It is no secret that Singapore is now a burgeoning tourist spot owing to its fast-paced economy, lush greenery, immaculate cleanliness and its myriad number of attractions. Singapore, a melting pot of cultures, owes its variety to the diverse range of people inhabiting the island city and its resultant pervading atmosphere.
The culture of Singapore is all inclusive—Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, Catholics, Hindus and other Christians blend to form the rich social fabric of the beautiful, sunny island.
If you’ve got one of the glittering skylines of Singapore saved as your screensaver to appease your disgruntled travel bug, there are some seriously attractive low-cost flights you can avail to get yourself and your pesky travel bug to a picture-perfect skyline in Singapore.
Scoot, a low-cost Singapore based airline has a wide flying network to over 60 destinations in Asia, Australia and Europe, coupled with some stellar service. Scoot also has Scootitude flights where Scootees organise games, performances and other super-fun activities which will keep you and your nodding co-passenger occupied.
Modified to suit Indian tastes, Scoot also has vegetarian food options available on board such as their delish Madras curry with legumes and basmati rice. The airline pulls out all stops to ensure that your holidays kick off on the right note.
So if you’ve got your leaves from work approved, your tickets booked and your bags packed, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind to make sure you don’t end up tangled with Singapore’s strict laws and have a whale of time instead.
1. Do spend time at Changi Airport when you land, which you invariably will once you set foot in the mammoth structure which looks like you’ve entered a mythical dimension. The recently opened Jewel at Changi airport is a destination in itself with its impressive indoor waterfall – the tallest in the world – a 130 feet rain vortex cascading down from a massive oculus amidst a forest of 1,400 trees. Yes, inside the airport.
Once you’ve picked your jaw off the floor, you can bounce around on the airport’s bouncing nets strung 80 feet high or explore its two giant mazes (one with mirrors, one with hedges). Channel your inner child by zipping down a giant slide or treat yourself at its luxury bars and restaurants. You can also arrive a little early before your return flight if you want to have another go at their giant slide.
2. Do wake up early and queue up at around 8.00 am in the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown, in front of Chef Chan Hon Meng’s Michelin-starred hawker stall. Chef Chan dishes out delectable Michelin-starred soya sauce chicken rice and noodles to a serpentine queue which stretches down to the second floor of the hawkers’ market around lunchtime.
If you’re not one to shy away from the unknown, try the frog porridge with frogs marinated in soy, spring onions and wine, with spicy chili. The frog, as a result, is surprisingly sweet, juicy and tender. Pair it with the green onion sauce to savour its range of flavours.
You shouldn't leave Singapore without trying the Singaporean chilli crab. The chilli crabs here are a Singapore classic. Large crabs, the size of small frisbees, are slathered in a thick sweet and savoury sauce that'll leave you licking your fingers. The tomato-based sauce has egg whisked in it to add thickness to the gravy and after the crab is devoured, you can use mantou (small fried buns) to mop up the leftover sauce on your plate. You’ll be wishing you wore your stretchy sweat pants for this one.
3. Do avail of Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system which is the fastest and most efficient way to get around Singapore. All the major attractions of the garden city are within walking distance of MRT stations. Download MRT-related apps such as Citymapper, to help you work out the transit routes. Avoid MRT during peak hours (8.00 am to 9.00 am, 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm) if you hate being a human sandwich. You can also use buses which are very convenient and give you a chance to appreciate the scenic views of Singapore. If you need a taxi, then you can use apps like Grab (which also delivers food) and Gojek which will help you get a cab stat.
4. Do visit Singapore’s most prominent garden, Gardens by the Bay for its sci-fi looking SuperTree Grove with its 18 vertical gardens that reach a whopping height of 16 stories. You can check out its conservatory domes, OCBC Skywalk and Marina Barrage. Make sure you’re in time for their free light show under the enormous trees. Pick a grassy spot to settle down and watch the lights and music.
If being surrounded by exquisite flowers is more your thing, then you must visit the National Orchid Garden. Delicate and lovely orchids are handcrafted by horticulturalists who create the most amazing orchid hybrids. There are about 1000 species and 2000 hybrids scattering their colours and fragrance around whilst blooming in their full glory. There's no way you'll be able to resist taking a photo or two of the extraordinary sights.
