My friend, what was the most expensive vacation you have ever had? Though we allot more than enough money for vacation, we still want to save since we still need to spend for the upcoming holidays and have enough fund for any emergencies.  Spending for vacation SHOULD ONLY BE just a portion of our savings.

Among the countries in Southeast Asia, Singapore is one of the most expensive countries/cities to be in.  But in my recent trip there, I was surprised that I spent less compared to what I planned for.

Is it possible to at least minimize spendings if you go to Singapore and still have a fun and memorable trip?  ABSOLUTELY!  Again, I did it DIY-style.  Aside from waiting for airline ticket sale, here are some of the tips I can give you so you can save on your future Singapore getaway:

ACCOMODATION – stay in dormitories, hostels or inns

Hotels in Singapore are notorious to be very expensive especially those located at the city center.  So once you book your flight, immediately scout for a place to stay in.  Establishments provide discounts especially if you book with them months ahead of your planned vacation.  Discounts can also be availed even if you opt to book via booking websites like Agoda, Hotels.com or booking.com for as long as you book with them in advance.  Choose a place that is not in the center of the city but rather those that are still accessible to transportations and near key areas.

Dormitories are the cheapest option for your place to stay in.  But if you want to have privacy, choose a hostel or inn instead.  Just don’t expect too much on them.  Some do not have any windows on their rooms, some have no free breakfast, may offer free hot and cold drinks instead and may only offer shared toilet and bath.  The most important thing is, the place is near any MRT station or bus stop for accessibility and the rooms are clean for hygienic purposes.  As for safety, Singapore is one of the safest country with low crime rate.

My experience at Superb Hostel in Bugis

Superb Hostel

I got to know about this place via booking.com but I did not book there. Instead, I looked for their website and exchange emails with them. Even if I sent a message during wee hours of the morning, they will immediately reply to you. As in just a few minutes after you sent it!

During check-in, their officer named Ronnie always have a welcoming smile and even make suggestions on the best places to go to. In providing directions on how to go to different attractions, Ronnie will also provide you a map to show you how to go to those places.

The room we have was very basic and small. Not bad for a discounted rate of SGD 70 per night. It has a small TV with only local channels in it, a double deck bed with pillows, bed sheet and blanket, air conditioner and smoke detector. It does not even have a window! Anyway, we don’t even mind since we spent most of our time outside.

Superb Hostel is just a 3-minute walk from Bugis MRT station and Victoria Street Bus terminal, near hospital, convenience store, malls, Mosque (if you’re a Muslim), Catholic Church (if you’re a Catholic), and bus going Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Very ideal if you also plan to go to Legoland in Malaysia like I do.

Superb Hostel Map

This is part one of my Singapore On A Budget blog post.  For more information about Superb Hostel, please visit their website at http://www.superbhostel.com/.

This is a post adapted from https://tinakits.wordpress.com/tag/superb-hostel/ who wrote a blog post mentioning her travel in Singapore while she stayed in Superb Hostel. Thanks Tinakits! 

1. National Museum of Singapore

The National Museum of Singapore embarked on the journey to its birth in 1887, which is no surprise why it is the oldest museum in Singapore. The National Museum uses a cutting edge approach, which both the Singapore History and Living Galleries have adopted, in presenting historical and cultural Singapore.

It offers a chain of dynamic festivals, events and exhibitions right through the year. The list includes art installations, performances, film screenings, artifact displays, and psychedelic night festivals.

National Museum Ticket Prices and Opening Hours

Singapore History Gallery
10am to 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm)

Singapore Living Galleries
10am to 8pm daily (last admission 7.30pm), free admission from 6pm to 8pm daily.

Singapore National Museum Ticket Prices
Adult ticket S$10, Child ticket S$5(under 18 years), Student(with valid student pass) and Senior(tourist 60 years and above) ticket S$5. Free admission for child(6 years and under) and Senior(Singaporean or Permanent Resident 60 years and above).

