The speed and rate of development of Singapore is simply fascinating. Hence, most people recognize this city state with its amazing new constructions, dancing fountains and the airport. But besides this, the country also has an interesting history and is known for its mix of cultures, which is fascinating. Here you can find people from all sorts of backgrounds, speaking dozens of different languages and following different religions.
This city state is one of the 3 currently existing city states in the world (the other two being Vatican and Monaco).
When to Go to Singapore?
Singapore is an all-year tropical destination. Temperatures are always hot and you can expect rain even during the dry season.
Normally, the rainy season lasts from December to Early March and from June to September. However, this year March was terribly rainy with consistent everyday rain, which rarely happens. Late March to May and October-November are considered hot and dry seasons, but again, you can expect rain any time. However, don’t let this deter you, get an umbrella and explore 😊
Visa Requirements for Singapore
Singapore has a visa free regime for at least 30 days for over 150 countries in the world. If your country is on the list of countries, which need a visa, you can obtain it online. However, some countries are not eligible for online visas without the involvement of a local agent.
There is also a Visa Free Transit Facility for several countries, which allows stay of up to 96 hours, considering that a person has an onward flight ticket. I used this option, given that my country is not on the list of countries which travel visa free. This is free, while if I did e-visa, I would have to pay.
Other Requirements for Entry
All travellers must fill the SG Arrival card. You can do this online or via MyICA app. It’s a very easy process which takes several minutes. You can either do this individually or for the whole group, if you are travelling together.
After submitting the information, you will receive an email titled: Acknowledgement of SG Arrival Card & Health Declaration submission. We got this withing minutes. Have it on hand when you arrive just in case. But I think they have it on file and we didn’t even have to show it.
Note: the whole process of obtaining SC Arrival card is free. There are fake websites, which request money, so definitely make sure to only open the official website linked above and don’t fall for the scam.
Money Matters and Ways to Save Money During Your Visit to Singapore
Singapore is an expensive city. Here are some tips on how to save, while travelling there.
Getting a SIM Card
I highly recommend not getting Singtel and getting either Starhub, M1 or any other competitor. The thing is that except Singtel, none require app registration, which was a frustrating thing and lost us so much time.
We bought Singtel card at the airport (the cards cost 12-15 SGD). But that’s when problems started.
Apparently, you need to register with the sim card on the HI! app. The card didn’t work otherwise. While the app was accepting passport photo, it absolutely refused to register the face, which needed to be verified. After many attempts, we went to a Singtel office. We were told that the only office which can solve the problem is located in Bugis. This is the location of the office, if you encounter a similar problem. So, we had to go to Bugis to solve the problem.
Once at the Singtel office in Bugis, we were given a waiting number. There were tons of staff in the office, just standing around, while we had to wait for nearly an hour. Only when I started complaining did they finally get to us. Solving the problem needed only a few minutes for them to override the app requirements. Overall, we lost so much time while dealing with this silly issue.
So, while they say Singtel is fastest, it’s competitors are also good. I doubt there is any difference. So don’t risk losing a lot of time on app registration.
Where to Stay in Singapore
You will often hear that, say Bugis is best to stay at or Clarke Quay or Orchard Road, etc. These aren’t official areas of Singapore, so at first it was very confusing for me to understand where was which area. This map is great for that purpose, it lists all areas and makes it easier to understand. Here is a better resolution image.
Basically, finding accommodation anywhere that this map covers is good, as you will be very centrally located. Alternatively, if you want to find a somewhat cheaper option, look at farther places, preferably with access to metro to make getting around easier. We stayed some 12 mins walk from metro Novena at Days Hotel. The hotel also had bus stops on the road in front of it. So we got around the city very easily, while getting a cheaper rate than in more central locations. Although cheaper meant 110 USD a night 😊
There are also options for capsule hotels, but I personally don’t like going for hostels. Either way, they were not much cheaper either, the ones I looked at started from 60 USD for 2 people and they didn’t seem ok.
Keep in mind that Hotel 81 chain and a couple of other chains in Singapore are considered love hotels. While they are trying to change their profile and be more tourist oriented, Singaporeans still know and use them as love hotels. Originally, I found one of the chain with good reviews and booked it having no idea what it was. Then I found out from travel groups and decided to change it. However, if you don’t mind the idea, you can stay there saving a lot of money.
What to Wear in Singapore
The weather is very hot and humid basically all year round. So you will have to keep this in mind while trying to find breathable clothes. Lightweight clothes, preferable linen, silk or rayon, are better suited for this. Jeans is just too suffocating.
You don’t need to worry about covering up, except when you are visiting religious sites. For this purpose, I carried a scarf with me to cover up, when needed. Although, if you are wearing short dresses, you may need two scarves to cover shoulders and knees both.
As for shoes, sandals are fine, as the city is quite clean, so your feet won’t become terribly dirty.
Don’t forget sunscreen and mosquito repellent, as it’s absolutely essential to avoid mosquito bites and the diseases they carry. Here is the information about which mosquito repellent to choose.
Apps You will Need in Singapore
These are apps, which you may need to use in Singapore, in addition to the usual travel related apps:
- Taxi app – Grab works here, as all around South East Asia.
