CITY GUIDE 2021-2022

CITY GUIDE 2021/22 MCI (P) 040/09/2021 Annual $6.90


Dunearn Road

Bukit Timah Road

Serene Centre

Cluny Court

Botanic Gardens MRT

French Embassy

Farrer Road Flyover

Cluny Park Road

WELCOME NOTE Whether you’ve just landed or have called this little red dot “home” for many years, we’re thrilled to be by your side as you discover a city that’s reinvigorated and reborn! Like all other big cities, Singapore is a living organism – it evolves constantly, adapting and shedding its skin. That’s why the pages of our City Guide aren’t just for the newbies. While we’re eager to welcome the new families and solo settlers arriving in SG from near and far, we can guarantee that “old hands” will also find fresh ideas and inspiration – whether it’s funky furniture for your home, how to get great vino on speed dial or the latest in medical care. We have info on all of the above in the guide – and much more! If you need pointers for the property hunt or could use first-hand advice from parents on choosing a school, we’ve got you covered. Take us when you’re out and about, too – we’ll guide you on gorgeous hikes and trails, show you Singapore’s cultural side, and give you tips for dining, shopping and where to treat yourself to a spot of pampering. And, as always, we have the inside scoop from our Panel, a group of EL readers who’ve provided feedback across a wide range of topics, from neighbourhood insights to opening a bank account and getting fit. (Thanks for your help, panellists!) Beyond these pages, there are other ways we can assist. For one thing, each issue of our monthly print magazine is jam-packed with recommendations and reflections from readers like you. You’ll hear about their homes, hobbies, jobs, schools and more. Meanwhile, our website ( covers the Singapore experience from top to toe. We meet inspiring locals and expats, sample new bars and restaurants, and update you on family health, homeware stores, upcoming events and product launches. Finally, be sure to stay in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram@expatlivingsg, or email with any question under the sun.

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Rebecca Bisset


Shamus Sillar

Group Editor

Leanda Rathmell Nur Hanani Kamal Luddin

Client Services & Production

Anthia Chng Amy Greenburg Patricea Chow

Contributing Editors

Michael Bernabe Jeanne Wong

Graphic Designers

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Circulation & Administration

Susan Knudsen-Pickles

Partnerships & Events

Veena Gill

Special Projects

Karin Galley Danielle Rossetti Jacqui Young Lara Sage

Advertising Sales

Colin Purchase

Chief Operations Officer

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Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 36 Carpenter Street, #02-01 Carpenter Haus Singapore 059915

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We’re so much more than just a magazine. To discover everything that’s going on in Singapore, here are six ways you can make the most out of EL. Expat Living!

Log on Visit us online at our

comprehensive website, to keep up to date with what’s going on in Singapore with our event updates, calendar and classifieds pages, and peruse plenty of useful articles on how to make the most of your city.

Subscribe Subscribe to our monthly magazine. Available in print and digital format, it has loads of insightful stories and inspiration on topics covering travel, family, interiors, culture, style, beauty and more. Grab yourself a six-month FREE subscription by visiting .

Contribute Enjoyed one of our articles or have an opinion to express? We’d love to hear it. Pen a letter to and it could get published in our letters page. Or, if you’re an avid writer, send us a story for our monthly back-page opinion column, or a holiday tale for our travel section.

Get Social Follow us on social

media and get updates from our content and behind-the-scenes antics from the team, as well as your chance to win some great prizes!

Join Our Community From online decorating workshops to career talks and fitness classes, we hold fun events where you can get to know other newbies (or Singapore veterans!) and, of course, say hello to our friendly team.

Win Stuff We’ve always got fabulous giveaways going on in our monthly magazine, including style and beauty products, services, holidays and lifestyle accessories. See what’s up for grabs in the mag or visit .


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In ourmonthlymagazine andour annual guides, we give you an overview of life in Singapore to help you on your way! As an ideal supplement to this, our website o ers instant access to an almost endless source of information for when you’re out and about. From readers’ reviews of their neighbourhoods and where to get the best blonde highlights (very important) to perfect spots for watching the sun go down, is really all you need! Just a few of our online features: • 35 cool and fun things to do in Singapore • Top websites for getting your groceries • The expat’s guide to where to live in Singapore • Escapes: Top Singapore staycations • Where are the best hair salons? We round up our favourites! • Furniture shops for buying online or browsing in-store • Our reviews of the best facials in Singapore • Great breakfast spots on the island! • 10 cool things for teens to do • Fab gyms to help you get fit • Where to walk, hike and jog • Parks and other places for a picnic • Singles guide: Top bars for meeting people ... and that’s only for starters! For more handy guides and tips, visit

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19 SINGAPORE HACKS Your basic survival guide Learn everything you need to know about your new home, from some of the challenges facing newcomers, to transport options, networking, finding friends, hiring a helper, and looking for work

57 FIND YOUR HOME All the neighbourhood knowledge you need The all-important question is where to live! Find out more about the various neighbourhoods and housing options, from high- rise apartments to garden homes in the suburbs.

