Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Helpful Singapore Information (from Andrea)

My friend Andrea has a great blog (click here) with loads of interesting information too ..... one of her more popular blog posts was about Helpful Singapore Information.
I tried to do a direct posting across, but not possible so here it is as a Copy and Paste:

Helpful Singapore Information

This is intended to be a starting place for those new to Singapore. You will undoubtedly find many more options as you go on your adventures and probably some you like better but we understand what it’s like to be clueless for those first few weeks. Some information is from personal experience and some is by recommendation.  Feel free to comment with any helpful information you might find and we will update as we make new discoveries.

Ann Maroni – Incredible Real Estate Agent!!

Money Exchange Rates:

American Association links -

American Women’s Association – (really great for local tours and the only reason I joined, honestly)

(even if you’re not American, you might find some of these links helpful) Useful links from AWA site –  – this is incredible for finding your way anywhere and using any form of transportation. Urban Redevelopment Authority – This site will give yo info about gov’t housing, parking, and other interesting things about the city of Singapore in terms of building and planning. You can visit the city gallery as well.

Also, be sure to check the comments on this page. There is a wealth of information down there!
Traffic & Parking Info:

Some parking lots are coupon lots. You can purchase coupon books at 7 Elevens and you’ll use these for 30 minute intervals by punching out the date and time you will be there.

Postal Service:  main page   -consumer page, tells you where post offices are and where SAM’s are. Automated stations to buy stamps and weigh packages. Seems you need a NETS card at these machines. Maybe some take cash but the one we found didn’t. We have a ‘mom and pop’ store in a condo next to us that sells stamps and will mail letters so check your nearby condo’s, it’s very handy!  S$1.10 for a standard letter and S$.50 for a postcard.  -int’l airmail postage rates

Our agent set up our electricity and water for us so I’m not sure how to go about that. Check with your agent about getting gas canisters changed for water and stove if applicable.

Starhub: cable/broadband/land lines. You can get a decent package deal. It’s nothing like American cable, though, so do some research online before setting it up.

M1: cell phones – great cell phone plans for families to call 3 for free within M1 users. M1 also provides broadband and is cheaper for cell phone customers than Starhub. You might run into a conflict with not having enough cable/broadband ports in your place or ports not in the right place for your set up. Starhub will install more for a fee.

Singtel: cell phones. Probably the most popular in Singapore.
For about $100 SGD you can get a cheapo phone with a “top up” card. You get a number and a sim card and add minutes to it whenever you need more. After the initial fee you will just pay to top up your card.

M1 & Singtel both have an  international plan for about $5/month where you can call a prefix and it only uses your minutes to call certain countries and does not charge international calling charges.

Online”garage sales”:
You can also find items for sale on bulletin boards at many grocery stores.

Chicken Man (Mr. Wee)  9139 2189 – Delivers fresh chicken. Minimum order is $30, about 15 butterfly, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can get whole chickens and really any parts of the chicken you’d like. He can also get you other meats (no beef) and fruits and vegies if you like. Very nice people and easy to communicate with.

QB Foods – GREAT place to get frozen sausages, all cuts of beef, pork, fish, etc. and other miscellaneous grocery items. Everything is either fresh or frozen so you can put it right into your freezer. They sell wholesale to stores around Singapore but are open to the public in a small store in their warehouse.

Ben Foods -  Meat, wine, etc. Only open to the public from 10-12 on Saturdays. This is our weekly Saturday stop. Ben Foods also supplies to Singapore stores. The things that are available on the weekends vary as they are clearing for next weeks stock.

Note about meat: Most thawed meat in stores has come to them frozen and then thawed so you must use it within a few days or cook it up and then freeze it.  Mr. Wee delivers only fresh meat so it can go right into your freezer. Grocery stores will advertise if it needs to be used in 3 days or if it’s fresh. If it’s not clearly marked, I would assume it’s been thawed and you should use it soon.

Food Delivery:
Madrina Pizzaria (no website) 6474 7342 They only deliver to certain areas. Thin crust pizza, fresh ingredients, pastas, salads and desserts. Their large pizza is equivalent to about a US medium and it’s thin crust so they don’t stretch as far. Eat in here too if you can. The atmosphere is nice and quiet and food is much better hot out of the oven. Blk 3 #02-141 Queen’s Road(Farrer Rd). Remember you can look it up on

Canadian Pizza - our favorite. Comparable to Domino’s in the US. - we didn’t like Pizza Hut’s cheese but they stay in business so they must sell to someone. - ahhhh…. a little piece of America brought to your doorstep in less than 30 minutes. If you have one near you, that is. They have only been in Singapore for less than a year so they aren’t serving the whole island yet. – find a restaurant by cuisine, location, etc.

