My Singapore Travel Essentials | Singapore Day 1: Chinatown, Paya Lebar

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Read my Singapore Day Zero here.

After claiming my luggage from the person in-charge who was not even mad that I left it there hehehe, I looked for a spot where I can seat and continue my sleep. Hindi na din ako maka tulog ng maayos, but I really tried because I know I'll be having a long day ahead.

Saw some empty seats in front of a closed Paris Baguette in Terminal 3, and decided to stay there.


With barely 15 minutes of straight nap, I felt that Changi airport was already busy so I decided to just get up and purchase stuff that I will need for this trip. Hotel check-ins are already 3pm, so I was also trying to pass time at the airport where it's more comfortable. Here's a checklist of my airport errands before finally heading to my hotel.

Singapore Travel Checklist

1. Singapore Dollars (SGD). I prefer withdrawing with my BDO Debit Mastercard in any of the ATM machines inside the airport. I was charged only around Php 188 for this international transaction, and it is less hassle and I think less lugi for me than magpapalit pa sa Pilipinas. 

I withdrew around SGD 200, enough money for my hotel deposit, and spare cash for hawkers or markets, places that do not accept credit cards. For other food and shopping expenses, I just swiped my card throughout my trip.

2. Transportation Reloadable Tap Card. I bought this at the airport nadin, but usually available din sya in convenience stores. At the airport, just go to any of the UOB Currency Exchange Counter.

I actually thought Singapore only has the EZ-Link card, but the one that they sold to me was the Nets Flashpay Card. Same thing lang din sila na stored value cards, with the EZ-Link being government owned, and the NETS Flashpay is from a banking corporation. (Read more about these contactless cards here)

Nets Flashpay Card costed me SGD 12, with the SGD 7 consumable so pwede na. You can add more money to your card in train stations. 

(1) An ad of the NETS reloadable card; (2) You'll also find Changi Recommends booths everywhere at the airport where you can inquire everything about your Singapore trip or airport concerns:

3. Internet. The UOB Currency Exchange Counter where I got my Nets card only sell sim cards for 12 and 50 day duration, cheapest is around Php 1000+ nadin. Duration is too long and cost is expensive for my 4-day trip, so I checked my Klook app on the spot. True enough, Klook offers a 7-day duration Singapore sim for only Php 385. Bought it instantly, and was able to claim it right away. Mas mura talaga sa Klook.

My reloadable transportation card and local sim card:

A problem I encountered in getting a local sim is that I forgot that my new phone is locked to my network. I did not bring any extra phones, and was willing to rent nalang a router but then they will need a credit card naman for deposit of the unit rental. 😖 I really forgot na how to travel, haha!

I decided to just connect to random WiFis heading to my hotel, and my sister suggested that I ask my cousin na I'll be meeting that night if she has an extra phone at home. Buti nalang talaga they kept an old unit, which I was able to use for the whole trip. Inserted the local sim card, and nag hotspot nalang ako so my iPhone will have internet connection.

Traveling from the Airport to your Hotel


1. Taxi

2. Grab - Used this for going home (hotel to airport). Best option if traveling in a group since you can split the fare

3. Bus - Will try this next time. I usually just take the airport bus in Korea and Japan, and usually it is less tiring and still budget-friendly

4. Chartered Transportation - Available via Klook. A bit expensive, but an option for big groups

5. Train / MRT

How I navigate to places: I just used Google Maps app for directions. Complete sya, from time of train or bus arrival, to how many stations away till your stop. If you can't find the train exit, make sure to Google or ask around as each exit is far away pag nagkamali ka ang layo ng lakarin.

Almost empty Changi Airport train station. Make sure to check the timing of the crowd. Google Maps app actually also indicates if a train station is busy or not at the moment!

Since it's my first day, I decided to try out their train. You will only need to transfer once coming from Changi International Airport going to Outram Station, and will take only about an hour and 15 minutes. The train station is also connected to the airport, so no need to go out--makikita mo nalang the signages na "Train to the City". 

I also noticed how convenient Singapore's train system is, with lots of elevators in every station specifically for the elderly, disabled, and those who have strollers or luggages. Mapapa sanaol ka nalang talaga.

Again, I have no internet so when I got off my final station (Outram), I got lost. I tried asking around, but it's still easier when I have Google Maps. I decided to take a taxi from Outram Station to my hotel.

