Driving Tour in Singapore from Malaysia
Let me first thank you for offering your time and expertise.
My husband and I will be visiting a friend in Kuala Lumpur over Easter. We hope to take his car and do a driving trip which includes Singapore. I really appreciate if you can help with the following:
1. Can you recommend good mid-range accommodation options in Singapore that provide secure and preferrably free parking? It can be out of the way.
You could consider the following - all positively rated mid-range hotels with complimentary parking:
a) Changi Village Hotel
This hotel is located at Changi Village - a quaint, interesting part of Singapore that's quite different from the city area.
b) Wangz Hotel Singapore
A new boutique hotel on the outer edge of Chinatown, that has been creating quite a buzz in the local press recently. Pretty interesting decor and something different from the usual business hotel.
c) Royal Hotel Singapore (Newton Road Branch)
A proven hotel that's been around for a while. It's located just outside the Orchard Road shopping/dining belt and therefore exempts you from the CBD car charges.
2. Can you suggest a one-day driving tour itinerary taking in areas outside of the CBD? Though we have been to Singapore a number of times before, we had always stayed in "town" and therefore would love to get "out" this time round.
Here are 3 routes which are pretty interesting and will show you a different, lesser-known side of Singapore:
A. Driving Tour of Rural Singapore: Kranji Countryside & Farms
This Singapore farm tour takes you to the Kranji farms, a pottery factory and a very worthwhile wetland reserve. Maps, driving route and farm information are all included.
B. Driving Tour to Joo Chiat Peranakan District
This is a roughly rectangular area bounded by the following roads:
a. Changi Road
b. Joo Chiat Road
c. East Coast Road
d. Still Road
Particularly, you should drive along Joo Chiat Road, East Coast Road, Tembeling Road and Koon Seng Road. When you've surveyed the area, back-track to the spot you find most interesting.
Joo Chiat has interesting shops and restaurants galore. Get off the car, look at the curious nuggets of food, sample them, move on and repeat.
Also drop by Rumah Bebe (113 East Coast Road) to marvel at the beaded shoes and trinkets. Then hop across the road to Katong Antique House (208 East Coast Road) and if the owner is around, ask for a Peranakan Culture 101 "crash-course".
C. Driving Tour to Seedy Singapore: Geylang Red Light and Food District
There is a reason this area is not in the tourist brochures. But drive along Geylang Road after the sunset and make those fascinating detours to the even-numbered side streets (Geylang Lorong 4-22).
The streets here are one-way, but you can always go down one and return on the next adjacent one.
You don't have to get off your car if you don't want to. But Geylang is probably the safest red light district in the world and I urge you to pull up at a car park somewhere, drop in a coffee shop for supper and be amused by the raucous, candid conversations going on around you.
3. Can you recommend a driving tour itinerary of the CBD? We are experienced in city driving having driven in New York, Moscow, Hong Kong etc.
Driving in Singapore CBD gives you mobility; but I wonder of the parking rates and electronic road pricing (ERP) gantries may take away a bit of the joy for you...
But here's a driving tour through a lesser-explored part of Chinatown - a charming neighbourhood south of South Bridge Road. The route takes you through quaint, restored shophouses, heritage buildings and a couple of standout temples.
View Singapore Chinatown Driving Tour in a larger map
a. Park your car at the Market Street Car Park.
(To get to this car park, drive to the end of Cecil Street, and make that obscure right turn onto Market Street.)
b. Cross the road and have breakfast at Lau Pa Sat Food Centre.
c. Thereafter take this driving route:
Cross Street -> Telok Ayer Street (to see the fascinating Thian Hock Keng Temple) -> Amoy Street -> Cross Street (again) -> South Bridge Road -> Neil Road -> Cantonment Road -> *Stopover at Pinnacles @ Duxton for views of city skyline -> Cantonment Road -> Lim Teck Kim Road -> Tanjong Pagar Road -> Maxwell Road -> Kandayanallur Road -> Ang Siang Road -> Club Street (for its fascinating shops and eateries).
* To access the 50th-storey Pinnacles Skybridge, you need an EZ Link card with a value of at least $5. EZ Link cards are available at MRT (subway) stations, and you need one card per person to gain entry into Pinnacles @ Duxton.
4. Any tips on driving into/around the CBD and on parking?
a) I recommend that you get hold of a good map. Buy the Singapore Map by WEM in Malaysia, or the Singapore Street Directory by Mighty Minds at the earliest opportunity in Singapore.
You may also get hold of the free tourist map usually available from hotels, but I'm not sure if it'll be good enough to drive around with.
Many streets are one-directional and if you miss one, it could mean a big detour before you get back onto your desired route again.
Better still if you have GPS system, since there are also free maps you can download.
b) The URA public car parks are cheaper than the privately owned ones. These public car parks are usually marked with a distinct signboard (yellow and orange fringe, and a blue circle with a 'P' letter in the middle).
For URA car parks, you need the public car park coupons available from 7 Eleven stores. Or if it's an electronically managed car park, you need to use the Autopass card required of foreign vehicles coming into Singapore.
5. Will the Malaysia-Singapre border crossing be very hectic over Easter? Any tips to avoid the congestion? Are April 2 to April 6 public/school holidays in Singapore?
You'll expect some delays on your day of arrival, this being a holiday. But it's unlikely to be unbearable. (The most horrible delays are during the Chinese New Year holidays.)
There are 2 land entry points into Singapore from Malaysia, the Johor Bahru-Woodlands Causeway and the Tuas Second Link.
The JB-Woodlands Causeway will see higher traffic, since the toll here is much lower than the toll for the Second Link.
Unless your are departing for Malaysia during the 5-8pm peak hours, you're unlikely to take very long to get back into Malaysia.