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Yes, Travel is Finally Possible! Here’s What You Need to Know About Singapore’s Travel Bubble

What a tumultuous year 2020 has been. With most of us having been confined to our homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s little wonder that we’re all yearning for a getaway. 

Thankfully, as the spread of the virus starts to slow, various countries have gradually started to relax their border restrictions. And yes, with that, travel – in the form of travel bubbles – has indeed become possible once again! 

What exactly is a travel bubble?

Travel bubbles comprise exclusive partnerships between countries that have managed to control the spread of COVID-19 within their borders. This agreement permits travel between the respective countries without the need for mandated quarantine upon arrival. 

Examples of existing travel bubbles include those between selected cities in China and South Korea, as well as between India and Canada, among others. 

What countries are in Singapore’s travel bubble?

1. Singapore – New Zealand

kewl/Pixabay

Singapore has allowed travel to and from New Zealand, effective from 1st September 2020. This also applies to students studying at institutions in New Zealand that do not permit long-distance learning.

Visitors to Singapore from New Zealand will not have to undergo quarantine upon arrival, under the condition that they have not travelled out of New Zealand in the last consecutive 14 days. However, they would have to undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport and will only be allowed to resume their trip after a negative result.

2. Singapore – Brunei

AdamHillTravel/Pixabay

Similar to New Zealand, Singapore has allowed travel to and from Brunei from 1st September 2020 — with all the same rules applied.

For visitors from both New Zealand and Brunei, they would have to apply for an Air Travel Pass between seven and 30 days before their intended date of arrival. They would also have to bear all costs of medical treatment should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 whilst in Singapore.

Do note that Singaporeans looking to travel to New Zealand or Brunei should also check the countries’ respective entry requirements before planning their trip.

Countries permitted for essential travel

1. Singapore – Malaysia

Thilipen Rave Kumar/Pexels

Limited cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia has been approved and ongoing since 17th August 2020 under two schemes:

  • Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), which allows short-term travel for essential business or official purposes for up to fourteen days
  • Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), which allows Singapore and Malaysia residents holding long-term immigration passes for work or business to enter either country for work

This undoubtedly came as a relief for many Malaysian residents, with up to 100, 000 crossing the causeway daily pre-COVID-19! However, Malaysia has also imposed a daily quota of 400 and 2000 travellers under the RGL and PCA schemes respectively. Also, those that enter either country under the PCA option must stay in that respective country for ninety days before they’re allowed to return home. 

Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, on the other hand, do not require the PCA to return to Singapore. However, from 1st September 2020, they will still need to serve a seven-day stay-home notice – which has been reduced from the previous fourteen-day mandate.

Before making the trip, travellers will have to make an application through the Johor Immigration Department or the Safe Travel Portal, depending on which country they’re coming from. 

2. Singapore – China

steven_yu/Pixabay

From 8 June 2020, visitors from China are permitted to enter Singapore for essential travel via a ‘Fast Lane’. This is exclusive to visitors from six Chinese cities, such as Guangdong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Chongqing, and Jiangsu. If all goes well, the fast lane arrangement will be extended to other parts of China.

Travellers from China have to be sponsored by a company of Singapore Government agencies, who will have to submit an application for a Safe Travel Pass on their behalf. When this is approved, travellers will have to undergo COVID-19 tests at the airport at their own costs. This also applies to travellers from Singapore to China.

3. Singapore – Japan

Bagus Pangestu/Pexels

In September, travel between Singapore and Japan will be permitted for short-term business travellers, expatriates, and other long-term residents. Expatriates and long-term residents will still have to undergo a fourteen-day mandated self-quarantine period upon arrival in either country. However, business travellers will not be subject to this quarantine, on the condition that they provide a full trip itinerary, refrain from using public transport, shun crowds, and only travel between their accommodation and place of work.

All travellers to Japan will also have to install the Cocoa app, a COVID-19 contact tracing app, as well as agree to store their phone’s GPS data and report their health conditions via the Line messaging app for two weeks after arrival.

What else is being done?

Addie, Pexels

Restrictions for other countries have also been relaxed. For example, visitors from Australia (except the Victoria state), mainland China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Macau will only have to serve a seven-day stay-home notice period, which is halved from the initial fourteen-day period.

In a bid to revive its travel sector, Singapore is also looking to replace the two-week self-quarantine period with a meticulous testing regime. 

As time goes by, we’ll hopefully see more countries having success in curbing the spread of the virus — allowing more travel restrictions to be eased. Till then, stay safe and stay tuned for more updates!

