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Singapore

Getting there & away

Local transport

Taxi

There are shared long-distance taxis to many places in Malaysia from Singapore’s Queen Street Bus Terminal; but it will be cheaper to take a bus to Johor Bahru and take a taxi from there to your ultimate destination. Share taxis to Johor Bahru are about S$8 per person, with a maximum of four passengers per taxi.

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Travel documents

Tickets

Compare the costs of flying into Singapore versus Malaysia. You can travel overland to Singapore from almost anywhere in Peninsular Malaysia (and vice versa) in less than 18 hours. Singapore is good for buying onward tickets from Malaysia, but if you’re really budgeting, you’ll probably do better in Bangkok.

For internet bookings:

www.cheapflights.com No-frills website for discount flights.

www.lonelyplanet.com TripPlanner for multistop trip bookings; Haystack for accommodation.

www.onetravel.com Covers a broad range of destinations.

www.travel.com.au Flights, car hire, cruises and hotels.

www.travelbag.co.uk Good for holiday bargains and speciality travel.

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Land

Bus

Buses run frequently from Singapore into Malaysia, some continuing to Thailand. The Causeway linking Johor Bahru with Singapore handles most traffic between the countries. Trains and buses run from all over Malaysia straight through to Singapore, or you can get a taxi or bus to or from JB.

There’s also a causeway called the Second Link linking Tuas, in western Singapore, with Geylang Patah in Malaysia – some buses to Melaka and Malaysia’s west coast head this way. If you have a car, tolls on the Second Link are much higher than the main Causeway.

From Singapore, both the Causeway Express and Singapore–Johor Express air-con buses (S$2.40) and the public SBS bus 170 (S$1.70) depart for Johor Bahru every 15 minutes between 6.30am and 11pm from the Queen Street Bus Terminal (cnr Queen & Arab Sts). Bus 170 can be boarded anywhere along the way, such as on Rochor, Rochor Canal or Bukit Timah Rds. Yet another, quicker, option is to go to Kranji MRT station by train and catch bus 160 (S$1.10).

In all cases, when you get to the Singapore checkpoint take all your belongings and get off. After clearing immigration you have to wait for the next bus (but don’t have to pay again, as long you have your ticket). Repeat the process at the Malaysian side or, once you’ve cleared immigration, simply take a two-minute walk into JB city centre. Buses stop at the Kotaraya II Terminal in JB. If at all possible, avoid crossing at weekends, when it gets infernally busy; Sunday evenings crossing from JB to Singa­pore, and Friday and Saturday evenings crossing from Singapore to JB are akin to a descent into hell.

If you’re travelling beyond JB, it’s easier to catch a long-distance bus straight from Singapore, but there’s a greater variety of bus services from JB and the fares are cheaper.

Long-distance buses to Melaka (S$11, 4½ hours) and east coast Malaysian cities Kuantan (S$27, seven hours) and Kuala Terengganu (S$30, 10 hours) leave from and arrive at the Lavender Street Bus Terminal (cnr Lavender St & Kallang Bahru). The terminal is 500m from Lavender MRT station, or get there on buses 61, 107, 133, or 145.

Buses leave from outside the Golden Mile Complex (Beach Rd) for Kuala Lumpur (S$27, five hours) and other northern Malaysian destinations including Ipoh, Butterworth and Penang. They also run to Phuket (S$70, 22 hours) and Bangkok (S$80, 25 hours) in Thailand. There’s a string of bus agents and moneychangers along Beach Rd – shop around. Lavender MRT station is about 500m away.

Train

From Singapore there are three air-conditioned express trains daily to Malaysia (about seven hours to Kuala Lumpur) with continuing services to Thailand. Contact Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM; 6222 5165; www.ktmb.com.my) or its booking office at the Singapore Railway Station (6222 5165; Keppel Rd) for information. Depending on the carriage class and whether you ride in a seat or a sleeper, a Kuala Lumpur fare will be between S$30 and S$110.

The luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express (6392 3500; www.orient-express.com) departs Singa­pore on the 42-hour, 1943km journey to Bangkok. Don your linen suit, sip a gin and tonic and dig deep for the fare, which veers dramatically between S$600 and S$6000 depending on how far you’re going and what kind of sleeper you opt for.

