Here are some general tips for money matters while on exchange:
- Keep track of exchange rates. Be aware of exchange rates when you exchange foreign currency to Singapore Dollars to ensure you’re getting the most value when you convert currencies.
- The most common banks here are UOB, POSB, DBS and OCBC. Get the credit or debit card for one of these banks beforehand!
- Download PayLah. If you are a DBS bank user, you will be able to transfer money and make payments using this app. You will need to register and ‘Top Up’ money into your PayLah account which will be consequently deducted everytime you use the app to make a transaction. Payments are made when you scan your personalized QR code through the app in which your payment will be made electronically.
The most common mobile service providers are Starhub, Singtel and M1. If you’re in Singapore for a few months, it would be useful to have data for the time that you’re here as it comes in handy if you get lost and need to use google maps, or to call a grab (cab), or to stay connected on WhatsApp, and so on. Hence, it is important to make sure you get the best data plan for the time you’re here. Here is a website that describes which plan would be the best according to price and period. Here is another website that describes each service providers plan in detail.
The SMRT card is the public transport pass which can be made from any counter at the MRT stations. This pass will need a deposit of money that will be deducted when you ‘tap in’ and ‘tap out’ of stations after each trip. The MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) is a great way to travel in SG! The MRT connects each coast of the island on various routes. There are currently 4 major colour coded routes as you can see from the image below. Some major interchanges include Dhoby Ghaut, Buona Vista, Paya Lebar and Harbourfront. These interchanges connect the different lines to each other. The MRT is a convenient way to travel but I suggest searching your route on google maps beforehand to avoid getting lost or getting on the wrong train! Trains are usually timely and usually depart every 5-10 minutes. Buses are also available in which I prefer taking the MRT to buses as it usually takes me a long time on the bus.
WHAT TO DO IN SINGAPORE
Nature and Sightseeing
- Botanic Gardens
Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Botanic Gardens are a beautiful place to relax, unwind and have a home made picnic! Closest MRT is Botanic Gardens station!
- Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a must-see attraction with 2 dome enclosures of various plant species, a walking trail, children’s playground and even food court (Satay by the Bay)! A great way to appreciate the diversity of nature while touring the city!
Sentosa is one of Singapore’s most enjoyable attractions with something for everyone! Check out one of the many beaches which you can travel to using the internal buses and trams! With many attractions such as the Luge, iFly and the lights and sounds show- Wings of Time, Sentosa is a family attraction that you can’t miss!
Arts and Culture
- National Gallery
Situated in the heart of the Civic District, the National Gallery is housed in two national monuments—City Hall and former Supreme Court—that have been beautifully restored and transformed into this exciting venue.
One can explore southeast Asian art from the 19th century to the present day through the admiration of over 8,000 separate pieces by some of the region’s biggest names along with a vivid experience of a spectacular fusion of modern and classical architecture. Ticket prices for non-Singaporeans can range from $15 to $30 depending on the type of access one wishes to obtain. The nearest train station is City Hall MRT but prospective visitors also have the option of taking buses.
- ArtScience Museum
Easily recognizable by its iconic lotus-shape, ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands explores creative processes at the heart of art, science, technology and culture with its 21 different gallery spaces. The museum is an apt embodiment of the ArtScience theme through its display of unique exhibits. With the array of exhibitions, events, performances and educational activities, the Museum attempts to bring out the balance of art and science. Tickets prices are $30 for adults, $27 for seniors and $17 for children. The ArtScience Museum is located next to MBS, so the easiest way to get there is by taking the MRT to Bayfront, Promenade, or Marina Bay station and walking towards the resort.
- Haw Par Villa
Haw Par Villa – formerly known as the Tiger Balm Garden – is a mythological theme park that contains more than 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese mythology and various religions. The eclectic park is a treasure trove of Asian culture, history, philosophy, and religion – quirky yet enlightening, at the same time. The park is a must-see for visitors looking to get off the beaten path. Admission to the park is free. The easiest way to reach Haw Par Villa is to take the green line to Haw Par Villa MRT station.
