Singapore – Part 2

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Hey friends ! I was supposed to write this post last week but traveling to my native place didn’t leave me with much time . So here it is now ! [Check out Part 1 posted previously 🙂 ]

DAY 5 – The last 3 days at SG had been quite hectic, so we decided to keep this day a bit relaxed (comparatively ! 😀 ). We left late morning to explore the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The weather was quite humid as we walked towards the MRT, so we decided to window shop at ION Orchard Mall for a while. By the time we reached the Botanic Gardens the air was so thick one could cut it with a knife. Even though there was so much open space around us we felt suffocated & although we very much wanted to explore the Gardens we realized that walking all those miles would be extremely difficult due to the weather conditions. So we rushed back to the air conditioned environment of the MRT with a sigh of relief.TIP – Keep a copy of the MRT map with you for convenience .

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Chinatown MRT

We soon made our way to Chinatown. It was evening by the time we reached there. No longer had we started browsing the souvenir shops it started raining. Soon the weather improved, all of Chinatown was lit up with colorful lanterns and inflated monkeys to mark the Year of the Monkey. TIP – Chinatown is a great place for souvenir shopping.

 

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After shopping for a while we came across the Chinatown Food Street, an upgraded version of the food complex.  After trying some SG style dessert we moved on looking for the Chinatown food complex. The food complex was a lot further than we expected it to be. Passing the market place again we came across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a stunning sight indeed. Unfortunately it was late and the temple was closed, finally we spotted the Chinatown Food Complex situated opposite the temple.

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Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

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Inside the Food Complex

TIP – Food complexes do not stay open till very late. Half of the stalls were already shut by the time we reached there. My sister was very keen to try the Singaporean Crab Chilly dish , one of SG’s specialities. We managed to find a stall specializing in this dish with the help of some friendly food stall owners.

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Crab Chilly !

And before long my sister sat with gloves on her hand ready to tackle the dish. Gloves were provided to avoid hand contact with the spicy gravy. Intimidating as it seemed, my sister got right to it. So after a satisfying authentic SG style dinner we caught the train back to our hotel.

 

DAY 6 – With only 2 & ½ day left in SG we wanted to make the best of it. As we had already visited the Jurong Bird Park & Singapore Zoo on our previous trip to SG we wanted to explore other places.

We reached Arab Street in Haji Lane by afternoon. Arab Street is known for its trendy boutiques. Here one can shop for Clothing’s, accessories & home decor items. The narrow lane is filled with colorful boutiques on both sides. Shops after shops we browsed, there were few jewellery shops selling gorgeous silver jewellery.

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 The home decor shops were filled with such awesome trendy and innovative stuffs that I wished I could take them all back! From what I observed though 60% of the shops were selling the same products, which was surprising as I had seen more variety on Bugis Street and was expecting the same here.

TIP – Shops open up only by afternoon in Arab Street. At the end of the lane we came across cafes and pubs where people were taking respite from the sunny weather.

17 -wmA large building was covered from top to bottom with colourful wall art , which was a treat for  the eyes!

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Wonderland Cafe

A cafe called ‘Wonderland’ situated near the graffiti work is quite well know & we decided to check it out ( Super hungry that we were J ). After trying exotic rich pastries like lavender cake & honey crumble, feeling on Cloud 9 we left for our hotel. TIP – Must try pastries at Wonderland Cafe . . Droolworthy !

 

After resting in our room for a while we left for the ‘Gardens By The Bay’. Collecting our entry tickets we proceeded towards the 2 large man made domes – Cloud Forest & Flower Dome.

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We first entered the Cloud Forest Dome, my personal favourite of the two. One gets a feeling of having entered a rainforest in this dome. After spending almost an hour walking around inside, admiring all the work put into creating this unique structure we finally exited the dome.

 

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View from Cloud Forest Dome

Next was the Flower Dome , where there was a never-ending  varieties of plants flowering & non-flowering species. There was a wedding taking place in the glass house present within the Dome. We soon left to witness the Garden Rhapsody show which was to take place in the Super Tree Grove area.

