Singapore Currency Exchange Guide

Renowned for its glitz and glamour, Singapore has been a top choice for travellers and holidaymakers worldwide. The city is teeming with luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, high-end designer stores, and an unrivalled collection of world-class attractions. From the iconic Singapore Zoo to the breathtaking Gardens by the Bay, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant city-state. And, of course, no visit to Singapore would be complete without sampling the delicious street food. From crispy chicken rice to fragrant laksa, there are endless culinary delights to discover.

General Singapore Currency Information

What is the currency of Singapore?

The official currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD).

What do Singapore notes & coins look like?

singaporean bill

The notes and coins of Singapore are a delight to behold, with their vibrant colours and intricate designs. The notes, which are available in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, $100, $1,000, and $10,000, feature the portrait of the late President of Singapore, Encik Yusof Bin Ishak, to recognize his significant impact on the development of the country.

singaporean coin

The coins of Singapore are also quite distinctive. Denominations include 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 Singapore dollar. All in all, the notes and coins of Singapore offer a glimpse into the rich culture and history of this fascinating country.

Economy

Singapore is one of the world’s most prosperous countries, with a business-friendly regulatory climate and an incredibly low unemployment rate. Despite tough economic conditions worldwide, it remains one of the world’s most resilient economies. With a GDP of $379.07 billion as of 2022, they are 38th in the world in terms of nominal GDP. They have a strong focus on research and development, with the government investing over SGD $25 billion in Research & Development landscape for the next 5 years, starting 2020 up until 2025, to advance their position in the global market.

Brief currency history

The first coins used in Singapore were from different parts of the world. Coins made of silver were the main currency, but copper coins were more popular at street markets. Later, the Colonial Office in London and East India Company approved making copper coins for use only in Straits Settlements. In addition, banks located in Singapore began issuing paper money called banknotes.

The first banknote with the name Singapore printed on it was issued in 1840 by the Union Bank of Calcutta – Singapore branch. For many years, these banknotes were the primary paper currency used by the island’s trading community.

The Board of Commissioners of Currency, Straits Settlements, was created in 1897, and the Straits Settlements dollar was issued for the first time in 1899. The Straits Settlements dollar became the legal tender of the Malay States and British-held territories of Borneo.

The Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya was founded in 1938 when local politicians decided that Singapore, the Straits Settlements, and the Malay States would benefit from a single currency. The distribution of the new currency, the Malayan dollar, began in 1941; however, the Japanese invasion and World War II delayed its implementation. During Japan’s annexation of Malaysia, an alternate currency called “banana notes” was established.

After World War II, the Malayan dollar was reinstated, though certain Straits Settlement banknotes remained legal tender. The Federation of Brunei, Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah, created the Malaya and British Borneo dollar in 1953 by forming a monetary union under the auspices of the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo. Consequently, these coins and notes became the common currency in Southeast Asia’s British territories.

After Singapore’s independence in 1965, the Singapore dollar coins and banknotes were not created, printed, and issued nationwide until 1967 by the Board of Commissioners of Currency. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has allowed the Singapore Dollar to float within an undisclosed range since 1985 to protect against imported inflation and ensure that Singapore’s exports remain competitive. In 2002, the Board of Commissioners of Currency merged with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which has issued Singapore’s currency since then.

Taking Travel Money to Singapore

singaporean travel 2

What currency should I take to Singapore?

If you’re travelling to Singapore, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Singapore dollars (SGD) before you leave. Read our guide on exchanging AUD to SGD here. 

Is it cheaper to convert currency in Australia or Singapore?

Converting the Australian dollar (AUD) to the Singapore dollar (SGD) in Australia is usually cheaper than doing it in Singapore. You’ll likely get a better AUD to SGD exchange rate and won’t have to pay commission fees if you do it before you leave. You’ll also have more time to shop for the best deal.

How much money can I take to Singapore?

If you are planning on bringing physical currency or bearer negotiable instruments (CBNI)* into or out of Singapore that has a total value exceeding S$20,000 (or its equivalent in a foreign currency), you must fill out the Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Report (Traveller) form, also known as NP727.

Where to convert currency?

Crown Currency Exchange is one of Australia’s largest currency exchange companies, with over 20 years of experience. With over 50 convenient locations across Australia, you’re sure to find a Crown Currency Exchange near you. We offer some of Australia’s best foreign currency exchange rates with no commission fees or charges. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can also help you with any questions about exchanging currency. Our stores are located in CanberraSydneyBrisbane, The Gold CoastAdelaideTasmaniaMelbourne & Perth.  

Is tipping customary in Singapore? How much is expected?

