Trip.com X Nirwana Gardens Hotel Bintan *GIVEAWAY + PROMO CODE*

Trip.com

Trip.com is a one-stop travel solutions provider offering hotel, flight, train and car bookings. Part of the CTrip Group (which acquired Skyscanner), a NASDAQ-listed company since 2003, Trip.com has over 30,000 employees and over 300 million members with worldwide coverage of over 1.2 million hotels in more than 200 countries and flights to over 5,000 cities. 

One of the largest online travel agencies in the world, it ranked in the Top 30 of Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies. It has 9 global offices with one in Singapore.

Bookings can be made via Trip.com or on its mobile app (Apple and Android versions available). The app is fuss-free and straightforward. Plan your trip in-app using My Trips to monitor your flight status and hotel confirmations. There’s a Rewards Program called PointsPLUS where you can accumulate points to redeem airline miles and other services. 


Nirwana Gardens

Nirwana Gardens is a resort located at the northern part of Bintan with various accommodation types to suit all sorts of travellers – from families with children to honeymooners, employees on corporate retreats and solo backpackers. Spanning across 330 hectares, there is a wide range of facilities such as the infinity pool, fitness studio, dive centre, jumbo elephant park, recreational activities, water sports and kids club. Food and beverages are available in the resort’s 14 restaurants, bars and pubs.

There are a total of 5 unique properties in Nirwana Gardens:

  • Nirwana Resort Hotel, where we stayed at, is the largest accommodation with 242 rooms, all facing either the pool, garden or sea. All the standard facilities of a hotel room are included. 
  • Indra Maya Pool Villa, 8 exclusive and beautiful pool villas with individual courtyards and private pools facing the South China Sea. Indra Maya Pool Villas come with Personalised Villa Host Services. 
  • Banyu Biru Villa, newly refurbished double-storey 2 or 3 bedroom villas fully equipped with all the comforts of home that are perfect for group gatherings or large families. 
  • Mayang Sari Beach Resort includes 51 air-conditioned chalets with attached bathrooms and private verandahs. Choose between the Sea View chalet, Garden View chalet or Family Loft. 
  • Nirwana Beach Club is for water sports lovers. 42 decorated cabanas situated near the dive centre provides easy access to the sea. Sundecks are available for those who suntan.

The latest addition to the group is Grand Lagoi Hotel by Nirwana Gardens. It is approximately 10 minutes away by car from its sister resort.

You might not be aware, but Nirwana Gardens has a Newborn Turtle Release project as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts. They operate a turtle conservatory and hatchery to protect turtles and hatchlings from predators and poachers. Established since 2005 to increase awareness of marine conservation and increase the declining number of turtles in the region, the successful programme has seen 431 green turtles and 916 hawksbill turtles released into the ocean in 2017 alone. Resort guests are welcome to view the release of turtle hatchlings into the ocean which occurs between June to September each year.



The resort is well paved with roads but of a distance to travel via foot. With the convenient travel options like the complimentary shuttle bus, buggy or car, we didn’t see anyone walking from point to point!

Nirwana Resort Hotel

From Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, it takes a comfortable 55-min ferry ride via Bintan Resort Ferries and a 10-min land transfer to reach the hotel lobby. Upon arrival, we were treated to a traditional Indonesian dance with live percussion music. Only Indonesian Rupiah is accepted in Bintan, and there is a money changer located at the hotel lobby for convenience. Indonesian timing is GMT+7, an hour behind Singapore.

We checked in on a Monday and the process was smooth. The resort is rather full on weekends. Singaporeans make up the bulk of visitors, followed by tourists from China.

The resort provided an extra bed for the kids, but look at those monkeys on the big bed. Standard amenities were provided – a TV, study desk, armchair, bar fridge, closet, rain shower and hair dryer. Our room overlooked a water fountain and there were lots of greenery. The room was clean with no visible traces of the previous occupant. 

Facilities/Activities

I was surprised to find out that there was a dive centre in Nirwana Gardens! It’s been more than five years since I last dived but I couldn’t due to time and kid constraints. For those who live for water sports, there’s a whole host of activities ranging from diving, snorkeling, banana boating, jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking, windsurfing and more. Here’s the full list of activities and corresponding prices.

