“Good things come in small packages” – this holds true for Singapore. A tiny nation offers incredibly vast experience. Here’s how not to get overwhelmed and plan the finest trip to this gorgeous island country. Our complete travel guide to Singapore includes everything you need to know to plan your first trip to Singapore.
Singapore is simple, effortless and safe for everyone – first timer abroad travelers, family travelers, solo travelers, and senior citizens. S’pore espouses you in a way you have known each other for years. I dare you to not fall for it.
Let me get you acquainted with Singapore I have known.
Singapore is a country and a state and a city and an island; in other words, a complete package in itself. Settled strategically on a southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, the city-state is a beautiful assortment of islands.
S’pore delicately preserves its colonial past underneath contemporary demeanor. Gaining independence in 1965, it’s one of the youngest countries in the world.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT SINGAPORE
Official Name: Republic of Singapore
International Dialing Code: +65
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8
Currency: Singaporean Dollar (SGD or S$). The current exchange rates for the Singaporean Dollar to India Rupee is INR 52.38.
Electricity Socket: The standard voltage is 230 V with a frequency is 50 Hz. The sockets and power plugs are of type G.
LANGUAGE IN SINGAPORE
One of the most ethnically diverse and culturally vibrant nations, Singapore has four official languages – English, Mandarin (Chinese), Malay (Bahasa Malaysia), and Tamil. Though Malay is the national language, English is used as a lingua franca.
Most Singaporeans are bilingual; they speak English (thankfully) plus an additional language – Chinese, Malay, Tamil or Mandarin.
They actually have developed a hybrid language, Singlish, with the modicum of all the four official languages and ethnic dialects. Each ethnic group has a different version of Singlish like Indian Singaporean Singlish is a bit different from Chinese or Malay Singaporean Singlish.
Singlish is used in casual situations while English remains the formal language. I learned a few Singlish phrases before my trip to Singapore and it helped me a great deal.
FESTIVALS IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is quite a fascinating city where you find a Hindu Temple, a Mosque, a Church and a Chinese Temple within stone throw’s distance. They celebrate festivals of all the religions with equal fun and fervor.
Pongal, Thaipusam, New Year, Chinese New Year, Holi, Deepavali, Thimithi, Easter, Vesak Day, Christmas and Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid) are the major festivals celebrated in Singapore.
Lantern Festival (Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival), National Day of Singapore, Singapore Heritage Fest, Singapore International Jazz Festival, Singapore International Festival of Arts, Singapore Food Festival, Hungry Ghost Festival, Beerfest Asia, Singapore Night Festival, and Dragon Boat Festival are among other socio-cultural festivals.
ZoukOut Music Festival in Singapore is one of the top EDM (Electronic Dance Music) Festivals in Asia.
Singapore Grand Prix, Formula 1 night race kicks off in September every year. Here, you not only witness the world-class players racing at ultimate speed in their fast-racing cars but also legendary international musicians performing next to the race track. Isn’t that a deadly combination?
WEATHER OF SINGAPORE
Singapore is infamous for its hot and humid weather with temperatures ranging from 26-degree Celsius to 32-degree Celsius. The island nation experiences intermittent sudden but brief torrential showers regardless of the month.
November, December, and January see higher than average rainfall.
ACCESSIBILITY IN SINGAPORE
Singapore’s public transport and the buildings are handicap accessible. Read more about accessibility here.
DRINKING WATER IN SINGAPORE
The tap water in Singapore is safe to drink as it passes the international guidelines set by the World Health Organization. Make sure to carry an Eco-Friendly Water Bottle to be refilled as and when needed.
Bottled water is expensive in Singapore. It costs around SGD 4 (INR 200) for a one-liter bottle.
SINGAPORE VISA – DO YOU NEED ONE?
Know if you need a visa to travel to Singapore. Many of the visitors to Singapore don’t need an entry visa. Check a list of countries that need an entry visa for Singapore to find out if you have to apply for one.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SINGAPORE
As I always say, any time is the best time to visit any destination. It all depends upon what you’d like to do at that destination.
