Living in Singapore
Full Name: Republic of Singapore Area: 683 sq km 264 sq miles Population: 4,000,000 Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8 (Standard Time) Currency: Singapore Dollar (S$) Country Dialing Code: 65 Geography The Republic of Singapore consists of the Island of Singapore and around sixty smaller islands of which just over twenty are inhabited. Singapore is located just off the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsular to which it is linked by a causeway. Singapore City is the country's capital. The main island is about twentysix miles wide and stretches around fourteen miles from north to south. Almost half its area is built-up. Singapore's climate is tropical and very humid. The winter monsoon period brings the greatest amount of rain. The island has no natural resources except for its location on the trade routes between East and West and the geography which has given it one of the world's finest deep harbours What makes Singapore unique? Is it the blend of diverse cultures, traditions and lifestyles? Or the city‟s unbridled energy and dynamism that never seems to dissipate? The city is filled with fascinating contrasts, diverse attractions and experiences like no other. It is East and West with time-honoured beliefs and innovative ideas co-existing side by side. It is harmony in diversity. From the tranquility of the rainforest to the dazzle of its restaurants, bars and clubs. From the century-old shop houses to breathtaking skyscrapers. Yet it is this landscape of diversity that makes the city captivating, creating experiences that are simply beyond words. Home to about four million people, Singapore‟s population is comprised primarily Chinese, Malays and Indians, along with a sizable group of expatriates. With such a multiracial mix, it‟s no wonder that a myriad of cultural influences is apparent in Singapore – from cuisines to architecture and language. Advantages of living in Singapore Living in Singapore is a pleasant experience. It is a safe clean city. Crime is low, but not nonexistent. The police motto is “Low crime is not no crime” The weather : tons of sunshine tempered by cool tropical rains Clean, pleasant environment Excellent customer service and friendly people Close to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei etc for trips overseas
Great expat lifestyle Fantastic restaurants and lively nightlife Death by shopping mall! Modern western amenities Reliable MRT system Eye-catchingly colourful newly upgraded HDB flats The Greenery – even on the freeways History of Singapore The name “Singapore” is derived from the Malay word “Singapura” or “lion city.” Legend has it that a visiting Sri Vijayan prince, Sang Nila Utama, saw an animal which he mistook for a lion and named the island after it. In 1819, British civil servant Sir Stamford Raffles established the city as a trading station for the British Empire.
Tourists today may find it hard to believe but as recently as 1965, when Singapore became independent of Malaysia it was a backwater stopover with a few colonial trappings and not much else. That colonial period began in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles, a British civil servant, "founded" Singapore. As an official of the British East India Company, Raffles was charged with combing the Straits of Malacca to find a suitable trading station to counter the Dutch influence in the area. Raffles thought the tiny fishing village of Singapore perfect because it was at the crossroads of East and West. However Sir Stamford was no ordinary government functionary. A man with vision he recognised the island's potential with a deep water harbour and started from early on planning the city - a trait that continues to this day. Needless to say the Dutch were not happy to see the British in "their" territory and Raffles still needed to work with the local Sultan to get the trading post set up. With a treaty in hand, a strategic location and no customs duties on imports or exports Singapore flourished as a trade post. By 1822 Raffles drew up the arbitrary lines that separate Singapore's neighborhoods until today. South of the Singapore River was set aside for the Chinese while Malays and Muslims were settled in and around the Sultan's Palace. Then in 1824 Raffles bought out the Malaysian Sultan and Singapore was British. The first census that year reports that Singapore had as many as 10,000 residents. In 1867 Singapore become a crown colony of England and 20 years later, in 1867, the Grand Dame of Asian hotels, Raffles, opened. Singapore Today During W.W.II and after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Malay Peninsula and attacked Singapore from the north and in February 1942 took control of the island. The Japanese occupation was ruthless with thousands executed or forced into slave labour. After the war Singapore became part of the Federation of Malaya hoping to gain Independence from Britain together with Malaysia (which it did in 1957). However the union with Malaysia was fraught with problems from the get-go and after many difficult years Singapore finally announced it would go its own way on 9 August 1965. The man in charge on that fateful day was Mr. Lee Kuan Yew - no less a visionary than Sir Stamford Raffles and one of Asia's leading lights in the second half of the 20th century. Under his guidance Singapore, with virtually no natural resources save its people, has become one world's great economic success stories and the gateway to Southeast Asia. Included in its achievements are its world class medical facilities, Asia's largest and the world's second largest container port and an airport handling some 25 million passengers a year. Singapore is modern - no doubt about it - with the highest per capita income in the region and with a plan to get everyone on the internet in the next few years Singapore is in some ways ahead of the West. But all the same it's still very traditional. A peek behind the new skyscrapers reveals a citizenry proud of its heritage and customs carrying out life as they have for generations.
