Singapore travel guide: what you need to do


Visas, vaccinations, phone, internet, power plugs, money, travel insurance, handy apps and more.


Australian passport holders do not need a visa to visit Singapore, provided they:

  • have a passport with at least six months' validity from their entry date
  • have a return or onward ticket (where applicable)
  • have the correct visa for their onward destination (if applicable)
  • have sufficient funds for their stay in Singapore
  • have completed a Disembarkation/Embarkation Card
  • have a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate (if applicable).

Visa rules may change. For up-to-date information check with the Singapore High Commission: mfa.gov.sg.

Do I need vaccinations for Singapore?

Vaccinations aren't essential for travel to Singapore, but you may need them, depending on your health status and your travel plans. Make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date and talk to your doctor or a specialist travel doctor about whether you need shots for other conditions such as hepatitis A and B or rabies (some bats in Singapore carry rabies). See the Travel Doctor's Singapore page for more health advice.

If you are entering Singapore from a country with high risk of yellow fever (Australia is not a high risk country) you must provide proof that you've been vaccinated.

Tip: Some vaccinations need to be given up to eight weeks before departure, so get in early.

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Zika virus

At the time of writing, there has been limited transmission of the zika virus in Singapore. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas. 

Dengue fever, chikungunya fever and Japanese encephalitis

Outbreaks of other mosquito-borne illnesses can occur in Singapore, and these can't be vaccinated against, so take measures to avoid insect bites:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear long, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • Choose accommodation with mosquito screens on the windows or nets above the beds

Global roaming and coverage

Can I use my Australian phone in Singapore?

Singapore has great mobile phone coverage and your Australian mobile phone should work well on the country's extensive GSM network. If you plan on using your phone a lot, especially if you'll be using data, be prepared for some big bills. Check global roaming rates with your telco. Some offer a set price-per-day roaming rate which will likely cost you more than a local SIM (see below) but will save you from any nasty surprises on your bill.

  • Switch off data roaming before you leave Australia (just use Wi-Fi when it's available to access the internet).
  • Switch off your voicemail and ask friends and family to text you rather than calling (you'll be charged if you answer incoming calls).

Tip: Switch off data roaming on your phone before you leave Australia. Likewise, switch off your voicemail and ask friends and family to text you rather than calling (you'll be charged if you answer incoming calls).

Local SIM

  • A pre-paid Singaporean SIM card will save you money on calls and data.
  • The country has three main telcos: Singtel, M1 and StarHub, all of which operate on the GSM network and will be compatible with your Australian handset as long as it's unlocked.
  • You can buy SIM cards from Singaporean phone stores, post offices or convenience stores.
  • At Singapore Changi Airport you can purchase prepaid SIM cards from the Changi Recommends counters in all four of the arrival halls or from one of the local telco's own stores located within the airport, as well as from the currency exchange counters. You'll need to register your SIM using your passport as ID.
  • You can top up your credit online, through an ATM, or with vouchers from convenience or phone stores.

Travel SIM

If you'd prefer to be organised before you go, a pre-paid travel SIM is an easy option, though the rates probably won't be as cheap as with a local SIM. Travel SIMs are available online and from some travel agents and post offices. Check that the SIM you're buying has coverage for Singapore.

Remember: Your phone will need to be unlocked to accept a SIM from another network.

Beat global roaming bill shock – our guide to unlocking your phone and changing your global roaming settings.

Internet access

Wi-Fi

  • You'll find free Wi-Fi almost everywhere in Singapore through the Wireless@SG program run by the government and the country's three telcos. It's easiest to access it using a Singaporean phone number.
  • If you're using your foreign mobile you'll need to register for an account at a Wirelness@SG hotspot. You'll receive your login details via an SMS message, but be warned that overseas charges may apply.
  • Almost all hotels offer free or paid Wi-Fi, and some cafes, restaurants and shopping malls also serve as Wi-Fi hotspots.

Data

  • If you want internet access wherever you go, look for a local or travel SIM with a generous data. (Or pay through the nose for data through your Australian SIM.)

Warning

  • Always ask permission before connecting to a network. Under Singaporean law, helping yourself to Wi-Fi is considered computer hacking.
  • The Singaporean government restricts access to some online content, including pornographic and media pirating sites.

