Getting around Singapore

Singapore Transport

Singapore, one of the most expensive countries in the world, has two aspects that are relatively cheap in Singapore as compared to some of the other expensive countries. The two things are the good food and excellent transportation system in Singapore. We will be focusing on the latter in the post to guide you on traveling around in Singapore. 

You can travel to almost any destination in Singapore via public transport for less than S$3. In addition to being one of the most affordable public transportation in the world, the transport system is also extremely extensive. The public transport system provides access to almost every corner of the city-state, allowing travelers to get around swiftly in a cost-effective manner.

Essentials for public transportation

If you are planning on using public transportation (train and buses), I would highly recommend you to purchase one following three cards to save costs and make your trip hassle-free.

1. Ez-Link Card

The ez-link card is a pay-as-you-use stored value card where you deposit money in the card. A small amount will be deducted whenever you ride on trains or buses. You can even purchase McDonald’s or pay for taxi rides in Singapore with an ez-link card.

You can purchase your ez-link card here and redeem your card at Changi Recommends located at Terminal 1,2 and 3 of Changi Airport. Alternatively, you can purchase your ez-link card at the Passenger Service Centers at most MRT Stations.

GTM
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If there is insufficient balance in your ez-link card, you can top-up to your ez-link card at the General Ticketing Machine (GTM) located at all of the MRT stations. Alternatively, you can also top-up at 7-11 convenience stores located all around Singapore.

Costs: $9.50 at Changi Recommends (with $5 stored value)

           $12 at interchange (with $7 stored value)

Website:  https://attractions.changirecommends.com/singapore/all/ez-link-card

2. Singapore Tourist Pass

The Singapore Tourist Pass is a special ez-link card where it offers unlimited travel for public transportation. The Singapore Tourist Pass provides the flexibility for you to choose a 1-day, 2-day or 3-day consecutive duration. If you plan to travel a lot around Singapore, I would highly recommend the cost-effective Singapore Tourist Pass. You can purchase the pass here.

Costs: 1-Day Pass (S$10), 2-Day Pass (S$16), 3-Day Pass (S$16)

Website: https://thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/

Note: There is a S$10 deposit when you purchase the pass. Return the pass to any Transitlink office at MRT stations to get your deposit back.

3. hi!Tourist 2-in-1 SIM Card

The hi!Tourist 2-in-1 SIM Card functions both as a tourist SIM card and an ez-link card. After inserting the SIM card into your smartphone, the remaining card can be used as an ez-link card. For S$18, this is a great deal for tourists looking for a SIM Card to use in Singapore, furthermore, you do not have to incur the $5 ez-link card costs if you purchase this SIM Card from Singtel.

For 7 days, you can enjoy the benefits of:

– 100GB 4G local data

– 500 minutes local call

– 30 minutes international call

– 1GB data roam to Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia & Thailand

– $3 EZ-Link stored value for train/bus rides

Cost: S$15 (with S$3 of stored ez-link value)

Redemption location: Travelex at Changi Airport Arrival Halls, Singtel stores.

Website: https://www.singtel.com/personal/products-services/mobile/prepaid-plans/hi-tourist-sim-cards/_15-hi_tourist-sim-card

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)

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Singapore’s metro system is called the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). It is a popular way to travel around Singapore, where over 60% of the Singapore population chose to commute on the MRT daily.

The MRT consists of 6 lines, East-West (Green) Line, North-South (Red) Line, Circle (Yellow) Line, NE (Purple) Line, Downtown (Blue) Line, and Thomson-East Coast (Brown) Line.

With over 130 stations across the 6 different lines, the wide rail coverage provides access to every major area in Singapore. In addition to the wide rail coverage, the efficient, clean and affordable train rides create a pleasant travelling experience for its commuters.

To board the MRT, simply tap your ez-Link card at the gantry at each station and head over to the train platform. 

