What to bring to Singapore (even if you have to leave a kid behind)


Primarily this is for my friend N, who is crazy enough to be moving here.  This is my fairly biased (please feel free to tell me how wrong I am, what I forgot, etc) list of what to bring to Singapore with you, even if it means leaving a kid behind (although then you lose their luggage allowance, so there’s that).

I’m trying to organize by room, so we’ll see how this goes…


  • Food  (this is based on what I miss and will be stocking up on when I go home)

    • Shake N Bake (all flavors but the spicy kind)
    • Twinkies and other assorted Hostess type snack foods
    • Your favorite candy, unless it’s M&M’s or Kit Kats, as they’re pretty cheap and widely available…all other candy is either hard to find or marked up to a RIDICULOUS price
    • Grape Jam (you can now get grape jelly, but I maintain it’s TOTALLY different)
    • Jiffy Muffins and other mixes by Jiffy
  • Appliances/other crap

    • Kitchen Aid Mixer (yes, you can buy them here for about 2-3x as much as you paid for yours…and let’s face it, it wasn’t cheap the first time) –SHIP IT if you’re doing that, tho
    • If you have any favorite pans (I have Williams Sonoma Goldware and am a huge baker so I wasn’t leaving them behind)–but you can easily replace this if you’re less picky/whatever about it–ship them if you’re doing that, tho.
    • Kids favorite plates/cups (Ellie is nuts about Elmo and there are NO Elmo plates to be found here)
    • Sippys if anyone is still using them (and get a huge back up supply…I’ve yet to find a good no-spill sippy here

Living Room

  • DVD’s, in binders.  It saves a TON of space to not have the plastic casings.  But save the plastic casings as you’ll eventually want them.  If you’re going to ship stuff, ship the plastic casings…I miss ours.  But every time I go home, to save space and maximize weight, I buy a new binder and new dvds.
    • With Kids, you ESPECIALLY want to load up on Kai Lan (not popular here) and other random nick/pbs shows.  You can easily find Dora, Barney, Elmo (and Sesame Street), Mickey’s Playhouse, Super Why and Word World DVDs here.  Occasionally I’ll see a Backyardigans dvd, but they’re rare here.
  • Favorite books you can’t bear to part with (especially kids)–But ship the majority if you’re doing that
  • Pictures that you need to help make your home feel like your home…well wrapped in bubble wrap (Ship them if you’re doing that)



  • Medication/Medicine Cabinet/Bathroom Cabinet stuff

    • Children’s Liquid Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin (you can get them, but only with a prescription here…easier to bring it from home)
    • F degree thermometer and a backup (because I still don’t feel comfortable figuring out if E has a fever using degrees C, and I’m too damn stressed in the moment to bother to use an online converter)
    • OTC Allergy meds like Zyrtec
    • Good OTC Cold Medication (Aleve Cold and Sinus)–you can only get Sudafed here, and only by prescription…my serious colds laugh at Sudafed
    • Any herbal supplements you feel strongly about (they’re available here, but not always screened as carefully as US shipments are)
    • Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Acetometaphin in whatever version you love (again, it’s prescription and who has time to go to a doctor for menstrual cramps).  You can get panadol here, which is acetometaphin, but I find the giant bottle from Target to be cheaper
    • Childrens Flouride-Free toothpaste and kid sized toothbrushes (I sometimes see kid toothbrushes but not often, I think)
    • If you feel strongly about your deoderant, stock up
    • Bath Pillows (I found mine at Bed Bath and Beyond)
    • Shower curtain rings (you can find rods, you can find curtains, but the rings are often hard to find)
    • Nail Polish (particularly if you like OPI…$8 USD, or $30 SGD)
    • Other Makeup (especially if you like nicer brands)…there’s sephora here and dept stores have bobbi brown etc counters, but it’s super pricey comparitively
    • If you feel strongly about your shampoo/conditioner (I use a specific salon brand and it’s impossible to get here, so I always stock up/make people from home send me more)
    • Goody hair elastics and other hair nonsense for you and the kids
  • Other
    • If you are picky about thick bath towels, buy them in the US.  You can easily find bathtowels here, bu there are no super thick egyptian cotton, supima cotton, or big bath sheet options.  I’m a giant baby and care deeply about this.