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When we reached the Super Tree area we felt like we were Alice in Wonderland, the huge tree like structures were lit up making the place look so magical ! We could see people walking along the skywalk which seemed quite fun . Although there was a long waiting for entry to the skywalk people waited patiently to experience it. As it would soon be time for the show we decided to sit on the ground with others waiting  for the show to begin. Soon with music ringing in our ears and the lights on the Super Trees twinkling, the show began. . It was a fascinating experience, watching the change of lights on those humongous trees to the beat of the music.

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The show went on for 15 minutes after which we headed towards Marina Bay Sands to get a 360 degree aerial view of SG.

TIP – The Light & Sound show called OCBC Garden Rhapsody takes place daily twice in the evenings at the SuperTree Grove area. Must check out ! 🙂

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Marina Bay Sands

After waiting in a long line to reach the top, we finally reached the observatory deck. The sun had set and the darkness had filled the sky by this time. We could clearly spot all the well lit attractions of SG from here ! The SG Flyer, F1 track, Helix Bridge , Art Science Museum , the Domes & Super Tree Groves @ Gardens By The Bay, and others !

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TIP – Try to view SG from the observatory deck at sunset or after for a well lit & colourful sight.

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After enjoying the view from the top we headed down and came across a very attractive bakery on the ground floor of Marina Bay Sands tempting us to try their sumptuous desserts. After tasting some of the lip smacking pastries we went looking for the Helix Bridge.

 

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35 -wmPassing though The Shoppes stores we finally found the Helix Bridge. Much to our delight the laser Light & Sound Show had started and the images were being projected onto the walls of the Art Science Museum. We watched this magical sight for a while mesmerised by the play of colours on the lotus like structure of the museum and the music playing all around us.

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We spent a couple of hours mall hopping on Orchard Rd. Browsing brands familiar & ones we hadn’t heard of yet we whiled our time away. As we had enjoyed at Bugis Street so much we decided to go back to Bugis.

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Chewy Junior ! ❤

Getting down at Bugis MRT we walked through the subway and came across a small stall selling colourful and yummm looking cheese puffs & cupcakes called Chewy Junior . They were the best we’ve had so far! The most chewiest puffs & the most gooey cupcakes we’ve tasted !TIP – When in SG do try cheese puffs & cupcakes from Chewy Junior ! 🙂

 

We then headed towards Bugis Junction Mall. There were independent stalls placed right outside the mall, a flea market like setup with stalls selling clothing, accessories, eateries & all so checked those out too! Soon we were too tired to walk and left for our hotel.

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In the evening we reached the Clarke Quay station and found our way to the riverside. What an awesome sight it was! Couldn’t think of a more happening place to spend our last night in SG at! There were people sitting by the river side watching the play of colours on the other side of the river, restaurants lined by the river on the opposite side all lit up with music playing there.

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So passing the mall along the river we moved towards the bridge leading to the other side. As we reached the other side we realized that there were a lot more pubs & restaurants on the inside here. It felt like we were teleported to Las Vegas! There were bright colourful pubs & restaurants everywhere, belly dancers dancing in front of a Mediterranean restaurant, bollywood themed pubs, sports pubs, people everywhere enjoying the night life, tall umbrella-like structures covering the skyline to provide respite from the erratic rains. The extremely humid & stuffy climate played a real spoiler for us though.

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And That’s how we spent our last night in SG ! ❤

 

DAY 8 – Our flight back to Bangalore was at night so we had enough time to visit the Merlion Park, one last attraction left on our list! So after an early breakfast and completing our last minute shopping at Bras Basah, we headed to the MRT.

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Near Fullerton Hotel

Getting town at Raffle’s Palace station we started walking towards the Merlion Park. The Park was not located very close to the station and after receiving directions from friendly Singaporeans we soon reached the Park.

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One can view Esplanade – Theaters by the Bay from here. .