81 DESIGN YOUR SPACE Furniture and interior inspiration Once you’ve found your perfect property, you’ll want to spruce it up and make it your own. Get interior design tips and furniture shopping recommendations to suit your style and budget.

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93 LEARN & PLAY A guide to schools, preschools and more

Schooling in Singapore is world- class, and children get the opportunity to learn in culturally diverse environments with fantastic extracurricular activities. Hear more about the range of preschools, schools and enrichment centres so you can make the right choice for your child.

191 LET’S EAT Hot cafés, restaurants and bars In Singapore, there are some amazing foods to try, from hawker classics to vegetarian favourites. Go here for restaurant recommendations, foodie tips and other advice for the curious or just the plain hungry!

143 HAPPY & HEALTHY Stay well, inside and out

169 RECHARGE & UNWIND Retail therapy and tips for exploring

Our health is more important than ever right now, and the quality of Singapore’s state-of-the-art hospitals and services provides peace of mind on this front. Whether you’re looking for a dentist or a counsellor, there’s expert medical help at hand.

From shopping tips to info on parks, museums, temples and other things to see – plus, a handy guide to recycling – you’ll find it all in this section.

For the latest updates, find us on facebook or follow us on instagram @expatlivingsg

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Meet the Panel

One feature of the City Guide each year is our panel of expat readers, who provide tips and opinions on a wide range of topics that are not only useful for newcomers to Singapore, but can also provide a fresh insight or two for those of us who’ve been here for some time. Meet our seven panellists below. PANEL MEET THE

TIM VAUGHAN moved from Tauranga, New Zealand to Singapore in December 2019 with his wife Kat and three boys: Jessie (7), Dane (6), and Max (2). Despite the challenges of the pandemic, they’ve had an amazing time as relative newcomers to Singapore. Tim is the Chief Revenue Officer of Education Perfect, an EdTech business. He made the move to establish an international off ice support ing cl ients across Southeast Asia and the broader region. 32 -yea r -o l d French expa t ALICIA DEDIGAMA is living in Singapore with her Aussie hubby and thei r three- mon t h - o l d da ugh t e r Helena. They came to Singapore 10 years ago to climb the corporate ladder, and ended up starting their own fitness bus iness instead. In 2012, the duo launched Aquaspin, followed by the Ripple Club in 2021. They love helping others get fitter in the water!

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Meet the Panel

Most people know IRMELIN AMUNDSEN as Immie. The Norwegian has been l iving in Singapore with her husband for

almost six years. She recently became a newmother, and she’s currently enjoying her maternity leave after moving to Sentosa.

JESSICA KNOX was born in Pretoria, South African. The 42-year-old, along with her seven-year -old daughter Savannah and her Zimbabwean husband Simon, moved from Austral ia’s Gold Coast in December 2017 for Simon’s work. They’reAussiecitizens, but love living in Singapore! Jessica is now importing a unique chilli sauce fromZimbabwe andother artisanal products like Belfast coffee and Burren balsamic vinegars. Savannah attends Invictus International School in Dempsey Hill.

KOMAL LAKHANI-SHANKAR is a writer by profession. The 32-year-old moved to Singapore in May 2021, along with her husbandAnand. She’s excited to explore this little red dot and try all the exquisite food and experiences it has to offer! At home, Komal loves to bake and get creative (especially, she says, as breads prove a lot faster here with the humidity!). Her favourite outdoor activity is walking with her husband and dog in parks and taking in the island’s immense natural beauty.

Hungarian JUDITGÁL has been living in Singapore for the past 21 yearswithher husbandand son (now 16). Having spent more than two decades here, the freelance yoga instructor doesn’t consider herself a typical expat. She says she’s still amazed by the Marina Bay skyline!

Br i t i sh pe r sona l t ra i ne r NATHAN WILLIAMS has been living in Singapore for 10 years. Currently the manager at UFIT, 41-year-old Nathan is married to Vanessa.

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Your basic survival guide

Xxxxx | Shutterstock

Singapore Hacks

When I first came to Australia, one thing that struck me was how everything closed early. Singapore is very much a 24/7 place. You can get good food any time of the day – in the middle of the night, even. Ronny Chieng, Malaysian comedian

Nobody in Singapore drinks Singapore Slings. It’s one of the first things you find out there. What you do in Singapore is eat. It’s a really food-crazy culture, where all of this great food is available in a kind of hawker-stand environment. Anthony Bourdain, American celebrity chef and food writer

There’s nowhere

I WENT TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL IN SINGAPORE AND THEY HAD AN INCREDIBLE ARTS PROGRAM. EVERY DAY I WAS DOING SOMETHING ARTISTIC. Lynn Collins, American actress (Wolverine, John Carter) I’m an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard. Raymond Chandler, American-British novelist

that looks like Singapore; it’s absolutely beautiful on a purely aesthetic level. Lisa Joy, American screenwriter and Westworld director

THE QUOTES Singapore leaves a different impression on everyone; here are some well-known names and their thoughts on the place. SINGAPORE:


As an army marches on its stomach, I vacation on mine. And for that reason, among others, I found myself in holiday heaven in Singapore. Fiona Bruce, British newsreader and Antiques Roadshow presenter

I grew up at a time in Singapore – the ‘70s and ‘80s – where it was still possible to go riding around the island barefoot. And I was one of these kids that was just climbing trees and running around the neighbourhood. Kevin Kwan, Singapore-born American author of Crazy Rich Asians

I think Singapore is one of the great cities of the world. Marco Pierre White, British chef and TV presenter

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Singapore Hacks

#2 Only one panda cub has been born on Singapore soil; in what year?

