Hi, everyone! My name is Gretchen Gatan Fragada and I’m a writer and managing editor based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Welcome to Greta’s Junkyard, a creative outlet I started in 2013 where I like to write about my favorite things! Basically, this is a dump of topics on beauty, lifestyle, travel, home, pet care, and motherhood. I also like to use this platform to document the many milestones in my life. If you’re reading this, then you must be interested to know more about our Singapore itinerary.
Our Love for Travel
Prior to the pandemic, my then-boyfriend-now-husband, Cayo, and I loved to travel and explore more of the world. Our last international trip together was to Europe where we got to visit breathtaking places in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
When we had our daughter Cambria, we told ourselves that we wanted to instill the same love for travel. This way, she can learn from different cultures and experience things outside her comfort zone.
Fortunately, the world has started to open up again. And since March happens to be my birth month, we decided to book a trip to Singapore to celebrate my birthday and spend quality time with our little family. The last time I flew to Singapore was in 2018 when my brothers, sister, and I had a “siblings only” trip that Klook sponsored. We had so much fun going around for a few days.
I also felt that Singapore was a good “first out-of-the-country trip” for Cambria since the flight isn’t too long, commuting won’t be difficult, and there would be many things to see—like the Singapore Zoo and Universal Studios! This made it easy to put together our Singapore itinerary.
Documents I Prepared
Apart from our passports, I made sure to bring our marriage certificate and Cambria’s birth certificate. This is because I use my maiden name on my passport and I wasn’t sure if immigration would question why I had a different last name from Cayo and Cambria. Fortunately, I never had to bring these documents out. But better to be prepared—just in case!
Booking Our Flight
We booked our flight back in October 2022 when Philippine Airlines had a seat sale. After comparing prices with Cebu Pacific and AirAsia, and seeing that Philippine Airlines was more expensive by only a few thousand pesos, we decided to go with PAL.
We knew PAL would offer more room and leg space, especially since Cambria would be sitting on my lap the whole time. Plus, PAL always has in-flight food! Not to mention, they have their own terminal (Terminal 2), which proved to be an advantage. I read on a Facebook group that with more and more people itching to travel again, lines at immigration can be very long. Luckily, because of Cambria, we were prioritized all the way.
The day before our flight, I checked in online to hopefully skip lines at the counter. Since our flight was at 5:55 in the morning, we left for the airport at around 2:30 AM and arrived at 3 AM. When we got to the airport, we headed straight to the baggage drop-off where there were no lines. A PAL crew who spotted us with Cambria assisted us right away (having a cheerful toddler really has its perks!). Then, we paid for our travel tax before heading to immigration.
Though there was a bit of a line at immigration, we were still prioritized and assisted to the front. We got to our boarding gate at 3:30 AM and had an hour and a half to kill since boarding time was at 5:10 AM. Cambria showed no signs of falling asleep, so we just went around in her stroller. We even bought breakfast from Cafe France!
Flight and Airport Tips
1. Wear comfortable clothes
I mentioned this on my Instagram stories. But wearing comfortable clothes with lots of pockets makes it more convenient to move around. I wore a stylish Uniqlo jacket with a pocket big enough to fit all three of our passports and boarding passes. It made it easier to pull out at the immigration counter and again at our boarding gate.
2. Bring a pen
Next—always have a pen with you! You’ll need to fill up the immigration card after all. Hopefully, this step can be digitized soon.
3. Use a backpack as a carry-on
Having a toddler means you want to be as hands-free as possible. Cayo and I decided to have one check-in luggage each and backpacks for our carry-ons. We both packed Cambria’s essentials in our backpacks—diapers, extra clothes, and wipes. This way, if she needed to change and the other was busy, she could go with either one of us. Meanwhile, I had her toys in my backpack while Cayo carried our water bottles.
4. Change diapers before the flight
Since I changed Cambria’s diapers right before leaving our house, and I knew the flight wasn’t going to be too long, I didn’t change her anymore. However, if you’ll be on a long-haul flight, consider changing your baby’s diaper in the airport where changing tables are available.
