Friday, February 12, 2010

Cheap Singapore Hotels - Victoria Hotel Singapore

Time to time, my friends or people from different forums ask me about Singapore hotel recommendation. They want a safe and clean place in the city, reasonably priced and near the center. I recommend them Victoria Hotel Singapore, on Victoria Street. Victoria Hotel is a good value hotel in central Singapore and has the highest value/price ratio and it has location, location and location!

Most of the hotels below 100 SGD per night are either far from city or in Geylang. Victoria Hotel is located at 87 Victory Street, right in the middle of Singapore with easy access to all the sights and shopping. It is near to both Bugis MRT Station and City Hall MRT Station, Funan DigitaLife Mall, Sim Lim Square, The Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore Art Museum, Marina Square and Singapore International Convention Centre at Suntec City Mall. By a little more walk you can also go to Singapore River or Little India.

This is a budget hotel, do not expect fancy things. And also note that you get the value of the money compared to hotels and hotel prices in Singapore. Otherwise it is expensive compared to a hotel like this. Anyway the hotel is clean, the stuff is helpful. Rooms are functional and furnished with modern amenities such as satellite TV, IDD telephone and internet connection. But they are small. They are very small. Indeed the only major complaint about this hotel in hotel review sites is the room size.

The hotel is managed by Santa Grand Hotels which manages several budget hotels and cheap serviced apartments in Singapore.

victoria hotel singapore
Victoria Hotel Singapore
The room rates at the front desk are usually higher than online booking rates so try to book online before you go there. The hotel rates are usually 114+ SGD but you can occasionally come by promotions.

The whole hotel is non smoking. There is a small smoking area in front of the hotel and at the back. It provides free Wifi access.

While you are staying in the Victoria Hotel, do not miss the opportunity to visit Liang Seah Street and Shaw Towers. They are a walk distance away from Victoria Hotel and has good restaurants to taste asian food. In Liang Seah Street do not forget to visit famous Ah Chew Desserts. Their mango, pamelo. sago with vanilla ice-cream is my all time favorite.

Click here for a list of serviced apartments : List of Serviced Apartments in Singapore.

See also these central and relatively cheap hotels in Singapore.

Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen HotelA budget hotel with a pool!YMCA International House near Orchard RoadFort Canning Lodge

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Singapore - Crossroads of the East

This video below is an 11 minute window to the history of Singapore. It is from a tour to then British Colony Singapore in 1938, roughly 100 years after its foundation. It depicts the life in pre-World World II Singapore. 4 years after this video, the calm and ordinary lifes of these people will be shattered by Japanese occupation of Singapore.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

bicycle theft

According to The Straits Times, bicycle theft, along with other petty thefts, is on the rise:

Bicycle theft in Singapore made the headlines last month when English cyclist Greg Browning's bicycle was stolen at Orchard Road. The Briton is cycling nearly 30,000km from London to Sydney on just 4,000 euros (S$7,800).

Police statistics show that bicycle theft, along with other petty thefts, is on the rise.

There were 536 cases of bicycle theft in the first six months of last year compared with 308 in the same period in 2008.

Between 2007 and 2009, I have lost 4 bikes to theft in Singapore! After my first lovely bike, the last 3 were cheap super market bikes but it still hurts. The situation is very hopeless, my 2nd and 3rd bikes were parked in front of CCTV cameras and although I reported 3 of 4 cases nothing happened. I did not bother to report the last one which was just stolen from the door of my HDB. I simply stopped using a bike. It is sad, because I like to ride bike in Singapore and I think it is a very good place to use a bike. It is also sad to see that the situation is getting worse.

A well locked bicycle - Flickr
How to prevent bike theft in Singapore?

You do not need to give up as I did. There is a very effective way to prevent bike theft in Singapore. First of all a strong chain is not a solution. It just delays the inevitable. Parking in front of CCTV cameras also do not work.

By experience I can say that the most effective way to prevent bike theft in Singapore is to camouflage. Buy a second hand bicycle and paint it as if it is very old. Well, it is not a pleasant way but I have seen it working with my friend's bikes and hear this advice several times from bicycle sellers. This is also adviced by several bloggers (Avoid Bike Theft In Singapore):

Don't ride a new bike with no battle scars! It's only a magnet for theft. I have a few bikes, of which I only lock one, a beaten up Trek. Yes - Trek - but it looks so terrible and has a totally unflashy colour (grey), and rust all over its drivetrain. It hasn't been stolen, even though I have locked it outside for quite a while now. Of course, it could get stolen at any point where I am unlucky, but learning from my mistake last time, I'll never ride a new, unscarred bike out ever again.

The good thing is that you can get these beaters at Togoparts for cheap, and they won't have a terrible ride quality for $100 - $200. Unlike if you bought $200 bike new... which would often be heavier and use a lower-quality Shimano derailleur ripoff.

High Paying Jobs in Singapore - Top 100, a blog on salary and income in Singapore, compiles top 100 high paying jobs in Singapore every year. These jobs are ranked based on the monthly payment and are compiled from MOM Report on Wages which is based on CPF data.

Singapore's Financial Center
You can see the list of best jobs in Singapore (2009). The link contains two lists, one is across all industries, and one is for financial services industry specifically. Financial services industry is the best paying industry in Singapore which can also be seen from the lists. i.e. a software engineer in financial services industry can take 8,039 Singapore dollars per month while a software engineer in average gets 5,281 Singapore dollars per month (again financial services increases the average, I think software engineers outside finance gets less, around 4,000 Singapore dollar per month).

See also Jobs in Singapore - Best time to search for one article.

