This page is a collection of hopefully useful information, links and other stuff that I hope might help with your questions if you are planning to visit or move Singapore.
If there is anything you feel ought to be on here, please do drop me a line and let me know (I’m sure I’ve missed loads of stuff off!) and I will try to keep this updated as much as possible.
Singapore’s airport is called Changi. It is about a 25-minute taxi ride to the CBD from Changi, which will set you back about $20.00.
As airports go, it’s not a bad one one (believe it or not, it won the World’s Best Airport Award 2010 – who on earth votes for these things?!). It’s big, clean, easy to navigate and the shopping’s good. The airport website, http://www.changiairport.com/ is a good port of call if you need to find terminal numbers and that sort of thing.
There is a GST rebate counter at the airport where you can claim your tax back if you are a tourist and have done a lot of shopping (the time this takes means that this might only be worth it for large purchases, and remember to do this before check-in as they will ask to see the items.)
By the way; it’s useful to know that it is illegal to bring Duty Free cigarettes into Singapore, and they will probably be confiscated on your way out, so try to stick to the booze!
The currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar.
This is a really, really bad way of converting in your head, and I don’t for a moment suggest that you do this, but what I do is basically half everything to get the approximate English pound value.
For example, if I am shopping and a dress is $100.00, that means it’s £50.00. Roughly. It makes you feel as if you are permanant 50% off sale – so dangerous! Like I said, this method is dreadful and do not try it if you want to keep some cash in your pocket.
In fact, I should probably delete this because this will not help you in the slightest. Moving on.
Food – eating out
It is not an exaggeration to say that eating is pretty much a national pastime here, and it’s fabulous! There are more places to eat than you can shake a stick at (I never have undertood that phrase)
For cheap, authentic and delicious local food, try any of the numerous Hawker centres dotted around. We like the gorgeous Lau Pa Sat on Robinson Road in the CBD (Alex eats two meals a day here and swears by the place!), but there are lots more good ones about.
You can eat really well for very little (under $10.00) in Hawker centres, but the lack of air-con, plastic chairs and tables and strip lighting may not be for everyone.
If you prefer something a little more refined, we like The Wine Connection at 11 Unity Street, Robertson Walk for delicious and reasonably priced wine and good Euro-style tapas; Honjin Japanese restaurant at 140 Robinson Road for really great if a little pricy sushi; and Our Village at 46 Boat Quay for arguably the best Indian in town and a cracking rooftop view.
Food – groceries
Cold Storage is a godsend! It is a supermarket chain out here which, amongst all the usual stuff, sells a large amount of imported expat food. For example, they stock a lot of Waitrose things from the UK, as well as American, Australian and other European brands.
Have a craving for Marmite, a bit of nice cheese, some marmalade or some OXO cubes? Fear not, my dear – Cold Storage is your friend. They deliver online too. Amazing.
(my investigative pursuits have led me to conclude that, in my humble opinion, the best Cold Storage branches for English food are at Vivo City, Great World City, and the Jason’s branch at Orchard Towers.
Forums can be a wealth of information – a great place to meet other new expats, lots of classified listings, and a source of answers to any questions or problems you might have. The two best, in my humble opinion, are the Singapore Expats Forum, and the Expat Forum (this is a global expat site – just click through to the Singapore section)
English is spoken pretty much everywhere, lah
However, it might be useful to have some very basic Mandarin and Malay in your repertoire – if nothing else, the locals will love you for trying!
Here are some basic phrases written out phonetically:
|Goodbye||Jai jien||Selamat tinggal|
|How are you?||Ni how ma?||Apa khabar?|
|Thank you||Sieh sieh||Terima kasih|
|You’re welcome||Bu yung ker chi||Sama-sama|
|Sorry||Dui bu chi||Maaf|
|What’s your name?||Ni kui sing?||Siapa nama kamu?|
|My name is…||Wo jiau…||Nama saya …|
|How much?||Ji duo shou?||Berapa harga?|
Links and blogs
Blogs written by expats can, I think, be one of the best ways to get a real flavour for life in Singapore.
