Saturday, 8 November 2014

Cheapest Holiday in Sentosa: SGD20 for 1 entlre day!

Sentosa is an expensive destination. With typical meals starting at $8 and whole day attraction passes at $69.90, a 1 day family vacation to Sentosa can easily cost $300. However, here is a little secret: There are actually many value attractions in Sentosa that can easily last you a full day. In this article, I shall show you the little secrets to visit Sentosa for just $20. And yes, that includes food.

Sentosa 1 day holiday for SGD20

10am: Entry via Sentosa Boardwalk

After a hearty breakfast at Harbourfront Food Center (opposite Vivocity), enter Sentosa - The State of Fun via Sentosa Boardwalk. Here's the first secret: Till 4 Jan 2015, there is FREE admission to Sentosa Island on all weekends and public holidays via Sentosa Boardwalk. Even the standard price is just SGD1. Stroll along this beautifully landscaped structure and enjoy the views of the ferry terminal. On weekends, there will even be "night market" style stalls set up for you to explore!

11am: Sentosa Nature Discovery

Once inside the island, all transportation is free. As such, don't be shy about taking the Sentosa Express monorail to our next destination. Alight at Imbiah Station and take a flight of escalators up to Imbiah Lookout. On the left side of the cable car station, there is an pathway leading to some toilets. If you walk further inside along this path, you will find one of the least known attractions in Sentosa: Sentosa Nature Discovery!

Follow these cute little signboards at Imbiah Lookout to head to Sentosa Nature Discovery
Sentosa Free Attractions
Sentosa Nature Discovery is located at a hidden corner to the side of the old Cable Car station
This 2 level exhibition gallery showcases the various fauna and flora that can be found on Sentosa Island. For example, I never knew that Sentosa is home to seven different ecosystems, from coastal mangroves to secondary rainforests. You will also find some secrets about the history of Sentosa and learn useful tips for animal spotting.

There are 2 levels of informative exhibits here, and you will never need to jostle with a big crowd here.
The lower floor sports a series of tables with exhibits of various woods, herbs and spices. I suspect this place can also be used as a nice outdoor seminar room!
Here is some more exhibits. There are some exhibits with Chinese and/or Japanese translations (read: some)

12pm: Imbiah Trails

Once you completed Sentosa Nature Discovery, you will see a little elevated path leading into the jungle. This marks the start of Imbiah Trails! Imbiah Trails actually winds its way through the Secondary Rainforests of Sentosa on Mount Imbiah. The paths are mostly narrow dirt paths thus allowing you to be really close to nature.

Here's a little fun fact: This boardwalk is actually built on the structure of the old Sentosa Monorail track!
You can also follow one of these journeys as you navigate through Imbiah Trails. Some of the challenges and facts are actually quite interesting!
There is also some interesting leftover theming from the old days when this attraction was the Dragon Trail. However, Sentosa has "killed" all the dragons already
Attention please, if you see any suspicious looking persons, or articles, please alert our station staff immediately. Thank you!
Cheap Holiday Sentosa
Enjoy one of 2 waterfalls along the Imbiah Trails

Once you completed the walk, you can head over the the Underwater Viewing Chamber outside Underwater World and enjoy the graceful turtles there. Or if you simply can't get enough of nature, you can continue to explore the Jungle Trail featuring the coastal mangrove ecosystem.

This hidden aquarium will put you face to face with graceful turtles. However, I wish the inside had better lighting so we could see the animals better.
Jungle Trail is located beside the Underwater World Bus Stop and allows you to explore the coastal mangrove habitat. This trail is also popular among cyclists as the ground is more even compared to Imbiah Trails.

1.30pm: Lunch near Beach Station

If you want food that achieves a balance between price and quality, I will say the beach station cluster is a good choice. There, dining options includes Tastes of Asia and GoGo Franks near the Wings of Time entrance, as well as Bora Bora and Macdonalds at the I-Fly building. The price for the former 3 restaurants is about SGD10-12 per meal , and you can also benefit from Weekday Lunch deals with complimentary drinks/desert. Or if you really want the budget experience, head over to Macdonalds at I-Fly where meals start at SGD6. 

Of course, since the weather is so hot at this time, you may want to take the time after lunch to watch people perform acrobatics (or fallacies) in the I-Fly wind tunnel while enjoying the aircon! You can also view my experience at Genting Highlands now defunct SkyVenture (same as I-Fly) here!

2.30pm: Beach Activities

Sentosa's beaches are arguably the best in Singapore, so no trip to Sentosa is complete without some beach activities. At Siloso Beach, you will find some Beach Volleyball courts though you can also be nostalgic and use the courts to play sepak takraw (a traditional malay game where people kick the ball across the net). As the courts are very popular, I advice you to arrive early (either just after lunch or in the morning).

