Transportation in Singapore
This small, diamond-shaped island, linked to Malaysia by two causeway bridges, is easy to get around. Places of interest are clustered mainly in the south.There's not much distance between the shops, historical sights and ethnic areas, and the enviably superb public transport system and cheap taxis mean getting around is easy.The ethnic districts of Chinatown and Little India, plus Boat and Clarke Quays, Raffles and the Civic District are in the south. To the east are seafood and sands at East Coast Park, and Changi Village with its chapel built by World War II PoWs. Travel west to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Jurong Birdpark, the city's natural highlights.
Singapore's underground train network, or Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) is the quickest way to get around and is cheap, clean and safe. Trains run between 5.30am and 12.30am. All signs and announcements are in English. Trains and stations are air-conditioned. Avoid cramped rush hours.
Most buses are air-conditioned double-deckers. They are the cheapest way of getting around and accept exact fare only. If using the ez-link electronic stored-value card, much easier than keeping a pocketful of exact change, swipe when entering and leaving the bus.
In spite of the often oppressive humidity, many areas are far better explored on foot, especially the streets around Chinatown and Little India. Maps and signs are clearly marked throughout the city. Maps of self-guided walking tours are available from the tourist offices and main hotels.
More than 15,000 air-conditioned taxis ply Singapore's streets, belonging to different companies. Starting fares are low, but surcharges can add up, especially if starting from the CBD (Central Business District) during rush hours. There are also surcharges on highways, plus 50% extra between 1am and 6am. Advanced bookings can be made with private minicab companies. The taxi sign is red when engaged, and blue or green when vacant. Taxis cannot be flagged down on the street in the CBD and must be taken at ranks.
A cruise on the Singapore River on a traditional small, motorised "bumboat", a glass-top or open-top boat, stops at nine historic colonial sights on the riverbank. A small bumboat (not glass-bottomed) also makes the short journey to ferry passengers to the tiny island of Pulau Ubin.
Rent your car
Compared with other Asian cities, driving in Singapore is a breeze. The city is compact, roads are well-maintained and signposted and car-parking is relatively cheap. Singaporeans drive on the left so all hire cars are right-hand drive. At rush hour there are toll roads to ease congestion.
A stored-value ez-link card, bought at any station or bus interchange, can be used on the MRT and bus and saves foraging around for change. The Singapore Tourist Pass allows unlimited travel on all public transport for 1, 2 or 3 days. Taxis can be hard to come by during a sudden downpour and just before the changeover from day to night-time fares.