HOW TO PLAN THE BEST SINGAPORE TRIP

By LINDA JAMES | Updated June 17, 2023

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Need help planning your trip to Singapore? This detailed guide steps you through the planning process from choosing when to go and how to get there to deciding where to stay and what to do.

Trip planning can never start too early – at least in my book! I love planning travel and I’ll show you how to plan a Singapore trip on your own.

Singapore is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world but, to be honest, I don’t really think it is. Accommodation tends to be on the more expensive side (but there are reasonable options) and some grocery items can be expensive but you can eat really cheaply at hawker centres and transport is very reasonable.

12 months before departure

  • Decide on your dates. Check out what’s on in Singapore to see if there’s a special event that would interest you (the Singapore Food Festival in July is one of my favourites).
  • Start your research – by finding out everything you need to know about visiting Singapore.
  • Check out these itineraries for ideas about how to spend your time.
  • Investigate how to get to Singapore – tickets are often cheaper when you book 6 to 12 months ahead of departure but most of the airlines have regular sales so sign up for notifications. Sites such as Skyscanner and Webjet let you compare the prices from different airlines.
  • Think about how you want to travel – is price your priority so you’re happy to get a no-extras ticket from Scoot or JetStar or is comfort and convenience important, which might mean a ticket that includes food and entertainment? I’ve done both and budget travel is perfectly fine given the flying time is generally under 20 hours from many places in the world.
Interior of plane to illustrate decisions to make when planning a trip to Singapore
One of the first decisions … deciding how you will travel
  • If you find a good deal, book it! I’ve been caught holding out for a better one and have ended up having to pay more.
  • If you’re planning to combine Singapore with a trip to Malaysia, for example, you’ll need to work out exactly how many days you want to spend in each destination.
  • Check out the key areas in Singapore such as Marina Bay, Little India, Sentosa Island and Orchard Road to start thinking about where you want to base yourself.
  • There are so many places to visit in and around Singapore and the Area Guides will give you more information about the area you’d like to stay in.
  • Research all of the key attractions in Singapore such as Gardens by the Bay, Night Safari, the Botanic Gardens and the Singapore Flyer and, believe me, the list is long!
  • Even if you haven’t absolutely decided on your dates, you can start investigating accommodation. Singapore has a wide variety of options from budget to luxury, hostels to serviced apartments and hotels. I’ve come up with a range of options that cover most areas and budgets.

TIP: Try to choose accommodation near an MRT station, it will make getting around Singapore so much easier.

  • If you find a great deal on a “free cancellation” booking, I would take it even if you’re not 100 per cent sure about dates because you can always alter it later if you need to (just make sure you make a note of it so you do cancel it if you don’t want it. If you’re definite about dates and you’ve found a great deal – free cancellation or non-refundable – you should book it. Singapore accommodation is on the more expensive side but deals do come up.
  • Now is a good time to think about local currency if you plan to use a lot of cash.  Regardless, you should keep an eye on the exchange rate. If it’s in your favour, you might decide to prepay accommodation and pocket a double discount – one for paying early and the other for getting a better exchange rate. These days, there’s really no need to carry a lot of cash but beware of ATM fees.

TIP: Clear the cookies on your computer regularly too. Otherwise, you might find ticket prices going up for no reason other than the website is keeping track of how many times you’ve visited.

6 months before departure

  • If you haven’t booked yet or, if you’ve booked free cancellation, check the Singapore accommodation prices again to see if there are better deals.
  • It’s also time to reflect on the things you want to see and do in Singapore to make sure you’ve made the right decision about what area to stay in.
  • Check out your travel credit card options.
  • Travel insurance has never been more important. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for Covid.

3 months before departure

  • Make sure your passport is valid and will not expire for at least 6 months after you return from your trip. I’ve heard of many people being denied entry because of it.
  • Check your visa requirements. People from many countries such as Australia don’t need visas for a stay of less than 90 days but things change, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest requirements.
Pic of passport to illustrate how to plan a trip to Singapore
Check your passport … make sure you have at least 12 months until expiry
  • Investigate your mobile phone plan to see what charges you’ll incur if you use it while travelling.
  • Decide if there are any great restaurants you want to eat at. For many you’ll need to book in advance. Singapore is a culinary capital and while you can grab some excellent cheap meals at hawker centres, it has numerous fine-dining and Michelin-starred restaurants.

