I still can’t believe that it’s been two something years since we last travelled. Has it been that long? YES – IT HAS BEEN THAT LONG!! At first I was hesitant – all I could think about was the added steps and things that one needed to do – like wear a mask, be mindful of what to touch, how to eat inside the plane, and the destination country’s covid protocols. Thinking of all these things, made my head ache – but I had to set aside those thoughts. FOCUS – focus on what I am able to control.
Singapore was the country of choice simply because it’s open, the place is safe and most everyone can speak and understand the english language. It’s quite far – but it’s the closest thing to Japan for us, sort of. Transportation is reliable, people are nice and the place is very clean. We just had to bear the hot weather. Go, go, go!
So first things first – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE TRAVELING TO SINGAPORE? I’m sure you’ve bought your tickets already, hahaha!! Here’s my take on what you need to do and have with you. I’ll try my very best to be as detailed as I can – so bear with me. In case you have questions, please do send me an email – Hahaha!
Secure yourselves a your Philippines vaccination certificates
You can get one yourself via https://vaxcert.doh.gov.ph/
– Make sure you have your vaccination cards or copies of them with you when you access the site
– Fill in and type ALL the necessary details then view your records
*In case you have NO RECORDS FOUND as a result, you can upload photos of your vaccination cards on the site – get the reference number and then call your LGU so they can manually fix it for you. They say it takes a while to fix – so better get it as early as possible. Make sure that the site has your COMPLETE & CORRECT details before you print!
– Make sure to get EVERYONE’s Vax Cert PH copies be it vaccinated adults or vaccinated children
– Print a hard copy AND keep a soft copy on your phones (just in case)
Secure yourselves the Singapore Vaccine Certificate
You can get the SG Vaccine Certificates at this site: Singapore VACCINATION CHECK PORTAL
– Before you start – take a CLEAR screen shot of your VaxCert’s QR code
– Make sure that you have your passport or a copy of your passport details (name, passport number, passport expiry date) before you start this step
– Then input all the necessary details such as your name, valid email addresses (the site will send you an OTP for this). After this you will start to input your passport details.
– You will then be asked to upload your QR code. Make sure it’s clear without lights and shadows or else, it will register as error.
– When everything is submitted and verified, you will receive a copy on your email.
– PRINT THIS OUT and save a digital copy on your phone. THIS needs to be presented when you check-in for your flight.
– You can do this anytime as the Singapore Digital Verification of Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate is valid for 30 days. I highly suggest that you do this ahead of time to avoid the rush and doing it last minute.
Download the Trace Together app on your phone
Register your profile – it’s one adult per app
You will activate this once you finish with the immigration
**I downloaded this and activated it BUT I only used this app ONCE when I heard Mass. The volunteers there had to scan our bar code before we entered the cathedral. Just make sure that you have this just in case the establishment you are going to asks for it.
Three days before your flight to Singapore, SUBMIT your SG Arrival Card and e-Health declaration via this site Immigration and Checkpoint Authority.
– Make sure to do this 3 days before your flight.
– I personally had print outs of this just in case the immigration officer asks for it (there’s a bar code)
– You will use this same bar code in stores when you claim for VAT refund for your purchases
Now, let me kwento about our experience in the airport – we were at NAIA Terminal 2. A gentle reminder is to bring extra masks – as you’ll get all sweaty. We were all masked from the time we entered NAIA Terminal 2 until we arrived in our hotel in Singapore. This I have to say is the LONGEST time that I was masked up. To give you an idea it was about 8 hours straight.
When we arrived at NAIA Terminal 2, the lines were quite long already. Since I still had to settle the Travel Tax, I asked Panget and my children to fall in line at the check-in counter. I think it took about 5-10 minutes for me to finish paying the travel tax. I went to check where they were and the line was still very long. I looked at the Online Check-In line, and it seemed shorter BUT it wasn’t moving at all. Do you know the reason why it wasn’t moving? It was because those checking in at the counter were not able to present the SG Vax Cert and the SG Arrival Card. The people at the counter REFUSED to move and thus it took them a long time to finish. This made everyone irritated, a good samaritan called us to line up at the Business Class counter because he saw Shobe was getting restless already. I did notice a group of senior male passengers at the side of the counter on their phones and regularly going to the lady checking us in to ask for approvals – apparently, they were not aware of the SG Vax Cert and SG Arrival Card. They were moved to the side to finish that process before they get checked in.
So, when you check in – make sure to have these prepared:
1. Your passports + tickets
2. Print out of the following: (I’m the type of person who likes to have hard copies of documents)
a. Philippine Vax Cert
b. SG Digital Vaccine Certificate
3. Travel Tax receipt/s (well, you might as well pay it ahead of time to have… time! Haha…)
After checking in we then headed to the immigration area. (Don’t forget to fill up the Philippine Departure card! It was a breeze because we went to the left side instead of the right side (immigration area). After the immigration, we had to go through another ‘check’. We had to take off our shoes and place them in bins together with our bags. Then we had to stand on a capsule-like scanner and off we went. BUT we got held because Shobe’s back pack had a questionable item. We wondered what it was – it was shown in the screen BUT we couldn’t identify the item. We emptied the bag and asked what they were looking for – but the officers could only just shake their heads because they themselves were clueless on what the item was! It was taking quite a lot of time. There was this lady officer that was very rude – I remember that the officers are NOT ALLOWED to touch any of our things BUT she INSISTED on doing it all – in her own words AKO NA ANG GAGAWA. My eyes were like a hawk’s because I was fearing that she would put something questionable inside the bag. I was getting agitated because in the first place – it was NOT our fault, we were also confused! She then rummaged through the bag, taking out ALL the items ONLY TO BE LEFT MORE CONFUSED! Out of frustration, she got a bin – and placed ALL the items from the bag on it and put it through the scanner. It was then found that – what they were looking for was a tube of Desitin. Silly right? Oh well.