Grocery Shopping: Be sure to have a $1 coin handy. You’ll need this coin in most stores to unlock your shopping cart. You get it back when you return the cart. I personally think this is brilliant!

My newest FAVORITE place for fresh produce and dried good is Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre. It’s where the locals shop and a real budget booster! I think they’re closed on Mondays. Nuts, dried fruit, dried fish, and any kind of fresh off he boat produce you can imagine. Buy in bulk or in small quantities. Parking is available for cheap and there’s a bus stop right outside of the gate.  – Compared to Walmart. There’s one at Plaza Singapura and Suntec City. Delivers if you spend over $150. Take cold stuff or things that might melt home with you and set up delivery for the rest. If you purchase before 3pm your goods will be delivered same afternoon, otherwise it will be the next day. Tell them when you check out if you want delivery. You will pay and then go to the delivery counter to fill out a form. Then you walk away. It’s a little awkward at first try but they really do show up with your things.  – One of the main grocery store chains here. I’m told that with both Cold Storage and Fair Price, if they are in a nicer location, the prices are higher because their rent is more. I have found really good bargains at both Fair Price and Cold Storage so it’s worth checking both if you have the time. Our favorite is Fair Price Finest in Bukit Timah Plaza. Convenient parking and it’s a two level store with good prices and most everything you’ll need. There is also a Fair Price Extra in Jurong East Mall. I have not been but I hear it’s great. I think Fair Price delivers but not sure. Check it out, though.  – The other main grocery store chain. Cold Storage delivers and you can order online. They have specific delivery times and I think you have to spend over $150 or $200 for free delivery. I haven’t used their delivery service yet. Cold Storage is where I would go first if I need something from the US. They tend to cater to expats.

I’m told that most locals shop at NTUC (Fair Price) or go to Malaysia once or twice a month to stock up.

There are local shops called wet markets where you can get fresh fish/meat and vegetables. There is one at China Town, Ghim Moh, Tekka Market in Little India is a really big one. If you don’t want to purchase bulk in the market, there are smaller shops just across the street on Buffalo where you can buy just the amount you need. Still fresh. These are great places to go in the morning and get fresh vegies, fruits and meats. If you find a vendor you like, stick with them. Once they get to know you, they might just save you the good stuff. :) Even if you don’t like to shop at these you should visit them. Makes for great stories and photos.

My new favorite market is Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market.

There is another big grocery store called Giant. It is referred to as Malaysia’s Walmart. One is in the Bukit Timah area  at Turf City (if you go there, be sure to try the Indian Lime Juice at Curry Garden), VivoCity Mall has a really huge store, another at IMM Mall and the other is on the East side of the island, Tampines. They will deliver if you purchase over S$200. Take the cold stuff with you. Some have free parking.  One even has a pig organ eatery. Yum! :)

Mustafa is in Little India. The prices on some items are not much better than the local stores but they have quite a variety of products and are a one stop shop! For sure, buy your dried beans, spices and rice there. So cheap!! Food, health care, toiletries, American products, sporting equipment, clothing, shoes, outdoor equipment, electronics, office/school supplies, appliances, jewelry, etc. If you need something and can’t find it, this is the place to go. Weekends are crazy crowded. Weekdays are much better! They are open 24/7. If you get out on the Farrer MRT station take the C exit , look to your left and you should see the Mustafa sign.  Mustafa will only deliver larger electronic items for a $20 fee. (You can get a great henna tattoo in Little India Arcade on the other end of Serangoon closer to Bukit Timah, across from Tekka Market.  Both hands for around S$10. Be sure to check the 2nd level of Tekka Market for clothing and other goodies. )

Phoon Huat:  is an incredible store!! Any type of baking item you need is there. Sugar, flour, sprinkles, pans, disposable containers, frozen fruit, cream cheese by the kilo, shortening, pastry doughs, nuts… You name it and it’s there for a very good price! If you bake, you must go there.

Malaysia shopping is great as well and pretty easy to get to. Here’s a link to a friends blog who gives you a step by step guide on how to get there.

Batam, Indonesia - short ferry ride and really easy day trip but recently they changed the tourist visa so it’s not as much of a bargain as it used to be. It’s still a great “date day” or fun day with the girls or even a long weekend.

