Having spent a lot of time travelling, working and living in Singapore, I can tell you it really is as safe as everyone says. Whenever I come home from a trip to Singapore I have to re-train myself to be more safety conscious and make sure my bag is zipped up and I don’t just leave my stuff lying around everywhere.
As the island is so safe, it makes it very easy for visitors to get around and enjoy themselves. You don’t have to fear someone ripping off your money belt or trying to steal one of your kidneys, the only thing you have to worry about is how you’re going to do all the things you want to do while you’re there! With so much to see and do, you need to know the best ways to navigate the island and see all the things you want to see.
I’ve put together some tips to help you understand how it all works and help you feel comfortable getting around Singapore on your next holiday.
Owning a car is very expensive in Singapore and most regular people can’t afford to do it, so there is an abundance of taxis. Cab drivers aren’t rip off merchants so you don’t need to worry about them driving the long way round to make extra money. Cab fares are also really affordable, you’ll be amazed how little it can cost to get from one place to the other in a Singaporean cab.
A taxi from the airport to Orchard Road should cost you between $25 and $30, which is a bargain given it costs around $70 to get from Brisbane CBD to Brisbane airport (ouch!). Rather than struggle with your luggage on public transport, I would recommend catching a taxi to your hotel when you arrive.
You can hail a taxi on the street, but just keep in mind they aren’t allowed to stop in bus zones. There are taxi ranks outside shopping malls and you need to join the, sometimes very long, queue to get one. That said, the queues usually move pretty quickly. Keep in mind it can be really hard to get a cab during peak-hour times as you’re competing with commuters!
If you’re app-savvy and are sick of waiting for a cab, you can use Grab Taxi or Uber to find yourself a driver.
Bus and train
Singapore has a fantastic public transport system that is affordable, reliable and ridiculously clean. Compared to Australian public transport, Singaporean public transport is like spending time in a luxury 5-star resort.
The train is called the MRT and there are stations all over the place that are easy to find. The MRT system is really easy to navigate as it’s pretty small, compared to somewhere like London, and the network map is really easy to read. You can find a copy of the map here.
Trains arrive every few minutes, they’re air-conditioned, incredibly reliable and are my favourite way to get around Singapore when I’m there because it’s just so easy! You can pay cash for tickets on trains and buses, but I’d recommend you get your hands on an EZ-Link card.
EZ-Link cards are stored-value cards that save you having to line up for a ticket every time you use the train or bus. Using an EZ-Link card also reduces the fare amounts, for example, a short bus fare is usually $1.40 but costs 77 cents with an EZ-Link card! To get a card, visit the ticket office at an MRT station. The adult card costs $12 ($5 non-refundable card cost and $7 travel value). You can top the card up as you go, but you’ll be amazed at how far that $7 value gets you.
I use the ‘Next Ride’ app to help me work out a journey route, especially with the bus, and the Public Transport site is also really helpful for arrival times etc. If you find yourself a little bit lost and unsure what to do, don’t be afraid to ask someone nearby to help you. Most Singaporeans speak English and are happy to help you out if they can.
It’s really, really humid in Singapore and afternoon downpours can be quite torrential, so walking may not always seem like a good idea. But don’t let that discourage you! Just pack an umbrella, hat, water and extra deodorant – you’ll be fine.
Seeing as most visitors and some locals are scared off by the heat, you have the chance to take some amazing photos by walking around. You’ll be amazed by how close things really are and how easy it can be to walk from one place to another. It gives you a chance to burn off all those dumplings you’ve been eating and really experience the full force of the humid weather!
I would recommend catching a taxi, bus or train to the area you want to visit and spending time just walking around. It’s difficult to walk into a dodgy area or ‘run into trouble’ in Singapore, so don’t feel nervous about exploring little laneways or back alleys. Don’t be afraid to visit areas outside the tourist zones either, catch the train to somewhere more remote and experience what life is like for regular Singaporeans living in Housing Development Blocks and eating at Hawker Centres that sell the best food in town!
If you find yourself walking through a Hawker Centre, keep your eyes open for a long queue at a food stall. A long queue of locals means good food. Join the queue. Order a serve of whatever they’re selling and eat it. It’s almost guaranteed to be amazing! While Singaporeans are polite, don’t be afraid to respectfully muscle your way through a busy Hawker Centre or marketplace, it’s what the locals would do and you won’t get anywhere being timid.
After a big day of sightseeing, be sure to treat yourself to some rest and relaxation. Head down to Clarke Quay for dinner or drinks, or book in for a massage at your hotel’s spa. A cocktail goes a long way too, after all, Singaporeans know a lot about indulgence. Most hotels have some kind of cocktail hour or free-flow drink packages, so be sure to take advantage of them.
Reflexology massage is very popular in Singapore, and the perfect way to unwind and take care of any foot problems. After a dreamy hour in reflexology heaven, try some of Scholl’s new range of products to soothe tired, aching, feet and get them back to being beautiful feet. I was lucky enough to receive some pamper products from Scholl, which helped me rest and restore my tired, aching legs and feet after hours of walking around photographing and, ah-hem, eating.
Watch our Singapore for first-timers video!
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.