The waiting area near our gate was peaceful and calm – well that was before the announcement of boarding. I think most everyone was excited to travel. People were trying to get in first and they were lining up at the business class line. When the airline staff saw their boarding passes, the groups were asked to go back at the end of the line of the economy class. We were more fortunate since we had Shobe on the stroller – the staff let us board first. This is one perk of traveling with a small child + a stroller. Our flight was delayed a bit because there were two or three passengers that couldn’t be located – thus their bags had to be offloaded.
When we arrived in Singapore’s Changi – it was an overwhelming feeling of success and excitement! The hard part was over – WE SURVIVED! We were finally in Singapore! What a great feeling it was as I walked out of the jetway and stepped onto the carpet of the Changi Airport! Our gate was far so we had to walk quite a distance to reach the arrival hall. Everything was so familiar as Singapore was the last place Panget and I travelled to in December 2019. We were lucky that the lines to the immigration counters were short. On your right were lanes for Singaporeans and permanent residents, on your left are for short term tourists.
Make sure to prepare the following before queueing:
1. Passports – please take them out of their ‘jackets’
These jackets irritate the hell out of immigration officers, serious yan! Hahaha..
2. Print outs of your PH Vax Cert, SG Digital Vaccine Certificate
3. Print out of your SG Arrival Card (the one with the bar code)
I knew that Singapore immigration officers disliked groups going to a single counter. Panget, Kailee and Connor went to one counter, while I was with Shobe and Yaya B on the special lane for kids with strollers. Before splitting up, I handed Panget all the necessary documents needed. But guess what – the immigration officer was asking for my children’s vaccination certificates. This confused me as I knew that Singapore DID NOT require vaccine certificates for children who are 12 and below. But the immigration officer INSISTED, and Panget was waving at me asking for help. I went to their counter in a hurry and told the officer that both children are fully vaccinated but I don’t have proof, to which he gave a sarcastic laugh. He then asked for any proof, any picture or email that I could present – I HAD NONE. I did not take a digital copy of my children’s vaccine certificate. We were going back and forth and it was quite tiring. Finally, Panget told the office if he would like to see a video of my children getting injected – that was the only proof we had. He then said no and said I WILL JUST DECLARE THEM UNVACCINATED IS THAT OKAY?! I replied in frustration GO AHEAD, and he did and let them pass. Frustrating right? I mean, why insist to see vaccination records of those who DO NOT need to show proof of vaccination?! I think this particular officer was power tripping.
When it was my turn with Shobe in another counter, we had no problems at all! I never thought that we’d experience this kind of hassle for something that was not needed. I guess maybe that officer just wanted to exert some sort of power over us. Anyway, it was a good thing that I knew what was needed and what was not.
Getting our bags was a breeze, as always. The problem now was how to get to the hotel together. We were quite many + our luggages. I inquired with a Grab staff if I can book a GrabCar for 6 (seeing we were 6) + luggages – in Singaporean fashion, he uttered CAN! So I booked it – when our car arrived, I knew we won’t be able to fit. The drive came out and fixed the back part of his car to accommodate the luggages + stroller, he then told us, he can only accommodate 3 passengers or else it will be overloaded already. I told my Panget to take the Grab while Shobe, Yaya B and myself will just take a cab. We met at the hotel lobby shortly after. To give you an idea – our Grabcar for 6 was about 27SGD while the car taxi was about 25SGD. We stayed in Swissotel in City Hall.
Not having to travel in 2+ years makes you a bit rusty to be honest.
I forgot to get travel insurance, but was able to get one via the Pacific Cross website. It’s super convenient because you just need to input all the details and pay online. You’ll receive your policy right after. What I totally forgot that Panget had to remind me was the Philippine Travel Tax. You can actually do this online, but then for the children – you’ll still need to pay full price and then request for refund after. There’s also a ‘convenience fee’ that you need to add to your total, I guess in the end – it’s still better to pay at the airport – as long as the queues are not long. The staff at the travel tax counter are friendly and accommodating – so I guess, that’s a plus.
I hope you had a good glimpse of how it is to travel – well sort of, hahaha!! I mean the things you need before traveling to Singapore and traveling per se. It’s quite exciting
Oh, I planned to get Singapore Tourist sim cards to stay connected because they’re a LOT cheaper than our local telecom’s data roaming. But there weren’t any in the counters that I went to, well the only ones available cost 50SGD – I felt it was too much. The lady at the counter was trying to sell it to me saying that the validity of the sim card is 180 days, but I was staying for a lot less – so I decided not to buy.
So that’s about it! Hahaha.. I hope my post was informative!
Stay tuned for the next parts!
Thank you for reading!!