It's always great to do stuff with people with the same interests. There are so many groups in Singapore that you have no time to get bored. From singing karaoke to baking, dragon boating to exploring nature, Korean pop to Japanese language, you name it. Some of them charge a membership fee but most are free to join. Of course there are tons of schools that teach different stuff, like archery, cooking, beat boxing and mixed martial arts. Taking up classes can also get you acquainted to some folks here. Here's a list of sites that could link you to clubs and activity groups, and for the singles who knows, to a Singlish-speaking life partner! :D
Remote control cars
Remote control planes
Charity, voluntary work
Films and movies
You can also visit the following sites to find groups for all types of interests:
Singapore People's Association - community centres
Active SG - for sports interest groups
SAFRA - SAFRA clubs interest group activities that non-members can sign up for too
Paid membership clubs with club facilities:
Aranda Country Club
Changi Sailing Club
Chinese Swimming Club
Hollandse Club (Dutch Club)
Japanese Association in Singapore
Jurong Country Club
Laguna National Golf & Country Club
Marina Country Club
ONE15 Marina Club
Orchid Country Club
Raffles Country Club
Raffles Town Club
Republic of Singapore Yacht Club
SAFRA Seletar Country Club
Serangoon Gardens Country Club
Singapore Cricket Club
Singapore Island Country Club
Singapore Polo Club
Singapore Recreation Club
Singapore Swimming Club
Swiss Club Singapore
Tanah Merah Country Club
The Pines Club
The Legends Fort Canning Park
The Tanglin Club
Warren Country Club
If you are thinking about living in Singapore, these are some things you can expect (or prepare yourself for) and get used to!
2. People speaking in different languages
Hooray that almost everyone can speak English! Or at least understand English for the older folks. Other than English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil being the official languages in Singapore, there is also the unofficial national language - Singlish (Singapore + English), which is most commonly spoken. There are also many foreigners living and working in Singapore so it's common to hear groups of people speaking in different languages.
3. People speaking really fast in a one-of-a-kind accent
Be prepared to have difficulty understanding the English spoken here when you first arrive. Our overseas friends tell us that we speak so fast that all the words in a sentence seem to be strung into one very long word. English speaking is largely influenced by Chinese (and Chinese dialects) or Malay because most people still speak their Mother Tongue half the time, although English is the medium of instruction in schools. When locals speak English, the sentence structure might not be English accurate and some words and phrases used in sentences are in Malay or Chinese. For example, "Have you eaten?" will be expressed in Singlish "You makan (to eat in Malay) already or not?", and "Why didn't you ask me along?" can simply be expressed "Bo jio!"
Click here to learn what the Singlish used in this video means!
4. Walking quickly
Other than speaking fast, we walk fast too. Sometimes our overseas friends ask us “Why are people here always rushing?” (hands raised) Guilty! People walk fast, talk fast, eat fast, work fast… When you walk in the train stations or in the business district during peak hours, you have to keep up with the walking crowd if not get the occasional ‘tsks’ and glares. Well somehow, this has become a way of life. Just gotta keep up!
5. The meaning of ‘Wah so far!’
Going to a place that is a 30 minute drive is considered far to people here. Oh, and it takes just 60 minutes to drive from the east to the west. Taking the train from the start to the end along the east-west line is considered far too – it takes about 70 minutes. To people here, somewhere near is a maximum 7 minute drive or walk away.
7. Sharing a table
If chope-ing fails and you are alone or with one or two friends out for a meal in a crowded place, it is common to share a table with strangers. Just ask “May I sit here?”
8. Taking a budget flight for a weekend getaway!
It is so easy and value-for-money to take a short trip to neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand or Hong Kong on a budget airline! You can get a ticket to Kuala Lumpur for less than $100 and a ticket to Hong Kong for just over $200 if you get a good deal. People tend to take leave from work on Friday or Monday and jet set to a neighbouring country just to eat, shop and to get a massage. Don't be surprised if you're jetting off once every two months over the weekend with friends! (Budget airlines: www.jetstar.com, www.tigerairways.com, www.airasia.com)
Most people here need to get the best deal out of everything, so wherever possible, you will hear some haggling going on, for instance at the shops in housing estate areas, wet markets, night markets or electronics fairs. People will ask for a better price on that TV, a free cucumber (on top of the already free carrot), extra prawns.....We just need to stretch our dollar! As Russell Peters puts it "50-cents a lot of money!"
