Thinking of travelling to Singapore? Any other reaction that a resounding yes to your screen now is categorically wrong against the backdrop of this horrible pandemic. I can only assume that by now, you’ve seen the breathtaking pictures of the Singapore skyline and the unique architecture that graces it. From the Esplanade to Gardens by the Bay, and of course, the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel with an infinity pool at its zenith, offering a breathtaking view of the entire city. Talk about being able to ‘explore’ an entire country from a single spot as you bask in the tropical weather while leisurely relish in the cooling water.
Singapore is a “fine” city-state in every sense of the word. Apart from its literal meaning, Singapore has been called the “fine” city, having garnered a reputation for imposing heavy fines for people found of various misdemeanors such as littering or eating gum. Indeed, chewing gum is illegal in Singapore. However, don’t let that scare you away from an otherwise breathtaking experience. Look at this glass half full and you will understand why Singapore is one of the most vibrant and sparkling clean countries there is. Besides, chewing gum will be the furthest thing from your mind as you feast on the Michelin-endorsed street food (check out the Gordon Ramsay Singapore street food challenge on YouTube to get a virtual taste), traverse the endless shopping streets, and partake in the electrifying night scene.
In this modern-day and age, certain apps are used to make life better and easier. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the ‘staple’ apps locals use in Singapore to make their life that much more convenient. Without further ado, let’s dive into the technological masterpieces that Singaporeans can’t live without.
Travelling in Singapore is a completely stress-free experience. To begin with, the city-state is extremely small, being only approximately 725 square meters. Riding in a taxi, you can expect your journey to be under 30 minutes, with only a few exceptions such as travelling from one literal end of the island to the other or an unprecedented traffic jam. Furthermore, the public transport system is remarkably efficient, up-to-date, and spotless, even being heralded by Schroder’s Global Cities Index as having the 3rd best transport system in the world.
You could be forgiven for not having heard of Grab as it has its operations in South East Asia. Grab initially started as a taxi-booking app, but has now transitioned into what they term a “super app” or an “Everyday, Everything” app. Its other functionalities will be discussed below. Grab’s relative unknown is about to change with its impending listing on the NYSE. Adding to its dominance in SEA, Grab was even victorious against Uber, ousting the latter from Singapore. Talk about a SEA powerhouse.
JustGrab is Grab’s trademark taxi hiring offering. Grab also provides a side-by-side comparison of their partnered standard taxis so you can pick from the option with the lower price. Apart from the typical taxi rides you can book through Grab, Grab has several others offerings in the taxi-booking market. For example, GrabShare is an economical alternative to the standard taxi service, being a carpooling service that enables passengers to share a ride and the cost with other passengers travelling in the same direction.
GrabHitch is one such other cheaper option, the premise being that Grab matches private car drivers with prospective passengers that are heading to the same general area around the same time. As GrabHitch is not an on-demand ride service, it is suitable for passengers who are not in a rush for time and are booking their trip in advance. Grab states that passengers taking such rides can save up to 20 – 40% than other taxi options out there.
Other alternatives include GrabCar 6, which allows up to a maximum of 6 passengers and 80kg of cargo weight. Compare this with the 4 passengers allowed on a standard taxi and you get why this option may come in handy. They even offer GrabPet which allows for your beloved pets to go with you on the ride.
While Grab has the dominant market share in Singapore, Gojek is an emerging competitor in the Singaporean taxi market. Gojek is a ride-hailing app hailing (pun intended) from Indonesia, amongst its other offerings, as another self-designated super app. Here’s a pro-tip: price may vary significantly between Grab and Gojek, so make sure to check the prices quoted on both apps before booking your ride.
SBS Transit/Singabus – Bus Timing + MRT
Need a cheaper alternative to taxis? Or maybe you’re curious as to why Singapore’s public transport system has been cited as one of the best in the world. Singapore is home to an amazing public transport system – well connected, extremely clean, relatively cheap. Public transport in Singapore encompasses buses, trains (MRT – Mass Rapid Transit) covering the whole of Singapore and LRTs (Light Rail Transit) in certain areas.
