So, you have finally decided to travel to Singapore–great! 🙂 You still need more information, but you don’t have much time to figure out everything and organize your whole trip. Well, I can relate and I can help you with that…
I’ve been to Singapore several times already, since my husband works there as an expat. He comes home twice a year, while I would visit him once a year. However, it was only on my most recent trip that I was able to explore Singapore all by myself and stayed a little longer. I would normally go there on a weekend and have my husband accompany me, from arrival at the airport to departure.
On my recent trip, however, I simply had to stop relying on him for everything, especially that he had to go to work during the weekdays that I would be in Singapore–this was the longest time I have ever stayed in Singapore (without my daughters with me). Not to mention, there are still so many places that I would like to see and explore, and even if my husband has been working in Singapore for six years now–believe it or not–there are still so many areas that he has not been to or not familiar with at all. He is such a homebody!
In my previous trips to Singapore, I have explored the Marina Bay area, including a certain portion of Gardens by the Bay, Bugis, and Chinatown. I have also been to Universal Studios, Jurong Bird Park, River Safari, and visited a few malls and temples. This year, I planned to see more of their gardens and parks, including the Cloud Forest, and perhaps one or two malls that I’ve never been to, plus museums.
Since I didn’t have much time either to look up more information on the places I wanted to see and how to get to each of them, I figured that downloading certain travel apps would be the most useful thing for me to do. I have downloaded quite a number of them before I left for Singapore, then deleted one by one those that I did not find useful at all during my trip.
Some of these apps may already be present in your smartphones or a similar type may have come pre-installed with it, such as the Maps and the Weather app. I have included them in the list just the same in case you have deleted them for some reason and to emphasize their usefulness, too.
I suppose you would also find music, social media, and photography apps useful just like I do too, but I leave it to you to decide which ones to keep. For your travel to Singapore alone, I suggest you download the following apps and familiarize yourself with their features before your flight. Besides, I’m sure you would also find most of these apps useful when traveling to other countries other than Singapore.
1. Airline apps – In my case, I traveled via Cebu Pacific on my way to Singapore and via Tiger Air back to Manila. I was very particular with the schedule, but also had to consider the budget, so I opted to book flights at two different airlines. Hence, I both have the Cebu Pacific and Tiger Air apps on my phone. They were very useful to me, allowing me to easily retrieve my booking details and do web check-in, too. I believe every airline has an app now, so be sure to download yours, whichever you prefer. Do you know that you may now even book a flight directly from the app itself?
2. iChangi – I have not been to many airports in the world, but based on my experience, the reviews I’ve read online, and the stories of friends and relatives who travel overseas a lot, Changi Airport is one of the best airports in the world, if not the best. So, make sure you explore it upon entering or before you leave Singapore. In case you’re not aware, Changi Airport has so many things to offer aside from facilitating your entrance to and exit from Singapore. They have gardens, play areas, restaurants, shops, gaming stations, and more that you can explore.
The iChangi app serves as your ultimate guide around the airport, from Terminals 1 to 3, and its basic features are accessible offline. It also provides information on what’s happening in Singapore, including a big sale at certain stores and places to visit, helping you plan your itinerary.
In addition, the iChangi app allows you to connect to the airport WiFi easily, provided your mobile phone can receive messages, since it needs to send you a code first to access the Internet for free.
3. SG Buses – this app tells you the schedule of buses at all the bus stops in Singapore. If you happen to be standing at a particular bus stop, just click Bus Stops on the app, then either enter in the search field the bus stop where you’re at or scroll down and find out which buses (pay attention to the bus numbers) are supposed to stop near you. It also tells you the number of seats available, the approximate number of minutes before a bus arrives, whether the bus is accessible to PWDs on wheelchairs, etc. You may also look up information by bus number, roads, and bus stop number with this app.
4. SG MRT – I don’t know about you, but the huge MRT maps I see at the stations used to intimidate me. However, once I saw them simplified on my phone’s screen, I realized how silly I’ve been! Go ahead and download it too to see for yourself how simple it is.
The SG MRT app is particularly useful when planning your trips around Singapore via MRT–the fastest way to get around Singapore–and avoid missing a station, especially when the maps inside the train, which are supposed to light up to indicate your location, fails you.
By the way, don’t panic when people start telling you to go to the red line, yellow line, etc. to get to your destination. They just mean the routes the trains take; you won’t ever have to get out of the building either just to get to another lane. Just pay attention to the signages in the station, match the color on the map to the color of the station signs to make sure you’re on the right MRT lane, and listen carefully to the announcements while onboard the train.
I strongly suggest that you also check the map as you ride the MRT to familiarize yourself with the pronunciation of the names of places, such as Outram /ooh-truhm/, Clark Quay /-kee/, and Changi /cha-ngee/ (Oh, please, it’s not chang-ghee!)
5. Maps – What can I say, except that this pre-installed app on my smartphone helped me overcome my fear of the unknown? I may not be familiar with my surroundings, but at least I know the names of the streets that I pass by as I ride the bus or MRT or even as a walk, or stand in the middle of the street. Moreover, I just simply type in my destination to find out how to get there by bus, by car, or on foot, and even avoid missing the bus stops. Talk about the power of GPS, eh?
6. Singapore Map – it works like the Maps, except it contains maps that you may download for offline use. Moreover, although it’s called Singapore Map, you may use it in places outside of Singapore too.
7. Weather app – Even if I would only be staying home, I find this app necessary, and much more so when I’m traveling. Needless to say, the weather app lets you know whether to bring an umbrella, wear a jacket, dress in loose, comfortable shirts, or simply avoid going to or going out (of) a particular place because it’s either going to rain heavily or going to be very hot at a certain time of the day.
8. Booking app – This could be Airbnb, Hotel, Expedia, or any hotel booking app you prefer. I normally book directly at their websites, but I keep their apps on my phone just in case there will be a need for me to modify my bookings or transfer to another hotel for one reason or another while I’m already abroad. Such apps might prove very useful to you too, especially if you are backpacking.
9. Grab and/or Uber – Although the buses and MRT in Singapore are very reliable, there just might come a time when taking a cab is more convenient, if not the only way for you to get to another place, especially when it’s already late at night. Such apps are also particularly useful in avoiding long cab passenger queues.
10. Communication app(s), such as Viber, Whatsapp, or Facebook Messenger – Sometimes, even with all those apps that are supposed to help us with finding directions and getting recommendations, asking someone who truly knows the area would be better. And more often than not, they are just one text away!
Even if I opted to buy a local SIM, I still prefer to use these communication apps, particularly FaceTime and Viber, when contacting my husband, friends, and relatives, who are both in Singapore (and other countries) and back home in Manila. Doing so proved to be economical, especially with the free 100 GB data allowance that comes with the StarHub prepaid SIM that I bought recently.
Do take note that in Singapore, if you are using a prepaid SIM, whether you are the one calling or on the receiver’s end, you will get charged, so you might as well use these apps when you need to contact someone. You may buy a local SIM card at Changi Airport Terminal 2 arrival lobby, by the way, and they would only require your passport, aside from payment, of course.
If you find other useful or must-have apps for traveling, do let me know, will you? Thank you so much, and enjoy your trip to Singapore! ❤
(Featured image by Juja Han via Unsplash.com)