were the Transformers ride in Hollywood area and a ride in Ancient Egypt. It took a whole day’s time for somewhat touching upon all the areas.
Reaching Sentossa Island is through a mono-rail train whose tickets are to be purchased separately from the Vivo City Station which is inside the Vivo City mall. The return travel from Sentossa Island is free of cost and hence if you go there in taxi or something, you can come back for free. But if you go in taxi or own arrangement, you are required to pay an entry free to the Island which is equal to the mono-rail ticket cost. However, if you go with a pass to the Resorts World Sentossa (basically nothing but the Rest-of-Sentossa pass mentioned in the next para), you wont be needed to pay the same, which is exactly what we did on the third day..
On the third day, we went for visiting all other attractions at the Sentossa Island, using a combo pass that we bought online, that allowed entry to 20 attractions altogether. We visited the Sea Aquarium, which was indeed a great refreshing experience. The other attractions included Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Trick Eye Museum, Tiger Sky Tower, Butterfly & Insect Garden, Merlion Statue, Skyline & Luge and 4D Adventure Land. The only issue we faced was the scarcity of public drinking water booths that forced us to buy water at many locations. The laser light show in the evening at Sentossa island is a great show not worth missing.
On the fourth day, we went for visiting the Singapore Zoo and spent time there for the whole day. Even though we took the services of tram transport, it was still a bit tiring, I must say. But the good part was that there were enough places to rest and relax when you are tired. There were also four shows including many animals, out of which we could see two – the Elephants Show and The Rainforest Show. After completing the show we went for a small round of shopping at the famous Mustafa Shopping Centre. An interesting thing in the Mustafa Shopping Centre is that they give you all the requisite paper work for claiming VAT refund at the time of your departure at the airport. You can claim the VAT refund for all items (which may be required to be shown to the inspecting officer on demand) that you are not consuming within Singapore, on all purchases above $100 per day. It is not possible to claim the VAT refund if you are leaving Singapore by road.
On the fifth day, we started off with the famous Gardens By The Bay, where we visited the Cloud Dome and the Flower Dome. The Cloud Dome has recreated cloud forests and the views were indeed mind blowing. The Flower Dome has gardens and flowering plants from all over the globe and the visit was very refreshing. Then we went for amphibious tour named Captain Duckw tour that took us around the city as well as through the water showing all the attractions and main buildings around the city. Even though we had booked a city tour after that, we skipped it because the Dukw Tour covered all the major landmarks of the city. Just before the sunset, we boarded the mighty Singapore Flyer (giant wheel) that gave us an aerial view of the city and the whole session was around half an hours time. Its best to board the Flyer just before sunset so that you can have a view of the city in day-light as well as the night view which is a great sight.
The best thing about Singapore is its public transport. All the attractions are well accessible using public transport and they are convenient, cheap as well as super-clean. The metro trains are all stroller friendly, but you are not allowed to consume eatables or even drink water while onboard (cleanliness comes with a cost!). Singapore is also one of the safest countries in the world. It is a hot and humid country and hence advisable wear shorts or other suitable summer clothing. Cuisine is primarily Thai, Malaysian, Chinese and Indian, but don’t forget to try various exotic stuff like deer meat, crocodile meat etc.!!
On the last day, we went for a final round of shopping, had some Dosas from Little India area and then retired to our accommodation for packing. In the evening, we casted off to the airport, loaded with lots of sweet memories….