As I've been traveling around, I often answer questions from friends and family about what I would most recommend when traveling to a particular place. While sitting down composing an email to send to some friends that will soon be traveling to Singapore, I felt that it would be worthwhile to share the advice with all of you!
This is the first of these guides, and may be a little rough (please feel free to comment or provide feedback if anything was particularly helpful or not). To be clear, this is not a comprehensive guide, but a concise and practical one that has been built from the highlights of my own experiences in Singapore and the best advice that I received while traveling there. One that I hope will allow you to enjoy a spectacular time in Singapore, and have the flexibility to make your own itinerary in tandem, and to explore. Enjoy!
All travel requires at least some forethought into budgeting, accommodation, gathering local currency, and sometimes even learning the basic phrases of the local language! Assuming that you have a steady hand on these already, here are some questions to ask yourself before you even set foot out of the door:
How will you be accessing the Internet?
While Singapore does have plenty of places that offer free wifi (be careful, as apparently connecting to an unsecured personal network can even be considered a crime!) it's important to consider your options for traveling on the go.
One practical solution, especially if you are traveling with multiple devices that require connecting to the internet, is renting out a portable hotspot device like the ones seen at Traveler Wifi (if you're picking one up while you are already in the city) or from the Changi Recommends Booths at the airport.
They are reliable, but require separate charging and add extra weight to your bag. And at 12 SGD per day, they can be significantly more expensive than getting a tourist SIM card for data access. For those with multiple devices, without traveling weight concerns, or without unlocked or region-free smartphones - these can be an ideal solution for consistent connection on the go while in Singapore.
Tourist SIM Cards
This is generally my preferred method of connecting to the internet on the go when visiting a new place (mostly for using maps to get around). I will generally supplement this by using wifi for larger devices, or a pocket wifi device if needed. Because wifi is widely available in cafes and public spaces throughout the city, a SIM card should be all you really need, if only for emergencies. So if you have an unlocked device, this really is a no-brainer. Both of the below options provide an insane amount of data for extremely cheap,
How will you be getting from the airport to your first destination?
Many services will offer pre-booking of airport transport to and from Changi Airport at a premium. While it's a good idea to have your decision made ahead of time to reduce the amount of confusion at the airport, Singapore does have a fantastic public transport system that connects directly with the Airport. I will go into more detail in the transportation section below, but when planning ahead, it's a good idea to download both the Grab and MyTransport apps before you leave. Grab is great for ordering a taxi, and MyTransport can help you order a taxi or find the best route to your destination.
When arriving, it's worthwhile considering picking up a SIM card (if you haven't pre-booked another item) and one of the Singapore Passes if you're looking at doing a bunch of attractions during your stay.
I'm generally not a huge fan of the pre-paid passes found in many cities, but I'm mentioning it here because I found it to be a very good value for the price, and a good way to make the most of a short stay.
Additionally, if you're considering using public transportation during your stay in Singapore (and you should), pick up a transit card from the Transit Link ticket office located at the MRT station within the airport and preload it with a small balance before you leave. That will make it much easier to be impulsive once you've arrived.
Changi International Airport has a fantastic arrivals guide located on their website here.
Singapore has an excellent public transit line connecting most of the main city and the airport. This will be the easiest way to travel between most of the main destinations, and the frequently running bus lines provide an excellent alternative for exploring Singapore outside of the main city. Picking up a stored value transit card at a Transit Link ticket office is my best recommendation for getting around the city. Unused balance can be refunded when leaving the city (note that there is a 5 SGD non-refundable deposit when purchasing the card).
The official website for Singapore's transit information contains detailed fare information and interactive route planning tools. They have a very useful Mobile App, available on both iOS and Android, that can help you choose the best route to your destination and even call a taxi!
If you're looking to go from point to point, or to an area with less access by the MRT, using a taxi can be an excellent alternative. Many taxi stands in the city have a stand code listed on the sign, and can be an easy reference for requesting a taxi with the Grab application. You can also split fares and pay within the app!
You can find more information and a download link here.
Enjoying your Stay
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Further Reading and Resources
In case you're looking for more places to fill your time with, or would like some additional information, here are some of the resources that I used while researching and planning my own trip to Singapore!
Note: This trip was entirely self-funded, and I am not affiliated in any way with the suggested activities or destinations. These are the things that I had the most fun with while I was there :)
Guide Last Updated: 8 July, 2018
Added Jen Miller's (of Jen Reviews) "100 Best Things to do in Singapore" guide to the list of further reading and information. A comprehensive read with a great ranking and times to complete for each activity that I'll definitely be referring to on my next trip!
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