5. Invest in a travel-friendly stroller (if you can!)
Our stroller ever since Cambria was a newborn is the Joie Pact Lite, which folds small enough to fit into the overhead bin. Being able to push her in her stroller up until we boarded the plane saved us a lot of back pain. Haha!
6. Time your toddler’s nap with your flight
I was worried that Cambria would be uncomfortable during the flight but our rainbow unicorn baby proved once again just how easy she is. As soon as I sat down, she was knocked out and slept for the next two hours. During the last hour of the flight, she woke up and enjoyed the view of the clouds. So if it’s possible, try to time your toddler’s nap with your flight!
7. Bring interactive toys
On the other hand, if they’re awake and need to be entertained, some toys I brought in my backpack were a magnetic board she can draw on and her favorite book. As a last resort, we downloaded her favorite videos from Blue’s Clues and Songs for Littles—in case she got really fussy or bored.
Upon Arrival at Changi Airport
Our plane took off at exactly 5:55 AM and we landed in Singapore at 9:20 AM. As soon as we disembarked, we saw a big sign with a QR code of the SG Arrival Card. You need to fill this up before you reach their immigration. Be sure to have your passport ready, too!
Again, since we had a toddler, we were assisted to the priority lane. The immigration officer allowed all three of us to go together before letting us through.
Getting to Our Hotel
A few days before leaving for Singapore, Cayo and I were researching the most convenient and affordable way to get to our hotel from the airport. Cayo has a cousin who lives in Singapore, too, and she suggested a number of apps. One option we considered was booking an airport transfer through Klook. But in the end, we went with Grab since it was cheaper. Grab has an option called GrabFamily 6, which features a big car with a car seat. We assumed Singapore would be strict with car seats but according to the Grab driver who picked us up from the airport, they’re usually only strict about it at night since more people drink and drive.
So during our trip from the airport to our hotel, Cambria just stayed on my lap. However, we also encountered Grab drivers throughout our trip who set up the car seat (most of them had one kept in their trunks) and preferred that Cambria be strapped in.
Where We Stayed
We booked our stay in Hotel Jen Orchardgateway by Shangri-La. It’s a 4-star hotel conveniently located in the heart of Orchard Road, one of Singapore’s most well-known shopping districts. It has an infinity pool and a deck that overlooks a stunning view of the city. It even boasts robot butlers named Jeno and Jeni. Cambria loved to watch them!
The hotel is also connected to Orchardgateway Mall and is right next to the Somerset MRT station. There are lots of dining options around, so we never had to worry about where to eat.
Our room had an incredibly comfortable king-sized bed. We also requested to set up a playpen, which incidentally looked like Cambria’s giant playpen in her room. There were lots of drawers and storage space for our clothes and essentials for four days. Plus, there were USB plugs where we could charge our gadgets. However, Cayo still brought a few adapters so we could plug other gadgets into the Type G sockets.
Getting Around Singapore
Most of the time, we booked a GrabFamily car to get to different places. Each ride was about 25 SGD, which is expensive but very convenient. However, we also tried riding a bus and the MRT. Google is very reliable when it comes to this. Their buses are stroller and PWD-friendly as well. But between the bus and MRT, we had an easier time riding the MRT while pushing Cambria in her stroller.
Singapore Itinerary: Day 1 (March 15, Wednesday)
Lunch at Five Star Kampung Rice
After getting our luggage, passing through immigration, and booking a GrabFamily car, we arrived at our hotel a little before 11 in the morning. Since our room wasn’t ready yet, we just left our luggage with the reception staff and explored the different floors. We then met up with Cayo’s cousin, Gabby, and had lunch in Five Star Kampung Chicken Rice along River Valley Road near Orchard Road. We rode a bus to get there.
I was so happy to have eaten chicken rice for our first meal in Singapore since I love this dish! We were also thrilled that one of the waitresses at the restaurant was a sweet Filipina, who even gave Cambria a free lollipop.
