Singapore is a very business-oriented culture and has rapidly become one of the major power players in the Asian business market. Singapore's population is growing quickly, making it a cornerstone of the region. The country often serves as the hub for multinational companies conducting business throughout the Asia-Pacific market.
The country maintains a close relationship with Australian businesses, with opportunities in a wide range of industries. Popular sectors include aerospace, infrastructure, technology and education, to name a few. Singapore has seen a great increase in banking and financial services in recent years as well, putting the country in position to surpass Switzerland when it comes to wealth management.
Business in Singapore follows a fairly straightforward fashion with formal etiquette guidelines. Thanks to Singapore's rapid growth and development, the general population is more educated and experienced than ever before. Companies that come to Singapore with the notion that its people are somehow inferior when it comes to business will likely not receive warm welcomes. On the other hand, those that recognise and acknowledge Singaporeans' business prowess will find them much easier to work with. Locals are especially appreciative of businesses that work to improve not just their own success and growth, but that of those in Singapore as well.
Singapore provides a great jumping off point for conducting business in other countries throughout Asia. Australians doing business in Singapore will find the greatest success if they embrace the local culture, customs and business practices. Those that remain focused on western practices will likely be met with resistance and will miss out on a variety of opportunities.
Business hours in Singapore typically span from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday, although some organisations conduct business on Saturday as well. For banks, operating hours vary widely, with some opening at 9:00 a.m. and others at 11:00 a.m. Depending on the branch, some may open on the weekend, while others do not. Shops are typically open until 9:00 p.m. every day, including on public holidays. Singapore is two hours behind Australia's eastern time zone.
Singapore's currency is the dollar. It encompasses both coins and notes. The government recently released a "Third Series" of coins to reflect the country's continued progress as a nation. First and second series coins are still widely accepted, including in coin-operated machines.
ATMs are prevalent throughout Singapore, often appearing even in the most unexpected places. Businesses in Singapore widely accept major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Singapore enjoys warm weather throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 23 to 31 degrees, on average. The climate is relatively humid, and rain is common, particularly during monsoon season (November to January). Rain showers typically come on suddenly, dumping heavy rains. They are usually short-lived and stop just as suddenly as they started.
Singapore's electricity is 220/240 volts and 50Hz. However, it is typically best to bring a multipurpose travel adapter, as standards vary throughout the country.
Australian citizens visiting Singapore for less than 90 days do not need to obtain a visa to enter the country. However, you should check the arrival endorsement in your passport to ensure you will not overstay the number of days allowed, as this is a punishable offence. It is possible, though, to request an extension before the pass expires.
Australian travellers will need to have a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining. They must also maintain enough money to cover their entire stay. Return or ongoing travel tickets must also be obtained, as well as any visas required to enter other countries upon departure from Singapore.
Singapore's Changi Airport is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. This international hub serves over 200 cities in 60 different countries. Public transportation is easy to obtain both to and from the airport. Public transportation covers the entire island, and the prices are reasonable. The system consists of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), public buses and taxis.
Tipping is not expected in Singapore and is actually prohibited in the airport. In most hotels and restaurants, a 10-percent service charge has already been added to your bill, so an additional tip is not necessary.
Singapore is home to a wide range of hotel options, from basic budget hotels to luxurious world-class resorts, and with everything in between. With such a vast selection of options to choose from, you are sure to find a lodging facility that suits your taste and budget.
Singapore's cuisine is a blend of the many cultures that come together on the island, including Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian influences. Seafood is common in many dishes, like local favourites fish head curry, chilli crab, and hokkien prawn mee, a stir-fried noodle dish. Surprisingly, chicken and rice is the unofficial national dish and can be found on virtually every menu in Singapore, from budget eateries to fine dining restaurants.
You can't spend your whole time in Singapore behind a desk. For your days off, check out some of the region's top attractions. The Singapore Botanic Gardens offer a welcome escape from the hectic pace of city life, giving you a chance to refresh and reconnect with nature. Art lovers can get their fix at the National Gallery Singapore. This modern gallery features works from a number of popular Singaporean artists.
For a fun day trip, take a ferry to one of the nearby offshore islands, including Lazarus, St. John's, Kusu and Sisters' Islands. Orchard Road offers a haven for shoppers, with dozens of high-end retailers lining the street.
Perhaps the best way to get to know Singapore is simply to wander around for a while, immersing yourself in the local culture. Singaporeans are known for their friendliness, and they typically hold Australians in high regard. Ask questions and listen to the stories of the locals to really get a sense for the people and their lifestyle.