Someone might want to get wet while watching the beautiful rain over the ocean, on the other hand, you’d love to sunbathe or read in a hammock while watching the sun glistening on the ocean water. A destination is what you make of it.
February, March, and April are said to be the best months to travel to Singapore though I feel it’s a year-round destination because of its tropical weather. Singapore doesn’t have four seasons but only two – dry (March to August) and wet (September to February).
The months of November, December, and January receive major rainfall.
The most favored times are around Chinese New Year and Christmas.
We visited during Chinese New Year in February and found the weather to be pleasant. It rained only once during our entire 7 days stay.
HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD YOU STAY IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is a preferred stopover for long-haul flights but it’s far more than just a weekend or a stopover break. One needs at least 3 to 4 days to explore the major attractions plus night and food scene of the charming island.
I’d recommend setting aside 5 to 6 days to take it all in – the diverse culture, the colorful neighborhoods, the world-class architecture, the shimmering nights, the greens within the city, the unique and diverse street food and impressive attractions.
After 7 days of stay in Singapore, we could have easily spent another day or two discovering what was left. Yes! We still missed things.
WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE
We stayed at Ramada by Wyndham Singapore At Zhongshan Park. The hotel has been consecutively awarded best mid-range hotel by TTG Travel Awards for 4 years. It’s located conveniently within the city that makes travel to/from Changi Airport and all the major attractions like Sentosa, Little India, Marina Bay, Singapore Zoo easy.
We reached the hotel much before our check-in time and our daughter was a bit unwell. The staff was accommodating and sweet.
They not only gave us the room before time but also sent a beautiful get well soon card with fruits and breakfast in our room for mini-me.
The staff was quick and helpful with our requests during the stay. Ramada knows how to cater to families with kids well.
Check the latest prices and room availability here.
Airbnb has some great reasonable plus luxury options in Singapore like this and this one. If you happen to book through Airbnb for the first time, use our Airbnb code to get a discount on your first booking.
You can also visit Stay in Singapore, a dedicated hotel-booking website for Singapore.
WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT IN SINGAPORE
Singapore has finally arrived as a culinary capital of Asia. From pocket-friendly hawker centers, food courts, fine dining restaurants to award-winning Michelin-starred restaurants; from Indian, Chinese, Malay, Peranakan to International cuisine – Singapore’s food scene overtakes its counterparts.
The diversity of Singapore can be very well tasted in its local food. The street food scene in Singapore has evolved over time.
The street food is actually not sold on the street. The street side hawker stalls have metamorphosed to clean and cozy hawker centers. There are 200+ hawker centers in Singapore with endless and cut-price vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan varieties of food. You can’t say you’ve truly experienced the food scene in Singapore if you haven’t been to a hawker center.
Though hubby and mini-me love non-vegetarian, they stick to vegetarian food while traveling to give me company. We only tried the vegetarian food in Singapore.
There are quite many options for Vegetarians at the Singapore Hawker Centres. Here are our recommendations for your ultimate Singaporean vegetarian street food fix –
Famous for its vegetarian cuisine, Redhill Market and Food Centre sees a flood of foodies every day and are crazy busy during breakfast and lunch timings. The notable food stalls include Ru Yi Yuan Vegetarian Food, Hong Seung Curry Rice, Delicious Fried Carrot Cake, and Ji Xiang Ru Yi Vegetarian.
Ru Yi Yuan Vegetarian Food is famous for its yummy Vegetarian Bee Hoon (stir-fried vermicelli noodles) while Hong Seung Curry Rice stall serves jillion of rice dishes.
Sample the Chai Tow Kway (traditional carrot cake) at Delicious Fried Carrot Cake. Interestingly, the carrot cake isn’t a cake and doesn’t contain a carrot 🙂
Holland Drive Market and Food Centre offers the best of vegetarian food in Singapore. Head to Rojak Line for the classic Singaporean dish, Rojak.
It’s not your usual fruit and vegetable salad but a riot of tastes where fruits and vegetables are peppered with you tiao (fried dough fritters), black sauce and peanuts.
