Practical Life in Singapore


Transport in Singapore


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Public transport if generally very efficient and also pretty cheap. It extends to most parts of Singapore, is safe and is widely used by just about everyone.

Underground

The underground (which is in fact two thirds over ground) in Singapore is called the MRT, or Mass Rapid Transit. It is as frequent, comfortable and very clean, and (being Singapore ) is safe.

You can get single tickets, but a more efficient way of travelling using public transport would be to purchase an ‘ezlink' card for a S$5 deposit (which is refunded to you on return of the card) and charged with a minimum of S$10. You can use this card on any bus or train in Singapore.

SMRT: http://www.smrt.com.sg/
MRT Map: http://subway.umka.org/map-singapore.html

Bus

Like the MRT, buses are very frequent and air-conditioned. You can also use your ezlink card on the buses, or have exact change ready.

Bus drivers in Singapore always seem to be in a hurry though, so when you flag one down, don't look away as the driver may decide not to stop. Be particularly careful when mounting or dismounting too, as they tend to be in a rush to pull away, and don't necessarily pay due attention as to whether passengers actually still have a limb or two still on the bus!

Train

Singapore has a an underground system (the MRT) but no intra-island train. However, they do have trains that go to Malaysia and Thailand .

Taxi

Singapore is rather like New York in that it is full of taxis. In a country where owning a car is prohibitively expensive (see our ‘Car' paragraph below) taxis are used by everybody, although you may have problems getting one in the rush hour.

If you're staying in a hotel, or find yourself in front of one, the best thing would be to queue in front as taxis in the area usually make a point of pulling up to hotels for just this reason, and if not a porter will flag one down for you. The taxis are nice and clean, the fares metered (it has a complicated system of working out your fair, but the fares are low and you won't get ripped off) and taxi drivers generally don't expect tips. Some drivers even get offended if you insist on giving them one after they've refused your offer!

Boat

Being at the crossroads of Southeast Asia, you can get boat trips and cruises to many other islands and countries in the area. Singapore's cruise port is situated across from Sentosa, a picturesque island resort to which many Singaporeans take day or weekend trips (accessible by bus, ferry or cable car). You may also like to take a trip around the southern islands on a typical junk.

You can also take a boat trip along the river along the Singapore river, following the trade routes of years gone by. Also, there are regular boat trips from Clarke Quay to Boat Quay and back again, so if you're going out to a bar or restaurant there in the evening it's a very pleasant trip to incorporate into your night out.

Trishaws

A direct descendant of the hand-pulled rickshaw, a trishaw is a bicycle pulling a carriage affixed to its side. Once quite common, it is a part of Singapore heritage that is rapidly disappearing, and is mostly used by visitors and tourists. Like the river trip, it's a nice way of discovering Singapore outside of the antiseptic cocoon of a car or taxi. The main trishaw station is in Bras Basah Road, and from there you can take a tour or the city. Be aware, though, that there are both licensed and unlicensed trishaws. Being Singapore, you shouldn't be in a dangerous situation whichever you take, but do make sure you've agreed on how much you're going to pay before you take off.

Car

Owning a car in Singapore is extremely expensive. There are so many hoops that you have jump through (most of them financial) that many consider their time and money better spent using public transport and taxis, which in any case are abundant and inexpensive.

Bringing your own car in from abroad is really not an option unless you want to pay many times its value in import duties. Cars that are more than three years old, or which have left-hand drive, are not allowed to be brought in to Singapore, and your car must pass an inspection fy the LTA (Land Transport Authority) before it is allowed on Singapore's roads. You must also pay a fee of S$10 000 for each vehicle (car or motorcycle) you bring in. . For all the regulations and procedures you have to go to (and there are many!) please click here .

If, however, you still feel you really can't do without a car (and your company doesn't supply you with one), and you have been put off brining your own in to Singapore, than your first step would be to look into whether you want to buy one new or used. Before buying your new car you will need to purchase a CoE (Certificate of Entitlement) from the LTA. At the start of 2008 this cost S$12,001 for under 1600cc and S$13,289 for 1601cc and above. A CoE for a motorcycle would cost you S$1,012. As for the car itself, the average price of a small car (Minis and Renault Twingos fall into this catagory) is anywhere from S$30 000 to S$45 000, and a family car (such as the Ford Mondeo or VW Passat) S$80,000 - S$100,000.

Car hire is another option, but again expensive. The bottom line is that you are far better off taking advantage of Singapore 's efficient public transport system.

Airports

Singapore 's only airport is Changi Airport, but what an airport it is! Modern, luxurious, and oh - don't worry if you haven't done all your shopping by the time you get to the airport as really it's just an extension of Singapore where the shops are concerned. The facilities here are excellent, and the airport has won awards year after year (Top Worldwide Airport 2007 – Wanderlust Travel Awards, Best Airport Duty-free Award 2007 - Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Awards – and many others from 2007 and other years that we don't have space to list here). You can, however, click here for a full list of the awards, and also to link you to other pages about Changi Airport.

Changi Airport comprises Terminals 1, 2 & 3, the Budget Terminal & “JetQuay' which is the first of its kind in Asia and provides premium airport facilities for VIP travellers. Some would say that the other terminals scrub up pretty well too!

Update 19/04/2008


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