YOUR ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE FOR SINGAPORE 2023

The ultimate travel guide to Singapore explains how to change currency
Cash … you’ll need Singapore dollars to buy an EZ-Link travel card at the airport

By LINDA JAMES | Updated June 17, 2023 | PLAN

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If you’re planning a holiday and want to find out what you need to know before you go, this is your ultimate travel guide to Singapore for 2023. It will answer all of your FAQs and make sure you have all the information you need as well as loads of Singapore travel tips.

Singapore attracts so many tourists because it has a wide variety of activities to suit everyone as well as great shopping, fantastic food, cultural diversity and a rich history.

It doesn’t hurt that the main language spoken is English and it’s incredibly clean and green. There are so many places to visit in Singapore: Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari Singapore to name just a few.

How to Plan a Trip to Singapore steps out the planning process and contains some great tips. If you don’t want to do a tour package, check out my itineraries, which will give you heaps of ideas about the things to do in Singapore.

I’ve also put together guides to all of the key areas in Singapore.

Do I need a visa to enter Singapore?

Only travellers from some countries require a visa for Singapore. If you’re an Australian traveller you don’t need a visa to enter Singapore. If you’re from the United States, you don’t need one if you’re staying for less than 90 days. There are often other requirements such as a passport with at least 6 months’ validity at the date of arrival, confirmed return or onward tickets, a visa for your next destination (if not home) and sufficient money for your stay in Singapore.

However, all travellers (except for Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term passholders) need to complete the Singapore Arrival Card up to 3 days before arrival. This is NOT a visa but does include a health declaration.

Some travellers may need a yellow fever vaccination certificate. It’s best to check with Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs well before your trip.

Does Singapore require quarantine?

Singapore does not require any entry approvals, testing or quarantining. COVID-19 travel insurance also is not necessary. The Singapore Government’s ICA website has comprehensive information about the requirements for all travellers.

What do I need to do if I’m transiting through Changi?

Changi Airport has a detailed section on the current transiting requirements.

Is Singapore worth visiting?

Absolutely! Singapore is a city of contrasts: history sits beside hip, gardens thrive in high-rises and cultures co-exist. There is so much to see & do – iconic attractions such as Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands – and the food is amazing and much of it is very cheap. There’s also a huge variety of places to stay – from budget to luxury.

How much should I budget for a trip to Singapore?

This is a rough idea of what you can expect to pay for your Singapore trip. Prices are dependent on the time of year and location so you’ll always find more expensive and cheaper options. Also, someone staying in a luxury hotel, can still eat and travel cheaply in Singapore.

SoloHotelFoodTransport
Budget45155
Midrange2504515
Luxury375150+50
How much you can expect to pay as a solo traveller
CoupleHotelFoodTransport
Budget802510
Midrange2509020
Luxury375300+60
How much you can expect to pay travelling as a couple
FamilyHotelFoodTransport
Budget1615015
Midrange30010025
Luxury450300+60
How much you can expect to pay as a family

What’s the weather like in Singapore?

Between February and April is the best time to visit Singapore but it really is a year-round destination. Singapore is often referred to as the “little red dot” (ie on the map) thanks to its hot and humid climate. It rains reasonably regularly throughout the year but not for long so you generally won’t be prevented from visiting Singapore’s top attractions. The wet season usually runs from about September to February with the heaviest rain recorded between November and January. I’ve been 3 times during this period and not had activities interrupted by the rain. The dry season lasts from February until August.

From May to August, Singapore is sometimes covered in a haze caused by the smoke from Sumatran clearing fires, which can cause low air quality.

What special events happen in Singapore?

There are stacks of festivals and special events in Singapore each year such as Chinese New Year, the Chingay Parade, the Rugby Sevens and a fantastic food festival. Here’s a list of some for 2023:

  • Thaipusam: 5 February
  • Chinese New Year: 22 January
  • Chingay Parade: 3 February
  • Hari Raya: 21 April
  • Vesak Day: 5 May
  • Dragon Boat (Duanwu) Festival: 22 June
  • Hari Raya Haji 28 June
  • Singapore Food Festival: August
  • Singapore Night Festival: August
  • National Day: 9 August
  • Diwali: 12 November
  • Christmas: 25 December

To plan your trip to Singapore, try to do so around school holidays to avoid busy times especially if you have children.

StartFinish
End Semester 1May 27June 25
End Term 3September 2September 10
End of yearNovember 18December 31
School holidays in Singapore 2023

What currency will I need?

