The modern traveller knows there is no need to carry various maps, train schedules, and a hefty guidebook. After all, there are a whole host of mobile phone applications that cater to just about every possible scenario. And Singapore may just be the perfect place to start practicing your techy-traveller skills. The government alone has pushed out 1600 WIFI hotspots so far, and just a few weeks ago, a dedicated WIFI zone was launched in tourist hotspot Chinatown.
If you're planning a visit to Singapore, check out these five free apps that are bound to help you out.
The name of this app, a lexicon of Singlish, means 'where should you go when you're hungry?' You can search by location, cuisine type, name of restaurant, or for different occasions. It includes everything from Michelin restaurants to hawker centres, and even various branches of chain restaurants can be found. Simply look at the overall number of stars each establishment has, and counter-check against reviews left by those who have patronized the place. A good gauge is to see how the recent reviews make the place out to be—a 4-star restaurant that suffered a drop in standards in recent months might not have its overall ranking pulled down yet, or a 3-star café that revived its menu might be gaining a following but is still affected by older reviews. Their app also collects information from diners on how much they spent and the must-tries in the restaurant, so it is easy to budget and plan your order. Whether you are intent on planning your gastronomy adventure and making reservations in advance, or just making a last minute search for a highly recommended dinner place, this app will come in handy.
If you're the sort of person who hunts for hotel deals while on the go, check out the AsiaRooms app, which recently made the Apple App Store's list of 'Best New Apps.' Doing important research on your mobile device can be tricky, but the updated app makes checking hotel reviews and prices a breeze. No matter if you are on a squeezy morning bus on the way to work, or boarding the plane for a spontaneous getaway, the app is designed for the busy, multi-tasking traveller who also wants a great hotel room. Spontaneous souls can score great last minute hotels; early birds can kick-start their vacation excitement by booking hotel rooms up to a year in advance, especially with the 'book-now-pay-later' feature. The instant confirmation also really comes in handy if there is a deal you want to snap up.
A common traveller fear is getting lost. Sometimes, all the online research and all the maps you consult still leave you baffled. GoThere.sg is shows you the various ways to get to your destination (a train then a bus, or a bus then a walk, etc.), the journey time, and costs. It even prompts you to just walk to your destination if it's just a short distance away.
Iris is the acronym for Intelligent Route Information System. Essentially, it tracks the arrival timings, routes, and operating hours of buses under one of Singapore's two major bus service providers, SBS Transit—easily identifiable by the red and white bus exteriors. The app is useful for instances when you have a choice of two or more buses to take, as it allows you to check which one will arrive first. It also shows you the itinerary of bus stops, so it's handy when you are counting stops and need a guide. In the event of any delays, the app also sends a notification on the cause and how long the wait is expected to be.
You can always call for a taxi in Singapore, but the insider tip is to use the Taxi Booking app, which is much faster. A traveller caught in the rain trying desperately to grab a taxi so he can make his flight would be better off booking through the app. Simply enter your mobile number and pick-up point. If you are not sure where exactly you are, there is always the 'location services' option which can detect your location. The app will give you the license plate number, location, and estimated time of arrival of your taxi once a booking is successfully made, so you can track the progress of your taxi. Hailing a cab this way is usually faster than over the phone, as there is no need to wait for a free operator to pick up the call. It is a godsend for peak hours or rainy days, which often see a half an hour wait before hotline operators to get to your call. Tip: the standard booking charge, same as if you were to book over the phone, applies.