Alternative Staycation in Singapore

Many Singaporeans complain about their busy schedules and have no time to getaway and relax. Therefore, the trend of “Staycation” has picked up over the years with more Singaporeans choosing to have a weekend at a hotel of preference, be it in the city, in the island of sentosa or the opposite end of their residential home. I mean, we haven’t got the cottages and castles in the “countryside” so this is our next best option, right?

I’m sure many are familiar with the usual staycation picks. Such as the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel, allowing guest to lounge by the infinity pool with the view of our beautiful city. Or a stay at the closest island to Singapore, Resort World Sentosa, enjoying a weekend at the aquarium or USS. However such picks are also pretty extortionate in terms of their rates, and also, too main stream. I’ve rounded up a list of places (non-exhaustive), which I feel people should consider having their next staycation and I’ll tell you why.

1. Rabbit Carrot Gun

I’ve been to Rabbit Carrot Gun for their food but I never knew about their suites until I chanced upon it on Airbnb! Rabbit Carrot Gun offers 3 different rooms for your pick and they also have a separate accommodation known as the Ceylon House where the entire house is for rent. The accommodations are in a traditional shophouse which offers you a unique experience having the best blend of both tradition and modern living.

Located in the heart of the East side, this is a fantastic option if you seldom venture to this part of Singapore. An area rich in Peranakan culture and PLENTY of good food to choose from, this is a perfect getaway. Head to Mad Nest if you’re feeling some fusion Indian – Jap cuisine. Or you can simply settle for some authentic Katong Laksa. For drinks there’s Cider Pit and a hidden beer garden round the corner serving craft beer and ciders. If you’re feeling a need for some coffee, there’s the option of Penny University. Convinced yet?

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(photos credit to Rabbit Carrot Gun)

2. Wanderlust Hotel

When I first walked pass this Hotel, it immediately caught my attention. The standalone building is gorgeous, almost whimsical. Wanderlust Hotel has won several awards for being one of the best (or potentially the best in my opinion) in Singapore. Known for it’s unique interior design, guests also have the option of picking what room they would like (subject to availability of course). The rooms include a space themed room (nothing kinky about it, if you watch The Wolverine you get the joke), and a room with “trees” to get you in touch with nature.

Wanderlust Hotel is also conveniently located walking distance away from Arab Street area, known for their Shisha lounges, Jazz bars, cafes and boutique shops along Haji Lane. If you’re feeling some Mediterranean food or want to try Singapore’s best Murtabak (malay dish with meat filling between a loaf of bread), they are all within reach.

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(photos credit to Wanderlust Hotel)

3. Wangz

This is probably one of the pricier hotel on my list but I have my reasons. For starters, this hotel is in a CIRCULAR tower (which is very rare) and it’s unique architecture stands in the hip area of Tiong Bahru. For those who know, Tiong Bahru is one up and coming area with chic restaurants, bars and trendy cafes sprawling over the neighbourhood. The option of Tiong Bahru market is also readily available if you’re feeling some local delights (Chee Kueh for breakfast anyone?)

Stay in the comfortable Wangz Hotel and enjoy the hustle and bustle an arms length away. Wangz is also located close enough (a short bus ride away) to the trendy Robertson Quay with even more brunch options (though I’d be happy with the selection in Tiong Bahru itself!) Wangz also has a rooftop lounge with an incredible view of the downtown but if you’re thinking of partying, Zouk is round the corner!

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(photos credit to Wangz Hotel)

4. The Club Hotel

The Club Hotel is another stylish boutique hotel that has made it to my list. Situated at the corner of Ann Siang Hill in a historic building, I personally find the white minimalist appearance coupled with a hint of colonial touch very inviting. Being in the middle of Ann Siang Hill, it is ideal for people who enjoy the nightlife there. It is also walking distance from the famous food centres such as Maxwell (where the Gordon Ramsey chicken rice challenge took place) as well as Amoy Food Centre (You have to try the porridge and Wanton Mee there!)

If you haven’t had time to explore your own Chinatown, it is just across the street. And a short walk away you have the Red Dot Design Museum and also Duxton Hill if you aren’t satisfied with just Ann Siang Hill. Either way, there’s a lot to see and do and eat, AND the location is pretty central.

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(photos credit to The Club Hotel)

5. Village Hotel Changi

Finally, I’m recommending a comfortable place for you stay in Changi Village as I find this area so overlooked by the general population! Village Hotel Changi is an ideal comfortable hotel for guest to explore Changi. You’ll be surprised that the Hotel even offers an infinity pool with a sea view.

Apart from being known for Changi Airport, there’s more incentive to having a weekend at Changi. You have Changi Village Food Centre where you get really awesome Nasi Lemak and seafood. It is also home to Coastal Settlement (I absolutely love the food there). I know many friends have failed to visit because “it is too far”. Well, have a staycation in Changi!

