Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SINGAPORE DAY 6 (SENTOSA)

We deposited our baggage at Festive Hotel, before we began touring Sentosa.

A day in Sentosa is not enough to go visit it's multitude of attractions.  There were really just so many to choose from.  


We decided to buy the Sentosa 1 Day Pass online via the Sentosa website and hoped we can get the most out of the ticket cost by visiting as much attractions as we can.

The Sentosa 1 Day Pass allows you one time access 20 attractions.






Our Sentosa itinerary:

  • 10am - Trick Eye Museum. My boys love this one and we had so much fun posing and interacting with the exhibits.  
  • 12am - Lunch at Malaysian Food Street. Located right next to the Trick Eye Museum. It is actually a food court. There are plenty of food options with prices not far from the ones outside Sentosa.
We took the Sentosa Express from Waterfront Station to reach the Imbiah Station for the next agenda.
  • 1pm - Images of Singapore Live (IOSL).  Entering IOSL was like being transported back to Singapore's history.  Unlike regular exhibits, IOSL employs actors playing parts in Singapore's historic past.  It was very entertaining and highly recommended.  It is just unfortunate, cameras were not allowed inside.
  • 2pm - Madame Tussaud Wax Museum. Right next to the IOSL is the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum.  We have been to the Madame Tussaud in HK, SG's was not very different, save for a boat ride which unfortunately was under maintenance when we visited.  If you have been to any of the other Madame Tussaud Museums, you may give this one a skip.  
  • 330pm - 4D AdventureLand (Journey 2, Desperados, Extreme Log Ride and Green Lantern).  If you are running short of time, you can just do the Journey 2 and skip the rest of the shows.   
  • 430pm- Skyline Luge Sentosa. This was the most fun, which also happens to have the longest queue.  Going down the slope was exciting, though the boys enjoyed going up better.   
Went back to Festive Hotel via the Sentosa Express to freshen up.
  • 730pm - Dinner at Ruyi at the Forum
We again took the Sentosa Express from the Water Front Station and alighted at the Beach Station. 
  • 840pm - Wings of Time is a wonderful and unique show. Unfortunately for us it started raining and we weren't able to finish it (Note: Wings of Time is an open air seating.  If weather is bad, please bring ponchos and umbrella).
What we have missed, which were part of the Day Pass Package (the boys were too tired):
  • Tiger Sky Tower -  It was supposedly part of my planned itinerary, but the boys were not up to it.  The ride up, will give you a 360 degrees view of the Sentosa Island.  A sunset ride would have been splendid.
  • Fort Siloso - I figured the boys will be too tired to roam around.
  • Port of Lost World -  We have been to Legoland Waterpark previously and there is a pool at Festive, so a miss to another waterpark attraction is forgivable.  

TIPS:
  • To Get or Not to Get a Tour Package? 
    • Suggest you decide first what attractions you want to see.  There are numerous travel agencies offering combo tickets for discounted prices. We decided to get ours from Sentosa online for convenience sake.
    • Do the math and compute if you would be able to maximize the day pass/package cost. 
    • Note as well that doing more than 4 attractions might mean rushing through the activities. 
  • Entrance to Sentosa via taxi is free if you are booked in any of Sentosa Hotels.  Just present an SMS or a print out copy of your hotel booking.
  • Upon check-in request for a Sentosa Express pass.  This would allow you to enter and leave Sentosa without having to pay for Sentosa Express tickets.
  • Singapore weather is fairly predictable.  It rains almost daily in the afternoon, although this only lasts for 1-2 hours.  December has the most downpour.  Do not let the weather eat out your vacation so come prepared for anything. 
    • wear comfortable shoes, which is okay to get wet.
    • bring umbrella to shield
    • bring ponchos (light/plastic raincoats)
    • face towel
DAY 6 - Simply amazing! 