Things to See and Do
Underwater World – Asia‟s largest tropical oceanarium. The star attraction of this mighty aquarium is the 'travellator', an acrylic tunnel with a moving walkway that takes spectators through tanks under 60kg giant gropers, brown stingrays and sharks. There's also a brilliant Dolphin Lagoon included in the entry and for extra, the brave can have the 'pleasure' of swimming with sharks. Sentosa Island & Fort Siloso - a themed attraction, tropical resort, nature park and heritage centre all rolled into one! From beaches to Underwater World to Fort Silosa - Singapore's only preserved coastal fort which stands as an important window to our colonial past and a poignant reminder of the war years. Life-sized replicas, interactive exhibits and even authentic aromas are lovingly recreated. When 'classes' are over, head out into the sunshine and examine actual 17th century guns and cannons, or explore the old tunnels. Singapore Zoological Gardens - Singapore's world-class zoo has more than 2000 animals, representing 240 species on display in almost natural conditions. Wherever possible, moats replace bars and the zoo is spread out over 90ha (222ac) of lush greenery. Exhibits to look out for include the pygmy hippos, Primate Kingdom, Wild Africa and Children's World, where kids can touch the animals. The East Coast area has a very large recreational area call East Coast Parkway. This provides tracks for walking, cycling, roller blading and general recreation. There are also barbeque areas. There are numerous restaurants along the coast for snacks, drinks, or full meals. Shopping Marina Bay are shopping belt includes a vibrant mix of family-orientated malls and high-end shopping arcades, interlinked seamlessly by Singapore‟s only underground shopping mall. Start at Raffles City Shopping Centre and make your way through City Link Mall, Suntec City Mall, and Marina Square. Harbourfront - To check out the latest shopping mall located at Harbourfront, make a trip to VivoCity. This mega mall boasts a good mix of retail, entertainment and lifestyle shops, including a 15-screen multiplex making it the largest cinema hall in Singapore. Orchard Road - Named after the plantations that lined it in the 1840s, Orchard Road is known for its retail options and high-class hotels. Rest assured that you will almost always head home with a few shopping bags in hand. You‟ll find high street labels like Topshop and FCUK. It
is also the domain of Singapore's elite, who are lured by the shopping centres, nightspots, restaurants, bars and lounges. A showcase for the material delights of capitalism, Orchard Rd also possesses some sights of cultural interest where a credit card is not required. For more information drop by Singapore Tourism‟s Board‟s (STB) Singapore Visitor‟s Centre at Orchard Road (junction of Cairnhill Road and Orchard Road, 1800-736-2000) open daily 9.30am-10.30pm. City Hall and Padang Edifices built during the British colonial era still stand tall, with unfading charm, samong the gleaming skyscrapers of today. The Padang (Malay term for a flat field) is the green field in front of the City Hall and is the city‟s oldest untouched plot of land since the 1830‟s Standing next to the field is the City Hall. A witness to events that had shaped Singapore as a nation, it was here where the Japanese surrendered to the British Forces in 1945; it was also here where the then Prime Ministry Lee Kuwan Yew declared Singapore‟s independence on that historic day of 9 August 1065. Raffles Hotel - This is one of the most famous hotels in the world. A story tells that the last tiger to be killed on the island was shot in the hotel. The Singapore Sling, a cocktail containing gin and brandy was first made by a barman at the Raffles Hotel. Relive the 1920s as you experience the quaint charm and elegance of this world-renowned hotel. Restored to its original grandeur, Singapore‟s oldest hotel houses the Raffles Hotel Museum which displays the hotels mementoes, as well as the various exquisite boutiques selling a range of items from international fashion designer labels to art pieces. Embark too on an epicurean journey with a Tiffin Curry buffet lunch or dinner at the Tiffin Room. And don‟t leave the hotel without sipping the famous Singapore Sling at the Long Bar. Raffles Landing Site A pure white polymarble statue of Singapore‟s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, stands proud on the same spot where he had first stet foot in Singapore. The original sculpture which was cast in bronze by Thomas Woolner stands outside the Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre. Haw Par Villa - Built in 1937 by the entrepreneurial and charismatic Aw Boon Haw for his brother Boon Par, Haw Par Villa is a park filled with statues and dioramas of Chinese folklore. Don‟t leave the park without seeing the Laughing Buddha, the Goddess of Mercy and the Ten Courts of Hell. Singapore River The Singapore River has been an economic artery for the island since its days as a rustic enclave of the early settlers. Go on a bumboat ride and immerse yourself in its rich history. Visit the Merlion Park and the landing site of Raffles. For some tranquil moments, stop by the oldest mosque of the island – the Omar Kampong Melaka Mosque o the Taoist Tan Si Chong Su Temple. Or learn more of the region‟s heritage at eh Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place. Don‟t forget to pop by the architectural icon: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, a world-class performance arts centre that also houses a range of retail and F & B outlets. The areas around the Singapore River now play host to an array of cultural spots, restaurants and nocturnal hangouts. As the sun sets, watch Singapore River come alive with locals and visitors coming here for a drink, a hearty meal or a night of partying. Clubs abound at Clarke Quay, such as the famous Ministry of Sound (#01-02 Blk.C Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6235-2292) while pubs like Harry‟s Bar (28 Boat Quay, 6538-3029) can be found at Boat Quay. For fancy eating spots like Brasserie Wolf (#01-13 The Pier at Robertson, 80 Mohamed Sultan Rd; 6835-7818), head for Robertson Quay.