Costume Rentals: Hey, you never know when this will come in handy!
No. 1 Costume Shop
7 Jln Lembah Kallang, Singapore, 339563
6333 9440
Out on the East side of town, Tampines (pronounced tam pu neeze), there is a huge IKEA, Courts Mega Store, and a large Giant store all together. There’s also a Courts in Bukit Timah area and and Ikea on Alexandra (Queensway area). Good place to go to price shop for furniture and electronics and groceries and/or stock up.

Furniture:  Ikea (very large one with more selection in Tampines, smaller one (but still big) on Alexandra. Prices are very reasonable and some is cheaper than in the US.), Harvey Norman Home, Barang Barang (a bit pricey but nice), I Wanna Go Home (neat store! Cross between Kirkland’s and Pier 1 Imports in US), Courts Mega Store. And of course, the online “garage sales” listed above. There’s a store in Turf City that has some beautiful furniture and will custom make things for you along with many other places around Singapore. We’ll update this as new discoveries are made. - larger pieces – huge facility We recently purchased our dream dining table here. Great place!
Jane’s Art and Crafts – smaller pieces, antiques, etc.
75 Hillcrest Rd, 288948, Singapore
p: 64695920  f: 64688992

Electronics: Gain, Best, Parasilk, Mustafa, Harvey Norman, Court, Giant. Fu Nan Digital Mall is a good place for electronics and cameras. Sim Lim is where the locals say to go but you will need to know exactly what you are looking for and what it should cost. Bring your bargaining skills to Sim Lim. It is said that the higher you go up in the center, the cheaper the prices will be. This is a good place to get replacement power supplies for the US electronics that you might burn up. :) You can pretty much find any type of electronic device here. Also, the first hour of parking is free between 5 & 10 pm on any day including weekends and holidays. If you bring your tv to Singapore from another country you may need to buy a tv license. We purchased our tv’s here so the license comes with them so I’m not sure how that works. Just ask around. Sounds strange, I know, but it’s true.

Washers: We understand that top loading washers do not heat water. Since most washers do not hook up to hot water supply, the washer needs to heat water so be sure and ask if you are shopping.Also check to make sure what type of washing powder you need. Most front loaders need low suds detergent.

DVD players: If you have American dvd’s, you’ll either need to purchase a multi-region player or “region free” player. It is hard to make sure you are getting this because the salesmen tell you “can!” so do your research. We use our PS3 or laptop if necessary for our US dvd’s and bought a multi-region player (recoded) at Parasilk in Holland Village for our extra tv in the guest room. Basically, we were told that if a dvd player has been opened then it will work as this means they have opened it and changed the codes. Goes against everything we’re told in the US but he said NOT to buy a dvd player that hasn’t been opened. Crazy! Some dvd players that are cheaper probably can’t be recoded so be sure to ask. (After being here or several months now, we have found that we prefer to get our movies from the US and either brought over or mailed to us (media postage rate is pretty cheap). Since we watch most movies through our PS3, it’s just better to have American Region movies.)

Turf City Mall is a great place to eat, shop and get groceries or even buy a car. :) This mall has quite a  mix of quality and inexpensive items. It’s not all that easy to find your way around but you could spend quite a bit of time here and find most of what you might need. Free parking and Wifi!! Try the Indian Fried Rice, a Tissue Prata and an Indian Lime Juice at Curry Gardenn. It’s really good!! The Giant grocery store is at this mall. Fidgets play area is also here and it’s great for younger kids to roam and play and for parents to have a good cup of coffee or snack.

Novena has two shopping centers right outside of the MRT. Square 2 and Velocity. They connect with each other and it is very convenient to step out of the MRT and right into the malls without having to go outside. Plenty of food and shops to keep you busy for a while. There is a Fair Price at the top of the Square 2 side (Level 4) and a Cold Storage in the Velocity side (Level 1).

United Square (take MRT to Novena, exit toward United Square) has lots of children’s clothing stores, toy stores, and baby goods stores.   There is also a McDonald’s, Pizza Hut. They are more reasonably priced than Paragon. It connects underground. Pretty easy walk. If you end up missing meat (which we do), Fiesta Brasilia is a great buffet for really good meat and salad bar. It’s a little pricey but for a special outing, it’s worth it.

City Square is my current favorite mall. It is a new mall in Little India. Take the MRT and come out of the Farrer Park Station right into the mall. Great mall with tons of options and more Western sized items and good prices. And it’s just not as “expat” as others around which I tend to like. The Metro store there is super!

Queensway shopping center is great for sporting goods but you really need to shop around from store to store. Stores have the same items for different prices. There are all sorts of shops tucked away in corners in this mall so be sure and wander around. When you go there, follow your nose and try the fresh hot waffle with ice cream in the middle. Or even better, kaya. A green jelly/paste that tastes mildly like coconut and vanilla. Oh yum!

