Getting there & away
In Singapore, long-distance buses to Melaka and the east coast of Malaysia leave from and arrive at the Lavender St bus terminal (cnr Lavender St & Kallang Bahru), Queen St bus terminal (Queen St) or Golden Mile Complex (Beach Rd). Public transport options to all three are poor, so it’s best to take a taxi.
The main terminal for buses to and from Thailand is at the Golden Mile Complex. Among the travel agents specialising in buses and tours to Thailand are Grassland Express (6292 1166), with buses to Hat Yai ($42); Phya Travel (6294 5415) and Kwang Chow Travel (6293 8977), both with bus services to Hat Yai and Bangkok (around $70). Most buses leave around 6.30pm and travel overnight.
Singapore is the southern termination point for the Malaysian railway system, Keretapi Tanah Malayu (KTM; www.ktmb.com.my). Malaysia has two main rail lines: the primary line going from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth, Alor Setar and then into Thailand; and a second line branching off at Gemas and going right up through the centre of the country to Tumpat, near Kota Bharu on the east coast.
There is a booking office is located at Singapore railway station (6222 5165; Keppel Rd; 8.30am-2pm & 3-7pm).
TThree express trains depart every day to Kuala Lumpur (1st/2nd/3rd class $68/34/19) roughly around 7.40am, 3.30pm and 9pm, and takes between seven and nine hours; check the website or call the booking office for the exact times. One-way fares range from $19 for Economy to $111 for ‘Premier Night Deluxe’. There are also three daily services to the northeast.
The luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express (6392 3500; www.orient-express.com) runs between Singapore and Bangkok, then onward to Chiang Mai and Nong Khai (for Laos). The sumptuous antique train takes 42 hours to do the 1943km journey from Singapore to Bangkok. Don your linen suit, sip a gin and tonic, and dig deep for the fare: from $3430 per person in a double compartment, to $6650 in the presidential suite.
Unless you’re coming from Tioman or Redang Islands in Malaysia, you’ll land at one of the three main terminals or the Budget Terminal at Singapore Changi Airport (6542 1122; flight information 1800 542 4422; www.changiairport.com.sg).
Regularly voted the world’s best airport, Singapore Changi Airport is vast, efficient and amazingly well organised. Among its many facilities you’ll find free internet, courtesy phones for local calls, foreign exchange booths, as well as the following:
Left luggage (24hr; cabin bag 1st/subsequent 24hr $3.15/4.20, suitcase $4.20/5.25) Terminal 1 (6214 0628, Basement West); Terminal 2 (6214 1683, Level 1, Arrival Hall North); Terminal 3 (Basement 2 South)
Medical centres Terminal 1 (6543 1113, Level 2, Transit Mall West, 8am-2am); Terminal 2 (6543 1118, Basement South; 24hr) Terminal 3 (6241 8818, Basement 2 South, 24hr)
Napping rooms Terminal 1 (6541 8518; www.rainforestbysats.com; Rainforest Lounge, Level 3, Transit Mall West; per person per hr single-occupancy only $10); Terminal 2 (6541 9107; www.airport-hotel.com.sg; Level 3, Transit Mall South; per 6 hr $40.45)
Post offices (6am-midnight) Terminal 2, Level 2, Departure Hall South; Level 2, Transit Mall North
Swimming pool (6546 5357; www.airport-hotel.com.sg; Level 3, Transit Mall East, Terminal 1; $13.90 per visit; 7am-11pm)
This small, modern facility is more used to corporate flyers and visiting luminaries. You may come here to catch the daily Berjaya Airways flights to Tioman Island in Malaysia.
Seletar is in the north of the island, and the easiest way to get there is to take a taxi; otherwise bus 103 will take you from Serangoon MRT or outside the National Library to the gates of the Seletar Air Force base, from where you change to a local base bus to the airport terminal.
The big cruise centre at the World Trade Centre (WTC), next to HarbourFront MRT station, is the main departure point for cruises and many ferries; a host of agents here handle bookings. Regular ferry services run from the WTC to Sentosa and the other southern island.