You can also opt to play at Palawan Beach. There, the beach is wider so there is more space for games but there are no marked courts. It is not uncommon for people to play beach soccer and use the coconut trees as "Goalposts"

4.00pm: Wavehouse

After some intense sports and games, it is time to wind down and watch others in action. Wavehouse located at Siloso Beach is the perfect venue for that as you can see people stand (and fall) in simulated surf conditions. In fact, Wavehouse is one of the few places in the world to boast a FlowBarrel, where you can really see the pros execute their best moves in a big curl!

Wavehouse has 2 wave simulators: The Flowrider featured here, as well as the Flowbarrel (which was switched off when I visited)
This is the ideal place to watch pros show off their skills. On some days, you may even find competition grade surfers practicing here!

5pm: Animal and Bird Encounters

I will gladly say that this is the highlight of the Sentosa complimentary experience. Animal and Bird Encounters is an amphitheater located at Palawan Beach. Actually, this theatre will feature about two to four shows per day depending on the season. On my visit, I watched the 5pm show titled "On the Wild Side". This show features a variety of tropical birds and also a macaque and an albino python, and what I really love is the level of intimacy with the animals and animal keeping team compared to shows in the Zoo or Bird Park.

Look out for this signboard opposite the road from Palawan Beach
This is the Palawan Amphitheater where the daily animal shows are conducted
Can you please don't act cute in front of my camera?
Look at how close the animals come to you!
Picking coconuts is now a classic act at any animal show featuring monkeys
Look at the number of guests! Having a small audience group really helps make this show much more intimated and personal...
It also increases your chance of being selected for animal interactions, such as this lady who is having a taste of falconry!
 A little tip for all of you. At the end of the show, don't head off right away. Sentosa has set aside time for people to interact with the animal keepers as well as the albino python Lucy. As Lucy is very friendly it is a really good opportunity for you to feel the texture of snakes. The staff are also more than happy to share with you about the stories of the various animals, how they take care of them and some of their natural characteristics in the wild. This is one great learning experience!

The after-show period is an excellent chance for audience to interact with the animals and staff

6pm: Southernmost Point of Continental Asia

This attraction is all about the views. In fact, I specifically tell you to visit at about 6pm because you can view the sunset from this location. Trust me, the top of the lookout towers is probably the best location within Sentosa to view the sun set. (unless you sneak into the jungles at Fort Siloso which both Sentosa and I strongly advice against)

To reach the Southernmost point, you will have to cross a suspension bridge to one of Sentosa's Islets. I think the bridge is a little too narrow and it is difficult for people walking in opposite directions to pass each other. Once there, you will find a pair of lookout towers as well as tiny beach facing into the Palawan lagoon. The south face of the island is lined with stone breakwater.

This suspension bridge is quite narrow and can really swing quite a bit if there are a lot of people on or during strong winds!
The top of these lookout towers is the ideal location to watch the Sun Set.

7.30pm: Dinner - Malaysia Food Street

After a long day, it is time to reward yourself with a nice dinner. What better food to experience than traditional Malaysia favourites at Malaysian Food Street, Resorts World Sentosa. To get there from the beach, you can either hop on to the Sentosa Express Monorail (beware of long queues) or take the Sentosa Bus from Beach Station.

This dining attraction is really well themed like the old Chinatown of Singapore, and the food includes local favourites like Claypot, Satay and Fried Kway Teow. The prices here start at SGD4 which is cheap for Sentosa standards you can event spare a little for a nice desert ($3) or a few pieces of satay! I advice you to eat here for dinner as it is less crowded compared to lunch period.

Look at the excellent theming of Malaysia Food Street
You can end off your day by watching the Crane Dance show at Resorts World Sentosa. This complimentary multimedia show also has fireworks on select weekends and public holidays! The show starts at 9pm daily.

Final Tally:

Admission by Sentosa Boardwalk: SGD 0
Sentosa Nature Discovery: SGD 0
Imbiah Trails/Jungle Trails: SGD 0 - This may last you more than an hour if you are nature lover
Lunch @ GoGo Frank/Bora Bora: SGD 12 - Look out for Weekday Lunch Deals
Beach Activities: SGD 0
Watch Flowrider/I-Fly: SGD 0
Animal and Bird Encounters: SGD 0
Southernmost Point of Continental Asia: SGD 0 - Enjoy the Sunset
Dinner @ Malaysia Food Street: SGD 8 - includes SGD 3 for a nice Singaporean desert
Crane Dance: SGD 0 - Look out for fireworks on Weekend shows
Total: SGD 20!!!

There you have it! A day's holiday at Sentosa where you spend SGD0 on attractions, admission and about SGD20 per person on food. This is real budget! Just a final tip: The water in Singapore taps are safe to drink, so there is no need to buy any cold drinks from the overpriced food carts in Sentosa. If you figure out other ways to explore Sentosa on a really low budget, please do share with me on the comments.