Singapore, a small island nation in Southeast Asia, has one of the most cost-effective public transport networks in the world. The transport system is fast and efficient due to the country’s systematic, extensive, and comprehensive network of roads.
This system will whizz you to most places without fuss. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) strictly controls and monitors the growth and use of private vehicles to minimize traffic and curb road congestion.
If you’re going to set foot in Singapore for the first time, the following guide to transportation will help you figure out the convenient transport modes to get around the city comfortably.
See also: Best Ways to Get from Singapore Changi Airport to City
In Singapore, passengers can pay bus fares with cash, but with a higher amount, compared to paying via Ez-link card. To save cost and to make your trip more convenient, consider buying an Ez-link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass.
It is a kind of smart card, which can be used to pay transport fares on buses, MRT (metro), taxis, and other private transport means. It is also helpful when you need to buy foods and drinks from food & beverage stores, and vending machines.
You can purchase the cards at Passenger Service Centers at most MRT stations, bus interchanges, and 7-Eleven stores.
If you buy a new card at a 7-Eleven store, you will pay SGD 10 ($7.29). The card itself costs SGD 5, so you have SGD 5 as stored value to be used.
The Ez-link cards available at Passenger Service Centers have the price of SGD 12 each. It means the stored value is SGD 7.
General ticket machines are provided at all MRT stations for you to conveniently top up your cards. You can also add more stored value into your card at 7-Eleven stores.
Note that your Ez-link card needs a minimum amount of SGD 3 ($2.20) to be used on buses and MRT.
Singapore Tourist Pass
If you plan to travel a lot while being in Singapore, then Singapore Tourist Pass turns out as a cost-effective option. There are 3 types of passes: 1 day pass, 2 day pass and 3 day pass, with costs at SGD 10 ($7.29), SGD 16 ($11.67), and SGD 20 ($14.60) respectively. They allow you to have unlimited rides on buses and trains (MRT and LRT).
Singapore Tourist Pass Plus
If you like the idea of riding public transport plus having free entry to Chinatown Heritage Centre and complimentary Singapore Sling Cocktail at D Happy Factory, then consider buying this plus card. They come in 2 types: 1 day pass and 3 day pass, with prices of SGD 28 ($20.42) and SGD 38 ($27.72) respectively.
Using MRT is the best way to get around in Singapore.
The MRT system offers affordable and hassle-free rides to the majority of tourist attractions in Singapore. The trains can get crowded during rush hours, as the way it is expected in big cities, but they still bring you to your destinations smoothly and on time.
MRT system consists of five lines: The Circle (orange) line, the East-West (green) line, the North-East (purple) line, the North-South (red) line, and the Downtown (blue) line.
Among them, Red and Green lines are the two most used lines by locals and visitors alike. It is simply because there are a lot of local businesses were set up along the routes of these lines. So expect that you can reach many shopping malls, restaurants, food courts, and bars by riding MRT.
MRT fares: Range from SGD 0.78 ($0.58) to SGD $2.03 ($1.51) if payment is made via EZ-Link card
Service hours: From 05:30 – 00:00 daily
Service schedule: Every 2 to 3 minutes (peak hours 07:00 to 09:00 and 17:00 to 20:00); every 5 to 7 minutes (off-peak hours)
Note: The departure times can vary during public holidays, weekends, and between stations.
Singapore public bus service has a vast and efficient network, covering almost every place in Singapore. The city’s over 300 bus services serve up to three million rides each day smoothly.
Buses are a highly recommended transport means for first-time visitors as you can take in the sights of many city’s corners while the buses are whizzing along the streets. Take a seat by the window and enjoy the journey.
The bus fares are charged based on the distance traveled, so remember to tap your card on the card reader twice – one when you just get in and one when you are about to get off.
Bus fares: Range from SGD 0.79 ($0.58) to SGD 2.07 (1.51) via EZ-Link card; SGD 1.40 ($1.02) to SGD 2.50 ($1.82) with cash
Service hours: 05:10 – 12:45 daily
Service schedule: Every 5 to 20 minutes
Note: There are Nite buses, active from 23:30 to 02:00 on Friday and Saturday nights, to take you from major nightspots to residential houses.
No doubt, taxis are the fastest transport mode to get to any destination in Singapore at any time. It is always a good option when you travel in group and the distance covered is short.
Expect to pay more if you book the taxi ride via phone, during peak hours, after midnight, and for trips to central business district (CBD). All taxis in Singapore are fully licensed and run on meter.
You can hail a taxi at the taxi stands of the malls, in front of hotels, or anywhere in the streets by giving a hand signal. Catching taxi can become difficult between 16:00 to 17:00 when most cab drivers change shifts, at late night, and during rush hours.
Taxi fares: For a regular taxi, flag-down fee is from SGD 3.6 (2.63) to SGD 3.9 ($2.84), then an amount ranging from SGD 0.55 ($0.4) to SGD 0.94 ($0.7) will be charged per each subsequent kilometer.
Service hours: 24 hours
– There is City Area Surcharge (SGD 3) from 17:00 to 23:59 daily including Public Holidays.
– 10% surcharge applies to payment made via Credit card.
– Ez-link card can be used to pay for taxi fares.
If your hotel is situated at a downtown venue that is near the Singapore River, then water taxi (aka bumboat) is a delightful mode of transport to take.
Singapore water taxis currently cover 5 stops: Robertson Quay, Clemenceau, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, and the Esplanade. As you can see, the length of the route is quite short so those boats won’t transfer you to anywhere in Singapore. But they can, at least, take you to the major tourist spots like Asian Civilisations Museum, Raffles’ Landing Site, Merlion Park, Esplanade Theatre, and Singapore Flyer.
Partygoers would appreciate water taxis a lot as they can help you get to Clarke Quay, Singapore’s best nightspot, in style.
The great part of riding these boat taxis is that you can enjoy downtown Singapore at a different angle, and take in the stunning sights on both sides of the river while the breezes are playing your hair.
Fares: $5 (USD3.65) per person
Service hours: 08:00 – 10:00 and 17:00 – 19:00 Mon to Fri (No service on weekends and PHs)
Service schedule: Every 20 minutes
Note: You can pay the fare via EZ-link or NETS FlashPay card.