I am home now from our 8-day trip to Singapore and Melaka, and catching up with work at home. It was a fun week — it was my first international flight and the first time my siblings, my husband and I went on a trip together. How did it go? It was fun with a lot of walks. I joked that the Singapore trip will cripple me. Hahaha. Our trip was not budget travelling nor was it a luxury trip. It was what I call an affordable trip. So, I’m going to share our expenses, planning, and itinerary, some tips and tricks we did to save few pesos (and SG dollars and ringgits), and a few lessons learned from the trip.
|Terminal fee + Travel tax||P2,390.00|
|Cable car, 8 rides||P908.00|
|Gardens by the Bay tram||P105.00|
|SG-Melaka bus, round trip||P1,750.00|
|Melaka 1 night||P533.00|
|Starhub sim card||P357.00|
We bought our SilkAir plane tickets in April 2016, which was five months before the flight date. Our cousin advised us to use Skyscanner and I was so thankful I heeded her advise. The cheapest we found was with Silkair (Singapore Airline’s regional carrier) priced at US$180.12 per person/round trip Cebu-Singapore. At the time we booked the ticket the conversion to pesos was P8,440.
Airport Taxes + Terminal Fees: P2,390
Well, Philippines. We paid P2,390 at the Mactan International Airport for P1640 travel tax and P750 for terminal fee. The lady in the counter asked us if we are OFWs because if we are we are exempted from paying the travel tax. My sister said she was an OFW and she had her OEC number, but, unfortunately, she was not exempted from paying the travel tax because the OFW must be traveling to his or her work destination, not to a tour destination.
I wanted to book ahead our bus tickets to and from Melaka because I read many TripAdvisor reviews that the bus from Melaka to Singapore are almost always full because of the connecting trip from Kuala Lumpur. There are many online booking websites for bus tickets but I decided to use Redbus.sg because I saw that the website offered a 20% discount of the tickets. The original price of our tickets were SG$25 (SG-Melaka) and SG20 (Melaka-SG) = SG45. It was reduced to SG36 (P1,750) because of the discount. The bus we rode to and from Melaka was Starmart Express. I booked my 2 cousins tickets later than ours and only 1 week before our departure, and true enough, there were no more Starmart Express tickets from Melaka in the Redbus.sg website. I booked their Melaka-SG bus tickets through another booking web site.
Our other transportation expenses were the daily commuting we did to sites. We mostly walked, but Pasir Rise, where we stayed with our cousin was far from the Singapore center so we had to take a bus + train or taxi. We saved in our four Uber rides in Singapore because I used the free SG$10 off for first time users of the app.
We initially decided to book tickets for Universal Studios at the encouragement of our cousin who has an annual pass, but we decided against it because of the more than P2,000 ticket and because I do not like rides. We just decided to book cable car rides and I used Klook.com to book ahead our tickets. I paid US$18.675 each or Php908 at the time because I used the website’s mobile booking code. Our other expense for sightseeing was the SG$3 we paid for the tram ride at Gardens by the Bay.
I also pre-booked our Melaka accommodation for fear of not getting a good night sleep after a four-hour bus trip. In the end, I decided to book a family room at Layang-Layang Guesthouse, which is located at the street next to Jonkers Street, via AirBnB. We did not pay for accommodation in Singapore because our cousin graciously let us stay in her apartment.
My biggest expense was on food. We ate in restaurants, at our cousin’s community hawker center, 7-11s, fastfood, street food, cafes, bakeries, at the airport — anywhere! Most of our breakfast we made at our cousin’s apartment but we ate a lot of snacks and full meals all the time every day. We ate really well. My total food expense in Singapore was P10,100.90, which translated to P1,262 per day or P315.50 for three meals, coffee, and a snack.
Connectivity, I realized, was important in Singapore — it is a first-world, super modern country after all. While I could live with printed maps and asking around in the Philippines, Google Maps, Uber, MRT and SBS apps are helpful in Singapore. It was not difficult getting connected. We just bought a Starhub sim card at the nearest 7-11 store for SG15 (Php510, half with my husband) and used it with my Samsung phone, which was the only open-line phone we had. We had to wait five minutes while the cashier registered the number. I used SG7 for 7 days of 1G data plan in Singapore and SG$5 for 1G data pack in Melaka (but, unfortunately, this didn’t work I don’t know why). When in Singapore (and in other countries), bring an open-line smart phone and power bank to be connected. BUT… it is not necessary. You can always just travel the traditional way and I am sure it will not be more difficult than not being connected with the Internet all the time.
Good to note: My original post included my shopping expense in Singapore, which totaled P7,670. You can totally reduce or increase this amount substantially. Since I think shopping is not really a necessary expense when traveling (and even in real life), I would omit this in my future budget and planning posts, but I would still give you an idea of how much this amount can go in a specific country. My shopping finds included stuff from Ikea, and lots of coffee and kaya, toiletries, a history book at The Changi Museum, and a batik wallet.
|Day 1||Ikea Tampines||2:00|
|Day 2||Cable Car + Sentosa + Mt. Faber||7:00|
|Day 3||Melaka sightseeing||7:00|
|Day 4||Melaka river walk||1:30|
|Day 5||Chinatown + Merlion Park + Makansutra + Clark Quay||10:00|
|Day 6||Changi Expo for shopping||4:00|
|Day 7||The Changi Museum + Orchard and ION Sky + Gardens by the Bay||8:00|
|Day 8||Changi Airport + flight||1:00|
Many will say Singapore is an expensive city, at least expensive to us, Filipinos, because of the peso-SGD exchange rate. But Singapore is a beautiful city and there are many things you can do for free. In fact, many of the known tourist spots are free — Merlion Park, Clark Quay, Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa, Henderson Waves — and you can check them out in one day because they are either of walking distance to each other or can easily be reached by Singapore’s very efficient bus and train system. There are also non-touristy places, such as The Changi Museum and the ION Sky, that are free.
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