It really can get pretty crowded at some places during peak periods. For one, you have to queue to get into the train during rush hours. Taxi stands often have a line of people waiting for a cab. People here also gladly stand in line with 50 other people already in the queue to collect a free gift, say, an umbrella or complimentary carpark coupon for shoppers at a mall. We have also seen parents would queue overnight outside popular childcare centres before the day registration for the new year opens to ensure their child gets a place in that school. The most epic example would be camping overnight outside Mac Donald’s when it was selling the Hello Kitty stuffed toy series years ago - people actually argued over this in the queue. Lol~ You will also come across people who see a long lineup, join in and have no idea what they are queuing for. Then they get their friend to go to the front of the line to see what’s happening. If it’s something worth queuing for, they’d stay. Join in the fun! Join in the line!
Generally when meeting a friend for tea or movie, it’s normal to wait for about 10 minutes (or more). Of course this is general – there are folks who make it a point to be punctual too. Business wise, we're punctual. Lol. So we’re guessing it’s a matter of choice. :D Well good thing we have mobile phones now. So take a walk around the vicinity while waiting!
13. Addressing 'Auntie' and 'Uncle'
People address those who are a generation older than them as 'Auntie' or 'Uncle'. Be it the storekeepers or a friend's parents, you can call them 'Auntie' or 'Uncle', that is, except during business settings. It's respectful to the person. (And guess what, there's no need to remember their names! Lol~) So don't be surprised if your friend's kids call you 'Uncle' even though you are not related by blood. But if walk down the street with a local and they point to someone and saying 'Wah, so auntie!' even though the person looks the same age as your friend, it means your friend is implying that their dressing or mannerisms liken that of an old lady. Well, it's not so desirable to be called and 'Auntie' or 'Uncle' in that context!
Our island is situated near the Equator so there's no escaping. It's humid all year round and rain falls on at least 30% of the days throughout the year. It's summer everyday and the temperature range is consistent. If you come from a country with 4 seasons, you will find it strange that people walk around in a jacket on rainy days because they feel cold although the temperature is just at 25degC. Well the good news is, you don't have lug thick coats around or shovel snow in the yard.
Primary School (Grade school)
In the year when kids turn 7, they start attending Primary school for 6 years of compulsary education (Primary 1 to 6). Students take 3 subjects - English, Mathematics and Mother Tongue from Primary 1 to 3. Science is introduced in Primary 4. School hours are from about 7.30am-12.30pm for the morning session. Some schools have the afternoon session (1.30-6.30 pm) as well. From Primary 3, students are encouraged to take up a CCA (co-curricular activity) in school based on their area of interest like soccer or choir. At the end of Primary 6, students sit for the national Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) to determine which Secondary school (high school) they can go to.
Some parents have a preference for certain schools based on the school's academic track record or CCA choices, but eligibility is largely based on living proximity to the school. Balloting in phases go on during the primary school selection period for 6 year olds which is usually held in July.
Secondary school students also take up a CCA (co-circular activity). Annual inter-school competitions or performances for sports and arts activities are held for students to compete in.
Other than the mainstream schools, there's also the School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA) for 13-18 year olds with talent in the arts. Sports wise, there's the Singapore Sports School. The curriculum incorporate an academic schedule as well.
Top students who do well academically have the option to select the Integrated Programme (IP) available at selected schools after PSLE, otherwise known as 'through train', where they do not sit for the O Levels and instead undergo a more broad based curriculum. At the end of 6 years, they will also sit for A Levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB), just like the Junior College students.
Junior College (JC/Pre-university)
Students choose their Junior Colleges based on their O Level examination results and attend JC for 2 years. The subjects include the mandatory GP (General Paper) and Mother Tongue, and a combination of up to 4 of the following subjects Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics (Science stream), or Literature, Geography, Art, History and Mathematics (Arts stream). At the end of 2 years, students sit for the Cambridge GCE A Level examinations.
(Photo source: www.hci.edu.sg)
At the Primary and Secondary levels, some schools are single gender schools. Students are required to wear school uniforms up to Junior College. Schools and the syllabus are managed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and teachers are trained at the National Institute of Education (NIE) before they are assigned a teaching post in a school.