5. Do take yourself to St. John’s and Lazarus Island if you want to spend a few peaceful moments surrounded by the beauty of a pristine beach. Ferries from Marina South Pier cost Rs 913 a person (including a return ticket) and take 30 minutes to drop you at the island. Cannonball straight into the cool, blue waters of the gorgeous crescent beach. Make sure you pack enough food and water because there are no stores on the island.
6. Do drop in at the Art Science Museum for a mind-boggling blend of art and science. Curated exhibitions there allow visitors to explore interactive high technology digital installations which will transport you to a different cerebral universe.
7. Do immerse yourself in Singapore’s culture by walking into Chinatown. The area is alive with different sights and smells that will assail your senses. Pick up a few souvenirs on Pagoda Street before heading over to Chinatown’s food street to sample the street food at hawkers’ stalls. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple stands decked up in red and gold and is rumoured to have one of Buddha’s teeth inside.
If you’re craving for some Indian food then take yourself to Little India filled with traditional Indian restaurants. Check out Mustafa’s store which is rumoured to have literally everything. You can stop at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple to offer up a quick prayer and then head to Jalan Besar with its quirky cafes to grab a bite.
8. Do get your adrenaline fix at Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa Island. There are seven themed zones with hair-raising rides and entertaining shows. If you’re more of a water baby, then go to Adventure Cove Waterpark to scream your lungs off on its water roller coasters. You can’t possibly miss out on their snorkelling pool where you can swim with colourful, glugging freshwater fish.
9. Do get a local tourist sim which is a bang for a buck and will help you avoid becoming social media recluse for all the days you spend vacationing there. There are several reasonable network packages you can get, within Rs. 1000, with local and roaming data. Make sure you carry your passport as ID proof.
10. Do lug your trusty umbrella around because showers are common in the afternoons and early evenings. You don't want to be caught in the rain and spend the rest of the day in damp clothes.
Before we dive into the don’ts, it’s important to note that you need to be up to speed with the island state’s laws to make sure you don’t end up in jail or fined. Keep in mind the below things so you don't end up in trouble.
1. Don’t chew gum. Singapore takes cleanliness very seriously and chewing gum here is a punishable offence, so leave that packet at home. The ban on chewing gum came into place after authorities faced maintenance difficulties owing to gum stuck in public places. Anyone who ever got gum on their shoe will know how difficult it is to scrape off so refrain from that jumbo pack of gum.
2. Don’t go to the glittering Marina Bay Sands rooftop if you’re on a budget. You can’t swim in the swimming pool unless you’re a guest anyway. Also, booze in Singapore is heavily taxed. So much so, that the tax is nicknamed the 'sin tax'. If you want to get really sloshed then head to a hawker market for a cool jug of beer at reasonable prices.
3. Don’t sit on a bench or a table at a hawkers’ market which has a packet of tissues or bags or an umbrella lying on it. This is a method that locals use to reserve seats while they queue up to get their food. You don’t want to be sitting at someone’s reserved table when an irate local returns with a steaming bowl of food in hand.
4. Don’t order crab or seafood without enquiring about the prices first. Some of the seafood is priced differently according to season and could prove to be extremely expensive. Enquire about the weight of the crab and rate per 100 grams before ordering yourself some finger-licking chilli crab to avoid an awkward situation when the bill arrives.
5. Don’t back-slap people or crack a joke on politics or religion. Be courteous when talking to locals. An angry mob maketh not a good vacation.
6. Don’t litter. This goes without saying. Singapore is very strict and immaculate and imposes huge fines on people who litter. Anyone caught littering has to end up shelling out around Rs. 15,000 if it’s a first-time offence.
7. Don’t light up a cigarette in any public space. Malls, taxis, streets, theatres, restaurants and buses do not allow smoking within the premises. There are certain designated smoking areas where you can get your nicotine fix.
8. Don’t ball up and chuck your receipts. You may be able to reclaim Goods and Services Tax (GST) which you’ve paid for some items using the receipts. The GST rate is about 7% which translates to a lot of money.
9. Don’t tip at restaurants or bars. It is not part of their culture. There’s a service charge of 10% added to your bill in restaurants. If the service at a restaurant is particularly impressive and there's no service charge being tacked on to your bill, then you can leave a tip. You don’t need to tip taxi drivers either. So keep your change in your wallet, you’ll need it.
10. Lastly, don’t forget to have an amazing time in the garden city and pack a lot of souvenirs for your clamouring friends and family back home!
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