Things to know before you go to Singapore

When I first traveled to Singapore in 2012 for a long term project, I was not sure what to expect, what to pack, what to see, what to eat, etc. I had so many questions in my mind and was getting very tensed for my solo travel to a foreign location for the very first time. To top it all, I had only 3 days to pack before travel and did not get any time to research about Singapore before traveling. So, this was one big adventurous trip for me. Based on the lessons I learned on the go and what my colleagues told me, I have documented the following. Hope you find it useful.

About Singapore: It is an island country and thus humid throughout the year. The weather is almost same throughout the year. However, summer months from March-July could be hotter and November-December can be little colder especially in the night. It is a multi-cultural place with people from various other asian countries. You will also see a small percentage of Europeans and Americans.

Singapore is a fine country: Yes, it’s a fine country but also a ‘fine’ country :D. Something, that helps keep the country clean and crime free (well almost). Before you travel to Singapore, make sure you check the airport website and read the list of articles which are banned and cannot be brought inside the country. Some examples are cigarettes, ‘khus khus’ (widely used in Indian cooking), and yes chewing gum too. From this list, you can imagine how strict Singapore is. Shop lifting can lead to 7 years in jail. Overstaying beyond your visa can also lead to severe punishment. Hence, it is imperative that you read the guidleines well before entering a country especially countries like Singapore. If you follow the rules, life is great in Singapore and not scary as it may seem after reading this. Trust me!

While on the road, you must cross the roads only on the zebra crossing. Jay walking is strictly not allowed. If you are at a bus station, don’t you dare walk in the bus bay. Most train stations have a mall attached to it and a bus bay. The bus stop is inside the mall. Look for the signboard inside the mall and you will find it (mostly in B1). Eating and drinking in the train or bus is not allowed. If you do, you may be fined 500-1000 SGD.

Singapore has one of the best transport system: The city country is very well connected by trains and buses. Moreover, the frequency is also great. If you are traveling solo, this is the best mode of transport. If you are in a group of 4 and hard pressed for time, you can hire a taxi for 100 SGD for a day or use the regular taxi services. Once you get down at the airport, buy an EZ-link or MRT card and get the train map for free. The card costs about 12 SGD approximately; 5 SGD being non refundable and 7 SGD being the card value. For one day travel, you can top up for 10 SGD. Every station has a top-up machine and friendly staff who can help you with recharging your card. Keep the card handy at all times but do not lose it as you will end up losing the money stored in the card.

You can drink tap water: Tap water is treated and clean. You can directly drink from the tap throughout Singapore. I got so used to it that once when I was on vacation in India, I drank directly from the tap and my mom screamed in horror :D.

Accommodation in Singapore: If you are going to Singapore for long term stay, there are two options – Housing Board Development (HDB) or Condominium (Condos). The former is a leased property by the government for 99 years and hence cheaper than the private properties Condominiums. Most HDBs have a food court attached while Condominiums don’t. However, they offer more security (not much of a concern in Singapore though), a swimming pool, gymnasium and a community hall where you can host your parties or private gatherings. You can choose the type of accomodation based on your budget, proximity to your office or place of visit, etc.

Apps for Singapore: You should download the following apps while in Singapore to make your stay comfortable:

  • Taxis: Grab, Uber
  • Public transit: Explore Singapore MRT Map, Gothere
  • Food: HungryGoWhere
  • Shopping: Shopee, Zalora, Lazada
  • Entertainment: Golden Village

Shopping: Singapore is a shopper’s paradise. You have malls almost everywhere. However, the famous places to shop are Orchard Road, Vivo City mall and Bugis Street (street shopping). You can also do online shopping from Zalora or Lazada depending on how long you are going to stay in Singapore. Also, you can go to IKEA (home furnishing), Courts (electronics) and Giant (a giant supermarket :D) all located in the same premises in Tampines.

Check out the other posts on Singapore below: