For most people in Southeast Asia – Singapore is an easy country to go to. If it’s your first time to go though (all alone – without a tour), it might seem a bit daunting at first. Worry not though, as I’ll lay out everything you need to know in order to prepare for your first foray to this nice (humid) country!
How long should I stay in Singapore, and when would be the best time to go?
Most people would recommend staying in Singapore for 3D2N max. As I was with my grandparents and our pace was a bit slow (+my grandma wanted to visit all the gardens), we opted to do 5D4N instead. We practically did all the tourist attractions in SG (aside from the museums), so read on and tailor your trip length according to what you want to see! If you’ve got more time, I’ve also included some off-the-beaten road local hangouts that you might be keen to check out as well!
Best time to go would probably be December for two reasons, (1) weather is most pleasant during this time, and (2) you get to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere – for free!
Having said that, December is also peak season – so if your priority is Universal Studios, I’d say go during off-peak seasons (went in July before, and there were minimal lines)
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Where should I stay while in Singapore?
Honestly, Singapore is ridiculously small – spanning ~40+ km from end-to-end, and the entire island is linked by an extensive bus and train system. As such, I’d worry less about the exact area you’re staying at, and optimize more for a hotel/hostel/AirBnB with lots of bus stations and train stations within walking distance
In our case, we chose to stay right beside the Bras Brasah train station, which also had 2 bus stations right beside the hotel – perfect for people who don’t / can’t walk a lot!
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Do I need to bring cash?
Unfortunately, yes! While you can pay for most things via credit card (even taxis, although there’s an admin charge!); hawker centers, Chinatown and Bugis markets, and reloading of EZ-Link card (for MRTs and buses) all require cash
I’d recommend you bring ~100-150 SGD per person just to be safe – unless you don’t plan to go souvenir shopping at the markets, then you can probably make do with less!
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Is the Tourist Pass worth getting?
Honestly no. Even if you get the 3-day pass, the cost per day will come out at SGD 6.70. As most bus rides cost less than SGD 1, this would mean you riding AT LEAST 7 rides before you break even. My recommendation would be to just get an EZ-Link card, and reload it as you go
For reference, my family used SGD 15 for our entire 5D4N stay (excluding the airport to hotel bus ride) – and this was us opting to ride the public transport every chance we got, since my grandparents couldn’t walk far
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Is it easy to go around Singapore on my own?
YES! It’s such a small city, and everything is so well-organized. But, to be on the safe side, make sure to do the following – in order to help you navigate around Singapore:
- Download an offline map of Singapore via Google Maps – that way, you’ll know where you are at any point in time
- Grab a free tourist map – from the airport or your hotel! The beauty of Singapore – everything is carefully marked! So when in doubt, just look for the street signs and extrapolate your location on the map
- Download this app: gothere.sg – this was a lifesaver! Basically, you simply need to input your starting point and your destination, then it’ll provide you your public transport options – whether by bus, MRT, or taxi – complete with total cost, instructions on where to board and alight, as well as a map
- Ask ask ask. Most people in Singapore can speak really good English. If you can speak Mandarin or Fukien, even better – as a lot of the locals can also speak these languages as well
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How do I get to the city center from the airport?
Cab: This’ll cost you roughly ~SGD 20 – which will already include the SGD 3+ airport charge. Cabs in Singapore have a lot of additional charges though:
- Peak hour charge
- CBD charge: If you’re headed towards the central business district – basically the area around Orchard Road
- Admin fee: If you pay with your credit card
Uber / Grab: Alternatively, to minimize the additional charges, you can opt to take Uber or Grab instead. Service in Singapore is excellent, and all the drivers can speak decent English – enough to get you where you want to go. In total, this’ll cost you roughly ~SGD 17 – without surge. My Singaporean friends all say Uber / Grab is cheaper than cabs (without surge) – so I would highly recommend this option
Bus: This will take slightly longer – around ~45mins (as opposed to ~30mins by cab), but it’s infinitely cheaper, coming out at ~SGD 1.4 per person (depending on where you get dropped off). There’s a bus terminal at the basement of each airport terminal, so you won’t even have to lug your luggage far
MRT: Unfortunately, this was the only option we didn’t get to try – so won’t be able to give you a decent review. But as with all things Singaporean, I’m sure taking the MRT will be efficient, albeit slightly more expensive compared to the bus. This would be a good option if your accommodation is located on the same train line as Changi, that way you can minimize travelling with your luggage (note that SG train stations are HUGE)
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Hope that helps! For more ideas on….