Immaculate, efficient Singapore is a miraculous sight, particularly for travelers familiar with modern Asian metropolises. The city maintains a remarkable balance of green space and skyscrapers, in addition to sustaining substantial ethnic enclaves like Little India and Chinatown. This motley group of cultures has brought to this former British colony something special—a common mindset. Singaporeans are determined and patriotic; they are proud of what they have achieved (just look at Marina Bay and you might get jealous).
But while their skyline accumulates monumental peaks and troughs, Singaporeans have not forgotten about their past or the importance of their natural surroundings. Museums rest beneath the urban canopy and welcome amateur historians. Plus, on an island (also named “Singapore”), large wetland preserves quietly rest in stark contrast to Singapore’s modern achievements. This tiny nation with its massive city embodies a cosmopolitan aggregation in a manner that few others can. So leave your chewing gum at home (as it’s illegal to distribute or to import gum), and hop on a flight to pristine Singapore.
How To Save Money in Singapore
- Use the MRT Singapore’s public transit system is timely, clean, and, best of all, cheap. With base fares for $1 SGD (or about $0.80 USD), MRT is by far your most efficient way to get around.
- Avoid Orchard Road Singaporeans shop as if it were a competitive sport. Our fiscal advice: Don’t try to compete. Plus, from the sidelines—oops, we mean sidewalks—you’ll have a pretty great view of the spectacle.
- Sobriety Pays Although alcohol is one of the few intoxicants permitted in Singapore, drinking it can be darn expensive. If you do want to try the signature Singapore Sling cocktail, order one during happy hour.
Singapore Culture & Customs
As a former British colony, English is very much a part of the culture here. Most Singaporeans, especially those in the tourism industry, know English. Still, be patient and respectful if you do come across someone who isn’t fluent in English, and remember that Chinese, Malay and Tamil are also common languages here.
Singapore enforces strict laws against practices such as jaywalking, chewing gum, smoking in public places, littering, and eating in the MRT. If you are caught doing any one of these things, you may get stuck with a hefty fine. Even more of a no-no, drugs—possessing and dealing—are serious crimes subject to caning and even death by hanging. So be on your best behavior.
The official currency is the Singapore dollar (SGD), which is almost equivalent to three-fourths of a U.S. dollar. This rough conversion rate will help you quickly estimate the price. Another monetary query that Americans encounter is tipping; however, it shouldn’t be: Tipping is not a customary practice in Singapore. This is in part to an automatic 10-percent service charge at most hotels and restaurants.