Free Guided Tours

1. Tour of the Museum
Every second and last weekend of the month at 2.30pm

2. Singapore History Gallery Tour
Every Mondays to Fridays at 11am and 2pm and every Saturdays and Sundays at 11.30am, 2pm and 3.3opm.

2. Chilli Crab

The words Chilli Crab may not always follow after Singapore the same way the term Beijing Duck always comes in a pair, but this dish is without a doubt part of authentic Singaporean Food. While locals in Beijing will beckon for you to try their roasted duck, Singaporeans here will enthusiastically cry for you to try out their locally endorsed Chilli Crab.

For those who have heard of this dish but aren’t too sure what all the hype is about, let me explain why food junkies go gaga over this odd looking shell creature. The preparation process that goes into the cooking of Chili Crab is a long and tedious one. Ask any chef familiar with this, and he’ll tell you that a good recipe alone will not do the trick. Skill and experience play a bigger role when it comes to whipping up the perfect dish. That’s why visitors to Singapore, should try it right where its true origin lies.

A Brief History of Chili Crab

Chili Crab is perhaps one of Singapore’s most popular culinary pride and joy. Dating all the way back to 1950, this dish was created by renowned Singapore chef, Madam Cher Yam Tian and her husband, Lim Choon Ngee. They were running a seafood stall, later known as Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant, along the seashore in the old days. Chilli Crab is one of their specialty. It was only after much experimentation, trials and countless errors that they finally managed to derive at the chili crab we are now able to enjoy.

Despite all that talk about how difficult it is to prepare a deliciously good plate of Chili Crab, some of you may still be unconvinced about the goodness of this dish. But that’s only because I am yet to start on the mouth-watering gravy that plays the quintessential star of this dish.
Don’t be fooled by its name nor by its bright red appearance – Chili Crabs taste nothing near the spiciness of chili. In fact, though it may be slightly tingling on the tongue, it is hardly as spicy as it sounds. The gravy is semi-thick, savory with a tinge of sweetness, and made with a base of chili and tomato sauce. Other ingredients that go into its gravy are chopped garlic, corn flour, chopped onion, rice vinegar, beaten eggs, soy sauce etc.

Recommended Restaurants

For locals or foodies
For a meal that is truly worth the price you pay, here are some recommendations on where you’ll find Chili Crab to die for. One place you’ll never go wrong is the famous row of seafood restaurants along East Coast Park or East Coast Seafood Centre. There you’ll find No Signboard Seafood (Tel: 64489959), Long Beach Seafood Restaurant (Tel: 64483636), Jumbo Seafood (Tel: 64423435) and Red House Seafood Restaurant (Tel: 64423112). All of which are of known for their high standard seafood dishes and amazing star-gazing dining ambience.

For tourists

However, these seafood restaurants are way out of the tourist area. The following restaurants are located along the Singapore River:

1. Jumbo Seafood (near Boat Quay and Clarke Quay), view Jumbo Seafood recommended dishes.
• #B1-48, The Riverwalk, 20 Upper Cicular Road, Tel: 65343435
• 30 Merchant Road, #01-01/02, Riverside Point, Tel: 65323435

2. No Signboard Seafood (at Esplanade, Theatres by the Bay)
• #01-14/16 The Esplanade, 8 Raffles Ave, Tel: 63369959
• #03-02 VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, Tel: 63769959

3. Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant (near Merlion Park)
• #01-08, One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road, Tel: 64230040

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, make sure you arrive early or make reservations before arriving – these Chilli Crabs are hot on the market!

3. Clarke Quay, A Nightspot for Food, Entertainment and Chill Out

Clarke Quay

A Brief History of Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay was named after Sir Andrew Clarke, the second Governor of Singapore and governor of the Straits Settlements.

During the 19th century, this place was bustling with trade activity as bum boats swamped theSingapore River, travelling up and down the waters carrying goods and produce ready to be stored in the row of warehouses along Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. In the late 20th century, the government relocated all activity to Pasir Panjang, and transformed the area into an entertainment and dining district.