A fresh academic year begins in January. June and December are school vacation months for Primary, Secondary and JC students. There is a one week school break in March and September as well.
School fees for primary, secondary and JC school education are minimal for citizens. Permanent residents and foreigners pay more.
Majority of the students go for external tuition lessons after regular school hours and on weekends because school can get pretty competitive. (With tuition and CCAs, sometimes kids have a more packed schedule than their parents!) Parents are usually just as stressed (or more stressed) as their children when exams approach. Lol~
After the O Levels, students can also choose to attend a Polytechnic for a 3 year diploma course instead of going to a JC. Entry into a preferred course of study is based on merit depending on the students' O Level results. Some courses carry a higher grade requirement. There are 5 Polytechnics in Singapore - Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic. Courses are also open to working adults for skill upgrading.
(Photo source: www.rp.edu.sg)
Students also can choose to attend the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to obtain skills such as Nursing or F&B related after their O Levels. Academic courses such as Engineering and Accounting are also offered and can lead up to a placement in Polytechnic later for a diploma. Part time studies and courses are also available for working adults.
You might be thinking, ‘Well that’s easy - just hail a cab, hop on it and get to my destination!’ You’re right! But knowing the ins and outs of the taxi world here would help a whole lot!
1. Beat peak hour timings and surcharges
Getting a cab during peak hours is like waiting on a deserted island to be rescued because 90% of the cabs that pass by you on the roads are taken! Where's a cab when you need one?! Peak hours run from 6 -9.30am on weekdays, and from 6pm-12am everyday. You pay an extra 25% of the fare during these times. From 12am to 6pm, the surcharge is 50% more. If you are heading out of the city any time from 5pm-12am, you pay an additional $3. From certain places where you board such as the airport or Marina Bay Sands, location surcharges apply to. Road tolls, which we know to be Electronic Road Price (ERP) here, are set up as electronic gantries over the island and entering some areas could cost you another dollar or two. Well, after explaining the number of surcharges, it seems like you will have to spend a fortune getting from point A to B on a cab, but the good news is, Singapore is an island after all. To give you an estimate, taking a taxi from the airport into the city would cost about $15. That's okay. :)
The prices don't deter locals from taking cabs anyway, because cabs are taken and it can be challenging to get a cab during rush hours. Other than making it a point to leave earlier, or later for your destination, there are ways to make sure you get your taxi.
2. How to get a taxi - hailing and booking
You can hail for a cab anywhere, except on a highway, (I wouldn't know what you are thinking be doing walking along one.) There are bus lane hours during rush hours, where the leftmost lane on some roads denoted in yellow are designated for buses. Drivers caught driving in those lanes to speed up would be, no prizes for guessing, fined. So cab drivers might not stop for you if hail a cab where the taxi driver would have to stop in the bus lane.
The best would be to join the queue at a taxi stand mostly at shopping malls or buildings, although the waiting time might be long during peak hours or on a rainy day. One of the ways to beat the taxi crowd is to book for a taxi. It costs on average $4 for the booking, depending on which taxi company and time of your booking, but it's really worth it during peak hours, or if you are in a really ulu (Malay for deserted) place, you just might wait for an hour for a taxi to pass by only to find none. To book ahead of time (more than 30 minutes before), charges are at $8. There best ways to book a cab - by phone or through phone apps. Sometimes the phone lines get jammed and you are put on hold for a long time. You might want to try booking via an app.
Comfort & CityCab: 6552-1111 (App booking: Comfort Delgro taxi booking)
Trans-cab Services: 6555-3333 (App booking: Trans-cab taxi app)
Premier Taxis: 6363-6888
Prime Taxi: 6778-0808
SMRT Taxis: 6555-8888
Other phone apps for booking a taxi: GrabTaxi, iCabSG, MyTeksi, MoobiTaxi
Photo source: yawningbread.org
3. The green and red sign and what it says
If the top of the taxi is lighted green, it is available and if it’s red, it’s not. An empty taxi might have a location indicated on screen above the taxi, that shows where the taxi driver needs to be headed. You will see this mostly when it's time for cab drivers to change shifts. If you are headed somewhere near where he’s going, just flag down the cab and let the driver know where you want to go, chances are he would be willing to pick you up.
