(Below is an exciting travel guide during a Singapore layover. They say Singapore is the best country to have a layover!)
Among Southeast Asian countries, I would say that going to Myanmar and Laos could be the most expensive for Filipinos, basically because we have no direct flights from any airport in the Philippines going to these destinations. In which case, you need to have a layover in cities like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok. For my Myanmar trip, I was able to score an airline promotion with a Singapore layover (I only paid $299 for my round trip ticket, which was not bad! Hey, you’re flying with one of the best airlines in the world!).
For my Laos trip on the other hand, I booked a flight via Bangkok thru a third party booking site (it was my first time not booking directly through an airline website and I’ll tell you more about it later). So yes, the absence of direct flights from the Philippines alone can already cost you a fortune. Buuuuut, on the upside, the daily expenses are so cheap in these two countries!
Arrival: Singapore Layover
I took a flight for my Singapore layover and arrived at nighttime. My flight to Yangon will be around lunchtime the next day, so I have the night and the morning to quickly go around Singapore.
Check out Changi Airport’s Instagram page and see what else you can do in this very beautiful airport.
Singapore Layover Tip: A Food Trip at Lau Pa Sat
First stop, dinner! I had dinner with some friends at Lau Pa Sat (if you’ve READ Crazy Rich Asians, you would know that this was the hawker centre Kevin Kwan mentioned, but the movie did it at Newton Hawker Centre). I would not miss eating my favorite Southeast Asian food: sate (satay).
Singapore Layover Accommodation: The Claremont Hotel Singapore
Next agenda: Rest! I tried my best to rush to my hotel as early as I could so that I can have enough rest to wake up before sunrise so that I could go around Little India peacefully. I searched for hotels near Little India Singapore, and yes, I booked my accommodation at this area despite so many people discouraging me to do so (on my succeeding trips, I still stayed at hotels near Little India Singapore and I’m never gonna regret it.). I want to take advantage of this short layover to observe how people there go about their days, and I have been very obsessed with the Indian culture, to be honest.
I booked my accommodation at the Claremont Hotel Singapore. Not that I’m not recommending it, but basically, the Claremont Hotel Singapore is in a very nice location among hotels near Little India Singapore albeit being an old hotel. I must say the hospitality people I’ve met in Little India area are very nice and warm. In my next trips to Singapore, I thought of booking at the Claremont Hotel Singapore again, but I decided to give other hotels near Little India Singapore a try.
Below is a photo of the Claremont Hotel Singapore that I borrowed from agoda.com (you may click the photo to book).
The Claremont Hotel Singapore has both pros and cons. Perhaps we could talk about the cons over email (or DM me anytime on Instagram!)? As for the pros, aside from the good location of the Claremont Hotel Singapore being one of the hotels near Little India Singapore area, I enjoyed the basic but complete complimentary breakfast here. It wasn’t the best breakfast in the world (definitely not 5-star-ish), but their choices of meals are very healthy. See, this is why I love Indian food!
So, I guess I could say if you are looking for hotels near Little India Singapore, you could consider the Claremont Hotel Singapore?
Other Hotels Near Little India Singapore
If you are considering other hotels near Little India Singapore, allow me to give you a list of these AGODA PREFERRED hotels near Little India Singapore (you may click on them to book):
Little India Singapore Hotels: Hotel 165
Little India Singapore Hotels: Tai Hoe Hotel
Little India Singapore Hotels: Sandpiper Hotel
Little India Singapore Hotels: RedDoorz Plus @ Little India
Little India Singapore Hotels: Meriton Hotel
Little India Singapore Hotels: One Farrer Hotel
Little India Singapore Hotels: Citadines Rochor Singapore
Little India Singapore Hotels: Park Hotel Farrer Park
Little India Singapore Hotels: Aqueen Heritage Hotel Little India
Little India Singapore Hotels: Hilton Garden Singapore Serangoon
Little India Singapore Hotels: RedDoorz Premium @ Serangoon
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Singapore Layover Tip: Stroll Around Little India
As promised, I woke up before sunrise, walked around, and took photos. Thankfully, the location of the Claremont Hotel Singapore is right in the middle of usual tourist spots in Little India. I was also able to exchange currency at Mustafa Center which was near the Claremont Hotel Singapore. Since the hotel breakfast was not yet ready when I left, I just planned to go back after an hour or two of exploring the area.