#1 Which Singapore neighbourhood’s name translates as “Coughing Hill”: Tanjong Pagar, Tiong Bahru or Bukit Batok?


The Answers! 1. Bukit Batok 2. 2021 3. Lau Pa Sat. 4. Sebastian Vettel 5. Bukit Timah 6. Five (orange $100 = 1 x blue $50 + 5 x red $10) 7. shiok , enjoyable; ulu , far away; kiasu , afraid to lose 8. Pink 9. Yes, more than twice as big 10. Ninety 11. The Padang 12. Brown 13. Electronic Road Pricing 14. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un 15. Curry puff 16. Jakarta 17. Yishun 18. Three 19. The Singapore Flyer 20. 2002 (we’re turning 20 in 2022!)

#4 Lewis Hamilton has won the Singapore Grand Prix four times. Who’s won it five times?

#5 What is the highest natural point on the island of Singapore?

#7 Match the Singlish term to its meaning: shiok , ulu , kiasu ; “far away”, “afraid to lose”, “enjoyable”

#6 One orange banknote in Singapore is worth the same amount as one blue banknote plus how many red banknotes?

Okay, one final quote: “The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere: Keep yourself interested, have a challenge” (Lee Kuan Yew). Try this challenge, then: our quick quiz on Singapore! THE QUIZ SINGAPORE:



Is Pulau Ubin bigger

than Sentosa?

#11 Which Singapore landmark was once known as Raffles Plain?


What does ERP stand for?

Thomson-East Coast MRT line?



#16 Which is the most common destination for a plane leaving Changi Airport: Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok?


#17 Which is further north, Ang Mo Kio or Yishun?


#20 In what year did Expat Living magazine first

#18 The Marina Bay Sands pool is equivalent to how many Olympic-sized swimming

hit the shelves in Singapore: 2002, 2008 or 2012?

pools in length?

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What three bits of advice would you give a newcomer coming to live in Singapore? #1 Make sure you turn on the air conditioner once a day in your room and open your wardrobe doors to avoid mould on your leather bags and winter clothes! #2 Visit different neighbourhoods before moving in. Singapore is small and commuting is easy; it’s always better to live in a neighbourhood you love rather than somewhere close to work! #3 Make sure you always carry a jumper and an umbrella with you. If it’s always hot outside, offices and malls are freezing and the rain can be intense and unpredictable! Alicia

#1 Get comprehensive health insurance. #2 Live near to where your kids go to school.

#3 Do your research as to which district and what type of condo or apartment would be optimal for your family. Jessica

#1 Rent short-term at the start and look around for a good deal and location. #2 Find a club or organisation to join. #3 Use the MRT system over taxis. Nathan


#1 Leave your jeans and boots behind, as you won’t need them in this weather. #2 Bring your favourite sweets, alcohol, sauces and spices – some of these things can be three times more expensive here. #3 These items from home can also provide some comfort if you need to quarantine! Komal

#1 Get connected through Facebook pages and other avenues. #2 Aim to live in a house or condo that suits your lifestyle – shop around and get a feel for the vibe. Location is important and ideally you want to find a community you can slot into. #3 Don’t assume you need a car. Both renting and purchasing is expensive, and public transport is really good. Tim

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The first positive: new experiences! Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. FromHaji Lane to Chinatown, Little India to Orchard Road, there are so many different cultures and cuisines in close proximity. Secondly, all expats are more or less in the same boat as you (or have been). So there’s a sense of community and support from the get-go. I’ve found people so willing to help you get connected and settled, it’s amazing. The only negative that comes to mind are the obvious challenges with COVID-19. Not being able to see friends and family back in New Zealand has been a challenge we didn’t anticipate. Tim

Give a couple a positive aspects – and one negative – about being an expat here.


Almost everyone speaks English, which wasn’t the case in our last location, Hong Kong. Food options are great; we like that we have more Indian food choices here. Negative: There’s too much plastic used in Singapore. Why aren’t the stores charging people for plastic bag and containers? Komal

The positives are easy. The diversity and the food! There aren’t really any negatives, but it has been hard to be so far away from family during the pandemic. Irmelin

Singapore is safe and it’s an easy place to adapt and live in. But the island is small, so you might get “cabin fever” pretty fast if you don’t travel! Alicia

You get an integrated life and meet people from all walks of life. As Singapore is small, it’s easy to make friends. It’s also a great place for kids. But the island can sometimes feel too small – especially in lockdown times. Jessica

The weather is great and there is no antisocial behaviour. But you can get restless if you spend too long on the island! Nathan

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Singapore Hacks

TIKTOK TAKES TOP SPOT The world’s most

downloaded app in 2020 was TikTok, rising from fourth the previous year, and knocking Facebook off its perch.