GX5 Extreme Swing
Apart from food, it has a lot more in store for visitors. The latest recreational addition is the GX5 Extreme Swing. This exhilarating thrill ride is not for the faint hearted. If travelling 60m high at the speed of 220kph doesn’t scare you, then you might like to put this bungee rocket to the test for an experience you will never forget.

If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of street performances in the form of buskers during certain weekends.

Where to Enjoy a Good Meal

If you are there for the food however, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Few recommended restaurants for a good meal would be Bayang(Tel: 65-63370144) for authentic Indonesian Cuisine, Peony Jade Restaurant(Tel: 65-63380305) for traditional Cantonese cuisine with a modern twist, and Restaurant Madame Butterfly(Tel: 65-65576266), which is a very oriental themed dining restaurant offering Chinese food that is served like the French and prepared like the Italians – a must try!

Where to Chill Out

For those who are just looking for a cozy place to chill, give Crazy Elephant(Tel: 65-63377859) a try! This bar is small but full of life with their nightly live stage performances. An alternative would be Brewerkz(Tel: 65-64387438), a microbrewery, sports bar and restaurant all in one. They have a pool table, tv entertainment, dartboards, and screenings of English soccer matches every Saturday night. While you’re at that, order their specialty micro brewed beers to complete your experience!

For those feeling restless, don’t fret. Clubbing is another popular reason why many love to visit Clarke Quay. Two familiar names frequently associated with its spunky nightlife are that of Attica and The Pump Room.

Attica(Tel: 65-63339973) is a club famous for the onslaught of celebrities and models pouring through their doors. Most of the clientele housed here hold the title of VIP, always dressed up to look gorgeous and glamourous. Not surprisingly, the interior of this club is equally charismatic, with a lustrous bedroom setting of golden flowing curtains, comfy couches and sensual chrome lighting.

The Pump Room(Tel: 65-63342628) on the other hand is quite the contrary. The concept of this night club is shown through their innovative dining and entertainment features, catering to working professionals around the area.

What distinguishes it from the other clubs of Clarke Quay is the chic and sophistication of its ambience. The live band plays a great mix of jazz, pop and alternative rock that makes this place simply perfect for a relaxing chill out session.

If you are one that enjoys contemporary Australian cuisine and freshly brewed beers, you’ll definitely find The Pump Room to be irresistibly appealing. The extensive selections of main courses on the menu, plus their in-house microbrewery are enough reasons for a visit. Be sure to try out their signature Indian Pale Ale or Wheat Ale for an intoxicating treat!

*Adapted from http://www.singapore-vacation-attractions.com/singapore-attractions.html

Why you should stay in a Hostel?

1. Trying New Things

Staying in a hostel is a great way to experience new things that you are either unable or unwilling to try at home. A lot of new experiences are going to present themselves to you, it’s your job to take them. When else will you be in a room with 10 strangers each with something new to bring to the table.

2. Meeting New People

We meet new people when we first started school, remember way back when? Now you’re a bit older, a bit wiser, and you’re going out on your own. In a hostel, it really is impossible not to meet someone new and different no matter how introverted you might be. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. It’ll help you figure out what you like and don’t like, as well as encourage you to try things that were previously to your disliking

3. New Cultures

When staying in a hostel there are new cultures to sample, from the people you meet to the locale you’re staying in. Aside from it being really important to know a bit from other cultures, you’ll never have the opportunity to sample the true culture of a small, remote town untainted by any mainstream variant. Experiences like that are priceless.

4. New Perspective

This is one of the most important benefits you could get from anything you do. In a hostel you’ll meet new and unique and different individuals, hopefully some of whom are vastly different from you. To see a stark contrast from yourself really helps you to grow personally and socially.

5. More Independent

As you’re leaving the nest, you may be thinking “I’m an adult. I know what I’m doing.” However, no matter how much you may hate to admit it you still rely on your parents for a number of things. Once you go outside, that all changes. You are now responsible for yourself entirely for things like money, time management, necessities, etc. Living in a hostel will teach you to be more successfully independent as well as introduce you to your second family. Each of the other hosteliers and yourself will rely on each other a little bit. You’ll have something they need, they’ll have something you need. You’ll naturally end up relying on them a little, kind of like your family.

