Singapore travel

Singapore Travel Tips For Your First Visit

January 7, 2020

Singapore is a breeze to travel to. This beautiful and diverse city is incredibly safe, modern and full of great things to do. After recently spending 24 hours in Singapore, I definitely fell in love with this city. I even spent a little more on my flight to Australia to be able to spend some time here rather than Dubai (also an incredible city, but I’ve seen it before!). And it was worth it. But I also learned a few things by travelling to a new country, picking up some Singapore travel tips along the way.

Here’s my Singapore travel tips for your first visit.

Tips for travelling around Singapore

Singapore is known for having excellent public transport that is clean and efficient. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system is the best way to get around the main parts of Singapore. You can find a map of the MRT/LRT here.

Paying for the MRT by tourist travel card, which can be purchased at various locations in the city, listed here. MRT operates between 5.30am to 12.30am.

If you need to get a cab, I recommend downloading the Grab app. You’ll know how much you are paying before getting in the car. Normal cabs in Singapore can be pricey. I got to Singapore in 5:30 am and while the MRT was running, the ticket office wasn’t open to purchase the tourist pass and the kiosks weren’t working, so I got a cab from Changi to my hotel for about S$18.

Gardens by the bay with Marina Bay Sands in background

Where to eat and drink in Singapore

This city/country has some of the best restaurants in the world, but Singapore’s casual street food options are the star attraction for foodies. Singapore has high sanitation standards and so the street food is delicious, affordable, and won’t make you ill. Some hawker stalls have even earned Michelin Stars. Hawkers Markets are budget friendly and you’ll experience the traditional dishes of Singapore (and beyond).

Maxwell Food Centre Hawker Market in Singapore

I stopped by Maxwell Food Centre for lunch and tried Singapore’s most loved dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice. The dish consists of poached chicken and seasoned riced served with ginger and chilli sauces.

Alcohol is fairly pricey in Singapore with cocktails setting you back an average of S$20, about £11 based on the exchange rate when I visit. Londoners might not balk at this, but remember that is an average. Some of the more famous bars can charge more than S$30. Family members that had been before said I just had to go to Raffles Long Bar. This iconic bar is known for its old world atmosphere and as the birthplace of the Singapore Sling, which costs S$31. As much as I love gin, I was travelling solo and it just felt far to excessive!

Tips on where to stay in Singapore

Hotels in Singapore range from about £45 to upwards of £600 per night for places such as Raffles Hotel. Also on the higher end are iconic hotels like the famous Marina Bay Sands which dominates Singapore’s Skyline with its unique boat shaped top level and sky-high infinity pool. I stayed in Hotel Jen Orchardgateway, which fell in the lower part of this range, but was voted best rooftop pool in the world. It also had a great location for shopping, brunches, and nightlife, located near Orchard Road.

Orchard Road proved a great base for exploring. The Marina would also be a great pick and is full of hotels. You can even stay at Changi Airport in rooms rented by the hour!

There’s also a selection of Airbnbs in Singapore to choose from, ranging from about £35-£55 per night. A reader of my last Singapore post commented that they tried camping, but were attacked by ants/flooded by rain, so maybe skip pitching a tent!

Booking.com

Local Culture in Singapore

Singapore is a true cultural melting pot, heavily influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western cultures. Here’s a few things to know about the country before you travel:

Laws

Singapore is known for being a pristine country, but there are strict laws to help keep it so clean. It is illegal to bring chewing gum into the country so if you have brought any on board your flight, don’t forget to dispose of it before you leave the plane. Littering is also an offence and carries large fines and strict punishments. In many parts of the country, smoking is banned except for designated areas.

You can find more information on local laws and customs here.

Safety and solo travel in Singapore

Unlike most places, you don’t need many tips on staying safe while travelling Singapore. Singapore is an extremely safe country to visit. It ranks 7th in the Global Peace Index and is often considered the safest place to visit in Asia. So of course I had zero issues, even walking around on my own at night, and I’d highly recommend it for solo travellers.

Exploring Singapore by night

Language

Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin Chinese. Everyone speaks English and signs, menus, shops, and just about everything else is in English.

Currency

One Singapore dollar was worth about £0.57 when I visited. Most shops and restaurants accept cards, but I would recommend having some cash for hawkers markets. I was only visiting for the day and so just grabbed my budget from a bank ATM which seemed to give a good rate. I’d say most prices, apart from the food in Hawker Markets (which are cheaper), aren’t too far off what you would pay in London for stuff.

What to pack for Singapore

Expect humid temperatures ranging between mid-20’s to lower 30’s Celsius all year. I recommend packing lightweight clothing. As the city is so multi-cultural, there doesn’t seem to be any don’ts as to what to wear and even most restaurants don’t seem to mind casual options. Have something to cover up with if you plan on visiting religious buildings or if you get chilly in air conditioning (almost all indoor spaces are air conditioned).

I’d also recommend packing:

  • A reusable water bottle – The tap water is safe to drink in Singapore so bring a reusable water bottle you can easily fill up during your stay
  • Plug converter – Singapore’s plugs are type G, same as the UK, so I didn’t need one. However, if you are coming from somewhere else, get a type G converter or bring a universal power adaptor.
  • A lightweight rain jacket/ compact umbrella – Singapore’s weather can go from sunny to downpouring in minutes. Therefore, be smart and pack a rain jacket you can roll up or compact umbrella in your bag.

If you are planning on visiting Singapore, make sure to check out my guide on spending 24 hours in this gorgeous city.

Have you visited Singapore? What Singapore travel tips would you recommend knowing before you go?

  • Reply
    ourcrossings
    January 7, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Great post and great tips – the more I read about Singapore the more I want to visit. I had no idea Singapore is such a safe and clean city – you are even not allowed to bring chewing gum into the country? Thanks for sharing, I’ll keep that in mind if I ever find myself heading that way. Aiva

  • Reply
    John Aiwone
    January 8, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Really good write up! A lot of countries in Asia are very safe and really prioritise security and cleanliness to the fullest which is great to hear when comparing to here in London where safety is the last thing to be associated with the city to be honest. also I didn’t know Singapore is as multi-cultural as it is. Definitely will be packing a bag for the city within the next few years.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures
    https://johnnystraventures.com

    • Reply
      offasmallisland
      January 8, 2020 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks Johnny! Yeah it’s a great place, for some reason I always had it pictured as a bit dull but it was anything but especially with all the diversity of cultures. And yes very safe, I always get some concerned looks when I say I’m travelling around solo but my response is often “well it’s safer than London!”

  • Reply
    Sarah Mark
    January 12, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    There are lots of places I would love to visit in Asia but Singapore has never been one of them until now. After reading your post I am definitely going to have to visit it it sounds like an incredible place and you have some awesome tips.

  • Reply
    Chris Toone | Toone's Travels
    January 12, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Very useful tips, thank you for sharing. I was in Singapore 10 years ago and boy do I wish they had the Grab App then… it would have been great to know how much to expect to pay ahead of time! A nice little trip down memory lane of all of their laws to remember, too.

    Safe travels!

  • Reply
    jasonlikestotravel
    February 8, 2020 at 1:25 am

    Some great tips! It’s high up on my list to visit, interesting that it’s comparable to London on pricing though as for some reason I envisaged it was more expensive. Good to know it won’t break the bank too much.

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