PROPERTY & WORK PropertyGuru

Search for all types of property in Singapore and filter by price, area and more. iProperty Another app for searching the latest listings for available real estate in Singapore. Singapore (SG) Stocks Easy-to-use app al lowing you to see stock activity, company exchanges andmore (AppStoreonly) Singtel Dash Why withdraw cash from banks? Make transactions on the go with this app instead. FastJobsSG Looking for work? Browse part-time, temporary, freelance and holiday jobs with this app. JobsDB Another job-search app providing a wide range of work opportunities and vacancies. Jobstreet Jobsonoffer fromover 230,000 employers inSingaporeandthe region. Singapore ’s best -known cab companies, Comfort and City Cab. Grab Get an estimated fare and full details of your taxi driver, and rate the journey afterwards. Gojek This ride-sharing app aims to get you around the city faster, cheaper and better. Tada Another new app for hailing a ride, this one driven by blockchain. TAXIS ComfortDelGro Eas i ly book a tax i wi th

Keen to know some of the important apps to download to your phone? We’ve got 40 of them! From food delivery to navigating public transport, our recommendations will make life in Singapore just that bit easier.

FOOD & DRINK Deliveroo


Carousell An active marketplace for

Get food delivered to your door in a flash; type in your postcode to see what’s available. Foodpanda Another of the island’s food- ordering apps that puts menus at your fingertips. Chope Make instant reservations at your favourite restaurants, and check prices, menus and dishes. Burrple Get clued up on the newest and hottest eateries in town, and read honest reviews. Openrice A dining guide with hundreds of restaurant listings, plus regular promotions. BottlesXO Delivers high-quality wine and beer to wherever you are in Singapore. The Entertainer One-for-one drinks and dining at participatingbars and restaurants. FairPrice Get all the groceries you need deliveredwithin two hours and enjoy exclusive discounts.

second-hand products, from tech and gadgets to designer handbags. Zalora B r o w s e l o c a l a n d international brands on the go, with free delivery in Singapore. Lazada Shopthousandsofproducts across health, beauty, home, living, electronics and more. Shopee Another popular app for buying and selling using your phone; good for bargains. Amazon Prime Now No time to trawl the shops? Order endless daily essentials and gift items with this app. Qoo10 Newest products and trends from Singapore and the world at discounted prices. ASOS Keep up to date with popular fashion trends and personalised recommendations with a variety of products to choose from.

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Singpass Mobile Access your personal government-verified data

and a range of digital services. WhiteCoat

What are some apps you can recommend to people moving to Singapore?

Consult Singapore-registered doctors via live video with medication delivery options available. Sistic Keen to see a show? Sistic is the largest ticketing service provider in Singapore. XE Currency Find live exchange rates for any country – handy for all the travelling you’ll be doing, once the pesky pandemic settles down! SG Weather Singaporeweather with a radarmap display, PSI alert and rain alerts for any location SG Air Skies looking a little hazy? Get an air quality report for Singapore with SG Air.


TRANSPORT & NAVIGATION iChangi never be too early at the airport. SG Buses

Singpass stores all your information on your visa and other important details; Deliveroo for groceries and food delivery; Carousell as Singapore’s answer to eBay. Tim

Up-to-date arrival and departure info so you’ll

Locate your next bus or identify buses and

routes if you’re lost with this user-friendly app. Singabus

Great for checking bus arrival times, real-time

bus locations, and the nearest bus stops. Singapore MRT Map Route



PayLah, SG Weather Judit

Simple access to Singapore’s most updated MRT and LRT maps, plus the fastest route to your destination. EZ-Link Monitors your EZ-Link transactions and highlights available discounts. Citymapper Find real-time routes via bus, MRT, LRT, train, ferry, taxi, walking and cycling.

I am a big fan of buying preloved pieces, and Carousell is a great marketplace app for second-hand items! PayLah or PayNow is absolutely essential for making quick transfers. Lastly, I would say Foodpanda has the best selection of foods for delivery. Irmelin


Pay for parking using your mobile devices at all

coupon parking car parks. Traffic

Google Maps and myENV .

Shows the traffic situation at the links between

Singapore and Malaysia.


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Singapore Hacks

Insurance… Since many plans can’t be transferred to other countries, health insurance is an important consideration when settling in – especially if you’ve come to Singapore with family. Here, the team from Bupa Global and Raffles Health Insurance (RHI) share three reasons why global cover is a very good idea. 1 OPTIONS Singapore is blessed with a very high standard of medical care, which is good news for anyone living here; it’s a great starting point for the healthcare choices you make. Opting for private cover, while it generally costs more, can also provide extra peace of mind thanks to more options. 2 FLEXIBILITY Even if you have corporate insurance provided by your company, it likely won’t meet all your needs. Some people look at a second policy as a top-up, for a greater range of benefits with higher annual policy limits and coverage when you need it, beyond the time you’re with your current company. There’s further flexibility, too, as some plans provide optional modules such as outpatient care, drugs and dressing; so you can tailor a plan to your own healthcare needs. If you’re an expat with a global lifestyle, for example, you can access a portable, global health solution.


