Beginner's Guide to Travelling Solo in Singapore
Hello-lah! If you are planning a trip to Singapore soon here are some insights and tips that I have learned during my time there. This is my first SoTral (Solo Travel) and hopefully you will be inspired to do the same, and when you do may this article guide you and enlighten you about the journey you are about to take on.
By the way, Singlish (sinaporean-english) usually adds lah at the end of a word or a sentence. So tip #1 - Its best to familiarize yourself with the common terms Singaporeans use in order to be able to truly immerse yourself in their culture.
If you come to Singapore by the use of an aircraft, then consider yourself lucky as you would be landing at the Changi International Airport, which is one of the best airport in the world!
You could have an adventure on the airport itself for it is packed with nothing but fun things to do and see. They have a pool, a giant slide, kinetic sculpture, an entertainment deck where you could watch free movies, play kinect or ps3.
If you just want to relax they also have a spa available or you could opt to use the free massage chairs, you could also shop till you drop, and not but not the least, the airport have a lot of selfie worthy spots like the sunflower garden, koi pond and so much more.
Then after exhausting yourself from all that, they also have a lot of food choices available that you could enjoy to your hearts content or rather to your tummy’s content. And did I mention the airport offers free wifi for 24 hours?
If you wish to visit any of the said attractions you would have to visit the airport’s website or look for the directory for they are located on their corresponding terminals. They have currently three terminals running (another one coming soon I believe) and you could go to each terminal simply by using the sky train or you could also go by foot.
And I am sure that you wouldn’t want to drag around your luggage wherever you go. At Changi Airport you have the option to go shop and explore handsfree. They have a baggage storage available at all terminals and they would look after your luggage for you. The rates would depend on the size of your luggage and is available for 24 hours.
If like me you are a budget traveller, I think it’s better to roam around the airport on your last day or when you are about to fly. This way, you would be able to check-in your luggage then have the freedom to go around the airport.
Upon my arrival in Singapore I was greeted by the rain. The weather in Singapore is unpredictable, you either get rain or shine. It could be sunny before noon then before you know it you’ll get a heavy downpour in the afternoon. So my first advice to any dear travellers is to always have an umbrella on hand. Well unless you enjoy basking in the sun or a free shower then by all means do whatever makes you happy.
But if you do forget to bring one or you figure that bringing one is such a bother, Singaporean seems courteous enough that I have witnessed several accounts where a stranger would share his umbrella with a fellow stranger who is being drenched in the pouring rain. I have also witnessed some others giving up their seat to an elderly, a child, or a person with special needs. I cannot guarantee that they would all do that, but you could hope atleast. A little friendly smile goes a long way. Just don't be creepy though.
I also noticed that the sun rises and sets a little late here as compared to where I came from. Sometimes I wouldn’t realize that it is already 7pm because it is still bright outside.
TIP #2 Umbrellas could be as important as your passport & wallet.
Going around Singapore is easy, you could ride a taxi, the bus, the MRT, or you could rent an oBike (a station-less bike sharing platform). Now if you decided to use the public transportations I would highly recommend that you get an ez-link card. This way it is more convenient because you would just tap and go and not to mention that your bus fare will be cheaper. It just needs to have a minimum amount of $3 to ensure that you have the required fare for when you exit the gate.
You could purchase this card at any ticketing office inside the station and at 7/11 branches. Whenever you run out of moolah you could easily top up your card at any of their automated self-service machines which can be found at the stations and some malls. And the process is really simple, you just have to place your card on the card reader, then choose your payment method. If you are gonna pay using cash, the amount of cash you inserted is also the amount of your reload, just know that you won’t be given any change. You could also top up at the ticketing offices, as well as at 7/11 branches. And because we are living in the modern world, if you have an NFC enabled device, you could download the ez-link app and top up your card without queuing.
You could also use this card to pay at certain retail stores and certain F & B chains. But some stores would charge a convenience fee when you use the ez-link card as payment. So always ask the saleslady whether a convenience fee will be levied on your purchase.
Then when you are about to leave the country you could have the option to refund your card. I am just not sure how much they are going to refund you because I kept mine as a souvenir but I am certain that they do that.
My favourite method of transport is the MRT, its faster and way cheaper than taxis. Although some places would require you to board the MRT then still ride the bus to get to your destination, but not to worry for there a lot of great apps for your smartphone which will help you and teach you where to go and which route is the fastest, which train or bus you have to board and which stop you have to get off to.
If you are gonna rely on using the apps as your guide on the go just make sure you have an internet connection because not all places are wifi ready. As for me, since I do not have data connection on my phone, I would use the app and study it whenever I can find an internet connection (like the mall and some MRT stations) and I will screen grab the direction then I will be good to go.