Kwan Inn Vegetarian Food at the Kim San Leng Food Centre offers a variety of Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian vegan cuisine. The must order at Kwan is vegetarian Laksa. Laksa is a coconut noodle soup with different culture’s flavors in a single bowl.
Bendemeer Market and Food Centre is brimming with vegetarian food stalls. Da Shun stall serves vegetarian Chinese cuisine. Their must tries are Chwee Kueh and Chee Cheong Fun which are the famous Singaporean breakfast dishes.
Kaya Toast, butter and kaya (a jam prepared from sugar, eggs, coconut milk, and pandan leaves) filled bread toast is Singapore’s national breakfast and their favorite tea/coffee break snack. Try this traditional breakfast at Tong Ah Eating House. Don’t forget to pair it with soft-boiled eggs and a cup of coffee.
Circuit Road Food Centre is unquestionably the best place to be for vegetarians. Here, you can get the vegetarian versions of famous local dishes. Victor’s Veggie serves your usual burgers plus the famous local dishes – Vegetarian versions of Otah and Satay.
Right next to Esplanade, Makansutra Gluttons Bay is the only hawker center in Marina Bay area. Try juices and shakes at Gluttons Bar Stall, ice-cream at Sweet Spot, and the vegetarian version of Murtabak at Mee Goreng Old Satay Club.
If you are a foodie who constantly looks for the great eats then Dempsey is your go-to. An army barracks back in the day, Dempsey Hill is a laid-back neighborhood with a sweeping array of restaurants and cafes is a famous dining destination now. Kids will love Farm Community, Ben & Jerry’s, Huber’s Bistro and PS Cafe.
They say you can’t leave Singapore without sampling almond croissants at Tiong Bahru Bakery. They are right!
Bubur Cha Cha (bo-bo cha-cha), Ice Kachang (ais kacang) are popular desserts in Singapore. You’ll find them at most of the hawker centers and bakeries.
Al-Azhar Restaurant serves a wide variety of cuisines from Indian, Singaporean to Thai. Food options and quality both are amazing. Plus it’s opened 24X7.
Try Roti Prata (a south Indian flatbread) at The Roti Prata House. There are many versions based on the fillings used like plain, egg, cheese and even chocolate and ice-cream prata. It’s fried and greasy but who counts the calories when on vacation!!! 😉
Lau Pa Sat (Telok Ayer Market) in CBD, a famous market place since 1894 houses hawker stalls offering Asian cuisines. The building was declared a national monument in 1973. It’s a fusion of colonial heritage, Victorian architecture and delectable food. Our favorite stalls here are – Indian Curry House and Big Bites.
As much as we love to taste the varied cuisines while traveling, we crave enough to take the pain in finding Indian food options wherever we venture. We did in Singapore too. Tandoori Corner is an Indian Restaurant at Balestier Road in Singapore.
We found this hidden gem while we were searching for the North Indian Food near our hotel, Ramada. The food, and staff, both are A-Class. The food tastes like a pure home-cooked food straight from the Indian Kitchen and the staff is friendly. The ambiance isn’t great but everything else makes for it. We ordered the same yellow daal tadka for 3 days in a row, it was that tasty.
Note: Hawker Centres are self-service outlets. You are expected to collect your food on your own.
SINGAPORE MONEY EXCHANGE
We had to exchange money during our time in Singapore. I checked with locals and they recommended the Mustafa Foreign Exchange at Mustafa Centre in Little India.
They offered us a great exchange rate for INR. Other good places for money exchange in Singapore are Lucky Plaza at Orchard Road and The Arcade at Raffles Place. Avoid foreign exchange at airport and hotels.
MONEY IN SINGAPORE
Sing dollar (S$) notes are available in denominations of S$2, S$5, S$10, S$20, S$50, S$100, S$500, S$1,000 and coins are available in denominations of 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, and S$1.
Major Credit/Debit cards are widely accepted in Singapore. Watch out for hidden credit card charges plus the overseas transaction fee. Additional fee on credit card purchases is generally not permitted, ask your credit card company beforehand.
