Singapore is a classic example of everything that one can achieve despite having nothing. It is but a mere dot on the world map, an island city state like a thousand others scattered around the world with no natural resources nor a large population. After independence in 1965, under an excellent visionary leader, the country found ways to flourish and made a huge impact on the world market. In the business world until recently, Singapore was the unofficial gateway to the East. And people flooded to Singapore from various Asian countries including India for jobs and a better, secure way of life. Today Singapore is one of the safest places to live in and is home to the most number of millionaires along with a population of about 5.7 million people.
Singapore food and Languages
Malay is the National language but it has 4 official languages which are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Singapore is a unique mixture of people from different countries, cultures and food habits, who have come together with the common goal of living a comfortable and secured life. Some travelers find Singapore too generic and boring but for me, it is amazing to just see so many different kinds of people living together in peace!
Singapore is one of the world’s most densely populated nations and accommodation isn’t cheap. You can look for affordable accommodation via www.airbnb.com , www.booking.com and www.hotels.com
Mixed Hostels rooms – INR 800 – INR 1600 (17 SGD – 32 SGD) ( Some hostels even have family rooms but beware that hostels are meant for budget travelers so you really can’t expect anything more than the bare minimum.
Budget Hotels – INR 3300 – INR 5200( 70 SGD – 110 SGD )
Average Hotels – INR 5700 – INR 8500 (120 SGD -180 SGD)
Singapore has a pretty good public transport system which you can start using from the Airport itself.
You should get an EZ link card which is a prepaid card that you can use in all the buses and trains because otherwise you need to render exact change every time. Also the fares are cheaper when you use the EZ link card rather than cash. The cards can be purchased at the train station counters or at most convenience stores like 7 eleven. You can even use the card to pay for your meal at some eateries like McDonalds. Just make sure you have topped up enough credit. The cost of the card itself is $5 and this amount is non-refundable but any amount left in your card at the end of the journey will be refunded when you surrender the card to any MRT station ticketing counters.
For tourists, Singapore provides convenient 1, 2 or 3 day passes costing $10, $16 and $20 respectively and this will enable you to travel unlimited on all public transports within the time frame of the card you have purchased. For more information, check touristpass
In Singapore, buses are operated by SMRT and SBS services. The buses are air conditioned and comfortable and are a great way to see the garden city as you travel to your destinations. Most bus drivers are friendly and will tell you which bus goes to your destination and will even let you know when to get off if you inform them earlier. Buses here allow you to pretty much access all parts of Singapore.
The main train system here is called MRT (Mass Rapid System) Singapore got 6 types of routes operated by MRT. North South Line – Red Line , East West Line – Green Line ,Circle Line – Yellow Line ,North East Line – Purple Line and Downtown Line – Blue Line
The LRT (Light Rail Transit) which is the Grey Line takes you to some of the heartland neighborhoods of Singapore.
Singapore has got around 25000 taxis operated by 5 companies. Taxis are not the cheapest ways to travel but sometimes you might need them to beat the heat! Taxi fare starts from SGD 3.50 cents to SGD 5. Their peak hour charges make them super expensive for budget travellers so bear that in mind when you feel too lazy to walk to the train station!
Peak hour taxi timings in Singapore
Mon – Fri: 6.00AM to 9.30AM- 25% of metered fare extra
Public Holidays and Mon – Sun: 6.00PM to midnight- 25% of metered fare extra
Midnight from 5.59AM Mon – Sun: you need to pay 50% of metered fare
The extra charges are applicable from the time of boarding so check the time on the taxi clock, as even if you board the taxi 5 minutes before the start of peak hour, you shouldn’t have to pay the extra!
Phone booking for immediate taxi charges are $3.30 for normal taxi and $10.00 for Limousine taxi service
Advanced Bookings at least half an hour in advance for normal taxi $8.00 for Limousine taxi services $18.00.
Singapore Cruise Centre manages 2 regional ferry terminals at Harbour Front and Tanah Merah, from where passengers can take leisure trips to regional islands located south west or east of Singapore such as Batam or Bintan. Singapore also houses 1 award-winning international cruise terminal. But keep in mind that Batam or Bintan are Indonesian islands so you may need to pay for Indonesian Visa on arrival. Contact me and if you want any guidance on how you can add this to your itinerary.
Top Tip : How to cut your expenses in expensive Singapore!
Take public transport – Travel on public transport with the Singapore Tourist Pass. This will get you unlimited rides on any number of buses and trains. Trust me, it is way more cost effective then using Taxi!