We were brought on a tour around the resort and stopped by the D’Ranch Oasis, a herb garden and mini-zoo. There were rabbits, a resident parrot, monitor lizards and guinea fowl waddling to the small stream beside for water. How cute!

Traditional fishing can be done here at this small lake with the most basic type of rod with no reel. My husband gave it a go and hauled in a bountiful catch of zero fishes. The fishes were too smart for him that day. 

For a fee, you can ride around the compound in a horse carriage or on horseback. 

The Jumbo Elephant Park houses seven Sumatran elephants. The elephant in this photo is a grand dame of 28 years old. I’d never been up close to an elephant in my life, and we got to touch its trunk and watch them drink water from their trunks. The park provides an opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with the gentle giants and watch a show where they can observe the elephants’ individual characteristics, living habits and group behaviours. 

 

The camping ground at the resort has many outdoor adventure equipment and is suitable for school groups and company team bonding activities. There’s a four-storey Flying Fox zipline, paintball park, Air Rifle, archery corner and indoor AirSoft gun shooting.   

A two storey complex houses the 14-lane bowling centre, cafe, meeting rooms, fitness centre and NABLEZ Kids Club. 

The NABLEZ Kids Club is suitable for children aged four years and up and you can choose to pay per session or per day. Parents can sign their children for the day course if they want to sneak off for some golf or a spa session.

The indoor playground has full length glass windows to let in natural light and is decorated with familiar cartoon characters. A messy creative corner for painting lets your child unleash their inner artistic talent. The cosy beanbag and TV area is perfect for lounging and relaxing. Younger babies are not left out, as the fully padded play area stocked with toys protects against injuries.

Our time was tight and we chose to forego the indoor kids’ playground for THIS.

The four ‘S’s of any perfect outdoor holiday – Sun. Sand. Sea. Sky. The weather happened to be perfect throughout our stay and we were blessed with this view. As it was a weekday, the beach was practically empty! We actually couldn’t resist it when we were taken there in our day clothes and ended up with sandy and wet kids. We made sure to go again after lunch in proper swimwear, and again the next day.  

I let the kids play in the sand. Didi put some sand into his mouth, but that boy eats just about anything. The kids touched seaweed, flung sand around and dug holes. There was sand everywhere. 

The outdoor pool was where we spent most of our time. Overlooking the sea, the pool is a nice place to read a book, suntan or sip a drink at the pool bar. The infinity pool is not suitable for small children because it’s where the deep end is, demarcated with floats, but the rest of the pool is huge. 

The 0.5M wading pool where Elise fulfilled her sisterly duties of pushing her little brother in his inflatable whale throne around the pool. 

My Prince of W(h)ales.

What we loved about the pool was that the temperature of the water was perfect for swimming. Not bone-chillingly cold where you have to say a prayer before dipping yourself in, but toasty warm. 

View this post on Instagram

Peekaboo! . . @tripcom.sg @nirwanabintan

A post shared by Bibimbubs (@bibimbubs) on

Food

Spice Restaurant

Located at the main lobby of Mayang Sari Beach Resort, this restaurant with a view of the beach and sea serves authentic traditional Indonesian and Indian cuisine. We had the Nasi Goreng that my husband couldn’t stop raving about, butter chicken with naan and fish masala. The kids had chicken noodle soup and Mac’N’Cheese.    

The Kelong Seafood Restaurant

The Kelong Seafood Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant situated on top of the sea. The restaurant is naturally ventilated with a balmy sea breeze from the South China Sea and has a laid-back atmosphere. We were pleasantly surprised with a small cake before dinner as part of Elise’s belated birthday celebration. 

The walls were adorned with messages scrawled on crab shells, typical of seafood places serving crabs. There’s a small kelong below the bridge where the fishes are reared.

Dinner was a scrumptious spread of cereal prawns, seafood soup, kailan in oyster sauce and their signature dishes, black pepper crab and sea snails (gong gong). Part of a set menu, it was sufficient for two adults. The crab meat was piquant, sweet and easily separated from its shell, a sign of freshness.

The fresh seafood, service and sea breeze made for a pleasant evening. 

