Sky-rise buildings, a hot pot of cultures, modern architecture and a tropical climate — Singapore is an exciting destination to visit. Which is why hoards of tourists flock there each year.
Whether you’re traveling to Singapore on a layover or looking to spend an extended period in the country, it helps to know what you’re in for. Here are our top tips for all first-timers looking to book a trip to Singapore.
Related read: Exploring Singapore: What you Need to Know
Singapore’s fairly consistent tropical climate makes it a year-round travel destination. However, there are a few slight differences when visiting at different times of the year. The months of February to April are considered the dry season, where you can expect the least amount of rain, low levels of humidity and sunny days.
If crowds aren’t your thing, or you want to get good flight deals, then you may want to look at traveling to Singapore between July and November. Alternatively, you may want to visit over Chinese New Year to join in on the celebrations — this is either in January or February, depending on the first full moon of the year. For shoppers, consider visiting between June and August to catch the Great Singapore Sale.
Other big celebrations in Singapore include Vesak Day in May, Hari Raya to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and Deepavali (usually in October or November). Singapore also plays host to the only F1 night race in the world, which typically occurs sometime in September. Take note that Singapore is an expensive destination at the best of times, and prices soar even higher during big holidays and events.
Most visitors to Singapore do not need a visa for entry. You can check the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA)’s website for a list of countries that require a valid Visa for entry into Singapore.
However, all visitors need to have a SG Arrival Card to enter Singapore. Although the Singapore Arrival Card e-service is not a Singapore electronic visa, those who fail to obtain one may not be allowed into the country. It works similarly as a Travel Health Declaration, allowing travelers to provide the Singaporean government with important travel and identity information before they reach the country.
It’s important to apply for this arrival card before leaving for Singapore. It’s a completely electronic system and replaces the old paper-based D/E card used on arrival.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of the busiest and best connected in the world, making it a pretty fuss-free experience getting to Singapore. The airport is home to Singapore Airlines which, together with Scoot, fly to more than 135 destinations globally.
Another way to get to Singapore is by sea. Singapore also happens to be one of the world’s busiest cruise centers, with many of the world’s most luxurious cruises stopping by.
For travelers coming from West Malaysia, there is also the option of arriving by land. Note that Singapore has two checkpoints that operate 24 hours daily, located at Tuas in the west and Woodlands in the north. Foreign-registered vehicles are also required to have valid Autopass cards and motor insurance.
Check out our post on how to get cheap flights.
Singapore’s public transport system is fast and efficient with an extensive network of routes across its MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and bus systems.
Most of the top attractions and main tourist hotels are located within a few minutes walk from an MRT station, making it easy to get around. You can refer to the SBS Transit, SMRT, Go-Ahead Singapore, and Tower Transit Singapore websites for more information and guidelines.
The easiest way to pay for public transport as a tourist in Singapore is by getting a Singapore Tourist Pass, which allows for unlimited travel for one, two or three days. Alternatively, you can buy an adult Stored-Value Smartcard at any ticket office or even pay with your foreign-issued Mastercard® and Visa contactless bank cards or mobile wallets.
Other options for getting around Singapore include taxis — which you can easily hail by the roadside at most places. Or, sign up with ride-hailing apps, including Grab, Gojek, Ryde and TADA.
Singapore also has a well-connected network of cycling paths, making it another easy way to get around.
Singapore is a notoriously expensive destination. However, while prices are certainly higher than other Southeast Asian countries, they can be comparable to many Western cities. For a comfortable stay, budget for at least $60-100 a day. This, of course, depends on your travel style.
There are many affordable things to do in Singapore as well as cheap places to eat and ways of getting around.
Once you’ve decided when to go, budgeted and booked your flights, start planning your itinerary. Check out the below posts for more inspiration:
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