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The currency is Singapore dollars , usually written simply as $, though we have used S$ throughout in order to distinguish from US dollars. The Singapore dollar is divided into 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of S$1, S$2, S$5, S$10, S$20, S$50, S$100, S$500, S$1000 and S$10,000; coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and S$1. The current exchange rate is around S$2.50 to £1, S$1.65 to US$1. Singaporean dollars are not accepted in Malaysia, but are legal tender in Brunei.

Daily necessities like food, drink and travel are marginally more expensive in Singapore than in Malaysia. But with budget dormitory accommodation in plentiful supply, and both food and internal travel cheap in the extreme, you'll find it possible to live on a daily budget of less than £10/US$16. Upgrading your lodgings to a private room in a guest house, eating in a restaurant and having a beer or two gives a more realistic budget of £20/US$32 a day. Bargaining is de rigueur in Singapore, especially when shopping or renting a room for the night - it's always worth trying to haggle, though note that you don't bargain for meals.

Sterling or US dollar travellers' cheques can be cashed at Singaporean banks, licenced moneychangers and some hotels. Major credit cards are widely accepted in the more upmarket hotels, shops and restaurants, but beware of the illegal surcharges levied by some establishments. Banks will often advance cash against major credit cards; moreover, with American Express, Visa and Mastercard, it's possible to withdraw money from automatic teller machines (ATMs) in Singapore - get details from your card company before you leave home. For lost or stolen travellers cheques or credit cards contact: Visa and Master Card tel 345-1345; American Express tel 2998133; Diners Card tel 2944222.

Banking hours are generally Monday to Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday 11am-1pm, outside of which you'll have to go to a moneychanger in a shopping centre , or to a hotel. No black market operates in Singapore, nor are there any restrictions on carrying currency in or out of the state. This means that rates at moneychangers are as good as you'll find at the banks.

Wiring money - which can take anything from two to seven working days - incurs a small fee in Singapore and a larger one back home. You'll need, first, to supply your home bank with details of the local branch to which the money should be sent, after which it'll be issued to you upon presentation of some form of ID.

Edit by: DougW
East Timor
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