Photo source: fergustan.net
Most taxi drivers are friendly, but some are too friendly. Once a conversation starts, it is difficult to stop. That’s okay if you are enjoying the conversation, but if the taxi uncle starts complaining about everything from the weather to the government, you might want to be prepared how to end it. Plugging in some earphones might help, or pretending to sleep. If they don’t stop, just politely tell them that you need a rest. Taxi drivers also know the best food haunts so you can ask them where to go for a good eat. Or if you are new in Singapore and have some questions about how things work here, they would be happy to answer.
5. Don’t worry, charges go by the meter
The industry is highly regulated so fares go by the meter. The flag down fare is between $3 to $3.40 depending on the taxi company, and the meter jumps $0.22 for every 400m meters travelled. Beyond 10km, it jumps the same amount every 350m covered. $0.22 is also charged fro every 45 seconds of waiting time. To ensure you don’t get ripped off because you are unfamiliar with the roads, use the tool at gothere.sg for an estimate of the fare from your starting point to your location. It even tells you how much more you can expect to pay during peak hours.
There are several modes of payment – cash, Nets (via a debit card) or credit card. If you don’t have enough cash with you and pay by Nets, it’s 30 cents charge for the transaction and 10% of the fare charged (with taxes on this 10%) if you pay by credit card. A receipt is not given by default, so ask the taxi driver for it if you need one. Just a note that sometimes the older taxis (you can tell which ones are the older ones) do not have Nets or card services so you can only pay in cash. It is also good to carry smaller bills because sometimes the driver might not have enough loose change.
7. Special taxis
Special taxis come with special prices. For taxies plying the roads, you can see taxies like the white Mercedes cabs, black Chrysler cabs and London cabs, Maxi cabs (7 seater). Those cost more to ride if you flag them down. You can also call to book these cabs at a flat rate. (Limousine Cab: 6535-3534)
*Tip for tourists! Once you land at the Singapore Changi airport, just follow the signs that would lead you to the taxi stand. If you see a long queue not to worry, there is a long line of cabs waiting outside to pick up passengers so the queue moves pretty fast. If you have your whole family with you, kids and loads of luggage and all, you might want to opt for a larger cab. You will see a row of counters providing limo services. Fares are at a flat rate between $55 to $70.
Well, to answer this question, it really depends on lifestyle. Here's a guide as to what prices are like these days in Singapore.
A filling meal at a hawker centre or coffeeshop where most locals frequent can cost as low as $3. To add a beverage or dessert will cost just another $1 -$2. In shopping and office areas, you will find food courts instead of coffeeshops. As a guide, a plate of chicken rice is priced at about $5 at a food court. Eating out every meal, you can get comfortably with $15 on food daily. While dining out and ordering takeaway (aka take out) on a daily basis is becoming a lifestyle for many because it is so convenient, many families still have home cooked meals.
Groceries from the wet markets or supermarkets are reasonably priced. An averaged sized raw chicken at the supermarket costs about $6. Depending at where you do your groceries, prices differ between a wet market and supermarket, and from supermarket to supermarket. You can spend as little as $4 for half a kilogram of grapes at one supermarket, and $9 for grapes too at another.
Sticking to food prices, there is a wide range of restaurants for a casual dine out, such as Swensons and Ajisen. A main course at one of these joints costs about $12-$18. Moving on to a higher range of prices, an all-day breakfast restaurant charges about $20-$30 for a main course. International buffets at a hotel range between $40-$80 per person. Well, we could go on and on but the sky's the limit for posh dining. Oh yes, how could we forget using the price of the Big Mac for comparison's sake? A Big Mac costs $5.25 here.
A one way ride from a housing estate in the suburbs into the city would cost about $1.60. Buses are slightly cheaper in general to ride, but the journey often takes a longer time. If you take a taxi from town to a housing estate, say, Punggol (which is at the furthest end north-east of Singapore), it will cost about $16 for the 30 minute ride during non-peak hours. If you prefer to drive, a Toyota Corolla here will set you back at $120,000. What makes owning a car more expensive is road tax, aka COE (Certificate of Entitlement). The COE entitles you to use the car on Singapore roads for 10 years. Prices of COE fluctuate depending on demand, type of vehicle and engine capacity. As a gauge, the COE for a 1600cc car as we write costs more than $70,000. Parking fees and ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) fees can add up substantially as well.
