Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a city-state in Southeast Asia. The country is situated one degree (137 kilometres or 85 miles) north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia’s Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore’s territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, the sovereign state extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 square kilometres or 50 square miles).
Although its history stretches back millennia, modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British East India Company. After the Company’s collapse in 1858, the islands came under direct British control as a crown colony known as the Straits Settlements. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan, following which Britain occupied it again. Singapore gained independence from the British Empire in 1963 by joining Malaysia along with Sabah and Sarawak, but separated two years later over ideological differences, becoming a fully sovereign state in 1965. After early years of turbulence and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation developed rapidly as an Asian Tiger economy, based on external trade and its workforce.
Modern Singapore is a global hub for education, finance, healthcare, innovation, manufacturing, technology, tourism, trade, and transport.
Population: 5.6 million
Currency & banking
Current exchange rate: $1USD = 1.34 Singaporean dollar
The official currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar, listed on the international markets as SGD, with the symbol $ or S$ (colloquially called the Sing dollar or simply the sing). The Singapore dollar is made up of 100 cents. It has five coin denominations of five cents, ten cents, twenty cents, fifty cents, and $1.
Banknotes are available in $2, $5, $10, and $50.
Credit cards from the major providers are accepted almost everywhere on the island. That includes Visa and Mastercard as well as American Express and Diners Club.
Even better, Singapore has outlawed surcharges on credit card purchases so you shouldn’t have to pay extra to pay with your card.
Just be wary of the charges you might incur for using your credit card overseas. These can include:
- International transaction fees
- High exchange rate margins
- ATM fees
- Potential ‘cash advance fees if you use an ATM
Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a modern, cheap, air-conditioned and speedy train service that operates all over the island. Pick up A Quick Guide to MRT Travel from the Station Control Room to help make life a little easier. There are three main lines –
- North-South Line – from Marina Bay to Jurong East
- East-West Line – Changi Airport / Pasir Ris to Boon Lay
- North-East Line – Harbour front to Punggol
The MRT is a great way to travel from Changi Airport to the city centre (or you can get an airport transfer). The trip takes approximately 27 minutes and operates at an average frequency of 12 minutes. The cost for a single trip from the Changi Airport to City Hall Station is SGD $1.40. To use the MRT you must purchase an ez-link card or use the Singapore Tourist Pass. Ez-link cards can be bought or revalued at any TransitLink Ticket Sales Office which are located in most MRT stations and bus interchanges.
For more information call the TransitLink Hotline on 1800 366 8900 or visit the SMRT website
There are two main bus operators in Singapore: SBS Transit Ltd and SMRT Buses Ltd. There are thousands of buses on this island to help get you from Point A to Point B. The services run through the day and both operators have special Night buses. Find out about fares and timetables on the official websites:
SBS Transit Buses
Taxis in Singapore
There are over 15,000 air-conditioned taxis operating in Singapore. Taxis are an easy, no-fuss way to travel around the city and surrounding areas. They can be flagged down or met at a taxi stand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The taxis are metered, however, certain pickup spots and times could add a surcharge onto your fare.
Food, Drink & Cuisine Advice
Food hygiene is generally good, particularly now that most individual street stalls have been closed down in favour of hawker centres. As always it’s safer to avoid raw vegetables, shellfish and reheated foods, and to wash fruit that has not been peeled. The tap water is safe to drink. Hepatitis A infection is not unknown, although rare, and vaccination may be considered.
The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to Singapore
The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot
They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.
* A yellow fever certificate is required from travellers over one year of age who, in the preceding six days, have been in or have passed through any country partly or wholly endemic for yellow fever.
Only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Eat fruits and vegetables that you have personally washed in clean water or peeled yourself. Never eat food sold by street vendors. Only drink boiled water that is sealed and has been filtered and disinfected. Prefer carbonated drinks, hot coffee or tea, and pasteurized milk.
The healthcare system in Singapore is of very high quality, generally regarded as one of the best in the world; life expectancy is high and infant mortality is low.
Costs of medical care for those who do not participate in Medisave, such as tourists, can be very high compared to those in other parts of Southeast Asia. It is therefore important to take out appropriate travel insurance, which should include repatriation to your home country in the event of an emergency.
As always when you travel you should take out the necessary travel insurance coverage. We always use World Nomads but there are plenty of other insurance companies that offer travel insurance
Singapore is the 6th safest country in the world, based on the safest and most dangerous countries ranking. Singapore is the safest country in Asia. Violent crimes against tourists almost don’t exist. The top list of crimes in Singapore leads to petty crimes, including pickpocketing.