You’ll need Singapore dollars when you’re travelling to Singapore though not too many if you have a good travel credit or debit card. Cash is needed to buy your EZ Link travel card though. After that you can top up at a machine using your credit or debit card. Most of the hawker food stalls only take cash but there are some that take cards. Most shops, supermarkets, attractions etc all take credit and debit cards.

What is the best way to travel to Singapore?

The main way to get to Singapore is by flying. Most of the world’s major full-service airlines land at Changi Airport such as Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Emirates and American Airlines as well as many budget airlines such as Air Asia, Scoot and JetStar to name a few.

However, you can also arrive overland by bus from Malaysia.

How do I get from Changi Airport to the city?

You can use the MRT (subway), which takes about 45 minutes and is quite cheap, or the public buses but this takes longer as they stop at many places along the way. All vaccinated travellers can now take public transport. Those who are unvaccinated need to take private transport.

Pic showing how to get to trains to go to Singapore city-Skytrain
Changi Airport … signs make it easy to get to the MRT station

The airport shuttle buses, which are more expensive, are not operating at the moment due to Covid.

A taxi will take about 40 minutes and is a more expensive option.

If you’d like more information, I have a detailed guide.

How do I get around Singapore?

Singapore’s public transport system is fantastic – clean, efficient and pretty cheap. The Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) system is the subway. The lines crisscross Singapore making it really easy to get where you want to go and, if there’s no train to get you there, the bus lines certainly will.

A bus or train trip typically costs between $S0.92 and $S1.90 depending on distance and whether you use a travel card or cash. Travel cards and passes can make your transport much cheaper. My detailed guide gives a comprehensive comparision of all the options.

Taxis are reasonably cheap in Singapore. The flag down rate is $S3-$3.40 and $S0.22 a km every 400m up to 10km.

You can hire a car in Singapore provided you are over 21 years old and have a valid driver’s licence.

If you want to get to some of the islands off Singapore, you’ll need to catch a ferry. The main terminals are at HarbourFront, Tanah Merah and Changi.

Is Singapore safe?

Singapore is one of the safest cities I’ve ever been to. I’ve never felt at risk even when I’ve been there on my own. Of course, if you’re travelling on your own, it always pays to stay in an area where there are lots of hotels and people walking around at night.

What is the best area to stay in Singapore?

There are so many diverse areas in Singapore and most of them are quite central. The Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) system is very efficient and as long as you get a hotel close to a station, it doesn’t really matter where you stay. However, it is really handy to be close to the top attractions.

To decide where you want to stay, check out my itineraries and area guides.

What are some good hotels in Singapore?

There are so many hotels in Singapore – from budget through to mid-range and five-star – as well as serviced apartments and hostels. Airbnb is not legal in Singapore although you will see them advertised. It’s best though to stick to other forms of accommodation. 

I have put together an extensive guide on a variety of hotels in Singapore in different areas and budgets.

What are the best accommodation booking sites for Singapore?

I start my hotel research for my Singapore travels by going to Trip Advisor. While there is always debate about the accuracy of reviews, I find it a good starting point to check out the different hotels and apartments, where they are and what sort of prices might be available.

What can I see and do in Singapore and how do I get tickets?

There are so many places to see and things to do in Singapore. Check my comprehensive list of Singapore attractions from the cultural and historical to the fun and interesting. One of the key things to remember is that many places have different prices for tourists and residents so make sure you’re booking the right tickets.

What sort of food can I eat in Singapore?

This is one of the reasons I love Singapore. It’s one of the few places in the world you can get a meal from a Michelin-star restaurant for under $S10! Check out Eat & Drink for information about the smorgasbord of eating options in Singapore from fine dining to hawker centres.

Is it safe to drink the water?

It is perfectly safe to drink the water in Singapore. Sometimes I can find the taste a little different to what I’m used to but, in the interests of cutting down on plastic bottle use, I just boil the water and then store in the fridge.

Is alcohol expensive in Singapore?

Yes, it is. However, the happy hour is alive and well in Singapore so you can take advantage of the stack of offers available, some of which will also throw in a great view of Singapore.

It’s also a good idea to buy your duty-free alcohol as you leave your home country if you’d like to drink in your hotel. Keep in mind though that Singapore has strict rules about how much you can enter with duty-free (usually about 1 litre of spirits and one litre of wine).

What is the mobile phone coverage and Internet like?

