Here are a few facts about Singapore you will find interesting if you are planning on going.
People usually travel to Singapore for shopping or they change flights on their way to Australia, New Zealand, and other destinations further east or south. If you go shopping, keep in mind that you will find all the famous brands you crave putting in your closet and that all those goods are way cheaper than in other parts of Asia since it’s tax-free. The only thing to be cautious about is not to go over the luggage weight limit.
If Singapore is just a layover for you and you only have a short stay, let me just tell you – it would be a shame to spend it shopping because there is a lot to see in this city-state. Some places and parks are not among the most popular locations with local tour operators, but they are easy to find and you will be more than pleased that you have visited. So, get some info in advance, especially if you do not have that much time, and try to use it wisely. And I will provide as many facts about Singapore as I can.
When it comes to my journey, Singapore would have been a layover since I was on my way to Bali, but I have decided to spend almost half of my vacation in the city and not just a day or two. And I didn’t regret it, not for a minute!
Facts About Singapore
Keep your shoes on
When you begin your trip, be prepared to fly for hours (12 hours from Frankfurt, Germany to be exact), above various countries and lands until you finally reach this small place, the city-state almost on the very edge of the Equator. Also, no matter how good your English is, there is no way you are going to catch all the phrases and the local dialect just as easily. (This is one of the facts about Singapore I didn’t know before traveling.)
Try to keep yourself entertained during the long flight, since it’s always a venture to endure 12 hours sitting in a plane, especially if you cannot sleep while traveling regardless of the mode of transport (like yours truly!).
And there was a warning at the beginning of the flight that surprised me a bit, although it became clear much later. Flight attendants informed us about the safety issues and exits, and said we should turn off our phones and electronic equipment. But, other than “putting your seat up” and “your luggage properly”, they said that passengers should “keep their shoes on”. It was on my way back that I realized that the moment the seat belt light went green, most of the people around me just – took their shoes off!
Booking local tours
You will like Singapore’s airport. It’s immediately clear that you have come to a rich country, clean, where they pay attention to every detail. It is a bit confusing at the beginning, because it’s huge, but you will quickly realize that it is well organized and simple to navigate.
Depending on the airline you are traveling with, you may have a transfer to the hotel, flight included. So, I found the airline counter to confirm the transfer and while waiting for the minivan to come and pick me up, I was immediately “caught in the web”. Still not aware of the local currency or any prices in the city, I was an easy target for “various tours and things to see in Singapore“, all “not expensive and practical”, that were provided by the tour operator collaborating with the airline. (One of the facts about Singapore to be aware of but not that different than in any other country.)
The fact was that those were all pleasant tours and I booked right there at the airport all the major sightseeing I wanted to do in the first place. They came to pick me up in front of the hotel every day, taking me, along with a few more tourists, to various beautiful parts of Singapore. You usually get a free drink or a lunch that goes with it, the travel guides are all really pleasant and you do not regret that you might have overpaid for those tours at the airport. There were some stickers we were supposed to put on our clothes with the name of the tour. And well, the only thing left was just to enjoy ourselves since everything was really well organized.
Nearby Orchard Road
Exchange some money at the airport. The official currency is the Singapore dollar with nicely designed bills that always seemed like they were brand new.
When booking a hotel, try to find accommodation near Orchard Road, because this is a district full of stores and brands (perfect if you are into shopping). There are a lot of restaurants and cafes, metro and bus stations are at every corner, and taxi is easy to find. From this part of the city, it’s easy to navigate to any other neighborhood and it will take you less than 10 minutes to get there by metro. Also, the district is always bustling, full of people, and popular with tourists – one of the facts about Singapore to keep in mind.
Facts about Singapore: Weather
One more thing. Bear in mind that the climate is pretty humid, so make sure not to go during the season of high temperatures when you will have trouble breathing. The best time to visit is at the end of the rainy season which is in March and April (I was there at the end of February). Temperatures do not go over 28 degrees Celsius.
It may rain every day, but I found it cute and entertaining to see how locals were dressed lightly in short sleeves, skirts, and flip-flops, while they were all carrying umbrellas. It’s not what we are used to since we often relate rain to low temperatures and thick clothes. But, it was easy to blend in. If you do not bring an umbrella, you will easily find one there.
Also, heavy thunders might happen. I witnessed one and it was like nothing I have heard thus far – like the sky fell into pieces right there next to me. I stood still in disbelief and almost screamed!
But then again, people around me were just indifferent, they were chatting and walking, carrying those colorful umbrellas, like nothing happened. So, I came out of it quickly saying to myself that “everything is going to be all right“.
These are all charming glimpses, stories you will remember from your travels. So, the only important thing is to bring shoes made for lots and lots of rain. Although, you can always buy some here.
An automated parking
There is a saying here that “in Singapore, everything is fine“, and that is so true. Wordplay aside, there are so many fines here. One good example is the parking.
View this post on Instagram
There are well-regulated parking areas for cars and bicycles, of course. According to Singapore’s law, cars have special locating devices that recognize the zone you are parked in and notify you if you go over your limits. It also pays for the parking spot right from your bank account. It does all the work itself, so nobody asks you a thing. Keeping in mind that the whole city is under constant surveillance, it is impossible to avoid paying the fine if you don’t obey the rules. Also, it seems that there is no one to whom you might even try to explain that you have left your bicycle in front of the store “just for a minute or two”. You will be charged before even thinking about it, automatically.
Try not to cross the street outside the marked areas accordingly. Not only will you break the law and pay the fine, but also all those people around you will look at you as if you were some kind of savage who has never heard of the green traffic light. I was amazed by the discipline in Singapore, and even felt a bit pressured by it. That’s another one of the interesting facts about Singapore for you!
No urinating in public
One of the street signs caught my attention. I was walking and there was the sign, popping out of nowhere, saying that urinating in public was forbidden. I didn’t even know whether to laugh or not.
They say that it is common knowledge that “not all the rules are followed” in the Indian district of the city, where I have stumbled upon this sign, but still, this quarter was also nice and clean. Anyway, the fine for “non-permitted public urinating” was around 500 dollars, which was 250 euros back then (the same amount smokers would pay if caught having cigarettes in public if out of the smoking areas).
But then again, the city really seemed so well organized and spotless, that one could assume that those fines worked. Everything is always modern and new adorned with lavish green tropical vegetation, and it seems like you can get anything just by pushing a button. It all works, alone, by itself, and you are just a sole consumer or an observer!
Full Singapore SERIES