Ethnic Neighbourhoods Exploring ethnic enclaves provide an insight into the local way of life: they are areas in which tradition meets modernity. Loved for its textiles and mementos, Arab Street is one of the seats of Malay culture. Another good bet is Geylang Serai. Here kite and batik-making demonstrations are available at The Malay Village (39 Geylang Serai 6748-4700), while ethnic costumes and arts can be found at Geylang Serai Market. Chinatown was the heart of the city‟s trading activity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The early Chinese settlers once lived, toiled and played in these streets. Visit the Chinese Heritage Centre to learn about their history and legacy, and Thian Hock Keng to see the oldest Hokkien temple. Standing tall at its end is the Indian Sri Mariamman Temple with colourful images of Hindu deities. A trip to Chinatown is not complete without a visit to the Smith Street wet market, where fresh produce is sold daily, or to the various shops selling Chinese souvenirs, antiquities, herbs and delectable snacks. Visit Club Street and Erskine Road for interesting restaurants and numerous designer shops selling funky buys. If you are here in the evenings, stop by Chinatown Food Street for an alfresco meal and sample local food fare from various food stalls, followed by a walk through the Chinatown Night market. Here, hit Food Street for the local hawker fare, and Pagoda and Trengganu Streets for souvenirs. Or trot over to Chinatown Heritage Centre (48 Pagoda St., 6325-2878) for exhibitions that recreate life in the past. Little India is a haven for Indian food, Bollywood videos, trinkets and spices. A must-go is the 24hours shopping complex Mustafa Centre (145 Syed Alwi Rd., 6295-5855) which has almost everything from electronic devices to groceries. A blast of scents and sights will greet you the moment you enter this ethnic precinct. Negotiate your way through the many stalls peddling bric-a-bracs, flower garlands and even parakeet fortune-telling services. Don‟t leave this place without admiring one of the many temples along Serangoon Road, such as the national monument Abdul Gafoor Mosque, or dining at any of the restaurants offering authentic North and South Indian cuisine. Katong This is a popular food enclave where locals and foreigners flock for a sumptuous fill of laksa (rice noodles in spicy coconut gravy-soup), chilli crab and other seafood delights. The colourful shop houses bring us back to the early days of Chinese communities who settled here in the 17 th century. Their legacy, referred to as Peranakan, still echoes to this day. Arab Street/Kampong Glam, North Bridge Road Find items ranging from embroidered wear, semi-precious stones, basketwork and accessories for pilgrimage to natural oils and ceremonial knives in this district. A visit to Sultan Mosque, the most prominent mosque in the city and one of the best example of Muslim architecture, is a must. And for a glimpse into the area‟s past, stop by the Malay Heritage Centre. For food, try the spicy nasi padang (rice served with a choice of dishes such as fish, chicken, eggs and vegetables) form the predominantly Muslim Malay community. The Australian New Zealand Association welcomes all nationalities and members may be single of married. The cost is modest. They do not have clubrooms but maintain an office. They organize tours and welcome
mornings, coffee mornings, and wine evenings. There are sports groups and many other activities. They send you a monthly magazine if you are a member and maintain a website that enables you to view all the activities on offer. Local community centres hold evening classes in a variety of activities – tai chi, mandarin, yoga etc. Expatriates may attend and the cost is modest.
25 unique things to do!
Test the top contenders for the title of best laksa along the same stretch of East Coast Road. Sample stalls 47,49,57 and 328 and name your victor in the „Katong Laksa Wars‟ Take breakfast at Chin Mee Chin, a hole in the wall confectionery that exudes old world charm. Enjoy Kaya (egg and coconut milk jam) toast and kopi (coffee) in traditional porcelain cups in a setting that takes you back 40 years (204 East Coast Road open 8.30am-5.00pm closed on Mondays) Wine and dine amid tranquil tree-lined paths and green canopies at Rochester Park. This heritage area hosts a number of swanky restaurants that have made the whitewashed colonial bungalows here their homes. Visit the world‟s largest fountain at Suntec City and find out how you can benefit from feng Shui, the ancient art of geomancy, which is integrated into the fountain‟s design. Marvel at the view from Equinox restaurant and New Asia Bar Get friendly with the wildlife at the Night Safari See the old peranakan buildings and enjoy one for one beer at Ice Cold Beer in Emerald Hill Explore the Asian Civilizations Museum Indulge in Sunday champagne brunches at the major hotels Chill out in bikinis and flip flops on Sentosa Browse the goods in the charming retail shop houses in Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar Dine close to the tropical rainforest at Dempsey Hill Take a trishaw ride across Benjamin Shears Bridge Go late night shopping at Orchard Road till 11pm on Saturdays Take in the lush greenery of the Singapore Botanic Gardens‟ Orchid Garden Sip a Singapore Sling in the cool and austere serenity of Raffles Hotel Eat sumptuous chili crap – Singapore‟s national dish, at Long Beach Seafood Restaurant or grilled sting ray at Newton Hawker Centre Smell the incense and flowers at Little India Check out the beach beats and cool chicks at Café del Mar Party at the largest Ministry of Sound Venue in the world or head out with the hip and happening throngs at Clarke Quay‟s nightspots Whiz around a lake water-skiing or wakeboarding while being pulled by an overhead cable instead of a boat at Cable Ski Park Let it snow; let it snow all year round! It‟s a freezing minus 5 degrees Celsius so go snow tubing, skiing or snowboarding at Snow City Visit Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – one of the world‟s two nature reserves located within city boundaries. Watch out for the monkeys! Spend the day at East Coast Park beach resorts and restaurants. A popular picnic and barbeque place as well as a seaside haunt for health fanatics and anglers. Also famous for seafood dining. Walk across the freestanding suspension bridge that connects Mac Ritchie‟s two highest points. From this breathtaking view, you‟ll see the diverse community of plants and animals of the forest. Tree Top walk