If you’re staying at Changi Village, for the adventurous, you can also take a ferry ride from Changi point to Pulau Ubin! When was the last time you took a visit there? Have you even been there before? Do you know that Pulau Ubin is the second largest island off shore Singapore after Sentosa. Only difference is that it is actually a true representation of what Singapore use to be like and a sanctuary for nature lovers (the place remains untouched and I’m glad). Other attractions in Changi includes the Changi Museum Chapel which documents significant events from the Japanese Occupation. Changi Beach is also not far off (fishing anyone?)

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Junior Suite 1A

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(photos credit to Far East Hospitality)

Note that I’m not paid to advertise any of these hotels but this is just my personal pick and opinion on alternative staycation options. It is not necessarily or solely influenced by the hotel itself but I also took into account the unique concept behind the accommodations as well as the location. Well, wherever you pick, I hope you enjoy your upcoming staycation. Relax and stay happy.

Peace&Love

Eileen. x

Bali Break, away from everything.

Living in Singapore gives me the fortune of being one arm’s length away from a lot of beach destination. For the weekend that just passed, it was a good long break for most Singaporeans as Muslim friends of the country were celebrating Hari Raya and for all Singaporeans, it was our National Day (Happy 48th Birthday!)

I personally made used of the weekend and flew to Bali with my girlfriends for a short vacation. I’ve been in Singapore for most of my lifetime but even though it’s only a 2 and a half hours flight away, the weekend was my first ever visit to Bali (I know, I’m ashamed). I’ve heard a lot about Bali and they were mostly about how nice the beaches were, how great the partying is but when I got there, contrary to what others told me, I realised that Bali had so much more to offer and 3 and a half days was just too short!

We booked an absolutely gorgeous villa for this trip with the intention of largely lazing by the pool.

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The lounging area was decorated with unique pieces enhancing the villa’s character.

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There are plenty of villas in Bali that cater to your different needs. Some isolated away from everything, ideal for travellers seeking some privacy and a quiet stay while others prefer it nearer to the beach or even Kuta where the night time comes to life in Bali. The villa I stayed in was in the Seminyak area filled with chic boutique stores, each with their own identity.

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I will highly recommend all you shopaholics to head down to the streets of Seminyak and I guarantee you will find something you like.

The streets of Bali was filled with colours and vigor and at most corners, you’ll be able to spot Balinese art or view the culture through their architecture.

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A short walk away from the main streets of Seminyak lies one of Bali’s many beaches, Seminyak Beach, known for it’s iconic red umbrellas that stretches along the coastal line. With the bars and cafes along the beaches you can sip your cocktail under one of the red umbrellas and enjoy the view of the surfers riding the waves. Do note that the rental for a beach chair will cost you RP100,000. For a cheaper alternative, just pack a beach towel and pick any spot you like on the beach! Though I must comment, like all other commercialised beaches, the beaches in Bali are a hot spot for many sellers who will walk around promoting their services and products to you.

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At the end of the day, whether you’re a tourist, local or seller, everyone will stop their tracks and marvel at the beautiful sunset Bali has to offer. If you are a seafood lover, head down to Jimbaran Beach for a spread of fresh seafood with a sunset view. 

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The rest of my Bali adventure included a Seawalker experience in Nusa Dua. Seawalking is basically the closest way to get to the fish if you can’t swim or haven’t got a dive certificate. You basically wear a helmet that looks apt on an astronaut and walk on the seabed around the coral reefs. The environmentally friendly side of me tells me that the activity seems adverse for the ecosystem, but I suppose the government has concentrated an area for the activities to take place to minimalise destruction. If you’re looking to do some water activities such as banana boat, snorkelling, parasailing, Nusa Dua is the place to go. For a less crowded option head to Sanur instead which offers an equally good experience.

Apart from that I had a chance to visit Uluwatu. The Merlion to Singapore, is Uluwatu to Bali. It is a temple situated at the edge of the cliff. Most Balinese are Hindus, and there are 9 main Hindu Temples around the island that protects Bali in all 9 directions, including one in the middle. Uluwatu is one of the 9. A bonus when you visit Uluwatu: the view of the Indian Ocean from the top is simply magnificent.

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As I mentioned right from the start, Bali has so much to offer and I didn’t have the time to see them all. Bali is divided into several regions.

The North – You find a traditional quiet part of Bali with their Black sand beaches. It is also home to Mount Batur, a popular volcano for trekking enthusiasts.

The Central – This is where you find the iconic rice padi fields, particularly in Ubud, along with other natural beauties such as the mountain ranges. The Central is also known as the cultural heart of Bali.

The West – Being close to the East of Java, tourist can take ferries rides across to explore the other parts of Indonesia. The West of Bali also offers the untouched work of Mother Nature in the National Park such as Menjangan island. This is also a popular site for wreck diving.