The Coffee Shop

The Coffee Shop is where daily breakfast buffet is served at. Check out the view. 

The food stations are modelled after traditional food push carts, giving it a rustic feel. 

The generous buffet spread included the standard egg station, salad and fruits bar, bread counter, cereal station and cooked food from International (ham, baked beans, potato wedges), Chinese (stir-fried noodles, fried rice, congee) and Indonesian (nasi lemak, soto ayam) cuisine. 

Poolside Restaurant

Our last meal in Nirwana Resort Hotel before checking out was at Poolside Restaurant. As the name implies, the restaurant mainly serves visitors who want a quick meal near the pool. 

We had two set meals with seafood pizza and grilled chicken leg as mains. The kimchi beef soup as a starter was a winner and gone so fast, we didn’t manage to take a photo. There was a good variety of kids’ meals and we ordered the mini pizza with french fries and steamed fish with mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables.  

Conclusion

Our 2D1N stay at Nirwana Gardens was on a packed schedule and we only wish we had more time to explore the more thrilling ATV, water sports and dive spots. With children, there’s still plenty to do at the beach, pool, bowling centre, elephant park and planned activities like the mangrove swamp tour and elephant experience. 

It was a brief respite from our daily routine and we enjoyed the large pool and the beach view. It’s an option worth considering if you only have a few days to spare, due to its easy accessibility from mainland Singapore.

Promo Code

Use code JAMIEK18 for S$18 OFF hotel bookings through the Trip.com App!
Valid till 31st Jan 2019!

Giveaway

Hop on over to Facebook for giveaway details! 

*** This is a sponsored review. We were invited to review Nirwana Resort Hotel by Trip.com.  

Trip.com x Shangri-La Hotel Staycation

Trip.com

Trip.com is a one-stop travel solutions provider offering hotel, flight, train and car bookings. Part of the CTrip Group (which acquired Skyscanner), a NASDAQ-listed company since 2003, Trip.com has over 30,000 employees and over 300 million members with worldwide coverage of over 1.2 million hotels in more than 200 countries and flights to over 5,000 cities. 

One of the largest online travel agencies in the world, it ranked in the Top 30 of Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies. It has 9 global offices with one in Singapore.

Bookings can be made via Trip.com or on its mobile app (Apple and Android versions available). The app is fuss-free and straightforward. Plan your trip in-app using My Trips to monitor your flight status and hotel confirmations. There’s a Rewards Program called PointsPLUS where you can accumulate points to redeem airline miles and other services. 


Shangri-La Hotel

Shangri-La Hotel Singapore hardly needs any introduction. Located in Orange Grove Road slightly off Orchard Road, it is a five-star hotel with 2 pillar-less ballrooms, 21 function rooms and 10 dining spaces in its 3 wings. 

1. Tower Wing – 503 guestrooms and suites. First wing in the hotel to be built, it underwent an extensive multi-million dollar renovation and relaunched in 2017. Buds by Shangri-La is located in this wing and the entire 9th floor is catered to the needs of family travellers.

2. Garden Wing – 158 rooms and suites surrounded by lush greenery with palm trees, ferns and colourful exotic plants. The main feature is the cascading waterfall, located near the swimming pool. 

3. Valley Wing – 131 opulent and luxurious rooms and suites. The Valley Wing has its own private entrance and driveway and has hosted dignitaries such as former U.S. Presidents Mr Barack Obama and Mr George H.W. Bush. 

Since 2002, they have hosted the IISS Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. An annual intergovernmental defence forum, attendees include the most important policymakers in the defence and security community as well as journalists, academic experts, legislators and business delegates.

As a 5 star hotel, service and comfort is top-notch. Their Awards and Accolades spans 10 pages out of 38 pages in their Press Kit! From Best Hotel to Best Spa and Top Restaurants, Shangri-La Hotel excels in every aspect of hospitality.

Fun fact: Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, opened in April 1971, was the very first Shangri-La hotel in the world to be built.

Main Lobby

The grand sculptures and wall features are inspired by the elements water and wood. The overall designer for the Tower Wing lobby, guest rooms and NAMI restaurant and bar is Mr. Ryoichi Niwata, whose main intention was to bring natural elements into the interiors.