Food Food is of major importance in Singapore – it is everywhere! Dining out is very popular and there is a huge variety of dining experiences. It can be cheap and cheerful at a hawker stall – from $2 onwards, to $65+++ in a first class restaurant. There are many seafood restaurants – some actually right on the beach. The East Coast is famous for these. Prices are reasonable. Alcohol is expensive. You have not been to Singapore if you have not tried at least one of the various local dishes. Take your pick from a smorgasbord of dishes such as chicken rice, satay and roti prata. Head to the nearest hawker centre, food court or even better, ask a local resident the best place to go for that particular dish. If you love satay and alfresco dining go to the Boon Tat Street, near Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, converted into a pedestrian precinct by night with chairs and tables ready for diners. This is a good opportunity to see how satay is grilled over a charcoal fire. Places to consider include Chinatown Food Street along Smith Street, East Coast Lagoon Food Village, Fishermen‟s Village by the beach at Pasir Ris, Lau Pa Sat‟s Satay Street along Boon Tat Street, Maxwell Food centre, Newton Food Centre, People‟s Park, Tiong Bahru Market and Zion Riverside Food Centre. Local Favourites include Chilli Crap, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Satay, Laksa, Bak Kut The (pork ribs in spices), Roti Prata and The Tarik (crispy pancake served with curry gravy and tea), Fish Head Curry, Fried Carrot Cake, Char Kway Teow (noodles with fish cake, Clams and Chinese Sausage) and Rojak(local salad of fruits and vegetables stirred in a prawn paste and topped with peanuts). Supermarkets are modern, clean and reasonably priced. Meat is more expensive compared to Australia and New Zealand, but comparable to the UK. Other food is comparable. Shopping is a popular pastime and there are constant “sales”. Big department stores and some smaller shops are fixed price, but some smaller shops and stall in markets will “bargain”. Singapore Food Sport Singapore's most famous sports facility is the Padang, chosen by Raffles as a recreation area when he laid out the plans of the city; it has remained the site of the Singapore Cricket Club and the Singapore Recreation Club. The biggest event today on the Padang is the Singapore Sevens International rugby tournament. The Chinese in Singapore practise the traditional martial arts: Kung Fu, Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong as well as the Japanese art of Kendo, samurai sword fighting. Though space is very limited on the island, there are a number of golf clubs and a modern horse-racing track. Since Singapore is an island, water-sports such as sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and scuba-diving are popular.
There are many golf clubs and courses in Singapore, visit www.countryclubs.com for a full list. Inline skating is highly popular among locals and you will find them congregating at East Coast Park. Visit www.skateline.com.sg Wakeboarding enthusiasts have been flocking regularly to their favourite spots for this action-packed water sports. Try www.proairwatersports.com, www.extreme.com.sg or www.wakeboard.com.sg Windsurfing is another popular sports here, after all Singapore is an island nation. So if you like riding the waves, head to the East Coast Park. For more information visit www.seasports.org.sg Weather Singapore lies just 1.37° (152 km) north of the equator. As such the weather is tropical - uniformly hot and sunny with intermittent showers year round. Days (daylight) are about 12 hours long with sunrise is around 6.45 am; sunset at 6.30-6.45 pm The daytime temperature averages between 24° C to 32° C (74° F to 90° F) however humidity is quite high - a sticky 75% so often times it feels much hotter. Singapore doesn't seem to have the more extreme tropical monsoons of its neighbors but you can expect more rain in November, December and January. (Monsoon refers to the wind, not the rain). However even during the wettest December there‟s a better than even chance that it will be sunny for part of the day. Weather wise May, June and July are generally considered the best. Some months are drier than others, but it is never cold. Most places are air-conditioned, including the school, most apartments, taxis and public transport. What to Wear Loose and light summer clothing (preferably natural fabrics) is recommended, especially for outdoor activities like bazaar shopping and sightseeing. Evening wear depends very much on the setting. Jeans, Tshirts and sandals are acceptable in casual eateries and hawker stalls, but discouraged in fine dining establishments. For men, a tie and jacket may be necessary in some of the more exclusive places. For woman, anything from dressy silk to casual cotton would be appropriate. Languages Singapore has four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English, the language of business and government. The literacy rate is over ninety percent, one of the highest literacy rates in Asia.
