Home to almost 6 million people, Singapore has one of the most well-connected public transport systems in the world. You’re never far from a train station or bus stop, and there are multiple ride-sharing options to get you to wherever you want, whenever you want. If it’s your first time here, this beginner’s guide to Singapore’s transportation system will give you an introduction to getting around the city with absolute ease.
MRT: Go the long distance
The train system in Singapore is called the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Consisting of seven lines — East-West line (green), North-South line (red), North-East line (purple), Circle line (orange), Downtown line (blue), Thomson line (brown) and Jurong Regional line (turquoise) — the MRT is one of the quickest ways to get around the island. It’s also very convenient with 153 stations island-wide, many of them situated near popular landmarks.
Bus: Get to less accessible places
To visit the less central areas of Singapore, taking a bus is your best bet. Bus stops are peppered all throughout town and often, you’ll find that your travel route consists of first taking an MRT, then a bus from the MRT station to your final destination.
All you need to do is look out for the bus services at the bus stop and remember to flag down your bus as it approaches (just to make sure the driver stops for you to board). Upon boarding, tap your EZ-link card, Singapore Tourist Pass or contactless card at the doors in front, and another time when you exit the bus from the back. Similar to the MRT, you can find more information on the payment options below.
More information on payment options for MRT and bus rides:
A pre-paid card used for most modes of public transportation.
You can easily purchase an EZ-link card from the Transitlink Ticket Office at most MRT stations or online here. It costs SGD5 (this fee is non-refundable) and if you run out of money, you can conveniently top it up at the MRT stations or 7-11 convenience stores.
|SimplyGo||If you own a Visa or MasterCard® contactless card, you can use it to pay for your public transport in Singapore by signing up for SimplyGo. The fares will be charged directly to your contactless card, so note that foreign admin fees still apply.|
|Singapore Tourist Pass (STP)||
If you’re planning to travel a lot during your visit, the STP gives you unlimited rides on MRT and buses for one day (SGD20), two days (SGD26) or three days (SGD30). These prices are inclusive of a SGD10 refundable rental deposit that you can get back when you return the card before leaving Singapore.
You can purchase a STP at the Automated STP Kiosks in Changi Airport MRT Station (Terminal 2 and 3) near the Transitlink Ticket Office or online here. With the STP+ bundle from Changi Recommends, you’ll also get a complimentary half-day tour and dining voucher, on top of the various discounts you can enjoy when you flash your STP.
|Single trip tickets||
If you’re here for a day-trip or business stay, and don’t foresee yourself using the public transport much, you can consider purchasing single trip tickets from the ticketing machines in the MRT stations. It’s slightly more expensive per trip as compared to using an EZ-link card, but you’ll save on the non-refundable SGD5 EZ-link card cost.
Pay for single trip tickets upfront when you board the bus. Bus fares are calculated by distance, so simply tell the bus drivers where you’re headed politely, and they will let you know how much to pay. Note that no change will be provided, so you’ll want to keep spare change for bus rides like this!
Taxi/Private hire cars: Travel in comfort
If you’re travelling in groups, with young children, or the elderly, you might find taking a taxi or a private hire car to be more convenient and comfortable compared to taking public transport. Plus, they are available any time of the day.
Bikes & e-scooters: Explore the nooks and crannies of Singapore
Singapore may be small, but it’s still going to take a toll on you if you were to walk everywhere. That’s where bike and scooter-sharing services come in. It’s the perfect mode of transport to explore the ins-and-outs of the island in an affordable and fun way.
Often, even locals would rent a bike or e-scooter for leisurely rides around attractions with vast spaces — such as East Coast Park, Punggol Settlement, or Coney Island. It’s relaxing to ride amidst nature and the view can be pretty romantic too!
If you’re up for a challenge, you can also consider properly plotted bike routes like the 36km Coast-to-Coast Trail. Leading from Jurong Lake Gardens all the way to Coney Island, this route brings you through various parks like the Bukit Batok Nature Park, Botanic Gardens and MacRitchie Reservoir — where you can pause for a rest and take in the best of Singapore’s views. Be prepared with tons of water and make sure to be in your most comfortable outfit!
The quintessential apps you need to get around Singapore
Lastly, apart from the specific apps that you might need to utilise the different modes of transport, Google Maps is essential to your exploring of Singapore. It’s easy to use and will provide you with detailed directions like which MRT line or bus to take, and estimated travelling time depending on which mode of transport you choose.
Another app you can consider is Citymapper. Similarly, Citymapper can help you plan your route based on time, cost and even energy expanded (like how many calories you can burn if you choose to cycle). On top of the basic information, it also suggests what time you should leave your hotel if you’re planning to reach your destination by a certain time; or which bike path to take if you’re in a hurry, versus if you’re riding for leisure. All apps recommended (i.e. Grab, GOJEK, SGBikes, GrabWheels, Google Maps and Citymapper) can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.
It always pays to be familiar with a country’s transport system before visiting. If you’re planning your travel itinerary and routes, rest assured that Singapore’s transportation network is absolutely well-connected and easy to navigate. On top of that, you can conveniently connect to free Wi-Fi with Wireless@SG — available in most MRT stations, bus interchanges and various places island-wide —to save on data-usage when navigating or planning your journey with your phone. With this beginner’s guide, exploring the island will be a breeze!