There are also a lot of signage and maps to guide you, located around the MRT station and if you are totally lost you could ask one of the staff there and just tell them where you want to go.
When using the card at the MRT stations just tap the card on the faregates and be on your way. When the faregate indicates a green arrow it means that you could tap your card there. But if it indicates a red x then the faregate is intended for the use of passengers going the opposite way.
Do not be inattentive!
Although, one of the wonderful thing about travelling is once you do embarrass yourself you could just easily laugh it off, no one knows who you are anyway *wink*
My first time was embarrassing, I was so inattentive and I was wondering why the gate is not letting me pass until a local kindly pointed out that I was entering at the wrong gate and since then I always check for the green and red indicators.
And keep in mind that when riding the train it is not guaranteed that you would get a seat especially during rush hour. So prepare yourself not to topple over like I do whenever the train is halting.
Remember to be considerate of your fellow passengers, do not play loud music no matter how good you think the jam is, try to put down your big bags so they don’t bump into anyone and/or squash them. And do try to keep the chairs at the end of each rows open for they are meant for the elderly, pregnant, or those with special needs.
I also would like to note that it is important to keep left when you walk around the station otherwise you would most likely be bumping with a lot of people who are going the opposite way. Same goes when riding the escalators anywhere in Singapore. If you are not in a hurry keep left, the right lane is kept open to let those who are in a rush pass through.
When riding the bus you have to enter at the front where the bus captain or the driver is and from there, you could tap your card and find a place where you could position yourself. Now if you don’t have the card you could ask the bus captain the minimum fare and pay. Be sure to give the exact amount as you would not be given any change. Then when you have reached your stop be sure to alight at the designated exits and remember to tap your card again. This way the system would be able to calculate the exact fare, and you would not be charged for the maximum amount of the fare.
By tapping your card at the entry and exit points you also help in providing information to the bus operators and they would use that information in determining and planning the correct bus carrying capacity.
Singapore is a country of culinary fusion. Your tastebuds would be able to go around the world due to the abundant availability of cuisines from different countries. If you wish to dine like the local, there are a lot of hawker centres available throughout Singapore and there you could grab a bite to eat ranging from $3.50-$10 nett.
You also must know that some places will add 7% GST on top of your bill. You could ask the cashier or look for the ‘GST included’ sign, when you see that it means that is the nett price and that is already the final amount that you are gonna pay for.
But all in all I suggest that you go and have fun and try dishes you have never tried before. You might not like everything you try but the experience is worth it.
When in Singapore you will never ran out of shopping places to choose from. From the famous Mustafa Shopping center where you could score cheap finds to Takashimaya where you would find world famous luxury brands, whatever your preference is, they have it.
Singapore also has certain stores where they offer tax free shopping to its foreign customers as long as you purchase a certain amount, then you could qualify for the tax refund. All you have to do is ask the store employee and show your passport.
Try to look for tourist deals as well as some places offer vouchers or freebies to tourists.
There are a lot of tourist spots that you could find online and visit them depending on what interest you. For me, the best way to explore and appreciate a place is through walking. At first it might be scary but I actually enjoy getting lost because I get to discover some great unknown places, like I don't know maybe finding a giant floating baby? (Feeling excited now are ya?)
I do not have a very good sense of direction so I always got lost, but for some unknown reasons and I do not know if its luck or just that Singapore is such a small country but at the end of day I always manage to find my way back.
Sometimes I also like to follow people, not like stalk them but just to see where they are going. One time I followed a group of students and they led me to this super cute boutique store. The other time I decided to follow a little kid and he was able to bring me to the mall.
I am not asking you to do what I did because you know situations could be different. But ofcourse if you are gonna go exploring to unknown places or follow people, use your best judgement stay vigilant and do not go to any shady places. You should be very aware of your surroundings and know the difference between good silence and eerie silence. I would also suggest to have your map, uber app, address of the place you are staying, or internet connection ready, you know just in case you get totally lost. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, to absolutely enjoy your stay in Singapore, know their rules and do not even consider breaking them because Singapore is very strict when it comes to their rule breakers.
So be sure not to do any of the following: Eating and drinking inside the bus, the train, and MRT stations, Littering, Smoking in a public or commercial place/vehicle, Uttering obscene words/songs in public, Distributing any kind of obscene material, Fighting, Drugs of all kinds and not flushing the toilet after using it. Of course I wouldn’t be able write all of them but these are the most common, so consider yourselves warned.
And that’s it! All that’s left now is for you to have a blast in Singapore. I hope you get to enjoy your stay as much as I did.