Bupa Global and RHI offer clients access to leading specialist care around the world with their family health insurance packages. These premium health plans provide access to more than 1.5 million medical providers worldwide, and with direct billing services; plus, with Global Virtual Care, they can access a global network of doctors via the phone or in-app video anytime. Other services include a 24/7 Healthline, second medical opinion service, doctor referrals and direct access to specialists without the need for a GP referral. Things to consider when choosing a private medical insurance plan • annual policy limits • geographic coverage (e.g. does it include the US?) • maternity coverage • whether it covers for pre-existing, mental, hereditary, congenital and chronic conditions • whether it includes preventive benefits (health checks, vaccinations and so on)

Global Virtual Care service is provided by a third party, Advance Medical, a Teladoc Health Company. Raffles Health Insurance Pte Ltd (“RHI”)(Company Registration Number: 200413569G) is the insurer and Bupa Global, the trading name of Bupa Insurance Services Limited, is the administrator of RHI international health insurance plans in Singapore. This marketing material is for general information only and is neither a contract nor intended as an offer or recommendation with respect to the purchase or sale of the above products. Buying health insurance products that are not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance future healthcare needs. You should seek advice from a qualified adviser if in doubt. The information on this advert is correct as at September 2021.

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Was it easy setting up your bank, phone and internet accounts?

I’d encourage you to find a good real estate agent who can connect you to local services and ensure you set up as quickly and seamlessly as possible. We worked with a woman called Margaret who was fantastic. She’s helped a number of friends get into condos and also supported them with setup. Tim refer you to someone at the bank. We’ve lived in India, the UAE, Hong Kong, France, China and Canada, and all those places have instant bank account setup systems. We ordered our SIM card online and it arrived in a day – that’s the fastest setup we’ve had (France is the slowest for expats). As for internet, we had it already set up in our apartment. Komal I felt like the banking system here is definitely slow, as it took us a while to set up an account. It helps if you know a relocation agent who can

I had an international bank account from France with HSBC but I would recommend setting up your bank account with a local bank as it’s hard to find ATMs for international banks! Setting up everything was quite easy, however for the internet I would recommend making an appointment before you move into your house or apartment as they are quite busy. No one wants to wait for seven days to get internet! Alicia


Yes, it was very easy. Certain internet providers are better than others, so you should shop around and try not to sign up for something too long-term. Nathan

Singapore & the Internet According to, as of December 2020, Brunei hadthehighest rateof internetpenetration in Southeast Asia (97.5 percent); Singapore was third (88.5 percent). Approximately 4.8 million people in Singapore use the internet, with children getting their first device at an average age of eight (global average: 10). The average time spent online is 8.07 hours a day.

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Singapore Hacks

FROM A TO B TO C Everything you need to know about Singapore’s travel network! ARRIVING BY AIR

Well, it had to happen eventually. After countless consecutive wins in the World’s Best Airport category in the Skytrax awards, Changi Airport has lost the top spot! The 2021 winner was Doha’s Hamad International Airport in Qatar, with Haneda Airport in Tokyo taking second spot. Changi scored itself the bronze. There’s still so much to admire about Singapore’s main airport, though, which efficiently deals with over 100 airlines flying from 400 cities in about 100 countries and territories around the world. In 2019, more than 68 million passengers passed through – the airport’s busiest year yet. In addition to three terminals, the airport is also home to Jewel Changi Airport – an enormous lifestyle and retail complex that’s worth visiting even if you’re not flying anywhere. New & Notable • On 6 May 2021, a flight from Kathmandu, Nepal, was the last flight operated by SilkAir, the regional arm of Singapore Airlines. At its peak, SilkAir operated 33 aircraft and carried almost five million passengers a year. The airline has now been absorbed by SIA. • Plans are underway for Terminal 5 to open around 2030; the terminal will be bigger than T1, T2 and T3 combined, and will help Changi serve an additional 50 million passengers per annum in the initial phases.

CHANGI TRIVIA • Changi turned 40 in 2021. When it opened in 1981, the airport had just two places to dine: a McDonald’s and a Swensen’s. • Opened in2019, theairport’s stunningHSBCRain Vortex, located in Jewel, is the “World’s Highest Indoor Waterfall”. • Approximately 10,000 mobile phones are lost in a normal year of travel in Changi Airport. That’s one every 52 minutes! • Ch a ng i h a s i t s own d i s t i nc t i ve f ragrance diffused in various areas throughout the airport. It has notes of ylang-ylang, damask rose and orchid tea, and is designed “to leave you invigorated for your journey ahead”.