Singapore is a very expensive place, and because of that, there is no culture of tipping as you would find in other countries.

Restaurants: A 10% service charge and 7% GST (Goods and Services Tax) are automatically added to your restaurant bill, so there is no need to leave a tip. The same goes for hawker centres – tipping is not customary in these establishments.

Hotels: In Singapore, as with most restaurants, hotels charge a 10% service fee above the room rates. In theory, this should cover the doorman, housekeeping, concierge, and bellhop services, but feel free to offer them a tip if the need arises. Bellhops charge an average of $2 per bag.

Taxis: Singapore taxi fares are calculated by the meter. Some customers like to round up their fares or give an additional $2 to $5 as a token of gratitude when taxi drivers assist them with heavy luggage.

Airport: Although the facilities at Singapore’s Changi Airport are excellent, airport personnel are prohibited from taking tips.

Can you bargain in Singapore?

You probably already know that Singaporeans are among the world’s greatest bargain hunters (some may even refer to them as cheapskates). They will go to great lengths to find a good deal and will wait in line for hours to receive a freebie. In addition, you can get a discount when you buy more than one item because you earn the salesperson more commission and attract new customers to the store. Meaning to say, the shopkeepers are more inclined to give you a better price when you buy in bulk.

What is ATM access like in Singapore?

In Singapore, automated teller machines (ATMs) are conveniently located in and around many retail establishments. All major credit cards, including Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express, should be accepted at ATMs. However, you should still verify this by looking for your card’s logo before inserting your card.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

Planning a budgeted trip to Singapore? With an average daily spend of AUD $80 to $100 per person, you can expect less than AUD $7 on food at Smith Street, Little India, Chinatown, or the hawker centres, AUD $10 a night for a cheap dorm bed at OSS Backpackers Hostel and AUD $12 entrance fee to marvel at the Gardens by the Bay. You can also spend AUD $11 daily with a Singapore Tourist Pass to enjoy unlimited travel on Singapore’s public transit system.

Moderate

If you want to explore and enjoy more of Singapore’s hidden gems, we recommend a moderate daily spend of AUD $160 to $180 per person. With this budget, you can stay at many amazing capsule hotels, such as CapsulePod, KINN Capsule Hotel and Wink Capsule Hostel, have a two-course meal with a glass of wine at hawker centres worth AUD $44, and take a leisurely stroll through the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari at AUD $60. And if you find that you still have some money left over, be sure to pamper yourself with a traditional Singaporean massage at Orchard Road, ranging from AUD $55 to $85.

Luxury

For those who love the finer things in life, we recommend a luxurious daily spend of AUD $300 or more per person. With this budget, you can enjoy a five-course meal at one of Singapore’s Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Odette, Les Amis, and Zén, stay at the Marina Bay Sands, Ritz-Carlton, or Four Seasons hotels, and take a private tour of the island in a chauffeur-driven limousine. If you’re feeling really indulgent, you can even treat yourself to a diamond facial at one of Singapore’s luxury spas!

Currency details

Currency:

Singapore dollar

Currency code:

SGD

Currency symbol:

S$

Central bank:

The Monetary Authority of Singapore

Nickname:

Sing

Currency sub-unit:

Cent = 1/100

Bank notes:

$2, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, $100, $1,000, $10,000

Coins:

1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents. $1, $5

Must-do's while you are in Singapore

singaporean marina bay

1. Go to Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck

Admire the cityscape from one of the world’s most iconic buildings, the Marina Bay Sands. Located in the heart of Singapore, the observation deck on the 57th floor offers stunning views of the city skyline and beyond. The majestic building is also home to a luxury hotel, casino, mall, and theatre.

singaporean city

2. Hop-on, Hop-off tour around the city

Your Singapore trip won’t be complete if you don’t explore the city on a hop-on, hop-off tour. With over 33 stops around Singapore, you can hop on and off the double-decker buses at your own leisure to visit attractions such as Orchard Road, Chinatown, Little India, Marina Bay Sands, and more.

Sentosa singapore

3. Ride the Sentosa Cable Car

For about 15 minutes, you’ll be transported from Sentosa Island to Mount Faber while enjoying the panoramic views of Singapore. The cable car ride is a fun and unique experience you shouldn’t miss while in Singapore.

singapore night safari

4. Tram Ride at Night Safari

Take a tram ride through the Night Safari and see nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. The experience is like none other, as you’ll get up close and personal with lions, tigers, elephants, and more.

singapore universal

5. Visit Universal Studios Singapore

One of the most popular theme parks in Singapore, Universal Studios Singapore, is a must-visit for movie and TV buffs. With around 24 attractions, there’s something for everyone at this world-famous theme park.

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