People here live mostly in HDB (Housing Development Board) flats, which are government flats. To purchase a unit, you need to be a Singaporean or permanent resident (PR) and also meet a list of criteria in order to qualify to purchase. A new flat costs about $300,000 on average, depending on factors such as size and location. (For more on government flats, click here.) Renting a HDB flat will cost about $2500/month, again depending on location, furnishing, size etc. Renting a room in a HDB flat costs about $700/month. For foreigners, the option to own a property would be to purchase a condominium unit or landed property. Based on the market today, a new studio apartment costs at least $600,000 and a landed property, definitely more than $1m. Renting a condominium unit costs more than $4000/month and depending on condominium facilities, location and size, it can cost more than $12,000/month. To rent a landed property, you can expect to pay more than $7000/month.
Going to the cinemas for a show is a very popular activity here. During non-peak periods, a movie ticket costs $8.50 and $12.50 during peak periods. An average spa session is priced about $100 and the more expensive ones costs $300 and more per session. There are also many activities too that do not cost much or even free, such as enjoying the beach or parks. Community centres (CCs) and sports complexes are situated in most neighbourhoods and contain many facilities for free use or rent at very affordable prices. For instance, basketball courts are free for use while renting a badminton court for an hour costs about $7. To use the public swimming pool on the weekend costs just $1.50 per entry. $ You can also sign up for many classes that the CCs organises at very good rates, such as yoga, culinary, social dancing etc.
The utility bill for a family of 4 living in a HDB flat is roughly $250 a month. During months between June and August when the weather is really (really x 10) warm, most families use the air conditioning the most and that's when you can expect the utility bill to shoot up too. Mobile phone subscription plans are priced between $30-$250/month depending on your usage. A decent broadband internet connection costs $50/month at minimum. (Visit these service providers' websites for details on price plans: Starhub, Singtel, M1)
Preschool education ranges between $250-$1200/month depending on the school and school hours. Majority of the students go to government schools and fees are heavily subsidized for locals or permanent residents. Primary school education is compulsory and almost free for locals. Secondary school education costs less than $250 a year. Many foreigners also send their kids to government schools, albeit fees are higher.There are a number of international schools such as the Canadian International School, where many foreigners enroll their children in. Fees at international schools costs more than $10,000 a year. A semester in tertiary education costs about $6000 for locals and $20,000 for foreigners depending on course of study. Many parents also hire tutors for their school-going children. On average, a 2 hour tuition session for a secondary school student can range between $50-$100.
Click here to read more on Education in Singapore.
Locals and PRs have a Medisave account, where a portion of their monthly income goes to for hospital expenses. More services can be covered using Medisave funds in government hospitals compared to private hospitals. Subsidies are also granted depending on income levels. As a guide, click here for ward fees at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for citizens, PRs and foreigners. Doctor's and medicine fees during a visit to a private clinic for a common flu or fever costs more than $50 and less than $20 at a government polyclinic for locals.
Tax rates are dependent on income levels and vary for locals and foreigners. Click here for rates.
Yes we know, riding on a bus is a no-brainer, but knowing the dos and don'ts will not get you into a frenzy because you gave a fifty dollar bill for a $1.20 bus fare and get told "Sorry, no change!"
1. Know where you're going!
You can take buses from the bus terminals, often situated at housing areas, or from bus stops. The bus stops and and routes are fixed so identify which bus number to take and from where you should board. The bus directories at the bus stops will let you know where the buses pass by and stop. If you know the bus number you should be taking but don't see your destination indicated on the directory, it means you are on the wrong side of the road. Chances are there is a bus stop on the other side of the road and you should be taking the bus in the other direction. We love gothere.sg because it gives you the best route on all transport options (bus, train, taxi, driving, walking), tells you how long the journey will take and even how much the fare will cost you. All you have to do is to key in the location and destination in the search bar at gothere.sg. The frequency of buses are pretty high - about 8 minutes on average during peak hours and 15 minutes during non-peak hours.
