Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing, consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, Singapore is considered expensive; however, visitors from the West will find their money still goes quite far. The local currency unit is the Singapore dollar. It's commonly referred to as the "Sing dollar," and retail prices are often marked as S$ (a designation I've used throughout this guide). Notes are issued in denominations of S$2, S$5, S$10, S$50, S$100, S$500, and S$1,000. S$1 bills exist but are rare. Notes vary in size and color from denomination to denomination. Coins are issued in denominations of S1¢, S5¢, S10¢, S20¢, S50¢, and the fat, gold-colored S$1. Singapore has an interchangeability agreement with Brunei Darussalam, so don't be alarmed if you receive Brunei currency with your change, as it's legal tender.
It's not an absolute necessity to buy Singapore dollars before your trip, because you can find ATMs that accept cards from the Cirrus and Plus networks at the Arrival Halls of all Changi Terminals as you exit the baggage claim area. If you do need currency changed, each terminal has money-changing services that operate 'round-the-clock.
In town, it's best to exchange currency or traveler's checks at a local authorized moneychanger, found in most shopping malls throughout the city. They'll give you the best rate. You'll lose money with the high rates at banks, hotels, and shops.
The easiest and best way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine). The Cirrus (www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (www.visa.com) networks span the globe; look at the back of your bank card to see which network you're on, then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination -- in Singapore, you will never be far from a machine that accepts either of these cards. It's a good idea to check your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Note: Remember that banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to US$5 or more) than for domestic ones (where they're rarely more than US$2). In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
Major credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops, and even at many attractions and in taxis. Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
For help with currency conversions, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile/ and click on the Travel Tools icon.
What Things Cost in Singapore (S$)
Taxi from the airport to downtown 25.00
Double room, moderate 250.00
Double room, inexpensive 150.00
Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate 20.00-30.00
Can of Tiger beer at 7-Eleven 4.00
Cup of coffee at Starbucks 5.30
Admission to the National Museum 10.00
Admission to most national parks Free