Mr. Hirotoshi Sawada, artist | Artwork Title: Tree Canopy The ceiling installation features thousands of leaves in fluid motion and is inspired by the movement of nature in water, trees, clouds and earth.

Mr. Charlie Albone, landscape artist | Artwork: Vertical garden at the Lobby Lounge, 9 x 6 metres

Deluxe Family Room

Our room was a Deluxe Family Room on the 9th floor and it featured a king-sized bed with a window alcove for the kids to play or sleep, automated curtains, TV channels for children and child-friendly toiletries.

Soft, luxurious sheets with four pillows. Soft, medium, firm, lavender or cassia seed? There’s a pillow menu for you to choose the exact type of pillows you prefer. 

The view from our room through the large windows, full of lush greenery with buildings in the background. We spent most of our time at Buds or at the pool. 

It was utter bliss when both children slept on this bed without fussing, instead of clambering up to our big bed and kicking us in their sleep. “Please jab your toe in my nose”, said no one ever. There was a wooden hollow in the ledge with a cover which Elise pretended was a boat.

See that table over there? It served as their little hide-out. The table has an adjustable height to suit children. We didn’t touch it though. 

A Nespresso machine with complimentary capsules and tea bags are refilled daily, as are the bottles of oxygenated drinking water. Even the drinking water is premium. The welcome snacks included a fruit platter, popcorn and chocolate chip cookies, which Didi couldn’t stop munching on.  

Unique handwriting on this welcome card

The room attendants folded towel origami the two nights we were there. We had two rabbits the first night and a dog with googly eyes on the second night.

The level of thoughtfulness by Shangri-La towards families is exceptional. Everything that babies and children require are provided and are from reputable brands. Huggies disposable tape diapers and swim diapers (!), children’s toothbrushes and organic children’s toothpaste, baby bath sponges from Mothercare, Sudocrem, Mustela lotion and even baby wipes! We packed half a luggage full of diapers from home and ended up bringing them back again. We packed the bare minimum of 3 sets of clothes for the kids, and we realised it was an overkill because the hotel provides complimentary usage of washer and dryer machines in the centralised pantry!

The bath amenities for the adults are from L’Occitane.

There are no bathtubs in the Deluxe Family Rooms, but you can easily borrow one for the kids from the centralised pantry. We borrowed a foldable Stokke bathtub, a bath seat and some bath toys. A green anti-slip bath mat is provided in each bathroom on the family floor

A specially designed menu for children is available for in-room dining. Free from MSG or artificial colouring, only high quality ingredients such as grass-fed beef, hormone and antibiotic free chicken, organic eggs and nitrate-free ham are used.

Centralised Pantry

The centralised pantry located near the lift lobby on Level 9 is open 24/7, exclusively for family guests staying on that floor and requires card access. Complimentary usage of the facilities are a benefit for family travellers.

  • Complimentary usage of washer & dryer machines
    There are two washer and dryer machines, available for families to use at no added cost! Our soiled clothes were laundered and completely dried in 80 minutes. That means you can cut down luggage space for the whole family! Baby laundry detergent and stain remover from NUK is available for use. There’s a steam iron, if you need to press your suits.
  • Complimentary usage of premium baby products
    SSS? Spotted Some Stokke? Shangri-La Hotel has a Stokke V.I.B (Very Important Baby) program where you can borrow its highly raved about bouncer, stroller, Sleepi cot, Tripp Trapp high chair, Flexi bathtub and other amenities for use within the hotel compound. Apart from that, there’re bottle sterilisers, drying racks, bottle warmers, baby monitors, potty chairs, bath toys, diaper bins, toys and board games!
  • Cooking equipment
    An induction cooker, microwave, hot and cold water dispenser, WMF pots and pans, plates, bowls and cutlery ensure that you can prepare nutritious meals for your babies (but why, when the in-room dining menu is so enticing!). 

Themed Family Suites

Welcome to the room we (wish) we stayed in. Five themed family suites (Space, Castle, Underwater, Safari and Treetop), artfully designed, are one of Shangri-La Hotel’s unique product offerings. This family suite has two bedrooms, one for the adults and one bunk bed for the children.