- Little India
Little India is a must-visit for shoppers and foodies. It is renowned for its subcontinental color, cuisine, and atmosphere, and is one of the island’s most vibrant districts. Shops, restaurants, street vendors, and colorful Hindu temples line the streets of Little India, making it an excellent place to take a walk.The easiest way is to take the MRT to Little India, Farrer Park, or Rochor stations. Over a dozen bus lines also service the neighborhood.
Singapore’s Chinatown is the sightseeing focus of the city, home to traditional shophouses, temples, and cultural heritage. It is a must for first-time visitors and foodies.One can experience the neighborhood as part of a city-wide sightseeing tour or dive deep on a dedicated Chinatown food tour or trishaw ride. The easiest way to reach Chinatown is to take the MRT to Chinatown Station and exit toward Pagoda Street.
Orchard is a bustling shopping hotspot with various malls such as ION, Takashimaya, Somerset and Orchard Central. Closest MRT Stations are Orchard and Somerset!
Vivocity is one of the largest malls in Singapore with various diverse places to shop, dine and relax! Check out the top floor of Vivocity which is a deck overlooking the bay, a great way to unwind after a day of shopping!
- Bugis Street
Bugis Street is a colorful, bustling street market selling clothes, bags, food and more! Closest MRT is Bugis station.
- Marina Bay Sands
Shop all the luxury brands and experience at Marina Bay Sands with a huge variety of stores and even a promenade area overlooking the city view! Don’t forget to take a ride down the canal in the mall, a unique Venetian experience right here in Singapore.
If you’ve never been to a trampoline park, what are you waiting for! With an outlet in Jurong and one in River Valley, AMPED is an unmissable spot for all ages equipped with foam pits, a parkour wall, and high-intensity trampolines! Tickets at $15/hr on Weekdays and $18/hr on Weekends.
- Climb Central
Located in one of the hottest recreational spots on the island, Climb Central in Kallang Wave gives you the opportunity to try indoor rock climbing! Get an Adult Day Pass of unlimited climbs for 1 day at $22 and a Youth Day Pass at $18 if you are a student!
Push the boundaries at iFLY Singapore with the thrill of indoor skydiving with all the stimulus of a free-fall! Located in Siloso Beach, iFLY is the place for thrill-seekers, with 1 walk-in skydive priced at $89.
- Wild Wild Wet
Wild Wild Wet is a water park for all ages with rides, slides, a jacuzzi and more! Located at 1 Pasir Ris Close, it is one of Singapore’s largest water parks with a day pass priced at $24 on Weekdays and $32 on Weekends and Public Holidays!
Generally speaking, these are some common accommodation options in Singapore.
- On-campus housing
- Off campus housing: Condominiums, HDBs
If you choose to live on-campus, depending on which Singaporean university you are exchanging at, the cost and facilities will vary. Similarly, with off-campus housing location, facilities, accessibility and number of roommates will determine how much the rent will be. If you would like to read more in-depth about the various housing options, here is an article that elaborates on the available options. Furthermore, here is a detailed article on accommodation specifically for NUS students that breaks down the various on-campus residences and also elaborates on recommended condominiums in the area. Here is a similar article for those exchanging at SMU.
- Chicken rice
Chicken rice is a local favourite that can be found at most, if not all hawker centers in Singapore! It is simple and fulfilling and will have your mouth watering for seconds!
Singapore is known for it’s fusion foods and fusion cultures! Have bite of prata to dive into the Indian-Singaporean fusion of taste and flavour. The Springleaf Prata Place is open till 12 am! Satisfy your midnight crazings with this delicious meal!
Laksa is another local favourite that combines a fusion of flavours of savoury, spicy, nutty and sour! This yummy set of noodles will cost you under $7 and a good place to check it out is “363 Katong Laksa”. Here, you can add toppings to your vermicelli noodles…yum!
4. Ice cream trucks
Sometimes happiest can take the simplest forms with ice cream from the ice cream trucks you pass by when you walk down the streets of Singapore! It is hard to predict where and when these trucks will appear as they usually pop up unannounced but when you see one, don’t forget to get an ice cream sandwich! Not to mention it’s only a $1!
5. Awfully Chocolate
Calling all chocolate lovers! Awfully chocolate is a personal favourite, unmissable place where you’ll find chocolate in various different shapes and tastes. They have ice cream, brownies, truffles, creme brulee, cake, tiramisu and more! It’s all to die for!