Malaysia and Singapore 2015

Travel Diary: Singapore – Malaysia 2015

Late May 2015, I went to Nepal on a temporary assignment for work. I was there for seven weeks and to go back home, I was granted by our boss to book my connecting flight via Malaysia then back to the Philippines. I also had leave days that I could consume so Charles and I decided to meet halfway in Malaysia then travel to Singapore since he hasn’t been there yet.

Malaysia squad inside the car
Malaysia squad inside the car

If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll know that this is my second time to go to Malaysia and Singapore. It just so happens that I have an aunt who lives permanently in Kuala Lumpur (KL) with her husband and two children so our accommodation was free! Now, before coming to Malaysia, I already had our itinerary planned out. I’ve booked a place to stay in Singapore through Airbnb, bought bus tickets from Malaysia to Singapore and back, bought a tour package for the trip to Singapore, and scored tickets for the Petronas Twin Towers.

I don’t want to bore you by writing down all the details about the trip so I just want to share the highlights of it. However, if you’re interested in the itinerary, you can see it below. Details on expenses will be shared at the end of this entry.

Malaysia and Singapore Itinerary
Day Time Place Details
1 12:00 PM Kuala Lumpur Lunch at my aunt’s house and drive to Batu Caves
12:45 PM Batu Caves, Selangor, MY Features a giant statue of a Hindu God, three main caves with temples and shrines, 272 steep steps
1:40 PM Istana Negara, Jalan Istana, MY Former residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Supreme King) of Malaysia and was converted into the Royal Museum
2:00 PM Thean Hou Temple, KL, MY A six-tiered Chinese temple, one of the oldest and largest temple in Southeast Asia, has a modern Buddhist pagoda
3:00 PM Kuala Lumpur Tower, MY 420 meters high and has 6 floors, I’ve never been inside so I can’t give out other details
3:30 PM KL Go back to my aunt’s house
2 8:00 AM Drive to Melaka
10:00 AM Melaka, MY Late breakfast at a Chinese food house
11:00 AM Shopping at Jonker Walk and picture taking at Chee Ancestral Mansion (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Christ Church Melaka, Melaka River, antique train and A Famosa
12:45 PM Late lunch at a mall
2:30 PM Head back to Kuala Lumpur
10:50 PM Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), KL, MY Arrived at the terminal to ride a bus to Singapore
3 1:45 AM Bus left KL to SG; got left by the bus and got lost on the way; details below
11:45 AM Tourist Hub, SG Rode a bus to go to Sentosa
12:30 AM  S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa, SG Lunch at one of the restaurants, sight-seeing for fish in different types of aquariums
4:00 PM Travelled by bus and train to Chinatown
4:50 PM Chinatown, SG Sight-seeing and picture-taking around Chinatown and inside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (wear appropriate clothing)
5:30 PM Rode a train to Little India
5:45 PM Little India, SG Picture-taking at some spots
6:00 PM Rode the train and a bus to go to the Night Safari
7:00 PM Night Safari, SG Long lines everywhere! Features different animals but was too dark to see some of them; Ride a cart or walk around
9:30 PM Dinner at a Chinese stall
10:11 PM Rode a bus, train and a taxi to go to our host (accommodation)
4 9:30 AM Tourist Hub Rode a bus to go to Universal Studios Singapore (USS)
10:30 AM USS Brunch; Rode a LOT of rides: Transformers, Battlestar Galactica (Roller Coaster), Rapids Adventure, Puss in Boots Giant Journey; sight-seeing and picture-taking
6:00 PM Head to the Tourist Hub for the Night Adventure Tour
7:00 PM SG Start of the Tour
7:15 PM Gardens by the Bay Features a garden with towers of plants with a lights display
8:00 PM SG Tour resumed; short stopover at Bugis street
9:30 PM End of tour and went back to the host
5 8:45 AM East Coast, SG Checkout and breakfast at Toast Box;
10:40 AM Bugis Streetm, SG Shopping for souvenirs
12:15 PM Merlion Park, SG Picture taking at the Merlion statue
3:30 PM Little India, SG Waited for the bus to go back to KL
6 10:00 AM Kuala Lumpur, MY Breakfast at my aunt’s house and headed to the Petronas Twin Towers
11:00 AM Petronas Twin Towers, KL, MY Start of the tour; features a twin skyscraper with modern architecture and beautiful view
7 6:30 PM KL, MY Flight back to Manila, Philippines

 

MALAYSIA HIGHLIGHTS

#1 Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou Temple

If you’re a Buddhist or a person who loves temples, you’ll love Thean Hou. You get a really nice view of the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur. There’s also a beautiful garden and cute statues of all the zodiacs. I’m also very fascinated with Buddhism ever since I went to Nepal.

#2 Melaka

This is not a fairytale
This is not a fairytale

I LOVE MELAKA! I kept saying it over and over when we there. Seriously, Melaka has everything! From museums to a fort, good food, great fashion finds and a lot more. I love it mainly because of the selection of clothes. Haha! Typical. Melaka is a gold mine and I was so happy my aunt took me there.

#3 Berjaya Times Square

OHMYG. If you ever want to shop, don’t do it in Singapore, everything is expensive! Do it in Malaysia. Berjaya Times Square is a huge mall full of clothing shops. I think most of these clothes are from Bangkok. Anyway, I wanted to shop for clothes so bad that we had to go back before heading home to the Philippines.

SINGAPORE HIGHLIGHTS

#1 Getting Lost in Singapore

Getting lost in Singapore
Getting lost in Singapore

I’m going to spit it out. We got lost in Singapore. It’s a funny (now that I think about it) but really irritating story. Ugh, I don’t know how I can express my frustration at that time. I wanted the trip to be memorable for Charles because it’s his first time and I’ve planned the entire itinerary so the trip would be hassle free. The story is slightly long so if you’re not interested, you can skip it.

