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Before you travel
Singapore is eight hours ahead of GMT. Remember, it’s only seven hours difference during daylight saving time.
The country’s currency is the Singapore dollar. Tipping is relatively uncommon, although high-end restaurants often add a 10 per cent service charge to the bill. Tourists spending more than $100 can claim a refund on the 7 per cent tax at participating stores (look for the tax-free logo). ATMs are ubiquitous and credit cards are widely accepted. Currency exchange is available in most shopping malls. There are many free attractions and things to do around the city.
It’s hot and humid year-round, with temperatures often climbing to over 30°C. Be prepared for brief but torrential rain. November through to January is considered to be the rainy season. Bring an umbrella.
Singapore is on one of the world’s busiest long-haul routes between Europe and Australasia, so travelling there by plane is simple. Changi International Airport is a slick affair. Flight fares hike from mid-June to September and over Christmas and New Year. Direct flights from the UK are available with Singapore Airlines and British Airways. Expect fares upwards of £550 from London to Singapore.
The easiest way to explore downtown Singapore is by foot – although it is humid. Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) metro network stretches across the city and runs from 6am until midnight. Be prepared for overcrowding during rush hour. Single tickets cost between $1.20 and $2.40, but travelcards offer better value. Buses offer a cheaper alternative. Prices for a Singapore Tourist Pass start at $10. This gives you unlimited travel on the MRT and buses across the island. Taxis charge $3 for the first kilometre and then 22 cents for every 400 metres travelled thereafter. Download Grab or Uber to bring transport to you.
It is good etiquette to exchange goods – particularly money and business cards – with two hands and use the whole hand to point; a single hand or a finger are seen as a sign of disrespect. It is customary to remove your shoes in a Singaporean’s home. On social occasions, shake hands with everyone present.
What to pack
With so many shops in Singapore, there’s not much you can’t buy if you forget to bring it with you. That said, pack comfortable, light layers when it comes to clothing; you’ll be sweaty out in the heat, but likely freeze in the maxed-out air con. Take a nice outfit if you’re planning on dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Pack comfortable shoes or sandals; much of downtown Singapore can be explored by foot.
When you arrive
Fire/ambulance services (995), Police (999)
The Singapore Tourism Board operates visitor centres across the city, with major branches at Changi Airport and on Orchard Road.
Internet cafés are ubiquitous in areas such as Little India, and many malls have their own networks. Visitors can register for a free public wi-fi account with their foreign mobile numbers at any [email protected] hotspot. Overseas charges may apply.
Owing to its mix of religious cultures – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity – Singapore has numerous public holidays, which often vary from year to year. Check ahead when planning your itinerary.
Singapore’s four official languages are Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English, which is widely used. Singlish refers to the colourful, somewhat abrupt English dialect that makes use of a Chinese language structure, although most Singaporeans are fluent in English.
Some phrases that may come in handy…
shiok = great You got kopi? = Do you have co ee? cheem = lost/ confused/ unsure/ unclear Or, if you’re stuck on the tube… Wah piang! So crowded! = My god it’s crowded.
A restaurant and food app that guides you to places recommended by locals.
Make a reservation at Singapore’s top restaurants.
Traffic news, bus routes and MRT services at your fingertips.
Singapore heritage trails
Discover the untold stories behind the streets and landmarks of Singapore.
Find out more at YourSingapore.com
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