Travel Tips for Singapore

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Travel Tips for Singapore

Staying in Touch

Mobile phones are carried by almost everyone in Singapore, including many young children, and coverage is generally excellent throughout the country. All 3 service providers have both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (W-CDMA) networks, and international roaming onto them may be possible; check with your operator before you leave to be sure. Prepaid SIM cards are sold in 7-Eleven convenience stores, phone shops and currency exchange counters, just bring your own GSM/3G phone or buy a cheap used handset in Singapore. You will need to show an international passport or Singapore ID to sign up.

A local phone call costs between $0.05-$0.25 per min, whereas each local text message (SMS) costs about $0.05, with international SMS about $0.15-$0.25 (but a few dozen local SMS are usually thrown in for free when you top up). You may also be charged for incoming calls. Most prepaid cards expire within 6 mth unless you top-up (which can be done outside Singapore). The carriers also offer special top up cards that will give a higher number of minutes for the price at the downside of expiring more quickly. As in many places, mobile data with on prepaid voice SIM cards can be ridiculously expensive. StarHub offers a 1GB package (valid for 30 days). It costs $25 and is aimed at BlackBerries but works with any phone. Using the StarHub SIM, call *122# and follow the menu to activate. Data-only SIMs can be more affordable. For short stays, StarHub has 2Mbps unlimited service at S$15 per week. For longer stays, bring a MicroSIM adapter and you can get StarHub's 2GB package (good for 60 days) for $37.

Public phones are an increasingly endangered species, but you can find them in most MRT stations. They are either coin-operated pay phones (10 cents for a three-minute local call), card phones operated by phone cards in denominations of $3, $5, $10, $20 and $50, or credit card phones. Phone cards are available at all post offices and from phonecard agents. Most coin-operated pay phones are for local calls only, there are some which accept coins of larger denominations and can be used for overseas calls. Credit card phones are usually found at the airport or in some major hotels.

To make an international call from Singapore, dial the access code 001 (for SingTel), 002 (for M1), and 008 (for StarHub), followed by the country code, area code and party's number. Recently the providers have started offering cheaper rates for calls using Internet telephony routes. The access codes for this cheaper service are 019 and 013 for SingTel and 018 for StarHub, make sure you input these codes instead of the "+" sign at the beginning of the number if you wish to use these services.

Calling cards are also available for specific international destinations and are usually cheaper. Hello Card from Singtel offers a very cheap rate to 8 countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand ).

Gong xi fa cai Singapore style

There are a few twists to the Singapore way of celebrating Chinese New Year, particularly the food, which bears little resemblance to the steamy hotpots of frigid northern China. The top dish is bak kwa (肉干), sweet barbecued pork, followed closely by yu sheng (魚生), a salad of shredded vegetables and raw fish enthusiastically tossed into the air by all present. Favorite desserts are crumbly sweet pineapple tarts and gooey steamed nian gao (年糕) cakes. Red packets of money (红包 ang pow) are still handed out generously, but unlike in China, in Singapore you only need to start paying up once married.

Cheated?

Ripped off by a shop? Give the Singapore Tourism Board's free hotline at 1800 736-2000. The Small Claims Tribunal at 1 Havelock Sq also has a special expedited process for tourists that can solve simple cases within 24 hours.

Banned in Singapore:

Be cafeful, there's more to the list than just porn and drugs:

  • Airsoft
  • Handcuffs, even if pink and fuzzy
  • Feeding pigeons or monkeys
  • Chewing gum
  • Male Homosexual activity 

Emergency Numbers

  • Ambulance ☎ 995
  • Fire ☎ 995
  • Police (Main number for Emergency Services) ☎ 999
  • Singapore General Hospital ☎ +65 6222 3322
  • Drug & Poison Information Centre ☎ +65 6423 9119

Sports

The Singapore Sports Council runs a chain of affordable sports facilities, often featuring fantastic outdoor 50 m pools. Facilities are somewhat sparse but the prices are unbeatable, with e.g. swimming pools charging $1 for entry and access to ClubFITT gyms only $2.50. The main downside is the inconvenient location of most facilities out in the suburbs, although most are located close to an MRT station and can be reached within 10-20 min from the city centre. The gyms also ban bringing in any reading material (aimed at students but enforced blindly), although MP3 players are OK.

Major private gym chains include California Fitness,Fitness First and True Fitness. Facilities are better and locations more central, but the prices are also much higher as non-members have to fork out steep day pass fees (around $40).

Some of the parks offer rental of bicycles and inline skates ($3-6/hr, open till 8PM). You can either rent skates, attend a skate class or send the children off to a skate camp at major parks like West Coast and East Coast Park. You can even get skating lessons from popular skate schools like inline fitness or skate with us, a skate school for children. Especially rewarding for skaters and cyclists is the 10 km long stretch along East Coast Park with a paved track and lots of rental shops, bars and cafes around the McDonalds. There are toilets and showers along the track. Furthermore every park has a couple of fitness stations.

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