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Singapore Hacks

TAKING A TRAIN The MRT and LRT (Light Rail Transit) system is the island’s efficient train network, offering reliable and cost-effective transport through the city and suburbs in a safe and air-conditioned environment. Expats from other big cities in the world with long-running subway systems are likely to raise a pleased eye at the overall quality of the MRT in Singapore compared to what they’re used to! New & Notable • The 32-station Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) began operations in January 2020, with three stations opening in Woodlands. August 2021 saw the opening of a new six-station stretch, named TEL2, connecting Springleaf, Lentor, Mayflower, Bright Hill, Upper Thomson and Caldecott stations. • The Jurong Region Line (JRL) will open from 2026, as an above- ground line using smaller train cars to accommodate 150 to 200 commuters. • The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is in the process of upgrading the North-South Line and East-West Line, two of Singapore’s oldest and most heavily utilised train lines, including buying 66 new trains.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT USAGE DOWN IN 2020 An average of 2.16 million people used the MRT each day in 2020, down from 3.38 million in 2019, whi le bus ridership also dropped significantly, down 30 percent to 2.88 million a day. This is no great surprise in view of pandemic restrictions and Work From Home requirements.

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If you’re a fan of Singapore’s public transport system, tell us why you like it.


I like it but I’m not entirely a fan. It’s well connected, it’s reasonably priced and obviously environmentally friendly, but it shuts early. In Hong Kong we were spoilt for choice; in addition to buses and trains we had trams, ferries and mini buses. The buses ran almost throughout the night (lower frequency), and even the tram was on till about 2am. Komal


Singapore’s public transport is clean, easy to navigate, safe even at night, and always on time. It’s almost too good to be true! Alicia

The mobile app tells you which buses to take, and how far away they are. The MRT is also a great way to get around town. Everything generally runs on time; it’s also accessible, comfortable and affordable. Tim

It’s clean, on time, and there’s no overcrowding unless during super peak periods. Nathan

I work freelance, which

requires me to travel to different parts of the city. Nothing has proven to be more reliable than public transport. I can easily estimate the travelling time. Judit

It’s convenient

and reliable. Jessica

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Singapore Hacks


Various limited-edition EZ-Link cards, charms and wearables have been released over the years, with themes ranging from Star Wars to the artworks by Singaporean artists for National Day 2021. For a small amount more, they can often be purchased at MRT stations, as well as in other places such as cinemas and malls. EDITORS’ TIPS: EZ-LINK CARD TIPS • Purchase cards at one of the 42 TransitLink Ticket Offices, six Concession Card Replacement Offices located at MRT stations and bus interchanges, or at Passenger Service Centres within stations, as well as at 7-Eleven stores and some ATMs. • If you havemore than one EZ-Link card, make sure you use the same one for both entry and exit when on the bus or train. Don’t forget to tap in and out on the bus. • Your card can be used in a multitude of retail outlets and venues, including big-name fast food outlets, a large number of hawker centres, various cinemas, Cold Storage, the Singapore Science Centre and more. • The EZ-Link app allows you to track your transactions and reload your card using your phone. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.

It might be a small island, but Singapore contains more than 5,000 bus stops! The bus service is a safe, comfortable, affordable and reliable way of travelling that reinvents the clunky, dusty systems found in many major cities. 2021 Updates • The LTA has committed to using a full fleet of cleaner energy buses by 2040 to reduce the carbon footprint of public transport in Singapore. The rollout has started already, with 40 electric buses in service from November 2020, and another 20 added to the network in August 2021. • S ingapore cont inues to t r i a l driverless buses, and the beginning of 2021 saw the first trial of a commercial self-driving vehicle at Singapore Science Park 2 and Jurong Island. Expect to see more of these buses rolled out across the island in the next few years.

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Singapore Hacks

SINGAPORE’S 10 EXPRESSWAYS Ace those acronyms! AYE Ayer Rajah Expressway BKE Bukit Timah Expressway CTE Central Expressway ECP East Coast Parkway KJE Kranji Expressway KPE

What else? • When the KJE was built in the early years of the 1990s, it became one of the first roads in Singapore to feature an anti-skid surface. • In 2013, a 62-metre land bridge opened across the BKE as a means of allowing wildlife such as pangolins, monkeys and civets to safely get from one nature reserve to the other. It’s known as the “Eco-Link@BKE”. • A long section of the ECP near Changi Airport was designed as an emergency landing runway but has since been decommissioned. • The MCE has Singapore’s widest road tunnel, with five lanes running in each direction. In fact, 3.6km of the road’s 5km length is underground, including a 420 metres stretch that runs below the seabed of the Marina Bay Channel.

Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway Marina Coastal Expressway


Pan Island Expressway Seletar Expressway Tampines Expressway


Oldest: Newest: Longest: Shortest:




What’s next? The NSC (North-South Corridor) will become Singapore’s 11th expressway when it opens in a few years’ time (estimated: 2026). The roadwill link the city centre and the island’s east coast with Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.

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Singapore Hacks


If you fancy a quieter ride across the city, you have two options. Either hail a cab from Singapore’s well-established taxi system, or use one of the rapidly-growing private companies – Grab (which took over Uber’s Southeast Asian operations in 2018) and Gojek are the two most popular, while Ryde is a car-pooling app that now offers private-hire services too. Fare Facts • Base fare for travelling in a standard taxi ranges from $3 to $3.40. • During peak hours (Monday to Friday, 6am to 9.30am, and Monday to Sunday, 6pm to midnight), passengers pay an additional 25 percent of the metered fare; and between midnight and 6am, they pay an additional 50 percent. • ComfortDelGro, the main taxi operator, has an app, available on the App Store and on Google Play. This allows you to pick between two fare options: a fixed price journey (ComfortRide) or using the meter. • Expect to pay around $12 for a 10-kilometre off-peak trip. • ERP charges incurred during the trip are chargeable, and there is a CBD surcharge of $3. • There are a variety of ways to pay for taxis and private hire cars, including cash (smaller denominations preferred), credit card, NETS, EZ-Link cards, or via the particular company’s app. • Although drivers speak English, differences in accents can occasionally cause confusion. If you’re worried or are travelling in an unknown area where you won’t be able to give directions, write down the address to show the driver.

