Despite its international influences, Singapore is unlike any other city in the entire world.

It has the glitzy all-out buildings of Vegas. The lingering scents of a Taipei market. And green public transport to rival that of Colombian cities. Yet Singapore is completely unique.

Visiting Singapore for the first time is a strange experience. Although it feels faintly familiar in many ways, you never quite forget that you’re on new turf. 

With this odd combination, it pays to travel to Singapore prepared. Despite its many resemblances to – and unmissable influences from – cultures all over the world, Singapore has many unique laws, customs and quirks every traveller should be aware of. 

No matter how well-travelled you are, here are 21 important things to know before going to Singapore. These tips for travelling to Singapore will make sure you have a smooth, safe and super fun stay in this vibrant and eclectic city.

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Things you need to know before visiting Singapore
 


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Plan your trip: Things to know before visiting Singapore

Although strolling the streets is one of the best things to do in Singapore, it’s a city you’ll want to prepare for. At least a little.

Most people only spend a few days in Singapore at most. In all honesty, it’s all you need – this tiny country is easy to get around!

Even if you have longer than the average traveller, knowing a few things before visiting Singapore will set you up the best possible trip. And who doesn’t want that?

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your trip to Singapore.

 

1 – Singapore is a very walk-able city 

It’s not often you can say this, but you can walk almost everywhere in Singapore. And yes, that means an entire country is walk-able. 

Not only is this great news for your daily step count, but it also means you can enjoy my favourite travel activity: walking around and soaking up the vibe. 

Some of my favourite areas for a stroll are Haji Lane, Little India and Jalan Besar. 


A colourful lane in Singapore
There are lots of cute and colourful streets to walk in Singapore.

2 – Singapore is safe

Singapore is one of the safest cities in Asia, if not the world. I felt just as safe there as I did in Japan, Taiwan and Georgia.

Crime comes with serious punishment in Singapore, so they just don’t happen. 

That means Singapore is safe in pretty much every way. Solo travellers, female travellers and photographers with crazy amounts of camera gear should feel safe in Singapore

That’s not to say you shouldn’t take precautions. Make sure your camera gear is insured and don’t make yourself target – but also don’t worry. 


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3 – Singapore is clean

Thanks in part to its strict laws, Singapore is an incredibly clean city. It’s truly a breath of fresh air – both literally and figuratively. 

Singapore takes urban cleanliness to a new level. Streets are free of litter, buildings are free of graffiti and public transport looks like it’s never been used. 

 

4 – Singapore is full of (different) culture

When I first arrived in Singapore, all I could think was: this is like travelling the whole world in one city. 

If you’ve written Singapore off because you think it won’t offer an authentic or “real” travel experience, think again. 

On the contrary, Singapore will make every travel-loving hair on your body stand on end. For what Singapore is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, with snippets of different cultures everywhere.

Before visiting Singapore, I was worried it would be lacking in culture. But, as I soon found, it’s simply bursting with many, many cultures.


The sign for Arab Street in Singapore
Singapore is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world.

5 – You can take a day trip to another country

Speaking of other countries, Singapore’s is bordered by Malaysia to the north and, just across the ocean, Indonesia in the south. 

Singapore’s proximity to both countries means you can easily take a day trip over a border. It’s also a great stopover city on a trip to the island of Borneo, which is just to the east.

 

6 – Getting around Singapore is really easy

If you’ve read this far, it’ll probably come as no surprise that Singapore public transport is easy to use. The MRT is affordable, clean and efficient, making it easy to get around the city.

Taxis are also surprisingly affordable – and very abundant – when you need to get somewhere faster. I took both as a solo female traveller and it was one of the easiest and safest cities I’ve visited for getting around.


The nightly light and laser show at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore
If you recognise one place in Singapore, it’s probably the Marina Bay Sands hotel!

 

What to expect: Tips for travelling to Singapore

So, now you know what visiting Singapore will be like, what else can you expect? 

Here are some tips for travelling to Singapore to keep in mind while you’re there.

7 – You’re going to sweat 

Singapore is both hot and humid. That means there’s no pretty much no doubt that you’re going to get sticky.

Singaporeans dress for the climate and you’ll want to, too. Make sure you pack lots of lightweight, loose summer clothing to keep you cool.

Understandably, perhaps, Singaporeans also like their air conditioning. Going indoors, you’ll feel huge relief from the heat… for all of five minutes. Then, you’ll probably get cold. 

Make sure you always carry a lightweight jacket to throw on when you go in air conditioned places!


A woman walking down steps at Gardens By The Bay in Singapore
My Singapore wardrobe: shorts, a light top – plus a layer to throw on when going into the strong air-con!

8 – You’ll love the food

I didn’t really know what to expect from the food in Singapore, but I was pleasantly surprised! 

Given how multi-cultural Singapore is, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that the food is great. You can get pretty much anything, from Lebanese schwarma to Chinese pork ribs, pretty easily.

If you want to tuck into some of Singapore’s finest foodie finds (without spending hours searching for it),this private food tour provides a great introduction.

 

9 – It won’t be the cheapest city 

Speaking of food, you can expect to budget more than you would in other nearby countries. A meal in a standard restaurant in Singapore can easily set you back $20-30 USD per person.

The trick to eating cheap in Singapore – if you want to – is to head to a hawker centre. These open-air complexes host food stalls with much more affordable grub. When you eat here, you can expect to pay closer to S$3-S$6 (US$2-4) per person.

