The Republic of Singapore is a sovereign, island city, state that lies off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, about 140 kilometres north of the equator. It has a population of around 5.6 million and, according to the IMF, had the world’s third highest GDP per capita (PPP corrected) in 2015. English is widely spoken, and is one of the four official languages (the others being Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil).
At the time of the conference daytime temperatures will reach around 30 degrees C, becoming milder overnight (around the mid-20s). Expect showers, with occasional downpours, most days, but generally only for short periods. Umbrellas are essential, but it is far too warm for raincoats. Light cotton clothing is recommended, with light sweaters to deal with air conditioning in shops and hotels. It is recommended that you use sunblock, preferably SPF30 or higher, if outdoors for long periods of time.
Singapore is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
The official currency in Singapore is the Singapore dollar (S$). The dollar is divided into coins of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, and $1. Notes are issued in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $50, $100, $1000, and $10000 (the world’s most valuable bank note in circulation!). The latter are being withdrawn from circulation as they deteriorate.
Service fees and tipping
Singapore imposes a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7% on most financial transactions. A service charge of 10% is generally imposed by restaurants and hotels. Where this is the case, GST is imposed on this charge too. Thus you may see prices quoted as (for example) S$85++ (which means that you pay S$100.05). Tipping is rarely practiced (remember the 10% service charge!).
Most foreigners do not require a visa to visit Singapore. The exceptions are given at:
If you require a letter of invitation to apply for a visa please make an early request to the ESI Secretariat after you have paid your registration fee. If your visa application is unsuccessful, your registration fee will be refunded in full, but in Singapore dollars. You will be responsible for any transaction fees and exchange rate losses.
Getting to Singapore
Direct flights to Singapore’s Changi Airport are available from almost all major cities in the world. Singapore is also served by many budget airlines. Taxi is the most convenient way to get to and from the airport. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train would be considerably cheaper than a taxi, but it is not very user-friendly when you are carrying heavy luggage. It also stops running at 11:18 pm. For comprehensive transfer details consult: http://www.changiairport.com
Transport around the island
Singapore has a comprehensive bus network that is clean, safe, and reliable: but slow. The MRT train system is much faster, but can sometimes be very crowded. Both are relatively cheap and tourist passes are available (see http://www.thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/) Taxis are readily available and reasonably priced. It is recommended that you load the “Grab Taxi” app for Singapore on your mobile phone when you arrive.
All taxis in Singapore are metered, but some will not take credit cards. Receipts must be issued upon request. The taxi meter shows the basic fare and the applicable surcharges. The latter involve a 25% surcharge during peak hours, a 50% surcharge from midnight to 5.59 am, and a S$3 city area surcharge (essentially a congestion tax) within the CBD (which includes the MBS complex). There is also a Changi Airport location surcharge (S$5 or S$3, depending on the time of day). Booking and credit card fees also apply, when relevant. Taxis can be hailed on the street, whilst taxi ranks are commonplace in the CBD and outside major shopping centres and hotels.
Social/tourist events and visits (at extra cost)
The Singapore Tourist Board has a comprehensive web site that can assist you in deciding upon your itinerary:
But here are a few ideas from the organisers:
Sentosa Island (a theme park that can be reached by an exhilarating cable car ride over the harbour)
Singapore Zoo (outstanding collection of animals in an open environment)
Singapore Botanic Gardens (Singapore’s first UNESCO Heritage Site: the Orchid Gardens are a must see)
The Battle Box, Fort Canning (Britain’s strategic HQ where the surrender of Singapore was decided in 1942)
Marina Bay and/or Orchard Road shopping precincts (what Singapore is famous for)
Food markets (also what Singapore is famous for)
Clarke Quay (for restaurants and night life: largely for tourists)
SISTIC Singapore: where you can book virtually any event happening on the island.
Suggested Pre and Post Conference tourist visits (at extra cost)
There are many leading cultural and vacation places within a three-hour flight from Singapore, including Angkor Wat, Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Penang, Malacca (bus trip), etc. However, please check for travel advice or warnings with the relevant agency in your home country if you plan to visit neighbouring countries during your visit.
Liability and insurance
Conference organizers cannot be held responsible for accidents involving conference participants or accompanying person, for damage, or loss of their personal property, or for cancellation expenses, regardless of cause. Participants are advised to organize their own travel insurance to cover them for their stay in Singapore.
Singapore is a relatively safe city, largely because anti-social behaviour (and that includes chewing gum) is not tolerated. Penalties for drug use and/or trafficking can be severe.