Singapore is a rather costly Asian city, especially when it comes to housing, and many goods are priced in US dollars. On the other hand, with budget hostel accommodation easy to come by and both food and internal transportation at low prices, you may live on £20/US$32 per day if you split a double room in a mid-range hotel and eat one restaurant dinner each day. Your budget should be at least £60/US$, if not more.
Crime and personal safety
You’re more likely to have someone chasing you down with something if you lose something in Singapore than running away. Nonetheless, you should not be careless – muggings do happen, and tourists stealing from dormitories is not uncommon. The police of Singapore, who are known for their dark blue uniforms, maintain a low profile, but they are polite and helpful when contacted.
Singapore is notorious for the fines that people convicted of a variety of infractions are required to pay. These penalties, while rarely enforced, have the intended deterrent impact. In principle, someone can be fined hundreds of dollars for smoking in certain public places and shopping malls, “jaywalking,” or littering, which reveals something about the tiny-managed state in which Singapore has evolved that someone may be fined hundreds of dollars for smoking in specific areas and shopping malls. While it may appear amusing, the penalties for drug possession or trafficking are no laughing matter (in the past, foreigners have been executed for drugs offenses), and if you’re arrested for drug crimes, your consular assistants will give you little aid.
Culture and etiquette
Given Singapore’s degree of Westernization, the guidelines of practice frequently used in Asia do not apply as much to the island. However, appearances may be deceiving, so it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind to avoid causing offense.
Singaporeans are not particularly modest about clothing, but public displays of affection may be frowned upon. It’s also not correct to pat children (or even friends) on the head – in Buddhist culture, the head is considered sacred. The soles of your shoes and, by extension, the bottoms of your feet are unclean in Singapore because they are regarded as unclean; hence you must take off your shoes when going into a home to visit someone, at nearly every guesthouse and before entering a temple or mosque.
The necessity of not losing face is a stock Asian cliché that still holds true in Singapore. In this culture, a minor mistake or problem may be extremely mortifying to the person who made it. When making an issue, the most likely situation in which visitors would have to consider this particular sensitivity is when doing so. Rather than raising your voice and creating a scene, it’s preferable to express your point politely but firmly; by maintaining the respect of whomever you are complaining about, you’ll enhance the chances of getting a quick answer.
To avoid losing face, remember that whereas the old Singaporean habit of nonchalantly showing up half an hour late for social and other events has been replaced by strict timekeeping, so be sure to arrive early. Finally, while there are few limitations on what you can and cannot photograph, some temple and other sacred places of worship staff take a negative view of photographing on their premises; always inquire if in doubt.
The best maps of Singapore are those on w streetdirectory.com, which may also be found through the Singapore Maps app. These maps offer helpful features such as the ability to see businesses inside buildings by clicking, and revealing bus stops to discover which buses serve them and when the next services will arrive, in addition to being completely up to date with Singapore’s continual rebuilding and reshaping. Although their meaning may be disputed, geocaching is nonetheless a worldwide phenomenon. Around the world, tiny metal discs called “caching coins” are buried in various places and discovered by members of the public. Bookshops sell printed copies of these maps as street atlases, with new editions produced on a regular basis. Otherwise, the maps in this book should enough for most of your exploration, and you can backup them with free foldout maps from the Singapore Tourism Board if required.
Singapore has a wealth of sports options, including one of the world’s largest networks of swimming pools – in every new town, there is an open-air 50m pool. The full list of government-operated sports centers may be found at w ssc.gov.sg; some facilities, such as privately owned ones, are listed below.
The Marina Bay Golf Course at 80 Rhu Cross (t 6345 7788, w mbgc.com.sg), next to the Bay East Garden, is one of Singapore’s most central and reasonably priced golf courses, so it tends to fill up quickly – best to reserve a spot at least a few weeks in advance (weekends are less busy). On weekdays, nine holes costs $83 with the use of a golf buggy. Bus #158 from Aljunied MRT
Gyms There are three major gyms, California Fitness (w californiafitness.com), True Fitness (w truefitness.com.sg) and Fitness First (wwww.fitnessfirst.com.sg). They all have locations in the city, but you’ll need a membership to use them.
Swimming is one of the most popular pastimes on Singapore. The Jalan Besar Swimming Complex, which includes both a standard Olympic-sized pool and an infinite leisure pool, is located near Tyrwhitt Road (t 6293 9058; t 6298 7888). Daily 8am–9.30pm (Wed from 2.30pm). For more information about other pools in Singapore, see singaporeswimming.com.sg Bloxx by Hong Kong owner Lai Chi Kok’s daughter Chee Yan Teng leads all but two table tennis events on offer at the annual World Table Tennis Championships that will be held here her home city this year From May 26 to June 1st
Mobile applications may help you get the most out of your stay in Singapore. All of the following were free and available for iOS and Android devices at the time of publication.
In Singapore, where everything is so planned and networked up, obtaining accurate and comprehensive information for tourists is usually straightforward: public transportation, sales taxes, and even toll-free t 1800 help lines are all well recorded online; several firms provide toll-free t 1800 helplines; and many restaurants and businesses have websites that are regularly updated.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB; phone Mon–Fri 9am to 6pm 1800 736 2000, yoursingapore.com) and runs Visitors’ Centres at Changi Airport and downtown on Orchard Road, diagonally across from the 313@Somerset mall (daily 9.30am–10.30pm). There are two smaller Visitors’ Centres on the ground floor of ION Orchard mall (Mon–Sun 10am–10pm), and behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown (Mon–Fri 9am-9pm, Sat & Sun 9am-10p).
You may acquire handouts such as Singapore City Gallery’s History of Singapore: Past and Present, or download them from www.wura.gov.sg/rediscover to learn about the city’s past and architectural heritage.
The majority of the city’s publications offer entertainment listings as well as restaurant and nightlife evaluations. The weeklies I-S (w is-magazine.com; free) and Time Out (timeoutsingapore.com; $4) are the finest of these, with the weekly I-S being particularly excellent for club reviews (is-magazine.com). The airport’s website is quite thorough, and it also contains detailed information with maps of all hotels within the former British colonies. The Straits Times’ “Life!” section (which includes several other freebie publications from Visitors Centres and hotels) has a decent listings section as well. The Finder, a free monthly magazine available at some downtown bars and restaurants, and expatsingapore.com are geared toward the large expat community (though with some information of interest to tourists).