“Wow, this place is magical,” said my friend. “It looks like we’re not in Singapore.”
When Singaporeans think of life-changing, profound, surreal experiences, it goes without saying that these magical circumstances can be found only overseas. People dream about sharing a kiss under the Eiffel Tower (not in front of Marina Bay Sands), or meeting a mysterious stranger on the Subway in New York (not in the MRT).
This kind of thinking suggests that you’ve got to spend big bucks to have great experiences, while everyone else is condemned to scraping out a pathetic existence in their HDB void decks. But that’s not true! If you’re in search of an eye-opener, look no further than the other side of the MRT tracks. Here are some awesome experiences you don’t have to travel too far or spend a lot of money to enjoy.
Experience the beauty of nature
Sure, Bukit Timah Hill might not exactly give you the wild, unspoiled experience you’re looking for. Malaysia, on the other hand, is famous the world over for its jungles, caves, waterfalls and beaches. With the ringgit as weak as it’s ever been and the everything in Peninsular Malaysia just a few hours’ drive or bus ride away, Singaporeans craving the great outdoors can enjoy it on a budget.
- Taman Negara – Who knew the world’s oldest tropical rainforest would belong to our neighbours up north? Swim beneath a waterfall, spot tapirs, go hiking and trek in the jungle.
- Kota Tinggi – For a quick daytrip, visit Kota Tinggi in Johor, home to famous waterfalls and mangroves where you can see fireflies at night. Best of all, it’s just a 3 hour drive from Singapore.
- Endau Rompin National Park – Also located about 3 hours away by car, Endau Rompin National Park in Johor is yet another jungle paradise.
Thrills and spills
Singapore is so boring, everyone laments. No kick! If only we could take some time off to go bungee jumping in New Zealand, skydiving in Cairns or skiing in Niseko. But adrenalin junkies can also enjoy some thrills and spills in Singapore at way lower prices than it would cost you to leap off a cliff without dying or jump from a plane. Maybe I’m not particularly daring, but I’ve never tried any of the above and I imagine they would more than use up my lifetime’s thrill quota.
- Zipline – You don’t have to go overseas to zipline over treetops. At MegaZip Adventure Park at Sentosa, zipline over tree tops, jump to your non-death while attached to a platform above or climb a monster 16 metre wall. A package of two thrills will cost you $50, which is a reasonable price considering a single bungee jump usually costs well over $100.
- Skydive – Want to skydive but don’t have $1,000 to travel to a foreign country and book yourself on a plane you can jump out of? iFly at Sentosa simulates the experience quite convincingly I hear and costs $44.50 to $59.50 per “skydive”, depending on how many people you share a package with and when you go. An actual skydiving experience in Australia would cost about $250 to $300.
- Mountain bike – Believe it or not, Singapore is home to some fairly challenging mountain biking trails, so if you’re into the thrill of hoping your face will not scrape the dirt, check out the trails at Bukit Timah, purportedly the most difficult of them all.
Tropical island adventure
If the ultra-modern Marina Bay waterfront just doesn’t do it for you and you’d rather party it up on a deserted island, monkeys and all, you don’t have to leave Singapore to do that. So many Singaporeans fly to Thailand or the Philippines to enjoy the beaches and to get away from the crowds but have never set foot on our own islands.
- St John’s Island – A return ticket to St John’s Island costs $18 and takes you to an idyllic tropical island. You can even rent a holiday bungalow for $53.50 to $107 a day. Staying an entire week costs a very cheap $133.75.
- Lazarus Island – Beat the crowds and take a ferry to St John’s Island, crossing over to Lazarus Island on foot. Much less crowded than St John’s and more scenic.
Have you tried any of the above? Tell us what you thought in the comments!