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Singapore is best explored by rental car. Carrentals.co.uk has over 1 pick-up locations in Singapore. This means there is always a pick-up location close to your destination.
The Republic of Singapore, which consists of no fewer than 63 islands between Malaysia and Indonesia, is a highly urbanised, densely populated country. Singapore was a British colony until it gained full independence in 1965 and has since become one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
One remnant of British colonial rule in Singapore is driving on the left. Provided you observe the speed limits, wear your seatbelt and put your headlights on between dusk and dawn, you should find driving in Singapore no more difficult than driving in Britain.
Driving licences: foreigners staying in Singapore for less than 12 months require a valid driving licence from their country of origin and an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by a recognised body such as the AA or RAC. In the absence of an IDP, an official translation of their foreign driving licence is required.
Which side does Singapore drive on: the left.
- Singapore are 50kph (31mph)
- Urban areas are 80kph (50 mph)
- Expressways are 90kph (56mph)
Alcohol limits: the legal blood alcohol limit in Singapore is 0.08 per cent, as in the UK. Exceeding the limit can result in heavy fines, suspension of your licence and even a jail sentence.
Driving age: 18 years, or 21 years or possibly 25 years to hire a car.
Mobile phones and GPS: hands-free mobile phones are permitted while driving in Singapore provided they don't require the use of your hands to answer a call.
Cost of fuel in Singapore: petrol in Singapore costs slightly less than in the UK, as does diesel.
Car hire and fuel payment: you can obviously pay for car hire and fuel with cash, but major credit cards are also widely accepted.
Insurance: if you're hiring a car in Singapore, you can purchase insurance from the rental company, although it may be cheaper to take out your own insurance before you leave.
Traffic and parking: parking in Singapore is plentiful and parking fees are low. Even in the central business district of Singapore City itself, you can park your car for as little as S$2 an hour. Depending on the car park, you can pay for car parking with cash, coupons which you can buy in supermarkets and other retail outlets, or automated cashcard systems. If you need to park at the roadside, be aware that double yellow lines, continuous or zig-zag, mean no parking at any time. A single continuous yellow line means no parking between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except on Sundays and public holidays and a single zig-zag yellow line means no parking and no stopping to set down or pick up passengers at any time.
Rail transport is provided by the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) network, which serves the whole of Singapore and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) network, which serves the districts of Bukit Panjang and Sengkang in the north west and north east of the country. For train times and other information see www.smrt.com.sg.
Taxis are readily available in most parts of Singapore, although in more rural parts you may need to book a taxi by telephone rather than just hailing one at the roadside. Taxi fares in Singapore are cheap compared with many other developed countries. Bear in mind, however, that depending where and when you travel by taxi, you may be required to pay surcharges on top of the metered fare. Seatbelts, where fitted, are compulsory for all occupants, front and rear, of all vehicles, including taxis.
Bus transport is provided by two operators, SBS Transit and SMRT, who operate services throughout the country. See www.sbstransit.com.sg for bus time tables.
Singapore operates one of the World’s best airports, Changi Airport. Known for its size, the volume of flights it handles, its excellent service and fantastic range of facilities. Lots of airlines like British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qantas and AirAsia fly here direct from the UK so search around for the best prices.
Singapore is a tiny country, with a total land area of less than 300 square miles, but it's still large enough to explore by road. Driving highlights in northern Singapore include Old Upper Thompson Road, a narrow and treacherous three-mile street circuit that was the home of the original Singapore Grand Prix until 1973. The nearby Casuarina Curry serves over 40 different varieties of rota prati, or "pancake bread" and is a good place to stop for refreshments. Further south, motorists may enjoy the Changi Coast Road, close to Changi Airport, which leads to attractions such as Changi Beach Park and Changi Coastal Boardwalk.
- The Hindu festival of Thaipusam (January/February)
- The Singapore International Film Festival (April)
- The Singapore Food Festival (April)
- The Singapore International Dragon Boat Festival (June)
- National Day (9th August) - celebrates the independence of Singapore with a huge parade and firework display.
Singapore has a tropical climate insofar as it is hot, humid and rainy. It has two monsoon seasons, one which lasts from December to March and another which lasts from June to September. Singapore has a daily average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, or 81 degrees Fahrenheit and a daily average relative humidity of 84 per cent. Temperature, humidity and rainfall don't vary dramatically from month to month, so the best time to visit Singapore is really a matter of personal preference.
Visitors to Singapore are advised to read-up on as much information about this large city-state as possible, before leaving for their holiday, so to reduce any problems occuring. Try to limit any health, money or safety issues in this diverse place by reading the facts and issues other traveller's have experienced.
Singapore contact numbers:
- Country code (+65)
- Police 999
- Emergency Ambulance or Fire Service 995
- Flight Information 1800 542 4422
- Tourist Information 1800 7362 000
- British High Commission 6242 4200
The official currency is the Singapore dollar, usually abbreviated $ or S$, which is divided into 100 cents. Bank notes are issued in denominations between S$2 and S$10,000 and coins in denominations between $S1 and $0.01.
Health and Safety
The prosperity of Singapore is reflected by its excellent healthcare facilities, but healthcare is expensive so make sure that you take out appropriate travel insurance before you leave. There's also high incidence of dengue fever – a mosquito-borne infection that causes fever, headache, nausea and severe pain in the muscles and joints – for which no vaccine currently exists. Dengue fever usually clears up, by itself, within a week or two, but can be prevented by wearing protective clothing and mosquito repellent. The climate in Singapore can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and sunburn, so always carry sun block and drink plenty of water. Tap water in Singapore is safe to drink.
Courtesy and politeness are the order of the day in Singapore. However, while a handshake is acceptable when greeting Singaporean men and women, wait for them to initiate the gesture. Also, avoid looking Singaporean people directly in the eye, as this may be interpreted as aggression.
Visas for Singapore
British citizens travelling to Singapore for business or pleasure for less than 30 days don't usually require a visa. They do, however, require a passport valid for at least 6 months from their date of entry into Singapore. They must, of course, comply with Singapore customs regulations regarding controlled drugs, pirated copyright material and other items, such as weapons and ammunition.
The electricity supply in Singapore is 230 volts, 50 hertz alternating current. Devices that don't accept 230 volts at 50 hertz need a voltage converter.
On official public holidays, or the day after if the holiday falls on a Sunday, expect banks, government offices and some, but not all, shops to be closed. Usual working hours are 9:00 or 9:30 to 5:00 or 5:30 during weekdays, and around 9:00 until noon on weekends.
- How are you? - Apa khabar?
- Thank you - Terima kasih
- Good morning - Selamat pagi
- My name is... - Nama saya...