Singapore covers an area of approximately 720 square kilometers and is one of the smallest countries in the world. It is located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, separated from Indonesia to the south by the Singaporean Strait and Malaysia to the north by the Johor Strait. The Island of Singapore is low-lying with the highest point being Bukit Timah at height of approximately 540 feet. The island was once covered with dense rainforest, which today can only be seen at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Apart from the main island, the Republic of Singapore has over 60 smaller islands and islets. It is strategically located and serves as an important seaport along major shipping routes.
Indians require a visa to enter Singapore, unless they hold a diplomatic or official passport. Apply for your visa at least three to four weeks in advance.
Singapore is regarded as one of the most clean and safe cities in the world. Hygiene is practiced everywhere including in the roadside eateries (hawker stalls). The legal system can at times appear to be very stringent in Singapore. There are fines for just about everything: from smoking in public places to jaywalking, littering and even chewing gum! Singapore has a low crime rate and therefore considered relatively safe. However, petty crimes like pick pocketing or bag snatching are common. It’s advisable to always be cautious of your surroundings and avoid visiting isolated areas.
Singapore’s currency is known as Singapore Dollar, or singdollar (SGD or $). For the latest exchange rates log on to www.xe.com.
ATM machines are available at all malls and enable you to withdraw funds from foreign debit cards. Money changers are located throughout Singapore and in most shopping centres. Many stay open for 24 hours and offer competitive rates. Little India is a good place to exchange currency.
All major credit cards are widely accepted apart from by local hawkers, many taxi companies and a few food courts. You may be charged an additional 2-3% at smaller stores for credit card payments.
Singapore uses GSM900 and GSM1800 with full coverage over the entire island. You can get your global roaming activated on your GSM digital phone and connect with one of the local service networks. Check the roaming rates with your operator. Alternatively, you can buy a local SIM card from post offices, 7-Eleven stores and local telecom stores. It is necessary to show your passport in order to buy one. The main service providers in Singapore include SingTel, StarHub and M1.
Most of the top hotels have internet access. There are many backpacker hostels that offer free internet and Wi-fi. Singapore has a wide broadband network, with many wireless hotspots located throughout the country. Some of the local service providers include, SingTel, StarHub and M1.
Tipping is not compulsory in Singapore and is very often frowned upon by the government. A 10% service charge is almost always levied on the bill. If not, you can tip as per your discretion.
The legal drinking age in Singapore is 18 years and over. The alcohol law is very strictly enforced in the country and anyone found violating the laws can be severely punished. This is also one of the main reasons why Singapore tops the list of countries with the lowest crime rates.