10 Singapore tips you need to know before you go

10 Singapore tips you need to know before you go

Are you planning to explore the dynamic city of Singapore? If so, you’re in the right place! Singapore, a city-state, boasts futuristic architecture, vibrant cultural diversity, warm-hearted locals, and internationally acclaimed cuisine. This destination offers a wealth of experiences to uncover. To help you maximize your journey, I’ve compiled some essential Singapore tips for navigating this destination and ensuring your vacation is truly memorable.

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About Singapore 

Singapore is a vibrant city-state located at the very southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, acting as a gateway between Malaysia and Indonesia. Its strategic position along major shipping routes has endowed it with a rich history, including its era as a British trading colony in the 19th century, which contributed to its diverse cultural tapestry.

Since gaining independence from the British and later separating from Malaysia, Singapore has swiftly evolved into one of the most sophisticated and affluent nations globally. It is a leader in technology and sustainability, attributes that are apparent throughout the city. Additionally, its remarkable cleanliness and safety are standout features.

Singapore is a prime destination for travelers, offering a unique blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences with a hint of Western flair. This fusion is visible in the city’s architecture, cuisine, and vibrant festivals. Notable landmarks include the Gardens by the Bay, with its iconic futuristic ‘supertrees’, and the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel.

Overall, Singapore is a seamless mix of East and West, making it an ideal starting point for further exploration of Southeast Asia. Whether you’re there for a city break or a business trip, Singapore is a must-visit destination.

Singapore view from rooftop

Despite its smaller size compared to other vacation spots, Singapore is brimming with sights to see, making thorough planning a key part of enhancing your travel experience. While it’s not necessary to plan every detail, considering the main aspects of your visit ahead of time is advisable. Here are 10 essential Singapore tips to ensure your trip is truly memorable.

10 Singapore tips you need to know before you go

1. How to travel to Singapore

The easiest way to travel from Belgium to Singapore is by plane. Currently, Singapore Airlines is the only carrier offering direct flights from Brussels Airport to Changi Airport in Singapore. The flight duration is approximately 12 hours.

For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are also flights available with layovers, often in cities like Dubai, Doha, or Istanbul. These can reduce travel costs but will extend the travel time.

Once you arrive at Singapore Changi Airport, which is considered one of the best airports in the world, you can easily reach the city via taxi, bus, or the efficient Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train.

Changi Airport, Singapore
Changi Airport, Singapore

From Changi Airport, it is also convenient to catch flights to other Asian destinations.

2. Passport, visa, and vaccinations

When traveling from Belgium to Singapore, you should take note of several important documents and health guidelines.

  • Firstly, ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your date of arrival. For stays of up to 90 days, Belgian citizens do not require a visa due to a visa exemption agreement. However, it’s wise to verify visa requirements with the embassy or consulate before travel, as immigration rules may change.
  • All travelers must complete the SG Arrival Card within three days prior to their arrival in Singapore. This card can be submitted for free via the SGAC e-Service.
  • Regarding health, there are no compulsory vaccinations required for entry into Singapore. However, vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and yellow fever are recommended if you are traveling from an area where these diseases are prevalent.
  • Lastly, ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that includes coverage for medical care abroad.

3. How to get around in Singapore?

Singapore offers a range of convenient transportation options that make navigating the city effortless. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), an expansive subway network, is the most efficient way to travel, connecting major tourist attractions, shopping centers, and residential areas. The MRT is known for its cleanliness, speed, and punctuality, and it also links to the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system for access to suburban areas.

For subway users in Singapore, purchasing an EZ-Link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass is more convenient and cost-effective than buying single tickets. Single tickets require cash or a credit card for each trip, which can be both costly and time-consuming for longer stays.

You can buy an EZ-Link card at the airport or MRT stations for 10 SGD, which includes 5 SGD for the card itself and 5 SGD as initial credit. You can top up the card as needed.

