About Singapore

About Singapore

Unique is the word that best captures Singapore, a dynamic city rich in contrasts and colours where you will find a harmonious blend of culture, arts and architecture. A bridge between the East and the West for centuries, Singapore, located in the heart of fascinating Southeast Asia, continues to embrace both tradition and modernity alike. Brimming with unbridled energy and bursting with exciting events, the city offers countless unique, memorable experiences waiting to be discovered.

Unique is the word that best captures Singapore, a dynamic city rich in contrasts and colours where you will find a harmonious blend of culture, arts and architecture. A bridge between the East and the West for centuries, Singapore, located in the heart of fascinating Southeast Asia, continues to embrace both tradition and modernity alike. Brimming with unbridled energy and bursting with exciting events, the city offers countless unique, memorable experiences waiting to be discovered.

At present, Singapore’s population stands at slightly over five million people, with English as the main language of instruction, and a mother tongue for each major ethnicity. One of the distinctly Singaporean things you’ll notice on our island is a collage of cultures. Coming together as a society and living in harmony, there are four major races – Chinese (majority), Malay, Indian and Eurasian. Each community offers a different perspective of life in Singapore in terms of culture, religion, food and language.

Being a multi-racial society, Singapore is as diverse as it is harmonious. With so much to see and do, this is perhaps best experienced through your encounters with the locals. And if you’re feeling nostalgic and looking to discover old world charm, you can explore and experience the island’s key historical landmarks or memorials. You can also embark on a heritage trail and enjoy the sights and sounds at various cultural precincts, notably Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam.


VISA AND ENTRY FACILITIES

Most foreigners coming into Singapore do not require a visa for entry and may be given social visit passes for up to 30 days upon their arrival in Singapore. However, it is best to consult your local consular office for the latest information with regard to coming into Singapore.

If you would like to stay in Singapore for a longer period, you may apply to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) upon your arrival. You should have a valid passport with at least six months validity, onward or return tickets, onward facilities (such as visas or entry permits) to your next destination, and sufficient funds for your stay in Singapore.

The list of countries whose nationals require a visa to enter Singapore may be found on the ICA’s website.


ATTRACTIONS

Whether you’re a nature lover, culture buff or thrill-seeker, Singapore has a wide selection of memorable leisure options, all within easy reach. Visit http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore.html to explore your options and make your trip to Singapore a memorable one!


LANGUAGE

There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood.


WEATHER

Singapore is known for its warm weather, with little variation throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is 31ºC (88ºF), dropping to around 24ºC (75ºF) in the evenings. The monsoon season can bear down on our tropical weather from November onwards, so be prepared for some rain during this period.


WHAT TO WEAR

Light and summer clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton is best for everyday wear. Casual dress is acceptable for most situations and occasions but some establishments may require a more formal dress code. It is always advisable to check beforehand on dress regulations, if any.


CURRENCY

Singapore’s currency is the Singapore dollar (S$ or SGD). Other than the Singapore Dollar, the US and Australian Dollars, Yen and British Pound are also accepted in most major shopping centres and big departmental stores.


MONEY CHANGERS

Apart from banks and hotels, money can be changed wherever the sign “Licensed Money Changer” is displayed. Most shopping complexes have a licensed money changer. Visitors are discouraged from changing money with unlicensed money changers.

There is also an abundance of automated teller machines (ATMs) which accept most major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.


DRINKING WATER

It is safe to drink water straight from the tap in Singapore. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, local supermarkets and grocers always have ample stock.


ELECTRICITY

Singapore voltage is 220-240 volts AC, 50 cycles per second. The power plugs used in Singapore are of the three-pin, square-shaped type.


MOBILE PHONES

Singapore’s international dialling code is + (65). There are two mobile phone networks – GSM900 and GSM1800 – and three mobile telephone service providers – SingTel, M1 and StarHub. To make international calls, the access codes are 001, 013, or 019 for SingTel, 002 or 021 for M1; and 008 or 018 for StarHub. Visitors can buy a prepaid mobile SIM card from the airport, if needed.


SMOKING

Smoking is not permitted in public service vehicles, museums, libraries, lifts, theatres, cinemas, air-conditioned restaurants, hair salons, supermarkets, department stores and government offices, as well as in a 5-metre radius from any entrance/exit and bus shelter. Offenders can be fined up to S$1000.


GOODS AND SERVICES TAX (GST)

A 7% GST is levied in Singapore. As a foreign visitor, you are entitled to claim back the GST that you pay on your purchases when you take them home. GST refund is not applicable for land and cruise departures.

Under the Global Refund GST Scheme, visit any store that displays the “TAX FREE SHOPPING” logo and follow these simple steps:

Spend a minimum of S$100 at any Global Refund affiliated retailer. Present your passport to the retailer to obtain a completed Global Refund Cheque. Get the Cheques validated at the Singapore Customs counter at Changi Airport Terminal 1 or 2 as proof of export. The goods purchased, along with the receipts and Global Refund Cheques must be presented for Verification. Claim your GST refund in the form of cash, credit card, bank cheques or Airport Shopping Vouchers at Global Refund counters at the airport. A small handling fee will be deducted from the GST amount due to you To enjoy tax-free shopping in Singapore, simply look out for retailers that display the “Tax Refund” logo on their shop front and spend S$100 in a single receipt to qualify. More information can be found at the Tourist Refund Scheme page on the Singapore Customs website at www.customs.gov.sg.


TIPPING

Tipping is not mandatory although it is often appreciated. Most hotel and restaurant bills come with a 10% service charge. Transportation


TRANSPORTATION

Getting from place to place in Singapore is not just easy, it is also economical. An efficient public transportation network offers taxis, buses and the modern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail system.


MASS RAPID TRANSPORT (MRT)

This is a fast and efficient form of transport, with a train arriving every few minutes. Fares range from S$1.00 to S$2.30 and tickets may be purchased from vending machines at the stations. Operating hours vary a little but trains run from around 05:15 to 00:15. It is recommended to check what time the last train leaves from the respective stations if you are planning a late night.


BUS

Bus fares range from S$1.00 to S$2.00. If you are paying in cash, please ensure you have the correct fare, as bus drivers do not give change.

Alternatively, you can purchase an Ez-Link card, which is a stored-value fare card, from bus interchanges and MRT stations. Ez-Link cards may be used for bus and MRT fares.


TAXI

Taxis can be flagged from hotels and taxi stands, as well as on the streets, if there are no taxi stands nearby and traffic is not disrupted. Flagged taxi fares vary from S$3.00 and S$3.90 for the first 1km. There are additional charges for trips from Changi Airport (from S$5.00 onwards, depending on the time); to and fro from the Central Business District (S$3.00 from Monday to Saturday, 17:00 to midnight), Peak Hours (25% of the metered fare on Monday to Saturday from 06:00-09:30 & 18:00 to midnight); After Midnight (50% of the metered fare shown).

Advance booking numbers (booking surcharge varies from S$8.00 to S$18:00):

Comfort CityCab(65) 6552 1111
Comfort Premier Cabs(65) 6552 2828
SMRT Taxis(65) 6555 8888
Premier Taxis(65) 6363 6888