Thursday, August 14, 2008

What every F1 fan should know about Singapore

There is an air of unmistakable excitement in Singapore as the country heads into the opening night of the 2008 Formula1 Grand Prix on September 28. It will be the first F1 race to run at nighttime and on a street circuit, so expect many surprises from the Singapore GP than you will normally expect from previous F1 Grand Prix. This is going to be a part of motor racing history.

Come get-go time on September 28 Singapore will be overflowing with both F1 fans and tourists alike. Before the frenzy start, here are Singapore must-knows that every visitors ought to know. As part of our F1 Grand Prix coverage, the Singapore Travel Blog gives this essential introductory guide to Singapore and 2008 Formula1 SG races:

General Travel Information—The Singapore Changi Airport is one of the more technologically advanced air terminals in Asia. With the opening recently of the state-of-the-art Terminal-3 of Changi Airport, Singapore has lessened passenger gridlock at its airport and is able to clear tourists off the immigration from 15 to 20 minutes after they leave their flights. So that you can zoom-zoom faster out of the terminal and into your hotel in Singapore for the Formula1 races, be sure to be ready with these travel documents (must be met prior to arrival):

1. A passport with at least six months validity

2. Sufficient funds to last for the intended period of stay in Singapore

3. Confirmed onward/return tickets (where applicable)

4. Entry facilities to their onward destinations, e.g. visas.

5. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate*

*if you are from any of these countries that are endemic for Yellow Fever.

Hotel, Inn, and other Accommodation—The Marina Bay area has a handful of hotels that will get you near the action of the Formula1 races. Most of these hotels, like the Ritz Carlton, are on the southeastern side of the city. Another vantage point in Singapore is the Bras Basah Road and Orchard Road, which forms the retail and hotel ‘heart’ of the city. Here you can find the Raffles Hotel as well as a cluster of other less-priced hotels.

A little further West from the city center are places of interests such as Chinatownl Little India, the Robertson Quay eating and leisure area, among others. There are also a slew of resort-type hotels on Sentosa Island south of the city and linked by a causeway and cable cars. Below is a list of hotels in Singapore, from three- to five-star hotels, worth checking out:

Cape Inn Singapore
Singapore Beach Hotel
Harbour Ville Hotel
Joo Chiat Hotel
Park View Hotel
Treasure Sentosa Resort
YWCA Singapore Hotel
Tekka Hotel
The Aspinals Hotel
The Ambassador Hotel

Transportation, Communication—From the airport, the Marina Bay area where the races will be held is about 20 minutes away by taxi. It is not a major problem to look for taxis in Singapore. They are cheap and easily available. Taxis are on call 24 hours a day at the taxi stand of the airport departure gate and it normally costs around SGD 20.

A number of hotels also offer shuttle service that serves two or three hotels at a time. Information on fares and availability can be had from the hotel itself. Another way to travel around Singapore is the country’s MRT system.

The East-West line of the system runs from the airport to the city center of Singapore and it normally takes 30 minutes to cover the entire route. The East-West line is connected to the North-South line at the City Hall station. From here you can access the Orchard road area.

Single fare tickets from the airport costs SGD 1.50. If you intend to use the MRT system often, the Singapore Tourist Center website offers transportation packages for unlimited travel on buses and MRT.

For your communication needs, there are wi-fi internet services in Singapore that serve most of the city center. Public areas in the city are hooked up to wireless@sg that gives wireless broadband access with speeds of up to 512 kbps. Also, most GSM and 3G mobile phone services are supported provided you have the necessary international roaming account.