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Singapore is Libotero’s Second Home
I started this blog two years ago so I could share our family trips in Luzon. Back then, my dad was working in Manila, and since we’re Cebu-based, the whole family would go and spend our annual month-long summer vacation there. Every weekend would be an exciting road trip where we visit new places, see new faces and discover new traces of our wonderful and exciting culture.
After we’ve explored much of Luzon (and dad growing tired of long drives), I started to go solo to explore Visayas and Mindanao. Last year, our family went on our first international trip and no other place would be more fitting than Hong Kong, one of the most successful economies in Asia.
As I continue to slowly explore each province of our country (and I am currently halfway), another door has opened. Late last year, my dad was relocated to Singapore and thus, my regular visits to Manila have now been rerouted to Singapore. Having said that, it is fitting to call Singapore as my new second home.
Over the past six months, I’ve returned to Singapore for a few times, trying to discover every bit of the tiny island-nation, and I can’t wait to share ‘em with you here. Singapore, as one of the top gateways to Asia, is connected to almost every destination in Asia, and beyond. If only I had a bottomless pocket, I would take you with me to the rest of Asia. For now, allow me to share my humble experiences in My, Your, Our Singapore!
But before I start this Singapore series, here’s some basic information about the Lion City, Singapore!
It’s all about the MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
- The currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (S$). Money changing services can be found at many shopping centers and hotels around the island-nation, and the ATMs (which are generally open 24/7) accept most of the main credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
- The voltage used is 220-240AC, 50 hertz. The plug sockets tend to accept 3-pronged pins more often than not, but adapters are affordable and easy to buy.
WATER is Life
- Tap water in Singapore is perfectly safe to drink darling.
- Singapore’s weather is hot and humid, with little variation throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is pegged at 31C, dropping to around 24C at night. So, dress accordingly. When out for the whole day, bring an umbrella.
CALL ME MAYBE
- Singapore’s international dialing code is +65. While in Singapore and if you have international roaming on your cell phone, you don’t have to press +65 as it will automatically connect you to the local numbers there. TIP: Buy a kababayan sim from StarHub or SingTel for a minimum price. (Present your Philippine Passport). International call rates are unbelievably low!
Hotel Reservations and Accommodations
- Upon arrival at the airport (Terminals 1, 2 and 3) , you may visit its 24-hour hotel reservations counters, which can help get you a room in your preferred hotel.Payment for the first night is required upon confirmation.
- If you are a smoker, you will have to resist the urge to light up in air-conditioned areas such as shopping centers, restaurants, entertainment outlets and cinemas. Smoking is also an offense in public buses, the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) trains, taxis and elevators. A maximum fine of S$1,000 can be imposed on first-time offenders. TIP: If there’s an ashtray supplied, go for it!
- Tipping is not a common practice in Singapore as most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge in the final bill. While tipping is not expected, it is appreciated, be it in restaurants where there is no service charge, or anywhere where excellent service is encountered.
- Unlike the Philippines, where each passenger has to pay a travel tax of P1,620 separate from his/her air ticket, a passenger service charge of S$21 is already incorporated in the air ticket.
- Filipinos love to shop, and as a premier shopping destinations, you will not be able to leave Singapore empty-handed. As a visitor to Singapore, you are entitled to get the full refund of the 7 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST)* that you paid on your goods that you are taking home. There are two service providers in Singapore processing GST refunds, Global Blue and Premier Tax Free. Shop where you see the signs “Global Blue Tax Free” or “Premier Tax Free” and ask the salesperson for a Global Blue Tax Refund Cheque or a Premier Refund Voucher when you make a purchase of S$100 and above. When leaving Singapore, simply show your vouchers or cheques with your purchases, receipts and passport to the Customs officer at the GST Refund Inspection Counter.
*small handling fee applies
(…to be continued)