Religion A multicultural city, everyone has freedom of worship in Singapore. For the most part the Chinese population are either Buddhists, Confucians, Taoists or Christians. Most Indians are Hindu and Malays are Muslim. For visitors looking to worship there are any number of convenient temples, churches, mosques, shrines and synagogues (there are two Jewish synagogues in Singapore). Simple Etiquette Cultural etiquette has been described as the unspoken but assumed behavior that conveys politeness. Inasmuch as the vast majority of Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese one still needs to consider the customs of ethnic Malays and Indians when visiting. Thankfully there are not many rules to follow. If on business, do make sure you are on time. Wait to be introduced to people before introducing yourself. Be well stocked with business cards and importantly, make sure to receive and present business cards with both hands (rather than one) and never write on it. Treat it with respect and do not put cards immediately into your pocket or wallet as this is viewed as a lack of interest or disrespect. For men, long sleeve shirts and ties are considered appropriate business attire during the day but do take a jacket - you can always remove it. For women, going without hosiery is acceptable in all but the most demanding offices. Sheer blouses and / or open plunging necklines are not viewed in a positive manner. As well there is an emphasis on equality of the sexes in Singapore and many women hold positions of authority in business. Spouses of both sexes do not attend business events or functions unless specially invited. When dining with friends or business acquaintances, do leave some food on your plate or bowl to indicates to your host that you recognise their generosity but that you cannot possibly eat any more. Do wait for a signal from the host before starting on your food, however if you are invited as a guest you will be requested to be the first to start. When eating with ethnic Chinese be aware not to place your chopsticks vertically into the bowl (it is a bad omen because it resembles the incense sticks in a bowl of ashes, a sign
of praying to the dead) instead place them horizontally across the bowl or rest them on the table. Dressing: Dress appropriately when visiting temples and mosques Removal of shoes: It is common practice to remove one‟s shoes or sandals when entering temples and mosques, as well as local homes. Use of hands to eat or pass food: The right hand is used when eating an Indian or Malay meal Follow the law. Singapore is notorious as being a 'fine' city. A SGD100 fine for this, a SGD50 fine for that. But the pun stops there. Sinaporeans are very disciplined and follow the rules and expect everybody else to follow them as well. Oddly for a service economy tipping is not common or expected in Singapore. It is prohibited at the airport and discouraged in hotels and restaurants where there is a 10% service charge automatically added to your bill. As well taxi drivers are generally not tipped. A tip should only be exercised in instances where the bill does not include a service charge Drinking Water This is Singapore and yes you can drink water straight from the tap but we suggest you get in the habit of drinking bottled water especially if you will be visiting other countries in the region. Electricity Singapore's voltage is 220 - 240 AC, 50 Hertz. Outlets and plugs are of the large 3-prong variety. Most hotels can provide adaptors and transformers to convert it to 110 - 120 AC, 60 Hertz. That said, be aware when buying large electrical appliances like computers of the difference with your home country. Smoking, rather No Smoking Smoking is banned in public buses, taxis, lifts, theatres, government offices, cinemas, air conditioned restaurants, shopping centres air-conditioned pubs, discos, karaoke bars and nightspots, covered areas or in any public spot (a public spot being defined as anyplace where more than two persons are gathered). Firsttime offenders may be fined up to SGD1,000.00. Littering Singapore is clean and wants to remain so. A carelessly thrown tissue could result in a SGD1,000.00 fine for a first offender, and a SGD2,000.00 fine and a stint of corrective work order cleaning a public place for repeat offenders. Money Matters There is no limit on the amount of currency you can bring into take out of Singapore. The local currency is Singapore Dollars, expressed as either S$ or SGD. Paper notes are available in SGD1, SGD2, SGD5, SGD10, SGD20, SGD50, SGD100, SGD500, SGD1,000 and SGD10,000. Coins are minted in 1,5,10,20,50 cents and SGD1 and SGD2. Money changing services are available at Singapore Changi Airport 24/7 and at most banks, hotels and shopping complexes. Generally speaking licensed money changers give a better rate than most hotels and banks. That said, if you take a step or two into a shopping centre you'll almost always get a better rate than if you use the one at the entrance. Visitors are advised not to change money with unlicensed operators. Most banks open from 9.30 am to 3.00 pm on weekdays and 9.30 am to 11.30 am on Saturdays. www.xe.com (currency converter) Credit / Charge Cards Credit and charge cards are widely accepted in Singapore. Hotels, travel agents, retailers, restaurants and even taxi cabs readily accept international credit and charge cards. Phone Home The country code for Singapore is 65. As of now there are no area codes. Local calls cost SGD10 cents for the first 3 minutes. Many businesses have toll free numbers (1-800-xxxx-xxxx). Coin phones are being phased out in favor of card phones (but everyone in Singapore seems to have their own hand phone).
There are three mobile phone networks: CDMA, GSM 900 and GSM 1800. Rates for all calls are based on SingTel, MI or Star Hub IDD rates. Visitors with a GSM hand phone may purchase a 'HI-Card' - a temporary phone card - SGD25.00 or SGD50.00 at any SingTel outlet. Visitors purchasing a HI-Card are required to present their passport as identification. Additional money can be added to the HI-Card with a "top up" card available at any Sing-Tel outlet or 7-11 store. IDD calls can be made from the numerous phone card and credit card phones located at post offices and around the city area. Phone cards come in five denominations of SGD 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50, and are sold at Singapore Telecom service outlets, post offices and some retail shops. International Calling Cards in denominations of SGD 10, 20 and 50 are available at all post offices, Changi Airport, SingTel, Sunpage shops and some retail outlets.