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We first came across an adorable cub version of the Merlion ! The large Merlion Statue stood tall facing the water with gallons and gallons of water pouring out from its mouth all day long. The original merlion structure measures around 9 meters tall, whilst the Merlion cub located near the original statue measures 2 metres tall.

 

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One can view the Marina Bay Sands & Art Science Museum across the waterfront from here. After enjoying the view for a while, we left to pick our luggage from the hotel and head towards the airport. Although our flight was late at night, we wanted to spend a couple of hours at the SG airport as it is one of the best in the world !

Enjoying the free foot massage machines at the airport, tasting new dishes at the numerous food stalls, shopping for cosmetics and perfumes we spent our remaining time at Singapore ! 🙂

Girls Trip 2016 ! Singapore – Part 1

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So more than a year back my girlfriend & i made a bucket list of things we would like to do together. One of the things being – to try to have a girls trip every year ! We started by having a girls trip to Andaman’s in 2015 , an awesome place to be ! Shall write a post on it sometime soon . . .

So  this year unfortunately my girlfriends couldn’t make it, so my sister & I decided to make it a sister’s trip abroad ! The challenge was to find a country safe for women travelers and one that was not too far away as we didn’t want to spend to much time enroute . After a lot of research we decided upon Singapore . Since we had already been to Singapore some years back we were aware of it’s tourist & women friendly nature . .

So we booked a 7N/8D trip to Singapore! Hurray! As we finalized the trip only a month before the flight & hotel bookings cost us a bomb ! TIP for newbie travellers – the best time to book a trip is atleast 3-4 months in advance .

Singapore as most are aware can turn out to be an expensive stay – for one the hotels are super pricey ! (even though the rooms are not exactly spacious) & the entry tickets for the attractions can burn a hole in the pocket. With a little more research & help from our travel agent friend (Thankyou Nerissa ! 🙂 ) we realized that the best way to get good deals on entry tickets is online through authorized dealers.

So we booked a 2Day Fun Pass on Sentosa.com at a great deal ! The 2Day Pass included 1 Day at Universal Studios and 1 Day at Sentosa inclusive of 20 major attractions which would otherwise have cost  alooooot more . . .  So with our bags packed (Light of coz keeping in mind the major shopping plans ahead 🙂 ) and super excited for the vaca ahead, we left Bangalore at midnight .

Day 1 – Arriving at SG

2You realize you’ve reached Singapore when you spot a cluster of islands and then lots & lots of cargo/fishing ships floating in the water ! After completing all the formalities we headed towards the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) the lifeline of Singapore . . Both of us had decided to make it a proper backpackers trip except for staying in a fancy hotel and shopping ofcoz ! 😀

So after purchasing an EZ Link MRT card and armed with all the info we needed to travel by the MRT we left the SG airport with our suitcases and rucksack! (yes rucksack to get the ‘backpacking’ feel! lol )   TIP –  Pick up an EZ Link card at the airport counter to travel by MRT conveniently

After an hour and two train changes later we finally reached the Bras Basah station which cost us only 2 S$ per person as compared to a taxi ride which would have cost us around 45 – 50 S$ ! SG is an expensive place but travelling by MRT can make your stay alot more  budget friendly. . .  TIP –MRT is the most convenient & reasonable way to travel in SG. Also the fully airconditioned  MRT environment  provides great respite from the hot & humid climate.Two more reasons to use the MRT to reduce carbon footprint  and all the SG attractions as within walking distance from the stations.

Our hotel was at a 5min walking distance from the MRT station which made our stay at SG a whole lot convenient .So after having lunch at a nearby foodcourt we reached the hotel. The hotel employees were quite friendly and helpful ,we were given a room with a scenic city view and boy were we glad!  TIP – Stay at a hotel located at walking distance from the MRT

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View from our room

After resting  for a while we walked around, exploring Bras Basah .On entering the market area we came across an Indian temple and a Chinese temple built next to each other  and people from both religions praying to the Gods at both the temples ! What an extraordinary example it was of people of different religions coexisting peacefully and respecting each others religions in SG. A beautiful sight indeed !

