A cultural hub of the USA and home to a plethora of iconic landmarks, New York is a city unlike any other. Comprised of five different boroughs that jut out from across the Hudson River with their familiar skylines, this is the epicentre of retail and entertainment, as well as a melting point of culinary excellence. There is almost no area where New York doesn’t excel, meaning it is guaranteed to provide the perfect backdrop to your once in a lifetime trip.
Our handy New York travel guide will take you through the most popular attractions, along with the best nightlife spots, restaurants, hotels and more. We’ll also be giving you some practical advice to ensure that you really sink your teeth into everything the Big Apple has to offer.
Fun Facts About New York
- It was the first capital: Although Washington D.C. is the capital of the USA today, this accolade used to belong to New York City. In fact, when the constitution was ratified, George Washington took the oath to become the first president of the USA on the balcony of New York’s City Hall.
- An extensive landscape: There are an astonishing 70,000 miles of rivers and streams in New York. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on solid ground though, you should be well catered for, with 722 miles of subway track in the city.
- The Big Apple: New York is actually the reason that the USA originally got apples, with seeds being brought here in the 1st century by European settlers. However, that’s not where it got its famous moniker from. Instead, the Big Apple was first coined by musicians, meaning to “play the big time” on one of the city’s many famous stages and venues.
Top Tips for Travelling to New York
- It’s important to tip: Unlike some other parts of the world, in the USA, tipping is so expected, it’s pretty much mandatory. The minimum wage here is relatively low, so service providers need the extra cash, especially in a city as expensive to live in as New York. The customary tipping rate is around 15-20% for waiters and taxi drivers, while US$2 should suffice for hotel bellhops and maids.
- If something is bad, tell them: New Yorkers are known for being pretty upfront if they don’t like something, so if you’re in a restaurant and something isn’t quite right, let them know. Far from being rude, here it is quite common to speak up and it means you can avoid sitting through a bad meal out of politeness.
- Don’t stand in people’s way: Due to how busy New York can be, it can take a little getting used to. However, if there’s one thing native New Yorkers can’t stand, it’s tourists taking up the whole sidewalk, walking slowly or coming to a dead stop where no one can get passed. This is a busy, fast-paced city, so make sure you’re moving in a timely manner and allowing enough space for people to get around you.
- If you’re planning on taking the subway, check the map: The subway network of New York can be confusing to visitors. It is therefore advised that you spend a little time planning out your journeys. You may even find that you cut off a great deal of time by finding a quicker route or service.
- You can feel safe to explore: While there’s no such thing as a crime-free city, the reputation as a crime hotspot that New York earned during the 1970s and 80s is one that is still prevalent in some tourists’ minds. However, today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The city is now about as safe as could be reasonably expected, so you can explore this great city without fear.
Getting Around In New York
Image source: Linus Henning
One of the funny contradiction of life in this bustling city is that nobody drives because there’s simply too much traffic. Luckily though, this means that having plenty of ways to get around via public transport is an absolute must. There’s a ton of excellent options for finding your way around and here are just a few of the best transport methods to get you from point A to point B during your holiday.
Taxis are pretty much everywhere in New York. Unlike other cities, where taxis have to be booked in advance, here you can get a ride simply by hailing down one of the many yellow taxi cabs you’ll see along your travels.
The starting fare costs US$2.50, with US$0.50 being added for every fifth of a mile. If you need to stop off anywhere, you’ll find the same amount is added to your fare per every 60 seconds the taxi is not in motion.
Not only are ferries a great way to see the city, but they can also be useful for getting around, at least between specific spots. The East River Ferry takes people between Astoria Queens and Bay Bridge Brooklyn, while The Hudson River Ferry travels between Manhattan and New Jersey. Tickets for both journeys can be ordered online.
Image source: Paul L
New York’s vast, complicated subway system can be pretty daunting for first time visitors, but there’s no doubt that this is an incredibly useful way of getting around once you have the hang of things. Fast, reliable and cheap, it is pretty much everything you could want from a public transport system. Simply get a ticket from the station and you’re on your way.
Although the subway is a pretty comprehensive public transport system, there are certain neighbourhoods that are better reached by bus. Not only that, but it’s also a great way to watch the cityscape go by. Make sure to buy a MetroCard to avoid relying on exact change.
Walking is a way of life in New York. It’s often the easiest and is certainly the cheapest way of getting from place to place. Make sure you don’t dawdle though, as the paths are treated like traffic and stopping or blocking people’s way could find you getting knocked to the side by the ongoing flow of footfall.
Flights to New York
Image source: Judy Gallagher
New York City is actually home to three major airports. These include John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), which is located in Southern Queens, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), which is found on the Chemical Coast of New Jersey and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), which is in Northern Queens. The latter is best avoided where possible, as it has been voted the worst airport in the country in terms of delays and flight cancellations.
Unless you’re staying in Manhattan, then JFK will likely be your airport of choice, as it is the fifth busiest airport in all of the USA. This means there are plenty of flight services connecting New York to Singapore’s major airports.
Unfortunately though, there are no direct services available from Singapore Changi Airport to JFK Airport. However, airlines such as Air China, JAL, United Airlines and many others offer stopover flights in their respective city bases, with the average flight time between the airports taking 20 hours to complete.
Visit the Expedia Singapore website to find the best prices for flights to New York.