Internet Getting connected in Singapore is a breeze. Some hotels and most restaurants and cafes have free wireless broadband internet connections, just bring your laptop or blackberry and logon. Postal Services Singapore Post has more than 1,300 postal outlets island-wide for your convenience. They offer a wide range of postal telecommunication and agency services; most are open Monday through Friday from 8.30am to 5.00pm and until 1.00pm on Saturday www singpost.com.sg Emergency Numbers Police 999 Ambulance/Fire Brigade 995 Flight Information 1800-542-4422 24 hour Tourist line 1800-736-2000 Foreign Missions/Embassies/Representative Office A complete list of Foreign Missions/Embassies/Representative Office is available at embassy information. Country Argentina Australia Austria Bangladesh Belgium Brazil Britain Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Canada Chile China Colombia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Egypt Finland France Germany Greece Guine Bissau Honduras Tel. 6324 1433 6836 4100 6235 4088 6255 0075 6220 7677 6256 6001 6473 9333 6733 9055 6737 1111 6325 3200 6223 8577 6734 0803 6323 3505 6474 8473 6332 2378 6250 3383 6737 1811 6254 4042 6880 7800 6737 1355 6220 8622 6334 6188 6227 2170 Country Japan Korea,Dem Rep.(South) Korea,Rep.of (North) Lao PDR Malaysia Malta Mexico Myanmar Netherlands New Zealand Norway Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea Peru Philippines Poland Romania Russian Federation Saudi Arabia South Africa Sri Lanka Sweden Tel. 6235 8855 6221 7441 6256 1188 6250 6044 6235 0111 6336 6311 6298 2678 6735 0209 6737 1155 6235 9966 6220 7122 6737 6988 6221 8677 6296 7818 6738 8595 6737 3977 6294 2513 6468 3424 6235 1834 6734 5878 6339 3319 6254 4595 6734 2771
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Tel. 6734 0096 1 800 345 345
Medical Services Raffles Hospital (585 North Bridge Road, near Marina Bay Area) 6311-1111 Singapore General Hospital (Accident and Emergency Department, Outram Road) 6321-4311 Gleneagles (near Orchard Road Area) 6470-5700 Mount Elizabeth (near Orchard Road Area) 6731 2218 National University Hospital (west side of island) 6772 5000 Tan Tock Seng Hospital (within Novena area) 6357 8866 Navigating the City Getting around in Singapore is a breeze – the train system is hassle-free and efficient, busses are chap, and taxis are numerous. If you plan to travel via public transport a lot, buy a $15 EZ-Link card with an encoded $10 value (available from all MRT train stations) which allows cashless payment on all public buses and trains. Buses travel to almost every part of the island and fares start from 90 cents. Be sure to have the exact fare, as bus drivers do not give change. For information on bus routes and related enquiries, call the Transit Link Hotline at 6225-5663 or log on to 222.sbstransit.com.sg or www.tibs.com.sg Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) – Singapore‟s world-class train system is known as the MRT. Trains are clean, safe, inexpensive, punctual, air-conditioned and comfortable, and run from about 6am to midnight. Single trip tickets (from 90 cents to $1.90) can be purchased from vending machines at all MRT stations. Coverage is not as extensive as the bus system but is more than adequate for most tourists. In the city centre the MRT is underground and above ground in the outlying suburbs. Access often allows you to walk under the street in safe, well lit walkways (especially nice during a rain shower). Routes and fares are well marked and easy to follow. Fares range between SGD 0.90 (one station to the next) upwards - i.e. from Orchard Road to Changi Airport is SGD 1.70 (Dec. 2006). To use the system for the first time you will need to buy a fare card known as an EZ-Link card. Visitors can buy an EZ-Link card at any MRT station for S$15. This includes a S$3 deposit which is refunded when you return the card. There is a non-refundable amount of S$5 for the card cost and a travel value of S$7 to start with. The minimum top-up is S$10. Any unused value is refundable as well. The card may also be used on any public bus. Tap the card in the designated area on the top of the turnstile to enter the train area and likewise tap the card on the turnstile at your destination to exit. Same for buses - when entering the bus tap the card on the specially designed card reader near the driver and at the rear door when exiting. For what it is worth, visitors may also purchase a single trip fare card known as a Standard Ticket for the exact amount of the fare displayed. Standard Ticket fare cards are only good for a one way ride on the day purchased. When you purchase such a fare card there is a SGD1.00 deposit added to the cost of the trip. This SGD1.00 is refundable at the ticket counter at any MRT station. For information on MRT routes and related enquiries call the Transit Link Hotline 1800-225-5663 or log on to www.smrtcorp.com
River Taxis – Singapore River Cruises (6336-6111) operates daily 9am-11pm (last trip 10.30pm). Singapore Explorer (6339-6833) operates daily 0am-11pm (last trip 10.30pm). Taxis – There are four major taxi companies in the city: City Cab 6552-2222; Comfort 6552-1111; Premier Cabs 6552-2828; and SMRT Taxis 6555-8888. Fares start from $2.80.Charges are higher for advance bookings. Getting to and from the airport SBS Bus 36 plies between Changi Airport and Orchard Road, and departs every 10 minutes. Call 1800767-4333 for details. MRT – The journey takes about half an hour and single trip cost $1.50. The first train departs City Hall Mon-Sat 5.59am, Sun and public holidays 6.27am. From Changi Airport MRT station, the first train departs Mon-Fri 5.31am, Sun and public holidays 5.59am. The last train departs 12.06am. Travel - Singapore is at the centre of many Asian tourist destinations. There are five star resorts and unpretentious little islands close by for day trips or short break. Prices range from modest to five star, according to the distance and facilities provided. Accommodation In Singapore you may take a lease for one year or two. If you take it for one year, you need to pay one month‟s rent in advance and one month‟s rent as a bond/deposit. In addition the real estate agent is paid 2 weeks‟ commission. For a two year lease, the agent‟s commission will be one month‟s rental. If you have a very “friendly” agent there could be some negotiation possible with these commission rates. Ensure that any such discussions with the agent are conducted politely yet firmly. There have been cases when the landlord has agreed to pay some of the agent‟s expected commission so it is worthwhile exploring this inquiry with your agent. It is tenants‟ market there are many properties to rent. Prices for rental range from S$1,700 to $3,000+ per month depending on the type of accommodation. There are many more expensive places as the facilities increase and the properties get bigger and more luxurious.
