Getting Around Singapore: Transportation Tips

Seamless Public Transport: MRT and Buses

Singapore boasts one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is the backbone of this network, known for its punctuality, cleanliness, and comprehensive coverage. MRT stations are conveniently located near major attractions and residential areas, making it an excellent choice for locals and tourists.

Exploring Singapore by MRT

  • Network: Extensive coverage connecting key areas of the city.
  • Frequency: Trains arrive every few minutes, reducing wait times.
  • Accessibility: Stations and trains are well-equipped for all passengers, including those with mobility needs.

Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is a testament to engineering prowess and operational excellence, particularly in the face of the island’s challenging soft subsoil. Comprising four main lines operated by SMRT and SBS Transit, the network extends across the island, connecting key areas like Marina Bay, Jurong, the eastern suburbs, and Changi Airport. While celebrated for its cleanliness, efficiency, and affordability, the MRT has challenges, notably significant overcrowding during peak hours.

In addition to the structural and operational aspects, the MRT system is user-friendly and focuses on accessibility. Trains run from early morning till midnight, with an average interval of five minutes. However, the last trains depart around 11:30 pm, which can be a limitation for late-night activities. The network has full mobile phone connectivity, even in tunnels, although strict rules prohibit eating, drinking, and smoking. For convenience and cost-efficiency, passengers are encouraged to use stored-value cards, though single-journey tickets are also available with a refundable deposit. This blend of technological sophistication and user-centric policies makes Singapore’s MRT a key component of the city’s public transport infrastructure. Learn more here: Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).

The Role of Buses

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Reaches areas not directly served by MRT.
  • Frequency and Reliability: Regular and timely service.
  • Cost-Effective: Affordable fares with various ticketing options.

Singapore’s bus network, an integral part of its public transportation, offers a comprehensive and slightly more affordable alternative to the MRT, particularly for shorter journeys. Operating mostly between 6 am and midnight, the buses cater to various needs with air-conditioned double-decker and single-decker options. Boarding is always from the front, where passengers encounter a fare system that varies with distance, ranging from $1.10 to $2.20 for cash fares.

The payment process requires attention: passengers using cash must drop the exact amount into a chute next to the driver, as no change is given. Passengers can use an EZ-Link card or a tourist pass for a more convenient and potentially cost-saving option. It’s crucial to remember to tap the card upon both entry and exit to avoid being charged the maximum fare. Some bus services have fixed fares, including town services, limited premium express routes (identified by “5xx” route numbers), and night buses. These night buses, particularly useful after the MRT stops running, connect downtown areas with new towns and have slightly higher fares due to their late operation and express segments.

The SBS Transit and SMRT websites offer comprehensive resources, including journey planners and maps, for those seeking detailed information on routes and schedules. A handy and affordable resource, the Singapore Bus Guide, is available in bookshops, providing a portable guide to the network’s extensive coverage. With its varied services and user-friendly resources, this robust bus system plays a vital role in Singapore’s urban mobility, ensuring accessible and efficient travel across the city. Learn more here: Singapore’s bus network.

Driving in Singapore: What You Need to Know

While public transport is efficient, driving in Singapore offers flexibility, especially for exploring less accessible areas. However, it’s essential to understand local driving regulations.

Key Points for Drivers

  • Electronic Road Pricing (ERP): Automated toll system to manage congestion.
  • Strict Traffic Laws: Adherence to rules ensures road safety and order.
  • Parking: It’s generally available but can be expensive in central areas.

Renting a car in Singapore is often an expensive and less practical option compared to the efficient public transport system. The city-state has implemented significant measures to discourage car ownership and combat traffic congestion. One of these measures includes substantial fees for car ownership permits and tolls for driving into and within a significant portion of downtown Singapore. Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is the hi-tech method employed, where all Singaporean cars have a device installed that deducts tolls from a stored-value card or an EZ-Link card as they pass through ERP gantries.

Parking in Singapore can also be costly, although the convenience factor is high, with most malls offering car parks. Information displays across the city indicate the availability of parking spaces in nearby buildings. Payment for parking can be made via your ERP card or by purchasing coupons from designated outlets.

If you still wish to rent a car in Singapore, options like Avis and Hertz have offices at Changi Airport. However, it’s essential to note that driving in Singapore follows the left-hand driving rule. Nevertheless, considering the efficiency and accessibility of Singapore’s public transport, renting a car is often unnecessary and cost-prohibitive for most visitors. Learn more here: Driving in Singapore.


