Singapore: accommodation and transport


Flights to Singapore, airport guide, key destinations, transport, accommodation, tours and more.

Getting there and around


Getting from Changi airport to your hotel, what to do if you have a long transit and the best sites for hiring a car or booking accommodation in Singapore - download the Singapore travel guide.

Flights

Flight time from Australia: 5+ hours

Singapore is a common stopover point for flights between Australia and Europe, and Changi Airport connects with almost every major destination in Asia.

There are many direct flights to Singapore departing from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and the Gold Coast.

Airlines include Qantas, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Virgin, Scoot, Tigerair, Emirates, Etihad Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Iberia and Ethiopian Airlines.

At the airport

Changi is Singapore's only international airport and is a major international travel hub connecting more than 250 destinations worldwide. Changi often tops "world's best airport" lists, and with hotels, shops, restaurants, tropical gardens, a koi pond and even a cinema and swimming pool, it's considered a tourist destination in itself. If you have a long layover at Changi, don't worry, this is one airport you won't mind being stuck in!

Tip: If you're bringing cigarettes into Singapore, even just a packet in your hand luggage, you'll need to declare them at customs and pay a duty. You can't buy duty free cigarettes at the airport on arrival, however, you can buy them on departure.

Departure tax will be included in your airline ticket, so you won't need to pay in cash, as is the case in some countries.

GST refunds can be claimed on departure from Changi Airport on some purchases made in the country.

Tip: If you're transiting through Changi Airport and your transit is five hours or more, there are free tours of the city available that can have you back at the airport within two hours.

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)

  • 20km east of Singapore CBD.
  • Taxis leave from outside each terminal. The journey to the CBD takes about 30 minutes. There is a $3 airport surcharge which increases to $5 between 5pm and 12am, Friday to Sunday. Fares between 12am and 6am on any day attract a 50% surcharge.
  • Limousines and larger taxis and vans can be arranged through the ground transport desks on arrival (tip: the desk at Terminal 3 is open 24 hours) or booked in advance.
  • Trains connect Terminals 2 and 3 with downtown Singapore and the MRT underground network.
  • Bus number 36 runs from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 to the city. The journey takes about an hour and the fare is less than $2. (Tip: Make sure you have some coins, as change won't be given.)
  • Coaches can take you directly to Johor Bahru in Malaysia via the Transtar Cross Border Service (TS1).
  • Car hire is available through Avis and Budget (desks at Terminals 1, 2 and 3) and Hertz (desks at Terminals 2 and 3).
  • Airport website: changiairport.com

Key destinations

(All are accessible by public transport.)

Getting around

Singapore has an excellent public transport system that's cheap, safe, clean and easy to use. It's a very small country, so almost everywhere is within reach by rail or bus. If you're planning to use public transport a lot, consider a Singapore Tourist Pass which gives you unlimited rail or bus travel for one, two or three days.

Trains

Singapore's MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) system covers much of the island, and you'll find train stations within walking distance of almost every major tourist attraction. Services are frequent and tickets are cheap and easy to buy at stations. All trains and stations are accessible to wheelchair users and parents with prams.

Buses

Singapore's bus service (SBS Transit) covers even more ground than the train network, and it's even cheaper. Buses are air conditioned and comfortable. You'll need the exact fare, as change isn't given, or you can swipe your Singapore Tourist Pass when getting on and off.

Taxis

Taxis are everywhere in Singapore, since few people own private cars. You can hail one on the street or find them queuing outside shopping centres, hotels and hawker centres. All taxis should be metered, and you might pay a surcharge if you travel during peak times or on a public holiday. Airport fares incur a surcharge of $3 or $5, depending on when you travel. To book a taxi, call the all-company hotline: 6-DIAL CAB (6342 5222) or use an app such as GrabTaxi.

Ferries and boats

Singapore is one of the world's busiest ports. Passenger ferries and cruise liners link the country with Malaysia, Indonesia and much of Asia. 'Bumboats' cruise the harbour and the Singapore River, and shuttle tourists to the island of Pulau Ubin.

Transport tip: gothere.sg is a great website for working out how to get from A to B by any means of transport in Singapore. It's also available as an iPhone app.

Car hire

Car hire isn't a popular option for tourists, since Singapore is so easy to navigate by public transport or taxi. The country has a high tax on car ownership, so most locals don't drive either. If you do decide you need a hire car, you'll pay a lot for the privilege, and for the petrol and tolls.

Tip: Renting an electric car from Smove (smove.sg) at least saves you the cost of petrol.

Local car hire companies may offer slightly cheaper rates than the big international agencies. You can compare rates at drive.sg.

Tip: If you're planning to travel into Malaysia, it's far cheaper to catch a bus across the border then rent a car once you're there.

Singapore has a private car rental scheme which allows car owners to hire out their vehicles on weekends and public holidays. The owner is responsible for making sure the car is insured, and the driver must meet the minimum age and licence requirements on the insurance policy. It's illegal for car hire agencies to offer these kinds of rentals, but they have been known to do it. If a rental price seems too good to be true, check that it's not a privately owned vehicle and ask to see the insurance certificate.

Driving in Singapore

As with everything else in Singapore, most drivers follow the rules - or else they face hefty fines and jail time.

  • Vehicles drive on the left.
  • You can drive in Singapore on your Australian licence (or a licence from any English-speaking country) for up to 12 months.
  • The blood alcohol limit is .08. Drink driving carries a prison sentence of up to four years.
  • Seat belts are compulsory, as are child seats for children under eight.
  • Mobile phones can only be used hands-free.
  • Buses have right of way, and it's illegal to drive in a bus lane.
  • Headlights must be turned on between 7pm and 7am.
  • Keep left if you're not overtaking. 'Road hogging' is an offence.
  • Road markings are different to those in Australia, and include white or yellow lines or zig zags to indicate parking rules. See this explanation.

Accommodation and tours

Accommodation options range from five-star hotels to cheap and crowded hostels. Bookings can be made on the usual sites, such as booking.com, hotels.com, expedia.com or hostels.com, or you may find a more competitive rate through the hotel's own website. Check customer reviews on Tripadvisor before you book.

Airbnb can be a good place to find a bargain apartment, as many Singaporeans travel for work and rent out their pads while they're away.

Gay travellers: Homosexuality is illegal in Singapore, but fortunately the law is rarely enforced. Same-sex couples can search for gay-friendly hotels using filters on wotif or lastminute or on sites such as travelgayasia.com and globalgaylodging.com.

Tip: If you're looking for a place to sleep off your jetlag during the day, you'll have trouble finding a hotel that allows you to pay by the hour (the assumption is that you're up to something illegal). The best place to sleep during the day is at one of the airport hotels, where rooms can be booked in six-hour blocks.

Tours can be organised once you've arrived in Singapore, or in advance through a travel agent or travel booking site. Search Tripadvisor or Viator for recommendations from other travellers. Boat tours of the harbour and river are always popular.

Hop-on-hop-off bus tours are another popular option with travellers. Although they cost more than standard public transport, they're the quickest and easiest way to the see the sights, and they include commentary.

Tip: Changi Airport runs free tours of the city that last about two hours, and are great if you're on a tight schedule.

Package tours are a low-stress option for travellers who don't want to organise their flights, accommodation and on-the-ground transport separately. For deals, check airline and travel booking sites as well as travel agents.

Got a travel tip about Singapore? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Add a comment below.


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