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11 Singapore Travel Tips for First-Timers

Visiting Singapore (or any other country for that matter) for the first time can be intimidating but exciting. The place may be unfamiliar, but it only means you get to see new sights and experience a different culture.

To make the most out of your stay in the Lion City, here’s a list of 11 travel tips to Singapore that would be helpful to know:


1. Use public transportation when roaming around

Singapore public transport

Comfy and convenient. These two words probably best describe Singapore’s public transportation network, especially the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Most, if not all tourist destinations in the country are accessible by train.

To get the most bang for your buck, roam around this little nation by using an EZ-Link card. It’s a smart card that is a popular mode of payment for public transportation fares. It can be bought at any TransitLink ticket offices at MRT stations and bus interchanges.

You can top up your EZ-Link card at General Ticketing Machines at bus and train stations, 7-Eleven convenience stores, several ATMs, and more.

Another way to explore Singapore with ease is by purchasing a Singapore Tourist Pass. It lets you discover more of what the city has to offer through unlimited travel on public transport including the MRT, LRT, and buses—for three consecutive days.

Veer away from taxis, though. Cab fares in Singapore are outrageous.


2. Savor dishes at the hawker centres

Singapore hawker food

There are areas in Singapore with an abundance of hawker centres, or those establishments selling local dishes every tourist should try at least once.

Hawker centres are basically food courts where you can taste delicious local grub at affordable prices. In each centre, you can find a number of stalls or stores selling a variety of dishes—from rice toppings and saucy noodles to sugary desserts and cool refreshments.

Among the local treats worth devouring include laksa, curry fish head, chilli crabs, and fried carrot cake. There’s definitely something to satisfy any craving!

Some of the best hawker centres in Singapore include Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Golden Mile Food Centre, Tiong Bahru Market Hawker Centre, and Hong Lim Market and Food Centre.

Read Top 10 Singapore Hawker Centres You Definitely Should Visit


3. Save money by drinking tap water

Drinking tap water

It’s common knowledge that prices in Singapore are quite high, so it helps to save whenever you can. One way to do it is by not buying single-use water bottles and drinking tap water instead. It’s clean and safe!


4. Refrain from tipping

Refrain from giving tips in Singapore

If you want to maximize your hard-earned cash, do not give tips. It’s not forbidden, but it’s not expected by the staff either. But if you’re highly pleased with their service, a tip would be appreciated, of course.


5. Wear light clothes

Wear light clothes in Singapore

Like in Manila, Singapore’s weather is hot and humid. You don’t want to experience roaming around the place soaked in sweat. Pack breathable, lightweight clothes before your flight. An umbrella could be useful as well.


6. Know the rules

No smoking zone in Singapore
Editorial Credit: iStock / winhorse

Singapore is known as a Fine City. It has strict regulations that every tourist and local has to follow. Harsh punishments and hefty penalties such as the following await those who don’t comply:

  • Importing and selling gum – SGD10,000 or up to one-year jail time
  • Smoking in prohibited spots – SGD200 to SGD1,000
  • Littering – SGD300 to SGD10,000
  • Jaywalking – SGD20 to SGD1,000 or up to three-month jail time
  • Eating while in the MRT – Up to SGD500

There are also odd things that are considered illegal, such as singing songs with obscene lyrics, connecting to another user’s WiFi, and feeding pigeons.


7. Take advantage of Happy Hour deals

Happy Hour in Singapore

Singapore has a high tax on alcohol. Drinking during Happy Hour lets you drink more for less! If you want to save further, you can just buy liquor bottles from supermarkets before 10:30 PM, when the selling of alcohol stops.


8. Connect to a WiFi network

Singapore WiFi connection

Tourists are welcome to use Singapore’s public WiFi for free. Simply register your foreign mobile number at any [email protected] hotspot.

You can also connect to the internet via a SIM card.  When buying a SIM card in Singapore, you’ll have to present your passport and mobile voucher at any of the M1 retail stores or Cheers convenience stores at Changi Airport.


9. Never get lost with

gothere Singapore

Accessible through mobile and desktop, this comprehensive and interactive tool gives you a glimpse of the overall map of Singapore. It also shows you the approximate cost or fare when traveling from one point to another.


10. Take note of the useful numbers

Singapore emergency hotline

You’re in a foreign country; it’s advisable to keep important numbers that may come handy in emergencies:

  • Police – 999
  • Ambulance and Fire Brigade – 995
  • Flight Information – 1800 543 4422


11. Choose a hotel that fits your personality

Singapore hotel

Not all hotels and lodges are the same. Regardless of your budget and other personal requirements, you will find one that catches your fancy.

It’s also good to consider which neighborhood to stay at. Singapore has diverse neighborhoods that offer different activities and experiences to try.

Clarke Quay, for one, is filled with local pubs and trendy bars. It’s highly suggested for millennials who like dancing all night. On the other hand, one of the most traditional neighborhoods in Singapore, Chinatown is known for its hawker centres and colorful walkways.

Another ideal option is Bugis, which should be on top of mind if you’re fond of exotic cuisine and artsy bazaars. Of course, there’s also Orchard Road. This one boasts of high-end shopping areas and entertainment hubs.

Little India, as its name suggests, is a vibrant district where you can immerse yourself in the Indian culture. Funky bars and humble shophouses await you there.

There are other neighborhoods in the country worth exploring. To help you decide on which neighborhood and/or Singapore hotel to book, check out this article.


Book your accommodations early to get discounts. Visit these attractions to make the most of your Singapore visit!