If the landlord requires a two year lease, ask for a “diplomatic clause” for the second year, this allows you to leave because of a change of circumstances. A two year lease requires two months‟ rent in advance. Properties are usually furnished, but not with crockery, cutlery or linen. Landlords will usually put in more furniture e.g. a TV, washing machine, dryer etc, if required, or take some out if it is not needed. Hotels There are numerous hotels in Singapore for example: Hilton Singapore 581 Orchard Road, Singapore, 238883 T: 6737 2233 www.singapore.hilton.com (S$250-350) Hotel 81 – Bencoolen, 41 Bencoolen Street, Singapore, 189623 T: 6338 3316 www.hotel81.com.sg (S$89139) The Inn at Temple Street, 36 Temple Street, Singapore, 058581, T: 6221 5333 www.theinn.com.sg (S$128-188) For more on hotel accommodation go to the Singapore Tourism Board, Tourism Court, 1 Orchard Spring Lane, Singapore, 247729 Tel: +65 6736 6622 (Toll-free in Singapore only 1800 7362000) or visit www.vistsingapore.com Changi Airport Info Singapore's Changi Airport is an amazing place. Already large by any standard, construction is seemly always underway for expansion. The efficiency and order is refreshing. One would never suspect that some 25 million people arrive annually and transit through the place with plans to increase that to some 40 million persons per year over the next decade. Changi is about 20 kilometres from downtown Singapore and visitors by and large have four options to get into the city. Visitors can take a regular taxi cab direct to your hotel. Depending which hotel you're staying at the ride costs about SGD 20.00 for 3 adults and will take about 25 minutes. However the actual cost may vary depending on time of day. Click here for more information. A second option is a shuttle bus that collects passengers going to several different hotels in a certain geographic area. Cost is fixed at SGD 7.00/per adult (SGD5.00/per child) and takes about 45 or minutes or longer depending on the hotel order. As well there are two public transportation options; the MRT (subway) and Singapore public bus. Both are convenient, easy to use and inexpensive. That said if you have a lot of luggage or your hotel is not near a MRT station you may be better off taking the shuttle bus or public bus (if you are on a very tight budget). The MRT station is located in Terminal 1 and you will need to have a fare card (you can buy a fare card in the station). Be advised that in order to go downtown you will need to transfer trains at Tanah Merah interchange and get on the train headed to Boon Lay (it's on the same platform). Approximate time to downtown from the airport is 45 minutes and vice versa. Be advised that if you arrive at Changi Airport's Budget Terminal there is a free shuttle bus to the main terminals 1 and 2 to get you to the MRT station. The fourth and last option is the public bus. SBS (Singapore Bus Service) buses 16 and 36 run between Orchard Road and Changi Airport. Approximate time to downtown is 50 minutes or more. Entry and Exit Requirements Generally foreigners, who do not require visas for entry and are visiting Singapore as tourists, may be given up to 30-day social visit passes upon their arrival in Singapore. For a list of nationalities needing a visa. That said, tourists entering Singapore need a valid passport, onward/ return tickets, onward facilities (i.e. visas, entry permit etc.) to their next destination and sufficient funds for their stay in Singapore. If you want to stay longer, you need to apply to the Singapore Immigration & Registration Office. Call the Singapore Immigration Office Hotline at Tel. 6391-6100 after your arrival. Women in an advanced state of pregnancy (i.e. 6 months or more) intending to visit Singapore should make prior application to the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission or the Singapore Immigration and Registration Office. Customs Formalities Visitors 18 years old or older arriving from a country other than Malaysia and who have spent more than 48
hours outside Singapore immediately before their arrival, are allowed a duty-free concession on one litre each of spirits, wine and beer or stout ale for personal consumption. There is no concession for cigarettes or other tobacco products. Singapore is largely a no-smoking zone and government does everything in its power to discourage smoking. Currently the GST (Goods and Services Tax) is 5%. This GST is levied on all goods imported into Singapore. A bonafide traveler, other than holders of a work permit, employment pass, student pass, dependent pass or long term pass will be given relief on GST on new purchases, gifts, souvenirs and food preparations, excluding liquor and tobacco, up to the value of: * SGD 50.00 if you have been away from Singapore for less than 24 hours. * SGD 150.00 if you have been away from Singapore for 24 hours or more but less than 48 hours. * SGD 300.00 if you have been away from Singapore for 48 hours or more. Excess dutiable items may be left in Customs Bond until your departure, provided this is from the same point of entry. You are charged for storage. Export Duty No export duties are imposed on goods taken out of Singapore. Export permits are required for firearms, ammunition, explosives, animals, gold in form, platinum, precious stones and jewelry (except reasonable personal effects), poisons and drugs. For inquiries please contact the Singapore Trade Development Board at Tel. 6337-6620. Controlled and Prohibited Items Singapore prohibits