Singapore Dollar - SGD


While some currencies have been around for several hundred years, we cannot count the Singapore dollar among them. This version of the dollar has only been in use for a few decades, as you will shortly find out.

As is common with other versions of the dollar aside from the one used in America, this dollar is distinguished from the rest by using the letter S in front of the dollar sign. This means it appears as S$ before the amount, so people know it relates to the Singapore version of the dollar. It is also broken into one hundred cents as is normally the case with the dollar currencies.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

In total there are six coins used for this currency, although you may well only see five of them on your travels to the country. The one cent coin is no longer minted and is not legal tender anymore; make sure you are not given it in change as you won’t be able to use it elsewhere. The five dollar coin is quite rare to see in public. The remaining coins that you will use are the 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, and the one dollar coin.

Perhaps surprisingly there are nine banknotes in total that are in circulation. Once again this total is reduced by the three rare notes you may not see while you are in the country. The rarities are the $20, $25 and $10,000 notes. The most frequently used notes are the $2, $5, $10, $50, $100 and $1,000 notes.

From past to present – the history of the Singapore dollar

Singapore has long been a major trading post for this part of the world, so it might come as a surprise to learn the Singapore dollar only came into being in 1967.

Although it was discovered in the 3rd century AD, it would not be until the 14th century that the country really took off as a major trading area. As was more common at the time, various currencies were created by all kinds of traders and merchants. These were coin based and often made from gold or other precious metals and materials. The other currencies used were Spanish dollars and Mexican dollars.

From 1845 onwards a variety of other dollars started to be used in Singapore. These included the Straits dollar, the Malayan dollar and then the Malaya and British Borneo dollar. The status of the country then changed several times in a fairly short period of time, which eventually led to Singapore breaking away from Malaysia and claiming its own independence. Finally in 1967 those in charge in Singapore created the Board of Commissioners of Currency, and the Singapore dollar as we know and recognise it today was finally born. It has been through a few changes and rough times ever since, but it has always remained as the Singapore dollar.

How to get hold of Singapore dollars

You can get Singapore dollars from a bureau de change before you leave home, and indeed it is wise to have at least some of them with you. While you can take and use credit and debit cards on your travels around the country, you will notice that cash still features largely in their society. This means it is good to have some on you at all times. Just be sure not to go overboard and tuck too much into your wallet or purse, just in case you are unfortunate enough to be robbed.

You can also use the cash machines that you will commonly find in cities and towns. It is wise to alert your card issuer prior to travel that you will be going to Singapore, so they don’t stop your card and think it has been stolen. Furthermore don’t be tempted to change your own cash into Singapore dollars in a bank, as they do not tend to offer preferable exchange rates.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Singapore dollar

It is always easy to find out how well – or badly – the Singapore dollar is doing in relation to your own currency. Simply check the latest results on an up to date currency converter. You should have the option to select two currencies – make sure the first one is your home currency and the second one is the Singapore dollar. Then all you have to do is add the amount you want to convert and complete the calculation to get your answer.

If you want to find out more about visiting Singapore it is prudent to look for the most up to date visa information. This and other relevant information can be found on the High Commission of the Republic of Singapore website at

Travelling safely with Singapore dollars

Most people who go to Singapore have a wonderful stay and don’t run into any trouble at all. However it is wise to be aware that petty crimes do take place, particularly in areas popular among tourists. Be careful when carrying your dollars and make sure you don’t carry large amounts with you. Furthermore it is a good idea to keep your dollars in different places. A money belt is an excellent idea to help keep your cash safe too – it is far harder if not impossible to get into one of these as opposed to picking a pocket.

Don’t be put off by this though – most people don’t encounter any problems and for the most part the people who are affected tend to make themselves easy targets. Make sure you are not one of them.

Where to spend your dollars in Singapore – and what to spend them on

One of the great things about Singapore is its size. If you are spending a week or two there you can explore most of what is on offer, allowing you to cherry pick the finest sights and those you want to see the most.

There are truly some sensational sights to see here. For example you can visit the ArtScience Museum, located at Marina Bay Sands. It is easy enough to spot as it takes on the appearance of a lotus flower. Elsewhere there is the Henderson Waves Bridge, a fascinating structure you would think is difficult to walk on at first glance. It really does go up and down in waves, but this is the external part of the structure and the bridge itself is easy and pleasant to walk on.

You should also take the time to visit Pulau Ubin. This is an island just off Singapore and it is easy to reach. It is also known as Granite Island and it gives you a chance to see how Singapore would have been a few decades ago. There are still a few villagers living on the island who still live the way of life preferred back then. You can rent a bike and cycle around the island to appreciate the stillness and surroundings.

When you are in the thick of it in Singapore why not enjoy a Singapore River Experience? This is a popular river ride that takes you to such quays as Robertson Quay, Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, as well as enabling you to see many other sights along the way.

One thing you will soon come to realise about Singapore is that it has a number of smaller islands around its edges. One of the most famous – and certainly one that draws in the tourists – is called Sentosa Island. This is where you will find Universal Studios in Singapore. The island is joined to the main part of the country by the Sentosa Gateway. There is a huge beach on the island, not to mention several other themed areas. These include Imbiah Lookout, featuring everything from nature walks to superb attractions, and Serapong, which boasts resorts and spas among other things. As you can see, you could literally arrive on Sentosa Island and never want to leave to see anything else in Singapore!

If you still have some dollars left after all this, be prepared to sample some of the country’s cuisine. Exploring is certainly fun but hard work and you’re sure to build up an appetite. There are many diverse culinary tastes on offer here, so much so you may wonder what you will encounter next. You will notice Indian, Chinese and Malaysian influences throughout the food depending on where you go.

Among the highlights is chicken rice, a dish you will find all over the place and for good reason too – it is incredibly tasty. Depending on where you go the tastes and flavours can change slightly, but rice, chicken and cucumber are usually the staple parts.

Something a little different you might come across is Bak Kut Teh, which translates into pork rib tea. It sounds odd, we agree, but you will love it. The pork ribs are cooked for ages in a myriad of herbs and spices and it is presented in the thin liquid that comes with it. Try it and be amazed.

Chicken features quite often in the hawker centres and one of the simplest and tastiest things you can spend a few dollars on are chicken wings, beautifully barbecued. They often come with a dip too.

Finally try popiah if you get the chance. This is a roll where various ingredients such as shredded meat and vegetables are held together in a floury casing. Think of a spring roll and you’ll get the idea, although the flavour here is very different.

As you can see you won’t go hungry in Singapore. Indeed you could eat something different every day and never run out of new things to try.


Singapore may appear as a very small state at the foot of Malaysia, but as you can see it has a history and character all of its own. If you ever get the chance to pay a visit, make sure you enjoy spending your dollars on as many different attractions, experiences, tastes and sensations as you can.