Photo Session with Sweet Escape
When we returned to our hotel after lunch, our room was finally ready. So Cambria was able to nap for an hour before we headed to Marina Bay Sands to meet up with our Sweet Escape photographer.
I really wanted to commemorate Cambria’s first trip out of the country, so we booked a session with them. The last time I worked with Sweet Escape was during my bachelorette in Seoul. They were able to capture me, my sister, and my cousins at the Gyeongbokgung Palace wearing the prettiest hanbok dresses.
If you want to do the same, use my discount code GRETCHEN10 to get 10% off plus 10 extra downloadable photos from your photoshoot in all destinations where Sweet Escape is available.
Dinner at 313@Somerset
After our photo session and walking around the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands for a while, we headed back to our area and met up with Cayo’s Tito and Tita, who are also based in Singapore, to have dinner. We had a feast at Marche at Movenpick in 313@Somerset, which was literally right beside our hotel. They had a play area where Cambria enjoyed so much and even made a few friends!
After dinner, we got back to our hotel at around 9. Our first day in Singapore was very tiring. So Cayo and I agreed not to wake up too early the next day. This way, the three of us could rest and recover!
Singapore Itinerary: Day 2 (March 16, Thursday)
Day 2 of our Singapore itinerary involved going to the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, which houses the Singapore Zoo, River Wonders, Night Safari, and soon the Bird Park. (Jurong Bird Park recently closed and will be transferred to the compound.) Again, because we knew that it would be another tiring day, we didn’t wake up too early—which proved to be a good idea. We woke up and got ready past 9 in the morning and had brunch in Equate Coffee inside Orchard Central, another mall beside our hotel.
We booked a GrabFamily car to go to the zoo, where Cambria was able to take her first nap. It was a 30-minute drive and we arrived around 11 in the morning. A few weeks before flying to Singapore, I ordered our tickets online through their website and booked the 3-Park Admission for two adults (Cambria was free). Everything needs to be purchased through their site as they don’t sell physical tickets at the park anymore. This includes activities like the animal feeding. I kept all our e-tickets in a folder on my phone so that it would be easy to pull out for scanning.
Upon consulting with the guide at the Visitor’s Information Booth, she recommended that we start with the Singapore Zoo. The three of us had so much fun seeing different animals up close. I even got emotional when we saw white rhinoceroses. To see more of our adventures and the animals we encountered, you can check out my Instagram highlight!
Every park visit includes conversation, which means that you’re helping the Mandai Wildlife Group protect animals in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
River Wonders and Night Safari
It took us about four and a half hours to complete every area and attraction in the Singapore Zoo before we moved on to River Wonders, which took about an hour and a half. Some of the highlights in River Wonders are the Giant Pandas and Red Pandas. We had tickets to the Amazon River Quest, which came with our 3-Park Hopper, but unfortunately, it had a height limit so Cambria couldn’t ride. We’ll just have to go back when she’s bigger!
If you’re wondering where you can eat, there are many dining options in each park. We bought some snacks and ate merienda in Ah Meng Restaurant at the Singapore Zoo to keep us full and energized. Then, for our early dinner, we ate at Ulu Ulu Restaurant in the Night Safari. Cambria took her second nap while we ate dinner, which was timely because we wanted her to also enjoy seeing the animals there. She even got to feed an Indian Rhino for free because the park ranger found her adorable.
When you start the Night Safari, I recommend doing the trails first. There are four and you’ll be able to finish everything in maybe an hour and a half. This is because there are animals you’ll see along the trails that you won’t be able to see when you ride the tram and vice-versa. So when we finished the four trails, we lined up to ride the tram. The line took about 15 minutes and the ride itself was around 30 minutes.
After our visit to the Night Safari, we booked another GrabFamily car to our hotel and got back at 10 in the evening. Despite how tiring the whole day was, seeing different animals live that you normally only see on TV or the Internet was definitely worth it.