2. Card or cash?
Travelling around Singapore is a whole lot easier with an EZ-Link card (click here for more info on the EZ-Link card). Make sure you have with sufficient credit in the card ($3 minimum). The bus fare is slightly cheaper if you pay using the EZ-Link card. Another benefit using the card is that if your route requires rides on 2 buses, or a train and a bus, then there is some savings on the fare too and less credit is deducted each time you tap out. If you are paying by cash, make sure you have enough loose change because no change is given. The fare is not fixed, so the longer the journey, the more it costs. If you use an EZ-Link card, the fare is automatically deducted when you tap in and out on the card readers in the buses. If you are using coins, you can check how much you need to pay from the bus directories at the bus terminal or bus stop. If not, tell the bus driver where you are headed and he will tell you how much the fare is. Having some coins would come in handy to pay the exact fare because no change will be given. (You may top up you EZ-Link card at MRT stations by cash or a Nets card. Some bus stops have a top-up machine, albeit it accepts payment by Nets only.) Tip: If you're on a short holiday in Singapore, you may want to get the EZ-Link Tourist Pass for unlimited rides on the buses and trains at a flat day fee! Visit http://www.thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/ for details.
3. Wait (as all good things require)
If you are at a bus terminal, wait at the queue showing your bus number on a placard. Bus terminals and main bus stops have real time information on how many minutes the bus will arrive in.
4. No pay, no board
As you board the bus, tap your EZ-Link on either of the 2 card readers at the entrance. If you are paying cash, drop your coins into the box next the driver. For cash payments, a ticket stub will be printed from the ticket machine near the entrance.
Tip: Sometimes, an officer in a white uniform will step onto the bus at random and check if every passenger has paid. So if you paid in cash, keep your ticket stub because he would ask to check it. If you paid using card, he would just scan it on his reader device to check.
5. Press the bell!
Buses stop at designated bus stops. The bus drivers don't stop at every bus stop unless someone's alighting, or someone is flagging down the bus at the bus stop. As you are approaching destination, press any of the red 'stop' buttons located on the poles in the bus to indicate you wish to alight at the next stop. If you are unsure where to alight, just ask the bus driver.
6. Tap out when you alight
If you paid by EZ-Link card, tap the same card on your way out at any of the 2 card readers at the exit. The bus fare will be deducted accordingly from your card's stored value. If you forget to tap out, then the maximum fare will be deducted for that bus trip the next time the EZ-Link card is used so remember to do so!
Tip: If the bus is full and you are standing near the entrance wanting to alight, you may tap out and exit at the entrance.
- There are seats designated for the elderly, children, pregnant women, the disabled, or simply people who need look like they could do with a seat. Although there are designated seats for them, usually denoted by a different seat colour than the rest, it's just courtesy to give up your seat for those who need it!
- No drinking or eating is allowed in buses
- It can get pretty crowded during peak hours, so move in and let in others board! There are 2 major bus operators in Singapore with buses plying different routes - SBS Transit (red buses) and SMRT yellow buses. SBS Transit covers a wider bus network.
There are so many reasons which makes Singapore feel more like home!
It's Clean!When you ask someone who just visited Singapore how their trip was, chances are they will first exclaim 'It's so clean!'. Well the only things lying on many streets and pavements are maybe some leaves and dust. There are bins everywhere so even before you can think of littering, chances are a bin will appear in front of you, and so will the word 'fine' - it's a $ penalty and community service aka street cleaning if caught - no pain no gain!
It's Green!It’s so green that you’d think the country is one huge park containing many mini parks, stuffed with tall buildings in between. The mini parks are in housing areas and there are the real parks too like the Botanical Gardens. The greens keep the pollution down so air quality is maintained even with the number of motorcars on the roads.
Great food, at great pricesSingaporeans are proud of their food and eating has to be the most popular past time. Some people actually go all out for good food and will drive a distance, struggle to find a parking lot and join the queue for 45 minutes for a plate of a very well prepared Hainanese Chicken Rice at $3. If you want to have, say Nasi Lemak, just ask anyone and they will give you a list of places that serve the best ones. People here are crazy over buffets too so it’s advisable to make a reservation for a buffet. And yes, locals love talking about food too and everyone sounds like a professional food critic, so that’s another conversation starter other than the weather.
Cultural diversityWe love the cultural diversity here. Other than the main Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian racial groups, there are so many foreigners living and working here that it is normal to be having dinner with people from 5 different countries.
SafetySafe to say, you can walk in peace on the streets of Singapore at midnight and not end up in pieces so having supper at 2am at a coffeeshop is not a problem – of course discretion is the order of the day at any time. You can see police on patrols in public areas pretty frequently. A low crime can also be attributed to the fact that Singapore is known to be one of the countries with the strictest laws.