the entry of some items, while others are subject to controls and restrictions. Prohibited items include: chewing gum, chewing tobacco and imitation tobacco products, cigarette lighters of pistol / revolver shape, controlled drugs and psychotropic substances, endangered species of wildlife and their byproducts, firecrackers, obscene articles, publications, video tapes or disc, records or cassettes, seditious and treasonable materials Travelers who carry medicine with them, especially sleeping pills, depressants and stimulants, must ensure that they bring along the prescription confirming that the medicine is used for their physical well-being while traveling. stations and on board trains and buses. No excuses. Outward Bound When leaving for the airport make sure to keep SGD 15.00 for the Passenger Service Charge (airport tax). This is almost always already included into your air ticket but every once in a great while it isn't (especially if you buy a ticket at a discount travel agency) and you'll need to pay during check-in. If you are in transit for less than 24 hours, you may leave the airport without having to pay the service charge upon departure. Also just a quick last minute reminder. It would quite hard not to get in the shopping mood when you visit Singapore. That said make sure you check with your home country's customs department to understand how much duty you may have to pay upon returning home. TAX OBLIGATIONS FOR FOREIGNERS WORKING IN SINGAPORE 1. What is my tax position if I work in Singapore Generally, as long as you work in Singapore, the total earnings in respect to your employment exercised in Singapore, whether they are received in Singapore or not, will be subject to tax. The amount of tax you ill pay depends on: whether you are regarded as a tax resident or non-resident in Singapore; and how much income you earn
Please see table 1 for a summary of the tax implications Table 1 – Tax implications at a glance Scenario No. of days in Singapore If you are exercising your < 60 days employment in Singapore 61 days to 182 days
< 183 days
Tax Rate Employment income is exempted from tax Employment income is taxable at 15%(non residential) or resident rate whichever gives rise to higher tax All income is taxed at resident rate from 2% to 28% The director‟s fee are taxable at 20% regardless of the number of days you are in Singapore Your income as a stage, radio or television artist, a musician or an athlete is taxable at 15% Your income is taxed at resident rate from 3% to 28%
Exceptions If you are a Director coming to Singapore for meeting If you are a stage, radio or television artist, a musician or an athlete 1 days to 182 days
< 183 days
When will I be treated as a tax resident for Singapore tax purposes? You will be regarded as a tax resident if you have been in Singapore for at least 183 days in a calendar year: or you have been physically present or working in Singapore for 3 consecutive years even though the number of days you are in Singapore is less than 183 days in the first and third year. This is as administrative concession.
Please see Table 2 for an example Year 1 2 3 3.
Period 1.11.96 to 31.12.96 1. 01.97 to 31.12.97 1. 01.98 to 28. 02.98
Number of days 61 days 365 days 59 days
How do I go about paying my income tax? Usually, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will send an income tax form to you at your mailing address by 31st March of each year. You will then have to fill in and return the form to IRAS by 15th April the same year. If you do not receive the form, you can call taxpayer Services hotline of IRAS on 1800-63568300 For short-term engagements in Singapore, no income tax form will be sent to you. Instead, you, your local sponsor or your employer is required to complete the relevant forms so that you can clear your tax before you leave Singapore. Form IR21 (Notification by an employer of an employee‟s cessation of employment or departure from Singapore) Form IR153 (Form for non-resident entertainer, artist, musician and athlete) Form IR152 (Form for non-residents exercising profession in Singapore)
Does my employer need to inform IRAS if I cease employment with the Company? Yes, your employer needs to seek tax clearance by informing the IRAS At least one month before you cease employment or leave Singapore; and Withholding any monies due to you until tax clearance is given or 30 days after receiving your employer‟s notification, whichever is earlier. However, if you are a Singapore Permanent Resident and you are merely changing jobs in Singapore, your
employer does not have to seek tax clearance unless you are leaving Singapore permanently. 5. What happens if I have not cleared my income tax before I leave Singapore? IRAS may appoint your bank or your CPF Board as agent, under Section 57 of the Income Tax Act, to recover the tax from you. A stop order certificate may also be issued to prevent you from leaving Singapore. In such a case, you will need a letter from IRAS before you could leave Singapore. For further information, please call Taxpayer Services at the following hotlines or visit IRAS‟ website at http://www.iras.gov.sg Acknowledgements: 1800-63568300 1800-63568655 General enquiries Tax clearance
Ministry of Manpower, Employment Pass Department Information correct as at April 2006. Subject to changes as and when directives are issued by the MOM
More Information http://www.worldinfozone.com/country.php?country=Singapore http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/asia/singapore/