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Thread: Singapore.. what I've learned (purely for informational purposes!)

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    Senior Member NeedHoliday's Avatar
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    Singapore.. what I've learned (purely for informational purposes!)

    I've lived in Singapore about 8 months now, and for the most part I've had a Thai GF so haven't really been "playing" as much as I could (even if I could afford it) but here's some information on bars/girls for people who might be passing through though...

    Beer
    If you're just after a drink with your meal, at a local food center/coffee shop you can expect to pay S$5-6 (~B130) for a 660ml beer (Tiger, Heineken, Carlsberg). If you go into town (Central Business District and surrounding area) expect to pay almost double that if it's a bar/restaurant, and triple that if it's a girlie bar. It can vary though - a lot of bars have happy hours or other promotions. I'll talk about Lady Drinks later.

    Bars
    In Singapore I find there are 3 types of bars. The first is a KTV, which is an extremely popular destination for the locals to unwind at. I equate these to something I'd expect in Japan (though seem popular all over Asia) - basically karaoke bars (or supposed to be) where you book a room with friends and sing along to the various local tunes. Of course, the guys go there for the company of the girls that work there, not really for the music KTVs usually come in two flavours - one with mamasan and one without. Mamasan plays a similar role to the one in Thailand, looking after the customers as they enter, making sure they have girls/drinks etc. You're expected to tip the mamasan - I believe around S$20 (a friend paid last time so not too sure), and similar with each girl (S$30-50) depending on how long they stay with you (they butterfly around, usually spending around 15 minutes each time before they go to another table/room). Some girls will stay longer or all night, then you'd expect to tip more as obviously they're not getting money from multiple customers. Drinks at KTV are usually jugs/towers of beer or bottles of liquor - usually at a slight premium price as they cover the cost of the table/room too (S$180 for a bottle of Chivas, Martell etc, S$30-50 for a jug of beer, S$70-90 for a tower). If you do have a few girls in your room, you can expect it to get raunchy (since you're going to tip them more). You can take a girl out to your hotel if you like, though expect to pay S$150+ for ST and I can't even imagine what LT would cost (probably S$300-400 or more). Most KTV are around Geylang (the legalised red-light district) though they are really all over the city.

    The next bar is your typical Freelancer bar. You'll find a lot of these at Orchard Towers (4 floors of whores), usually a mixture of Thai (LBs), Vietnamese, and Filipinos. Drinks in these bars aren't too bad - S$5-10 for a mug of beer, S$20-30 for a Lady Drink, but it depends on the type of bar. FL bars the girls either work for tips (expect a lot of hanky panky inside the bar - groping etc, though rare for sexual acts as you'd be in deep trouble) or are there to be taken away for ST (anywhere from S$100-300 depending on how gullible you are/look). The other bars, usually Filipino bars, are *incredibly* expensive for drinks - in some places you're talking S$15 for a 330ml beer, and S$50 for the girl's drink (depending on drink type, can be S$100+++). Those places the girls essentially work for drinks instead of tips, hence the price difference in comparison to FL bars as they get a bigger cut of the drink cost. It's like a token system for them - a beer might be one token, shots of tequila two tokens, fancy cocktail three tokens etc, so you can equate a token to a typical end cost to you in most cases (i.e. avoid fancy drinks!). In those bars it will usually cost to take the girl out of the bar. Overall, foreigners/tourists will get gouged in Orchard Towers without a doubt.

    The other bar is a more relaxed version of KTV, more like a pub. It's a mixture, usually referred to as Hang Flower Joints. Basically its a bar with live entertainment (usually Thai band/singers). Here you tip the singers with flowers (leis) - each flower can cost S$10, S$50, S$100 or even S$500 and I believe they get the full amount from the sale. If you tip a singer, once their set is done they'll often come thank you and have a drink with you (your beer or liquor). Whilst the singers perform, you'll find lots of FLs wandering around trying to engage you (in my experience usually Viets). If a girl sits with you and spends time with you, you're expected to tip when you leave. Like the KTV joints this can be anywhere from S$20-50 for their time (which may be entirely with you, or butterflying with other customers). You can always arrange to take these girls to a local hotel for ST if you like, again can vary between S$100 and S$300 depending on how much they feel they can gouge you for. Most hotels around Geylang will have hourly rates (Hotel 81 has a huge chain).