A grandparent or helper can bunk in with the children as there is a flip out bed with door in the room for some privacy. In each family suite, there is a small opening for the children where they can climb through to access the main bedroom. Family suites can be connected to another deluxe room to expand the overall space for large families. 

I only managed to peek into this suite as the others were fully occupied

The amount of detail put into designing the family suite is mind-blowing. The downside is that your kids probably wouldn’t want to leave the room. 


Swimming Pool

Open from 6am to 8pm, the outdoor swimming pool is large and has a 2.5m deep end for skilled swimmers, a children’s play pool, a Jacuzzi and the kids’ favourite – water fountains. Surrounded by palm trees and overlooking the Garden Wing, swimming here can be relaxing.  

The lifeguards on duty are sharp and quick to react. My husband’s swim shorts didn’t fit so I had to handle both kids in the pool. At one instance, Elise attempted to cross over the edge of the play pool into the main pool area, and was stopped by them. 

Why are kids so fascinated by water fountains? Neither of them can swim, so I plonked them here. 

Nursing Room

You’d be surprised that many hotels in Singapore do not have proper nursing rooms and often open spare rooms upon request for breastfeeding mothers. This nursing room is fully equipped with a diaper changing mat, hot and cold water dispenser, bar fridge, bottle warmer, comfortable armchair and footstool, Stokke high chair and crib! There are two cubicles. Both include power points for pumping mothers. I used the baby weighing scale to check Didi’s weight (a healthy 10.6kg at 12 months old!). 

Buds

Buds by Shangri-La is an interactive play space comprising four activity rooms (Bake, Muddy, Stage and Party), an indoor playground and outdoor play area. 

Bake is a cooking studio that is every home baker’s dream. It’s fully equipped with Electrolux ovens, commercial chillers and… EIGHT KitchenAid mixers, all differently coloured! 😀 Baking classes are held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for children aged 6 and above. The tables and chairs are child sized to accommodate the little ones. We didn’t try this as Elise is only turning three. 

Having heard much about Buds, we were thrilled to experience it for ourselves. Guests on the Family level and Themed Family Suites get to enjoy complimentary access and unlimited playtime and 1 free activity at the Stage/Muddy activity rooms for the duration of their stay. At first glance, Buds is clean and spacious, with plenty of room for the kids to run about. 

To protect the little ones, standard temperature checks and sanitisation procedures are conducted at the entrance. Buds uses Biocair to sanitise the air and environment. The indoor play area is segregated into the Explorer Zone, suitable for children aged 4 to 12 years old and the Toddler Zone, for 0 to 4 year olds. Younger children are allowed into the Explorer Zone with parental supervision. Actually, all parents should supervise their kids in indoor playgrounds, regardless of age. 

There are two levels in Explorer Zone. Children can climb up the large mesh nets at the front, climb stairs or ropes. About half of the area on the upper level has mesh flooring and is not designed to take an adult’s weight. A warning sign is placed at eye level, but it was too insignificant for most people to take notice of, as I spotted a man doing chin-ups on the blue bars. -_- 

Buds uses cassia seeds in place of sand for children to practice pouring and scooping. Cassia seeds are not as messy as sand and are perfectly safe if accidentally (or intentionally) ingested. The way I see it, Buds is constructed in a way for children to take the lead without needing their parents to shadow them. It’s not built to accommodate adults. The play pit has a relatively tall wall that requires some level of difficulty for an adult to enter, yet has a tunnel for kids to crawl through easily. 

The ubiquitous ball pit that is seen in almost every indoor playground. Except in Buds, it’s not so much of a pit, but a pool. It is vast and there are probably thousands of balls in a pretty sky blue/white/cloudy white combination. 

Over at level 2, kids can try their hand at putting out “fires” with using “fire hoses”, which are really ball guns and soft foam balls. An electronic panel to the right keeps score of your game. Underneath is a climbing slope and short slides for younger preschoolers. 

Babies can be kept safe in the Toddler zone, away from the big kids who may tend to play rough. Here, the babies can fit customised blocks into the wall cut outs, stomp on the piano floor, hide in the enclosed space near the slides or swing on.  