Singapore Taxi Fare Calculator

Taking one of the 23,000 air-conditioned taxis in Singapore is the most hassle free way of travel. Singapore taxi service is not only high quality, it is also reliable and scam free. Although Singapore taxi fares went up a couple of years ago (they were so reasonable priced that they were used as public transportation) they are still reasonable priced. And unlike taxis in other South East Asian countries, they are virtually scam free.

If you want to know what would a taxi ride in Singapore cost to you, you can use Taxi Fare Calculator provided by Singapore Taxi web site. You can use this facility before booking a cab in Singapore if you are not sure how much it would cost for your trip.

Using taxi fare calculator is easy: Simply enter from where to where you are going. Below is the estimated taxi fare to get an airport taxi (from Changi Airport) to a Bugis hotel in central Singapore (a very popular hotel location in Singapore):

As you can see, the 22 minute trip from Changi Airport to the location in the city via ECP costs 18.39 SGD. Please note that there is a location surcharge of 3 Singapore Dollars for the trips originating from Changi Airport.

Same trip would cost extra 5.75 Singapore Dollars if it is taken in peak hours (see below). Monday to Friday, from 7.00am to 9.30am and Monday to Saturday, from 5.00pm to 8.00pm are peak hours and  you pay 35% of metered fare as peak hour surcharge.

Source: Singapore Taxi

Cheap Singapore Hotels - Geylang Area

Cheap Singapore Hotel is something which does not exist. You can only find cheaper Singapore hotels. And most of these cheaper or cheapest Singapore hotels are in Geylang area. The cheapest of these cheapest usually are either in Geylang Lorong 2 to 34 or in Joo Chiat Road. Before going for one of them you need to know why these hotels are significantly cheaper than the other hotels in Singapore. If you do not know why you may end up like these guys I have written in stingy company ends up spending a lot for hotels post. The reason is not a secret at all, these streets in Geylang, and generally the Geylang area, are the red-light districts of Singapore!

Now let me answer the first question, you probably will have, Are they safe? Yes, red light districts and the hotels in Singapore are generally safe. Would I recommend them? Yes and no.

I do not recommend cheap red light district hotels if you are with your family or a woman. If you go to these streets in the daytime you will see that they are decent, calm places. But in the night, these streets are infested with prostitutes and their customer to be's.

But I recommend them if you are do not want to spend a lot of money on accommodation and you are man and alone (or with another man). I have recommended some of them to my friends on business trip and they did not have any complaints. If you are not there for the trade and you did not really choose a very specialized hotel in business, you can safely and comfortably stay there without any major nuisance. They also have advantages. These hotels are very near to the city. Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre and Central Business District are very near from these hotels (15 minutes bus ride or 5-10 minutes taxi ride).

A sample hotels combined search of Geylang Hotels

Other then being a red light district, Geylang area is very vibrant and fun to taste Asian food and life style. Actually all the tourist attractions in Singapore will have some kind of sterile artificial hand-made hot spots because that is what they are. But Geylang is one of the few places which keeps the real Asia in overly cleaned Singapore so I recommend you to pay a visit there even if you do not leave there.

But do not write-off Geylang completely. Check out our Top Three Budget Hotels in Geylang of Singapore article to find out some nicely located Geylang budget hotels.

Some budget hotels to consider in Singapore
Victoria Hotel Singapore Hotel 81 Dickson Value Hotel Balestier

If you are looking for cheaper hotel alternatives, relatively central, I recommend the following:

1+1 HDB flat for rent are not for foreigners

Rents in Singapore are quite high. If you have a tight budget, you will soon realize that there is a category of rent at the lower end of the prices (just above room rentals): 1+1 HDB flats for rent. They may look like a catch but they most probably are not.

Most of the 1+1 HDB for rent are actually 2 bedroom (2+1) HDBs in which the owner stuffs his/her belongings in one of the bedrooms and locks this room. This flats are actually not eligible for renting. By locking one room, the owner can tell Housing Development Board that he is actually not renting all the house but renting part of it. And he will show the locked room as his room. This may make these rentals technically legal but if you can, avoid these places. HDB is very strict about this issue and it is nice nice you are cought in one:
"Unauthorised subletting of flat is an infringement of the lease. HDB takes a serious view of such infringement and will not hesitate to take firm action against offenders. Unauthorised subletting of flat includes instances where owners sublet one or more bedrooms while they do not live in the flat during the period of subletting. Instead, they keep one room locked and come back only occasionally. Those who commit such infringements are liable for compulsory acquisition of their flat. In lieu of this action, HDB may impose a penalty against them."

HDB Flats - Source Street Directory

[This portion is updated based on reader input]
If you see a real 1+1 HDB for rent, you must be cautious because it may well be illegal to rent one if you are a foreigner. Although it may be legal for your to rent them under certain conditions, unfortunately some of the tenants run a scam and do not fall into it. Some 1+1 HDB flats are subsidized by Singapore government and rented out to Singaporeans who cannot rent a larger units. These tenants rent one of these HDB flats for 700-800 SGD but instead of living in it they move to a room for 300 SGD. Then they rent this flat for 700-1000 SGD to a clueless foreigner to enjoy the 400-700 SGD income.

Singapore government is very well to enforce law but this should not give you a false security in every situation. As a police poster says "Low crime does not mean no crime". You will see that these flats are even marketed by so-called property agents. Be very coutious and always check with HDB whether you can rent a particular whole unit legally.

See Cheap Serviced Apartments In Singapore article if you are looking for a short term studio or 1+1 apartment rent or Hostels in Singapore article a backpacker hostel stay will work for you.

Also check Short Term HDB Rental and Average HDB Rental Prices2+1 Hdb for rent in singapore average price trend articles.

See also: