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Facts on Singapore - Demographic, stats and facts.

Facts of Life in Singapore - Country specific travel Information and common sensical advice.

Milestones in the history of Singapore - Milestones in the history of Singapore

Facts on Singapore

Country:
Republic of Singapore
Location:
1º ( 136.8 km) north of the equator, between latitudes 103 degrees 38' E and 104 degrees 06' E, Saddled between the South of Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Indonesia
Land Area:
682.3 sq km/
Population:
As at 2003: 4,131,200 (including all Singapore citizens, Singapore permanent residents and foreigners staying in Singapore for 1 year or more) Sunday, our cat, has not been included even though she's got higher IQ/EQ than some.
Races:
76.8% Chinese, 13.9% Malay, 7.9% Indian and 1.4% Others. (Approximate)
Religion:
42.5% Buddhist, 14.9% Islam, 14.8% No Religion, 14.6% Christianity, 8.5% Taoism, 4% Hinduism, 0.6% Other Religions. (Approximate)
Language:
Proper Singaporean English aka Singlish, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. We at the hostel have also been trained in Australian English, American English, Manchester English, Irish English, Scottish English, German English, Norwegian English and a host of other European Englishes.
Climate:

Tropical, hot, humid and rainy. Two distinct monsoon seasons - Northeastern monsoon from December to March and Southwestern monsoon from June to September. Inter-monsoon - frequent afternoon and early evening thunderstorms. In the day, the average outdoor temperature in Singapore is about 32° all yearlong. Dressing comfortably will certainly help you enjoy your walking tour more. Remember to bring lots of water with you as well.

Annual rainfall: 2,345 mm with increased rainfall from Nov to Jan

Annual snowfall: None. (Sigh)

Fortnightly weather outlook

Electricity:
220V to 240V. Plugs are of the 3-prong, square-pin type used in the UK.
Economy:
One of the world's most prosperous countries, with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest) and with per capita GDP above that of the leading nations of Western Europe. Also home to one of The World's Best Backpackers Hostel.
Relevant Links

Foreign Missions & Embassies in Singapore
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
Singapore Changi International Airport
Singapore Yellow Pages & Telephone Directory
Flight Information

Facts of Life in Singapore
Country specific travel Information and common sensical advice.
Public Transportation in Singapore

We have a highly efficient public transportation infrastructure comprising of buses, tubes and taxis. They are all nice, clean, air-conditioned, and in-expensive.

TAXIS

All taxis are metered and additional charges are clearly displayed them. DON'T TAKE THE VAN TYPE TAXIS, BUS, LIMOUSINES OR LONDON CABS. Those are WAY more expensive!

ALL TAXIS IN SINGAPORE ARE METERED and it's NEVER BASED ON FLATE RATE. (If any excuses are given for not turning on the meter, take note of the taxi's registration number and give the details to Hai. Take another cab.)

However, certain surcharges are not reflected on the meter. Some of them are as follows:-

01 There is a surcharge of S$3 for taking the taxi from the Airport;
02 Between 5.00 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, there is a surcharge of S$5 for taking the taxi from the Airport;
03 Between midnight and 6.00 a.m., there is a surcharge of 50% of the fare;
04 From 6.00 p.m. on the eve of public holidays to midnight of the public holiday, there is a surcharge of S$1;
05 Between 7.30 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. on Mondays to Saturdays, there is a surcharge of S$1 for taxis from 2 companies, CityCab and Comfort.

TUBES & BUSES

If you plan on being in Singapore for 3 days or more, it's recommended to by an EZ-Link card.

We're now using contactless smart cards (ez-link card) for both the MRT and our public buses. These are sold at MRT stations and bus interchanges for a discount price of S$13.00 (S$3.00 is the non-refundable deposit) for the first six months. With this system you don't need to calculate the stages you are travelling and the price, this will be automatically deducted at the exit. (People can't underpay their fare anymore). Trips usually average about SG$1'ish.

On boarding a bus, you'll see two grey card readers. You tap the card on one and the maximum fare is deducted for the rest of the journey. A green light appears and a beeping sound is heard. On exiting, tap your card on one of the card readers placed at the exit. The system will then re-calculate the correct fare and refund the difference to your card. You will be able to see the card value and the fare deducted on the screen.

More details and train routes can be found here.

SBS Transit Bus Travel Guide

Mass Rapid Transit Train Information

Food in Singapore

More types/varieties/ethnic than most will have time for. Most of which are pretty much identifiable by pictures or whilst in the midst of preparation. If it isn't, ask.- Common Sense.

Vegetarians are well catered for. Loads to be had in little india. Most races have some form of vegetarianism in their style of cooking. If you lean towards a vegetarian meal, inquire. - Common Sense.

A regular meal should costs between SG$3-5 excluding drinks. Eg: a plate of chicken rice, SG$2.50-3.5 depending on portion. Noodles, fried, soup should be about the same. Ask the resident foodie, Hai.

Dinners at posh restaurants, like anywhere else in the world, you will be expected to pay posh price. It could well go up to about SG$100+ a head. Reasonably, SG$20 should be plenty. Invite the resident foodie, Hai.

Check out our Food and Clubbing Index.

Beverages/ Alcohol

Sodas and the likes runs at about SG$1 at coffee shops and a few cents more at foodcourts.

Fruit Juices goes for at least SG$2 onwards.

Alcohol, now this is expensive. Expect to pay a starting price of about SG$5.80 at a coffee shop for a 640ml bottle of our Award Winning locally brewed beer, Tiger. It progressively gets more expensive and tapers off to about SG$7'ish, and this is still at the coffee shop level.

When you hit the clubs and pubs, it goes for an astonishing average of about SG$11'ish onwards. There's more, there'll be a tax and service charge slapped on on top of that. Shop around for a good deal. There's some to be had.