1 month before departure

  • So close! If you haven’t already sorted out travel insurance, now is definitely the time to do it.
  • Print out your itinerary – and make sure you have a digital copy on your phone.
  • Now is the time to book tickets for any special events that might be restricted in terms of numbers. For most attractions though, I would wait until you get there because Singapore’s weather can change rapidly and you don’t want to have tickets to Universal Studios Singapore or the Singapore Zoo when it’s raining.
  • Also, make sure you have printed out any tickets or booking confirmations AND have a digital copy on your phone.
  • Decide how you’re going to get from Changi Airport to Singapore City.
  • Think about how you’re going to get around Singapore.

1 week before departure

  • 6 sleeps and you’re on the plane!
  • PACK! I guess this depends on how busy you are with everything you have to do to go away. I’m a slightly (is that possible) obsessively organised person but life (and work) always seem to get in the way when I’m about to go on a trip. As much as I would like to be predominantly packed a week before, I’m sometimes not and find myself tossing things crazily into my suitcase the night before. HOWEVER, this doesn’t work for me – I end up starting my holiday by being stressed and anxious about what I’ve forgotten (and there’s nearly always something even if it’s reasonably minor. I once forgot my licence when I had a stack of car rental organised!). Over the years though, I created myself a checklist so, even if I am last minute, I can be sure I have the essentials.

TIP: Wear shoes that don’t have laces so you can take them on and off easily to go through security checks

  • Think about what you’re wearing on the plane because the security check is always busy – and takes a lot longer since Covid – and you don’t want to be the one holding up the line. Make sure you don’t have metal in your shoes and put your jewellery in your bag so it’s not on you. Remember, you ‘ll have to remove laptops from your carry-on luggage and cases so make sure they’re on the top for easy access.
  • Familiarise yourself with Changi Airport – it’s massive – and having some idea of where you’re going will help especially if you’re travel weary.

48 hours before departure

  • If you haven’t already, complete the Singapore Arrival Card (you can do it up to 3 days before arrival).
  • It’s time to check in and get your seat selection if you don’t already have it.
  • Weigh your bags to make sure they’re not overweight including your carry-on. Airlines – especially the budget ones – are really starting to crack down on excess baggage.
  • Check that you don’t have any liquids over 3.4 ounces/100ml OR sharp implements like nail scissors in your hand luggage otherwise these will be confiscated at the security check. This step is important – all of your liquids must fit in ONE clear plastic quart-sized/20cm x 20cm bag. There are usually some available before you go through security but it’s easier to organise this before you go out to the airport.
  • If you’ve chosen budget over comfort for your plane trip, you need to make sure you pack some snacks for the journey because the prices on board can be pretty high. I’ve flown on quite a few budget airlines and while they all say you’re not meant to take your own food on board, no sooner has the seat belt sign gone off then everyone is unpacking their snacks. In Asia, people buy hot meals like curries and carry them on. Depending on what country you’re leaving from, you can generally buy drinks after the security check that you can take on to the plane. This is NOT THE CASE though when you are departing Singapore: the security check is done at the gate, which really limits your options. All of the gates I’ve been through though at Changi have had cold-water dispensers after security and, sometimes, hot-water dispensers.
  • Also, if you’re not planning on paying for entertainment, make sure you have something to watch or read on your computer or a good old-fashioned book!
Pic of laptop book and snacks to illustrate what you should take on a budget plane trip
Flying on a budget … make sure you take entertainment and snacks with you

D-eparture Day!

  • Make sure you get out to the airport at least 3 hours before your flight departs.
  • If you like a drink or two, you can pick up some duty-free alcohol at your departure airport or at Changi. It used to be more expensive but Lotte Duty Free now operates there and they’re very competitive.
  • Get on that plane. Sit back, relax and have a great vacation knowing that you’ve done the research and have a great itinerary! Enjoy your travelling!

Conclusion

The key things to do are:

  1. Start your research – how are you going to get there, what do you want to see & do and where should you stay
  2. Look at accommodation and book some free cancellation options
  3. Research exchange rates, the best travel credit cards and travel insurance
  4. Check your passport expiry date and your mobile phone travel charges. Book important events or restaurants
  5. Print out your itinerary and any tickets and make sure you have digital copies on your phone
  6. Familiarise yourself with Changi Airport and how to get into the city
  7. Check-in, do seat selection and pack
  8. Take-off!

I hope this guide on how to plan a Singapore trip has been helpful. If you use any of my travel resources, please let me know what you think via the Contact page! I’d love the feedback.

Singapore travel essentials

Want more of Singapore?

Learn how to plan your Singapore trip
Link to where to eat and drink in Singapore
Link to Singapore area guides