6. Less Self Centered/More Mature
Meeting people that are different than you really helps with this. As much as we all don’t want to admit it, we’re all pretty sheltered before we leave our own corners of the world. We tend to think people should do things the way we do them, expecting a little bit of help on a lot of things. As with being more independent, staying in a hostel helps you to grow up and gives you a bigger perspective. You become less and less entitled and more willing to see things from others’ points of view.

7. Freedom
The greatest gift a hostel can give you, freedom. There’s really nothing quite like being out on your own, being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Staying in a hostel does just that for you. If you want to party all night and get up at 3pm, that’s ok. If you want to experiment (leaving that one ambiguous lots of experimenting to be had) go for it. Meeting unique strangers, trying weird ethnic food, hiking 3 miles in the jungle for that rare sight, getting blitzed at the end of the night and then getting up in the morning and doing it all over again is exactly the reason you stay in a hostel. So go out and enjoy your freedom!

8. Rates
Hostels are cheaper than Hotels or Bed & Breakfasts. You will save money and you will be able to afford a longer stay, excursions, outings or visits to other towns.

9. Promotions and Discounts
Many hostels offer special conditions if you stay for longer. Sometimes they have partnerships with local bars, cinemas, discos or restaurants.

10. Location
There are Hostels in the main neighborhoods of any kind of travel destination with easy access to the points of interest.
Please don’t misunderstand. Hotels and B&B’s or apartments have their value to. During my travels I usually mix it a little bit, depending on the place, how much time I will spend at the same location or how much money has left in my travel budget.

 

Adapted from Gomio 

When you’re traveling on a budget, hostels are an excellent choice of accommodation. Along with being affordable, they’re often more social and experiential than hotels, with common areas, group activities and shared or private living spaces. Not all hostels are created equal.
You need to understand what a hostel is and what to look for before you book.

What is a Hostel?
If you’ve never stayed at a hostel, you probably have some questions about them. Many people are confused by common hostel myths or the horror movie, Hostel.

Picture a college dorm. You’ll have roommates and will share spaces like the bathroom, kitchen and common room. Instead of isolating you from other guests, hostels are a great place to meet people.

Fun fact: Hostels started as student housing, although they are no longer just for students

Adapted from Gomio 

1. The Cat Café (241B Victoria Street, Singapore 188030 Singapore)
2. Bugis Junction (200 Victoria St, Singapore 188021 Singapore)
3. Freeing SG Pte Ltd (201 Victoria Street, Singapore 188067 Singapore)
4. Xcape Singapore (Bugis Village, 160A Rochor Road, Singapore 188587 Singapore)
5. Kuan yin Thong Hood Cho Temple (178 Waterloo St., Singapore 187964 Singapore)
6. Parkview Square (600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778 Singapore)
7. Henderson Waves (Southern Ridges, Singapore Singapore)
8. Haji Lane (Haji Lane, Singapore 189244)
9. Bar Stories (57A Haji Lane Kampong Glam Shophouse, Singapore 189250 )
10. The Lab SG (1 Jalan Pisang #01-01 Singapore 199069)
11. The Artistry (17 Jalan Pinang, Singapore 199149)
12. Arab Street (Arab Street, Kampong Glam, Singapore Singapore)
13. Sungei Road Thieves Market (Sungei Rd, Singapore 208785 Singapore)
14. Singapore Philatelic Museum (23B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 Singapore)
15. Bugis Street (3 New Bugis St, Singapore 188867)

1. Get a CEPAS/EZ-LINK Card
Many travellers make the mistake of not purchasing Singapore’s excellent transportation card when they first arrive. Instead, they pay for each bus and train journey which quickly adds up.

An EZ-Link card costs S$15 and includes S$10 worth of credit. You can purchase and add credit to cards at MRT train stations and minimarts. Having an EZ-Link card will also save you a lot of time waiting in queues at ticket machines in MRT stations.

