Driving to Singapore is really simple, just make sure you remember your passport. As Singapore is so close to Malaysia it is easy to forget that it is in fact a whole different country. It will become very apparent once you cross the border, the somewhat chaotic and fast traffic will give way to smooth driving and drivers actually obeying the laws! Singapore as a city is clean, designed and expensive. I myself prefer Malaysia but as my husband says, it is sometimes nice to go to a more organised place…
Crossing the border by car means you have to have an autopass for your car. This you get on the Singaporean side, after passing the customs and everything. We stood in line for about 30 minutes to get it, all in all it took us about 50 minutes to cross. If you go by buss it usually takes anywhere between one and three hours. Once you have the autopass it is smooth sailing when you cross the border, it took us less than 20 minutes going back. The amount you have to pay for having your car in Singapore is 35 SD per day, but you do get 10 free days on the autopass, and holidays are always free. If you find the rules difficult to grasp they have a great help line you can call.
We decided pretty late that we were going to Singapore for New Years so all the cheaper hotelrooms were long gone. And being Singapore, cheap doesn’t really mean cheap but rather less expensive. If you want to stay downtown, or around Orchard Road, be prepared to pay. We finally found a place called Hangout@Mt Emily at a walking distance from Orchard Road and YWCA where the rest of the gang had booked rooms (over six months ago). As we booked only a few days before going we ended up paying close to RM 1350 for two nights, breakfast included. And that was the best price we could find, other hotels had rooms for double that sum, for ONE night. Thanks but no.
Turned out to be a nice place, no frills but clean and comfy beds and our own bathroom. The breakfast was bad though, and very crowded. I suggest you eat out instead. They also had parking outside the hotel and it was free for hotelguests, always good to know if you come by car.
The main reason people come to Singapore for New Years is the fireworks down Marina Bay. People sit around for hours, having picnics and just chatting while they wait for the display to start. We hung around for quite a while but at 11 pm our children were so tired that the oldest begged us to go back to the hotel. So we did. I ended up watching the fireworks through the windows of our room, traveling with children means you have to adjust a lot and change plans all the time. Sometimes it can be stressful but most of the time we try to go with the flow, it is easier on your nerves that way.
New Year’s Day we went to the Art & Science Museum and saw the most amazing exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci. They had 13 original sketches on display and loads and loads of stuff to play and experiment with. Our children loved it, and we did too. Da Vinci has always interested me and the exhibit was definitely worth the somewhat steep entrance fee. I think we paid SD 35 per adult which is a lot.
We left Singapore the next day, with our wallets a lot less heavy. Be aware that everything costs at least twice, usually three times, of what it does in Malaysia. But you will find nice shops, the malls are big and if you like spending you have come to the right place. We didn’t do any shopping but looked at all the Christmas decorations that were still up. In that department I can assure you that the Singaporeans have never heard the phrase “less is more”.
We spent the night in Johor Bahru, meeting up with the family at my husband’s cousin. Ended up outside their house, eating satay and talking, with the children running around and playing. English, Malay and Swedish were spoken, the children understanding each other perfectly. And with that, our roadtrip came to an end.
If you want to see photos from Singapore, my husband’s blog can be found here.