Check out the rest of our Singapore-Malaysia escapade here:

Day 1 - Singapore City
Day 2 and 3 - LEGOLAND Malaysia
Day 4 - Jurong Bird Park and Science Center
Day 5 - Singapore Zoo (with breakfast with the Orangutans)
Day 6 - Sentosa Island
Day 7 - Universal Studio Singapore 
Day 8 - SEA Aquarium and Vivo City



Monday, December 29, 2014

Museums - We Love!

We love museums,  I was reading through my blog and realized that we have a lot of museum posts to date:

PHILIPPINES

SINGAPORE
  • Madame Tussaud
  • Science Center Museum
  • Trick Eye Museum

HONGKONG
 

SINGAPORE DAY 5 (Singapore Zoo)

Warning:  This place is huge.  It is so expansive, a day is not enough to get the most out of Singapore Zoo.



Note: If zoos are in your itinerary, I suggest getting park hopper tickets online via the Singapore Zoo website for purchase discounts. We saved the confirmation vouchers on our phone, which we used to enter the zoo.  The ticket came with unlimited tram ride.

  • 8am -We left the hotel early via taxi (SGD25) for the 9am Breakfast with the Orangutans at Ah Meng Restaurant (Note: If you intend to avail of the Breakfast with the Orangutan, please reserve online. Payments are made direct at the restaurant prior to seating). 
  • 9am - Arrived at the Singapore Zoo and hurried to Ah Meng.  (Note: It is still about 2-3 minutes walk from the main entrance, so please come early to avoid rushing).

We skipped lunch and instead had ice cream at Ben and Jerry's.

  • 4pm - Left the zoo and went back to base to rest our tired feet.
  • 6pm - Pizza Hut, Lucky Plaza for Christmas Dinner. Lucky Plaza is short 5-8 minutes walk from our hotel. 
  • 7pm - The boys retired early and left me at Lucky Plaza for last minute "pasalubong" shopping.  Our Day 6 to 8 will be at Sentosa and I doubt I would be able to get my shopping done from there.
Good buys at Lucky Plaza:
  • nail cutter key chains - 6 pcs for SGD10
  • t-shirt - from SGD12 per piece (very good material)
  • paper fan - 3pcs for SGD10
  • assorted pens - 3 sets (5 per set) for SGD10
  • chocolates (Chocolates are surprisingly cheap here at Lucky Plaza. No they are not fake.). 
For Giordano items, the deals were best at the airport.  They have buy 1, take 1 promo, while we were there.



Missed due to traffic and difficulty of getting transfers:
  • China Town was part of the original itinerary, but I had to drop due to difficulty in getting a taxi. We would have taken a bus or the MRT, but we did not get EZlink pass as we didn't consider MRT or public bus transportation (Maxwell Hawker Center, Buddah Tooth Relic, Sri Mariammam Temple, China Town Heritage Center). 

Promise to self:  
China Town will be part of my next visit to Singapore!
  




SINGAPORE DAY 4 (Jurong Bird Park and Science Center with side trip to the Transformers Exhibit)

Singapore has numerous zoo parks that vies for the title best zoo in Asia, if not of the world.  Their zoos mimic the animals original environment, that somehow creates an impression of freedom.  I was glad we had this in our itinerary. 

  • 730am - Breakfast at the Carousel Restaurant, Royal Plaza on Scotts.
  • 830am - Left for Jurong Bird Park via taxi (SGD30)
  • 9am - Arrive at the Jurong Bird Park
  • 12nn - Lunch at Birds at Play, Jurong Bird Park. Food was surprisingly very good and tasty. 
  • 130pm - Left the zoo via a limousine taxi (SGD20). This was more expensive, but realized after that the difference was merely SGD3-4. It was very nice and the ride was so smooth.
  • 2pm - Arrived at the Science Center. It is just a short distance away Jurong Bird Park. 
The Science Center is huge complex that houses numerous exhibits.  My boys love museums and if we have more time, we could easily spend an entire day touring this center.

