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Exploring Singapore: How to Get Around

Singapore is a fantastic city to explore, and one of the most convenient ways to do so is by taking advantage of the city's public transportation network. Whether you're looking to get to the airport, take a trip to a nearby shopping mall, or visit a local attraction, it's likely you will be able to get there on a bus or train. Moreover, Singapore is also a very walkable city, so be sure to bring your most comfortable shoes and stretch those legs as you explore the city's many sights and sounds! If none of those options appeal to you, we’ve also covered a few other ways to get around.



Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)


The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is Singapore's underground rail network, and it is one of the most popular modes of transport for both commuters and tourists. The MRT system offers a fast, efficient, inexpensive, and (most importantly) air-conditioned way to get around Singapore. Trains generally run every 5 minutes, so you never have to wait too long for the next one. Most major attractions are conveniently located near an MRT station. For those that aren't, a combination of the train and bus networks will almost certainly get you to where you need to go.


Travel tip: Eating and drinking on public transport is prohibited and carries heavy fines if you are caught, so don’t risk it!



Buses


The bus network stretches throughout the entire country, making almost everywhere in Singapore accessible by bus. Buses are clean, on time, and a great way to get around the country! While it is usually slower and less frequent than the trains, it can allow you to access places the trains don't reach. Plus, it's a great way to see more of Singapore! In fact, some of the bus routes are even open 24 hours a day so you can get around to where you need to go no matter the time of day or night. The number of routes can be pretty daunting, but Google Maps' public transport feature can show you exactly what bus you need to catch to get to your destination and what time it will be arriving at your closest bus stop. This was the app we used the most to navigate our way around the island on public transport.



How to buy bus and train tickets in Singapore


If you plan on using public transport for just a day or two, you can buy single-journey train tickets from the machines at the train stations using either cash or card. For buses, you can pay the driver with cash, however, you'll need the exact fare as the bus drivers won't give change.


Otherwise, you can purchase an EZ-Link tourist pass which gives you unlimited rides for S$10 for 1 day, S$16 for 2 days, and S$20 for 3 days (not inclusive of a refundable S$10 deposit) on both trains and buses. Regular fares are determined by the distance and time of day you travel. Whether the tourist pass is worth it for you depends on how much you intend to use the buses and trains.


For trips longer than 3 days, consider buying an EZ-Link card. These cards let you preload a cash value and can be used on the electronic card readers in buses and trains to pay for travel. They generally save you a bit of money compared to single-journey tickets and can even be used in some taxis and retail stores! You can buy the cards at the customer service counters in train stations or convenience stores. The card costs S$10 ($7.20 USD), which includes a non-refundable S$5 fee for the card and S$5 of preloaded value. You can also create a SimplyGo account, link your bank card and use that as your tap-and-go card on public transport. However, not all cards are accepted.



Taxis & Ride Share


Taxis and rideshare services, such as Grab and Gojek, are reasonably priced by Singapore standards and are easy to come by. They offer a comfortable and convenient alternative to public transport when you don't have the luxury of time. Taxis can be hailed from the roadside in most places or can be found at a taxi stand. They use a meter to determine the cost of the trip, but the fare can vary across operators or when time or location surge pricing is applicable. Since these fares are regulated, it is not possible to haggle. Also, make sure to carry cash on you when taking taxis as card payments often incur a surcharge. For a list of fees and surcharges, check the Land Transport Authority website.



Walking


Exploring on foot is really the best way to experience this city. Taking the time to walk through the various precincts in downtown Singapore, you'll really get to take in the unique contrast of rich heritage and innovation that makes one of the world's smallest countries such a fascinating place. The hot and humid weather in Singapore can be a deterrent for walking around this city, but Singapore thinks of everything! In Downtown, you'll find plenty of underground walkways linking various malls and buildings. These are usually filled with shops and food and beverage outlets. But what makes them particularly great is they are heavily air-conditioned, so they are a great reprieve from the outside heat. Above ground, Singapore is constantly expanding its sheltered walkways, which means you are protected from the worst of the sun and rain when you choose to endure the heat.



Cycling


If you can endure the heat and humidity in Singapore, cycling can be a great option to get around the island. Singapore has quite an extensive network of cycling paths, including Park Connectors, which link Singapore's many green spaces, and a few mountain biking paths for those looking for a bit of adventure. Being a big cycling city, there are plenty of stores to rent bikes from, as well as several bike-sharing apps that will only charge you for the time you use the bike.


Travel tip: only foldable bikes are allowed on public transport, so plan accordingly.



Boats


If you are in Singapore for more than a few days, a trip to one of the islands is a great way to spend a day! From Changi Point Ferry Terminal, you can catch a bumboat to Pulau Ubin. The boats cost S$6 ($4.30 USD) per person one way and won't leave until they have filled all 12 seats. At peak times, there is generally little to no wait as plenty of people are going to or from the island. However, if you turn up and there is no one queueing, you can always pay the captain for the extra seats if you don't want to wait for others to arrive.


A public ferry runs from Marina South Pier to St John's Island, Lazarus Island, and Kusu Island. A ticket costs S$15 ($11 USD) and includes inter-island transfers and the return ride back to Marina South Pier. The journey from mainland Singapore to St John's Island takes around 30 minutes. You can buy tickets online through either Marina South Ferries or Island Cruise or at the ticket counter when you get to the pier. Remember that it can be pretty busy on weekends, so it is often best to book your tickets ahead of time. Seats on the ferry are first come, first served so make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before your departure time.


The island-hopping ferry stops at St John's Island and Kusu Island before returning to Marina Pier. Lazarus island is a leisurely 15-minute walk across a bridge from St John's Pier. If you are only interested in Lazarus island, Marina South Ferries also offer a direct service from either Marina South Pier or Sentosa to Lazarus Pier.



Driving


Since Singapore is so easy to navigate with an extensive public transport network and plenty of rideshare options, hiring a car to get around Singapore is uncommon among visitors. It's also usually more expensive. However, if you do still want to drive around Singapore, be aware that car rental, parking, tolls, and petrol costs can be high. If your driving license is not in English, you must always have an International Driving Permit on you while driving the car.


There are several car rental companies at Changi Airport and a few other outlets dotted around the city. If you don't need to rent a car for a full day, the BlueSG vehicles can be a great option if you have planned your road trip well ahead of time. These little electric cars can be found all over Singapore, and you pay by the minute rather than by the day. Similar to the way the bike and scooter rentals work, you can pick up and drop off the car in any BlueSG car designated location. What's more, insurance fees are included, and since the cars are electric, you don't need to pay for petrol! The only downside for tourists is that you must have a membership card to hire them. While the process of getting the membership is relatively straightforward, you need to make sure you apply far enough in advance to have time for your card to arrive.


Travel tip: Remember, in Singapore, cars drive on the left!



Flying


Singapore only has one airport so there is no way to travel domestically by plane. Being such a small country, it would be faster to drive anyway!



Singapore has a fantastic public transportation system, making it easy and convenient to get around the city. Whether you want to take the MRT, a bus, or a taxi, you will find a way to get to your destination in no time.

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