ATMs are located all over the island. Most ATMs allow both Visa or Mastercard withdrawals barring few that accept either of these cards. Check the back of your card to see if you’re on Cirrus (Mastercard) or Plus (Visa) network to know which machine to use to withdraw money. Be aware that banks charge an extra fee everytime you use your card at another bank’s ATM and it can be a lot more while doing international transactions.
It’s always good to keep some cash (Sing Dollars) on hand to pay at hawker centers and public transport.
Note: Singapore Dollar and Brunei Darussalam can be used interchangeably because of some legal agreement, so you might receive Brunei currency with your cash.
STAYING CONNECTED IN SINGAPORE
We made a mistake of using international services on our India number which costs us a lot. It’s easy to stay connected with a Singapore prepaid sim card from any of the local telcos – Starhub, M1, and Singtel.
You can buy a 7 to 12 days tourist sim card from Changi Recommends, Singapore Visitor Center or any of the telcos retail shops. Be informed 2G mobile services are no longer available in Singapore.
To use the mobile data on roaming can cost a fortune. Most of the cafés and restaurants in Singapore have free wifi but it isn’t free actually. You’d pay at least for a cup of coffee, of course, to oblige.
You can register for free public WiFi with your country’s number at any Wireless@SG hotspot across Singapore. If you choose to connect, they send you the login details through a text message on your phone. It may incur roaming charges.
I’d recommend renting a Pocket WiFi, an easy and affordable solution to stay connected and enjoy unlimited 4G internet in Singapore. You can rent a Pocket WiFi at the Changi Recommends counter or Singapore Visitor Center at Orchard and return them back before you leave.
HOW TO GET TO SINGAPORE
Changi Airport in Singapore is rated as one of the busiest airports in the world. It has been connected to most of the countries across the world. The airport is an attraction in itself with its overwhelming range of things to see and do.
Singapore Airlines flies direct from all the major cities of India to Singapore. It’s a bit pricey option from India but worth it.
Air India and Jet Airways have direct flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to Singapore. We always take pride traveling in Air India and it never lets us down.
Indigo flies nonstop from Kolkata to Singapore. Scoot (Singaporean low-cost airline) is the cheapest flight from Bengaluru and Hyderabad to Singapore. Silkair (Singapore Airline’s regional wing) operates from Bengaluru and Hyderabad to Singapore.
SINGAPORE AIRPORT TRANSFERS
With varied modes of transport available it’s easy getting to and from Changi Airport. You can choose to travel by airport shuttles, public transport, rental cars, and private taxis. Public transport and airport shuttles aren’t the best options if you have multiple pieces of luggage though they are the cheapest way to get to and from the airport.
Transfer Between Terminals
The transfer between 4 terminals is easy with the free Skytrain (T1, T2, and T3) and Shuttle bus services (T2 and T4).
Airport City Shuttle
The 24X7 City Shuttle to the downtown hotels costs SGD 9 per adult and SGD 6 per child and departs every 15 to 30 minutes and the bookings can be done at 24 hours Ground Transport Concierge at the Arrival Halls. The travel time ranges from 25 to 35 minutes.
Airport Free Shuttle Bus Service
The Free Shuttle Bus Service runs on weekdays from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Check the timetables for timings and pick-up points from T1/T3 and T4. If you have heavy luggage or if your flight timings are not matching the free bus schedule, this option is ruled out.
Follow the signs from Arrival Hall to the MRT train station (CG2) which is located at the T2 basement. The train station is accessible on foot from T2 and T3. Those at T1 or T4 can take a shuttle or Skytrain to reach T2. You can buy a single ride train ticket or stored value EZ-Link card at the ticket counter at the T2 basement.
The train alternates between Changi Station and Tanah Merah Station (EW4). Take a Green Line (East-West Line) train to the city at Tanah Merah. You might have to interchange to Red Line, Purple Line, Blue Line (Downtown Line) or other depending upon where you want to reach in the city. Check the MRT Systems Map and Fares for better understanding.