The East – Quite similar to the North, you’ll also find black sand beaches here in the East and laid back fishing villages. You’ll also get a view of the majestic Mount Agung, another active volcano in Bali.

The South – This is the most visited part of Bali which is why I placed this last. In the South you find all the hustle and bustle like your sea sports activity in Nusa Dua, your partying in Kuta and shops in Seminyak. The South also allows accessibility to islands not far away. Do visit the South but definitely don’t overlook the rest of Bali!

So I’ve decided that Bali is not too far off so I’m going back for a closer look at its vibrant culture and landscape. If you’re flying from somewhere far, consider extending your stay such that it’s more than just a beach holiday and get a fruitful and wholesome visit of this island.

Below are some of the miscellaneous information from my trip:

Where I stayedLe Chloe Villa

Where I partiedSkygarden, Kuta (For other partying info check out beatmag)

Where I dined – Wali Beach Cafe at Jimbaran Beach. Order the grilled chilli king prawns, it’s really really REALLY good. The entire stretch of Jimbaran Beach is filled with seafood restaurants all priced quite similarly with a spectacular Sunset view so I’m certain it’s quite safe to pop into any if you starved. (For other restaurants in Bali, check out this guide from ladyironchef)

How I got around – The best way to get around Bali is to either hire a driver (to prevent taxis from trying to rip you off) or to rent a motorbike if you are confident of steering through the crazy Bali traffic. We had an awesome driver, Ditya and I’m more than happy to provide you with his contact. He charges a very reasonable rate of USD40 a day (without tip and lunch which we gave as extra).

How much I spent – In Bali the main currency is Indonesian Rupiah. Though people say that US dollar is acceptable, I would advise you to bring more Rupiah rather than to rely on US dollar. Food and drinks are rather cheap. A bottle of beer ranges from RP15k to RP40k depending on where you are at and even so that is USD4 for a bottle of beer. Food wise, you can get cheap indonesian meals at around RP30k or under even, but if you’re looking at more expensive restaurants or a extravagant seafood dinner expect to pay at least RP250k (USD25) per person, depending on what you order, and that again is cheap as compared to many other places. Entry into the most popular 5 storey club Skygarden is RP100k, and again, other expensive options like Ku De Ta is 7 times that price. And on the other hand, there are also plenty of places that offer free entry. So budget your trip according to your preferences!

Well I hope you guys find the beauty in Bali like I did and see that it is more than just a beach destination. I don’t know about you, but I’m going back for round 2 and more.

Peace&Love
Eileen x

My First Tandem Skydive Experience

Skydive CapetownI ticked several activities off my bucketlist during my SA trip and tandem skydiving was one of them. As I have already done the world highest bridge bungy (i’ll have a separate post on that), I wasn’t quite nervous about doing the skydive. In fact, I was more excited than anything else! Cape Town was perfect as a drop zone as you can see from my picture above, you get a beautiful view of the ocean, along with Table Mountain, Robben Island and multiple sand dunes. Prince Harry did a jump here as well! 😉

Some of you are wondering if the tandem skydive is scary, and I get comments such as “Should I do it? But I’m afraid of jumping out the plane”. My answer is, “DO IT” and allow me to reassure you about your fears. Have faith and trust your tandem master. My tandem master was great from the start till the end. Right from the moment the plane took off, he was reassuring me and watching my back. If I’m honest, there was an occasion on the plane when I got slightly nervous. My friend and I were on the plane doing the tandem jump, together with 2 other solo jumpers and when we got to about 9000ft, the door of the plane opened and the girl jumped out. At that point, I thought to myself “(gulp) I don’t think I’ll have the balls to do that”. But anyway, the tandem jump itself turned out to be very manageable. The duration of the entire jump from the moment we got out of the plane lasted about 35 seconds. All you need to do is to lean back, bend your knees backwards, smile for the camera and enjoy your jump. You will definitely feel the fall at first instance when your tandem master jumps out from the plane. But after a couple of seconds you will feel like you’re floating and it’s such an amazing feeling, the closest you can get to flying! My tandem master even gave me a chance to steer the parachute!

All in all, I had great fun and it’s something everybody should try and do once in their lifetime. I promise, you will not regret it! 🙂

Some of you are concerned about the rates because skydiving isn’t the cheapest activity. I know that a couple of places in the states offer quite good pricing, under USD200. My jump in South Africa was very reasonable as compared to other places in the world. Check out Skydive Capetown for more details. Switzerland is probably one of the most expensive in comparison to the rest of the world BUT you do get an awesome view of the alps. This is a pretty decent website for more details on pricing and locations in the world -> skydiving.findthebest

So what are you waiting for guys! Go on and book one of the most amazing experience of your lifetime! Happy jumping!

PS: I was trying to upload my skydive video to share but technology isn’t on my side, I will do so when it works!

– Update!

Peace&Love,

Eileen x