Travelling around in Singapore is relatively easy and affordable. You can get to almost any place in Singapore using public transport. However, while trains and buses will get you to your destination, they are not the fastest mode of transportation. This is especially so when you are visiting attractions on the outer reaches of Singapore.
These are the rules to remember when deciding how to get about. All dollar amounts quoted are in SGD.
If you have money, this is almost always the best and most comfortable way of travelling. I shall first explain the ins and outs of hiring a taxi in Singapore. Further down, I shall describe the situations in which it may not be a good idea to take a taxi.
Charges:- All taxis in Singapore are metered. When you get into a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter ($2.80, $3 or in a very blue moon $5 depending on the size of the taxi). The meter runs based on the distance covered. Also, there may be various surcharges incurred depending on whether you’ve entered the city area, whether you’ve crossed a toll gantry, whether you’ve flagged it during the peak hour and also if you’ve flagged it at the airport. The charges are all displayed prominently on a notice pasted on every taxi’s back left door.
Taxis in Singapore are fairly affordable, especially if you are comparing to other places like London or Japan. To give you a sense of how affordable this is, a ride from Changi Airport to the heart of town would cost about $20+ during off peak hours. This may not sound cheap, but remember, Changi Airport is right at the Eastern end of Singapore. So you have crossed half of Singapore with that amount of money.
Hiring one from the road:- Hiring a taxi can sometimes be a tricky affair. Generally, one hires a taxi by standing at the roadside and sticking his arm out to flag one. Taxis are identified by the sign on the roof of the vehicle proclaiming taxi. If the sign is red, it means that the taxi is occupied, so don’t bother wasting arm strength trying to flag down each and every taxi that comes by.
Hiring one by phone:- It is relatively easy to find a taxi outside the city. However, come peak hour, or if you are within the city, it may be much harder. The best method is to telephone for one.
Remember this magic number: 6552-1111.
Call this number and give your current location and a taxi will be despatched to your place for a surcharge of about $3-$4 (again depending on whether it is peak hour or not). Obviously, this may not be a feasible solution if you are unable to get hold of a local phone, because the duration of the call may be up to a few minutes long.
Hiring one from the taxi-stand:- If calling for a taxi is not an option for you, you will just have to patiently wait. If you are outside the city, continue trying to flag down that taxi by the roadside. Or you could try taking a bus to the nearest train station.
If you are within the city and if calling for a taxi is not an option for you, you will unfortunately have to head to the nearest taxi-stand and join the queue. It is illegal for taxis to stop along the major roads so don’t bother with that method. There are taxi-stands at all shopping centres, all hotels and dotted sporadically on major roads. Not all taxi-stands receive the same flow of taxis. In my opinion, your best bet is to go to the hotel’s front drive in as there are usually less taxi customers there. Also, the doormen can help you answer any questions should you have any or perhaps even call for a taxi.
Remember, lots of Singaporeans will also be calling the magic number for a taxi. So should you see people suddenly getting out of the queue to board the upcoming taxi, it is not because they are jumping the queue. It is simply because they have booked it.
Other advice:- There are also other less common ways of booking a taxi, such as through your Iphone. For more information, look here http://www.cdgtaxi.com.sg/commuters_services_booking.mvn?cid=76159
If you are travelling to the outlying areas of Singapore, such as The Singapore Zoo, The Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park, The Science Centre, I would suggest that you take a taxi. It is simply faster and more comfortable although it would cost about $20. Using the trains and busses would take you more than 1 hour, if you are coming from the city.
Taxis run 24 hours everyday and trains and buses run till about midnight.
In the next post, I shall highlight the ins and outs of using buses and trains in Singapore.