Eat cheap – Save money by eating from hawker centres which are nothing but large food courts minus air conditioning! You can find them everywhere be it on food by eating in Little India, Chinatown, or Sentosa. Meals in these places cost only a few dollars. Avoid restaurants unless you are ready to splurge!
Must Try Foods
Finding Halal food in Singapore is a breeze as the country has a strong albeit small Muslim population and being the tolerant society that it is, it is really easy to find halal food amidst any food court. The Singapore government had gone a step more and has made Halal certification mandatory for food stalls that want to sell only halal food. This certificate is usually prominently displayed in the stall or restaurant so look out for it and enjoy local cuisines without hesitation!
Some must try local dishes include Nasi Lemak, Mee Rebus, Roti Canai, Char Kuay Teow etc.
Things to See and Do
The Singapore Zoo is also known as Mandai zoo by the locals and this is an open concept zoo where animals roam around freely. You will find around 3000++ animals, birds and reptiles in spacious enclosures. The Singapore Zoo night safari is also a must see attraction in Singapore. It is a great place to spend the day if you traveling with kids. Don’t miss the classic photo sessions with the zoo’s long term resident Ah Meng. Recently they have introduced Giant pandas as part of the attractions as well.
You have two Halal restaurants in Singapore Zoo. Ah Meng restaurant and KFC. Ah Meng restaurant also hold Halal Jungle breakfast with the resident Orangutan and other wild animals every day from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM.
There is no dedicated place to perform the prayers here but the local staff are very helpful and will guide you to a place where they pray.
If you need, the nearest Mosque would be Al Iman Mosque & Ahmad Ibrahim Mosque.
Al Iman Mosque – 10, Bukit Panjang Ring road-cost by Taxi $15. Ahmad Ibrahim Mosque – 15, Jalan ulu Seletar, – cost by taxi $10.
Zoo 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM entry fee $33
Night Safari 5:30 PM to 11:30 PM entry fee $45
River cruise 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM entry fee $30
Night Safari 5:30 PM to 11:30 PM entry fee $45
River cruise 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM entry fee $30
You can buy package tickets to the zoo, the bird park and Night safari and that will work out to be cheaper.
For more information, check out this website http://www.zoo.com.sg/
Before buying the tickets check offers online so you can save some money. Do buy tickets from authorized vendors.
Sentosa World Resorts
A day trip to Sentosa Island is a must do in Singapore. It also houses The Universal Studios which requires an entire day by itself so if you are short of time, you will need to prioritise. Entry to universal studio will cost $ 67.
Other attractions found on Sentosa include:
1. S.E.A. Aquarium which has a place in the Guinness world records as it hosts more than 100,000 marine species. Entry Fee-$32
2. Images of Singapore Museum which will give you a lot of information about the Singapore culture and history. Entry Fee-$10
3. Madame Tussauds is Singapore’s version of the famous London wax museum and the Entry Cost $42 to $79,
4. Skyline Luge Sentosa Cost $20 for 2 or 3 rides
5. Siloso Beachshow cases Songs of the Sea which is a 30 minute show that can be enjoyed by all age groups.
Daily 2 shows at 7:40 PM and 8:40 PM Cost- $10
Nearest Mosque – Masjid Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim
Masjid Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim located diagonally outside to vivo city shopping mall. Take exit C to reach the mosque at the Harbour station.
Singapore Chinatown/ Little India/ Geylang
As early immigrants streamed into the newly declared Golden land of opportunities a long time ago, racial and communal riots were common. Government decided to separate the communities into various parts of the island to decrease the riots and strict laws were enforced. Hence Chinatown for the Chinese, Little India for the Indians and Geylang for the Malays. As the years passed and Singapore grew, these areas were preserved as not only tourist attractions but also to remind the local Singaporeans of where they had come from. These places are especially worth a visit if you are visiting during Chinese New year, Deepavali or Eid-al Fitri as the respective areas will have special lighting with bazaars selling festival items. It is definitely worth the experience.
Singapore Orchard Road
This is shopping capital or rather the shopping street of Singapore. You will find all the big brands along this road and for the budget conscious traveler, people watching is an interesting experience. These roads will be lit up with festive cheer during Christmas. If you are here during the Great Singapore Sale, you will find good bargains here.
The Merlion, a mythical creature with the body of a fish and head of a lion, is the local icon and a photo with the icon is must do while in Singapore. Located in front of One Fullerton hotel and overlooking the Marina Bay, it is a beautiful place to visit especially at night.
Gardens by the bay
Gardens by the Bay is set on 101 hectares of land smack in the middle of the city state. It is a creative venture and not your usual park or garden. You need to visit to see for yourself the wonder of a man made garden that is visually appealing! it’s one of the latest attractions in Singapore,Check out the website for more information.