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Boat

Malaysia from Singapore

Regional cruise trips depart for Malaysia from the HarbourFront Ferry Terminal (6270 2228), next to HarbourFront MRT station; a host of agents here handle bookings.

Ferries depart the Changi Ferry Terminal (6546 8518) for Tanjung Belungkor, east of Johor Bahru (JB). This is primarily a service for Singaporeans going to Desaru. The 11km journey takes 45 minutes and costs S$18/22 one way/return. There are usually four services daily in each direction. From the Tanjung Belungkor jetty, buses operate to Desaru and Kota Tinggi. To get to Changi Ferry Terminal, take the MRT to Tanah Merah, then bus 2 to Changi Village and then a taxi (or just a taxi!).

Ferries also sail from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal (6542 7944) for Pengerang (return S$14), across the Straits of Johor in Malaysia. This is an interesting back-door route into Malaysia. There’s no fixed schedule; ferries leave between 7am and 4pm when full (12 people). The best time to catch one is before 8am. Clear Singa­pore immigration at the small post in the terminal. To get here, take the MRT to Tanah Merah, then bus 2 to Changi village.

Indonesia from Singapore

No direct ferries run between Singapore and Indonesia’s main ports, but you can travel between the two countries via Pulau Batam and Pulau Bintan in the Riau Archipelago. Ferries are modern, fast and air-conditioned.

Pulau Batam

Ferries depart for Pulau Batam, 20km away, from the HarbourFront Ferry Terminal (6270 2228), taking about 30 minutes to get to Sekupang, or 45 minutes to Batu Ampar. The main agents are Penguin (6271 4866), Dino Shipping (6270 2228) and Berlian (6272 2192), all with offices at HarbourFront. Between them they have dozens of departures every day, at least every half-hour from 7.30am to 8pm. Tickets cost between S$30 and S$34 return. Ferries dock at Sekupang, where you can take a boat to Tanjung Buton on the Sumatran mainland. From there it’s a three-hour bus ride to Palembang. This is a popular travellers’ route to Sumatra.

Pulau Bintan

The same companies that operate ferries from Batam also have several ferries a day from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (6542 4369) to Tanjung Pinang, the main city on Bintan, or Teluk Sebong on the island’s north coast. The 45km journey takes about an hour and costs between S$38 and S$48 return, ferries departing from 9am to 8pm.

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Air

Airports & airlines

Singapore’s slick, squeaky-clean Changi International Airport (6541 2267; www.changi.airport.com.sg) is about 20km east of the city centre. It has two terminals, with a third due for completion in 2008. Most airlines operate from Terminal 1, a handful (including Singapore Airlines) from Terminal 2. Changi’s facilities include a 24-hour medical centre, post office, free showers, free internet access, free local phone calls, left luggage (between S$3.15 and S$8.40 per day depending on the item’s size), children’s playground and free city tours for transit passengers. Pick up the free booklets, maps and other guides (including the airport’s own magazine) from information stands.

Airlines flying to/from singapore

The major airline offices in Singapore:

Air New Zealand (6535 8266; www.airnewzealand.com; 24-07/08 Ocean Bldg, 10 Collyer Quay)

Berjaya Air (6227 3688; www.berjaya-air.com; 67 Tanjong Pagar Rd)

Silk Air (6223 8888; www.silkair.com; 25-01 SIA Building, 77 Robinson Rd)

British Airways (6589 7000; www.britishairways.com; 06-05 Cairnhill Place, 15 Cairnhill Rd)

Cathay Pacific Airways (6533 1333; www.cathaypacific.com; 16-01 Ocean Bldg, 10 Collyer Quay)

Garuda Indonesia (6250 5666; www.garuda-indonesia.com; 12-03 United Sq, 101 Thomson Rd)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (6737 7622; www.klm.com; 06-01/02/03 79 Anson Rd)

Lufthansa Airlines (6835 5933; www.lufthansa.com; 05-01 Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Rd)

Malaysia Airlines (6433 0220; www.malaysiaairlines.com; 02-09 Singapore Shopping Centre, 190 Clemenceau Ave)

