Getting from Changi (SIN) into Town: the Options

Discussion in 'SIN | Singapore Changi Airport' started by Saracen, Jun 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Singapore being so small means Changi isn't far from real civilisation. In fact, for those living in the Eastern end of Singapore, it's just a few kilometers away. But for most travellers arriving into Singapore, destination is likely to be town. Head out of customs, and ample signage will send you on your way. Here are your options:

    Taxi

    Taxis in Singapore are cheap compared to the rest of the developed world, so don't shy away from the idea of getting a taxi to wherever you're headed. Into Town, total fares can vary from $20 up to $35 depending on traffic and time. Typical journey time should be around half an hour, though expect it to take longer at rushhour times (7:00-9:30am and 5pm-8pm), plus during those times there is a surcharge of 35% on the metered fare. Trips starting from the airport are subject to a $3/$5 surcharge depending on time. There is also a 50% surcharge between midnight and 5am, so if you're coming in the early hours be prepared to pay more. Many cabs accept credit cards, though some do not. If you prefer to pay by card, make sure you check before you board – a sticker is often shown on the window.

    A good way to predict the fare is to use gothere.sg where you can search for “changi airport to wherever” and select taxi from the modes of transport. Remember to set the time to your approximate time of arrival to include surcharges and tolls.

    Note that you might want to avoid the more expensive Chrysler taxis that have fares that are 50% higher than the others. Simply indicate this to the assistant if directed to one. Other cars, including Mercedes (if you're lucky) cost the same (with a few tens of cents difference in starting fare). If the lines are long, you may want to just take what's given.

    Large Taxi

    If you've got more passengers and/or baggage than will fit in a standard saloon, you might like to consider a Maxi Cab, Space Cab, or Mini Bus. These can be arranged on the spot, or in-advance, and charged fixed fares to any destination. Note that you may be charged for additional stops if you are not all going to the same place. Fares start from a fixed $45 depending on the type of vehicle. More here.

    Airport Shuttle

    There is a shuttle bus from Changi that serves most of the major hotels. The cost is $9 per adult and $6 per child. You'll want to check the details with the Ground Transportation Desk.

    MRT Train

    The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is Singapore's World Class metro network, and it comes into Changi. You'll need to walk about 7-10 minutes, following the signs to the trains. If you'll be in Singapore for a few days and are planning to use public transport, get an EZ-Link card from the ticketing window. It will cost you $12 including $7 of credit (the remaining $5 is a card deposit). If you prefer a single ticket, use the machines, and note that there's a $1 deposit, in addition to the fare, that is refunded when you return the smart card. Note that there are no special child tickets for foreigners, though Children under 0.9m tall travel free.

    The trip into town will cost around $1.70, and take 35-45 minutes depending on waiting times (typically a few minutes) and where exactly you're going. If you have to change onto another line, you might like to plan your trip in advance; again gothere.sg is a great tool. The last train leaves from Changi Airport MRT station at just after 11:15pm, after which you'll have to chose another option, until about 6am.

    Note that you will have to change to another train at Tanah Merah Interchange. Despite what the map seems to suggest, trains from Changi Airport stop at that station, where you simply cross the platform and make your way into the city.

    Airport Shuttle

    The Airport Shuttle seems to work well. It is a air conditioned small van with luggage room (the driver lifts the heavy pieces). It leaves SIN every twenty or thirty minutes and tends to not be at all full, typically several other passengers/stops. This is a good option when traffic is light (i.e., post-midnight arrivals) or if you will not be able to access your hotel room immediately. It can be fun to get a bit of a city tour upon arrival. – thanks to MSPeconomist

    Bus

    If your idea of fun is coming off a transpac and sitting on a bus for an hour, there are a few bus services that serve Changi. The buses are airconditioned, but expect journeys to take an hour or more depending on where you're going. Bus 24 goes to Ang Mo Kio, 27 to Hougang, 34 to Punggol, 53 to Bishan, and 36 into the City. Note that busses don't run much past midnight and resume again at around 6am.

