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.
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:
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.
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.
5. Get to know your host and live like a local!
iPhone/iPad user? travelmob listings can be right at your fingertips. Click the image below to download their mobile app.
30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore
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Luckily, I found Footprints Hostel. For only SGD20.00 per head per night, we got a family room. Originally, it can only accommodate 6 pax, so my mom and I just shared a bed. And by the way, the rate already includes breakfast. Sweet!We arrived on a red-eye flight (above photo was taken on our last day so ignore the time) so we just rented a 7-seater taxi from Changi for SGD60.00 – a Mercedes van, by the way!
Even though I’ve been traveling for years, and this being my third time in Singapore, it was the first time I stayed at a backpacker’s hostel so my expectations were not very high.
The room was not as bad as I thought. It doesn’t feel cramped. In fact, we had more than enough space to walk around without bumping into each other. :p
Naturally, staying in a hostel means you will be using a shared or common bathroom. What’s good about this hostel is that while the bathrooms are shared, men and women’s are still separate.
Each bathroom has three cubicles for toilet (and with bidet, at that!) and three shower stalls. Showers are equipped with hot and cold water, and the water pressure’s very strong too. Girls need not bring their hair dryer because it is also provided.
Other amenities include a ‘mini mart’ where you can buy chips, instant noodles, toiletries and whatnot. If you’re not feeling too lazy, you can walk a few minutes to the nearest 7/11. They also have four desktop computers that guests can use free of charge for 20 minutes. There’s coin-operated washing machines and dryers on every floor too.
Just take note there were a couple of times when the cab refused to drop my companions right in front of the hostel. They had to walk a bit from the main road (Sungei Road).
- 6 adults; 5 females, 1 male
- Age range: 4 adults in late 50s to 60s; 2 adults in early 20s
*pronounced as ‘pera’
Aside from a missed van trip back to Puerto Princesa and some boo-boos along the way, I’d like to believe that the whole trip went well. :p El Nido remains at the top of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.
Second quarter of this year, another close friend and I explored Malaysia for a week. We started our journey in Kuala Lumpur, went north to the island of Penang, then headed south to Melaka before crossing the border to Singapore.
Our goal? To eat, pray, and shop our way through Malaysia (and Singapore) and boy did we do some damage. lol We sampled Penang’s dishes, visited temples/places of worship, and shopped ’til our bodies ache. No stall was spared in Berjaya Times Square as well as Jonker Street in Melaka. I swear, my bags were multiplying like gremlins. Mind you, I was able to sneak everything as ‘hand carry’ *evil laugh*
But if there’s one thing that will be forever etched on my mind about this trip, it’s got to be when we got bumped off the bus twice: from KL to Penang then from Penang to Melaka! Good thing the border crossing was uneventful.
We visited different islands, a sand bar, a saltwater lagoon — which could pass as a doppelganger of one of Palawan’s several lagoons/lakes — and did some climbing. And even though we had a traumatic caving experience, I know everyone still had a lot of fun.
But what I find amusing with this trip was that we took different flights (heck, my cousin and I weren’t even seated together on the plane), just met at the port the following day for island hopping, then went to different destinations on the third day. lol Two of my colleagues went to their respective homes in Iloilo, and my other colleague and the couple went to Bacolod.
Me and my cousin? Well, we were actually torn whether we should stay and explore Iloilo, do a day trip to Guimaras, go to Bacolod for Masskara Festival, or just beach bum in Boracay. We eventually decided we’d go with the latter because our bodies were still aching from hiking and spelunking that we just wanted to lay on the beach and do nothing. Well, it took us three van rides (Iloilo to Roxas; Roxas to Kalibo; and Kalibo to Caticlan), a boat ride, and a tricycle ride (a total of 6 hours) to get there. So much for relaxation, huh?
Singapore with LEGOLAND side trip
And just this month, my mom and I, and — wait for it — our neighbors went to Singapore. Blame it on seat sales. So yes, within a span of four months, I was back in Singapore — and unexpectedly — in Malaysia too since we went on a side trip to LEGOLAND (which by the way was not part of the original plan).
Even though I wasn’t able to make as many trips as I wanted this year, I’m still thankful I got the chance to visit new destinations and familiar places. Always go for quality over quantity, right?
So here’s hoping I’d be able to tick off more destinations on my (ever-growing) bucket list for 2013. Oh yes Laos and Myanmar, I have my eyes on you!