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Tips for travel to Singapore

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Singapore is a small country in size but an economic giant especially in South East Asia. Singapore is situated at the south tip of Malaysia, just one degree north of the equator.  

The city is a blend with the culture and religions of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European. The four main religions are celebrated by the different ethnicity and the auspicious day like Muslim celebrating the end of Ramadan, Vesak day for the Buddhist, the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Christmas and Easter for the Christians, New Year Day and the Lunar New Year celebrated by the Chinese are officially public holiday for all. Food is a passion to many and a very much talk about topic amongst the locals due to the wide selections of multi ethnic food and European cuisines. 

Though it is relatively easy to get around in Singapore, it is always good to find out some useful information before you begin your travel. Here are some useful tips for your travel to Singapore:

Singapore Visas

All travellers to Singapore are required to go through immigration clearance upon their arrival into the country. The granting of social visit passes to visitors is determined by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the point of entry. Visitors must satisfy the following basic entry requirements before they are allowed to enter Singapore: 

· A passport with at least 6 months validity 

· Valid Singapore visa, if applicable  

· Sufficient funds to last for the intended period of stay in Singapore 

· Confirmed onward/return tickets (where applicable) 

· Entry facilities to their onward destinations, e.g. visas. 

· Completed Disembarkation/Embarkation Card 

· Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if applicable 

The period of stay granted is shown on the social visit pass endorsement given on the visitor's passport. Visitors are advised to check their passports for the arrival endorsement and take note of the number of days stay given before leaving the checkpoint. All visitors on social visit passes are not permitted to engage in any form of business, profession, occupation or paid employment while in Singapore. 

More information about entry requirements to Singapore can be obtain from the official website, http://www.ica.gov.sg/services_centre.aspx?pageid=232&secid=20 

Weather in Singapore 

The climate in Singapore is equatorial and hence it is constantly warm with high humidity and plentiful rainfall. The average temperature stays around 26C to 30C throughout the year. Though there are no distinct seasons, November to January tends to be slightly cooler and May through to August is some of the hotter months. 

Car Hire in Singapore

If you decide to rent a car in Singapore, a valid driver’s licence with your passport is required. Though the legal driving age is 18, some car rental companies may refuse to rent a car to someone who is under 21. Singaporeans drive on the left hand side of the road and seat belts must be put on at all times. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 50km/h and 90km/h for expressways. When driving in Singapore, it is also important to know about when you can drive on bus lanes, the different time and charges for entering zones with ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) gantry. 

Electricity connection in Singapore 

Visitors to Singapore must check if their electrical appliances can handle the voltage of 220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. The power plugs used in Singapore are of the three-pin, square-shaped type. If your electrical device does not accept the voltage and the appliance plug shape is different, you will need a voltage converter and a plug adapter. However, most hotels in Singapore will provide transformers to visitors with electrical appliances of a different voltage when requested.  

Customs requirements in Singapore 

The custom regulations in Singapore require dutiable tax on certain items before you can bring them into the country. The types of dutiable goods in Singapore are as follow: intoxicating liquors, including spirits, wine, beer, ale and stout; tobacco, including cigarettes and cigars; motor spirit and motor cars and motorcycles/motor scooters. If you are 18 years and above, have arrived from countries other than Malaysia and have spent 48 hours and more outside Singapore immediately before your arrival, you may be granted the following duty-free allowance: 1 litre of spirits (brandy, whisky, gin, rum, vodka, etc), 1 litre of wine and 1 litre of beer. There is no duty-free allowance on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Detailed information about custom requirements can be obtained at http://www.ica.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=98&secid=94 

Singapore currency

The local currency is Singapore dollars and cents. Notes come in denominations of SGD 2, SGD 5, SGD 10, SGD 20, SGD 50, SGD 100, SGD 500, SGD 1,000, and SGD 10,000. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. The currency code of Singapore Dollar is SGD. All international credit cards such as Diners, American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in hotels, shops and other commercial establishments. 

Cash dispensing machines in Singapore

Cash dispensing machines or Automatic Teller Machines are widely available in Singapore. A surcharge may be levied when you draw cash from the cash machine. The fee varies between institutions.  

Foreign currency exchange in Singapore 

Foreign currency exchange are widely available at licensed money changer, hotels and banks. Some of these exchange outlets levy a transaction charge. Shop around for the best exchange rate as there many foreign exchange outlets available for you to compare.

Business hours in Singapore 

You can enjoy all day and all night shopping and dining in Singapore. The common trading hours in Singapore are from 10am to 9 or 10pm, from Monday to Sunday.  

Sales tax refunds in Singapore

The Goods and Service tax in Singapore is 5%. To qualify for sales tax refunds, you need to have a minimum purchase amount ranging between SGD$300 to SGD$500. To claim your GST refunds, pack the items in hand luggage, and present the item(s) and the receipt at the Global Refund Services after immigration and security when leaving Singapore. Also allow an extra 15 minutes before departure. The refund payment can be made by cash, credit card payment or cheque. A small handling fee will be deducted from the refund amount. 

Crime rates in Singapore 

The crime rate in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world. Petty crime such as pickpocket and street theft can happen as in big cities. As such, visitors in Singapore should always be aware of their surrounding and not leave your bag unattended.  

Tipping in Singapore 

Tipping in Singapore is not compulsory as a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be included in the total figure of your restaurant bill.  

Emergency numbers in Singapore 

There are several emergency call numbers in Singapore. Used these toll free numbers, 999 for police and 995 for ambulance and fire brigade.  

Languages in Singapore 

English is the business language and is widely used. Malay, Mandarin and Tamil are also official languages in Singapore.

Smoking in Singapore 

Smoking is not permitted in public service vehicles, museums, libraries, lifts, theatres, cinemas, air-conditioned restaurants, non-airconditioned eating houses, hawker centers, hair salons, supermarkets, department stores and government offices. Smoking is only allowed in approved smoking rooms or smoking corners in all pubs, discos, karaoke bars and nightspots. Offenders can be fined up to SGD 1,000 if caught. 

Spitting 

Spitting in public places is an offence and it carry a fine if caught.

 

 

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