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Located just south of Malaysia and east of Sumatra, equatorial Singapore is one of Southeast Asia’s greatest success stories and most-visited destinations. A common first point of regional contact for many travellers, the Lion City rarely fails to impress, from its well-oiled infrastructure and verdant tropical flora to savoury local cuisine served in convivial open-air eating houses.

The show-stopping heart of modern Singapore is the Central Business District and Marina Bay waterfront, areas packed with skyscrapers and such iconic architectural marvels as the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum, durian-like Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, and Marina Bay Sands resort. Lively districts like Little India, Geylang, and Chinatown promise rich cultural experiences, while the string of glitzy shopping malls lining Orchard Road offer air-conditioned respite from sweltering midday heat.

Whether visiting for a week or a weekend, travellers of all kinds will find plenty to like about clean, family-friendly, and practically crime-free Singapore.  

Getting Around

No Southeast Asian city has better public transportation than Singapore. The tiny 277-square-mile city-state is well covered by a comprehensive mass rapid transit (MRT) system of above and below-ground trains that are swift, frequent, and generally on time. Today there are more than 100 train stations across the main island, and an ambitious expansion plan will introduce numerous others as eight new lines and extensions are rolled out periodically through 2030.

Equally convenient—and even more cost-effective—is Singapore’s network of buses, which help fill the gaps between train stations and, in some cases, can actually get you where you’re going even quicker. Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced, as well, and all drivers speak English.

By Metro Train

Singapore’s excellent MRT system canvases the central tourist and business districts. Fares are calculated based on distance travelled and start at less than SG$1 (US$0.70), and there are no fees for transferring between lines. Short-term visitors should consider the Singapore Tourist Pass, which provides unlimited train (and bus) travel for up to three days and starts at just SG$10 (US$7.30), plus a refundable SG$10 deposit. The passes are available at Changi Airport and all central stations.

An EZ-Link card is the next-best option. Like the Singapore Tourist Pass, the EZ-Link card works on an easy “tap in, tap out” system at each station—all you have to do is add value and top up the card balance as necessary.

By Buses

Hopping aboard Singapore’s air-conditioned fleet of SMRT and SBS Transit buses is the cheapest and often most scenic way of getting around the island. A number of handy journey planner apps are available, and all bus stops have clear, detailed route itineraries. Buses make frequent stops, making them a fine option for short trips in the CBD and other central areas.

Similarly on the MRT, fares are charged by distance and are most easily covered with a prepaid EZ-Link or Singapore Tourist Pass used to tap in and tap out of the bus. Passengers can pay by cash, as well, but drivers do not provide change.

By Taxi

An abundance of taxis patrol Singapore’s streets 24 hours a day, though you’ll likely encounter long queues during rush hours, rainy weather, and driver shift changes, the latter generally lasting from 4pm to 5pm. Though technically drivers are only allowed to accept passengers at designated taxi stands, you should be able to flag one down elsewhere—keep in mind they’re unlikely to stop on major roads or at bus stops.

Fares are metered, start at SG$3 to $4 (US$2.20 to $2.90), and vary greatly based on a litany of factors, including starting point and time of day. Though most taxis accept foreign credit cards (for an added surcharge), ask before starting your journey.     

Tips & Articles

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