  • 430pm - Transferred to the Transformers' Exhibit. We just had to see the biggest touring Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime models.
  • 6pm - Left the Science Center
  • 630pm - Back to base to freshen up, before dinner
  • 8pm - Hainanese Delight at Far East Plaza along Scotts Road (across Royal Plaza Hotel).  Delicious Hainanese chicken and very affordable as well.  Our entire meal costs less than SGD20.
Day 4 is Tiring.

More attraction packed days ahead!



Check out the rest of our Singapore-Malaysia escapade here:

Day 1 - Singapore City
Day 2 and 3 - LEGOLAND Malaysia
Day 4 - Jurong Bird Park and Science Center
Day 5 - Singapore Zoo (with breakfast with the Orangutans)
Day 6 - Sentosa Island
Day 7 - Universal Studio Singapore 
Day 8 - SEA Aquarium and Vivo City



 


SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA DAY 2 & 3 (LEGOLAND)

My boys are Lego fanatics.  LEGOLAND Malaysia, which is located at Johor Bahru, which is about 1 hour travel by land from Singapore was an obvious must in our itinerary. 

Although Legoland is just an hour away from Singapore, clearing immigration and  the volume of travelers going to and fro Singapore and Malaysia can be a nightmare at times, which can easily add another hour or so to your travel time.

We have 3 travel options in getting to Malaysia from Singapore: public SG-MY cab, bus or private transfers.  Again we opted for convenience and booked a door-to-door transfer from Singapore to Malaysia and back.




DAY 2 (LEGOLAND PARK)

Our Day 2 starts with an early check-out from Royal Plaza on Scotts (RPoS). We deposited our luggage and brought only our Malaysia bags (Note: I packed a separate bag for Malaysia, so we do not have to bring everything back and forth).

  • 7am - Check-out at RPoS. Check out was a breeze. Before leaving I informed reception that we would be returning late the following day and requested for same room configuration (separate beds).
  • Breakfast was at Starbucks, Pacific Plaza located near RPoS.
  • 8am - SGMY Transfers pick up arrived and left Singapore soon after.  Travel was fast, but immigration was a bummer.  It took us about an hour to clear immigrations.
  • 10am - Arrived at Legoland Malaysia.  Deposited our bags at Legoland Hotel and claimed our park tickets.  We availed of 2 days Legoland Park and Water Park combo tickets, which allowed unlimited entry to both parks for 2 days.
  • 1030am - Legoland Park invasion begins.
  • 4pm - Went back to the hotel to rest our tired feet.
  • 6pm - Dinner at Secret Recipe, Medini Mall located right next to Legoland Hotel.
  • 7pm - Return to Legoland Park for the Christmas Tree lighting.


For details of our LEGOLAND Park Adventure, please click here:  Legoland Malaysia (Dream coome true for Lego fans - for children and kid's at heart)




DAY 3 (LEGOLAND WATER PARK)
  • 7am - Breakfast at The Bricks came free with our package.
  • 8am - Packed our bags for travel back to Singapore (pick-up at 530pm).  One good thing about private transfers is you get to choose the time of pick up.  We were able to fully enjoy and make the most of our Legoland trip, without the hassle or fear of missing our transportation).
  • 9am - Check-out from Legoland Hotel.
  • 930am - Enter Legoland Park (Note:  Hotel guests are allowed 30 minutes earlier entry to the park).    
  • 10am - Entered the Legoland Water Park. We got ourselves a Cabana (MYR280) for some privacy and a place to relax.  Included in the cabana rental are: 4 bottled water, 2 soda cans, 2 juice bottles, wifi access and 2 huge Legoland towels.  The  cabana also has 2 lounge chairs, 2 lounge beds, a safety deposit box, an electric fan and a mini-refrigerator to store your drinks.  There is also a roving resort staff to take-in food orders in case you get hungry.
  • 330pm - Left the water park, much to my youngest son's dismay.  He really enjoyed the water park more than the theme park.  
  • 4pm - Ate our Dinner at The Market Restaurant, Legoland Park.
  • 5pm - Last minute Lego shopping before returning to the hotel to retrieve our deposited luggage.
  • 6pm - Bye-bye Legoland, with a promise to the boys that we will be returning.
  • 8pm - Arrived in Singapore and Check-in at RPoS. 