The Tanah Merah ferry terminal south of Changi airport handles ferries to the Indonesian island of Bintan. To get to the Tanah Merah ferry terminal, take the MRT to Bedok and then bus 35. A taxi from the city is around $13.
Changi ferry terminal (6546 8518) and the pier at Changi Village, both north of Changi airport, have ferries to Malaysia. Regular ferry services run from Changi Village to Pulau Ubin ($2). To get to Changi ferry terminal, take bus 2 to Changi Village, then walk.
The ferry from Changi Ferry Terminal (6546 8518) to Tanjung Belungkor, east of Johor Bahru, is primarily a service for Singaporeans going to Desaru in Malaysia. The 11km journey takes 45 minutes and costs S$16/22 one-way/return. Services leave at 10am, 5pm and 8.15pm Monday to Thursday, 7.15am, 10am, noon, 5pm and 8.15pm Friday and Saturday, 7.15am, 10am, 6pm and 8.15pm Sunday. From the Tanjung Belungkor jetty, buses operate to Desaru and Kota Tinggi.
From Changi Point ferry terminal, boats go to Pengerang, a back-door route into Malaysia. There’s no fixed schedule; ferries leave throughout the day when a full quota of 12 people ($6 per person) is reached.
Direct ferries run between Singapore and the Riau Archipelago islands: Pulau Batam, Pulau Bintan, Tanjung Balai and Tanjung Batu. Services to Bintan and to Nongsapara on Batam run from the Tanah Merah ferry terminal. Services to Batam, Balai and Batu run from the cruise centre at HarbourFront. From Batam, boats go to Sumatra, a popular way to enter Indonesia. The ferries are modern, fast and air-conditioned.
Singapore’s location and excellent facilities have made it a natural choice as a major Southeast Asian aviation hub, with direct services all over the world. It is also serviced by four budget airlines, which often offer extremely cheap deals if you book well in advance.
Websites worth checking out for flights to and from Singapore include the following:
www.bezurk.com Similar to Zuji, but helpfully lists fares including the taxes and charges.
www.cheapestflights.co.uk This site really does post cheap flights (out of the UK only), but you have to get in early to get the bargains.
www.lastminute.com This site deals mainly in European flights but does have worldwide flights, mostly package returns. There’s also an Australian version (www. lastminute.com.au).
www.travelonline.co.nz This is a good site for New Zealanders to find worldwide fares from their part of the world.
www.zuji.com.au This site offers decent deals on a range of top-notch carriers.
Below are some of the major airline offices in Singapore. Check the Business Yellow Pages for any that are not listed here.
British Airways/Qantas (British Airways 6622 1747; www.britishairways.co.uk; 06-05 Cairnhill Place, 15 Cairnhill Rd)
Cathay Pacific Airways (6533 1333; www.cathaypacific.com/sg; 25-07 Ocean Towers, 20 Raffles Place)
Garuda Indonesia (6250 5666; www.garuda-indonesia.com; 12-03 United Square, 101 Thomson Rd)
KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines (6832 2220; www.klm.com.sg; 06-01, 79 Anson Rd)
Lufthansa Airlines (6245 5600; www.lufthansa.com; 05-01 Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Rd)
Qantas (6415 7373, www.qantas.com.sg; 06-05 Cairnhill Place, 15 Cairnhill Rd)
Singapore Airlines (6223 8888; www.singaporeair.com; Level 2, Paragon Bldg, Orchard Rd)
Thai Airways International (6210 5000; www.thaiairways.com.sg; The Globe, 100 Cecil St)
The following budget airlines operate out of Singapore. They are changing their networks all the time, so check websites for details. Bookings are made almost entirely online, though Air Asia tickets can also be bought at post offices.
Air Asia (6733 9933; www.airasia.com)
Cebu Pacific (agents 6735 7155, 6737 9231, 6220 5966; www.cebupacificair.com)
Jetstar Asia (6822 2288; www.jetstarasia.com)
Tiger Airways (6538 4437; www.tigerairways.com)