The easiest way to get into Singapore is by air. Changi is the country's only international airport and is big, nice and well organised. Passport control and baggage distribution is relatively fast. From the airport there are a number of ways to get into the city. Taxi is easiest and just outside the customs you will find signs to the taxi queue. Meters are always used in Singapore and fares are cheap. A trip to the city center will be about 15 SGD. There is a surcharge of 3 dollars for a taxi from the airport and 5 dollars after midnight, Saturday and Sundays and the eves of public holidays. After midnight the taxi fare is 50% higher.
Please note that Singapore has a very strict policy on drug trafficking. It is an offence punishable by death.
Taxis are cheap. You will not spend more than 5-6 SGD for a trip within the CDB (Central Business District).
MRTs (Mass Rapid Transport) and LRTs (Light Rapid Transport) form Singapore's subway system and link various important places in Singapore. They are a cheap and very reliable mode of transport. Buy single tickets at the station either at quite user-friendly automatic machines or at the cashier. Buses connect various corners of Singapore. You can pay cash in buses, however you are charged marginally more and there is no provision for getting change.
If you are staying in Singapore for some time, a farecard (called EZ-Link) might be a better option. The card can be used in both MRTs and in buses. You can store value on it and use it to enter and exit the MRT and buses. A refundable deposit is required to get this card.
English is widely spoken. Various Chinese dialects like Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien are also spoken. Malay and Tamil are also official languages that are spoken by the Malay and Tamil populations respectively.
Sentosa is Singapore’s biggest island resort getaway. It is situated 15 minutes from the city and can be accessed by cable car, bus, taxi or car. The two best ways to get to Sentosa are either to take the buses that go through central Singapore direct, check you hotel or take the MRT to Harbor front and walk to the cable car station. The island is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As well as hotel accommodation and retreats, it has leisure and recreational facilities such as sea sports, golf and family attractions. A canopy of secondary rainforest covers 70 per cent of the 500-hectare island while a 3.2-kilometer stretch of white sand beach adorns its outline. One of the best attraction is the Underwater World. Claimed to be Asia's largest tropical oceanarium, it features a walk-through aquarium with lots of sharks and fishes and many smaller tanks.
Jurong BirdPark is a 20.2 hectare open-concept park. It is the largest in the Asia Pacific and claims to be one of the finest bird parks in the world. Its collection of more than 8,000 birds from 600 species is among the largest in the world. The Park specialises in birds from Southeast Asia and the more exotic and colorful tropical birds.
Situated at 80 Mandai Lake Road, the "open zoo's" hours are 8.30am-6.00pm daily. The animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures, separated from the visitors by dry or wet moats. Be sure not to miss the Night Safari, which offers visitors the experience of exploring wildlife in a tropical jungle at night. Night Safari is the world's first wildlife park built to be viewed at night. Official website
Entrance to the beautiful Botanic Gardens is on Bukit Timah Road. The Gardens are open daily from 5AM to midnight and admission is free. They feature trees and plants from tropical climes around the world. Walking and jogging trails are throughout. Outdoor sculptures dot the gardens. Look for the girl on the swing that appears to hang from an invisible chain in the air. The National Orchid Garden is open 8:30AM to 7PM, with an admission charge of 2SGP. Accessible by bus or car, parking at the visitor's center. Official website
Snow City is the first permanent indoor snow center in Singapore. Opening hours are Tue - Sun (closed on Mondays) : 10.30am - 6.30pm and on public holidays: 9.00am - 8.00pm. Official website
Situated around Serangoon Road at Little India MRT Station, Little India presents a mini-India within Singapore. It is one of the few places in Singapore that has retained its traditional charm. You can shop for Indian silks, brassware, bangles or dine at the numerous Indian restaurants in this area. Money changers along Serangoon Road also offer one of the best exchange rates in town. This is one of the very rare places in Singapore where petty crimes like pickpocketing occur. It can get a bit crowded on Sundays.
Even Singaporeans admit that there are only two things to do in Singapore: eat and shop. Go to Orchard Road, the biggest shopping street, and enjoy lots of shopping centers with brand names and high prices. For a better deal and a different experience try to go to Little India or China Town where you can find more local materials and better prices.
Eat and Drink
Tap water is safe for drinking. Singapore is a melting pot of cuisines from around the world. You will find quality Chinese, Malay, Indian, Japanese, Italian, French, American and other food in this city-state. For local delicacies, try Laksa (coconut curry noodles with Chinese, Malay and Indian spices), Chicken rice, Satay (barbecued skewered meat), Bao (pastry bun), Rojak (salad of bean sprouts, pineapple, white turnip, fried bean cake etc.), Char Kway Teow, Fish-head curry, Mee (Goreng, Rebus, Siam).
Shangri La is one of the world's most luxurious resort hotels. Beautiful grounds and pools. 755 guest rooms and suites. 22 Orange Grove Road, (65) 6737 3644.
Betel Box Hostel Singapore is a new backpacker hostel in Singapore. The price per night is S$18 which includes breakfast, bed linen, use of a security locker and free broadband Internet access! All rooms are air-conditioned and there are hot and cold showers. 200 Joo Chiat Road, (65) 6247 7340.
You must have a work permit or employment pass to work in Singapore. The company you are working for usually applies on your behalf.
As Asian cities go, Singapore is one of the safest in terms of crime and personal safety. Note that there is strict enforcement of rules against activities that are tolerated in other countries. For example, jay-walking, spitting, littering and drinking and eating in public transport are prohibited. Look around for sign boards detailing the Don'ts, Dos and the fine associated with these offences. Heed them.
Tap water is safe for drinking. As a tropical country, Singapore is hot and humid so drink a lot of water. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Singapore was way back in 1934, when it hit a low of 19.4 degree Centigrade.
The international country code for Singapore is 65. There are three main telecommunication providers in Singapore - Singapore Telecom (Singtel), Starhub and MobileOne (M1). To make an IDD call from Singapore, dial the access code 001 (for SingTel), 002 (for M1), and 008 (for StarHub), followed by the country code, area code and party's number. Recently the providers have started offering cheaper rates for calls using Internet telephony routes. The access codes for this cheaper service are 019 and 013 (budget calls) for Singtel and 018 for Starhub.
Public phones can be found all across the island. They are either coin-operated pay phones (10 cents for a 3-minute call), card phones operated by phone cards in denominations of $3, $5, $10, $20 and $50, or credit card phones. Phone cards are available at all post offices and from phonecard agents. Most coin-operated pay phones are for local calls only, there are some which accept coins of larger denominations and can be used for overseas calls. Credit card phones are usually found at the airport or in some major hotels.
Calling cards are also available for specific international destinations and are usually cheaper. Hello Card from Singtel offers a very cheap rate to 8 countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand).