A Guide to Travelling and Working in Singapore

What You Need to Know When Moving to Singapore for a Short-term Assignment

Laura Garton on a balcony in Singapore

It’s official—my short-term assignment in Singapore is coming to an end, and oh my goodness, I’m so NOT ready for it to be over.

The last four weeks have been an incredibly rich and eye-opening experience for me from both a professional and personal standpoint. Not only have I had the opportunity to experience what life as an expat in Singapore is really like, but it’s also opened my eyes to the true value of business travel and its impact on productivity from collaboration, associate development and associate satisfaction perspective—I've truly had the time of my life here and have learned so much, and I know you will too.

So, as I soak up my last few days in this incredible city, I have some final observations about what it’s like to temporarily live in Singapore, and all the tips I think you’ll find useful should you get to travel to Singapore yourself.

So many ways to pay

Throughout my four weeks living in Singapore, I’ve been using cash and my Monzo card (an international and exchange rate friendly MasterCard) to pay for pretty much everything and it’s worked seamlessly.

A woman scans her RFID Throughout my four weeks living in Singapore, Monzo card (an international and exchange rate friendly MasterCard) to pay for her travel.

I’ve noticed, however, that there is a plethora of payment methods available with the most common ones being GrabPay, PayLah!, Apple Pay and WeChat Pay. If you’re staying for a short period like I am, using cash and card will see you through your international business trip perfectly. If, however, you’re living in Singapore for more than a month, I would recommend you look at different payment options that might benefit you.  You might want to set up a local bank account for example. Consider using DBS Bank’s PayLah!.

When it comes to hosting business meetings, for example in a restaurant, you should be able to pay by card the majority of the time, but I'd still advise you to always carry cash with you as there have been a couple of occasions where I was told I couldn’t use my card.

There is a plethora of payment methods available in Singapore with the most common ones being GrabPay, PayLah!, Apple Pay and WeChat Pay.

Getting Around the City

Singapore is one of the smallest cities in the world, yet it has one of the best public transport systems I’ve ever seen. One of my main concerns prior to my trip was how easy (or difficult) I was going to find it to get to Synergy’s Singapore HQ from my serviced apartment. Surprisingly, I can tell you that as early as day one I felt super confident navigating the system because of how easy and well looked after it is. Remember, Citymapper is your best friend!


Singapore’s underground network consists of six different metro lines and it is exactly what you’d expect from a world-class underground network. It’s cheap, it’s efficient, it’s airconditioned, it has WiFi and it’s always squeaky clean. And I mean really squeaky clean.

The MRT in Singapore

Trains run frequently across the city from around 5:30am to midnight daily and at a very reasonable price, with a typical journey costing on average SGD $1.75/GBP £1/USD $1.75.

I paid for all my trips using my bank card as mentioned in series one, but you can also pay for your trip by purchasing a reloadable EZ Link card which is available to buy from most MRT stations or 7-Elevens.

The Bus

Another inexpensive option, taking the bus, is a great choice if you’re looking to take the more scenic route from point A to point B. Fares range, depending on the length of journey, but you’ll never pay more than around SGD $2 which you can pay for using your bank card or EZ Link card.

The only downside to taking the bus is of course the traffic during rush hour, so I’d always recommend walking or taking the MRT where possible between 7:30-9am and 4:30-7pm.

The public Bus in Singapore


There is an abundance of taxi options to choose from in Singapore which you can hail from the side of the road or order using a ride hailing app such as Grab or Gojek.

Personally, I’ve found it easiest to download the Grab app onto my phone because it enables me to order a taxi, agree on a price beforehand and pay for it all in one place, just like I would with Uber at home in London.

I’d recommend you always take the MRT or walk where possible to cut down on the carbon footprint of your trip, but sometimes it’s so humid here that it can be very beneficial to take a taxi to an important business meeting if you want to avoid turning up all sweaty and frizzy—and that’s if you’ve been lucky enough to not get caught in a Singapore-style downpour.

One of the safest cities I’ve ever visited

As a solo female expat in Singapore, I naturally had some reservations about the safety of the city in which I was about to spend the next month. I’ll cut straight to the chase here—I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Singapore is by far the safest city I have ever visited.

Downotown Singapore

Throughout my time living here, I’ve happily walked home alone and caught public transport late at night without any issues—not once have I felt unsafe. In fact, being here has made me realise how much I am on high alert of my surroundings back home in London, a place I considered to be very safe.  I think the reason it’s so safe here is that the crime rates are super low and the general attitudes toward anti-social behaviour are taken really seriously.

With all that said, it’s important to note that no city is without crime, and you should always keep your wits about you whenever you’re out in public.   

Serviced Apartments in Singapore

So, you’re equipped with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to navigate your time in Singapore like a pro, but one thing you’ll need to consider before you leave is where you’ll stay during your assignment.

As a traveller in Singapore, you’ll have an abundance of long- and short-term accommodation options available to you, from serviced apartments to hotels and residential corporate housing options. If you’re relocating to Singapore or even staying in the city longer than a week, I’d 100% recommend you stay in a serviced apartment, purely because it’s such a convenient and more comfortable option in comparison to a hotel.

Synergy Housing Serviced Apartment in Singapore

I wanted to stay in a serviced apartment in Singapore because I knew they typically come with all the added comforts of home like additional space, a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. And, I’d also get all the benefits of a hotel such as a 24-hour reception, concierge, security, a gym and so on. Some serviced apartments in Singapore will also come with extra space to work from home, whether that’s in the apartment or as part of a co-living approach like where I'm staying at Lyf Funan. I’ve found that having access to such amenities really helped me find my feet faster than anticipated—probably because there was no real adjustment period for me. I was able to just pick back up where I left off at home in London.

The End of The Trip of a Lifetime

Here we are at the end of the most extraordinary trip of a lifetime. I sincerely hope you’ve found this three-part series useful and that it has helped motivate you for what I know will be an incredible trip. I thoroughly have enjoyed writing this series mainly because I've been able to re-live my experience over and over again.

It’s bye for now Singapore, but you’ll definitely hold a very special place in my heart, alongside all the amazing colleagues and friends I now have in the Lion City. Until next time!

Short-Term Assignments in Singapore: What You Need to Know

From the Diary of An Assignee in Singapore — Series Two

Welcome back to series 2 of 3 of the diary of an assignee in Singapore! In case you haven’t read the first series yet, I’m Laura and I’ve been assigned to live and work in Singapore for a month. I’ll be using this platform to share my experiences with those of you lucky people who might move to Singapore for a short-term stay assignment, relocation or business trip in the near future, sharing my experiences challenges and tips along the way.  

Ready? Let’s get into it.  

Two weeks or two years? 

So I’m officially two weeks into my trip already (time does fly when you’re having fun), and I can’t quite believe how fast I’ve settled in. I think it’s because life in Singapore is just so…livable. It’s a small city. It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s easy to get around. The standard of serviced apartments in Singapore is excellent and there’s a thriving expat community. It’s essentially a business traveller’s haven here.   

Laura Garton on a balcony in Singapore

First thing first— get yourself connected 

If you’re moving to Singapore for business, regardless of the duration of your stay, I’d 100% recommend you buy your own sim card.  

Whether you’re mapping yourself to a new office for a meeting or ordering a Grab (Singapore’s equivalent to Uber) to avoid any heavy downpours of rain on the way to a business meeting, or gaining access to an office building as a visitor, you’ll find it a hell of a lot easier if you can do it all without relying on WiFi. You can rely on the WiFi across the city if you’d prefer, but for the sake of efficiency and avoiding running into any challenges prior to a business meeting, my recommendation is don’t take any chances and just get yourself a sim— punctuality to business meetings is important in Singapore.   

You can get your sim card from the airport when you arrive, or you can do what I did and get one from any 7Eleven which offers a much better deal. I paid $15 for mine which gave me 100GB of internet for 28 days with a provider called Singtel. 7Elevens are everywhere, so it's highly likely you’ll find one just steps from your serviced apartment in Singapore.  

A 7 eleven in Singaore

Brush up on your office etiquette  

My first two weeks living in Singapore have consisted of meeting a lot of different people, whether that be the Synergy APAC team, visiting our client's offices, or meeting our supply chain partners and their wonderful apartments across the city. To say I have seen a lot of what I read online about office etiquette and life in Singapore come into play here would be an understatement— below are the essentials you’ll need to know when moving to Singapore for business.  

Hierarchy is everything—everyone has a distinct place within businesses in Singapore, and the seniors must always be treated with the utmost respect. The same goes for expats in Singapore. Some tips include: 

  • Always let the person with the highest rank make the initial introduction, let them take the lead at a business meeting and follow suit.  
  • At a business dinner, don’t pick up your cutlery and start eating until the most senior person at the table has done so first. 
  • Avoid giving overtly negative feedback, especially to a senior— saving face is very important in Singapore. 

The handshake is a common greeting, and adding a slight bow will be appreciated. 

Always be on time— punctuality is essential. 

Office wear is your typical western, smart-casual attire, but be sure to check with your company first as some offices prefer to be more formal than others.  

Hello from Synergy's Singapore APAC team!

Business cards are a very important part of doing business in Singapore. You should take and receive the card with both hands and take a few seconds to observe the card. 

Gift-giving is big here. When you present and receive a gift, make sure to do so with both hands. If you are receiving a gift, don’t open the gift until the gift giver leaves.  

Office hours are usually around 9-6pm or 7pm. The Singaporeans are hard workers, but they do also make use of their lunch hour, typically with a large meal. 

Business is typically conducted in English, but be prepared to hear many languages spoken in the office, including Mandarin Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, Malay or Tamil. Due to the mix of cultures in Singapore, you’ll likely also work alongside many Buddhists, Muslims or Christians and should be respectful of any religious standards they practice.   

 “Singlish” is common—and you’ll probably struggle to understand it! One thing that definitely caught me off guard was Singlish (a mixture of English and Chinese/Malay). I had heard of it. I knew what it was. But my goodness did I underestimate how little I would understand. You can brush up on your Singlish here, lah.  

Bring Your Appetite  

So you’ve navigated your first day in the office, you’re feeling a little bit peckish and to your pleasant surprise, you’ve found that Singaporeans love food just as much as you do—seriously, there are an obscene amount of eateries here.  

Serviced accommodations in Singapore are usually fully furnished and come with a fully-equipped kitchen or at least a kitchenette. This is great for anyone looking for that added flexibility to eat in and out as and when they please, but it goes without saying that it’s an absolute must you try the local food as an expat in Singapore. It would be rude not to, right? 

Where to find the best eateries when living in Singapore 

Everywhere. They’re everywhere. On side streets, underground, in shopping malls, dedicated food courts and just about everything in between. You’ll be able to find something for pretty much everyone, and with any budget, within steps from your office or serviced apartment in Singapore.  

Hawker Centres 

If you’re looking to try the local cuisine, your first stop has got to be a hawker centre. These large complexes are full of countless colourful market stalls offering local food—from Chinese to Malay to Indian to Singaporean— at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant. We’re talking whole meals for $5 SGD (£3 GBP/$3.50 USD).  

With so many stalls and food options on offer, it can be difficult to know where to start at a Hawker Centre, but the general rule of thumb is to just join the stall with the largest queue and you’ll be onto a winner. You’ll also find it useful to know that: 

Seating is first come first served, but its commonplace to reserve a seat with a pack of tissue
  • Seating is first come first served, but it's commonplace to reserve a seat with…a pack of tissues. I LOVE this rule. 
  • Hawker centres typically only accept cash 
  • Always place your tray or plate in the designated areas and clean up after yourself. You will also need to be aware of where you leave your tray to respect Islamic halal dietary requirements.  
  • It can get busy and overwhelming for a foreigner, but my advice is to just embrace it in all its colorful madness. 

If you’d feel more comfortable going to a restaurant or a café, fret not because there are hundreds of delicious eateries dotted all around the city, all of which I have of course made full use of during my time here. Some of my favourite restaurants and hawker centres so far include: 

  • People’s Park China Town— hawker centre 
  • Tekka Centre Little India— hawker centre— go on a Saturday to experience it in its full glory 
  • Curry Village— laidback Indian restaurant with river views and an amazing $10 lunch deal 
  • Lau Pa Sat— go after work as it’s not open during the day 
  • Toast Box— easy-going café chain that serves traditional toast, coffee and other traditional food  
  • LeNu Chef Wai’s noodle bar— the best noodles I have ever had. Ever.  
  • 328 Katong Laksa— for a taste of Singapore’s famous Laksa  

So there you have it, the downlow of the essentials of how to best navigate your first week or so living as an expat in Singapore. I sincerely hope this guide has given you some insight, and a dash of excitement, into just how exhilarating it is to live and work in this incredible city— it’s been a truly unforgettable experience so far and I can’t wait to share more about my experience in series three. Stay tuned! 

Check out the next blog in this series here: A Guide to Travelling and Working in Singapore

Synergy Adds Wembley, London to Its Serviced Apartment Portfolio

Synergy continues its global expansion strategy to provide best-in-class temporary living solutions for its clients via a robust mix of owned and partner properties.