A regular poster on our budding travel forum, the looney planet's prickly bush, Chennie, keeps an update of the happennings in and around.

Deals like the one offered in October this year by Coyote Ugly in Boat Quay offered females free drinks the whole night through. It, and others like it, are excellent deals if you're a female. Don't abuse it by taking drinks for the boys. It's stupid to. Actions like that does not bode well and is embarrassing. - Common Sense.

There are also others which offers a drink all you can for SG$25.

Tap water is drinkable, you won't keel over and die. If you have a sensitive stomach, bottled water is sold everywhere. - Common Sense.

Money Changers in Singapore

They're abundant. There's at least one at almost every shopping centres. There's heaps of shopping centres. It's pretty tightly regulated. Changing Travellers Cheques can also be done there.

For a coupla day's expenditure, the variation is negligible. Shop for 3 rates and pick the best. - Common Sense.

Shopping in Singapore

Depending on where you're coming from or heading to, Singapore could possibly be a shopper's paradise.

If you're heading to Oz, get the stuff you need from here. You'd save a few bucks.

If heading north into Malaysia, Thailand, best to leave your casual shopping till then. You'd save a few bucks. Stick to Singapore for Branded stuff. Peeps from the region shop for branded stuff here.

If you're heading home, to the UK, Norway, Sweden etc. go max out your credit card.

The only items I'd unreservedly encourage the purchase of would be electronics. They are far cheaper compared to the few countries I've mentioned and comparatively cheaper regionally.

BUT keep in mind the old maxim of caveat emptor, or "let the buyer beware," still applies. Most stand alone shops DO NOT have refund policies. - Common Sense.

You may want to check out the section 'The Art of choosing and shopping for electronics' under Digital Cameras. Nothing is more irritating then a pushy salesperson who tries to unload excess stocks, well, except maybe meeting those whose ignorance about electronic is only exceeded by their willingness to show it.

If you wish to seek redress against a retailer, Singapore Tourism Board has a list of errant retailers. Complaints can be lodged with the Singapore Tourism Board by calling the Hotline at 1800-736 3366 (toll-free in Singapore) or The Consumers Association of Singapore

If you wish to receive some form of redress within 24 hours (depending on the complexity of the claim), you can also lodge your complaint directly with the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) at: 2 Havelock Road, #05-00 Apollo Centre, Singapore 059763. An administrative fee of S$10 is payable to the SCT.

Accommodation in Singapore

Location, location, location.

There is affordable/cheapish accommodation in Singapore. You just got to know where to look. The freely distributed 'Official Map of Singapore' is usually a good place to start if you're already here. The map focuses on the City Centre and it's fringe. This would be the ideal locality as it's easily accessible to and from everywhere. The last thing you'd want is having to wander a distance through seedy areas after an evening's outing. Through experience, time has a strange habit of stretching exponentially when you're lugging around a backpack or when you're shattered. Googling "Hostel Singapore" works too.

Maps from a hostel's website or flyers could quite easily be misrepresented or misinterpreted, some could lose a few streets in between or some could totally redefine the meaning of "walking distance". Eg: Our Hostel is only 2 seconds away from next door... Check out Street Directory.com for an un-skewed view of the exact location in Singapore and whatever's around it. Find out what you'd have to walk past when getting back, how you're getting back and how many transfers you'd have to do to get to the next block. Just key in the building number and street and you'll be able to get the real picture. Convenient is usually another word that takes on another meaning when used in the context of location.

A guideline I personally use is to gauge the distance from the ritzy and glitzy brand name hotels like, well, The Ritz, The Fullerton, The Mandarin, The Marriot, Hyatt, Westin Swissotel. These won't locate themselves in seedy areas, or, nest one amongst the many chain of '1 hr' transit types.

DON'T GET FOOLED!, check the location!

The Accommodation and Other Tell Tales.

I'd check out the website of the respective accommodation. It's tells about the people who run them. Whether it's a "live" site or just an ad with a few marketing blurb and pictures thrown in to give it a 'we're doing it all just for you' feel. A picture of a guy blowing out a candle from back in the 60's not gonna impress me. I'm a firm believer in the 'for the people, by the people' bit. Checking into a dive could well break a destination.

Guestbooks are usually good tell tale too. That many people cannot be too far wrong. I'd then email them to see if it's a personal or cut and paste response. Finally, what i'd be getting for my buck, eg: facilities, house rules, curfew, internet access, kitchen, minibar, personal butler, limousine, room & concierge service, the lot. Get the best bang for the buck, we are after all on a budget remember? I get pissed when I'm told after checking in and paying that i'd have to pay extra for sheets or blankets, to charge my battries, the air that I breath... but then again, that's me.

Milestones in the history of Singapore
28 Jan 1819:
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived from Penang, he's English.
06 Feb 1819:
Raffles signed a formal treaty with the Temenggong and Sultan Hussein of Johor confirming the right given to the East India Company to establish a "factory" on payment of annual pensions to the Sultan. The British flag was hoisted. The short ceremony marked the founding of modern Singapore.
1942 - 1945:
Singapore was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War.
03 Jun 1959:
Singapore gained full self-government from the British.
16 Sept 1963:
Singapore merged with The Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (now Sabah) to form one nation, Malaysia.
09 Aug 1965:
Singapore separated from the rest of Malaysia and became the Republic of Singapore.
23 May 1969:
Hai was born
08 Mar 1975:
Ping was born
20 Oct 2002:
The Inncrowd Ver 1.0 was born
18 Aug 2003:
Sunday, our cat, was found.
25 Dec 2004:
Christmas, our cat, was found.
29 Dec 2004:
Sunday, our cat, was found.

If anyone reading knows better, write me at:


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Facts on SIngapore