Public transportOwning a car in Singapore is like daylight robbery for most people, so we are glad we can depend on the network of bus routes and subway lines (MRT: Mass Rapid Transit) which is ever expanding. Most areas are covered by a bus or train and arrival frequencies are high, so walking and waiting are kept to a minimum. We love the EZ Link card too for the trains and buses so we don’t have to fumble with coins. Service hours last till about midnight and are extended on special holidays.
SinglishSingapore English, that’s what Singlish stands for and it really is a part of the country and people. Singlish is essentially English with a wider range of sentence structures (aka having no structure) and a greater vocabulary (lol) because it includes words from Malay and Chinese dialects and phrases loosely translated from them. Since people of different races make up the country, Singlish naturally formed along the way as a means of communication and it is still evolving. If you have not heard of Singlish, you’re outdated, because the dictionary now officially contains a Singlish word – Kiasu! (thanks to Bryan for sharing this with us~!)
> Watch our videos to learn some Singlish!
Self-contained EstatesEvery estate has amenities like clinics, markets, coffeeshops , hair salons and hardware stores within walking distance from homes, if not, within less than 15 minutes or travel time by bus. It is so convenient that some people actually just head downstairs of their block of flats in their PJs and hair combed with fingers, and gladly wave at neighbours and storekeepers as they walk around in the estate.
The weekend is here again and you might have run out of ideas on how to keep your kids occupied. If you want to avoid the shopping malls and keep your children off that phone or tablet playing games, here are some great places you can try!
1. Chill out at a park
Living in urban Singapore, it's good to get some fresh air in some of the beautiful parks here, such as the Botanic Gardens, Punggol Waterway and Pasir Ris Park. Enjoy a picnic or a ball game, cycle or roller blade with your kids, fly a kite...........
[caption id="attachment_1726" align="aligncenter" width="581"] East Coast Park/Beach[/caption]Visit the National Parks Board's website for more information! https://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/
The libraries are a great place to keep your children occupied for hours if they are into reading. There are 26 libraries in Singapore so it's convenient too. Story-telling sessions are organised as well.
[caption id="attachment_1863" align="aligncenter" width="597"] Public library[/caption]The libraries are open from 10am to 9pm daily, except on public holidays (libraries located in shopping malls open at 11am).
If you are a Singaporean or PR, you can borrow up to 8 books using your NRIC card at no charge. If you are a foreigner, just sign up for an annual membership and you can start borrowing.
Visit http://www.pl.sg/ for more information on activities and information on using the library.
3. Go Swimming
Kids love to water so take your kids to one of the many public swimming complexes. Other than the regular adult and children's pools, there are 4 public swimming complexes with fun features like water slides and wave pools to enjoy - they are Sengkang, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East and West and Pasir Ris swimming complexes. The best part? The entry fee is just $0.50-$2 each time!
For a list of public swimming pools, visit http://www.ssc.gov.sg/publish/Corporate/en/participation/hotspot/sports_facility/swimming_complex.html
Singapore is an island in the tropics so we are surrounded by water and good sun most part of the year. Soak in the sun, sand and breeze at East Coast Park, Changi Beach or the beaches on Sentosa island (Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong Beach).
Other than the regular beach activities like volleyball, sandcastle building, playing frisbee or soaking in the sea, there are cycling and roller blading rental facilities along the beach as well. You can also try camping and pitching a tent, or book a barbecue pit for a barbecue session by the beach.
East Coast Park and Changi Beach: http://www.nparks.gov.sg/
Sentosa island beaches: http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/beaches/
Book a barbecue pit: https://e-station.axs.com.sg/NParks/Internet_Payment/index.php
5. Visit the Museums
Most museums are free for citizens and permanent residents (bring your ID!) and tickets are $10 at most for adults and minimal for students and seniors (bring your ID too!) - the National Museum of Singapore, Asian Civiliasations Museum, Pernanakan Museum, Singapore Philatelic Museum or Reflections at Bukit Chandu. Special exhibitions may require a further entry fee, but that is normally kept to a minimum too. :)
Singlish word: Sian. From the Hokkien dialect.
Used to express boredom or when feeling tired of a situation.
