Singapore Airlines Stopover Holiday Package tips – specifically for NZ and AU visitors

Singapore Stopover Holiday

The Singapore Airlines Stopover Holiday Package is well worth knowing about if you’re passing through Singapore for a few days which we highly recommend. It allows you to enjoy the beautiful city of Singapore while also saving a heap of money! The official webpage for NZ/AU travellers can be found by clicking here. It’s not the easiest deal to get your head around however so I wanted to provide some extra info.

Important to know: You need to be traveling through Singapore exclusively with Singapore airlines and you need to book a (discounted) hotel through the deal to qualify (see here for a current list of hotel pricing in NZ$). So if you book with Singapore Airlines and then one of your flights changes to another carrier before you can book your SSH (e.g.  from Singapore Airlines to Air NZ like ours did) you need to look in to this ASAP as this will impact your eligibility (not cool Singapore Airlines).

It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to book through a travel agent as we did to take advantage of this deal and it includes airport transfers to and from the qualifying hotels. You can add it on to your Singapore flights through the Singapore Airlines login (during or after purchasing your flights) as per this demo. This will provide you with an electronic receipt that you need to show at the SSH Desk at the airport (Terminal 3) and again at your hotel. More info can be found in the Hotel and Transport Arrangements tab here.

Here’s also a full list of attractions that you get one-time access to as an NZ/AU visitor (with an itinerary originating in NZ or AU) within the duration of your pass (as of May 2015) which I have listed by level of coolness (first experienced and then perceived*):

Tips for a flying visit:
– To maximize the bang for your buck on your stopover we reccomend choosing a flight that arrives in the morning of day 1 and leaves in the evening of day 2 so that you can enjoy two full days of attractions and one heavily discounted night at a hotel.
– Other than your airport transfers and the SIA bus your transport is not covered in this deal. This isn’t a big deal for most attractions except for the Zoo (and nearby Night Safari and River Safari which aren’t covered by the SSH deal but are well worth checking out) which is a about a S$20 taxi ride from the city (S$25 from Sentosa) or a cheap but long bus ride. I did see signs around for a Sentosa shuttle for around S$6pp but this never seemed to be operating when we needed it.
A great update to also know about if you’ve already used this deal in the past: You no longer have to first travel to the Singapore Flyer to receive your vouchers for the attractions because they’ve been replaced with convenient cards instead (see above) which are issued at the SIA desk at Changi Airport where you go to organise your airport transfer upon arrival.
Please do comment if you have any questions/suggestions for additional info, otherwise for formal information I reccomend that you contact TradeWinds directly (who appear to manage the stopover packages) rather than Singapore Airlines.

Ride Review: Puss in Boots’ Giant Adventure (As featured on themeparkinsider.com)

SINGAPORE — Joining the Universal Studios Singapore family just a few weeks ago, Puss in Boots’ Big Giant Journey was a must-see attraction during our short trip to USS. The ride joins the Shrek-themed, family oriented, Far Far Away Land area, filling a formerly dead cul-de-sac.

Puss in Boots' Big Giant Journey

The exterior entrance of the ride suggests, in a very Universal fashion, an attention to detail displaying the ruins of a castle overgrown in ivy. The queuing time was the longest in the park for the day – 50 minutes. Compare that to the two biggest rides of the park: Transformers – which had a queuing time of 30 minutes and Revenge of the Mummy ride – which was nearly walk on.

Moments after entering the queue, you’re met by a large screen in a big golden frame in which Puss in Boots & his feline girlfriend (Kitty Softpaws) introduce you to the story of the ride — a local orphanage has hit financial hardship and will soon be shut down if it does not find some more money soon. Puss comes up with the idea that they can gather money by climbing up the giant magical beanstalk and stealing the golden eggs at the top to save the orphanage. The journey will be dangerous as there is a monster at the top. (It is inferred that this is a giant – from “Jack & the Beanstalk.) Puss is looking for brave volunteers and pleads for help using his signature pouty look. He suggests that the volunteers can reach the top using flying machines.

Passing beyond the screen the line moves on into what appears to be the giant’s kitchen, filled with giant cooking utensils, giant books, recipes (that often include human beings as ingredients) and the odd golden egg. The theming in this room is top notch and comical, it’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into this room. Alongside the adventure/Spanish-themed music in the background this room certainly helps to build anticipation for the ride. The only let down for this area being the bare metallic roof which takes away from the theming – but at least it lets the breeze in. (Singapore is very hot & humid. Think an Orlando summer, year ’round.)

The day we visited, they were running 10 carriages (which each hold nine participants), so the line was moving relatively quickly. Once on, the lift system (which resembles that of a mixer) pushes your flying machine up the track lift in a spiral formation inside the castle turret, this is very cool & also helps to build anticipation. Unfortunately in my opinion, once the ride hits the top it is both physically and metaphorically all down hill from here…

The ride itself is very short and in this time they’ve tried to fit too much plot than the few static scenes will allow. The big twist (spoiler alert!) is that it’s not really a giant you have to fear but mother goose who believes you are trying to steal her baby chicks. This plot twist sounds great on paper but in such a limited capacity it is hard to pull this off well and leaves the question — whose kitchen were we in? And why call it the Giant Journey anyway? Presented in the static scenes there is the initial goose revelation, then about three scenes of running and conflict, an unexplained resolution between parties followed by a bizarre concluding party scene. Being open air the ride also lacks the ability of hiding the next few scenes from view, which takes away from some of the mystery. I think it would have been far more effective to keep the storyline simple, sticking with the giant and keeping the story coherent.

Given, this is meant to be a family ride, so I’m not the demographic they’re aiming at, your kids probably won’t pick up on all this and probably still will love it. It’s just hard to look past as an avid theme park fan. So overall I would suggest holding off a little bit, your kids may love it but I’m not sure they will love it enough to justify a 50-minute wait.

Editor’s Note: Here is an on-ride video from Dejiki.

Singapore: Day 3

Three highlights from our third and final day in Singapore included

Adventure Cove Water Park, River Safari & Meomi Cat Café.

Adventure Cove Water Park

Located on Sentosa Island and owned by Resort World (who also owns Universal Studios Singapore) this is one sweet park whose website I feel sells itself short! Though a little pricey (about $35 NZD per person) this water park features extensive and detailed theming (particularly on its incredibly long lazy river ride), some fun and memorable slides – including a water coaster (a water slide that mimics a roller coaster by providing not only descents, but powered ascents as well) & snorkeling with tropical fish. Match that with the hot muggy weather & Adventure cove makes for one fun and refreshing day! However Beware! Adventure Cove effectively closes down when it rains, which it does pretty much every day in Singapore (often for much shorter times than say NZ) but still, miss-time the rain & your day at the water park can be cut short – we missed out the last section of the river ride before having to shoot off to our second destination; River Safari.

River Safari Pandas

River Safari

I had no idea what to expect when it came to River Safari; being the newest addition to the Singapore Zoo family & the smallest, my expectations were low. I was however actually pleasantly surprised; River Safari probably holds the greatest number of “wow, I didn’t even know that existed!” animals I’ve seen anywhere! Around each corner I found myself saying, flip that is one crazy looking animal * mindsplosion! * Additionally I finally got to see a Panda here (2 to be exact) AND we got to see Manatees, one of those majestic ‘gotta see it to believe it’ animals. River Safari gets two thumbs up from me.Meomi Cat Cafe

Meomi Cat Café

I was quite excited at Jenny’s suggestion of checking out a cat café, I find the idea quite novel. This café has 7 cats in a reasonably small café, so the cat to café ratio is pretty good. The café works on a per person entry charge of $13NZD which covers you for an hour and comes with a drink of juice; this can be upgraded to 1hr+coffee+cake for $19. The concept is taking off around the world, I’d be tempted to start one back in our hometown Wellington NZ if I wasn’t so afraid of the café flopping and being stuck with 7 cats of my own for life haha. Anyway the café was fun although most of the cats were pretty sleepy when we arrived & not all that keen to play…which does tend to make it more like a normal café rather than a cat café when this happens…this was the case for about 10mins until some more customers arrived with a kid and boy did things get so much funnier from there! (Every Cat Café should come with an inbuilt kid) The kid, totally disregarding the café guidelines starting picking up cats, prodding the sleeping ones, heavily stroking others & building beds of the rest, she must have brought out every cat toy in the café, it was brilliant to watch & we left satisfied.

Another day, another 3 bucket list items ticked off. Great success!

Singapore: Day 2

I always find that going to bed slightly on the late side of a new time zone helps me to adjust quickly, so too with our Singapore stop; heading to bed at 12am (even though this equated to 4am NZ time) helped us to make the most of our second day in Singapore.

On this day we tried local cuisine, visited Singapore Zoo and Spent the afternoon at Universal Studios Singapore.

When in Rome, do as the locals.

