I have a confession. I didn't even know that hostels do exist until my first ever international trip to Singapore last 21st of March, 2007. It was, in fact, my first backpacking adventure so you might want to spare me for being unaccustomed about the hostel world.
I was trying to look for the cheapest flight deals (I found Tiger Airways) and hotel when my colleague told me about Bugis Backpackers in Singapore. Well, she just happened to introduce me to the fact that hostels are ideal for backpackers. I rushed to check their website and confirmed the rates are way cheaper than hotels to my surprise. Without a second thought, I booked my own bed from their mixed-type dormitory room and I'm all set!
Bugis Backpackers Hostel is located at 162B Rochor Road, Bugis Village, Singapore 188437. For me, the location is pretty much convenient and accessible. It's not that far from Changi International Airport. As much as possible, avoid arriving later than 11 PM so you could still catch the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) to the hostel. MRT fare costs around 2.50SGD (including 1SGD refundable ticket deposit).
From the airport, hop on the free shuttle bus, take the MRT to Tanah Merah station and transfer to the East West Line heading towards Boon Lay Station â€“ just the opposite platform. Then, alight at Bugis MRT Station (EW12). The hostel is just a 2-minute walk from Bugis MRT Station. Locate Exit 'A' and you'll end up to Rochor Road. You should see Bugis Village and KFC directly across the road. The hostel is just 2 shops away from KFC, between 'Sin Tat Toys' and 'Bossini'.
Bugis Backpackers Hostel is right at the heart of Bugis Village (touted as "the largest street-shopping location in Singapore"). Step out and you could walk around the Bangkok style markets, find yourself a bargain or experience the "pasar malam" (night bazaar). You could also go to Chinatown, Little India or Boat Quay by foot. During my trip, I managed to stroll down the streets and ended up in the Merlion Park and Esplanade Theatres on the bay.
They have Mixed Dorm Bed and 6-Bed Ladies' Dorm Bed available as well as private rooms — single, double/twin, triple and four. Their facilities include shared toilet and bathroom with hot shower, Internet access, A/C, kitchenette, launderette (coin-operated washer and dryer) and travel brochures. The flip side is that they don't have a 24-hour reception. Not much of a problem really. Stave off the constraint by arriving early. Check-in time starts at 2 PM but you can arrive around 10 am to deposit your luggage.
I booked a bed in their mixed-type dormitory room. Needless to say, it's the cheapest but I chose to stay there to have a better chance of meeting other travel junkies and learn more about backpacking and communal life. The dormitory is just perfect for a new kid on the travel block like me.
The room is quite clean and space is just right. I have my own bed plus a nice and clean linen, badge (key card) and locker. A glass panel adjacent to my bed serves a large window and a door leading to a small, cozy balcony. From there, you could see the bustling hub of what they refer to as Straits Chinese shophouses along Bugis Village.
Right at the back of the hostel, you could see an interesting display — the vibrant spiral staircases. I was told these were built as fire escapes as well as for the servants. Those in-the-know says, while it's a law for these external staircases to be built, they also held a touch of romance. Apparently, the spiral staircases were known to be "lovers getaway" for those who needed a quiet place to rendezvous.
The hostel staffs are quite friendly. I met the owner and she's very accommodating. She's kind enough to offer me a private room but I was decided to take my place at the dormitory (which reminds me of something). Let me share my funny experience if you don't mind.
I arrived at the Changi International Airport really late at about 11:45 PM. By the time I reached the hostel, there was a sign hanging on the door that reception service will resume at 10 in the morning. Thinking there's no one in the hostel to check me in (probably), I decided to experience Singapore from midnight till dawn. It was not that bad, anyway. On the next day, I found myself at the Merlion Park and Esplanade Theaters on the Bay taking pictures and enjoying the panoramic view. I almost forgot to check in. At around 10 AM, I decided to head back to the hostel. My bad, the lady owner had been waiting all night and so worried about me. She was so relieved that I arrived safely though. I told her that I was at their doorstep that night but I saw their reception hours sign and I was iffy to ring their doorbell during those hours. The truth is, I actually forgot to ring the doorbell. But she smiled at me and just told me that I must be very tired wondering the streets the whole night (she might have noticed). She's really kind. She didn't let me pay for that night though I insisted. She led me to my room and advised me to have some rest. Sigh. It felt like home. Lesson - don't forget to ring the doorbell!
Next time I visit Singapore, I would definitely book the same room at Bugis Backpackers. On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give them a 4 for the friendly staff, cleanliness and good facilities!