Sunday, November 15, 2015

5D/4N optimized Singapore trip itinerary

Over past few months, I have advised several people on their Singapore trip. My tips were focused on optimizing the itinerary (see more in less time or with less cost) and some simple tips to reduce overall cost of the trip or enhance the experience.

Usually people book packages with online travel portals like MMT. I checked Singapore travel packages offered by some of the popular sites like MMT, Yatra etc and find that they are poorly designed. Standard packages offered by these sites have lots of drawbacks- I have listed them below

Drawbacks in Singapore package offered by leading travel portals

  1. Exact flight timings are not known, so first and last day are usually without any activity, just check in and check out. This is usually waste of time- even if you have 2 hours to spare, there are things you can see/do in Singapore. So you should make full use of available time in first and last day.
  2. They are filled with fancy words to fill space- such as ‘sumptuous breakfast’ (you only get standard American breakfast in most of the hotels, which are included in room rent and there’s nothing fancy about it)
  3. Filling the itinerary with lots of ‘optional’ items, which means you get a feel as if you’ve getting a good deal, but for everything you’ve to pay extra
  4. Seat in coach basis is usually total waste of time. If you’ve put in a bus with 40 people, very likely that few of them will be late and you lose several hours in waiting. Singapore can be covered in Metro easily.
  5. Listing things that can be seen from the bus as an attraction- example Fountain of Wealth in front of Suntech city. Operator will take you to Suntech city for shopping and show this fountain while you get down from bus- in my opinion this shouldn’t be projected as a main attraction in the itinerary.
  6. Visiting 24x7 attractions during day time- Places like Merlion are open 24x7. Visiting it in the day time spending couple of hours overall is a total waste of time which could have been spent on attractions that close by evening. Merlion can be visiting in the evening or early morning when crowd also will be less.
  7. Assuming that everything has to be during day time only- because most people want to start their day at leisure and retire early, most itineraries begin after breakfast and end by evening. But if you are willing to get up early and sacrifice a bit of sleep in the evening, there are many attractions that can be explored early morning and late evening.[I have a detailed post here listing almost all of them]
So what is the solution? How to make the most of your Singapore visit?
Based my observation and experience from 3 trips to Singapore, I have drafted an optimized itinerary for exploring Singapore. This is designed keeping in mind optimizing time and money, assuming that travelers are fit, healthy and can explore the town on their own without a guide. I also assume you’re fine with some exhaustive travel, without too much rest/breaks for relaxation.

Singapore is a small country and you can explore all places on your own, using MRT or local taxi. You don’t really need a guide to take you around. English works everywhere, so no language problem.

  • Book a hotel which is walkable from a MRT station. This saves a lot of money in transportation.
  • Do your currency conversion at home country. Airports could be a rip off. I find that a counter in Peninsular tower gives reasonable rate, so does Mustafa centre.
Day 1: Arrive at Changi
Most of the flights from India arrive at early morning. So I am assuming on Day 1 you arrive early and have almost full day to explore. If not, depending on your arrival time, remove some of the items/re-align. Take MRT to hotel if you’re just one or two pax and little adventurous. Else take a Taxi. Be aware of 25% peak hour charge on meter fare.

Arrive at hotel, request for early check-in. If they grant it is great, if not you can leave the bags at locker room and head out to make use of few hours at your disposal before check in time. (Save a day’s rental by not booking for an extra day). Once out, you can try any of the following:

Take MRT to City Hall station- have quick breakfast at Nalan, explore church, raffles building, check out National Gallery & Asian civilization museum- these will take half a day. Back to hotel, check in, refresh.

In the afternoon, visit China Town (be sure to visit Tooth Relic temple) and Little India, visit India Heritage Centre (closes by 4PM weekends, 7/8PM other days), have dinner at The Banana Leaf Apolo
Head to Clarkey Quay, take a walk- try some local food or drink if that interests you, or try a ride in Reverse bungee.