To the best of our abilities, Jenny & I always try and eat like the locals; this can sometimes be fun, sometimes a little eyebrow raising. Lucky for us Singapore seems to have nothing but tasty local cuisine, finding influences from south east Asia and India. One dish that we weren’t able to try however was the Chilli Crab. We’d heard that it was a local delicacy so were keen to try it; I don’t think we quite appreciated how much of delicacy it was however, the one place we found supplying it were selling it for $200per kg. Uhm, no thanks, I think I’ll stick to my $5 Mee Lemak.

Singapore Zoo

Is world class! We had a couple of mind-blowing experience that you HAVE to try if your ever in Singapore. 1) Go see the polar bear feeding! POLAR BEAR! I haven’t seen that anywhere else that I’ve been, watching that thing swim was majestic! 2) Pay the $5 donation and join in the 1:15pm hand feeding of the white rhinos! Hand feeding a white rhino rockmellon is simply surreal!

IMG_5309

Universal Studios Singapore.

I am a theme park fanatic, so any chance to visit a theme park & I’m in! As I mentioned in Singapore Day 1, tickets to Universal Studios Singapore com free with the stop over holiday. Furthermore, I’m hoping to land a story with one of my favourite blog (themeparkinsider.com), so I was keen to try the new Puss in Boots’ Giant Adventure ride to review it. I’ll let you know in a couple of days whether Theme Park Insider decides to take the story on or not! A couple of quick points about Universal Studios Singapore: 1) Take a water proof layer & consider wearing flip flops -> because when it rains in Singapore, it rains hard and fast! It only takes a few moments to become completely drenched but don’t worry, the rain often goes after about 30mins. 2) 80% of the time, the service is amazing every time. 3) don’t hold your breath about riding Battle Star Galactic (one of their top attractions – the worlds tallest dueling coaster), only problem is that is had niggling issues since it opened 5 years ago, all in all its had 2 years worth of open days, 3 years of closed. It was set to open about now but as of yet, no date has been set.

Singapore Day 1

The first day of our big trip! Nerves are racing.

My parents take us down the airport for breakfast, they’ve been helping us so much recently; they’ve been hosting us for two and a half months to help us bridge the gap between the end of our rental lease and the big trip, by doing so they’ve also been helping us to save. Furthermore, they’ve been helping us to connect connect with family and friends in the UK. I’m going to really miss my parents, generous to a fault and with hearts of Gold.

Flying up to Auckland we knew there was a an hour and a half between landing at Auckland Domestic and flying out of Auckland International. What we failed to take into account was that the gap till departure was an hour and a half, the gap till boarding was about 45mins. Obliviously, we’d settled down in the food court to kill time. By the time we headed through immigration we heard our names being read over the intercom telling us that this was the final boarding call! Boy did we run! They even called Jenny’s cellphone at this point to see if we were coming; apparently 5 more mins and they would have left without us! Such a simple mistake, one that I doubt we’ll make twice!

10 hours later we arrive in Singapore! Instantly we discover an issue however, in NZ we often move our money around between accounts using our phone data, but in Singapore we have no internet & no way of withdrawing money from ATMs (as many of the taxis no longer take credit cards). Eek! Note to self, transfer money into current account before moving countries!

Lucky for us, our Singapore Stopover Holiday comes with an hotel transfer (& luckily our hotel comes with wifi phew! – although we didn’t discover this until the second day). Now if you are travelling through Singpore, its worth investigating flying with Singapore Airlines as they offer a pretty sweet stop over holiday deal! $40 each for the first night in a hotel (We stayed in V hotel Lavender which is both reasonable & sits atop a food court and an MRT station – which is super handy for getting around!) the deal comes with a whole bunch of free attractions, including Universal Studios, Singapore Zoo, Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer, Luging, A gondola ride, access to the Super Tree café, bum boats & a whole host of other things to occupy your time! Only thing is, while the first night is cheap, the second night is a bit pricier & the deals are only available the day before and after your nights stay as we discovered. This wasn’t a huge deal for us as this was the second time that we’ve used this deal we were less rushed to fit it all in, we simply had to shuffle our plans around a bit so we did all the free things on one day & all the non-free things the following day.

Now if there is anything you can say about Jenny & I, it’s that we don’t mess around on holiday, either go hard or go home kind of mentality. So even though arriving in Singapore at 7pm was about 11pm NZ time, we wanted to make the most of our first night. So Night Safari it was! So glad we checked it out, it’s so flipping cool. A simple but powerful change that makes a vibrant difference. You see animals in a whole new way. HIGHLY Recommended! We finished up at the zoo around 11:30pm and got back to the zoo around 12am Singapore time (4am NZ time – like I said, go hard or go home!)