Tips on Visas, Culture and Hotels in Singapore
This is a post by author Yvonne Chan. Yvonne is Managing Director for Universal Aviation Singapore, which has an aircraft ground-handling facility in Seletar. Yvonne is an expert on business aircraft operations in Singapore and can be contacted at email@example.com.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Singapore and continues from our last article: "Flight Planning, Weather & NOTAMS for Singapore."
When traveling to Singapore, it’s important to plan ahead for visa and documentation requirements and to be aware of all local restrictions. Infrastructure in Singapore is excellent, and this area offers high-quality accommodation and ground transportation options, personal security, efficient telecommunications and business support services. Here are some tips to assist you when planning your next business aviation trip to Singapore:
1. Know required personal documents and vaccinations
Crew and passengers must have current passports with at least six months of remaining validity. This is required for all nationalities. Vaccination requirements for Singapore are minimal. See the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority Web site for current requirements.
2. Visas need to be considered
Crew and passenger visas (when required) must be obtained prior to arrival. Foreigners – both crew and passengers – holding travel documents issued by these countries require a visa to enter Singapore.
Your ground handler will be able to obtain visas, assuming you’ve provided all required information and have given at least five working days’ lead time. Alternatively, crew and passengers can arrange visas independently via a Singapore embassy or consulate.
3. Understand visa options
Visas may be obtained for single entry or multiple entry, and validity will depend on the type of visa. Crews on private non-revenue aircraft will require business visas, while passengers may enter Singapore on either business or tourism visas. Most nationalities may stay in Singapore for approximately 30 days. Charter (non-scheduled commercial) flight crew don’t require visas, regardless of nationality, as the charter landing permit serves this purpose.
4. Consider agricultural and other restrictions
Airport authorities in Singapore are diligent on agricultural restrictions. It’s usually possible to leave unconsumed catering aboard the aircraft, but there are no guarantees that items such as fruit or meat may be kept onboard or with your ground handler. Your ground handler may be able to store small quantities of catering for you, but your handler usually won’t have facilities for larger-volume storage without prior notification.
5. Be aware of safety and cultural issues
Singapore is a very safe country, and there are no areas that visitors need to avoid. The water is safe to drink, and food is safe to eat even at street markets (often referred to as “Hawker Centres.") The country is family-oriented and shares similar values, religions and holidays with the Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures. While business meetings can be formal, and you’ll be expected to be on time, the country is fairly open and casual, and visitors do not have to be conservatively dressed. During free time, there’s plenty for crew to see and do, all easily accessible by public transport. Consider touring the island, visiting one of the new mega-casinos, taking a night safari or simply enjoying the wonderful cuisine options unique to Singapore.
6. Rental cars are not necessary at this location
The transportation system is Singapore is excellent, and rental cars are rarely necessary or recommended. Taxi services are efficient and high-quality, while public transit options, such as the MRT train system, are among the best in the world. Prepaid transportation with a driver can be set up via your ground handler.
7. Consider preferred hotel options
Most preferred hotels are located in the central city area, and this is a 20-minute drive without traffic and up to 45 minutes during rush hour from either airport: Changi (WSSS) or Seletar (WSSL). It’s best to travel to the central district, unless your stay on the ground is just a few hours, and you need to remain close to the aircraft. There are no hotels in the immediate area of WSSL, but there are a couple of good hotel options close to WSSS. It’s recommended that crew stay at 4- or 5-star hotels, although there are some recommended 3-star hotels.
8. Be aware of hotel policies
Check-in is normally at 2 p.m. or later, while check-out is typically at noon. For early arrivals and late departures, it’s best to book the night before or to extend the following evening. Prices for 4-star hotels are usually around 300 Singapore dollars (approximately 240 US dollars), and cancellation policies are normally 24 hours prior to arrival.
9. Busy event periods and holidays
Hotel accommodations can sell out during big events. During these times, you may be faced with non-refundable deposits and non-cancellable rooms. Your ground hander will be able to find you adequate accommodations, but this may not be in preferred hotels or the most popular locations. Some of the larger business events include the biannual Singapore Air Show, Formula 1 racing events, and major hotel and communications conferences. During major holidays – such as the Lunar New Year (a Chinese holiday) and Ramadan (a Muslim holiday) – many businesses and banks will shut down. The airports remain fully operational, and hotel accommodations are usually plentiful.
10. Use ground handler expertise to book the best accommodations
Ground handlers have special rates at preferred hotels and may be able to negotiate “extras" such as late check-out or included Internet or breakfast. If your flight is running late, your ground handler will advise hotels of changes in arrival times. During busy periods when accommodation choices are limited, your ground handler will offer the best available options.
Singapore is a first-world destination with excellent hotels, ground transportation and cuisine options. Best practice is to avoid holiday periods, when businesses shut down to some degree, and to work with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider to source scarce accommodations during busy event periods. And, don’t forget to enjoy the many one-of-a-kind cuisine offerings at one of the many Singapore Hawker stands.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.