    Sex
    In Singapore it is legal to pay for sex (so you won't get in trouble for taking a girl to a hotel), but they are not allowed to advertise for it and it cannot be their only source of income (and a few other misc rules to avoid it being too public). There are legalised brothels in Geylang (one side of the main road, essentially the even numbered Lorongs), which are basically houses/shops where for varying prices (based on the quality of girls) you can spend 30mins-1hr with a girl of your choosing. They basically fall into categories - Cat50 (S$50) are usually the 30min Thai 'fishbowl' joints, then Cat100 (S$100) would be your local PRCs (Chinese), and then Cat150 the upper end of the scale for some truly stunning girls. In and out, no messing around. Outside of the legal area you'll still find girls hanging on the streets, but it will be rare for them to approach you as they cannot offer their services legally. It's still very popular to take a FL off the street, especially if you're into ladyboys, as they usually do it at much cheaper rates. I've been drinking with friends near where a lot of the FLs hang out and it's pretty funny watching the streets literally empty as a cop car patrols - they seem to have people on the inside that get alerted and then *poof* they're gone, to return an hour or so later all at once.


    When I go out though it's usually to a Hang Flower Joint around Geylang, as you can have good clean fun with the girls and the live entertainment isn't too bad. I avoid Orchard Towers (or the nearby Lucky Plaza - which is basically a Filipino mall) purely because of the cost - it's where the tourists go and where the rich local CEOs/management will go to unwind, and it seems to drive the prices up (as well as the attitudes of the girls).

    If you're really missing Thailand then the Golden Mile Complex is 'little Thailand' in Singapore. Basically a big mall that is 100% Thai run - food, clothes, music etc (though you will still find local Singaporeans working there). They have a LOT of Thai bars - something like 5-6 discos (hang flower joints) and easily 10+ bars (KTV or just girls working for tips). I find the prices somewhere between Orchard Towers and Geylang, depends on the place. Since they're mostly Thai girls though it is fun to talk about Thailand with them though as you'll hear a lot of common stories. The girls are usually here on 3 month VISAs and aren't supposed to work, but various loopholes seem to allow them to (or they just risk it).

    If I think of other bits I've missed or if anyone has any questions I'll update it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    how about everyday living?

    cost of apartment, ability to make friends, transit

    food costs

    I was discussing a job with a hedge fund in Singapore. It was a very good job but i would have had to work North American hours, which also meant having to work Friday Nights.
    So i decided not to pursue that

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    Very informative read. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I havent been to singapore for 7yrs, i'm sure a lot has changed in that time.
    Money can't buy love but it can rent a pretty close imitation.

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    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
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    yeah good stuff NH some decent info in there....the last few times I have been in Singapore I have timed it to arrive Saturday night and then get up Sunday morning and visit the mall for breakfast...met some cracking philippina birds in there who get Sundays off and are only too happy to be taken around for a bit and swim in the hotel pool 555

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    A good read that, and wouldn't disagree with any of it, I've spent quite a bit of time in Singapore, few weeks at a time with work, not sure I could imagine living there permanently with the cost of living though. One of my favourite places for a short stay though.

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    Senior Member NeedHoliday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    how about everyday living?

    cost of apartment, ability to make friends, transit

    food costs

    I was discussing a job with a hedge fund in Singapore. It was a very good job but i would have had to work North American hours, which also meant having to work Friday Nights.
    So i decided not to pursue that
    Cost of living is supposed to be expensive, but it really depends on how you like to live (like most places). Coming from London, in my situation, I'd say it is cheaper for me to live here.

