The Main Mobile Operators
There are three mobile operators in Singapore: SingTel Mobile, which is the market leader, StartHub and M1. The fourth TPG Telecom announced the commencement of its operations in 2018. All providers offer excellent internet speeds and entire city is covered. 4G is available outdoors and in metros. It is important to mention that 2G is not supported anymore, and mobile phones which support 2G at maximum will have no access to Internet. Airlines roaming is only available to postpaid users, so you cannot expect to use in-flight mobile network if you purchase their prepaid card.
Where to Purchase SIM Card
You will need to show your passport when purchasing the SIM card. Incoming phone calls are also subject to charge in Singapore. Do not expect to find any cheap cards on airport. Their prices there starts at $30. However, more affordable cards can be purchased in the small shops on Little India or even in Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, but there you will have to ask around.
Tourist Prepaid Services
Singtel has nearly 50% of the market share and offers tourist SIM called “hi!Tourist SIM”. It is offered in 3 variants. However, they do not offer international SMS, while Facebook, WhatsApp and local and international calls and roaming for certain countries are included. Top ups can be easily found almost anywhere. StarHub is the local partner of Vodafone in Singapore and it is the only provider of HD Voice. Access to 4G is included in all prepaid plans and it is free. Their prepaid product is called "Happy Prepaid SIM”, which is sold in several variants. Top ups are sold all over the town.M1 used to be called MobileOne. It offers prepaid services with 4G included. Their prepaid product is called "M Card" and it also comes in different variants.
There are many Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas and you can also rent pocket devices for Wi-Fi, which can be rented at the airport or ordered to arrive at the hotel where you stay. Making phone calls by using them is not advised.
Shopping can be considered national hobby in Singapore. This tiny country has many shopping malls and it is one of the best global shopping destinations.
Heaven for Shoppers
There is 2.2 km long entire street is dedicated to shopping malls and it is called Orchard Yard. Here you can find the latest wonders of electronic and high fashion brands, as well as bars and restaurants where you can make a break during your shopping adventure. If you are in the mood for something more traditional, you should definitely visit China town, vivid marketplace, whose unbelievable beauty is especially emphasized at night.
VivoCity is the largest mall in Singapore. Its 15 cinema screens, open air playground, rooftop amphitheater, galleries, restaurants, bars and endless stores and outlets will mesmerize anyone and not just true shopaholics. Singapore’s famous Marina Bay Sands complex is a luxury mall which will take your breath away with its incredible architecture, where open atriums and giant glass windows dominate the space. What makes this shopping mall so special is its central water feature with boats. For the most spectacular view of the bay, one can make a break from shopping and visit its 57th floor to enjoy the beautiful view.
Merlion mascot, a one of a kind man-made fountain with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, is the famous national icon of Singapore and its frequent motive on the postcards. It is also one of the most popular souvenirs tourists bring back home. Other popular and easy to carry souvenirs are: orchid perfumes, Singapore sling which is a national drink, gold plated orchid products, kaya (coconut jam) and Singapore pressed pennies.
Education system aims to provide knowledge as well as to teach students social skills. In general Singaporean students achieve brilliant results, which frequently results in them having interesting and high paying careers. Government recognizes the importance of educational system, which is shown through frequent reforms it implements in order to increase its already high quality. All age groups are offered an opportunity to educate themselves. Singapore’s system it the exceptional fusion of Western and Eastern approaches to education, offering the best from sides. Its centralized education system offers coherent and integrated teaching and substantial amounts of money are invested in it, which perfectly explains its tremendous success. Literacy percent in Singapore is slightly above 97%.
Singapore health care system is among the most prominent in the world. Its impressive healthcare infrastructure combines both private and public facilities and both provide high quality medical services. Differences arise in the comfort and level of services provided.
Public vs Private Healthcare
Public facilities are mostly oriented towards providing health care services to Singaporeans and they are financed through obligatory national saving scheme. Foreigners’ health care costs are not subsidized and they purchase these services themselves, or their employers do it. The size of the company significantly influences the type of insurance provided to employees.
The difference in costs between private and public facility is minor, and the reasons most foreigners chose private facilities are short waiting and more comfort. Public healthcare facilities are allocated into 6 clusters in order to increase synergy and increase economies of scale, while enabling affordable services. Routine check-up prices can be considered affordable in comparison to other developed countries.
Working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday, which means that the weekend falls on Saturday and Sunday. If you came for business, it is good to know that normal office hours are from 09:00 to 17:00, with one hour break included from 13:00 to 14:00. Half day working hours on Saturdays are possible, starting from 09:00h to 13:00h.
Government offices and many private sector companies are closed for business on Saturday. Good news for passionate shoppers is that shopping centers work every day from usually from 10:00h to 21:00h.