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Adventure Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore

Undiscovered Hiking Trails in Singapore for Your Next Weekend Adventure

What plans do you have for the upcoming weekend? If, like us, you’ve spent most of the week in an office chair in front of a computer screen, there’s no better time to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air.

Hiking has become one of the most popular things to do in Singapore, with some hotspots seeing high footfall over the weekends. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, head to these undiscovered trails in Singapore for some well-deserved nature lovin’ — sans the crowds! 

1. Kranji Marshes 

Kranji Marshes is Singapore’s largest freshwater marshland, containing 57 hectares worth of natural and green habitats. Home to three unique biomes, the area is home to 170 species of birds, 54 types of butterflies, and more. You might also chance upon an estuarine crocodile or monitor lizard along the way!

Head up the Raptor Tower for a panoramic view of the area. Bird enthusiasts will also be delighted to discover species like the Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Purple Heron and Changeable Hawk Eagle. If you’d like to learn more, join the free ‘Evening Chorus at Kranji Marshes’ guided tour through the core conservation area, which is usually not open to the public.

How to get there: Take the Kranji Express Bus from Kranji MRT Station to the D’Kranji Farm Resort, followed by a short walk to Kranji Gate.

2. Bukit Batok Nature Park

Witness a slice of history at Bukit Batok Nature Park, which was developed on an abandoned quarry back in 1988. During the Japanese invasion, one of the most vehement battles took place at the Bukit Timah area. Bukit Batok Nature Park is home to a hill that overlooks the battleground; a WWII memorial was hence constructed on this very hilltop to commemorate the lives lost during the battle.

In addition, the park offers multiple hiking trails that offer magnificent views of the lakes and granite quarry. 

How to get there: Take buses 61, 66, 157, 178, 852 and 985 to Bukit Batok East Avenue 6.

3. Tampines Eco Green

Hidden away between the Tampines Expressway, Tampines Avenue 12, and Sungei Tampines, Tampines Eco Green is a secret park that pays homage to all things natural. True to its theme, the park has no lights or pavements. It doesn’t even have a flushing toilet; instead, its toilet is a compost-based one! The park’s signboards and benches are also made from recycled and environmentally-friendly materials.

Take your pick from three trails — Diversity Trail, Forest Trail and Marsh Trail — through secondary forests, vegetated swales, and more. Keep your eyes peeled for any of the park’s 75 species of birds and 35 species of butterflies! The park is also home to the Hanguana Rubinea, a native flower that’s found only in Singapore.

How to get there: 20-minute walk from Tampines MRT Station.

4. Thomson Nature Park

Be spoilt for choice at Thomson Nature Park, which boasts five trails that span a total of 3.8 kilometres. Previously a Hainan Village, bits of its heritage have been preserved in the form of old village houses, old street signs and the remains of a rambutan plantation.

Check out the Run and Figs Trail, as well as the Stream and Ferns Trail. If you’re lucky, you might even chance upon a Raffles’ Banded Langur, an endangered primate; or the Sunda Pangolin and Malayan Porcupine, both of which are highly elusive.

How to get there: Take buses 138, 138A, 167, 169, 860 and 980 to Upper Thomson Road.

5. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Comprising the first ASEAN Heritage Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is a haven for nature and wildlife lovers. Home to some of the island’s richest biodiversity, the swamps of Sungei Buloh are home to 140 species of birds, mudskippers, tree-climbing crabs, mud lobsters monkeys, otter, civet cats, monitor lizards, and even the occasional estuarine crocodile! 

The Migratory Bird Walk’s Aerie Tower is a prime spot for bird-watching, especially during the migratory season. To find out more, there are free guided walks available every Saturday at 9.30am.

How to get there: Take Bus 925 from Kranji MRT Station to Kranji Reservoir Carpark B.

If you’re raring for an adventure of bigger proportions, tackle the Coast to Coast Trail, a mega 36-kilometre route that stretches all the way from Coney Island to Jurong Lake Gardens. Along the way, you’ll also pass through Punggol Waterway Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Macritchie Reservoir Park, the Rail Corridor, and Bukit Batok Nature Park. 

Alternatively, the North Eastern Riverine Loop is a 26-kilometre trail that runs through Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol — including Punggol Promenade and Lorong Halus Wetland. This trail is also suitable for cycling if you don’t wish to go entirely on foot! Another option is the Western Adventure Loop, which connects the five parks of Bukit Batok Nature Park, Jurong Lake Park, Zhenghua Park Dairy Farm Nature Park, and Choa Chu Kang Park.

