1. Getting to London from Manchester
In 2022, the cheapest way to get to London from Manchester is by bus which will take approximately 5 to 6 hours at a cost of £5 for a one-way ticket. In contrast, if you take a train, you can cut down the journey to around 2 hours 15 mins but at an upward cost of £34 for a single journey.
Due to ongoing railway strikes occurring from June to October in the UK, advanced train tickets were withheld and released on a weekly basis. As a result, the supply of seats fell and the going rate of a train ticket from Manchester to London was £100 during the period that I was planning to travel.
I opted to travel via Flixbus. The journey would have been more pleasant if not for the reeking smell of pee that permeated the air for most of the journey. I would highly advise you to carry a mask along just in case you may experience a similar situation. My friend who took the bus on a separate occasion did not experience the pee smell but was made to wait for an extra 1 to 2 hours as the drivers were late.
I would also advise you to alight at Finchley road as opposed to Victoria coach station if you do not want to be caught in the London traffic for 30 to 45 mins. You are better off taking the Tube/The London Underground or Overground, especially if you are planning to travel extensively around London as there is a daily cap on the fare. I was really frustrated that it took 20 mins for the bus to get from one side of Hyde Park to the other on a Sunday afternoon. Later, I learned that there is a maximum driving speed limit of 20 miles per hour in Central London.
For the return journey, we took the train as we found tickets going at £34. If you are planning to travel extensively around the UK by rail with a buddy, I would highly recommend you purchase the Two Together Railcard at an annual fee of £30 which will give you and your buddy around 33% off the rail tickets price.
In my subsequent visits to London from Manchester, I plan to take a combination of bus and train to strike a balance between cost and comfort.
2. Getting around London
Gone are the days of using Oyster cards to travel in London with the rise of contactless payments (e.g. Google Pay/ Apple Pay/ YouTrip / Wise/ Monzo cards).
As a tourist, you may be happy to know that there is a daily cap on the cost of taking the Tube in London. These are the caps in October 2022:
Zone 1-2: Daily Cap £ 7.7
Zone 1-3: Daily Cap £ 9
As the accommodation I was staying in fell under Zone 3, my daily transportation cost in London amounted to £9.
My biggest cost-efficiency tip for you is to figure out which Zones you will be travelling to and use Transport for London’s website to find out the latest price caps.
Personally, I would probably not want to take the bus or taxi in London as it was dreadful to be caught in traffic in Central London (Zone 1) on a Sunday afternoon. Coming from Manchester which is a city in name but a town in reality (at least this was my experience in 2022), I really hated the traffic in London and I felt sorry for all the people who have to contend with this traffic.
Of course, there are also peak hours to avoid taking the Tubes in London as advised by other travel bloggers below. I would recommend you check them out for more extensive information.
|Travel Blogs Names||Why you should check out?||Background of the Author|
|Finding the Universe||Provided a great Overview of the various modes to get around London||Laurence Norah has lived in London for 2 years and visited London as a tourist multiple times.
The article was last updated on 21st September 2022.
|YTravelBlog||Good ideas on how to save money travelling in London such as:
||Caroline Makepeace has lived in London for 2 years and visited London with her husband and 2 kids as tourists multiple times.
The article was last updated on 3rd May 2022.
I have avoided visiting London as I thought that the cost of accommodation is unaffordable. However, I was glad that I found an affordable accommodation on Airbnb. The price range of Airbnbs could be cheaper than staying in a bunk bed in a hostel. While I would usually search for my accommodations on booking.com, I would highly recommend you to check out Airbnb if you are planning a visit to London.
For the price I have paid, I would definitely recommend Rajni’s place as it only took us 30 to 40 mins by Tube to get into the city center of London. This Airbnb is located just a 5 to 10 mins walk from the Tube station. The room came with lots of amenities like access to a shared microwave, water kettle, and hairdryer. You will also get an En Suit toilet which is usually priced at a premium. Also, the location is not too busy and noisy at night, unlike many other budget accommodations that I had stayed in Venice, Prague, and Berlin.
I couldn’t find much fault with the place except that the bed was a little wobbly for my liking and the toilet window pane was a little dusty.
London is 10 times more happening than Manchester. There’s just so much going on in London and I think I would have to make 10 trips to London to fully experience it.
1. Natural History Museum (Highly recommend for adults and Kids)
If you are a parent from Singapore bringing your kids to London for a vacation, I would highly recommend a visit to the Natural History Museum. This museum will introduce topics such as the origin of human beings and the extinction of dinosaurs which are not taught in the mainstream schools in Singapore.
My students who attend International schools (e.g. United World College, Stamford American International School) in Singapore would have been exposed to the concept of Human evolution as young as 10-year-old. They would likely know that Hominini is the first human ancestor whom we originate from.