After having my breakfast, I packed my bags and checked out at my hotel. Btw, another reason for staying in Little India is the foooood! I love Indian food so much! Since I still have a few hours left before my flight, I thought of going somewhere mandatory: the Merlion Park. 😀
Singapore Layover Tip: Visit Merlion Park
I took the train going to Merlion Park bringing my very heavy backpack. When I was a little younger (which was not so long ago, hey!), I vowed to develop some discipline in packing light for trips which was also geared towards saving some money on check-in baggage. Two idiot moments here: (1) I forgot that my flight includes a check-in baggage, and (2) I forgot to bring another smaller bag to separate my carry-on stuff and stuff I could check-in inside my big backpack, so I just carried my backpack all the way. It was painful in the back, guys. 🙁 My bag contains 7 days worth of stuff.
I went to the Merlion Park and there’s just so many people and it’s just so hot (it was March when I went there)! I don’t even know why I went there. I could just have visited a museum or something. People are all over snapping photos of them trying to ‘drink’ water from the Merlion Statue (I remember a Singaporean friend who works at a corporate office near the Merlion Park told me that everytime he goes out of his building for lunch, people with their mouths open by the park was his everyday view hahaha). I was able to manage to take a few photos and left as fast as I could to go to the airport.
Okay, so THE fiasco…
I met with two classmates at the airport because we were taking the same flight to Yangon. Since the check-in staff in Manila already checked me in to Yangon before I flew out of Manila, I do not need to check-in at Singapore. Before going to the boarding gate, one of my companions asked if we could stop by the restroom first. I don’t need a restroom break so I just waited for her outside together with our other companion.
While my companion and I were busy talking about random things outside the restroom, we did not know 15 minutes have already passed and our other companion hasn’t showed up yet, considering we’re just by the entrance of the restroom. We started to (1) worry about her, and (2) worry about missing our flight.
I went inside the restroom to check up on her, but there was no sign of her. Why did she leave us there? I mean, what kind of person in her right mind does that?? I told my other companion to just proceed to the boarding gate, and IT WAS ALREADY PAST THE BOARDING TIME so we had to literally run (with my heavy backpack, remember? huhu). As we were approaching the security check area, the staff have been informing via her walkie talkie that the two passengers (which was us. Sorry!) have finally shown up.
As my backpack was being scanned, they rolled it back and forth three times inside the machine. I have no clue what was happening, and then one of the staff started opening my bag. What on earth was happening? She found my sunblock and took it. (Man, I never had the chance to check if it’s more than 100mL but it made its way through NAIA (Manila), so I was wondering why. 🙁 Then she started rummaging through my other stuff.
She started opening the case of my sunglasses and other stuff inside my bag before she cleared us. The plane was supposed to fly by the time we reached the airplane door. We were panting from all the running and panic attacks, and you could just imagine how the other passengers looked at us with their judging eyes. At that point, I want to cry.
Have you ever wondered where on earth was my other classmate who went to the restroom the whole time? She was sitting on the plane with her headphones and her sunglasses on, as if she did not really care about us being left by the plane. I was really upset and frustrated, thank goodness the flight was only around a quarter full, so instead of sitting next to her, I sat at the seat farthest from her.
Arrival at Yangon, Myanmar
We arrived safely in Yangon, but totally delayed. And no, she did not apologize at all. I was the one who apologized to her instead. I apologized to the flight crew also before deplaning.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not placing the blame on my classmate on this incident, but I learned so much from this. Since this incident, I always go to the airport literally 5 hours before my flight, be responsible about checking all my stuff if they qualify for carry-ons (even if it’s less than 100mL, you can still never be sure). I was really proud of myself for keeping my cool (and not crying!) the whole time during this stressful situation.
This was 2016, by the way, and I’ve grown into a more responsible traveler by now. Things like this (or worse) could happen to anyone at anytime, but what always, always matters is how we react to the situation.
I like it that the airport staff were strict for good reasons. I like it that the flight was supposed to take off on time. I like it that the airline waited for us even though it’s completely my/our fault. This is why I love Singapore and I keep on coming back to Singapore. Whenever going to other cities, I would still prefer a Singapore layover.
On a bigger note, now you must already know why I always prefer to travel solo.
(This blog post is dedicated to that classmate who brought us to this fiasco. Next time you have to pee, please have some courtesy in letting the people know that you want to go to the gate on your own instead, or whatever your lame excuse was. It’s a basic social rule.)
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