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Singapore Travel Guides

The Basics:


Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin, square-shaped plugs are in use.

Language

Singapores official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. A patois called Singlish, or Singaporean English is widely spoken. It is the by-product of mixing English, Chinese and Malay syntax and idiom.

Tipping

Tipping is not encouraged as most hotels and restaurants in Singapore already levy a 10% service charge on customers' bills. Tipping is not a way of life in Singapore, but is appreciated for excellent service.

Safety Information

Singapore is a very safe travel destination with crime limited to the odd theft. The Singapore Government has stepped up security measures following the terrorist attacks in Bali and is committed to maintaining Singapore's reputation as a safe destination.

Local Customs

Singapore is a fairly diverse society and has been moulded by its immigrant population, primarily Malay, Chinese and Indian, along with the large expat community. The city is incredibly efficient and the citizens very law-abiding - there are fines issued for just about any offence in Singapore, including S$500 for smoking in public places, S$50 for jaywalking, S$1,000 for littering and S$500 for eating, drinking or chewing gum on the MRT. There are even fines for not flushing public toilets so it goes without saying that getting involved in illegal drugs is not advisable; trafficking carries a maximum penalty of death. Chinese Singaporeans have three names, the first of which is their surname, or family name. As a result visitors should be prepared for hotels mistakenly reserving rooms under their first names. For clarity surnames may be underlined.

Business

Business in Singapore is conducted formally. The adherence to a dress code is strict, with suits the preferred business attire. Punctuality is essential in all business meetings, unlike social engagements where a 'fashionably-late' policy is observed. Appointments should be made at least two weeks in advance. The exchange of business cards is vital at introductions and the ceremony of it is important for creating good relations. Business cards are to be treated with respect and not folded, written upon or vandalised in any way. Shaking hands is the common form of greeting for both men and women and may last up to 10 seconds. The person is to be addressed by their respective title followed by their surname. It is a good idea to ask beforehand how the person is correctly addressed as this may vary depending on the different cultures within Singapore. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken over lunch.

Communications

The international access code for Singapore is +65. The outgoing code is either 001, 002, 008 or 018, depending on the service provider, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00144 for the United Kingdom). City or area codes are not used. Public phones are good for local and international calls; they take credit cards or phonecards, which can be bought at newspaper kiosks and Telecom shops. Calls made from hotels are free of any surcharges. Several local mobile phone operators use GSM 900/1800 networks. Email and Internet access is available at Internet cafes throughout the city.

Duty Free

Travellers to Singapore over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 1 litre of wine, spirits and beer. Chewing gum and tobacco products must be declared on arrival. Strictly prohibited is the trafficking in illegal drugs, which carries the death sentence. Prohibited items include meat and meat products, and firearms and explosives without a permit.


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