- Klook – Klook is very useful for prebooking some of the attractions and saving money either with codes or using the Klook pass. Make sure to double check if you are saving on the attractions you want to visit, it’s not always efficient.
- Public transport – Citymapper is great for providing directions and information about public transport. There’s also Explore Singapore MRT map, however, I haven’t used it, as Google maps and Citymapper were sufficient.
- Visit Singapore travel guide app – provides information about the areas of the city, as well as events, activities, restaurants, etc.
Transport in Singapore
Singapore has wonderful public transportation system. If the MRT (metro) doesn’t get to a place you wish to visit, there definitely will be buses, which do.
You can pay for MRT and buses using your contactless bank card, however, due to the exchange rates, it’s more convenient to get an EZ Link card. The card needs to be charged at one of the machines at the stations using cash or card. Then you can use it to pay for public transport by tapping it.
By the way, EZ Link card can be very cute. Ours had Winnie the Pook on them 😊
Food and Café culture
We aren’t much of foodies, however, Singapore offers such a huge variety of food, that it’s very easy to find something you like. You will find food from almost any country and any variety.
If you wish to save money, Hawker centers are the perfect place to go to, as they are food courts, which substitute the street food in Singapore. Otherwise, selling food on the street is not allowed. Actually, in 2020 the Hawker culture in Singapore was added, as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Coffee and sweets – Singapore has some of the loveliest cafes. We visited a few of them and they had some delicious cakes and coffee.
Here is the list of the cutest cafes.
Best 4-day Itinerary tips for Visiting Singaproe
(this can be arranged and rearranged according to your wishes)
I am not counting this day in the itinerary. The main thing you will be doing after arrival is to visit the Jewel Changi with its huge fountain.
Day 1 Highlights: Jewel Changi, Chinatown, Fort Canning, Merlion, Gardens by The Bay with Light Show
This post has detailed information on what to see on day 1.
Day 2 Highlights: Katong, Little India, Kampong Glam, Bugis, Clarke Quay
This post has detailed information on what to see on day 2.
Day 3 highlights: Botanical garden, Orchard Road, Robertson Quay, Tiong Bahru, Capita Spring Sky Garden, Art Science Museum, Spectra Show
This post has detailed information on what to see on day 3.
Day 4 highlights: Southern ridges, Faber point, S.E.A. Aquarium or Universal Studios, Siloso Fort, Palawan Beach, Magical Shore
This post has detailed information on what to see on day 4.
With more days in Singapore, you can also add the following to your itinerary:
- Singapore National Museum
- Pulau Ubin
- Singapore Zoo and Night Safari
- Haw Par Villa
Things You Need to Book in Advance
While you might be able to find accommodation after you arrive, it will be extremely expensive on short notice. Especially, if you are travelling during busy times, such as New year period, summer, etc.
You can easily get tickets for most attractions in Singapore at the spot. However, if you are visiting during a busy time, you may need to stand in a long queue. Besides, most things are cheaper if prebooked online.
If you are visiting expensive attractions included on Klook Pass, by getting the pass you may save even more. Just make sure to count, how much it would be with and without the pass.
These are the attractions that get very crowded and best booked in advance, if you don’t want to stand in the queue for too long:
- Gardens by the Bay: Cloud Forest and Flower Dome
- Universal Studios
- Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck
Other than these, most attractions are very easy to get tickets for on the spot.
Other Tips for Travelling to Singapore
The country has 4 official languages: English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay. We saw a number of stands with newspapers in several languages, it was really fascinating. You will have no problem communicating with locals, as most of them know English.
There are a few strange bans in Singapore, which you will need to take into consideration. These don’t include the obvious things, like vandalism, urinating in public or drugs, which are commonly prohibited in many countries:
- Chewing gum is banned in Singapore since 1992. According to the official information, this is due to the fact that people were sticking gums to the doors of public transport hampering their operation. So make sure not to bring any with you or try to chew. Technically, I guess you could bring them in, by import of chewing gum is prohibited, so no need to get in trouble.
- Smoking e-cigarettes and shisha are banned and you may be fined if you use them.
- Walking around naked even in private home is banned. If neighbors report that you walked naked in your home, you will get a hefty fine.
- Purchasing or drinking alcohol after 10.30 pm is not allowed. Restaurants can apply for a special license to be able to sell alcohol though.
- Carrying durian on public transportation is not allowed.
- You will get a hefty fine for littering or may even need to appear in court.
- Crossing the street at a place with no relevant signs could also result in a fine.
- Eating or drinking on public transport (even drinking water) is not allowed on public transport and is punished with a fine.
- Not flushing the toilet can result in a large fine.
Keep in mind that the heat and humidity is very strong. I have been to other countries of SE Asia and Singapore is one of the hardest to walk around during the day. Dress in lightweight clothes (see tips above), wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water and consider a hat or a UV umbrella.
If you do some shopping for over 100 SGD in Singapore in one store and if you are leaving by air, you are eligible for tax refund. We didn’t need this though, as the city is very expensive, so we didn’t shop at all.