Taking the overnight sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Singapore is an interesting experience. Flights tend to be much cheaper from the UK to KL, plus, you get to stop off and explore the city before catching the overnight sleeper across the border.
Travelling overland as opposed to flying can help to keep costs down too. Catch the train from KL Sentral Station to Singapore from as little as £7 for a second class sleeper. A private cabin with private toilet and wash facilities will cost slightly extra, but make sure you book early to avoid disappointment as they tend to book up rapid, which you can do so through Seat61.
Alternatively, you can book economy tickets upon arrival at the station. Be sure to take enough water and snacks because there is none available on the train. The journey alone is 7 hours, then once in Singapore it is a case of queuing for a good hour to get through immigration, then onto passport control, then a queue for a taxi before finally travelling into the city and arriving at your accommodation.
Despite how hot and humid KL and Singapore are throughout the day, the train gets cooler at night so take some warm clothes, a blanket and a pillow for comfort as none are provided on the train.
The highlight of this journey is the golden sunrise while approaching Singapore. We arrived early morning (around 9am) and already the heat was formidable. Singapore is an expensive city so we only stayed here for two nights and decided to get a taste of real backpacking and stay in a local hostel before heading off to our hotels in Bali.
Finding Budget Accommodation
Given that Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world, finding budget accommodation can be quite a challenge. After a thorough search through review sites, we settled on Rucksack Inn at Lavender street given its location, just a short bus ride from the main shopping area, Orchard Road.
Rucksack Inn at Lavender Street has a real home-from-home vibe, a small kitchen area where breakfast facilities are available all day long, tea, coffee, bread, jam, butter, peanut butter, and a communal area where groups of backpackers from all around the world gather to plan the days activities. The first rule of the house is shoes off at the door, and each room has its own ‘shoe box’ where you can store them and pop them back on each time you leave.
The rooms are small and sweet, include air con and a large, comfortable bed. The shower facilities are clean but make sure you get up early to beat standing around in line. We had a lovely stay here during out last trip would certainly recommend it for a short budget stay in Singapore for any type of traveller.
For couples, the rooms are private and big enough for a short stay. Solo travellers will benefit from the communal area which is a great place to meet other travellers.
Price: £53 for a standard double room with shared bathroom.
After checking in at the hostel head straight to Marina Bay. The bus station is a two minute walk from Rucksack Inn, which is ideal for getting around on a short stay. Spend the rest of the morning drinking tea at the lavish Flyer lounge while gazing out at the Marina and Singapore’s stunning skyline.
Grab an ice-cream at Gelatissimo, which serves delightful Italian ice-cream. Follow it up with lunch at one of the nearby restaurants before hopping on a boat ride along Singapore river to catch a great view of the city.
As the evening dawns, the food markets come alive. Experience the vibrant atmosphere within the food area that bustles with locals and tourists while sampling the local cuisine from Singapore Food Treats located at Level 1 of the Flyer. The area comprises numerous stalls serving authentic dishes such as local favourites Bak Kut Teh, Satay Bee Hoon and Laksa.
Hop on the Singapore Flyer (aka the big wheel) and catch the view of the bay’s waters from the top of the flyer. The skyline is even more incredible at night and will leave you with an unforgettable experience.
Start the day in Singapore’s very own Chinatown. Here, you will find an array of shops and markets stalls where you will find gadgets and souvenirs beneath a canopy of red and gold lanterns as well as numerous temples such as the intriguing Sri Mariamman, Singapore’s oldest Hindu Temple that dates back to 1827. The temple has fantastic architecture with vibrant colours and characters all over.
Once you have finished exploring here, catch the MRT to Orchard Road, a shoppers paradise with an extensive range of shopping malls that stretch for miles, with Times Square-esque animated billboards to lure you in to the designer emporiums and high-street retailers. This part of the city is full of fashionista’s and high-flyers and expensive sports cars lace the streets of the countless Louis-Vuitton, Gucci and Rolex empires.
Grab a bite to eat at Kilo At Pact serving fresh salads, sushi rolls, or rice bowls and offering a great spot to catch a break and re-fuel for the afternoon. Remember, the heat in Singapore is exhaustive so keep hydrated and stroll inside the shopping malls for a blast of cool air-con.
You can really catch Singapore’s highlights in as little as 48 hours, but if you have more time to kill there is certainly much more to explore.