I have long wanted to visit the Natural History Museum after reading the book, The Rosie Project, about a guy with Asperger’s syndrome who was enthralled by the exhibits in the Natural History Museum in New York. I knew I would have a good time in the museum and I did.
While the bird exhibits were underwhelming in my opinion, the other exhibits were really extensive and informative. I hope to bring my parents to the museum next year and my future kids when they turn 5 years old. I fondly remember my 7-year-old student sharing with me that his favourite animal was dinosaurs during our first lesson back in 2015. Therefore, I am pretty sure kids will love this place if there is a highly engaging adult to guide them as Rachel Carson shared in her book, The Sense of Wonder.
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder… He needs the companionship of at least 1 adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
Rachel Carson in The Sense of Wonder
The entrance to the Museum is entirely free of charge but donations are much appreciated. You have to book online in advance to secure your reservation. There’s a cafe where you can have lunch and there is also a free water refill point in the museum.
2. Walk from Camden Market (Overpriced Market) to King’s Cross Station
We took a walk from Camden Market to King’s Cross Station. Personally, I think that Camden Market is like Bugis Village in Singapore. Like most tourist attractions, things are a little more expensive in the Camden Market as compared to other places catered to locals. I really enjoyed the stroll and the sunny weather.
3. Window Shopping at Harrods
Would Harrods still exist 20 years from now? Maybe. I certainly hope it would still be around as it was a fun experience to admire the curated products. Kids would certainly love the experience of going around the departmental store. I grew up in the 90s when shopping in departmental stores was the norm and e-commerce was still a novel idea.
However, I foresee that my children would anticipate each visit to a departmental store as the number of stores dwindle. Perhaps, in the near future, the privilege of window shopping may be denied to the masses and a membership fee may be charged to enjoy the experience.
Recommended Food in London
1. Mercanto Metropolitan (£ 5-20 per person)
We had dinner at this place and we really love it because there are so many cuisines to choose from. I love the miso veggie Raman and it was my comfort food. It’s not easy to get vegetarian Japanese cuisine and my only solace is to cook them on my own following the recipes I found on YouTube by Wil Yueng.
I really wanted to go back the next day to have the Raman again but it was out of the way for us. Another draw was that this place was offering weekday lunch deals at 5 pounds for most of the stalls.
This is a pizzeria run by Italians that are passionate about their craft. My friend frequents this place and she claimed that the chef would make each pizza to perfection else he would dump them away. We had the veggie pizza and it was indeed delicious. The tiramisu was really awesome too. I would certainly recommend this place if you are near Stockwell Tube Station.
3. Kova Cake (Near Natural History Museum) (£5-7 per cake)
This was another pastry shop recommended by my friend who is currently residing in London. She recommended the sea salt lava cheesecake which is made up of Japanese sponge cheesecake drizzled with cream cheese sauce, sea salt, and tasty crisps flakes. The sea salt lava cheesecake is something I have not tasted before in other places and definitely worth a try if you are in London.
We visited the outlet that was near Natural History Museum. You can save some dimes if you choose to have the cakes taken away rather than eating in.
4. Ravi Shankar (5 mins walk from Euston Train Station) (£6-15 per person)
We had our last dinner at this Indian restaurant before we caught our train back to Manchester from Euston Train station. At 5 to 6 pounds for each North Indian dish, I think that the pricing was pretty attractive when compared to the average cost of food in other restaurants in London.
The taste was pretty decent and I foresee that we would likely return to this restaurant the next time we are in London.
5. The Fine Cheese Company (£10 – 20 per person)
The ambiance of this cafe was lovely. The food was pretty pricey but the taste was pretty decent. I had to run some errands near this cafe. I would not specially visit this cafe again but I think it is not a bad experience as you would get to sample some cheese and use its fancy washroom.
Not Recommended Food in London
1. Leon (£4-7 per person)
The food was not hot and pretty awful. I would probably stay away from this shop even if it is the cheapest option in the vicinity.
2. Itsu Dumplings (£5-10 per person)
This is an Asian food brand that you will also find in the Supermarket in the UK. However, the taste of the dumplings tasted like generic frozen dumplings from Korea. Therefore, I would not recommend this place if you are hailing from Singapore.
|Expenditure Category||Per Person||% of Total Cost|
|Flixbus (From Manchester to London, 6 hours)||S$ 11||5%|
|Train (From London to Manchester, 2.5 hours)||S$ 50||23%|
|Tube Rides in London for 2 days (18 pounds)||S$ 30||14%|
|Accommodation (for 1 night)||S$ 27||13%|
|Food (5 meals)||S$ 95||45%|