The travel time is between 45 to 60 minutes.
Use MRT/LRT Fare Calculator to know the fare to your desired destination in Singapore.
All the 4 terminals have bus stands; at the basement of T1, T2, T3; next to Car Park 4B and close to the SATS Inflight Catering Centre of T4. You must have an exact change or a smart card for a bus ride; no change is given. A bus takes a longer time, say around 90 minutes to reach the city. Check the Bus Schedule and Fares for more information.
The fastest and the most comfortable way to travel to and from the airport is by private taxi. If you have multiple pieces of or/and heavy luggage then a private taxi is the best bet. It’s expensive too. The cost varies between SGD 20 to SGD 35 for a Regular taxi and SGD 30 to SGD 50 for a Premium Taxi.
You need to pay the airport surcharge in addition to the taxi fare. The airport surcharge is SGD 5 from 5 pm to midnight from Friday to Sunday and SGD 3 at all other times. The surcharge from midnight to 6 am is 50% of the final metered fare and 25% of the final metered fare for peak hours. Peak hours range from 6 am to 9:30 am from Monday to Friday and 6 pm to midnight from Monday to Sunday.
For larger groups, book the Limousine or large taxis at 24-hour Ground Transport Concierges at the Arrival Halls. The 4-seater costs around SGD 55 and 7-seater costs approx. SGD 60.
You can hire private airport transfers to and from Changi Airport for more comfort.
Transtar Travel Coach for Johor Bahru
Some people book their stay at Johor Bahru (a Malaysian city that lies just across from the Singapore border) because the accommodations are cheaper than Singapore. Though I would always recommend staying in Singapore. Nevertheless, if you have already booked one, you can easily travel to Johor Bahru from Changi Airport by a coach managed by Transtar Travel. The coach can be boarded at arrival halls on T2 and T4.
If you plan to rent a car, car rental counters are located at the arrival halls.
GETTING AROUND SINGAPORE
Exploring Singapore is like a breeze with its massive and efficient public transport system served by a host of trains, MRT and buses.
Trains run from 5:30 am to midnight with fares ranging from SGD 1.50 to SGD 2.60. Bus (SMRT/SBS) fares start from SGD 1.40 and the fare has to be paid in exact change.
You can buy the ticket if you intend to travel by bus or train once or twice but if you are planning to use public transport extensively then buy the stored value cards like EZ Link, NETS Flashpay and STP. They come handy and cheaper.
EZ Link Card
Both train (MRT/LRT) and bus system use EZ Link Card, a cashless payment system. The card has a stored balance that gets debited as and when you tap the EZ Link Card (as you enter and exit) on the panels in the buses and MRT Platforms. The EZ Link Card comes handy and is much cheaper than using cash (SGD). You can purchase or top up the card at any MRT Station, 7 Eleven stores or bus interchange.
NETS Flashpay Card
NETS Flashpay is another option that covers the transport plus retail needs. Buy NETS Card online or from any TransitLink Ticket Office, 7 Eleven Stores, Changi Recommends and many more selected outlets. You can use it for trains, buses, taxis, food courts, supermarkets, and even some hawker centers. You can top up the card through a NETS Mobile app. It’s that easy.
Read here for more information about EZ Link and NETS Flashpay Stored Value Cards.
Singapore Tourist Pass (STP)
Singapore Tourist Pass is a great way to save money and time. The tourist pass gives you unlimited rides in buses and trains (MRT/LRT) for the duration (1,2 or 3 days) you purchase it for. You can buy the card from the designated TransitLink Ticket office or automated STP Kiosk and refund it at selected STP refund locations before you leave Singapore.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
If you want to see the top attractions of Singapore, you can go for one of the many Singapore Sightseeing Bus Tours (Hop on Hop off Bus). These tours let you get down and up the bus at any of its stops across its routes.
Entry to most of Singapore’s attractions is expensive so I’d recommend buying the time-saving and cost-effective City Pass or Attraction Pass as per your needs.
