10 things to know when you are in Singapore

December 18, 2016

After booking all your tickets, accommodation and planning your itinerary, here are 10 things you ought to know when you are finally in Singapore. 

1. Airport transfer  

Most visitors travel into Singapore through Changi Airport where both MRT trains and taxis are easily accessible through all terminals.

Take the train and alight at Tanah Merah station before boarding the westbound train to the city. First train leaves Changi Airport station at 5.30am on Mondays to Saturdays or 5.59am on Sundays and public holiday. Last train leaves Changi airport at 12.06am but board by 11.18 pm to catch the connecting westbound train. More details here.

If your hotel is in the downtown area, you can consider taking the affordable airport shuttle that provides direct drop-off to most hotels in the city centre (~25mins, book at Ground Transport Desks at the Arrival halls). more info 

2. General operating hours 

Retail stores and restaurants operate daily from 10 or 11am and close at 10pm 

Coffee shops and food courts operate daily from 7am to 10pm 

Hawker centres have varying operating hours but they usually open early from 6am and close by 4pm. Many food stalls are often closed on Mondays. 

Supermarkets operate daily from 8am to 10pm 

Trains and buses run from 5.30am to 11.30pm daily 

3. Telecommunications and Wi-Fi 

There are three major telecommunications providers: Singtel, M1 and StarHub. 

You can purchase tourist SIM cards from any provider at Changi Airport upon arrival. 

 Due to its small size, you only need to know the country code ‘65’ and the eight-digit number for dialling in Singapore. Numbers prefixed with ‘6’ are for fixed telephone lines and those prefixed with ‘8’ or ‘9’ are for mobile phones. 

Without a local SIM card, you can also access our free Wi-Fi network (up to 5Mbps) with 20,000 hotspots at areas with significant human traffic. This includes many MRT stations like Orchard and City Hall.  

Quick guide: 

1. Search and connect to “Wireless@SG” network 

2. Sign up with local SIM card number or foreign mobile number (Singtel, M1 or StarHub)

3. Receive a password through SMS (international roaming needs to be activated for foreign mobile number) 

4. Login with the password and access “Wireless@SG” for 24 hours 

5. Repeat above step every 24 hours 

4. Water & food quality 

It is safe to drink the tap water in Singapore. The water quality is reviewed regularly to ensure it meets WHO’s Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. 

Tip: Please hydrate yourself regularly to cope with the hot and humid weather here! 

Food hygiene and standards are regulated at all food establishments with a grading assessment from A to D.

Cafes and restaurants are usually graded ‘A’ so certification labels only tend to vary at food stalls in the hawker centres, food courts and coffeshops. 

5. Transport  

The public transport network in Singapore is well-developed with extensive routes, information boards, regular timings and air-conditioned comfort. Purchase standard tickets or EZ-Link card from ticket offices at the MRT stations or bus interchanges for your journeys. 

You can also grab taxis at the taxi stands or hail them from the roadside (but not at road junctions or lanes with zig-zag lines). The standard taxi can take up to 4 adult passengers. Click here for more details.

6. Road directions 

Due to our British colonial history, we have inherited their driving rules with vehicular traffic on the left side of the roads, i.e. driver’s seat is on the right side of the vehicles. 

If you are used to opposite driving rules, do cross/use the roads with extra caution! 

7. Facilities 

We are often unfamiliar with facilities like supermarkets chains in countries we have never been to, so there are some important facilities for tourists visiting Singapore: 

- Most shopping malls are structured with food kiosks in the basements, cinemas/entertainment at the top floor and retail malls spread across the levels 

- Money changers can be found in major shopping malls and city centre (better rates than the airport) 

- Local supermarket chains like NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative can be found in almost every shopping mall (click here for more information) 

- Fresh fruit stalls are located in the food courts, malls and markets 

- Quick and cheap haircuts (~$10) are available at express salons or barbershops 

- Laundromats are not very common in Singapore, please approach your hotel or hostel reception for more information 

8. Common laws 

Some of our laws may seem stringent and odd or unnecessary to visitors, but they are often set in a bid to keep our environment clean: 

- Smoking is prohibited in many public areas like air-conditioned places, public toilets and food centres 

- Acts like spitting in public and littering are prohibited 

- No eating and drinking allowed in trains and buses (there are no trash bins inside the MRT stations!) 

Disregarding such prohibitions can incur fines from $300. 

9. Etiquettes 

Every country has its own customs that visitors are usually unaware of. Here are some for you to take note of while in Singapore: 

- Keep left on escalators to allow others to pass on the right  

- Address older people as “aunty” or “uncle” even though they are not your blood relatives 

- At the food centres, do not use or mix non-Halal food/utensils with Halal food

- Tipping is not expected (though appreciated) in cafes & restaurants as a 10% service charge is usually inherent in the bills 

10. Emergency contact numbers 

Police – 999 

Ambulance – 995  

Tourist Hotline – (65) 6736 2000 / 1800 736 2000 (toll-free in Singapore) 

Australian Consulate – (65) 6836 4100 

Canadian Consulate – (65) 6854 5900 

Chinese Embassy – (65) 6418 0252 / 6734 4737 

French Embassy – (65) 6880 7800 

British Consulate – (65) 6424 4200 

American Embassy – (65) 6476 9100 

Other Consulates/Embassies