Getting Around Singapore

November 25, 2016

When you are in Singapore, you will realize that getting around is a breeze because of two reasons. Firstly, we are small. The mainland of Singapore and her 60+ offshore islands add up to a total land size of 719.1 sq. km (we are smaller than New York city!). You can travel from Changi International Airport in the east to the westernmost point of the mainland in under an hour by car.  Secondly, we have a well-developed public transport system that is both comfortable, convenient and wheel-chair accessible.

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)

Since its inception in 1987, the MRT system has grown (and is still growing) from a humble 6 km section of 5 stations to 170.7 km of route network over 5 lines across Singapore. Run by two public transport operators, SMRT and SBS, train frequency is typically 2 to 3 mins during peak hours of 7am to 9am and 5 to 7 mins during off-peak hours. At the entrance/exit of every MRT station you can also find a useful map of the vicinity and its places of interest. 


In addition to our extensive MRT route network, there are over 300 bus services plying the roads of Singapore. Though travelling by bus is dependent on road conditions and can take a longer time than the MRT, it can bring you to your destination directly and minimize walking time. Avoid taking it during 0700h – 0900h and 1800 – 2000h to skip the peak hour traffic. At every bus stop, there is also a bus directory board to help you plan your bus journey. Train and bus rides are free for children below 7 years-old, but child concession cards are required if they are above 0.9m (apply with the child’s passport at TransitLink Ticket Offices). 

Tips: You can locate free charging points and Wi-Fi at major MRT stations like City Hall. USB charging points are also available in some buses! 

Mode of payment

The recommended way to pay for journeys on the MRT and bus is with an EZ-Link card, a stored value card that charges by the combined distance travelled, i.e. MRT + bus journey. With the stored value, you need not worry about having sufficient monies for your multiple journeys. Buses only accept EZ-Link card or cash payment (exact change is advised as change is not given) and the latter payment mode costs more e.g. a 10 km bus ride costs $1.38 by EZ-Link payment but $2.00 by cash payment. Only EZ-Link card and Standard Tickets are accepted on the MRT journeys. The table below allows you to compare and decide between the card and ticket option.  

Note: Forgetting to tap the EZ-Link card on the exit card reader when taking the bus incurs maximum fare for the journey

Alternatively, if you are looking to pack many attractions during a short visit, consider the Singapore Tourist Pass—a special EZ-Link card for tourists. It offers 1, 2 or 3-days unlimited travel on buses and MRT, and the deposit is refundable unlike the standard EZ-Link card. 


For a more comfortable door-to-door journey, you can also consider paying a little more and travel around Singapore by taxi/cab. The standard taxi has seating capacity for 4 adults / 3 adults + 2 children / 2 adults + 3 children / 1 adult + 4 children.

All the eight taxi companies in Singapore, with Comfort and CityCab (+65 6552 1111) having the largest taxi fleet, charge by the meter based on a flag down rate and the distance travelled.  The flag down rate ranges from $3.20 to $3.90 and the distance rate is around 22 cents per 400 m. Additional surcharges like peak period (25% of meter fare) and late night hiring (50% of meter fare) may apply. Alternative transport like Grab and Uber is also fast growing in Singapore and can be even more convenient if you are familiar with the apps. 

For more detailed information on the above modes of transport (e.g. fare calculations), please visit here or download the “MyTransport Singapore” app.


Ferry information on accessing Singapore’s popular offshore islands or neighbouring countries can be found on its respective pages under “Attractions”.