    If you've got anything to add, please let me know and I'll put it into this post. Specifically, I've got no experience with the Airport Shuttle or with Car Rentals.
     
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  2. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Perfect timing for me with this thread, as I will be heading to Singapore on Wednesday!
     
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  3. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Great, enjoy your trip! One great thing about Changi is that if you arrive at rushhour and want to wait a bit for traffic to die down, there's a fair bit to do there. Though after a transpac, it might be a little tough to stay awake!

    (And you can always “Like” it if you like it ;))
     
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  4. thewinchester
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    thewinchester Silver Member

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    A hint on the MRT, you can only buy the EZ-Link card from the service point at the south end of the platform. Have found that out the hard way twice, once in 2008 and again in 2010 when I lost my card between my 2009 trip and then.
     
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  5. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    Actually even within the same taxicab company, there is a difference in price with different types of cars. Take the biggest operator, Comfort CityCab: the flagfall rate for the older Toyota Crown and Nissan Cedric is $2.80, whereas for the newer Hyundai Sonata is $3.00, while for the Mercedes taxi it's $3.20.

    Umm...the height limit for free travel is actually 0.9m.
     
  6. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    I figured those levels of variations would be tolerable :)
    You're right, I think I confused it with the height for a school pass, which is actually 1.2m. My wrong, fixed.
     
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  7. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Care to elaborate so I can update the post? That's the one as you come down the escalators, no?
     
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  8. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    For me it is, but I know many Singaporeans who "die die" avoid taking a Mercedes cab for example, because they don't want to pay the extra 40 cents flag fare :)

    Nice and useful guide btw.
     
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  9. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Are you serious?! I'd ride the Mercedes all the time if the advance booking fee was similar to normal taxis. Love getting one by chance.
     
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  10. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    Seriously, most of my local colleagues hate if they get Mercedes by chance.

    Also, one time I was in a queue at a taxi stand in Raffles Place, I was second in line behind a (local) man in business attire. A Silvercab pulled up and the man asked me if I wanted to go first. When I politely refused, he kept insisting that I took the Silvercab. He finally relented when he saw that I couldn't be budged and his face was clearly not happy :)
     
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  11. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Must be because they don't realise the tariffs are the same. The only differences are the starting fare. It's only the Chrysler that has a higher tariff.
     
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  12. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    Exactly! I've already explained many times to others that only the starting fares are different, but they still think it's an extra 40 cents every time the meter goes up.

    But I have to confess I do avoid the Chrysler taxis. At the airport taxi stand, I actually feel sorry for the drivers as nobody wants to take the Chryslers and it's causing headaches for the taxi stand assistant too. Normally after some time, the assistant will manage to find clueless first time visitors to take the Chryslers though. :D
     
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  13. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Yep, I've seen that :D
     
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  14. MSPeconomist
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    A few random comments:

    There's also a large surcharge for taxis late at night, IIRC after midnight 50%. This is relevant for most of the arrivals from North America (including NRT, etc. connections) which tend to arrive in the early morning hours.

    The airport taxi lines tend to move fast, but if you're facing a really huge line, it can be worth it to take the more expensive vehicles.

    Most MTR journeys to the airport require a connection a stop or so before SIN. It's just a matter of walking across the platform and is announced, usually with not much time lost. However, if you look at a subway map, you might be tempted to wait for a direct train to avoid the connection, since the map looks like you will be connecting to the next through train anyway. Do not try to do this; the direct train will never come.

    The airport shuttle seems to work well. It is a air conditioned small van with luggage room (the driver lifts the heavy pieces). It leaves SIN every twenty or thirty minutes IME and tends to not be at all full, typically several other passengers/stops. This is a good option when traffic is light (i.e., post-midnight arrivals) or if you will not be able to access your hotel room immediately. It can be fun to get a bit of a city tour upon arrival.