Most phone plans will give you some option to use your mobile phone overseas. Generally, though, while you might be able to send and receive texts fairly cheaply, phone calls and data will often be expensive. An alternative is to make sure your hotel gives you free wifi and then, when you’re out and about, visit cafes such as Starbucks and McDonald’s and use theirs. If you think you’ll need to make phone calls, Skype is a really cheap option and, if you’ve never used it before, you can generally get a free deal.

How do I start planning a trip to Singapore?

The first step is to read How to Plan a Trip to Singapore then look at the itineraries I’ve put together. Use these and the detailed information under Eat & Drink and See & Do to get started.

What languages are spoken in Singapore?

The main languages in Singapore are English, Tamil, Mandarin Chinese and Malay. However, most people are bilingual and I’ve never had difficulty communicating on my trips. This makes it one of the easier Asian countries to visit.

What should I pack to visit Singapore?

The weather changes quickly in Singapore. It can be sunny one minute and raining the next – it’s pretty much always humid though so light clothes are best especially those made of natural fibres so they breathe. There are a lot of temples in Singapore, so carry a scarf to use when entering. This can always double as a rain or sun shield as well.

Aside from that, I always take an umbrella with a UV screen, a light rain jacket, good walking shoes, swim wear, a travel adapter and a camera.

What sort of power adapter will I need?

To make sure you can charge all of your devices (and these days we all travel with a few), you’ll need a Type G power adapter for your Singapore vacation. Many hotels will lend or hire them to you and Singapore is known for selling cheap electronics and gadgets so you can easily buy one if you forget. Just make sure you’re confident of the quality of the product you buy. I also take a small power board so I can charge multiple devices with just one adapter.

These days, too, you can charge a lot of devices straight from your laptop (though it takes a little longer). If this is going to be the first of many trips to different countries, then you should buy a universal travel adapter, which covers up to 150 countries. They are more expensive but you’ll get your money back after 3 different countries and save a lot of room in your bag.

Am I allowed to smoke?

Smoking is banned in many places in Singapore and there are expensive fines – from $S200 to $S1000. There are designated smoking areas outside although it’s generally not allowed indoors. There are also hefty penalties for spitting from $S1000 to $S5000.

Can I get a Tax Refund for my purchases?

Yes, you can. If you spend more than $S100 (including GST) at a participating shop and are over 16, you can get a refund of the 7% GST. You can use up to 3 receipts from the same shop (same GST registration number) on the same day to meet the minimum spend. You’ll see a “Tax Free” logo in shops that participate – it’s definitely most of the shops in centres. In many shops, you can get the money back in store. Otherwise, you can claim it back at the airport. The purchases must have been made within 2 months of departure.

This is ONLY eligible if you’re leaving from Changi or Seletar airports not by sea.

Do I have to tip in Singapore?

You don’t have to tip in Singapore – staff at Changi Airport are actually not even allowed to accept them. Hotels automatically add a 10% service charge and restaurants often do too. If it’s on your bill then don’t provide anything extra. If it’s not on your bill, then it’s entirely up to you. 

Should I do any tours in Singapore?

You don’t really need a Singapore tour guide especially not if you check out my area guides and my detailed list of things to see & do. However, perhaps if you’re travelling alone or have mobility challenges, it might be easier to have someone take over the planning for you. The following come highly recommended: Tour Radar, Trafalgar Tours, G Adventures and Intrepid.

Do I need travel insurance to visit Singapore?

No. There is no mandatory requirement for travel insurance but I would never leave home without it. In fact, I suggest you organise it as soon as you’ve booked your flights.

Travel insurance provides cover for emergency medical costs, lost or stolen bags and delays. It’s important though that you read the coverage details VERY carefully. There have been many reports in the news about people who thought they were covered, had an accident and then had to pay huge amounts of money.

One of the common issues is coverage for accidents that occur when you’re driving or doing some activities. I’m not an expert on insurance but I read the fineprint to make sure I understand the product.

If you have questions, you can often ring the insurer and ask for written clarification. This is especially important if you are relying on the travel insurance product that is free with certain credit cards. Some of these policies are excellent but, again, read carefully to make sure you are covered.

What days are businesses open in Singapore?

Most businesses are open 7 days and often long hours in Singapore.

Conclusion

I hope this ultimate travel guide to Singapore has given you all the information you need to know before you go . It’s such a fantastic destination that I’m sure you’ll love your Singapore travel experience and that this is just one of many trips you’ll make!

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
LInk to Itineraries section