Singapore’s taxi network is extensive and continually expanding, with many taxis available for flagging down. However, finding a taxi at night or during inclement weather can be more challenging. In such cases, it’s advisable to queue at a nearby taxi rank, with hotels and malls being reliable places to find one. While in the downtown area, it’s considered compulsory to queue at a taxi stand, some drivers may bypass this rule to pick up passengers on quieter roads after dark. To book a taxi by phone, there’s a fee of at least $2.50 or at least $8 for reserving a vehicle at a specific time. To book a taxi, you can call 6342 5222, which represents all taxi operators, or contact individual firms like Comfort/CityCab (6552 1111), Premier Taxi (6363 6888), or SMRT Taxis (6555 8888).

Taxis in Singapore come in various colors but are easily identifiable by their “TAXI” markings and top-mounted signs indicating their availability. Standard taxis (not premium or “limousine” vehicles) have an initial fare of $3 for the first kilometer and then charge 22 cents for every 400 meters traveled, with a slightly lower tariff after covering 10 kilometers.

Travelers should be aware of surcharges, including a 25 percent extra charge during rush hours (Monday to Friday from 6 am to 9:30 am from 6 pm to midnight, and on weekends from 6 pm to midnight). A 50 percent extra charge applies between midnight and 6 am. Additionally, there are surcharges related to Singapore’s Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, including a $3 surcharge for taxi journeys starting from the ERP zone downtown between 5 pm and midnight, plus the actual ERP charge incurred during the trip (as shown on the driver’s ERP card reader). Journeys from Changi Airport incur a $3 surcharge ($5 on Fridays to Sundays from 5 pm to midnight), while trips from Sentosa have a $3 surcharge.

Generally, Singaporean taxi drivers are friendly and trustworthy, but their English proficiency may vary. If traveling to less common destinations, having the address written down for them is advisable. Suppose a taxi displays a destination sign or “Changing shift” above. In that case, it means the driver is either heading home or being replaced by a new driver, and passengers will only be accepted if their destination aligns with these circumstances. Learn more here: Traveling with a taxi in Singapore.

Walking and Cycling: Eco-Friendly Alternatives

Singapore’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its encouragement of walking and cycling.

Advantages of Walking and Cycling

  • Health Benefits: It is a great way to stay active.
  • Eco-Friendly: Reduces carbon footprint.
  • Scenic Routes: Enjoy Singapore’s beauty at a leisurely pace.

Cycling in Singapore can be a challenging but feasible option, although it’s not necessarily the most popular means of transportation due to some significant factors. The city-state’s terrain is mostly flat, making it suitable for cycling. However, the presence of heavy traffic on main roads, limited bike lanes, and some well-publicized fatal accidents involving cyclists have made cycling less common in the city. Despite these challenges, you’ll still come across dedicated locals and expats pedaling energetically along suburban routes like Bukit Timah Road. It’s important to note that cycling is not allowed on expressways, and downtown cycling can be less than ideal due to traffic congestion.

One of the more promising aspects of cycling in Singapore is the network of recreational areas and nature parks connected by park connectors. While theoretically, these routes provide enjoyable cycling experiences; many involve stretches along busy suburban roads. These recreational areas are typically located outside the city center, making them less accessible for short-term visitors. Some bicycle-friendly areas that tourists may explore include the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Changi Beach, Pulau Ubin, and Sentosa. Bike rental outlets are available at most of these locations, except for Bukit Timah.

Cycling in Singapore requires a high tolerance for hot and humid weather and the possibility of sudden downpours. For more information on cycling routes and facilities, refer to the Singapore National Parks website’s Visitors’ Guide section. The Singapore Mountain Bike Forum also provides details about the local cycling scene, including information about bike shops and discussions with enthusiasts. While cycling in Singapore may not be the most common mode of transport, it can offer a unique perspective on the city’s landscape and natural attractions for those who are up for the challenge. Learn more here: Cycling in Singapore.

Navigational Tools: GPS and Mobile Apps

In a tech-savvy city like Singapore, leveraging technology for navigation is a norm.

Popular Apps

  • Waze: Offers real-time traffic updates and community-based insights.
  • Google Maps: Provides comprehensive directions for all modes of transport.

Cultural Journeys: Explore Singapore’s Diversity

Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. Utilizing the transport system to explore various neighborhoods enhances the cultural experience.

Must-Visit Neighborhoods

  • Little India and Chinatown: Rich in heritage and traditional eateries.
  • Marina Bay: Modern architecture and vibrant nightlife.
  • Kampong Glam is a historic district with a unique blend of Malay and Arab cultures.


Exploring downtown Singapore by foot is the ideal way to navigate its compact layout. For instance, Orchard Road spans just over 2km from end to end, and it’s approximately the same distance from the Padang to the center of Chinatown. However, it’s important to note that this method requires a high tolerance for muggy heat. Many tourists opt for the underground MRT trains instead. Buses are just as efficient as trains but may be overwhelming due to the numerous routes available. Fortunately, both trains and buses are reasonably priced, along with taxis. Embrace the diversity and efficiency of transportation in this dynamic city-state.