Having put in a great deal of effort in planning a budget trip to Singapore, it was finally time for me to bring on the vacation mode and kickstart a memorable trip with my family. After landing at Changi Airport, we headed straight to our hotel after breakfast. We reached the hotel before the check-in time, and despite it being a budget hotel, the staff was courteous enough to make us comfortable and arrange for an early check-in.
We were also fortunate to find an Indian eatery– ABC Nasi Kandar – right around the corner from our hotel. The staff at the restaurant was of Malaysian descent but they spoke Tamil. My mom managed to build a good rapport with them since she knows Tamil. We frequented this place for breakfast on all five days of our stay in Singapore.
The nearest metro station was the Kallang MRT station, a 15-minute walk from our hotel. You have to be prepared to walk a lot in Singapore, especially if you are going to rely on public transport.
Gardens by the Bay
We began our holiday with a visit to the famous Gardens by the Bay, for which we took a metro to the Bayfront MRT station – one of the most crowded stations in Singapore since it serves as an interchange station for all the important destinations of the city. From Bayfront station, we took Exit B and headed to the amazing Gardens by the Bay. This green haven spread over 101 hectares of land and comprising three waterfront gardens provides an escape from the urban humdrum of life right in the heart of the most buzzing cities in the world.
We stayed back to watch the iconic light show that takes place between 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm every day. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you must add to everyone visiting Singapore must add to their itineraries. I was blown away by this amazing light and music extravaganza.
The next day, we began our sightseeing with a little shopping spree for which we boarded a bus to Bugis Street, a famous shopping destination in Singapore. We bought chocolates, t-shirts and some souvenirs to bring back home. I had been told that Bugis is a shopping destination where you can put your haggling skills to good use to get stuff at throwaway prices but in my experience, the shop owners were rather stubborn and grim and did not care much for bargaining. However, stuff here is already pretty reasonably priced. You probably won’t feel the need to bargain at all. Afterwards, we went to an Indian restaurant named Gajalee at Esplanade Mall. Their prawn fry was to die for.
After catching a nap back at our hotel, we headed out for the Night Safari. Since it was 22-km away from where we were staying, we took a cab for this outing. The crowd at the venue took us by surprise and we could only manage to get the 7.30 pm show slot. We whiled away our time exploring the park, clicking pictures and strolling around, but eventually grew tired of it and decided to head back to the venue. Our patience was wearing thin by now and standing in what seemed like a never-ending serpentine queue was taking the joy out of the entire experience. Finally, it was our turn to get into the tram. A chance to watch wild animals from up close, with the cover of darkness enhancing the whole experience, does make the Night Safari in Singapore an exhilarating, hair-raising experience. The audio commentary in the tram also augments this unique experience. On the flip side, I was not able to click any pictures since the use of flash is not permitted.
Jurong Bird Park
We were a little exhausted from the previous day’s hectic schedule but the fear of letting precious time pass by and falling behind on our itinerary was enough to get us going. This time we headed for the Jurong Bird Park.
This is a wonderful place to visit if you are an avid bird lover for you get to see an amazing variety of bird species, feed them and be a part of their antics and shows. We had rain gods coming in and spoiling our party. It takes around half-a-day to explore the place in entirety but we wrapped up our visit in under three hours, as there was a lot left to do and time was running out.
Marina Bay Sands
In the evening, we headed to the Marina Bay Sands – a larger than life shopping mall in Singapore. After spending some time in the shopping section, we headed for dinner to a high-end Indian Restaurant by the name of Punjab Grills by Jiggs Kalra. This fine-dining experience and several courses of decadent delicacies such as kebabs, biryani and dessert satiated our bellies and souls. We had planned on exploring the Casino after dinner but ended up gorging on so much food that we hardly had the energy to do anything else.
I had saved the best for the last and was most excited about this outing in Singapore. Universal Studios is an absolutely must-visit place for thrill seekers. Even though you have to brace yourself for braving the queues, it is well worth the hassle. The rush of crazy rides is something that will stay with you for a long time. The ‘Transformers 3D’ ride seemed to be the most sought-after and when we finally got a chance to get on it, it wasn’t hard to see why. That feeling on being on the edge and hanging on for dear life, screams everywhere, and a sudden surge of adrenaline makes for perhaps the headiest five minutes of your life. The ‘Battlestar Galactica Roller Coaster’ is the scariest ride in Universal Studios and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Experiencing these two high-intensity rides gave me an inexplicable high.
Our fifth and final day in Singapore was rather low-key. We spent the day leisurely, making a trip to Little India before heading back to the real India. After some shopping and a hearty lunch at Kailash Parbat restaurant, we returned to our hotel for check-out and headed straight to the airport, a wee bit early, to explore this swanky transportation hub.
A lot of our time during this trip was wasted standing in long-winding queues as our visit coincided with the time Singapore gears up for the Chinese New Year and a lot of people step out of their homes to make the most of the festive spirit. I’d recommend that you plan your trip such that you can avoid this big rush. That said, this trip to Singapore has stirred in me an insatiable thirst to explore the world. I recommend it to anyone with a penchant for travel. This unique melting pot of cultures and new and old world orders is an eye-opening destination.