That’s exactly what we love about Singapore — it may be a metropolitan city but, look close enough, and you’ll find little pockets of green space scattered all around that are the perfect escape from all that hustle and bustle.

So, which of these hiking trails will you explore first?

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Adventure Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore

Unique Accommodations in Singapore to Stay At

Why spend so much on accommodation when you’re going to be out for most of the day anyway?

We won’t be surprised if the above sentence is something that has crossed many a traveller’s mind. Indeed, many travellers look at their accommodation as just a place to stay, simply as a place to keep their belongings and spend the night. However, why not take it up a notch and turn your accommodation into part of the experience?

Look beyond the usual plain vanilla hotel rooms and take your pick from these unique accommodations to jazz up your stay – or a staycation for the locals! – the next time you’re in Singapore:

1. Ocean Suites, Equarius Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa

rwsentosa, Instagram

There’s just something about the depths of the ocean that enthralls people of all ages. Fitted with a giant floor-to-ceiling panel that looks out into the world’s largest aquarium exhibit, the Ocean Suites Resorts World Sentosa offers you the chance to have this underwater wonderland all to yourself — even for just one night!

Lounge in bed and watch fishes of all colours, as well as giant manta rays and hammerhead sharks, swim lazily by. If you’d like, you can even convert the floor in front of the glass panel into a bathtub. Doing so is easy; just call the butler who will be at your beck and call 24/7. The suite also comes with a second floor, which comes equipped with a living area and a jacuzzi. 

2. Glamping

glamping.society, Instagram

A combination of the words ‘glamourous and ‘camping’ — glamping is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Simply put, glamping is for those that love the outdoors, but not so much the actual process of camping. D.I.Y. tents, sleeping bags, and solid fuel are replaced with spacious tents that offer most of the usual creature comforts — actual beds, cushions, a minibar and more — all draped generously in twinkling fairy lights. Don’t worry about the heat, most tents come with huge fans and the ones from Glamping Society are even air-conditioned!

There are many glamping companies in Singapore — Glamping Society, GlampingCity, Wondrous Glampers, just to name a few — that will do all the setting up for you; all you have to do is to turn up and enjoy. Choose from queen-sized or single beds, an additional picnic set-up, a five-course dinner by candlelight, or even a movie screen with a speaker for your very own ‘Movie Under the Stars’ experience. 

3. Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong

hotelindigokatongsg, Instagram

Travel back in time to the Singapore of yesteryear at Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, a Peranakan-themed hotel nestled deep in the Joo Chiat heritage district. The murals in the rooms take centre stage, revolving around detailed depictions of Singapore’s streets and its hawkers. Everything is according to theme: a carrom board functions as a coffee table, with the bathroom decked out in intricate Peranakan tiles, complete with the basin sitting atop a sewing-machine base. 

Batik print from sarong kebayas and tiles adorn the wall behind the reception desk, complementing the ornate marble floor and a wall peppered with ventilation holes — a feature that’s characteristic of old Peranakan shophouses. Indulge in a languid swim in the infinity pool, which boasts unobstructed views of the area. Take your time to explore the surrounding district as well; Joo Chiat is the first designated Heritage Town in Singapore and is a treasure trove of colourful shophouses, street art, coffee shops, and more. 

4. Treetop Lofts

rwsentosa, Instagram

Go back to nature at Resort World Sentosa’s Treetop Lofts, which offer some much-needed respite from the urban jungle of Singapore. There are only two of such lofts, each nestled 12 metres above ground within a lush forest canopy. Each loft has a bedroom, living room and bathroom — on top of a sprawling 90-square-metre outdoor terrace. Kick back with a steaming cup of tea, keep your eyes peeled for the surrounding wildlife, take a deep breath, and enjoy being in the midst of all that nature. The terrace also makes for a splendid sunset spot, complete with panoramic views of Sentosa and Mount Faber.

To top it all off, the ceilings of the loft measure at around 5 to 6 metres high, making you feel as if you’ve got your very own rustic palace in the sky. The Treetop Lofts are located a short distance away from the Equarius Hotel, but free buggy rides are available as and when you wish.

Indeed, a fun and quirky accommodation can make all the difference to your holiday. There’s bound to be something that’ll suit your fancy; other than the options above, how about The Pod Singapore, a boutique capsule hotel, or Hotel Re!, a retro-themed hotel?

This way, you can turn every bit of your holiday into an experience. And for the locals, what better way is there to escape reality than with a staycation that’s, may we say, rather extraordinary?

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Adventure Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore

Popular Hiking Trails in Singapore

It’s easy to think of Singapore as a glittering metropolis, a city filled to the brim with gleaming skyscrapers and bustling air-conditioned malls. However, despite its conspicuous lack of mountains — with the 164-metre high Bukit Timah Hill being its sole claim of fame — Singapore turns out to be a city with more than just a few surprises up its sleeve!

Yes, it may be modern; and yes, it may be all shiny and new, but contrary to popular perception, there are actually plenty of opportunities to enjoy the wonders of nature right here in our little red dot. And what better therapy is there than to bask in the sunlight and breathe in all that fresh air? 

Here are a couple of top hiking hotspots in Singapore that are suitable for all ages:

Green Corridor

We support The Green Corridor in Singapore, Facebook

Previously functioning as a railway track, the Green Corridor has since been transformed into a scenic hiking trail. The route acts as a connector of sorts for multiple green spaces, such as Clementi Woodlands, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and the Kranji/Mandai Mangrove and Mudflats. 

The entire trail is 24-kilometres long, allowing you to take your time to appreciate the lush flora and fauna — with lots of scenic views to boot! — along the way.

How to get there: 7-minute walk from Hillview Station, with the starting point located next to the Rail Mall.

Southern Ridges

Yuan, Flickr Creative Commons

Stretching over a length of 10 kilometres, the Southern Ridges’ Marang trail starts at Mount Faber Park and weaves through Telok Blangah Hill Park, Hort Park, Kent Ridge Park, and Labrador Nature Park. 

Look out for the Forest Walk and Canopy Walk, two elevated walkways that take you through a secondary forest canopy; the Sembcorp Forest of Giants, home to 600 giant trees that tower up to a height of 80 metres; as well as the iconic Henderson Waves Bridge, which is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge. 

How to get there: 6-minute walk from Harbourfront Station, with the starting point located at the Seah IM carpark.

Macritchie Reservoir Park

travel oriented, Flickr Creative Commons

Boasting trails that range from 3 to 11 kilometres in length, Macritchie Reservoir Park has something for everyone. You’ll encounter all sorts of terrains here — take your pick from easy boardwalks, muddy routes, and rocky paths that snake through the trees. See you can spot any of the park’s teeming wildlife, such as long-tailed macaque monkeys, flying lemurs, and pangolins along the way!

One of the highlights is the HSBC Treetop Walk, which is the cherry on top of a long, rewarding hike through the park. The 250-metre long free-standing suspension bridge reaches a height of 25 metres — seven storeys high! — at its highest point, and offers stunning bird’s eye views. It’s best reached via a 1.5 to 2-hour hike from the Venus Drive Carpark or, if you’re feeling ambitious, a 3.5 to 4-hour hike from Lornie Walk. 

How to get there: 14-minute walk from Caldecott Station; or take buses 52, 132, 163, 166, 167, 855 and 980 to Venus Drive for the Treetop Walk.

Pulau Ubin

budak, Flickr Creative Commons

Enjoy a nostalgic blast to the past at Pulau Ubin, an island home to one of Singapore’s last surviving kampongs. Experience the rustic charm of little villages, wild greenery, and perhaps, even a wild boar or two!

Hike along the boardwalks of Chek Jawa Wetlands, which can be reached via a 40-minute hike from the jetty. The Wetlands boasts six different ecosystems, which are best seen at low tide. In addition, don’t underestimate the short but gruelling 15-minute hike up Puaka Hill, where you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the Granite Quarry. 

How to get there: 15-minute bumboat ride from Changi Ferry Point Terminal.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

E-lyn Tham

Bukit Timah Hill is Singapore’s highest natural hill, with the 1.4 kilometres journey to the top requiring about 40 minutes to complete. Be prepared for a good workout; the trail is a steep incline most of the way, topped off with a flight of uneven stairs just before the summit. 

The nature reserve itself contains approximately 40% of Singapore’s flora and fauna, and comprises one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. The hill has a historical significance to it as well, as it was once used as part of the British military’s defence against the Japanese Army in World War II.

How to get there: 10-minute walk from Beauty World Station.

Lace up your hiking shoes and cancel any weekend plans — there’s really no better time to get out there and start enjoying the great outdoors!