How I Survived Day 1 in Singapore... Alone

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Two things.
1. I'm neither a budget traveler, nor a luxurious one.
2. I have a poor sense of direction, but I can follow instructions.

I remember telling someone before that I don't think I'd ever travel to a foreign country alone. It's scary and it's lonely. And more expensive, I guess? Because you've got no one to split the bills with. I've never been the hard-core traveler but I don't wanna dwell on that traveler-tourist comparison because people have different circumstances in life.

We all travel in our own pace. It depends on what we do in life or what we can afford to do. A lot of people have traveled solo. My trip was not even full-on solo because I also had to meet friends along the way. That's probably why some people say that when you travel solo, you're not really solo or alone. Now I understand what that means.

A lot of people I know have visited Singapore. They say it's one of the best destinations for female solo travelers. And they are right!

So.. I survived! This is my story. 

Reasonably early

My flight from Cebu to Singapore was at 7:55 PM, which was then moved to 8:20 PM. I arrived at Mactan airport at 4:30 PM. It always pays to be early. But personally, I really just hate running around and rushing to board my flight. When I was lining up for immigration clearance, there were some passengers begging to go first because their flight was already boarding.

The immigration interrogation went rather smoothly for me with much lesser questions than before. The officer reminded me of my father. He looked for my return tickets and asked... What's your job? Are you alone? Are these promo tickets? Who bought these? Then stamped my passport. Hurray.

Immigration in the Philippines is almost always nerve-racking no matter how many times you've left the country and returned, and whether you're a tourist or even an OFW. As usual, I just maintained a calm and confident face and tone to breeze through the counter.

Travel Diary: How I Survived Day 1 in Singapore... Alone

Research. Research. Research. 

They say that researching too much strips you of the excitement. I'd say it really depends. With only two and a half days in Singapore, I wanted to be prepared as much as I could to make the most of my short stay, without spending too much.

Months before my trip, and knowing that I'd be traveling alone for the most part, I researched a lot, like a lot. It's very different from my last international trip because I was traveling with friends and I was kinda dependent on them because they've done it before. I just went with whatever plans they had, which wasn't bad.

This time around, I had to do things on my own and depend only on myself. I booked all the flights, accommodations, and tickets for tourist attractions. I spent so much time researching about the country's transportation which happens to be one of the best and the most efficient in the world. In short, Singapore is a perfect first solo travel destination for me.

To navigate around the city smoothly, I installed the City Mapper (Citymapper) app on my phone. It showed me exactly what train stations I should go or whether I needed to transfer platforms. It also provided the distance information, estimated time of arrival, and how much the exact fares would be. I have to say that it's my biggest life-saver in Singapore! I can't stress it enough, but it really made my stay worthwhile and super convenient.

Changi International Airport


Changi International Airport for 5 hours! 

There were no other cheaper flights. The only one direct from Cebu was at 7:55 PM (but left Cebu at 9 PM due to delay). I arrived at Changi International Airport at around 1:00 AM. The original plan was that I'd meet my friend at the airport and we'll wait until 5 AM to go to the city, but since she never showed up and replied to my messages, I decided to execute Plan B - go around the airport alone!

The reason I had to wait until 5 AM was that the MRT service starts around that time, and I didn't want to take the shuttle or taxi because it'd be more expensive. Besides, Changi is the best airport to get stuck in! It's huge, clean, and everything else you need is there - free lightning-fast WiFi, sleeping lounges, charging stations, dining areas, shopping stalls, gardens, cinema, gaming room, and a whole lootttt more!

Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport

There's a restroom/toilet and drinking fountain in every turn, plus there are signs everywhere so you'll never get lost! I'd say it's rather spoonfeeding, haha! So I walked around Terminal 2 area, and explored the different flower gardens, took some photos, sat and rested, tried to sleep (but never did), and just walked around aimlessly.

Changi International Airport

Sunflower Garden - Terminal 2

I stayed here for quite a while because of fresh air. ;) There were also only a couple of people so it's not crowded.

Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport

Orchid Garden, Koi Pond - Terminal 2

Singapore really proves that it's a Garden City. In fact, it all starts at the airport!

Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport


Finding Lai Ming 

By 5 AM, I had some money changed to Singapore dollars, cleared immigration, and ate breakfast at the arrival area. Breakfast = sandwich, soft-boiled egg, hot Milo. Then off I went to look for the MRT station that would bring me to Lai Ming Cosmoland Hotel at Geylang. The station was easy to find as it's just connected to the airport terminal. As with everything in Singapore, just follow the signs. ;) 

I bought an MRT card for 12 SGD with 7 SGD value, found the station, and just followed the instructions from City Mapper app. After 5 stations, I arrived at the nearest MRT station to the hotel. It was around 6:30 AM but it was still dark. 

Sunrise in Singapore is not until 7:30 or 8:00 AM, and I didn't know it until then. I just thought it would be best to walk around at 6 AM when the sun would be up, but turned out, the sun wasn't up. Haha. 


I didn't have an internet connection anymore so I just referred to the Google street view screenshot that I saved beforehand to estimate the location of the hotel. I was walking around and asked a woman on the street, and she told me the right way. Asking questions is a must and thankfully, the language barrier is very minimal as most Singaporeans speak English. After about 10-15 minutes of looking for the hotel, I found it!!! I was so relieved that it didn't give me a hard time. Haha!

My original plan was to leave my luggage at the hotel, go back to the city center to explore, and be back to the hotel for check-in at 12 NN. But I was soooo tired and exhausted, and without proper sleep at all. I asked the hotel manager if I could check-in early. He agreed, but I had to pay extra 30 SGD. It's quite pricey but I agreed just so I could sleep the entire morning and have enough strength to explore in the afternoon. 



Exploring Bugis Junction 

I originally wanted to explore Little India and Chinatown, but since I needed to claim my tourist sim at M1 Shop in Bugis, I decided to just hit two birds with one stone. When I drafted my itinerary, I had to be realistic because I only had a few days and I didn't want to overbook and disappoint myself. I just booked those that I really wanted to visit. 

At that point, I still didn't have an internet connection. I was counting on my sim to provide me with data connection so I could navigate properly. I booked it ahead online - it has 100gb worth of data, plus local and international calls for 7 days. I used the hotel's WiFi to screenshot the directions to Bugis, as well as to M1 shop. After a few wrong turns and a good 15 minutes, I found the shop. Thanks to the kind people who showed me the way.

Bugis Junction, Singapore


Finally, Gardens by the Bay

I didn't want to run out of time so I skipped Little India and Chinatown, and headed straight to Gardens by the Bay. At least, I already had internet that time so it's easy to find the location. I had to stop at Bayfront Station, then walk around The Shoppes at Marina Bay. It was huge! It took me quite a few minutes to look for the right path to Gardens by the Bay, and when I found it, I was so giddy!!! I made it, yey!! 

The entire place is massive!!! And soooo beautiful. I honestly enjoyed my time alone there. It was Thursday so the crowd was manageable. I had some peace and quiet at the supertree grove before heading to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. More about this on my next post! ;) 



Sunset at 7:30 PM 

I found it rather amazing that the sunset was late. Apparently, I'm used to an early sunset in the Philippines. I just assumed that almost everything would be the same because there's no time difference. When I was at Cloud Forest, I was enjoying my time because it was still bright outside, and when I checked my watch, it's already 7:30 PM so I was surprised.

That's the closest to "midnight sun" I can experience in Asia for now, so I was thrilled. I'd probably be more amazed to experience sunset at 10 PM or 12 midnight like in some parts of Europe! ♥ When I realized it was getting late, I started my way back to the hotel. I didn't want to stay out too late because the MRT's only until 11 PM and I didn't want to pay surcharges for taxi. 

When I arrived at the hotel, I ate dinner, and rested. I swear I couldn't feel my feet from all the walking! Haha! But I was sooo happy I survived the day without crying. At the end of the day, I already felt very comfortable with riding the train and going around the city. I knew that if I just followed the City Mapper app, the map, and the signs, I'd be fine. 



Being someone who has poor sense of direction and someone who used to panic a lot when lost - this first-ever solo international trip was a great feat for me, which is why I'm having a major travel hangover right now. I think I have acquired new survival skills. ;) Traveling with friends is so much fun, but it's also life-changing to travel and explore alone.

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