SBS Transit is an app that allows you to track the arrival time of your bus to the minute, allowing you to plan your journey due to its extreme accuracy. By tracking your phone’s location, it can tell you the arrival times of all the relevant buses at all the bus stops near you. Singabus is another app that has similar functionality to SBS Transit. They both have a system map of the MRT to provide an overview of the entire Singapore train system. They also have a journey planner integrated into their app – guiding users on which bus/MRT to take to get from their current location to the destination they have in mind. In the end, both are amazing apps for your daily travels in Singapore and it boils down to a matter of preference.
You’ve spent a long day, sightseeing, shopping, and just downright being amazed by the magnificent country Singapore is. You hit the hotel bed and your stomach starts to grumble. The television shows advertisements of various mouth-watering foods. You can’t take it any longer, the thought of ordering food and munching down in the luxury of your hotel is too much temptation to resist. You wonder how the locals order food in Singapore. Well, look no further (actually, look at the section below).
GrabFood is the food-delivery arm of Grab, and has helped to fill innumerable Singaporeans’ bellies with local delights as well as scrumptious meals from countless restaurants and international franchises. GrabFood is accessible from the same app “Grab” that you book your taxi rides with. Upon confirmation of your order, one of the many riders in the vicinity will confirm your order. Now sit back and relax as your food is brought to you.
FoodPanda is an alternative app to Grab for your hot steaming meals. Apart from a matter of preference, it is noteworthy that certain food operators may appear on one platform or the other. Don’t be shy to download the different apps to better understand which platform and/or interface is more to your liking.
Deliveroo is another such app that provides food deliveries to their customers. However, it differs from GrabFood and FoodPanda in that its selection is catered to more recognized restaurants and more ‘luxurious’ foods if you would. So don’t hop onto Deliveroo and expect to find local hawker offerings on the platform.
Eatigo is an app that provides its users with two benefits. Primarily, it is an app that provides its users with the opportunity to make restaurant reservations at discounted prices. And yet, another subtle benefit is that it introduces various food options to its users. How many times have we asked ourselves and our friends where we should eat? After a long-drawn-out discussion, we end up going to the same old spots anyway. This enables users to find new ideas on places to eat rather than wreck their brains to end up eating at their routine hangs.
Remember when I mentioned that Grab self-professed their app as the “Everyday, Everything app”? This is what I mean. They offer transportation services, food delivery services and even delivery of your groceries! Oh how much we are pampered. Like GrabFood, GrabMart is accessible from the “Grab” app. Simply click on the GrabMart option and be amazed by how far technology has brought us. You will be escorted to a page and shown the various options Grab has to offer and buy all your groceries from the comfort of your hotel.
PandaMart is the division of FoodPanda that you may order your groceries from. Similar to how FoodPanda competes with Grab in the ride-hailing market, PandaMart exists to keep GrabMart honest and competitive. They have different partners and thus different offerings.
While it seems silly to shop from your phone with Singapore lined with numerous shopping malls as well as being home to one of the most famous shopping streets in the world, Orchard Road, there simply are times where you would like to shop from the comfort of your bed. Further, the apps I am about to introduce to you are full of exceptionally cheap products.
If you haven’t seen the advertisement Cristiano Ronaldo stars in for Shopee, you’re missing out tremendously (seriously, give it a watch). Ronaldo dances comically and sings along to the (ridiculously) catchy tune, urging wide-eyed consumers to shop with Shopee. But, that’s beside the point.
Shopee is a shopping app that has a ridiculously large offering to their customers, from shoes to bags, to laptops. It seems like they have everything under the sun, which I’m sure isn’t too far from their goal. Products found in Shopee are priced extremely competitively so make sure you check out Shopee before buying anything for a possibly lower price.
Zalora and Lazada are other options for your online shopping needs. Zalora is primarily an e-commerce platform that offers fashion items for both men and women with their in-house labels. Lazada is similar to Shopee in the sense that they offer a myriad of stuff, with no set niche. Fire up your laptop and search up an item you might be interested to buy on Lazada and chances are, you’ll find it.
To conclude, these are the staple apps local use to make their everyday life that much better in Singapore. When you get the chance, I hope you have a pleasant stay here in Singapore!