London, UK, August 9th, 2022 — Today, Synergy Global Housing (Synergy), a leader in end-to-end serviced accommodation programme management, has announced the addition of new apartments in Wembley Park, one of North London’s most exciting and livable neighbourhoods, following substantial investment into the development of the area in recent years. The announcement comes after a string of similar property commitments made by Synergy over the last 24 months in its bid to further support its global client base.   

The apartments are located in Wembley Park, directly next to the iconic Wembley Stadium, and feature a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom residences. The pet-friendly apartments are spread between two establishments: Synergy @Wembley Madison and Synergy @Wembley Robinson, and boast exceptional facilities designed to promote wellbeing and the utmost productivity for travellers, interns, assignees and families alike. Of note, guests will have access to ample co-working spaces, rooftop terraces, urban parks, schools, nurseries and fitness facilities, with world-class entertainment amenities, restaurants, fashion outlets and everyday essentials just a short walk away.

Apartments will be free of single-use plastics, while the entire development boasts remarkable sustainability features including innovative technology designed to reduce energy and water waste, a sustainable logistics strategy and outdoor areas built using recycled materials.

“Synergy is prioritising sustainable real-estate partnerships which promote guest wellbeing both at home and at work,” said Robert Alley, Executive Vice President, International. “When we provide our guests with the tools they need to live and work comfortably, we’re empowering them to remain productive and get the most out of their business trip. It’s about creating an environment in which our business travellers can thrive, while simultaneously supporting our clients on their journey to net zero. Our apartments at Wembley do just that”.

  • Corporate Housing in London - Synergy Madison Kitchen and Living Area
  • Corporate Housing in London - Synergy Living Space
  • Corporate Housing in London - Synergy Madison Outside
  • Corporate Housing in London - Synergy Madison
  • Corporate Housing in London - Synergy Madison Kitchen Area

Apartment Amenities:

  • Pet-friendly
  • Ample Storage
  • Car-parking
  • Dishwasher
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Smart TVs
  • Generous Balconies
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows with views over Wembley Park
  • Lift Access
  • Welcome package

Location Amenities:

  • Wembley Park underground station is located a five minute walk away
  • Walking distance to the Jubilee and Metropolitan line which offer direct trains to Canary Wharf, The City financial districts and Westminster.
  • Access to a range of essential and entertainment amenities within 5-15 minutes’ walk

The announcement comes after Synergy invested substantially into its operational growth across London, Dublin and Munich earlier this year, marking the company’s seventh property opening in EMEA in just 18 months. Nigel Carter, Director of Development, joined Synergy’s leadership team in late 2021 to drive Synergy’s growth in key client locations via the development of strategic and creative partnerships within the real-estate and serviced apartment sector.

“Synergy has entered into an ambitious phase of operational growth,” said Nigel. “Our strategy is to expand our global presence as, when and where our clients need us to be, with a main focus on providing increased access to sustainable world-class inventory. This groundbreaking approach has proven itself to be highly successful in achieving our clients’ business travel objectives, especially in the most volatile of market conditions. I see it as the future of our industry”.

A leading provider in the serviced accommodation space, Synergy has invested significantly into building its operational presence across Europe over the last 24 months, and currently operates nine different properties across London, Dublin and Munich, on top of its vast global supply chain.

About Synergy Global Housing

Founded in 1999, Synergy is a leading international serviced accommodation provider headquartered in San Ramon, CA, delivering a superior hospitality-driven extended-stay experience to the business travel and mobility industries. Providing best-in-class housing and services to over 2,000 cities in 85+ countries, the company has offices in Singapore, China, India, England, Ireland and multiple locations throughout the United States.

Recognised globally, Synergy’s recent awards include 2022 and 2021 Corporate Housing Provider of the Year from the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM) in the Americas region and the 2021 in EMEA region; 2021 and 2020 Corporate Housing Provider of the Year from the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA);  2020 Corporate Business of the Year from the Association of Services Apartment Providers (ASAP), and the 2022 Best Service Apartment Provider – Regional/Global award from Relocate Magazine.

Synergy is a member of The Ascott Limited (Ascott), a leading international lodging owner-operator based in Singapore. Spanning more than 200 cities in over 30 countries, Ascott’s serviced residence and hotel brands include Ascott The Residence, Oakwood Worldwide, The Crest Collection, Somerset, Quest, Citadines, lyf, Préférence, Vertu, Harris, Citadines Connect, Fox, Yello, Fox Lite and POP!. Ascott is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CapitaLand Investment (CLI), one of Asia’s largest diversified real estate groups headquartered and listed in Singapore and Malaysia. Today, Ascott boasts over 30 years of industry track record and award-winning brands that enjoy recognition worldwide.

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