Take a river cruise to The Merlion, spend some time at Merlion, enjoy Marina Bay Sands laser show and check out any stage activities that may be happening at nearby platform.

Back to hotel and Rest for the day.

Day 2 (Indicative- plan to visit USS on a weekday, when crowd will be less. Toggle this with other days if your Day 2 is weekend or public holiday)
Head to Sentosa Island, try Universal Studios Singapore (be sure to reach early before 10 AM, read my post on mistakes to avoid in USS)

Once inside head straight to Transformer, Earth and Cylone rides- Most of the crowd that enters with you will get distracted by various small attractions around and will dissipate. If you can finish 2-3 main rides quickly without much waiting, then you won’t have much to regret even if you have to miss some smaller rides.

Check out Waterworld stunt show (these rides and attractions are subject to change over time, do check the information leaflet give to you with the ticket to figure out what all interests you most. 2 day passes are also available if you want to spend lots of time in Sentosa.

It is also advisable to book a hotel in Sentosa for a night or two- will be a bit expensive compared to rest of city, but will be worth considering you can save some travel, spend more time in Sentosa etc.

Once done with USS, if you have time and interest check out the Merlion in Sentosa, Tiger sky ride, Underwater world or the beaches. Else head to hotel.

Day 3: Have breakfast as early as possible and Head early to Gardens by the bay, check out flower dome and cloud forest

Check out skypark [Check view pics here] on top floor of Marina Bay Sands. You can have lunch at any of the posh restaurants inside MBS if your budget permits, else lunch at any other budget restaurants in downtown area

Try a Ferrari ride if it excites you or try your luck at the casino in the basement (passport is required)

Head to Singapore flyer-if it excites you, else back to hotel

Freshup and head out for Jurong Bird park & then night safari at Singapore Zoo. Free pickup from most hotels usually start at 6 PM for night Safari- you can go early on your own as well.

Back to hotel and Rest

Day 4: If nature interests you, head to Labrador Nature Reserve or Singapore Botanic Gardens or Fort Canning centre garden near Peninsular hotel.
Else head to Suntec city, check out the alive museum, Fountain of Wealth, check out the shops (note the price for comparison later at Mustafa centre or airport)
On the second half you may either go back to Sentosa to check out attractions you couldn’t explore earlier (such as Madam Thussauds, ifly Singapore, joy rides etc. If you are staying in Sentosa you can do this during your stay, alter as per your need)
Try the cable car ride one way to Sentosa.

In the evening Head to Mustafa centre if you are keen on shopping.

Day 5: Plan this day depending on your flight timing. Assuming flight is the evening, you can plan to explore following attractions, if you have not tried already in your four days.

-    Labrador Nature Reserve
-    Botanical Gardens
-    Shopping at the Keepers
-    Alive museum at Suntec Mall
-    Meet some friends/family
-    Singapore Zoo or any other attractions listed above but not visited on Day 1 to Day 4

Also Changi airport itself has attractions to keep you busy for days. Check out Kinetic Rain in T1, Social Tree, Butterfly Garden, Sunflower Garden etc either while arriving or while departing.

Of course this is just a suggestion. Depending on your duration of the trip, preferences of the people in the group, your budget etc feel free to alter.


harshita joshi said...

too informative

Arun Prasadh said...

Nice tips... Will refer it when I plan for sg

Arun Prasadh said...

Nice tips... Will refer it when I plan for sg

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Harshita and Arun

sharath bhat said...

A better way to spend the 2nd half of day 4 in Sentosa would be to do these in addition to what you mentioned:

Go to 4D adventureland. This is a little similar to a few things you might have experienced in USS but it still is exciting. Then go to the Laser show in Sentosa, it is better than the laser show of the Marina Bay sands.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sharath Bhat for additional inputs

shutterbugruts said...

Amazing Itinerary. MY TRIP to Singapore is set now :) Thanks Shri

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I am glad it was useful..Have a nice trip...