The EZ-Link card can be used on the LRT, MRT (trains), and excellent public buses. By using an EZ-Link card, you pay only for the distance travelled, rather than a flat fare like everyone else — just don’t forget to tap your card on the reader as you exit the bus!

2. Don’t Buy the Singapore Tourist Pass
The Singapore Tourist Pass is similar to the EZ-Link card, however, it allows for unlimited rides during a one, two, or three-day stay. The Tourist Passes aren’t cheap: A one-day pass costs around S$18 which includes a refund for returning the card. You would need to take four or five rides on the MRT per day to just break even!

Unless you really get a thrill out of riding trains around the city, chances are that you’ll spend a lot of your pass time walking around the sights and less on the train.

3. Drink the Water
Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, the tap water in Singapore is safe to drink. This is good news, as a bottle of water can cost around S$2 at minimarts! Buy a small bottle of water, and then refill it for free.

4. Eat in Food Halls
Singapore is blessed with some of the best food courts, food halls, and hawker stalls found anywhere in Asia. A notch above the street food typically found in places such as Thailand, a delicious meal can be enjoyed for between S$4 — S$6 in food halls. You can eat for under S$3 if you don’t mind Chinese noodles and noodle soups.

The food courts found in posh malls and at the bottoms of nearly every skyscraper are priced slightly higher than standalone food centres. Check out the sprawling food centre in Chinatown, or the cheap-yet-delightful Lau Pa Sat food centre near the Raffles MRT stop.

5. Don’t Drink or Smoke
Thanks to excessive taxation, vices come with a heavy price in Singapore. A pack of Marlboro cigarettes runs around S$12, and drinking is terribly expensive even by US or European standards. Entry into nightclubs can be up to S$30 which includes one watery drink.

If you still crave a socializing atmosphere, opt to buy drinks from the 7-11 located at the end of Clarke Quay, then hang out around the water. Just look for the pedestrian bridge covered with people lounging around.

6. Enjoy the Parks
Although Singapore appears to be mostly concrete, the city is blessed with an excellent park matrix which spiders through the city. The parks and skyline views can be enjoyed for free, and a complex interconnecting system links parks to each other via a skywalk.

7. Take Advantage of Freebies
Savvy travellers can find art displays, public performances, and street performers along the riverfront, esplanade, and city centre — particularly on weekends.

Entrance to museums in Singapore is expensive, however, several days or evenings a month the entrance fee is waved for special exhibitions. Check at the counter and inside of free attractions magazines for promotion dates.

If you cannot time your visit for open museum days, consider purchasing the three-day pass which allows you unlimited museum visits for S$20.

8. Only Shop in the Right Places
Singapore has more shopping malls than you could explore in months. Even ultra-modern Changi Airport is practically one big mall which happens to have the occasional airplane land or take off.

Many of these malls are ridiculously expensive. Instead, do your souvenir and incidental shopping in cheap shops around Chinatown and Little India.

Purchase your snacks, drinks, and toiletries from the big supermarkets located under many of the big malls rather than in minimarts. VivoMart beneath VivoCity — the largest mall in Singapore — regularly has food and drink specials.

9. Make a New Friend
Accommodation in Singapore is expensive. A bunk bed in a crowded hostel dorm costs around S$20; a night in a modest hotel may require you to give blood. Couch surfing with one of the many expats living in Singapore is a great way to sleep for free, and also gives you a local’s insight into how to enjoy Singapore on a budget.

10. Don’t Get Busted
Locals joke that Singapore is a “fine” city — which obviously comes with two meanings. Although you rarely see police officers around the city, rest assured that many people do get fined here for seemingly innocuous activities; the fine-payment kiosks dotted around are a sure indication.

Although you would have to get very unlucky, avoid paying fines by being aware of the following:
• The number one reason to get fined in Singapore is for not using marked crosswalks.
• Seatbelts are required when in a car; the driver cannot use a mobile phone while moving.
• Riding a bike on pedestrian-only paths such as around the river is forbidden.
• Chewing gum, snacks, and drinks are not permitted on the MRT trains or public transportation.