  • Clothes/Shoes
    • Summer stuff in their current size and at least the next size up.  They’ll mostly live in shorts and tanks with flip flop/sandals.  Personally I LOATHE SG kid’s clothing as do most of my expat friends (and some non-expat friends).  Almost all of us are having clothes sent to us or buying in advance when home.  GO HEAVY on swimwear…E has 4-5 swimsuits and goes through them regularly.
    • Other season stuff if you think it’s necessary for travel (Hong Kong has seasons and is only a 2 hour plane ride away, for example…and has a disneyland) or ship it/have friends send it if needed
  • Toys
    • You can get Barbie, Disney Princess Crap, etc here.  BUT if they’re into a specific show like Sesame Street…Elmo is really hard to find, as are many specific show related merchandise.  Even Dora is a bit thin on the ground here.  Hello Kitty is in abundance.  (She has girls, I have a girl…I know nothing about “boy” stuff…sorry).
  • Bedding
    • IF you are shipping beds, you’ll need linens as bedding is sized differently here.  Or you can buy a bed here and buy local bedding.  Your call.


  • Clothing
    • Clothing is sized strangely here if you have a “Western” body (ie boobs, hips, etc) and god help you if you’re plus sized.  There are a few plus sized stores, but they’re all a bit too hip and young for me, bluntly.  Stock up on your current size and have a few pieces one or two sizes in each direction.  I  know I lost weight easily when we first arrived but eventually it came back.  If you plan on a pregnancy, bring maternity wear unless you too are a skinny girl who only grows a basketball belly when pregnant.  Same for your husband
      • Be prepared for Singapore’s far more casual take on life.  There are no (to my knowledge) tie and jacket restaurants.  The closest I’ve seen is a business casual dress code.  Flip flops are far more often worn than sneakers.  Your heels will be happier if they’re not leather or have some breathing options.  Leave the cute knee high boots at home.
  • Bedding
    • See above comment, especially if you’re shipping a large bed, like a King (which is almost unheard of here)


Ask yourself what you really can’t live without…and ship it. 


Keep in mind that very little is irreplaceable here, and as long as you’re willing to ship off things like oddly flavored Pringles and “Singapore is a very FINE city” t-shirts, most friends will be willing to send you those chips you love or that thing you want from Target.  Plus you’ll make local friends who travel home and are generally happy to pick something up for you.

Side note…I know N doesn’t have babies…if you do, please look below

  • Pack N Play–the airline won’t count it as a bag.  You’ll need it until your shipment arrives with the crib
  • Car seat
  • any baby crap that you love and can ship, do it.  Exersaucers, bouncy seats, cribs, swings are all a FORTUNE here and most of the well-reviewed companies in Baby Bargains and by Consumer Reports aren’t available here.  I hauled all my graco crap.
  • Your stroller(s)…not all brands are available here and the ones that are are marked up a fortune
  • clothes
  • shoes

Feel free to ask questions and we can keep the dialogue going!

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19 Responses to What to bring to Singapore (even if you have to leave a kid behind)

  1. bookjunkie says:

    this is absolutely fascinating. Loved your list and I am sure many people will benefit from it.

    Really makes me think about the price differences for certain products.

    • Crystal says:

      There are some price differences that blow my mind. My poor friends back home were forced to play “guess how much this costs in SG” as we walked through Target. You get used to the high costs and then suffer reverse sticker shock back home.

  2. I love this!! Thanks so much. I have taken many notes and have my target list almost ready to go!

    • Crystal says:

      Just remember we’ll be home in the US your first few weeks here, so feel free to give a yell about that thing you forgot :). Happy to repay your kindnesses.

  3. Dawn says:

    Be aware that some of that children’s liquid medicine is currently unavailable due to various recalls. 😦 (The only place we found benadryl, for example, was at Target, and it was Target brand.)

    • Crystal says:

      Yeah–all my baby/kids “Tylenol” is actually target or cvs brand. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. DT says:

    Look out for the bigger branches of Guardian, Watsons & Unity which comes with a ‘pharmacy’ counter manned by a qualified ‘pharmacist’.

    You will be able to get Zyrtec, Clarinese, Nurofen, Oracort, etc through them w/o an actual prescription.

    The strictly-controlled items are actually the antibiotics-based or deadlier/ more potent meds.

    Just remember to approach the pharmacist directly (they’re on shifts & not always there) as the cashiers/other staff are not authorize to give out the above meds.