    Food Costs
    I live in Toa Payoh, which whilst somewhat central it's not in the CBD (Central Business District), so prices are "normal" when you go out to eat. I almost never cook myself, I just don't see the point when the local food center/hawkers are so cheap. A typical meal and soft-drink will set me back around S$5 (2.50, B120). The same in London would cost me triple that, and it's not far off Thailand prices.

    Of course if you go to restaurant then expect to pay more just like anywhere else in the world, but the ratio of cost is about the same if you use the above as a starting point.

    Accommodation
    This is probably my biggest spend. Right now I'm sharing a 3-bedroom condo with 2 Filipino guys (who are hardly here so I seem to have the place to myself!). We pay around S$1350 each for our rooms (one guy pays more since he has en-suite bathroom), and honestly this is a bargain for the area and the condo (less than a year old, swimming pool, gym, tennis court etc). I had considered getting my own place if I ever settled down, but for now this is easier. If you wanted to rent your own 1-2 bed condo expect to pay around S$3000-6000 depending on location and age of the property. If you're not fussed about condo amenities you can rent "local" housing, or HDBs. HDBs are basically blocks of flats that the locals live in. They are built by the government and residents/citizens can rent/buy them at very low prices, so really good value if you live here. Quality is extremely good - don't be thinking they're like council estates in the UK (or whatever similar government housing you may have back home), they really are very decent places to live! My friend once said I could probably rent a 3 bed HDB for around S$1800 - so literally half the cost or more of a condo.

    If you're on a good salary (read: management level) then you can obviously spend more - a lot of the rich expats will buy landed housing in the expat areas, but the prices there are just ridiculous. If you have the money to burn though, or if the company is paying, go for it!

    Travel
    Singapore is relatively small, about the same size as London - so it was easy to compare travel costs for me. Oh my god.. compared to London it is heaven 555... Taxis will NOT rip you off - they are all metered and the cost is extremely good value. I usually get a cab from the airport to my condo, which takes around 20 minutes and will cost me about S$17 (8.00 or B400). In Singapore, all travel costs are based on distance travelled.

    The MRT (underground) is very cheap. The same journey from the airport would cost be about S$2.. just not worth arguing with that! Sure it'd take 2-3 times as long as there are quite a few line changes, but if you're not in a hurry then you can save a fortune on taxi fares. The majority of workers here use the MRT as having a car/bike on the road is very expensive (they WANT people to use public transport to prevent road congestion).

    Buses are equally as cheap and fairly regular (5-10 minute wait). Again they are distance based, so work out about the same prices as the MRT.

    You can get an 'ezcard' (like an Oyster card for London people) that is an RFID touch and go pass that works on MRT and buses, and will even track against different transport (so you can hop on the bus to an MRT station, travel across Singapore, get another bus, and in the end you'll still only be charged for the distance you travelled).

    Friends/family etc
    Singapore must be something like 90% Chinese, though a lot will be local Singaporean born here. The next big chunk would be from Bangladesh, most often hired as cheap labour (building work, cleaning, etc), then the remainder are probably from Asia/Westerners. Everyone speaks English though so not hard to communicate, but outside the CBD you'll find it harder to have everyday conversations with the locals. I've got a few western friends and a few local friends (Chinese), and the western friends tend to come from a background of moving out here with their family (usually their company relocates them). My local friends have a different lifestyle - work long hours and spend evenings at the coffee shop with their "uncles" drinking beer all night. For a single guy (well not exactly, but living here alone) it's probably harder than having a family here and settling down, but it's perfect for me really as I wanted to see more of Asia anyway, so I plan to use Singapore as a stepping stone to countries I've not visited yet. The Thai GF makes it a bit awkward for me to have girl-friends but she can't get a VISA to live here as we're not married, and a work VISA for foreigners is hard to come by (like Thailand they prefer to hire locals), so I'm stuck visiting her when I can. I'd love to settle down here with her though, Singapore is great for families and children, especially if you are earning good money (read: working for a multinational company).

