Singapore.Chinatown300

Singapore travel guide | What to know before you go

Have a fling with a Singapore Sling… and other must-dos when travelling in Singapore.

From the outside, Singapore is a unique blend of temples, skyscrapers, luxury condos, colourfully dated shopfronts, coastal promenades and bits of jungle thrown in between.

From the inside, it’s a country constantly on the move. Every time you return you’ll notice subtle differences. New buildings, new systems, new food fads, new lingo; you never know what it’ll be. Yet, while the city may innovate and reinvent itself considerably, it’s always the ideal choice for food, shopping and a city break.

Everywhere you go, the smell of spices and fried foods from a multitude of Asian countries fills the air causing you to salivate, sit down and appease your taste buds constantly.

Hungry for more? Read on for the best things to do and see and eat when you visit Singapore.

Fast facts about Singapore
  • Main airport: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN).
  • Ground transport: Train (Mass Rapid Transit), bus and taxi.
  • Weather: Wet (September to February) and dry (March to August). Despite having two seasons, Singapore’s temperature is constant throughout the year with high humidity and average daily temperatures of 26-30℃.
  • Visas: Not required for Australians.
  • Top 10 must see locations: Gardens in the Bay, Sentosa Island, Marina Bay, Orchard Road, Singapore Flyer, Universal Studios Singapore, Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT), colourful houses in Little India, Singapore Botanic Gardens and Merlion.
  • Power point plugs: Type G (2 flat blades and ground).
  • Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD).

Singapore.LittleIndia

Best places to stay in Singapore

Little India: Little India and its surrounds, which includes Lavender and Arab Street, is a buzzing ethnic centre. Historic colourful terrace homes line the streets and beautifully crafted temples abound. Little India has many budget stay options, including hostels and boutique-hotels.

Sentosa: This island resort off the Singaporean coast is a fantastic getaway spot for anyone wanting to relax, catch some sun and tee off on the green. Hotels are limited but they are star quality.

Bras Basah Road to Rochor Road: Within a stone’s throw of Orchard Road and the CBD, Bras Basah and Rochor Road are busy main streets lined with landmarks and high-class and historic hotels, including Rendezvous Hotel, Carlton Hotel and Raffles City.

Chinatown and Boat Quay: The bustling Chinatown is another ethnic centre filled with budget-friendly accommodation. Stay here and expect festivals, food and all-out fun to be right on your doorstep.

Marina Bay: The waterfront Marina Bay district is where you’ll find luxury hotels. From the Ritz-Carlton and Ascott Raffles Place to Fullerton Bay, Pan Pacific and the iconic Marina Bay Sands, expect to splash the cash when staying here.

Orchard Road: Here to shop? You won’t have to drag your bags far when you stay on the famous Orchard Road shopping street. Hotels range from moderately priced 2-star affairs to upmarket 5-star stays such as the Grand Park Orchard and the Pan Pacific Orchard.

Check out what accommodation options are available in these areas:


Singapore.GardensbytheBay.Stock

Top things to do in Singapore

  • Eat: Being such an ethnically-rich city, you’ll find all kinds of flavours in Singapore. Many of its native dishes bear Indonesian, Malay, Chinese and Thai influences. Eating hawker and street food is a cultural pastime that should be experienced.
  • Drink a Singapore Sling: Unlike Chinese fortune cookies the Singapore Sling was born in Singapore. No one knows the year this gin-based cocktail came into being, but it was first mixed at Long Bar in Raffles Hotel.
  • Discover historical Singapore: From Japanese Occupation to British Colonialism, Singapore is steeped in history. It’s Changi Chapel and Museum is one of the best places to learn of the stories behind its WWII prisoners of war.
  • Visit Gardens in the Bay: Part of a government initiative to transform Singapore from a "garden city" to a "city in a garden", Gardens in the Bay is a sprawling 101 hectare nature park in the middle of the city. It features three waterfront gardens and a handful of conservatories. Its supertree grove is spectacular by night when the trees come alive in a display of light and music.
  • Sentosa: This is a resort island off the coast of Singapore. It features beaches, fine dining restaurants, a golf course and luxury hotels.
  • Go on a night safari: Singapore Zoo hosts night safaris where visitors can see the rainforest at dusk, witness tribal performances and attend nocturnal animal shows. Singapore Zoo also hosts river and tram safari experiences.
  • Walk through the Singapore Botanic Gardens: These gardens are the first and currently only tropical gardens that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dating back to 1859, the Botanic Gardens are home to 47 heritage trees, the National Orchid Garden, Heritage Museum and an educational and discovery zone.
  • Go on the SMRT: Short for Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, this transport system is one of the world’s best. Have somewhere to go? Get there fast on the SMRT.
  • Surround yourself in luxury at Marina Bay: The picturesque Marina Bay is trendy, modern and oh-so lavish. In it the most exquisite landmarks lie, including the grand Marina Bay Sands hotel.
  • Take a selfie with the Merlion: The merlion is half-lion half-fish and is a mascot for the country. There are five sculptures in the city, which can be found in Merlion Park (two statues), Sentosa, Tourism Court and Mount Faber.

Best events to attend in the year:

  • Chinese New Year: Celebrations for Chinese New Year start three weeks prior to the date and feature parades, markets, lion dances, banquet feasts, opera performances and handcrafted lantern decorations throughout the city. 7-28 January 2017
  • Mid-autumn festival: This is a time of celebration, moon cakes and lantern lighting. As it’s held when the moon is at its brightest, moon-gazing parties are common. 4 October 2017
  • Hari Raya: This religious celebration is a public holiday in Singapore. It’s the day Muslims break from the fast of Ramadan and is met with family reunions, prayer in mosques and bountiful feasts. 25-26 June 2017
  • Deepavali: The Hindu Festival of Light is a public holiday in Singapore. Oil lamps are lit and homes are decorated in the brightest of colours. In Little India there are open-air concerts and henna tattoo stations. 19 October 2017
  • National Day: Singapore celebrates its independence from Malaysia annually with a parade, national address and fireworks display. 9 August 2017

How much will a trip to Singapore cost?

Accommodation

  • Budget: Hostels and budget hotels from AUD$25 per person/per night.
  • Moderate: Moderate hotels from AUD$65 per room/per night.
  • Luxury: 5-star hotels and luxury resorts from AUD$197 per room/per night.

Typical meal

  • Main: Chicken rice starts at SGD$2.50 for a small plate from a hawker stall.
  • Beer: A can of Tiger beer starts at SGD$3.65 from a hawker stall.
  • Coffee: A regular cappuccino costs SGD$5.44.

Getting around

  • Uber: Uber provides an affordable means of travel through Singapore. An uberX is charged at SGD$0.20 per minute and SGD$0.45 per kilometre. A base price of SGD$3 applies to all journeys. An uberX from the airport to the city is SGD$16-$22.
  • Taxis from the airport: A regular taxi costs $20-$30 during off-peak periods and $30-$35 during peak periods.
  • Local transport from the airport: Buses and trains offer services between the airport and Singapore’s city centre. One-way bus prices start from $2.50 and trains from $1.76.

Top Singapore travel deals

Full-sevice Singapore flights from $679 return

Book flights to Singapore from Australia from $679 on Virgin Australia here.

4-night Singapore flight and hotel packages from $1,645pp

Fly Singapore Airlines and stay in a 4-star hotel from $1,645pp. Four-night stay only, price based on twin share.

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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