THE SOLO DRIFTER: Losing Myself in Singapore (A Travel Guide)

Malaysia tour was tiring, but worth it! Now, Singapore is next stop of my third #SEAtour, plus our five-day Asia-Pacific train-the-trainers training! It took us around five hours to get to Beach Road, Singapore from TBS Kuala Lumpur via bus. Ticket price ranges SGD30. There is no time difference between Singapore and the Philippines, but the sun sets later in Singapore. Yes, it’s around 7 p.m.!

Philippine passport holders are granted visa-free entry to Singapore for 30 days.

Stayed in Orchard Hotel Singapore for five days. It features robots like the Egg-xecutive Chef Ausca and AuRA (Automated Room Service Associate). It has narrow rooms due to its condo-style design. Well, I expected that most hotels in Singapore have this kind of style because space is scarce in the country. I was also expecting different sets of breakfast buffet everyday like what other four/five-star hotels around the world offer, but no. I didn’t experience it. But the good thing is, the hotel is located in the Orchard Road. The Orchard Road district, which contains multi-storey shopping centres and hotels, can be considered the center of shopping and tourism in Singapore.

On a weekend, spent the last day in Singapore at Chris Home Stay, near MRT Kallang Station. Chris has warm accommodation. I hope to stay there again when I get a chance to go back to Singapore.

What you need to know about Singapore

  1. Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British East India Company
  2. Classified as an Alpha+ global city, indicating its influence on the global economy. Singapore is the only country in Asia with an AAA sovereign rating from all major rating agencies, and one of 11 worldwide.
  3. Was ranked the most expensive city to live in from 2013 to date by the Economist.
  4. As of 2019, Singaporean citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 countries and territories, ranking the Singaporean passport 1st in the world, tied with Japan.
  5. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the only tropical garden in the world to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  6. Singapura, which was in turn derived from Sanskrit (सिंहपुर, IAST: Siṃhapura; siṃha meaning “lion”, and pura meaning “town” or “city”)
  7. Also referred to as the Garden City for its tree-lined streets and greening efforts since independence
  8. Temperatures usually range from 25 to 35 °C (77 to 95 °F)
  9. The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Technology Report placed Singapore as the most “Tech-Ready Nation”
  10. Information and communications technologies is one of the pillars of Singapore’s economic success. However, Singapore’s mass communications networks, including television and phone networks, have long been operated by the government. Internet in Singapore is provided by state owned Singtel.
  11. Car prices are generally significantly higher in Singapore than in other English-speaking countries.
  12. As with most Commonwealth countries, vehicles on the road and people walking on the streets keep to the left.

Getting Around Singapore

Aside from a rail network, Singapore has a network of buses using analytics technology. Personally, I’d like to take the Singapore buses more often. They are one of the most convenient and accessible modes of public transport in Singapore. Some buses offer transfers from MRT stations and bus interchanges to surrounding housing estates and industrial areas. Midnight buses also operate from midnight to 2 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and eves of public holidays. Buses are wheelchair accessible.

There are more than 130 stations across five MRT and 40 stations across two LRT lines in Singapore. Operating hours start at 5:30 a.m. to around midnight daily.

You may use your stored value card such as EZ-link or NETS Flashpay when riding bus and MRT/LRT. These can be purchased  at any TransitLink Ticket Office or MRT Station, and 7-Eleven stores. These can be topped up at the ticketing machines, stations, ATMs, 7-Eleven stores, and SingPost outlets.

To find the best way to get your destination and calculate fares and travel times, I encourage you to download MyTransport for handy information on train operating times, station exits, public bus services and bus arrival times.

Places to visit

I must not forget to thank my college friend, Matet, for touring around some parts of Singapore.

Shopping Centres

There are a lot of shopping centres in Singapore. ION Orchard Mall, Paragon Shopping Centre, and VivoCity are some of the remarkable places due to their design and architecture.

Merlion Park

When you think of Singapore, I know, the spot you want when you shoot your souvenir photo – it’s the Merlion Park. Merlion is a statue of a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Enjoy it with the view of Marina Bay with the iconic Marina Bay Sands and the glittering Esplanade Theatres.

Marina Bay Sands

The Marina Bay Sands complex houses a hotel, an upscale mall with indoor canals, two theaters, lots of fancy restaurants and the world’s largest atrium casino. On top of the building you can find a large infinity pool. Spectra, a light and water show, reflects Singapore’s journey to becoming the cosmopolitan city of today. It can be viewed from the Merlion Park. The show starts at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. everyday, with a 10 p.m. show on Fridays and Saturdays.

Gardens by the Bay

See the day light and music show Garden Rhapsody at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. when the Supertrees come alive in a spectacular colorful light show. Ticket price for the Gardens is free, while for Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Dome is SGD28, OCBC Skyway is SGD8.

National Museum of Singapore

The oldest museum seeks to inspire with stories of Singapore and the world. The Museum includes the Singapore History Gallery and different exhibits.

Bugis Street

The street was renowned internationally from the 1950s to the 1980s for its nightly gathering of transvestites and transsexuals, a phenomenon that made it one of Singapore’s most notable destinations for foreign visitors during that period. Today, the lane presently touted as “Bugis Street” is now billed the largest street-shopping location in Singapore.

Little India

Little India is another neighborhood that should be on your list. Walk around in the small lanes in between and take in the smells, sounds, and the bustling and vibrant atmosphere. Buy low priced internationally branded products at Mustafa Centre.