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeedHoliday View Post
    If you're really missing Thailand then the Golden Mile Complex is 'little Thailand' in Singapore. Basically a big mall that is 100% Thai run - food, clothes, music etc (though you will still find local Singaporeans working there). They have a LOT of Thai bars - something like 5-6 discos (hang flower joints) and easily 10+ bars (KTV or just girls working for tips). I find the prices somewhere between Orchard Towers and Geylang, depends on the place. Since they're mostly Thai girls though it is fun to talk about Thailand with them though as you'll hear a lot of common stories. The girls are usually here on 3 month VISAs and aren't supposed to work, but various loopholes seem to allow them to (or they just risk it).
    Thanks for all the indepth info. Does anyone know about the scams they pull on TGs to work in Singapore? My fav TG said she was thinking of working in Singapore, she said she knew someone who could get her a visa for 2 years, she only had to do 150 STs for them, then the rest of the money she earnt was hers. I told her it sounded like a scam and don't do it, plus I would like 150 STs as well ...

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    thanks
    good info
    something i i am interested in for tax purposes, possibly a few years down the line

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    Senior Member NeedHoliday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bawdy View Post
    Thanks for all the indepth info. Does anyone know about the scams they pull on TGs to work in Singapore? My fav TG said she was thinking of working in Singapore, she said she knew someone who could get her a visa for 2 years, she only had to do 150 STs for them, then the rest of the money she earnt was hers. I told her it sounded like a scam and don't do it, plus I would like 150 STs as well ...
    That does sound extremely dodgy. Any non-tourist VISA has to be approved by MoM (Ministry of Manpower) and they are meticulous with foreigners applying for VISAs, especially with girls from Thailand - they're not stupid. I imagine that type of scam would be based on a 3 month tourist VISA, where the girl gets "used" for 3 months and then gets shipped back.

    They do come here for better money though, but I'm not convinced it really is in the end. The Thai girls I know come on a 3 month tourist VISA and have accommodation/limited living costs paid for by an "agency" (basically a pimp). The agency lines up the punters for around S$100-150 (1hr) and I think the girls get about half the money. That's like about B1500 for a ST session? So it must be about quantity compared to what they can get back home, but that surprises me as the girls I see here are very beautiful and I find it hard to imagine they couldn't pull in the punters back in Thailand. Maybe it's just easier for them doing it here, but extremely risky.

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    ^ Thanks for that, yeah, def a scam and I am sure she said she could get a 2 year visa and not just the usual 3 month, but that may be part of the scam as well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Lots of good info there, I was in Singapore briefly in 2002. My first place in Asia to visit and it was a real easy place to go to. Like you said no problem finding people that speak English, easy to get around but expensive. Nice airport too. My first TG experience was an Orchard Towers FL too.

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    Senior Member WarProfiteer's Avatar
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    The info is much appreciated, NH... I am back to looking for work, hoping for the Middle East, but if not I'm looking to stay in SE Asia... have looked at some Singapore jobs, but having visited there about 9 months ago, I always feel it'll be too expensive. And I'm not seeing many full expat pkgs being offered.

    I thought the place was uber clean, modern, attractive, lots of fun things to do, but very very very expensive... we had a lunch at a chain restaurant (Chilis, I think); a pitcher of margarita mix and two entree's... the bill was more than $100USD. I come from a lower cost area in the states, so that meal would've been less than half of that if I were home. Maybe as low as 1/3rd.

    Didnt hit Orchard Towers as I had the she-wok with me... it wasnt that kind of vacation.

    The people working at the Thai Embassy were by far the fussiest I've ever encountered. I barely got my visa... took 2 friggin trips to the hotel & back for other sh!t they were asking for. And there was zero attempt at politeness... in fact, I'd say they were straight up rude. Not totally unusual for a govt office, I know, but compared dealing with the other offices in the region they're by far the most demanding, confrontational & nit-picking.

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    What a good sum up of Singapore. 555..

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