The Essentials: Singapore


Singapore is more than just a lay over city on your way to Europe, it is also it's own country, a multi-cultural home to countless expats and a vibrant culture that is definitely worth getting out of the airport for. Looking for the perfect place to break up that long haul flight? Singapore ticks all the boxes.

Location: Singapore.

Time Zone: Singapore Time Zone UTC +08:00.

Getting There: Singapore's international airport - Changi International (SIN) is not only one of the most impressive airports in the world, but it is also used by many different airlines around the world and is often a lay over point for long haul flights between Australia and Europe or Asia. There are direct daily flights between Singapore and all major cities in Australia, as well as across Asia and even a few European and American cities.

Changi Airport is located about 25 minutes out of the main city of Singapore. A taxi will cost you about $16SIN including the airport surcharge, however, there is also a 50% late night surcharge on all taxis if you're arriving between midnight and 5am. Taxis in Singapore should all use their metres, so make sure it's turned on before you get in the car.

Currency: Singapore Dollars $SIN. ATMs are widely accessible and credit and debit cards are accepted everywhere.

Climate: Singapore's geographical location near the equator it has a very tropical climate, with high humidity and a high chance of rainfall all year round. However, weather reports are often wrong - despite the weather forecasting 80% chance of thunderstorms and rain for the full 3 days we visited Singapore we only had one hour of rain on our last day, with a lot more blue skies and sunshine than we had expected!

There are two monsoon seasons to avoid in Singapore - the Northeast monsoon season is from December to early March, and the Southwest Monsoon season is from June to September. During this time you are more likely to see period of heavy rain and thunderstorms. For chances of the best weather, travel in during the inter-monsoon periods - late March to May and October to November.

Language: Singapore has four official languages - English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. However, the extremely multi-cultural nature of Singapore means that you could hear any number of different languages while walking the streets. Most Singaporeans you will encounter working in hospitality and tourism speak excellent English.

Main Streets: Orchard Road - this main shopping road runs almost all the way through the city of Singapore to Marina Bay. Many of the major hotel chains can be found along Orchard Road, as well as restaurants and bars, high end shopping, huge underground malls, the main bus stops and the Singapore Visitors Centre.

Another key area is Marina Bay. The walking path that runs around bay is full of restaurants and high end hotels, and is also where you can find the Marina Bay Shoppes.

Internet Access: Singapore has extremely high speed wifi which can be found in almost all hotels and restaurants. You can also usually find somewhere offering free wifi on the street, including train stations, underground malls and the Singapore Visitors Centre. Restaurants and cafes will usually have a password on their wifi, but if you ask your server they will be more than happy to log in for you or write down the password.

Getting Around: No matter how you decide to get around Singapore, it is fast, efficient and relatively cheap. The MRT train system (which stands for mass rapid transit) is probably the fastest way to get around the city with most of Singapore's key attractions being within walking distance of an MRT station. You can purchase tickers for single trips, but there is also the option of buying tourist pass which will give you unlimited travel on MRT trains and buses for one day (S$10), two days (S$16) or three days (S$20). Tourist passes can be bought at the TransitLink Ticket Office or at many of the MRT stations.

For a fast trip from one place to the other taxis are very affordable in Singapore, generally less than $5 for a ride across the city. You can hail a taxi down by the side of the road and they should all use a meter - so no bartering for the price of your ride.

The cheapest way to get around Singapore would be by bus, with the bus networking covering most places in Singapore you might want to go. You can use the bus network with the Singapore on the Tourist Pass or by purchasing an EZ-link stored-value card where you can load money onto and then tap on and off for your ride. Most buses in Singapore are also air-conditioned, very nice change from humidity of Singapore.

Bicycle is also a great way to explore Singapore, with many public bicycles found around the city. Download the apps MoBike, Ofo and oBike before you leave your hotel to set yourself up to rent a bicycle when you see one. You will need wifi to unlock the bike and register it to your app, but you can usually find some free wifi around the place to connect to for a minute. This is an especially good way to visit Marina Bay and Gardens By The Bay.

Best Time To Go: Due to the tropical nature of Singapore there is not much different in rainfall between the wet and "dry" seasons. For the most enjoyable time to visit, go between the monsoon seasons and avoid travelling between May and September, as these are the hottest months with the highest levels of humidity.

Top Experiences:
+ Go shopping on Orchard Road
+ Experience the future at Gardens By The Bay including the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome
+ Have breakfast with the orangutans at Singapore Zoo
+ Visit Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam for some multi-cultural action
+ Wander around the Singapore Botanical Garden and National Orchard Garden
+ Spend the day at Universal Studios
+ Try a Singapore Sling - the country's signature cocktail
+ Catch the cable car over to Sentosa Island
+ Experience the best views of the city from the Singapore Flyer
+ Check out the iconic and unique Merlion on Marina Bay

Good To Know: There are quite a few strange laws in Singapore that might make some of your everyday habits illegal! Make sure you read up on the laws and customs of Singapore before you arrive to make sure you don't find yourself accidentally in trouble. Some of the craziest laws include:

  • Walking naked in your house or hotel is illegal - it is considered a form of pornography which is also illegal in Singapore 
  • Chewing gum is illegal - as well as the sale of chewing gum, "importing" it or bringing it in from another country or spitting gum in public. Make sure you throw yours out before you land in Singapore.
  • Littering could cost you a huge fine - anything from $1,000 to $5,000 if you're caught! Makes sense now why the city is so clean and tidy. 
  • Drinking alcohol from 10:30pm to 7am is illegal - you'll need to get a permit from the government if you want to have a party that serves alcohol after 10:30pm! 
  • Being gay is considered illegal - including kissing, hand holding and "inappropriate touching" in public. 
  • If you don't flush the toilet after you use it you could be issued a $500 fine. Surely no one is being caught out by that one! 

Read more about our adventures through Singapore here. For more travel tips and to keep up to date with our adventures make sure you subscribe to our newsletter today