Singapore City Pass
Buy a Singapore City Pass (2,3 and 5-day pass) that includes free admission to the famous Singapore attractions (any 2), Funvee Open Bus Sightseeing tour and 2 days Hopper Pass. 3-day pass includes additional River Boat Cruise while the 5-day pass includes the additional ticket to Universal Studios.
Many a time it’s more convenient to hire in a taxi like on a rainy day. Taxis are metered and the flag-down fare is around SGD 3.90.
Seeing Singapore from water is a not-to-be-missed and unique experience. Board a boat to relish the sights of Singapore on land and in water.
Trishaw is a bicycle with a sidecar quite popular in Singapore. The most unusual and interesting way to discover the gems of Singapore is by trishaw.
Explore Singapore’s culture, heritage, art, nature, and flavors from a unique perspective in a Vintage Vespa Sidecar with Singapore Sidecars in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board and Triquetra.sg.
Discover Singapore in an eco-friendly way on a Segway, a self-balancing two-wheeler. Kids will love it!
Rental Bike in Singapore
Biking is a great way to explore with kids. Discover Singapore the Ride Way with Lets Go Bike Singapore.
Singapore on Foot
You can take a walking tour of Singapore’s many neighborhoods on your own or choose from one of the many guided tours available.
Free Walking tours by Indie Singapore are amazing.
There are a plethora of guided walking tours available to choose from. Check Here.
USEFUL APPS FOR SINGAPORE
Thanks to mobile technology, traveling has become a little bit easier with all the apps we can download on our smartphones. Here are the few Singapore apps you can use during your travel –
- Google Maps is one navigation app that works all around the world.
- Citymapper (iOS/Andriod) is another transit/navigation app with some cool features.
- GrabTaxi (iOS/Andriod), the largest and affordable taxi app in Southeast Asia, allows you to book a taxi or a private car. It works in the same way as Uber. Why wait in the queue when the comfort of a taxi is just a tap away?
- ComfortDelGro Taxi Booking (iOS/Andriod) is another taxi service provider in Singapore but it seems to be expensive than GrabTaxi.
- Ryde (iOS/Andriod) publicizes itself as a ride-sharing/car-pooling app for travelers on a budget.
- MyTransport Singapore (iOS/Andriod) offers information on all modes of land transport – from bus schedules, live traffic updates, cycling routes to locating taxi stands and real-time parking lots availability.
- SG Buses (iOS/Andriod) gives all-inclusive information about bus routes, schedules, and timings for SBS and SMRT buses.
- Bus@SG (iOS/Andriod) offers real-time bus arrival updates for SMRT, SBS and TTS buses.
- HungryGoWhere (iOS/Andriod) covers all your food needs while in Singapore. The app will suggest some of the authentic local places to eat you won’t find anywhere.
- Chope (iOS/Andriod) helps you discover a restaurant as per your need and make online reservations instantly. It shows the locations, prices, menus, food recommendations, and reviews plus gives exclusive offers.
- Burpple (iOS/Andriod) helps you find the right places to eat based on the reviews from local foodies.
- Explore Singapore MRT Map (iOS/Andriod), Singapore’s best subway map app gives up-to-date MRT/LRT information – maps, route planner, GPS, and street maps. It works offline too.
- Visit Singapore Travel Guide (iOS), a one-stop guide for Singapore developed by Singapore Tourism Board suggests you must-sees based on the interests you choose.
- Weather@SG (iOS/Andriod) gives the live weather forecast in Singapore. It comes handy owing to the erratic weather of Singapore.
- iChangi (iOS/Andriod) makes easy to navigate the Changi Airport plus it gives real-time flight updates.
- Hosay (iOS) is a fun app to learn and understand Singlish phrases while you are in Singapore. The app has audio and definitions of each phrase.
- Singapore Heritage Trails (iOS/Andriod) is a perfect app for travelers who love to take heritage walks. It uncovers the heritage, untold stories and social significance behind the streets and landmarks of varied neighborhoods of Singapore.
- Carpark@SG (iOS) makes parking in Singapore effortless for those who have rented a car to explore. It lets you know the carpark availability in the proximity of your location with the carpark rates in the area.