Singapore’s Chinatown boasts multi-religious buildings and structures. The Chinatown Heritage Centre is located here. This museum tells the story of Chinatown’s colorful and chaotic history. Two famous temples also sit here – the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Thian Hock Keng Temple.

What to do

Watch Wings of Time

A fitting end to your day is Sentosa’s spectacular show about friendship and courage. Be wowed by spellbinding laser, fire, and water effects set to a majestic soundtrack, complete wit a jaw dropping firework display. Wings of Time is a 20-minute show everyday, 7:40 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. Ticket price starts at SGD10.

Visit Sentosa via Singapore Cable Car

Took Singapore Cable Car on the way to iFly. Enjoyed the scenic view of the Resorts World and Universal Studios through Sentosa. The first cableway system in Singapore, links Sentosa Island and Mount Faber.

Experience the thrill of skydiving

I’ve got my wings and mastered the art of bodyflight with iFly Singapore! Attended the introductory class and flew in the tunnel. A first of its kind in the world being a themed indoor skydiving facility, iFly is one of the world’s largest wind tunnels. Package of P3,400 includes pre-flight demo, safety training, complimentary rental of flight suit and safety equipment, two skydives, and a flight certificate. Also got my practice and actual flight video in an iFly flashdrive in a separate package. Flyers are required to check in one hour prior to the flight time, which needs to be scheduled and confirmed with the reception.

Luge ride and Skyride

Known as Asia’s Favorite Playground, Skyline Luge Sentosa brings the unique, wheeled, gravity ride from New Zealand. Took a two-way Luge/Skyride combo. The helmet has infrared so the cameras installed on the way out can capture you so I got mine!

What and where to eat

You will never forget to get a taste of Singapore as food places are all around the corner. For example, you will see a lot of Chinese restaurants in malls, cold-pressed juices in all places. Ice cream sandwich with the flavor of durian is also a must try.

Aside from Chinese restaurants, Korean’s samgyupsal is also known in Singapore. It also has Japanese restaurants offering authentic Japanese cuisine like Washoku Singapore, near KPMG Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is known for its artificial intelligence technology.   

I tried the famous Toast Box where I ordered iced teh melaka and its best seller laksa, a spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup.

What not to bring and what not to do

Singapore is known for its strict regulations and laws in place to maintain peace and order. Here are some of prohibited acts/things:

  1. Non-medical chewing gum
  2. Recreational fireworks/firecrackers
  3. eCigarettes
  4. Public nudity both in public spaces and private residential premises
  5. Owning or trading exotic animals
  6. Gathering in groups of more than three people after 10 p.m. in a public space
  7. Purchasing alcohol after 10:30 p.m.
  8. Jaywalking
  9. Spitting in public
  10. Smoking outside of designated areas
  11. No food or drinks on public transportation

Singapore Changi International Airport

The world’s best airport is like a hotel in an airport or maybe an airport in a hotel or a mall in an airport because the Changi International Airport is really more than an airport. You just don’t shop and dine at Changi, you take moments because it’s Instagrammable. The Jewel alone has attractions like the canopy bridge, art installations, butterfly garden, and cactus garden. And you meet a lot of robots! The self-service kiosks will help you print your boarding pass and check in your baggage.

Singapore is really a different experience but I lost myself, looking for a world of a natural feel, with people connecting with each other personally and helping each other.

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About the Author

Paul Michael Jaramillo
Paul Michael JaramilloChief Executive Editor
PJ is a CPA, writer, storyteller, environment and youth advocate. As a writer, his articles on national development were published in a Spanish newspaper and local news network Rappler. As a storyteller and environment advocate, his documentary films on mining and environment were featured by ABS-CBN News and GMA News. He launched his career as a CPA at KPMG in the Philippines in late 2015. He started his professional journey as an external auditor of a global workspace provider (the largest audit client of KPMG in the Philippines), global bank, leading MFCG in the Philippines and a number of shared service centres. As an auditor, his team won the KPMG Asia-Pacific Data & Analytics Challenge and coached the Philippine team that placed third to the KPMG GlobalRunner Cup. More than two years later, he led KPMG in the Philippines’ Network of Audit Innovators and Data & Analytics Champions and its academic arm, while serving as a member of the KPMG Asia-Pacific Audit Digital Transformation Workstream. He served as a member of the Audit Methodology Group and Root Cause Analysis Team of KPMG in the Philippines. He was a regular training facilitator of KPMG on audit methodology, innovation, data and analytics, professional standards and regulatory updates. He also served as a coach for newly promoted supervisors. PJ was also the Firm’s System of Quality Management Implementation Manager and a Workforce of the Future Champion. He was also a Sampling Specialist of the Firm. In 2019, PJ was a member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)’s Technical Working Group on Audit Methodology. PJ led in developing some of the innovative solutions of KPMG in the Philippines. Above all, PJ is a people investor. He invests on people who have potential and talents. That makes him a coach and mentor to some young professionals in the profession and served as a People Committee member of KPMG in the Philippines. He leads advocacy projects that help communities. He produces vlogs thru his YouTube channel, PJspirations which features stories of different individuals. As a volunteer, he is the Academic Master and Head Coach of PREMIER International Learning and Development Center, which provides coaching, mentoring, training and learning programs and platforms that promote growth and development in every individual’s life and career. He is also with the Middle East and Caspian regions of KPMG as a member of its Professional Practice group and Audit L&D for the Saudi Levant Cluster, providing subject matter knowledge and guidance on audit methodology, and learning and development programs to its offices. He is a proud Ilocano and a graduate of Northwestern University.

He also conducts #IamRemarkable sessions, a program initiated by Google for women and underrepresented groups.