Manage Singapore trip on your own without a package

Many of us prefer to go for a tour package, for the convenience it offers. Exact itinerary is pre-defined, someone will come and pick you up from hotel lobby, show you around and drop you back at the hotel. So convenient, but is it really fun? If you ask me, a big NO. While having everything prepaid and pre-arranged is convenient, it won’t let you explore the city first hand, package tours cost a bit more than exploring a city on your own and in some cases- like while visiting Singapore, not really necessary.

This post will help you explore Singapore on your own without having to buy a package tour. Singapore is a small country, with excellent public transport, metro system and almost everyone speaks and understands English. Thus there’s no language problem, no long distance commute needed.  You can easily manage on your own.
Things to keep in mind while planning your Singapore trip:
A. Select a hotel close to metro station. Most important step. Check the map and ensure that there’s a metro station within walking distance (1km or less) from your hotel. This will give lots of flexibility- from Changi airport you can take metro to reach hotel, from hotel you can reach any part of town/tourist attraction in metro, for less than 10% of what it costs in a taxi. For example, you can select Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s most iconic hotel which is accessible through Bayfront station or Pan Pacific Singapore,  which can be accessed through esplanade metro (CC3) or Promenade metro (CC4) on the circle line. Stay is generally expensive in Singapore- you might be able to save some money by making use of various offers that may be available on websites like ClearTrip from time to time. Avoid booking a hotel across Malaysia border and having to enter Singapore by road each day- this wastes lots of time and money in travel and border formalities.
B. Download relevant apps: While google maps is fairly adequate, you might want to download more city specific apps for better navigation and day planning. City mapper is a good alternative. These can be used to determine how to reach any part of Singapore from your hotel, including where to change, which direction to walk etc.

C. Plan your day in an optimal way: A typical tour package involves visiting city’s most popular spots (like the Merlion which can be visited anytime) in day time even though day time is best spent elsewhere and visit to souvenir shops selected by the operator, having to wait for your fellow passengers to arrive (seat in coach option), limited time at each attraction and other drawbacks. When you’re on your own, you can spend as much time as you please, won’t have to wait for everyone else and can optimize your itinerary by making full use of early morning and late evening hours. There’re many attractions really worth visiting in Singapore, not on mainstream tourist radar- for example, Fort Canning centre or Labrador Nature Reserve. You can visit these less popular attractions instead of few other attractions which might be heavily crowded, over hyped and may not really be worth it (Example Night Safari). Many tourist attractions allow online ticket purchase that saves time at the counter and gets you some discount too. You can refer my earlier post on Singapore 5Day/4 night optimized itinerary to plan your days.

You can buy unlimited ride passes for MRT to save money. Available at select stations and costs about 40 SGD for a 3 day pass.

Here’s why you should explore Singapore on your own or in other words the advantages/benefits of NOT buying an all-inclusive package for your Singapore trip
1. Save 5% GST upfront. Package tours attract 5% GST in India when you book them. This is on top of taxes already factored for individual services (like flight, hotel, car booking etc all have their own tax components already included in the package price, just because someone  bundles them and presents to you, you’ve to now pay another 5% more on total amount
2. High Flexibility: When you visit Singapore, weather may play spoilsport, or your priorities may change or you may find some other attraction/activity more interesting. Having a locked itinerary won’t give you flexibility.
3. Feel the local pulse: When you travel in buses and metro you get to experience the feel of local life. You try to check for directions, where to change trains, how to use various facilities in public transportation and so on. This won’t be possible when you’re seated inside a minivan and taken around.
4. Save on transportation cost: Public transportation on any day is cheaper than a cab, minivan or other modes of tourist transportation. By using public transportation to the max, you will be saving at least a few thousand rupees during your trip.

Happy touring Singapore

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