- SGNumbers (Andriod)offers a list of important phone numbers like police, hospital and other helpline numbers you might need in Singapore.
- Wireless@SG (iOS/Andriod) finds and informs about the nearest hotspot to connect.
- Audio Compass transforms your smartphone into an audio travel guide. Its pro version is also available.
Tourego (iOS/Andriod) is a Tourist Refund on the Go app. As a tourist, you can claim a refund on GST (7%) under the Tourist Tax Refund Scheme provided you spend more than SGD 100 at eTRS self-help kiosks at Changi’s departure hall or using Tourego. Make sure to keep all the receipts with you.
SHOPPING IN SINGAPORE
Shopping is a great deal in Singapore. Singaporeans love to spend their time in shopping malls. Besides shopping, they come to malls to seek shelter from Singapore’s tropical humidity for a while.
Orchard Road is known to be the shopper’s paradise but if you ask me that’s too ritzy for me. Plus you find the high-end brands in India and everywhere else for that matter so why would you buy them in Singapore.
Still, if mall shopping is your thing, Lucky Plaza, and Tanglin Shopping Centre, at Orchard Road are quite popular among bargain hunters.
You can find your regular brands at Vivo City Mall at Harbourfront, Mustafa Centre in Little India, IMM Outlet Mall, City Plaza at Geylang Road, and Anchorpoint at Alexandra road. Mustafa Centre is a treasure trove for budget shoppers and it’s open 24X7.
Marina Bay Mall is another glammy mall where you get the stuff designed by the most extravagant designers in the world. It’s worth a visit even when you don’t want to shop.
Coming from India, I found Little India to be atrociously expensive. The neighborhood that gives the vibes of the southern part of India sells Gold Jewelry, electronics, Indian fabric, and Indian knick-knacks. Mini-me asked me to buy her a peacock feather as a souvenir. Can you guess the price the shopkeeper quoted? The feather that costs INR 7 in India is sold at price of SGD 7 (INR 365) in Little India. Don’t shop at Little India.
Chinatown Street Market is overly hyped. I don’t know if it’s just me who thinks this way but Chinatown sells the low-quality clothes, footwear, and plastic things at unreasonable costs. Mini-me ended up buying plush slippers because they looked cute. They didn’t even last a month.
Chinatown, with its rich heritage and famous food, definitely makes for a delightful stroll.
For the year-round authentic shopping experience head to Haji Lane at Arab Street, and Bugis Street Market. These are the best places to buy vintage goods, handmade products, locally grown foods, trinkets and souvenirs like fridge magnets, keychains, postcards, stationery and many more.
I prefer to shop local and traditional wherever I go as it feels good to bring back home a piece of a place we visit. We love to shop at local markets, fleas and unconventional pop-up bazaars around the city.
TGIF Bazaars, Public Graden, So Gelam Market, Flea Party, The Local People, MAAD (Market of Artists and Designers), Sunday Social Market, Singapore Really Really Free Market, Twilight, Scape Marketplace, Blogshop Clearance, Luggage Market, Katong Square Lifestyle & Vintage Market, Fri-nally Fete Street Market are some of the best flea markets in Singapore that take place multiple times a year. You can check the markets that come about while you are in Singapore.
We shopped to our heart’s content at The TGIF Bazaar. It was an unmatched shopping experience.
SOUVENIRS FROM SINGAPORE
I’m sure you’d want to take back home the unique keepsakes that celebrate the Singaporean culture and tradition. Here’s our pick of best souvenirs to buy from Singapore:
- Peranakan antiques, porcelain, batik fabric from Peranakan Museum.
- Malay jewelry from Joo Chiat Complex.
- Local literature from BooksActually.
- Local handicrafts from Singapore Handicraft Centre at Tanglin Road.
- Tiger Balm. I’m serious. It’s way more effective than any other balm brand. You’ll get it everywhere in Singapore. Even the souvenir shops have it. I bought 3 bottles as we rarely find it in India.
- Marmalades from Straits Preserves especially Singapore Sling.
WHAT TO PACK FOR SINGAPORE
Singapore is a tropical destination that remains hot and humid all through the year with intermittent rain showers. November to January are the monsoon months.
Pack light-colored, cool and breathable cotton clothes. Don’t forget to pack a compact umbrella and a light waterproof jacket because Singapore experiences light rain showers almost every month. Carry a light sweater/jacket if you are traveling between November to January as evenings get cold in these months. Also, indoors get way cooler than needed in Singapore.
Consider bringing at least one stylish/formal evening dress or formal shirt/trouser along with oxfords if you plan to dine at one of the luxurious restaurants in Singapore.
Other essentials are sunscreen, mosquito repellent/mosquito band, antiperspirant, and a daypack.
Pick Your Copy of Our Trusted and Insightful Lonely Planet Guide to Travel with Ease!
TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN SINGAPORE
- Singapore Zoo
- Marina Bay Sands Skypark
- Gardens By the Bay
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- National Gallery Singapore
- Orchard Road
- AJ Hackett Sentosa
- S.E.A. Aquarium Sentosa
- Cultural Quarters – Little India, Chinatown, Kampong Glam, Joo Chiat/Katong
- Hawker Centres Trail
- Don’t leave Singapore unless you’ve tasted Durian.
SINGAPORE TRAVEL BUDGET
How much does it cost to travel to Singapore?
Singapore is infamous for its notoriously high costs. Well, yes…it’s expensive than its Southeast Asian counterparts but it’s very much possible to travel to Singapore without breaking your budget.
Accommodation: A 2-star hotel costs around SGD 75-85 while a 3-star hotel ranges from SGD 100-150. We paid SGD 247 per night at Ramada which is a 4-star hotel. For high-end five star hotels like Marina Bay Sands, the cost goes as high as SGD 1000. Airbnb is the best bet in Singapore – the cost of an entire apartment for a family starts from SGD 75.
Food: Singaporeans has a passion for food. There’s a reason eating is considered their national pastime. You’ll be amazed by the mind-boggling variety of food. You can expect to pay around SGD 9-10 per meal at hawker stalls while casual dining at a restaurant can cost you around SGD 30-40 for a meal. If you plan to stay in Airbnb and cook your own food, hit one of the best budget supermarkets in Singapore, Sheng Siong. One-week grocery can cost around SGD 100. Redmart is another great option if you want to order groceries online.
Transport: Singapore Tourist Pass gives you unlimited public transport use in SGD 10 per day. It’s cost-effective and hassle-free.
Attractions and Activities: Many of the worth-visiting and popular attractions in Singapore are free. The cost depends upon what you choose to see and do.
SINGAPORE TRAVEL TIPS
- Visit Singapore Visitor Centre at Orchard for any tourist inquiries. You can book tours, buy attraction tickets, hotel reservations, and any other information about Singapore.
- Plan outdoor activities for pleasant mornings and urban walks for nights.
- Install all the local apps to make your way easy around Singapore.
- Pack Light. Don’t overpack. It makes life easy while traveling with kids.
- Eating/Drinking inside the bus and train (MRT) is prohibited. Pets are also not allowed.
- Know the Rules.
- Board the bus from the front door and exit from the rear door. You need to press the STOP button a little before your destination arrives.
- Chewing Gum isn’t allowed in Singapore. They are banned.
- Keep your ID Card (Passport) with you at all times.
- It is illegal to connect to someone else’s wi-fi network with a penalty of up to three years in jail or a fine of $10,00.
- If caught leaving an ‘unflushed’ toilet, you face a $150 fine.
- Tipping isn’t a custom in Singapore and is discouraged. It’s prohibited at Changi Airport.
Singapore feels like a present-day utopia where you get the profound feeling that life’s good. Wait! There’s the worst bit about Singapore too! It’s the weather.
What about you? Have you been to Singapore? If yes, share your thoughts about the tiny city-state with us in the comments section. If no, hope you shortly plan one with our complete travel guide to Singapore.
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