Singapore's healthcare system is exemplary, with many tourists coming each year to seek medical treatment. All hospitals have international accreditation. By and large, Singapore no longer has problems with most of the tropical world's nastiest scourges. Food is clean virtually everywhere, tap water is potable, restaurants and food vendors are regulated by the government, and many other airborne, bug-borne, and bite-borne what-have-yous have been eradicated.
Singapore doesn't require that you have any vaccinations to enter the country but recommends immunization against diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and typhoid for anyone traveling to Southeast Asia in general. If you're particularly worried, follow their advice; if not, don't worry about it.
Bugs, Bites & Other Wildlife Concerns -- Although you have no risk of contracting malaria in Singapore (the country's been declared malaria-free for decades by the World Health Organization), there is a similar deadly virus, dengue fever, that's carried by mosquitoes and for which there is no immunization. A problem in the Tropics around the world, dengue fever is controlled in Singapore with an aggressive campaign to prevent the responsible mosquitoes from breeding. Still, each year cases of infection are reported, almost all of them occurring in suburban neighborhoods and rural areas. Symptoms of dengue fever include sudden fever and tiny red, spotty rashes on the body. If you suspect you've contracted dengue, seek medical attention immediately. If left untreated, this disease can cause internal hemorrhaging and even death. Your best protection is to wear insect repellent that contains DEET, especially if you're heading out to the zoo, bird park, or any of the gardens or nature preserves, especially during the daytime.
A newer threat, chikunguniya, also a mosquito-borne virus, has also posed a danger here in recent years, but incidents have been rare. Symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever.
Dietary Red Flags -- The government rates restaurants, street vendors, and hawker centers on their standards of cleanliness and hygiene practices -- look for decals on display in windows or at stalls. (A is for excellent.) Regardless, the use of chili and spices in local food can cause Delhi-belly. If you suffer a bout of diarrhea, it could be from many causes: weakness from jet lag, adjustments to the climate, new foods, spices, or an increase in physical activity. Always carry Immodium or a comparable antidiarrheal, but most important, don't forget to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. If symptoms include painful cramps, fever, or rash, seek medical attention immediately; otherwise, it'll probably just clear up by itself.
People who are sensitive to MSG, be warned: it's used often in cooked food. If you need to ask about it, locally it's called Ajinomoto, after its Japanese manufacturer.
Sun Exposure -- Singapore's climate guarantees heat and humidity year-round; you should remember to take precautions. Give yourself plenty of time to relax and regroup on arrival to adjust your body to the new climate (and to the new time, if there is a time difference for you). Also drink plenty of water. Avoid overexposure to the sun. The tropical sun will burn you like thin toast in no time at all. You may also feel more lethargic than usual. This is typical in the heat, so take things easy and you'll be fine. Be careful of the air-conditioning, though. It's nice and cooling, but if you're prone to catching a chill, or find yourself moving in and out of air-conditioned buildings a lot, you can wind up with a horrible summer cold.
Viral Infections -- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, hit Singapore hard in 2003, killing 33 people in Singapore and effectively closing the region to tourism. However, Singapore had mobilized the entire country to take daily precautions against the spread of the disease in an effort that was highly lauded by the World Health Organization (WHO), and today casual travelers face no threats of contracting this disease in Singapore.
Cases of Asian bird flu, or Avian influenza, have been reported all over Asia Pacific, with countries culling over 100 million poultry to contain outbreaks. Avian influenza is an acute viral infection affecting birds and poultry. Cross-infection to humans is rare; however, it does happen among people who have come in contact with sick or dead birds. To protect the country, Singapore keeps a close watch on its poultry farms and has developed safe channels for the import of all poultry products to make sure infected meats and eggs don't cross its borders.
Singapore is an extremely safe place by any standard. There's very little violent crime, even late at night. If you stay out, there's little worry about making it home safely. There is virtually no political or social unrest. Women travelers are treated with respect. In recent years, some pickpocketing has been reported. Hotel safe-deposit boxes are the best way to secure valuables, and traveler's checks solve theft problems.
In February 2011, Singapore newspapers reported a scam in nightclubs that seems to be on the rise, where drunk foreign men have been accused of molestation after dancing with local female clubbers. Some men have given money on the spot to avoid trouble, while others have been taken to trial. The best way to avoid falling victim is to drink in moderation.
Before you travel, it's a good idea to check with your airline, credit card issuers, and any medical plan you have in your home country to find out what kind of coverage you have for things like flight delays, loss of luggage, theft, accident, or illness while traveling. Additional travel insurance can be purchased on an annual basis or per trip through your insurance company.
For information on traveler's insurance, trip cancelation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, visit http://www.frommers.com/planning/.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.