Things You Should Know Before Visiting Singapore

Singapore has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. I’ve transferred through Singapore’s Changi Airport more times than I can count but never had the opportunity (or, admittedly, made the time) to venture into Singapore itself.

So, when we started planning our big two year full-time travel adventure, Singapore was the obvious first stop.

As one of the biggest travel hubs in the world, it is easy to get to Singapore from practically anywhere in the world (Hence having travelled through the airport so often!)

Since I love insider info, tips and tricks, I wanted to share some of the main things I learned during our time in Singapore.

Hopefully this will help you along if you’re in the process of planning your own trip there!

What You Should Know When Visiting Singapore

PS – This post may contain affiliate links: That means that if you purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Of course, I only recommend products/services that I have used and believe are great! Please read my disclosure for more info.


There Is SO Much To See!

You’ll see many blog posts and articles suggesting that 2-3 days in Singapore is more than enough.

While you can definitely get a good taste of this incredible city in that time, I would argue that 3 days isn’t nearly enough time to see all that Singapore has to offer.

When I started planning out the things I wanted to see, I quickly realised that we should spend at least a week in Singapore.

Even then, we only did about half the things I had planned to do…

A good excuse to come back another time I suppose!


The main thing that jumped out at me is the amazing architecture and all the greenery that’s incorporated everywhere.

It’s not all about the popular and well known attractions in Singapore. Make sure you look up and admire the buildings! Singapore has to be an architect’s dream… I’ve never seen so many amazing buildings in one place!

And, you might be surprised to find that you can actually go hiking in Singapore!

A day trip to MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a must!

Amazing architecture in Singapore with lots of greenery incorporated

Beautiful curved architecture on Orchard Road with greenery incorporated


Not Everywhere Is Worthwhile

I would say don’t bother with Sentosa Island unless you’re planning on going to Universal Studios or the Aquarium.

Realistically, most of you won’t be going to Singapore for a beach holiday anyway (save this for the likes of Thailand or Indonesia!) but we thought it might be a nice break from the city.

We were pretty disappointed though.

The pictures make it look quite beautiful but the water looked dirty and there were signs up at parts of Siloso Beach that swimming wasn’t allowed…

I guess the 1000 or so freight ships that are in Singapore Harbour at any given time might have something to do with that too.

Singapore's Sentosa island beach with freight ships

If you do want to see the ocean and spend a day relaxing in a non-city environment, we would be more inclined to suggest East Coast Park.

Here, you can walk along the 15km long coastline, rent bikes, play beach volleyball, and even have a BBQ at one of the many BBQ Pits (you’ll have to bring your own charcoal).

Joannda walking in big yellow footsteps at East Coast Park

Coastline stretch at East Coast Park in Singapore



If you do plan to visit Sentosa and want to do an activity there, it pays to book tickets in advance as they’ll be cheaper than buying them there.

If you’re planning on doing a couple of the sights in the downtown Singapore area, such as visiting the Art Science Museum and going up to the Marina Bay Sands observation deck, it is worth signing up for the Sands Rewards Lifestyle Programme.

  • It is free to join, and you can pick it up from the Marina Bay Sands hotel
  • The Rewards card gives you one complimentary ticket to the Art Science Museum with the purchase of one standard ticket (up to two tickets per month), as well as 20% off two standard ticket to the Marina Sands observation deck

Read More: Singapore Travel Costs: How Much Money Do You Really Need?

Singapore Public Transport Is Amazing

Public transport is quick, efficient, cheap and easy! Although we did a lot of walking too, Singapore’s transport is an absolute dream!!

  • MRT
    • I’ve never experience this anywhere before, but the MRT (underground) in Singapore allows you to pay by contactless bank cards which we actually found to be cheaper than buying a physical ticket
      • Do check with your bank about any fees and charges for using your bank card overseas as this can easily add up.
        • We’ve recently started using, and absolutely love Revolut for this reason exactly. Its a great alternative to traditional banks with very limited fees and charges depending on how you use it! We’ve found it gives us massive savings on fees when spending and sending money abroad – I’d definitely recommend checking it out!
  •  Buses
    • Payment for travel by bus is by cash only unless you opt for a Singapore Tourist Pass
      • This may be worthwhile if you are planning on using the MRT and bus system frequently
      • Apparently they are working on allowing payment by contactless bank cards for buses in the future too so watch this space!
    • No change is given so make sure you have the exact amount in cash or be ok with sending a bit more than the fare actually costs
    • Make sure you pick up a ticket from the dispenser just past the driver.
      • You may be subject to a ticket inspection so you want to make sure you have it to hand!

Joannda and Omer on the MRT from Changi Airport into the city


Grab – Asia’s Uber – Is Also Amazing

Grab is like Uber or Lyft, if you’re familiar with those. While we don’t have either in Ireland, I’ve used Uber in the States and New Zealand before, and just like that, Grab is very user friendly!

It’s a great alternative to public transport if you’re travelling with a couple of people or your destination is not easily reached by MRT or bus.

