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Singapore

Singapore

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Singapore Gay Guide

Introduction

Singapore has grown from a small British colony into one of Asia’s biggest financial centers. Today, Singapore has one of the highest income per capita in the world. It is a rich and modern nation, very tightly managed by a one-party government. Yes, Singapore is a democracy but not a very liberal one. Chewing gum is banned as is gay sex. On the other hand, the government keeps its citizens happy with a very high standard of living and very high incomes so nobody is really complaining.

Also for visitors, Singapore is a pretty attractive city. It’s safe, it’s easy to get around and there are plenty of things to keep you entertained day and night. Just know that there aren’t any natural attractions, all of them are built by the government. Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Night Safari, Sentosa. These are all entertainment complexes so don’t expect a true natural or cultural experience. But for a fun and entertaining weekend away, it’s hard to beat Singapore.

Getting there

Unless you live in Malaysia, you will probably want to get to Singapore by air. If you are travelling on a budget, try Tiger Airways or Scoot. If you want to travel in style, book a ticket on Singapore Airlines. Either way, you will arrive at Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN). It’s a modern airport and immigration as well as customs are hassle-free. And there is also free WiFi throughout the airport.

Go get into the city, you can take the subway (MRT) straight from the airport. The station is between T2 and T3. Get on a train to Tanah Merah and change to another train to the city (across the same platform). The total journey will take about 30-40min and cost around S$ 2. Depending on your destination, you may need to change trains one more time in the city. If you need to go to Orchard, change to the red line at City Hall.

You can also take a taxi to the city. There is an official taxi queue outside each terminal. The ride will take about 20-30min and cost S$ 20-30 (including the airport surcharge). The fare will be 50% higher between midnight and 6 o’clock in the morning.

Before you arrive in Singapore, also familiarize yourself with the list of restricted items that are not allowed to be taken into the country. While pornography, hand cuffs and cigarettes may be part of your fun time in bed, they are all banned in Singapore. So leave them at home. The same applies to any form of drugs, for which you may get the death penalty.

Getting around

Singapore has probably one of the best public transportation systems in the world. The subway (MRT) takes you all across the island. There are just 5 lines but since Singapore isn’t very big, that’s enough to cover the entire country. Fares are S$ 0.80 to S$ 2.00 depending on the distance. You can buy tickets with cash at the automated ticketing machines. If you plan to travel a lot, you can also get a prepaid EZ-Link card. It costs S$ 12, including S$ 7 stored value. And you can get the S$ 5 deposit back at the end. Trains run from about 06:00 to 24:00.

Singapore taxis are quite cheap. And unlike other cities in Asia, drivers in Singapore always turn on the meter. The fare starts at S$ 3.00 and goes up S$ 1.10 for each additional 1km. So trips within the city itself won’t cost you more than S$ 10. However, there is a long list of surcharges. 25% more during peak hours, 50% more during the night, S$ 3.00 more to/from the central business district etc. Also, during peak times or when it rains, it can be almost impossible to find an available taxi. And note that in the central business district taxis are only allowed to pick up passengers at designated taxi queues.

When to go

Singapore is hot and humid year round. Temperatures are around 28-30°C. It can rain any day of the year but the monsoon season from November to January is particularly wet. You also may want to avoid Chinese New Year as hotel rates are super expensive during that week. There are also some special events like the F1 Race or the Singapore Air Show when the city is packed with visitors and affordable hotel rooms are hard to get. But generally, Singapore is a place you can visit throughout the year. And if you are a shopaholic, mark June and July in your calendar as this is when the annual Great Singapore Sale takes place.

What to see

Marina Bay Sands

For a fun day of shopping, gambling and eating

Gardens by the Bay

A stunning exhibition of flowers from all over the world

Orchard Road

Singapore’s main shopping and cruising street

Sentosa Island

Theme parks, beaches and other childish fun

Clark Quay

Lively riverside location full of restaurants and bars

Stay connected

Getting a local prepaid SIM card in Singapore is quite easy. There are some outlets at the airport, otherwise you can get one from most convenient stores in town. However, you may need to show some form of photo identification (e.g. passport). SingTel is the leading mobile operator and their mobile data plans start at S$ 7 for 1GB over 7 days. Most hotels also offer WiFi, often free of charge. And there is also free WiFi at Singapore's airport, both when you arrive and when you depart. Gay dating apps like Grindr and Jack’d are super popular on the island so don't forget to bring your smart phone.

Gay life

Singapore has some pretty strict laws. There is even a law that makes chewing gum illegal in Singapore. During an overhaul of its Penal Code in 2007, Singapore has legalized some sexual activities, including (straight) anal and oral sex. However, any sexual activity between two men remains illegal under section 377A and is punishable with up to two years in prison. Having said that, the law is generally not enforced.

Gays are usually not discriminated against in Singapore. However, this doesn’t mean that they are fully accepted in the society. Most Singaporeans are of Chinese descent so family values are fairly traditional. Getting married and having children is still widely expected. As a consequence, many Singaporean gays are not out to their families.

However, there are quite a number of gay bars, clubs and even saunas in Singapore. None of them experience any harassment from the Police. And Pink Dot SG is a group that is actively promoting LGBT issues in Singapore. There is no Gay Pride march or waving rainbow flags but the annual public gatherings get bigger and bigger every year.

 



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