- Wear light and comfortable clothes since you’ll be walking around a lot
- Apply sunblock since you’ll be under the heat (I use Anessa while Cambria uses Baby Bum)
- If you can, bring a portable fan like our Tylex, which came in handy as it kept Cambria cool in her stroller
- Bring water jugs! The compound has free water refilling stations everywhere
- Pack mosquito repellent
Singapore Itinerary: Day 3 (March 17, Friday)
Up next in our Singapore itinerary was Sentosa Island—particularly S.E.A Aquarium and Universal Studios. But before heading to Sentosa, we had breakfast at Paris Baguette in 313@Somerset. This time, we woke up earlier so that we could really take advantage of the day.
We booked a GrabFamily car to HarbourFront Center where there was a Mount Faber Line cable car station. There are different options to get to Sentosa but we wanted Cambria to experience riding the cable car even though this was one of the more expensive choices. Cayo and I paid 45 SGD each for an unlimited ride (Cambria was free as usual).
From the Mount Faber Line, we transferred to the Sentosa Line, which brought us straight to Resorts World where both S.E.A Aquarium and Universal Studios are located. Again, we just bought our tickets to both online.
We took about an hour around S.E.A Aquarium, which was enough to see every area before walking to Universal Studios where we had lunch.
Cambria took her first nap while we had lunch at Mel’s Drive-In. Since her nap was long, I took advantage of the Single Riders line at the Revenge of the Mummy and Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. I had a wonderful husband who let me be a kid again as he watched over Cambria. Haha!
When she woke up, we walked around and checked which rides she’d be allowed in. We ended up riding the Shrek 4-D Adventure and King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round.
After the rides, we lined up to meet several characters: Bert, Elmo, Grover, and Abby Caddaby of Sesame Street; Po and Tigress of Kung Fu Panda; and Blue from Jurassic Park. Cambria’s laughter was so fun to hear, especially when she met the characters from Sesame Street!
Since there weren’t many rides that Cambria could go on just yet, we prioritized meeting characters and finished going around Universal Studios past 5 in the afternoon. A lot of other families did the same and we noticed a long line at the monorail station. So even though we spent more on the cable car, at least we didn’t have to wait as there were no lines at all at the cable car station.
When we got back to HarbourFront Center, we decided to take an MRT back to our area just to complete our Singapore commuting experience.
For dinner, we dined in Tsuta, the world’s first Michelin-star ramen, which also happened to be in 313@Somerset.
Since it was our last night, we decided to push Cambria’s bedtime and walked around Orchard Road. We even bought dessert and enjoyed it in our hotel room.
Singapore Itinerary: Day 4 (March 18, Saturday)
On our last day, we walked to Killiney Kopitiam for breakfast, which was just a few blocks away from our hotel. Killiney Kopitiam is the oldest Hainanese coffee shop in Singapore. They’ve been serving their customers freshly brewed coffee, tea, and kaya toast since 1919. There was a bit of a line so we decided to take out their food and eat in our hotel room. I also bought all our pasalubong here—jars of their kaya spread!
We killed time in our room until it was time to check out at 12 noon. At least Cambria got to take her first nap! After checking out, Cayo’s cousin, Gabby, and her boyfriend picked us up to bring us to the airport.
Jewel Changi Airport
Since there was still a lot of time before our flight back to Manila, we filled up the eArrival Card, dropped off our luggage at the counter, got our boarding passes, and had lunch at Jewel Changi Airport. We checked out the Disney 100 Experience in the rain vortex area, too.
Luckily, our flight home was at 4 PM, around the same time as Cambria’s second and last nap. So she just slept again through most of the flight and played with her magnetic drawing board when she woke up.
Our Toddler-Friendly Singapore Itinerary
So that’s our toddler-friendly Singapore itinerary! I feel like we paced ourselves really well because it wasn’t as tiring as I anticipated. But a couple of weeks before our trip, Cayo and I started walking around our village almost every day with Cambria in her stroller to wake up our muscles and build our stamina. I think that helped us a lot! Haha.
If you have any questions about our Singapore itinerary or our trip in general, feel free to comment below or follow and send me a message on Instagram at @gretchengatan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter as well to stay updated with new articles!