    Taxis can be extremely scarce during the evening hours. Allow lots of extra time. Some hotels can have very long waits in taxi lines and some give preference to their own hotel guests. If you need to get to the airport, consider asking your hotel to order a taxi for you, get a number of a certain driver to book from a local contact, or use the hotel's car service (more expensive, of course, but might be included in some special package rates) to avoid problems.

    There are also some local buses that serve the airport. I've seen them but have never taken them. I've noticed a limited stop bus that leaves from the far end of Orchard Road, for example there's a stop posted on the side street between the Regent and the St Regis where the Sentosa fancy express bus stops. I've also noticed public airport bus stops around Raffles City.

    All MRT tickets include a deposit ($1 IIRC for one journey) that's refunded when you return the reusable smart card.
     
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  15. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Thanks! All great points, which I've tried to incorporate as best I can. Keep ’em coming folks!
     
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  16. MSPeconomist
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    Thank you.

    I forgot to mention that the shuttle bus is apparently prohibited from entering the property of certain hotels, so that it will drop you off on the sidewalk rather than in the hotel's carriage entrance/circular drive to the front entrance. To return to the airport, I think people wait at the curb but I've never tried to use it in this direction.
     
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  17. thewinchester
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    thewinchester Silver Member

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    I kind of thought the south end of the platform was specific enough, south corresponding to the point on the compass of the same name.

    As I've only been in the station a grand total of five times, and only entering from the Northern end in/out of T3, I wouldn't have a clue what's down there beyond the service booth.
     
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  18. Saracen
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    Saracen Silver Member

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    Funny guy! Just meant we generally don't know our compass bearings inside buildings so “south” might not be helpful. I'll try to see if I can see this on a map, though so far, I've not found a map of the station itself.
     
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  19. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    I believe the Control Station (or service booth) is at the T2 end of the station. The station has 2 ends, one that goes to T3 and another one that leads to T2. The control station is immediately visible as you come down the escalator (from T2), can't miss it really.
     
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  20. Jubilee777

    Jubilee777 Silver Member

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    I recommend Bus 36 for passengers who have no idea where to go in Singapore, but want to have a look at the city. If you stay on the bus from Changi Airport without getting off, you will be back in Changi Airport approx. 2 hours later as the bus is a loop service. If there are any interesting sights along the way, just get off the bus, wander around, and return to the same bus stop to catch the next Bus 36 back to the airport.
     
  21. moa999
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    I'd also add that the Marina Bay Sands runs a free shuttle for guests that drops you off directly under hotel check-in.
    My reservation was only checked coming from the airport.
     
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  22. Valentine

    Valentine Silver Member

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    Great article!

    I believe the surcharge's between midnight and 6am.

    Also, be prepared to pony up an additional 10% administrative charge and 7% GST (Goods and Service Tax) if you decide to pay with a credit card. These will not be charged when you pay with cash.

    If it helps, the Chrysler cabs are the only modern-looking black cabs around, and most locals just choose to avoid them.

    The $5 should be more aptly termed a card cost, since it's non-refundable.

    Alternatively, if you arrive into Singapore early in the day and plan on doing an intensive amount of public commuting, you may wish to consider the Singapore Tourist Pass, which costs $8 a day (excluding a fully refundable $10 card deposit). Do note that it is not a 24-hour pass (unlike some cities), and is only effective until the end of the operational day.

    While the buses that ply the airport route tend to be the newer ones with plenty of luggage/handicapped space available, it would be wise to hold off on planning any epic bus journeys requiring transfers, as many of the older buses have no space for suitcases at all.
     
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  23. From NYC
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    At the last SIN DO, I arrived very late on UA and took the shuttle bus to the Grand Hyatt. Only one other person on the van besides me, and the trip in was as fast as any taxi, but much cheaper.
     
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  24. sendaiben
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    sendaiben Gold Member

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    I quite enjoyed the Chryslers myself :D

    Coming from Japan, they seemed very reasonable!
     
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  25. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    not so reasonable in Singapore though :p
     
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