No matter who you talk to, almost everyone says the same thing: “Singapore is so small”. As a born and bred local who is all over the island, I can attest to that. Singapore covers approximately 719 square kilometers, or 277 square miles, which should give you a good idea of how easy it is to get around the country. Here’s what you need to know to get here.
Getting to Singapore
Changi Airport and Seletar Airport
The winner Changi airport is the main gateway to the country and one of the largest transport hubs in the region, serving more than 100 airlines. Navigating the airport is easy – unreadable signs and confusing directions wouldn’t have helped them catch more than 640 awards since it opened in 1981 – and once you arrive you can either take the Mass Rapid Transit system, better known as the MRT/train, or a taxi to your place of stay.
The station is called Changi Airport and is located in the basement of terminals 2 and 3. For taxis, be aware that until the end of 2022, there is an SG$3 increase in surcharges for journeys departing from the airport – it means to get in a taxi it can cost you SG$6 or SG$8.
Seletar Airport is another entry or departure point for flights, although it currently only serves one airline, Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines. It’s much less crowded than Changi, but it’s farther from the capital (also called Singapore). Seletar Airport is convenient for flying to cities like Subang in Malaysia. However, major post-COVID-19 plans are underway: It is expected to become a flying taxi hub by 2024.
Cruise ports and ferries
There are two cruise ports in Singapore, the Singapore Cruise Center at HarbourFront and the Marina Bay Cruise Centerand the Tanah Merah ferry terminalwhich operates ferries to and from nearby destinations like Bintan, Batam and Desaru.
By car or by train
You can drive to Singapore from Malaysia via the Tuas or Woodlands checkpoint. From Malaysia, you can also take the Shuttle Tebrau train — operated by KTM – which shuttles between Johor Bahru Sentral Station in Malaysia and Woodlands Station in Singapore. The journey itself only takes five minutes, but with immigration processes, the entire journey can take up to 40 minutes. From Johor Bahru, you can hop on another train to visit other cities in Malaysia, but note that the Tebrau shuttle only operates between Singapore and Johor Bahru.
Getting around in Singapore
Public transport, SBS Transit and SMRT, offer buses and trains which are great options for visitors. Fares are cheap – fares start at just under a dollar and long trips around the island average SG$2-3 – and you can find your way around using a mix of buses and trains, because everything is well -linked.
I take public transport every day and find buses and trains reliable, but personally I prefer buses. MRT breakdowns happen and getting out of this mess can be a real hassle – if this happens be prepared to add 15-30 minutes to your journey – and it can get very crowded on the trains compared to the buses . Yes, the buses are slower, but you can sightsee and people watch as you ride. Most train routes are underground, so don’t expect great views unless you take the north-south line or the east-west line, which have tracks that run above ground.
The MRT does not operate 24/7 and most stops close at midnight or 1am. trains and buses and adding value to the use of machinery around the station. To make it easier to navigate and schedule through apps, there are options like singabus for bus timetable and MRT map.
Taxi and ride-sharing services
In most central areas it is relatively easy to flag down a taxi, which will likely be with ComfortDelGro, the main company that operates taxi services in Singapore. However, if you find yourself off the beaten track and need to book a ride, there are ridesharing services like To input, Gojekand TADA. Uber and Lyft are not available in Singapore, but these companies operate similarly. Overall, taxis and ride-sharing services can be expensive compared to public transport – a five-minute ride can easily cost you around SG$8 or more, which is why I don’t take taxis or n don’t use ride-sharing services now.
The oldest mode of transportation works well in Lion City, thanks to its small size. Most things to see and do are nearby. For example, it takes less than 40 minutes to get to City Hall – our civic district – from the famous Marina Bay Sands, one of my favorite hiking routes.
Many walkways are shaded by trees or man-made shelters – a good thing in the scorching heat. That being said, if you’re not used to humidity, it might not be a bad idea to pack a portable fan or keep your walks until 6pm or later. Singapore’s urban planning is incredible and excellent signage makes getting around easy.
Check out Insider’s complete guide to visiting Singapore.