While I’m all about doing things on the cheap, we did opt for Grab a couple of times when the bus would have taken 4 times as long…

Simply download the Grab app, complete an easy registration and away you go. You can still choose to pay cash if you prefer, but you can also link it to your PayPal or bank card.

Food & Drink In Singapore

We weren’t sure about this, but tap water is perfectly drinkable in Singapore! It is quite often a bit warm due to the heat though!

At restaurants, ask for ice water. Some places will bring it out automatically but others won’t. This should be free of charge and will be a welcome change from the lukewarm tap water in your accommodation and/or drinking fountains when you’re out and about.

Alcohol is expensive. I mean, most things are expensive in Singapore, but alcohol especially so.

If you see a sign advertising “1-for-1” they mean “buy one get one free” (yeah, I had to ask about that one!) 

For us, these deals meant that drinks were roughly what we are used to paying back in Ireland…

Singapore Food and Drink 1 for 1 Happy Hour

Be aware that service charge (10%) and GST (sales tax – 7%) are not always included in the price shown on the menu.

You’ll see a plus sign or two next to the price on the menu boards outside, which indicates these are additional. 

It should also specify on the actual menu whether these are included or additional.

We also experienced that wet towels might be charged if used (only 30 cents but worth remembering!)

Singapore Hawker Centers (Food Court)

Food markets or Hawker Centres are the best way to make sure eating in Singapore stays affordable.

The food is delicious and there are loads of options. Perfect for if you want to try a couple of different things or you and your travel companion fancy different types of food.

Our favourite was Lau Pa Sat (Festival Market). It has plenty of options inside the beautiful old-world octagonal shaped building.

Singapore Hawkers Market Food Court Lau Pa Sat

Bear in mind that you’ll have to go to a different stalls for food vs drinks vs deserts. 

Also, most of the time, payment is by cash only. Still, for around S$5-7 per meal, it won’t exactly break the bank.

Definitely check out Hawker Centres for breakfast too – for less than S$3, you’ll get toast, eggs and coffee/tea!

A portion of Boon Tat Street, on one side of Lau Pa Sat, is closed off each night and lined with additional food stalls selling satay skewers.

If you’re not sure where to find Lau Pa Sat, the smell of BBQ’ed meat might soon lead you to the right place!

Eating at Hawker Centres like Festival Market Lau Pa Sat is a great way to save money


Singapore Weather

No surprises with this one I guess, but it gets soooo hot and humid in Singapore!!! Get ready for a serious sweat-fest!

I’d recommend always carrying a reusable water bottle. We don’t go anywhere without ours! Thankfully, many places have drinking fountains where you can re-fill your bottle as you’ll go through your water quickly!

Read More: 12 Essential Travel Items You Absolutely HAVE To Have For Your Next Trip!

It’s often quite cloudy and hazy too, rather than sunny. But don’t let that fool you!! Lather up on sunscreen (even if most of it will drip off after the afore-mentioned sweat-fest…)

And, just like other tropical countries, you might get a bit of a downpour. Usually in the afternoon. And believe me when I tell you that when it rains, it absolutely buckets down!! 

That thunder is no joke either!!

I don’t think I ever heard anything so loud in my life. Apparently the lightning is something to watch out for… We saw these signs in various locations around Singapore… 

Singapore Weather Extreme Rain and Thunderstorm


Contactless Payments

Payment via contactless bank cards makes payment by card super easy everywhere you go (not just on the MRT!)

They call contactless payment “PayWave” here, and you’ll often get the question “PayWave?”

It’s good to know that they take your card away in restaurants and seem to be able to take payment without a pin or signature.

We actually asked at breakfast one day what the limit is for contactless payments. Our server told us you can set it with your bank but it’s usually around S$3000!

Just something to be aware of…

That’s all for now, folks! Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to Singapore and if you feel like I’ve missed out any important tips or insider info based on your own experience.


Related Posts You Might Like

Singapore Travel Costs: How Much Money Do You Really Need?
MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Treetop Walk
Important Things To Do Before Traveling Abroad 
How To Book Cheap Flights – 10 Little Known Secrets


Things You Should Know When Planning A Trip To Singapore


7 thoughts on “Things You Should Know Before Visiting Singapore”

  1. Hubby and I are going next week and we are pretty clueless on what to expect when we get there. We have specific budget that we want to spend while we are there so public transportation will be our main way on getting places.

    • I hope you had an awesome time in Singapore! Public transport in Singapore is super efficient, I’m sure you had no trouble at all! Although sticking to a budget in Singapore can be hard 🙂

  2. I love this place and I’d love to go again. Yes alcohol was very expensive but the best alcohol I had in Singapore, the best place for vacation and a beautiful place for couples.

  3. We loved how easy it is to day trip over to Malaysia from Singapore. As fans of lego, Legoland was on our list. Great for families who want to hit several kid-friendly things from one base camp. Also loved the night safari, but I might be nostalgic about it from my trip as an 8 year old!

    • Oh, I remember going to Legoland as a kid (albeit in Denmark rather than Malaysia!) I had not realised Legoland Malaysia was right across the border from Singapore! Great to know a day-trip is totally do-able 🙂


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.