What type of adapter do I need in Singapore?

Singapore's power sockets and plugs are different to Australia's, so you'll need a type G adapter (the same as in the UK and Ireland).

Standard voltage: 230V

Frequency: 50Hz

Singapore's voltage and frequency is the same as Australia's, so you can use your Australian appliances without fear of frying them.

Currency: Singapore dollar ($SGD)

Important: Tell your bank about your travel plans two weeks before you leave. Card activity in a foreign country could be mistaken for fraud and you could find your account frozen.

ATMs

Cash machines are widespread in Singapore and you'll rarely have trouble finding one. Remember, you'll pay a transaction fee and a conversion fee every time you use your Australian card.

Tip: Citibank and ANZ operate in Singapore, so Australian customers can save on some fees by using their ATMs. You'll still pay more than you would in Australia, though, thanks to conversion fees.

Credit cards

Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, including hotels, shops and restaurants, but a minimum spend of $20 often applies. Most taxis accept credit cards, but charge a hefty 10% fee. Remember, you'll be charged higher rates by your bank for using your Australian credit card overseas.

Money changers

Currency exchange can be found at Changi Airport, in hotels, shopping malls and in popular tourist areas like Orchard Road and Little India. It's better to change most of your money once you're in Singapore, rather than in Australia, as Singaporean money changers don't charge commission (but will obviously make money from their choice of exchange rate). You're unlikely to get the best rates at the airport or in hotels.

Travellers' cheques

These aren't widely used these days, but you'll still find some places in Singapore that will cash them. If you want the security of carrying money that can be cancelled if stolen, consider a travel money card (below).

Travel money cards

These cards can be pre-loaded with foreign currency and cancelled at any time, giving you the security of travellers' cheques with the versatility of a debit or credit card. Read our article on travel money cards to find out which ones are best for you.

Tip: Carry at least two cards and more than one cash currency (Australian and Singaporean). Split your money and cards between separate bags. That way if you lose one, you have a back-up.

For more advice on overseas spending see our travel money guide.

Sales tax

Goods and services tax of 7% is included in the price of most goods and services. Tourists can claim a GST refund on some purchases over $SGD100 when they leave the country.

Tipping

Tipping is not necessary, but it is appreciated. Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill - but this is not a tip for the service staff. Even if you leave money on the table the restaurant owner may pocket it, so make sure you hand your tip directly to the staff member.

Travel insurance is essential, even when you're travelling to a relatively safe country like Singapore. Buy insurance at the same time as you book your trip, that way you'll be covered if you have to cancel for some reason before you go.

For more information read our buying guide and to choose the best cover, see CHOICE's travel insurance reviews and comparisons.

Check with your insurer about exclusions that may affect you, including sports and pre-existing medical conditions.

Be aware that anything that happens to you while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unlikely to be covered by insurance.

Tips:

  • Keep a print-out of your travel insurance details with you at all times while on your trip.
  • Share your insurance details with family or friends before you leave.

Consider adding these links and apps to your phone, tablet or laptop before you go.

  • Travel guides such as Triposo and TripAdvisor include maps and info about popular destinations in Singapore.
  • Taxis and rideshares Grab is Singapore's main app for booking taxis and rideshares. Uber is on the way out in Singapore after a merger with Grab.
  • Public transport gothere helps you plan how to get from A to B on public transport in Singapore. Moovit can help you get around most cities in the world. Google Maps can also give you transport advice.
  • Currency conversion xe.com or the XE Currency app give you the latest exchange rates and live currency conversions.
  • Messaging and VoIP Apps such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and Viber allow you to keep in touch with friends and family minus the expensive phone bills.
  • Maps To save a map onto your mobile device for offline use, go to 'Offline maps' in the Google Maps app and download the area you need. Alternatively, go to 'Offline maps' in the menu and select a city.
  • smartraveller.gov.au for the Australian government's latest advice on the safety of the region you're travelling in.

Tip: Wherever possible, choose apps that work offline so they won't chew up your mobile data or stop working when you're not connected to the internet.

Looking for the best travel insurance?

See our travel insurance comparison.

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Got a travel tip about Singapore? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Add a comment below.


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