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We spent  the evening exploring the shopping centre and roadside shops in the market.Before we knew it we could see Bugis Street at a distance, much to our delight it was situated at a walking distance from our hotel . As tempted as we were to check out Bugis Street we decided to keep our first day at SG relaxed. So after having an early dinner we reached our hotel. The hotel we were staying at had an awesome pool area , one of the reasons we chose the hotel 😀 so we spent almost an hour enjoying the pool before we called it a night . .

Day 2 – Universal Studios !!

So we left our from the hotel as early as we could, (Universal Studios opens around 9am )& took the MRT to VivoCity Mall , the connecting point to Sentosa. Picking up some light snacks at the mall to took the monorail – Sentosa Express to Sentosa.

There are 3 stops in Sentosa for the monorail :

  • Waterfront Station – the Universal Studios & Resort world Sentosa is located here.
  • Imbiah Lookout Station – where the Merlion Plaza is
  • Beach Station – The last station where all the beaches and pubs are located

There are 3 ways to reach Sentosa :

  • The Sentosa Express from ViviCity Mall
  • Cable Car from Harbourfront which costs more but provides a great view
  • The Sentosa Boardwalk which is free of cost but entails a long walk to Sentosa

TIP –  We had chosen to visit Sentosa on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowd which turned out to be a good decision.

We got down at the Waterfront Station and soon were standing at the entrance to Universal Studios !

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The entrance led us to the ‘Hollywood’ themed area in the Universal studios. Suddenly we were in a lane with beautifully architecture structures on both sides of the lane, music ringing all around us.

9The lanes had numerous Hollywood themed cafes, toy stores, souvenir shops & statues. There was an entire store dedicated to Minions !! ❤   We felt like kids again. Much to our delight it was ‘Meet N Greet’ time with Frankenstein ,the most scariest monster of them all !!

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After checking out the stores filled with adorable stuffed toys & other accessories of minions, shrek , donkey ,big birds, etc. we headed towards the ‘New York’ theme.

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TIP – Pick up a copy of the numerous stage shows, street entertainments & character meet n greets happening throughout the day so you can plan your day ahead.

We picked up our copy at the ‘Hollywood’ area itself. We came across the ‘Rockafellas’ street show taking place at ‘New York’.

12After browsing through the shops in ‘New York’ we moved on to the next theme ‘SciFi City’ . All we could see was Transformers and Starbot around us !

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The Roller Coaster ride is situated here FYI . As both of us are not rollacoaster fans we headed for the ‘Transformers 3D’ ride on my sisters (a big BumbleBee fan) insistence. To our dismay there was a looong line here and after waiting for half an hour in the line I began to question my sanity !After spending some more time in the line it was finally our turn(Thank God !) With our 3D glasses on we sat in the transformer ship.I must admit it was a fantastic ride and totally worth the wait ! Possibly the best 3D experience i have ever had ! Planning to return for the Transformer ride again we moved to the next theme – ‘Ancient Egypt’.

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Tall sphinx statues sculpted out of rock beckoned us.  15            Seeing those mysterious large statues gave us a glimpse of what it would feel like to actually be in Egypt !

The souvenir cart here had really interesting items, mini sphinxes , mummy coffins with mummies in them, a real treasure trove of delights ! We then headed for the ‘Return of the Mummy’ roller coaster ride. The entry to the ride is through a long dark passageway designed with the theme is mind .It was lit dimly with spooky music playing in the backdrop with ceiling length statues of sphinxes and mummies  to make one feel like one is walking inside a pyramid! Thankfully we didn’t have to stand in a long line here. . This ride is a must ! One of the best rides in Universal Studios.