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Got any tips on

using taxis? What have you learnt since living here? Most drivers are very polite and easy-going enough to strike a nice conversation with. When we first arrived, we got some great suggestions on hawker centres from a few of them and one even provided us with details on a pet groomer and vet, which were spot on! Speaking of pets, not all taxis are pet-friendly – we’ve only had luck with Grab and Ryde for that. Overall, the services are very good, with options of various providers and lower costs. It doesn’t hurt to run a quick search to compare prices, as sometimes the difference is significant. Komal

If you have pets, some drivers can be quite rude when picking you up. Generally, I’ve found Comfort cabs to be the most reliable. Nathan


Taxi uncles have the best stories. Unplug your headphones and have a chat with them instead. You will learn so many fun facts about this little island! Irmelin

I generally don’t take taxis and opt for Grab or Gojek (rideshare). I choose a rideshare service as it’s more convenient and comfortable. Tim

Don’t order a taxi on the app because it tends to be more expensive. Wave one down if you can. Jessica


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Singapore Hacks

COE – Certificate of Entitlement: To own a car, you need a document known as a COE, which is valid for ten years. The government uses the COE system to control the number of cars on the road, and only releases a limited number each year. You can bid for your own COE – tenders are called for twice each month – or you can leave it up to your dealer. The cost of a COE rises or falls according to demand; it can range from a dollar to $100,000! Although the cost of buying a car in Singapore will initially seemmuch higher than at home, bear in mind that when you sell, export, or scrap your car, you will recoup the unused portion of the COE. If you sell your car after two years, for example, your COE will still be valid for eight years, and you will recoup 80 percent of its cost. You will also recoup between 50 and 75 percent of the ARF. Financing options can be surprisingly affordable, with typical interest rates between 2.25 percent and 2.75 percent per annum. Loans can be repaid over ten years with a low deposit, if any, required up front. All vehicles in Singapore must carry at least third-party insurance.

3 CAR Buying a car in Singapore could be one of the most confusing and frustrating things you ever do. And, yes, it involves more acronyms! Get to grips with these as the first step and you’re on your way. OMV – Open Market Value: This is roughly the base value of the car at the time of import. Singapore Customs places an OMV on each vehicle, and this determines many of the additional taxes. ARF – Additional Registration Fee: On top of the $220 basic Registration Fee (RF), you also have to pay an ARF, which is 100 percent of the OMV and upward (the higher the OMV, the higher the ARF), plus a 20 percent excise duty. In addition, you need to pay a seven-percent Goods and Services Tax (GST), and road tax. Road tax is reduced if you purchase a hybrid or electric car, or a car that runs on natural gas.

ThecurrentCOE(asof September 2021) for a Category A vehicle is $46,689.

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Singapore Hacks

Other Driving Tips Converting your licence: If you have a valid overseas driving licence, you can drive in Singapore for up to 12 months before you need to convert your licence. If you become a PR, you will need to convert your licence immediately. If your licence is not in English, you must have an International Driving Permit in addition to your licence. To convert to a Singapore licence, you need to pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT), which involves learning local traffic rules. Your application must be made in person at a driving test centre (see or ssdcl. for details). Th e p r o c e s s i n g f e e f o r converting your licence is $50 and the test fee is $6.50 (payable with cash, CashCard or NETS only). Make sure you buy the basic theory book at a driving centre, bookshop or petrol station – and do read it! Cards, coupons and more: The grey box mounted above your dashboard is the CashCard- reading In-vehicle Unit, or IU. You need to buy a CashCard from a petrol station or convenience store, which can be topped up at the latter or at top-up machines in most car parks. The cards store value and are used to pay for car parks (the fee is debited automatically at the exit barrier) and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP). ERP is charged on expressways and in the central zones, and rates vary according to the location and time of day.

NEW & NOTABLE Drivingaroundyour neighbourhoodandaroundSingapore, you’re likely to encounter quite a few road improvement projects in progress – the LTA is alwaysworking to improve their systems. Current projects include the North-South Corridor and new interchanges on the KJE. Off-Peak Car Scheme: A red number plate means the driver is part of the Off Peak Car Scheme (OPCS), an initiative to encourage car owners to drive outside peak times. In return, they save on car registration and road taxes. (Off-peak drivers can drive all day on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays and on Mondays to Fridays 7pm to 7am). A $20 e-Day Licence is required for driving an off-peak car at any other time. This system has been in place since 2010, but there has been a significant decline in the numbers of off-peak cars on the road in the past couple of years. ERP CHANGES The government is in the process of updating the ERP system to charge by distance rather than using a flat fare, using GPS. This was originally to be rolled out in 2020, but transport ministers have since announced that the system is still a few years away from completion. Singapore is in the process of getting rid of their parking coupon system, so you’re only likely to need them when street parking. They are being replaced by CashCard systems and the app. However, if you want to purchase some, they can be found at convenience stores island-wide. Paying the tollman: If you accidently go through the ERP without enough money on your CashCard, go to and pay your fine online.