Singapore is very unusual. It is city-state settled on an island in Southeast Asia. It is the only island, country and city in the world and one of the three city-countries in the world, beside San Marino and Vatican. It is popularly called the “City of Lions”.
Singapore is small but remarkably prosperous. It is one of the four “Asian tigers”, which is popular name for the four most fastest growing Asian economies. Singapore’s economy is heavily dependent on exports and economic trends in the world basically determine its destiny.
Trade, logistics and shipping are the main activities. Singapore lacks natural resources, but it has outstanding strategic and geographical position, which shaped the development of its economy. It is surrounded by the deep waters ideal for ports. Also, it located in the vicinity of important shipping routes in Asia, and Singapore enjoys all the benefits of its position.
Singapore focuses on high-end manufacturing of electronics, machinery, ships, transport equipment, petrochemical industry and medical equipment. Government advocates free trade and therefore import tariffs are almost nonexistent and the city-state is the member of many international trade organizations.
Singapore’s official currency is Singapore Dollar, abbreviated SGD according to international standards. It is comprised of 100 cents. SGD is under managed float regime and One SDG equals to 0.76 USD nowadays.
Paper bills come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 100, 500, 1000, and 10000. Coins denominations include 1 SGD and 1,5,10,20 and 50 cents. Additional legal tender in Singapore is Brunei Dollar (BND).
It is good to know that some other currencies are widely accepted in shopping centers: USD, AUD, JPY and GBP.
Singapore is truly a modern cosmopolitan city. It is home to people of different races and nationalities, who nowadays live in peace and harmony, which were challenging to achieve in the previous century. Different influences shaped Singapore’s culture: Chinese, Malay, Indian and European. Each race has its own religion and their vivid and colorful festivals are commonly loved and enjoyed by the entire population and tourists. Different cultural impacts are also reflected in Singapore’s cuisine and rich offer of different types of food across the town.
Despite its population being formed by immigrants, residents consider themselves Singaporeans, regardless of place they are coming from.
Singapore encompasses the urbanized island which is considered the main and more than 60 islets. Another fun fact: its surface it pretty flat! The highest point is at only 166m and its called Bukit Timah. What makes this island-state also special is the absence of rivers and lakes. Originally, it was covered with tropical rain forest until the end of 19th century, when its landscape was drastically changed due to construction. This process was at its peak in 1970s and 1980s. Singapore is settled at the very tip of Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, close to the shortest shipping route between China and India, which is the main reason it experienced such enormous economic prosperity.
There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Many of its citizens speak at least two languages. English is most commonly used in schools and in business sphere for practical reasons.
British English is considered standard, because Singapore used to be British colony. Malay was national language prior to British occupation and its dialect is known as Bahasa Melayu. Mandarin is the form of Chinese used in Singapore and its simplified written form is used. It is based on Beijing dialect and used in schools and by the media, while schools and media are prohibited to use other dialects. Tamil is the official language of Indian diaspora, who originally came from Tamil Nadu region.
Variety of religions is present in Singapore: Chines are mostly followers of Buddhism, Taoism and Shenism. Their religious practices involve balancing opposing forces and ancestral worship. Malays are the practitioners of Islam, as well as some Indians. They live in accordance with the five tenets and they restrain themselves from consuming pork and alcohol. The majority of Indians are practitioners of Hinduism, which is complex due to its broad range of philosophies. Other religions are also present, but to smaller extent. In addition to temples and mosques, churches can also be found in Singapore.
Singapore has very vivid history. The island belonged to the Indonesian-Malayan state. The city was founded in 1160. and became an important trading center of Southeast Asia, but in 14th century it was demolished by the army of the state of Madhya Pahiti. Demolition degraded its status to shelter for refuges and pirates. In 1819 it was occupied by the British East India Company, and eventually developed into one of the most important centers and trading centers of the British Empire. During the Second World War, the Japanese landed on the island, defeated and captured a large British army which was the symbolic beginning of the end of the British Empire. After the war, it was re-occupied by the British, and in 1961 it became part of the Malaysian Federation.
In 1965, the government headed by Lee Kuan Yewom declared Singapore’s independence and it became the Republic of Singapore. From that time, Singapore faced different socio-economic problems which were successfully resolved and these days it enjoys the fruits of its efforts, observed in the degree of its impressive economic development. Singapore compensated its lack of natural resources by attracting foreign businesses, which were important influences in the formation of its economy and culture.
Due to its nearness to equator, Singapore has tropical climate, whose main characteristics are high temperatures and humidity during the year and frequent rain. There are two monsoon seasons: from December to March and from June to September. Daily temperatures range from 25 ºC to 33 ºC. Significant wind speeds and proximity of the sea provide some extent of natural relief from the harsh impact of tropical climate.
Its current population is 5.7 million and the island covers area of 700 km², resulting in population density of 8274 per km².