Qantas (6589 7000; www.qantas.com; 06-05 Cairnhill Place, 15 Cairnhill Rd)

Silk Air (6223 8888; www.silkair.com; 25-01 SIA Building, 77 Robinson Rd)

Singapore Airlines 6223 8888; www.singaporeair.com; 02-38/39 Paragon Bldg, 290 Orchard Rd)

Thai Airways (6210 5000; www.thaiair.com; 02-00 The Globe, 100 Cecil St)

Australia

Low-season Singapore flights from Melbourne or Sydney start at A$800 return, rising to AS$1100 from December to February. Flying from Brisbane saves about A$100; from Perth A$200. Check Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Qantas for deals. Weekend travel sections of the Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald have listings.

Some reliable agents:

Flight Centre (133 133; www.flightcentre.com.au) Offices throughout Australia.

STA Travel (1300-733 035; www.statravel.com.au) Offices in all major cities.

Canada

Flights from Vancouver to Singapore start at one way/return C$1150/1450. Montreal prices are similar. The Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette and the Vancouver Sun carry travel agency ads. A reliable operator is Canada’s student travel agency, Travel CUTS (1866-246 9762; www.travelcuts.com).

Continental Europe

From Paris to Singapore costs as little as €750 return. Nouvelles Frontières (0825-000 747; www.nouvelles-frontieres.fr) is a reliable agent.

Hong Kong

The cheapest one-way flights to Singapore cost around HK$1000. The Tsim Sha Tsui area is Hong Kong’s budget travel–agency centre. Try Aero International (2545 6669; www.aerohkg.com) for deals on flights to/from Hong Kong.

Indonesia

From Java, the cheapest connections to Singa­pore are as little as US$75/US$125 one-way/return. From Bali to Singapore costs from US$150/210 with Bouraq Airlines (www.bouraq.com). It also has direct flights between Singapore and Medan and Surabaya.

Japan

Japan to Singapore return flights cost between ¥50, 000 and ¥70, 000. One-way tickets are expensive (around ¥50, 000). It’s usually around ¥10, 000 cheaper to fly to/from Tokyo, rather than Osaka.

Some reliable agents:

No 1 Travel (03-3205 6073; www.no1-travel.com)

STA Travel (Tokyo 03-5485 8380; Osaka 06-262 7066; www.statravel.co.jp)

New Zealand

Low-season one-way/return Auckland–Singapore tickets start at NZ$900/1400; add around NZ$400 for high season. The New Zealand Herald travel section has fares.

The following agents are also worth a look:

Flight Centre (0800-243 544; www.flightcentre.co.nz) Branches throughout the country.

STA Travel (0508-782 872; www.statravel.co.nz) Offices in major towns and cities.

Thailand

In Bangkok, for tickets to Singapore head to Khao San Rd. Agents deal in discounted tickets; rip-offs do occur occasionally, so take care. Flights from Bangkok to Singapore one way/return cost around 4800B/6500B.

UK

London has great Singapore flight deals, the cheapest carriers including Aeroflot, Pakistan International Airlines and Air Lanka. Low-season tickets start from one way/return UK£240/380. Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and Malaysia Airlines return fares start at UK£565, topping UK£600 between Christmas and New Year. Check travel ads in the Saturday Independent, the Sunday Times and street mags like TNT.

Some reliable agents:

ebookers (0800-082 3000; www.ebookers.co.uk)

STA Travel (0870-163 0026; www.statravel.co.uk)

Trailfinders (0845-058 5858; www.trailfinders.co.uk)

USA

Fares from the west coast to Singapore start at US$900 return; check with Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Air China and Cathay Pacific. From New York, fares start at US$1100; some include a Hong Kong stopover. Circle Pacific flights cost around US$2000 from Los Angeles to Singapore via Tahiti, Auckland, Sydney, Bali and Hong Kong (among other destinations). The San Francisco Examiner, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune travel sections run travel agency ads, or check these out:

Airtreks (1877-2478 7357; www.airtreks.com)

Priceline (www.priceline.com)

STA Travel (800-781 4040; www.statravel.com)

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