Days 2 and 3 - SUCCESS!

Check out the rest of our Singapore-Malaysia journey here:
Day 1 - Singapore City
Day 2 and 3 - LEGOLAND Malaysia
Day 4 - Jurong Bird Park and Science Center
Day 5 - Singapore Zoo (with breakfast with the Orangutans)
Day 6 - Sentosa Island
Day 7 - Universal Studio Singapore 
Day 8 - SEA Aquarium and Vivo City



SINGAPORE DAY 1 (Singapore Flyer, DUCKtour and Gardens by the Bay)

We had an early first day kick off in Singapore.
  • 6am - flight out Manila via PAL.  My husband and I had 3 options in going to the airport: park and fly, rent an airport transfer or ask a friend to bring us to the airport.  For safety reasons we opted for park and fly (will write a detailed review on this later).

PAL left Manila on time and we arrived in Singapore 3 hours and 40 minutes after.
  • 10am - Arrived at Changi airport Singapore. It took us less than an hour to clear immigration and collect our baggage; Bought Singtel's Hi! SIM Card at Changi Recommends outlets.
  •  
  • 1030am - Left Changi via taxi (SGD25) and arrived at Royal Plaza on Scotts (RPoS), Orchard 20 minutes later. 
  •  
  • 11am - It was real nice of RPoS to accommodate our request for an early check-in. We were able to freshen up before heading to our next agenda.
Note:  I bought the Singapore Flyer, DUCKtour and Gardens by the Bay tickets through Asia Travel.  You can get these tickets cheaper at travel and tour agencies at Lucky Plaza in Orchard, but again we opted for convenience.  I do not want to drop by Lucky Plaza to pick up the tickets.


SG Flyer and DUCKtours are located in the same building.


  • 12nn -  Singapore Flyer and Journey of Dreams. We exchanged the Asia Travel e-mail vouchers at the Singapore Flyer Counter, Guest Services Lounge 1st Level (Note: In Singapore, floors starts at Level 1 and not Ground Floor).   

  • 1230pm- Lunch at Popeye's located at Level 1, Singapore Flyer  Building.  I wanted a fast and safe first day lunch for the kiddos and ended up with a Family Chicken meal package (less than SGD25 for a full meal with drinks and desserts for 4).

  • 130pm  - The Original Singapore DUCKtours. We exchanged our vouchers at the Singapore DUCKtours Counter. The tour lasted for about 1 hour and included land and  water tours.  We were able to see and get good pictures of the major Singapore structures such as Esplanade, Merlion,  SkyPark and Art Science Museum, saved the tired feet. 

This is a good way to see Singapore without tiring the kiddos. (Note: Remember to call in for tour reservations.  I called in from Manila 3 days before the actual tour.  I saw guests turned down since they were not able to reserve slots even with travel vouchers.)  


We left SG Flyer via taxi (SGD8) for Gardens by the Bay (GB).  Singaporeans would tell you GB is a short walk from the Flyer, but it was really quite a long walk from SG flyer. You would have to cross a hi-way bridge under the scorching heat.     
  • 3pm - Gardens by the Bay (GB). The e-mail vouchers were exchanged for tickets at the Friends of Gardens by the Bay Office (It is a separate counter and is located across the main ticketing counter). Our package included entrance to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Touring both domes took us about 3+ hours.


Missed due to time constraints:
  • SG Flyer: Singapore Food Trail (This was our first choice for lunch.  The center is located right next to the DUCKtour boarding center).
  • GB: Outdoor Garden Tour (We figured, we would have enough garden inside the air-conditioned dome, so we gave this one a skip), Super Trees and Far East Organization Children's Garden and Playground (The boys were pretty tired and exhausted from visiting the domes and the playground was a skip as well).


