SINGAPORE > FACTS ABOUT THE VISITORS
Numerous airlines fly into Singapore's ultramodern Changi international airport
- often voted one of the best airports in the world. Malaysia is just one kilometer
away across the causeway over the Straits of Johor. You can travel between Malaysia
and Singapore very easily by bus or taxi. A vehicle and passenger ferry operates
between north Changi and Tanjung Belungkor, east of Johor Bahru, and a daily high-speed
catamaran links Singapore with Malaysia's Tioman Island. Comfortable air-conditioned
buses link Singapore to almost all of the large Malaysian cities and the fares
are generally inexpensive. Singapore is the southern terminus of Malaysia's rail
system and there are four trains a day to Kuala Lumpur. There are no direct passenger
ferries between Singapore and the main ports of Indonesia, but it is possible
to travel between the two countries via the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan
immediately south of Singapore. Modern ferries link Singapore with the islands
and speedboats link Batam with Pekanbaru in Sumatra, and several ships a week
link Bintan with Jakarta.
Go to Singapore at anytime. Climate is not a major consideration, as Singapore
gets fairly steady annual rainfall. You may like to co-ordinate your visit with
various festivals and events: Thaipusam is one of the most spectacular festivals,
occurring around February. If shopping and eating are your major concerns, July
is a good month as the Singapore Food Festival and Great Singapore Sale are
held then. You will need to bring comfortable, light summer clothing and sandals,
together with a lightweight raincoat and umbrella.
VISAS AND DOCUMENTS
Most Western nationals either do not require a visa at all or do not require
a visa for a social stay of up to 90 days. A 30-day permit is issued on arrival
and extensions are difficult to obtain. The traveler must hold a national passport,
valid for at least 6 months after the date of departure from Singapore, together
with confirmed onward or return travel documentation, and sufficient funds to
cover expenses for duration of his or her stay. The permitted length of stay
varies depending on nationality. Enquiries should be made at the High Commission.
Visitors on a Social Visit Pass are not permitted to work in Singapore. For
stays of over 3 months applications must be made for a Long Term Social Visit
Pass, for which a local sponsor (such as a Singapore national or organisation)
is required. Types of visa available are Visa; Social Visit Pass (Short- or
Long Term); Professional Visit Pass; Student Pass; Transit visas. Application
to : Consulate (or Consular section at High Commission or Embassy).
Note:Women more than 24 weeks pregnant must obtain a Social Visit Pass prior
to arrival; apply at the High Commission or Embassy. Severe penalties are imposed
on those found in possession of narcotics; the death penalty is in force for
those convicted of trafficking in heroin or morphine. Regulations are subject
to change without notice and all visitors are therefore advised to check with
the High Commission or Embassy before leaving.
There are no limit on the amount of money you may bring into Singapore. However,
customs may question you regarding the purpose of the money that you are bringing
Anyone who is above 18 years of age may purchase duty-free alcohol for personal
consumption. You can purchase the following: max 1 liter of Wine or Port, max
1 liter of Beer, max 1 liter of Spirits. As Singapore government discourage
smoking, there are no concessions on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Dutiable Items include garments and clothing accessories, leather bags, wallets,
imitation jewelry, chocolate and sugar confectionery, pastries, biscuits and
cakes. However, for personal consumption, you may bring in restricted amounts
of the above items without paying duty. If you are carrying excess dutiable
items, you may leave these in Customs Bond until your departure, provided this
is from the same point of entry. Storage costs are chargeable. The following
items are prohibited: Controlled drugs and psychotropic substances, firecrackers,
cigarette lighters of pistol or revolver shape, toy coins / currency notes,
reproductions of copyright publications, reproductions of video tapes or disks,
reproductions of records or cassettes, endangered species of wildlife and their
by-products, obscene articles and publications, seditious and treasonable materials.
Entry may be allowed if you are able to product valid import permits or authorization
proofs from the relevant authorities. If you are under specific medication,
please remember to bring along the prescription certification from your doctor.
Such medication includes sleeping pills, depressants and stimulants. If in doubt,
please contact the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission/Consulates/Embassy.
Travelers checks and foreign currencies may be changed at most banks and
licensed money changers. Licensed money changers usually offer a better rate
than most hotels and banks. Save your coins for bus rides (buses accept exact
fares only) and public telephones. Banking hours are 9.30am - 3pm weekdays;
9.30am - 1pm Saturdays. Most ATM machines offer PLUS, STAR or CIRRUS network
systems. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
POST AND COMMUNICATIONS
The postal services and e-mail facilities in Singapore are fast, reliable and
A History of Singapore, by CM Turnball. Lee Kuan Yew - The Struggle for Singapore,
by Alex Josey. Lord Jim by Joseph Conran. Borneo Stories by Somerset Maugham.
Saint Jack by Paul Theroux.
NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
A wide range of magazines and newspapers are available in a variety of languages.
Pornographic material is strictly forbidden.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO
All of your photographic requirements, cameras, accessories, and international
standard processing facilities, are available in Singapore.
Standard voltage is 220-240 volts AC at 50 cycles. Most hotels are equipped
with transformers or 110-120 volts AC.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Metric with local variations
All of the hotels provide a laundry service.
Recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Japanese Encephalitis.
DANGERS AND ANNOYANCE
Singapore is one of the worlds safest destinations.
Business/government offices are usually open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday
9 am - 1 pm.
Singapore celebrates a number of festivals and events. Chinese, Hindu and Muslim
celebrations follow a lunar calendar so dates of festivities vary from year
Chinese New Year, in January or February, is welcomed in with dragon dances,
festivities, fireworks and parades. Ramadan, food stalls are set up in the evening
in the Arab St district, near the Sultan Mosque. Hari Raya Puasa, the end of
Ramadan, is marked by three days of joyful celebrations. Vesak Day in April
or May celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death and caged birds are
released to symbolize the setting free of captive souls. The Dragon Boat Festival,
held in May or June, commemorates the death of a Chinese saint who drowned himself
as a protest against government corruption. The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts
is usually celebrated in September. This is when the souls of the dead are released
for feasting and entertainment on earth and Chinese operas are performed. The
festival of Thaipusam is one of the most dramatic Hindu festivals and devotees
honor Lord Subramaniam with acts of amazing body-piercing masochism. There is
a procession from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Chettiar Hindu Temple.
Dining in Singapore is a safe gastronomic experience. Chinese, Indian, Malay,
Indonesian and Western foods are all on offer and the city offers a vast array
of dining options, including five-star restaurants, atmospheric outdoor food
stalls, fast food, sushi bars, and grand Chinese restaurants serving 10-course
banquets. Nonya cooking is a local variation on Chinese and Malay food, mixing
Chinese ingredients with local spices such as lemongrass and coconut cream.
There are some wonderful tropical fruits to be found including rambutan, mangosteen,
durian, jackfruit, pomelo, starfruit, zirzat, buah duku, chiku and jeruk.
THINGS TO BUY
Singapore is a shoppers paradise and there is so much to shop for: Fashion,
electronic items, computer software, antiques; the list is endless. Orchard
road is a good place to start with a multitude of shops, department stores and
malls. Air-conditioned underpasses and covered walkways link most of the shopping
complexes and department stores making the shopping experience pleasant, convenient
and hassle free. The ethnic areas of Little India, China town and Arab Street
are worth checking out, in particular for fabrics and ethnic foods and local
bric-a-brac items. A Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 3% is levied in most shops
in Singapore, but a refund can be claimed at the airport for receipts amounting
to S$300 or more.