Toy car rides that are FREE! Here’s Didi crying for his life because he is not used to sitting in a moving ride. As you can guess, we don’t usually spend money on the rides which cost $2 and lasts for only a few minutes. Yes, I saw that warning label. 

Watch your kids while sipping coffee at the snack corner and cafe, aptly named Recharge. Providing caffeine fixes, pastries and other small bites, the decently sized cafe uses Stokke high chairs instead of the commonly seen IKEA ones.

Themed Rooms

The Party room is a function room open for birthday and party bookings. Prices include playtime at Buds. There was a birthday party ongoing, so I didn’t take photos of the room. 

Stage is a music themed room and the details… from the glitzy neon lights to the Hollywood Stars on the floor. On days that there are no activities, the activity rooms are open for free play.

In this music room, you get to choose songs to be broadcast on a projector screen and bang on cymbals and lighted drums installed on the walls. Wigs and props complete the superstar experience. 

Befitting a little superstar, this electronic grand piano has preset tunes for your baby to make it or fake it. 

Muddy

Take a break from running around at Muddy. I’m not sure why it’s named Muddy when there’s no mud to be seen. Muddy is the space for your babies to unleash their inner Picasso. 

Put on a full sleeved apron, grab a paintbrush and paint on the A4 printer papers or on the walls. I spotted a staff scrubbing paint out of the walls with a sponge and detergent to clear up space though… it’s a never-ending cycle. Paint on wall -> Scrub off -> Repeat. The absolute coolest part of it all was when the UV lights were turned on and everything glowed in the dark! Normal tempera paints will not glow in the dark; the ones at Messy are luminescent glow in the dark paints! You could hear the exclamations from the bedazzled kids, including mine. 

Wash off with Mustela hand soap when you’re done. 

  • Outdoor Play area

Wait, there’s more! Walk behind the swimming pool and past the Dutch Pavilion and you’ll find TWO playgrounds for outdoor play! A tube slide is the centrepiece and it is accessed via rope bridges and nets. This is an adventure for the brave. If that’s too daunting, each half of the ship has its own hide out with telescopes and slide. 

Wet water playgrounds are an excellent choice for both parents and kids. It’s safer than a swimming pool, yet the kids get to play with water. We’ve been to many water play parks and Elise achieved a personal milestone this round. She had always been afraid of the giant overhead pail that fills up and spills over when full. There were some kids who coaxed her to join them and she eventually overcame her fear of that great big pail. 

A winding waterway with various elements for children to explore and manipulate. The kids can observe how the flow of water is obstructed when the movable component is turned. Perfect way to learn through play – though it may not seem like much, kids learn best from self-directed play. 

 

The Line

The Line restaurant has long been regarded as one of Singapore’s top buffet restaurants, having won multiple awards for Best Restaurant by internationally acclaimed publications and organisations. Featuring 16 show kitchens and a wide variety of cuisine, you’ll be spoiled for choice. The breakfast spread was impressive – there was dim sum, various types of congee with condiments, breads and cheeses, a noodle and nasi lemak station, Indian parathas, cereal and oat bar with all sorts of milk.

There’s something for everyone. Apple, orange or grapefruit juice? Low fat, full cream, chocolate or almond  milk? A sinful croissant or fruit yoghurt?

Something worth pointing out is the Wellness Corner for health conscious guests or those with dietary restrictions. There’s almond milk, nuts and grains, dried raisins, oat porridge, muffins. 

A designated family area is set aside for families and there are child-friendly utensils as well as a basket of crayons on each table for them to doodle on. 


CHI, The Spa

CHI, The Spa, offers holistic treatments inspired by Asian traditions. Appointed as the exclusive hotel spa partner for Biologique Recherche in 2015, CHI, The Spa uses skilled therapists with natural ingredients to revitalise and rejuvenate. 

Shang Palace

Craving Cantonese cuisine? Shang Palace serves mostly traditional Cantonese alongside Shanghainese and Szechuan dishes. Baked abalone tarts, braised lobster and pan-fried foie gras with gold foil suckling pig are but some of the tantalising Chinese dishes available on the menu at Shang Palace.