Cost: Paid using ez-link card: around S$1 to S$2.50 per ride

Operation hours: Daily from 5.30am to around midnight

Note: No consumption of food and drinks are allowed at the platform and inside the MRT. You can read more about what not to do in Singapore here.

Bus

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Complementing the rail system are the public buses, which acts as a connection to bring commuters from the MRT stations to their destination. There are public bus services at every single MRT station, thus with the combination of MRT and buses you can easily reach every corner of the island in no time.

Taking a bus is a rather comfortable and affordable experience, and you will get to enjoy the green and modern scenery in Singapore. Taking the bus is a rather hassle-free process as well. You simply tap your ez-link card as you board and tap out at the rear exit of the bus as you alight.

I would highly recommend that you check with the bus captain before boarding the station. You may also request the bus captain to notify you once you reach your destination, so be sure to stay near the bus captain so that he can alert you!

The bus services are convenient to get from one place to another, however, finding out which bus to board and which station to alight may be rather complicated for first timers. The frequency of the bus varies from bus to bus, where the more popular route will have more frequent bus. You can check the bus routes and timings using the SBS Transit App.

Download SBS Transit App here (Android) or here (iOS).

Cost: S$1 to S$2 per ride (Paid using Ez Link card).

Operation hours: Daily from 5.30am to around midnight

Note: No consumption of food and drinks are allowed on the bus. You can read more about what not to do in Singapore here.

Taxi

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Taxis are the easiest and often the fastest way to get to your destination anywhere in Singapore. Taxis are great when you are in a rush or carrying bulky items. Simply flag down a taxi at the roadside by stretching your arms out towards the road. You can often find taxi stands at most malls and MRT stations as well.

During peak hours or festive seasons, it may be difficult to flag down a taxi, thus I would recommend booking a taxi via the taxi app or call the taxi booking hotline.

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The fares are generally straightforward with an initial flag-down fee of S$3-S$4, and 22 cents for every 400 m travelled. However, there could be surcharges depending on the boarding time and place. A small screen beside the taxi driver will show you the fare to be paid at the end of your ride.

Taking a taxi is generally more expensive than public transport. However, If you are travelling a short distance in a group of 4 or 5, taking a taxi could be cheaper than taking the public transport.

Download ComfortDelGro App here (Android) or here (iOS). <hyperlink>

Cost:

  • S$3-S$4 (Flag down fees)
  • S$2.30-S$3.30 (Telephone booking fees)
  • 22 cents for every 400m travelled

Operation hours: 24 hours

Booking number: (+65) 6552 1111

Website: https://www.comfortdelgro.com/

Ride-hailing

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The mode of transport that is rising in popularity between the locals and tourists is private ride-hailing services. Following the success of ride-hailing in other countries, Singapore has also adopted the ride-hailing services for locals and tourists to travel stress-free.

Despite the fierce ride-hailing competitions in Singapore, the big player here is undoubtedly

Grab. Grab is the Singapore version of Uber. It serves as a platform for people to book a ride from one destination to another on their smartphone. You are virtually guaranteed to get a match in less than a minute, thanks to the large fleet of taxis and private drivers under Grab.

Unlike the traditional taxis, Grab gives you a preview of the total costs and estimated duration to reach your destination before you book, eliminating the uncertainties in costs. In addition to the ride-hailing services, Grab also offers a 24-hour food delivery from nearby restaurants to your doorstep, with a small delivery fee.

It is advisable that you register Grab with a Singapore phone number as you will receive a One Time Password (OTP) to activate your account.

Do note that there might be an extra S$10 surcharge for booking from 12am-6am, and a price hike for festive seasons such as the Chinese New Year.

Download Grab App here (Android) or here (iOS). <hyperlink>

Costs:

  • Ride booking Fees: S$2.30 – S$4.50
  • Distance Fare: 22 cents every 400 metres
  • Food Delivery Fees: S$3 – S$5

Operation hours: 24 hours

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