How to go to Singapore ?

 

You will find here most of the practical information you need to prepare your trip :

   

Getting there & away ?

Air :

Singapore is an excellent place to enter or leave Asia. This is also a major travel hub with planes going to every possible directions and cheap prices. The airport departure tax is S$15 but it will be included in your ticket price. Note that people on transit can enjoy a free two hours tour of the city !  From / to the airport, public bus No36 is the best bet at $1.50 (no change given). There is a stop near the cheap GH of Bencoolen St. Otherwise, the airport shuttle to most of the hotels cost $7. 

Note that there is a second airport "Selatar", handling the Pelangi flights to Tioman Island. 

    Changi Airport, the best in the world ?


Land :

Singapore was once part of Malaysia.  Frequent buses connect the Queen's Street Bus Station with Johor Bahru, a major travel hub in Malaysia.  Long distance buses also operates from St Lavender Street Bus Station.  Trains is also possible from Thailand and Malaysia. 

Sea : 

It is possible to reach Singapore by sea from the following countries :

  • Indonesia (Sumatra) : boats regularly connect Medan with Penang and Dumai with Melaka. See the localities for more details. It is also possible to reach Johor Bahru from Sumatra (Batu Ampar or Tanjung Pinang).

  • Malaysia : ferry crossing are possible between Changi Village and Tanjung Belungkor, east of Johor Bahru. More useful maybe is the high speed ferry to Tioman Island which operate daily except during the monsoon from 31 October to 1March. 

See the transport section for more details. 

 

Visa ?

Visitors from developped countries are usually given a two weeks stay when entering Singapore. It is then possible to extend it by another two weeks.  More than a month in Singapore will look strange... 

If coming from Malaysia by land, make sure you get the proper exit stamp on your visa, to avoid problems with the cautious Singaporean officers. 

 

When to visit ?

From a weather point of view, Singapore can be visited year round (temperatures and rainfall are fairly regular) and you are likely to be on your way to somewhere else anyway. Temperatures range from 30C to 34C during the day and from 23C to 27C in the evening. Humidity often exceed 90 percent at night. Rainy months are November to January (more than 200mm) but, again, difference with the other months aren't big. 

From a festival point of view, the Chinese New Year and Thaipusam  (both in January or February) are not a bad time to visit as the City becomes more animated. July host both the Food Festival and the Great Singapore Sales. The National Day is on the 9th of August.

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous, Singapore (July 01)
 Visit Singapore 1 week to 1 month before the Chinese new year and you will find yourself surrounded with the festive atmosphere, especially along Singapore River and Chinatown. The most colorful night will be the Chinese new year eve when Chinatown will be packed with people looking for bargains. Day 1 and 2 of the Chinese New Year will be good for resting and most shops & hawker centers will be closed. Day 3 business will be back to normal. You can also eat Yu-Sheng, a dish of raw fish and veggie which is an invention of Singaporean Chinese for the new year to bring luck and prosperity. 

    Weather in Singapore  /  Tourism Information



How long ?

Considering the number of attractive attractions, travelers could easily relax in Singapore for a full week. If spotting animals, doll houses or electronic goods are not your cup of tea, touring the city could however be rushed in two or three days.    

 

Money ?

At the time of writing, the dollar of Singapore was worth 1.72 to the US$.  See the banknotes

There is no problem to change money in developed Singapore. Money changers usually offer a better deal than banks.  This is particularly true with Travelers Cheques as most banks charge a commission per cheque.  Plastic can be used in the numerous ATM Machines but check with your bank for the cost.

  Currency Converter

 

How much ?

Singapore is the second most expensive country after Hong Kong and the most expensive with the attractions. Costs however remain cheap by western standards. Dormitories cost around S$9, Sgl 18-20, Dbl 22-25, w. AC 30. At those prices, do not expect luxury. A basic dish will however cost as little as S$3. The price of a beer ! Visiting Singapore's attractions is certainly costly for a backpacking budget : S$10 for the zoo, S$15 for the night safari, S$12 for the Birdpark, S$5 for Sentosa,... Of course, you do not need to buy any ticket and can freely wander around town but it would be a pity isn't it ? 

On average and without the entrance fees nor beers, count on minimum per day S$30 (US$17) for a Sgl room and S$20 (US$12) for a dorm.

See Passplanet's Cost Table for more details.

 

Health ?

Singapore is a very healthy country. It may not have "the best hospitals in the world" as some locals claim but they are certainly as good as in any other developed countries.. 

As for the tap water, yes, it is drinkable ! A real luxury in Asia. Enjoy !

    Latest Health Recommendations

 

Danger & Annoyances ?

There is little if not no danger in Singapore if you follow the basic rules of this strict society. There are however a few annoyances :

Arrogant Singapore : Hey, I am French so I know a great deal about arrogance ! So believe me when I say there are plenty around to choose from. If you start a conversation with a local, in particular Chinese, chance are you will hear things like "We in Singapore have the best this or that or are the best in this or that". This might be true in a few cases but where has the traditional modesty recommended by the Chinese culture gone ? You actually get the feeling after a while that Singaporeans have an inferiority complex and constantly need to reassure themselves about their place in the world : that they are more than just a tiny spot on the map !

Paranoid Singapore : Singapore has been the only place in Asia where my questions toward the guesthouses were treated with suspicion, rejection and, at least in one case, violence. How many time did I hear a "Why do you ask ?" or "Are you from the CIA ?" I was actually recommended to present myself before asking to tour the place, a method apparently used by the other guidebooks... I did not, in order to keep my objectivity. 

Plastic Singapore : All right, the city-state boost some great attractions and its streets & buildings are very colorful and charming to pass by but most if not all of those look rather new and fake. There is something clinical about the place. "This place lack soul" summarized one of the few travelers who did not like it. 

Robotic Singapore : Singapore is running well, meticulously well. This local miracle was achieved by stressing out the citizen's duties toward the community. From "make babies" to "be nice to the tourist", Singaporean are regularly invited to follow directives. Singapore's Freedom of speech seem to be only acceptable for praises and there is an obvious lack of creativity toward life in general. As for the smile of the Airline's girls, is it not the best illustration of the above ? All marketing ! 

Boring Singapore : Things seem to change a bit toward more beers and disco floors but people who want to have fun still head toward Malaysia or, even better, Thailand. "The only thing they seem to do is to eat" noted a backpacker. Actually, they also shop a bit...

Forbidden Singapore : This is somehow what Singapore is the most famous for : its lovely repressive system ! Red forbidden signs can be spotted everywhere with the amount of fine to be paid in case of infringement, $1000 for littering for example. Do it a few times and you may find yourself sweeping the streets wearing a flashy costume with "I have littered" written in big letters. Excellent to make you loose face ! "Borrow" a portable phone in the supermarket you work in and you may get your photo in the national newspaper with explanations on why you are such a bad citizen. Excellent to help you find a new job & raise your family ! Spray paints on a few cars and this should bring jail and a caning session. Excellent to sell books (at least if American) ! Singapore has also got the death penalty for drug trafficking (possession of 15g of heroin is enough) but this might not be such a bad idea after all...


Notwithstanding the above, let's remind you that 87% of the backpackers we asked said they liked Singapore, that 79% would happily come back and that 85% would recommend it around ! See Why Go for more details...

 


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