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Is it worth having a car here? If so do you rent or did you buy, and why?

For my husband, yes, as he works in the Southwest area (New Mega Port). His car is on a long-term hire rate basis, so if it breaks it gets replaced. Jessica


We have never needed a car, even though we’re living in Sentosa! But we do have a fun motorcycle for short errands. I highly recommend it. Irmelin

For the first year, we didn’t have a car, but regularly rented on weekends. We are now leasing a vehicle short-term as it has provided an opportunity for us to explore the island when we can’t travel internationally. Tim


transport seems to be more reliable during rush hours, and there is always Grab! But we would rent a car when having parents over. Judit

If you live on the outskirts, yes. Trains and buses don’t operate beyond 12am to 1am, so spending late nights in prime districts is restricting if you don’t have a car. Living closer to the city centre helps. We live in Robertson Quay so we are very well connected. Komal

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Singapore Hacks

STEP 1: RESEARCH YOUR JOB SEARCH Put on your detective hat, you’re going on a research mission! All good job searches start with a solid research phase, so you can get clarity on possible career paths and companies. Be proactive on LinkedIn Often our skills can be transferred to another industry we may not have considered, so use LinkedIn to create a target list of these. (Use the search and filter functions to go through all available industries from A-Z.) I recommend targeting two industries to begin with. Next, look at companies within them that excite you. Place the leads into Excel so you can keep track of who you’re approaching. You should end up with a list of companies you’ve never heard of. Play “I Spy” Search for contacts at companies who are at a more senior level than your target job. Then, go through their employment histories to see where they worked before, and what career path they took. You’ll end up with powerful market intel. And your creative juices may start flowing when you see possible career paths and companies you hadn’t considered before. Here’s a five-step strategy to supercharge your job search in Singapore – straight from the playbook of a former headhunter, DEE KHANDUJA.

STEP 2: LINKEDIN PROFILE AND CV FIXES LinkedIn Your LinkedIn profile is a key tool, but did you know it could be more important than your actual resume? The profile is like a marketing advertisement for you – and marketing ads need to ooze appeal. So, upload that professional image and use the banner space to add images or quotes that enhance your personal branding. Work on your profile description and show your sparkly personality. (Don’t be shy, be memorable!) Finally, fill in your work history and skills. No skipping this – leave out information and your profile will easily be missed by recruiters or hiring managers. The big tip? Carefully consider keywords that HR or recruiters may use when searching for candidates in your space. Use these in your text, so the search algorithms capture your profile. CV crafting Keep your CV simple, without fancy typography – ideally two to three pages, with short paragraphs and succinct bullet points. Again, scatter keywords in the text, particularly near the beginning of your resume, to make it algorithm-friendly. The bots love keywords, so feed it to them to increase your chances of being shortlisted!

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STEP 3: FINDING JOB OPPORTUNITIES Broadly speaking, you can use a reactive job-search method, a proactive job-search method or a hybrid. Each has pros and cons. However, a proactive method is more likely to land you a role that is aligned to what you want, while a hybrid method may jump you a few rungs above the shortlist. Reactive job searching This is the most common way job seekers look for work: they search for online or print adverts, then email a CV across, and wish for (hopefully) a response. Then rinse and repeat. Proactive job searching If you want to lose the competition (or leapfrog them), use a proactive push instead. This involves directly targeting key decision- makers and hiring managers. Start by using your personal and online network to get an introduction into your target company/ contact. Make LinkedIn and Excel (to track your leads and conversations) your new BFFs. Find companies you want to work with, locate their key decision-makers, and start to connect and engage them in conversation.

STEP 4: MAKING CONTACT The key here is to make connections with the right people, ideally decision-makers. (Avoid messaging a stranger asking them for a job outright – that’s a no-no.) Start by introducing yourself and cite a shared interest, skill, shared group, PR, or other genuine reason for reaching out. Once the conversation is warmish, ask them for help in directing your enquiry or CV to the right person. Voilà! – you now have a person you can name-drop when you reach out to the right contact. Headhunters often use LinkedIn to get a contact and then make a phone call (or send a warm-up message on LinkedIn first). Don’t be shy about phoning a decision-maker or hiring manager. Have your reason for calling and your CV in front of you. Speak with confidence and state that you’re interested in exploring openings at their company. Then ask for advice on how to progress your application. STEP 5: ORGANISING YOURSELF If the above steps are done correctly and you’re constantly networking online and offline, your diary should fill with scheduled calls, Zoom chats, interviews and follow-ups. Stay organised and follow up with a thank-you email or physical card depending on how much time a contact has given you. This conveyor belt of repetitive actions – research, networking, contact, follow-up – will result in leads, contacts and job opportunities. Good luck!

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