For those planning extensive subway travel over a few days, the Singapore Tourist Pass is an excellent choice. It offers unlimited travel for 1 day (22 SGD), 2 days (29 SGD), or 3 days (34 SGD) and is the most economical option for short visits.

Additionally, Singapore has a well-organized bus network that provides a budget-friendly way to explore the city. You can purchase tickets directly from the bus driver upon boarding.

For direct routes, consider using a taxi. The Grab app, similar to Uber, is widely used here for booking taxis. It’s simple to set up and links directly to your payment card, allowing you to choose your ride type, enter pick-up and drop-off locations, and see fare estimates upfront. This eliminates the need to negotiate prices with drivers.

4.The best time to travel to Singapore

The best time to visit Singapore primarily depends on the weather, given its year-round tropical climate characterized by warmth and humidity, with average temperatures ranging from 25 to 31 degrees Celsius.

The most pleasant time to visit is typically during the drier months of February to April. During this period, rainfall decreases and humidity drops slightly, making urban exploration more comfortable.

Kampong Glam, Singapore
Stayoasia Singapore downtown

Conversely, the months from November to January tend to experience increased rainfall due to the northeast monsoon, and the period from May to September might see smoke from regional forest fires, which can impact air quality.

Nonetheless, Singapore’s attractions remain open throughout the year, ensuring that it is an engaging destination no matter the season.

5. Book an accommodation in Singapore

When booking your stay in Singapore, you’ll find a wide range of accommodations from luxurious hotels to budget-friendly hostels. The city boasts an array of international hotel chains, boutique hotels, and cozy guesthouses spread across diverse neighborhoods.

For proximity to iconic landmarks, consider staying in Marina Bay. If you’re seeking a cultural experience, Chinatown or Little India are vibrant choices. Shoppers will find Orchard Road irresistible, while Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay are hotspots for nightlife and dining.

To secure the best options and rates, especially during peak seasons like festival times and school holidays, it’s wise to book your accommodations early. Many hotels offer discounts for early bookings and packages that might include meals and access to tourist attractions, so exploring these offers can be beneficial.

If you’re still searching for accommodations in Singapore, consider using Booking.com. The site features an interactive map showing all available lodging, simplifying the process of finding the perfect hotel or apartment. Filters like ‘free cancellation’ add flexibility, allowing you to amend your booking without penalty up until the day before your arrival, which is perfect for accommodating any last-minute changes to your itinerary.

Explore the various lodging options available in your preferred areas of Singapore below.

 

6.Paying and tipping in Singapore

In Singapore, the official currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). The country is well-prepared for both cash and electronic transactions. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and stores. Additionally, ATMs are widely available throughout the city, making it convenient to withdraw cash.

It’s important to note that Singapore is considerably more expensive compared to other Southeast Asian destinations. High development and limited space have led to steep real estate prices. Furthermore, nearly all goods are imported, which increases the cost of daily expenses. The country also invests substantially in top-notch public services and infrastructure, which further elevates the cost of living.

As for tipping, it is not customary in Singapore since a 10% service charge is typically included in the bill. Tipping is not expected in casual settings such as taxis or smaller dining establishments, and in some situations, it may even be viewed as inappropriate. Keep this in mind during your stay to navigate social expectations smoothly.

7. Wifi or 4G in Singapore

Singapore is celebrated for its exceptional digital infrastructure, which includes some of the fastest and most reliable internet connections globally. WiFi and 4G coverage are superbly comprehensive across the city-state. You’ll find free WiFi available in public spaces such as cafes, malls, hotels, and even on public buses and MRT stations, usually under the ‘Wireless@SG’ service. This government-provided service enables fast and convenient internet access without the need for repeated sign-ins.

For those who wish to remain constantly connected, purchasing a local SIM card with data is a cost-effective choice. These SIM cards are easily obtainable at airport shops and throughout the city, offering substantial data plans that facilitate seamless connectivity as you explore Singapore.