Orchard Rd./Scotts Rd. area is ALL shopping and eating and very crowded on the weekends. It’s pretty much survival of the fittest but you should experience it even if you don’t plan to buy anything. Walk tall and stand your ground with a smile on your face. :) When you get hot outside, there’s always a cool place to step into.

Paragon (on Orchard Road) has a small kid’s indoor play area near Toys R Us and lots of kid’s clothing shops. There is a great dumpling place, Din Tai Fung, in the basement food area of Paragon. Din Tai Fung is in our top three favorites.

Wheelock Place has a lot to do in that area for teens. Borders, Starbucks, movie theater nearby (make reservations online for movies), shopping. This is also in the Orchard area so the malls and food options are numerous and within walking distance.

Far East and Lucky Plaza are a good if you are more of a bargain shopper and feeling culturally adventurous.

Tanglin Mall (just off Orchard) has Kindermusik and a Gymboree kid’s play/music center and plenty of neat shops.  The Chili’s and Dan Ryan’s are in/near this mall. Dan Ryan’s is supposed to have Dr. Pepper when they don’t run out and they both have free refills which is nice!  The Tanglin Marketplace also carries Dr. Pepper( when they have it in stock.)

Marina Square (Marina Center?) mall has an indoor kids play area close to the Gain Electronics store. There are also quite a few kids’ stores here. It’s a huge mall with lots of eating and shopping options. This one is close to the Singapore Flyer and Esplanade area and the new Helix Bridge which is a beautiful area to explore at night.

Plaza Singapura is a great mall for strollers! It’s easy to get to by bus or MRT (Dhoby Ghaut). There is a Carrefour there. Also a $2 store called Daiso and a store similar to Hobby Lobby called Spotlight. Spotlight is a great store for craft items and general household items. They have kid’s shops as well as flat ramp escalators and elevators. Very crowded on the weekend but weekday is okay.

Great World City is a less crowded mall with a good variety of shops, places to eat and coffee. There is also a Cold Storage.

Ngee Ann City mall is HUGE and it also is near to Wisma Atria. Lots of food options and shopping. Ngee Ann City is a bit pricey. Wisma is more realistic. Bargains can be found just about anywhere if you’re willing to look.

Kinokuniya–Huge bookstore in the Takashimaya center. It’s in Ngee Ann City mall on Orchard Road. Takashimaya also is a HUGE department store and can find most anything there. Mostly pricey but you can find a bargain. Popular and Borders are other bookstores here. There are also used bookstores around the city for trade in’s or finding that random book that the bigger bookstores might not carry. I know there’s one in Holland Village above Cold Storage. We have also ordered from and the shipping fees and delivery time is very reasonable.

VivoCity – supposedly the largest mall in Singapore. We went there to eat and did not walk around much. Sensory overload for us.  It felt like we were in an American mall. It’s on the water and is very beautiful. You can see Sentosa Island entrance from there and there is space outside for kids to run and play. Again, we were there for dinner and it was beautiful at night time.

IMM Somerset – the newest mall to date and a great place to shop and eat and convenient to bus and MRT. The Food Republic there is fabulous and there are some neat shops. Prices to please all pocket books can be found.

Jurong Point – West Coast. Massive mall with a theatre, restaurants and plenty of shopping to please everyone. STep out of  the MRT station and into the mall. Super convenient.

Parkway Parade – East Coast. Terrific mall with all banks, all major grocery store options and plenty of shops and eateries.

The malls are plentiful here!!! You’ll have to do some searching on your own and find out what you like. There are definitely areas that you can tell cater to wealthy expats and they are more expensive but there are places to shop that don’t cost you an arm and a leg either. They just take a bit more searching sometimes.

Be sure to explore the HDB’s and condo’s near you. Salons, clothings stores, local food, grocery stores and other gems are often found tucked away inside.

Go to to find all of these locations.

Hair cuts:
Kids: Junior League Children’s Style Salon.  They have one in United Square and one in the Toys R Us at VivoCity. And Fantastic Sams in The Forum on Orchard. Jonathon came recommended.
Men: Summerview in the  Serene Centre (2nd floor, at Bukit Timah and Adam/Farrer Road– above the McDonalds & where Tierney’s gourmet grocery store is.  There are a $10/10 minute shops all over town, Plaza Singapura, Holland Village and really all over the country. They do a decent job and is where my husband and son go.  If you’re picky, you don’t go there. They pretty much have a universal cut.
Women:  My daughter and I go to a shop called D’lly ( Sally, 9479 8791) in Pandan Valley Condo facing Holland Road/Ulu Pandan. There are salons tucked away all over the island. As you settle in start asking your new friends where they go. This is how we found D’lly. Other recommendations: Casey’s in the Palais Renaissance on Orchard Road. Comes recommended but hear it’s pricey. Amy Chee was recommended for a good stylist/colorist. There are Toni & Guy shops everywhere but I find them too pricey.

