Singapore, one of the world’s financial centres, is a beautiful and multi-cultural island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. It’s a vibrant city-state of shops, parks and fine-dining restaurants. In Singapore, east meets west and the vast cultural diversity is ever present.
Travellers will never be short on ideas for what to see and do in Singapore. And thanks to having one of the best public transport networks in the world, getting around Singapore is both super efficient and cost effective.
While visiting Singapore, you’ll get your bearings roaming around hawker centres, serving up delicious Chinese and Malay cuisine in the shadows of the vast glimmering skyscrapers.
Rooftop bars serve evening cocktails, overlooking the bright neon-lit buildings and equally spectacular vertical gardens for which the city is famous. And as you move around Singapore, it’s never difficult to interrupt your shopping and fine dining to ride or hike along the miles of paths that meander through city’s network of parks & gardens.
Are you ready to start exploring? Get started with this Singapore transportation guide…
How to get around Singapore: A transportation guide
Singapore has one of the world’s most efficient and cost-effective public transport systems. The city has invested in an extensive network of roads and rail, and the buses and trains can get you comfortably close to almost any destination of your choosing.
The MRT is fast and efficient and the quickest way to explore the city centre. Buses are another good option. Compared to other Asian cities, bus routes in Singapore are easy to navigate (thanks to the English signage). Riding buses instead of underground trains is a great way to see Singapore unfold before your eyes.
Private ownership of vehicles is strictly controlled in Singapore as the government strives to keep road congestion down. Self-driving in Singapore is not recommended. (Especially considering the ease of public transportation.)
Parking here is expensive and entering the city centre by private vehicle attracts congestion fees. If, however, you chose to drive, there are plenty of vehicle hire businesses at the airport and in the city.
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Singapore transportation cards & passes
As long as you have the correct change you can pay cash for public transportation in Singapore. But, getting around Singapore is a lot cheaper and easier if you buy yourself an EZ-link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass.
The EZ-link card is a smart card that is accepted extensively throughout the Singapore transport system, including on buses, the MRT and taxis. You can also use it to buy food and drinks from certain shops and vending machines.
The cards are available for sale at bus and MRT stations or at your nearest 7-Eleven store. You can also top up the cards as required.
Singapore Tourist Pass
If you plan to travel extensively in Singapore, it may be worth it to get a Singapore Tourist Pass. You can get 1-day, 2-day and 3-day passes. With a valid Singapore Tourist Pass, you can travel as much as you like on the buses and trains.
The Singapore MRT is an extensive (mostly) underground rail system that can get you to almost every part of the city with little more than a short walk required between the station and your destination.
Avoid rush hour if you don’t appreciate crowds. Trains run every two to three minutes during peak time and every five to seven at off-peak times.
There are five lines on the MRT system, each of them colour-coded. The trains run between 5.30am and midnight. There are maps in every station and the system is extremely easy to navigate.
One of the nicest ways to get around Singapore is by bus. There are plenty of them, covering most areas of Singapore.
Buses are, by far, the cheapest form of transport in Singapore. You also get to see a lot more of the city when you travel by bus as opposed the MRT. Most buses are air conditioned, which you’ll appreciate in the balmy Singapore weather.
If you’re using cash to pay your fare, you’ll need the exact amount. The buses also take the EZ-Link cards and tappable Mastercards. You tap next to the driver when you get on and again when you exit.
There are more than 300 bus services running through Singapore. The buses run from 5:10am to 12:45am. Nite Buses run on Friday and Saturday nights to take you home from your favourite nightlife spots to one of the top Singapore hotels. Nite buses run between 23:30 to 02:00.
Taxi / Ride Sharing
Taxis also form an essential part of the Singapore transport system. There are plenty of comfortable metered taxis around.
They’re a good alternative if there’s somewhere that you need to go that the MRT or bus system doesn’t cover. You may also find that taxis are the best option when there are a few of you wanting to get to a common destination.
If you need a taxi you can hail one or you can queue at the taxi stands found at many of the hotels and shopping centres in the city.
Although the taxis are metered, many will charge surcharges; it’s best to ask about these before you board.
Most of the drivers speak English. Surcharges include a credit card surcharge of 10% and a City Area Surcharge between 17.00 and 23.59 every day including public holidays
Taxis run 24/7.
Perhaps even better than taxis is the Singaporean ride-sharing service Grab. Much like Uber or Lyft, simply download the app, sign up for an account (you’ll need cellular service to verify it, and hail your first ride. It’s much cheaper and arguably more convenient than taxis for getting around Singapore.
River taxis are not as extensively used as the other modes of transport but they do offer you a charming way to see the city from a different angle.
They operate between just five landings on the river, but some of the landings are close to major tourist attractions, so you should be able to add a trip on a river taxi to your Singapore itinerary.
The river taxis don’t run over weekends. They run between 8 and 10 in the morning 5 and 7 in the evening. They accept EZ-link cards as payment.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, you may want to try a trishaw ride. Trishaws date back to a time when there was little by way of motorized transport in Singapore.
They are slowly becoming redundant, but there are still around 250 of them operating in the city. You’ll find one outside the Raffles Hotel. Make sure that you agree on the cost before you take your 30-minute ride.
Walk or cycle
Singapore is a big city and you couldn’t explore it thoroughly on foot or by bike. However, walking is a lovely way to soak up the atmosphere & energy.
It’s also a great way to wander through the parks in the various suburbs of the city. Many of the parks have bike trails and you could spend a wonderful afternoon enjoying the tropical vegetation on two wheels.