That Bus Ride That Almost Ruined Our Vacation

The heading might be misleading because you can’t possible get lost in Singapore! It’s a very small city with such an efficient transportation system. And I’m not sure if getting left by the bus and not knowing where to go is considered as getting lost but yes, that’s pretty much what happened.

I booked a bus to take us to Singapore. Our bus from KL was supposed to leave around 11:00 PM and it came late. We were able to leave at around 1:00 AM! Going to Singapore from Malaysia, we had to go down from the bus two times at both the immigration exit of Malaysia and immigration entrance of Singapore to have our passports stamped. On the first drop, we found our bus on the parking lot and before driving, the driver muttered something to everyone which we assumed to be a warning that we had to hurry at immigration or else, he will leave without us. We actually left two passengers right then and there. Then on the second drop, to our horror, we couldn’t find that damn bus. I know where the buses park because I’ve been there before. But this time, it wasn’t. Charles and I were there for about 30 minutes to an hour arguing and trying to figure out how we can go to Singapore without SG dollars! Finally, we decided to take one of the buses that go to the city and pleaded the person in charge if we could pay with MY Ringgit instead. Thankfully, she agreed.

Now the problem was that we compromised our morning itinerary. There was also no way to communicate to our host (Airbnb) and on top of that, we did not have SG dollars! Our host expected us to be there around 4:00 AM but we were still at immigration at 8:00 AM! Anyway, because we had so many carry-ons, we decided to go to the apartment we rented so we can leave our stuff then head to the tour agency and catch the rest of the day’s tour. Just when we thought the nightmare was over, we hopped off (from the bus) at the wrong train station. We had to thicken our skins and asked help from the train operators who were extremely accommodating (my family and I also had a similar incident and the operators were heavenly). Charles had a train card that he borrowed from one of his mother’s friends. It still had a little balance in it but apparently, there was a one-card-one-person-only rule. And there was no way for us to get another card because we only had MY Ringgits. There was no money changer in sight, only on the next train station. Fortunately, after pleading, I was able to get on the train without a pass. After a couple of train, bus and taxi rides, at around 10:00 AM, we arrived at the apartment and found no one at the door. We had no choice but to leave and go straight to the tour agency because if we didn’t, we would risk losing the entire three-day tour.

Forced smiles for the camera
Forced smiles for the camera

To make this short, we managed to arrive at the pickup point in the nick of time for the next activity but we lost the chance of getting the first one which was supposed to be at 9:00 AM. We were too late. Still, I was relieved that the first day was not dedicated to Universal Studios or else, it would have been such a bummer.

If you’re ever booking a bus, do NOT book the “Super Nice” one. The bus was three hours late and yet the driver had the freaking guts to leave us! What kind of service is that? We concluded that the driver might have been in a hurry so he could catch his next trip. Still, it was not our fault that there was a long line at immigration and it’s definitely not our fault that the bus was late. Okay, getting carried away here. Moving on…

#2 Universal Studios Singapore (USS)

Enjoying the walk at USS
Enjoying the walk at USS

I’ve noticed that most people want to go to Singapore so they can visit the USS theme park. And yes, despite this trip being my second time, I still truly enjoyed the experience. Charles and I had so much fun making strategies on how we could skip the long lines! Haha. The best ride, so far, was the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster. Oh man was that awesome. I wanted to ride it again but the line was just long that it would be a waste of time to have to wait again. If you’re ever going there, wear comfortable clothes and even bring extras if you plan on riding the Rapids Adventure.

#3 Gardens by the Bay

That beautiful display at the Gardens by the Bay
That beautiful display at the Gardens by the Bay

I hate to be sappy but this was the most romantic part of the trip. A lights display with music was showcased and both Charles and I found a spot where we could lie down and just look at how the towers would change colors. My mom wanted to go there but for some reason, we didn’t. The story behind the garden was amazing. You can read more about it here.

#4 Transportation System

Waiting for the train to arrive
Waiting for the train to arrive

I was not able to take any photo of myself in the train or the bus (because that would just be too touristy) but I just have to say that Singapore’s transportation system is top-notch. It is so organized, the vehicles are safe and clean, the traffic is well-regulated and the staff are extremely helpful and accommodating. They have a Singapore Tourist Pass (STP) which is a card that would allow you to ride any public bus and train in Singapore. I highly recommend that you get it. You can ask the people who man the train stations about this and I’m sure they will help you out.

BUDGET

Now, onto the money part of the trip. I would suggest that you prepare around Php30,000.00. This should cover all expenses for the plane, accommodation, tour, transportation and food both in Malaysia and Singapore. This amount is actually a bloated estimate because we did not have to spend for accommodation in Malaysia since my aunt has a house there. You’ll understand better if you read the summary below. If you want to shop, you’ll have to prepare a bit more cash. I know some people could actually get away with incurring lesser expenses. You’ll just have to find what works best for you (itinerary, sights to see, etc.). I would also suggest looking into Airbnb. Trust me, you’ll save a lot of money on even better places than hotels.

Summary of major expenses
Amount Details
Php9,748.12 Roundtrip flight from Tacloban to Malaysia
Php3,400.73 Accommodation at SG for two days via Airbnb (click here to get Php942 off of your payable)
Php1,452.44 Roundtrip bus (MY-SG-MY)
Php1,008.85 Entrance fee to Petronas Twin Towers
Php5,533.94 Customizable tour package good for three days in SG via City Tours
Php668.84 STP for unlimited travel on Singapore’s public bus and train services (WORTH IT)
Php21,812.92 TOTAL per person

I’ll leave you with a couple more photos of the trip. I hope this post was informative and entertaining. Ciao for now!

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