You’ve decided to explore Singapore! Here are my Singapore secrets learnt as an expat living in the Red Dot for almost three years. These tips will make your trip more enjoyable, affordable and authentic.
- Singapore allocates two official holidays for holy days belonging to each of its major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. This may affect the opening times of some attractions.
- Depending on the timing of your trip, seek out one of Singapore’s many festivals. With about 76% of the Red Dot’s population being of Chinese descent, Chinese New Year is by far the biggest celebration of the year. My personal favourite is Thaipusam that occurs in January/February each year – check dates here.
- The Singapore Grand Prix takes place in September each year. Prices for flights and accommodation are a lot more expensive a week either side of the race.
- Alcohol in Singapore is hugely expensive. Buying duty free alcohol at the airport on your way in is usually the most economical, particularly for spirits.
- You can take a taxi or the MRT (train) from the airport to your accommodation depending where you are staying. If you are taking a cab into the CBD area, tell them to take the ECP (East Coast Parkway), and insist on that route despite what they may try to tell you about the traffic. In 99% of cases its still faster and cheaper. You will also sound like someone who knows their way around, so are less likely to be taken on the roundabout route to bump up the fare.
- Affordable, local hawker stalls can be found in most malls but are often not sign posted. Don’t be fooled by the food court signs directing you to the westernized, chain-filled food court. As long as you enjoy the local cuisine, the hawkers found in out-of-the-way places such as the basement or very top level are cheaper places to eat.
- Singapore is an extremely walkable city, but sometimes its just too hot or mid-tropical downpour. Look for underground tunnels that link the MRT (train system) with local attractions, and channel pedestrian traffic under major intersections. Sometimes you will be surprised how far you can get in these cooler underground pathways.
- The MRT is great for long distances and is extremely affordable. You can buy a temporary pass to top up as you need.
- If all else fails take a cab, they are relatively cheap.