Things to be aware of:
For visitors, it is important to note that even relatively minor violations (such as spitting on the sidewalk) are considered offences. And there are fines issued for just about any offence including smoking in public places, jaywalking, littering and even chewing gum on the MRT.
Penalties for drug offenses include the death penalty. Even shoplifting is considered a rather serious offence in Singapore, with penalties that include a few months of prison time. Other punishment may also be imposed for other lesser offences. However, the beauty is there is hardly any policeman or soldiers on the road and you must be very lucky to see a policeman or a soldier.
Useful emergency numbers
- Emergency Ambulance & Fire SCDF 995
- Police Emergency 999
- Non-Emergency Ambulance 1777
- Drugs & Poison 995 (emergency), 6423 9119 (non-emergency)
- Police Emergency SMS (if calling is not possible) 71999
- Traffic Police 6547 0000
The climate in Singapore is equatorial, ie hot, humid, and rainy throughout the year. The country, which is at the same time an island, a city, and a state, is actually at the Equator, in an area where there are always conditions for the formation of showers and thunderstorms.
Although the climate is fairly uniform, there are some variations in the course of the year due to the two monsoons: the north-east monsoon, which occurs from November to early March and is rainier, especially in the first part, and the south-west monsoon, which occurs from June to September. The first period between the two monsoons, from March to early June, is the hottest and the most unpleasant of the year.
Temperatures in Singapore are quite uniform since they only vary by a few degrees between the coolest and the warmest months. The minimum temperature ranges from 23 °C (73 °F) in December and January to 25 °C (77 °F) in May and June, while the maximum ranges from 30 °C (86 °F) in December and January to 32 °C (90 °F) in April and May.
Here are the average temperatures.
Average Temperatures and Rainfall
Even the records are close to the averages: at night, the temperature almost never drops to 20 °C (68 °F), while during the day, it rarely rises above 33/34 °C (91/93 °F). However, the weather is constantly hot and muggy, in fact, relative humidity doesn’t usually go below 70% even in the warmest hours. If you add to this the urban heat island effect, which is typical of big cities, a phenomenon whereby the heat remains trapped between streets and buildings even at night, you will understand how the climate of Singapore is not pleasant for those who are not used to it. Sea breezes can relieve a little the heat in the harbour area and in the neighbourhoods along the coast, while apart from the breezes, there can be some wind only in January, February and March, ie in the second part of the northeast monsoon. For the rest, heat and flat calm dominate, at least within the city. Fortunately, buildings and means of transportation are equipped with air conditioning.
Throughout the year, about 2,400 millimeters (94.5 inches) of rainfall, with a peak of around 250 mm (10 in) per month in November, December, and January, while in the rest of the year, from 150 to 200 mm (6 to 8 in) fall per month, so there is no month without abundant rainfall. Here is the average precipitation.
The amount of sunshine is not very good since there is an average of 5 or 6 hours of sunshine per day for most of the year. The least sunny months are November and December, with 4 hours of sunshine per day, while February is the sunniest, with 6,5 hours. We remind that the day at the Equator lasts 12 hours throughout the year. However, the equatorial sun is very strong, so you have to be careful even on cloudy days. Here are the average sunshine hours per day.
Although there is no big difference between the periods, the best month to visit Singapore is probably February: it is the sunniest, and there are “only” 12 days with rain on average. November and December are among the cooler months, but they are also the wettest: it rains almost every day, and sometimes, the rain lasts more than in the other seasons. January and February, in the second part of the “winter” monsoon, are less rainy, and in any case, they are not as muggy as March, April and May, also because they are the only months when there is a bit of wind. After the hot period from March to early June, July and August are also fine, if you can only go in this period: all in all, the difference with January and February is small.
What to pack
All year round: bring tropics-friendly, loose-fitting clothing, a scarf for the breeze, a light sweatshirt and pashmina for airconditioned places, and a light raincoat or umbrella.
When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.
Visa and Entry Requirements for Foreigners
All visitors to Singapore must meet the following entry requirements:
- Valid travel document (minimum validity of 6 months at the time of departure)
- Confirmed onward or return tickets (if applicable)
- Entry facilities, including visas, to the next destination;
- Sufficient funds to maintain themselves during their stay in Singapore; and,
- Visa for entry into Singapore (if applicable)
- Yellow Fever Vaccination (if applicable)
Which power plugs and sockets in Singapore?
In Singapore the power plugs and sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Check out the following pictures.
- Type G: this type is of British origin. This socket only works with plug G.
|Type G: This socket has no alternative plugs|