Visiting a hawker centre is one of the most Singaporean experiences you can have. If you want to get an insight into local life here, it’s a must-do. And that leads me to my next point…


Chinese pork rib bak kut teh at Song Fa in Singapore
Food in Singapore doesn’t have to be expensive – if you can find the local spots!

10 – You’ll have a totally experience if you know a local

Singapore is a blend of indigenous descendants, Chinese immigrants and economic expats from all over the world. 

This diverse mix means that it’s harder to get a grasp on local life than in most destinations. It’s also hard to tell locals apart from fellow tourists!

 

One of the best ways you can get a true taste of Singapore is with a local. I spent a couple of days exploring by myself before meeting up with a friend who lives there.

Just when I thought I’d got my head around the city, the day I spent with my friend showed me a completely different side of it!

If you don’t know anyone there, I highly recommend hiring a local to show you side of Singapore you can’t possibly see alone. 

This private tour by WithLocals will show you a more rural side of Singapore as well as some of the best hidden gems.


11 – Watch out for tissues on tables

Something worth knowing when you visit hawker centres is that locals like to reserve tables while they order food. 

The most common way to do this is with a pack of tissues. If you spot an empty table with a pack of tissues on it, don’t sit down!


Two women taking photos in Arab Street Singapore


12 – You won’t want to get sick in Singapore

Singapore has excellent healthcare, but it’s certainly not cheap. Given the unexpected costs I faced in hospital in Peru – a country where healthcare is relatively affordable – I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to get sick in Singapore. 

Please don’t travel to Singapore (or anywhere!) without adequate travel insurance. I use, have claimed with and recommend World Nomads. You can real more about why in this post or click here to get an instant quote.

Travel tip: If you do need to go to hospital, government and private facilities are almost the same price-wise for non-Singaporeans. 

 

13 – You can drink the tap water

It’ll probably come as no surprise that Singapore’s tap water is just as sparkly clean as the city itself. 

That means you never need to buy single use plastic bottles in Singapore – simply come prepared with a refillable one and you’ll save both your money and the planet. 

After lots of trial and error, my favourite water bottle is the HydroFlask. It’s colourful, keeps water cool and – most importantly – never leaks.


A waterfall at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

14 – Most Singaporeans speak English

There are four official languages in Singapore – and English is the most prominent of them. The others are Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

Add to this the huge number of expats and most people in Singapore speak at least a basic level of English.

Unlike other south east Asian countries, it makes Singapore an easy place to travel.

 

15 – Stand on the left

Singaporeans are polite and considerate, and you’ll see endless examples of this when visiting Singapore. 

You’ll notice it instantly if you take any escalators. Although it’s not law, the government launched a campaign encourage everybody to only stand on the left – so that’s what they do.

Londoners will be used to this custom, but make sure you keep this in mind if you’re not so used to it.


Sky bridge at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
Green spaces are everywhere in Singapore.

16 – It’s not all about the city

If you’re more a nature lover than a city explorer, don’t write off Singapore. Even though it’s a busy metropolitan city, Singapore is surprisingly green. 

There are loads of parks, gardens and ecotourism experiences in Singapore to enjoy – in fact, many of them are some of the most popular attractions!  

Singapore is one of my favourite cities in the entire world, and a large part of that comes down to the number of green spaces and its impressive biodiversity.

 

17 – You’ll only want to leave because of the airport

Singapore’s Changi airport may just be the coolest airport in the world. 

The airport is a destination in itself, with a 12-metre high slide, a cactus garden, a butterfly garden, a swimming pool and movie theatres.

This is one flight you’re going to want to check in early for!


The river in Singapore

Singapore facts to remember while you’re there

Most of these Singapore facts won’t make a massive difference to your time in Singapore, but they’re worth keeping in mind. 

18 – Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world

Along with Vatican City and Monaco, Singapore is one of only three city-states in the world. 

Independent since 1965, its tiny size and lack of space outside of the city means it’s the second most densely populated country in the world after Monaco.

 

19 – Singapore is one of the biggest transport hubs in Asia

Many people who visit Singapore don’t visit for the sole purpose of seeing the city. Many travellers end up in Singapore simply because they have a layover through the city, 

Singapore’s Changi airport is the seventh busiest in the entire, providing a gateway between Asia and other parts of the world. 

I’m not going to pretend I’m not guilty of visiting purely for logistical reasons. I travelled to Singapore after leaving the Philippines because it had the best flights to London.

I decided to spend a few days exploring the city – and I’m SO glad I did. My only regret is that I didn’t give myself more time to explore Singapore.


Marina Bay Sands at sunset Singapore

20 – Singapore has the biggest port in Asia 

It’s not just the airport that brings many travellers who might otherwise skip Singapore into the country. Many cruises start and end here, too.

Singapore has the biggest cruise port in all of Asia, and many visitors spend a night or two in Singapore before or after setting sail.

 

21 – Singapore has laws you may not be used to

I’ve left this Singapore fact to last because it’s one I want you to remember – so listen up!

I’ve already mentioned some of Singapore’s laws in this article, but it’s worth mentioning them again. One of the most important things to know before going to Singapore is that its laws are relatively strict.

In Singapore, you can get fined for things you might not even think about. Not flushing a toilet, chewing gum in public and taking drugs before you enter the country (even if legal in your home country) can all land you in trouble. 

Make sure you’re clued up on the Singapore laws that might affect you before you arrive.


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Things to know before going to Singapore