After enjoying the ride once again ! we entered the ‘Lost World’. For a moment it felt like 17we were actually in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ ,the tall T-Rex statues,the entry gate just like in the movies with the theme song playing all around us . As it was almost time for the ‘Meet N Greet’ with ‘ The Newest Addition to the Lost World’ we sat eating our snacks waiting for the show to begin.

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TIP – Dining at cafes may turn out to be expensive so try to pack some snacks for your time in Universal Studios.Also carry water bottles which you can keep refilling at the refill points placed all around Universal Studios.

TIP – Carry loads of sunscreen coz you will need it ! 🙂  Soon the ‘Meet N Greet’ session started. A mini cargo truck carrying a robot dinosaur called Diane stopped in front of us. 21Diane seemed so ferocious and adorable at the same time , you could actually mistake it to be real ! The guide explained some fun facts about Diane before we got to click pics with her. She seemed so alive we were scared she would jump down from the truck and attack us !

After this very entertaining and fun session we headed for the ‘Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure Boat Ride’. We were seated on a 12 seater  round inflated boat which floated down a fast flowing river.Watching out for different species of dinosaurs popping from the river banks we moved to the end of the ride.Dripping wet we got out of the boat and headed for the ‘Canopy Flyer’ ride which gives a bird’s eye view of the ‘Lost World’.

Dry again we left for the next theme ‘Far Far Away’. There was a magnificent castle like structure where they conduct the ‘Shrek 4D Adventure’.

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We came across the ‘Dance for the Magic Beans’ stage show. Just as we were about to move on, it started drizzling. Erratic showers are common in Singapore, so is the hot & humid climate. Just as soon as it started pouring ,it stopped. As we walked on we saw it was time for ‘ Meet N Greet’ time with ‘Shrek & the Princess’!25

28We felt the scorching heat on our backs we moved on to ‘Madagascar’. After checking the souvenir shops we reached back to ‘Hollywood’ . Wanting to experience Transformers 3D ride once again we rushed back to ‘SciFi City’ , much to our delight it was ‘Meet n Greet’ time with BumbleBee & OptimusPrime ! Boy was there a long line to meet these cool bots!29

A couple of clicks with BumbleBee and a 3D ride later it was time to leave Universal Studios. . . After a day well spent we returned back to the VivoCity Mall.

 

After having a hearty meal of fish ball noodle soup, Singaporean comfort food, we shopped in VivoCity Mall for a while before heading back to the hotel.

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TIP – Must check out stationary outlets in Singapore Malls. . . to die for !

The day before we had noticed 2 massage chairs near the pool area in our hotel. So after a tiring day & sore achy muscles , we headed to these chairs. Relaxing in those chairs after walking all day, feeling all the tension drain out from our bodies was a heavenly feeling! Thanking our stars for these simple pleasures we headed back to our room.

 

Day 3 –  Sentosa

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We got down at the Waterfront Station again this day. Armed with our FunPass and list of attractions to complete. We first reached the S.E.A Aquarium.This place could also be 33-1called the cultural center as there was information regarding all Asian Countries provided in separate sections.

After purchasing an extremely adorable stuffed sting ray fridge magnet from the souvenir section we entered the underwater aquarium.

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Watching the hammerhead & tiger sharks moving above our heads was an interesting experience. How thrilling it is to watch these magnificent & dangerous creatures up close ! We then moved on to the other sections of the aquarium. Watching so many gorgeous & colorful sea creatures , we were so spellbound that we ended up spending 2 hours in there !

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So we hurried to the next attraction – the ‘Trick Eye Museum’ ! Having never heard of it we were very curious to check it out. It turned out to be a extremely fun filled event! After 41taking some amusing clicks of ourselves in the museum we exited.

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We decided to walk all the way to the Merlion Plaza situated near the Imbiah Station so we could explore more of the place.

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Merlion , the symbol of Singapore is a half lion- half sea creature statue. It is one of the tallest Merlion statues in Singapore.On entering the Merlion we were shown a short animated film on how the Merlion symbol came to be.We were then taken to the top of the Merlion to the observatory deck where we could view all of Sentosa.

