Unlock Your Inner Mecha: Experience the Giant Gundam in Yokohama ‘Til March 2024

Browsing through your social media feed, you’ve probably noticed a delightful trend: many of your friends are jetting off to Japan. This surge in travel is fueled by enticing airline seat sales and the enchanting cherry blossom season, coupled with the allure of visiting attractions that resonate with anime enthusiasts. Among these captivating sights stands the 18-meter Gundam statue in Yokohama, slated to operate until March 31, 2024.

Here’s the good news: the Embassy of Japan in Singapore confirms that Singaporean citizens can enjoy visa-free entry into Japan for short-term tourist stays of up to 90 days. As for non-Singaporeans, checking if your country qualifies for visa-free travel or applying for a short-term visa online is a straightforward process.

Now, let’s talk about the Gundam. Prepare to be awestruck by this extraordinary 18-meter marvel in Yokohama, undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking attractions to date. With its flashing LED lights, articulated limbs, and the ability to step out from its docking station, this colossal robot stands as a testament to modern engineering marvels. Development of this project began in 2014, with designers investing several years in perfecting its mechanics before unveiling the Gundam in December 2020. For ticket information, visit the Gundam Factory Yokohama website: gundam-factory.net/en.

Tickets for Gundam Factory Yokohama entrance are priced at 1,650 Yen/adult and 1,100 Yen/child (ages 7 to 12). Additionally, there’s the option of purchasing a Gundam-Dock Tower viewing ticket, priced at 3,300 Yen for both adults and children. To access the Gundam statue up close, the purchase of a Gundam-Dock Tower viewing ticket is required, which includes admission to the factory.

Image Credits: unsplash.com

Before embarking on your journey to Japan, consider these travel tips:

1. TRANSPORT PUNCTUALITY

Punctuality is key in Japan, particularly for their high-speed railway, the Shinkansen. Trains depart promptly, so ensure you arrive well in advance of departure times.

2. JAPAN RAIL PASS

Secure a Japan Rail Pass in advance for convenient travel across the country. While passes are now available for purchase at select stations and airports until March 31, 2024, online purchases remain more cost-effective.

A 7-day Ordinary Pass and Green Pass will cost approximately S$277.65 and S$370.79, respectively, on Klook, and approximately S$280.80 and S$375.30, respectively, on the JR Pass website. Both options also include free delivery to your address in Singapore.

3. CONVENIENCE STORE FINDS

Indulge in Japan’s convenience stores, known as konbinis, offering an array of fresh and affordable food options, along with other essentials. Personally, my husband and I enjoyed the snacks and desserts in the convenience store. Moreover, anime merchandise is available there too.

4. CASH PAYMENTS

Cash is preferred in many establishments, so ensure you have sufficient funds for your trip. While credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, and JCB are widely accepted, some places may not accept American Express. ATMs can be scarce in Japan, so convenience stores, many of which are open 24/7, often have ATMs for your convenience.

5. CHERRY BLOSSOM VIEWING

If planning a trip to see the cherry blossoms, aim for late March to early April in Tokyo (i.e., Flowering: March 22 / Full bloom: March 29), Osaka (i.e., Flowering: March 24 / Full bloom: April 1), and Kyoto (i.e., Flowering: March 22 / Full bloom: March 31). Alternatively, head north to cities like Sapporo, where blossoms bloom from late April to the first week of May (i.e., Flowering: April 30 / Full bloom: May 4).

Image Credits: unsplash.com

By using these tips, you’re sure to make the most of your adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun!

Sources: 1,2,3, & 4

 

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Win a Chance to Experience Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour with MBS

Singaporeans are gearing up for an exciting week ahead as anticipation builds for Taylor Swift’s much-anticipated The Eras Tour, set to kick off this Saturday. Whether you are holding coveted tickets to one of the six performances or not, fans are enthusiastically embracing the pop icon’s music with pre-concert gatherings, crafting sessions for friendship bracelets, and even sing-along events at Jewel Changi Airport.

As the official Presenting Sponsor for The Eras Tour, Marina Bay Sands is orchestrating an array of activities to mark the occasion, including an exclusive ticket giveaway.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is offering lucky Sands Lifestyle members the chance to win tickets to witness Taylor Swift live in Singapore.

Membership sign-up is quick and free, with no minimum spending required. Simply register here.

Here’s how it works:

– Become a Sands Lifestyle member.
– Visit any Sands Lifestyle kiosk on Mar. 2, between 6 am and 4 pm, to enter the draw.
– The winner will be announced at 6:30 pm on Mar. 2, via their website.
– The lucky winner will receive a pair of VIP 2 tickets to one of the concert dates, subject to availability, and must redeem their prize in person at the Sands Lifestyle counter.

In a bid to amplify excitement for The Eras Tour, Marina Bay Sands is transforming into a captivating tribute to Taylor Swift’s illustrious career.

