Singapore: What You Need to Know Before You Go

by | Apr 30, 2019

Welcome!

Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state that is ever-changing, constantly being shaped by the ebbs and flows of global trends. A major financial centre hub today, it seemingly stays true to its history of trade and commerce birthed as a strategic port from the early 14th Century.

The Marina Bay Sands that stands prominently as part of Singapore’s skyline today accentuates the futuristic and technological cityscape vibe that has so encapsulated much of the world’s perception of Singapore. Venture further in, however, and you’ll soon become aware of Singapore’s “City in a Garden” dream, spearheaded by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Botanic Gardens. Treetop jungle bridges, walking trails, and redeveloped eco-working spaces has sought to reimagine Singapore into a sustainable, living and breathing city-state.

To know and experience Singapore one unequivocally needs to know and experience food in Singapore. Dotted with hawker centres and coffee shops in almost every neighbourhood, street food remains the heart and soul of this country. But that’s not all Singapore has to offer; with Michelin-starred restaurants opening by the dozens, there’s a whole spectrum of food choices from around the world at your fingertips.

Through it all, Singapore is a country that has an eclectic mix of food, cultures, and experiences that melds together a form of Westernised modernity with its traditional cultures and heritage.

“A fast-paced metropolis and global financial hub obsessed with world-firsts, where centuries-old cultural practices adorn steel-and-glass facades with a dizzying array of sights, sounds and tastes all year round. Singapore’s multitudinal character is what makes it so difficult to define – much less stay away from.” 

Best Time to Visit

No matter which time of the year, be sure to pack light when you’re visiting Singapore.

Being a tropical island located just one degree away from the equator, it’s no surprise that the climate here is a steady humid Summer that lasts all year round. Temperatures can get as high as 35°C, though the norm ranges from around 30-32°C. January is when temperatures dip down to the coolest, but even then it doesn’t fall below 24°C.

Rather than weather, Singapore’s seasonality is guided by her year-round schedule of colourful festivals and traditional celebrations.

The city is arguably at her prettiest in the second half of the year. Besides the spectacular parade and fireworks that happen every National Day (Aug 9),  a mind boggling array of street light-ups, markets, fairs and processions – with life-sized decorations looming over it all – pop up in celebration of ethnic and religious events observed by the multicultural nation.

Ramadan brings with it the Geylang Serai Bazaar (May to June), which is fast becoming known as among the best place to fill up on the latest food trends. It’s also a great place introduce your palate to the comfort food that is traditional Malay fare.  

 

The arrival of Deepavali in late October sees the vivacious Little India district go into overdrive, with street-wide parties, rituals and feasting. This religious ceremony celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, and devotees carry out face and body piercing in atonement.  

November and December is the time for Christmas light-ups and winter villages. Leading the pack is Orchard Road with its annual light-up that turns the entire street and its malls into something quite magical. We also recommend dropping by Gardens by the Bay for its Christmas Wonderland winter village.   

In February, the city gears up for her largest celebration yet. Chinese New Year sees the colour red taking centerstage – thanks to the hue’s status as an auspicious symbol among the Chinese celebrants. Be prepared for lucky lion dances which are believed to bring good luck and prosperity to homes and businesses.    

Typical Travel Costs

  • Dorm Bed: SGD$25 to $40

  • Mid-range accommodation (Double room in a hotel): SGD$150 to $300

  • Luxury hotel: SGD$350 to $800

  • Street Food: SGD$2 to $6. 

  • The average price of food for one day is SGD$10 to $30

  • Subway ticket: SGD$0.83 to $2.08

Other Notes:

Tipping is generally not expected. Tipping in Changi Airport is prohibited.

Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. Though some hawker stalls are starting to implement cashless forms of payment, the large majority of these street food stalls only accept cash.

Getting into the City (From Changi Airport)

By Airport Transfer

The Airport Transfer bus may prove to be the most comfortable, but it’s also the most expensive option. You can opt for the 4-seater limousine at SGD$55 or the 7-seater large taxi at SGD$60. It might be more worth it if you have a bigger group, if not, there are more affordable options below!

By Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)

The MRT is the public train system in Singapore and it’s as efficient as one can get from the Airport into the city as long as you have some time to spare. Easily one of the cheapest options out there, it’ll get you into the city around 45 mins to an hour. All you’ll need is an Ez-Link card and you’re good to go.

By Bus

The alternative to the MRT, public buses are available at all four terminals. You can board with the Ez-Link card (public transport card) or cash but do take note that change is not given so it’ll be best to prepare exact change for the ride.

By Taxi

Taxi remains the undisputed champion when it comes to convenience but as usual, it can get quite costly. A taxi ride into the city would take around 30 minutes and would set you back about SGD$20 to $40.

You can also check out this link for more information on how to get into the city from Changi Airport.

Useful Facts

  • Country Code: +65
  • Currency: Singapore Dollar
  • Time Zone: GMT+8 hours
  • Language: Primarily English, but Mandarin, Bahasa Melayu, and Tamil are spoken as well by different communities.
  • AC Socket Type: Type G – 230V 50Hz
  • Transport Card: Ez-Link
  • Four Seasons: No, tropical Summer all-year round. Thunderstorms are common.
  • Tourist App: VisitSingapore

Getting Around Singapore

Singapore has a small geographical space that allows for a highly dense but efficient public transport system that can get you across the island in 45 minutes. With the MRT lines, you’ll be zipping from one historic neighbourhood to another in less than 10 minutes.

For first-timers to Singapore, you can opt for the Singapore Tourist Pass (STP), which operates like the Ez-Link card to help you get around the city. You’ll get unlimited rides on public transport at SGD$10/$16/$20 at 1/2/3 days respectively. There’s a SGD$10 refundable deposit which you’ll get back when you return card before leaving Singapore.

The STP grants you special deals at certain Food and Beverage (F&B) establishments and various attractions around Singapore as well!

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