This UNESCO World Heritage town have quirky yet functional wrought iron street markers. If you take the time to read the text on the caricatures, you’ll find that they’re both informative and entertaining.
Next, head on to Armenian Street to check out murals by Ernest Zacharevic. He often marries his murals with real-life objects, and the results are larger than life.
When it comes to Southeast Asia, there is so much choice to pick from in terms of countries. Obviously, you want to visit every single country because Asia is, well, Asia is Asia! But, for some, that isn’t possible. Not everyone can swan off for a year and take in the sights, sounds and tastes you know. If you are apart of this unlucky category, don’t worry because there is always a solution. In this case, the solution is to choose one country and go back to do the rest later in life. So, which one do you choose and why? The answer is Singapore and the why is spelled out below.
Ever since I got back from my month-long Southeast Asian trip last August 2014, some friends have expressed their interest of doing the same, but don’t know exactly where to start. The thing is, when people ask me for my itinerary, I’m a bit hesitant to just give them what I used because it is customized according to MY traveling style. I found that it has changed over the years. I no longer feel the need to pack as many attractions as I can in day, and would prefer to pay more for convenience rather than sacrifice comfort for the sake of sticking to my budget. I also traveled solo, so my expenses were inevitably bigger than usual. And the only tickets I had pre-booked on sale were my Manila to Bangkok, Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and Bali to Manila flights. The rest of the flights, I booked when I was already on the road.
While planning for our week-long Hong Kong trip earlier this year, I was once again faced with the challenge of looking for lodging options that can accommodate our small group, and more importantly, will fit our budget.
I’ve searched high and low for family rooms, but guesthouses were either already fully booked, rooms were not available for consecutive nights on our travel dates, hotel rates were waaay beyond our budget or the rooms available were not in accessible locations. I decided to check any available vacation rental instead and that’s how I discovered travelmob – an online marketplace where you can find and rent unique homes from local hosts across Asia Pacific. After hours of going through their listings, here’s 5 reasons why I think you should consider booking a vacation rental on your next trip:
Over a year ago, I went to Singapore with 6 other people, 3 senior citizens included. The country is already expensive to begin with so we ended up bunking in a backpackers’ hostel. It would’ve been okay, but because we were 7 in a 6-bedroom dorm, my mom and I had to share a single bed. While we saved on lodging cost, the setup wasn’t very comfortable. We had to use a communal bathroom, too.
Pictured above are Hong Kong apartments with at least 2 rooms that can comfortably fit 6 or more people. I found several Hong Kong apartments that has a room with at least one bunk bed and with a sleeper sofa/sofa bed in the living room, too.
Most vacation rentals listed are equipped with a WiFi router, kitchen(ette) and/or laundry facilities – amenities that are either not offered or something that you need to pay for extra when staying in a hotel.
I think it’s very practical if you’re staying for more than a week (or two) because you can cook your own food instead of eating out. You can also travel light and save on baggage fees because you can do the laundry anytime. 😉
In first world, read relatively expensive, Asian countries where space is at a premium, it’s inevitable that you will find yourselves in matchbox-like rooms. I once saw a Hong Kong guesthouse offering a single room that literally looked like a toilet – with tiled walls and exhaust fan – only with a bed instead of a toilet bowl. And don’t get me started on the clinical-looking rooms. Sure, you’ll be out most of the day and working on a budget, but it wouldn’t hurt to get yourself a decent place to sleep in after a long day. For the same price as a hotel, booking a vacation rental actually gives you more space, therefore, giving you better value for your money.
4. Discover unique accommodations – boats, cottages, cabins, even treehouses!
Whether you’re an intrepid traveler who wants to sleep under the stars while perched 23 feet up in the air in Bangkok or just want to spend some quality time with your significant other away from the tourist crowd of Bali, you can find awesome and unique vacation rentals that’ll make your trip more memorable.
5. Get to know your host and live like a local!
Traveling solo? Aside from apartment rentals, you can also book shared or private rooms.
A shared room means you’ll be sharing space with other travelers while a private is a room of your own. In some cases, the host will also be at the location while you’re there.
In travelmob, you can check the property owner’s profile, read previous guests’ reviews and/or references and contact him/her directly if you need more information about their listing. Through a few message exchanges, you can then gauge if he/she will be a good host.
The host can offer invaluable insider tips on where to find the best places to eat, best bargains and off-the-beaten sites. In some cases, hosts also offer more personal service like free use of their bicycle or a local SIM card – things you’ll never be able to experience in a hotel.
Remember, there’s really no better way to learn about a new culture and gain a richer travel experience than from living with a local.
And there you have it. I hope I’ve given you enough reasons to consider booking a vacation rental on your next trip. iPhone/iPad user? travelmob listings can be right at your fingertips. Click the image below to download their mobile app.
And just for you, my dear readers, for a minimum booking fee of USD150.00, you’ll get a USD35.00 discount by using the promo code below:
To be honest, I almost didn’t want to include this in our itinerary because I find the SGD33.00 rate steep for a 30-minute ride. But again, I was outnumbered because my companions were eager to try it.
Standing 165 meters tall, Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest Giant Observation Wheel. It has 28 capsules and each capsule can accommodate a total of 28 people. They say the 28 x 28 has something to do with auspiciousness.
Journey of Dreams
After buying our tickets, we went to the third floor (if I’m not mistaken) where we first entered the Journey of Dreams. It is a multimedia showcase about the Singapore story and Singapore Flyer.
There are 7 galleries in total, but since we only have about an hour or so left before the place closes, we skipped checking out these galleries in detail. Your group picture will also be taken before you can finally proceed to the gondola platform.
The Pandora-ish (Avatar) Gardens by the Bay
If you want to get an unobstructed 360° view of Singapore, it’s actually a very good idea to go here a few hours before closing time. Imagine our delight that we had a capsule all to ourselves! There were only 5 of us, by the way.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay at night
Blanc et noir
I kept walking inside the capsule taking pictures from all angles. The view was just amazing! There’s lights glistening everywhere. While the city looks kind of dull in the morning, it feels so alive at night.
ArtScience Museum, The Helix Bridge and Floating Stadium
I wish the ride was longer. I’m sure 30 minutes is not enough especially for photography enthusiasts. 🙁
We alighted, and as with any other tourist attraction, had to pass through the souvenir shop where they can plaster your picture on a plate, keychain, snow globe or anything imaginable — which will most likely end up in your mother’s rack of knickknacks gathering dust — then sell it to you at an exorbitant amount.
Other things worth checking out at Singapore Flyer are the ‘rainforest’ right at the atrium, Flight Experience – a flight simulator, a reflexology and fish spa, XD Theater – a cutting edge 6D (take that!) motion ride theater.
And if you ever get hungry, there are lots of food options. Most notable is the Singapore Food Trail which is a 1960s themed food street. Would have loved to try it, but Makansutra was also on the itinerary.
Merlion Park at night
Marina Bay Sands
Just an MRT station away is Makansutra – Gluttons by the Bay where you can have a smorgasbord of affordable Asian cuisine. Believe me, the place is packed even at midnight. It is also a nice vantage point to take pictures of Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands, The ArtScience Museum and Helix Bridge.