Starting February 28, fans can immerse themselves in Swift’s musical journey at The Eras Tour Trail, located at select areas of The Shoppes and Sands Expo & Convention Centre. From her debut with the self-titled album “Taylor Swift” to defining moments like the “1989” and “Lover” eras, the trail showcases ten iconic phases of her career. Visitors are encouraged to dress up in their favorite era for Insta-worthy snapshots along the trail.

In addition to the trail, a captivating light and water show will run daily at 8 pm and 9 pm from February 28 to March 7, with an extra show at 10 pm on March 1 and 2. This 14-minute spectacle, set to the tunes of four Taylor Swift classics – “Cruel Summer,” “You Belong With Me,” “Style,” and “Shake It Off” – offers a mesmerizing fusion of dancing fountains, vivid projections, and synchronized lava effects, all choreographed to the beat of these iconic tracks. The integrated resort will also be adorned in The Eras Tour color palette from 7 pm to 11 pm daily.

Admission to the show is free, but due to limited capacity at the Event Plaza, pre-registration is required. Each person can redeem up to 6 e-tickets. Secure your spot here: ticket.marinabaysands.com. For those without an e-ticket, the show can still enjoy the show from the Waterfront Promenade.

Best of luck and enjoy the Eras Tour!

Sources: 1 & 2

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Hotels in JB to increase room rates from March 2024 due to this reason

ibis Styles Johor Iskandar Puteri

Bad news to end the first quarter of 2024 but here’s it:

Hotel room rates in JB are going to be going up a bit starting in March 2024.

This is due to the sales and service tax (SST) which is increasing from 6% to 8%.

And it doesn’t help that Ivan Teo, who is the chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels in Johor, reminds us that their member hotels have already raised room rates by 20 to 30% in the middle of last year due to higher electricity bills.

But still, he’s hoping for hotels to focus on getting more customers during the week and non-peak times.

Hotels usually do well on weekends, holidays, and school breaks, which is not a surprise at all.

Mr. Teo doesn’t think the higher room rates will be a problem for most guests, especially those from Singapore, China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

However, explaining it to guests from Indonesia could be tougher since their currency isn’t doing as well against the ringgit recently.

Singaporeans still make up a big part of hotel guests since prices seem significantly lower when compared to our dollar.

sgd to myr

The number of South Korean visitors staying in Johor Bahru and Iskandar Malaysia is also trending up, especially golfers and folks trying to escape the cold back home during those winter months and people going to English schools or visiting hospitals there.

There are about 90 three-star, four-star, and five-star hotels total in Johor.

But not all are increasing room rates.

For instance, the CEO of Lotus Desaru Resort, R. Indra Ghandi, said they won’t increase rates but will now include the SST starting 1 March.

She mentioned they currently charge net rates without taxes.

Ms. Indra added that customers pay close attention to prices, so raising rates could backfire on them.

But she doesn’t foresee issues with the tax change since half their guests are Singaporeans with good spending power.

Nonetheless, she proposed that the government offer visa-free entry to more countries besides China and India to attract more visitors.

Ms. Indra also hopes the new Johor leader with the tourism portfolio will organize roadshows to bring in more travelers from South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

On the other hand, Mariam Mohd from the Katerina Hotel Batu Pahat said their rates will go up a little in March.

The operations team is still finalizing the details but mentioned the increase depends mainly on which packages guests choose.

So what say you?

Will the increase in room rates in JB deter you from spending that overnight stay or is it sup-sup sui?

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Money Management Tips When Travelling in Singapore

Singapore is known as a global leader in finance and technology, with its world-class airport, cutting-edge architecture, and bustling commercial districts. Thus, many people believe that the country can only be enjoyed if you have deep pockets. However, this is a misconception that’s quite far from the truth. Indeed, the Lion City is actually one of the most tourist-friendly travel destinations in the world. Aside from the warm and welcoming atmosphere, Singapore has an efficient public transport system and plenty of affordable options for attractions, food, clothing, and lodgings.Simply speaking, even if you are on a tight budget, you can still have a good time in Singapore. You can also follow these practical tips to further maximise your budget and make the most of your trip:

Shop in Local Street Markets

Singapore is a shopaholic’s dream destination, with global premium fashion and lifestyle brands found in almost every major mall. That said, if you’re not interested in the pricey stuff and want something more affordable and authentic, you can explore the street markets in districts like Bugis and Chinatown. These places cater to the more budget-conscious travellers and have a wide assortment of products. You can even haggle for a lower price and take advantage of the tax refund.

If you’re at the airport and need to make some last-minute souvenir purchases, many Changi Airport shops are duty-free, so you can easily find the perfect souvenirs for yourself and gifts for people back home. When you shop at local markets and duty-free stores, you can better control your expenses and spend within your budget.

Use Public Transport

Taxi? Private transfer? You won’t need these in Singapore because their public transportation system is one of the most efficient if not the most efficient in the world—and the rates are also affordable. You can travel across the island nation by riding on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), buses, or light rail networks. The fare costs around SGD 0.80 to SGD 2.50 per journey, which is definitely pocket-friendly. Consider getting an EZ-Link card or the Singapore Tourist Pass for more savings.