The sky seemed cloudy, hoping that we would not be caught in another erratic  shower we made our way to ‘Madame Tussaud’s Museum’. This Tussaud’s Museum seemed alot more fun than the one I had been to in Hong Kong.48

There were costumes placed near the statues in the museum so one could dress up for the pics. There was also a small boat ride in the museum. By the time we exited the museum it was pouring, so the ‘Tiger Sky Tower’ ride was out of the question.

To wait out the rain we decided to check out the 4D Adventure Land attraction, which turned out to be very enjoyable. It had a 4D ride, 4D version of the movie ’Journey to the Mysterious Island’ watching the awesome Dwayne Johnson ❤ sure did lift out spirits 🙂 .The last was a 4D Cowboy Game which was quite interesting as well.

49By this time it had almost stopped drizzling so we decided to Luge our way from Imbiah Station to Beach Station. With raindrops falling on us, feeling adventurous we luged our way down the slippery trail to Beach Station.  As the beaches here were not very spectacular we took the cable car ride back to Imbiah Station.   TIP – The cable car ride is more scenic on the ride from Imbiah Station to Beach Station than the other way around .

As we had covered all the attractions we were interested in we headed back to VivoCity Mall to do some more shopping ! 🙂

The VivoCity Mall and Harbourfront Centre are connected to each other. The VivoCity Mall has branded outlets whereas the HarbourFront Centre seemed like it was filled with local designer outlets with items at more reasonable prices.Exploring these malls till we could walk no more we headed back to the hotel and called it a night ( After a relaxing session on the massage chairs ofcoz ! 🙂 )

Day 4 – Bugis Street Shopping !

It was Shopping Day finally ! We’d initially planned to spend only half a day at Bugis Street but that was before we realized this place is a multi-storey  shopping center filled with hundreds of outlets! A shopping paradise ! Bugis Street has a very interesting history. Decades ago it used to be something of a red light district where night markets took place. In 1980’s it was converted into a retail complex of mall, restaurants & night spots mixed with roadside vendors.

Although Bugis Street was located at a walking distance from our hotel , we decided to take the MRT to Bugis Station so as to save our energy for the sole purpose of our day . . . Shopping !!!

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Soon we reached the world famous Bugis Street , Singapore’s largest shopping district! The ground floor is mostly for souvenir shopping,the upper floors are meant for everything from clothes & accessories to tattoo & foot spas. This street has a huge number of local designer boutiques providing products at competitive prices.

51Much to our delight , at the entrance itself we could see rows of souvenir shops intervalled by juice & savory stalls. Juice stalls selling exotic fresh fruit juices for as less as 1 S$ ! Sipping on some of these chilled fruit juices to provide respite from the hot weather we started shopping.What an amazing collection of souvenirs each shop had ! Trying some of the Singaporean sweet dishes at the food stalls we continued shopping.By the time we completed browsing through the shops on the ground floor it was lunch time so we headed to the Bras Basah Food Complex located opposite Bugis Street.    TIP – Try out the food complexes located in each locality to taste authentic local cuisine available at reasonable prices. Each food complex is filled with almost hundred food stalls giving tourists a lot of options to explore the food scene in Singapore.

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Feeling adventurous we tried the Singaporeans Spicy Laksa which turned out to be an acquired taste. We then headed to the upper floors of Bugis Street.There was an amazing variety of designer clothes in each outlet, at very reasonable prices as well.

We checked out a lot of malls in the next few days but nothing came close to the variety offered here! Hands full of bags, feeling on cloud 9 , we left the place.Having an early dinner at the Bras Basah market food stalls we walked back to our hotel.

Before long we were relaxing on the massage chairs in our hotel,enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, feeling our muscles unknot , ready for the fun filled  days ahead! . . .

Tune in next week same time to read Part 2 of our Singapore Trip, to read about Chinatown, Marina Bay Sands & many other must visit SG attractions ! ! ! 🙂