Gardens by the Bay - one of the free attractions in Singapore
Singapore,  Travel Hacks and Tips

Singapore Travel Tips: How to Make the Most of Your Time in the “Lion City”

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Is it your first time to visit Singapore? We’re here to help! Here’s an updated guide including the most useful Singapore travel tips so you can make the most of your time in the “Lion City”!

Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world, yet it’s packed with places to go and things to see. Exploring its city attractions, designer shopping malls and markets, and safaris in one trip can be a tall order. That’s why it’s a good idea to do a bit of planning ahead of your visit to ensure you’ll have a smooth trip.

Plan your trip

Here are the things to consider when planning your trip to Singapore:


  • Singapore is visa free for Philippine passport holders for staying within 30 days or less.
  • At the immigration, be prepared to present your return ticket and hotel booking confirmation. Having a copy of your company ID or certificate employment may also come in handy.


Merlion - one of hte iconic landmarks in Singapore

Research the best tourist attractions in Singapore and decide where you want to go. Consider visiting iconic landmarks like the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Island, and charming neighborhoods such as the Chinatown and Little India.

The key to creating a good itinerary is to focus on one area at a time, so you’ll be able to get a real feel for the scene and won’t spend all day crisscrossing across the city. For example, you could spend one day in the city center, one day in the ethnic quarters, and one day indulging in “Shopper’s Delight” (aka Orchard Road), one of the world’s most extravagant shopping destinations.

Here’s a 5 day itinerary in Singapore to give you an idea!

Still feeling lost?

  • Consider booking a tour package. Tour packages can be the easiest way to ensure you’ll see all the key tourist attractions, without having to do any of the planning for it yourself.
  • Alternatively, try the hop-on, hop-off bus, which goes around the popular tourist attractions around the city.
  • If you’re at Singapore for a short layover only, avail of Changi Airport’s free 2.5-hour guided tour, which includes a walking tour of the airport and two famous landmarks.

Arrival at the airport

Once you arrive at the airport, here are things you should consider doing:

  • Buy a Singapore Tourist Pass (STP), which offers unlimited 3 days transport via the MRT and bus.
  • Purchase a sim card or pocket wifi at the airport for uninterrupted connectivity. Alternately, you can also use public wifi available in many public places, including MRT stations, shopping malls, and parks.
  • Approach ambassadors if you need information or assistance.

Learn the lingo

Singaporeans speak English, so you won’t have any issues communicating. Still, it won’t hurt to learn a bit of their lingo.

For example:

  • Say “toilet” instead of CR or restroom
  • Say “lift” instead of elevator
  • Say “takeaway” instead of takeout
  • Say “having here” or “eating here” instead of “dine in”
  • Locals say, “hello” or “sorry” when they mean “excuse me”

Local customs and laws

Singapore is a progressive country but it is harsh in crimes, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with local laws. Chewing gum, littering, and smoking in public are punishable offenses.

When it comes to safety, Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world, but always exercise regular precautions. It is safe to walk at night but use common sense and stay in well-lit areas.

Getting around

Singapore travel tips - walk around the city!

Singapore may be small, but it’s densely packed, and you’ll need to be able to move between the quarters to get a full taste of the city. Luckily there’s plenty of affordable ways to do just that!


When exploring Singapore, trust that you’ll be walking a lot! You can get to different parts of the city on foot. Exploring Arab Street to Chinatown to Little India on your own is a must-try experience.

Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable clothes and shoewear because it is hot throughout the year. Sunscreens and hats are also recommended.

Public transport

Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is designed for tourists as much as it is for locals. From the second you step out of the airport you’ll be making use of it, and practically every attraction in the city can be found close to a station.

The bus system is just as efficient as the MRT and it works seamlessly with the train timetables.

Good to know: Always enter the bus using the front door and exit at the center.

To use Singapore’s public transport options, you can purchase an EZ Linked stored value card or a Singapore Tourist Pass (STP), which offers unlimited transport via the MRT and bus, from any station or convenience store. Debits and credit cards also work as passes, but do take note that foreign cards may come with a small additional charge per use.

If you ever need a taxi, try the local apps Grab and Gojek.


In Singapore, most stores and restaurants accept credit cards and digital payments (e.g., Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.). But it’s still good to carry some cash for small purchases or when buying from hawker centers and street vendors.