Eat Like a Local

While many fine dining restaurants in Singapore are often worth their price, hawker centres and local eateries offer delicious authentic Singaporean cuisine for just a fraction of the cost. One whole meal with a complimentary beverage costs around SGD 3 to SGD 10, making it super affordable even for the most frugal traveller. These places also feature diverse dishes that cater to different palates and dietary preferences. If you’re travelling with family or friends, get different food items to share within the group so all of you can try various dishes without exceeding your budget.

Take Advantage of Free Attractions

Did you know that many of the famous attractions in Singapore are free? Yes, that’s right! From Merlion Park to the Gardens by the Bay’s outdoor gardens, you can visit plenty of iconic tourist attractions and landmarks in Singapore without spending a single cent. If you’re into more culturally significant and religious locations, Singapore has many free temples open to tourists as well, like the Buddha Tooth Relic and Sri Mariamman Temples. If you want to savour the views of the city, you can head over to Marina Bay and walk along the boardwalk to enjoy the breeze and the sky.

Take Note of Peak Travel Times

Singapore welcomes tourists all year round, but travelling during off-peak periods can help you save on airfares and accommodation. Usually, the peak travel season is November to January and June to July, so schedule your trip outside these time frames. Moreover, visit famous attractions on weekdays rather than weekends to reduce entry costs and enhance the experience by avoiding crowds.

Explore Budget Accommodations

If you’re looking for affordable accommodations in Singapore, there are hostels, serviced apartments, and capsule hotels among many others to choose from. One night at these budget accommodations can be as low as SGD 30, and most of these are strategically located near public transportation hubs and local street markets. Try to compare prices on various booking platforms and look for deals for added savings.

Use Free Wi-Fi

The widespread availability of free Wi-Fi in Singapore’s public areas, shopping malls, cafes, and even some public transport stations can make it possible for you to not buy a local sim or data plan. This connectivity helps manage your itinerary and lets you keep in touch with loved ones without incurring additional costs.

Look for Combo Deals and Passes

Some popular attractions in Singapore offer special tourist passes and combo deals that can significantly reduce the cost of visiting multiple attractions. You can find these deals online in booking apps or on the official website of these attractions. Make sure you research before booking so you don’t miss out on substantial savings!

Exploring the Lion City on a Budget

As you can see, travelling to Singapore doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Simply set a specific budget and do ample research to enjoy this wonderful country and all it offers. By making smart money decisions, you can make your trip to Singapore a truly memorable one.

 

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Singapore to implement sustainable fuel levy to reduce carbon emissions and this is how it will affect air ticket prices

scoot and singapore airlines side by side

Travelers, have you heard the news?

Starting in 2026, all flights leaving Singapore are going to have to use some sustainable aviation fuel to help reduce carbon emissions over time.

This means you can expect your ticket prices to go up a little because of a new fee they’re putting on sustainable fuel.

How much it costs you depends on things like how far you’re going and what class of seat you’re in.

This is all part of Singapore’s plan to make air travel more environmentally friendly.

An unambitious goal

In approximately two years, they’re aiming for flights to use just 1% sustainable fuel.

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat says the cost increase should be manageable since they have run through the topic with major stakeholders. 

Getting to that 1% goal will help fuel makers feel more confident investing in new production facilities.

Without more supply, it will be tough to use more sustainable fuel down the road.

Scaling slowly

Then by 2030, if feasible, they are eyeing for flights to run on 3 to 5% sustainable fuel, aligning with developments and more companies getting into the business in the next few years.

The long-term targets will balance being cost-effective with protecting the environment, to support air travel growth while reducing emissions over the decades.

To hit 1% in 2026, there will be a levy that could raise an economy ticket from Singapore to nearby places like Bangkok by $3, further places like Tokyo by $6, and London by $16 more.

Fliers in nicer seats will pay higher fees.

business class seat

Image Credits: nzherald.co.nz

More info to be provided

The aviation authority will provide more details in 2025 on exactly how this will work when it starts.

Meanwhile, they will keep the lines of discussion open among stakeholders.

Using sustainable fuel is a big part of the plan as it can lower emissions a lot compared to regular jet fuel, and is key for reaching net zero over the long run. 

But for now, it costs more, so they need to balance goals with keeping prices reasonable so air travel stays popular.

Only time will tell if they strike the right balance!

CAAS’ fixed cost approach

The market for sustainable aviation fuel is still developing and the price can be unpredictable.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) wants to provide airlines and travelers with more certainty on costs.

As such, they will set a fixed amount for the levy based on targets and estimated prices for that year.

Whatever they collect from the levy will be used to buy the fuel, based on what it costs at purchase time.

But the levy amount won’t change even if the real price differs from what was estimated.

Instead, they will adjust how much fuel gets added based on the fixed levy and current price. 

Planes can currently fly with a 50/50 mix of sustainable and regular jet fuel, so there’s still leeway to work around things for now.

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