We left GB via taxi (SGD20) around 6pm.  We headed straight to the hotel with hubby ordering take out (in SG the term they use is take away) at KFC (which luckily has branch located right across our hotel).


First day accomplished! 

Check out the rest of our Singapore-Malaysia escapade here:

Day 1 - Singapore City
Day 2 and 3 - LEGOLAND Malaysia
Day 4 - Jurong Bird Park and Science Center
Day 5 - Singapore Zoo (with breakfast with the Orangutans)
Day 6 - Sentosa Island
Day 7 - Universal Studio Singapore 
Day 8 - SEA Aquarium and Vivo City

SINGAPORE - MALAYSIA Itinerary and Tips (8D/7N)

Singapore never runs out of things to do for everyone. This particular itinerary was tailor fitted for families travelling with young children (mine are ages 6 and 10).

The plan was 1 day Singapore City tour, then an overnight at LEGOLAND Malaysia, before returning again to Singapore to finish the remaining days of our vacation.

Our mode of transportation in Singapore is via taxi, which proved to be more convenient and faster for a family of 4.  Travel by taxi was a bit expensive, but it saved us some walking time and energy to enjoy the attractions more.  Remember we were travelling with children and the attractions are NOT really right next to the MRT.  It would take another 8-10 minutes of walking .  Under Singapore's humid weather - walking is an absolute punishment to the young kiddos. 

Here is our 8D/7N itinerary (will add links and details as I finish writing them).

Day 1 - Singapore City
Day 2 and 3 - LEGOLAND Malaysia
Day 4 - Jurong Bird Park and Science Center
Day 5 - Singapore Zoo (with breakfast with the Orangutans)
Day 6 - Sentosa Island
Day 7 - Universal Studio Singapore 
Day 8 - SEA Aquarium and Vivo City

I tried to pack in as much attractions as I could, but with children in tow, too much is impossible.  So instead, I tried to be realistic. 

General TIPS:
  1. Plan ahead.  My rule of thumb is at least 6 months preparation. The earlier you book your air travel and hotels the more you save. 
  2. Travel light.  Pack light cotton clothes with the same color hues for easier matching.  Make a list of things to bring (with your passport, money and travel vouchers on the top of the list).
  3. Plan your itinerary. There are so many things to do in Singapore.  With limited time, you would have to learn to prioritize which ones you really like.  Group attractions near each other.
  4. Buying SGD. We got ours from our main bank.  You would be unable to buy SGD unless you have a bank account. If that would be a problem, you would be happy to know that you can easily exchange your Philippine Pesos to Singaporean Dollar at the Changi Airport.
  5. Budget. Budget all depends on where you stay and what you intend to do.  Cost is slightly more along Orchard Road and mostly tripled inside parks and  resorts. Our budget for 4 pax is: 
    • Food - breakfast at SGD20-30; lunch and dinner at SGD 40-50 each.
    • Taxi transfers depending on where you are going. From Orchard taxi fare is about SGD15-25 (including peak surcharges) from most tourist attractions.
  6. Download helpful smart phone applications. 
    • Trip Advisor Singapore
    • Exchange Rates - XE Currency application allows you to convert for multiple currencies at the same time.
    • My Sentosa Plan your Stay  - was helpful in planning and deciding which attractions to visit, but was a poor navigation guide. 
    • Offline Maps. I downloaded some, but found the free maps at Changi more useful.
  7. Buying data plan to stay in touch with your family in Manila.  We bought Singtels SGD50, with free 5GB data. My phone was on wi-fi hotspot status which enabled data share with my family.  
  8. Must bring.
    • good quality selfie-stick
    • 3 prong British Standard outlet
    • extra battery pack
    • light jacket
    • umbrella (in Singapore it is either raining or the scorching sun is out)
    • face towel (bring a handheld fan if you have one)
    • be sure your have comfortable shoes. Singapore is the walking capital of Asia! 
    • also bring: plenty of water (water in Singapore is potable, you can buy a bottled water and refill to save on money) and tissue (hawker centers charge extra for tissues).