  5. Becca D'Bus says:

    Umm, King beds here are same as King beds in the US. California King, on the other hand, yeah, doesn’t really exist here.

    Ditto Queen, same here and there.

    Twin is the same, Twin Extra Long doesn’t exist here (but then they only exist there in dorms)

    Full size beds here are rare.

    BTW, Here being Singapore and There being the US

    • Crystal says:

      I have not found that to be true. We have a Queen and the queen sheets I bought here (for our fold out couch) don’t fit our bed. The difference is small…a few inches both ways, but it’s definitely there.

      I’m curious where you can even get a King bed here, much less find an apartment that a King would fit into? Of the 16 apartments I looked at last April, I had to rule out over half because I couldn’t easily fit a Queen into the master bedroom and still walk around to use the closet.

      • Hmm, my rents sleep on a king bed. Almos any bed store would carry them.

        And my queen sheets from there fit. Is the issue “depth”? coz I know beds here tend to be a little thinner than they are there. Pillow top mattresses for example, don’t appear to be as common.

      • Crystal says:

        I was thinking about this, and it might be the depth thing. I was glancing through my “moving to Singapore” guide recently (a friend is coming and it will be a good excuse to finally do all that stuff I’ve been meaning to do…sort of). It said that with some of the mattress sizes like twins, the US vs UK vs Europe are all just a bit different, which could also account for some issues (who makes the sheets you just bought for your mattress, and where was your mattress made). Queens do seem to be standard, but we do have the pillow top so I think you’re onto something there.

  6. Moonberry says:

    A note about KitchenAid mixer… I had to (very reluctantly) leave mine behind in NY. Due to the voltage differences, it is not advisable to use the US model in Asia or you may risk shortcircuiting the entire apartment. If you *MUST* bring in the US model, you need to invest in a transformer box; my sister got one from Sim Lim in order to use her KA mixer that she brought back from US.

    As for me, I didn’t want to take any chances when it comes to electrical stuff. I even looked into ordering online a UK model with the correct voltage and plug, but it was too much of a hassle to ship (very heavy) and the cost factor would have ended up the same anyway so I ended up acquiring a new KA mixer in Singapore (subsidized by friends’ birthday gift voucher at a kitchen store).

    • Crystal says:

      I have mine, and we use the same type of heavy duty voltage converter for it that we use for the tv. It’s large and cumbersome, but I’ve been successfully using my stand mixer for a year here. But you can’t just use a baby converter…this thing is huge and heavy…I’m posting the tour of my apartment some time this week and I make a point of showing it (I think).

  7. sonia says:

    hi there! so i can bring my kitchenaid????? i just need to get a voltage converter? can i get the converter in singapore or should i get it here? how much does that cost? i’m a cupcake baker (side business) and love baking..dont want to give that up! did you take all your furniture and most of your appliances with you?

    • Crystal says:

      Converter—you can get it at challenger for around $100SGD. I actually need a new one within the next month or two, so I can update you on the price when I buy it. I find them at Challenger, which is like a Best Buy…there’s a 24 hour Challenger at Funan Digital Life Mall.

      In terms of what we brought vs bought…Ravi’s company paid for our shipment, so we elected to bring 90% of our furniture. We didn’t bring our couch as it was an inherited 15+ year old thing that was dying, so we just got a new one at IKEA. Other than that, we brought pretty much everything–beds, bookcases, baby crap (I can’t encourage you enough to pre-buy your baby stuff and bring it as the markup is dizzying and the availability of some of the highest rated products (like graco bucket seats) is non-existant. Some stupid stuff like the avent pacifers (what used to be called soothies…the ones that most hopsitals around here recommend and what they recommend for breast fed babies) also aren’t available in singapore and I’ve been loading up on those on this trip too.

  8. sonia says:

    great thanks for the info…so u had no problem moving your beds etc? did you have to dismantle the beds and shelves in order to ship them?
    i will definately stock up on the childrens stuff – have a lot left over from my daughters time – thanks for all the advice you are wonderful!!!

    • Crystal says:

      Ravi’s hiring deal including movers, and they just did everything for us. Most of the furniture was wrapped in cloths (the book cases and such) and they took apart/put back together our bed (the other is just a mattress/box spring on a simple frame…not really a “take-apart” set up).

      Glad to help, and feel free to keep asking.

  9. sonia says:

    ps..hope u feel better 🙂

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