8. Dealing with local culture

Singapore is a cultural melting pot where Malay, Chinese, Indian, and various other ethnic communities coexist harmoniously. This diversity shapes local customs and etiquette, highlighting the importance of respecting these cultural nuances. For example, when visiting temples, it is customary to remove shoes and ensure shoulders and knees are covered.

buddha tooth relic temple
buddha tooth relic temple
buddha tooth relic temple

Modest dress is expected in public areas, and public displays of affection are generally frowned upon. It is typical to leave shoes at the door in homes and some traditional venues. During meals, it’s important to handle chopsticks properly and avoid placing them upright in a bowl of rice, as this is considered a sign of bad luck.

Singapore also maintains strict regulations to support public order and cleanliness. Smoking in public spaces, jaywalking, and littering are strictly enforced with penalties. In public transport, eating, drinking, smoking, and the carrying of durians are prohibited. Failing to flush public toilets may result in a fine, and the sale and possession of chewing gum are illegal. These stringent rules have cemented Singapore’s status as one of the cleanest countries globally.

9. Food you need to try in Singapore

Singapore’s culinary landscape mirrors its multicultural heritage, showcasing a spectrum of specialties that are not to be missed.

Hainanese chicken rice, a staple dish, combines succulent steamed or boiled chicken with aromatic rice cooked in chicken broth, creating a simple yet adored favorite.

Hainanese chicken rice, Singapore

Chili crab, a standout dish, involves crabs simmered in a rich sauce of tomatoes, chili, and eggs, typically accompanied by mantou (steamed buns) perfect for savoring the flavorful sauce.

chilli crab, Singapore

Laksa, a spicy noodle soup enriched with coconut milk, marries Chinese and Malay flavors and is available in several regional varieties, including the famous Katong laksa.

Singapore Laksa

Char Kway Teow features stir-fried flat rice noodles tossed with egg, shrimp, clams, and occasionally Chinese sausage. This dish, rooted in Chinese culinary traditions, enjoys widespread popularity across Singapore’s diverse communities.

Char Kway Teow, Singapore

Satay, consisting of grilled meat skewers served with a robust peanut sauce, cucumber, and rice cakes, offers a delightful option for a light meal or snack.

Satay, Singapore
Satay, Singapore

These dishes provide just a glimpse into the rich and varied culinary offerings of Singapore. A visit to the local hawker centers, where these and many other culinary delights are available, is indispensable for any visitor seeking a true taste of the city’s food culture.

10.Discover traces of the past of Singapore

Singapore is replete with historical landmarks that showcase the city-state’s distinctive history.

The Raffles Hotel, named after Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, dates back to 1887 and epitomizes colonial elegance. Fort Canning Park, formerly the base for the British East India Company, delves deep into Singapore’s military heritage.

The Raffles Hotel, Singapore

In the Chinatown district, visitors can delve into the lives of the early Chinese immigrants who played a pivotal role in shaping the city’s development.

Chinatown, Singapore
Chinatown, Singapore
Chinatown, Singapore

The vibrant neighborhoods of Little India and Kampong Glam vividly display the rich cultural influences of the Indian and Malay communities.

Little India, Singapore
Little India, Singapore
Kampong Glam, Singapore

Each of these sites offers a glimpse into Singapore’s layered history, from its colonial era to its emergence as a modern metropolis. A tour through these historical areas is indispensable for anyone eager to understand the depth and diversity of Singapore’s heritage.

Singapore is a unique destination that is definitely worth a visit. Although Singapore is not very large, good preparation is essential. I hope these 10 Singapore travel tips will help you carefully plan your trip so that you can fully enjoy everything this fantastic country has to offer.

Is a vacation in Singapore on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading. 

Yours truly,  

Sarah 

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10 useful travel tips for Singapore
10 useful travel tips for Singapore

Travel tips and essentials

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