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The guide to getting around Singapore on public transport

Singapore may be small but there are many ways to get around the city. From hopping on a bus to car sharing, it's time to navigate like a pro

Delfina Utomo
Written by
Delfina Utomo

First things first, you're never going to get lost in Singapore. There's always an MRT station around the corner, a bus to hop on to, signs everywhere, apps to refer to and good ol' human interaction – people to ask directions from. But if you like to be prepared all the time before stepping out of the house, here's the ultimate guide to getting around Singapore like a pro. 

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If you're coming from the airport...

Fresh off the plane, you've made it to Singapore! While our airport is well self-sufficient with plenty of restaurants, shops and even a butterfly park, eventually you will have to leave. When it comes to options, you have many.

Sometimes you're too tired post-flight and want to be in the comfort of your hotel room as soon as the fates allow. Book a ride via the Grab app or wait in line for a cab. It should cost you around $25 to get to the city centre, including surcharges. 

To sample just how connected Singapore's MRT lines are, head to the basement of Terminal 2 to catch a train to the city on the East-West (Green) Line. Take note, you'll have to get down at Tanah Merah station to switch trains – make sure you alight on the right side. Best thing, it only sets you back about $2 for a single-use ticket. 

First things first, there are two different buses you can take to the city. The City Shuttle provide drop-offs to most hotels in the city central. It's inexpensive ($9/adult and $6/child) and can be booked online in advance or at the 24-hour Ground Transport Concierge at the Arrival Halls. 

But if you're feeling more adventurous, hop on a public bus from the basement of the airport. For just $2, bus service 36 takes you through some of the main and central streets in Singapore like Marine Parade Rd, Somerset Rd, and Orchard Rd. If your hotel is around Somerset or Orchard MRT stations, you can successfully reach your hotel by riding this bus, it just might take you half an hour to an hour, depending on traffic.

By train

The MRT (mass rapid transit) is Singapore's pride and joy – and sometimes disappointment too, when it breaks down. That aside, it's the fastest way to get around the island. With an extensive network of five main lines, there's always a station around the corner. Most of the key attractions are also within walking distance from an MRT station and they're also accessible to wheel chair users, families travelling with strollers and the visually impaired. 

Before you set out to explore Singapore on public transport, make sure you're well-equipped with an EZ-Link card, a contactless smart card used in payment of public transportation fares. If you're in Singapore for just a few days, a Singapore Tourist Pass will allow you unlimited travel for one day ($10), two days ($16) or three days ($20). 


By bus

When walking around the city, it might seem tempting to hop on a bus to get around because there is a bus stop (or two) at just about every junction and street in Singapore. Give in to the temptation, purchase an EZ Link card and be on your way. There will be detailed routes at bus stops for your reference but you can always ask the bus driver if they will be passing by your destination. Remember to tap in AND out when alighting the buses in Singapore.

By car

Don't want to deal with the hassle of public transport? Take the easy (and more expensive) way out: hail a taxi or book a car. There are a couple of taxi and car-sharing apps in the market that you can download. 

A generally reliable taxi booking app when you don't have the Grab app or if it is taking too long.

We don't have Uber in Singapore and Southeast Asia because Grab bought over the internationally know car-sharing start-up. Since then, Grab's the go-to app for most people here when trying to get a ride. 

Ryde, Kardi, TADA 
Some alternatives to Grab for some variety, or if you believe in supporting the non-mainstream.


Other modes of transport

Travel the eco-friendly way with Singapore's bike-sharing initiatives like MoBike, SG Bike, ofo and Anywheel. Besides, it's the best way to take in the city sights at your own pace and time. All you need to do is download the app, pick a plan and you're ready to unlock and go. Some services like SG Bike allow you to use the EZ Link card for payments. Can't cycle? Hop on an e-scooter instead. You can zip around the CBD on one, thanks to Popscoot.  

Apps on-the-go

It's important to travel safe, but also travel smart when you're on-the-go. Tourist or not, some of these handy apps are going to be very useful to you when you're always out and about.

Google Maps
A no-brainer, everyone should have Google Maps on their phones when it comes to general navigation in real time. 

A traveller's dream, there's a reason why there is a Citymapper guide to most major cities in the world, including Singapore. It is a public transit app and mapping service which integrates data for all urban modes of transport, from walking and cycling to driving, with an emphasis on public transport. 

The official transport app from the Land Transport Authority pretty much covers all bases for tourist looking to travel, from trains to buses, and even disruption or traffic jam updates.

Bus Uncle
Learn how to speak like a local while also navigating your way around Singapore like a pro. This app provides the bus timings for every bus number, from any location in the most peculiar way ever – through a grumpy (sometimes jokey) bus driver uncle bot. 

Ready to explore?

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