Of course I hope you will continue to read mine, but here are some other good ones! I have also included some other useful blog-related links.
Numbers to know:
Directory Enquiries: 100
Fire / Ambulance: 995
International Directory Enquiries: 104
International Operator: 1635
Post / Mail
The postal system here is, like much in Singapore, efficient, fast and well-run. You can send things home easily and quickly, and the website has a useful online postage calculator:
The two main mobile providers are Singtel and M1. You can buy a pay-as-you-go phone straight away here, but will need a pass (e.g.: employment pass or dependants pass) of some sort to qualify for a phone contract.
Just walk into any store with your pass, your passport, and your bank card – just do note that if you are on a Dependant’s pass, a lot of plans require a deposit of between $300.00 and $700.00. Ouch.
Television and Internet
Starhub provides satellite TV and internet services to your home. You might find that you can get some TV channels from home here, but do be prepared for only old episodes of your favourite shows to be screened, plus a fair amount of quite bad TV.
If you are British, Expat Shield will become your best friend. This handy – and free! – little programme allows you to watch BBC iPlayer, ITV catchup and Seesaw whilst you are abroad (you ought to however to preserve your conscience still pay your TV license in the UK!)
Taxi’s are plentiful here, and very cheap (in comparison to London price, anyway!) Most taxi’s take credit cards but there is generally a surcharge of about 10%.
(Note: if you are travelling in peak times, book in advance. It costs very little extra, and might save you being horrendously late.)
I use Comfort & Citicab who are one of the biggest. They store your last two pickup addresses on their system so that you can book really quickly and automatically – they also have an iPhone app. Cabs usually arrive within 1-5 minutes (bliss!)
Comfort is on 6552-1111
Other taxi companies are as below:
(note: if you are visiting Singapore and have a foreign phone, remember to insert the dialling code (+65) before dialling!)
SMRT Taxis: 6555-8888
SMART Cabs: 6485-7777
Premier Taxis: 6363-6888
Prime Taxi: 6778-0808
Yellow-Top Taxi: 6293-5545
One of the reasons Singapore is so great is that the possibilities for a long weekend are endless. No longer are you limited to a getaway to Brighton on a soggy Sunday afternoon – instead, head to the airport from work on Friday and you can be chilling on a beach in Bali, tucking into amazing food in Thailand, or on your way to Australia all in a matter of hours!
If you stay here there are also some useful links below, to help you navigate Singapore itself and get around much more easily.
http://www.streetdirectory.com.sg/ – a ridiculously useful tool to help you get your bearings!
http://www.smrt.com.sg – the website for the MRT, Singapore’s answer to the tube. Safe, clean, incredibly efficient and very cheap – what’s not to love?!
http://www.sbstransit.com.sg – the website for Singapore’s buses. Anywhere not near an MRT station will have a bus stop, and the same applies – cheap, clean, safe, efficient. London – 0, Singapore – 1.
http://www.tigerairways.com and http://www.airasia.com – two really good, cheap and efficient budget airlines that whisk you away to pretty much anywhere in the vicinity for a small fee. Hong Kong mini-break? Don’t mind if I do….
http://www.agoda.com – a really useful site for travelling in Asia. Don’t book direct with the hotel – it’s nearly always cheaper here, and they have loads of hotels on the site.
Three words: hot, hot and hot!
Singapore is practically on the equator so it is hot all year round.The temperature rarely drops below twenty degrees celsius at night, and usually goes over thirty in the day. So bring your suncream!
It is very humid here most of the time (humidity is usually over 75%) , and it rains a lot so also bring an umbrella. However, the spells of rain are usually very short and heavy, and can actually be really nice as the rain clears the air a bit.
If you are visiting, please bring sweaters or cardigans – absolutely everywhere is air-conditioned, and it can actually get really cold in places – especially at the cinema!
http://www.mom.gov.sg – the very comprehensive Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website. First stop for information about employment passes and other visas.
www.efinancialcareers.com.sg (for Finance appointments) www.jobs.com.sg, www.jobsdb.com.sg and www.monster.com.sg are all worth checking out if you are on the job-hunting merry-go-round. If you are, good luck!