By Oluwatosin Ajibade
Singapore is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, and for good reason. This city-state is known for its clean streets, delicious food, and stunning architecture. I recently had the opportunity to spend one week in Singapore, and I wanted to share my experience with all of you.
I developed an interest in exploring the Asian continent after I saw Crazy Rich Asians in 2018. The romantic comedy-drama captivated my attention and fueled my desire to want to visit Asia, specifically Singapore and Japan. So, in December 2019, when I was writing my vision board for 2020, one of my goals was to visit Singapore. My travel plug for this trip is Diamonds and Pearls Travel. I was so certain that I would be stepping into the beautiful terrains of Singapore in 2020, but then Covid-19 came, and I could not even move to a nearby Nigerian state! Thankfully, I eventually fulfilled that dream this year, and I am super excited to share my experience in this article. So, are you ready to read a first-hand review of Singapore? Let go!
Entry into Singapore was easy as long as you meet the requirements. As a Nigerian passport holder, I had the following documents:
- E-visa printed
- ICA form which must be filled two days before your arrival
- Vaccination card
- Yellow card fever
- Hotel documents
- Have a minimum of $1,000 cash
When you have the opportunity to visit a country you have always wanted to visit, you would never want to leave for the airport late. My flight from Lagos to Doha in Qatar was scheduled for 8 am on Monday, and I left for the airport on Sunday night. So, by 8 am, I and other passengers left from Lagos to Qatar on a 8-hour-ish flight. On getting to Doha Airport, our first stop, we waited a few minutes before boarding the next flight to Changi Airport, Singapore, which would be our final destination. I want to state that the package was put together by Diamonds and Pearls Travels. And no, this is not an advert. They did a good job during the entire travel, and you can check them out on Instagram @dandptravels. They handle other packages to beautiful destinations too! Now, back to my story.
TIP: CARRY PEPPER SAUCE ALONG IF YOU LIKE YOUR FOOD SPICY
I arrived at Changi Airport at 9:45 am Singapore time and headed straight to the immigration queue. Luckily, the queue was not packed, so I did not spend a long time – roughly 10 minutes – in the line before I sorted. It was a simple process: when it was my turn to be attended to, I was called forward by the immigration officer, and I followed the instructions given to me regarding the checking of my documents, an d I was done! Afterwards, I walked to the carousel point to pick up my bags and moved to the arrival point after being cleared by customs. And that was where we -other passengers and I- saw our chaperone, Garry, who had been waiting for our group to arrive.
Garry Koh aka Papa is a top travel agent in Sinapore and is used to having Nigerians as guests. While on this trip, we referred to him as Papa – he is funny, witty and sarcastic. I dare say that if you do not appreciate his sense of humour, then you should get checked. One other thing I discovered about Papa on our way to the hotel was that his relatability is very much anchored on the fact that he understood the ‘Nigerian’ language and could relate with us despite the language barrier. He would often tease us in our native language. For instance, he called me his Ololufe, which means “My Love” in Yoruba.
Before Papa took us to the hotel, I went around the airport to take pictures. I must state that Jewel Changi airport is one of the best airports I have seen in my entire life. With its iconic architecture, lush indoor gardens, and one-of-a-kind aesthetic arrangement, I could not help but take multiple pictures of the stunning edifice.
So, I am going to detail how I spent my time at the airport, so readers can get ideas of what to try out when at the airport too:
- First, I was starving, so I had French toast with Tare latte at Pazzion Café, for my breakfast. Simply put, the meal was filling.
2. Next, I went to the sixth floor of the airport to take some scenic pictures.
3. I went to see the water show, which started at 11 am Singapore time. It was such a beautiful experience, viewing it live for the first time. Words would fail me to describe the enthusiasm of the travellers as they beheld the spectacle.
My group was large, so we did not have enough time as everyone had to sort themselves out privately. By noon, Papa took us all to our hotel. The trip from Lagos to Changi airport took 16 hours.
After a fun night on our first day in Singapore, Papa informed us that we would go on a city tour. We left our hotel at around 11 am for a city tour. While we toured around the city, Papa lectured us on some intriguing things about Singapore. For instance, since 2004, no one has sold or purchased chewing gum in Singapore. They do not have any dairy farms or poultry. Also, they have extremely strict rules against corruption. There are no homeless people or beggars on the streets. Parents can sue children for not taking care of them. As a rule, no helicopter is allowed to fly in Singapore because of telecommunication and aviation. There are so many interesting things about Singapore that I want to share, but I will do that in another article.
On Thursday, we drove to Marina Bay Sky Towers. The Marina Bay is a resort that features a three-hotel-tower complex connected by a 340-meter-long sky terrace on the roof. In total, there are 2561 rooms in the complex, and honestly, when our tour guide informed us that we were going to the 56th floor, I could not contain my fear. The entire complex is about 200 meters in height! I noticed during the tour that Singapore invested a lot in constructing tall buildings.