Conclusion

Shangri-La Hotel ranks high as a family friendly hotel. No expense is spared to provide their guests with top range, organic, child-safe amenities and premium branded baby equipment for use at no added cost. It is no wonder why their awards page is 10 pages long and will only continue to expand. I’d like to come back without the kids to fully pamper myself instead of slaving after the kids, but I have to say that our very first family staycation has set the bar way up there.


Information

Shangri-La Hotel
22 Orange Grove Rd, Singapore 258350

Website | Facebook Page

Buds by Shangri-la

 

Correct as of September 2018

Special Offers

Book your staycation today!
Exclusive Shangri-La Hotel Singapore offers – book your staycation today!

 

Discount Code

Limited to 88 users!
S$18 instant discount off hotel bookings using the Trip.com App with code JamieK18
Valid from 20 Sep to 19 Nov 2018

P.S. Collect and redeem points and miles with the PointsPLUS rewards program (psst… there’s KrisFlyer too!)

*** This post was brought to you by Trip.com. All opinions are based on my experience and have not been altered. 

 

 

 

 

[Korea Summer 2016] Songdo Central Park

Winter has already started in Korea but this is a recap of our trip there in September. That day, we went sightseeing at Chinatown in Incheon which was a total tourist trap and unmemorable. There are rows and rows of shops selling cheap, useless trinkets and majestic looking Chinese restaurants which serve mediocre Korean-Chinese food. To give an idea of how we got ripped off, we paid 50,000 won for 2 people for an “8 course set lunch” which didn’t fill our stomachs.

I also twisted my ankle. Nothing but bad memories. Despite the pain, I insisted on going to Songdo Central Park because it’s where the triplets Daehan, Minguk and Manse from Superman Returns live at. They’re all grown up and not-so-cute anymore, but my husband also wanted to check the place out.

Songdo is built on reclaimed land and is touted as one of Korea’s “smart cities”. It’s a business district as well and there’re quite a number of foreigners residing there. Right smack in the middle is a hanok village hotel which we were unable to access. There are many such hanok villages in Korea which have yet to be demolished (unlike in Singapore where old residential buildings are marked for SERS or flattened to make way for redundant expressways or underground train stations).

There were bicycles for rent. We were with Elise so we decided to rent one of these family bicycles (10,000 won for 30 minutes).

Our very experienced bike driver, preparing to take us around the park.

“I’ve got this, mom”

She was so experienced, she didn’t even need to steer with her hands. I mean, what could go wrong? This little lady had it all under control. The family bicycle requires quite a bit of legwork so both adults have to cycle and while there are three steering wheels, only one is working.

There’s a little river with kayaks, canoes and paddle boats for rent, but we didn’t manage to take them. The river reminds me of Clarke Quay, and my husband also agreed that both places have a lot in common. Since Songdo is newer than Clarke Quay… copycat, kiss the rat, go home let your mother slap -_- I wonder who came up with that nonsensical chant.

We hung out on the top floor of a cafe for a while doing nothing, enjoying the scenery.

As dusk fell, we did a bit of shopping at the nearby Lotte Mart. My husband couldn’t control himself and bought 1 large carton of grapes because they were on sale. They were very tasty but we lugged them back on public transport. We had dinner at the food court. In Korea, you purchase your meal from a main counter and receive a buzzer to collect your meal from the respective stalls.

My dinner was this tonkatsu set which came with chiraishi don and hot udon. The entire set cost S$9 and was chock full of ingredients.

This tonkatsu set with chiraishi don and udon cost 7,800 won (~$9)

After dinner, we strolled around the park and took the subway home. There was another building which reminded me of the Artscience Museum at MBS. The building hosts plays and performances. Overall, I enjoyed that day because it was relatively quiet and we were away from the crowd. It’s quite a distance from Seoul station, so I’m not sure if it’s worth the visit specially for this place.

Reminds me of the Artscience Museum.

Songdo Central Park

Directions
[Subway]
Central Park Station (Incheon 1 Subway Line)

[Bus]
Regular Bus No. 6, 6-1, 8, 909, 780, 91
Red Bus No. 1301, 9000, 9100