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Need to know – Singapore

Raffles Hotel facade at twilight
Image courtesy: Felix Hug

In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Singapore travel guide, we look at some of the very basic information you need while planning a trip to the city.

Quick facts

Languages: English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Bahasa Malay and Tamil.

Time: 2 ½ hours ahead of IST.

Currency: Singapore dollar ($ or S$).

Mobile phones: Local SIM cards can be used in unlocked GSM phones. Purchase them from convenience stores.

Internet access: Wi-fi is widespread and sometimes free. Internet cafes are found in many of the shopping areas.

Tourist information: Singapore Visitors @ Orchard Information Centre (Ph: 1800 736 2000; corner of Orchard & Cairnhill Roads; 9.30am–10.30pm; Nearest metro station: Somerset).

When to go

Singapore has the same weather around the year: humid with steady rainfall. The temperature never drops below 20°C. Keep these pointers in mind:

February–May and August–October: These are the quietest months and the closest to a low season. This is a good time to visit if you want to save money.

June–July: To be avoided, since these are the hottest months. It’s school holiday time too, so streets and shopping centres are crowded.

Special Events: Avoid visiting during the Chinese New Year (February) since everything is shut for a week. Rates go sky high during the Formula 1 race (September).

Weekdays vs. Weekends: Airfares and hotel rates are higher on weekends.

What to pack

• Light and loose wash-and-wear clothes.

• Comfortable sandals or shoes.

• A dressy outfit and formal shoes for entry in some posh places.

• Sunscreen and sunglasses.

• Insect repellent.

• Waterproof holder for passport and money.

• Camera and batteries.

Getting around

MRT: Local metro is the most convenient way to get around from 6am till midnight.

Bus: Buses go everywhere that the trains do and more. They operate from 6am till midnight. Some night buses also run from the city.

Taxis: Not very cheap, but no one will try to cheat you and you don’t have to haggle. Flag one on the street or at taxi stands.

EZ-link card: This is an electronic travel card that you can use on MRT trains and local buses. Just tap on and off at the sensors. You can buy one and top up the credit at all MRT stations.