(1) I just have to take the public train coz I missed it! Haha! (2) Then took a taxi from Outram Station to my hotel, fare was expensive because of 1-way roads, but taxi driver was nice and welcoming to me aka the solo tourist.

Things I Asked My Hotel Upon Check-in

1. Where is the nearest ART test center? - RT-PCR and Antigen Tests are not required anymore, but in case you still want to get one like me who went home to 2 seniors and a baby, I realized na super kalat ng clinics sa Singapore there's probably one just a few blocks away from your hotel (no need to travel to big hospitals like Raffles)

2. Nearest train station, and exits?

3. Nearest Convenience Store / Minimart? - For my drinking water supply, midnight snacks, or for when I get too lazy to go out and eat

I stayed in a really nice budget hotel in Chinatown called the Butternut Tree Hotel. Room is small but comfortable, and staff were really nice too. I felt safe as a solo female traveler, and would recommend it to anyone traveling to Singapore on a budget. Read more of my hotel review here

Round the 'Hood

Since I stayed just across of one of Chinatown's popular restos, I decided to have my first meal in Potato Head. According to netizens, this place serves really good vegetarian burgers. 

Food was indeed great, and I just love the resto's homey, artsy interiors, but when my bill arrived--grabe sobrang na-shooketh ako! My lunch costed me about 5 hawker meals na. 😅 Anyway, there goes my first meal in the city! It was a not so gentle reminder of how expensive Singapore is!

After my lunch, and still too early for check-in, I was able to walk around my neighborhood for the next 4 days. I was really amazed with how the Chinatown in Singapore has a Buddhist, Indian, and Muslim Temple! This country truly is a melting pot of cultures.

I also love how colorful and photogenic and clean Singapore is, but super init lang talaga while I was there! Forgot to put on sunblock, and was burnt already when I got back in my hotel. (Make sure to bring a hat, umbrella, and put on your sunblock! Also, hydrate!)

(1) Spotted a Filipino restaurant during my stroll; (2) Suddenly, even spiral staircases are photogenic!

Beautiful wall murals everywhere in the city, not just in Chinatown:

I think I fell asleep at the hotel lobby waiting for 3pm, but hotel staff was nice enough to let me check in 1.5 hours early. Inside my room, I was able to freshen up and then slept till around 4pm. 

I was sooo tired from being in transit since the day before, I fell asleep at our hotel's comfortable and empty lobby:

Paya Lebar

Went out again late in the afternoon to meet-up with my cousin, but before that I also tried to spot tourist areas nadin in her neighborhood Paya Lebar. Without internet, it was so hard for me to navigate huhu!


Here are some places near Paya Lebar MRT Station. It was my first time in this area in Singapore!

-7Eleven Beer Tap  

-PLQ Mall 

-Sweet Hut Cafe (vegetarian resto)

-Peranakan Houses 

-Black Earth Art Museum 

-Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple

From Paya Lebar Station, I made my way to the PLQ Mall. No plans of shopping yet, so I went out again and saw PLQ Park across the street.

Came across the 7Eleven branch that has a beer tap! Sayang I wasn't in the mood to try it out yet. Also saw this cute White Rabbit tin can packaging:

So much walksss! When I got home from this trip, I checked my realme watch for my number of steps per day, and Day 1 has the highest record talaga with 22k ish steps!

By around 6pm, ang swerte naman that I was on the same street where my cousin passed by on her bike coming from an errand. So I shouted her name bago pa sya lumagpas! Sabay na kami nag lakad to her house where I also met her husband and my inaanak, then we had dinner that night in a Muslim hawker place. Food is really good, especially the fried rice! And of course, lots of vegetarian options which I love about traveling in Singapore.

So nice to be with family on the first night of my first international trip in 2+ years!

(1) My cute inaanak Harry, (2) A quick snap of dinner (was too lazy to go blogger-mode on pa haha)

Heading back to my hotel, I passed by the nearest 7Eleven to get bottled water, snacks, and next day's breakfast. Another favorite part of traveling is checking out their convenience stores, noh?

Spot the pinaka tita purchase: A bottle of White Flower. 😆

To be continued...

1 comment

  1. hi, you might want to try purchasing smart go pokefi the device is already yours and you could purchase load through their website. it's also working in lots of countries


Your turn! Always excited to read your comments! :)