Movie Theater –

Going to the movie in Singapore – This link also has other theaters listed and info about the movie/dinner experience.

Wild Wild Wet – inexpensive water park compared to US parks. More fun for smaller children but our family of 5 with two older teens really enjoyed it for a couple of hours. This one costs about S$50/family.

Jurong East Water Park – among others…  find one near you. Facilities and rates, etc.
The Singapore government offers these great water parks that would equal parks in the US for a fraction of the cost of what we would pay in the US. You can go to these water parks for about S$5/family!

Singapore Zoo – we’ve been told to go in the afternoon/evening when it’s cooler. We’ve also been told that about 5 hours would be a good time to cover the entire zoo.

Night Safari – nice and we found it worth the money.

You can get package memberships for Zoo/Night Safari/Bird Park, etc.

Merlion – famous Singapore landmark. City Hall MRT and then start asking where Merlion is.  :)   It’s beautiful and you can find a place to eat on the water and/or enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors or indoors. Very pretty in the evening when everything is lit up. You can also take the Singapore River Cruise from Clark Quay to get a great tour of this area. Beautiful at night time.

Singapore Flyer – Great! A little expensive but definitely worth it once. Beautiful views even with the current construction. Take your camera.

Sentosa Island - You can make this a day trip or stay for the weekend. We haven’t been but apparently it’s geared more for tourists. - We haven’t been here yet but it comes recommended.

Botanic Gardens – a definite must! It’s free to enter the main portion and only $5 for the Orchid Garden which is totally worth it! Go a little later for cooler weather but you might want to take a little mosquito spray. There are food and drink stops within reach and even a hawker center in the park.

Singapore City Gallery Set up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. If you’re curious about the skyline, buildings, and seeing a “small” scale birds eye view of Singapore, this is your place.

There are many museums to visit as well.

Visit this blog for day trip and outing ideas especially if you have young children. You can do a search so you don’t have to read the entire blog. Another very helpful blog is my friend, Leone’s. She’s an awesome photographer and has been super helpful in getting me around Singapore and Asia.

Of course, there are endless sights to see in Singapore and nearby! Again, visit to find out how to get there. All of these can be found on the internet as well for pricing and hours.

Vacation spots:

I will add to this as we take more trips. We have already been to Bintan, Indonesia (Nirwana Resort) and really enjoyed that. We’ve made it to Batam, Indonesia for a day trip. It’s an easy ferry ride and good for a day adventure. We took an 8 day trip to Pokhara, Nepal which is hands down our favorite so far. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for Christmas.  Johor Bahru, Malaysia for a day shopping trip. That’s an easy bus ride over. Bangkok, Thailand was a fun 4 day trip. Budget airlines, Jetstar, Tiger Airways, Silk Air, are always running specials and it’s super cheap to get around Asia and even parts of Australia with them.

Travel from Singapore is very easy and can be done on a tight budget. Before we moved here, we felt it would be a shame if we didn’t go and see the world around us while we were here, so we have just made that a priority for our family. Of course, there’s so much to do in Singapore too. We want to experience Singapore and all it has to offer as well. It’s amazing how much is here for having such small land mass. There are many underground and above ground worlds to explore.

Churches: I’m going to leave this blank because probably everyone would agree on a good price for a box of cereal but everyone needs to search out churches on their own. I will say, though, that there are some great churches here in probably every denomination and some you may not have ever heard of. The internet is a great place to start and then just start asking around. Ok, I’ll tell you… we go to Redemption Hill Church. :)

Schools: Same as churches. You really will need to dig around for what you are looking for. Our oldest goes to ISS (International School Singapore). And we are homeschooling our youngest. Choose the school that you think is best suited for your children, they are all good in their ways. It seems as if many people move around a bit.

This listing will be updated as necessary. Last update was on June 21, 2010.

There are always a lot of places new to try and not so easy to keep an updated list ..... but the above should help some of the new people that have just arrived for the new year in town.

If you are looking for something in particular, try GOOGLE, if not feel free to email us - we will do our best to help.


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