The infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands. Photo: Marina Bay Sands
I’ve probably travelled to Singapore about 20 times in the past 3 years. I visit frequently to work with clients of Xpat Media. A couple of weeks ago I visited to speak at ITB Asia with several bloggers from the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.
As I was zipping around town to meetings I realized how well I’ve gotten to know the city and wanted to pass along a few of the things that have helped me make the most of my time there.
Get The 100GB Sim Card
This probably won’t last forever, but for as long as it’s around it’s great. At the airport you can pick up an S$50 ($37 USD) M1 SIM Card. It normally gives you 5GB of data for 7 days, which is lots, but right now you get a bonus 100GB, so you never have to worry about struggling to connect to overloaded conference wifi or a slow hotel network. With that much data you can stream HD Netflix every night in your room.
Use The Right Transport For The Right Travel
To And From The Airport: Taxis and Ubers will be fastest most of the time, but the MRT is very fast and convenient. I usually take the MRT into town out of habit. If you’re in a rush to get to the airport, a taxi or Uber will almost always be fastest. However, if you’re traveling during evening rush hour you’ll want to take the MRT or budget extra time for your drive.
Taxis And Ubers: I almost always prefer using Uber instead of taxis for one simple reason: I don’t have to tell the driver where to go. In a strange city it’s always a chore to explain where you need to go, especially if there’s a language barrier. In Singapore I default to Uber...most of the time.
Downtown Singapore is a maze of one way streets. On my last trip I tried several times to order an Uber only to watch it painfully try to wind its way through a circle of one-way streets during busy middle-of-the-day traffic to find me. It’s not worth it. If you’re in the city center you’re better off walking or asking somebody where to find the nearest taxi stand (there are many).
Walking: Central Singapore is really small. You can walk to a lot of places in 20 minutes. Before you jump into a cab or an Uber, it’s worth asking yourself if you can just walk it. This is especially recommended if your route will take you along river, which has a beautiful, wide, pathway lined with bars and restaurants.
Use The Best Meeting Room In The Marina Bay Sands
Every time I visit Singapore for a conference it’s in the Marina Bay Sands, which is great. The MBS has the nicest conference area I’ve ever been in. What I love most, though, is the cafe where I hide out to work and have meetings: the Sweet Spot Cafe on the second floor.
This place is great. It’s just far enough from the conference center that it doesn’t get too crowded, but it’s close enough that anyone can find it and get there in 10 minutes. It has good coffee, sandwiches, and regular tables as well as sofas and coffee tables. There are power outlets along one wall and a business center next door.
I usually spend more time there than in the conference hall.
To find it, take the escalators from the conference area up to the main floor. Then walk into the mall. On your immediate left you’ll see a very tall escalator. Take it to the top and walk straight ahead. You’ll walk right into it.
Check Out Singapore’s Air BnB For Business Travelers
MetroResidences is a Singapore-based Air BnB-style service for business travelers to find serviced apartments. I stayed with them on my last trip and it was just what I needed. The room had a great view and kitchen where I could make coffee while working. The building had a nice gym and a pool. But most importantly it was right downtown within walking distance of most of my meetings and right across the street from Telok Ayer food market, which has a crazy selection of good cheap restaurants to grab a quick bite on my way to or from the apartment.
Don’t Stress Too Much About Your Flight Home
I would never advise anybody that they shouldn’t show up two hours early for an international flight.
But, Changi Airport in Singapore is a lot more forgiving than most. Like most things in Singapore, the airport is crazy efficient. Customs is usually fast and unlike most airports in the world -- which funnel passengers for all flights through long security lines in one screening area -- Changi performs security checks at your gate. So, getting to your gate in time for your flight is much faster than at most airports.