If you have a couple of dollars in your back pocket, you can stop at any street store and get a SGD 2 roti, a sugarcane juice, or a milo dinosaur.

It also doesn’t hurt to be prepared on the off-chance that there is a technical difficulty.

Tipping in Singapore is not a standard practice, as service charge is often included in the bill.

Where to eat

One of the best Singapore travel tips that we can give you is to eat at hawker centers. Hawker centers (food courts) offer cheap, delicious food, including Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Peranakan flavors.

You might want to research about the specific hawker center you’re interested in and their specialties, but if you’re feeling adventurous, just choose a meal on the spot and dive right in!

Maxwell Hawker Center - one of the best hawker centers in Singapore
Chicken rice at Maxwell Hawker Center.

In particular, here are must-visit hawker centers in Singapore:

  • Maxwell Food Centre (nearest station: Maxwell/Tanjong Pagar)
  • Chinatown Complex/Hong Lim Complex (nearest station: Chinatown)
  • Old Airport Road (nearest station: Paya Lebar)
  • Tiong Bahru Market (nearest station: Tiong Bahru)
  • Tekka Centre (nearest station: Little India)

Newton and Lau Pa Sat are also popular hawker centers but are more expensive, so they are often avoided by locals.

One of the joys of eating at hawkers centers is the affordability. Meals can range from SGD 5 to 10-12. Some specialty stalls that use premium ingredients may cost slightly more, but it’s still a value for money when compared to restaurants, which will cost you around SGD 20 per meal.

Here are some cultural norms in restaurants:

  • People reserve tables by leaving items such as tissues, lanyards, or wallets. So if you see an item on a table, sit somewhere else.
  • Head to the counter for the bill and payment. The staff won’t come to your table to serve your bill.
  • At hawker centers, you need to put back the tray at the tray return station after eating. Leaving it will cost you a fine.
  • Learn about the different types of coffee. Kopi-o refers to plain coffee, kopi-c is coffee with evaporated milk, and so on.

Singapore’s hawker food was ranked so culturally significant that it made UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020, so it’s definitely not something to skip.

Where to stay

Each neighborhood offers a unique taste of Singapore, catering to different preferences and expectations. Here are the best neighborhoods to stay at:

Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

The Marina Bay area, with its iconic skyline featuring the Marina Bay Sands, offers luxury accommodations and easy access to major attractions like Gardens by the Bay and the ArtScience Museum.

Sentosa Island is a great option for families or travelers seeking a resort-like stay, with beaches, theme parks, and leisure activities all within close proximity.

If you’re looking for more cultural experience, book your hotel at Chinatown, where traditional shop houses line the streets, offering an eclectic mix of modern cafes and historical sites. Little India and Kampong Glam are perfect for those who love colorful streets, diverse cuisines, and a bustling atmosphere.

Spending Tips

Gardens by the Bay - one of the free attractions in Singapore
Gardens by the Bay – one of the free attractions in Singapore.

Singapore is an expensive place, so it’s worth keeping in mind how you’re going to spend your budget and get the most value for your money.

Here are important saving tips in Singapore:

  • Stay in hostels, not hotels.
  • Instead of dining at restaurants, eat at hawker centers (food courts), which offer delicious, affordable meals for around SGD 8-12. Several of the popular ones are within the central business district. If possible, try to schedule your visit around lunch hours to easily get a table.
  • Bottled water is expensive in Singapore, so it’s best to bring a reusable travel bottle with you. Tap water is safe to drink so you can just refill it before you go out. Hotels also provide free bottle waters daily which you can bring outside.
  • Check out free attractions in Singapore, such as Merlion and Gardens by the Bay light show. The National Art Gallery also offers free tours.
  • Use the free public wifi. Singapore is so tourist friendly that most of the city and certainly the hotspots have free public wifi for you to join. Just look out for the Wireless@SG hotspots and register your international phone number to join.


Singapore is truly double stuffed and packed with excitement. Tourism is one of their biggest sectors after all, and it’s one of the world’s biggest travel hubs. So if you can’t pack in every sight on your list during one trip, or you’re hankering for another visit, you can always make a stopover during your next holiday.

Do you have any more useful Singapore travel tips to add? Let us know in the comment section below!

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