Singapore, The City
Singapore is a bustling cosmopolitan city populated with high-rise buildings and landscape gardens. Brimming with a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture, Singapore is a dynamic city that’s rich in contrast and colour. In fact, you can even say that Singapore embodies the finest of both East and West. Located in Southeast Asia, Singapore has a land area of about 710 square kilometres, making her one of the smallest countries in the world and the smallest in the region – hence the moniker “The Little Red Dot”. Although small in size, Singapore commands an enormous presence in the world today with its free trade economy and highly efficient workforce. Also, her strategic location in the region has enabled her to become a central sea port along major shipping routes.
Singapore’s Population, Language and Culture
At present, Singapore’s population stands at about five million people, with English as the main language of instruction, and a mother tongue for each major ethnicity. One of the distinctly Singaporean things you’ll notice on our island is a ubiquitous collage of cultures. Coming together as a society and living in harmony, there are four major races – namely the Chinese (majority), Malays, Indians and Eurasians. Each community offers a different perspective of life in Singapore in terms of culture, religion, food and language.
Singapore is warm and humid all year round. The daily temperature averages around 28 degrees Celsius. Abundant rainfall can be expected during the monsoon seasons from December to March and from June to September.
Tipping is not widely practiced in Singapore as most hotels and restaurants apply a default 10% service charge.
Smoking is prohibited in all air-conditioned areas (e.g. shopping centres, restaurants, cinemas, public buses, MRT, taxis, lifts), common corridors, void decks, and staircases within residential buildings, outdoor hospital compounds, as well as a 5-metre radius from any entrance/exit and bus shelter.
All Singapore taxis operate under a meter system with starting fees ranging from S$3.00 to S$3.90. City and peak hour surcharges apply. Pre-booking of taxis can be done via the official taxi hotline: +65 6-DIAL-CAB (63425222). Alternatively, you can SMS “Book<space>six-digit postal code” to 71222 or use a mobile phone app like Confort DelGro Taxi Booking App, SMRT Book a Taxi or GrabTaxi. Charges are higher for advance bookings.
To enjoy a refund on the 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on your purchases, you need to make at least S$100 worth of purchases from participating outlets which display a “Tax Refund” logo or a Global Blue “Tax Free Shopping” logo. Request for a refund voucher upon purchase, which you should present with your purchases, receipts and passport at the Tax Refund Counter of the airport before you fly off. More information can be found at the Tourist Refund Scheme page on the Singapore Customs website at www.customs.gov.sg.
Getting to Singapore
Changi Airport is a major air hub in Asia. Serving more than 100 international airlines flying to some 300 cities in about 70 countries and territories worldwide, Changi Airport handled more than 53.7 million passengers in 2013 (that's roughly 10 times the size of Singapore's population). A flight takes off or lands at Changi roughly once every 90 seconds. The airport, with its three terminals, is the world’s sixth busiest and it is consistently acknowledged as one of the world’s best. Over 480 global accolades have been awarded to Singapore Changi Airport, including numerous Best Airport awards.
Nationals from a wide majority of countries do not require visas for social visits of a 30-day duration provided they are in possession of recognised and valid travel documents, adequate funds and return or onward tickets. For a list of countries which will require a visa to enter Singapore, please visit http://www.ica.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=96.