Aka: I'm so tired of that. / Not again.
Prawn fishing, or prawning, is a popular past time among Singaporeans. To soak in the Singapore atmosphere, it is better to 'prawn' in the evenings and on weekends. Prices average at about $15 per hour per fishing rod, and comes with bait for catch, usually raw cockles. Charges per hour get cheaper by the hour, usually $25 for 2 hours and $30 for 3 hours.
1. Head to the counter, make payment and you will receive a rod.
2. Pick up some bait (usually at the payment counter in disposable condiment saucers).
3. Grab a net (to put your catch in).
4. Pick a spot to prawn from, tie your net to a hook (or anything else)
5. Hook some bait on and you're good to go!
Tip: If you are completely lost and haven't caught anything in half an hour, get help! Feel free to approach the staff and they would be more than willing to teach you the basics of prawn fishing. If the patron prawning next to you is having a good catch, just ask for help. Enthusiasts are normally willing to give some tips.
There are barbecue pits available too. When you are done, rinse the prawns under the tap at a sink you will find, and skewer them (plates and disposable skewers are available. If not, bring your catch home for a good seafood meal.
Some prawning locations in Singapore are open 24 hours so if you are more of a night person, prawning might be a good activity for you in Singapore (other than having supper of course). Some locations also offer fish and crabs for catch!
1. Bottle Tree Park
81 Lorong Chencharu (Yishun)
2. East Coast Prawn Fishing
1020 East Coast Parkway
Tel: 6227 3330
3. Pasir Ris Town Park Prawn Fishing
Pasir Ris Drive 1
Pasir Ris Town Park
Tel : 6584 4479
4. Pasir Ris Farmway Prawn Fishing
70 Pasir Ris Farmway 3
Tel: 9788 6528
5. Hai Bin Prawning (at Punggol and Jurong)
6 Tebing Lane (Punggol)
Tel: 6447 8693
241 Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim, The Village (Jurong)
Tel: 6265 2598
6. Punggol Prawn Fishing
Marina Country Club
Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue
Tel: 6310 1012
7. D'Kranji Prawn Fishing
10 Neo Tiew Lane 2
Tel : 6862 9717
8. Farmart Prawn Fishing
67 Sungei Tengah Rd
Tel : 6767 0070
Public Housing80% of the people live in public housing, or what is known in Singapore as HDB flats. HDB stands for Housing Development Board, which manages public housing.
In 1960, HDB was established along with the newly elected government then to address the serious housing shortage. Because of the limited land space, high rise flats were built and each block of flats can range between 4 to 30 storeys high, with 4 to about 8 housing units on each floor.
HDB flats with a parkEach housing estate containing flats over a designated area is self-contained, with wet markets, parks, coffee shops, clinics, hawker centres, bus services, a police post and post office, sometimes an MRT station and a shopping mall in the vicinity as well. A distinct feature is also the hanging of laundry to dry outside the HDB units using bamboo poles. In order to promote and maintain racial interaction, the Ethnic Integration Policy enforces that the proportion of people of different ethnicities living in a block of flats be the same as that of the population.
To purchase a HDB flat, certain criteria have to be met. For instance, citizens have to be married if they are below the age of 35 to qualify to purchase a flat. There is also an income ceiling of S$10,000 for a HDB flat purchase.
A HDB flat is bought under a 99 year lease agreement with HDB, and costs about S$300,000 for a new flat, and about S$500,000 for a resale flat (can be resold after 5 years of ownership), depending on the estate location and how big the flat is (750-1600 square feet).
Private HousingPeople who do not meet the criteria for a HDB flat may opt for condominiums (apartments) or landed housing.
Many condominiums have been built especially in the past decade and both locals and foreigners have taken interest in them to live in or for investment purposes. A shoebox unit can be as small as about 500 square feet and cost more than $500,000. Regular condominium units can cost between S$800,000 to more than S$1m. Many condominium units are also sold on a 99 year lease agreement. In recent years,
many en bloc (collective selling of property in an area) exercises have taken place for developers to redevelop with mostly smaller unit condominiums.
There a number of areas in Singapore with landed housing (terraces, semi-detached, bungalows), including Bukit Timah and Siglap.
The industry is highly regulated to ensure stability in prices and supply and demand.
For more information on housing:
Housing Development Board (HDB)
Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)