The complex has a 300-meter-long swimming pool that is only open to guests. Yes, you read right. 300 METERS! The resort is designed by Moshe Safdie, an architect, urban planner, educator, and author. Interestingly, he is not even Singaporean. He has Israeli, Canadian, and American citizenship. As of 2010, when it was officially opened, the bay was deemed the world’s most expensive standalone casino property, worth about 6.88 billion U.S. Dollars.
After touring the bay, we headed back to the coach. It was intriguing to learn that eating and drinking in Singapore are not allowed on public transportation. We needed to head back to our hotels. The point was at the entrance of the flower dome and the exit by the gift shop. Then we went to the 7th floor via a lift and walked around. Moshe spent one billion Singaporean Dollars on building the gardens by the bay simply because he believed in the dream of turning Singapore into a garden city. Interestingly, September 1st is the tree planting day in Singapore. Finally, we had dinner at Las Pas Sat, one of the restaurants at the bay. The Las Pas Sat pays 15,000 Singaporean Dollars per month to the environment agency in Singapore. And if they do not pay, they will be locked in for three to six months. This was where I got my Michael Kors bag at USD 500.
Nothing spectacular happened after dinner, so let’s head to Friday!
Friday was for arts! Before visiting six Arts and Science Museums for 39 Singaporean Dollars, we had breakfast at the hotel.
In case you are a lover of arts looking to go to Singapore soon, here are a few places you can go to:
- Arts and science museum: Tickets at this Museum are sold for 15 Singaporean Dollars. You get to experience the future world where the arts meet with science.
- Little India
- China town
- Museum of ice cream – one thing here is that you will love the space and enjoy every stop.
- National Museum of Singapore: You will pay 6 Singaporean dollars to gain entry into the Museum.
If I were asked to detail my experience on Friday briefly, here’s what I would say:
I had a tea experience at TWG tea experience at Marina Bay Sands. Specifically, I had Paris-Singapore tea, Four macarons, and Chocolate profiterole dessert.
We had to stay in the queue for about 45 minutes before we got seated. The experience was amazing. I felt like a young girl in a candy store. The total for this experience was 56.40 Singaporean dollars. Then we moved to the Museum of Ice Cream, where we had the fun of our lives. The transportation fee from Marina Sand bay to the Museum of ice cream was 20 Singaporean dollars with taxi, and the entry fee was 40 SGD. My journey back to the hotel was 36 Singaporean dollars, and our dinner was fried fish fried rice at 7.60 Singaporean dollars and fresh pineapple juice for 3.20 Singaporean dollars.
As usual, we had breakfast at the hotel. Then, we went to Sentosa Island, off the southern coast of Singapore’s main island. It took about 30 minutes from the hotel we stayed at, Ramada hotel, to move to Village Sentosa Hotel, the hotel we lodged in at Sentosa Island.
After enjoying the island’s beauty, I took a monorail to Viva City, one of the biggest malls on Orchard road. After I was done purchasing everything I needed to purchase, I took a monorail back to Imibiah Station and walked back to the hotel. Surprisingly, the monorail is free. Sentosa island has three beaches: Soliso, Palawan, and Tanjong. Tanjong beach is the quietest and has a bar where you can buy drinks for leisure. For food, you can make your purchase at Soliso beach. The beaches cover about 7 km of coastline. So, to move, I had to use the beach shuttle. In general, the island was calm, a true reflection of its name Sentosa, which means tranquility in Malay.
Sunday was the seas! I explored the sea further at Sentosa Island. The cable car on the sea has two lines – Sentosa Line and the Mountain Line. We made a round trip around the Sentosa line, and it was a smooth and amazing experience. Afterwards, we had a boat ride is inside Madam Tussaud and took pictures with the wax statues. We then moved to the Mount Cable line, which had three stops mid-air because of technical issues. Unfortunately, we could not make a trip around, so we walked to the monorail station to stop at the Beach point. We had dinner at Sentosa Grill Fest on arriving at the Beach point. Even as a Nigerian, I enjoyed the Perghi Chicks.
We enjoyed a Sentosa Musical Fountain called the Wings of Time Show to round off the day. It is a Sentosa musical fountain and we headed back to the hotel using the mono rail to rest for the night.
My last day on the amazing visit to Singapore. We had our breakfast at the hotel. We had a flight back to Lagos, which was 2 am. Thankfully, we had enough time to catch up with some last-minute shopping before heading to Changi airport. I grabbed a cab to ION Mall to get some things. This was my third experience at TWG luxury tea shop.
Before leaving Singapore, I had to take myself out for some Sencha Japanese tea. We eventually left the Village Hotel at Sentosa to arrive at the airport for early check-in and get our tax refund for the goods we bought as tourists. Leaving Singapore was easy through customs and immigration, long as you have your documents available for check-in.
We left Changi airport, Singapore, by 2:20 am (their time) for Doha airport, Qatar, and we arrived at 07:15 am Doha time. Also, we had a two-hour stop before departing by 8:00 am Doha to Lagos, and we arrived in Lagos at 14:10 pm.
If you read up to this point, thank you for reading my experience. I hope you have learned a few that can help you during your visit.