PowerShell Conference Asia 2015 – Get-Here: Travel Tips

As the PowerShell Conference draws closer, people have been asking a number of travel questions, so we wanted to share some travel tips. This information will appear as a page on http://powershell.asia very soon and will be updated but in the meantime this should be very useful. Please feel free to contact us on the email address below for anything travel related – whether you have a question, you’re sharing a good deal you have found, a good tip, just letting us know where we are staying or any feedback whatsoever, we would love to hear from you!

If you’ve never been to Singapore, here’s some information to help you plan your stay.
Questions? Contact PSConfAsiaTravel@singaporepowershell.org.

Note: All prices quoted below are in Singapore Dollars (SG$). Convert…

Emergency Numbers

Police emergency number is 999. For other numbers, see http://www.e101.gov.sg/learn_contacts.html

Hotels and Accommodation

Book early!

NOTE: The Formula 1 Grand Prix coincides with the conference. Because it’s held at the city centre, to avoid tourists and blocked roads, you might want to select a room a bit outside of the centre.

  • To keep costs to a minimum, avoid hotels in the city area. It’s easy to get around in Singapore, so you don’t need to stay near the venue.
  • Chinatown is cheaper and it is near the city, so you’ll be surrounded by foods and other amenities.
  • Check out the low-budget hotel chains, including Fragrance Hotel (http://www.fragrancehotel.com/) and Santa Grand Hotel (santagrandhotels.com ).
  • Hotel 81 has a bad reputation for being seedy and “by the hour,” but if you avoid the ones in the Geylang and Joo Chiat red light districts and in Chinatown, they can be just fine.
  • June Blender loves the Wanderlust Hotel, a quirky boutique hotel surrounded by great Indian restaurants.
  • Adventurous? Try Airbnb, com, and Agoda.com. Look for good deals in the Orchard area behind Lucky Plaza.

Formula 1 Grand Prix

PowerShell Conference 2015 Asia coincides with the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the only night race in the world where parts of the city centre are transformed into the race track. Microsoft is at the heart of the city centre and very close to the roads used in the race, so if you travel to the office by taxi, you might be detoured around closed roads.

The night race takes place on Sunday after our event ends, but qualifying and practice races are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. You might be able to see and hear some of the activity from the Microsoft building. City Centre hotels will be heavily booked and priced up so it is advised to stay a little outside of the city if possible. There will be a larger than average number of tourists in the area during the weekend also.

Even if you are not a Formula 1 fan, stay an extra night and go to the race. The atmosphere is really enjoyable and there is lots of other entertainment going on. The race itself is exciting under the night lights of Singapore. It’s not to be missed!

Mind your manners!

  • When riding escalators in Singapore, stay to your left. The right side of the escalator is for people need to run up or down in a hurry.
  • Downtown Singapore has taxi stands. If there’s one nearby, queue up at the stand. It is not polite to hail a taxi near a taxi stand.

Taxis

Singapore is small, so you can get everywhere by taxi. The Microsoft office is in the Central Business District and easy to find. It is best known as “NTUC Centre”. Taxis from wherever you are to Microsoft should cost no more than $15-$20.

Booking a taxi is easy in Singapore. Call them or download apps, such as GrabTaxi and ComfortDelGro Taxi Booking. The apps identify your location automatically, which can come in handy for visitors. When you book a taxi, they give you a number, which is displayed in lights on the taxi roof.

Need a recommendation? Use Comfort Taxi. Call 6552 1111 or install their ComfortDelGro Taxi Booking app from your favorite app store.

Taxi drivers in Singapore are very reliable. You don’t need to worry about getting taken on a long ride or being ripped off with mysterious additional charges. However, be aware of the complex mandatory, but legitimate, charges. Save yourself the potential embarrassment caused by questioning them.

  • ERP: Fare levied when entering city areas. Charges vary by day and time.
  • Peak hour charges: 135% typical fare on Mon – Fri 6:00 AM to 9:30 AM, Mon – Sat 6:00 PM – midnight.
  • Midnight charges: 150%: Midnight – 6:00 AM.
  • Booking fees: To reserve a taxi, use http://www.taxisingapore.com/ – Please use the link above for contact numbers for booking cabs. Booking fee is $2.50 during off peak hours, $3.50 during peak hours.

All taxis charge the same rate except for white Mercedes cabs, which charge slightly more (negligible for short distances) and black Chrysler cabs , which can be very expensive, starting from $65 per journey!

Public Transport

The Microsoft office is a short walk from the Raffles Place MRT station.

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is the subway or metro system. It’s safe, clean, and easy to find due to the excellent directional signs throughout the city. You can also use city buses. To find MRT routes and times, download the Singapore Transit app. This app does not need a data connection.

For buses, download the SBS Transit app.

If you plan to take public transport often, buy an Ezylink card at any MRT information counter. You can use the card on MRT and buses.

NOTE: Remember the elevator rule. Stay to the left unless you’re moving.

Foods and Beverages

Foods sold by vendors at hawker centers and food courts are clean, safe, and delicious, since they are heavily regulated by the government. If you’re nervous, square signs with each vendor’s hygiene grade (A = cleanest – D = Not clean) is posted on their walls. Stick with grades A and B.

When dining at restaurants, remember that prices on the menu are never the final amount. Your bill will include a 10% service charge and 7% GST.

Alcoholic drinks are heavily levied (taxed). Beers are $10-20, depending on the make of the beer and the location.

Coffee and tea

Singapore has excellent coffee. While you’re here, try the local coffee from Toast Box, Ya Kun and Wang’s. They’re interesting and inexpensive, 80c to SG$1.50, much cheaper than Starbucks (which is available throughout Singapore).

NOTE: By default, local coffee in Singapore comes with condensed milk. If you don’t want it, be sure to tell them.

To sound like a local, here’s the lingo:

  • Kopi/teh – black coffee/black tea with condensed milk
  • Kopi/teh C – black coffee/black tea with evaporated milk and sugar
  • Kopi/teh O – black coffee/black tea and sugar
  • Kopi/teh O kosong – black coffee/black tea with no sugar

Extra instructions:

  • Less sweet – siew dai
  • Stronger – gao
  • Cold/iced – peng

How do you order iced coffee with milk and less sugar? Kopi Si Peng Siew Dai. Try for yourself and go nuts.

Questions? Post them here or send mail to: PSConfAsiaTravel@singaporepowershell.org

Please monitor http://powershell.asia for the Travel page with updated information.

Thanks to June Blender at SAPIEN Technologies Inc. for formatting this post.

About the author: Matthew Hitchcock

Matt is a 2 year PowerShell MVP with 15+ years Microsoft Platform experience. He is currently working as a Consultant at Microsoft, delivering projects on Azure, Office 365, Private Cloud and Enterprise Mobility. Matt is the co-founder of the Singapore PowerShell User Group.

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