Countries have different standards, so when moving abroad becomes imperative to have a basic knowledge of the standards used locally. Paguro has already done the research for you.
Language: Singapore's national language is Malay, but also has as official languages English, Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil. Jargons often used on the street are Singlish and Manglish (English dialects of Singapore and Malaysia) but these are not accepted in official contexts. Since the introduction of English as the main language of instruction in the education system, it is not surprising that English is the most common language in Singapore literature and its use is widespread among the population in general.
Religion: Religious tolerance has been strongly encouraged since colonial times, although most religions are tolerated, some unorthodox groups are banned.
Currency: the Singapore currency is the Singapore dollar (SGD), divided into 100 cents. The following denominations are available:
- Coins of 1 dollar and sub-units of 50, 20, 10 and 5 cents. You will occasionally see some 1 cent coins but they are being phased out.
- Banknotes of 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 1000 and 10,000 SGD (The last one not surprisingly are very very rare).
To see the most current rates, you can use one of the many available currency conversion tools available on the internet, find two useful links below.
Time zone: Standard time zone is UTC/GMT +8 hours. Singapore Time does not observe Daylight-Saving Time.
Electricity: The electrical voltage in Singapore is 220-240 Volts AC, 50 Hertz. Remember that even if you've bought a plug adaptor, the different voltage may cause your expensive electrical appliances to stop working with a bang in a smelly cloud of blue smoke. If in doubt check light bulbs at home or in a supermarket and read the information on it.
SP Services is Singapore’s only electricity supply company.
Electrical plugs: Singapore uses the British electrical system so that wall sockets take plugs with three rectangular cross section pins. Electrical appliances purchased in Singapore usually come with British style plugs but sometimes have European style plugs (two round pins).
Adapters and 110-120 volts transformers are readily available.
Phone jacks: Singapore uses the UK phone jack, but you can also find the RJ11, the same in use in the United States. The phone lines are digital.
Mobile phone: Mobile phone network in Singapore is GSM 900/1800 and CDMA.
TV system: PAL. Beware that private ownership of satellite dishes is forbidden, therefore international TV broadcasts (such as CNN, BBC, etc) can only be received by cable.
DVD zone: DVD are region 3 (region 3 DVDs are edited/censored). You can get locally inexpensive all-region DVD players and it is easy to buy region 1 DVDs which are unedited versions. Be warned, Singapore has strict censorship laws, which go far beyond limiting "X-rated" materials. If videos/DVDs and the like are included in your shipment and labeled as such, Customs inspection may levy 75 singapore dollars for each tape reviewed by the Singaporean censors. If in doubt, leave any questionable material behind.
Measure system: Metric, the Weights and Measures (Sales of Goods in Metric Unit) Order was introduced in 1981 to stipulate that all instruments used in Singapore shall be in SI units except the customary Chinese units (tahils) which are still permitted for trading in Chinese herb/medicine. A tahil is a unit of mass equivalent to approximately 37.8 grams (or 1 1⁄3 ounces) in use, beside Singapore, also in Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
Phone code: The Singapore country code is 65. When dialing from Malaysia though is 02. All Singapore telephone numbers have 8 digits. Mobile numbers begin with 9, land line numbers begin with 6. There are no district codes.
International phone calls
- Calling Singapore: IDD of the country you are calling from + 65 (02 if you are dialing from Malaysia) + phone number
- Calling from Singapore: dial 001 then dial country code + area/city code + phone number.
Internet: Internet connection is available as broadband and dial-up. Internet code for Singapore is .sg
Paper: In Singapore the standard paper size is A4. The country follows the ISO guidelines.
Mattress sizes: Local bed sizes in Singapore differ from the UK and USA
Single 90 cm x 190 cm (3’ x 6’3”)
Super Single 105 cm x 190 cm (3’6” x 6’3”)
Queen 183 cm x 190 cm (6’ x 6’3”)
King 183 cm x 198 cm (6’ x 6’6”)
Pillows and Bed linens: Pillows and bed linen are available in most department stores.
When buying linens, the fitted sheet will usually be measured according to the mentioned mattress sizes (top surface of the mattress). The flat sheets will usually measure from 40 to 60 cm more than the top surface of the mattress.
Note that mattress depths vary widely by manufacturer. Measure the depth of your mattress before purchasing sheets or ask in the store whether exchanges are possible BEFORE paying.
Clothing sizes: In Singapore clothing sizes are a real muddle. If you shop in Marks and Spencers you will get British sizes. The sizes in other department stores depend on the origin of the clothes. Asian brands commonly use S, M, L, XL and the average sized non-Asian person will often need XL. There is less choice in the stores for larger or taller people.
It is possible to have clothes tailored. There is also good internet access so it is easy to order from on-line catalogues.
Shoes if you have big feet you might want to bring as many shoes as possible, since the availability of big numbers in Singapore is very limited, when not downright inexistent. The offer is limited and so is the choice.