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Getting to Singapore

By Air

Singapore is one of Southeast Asia's largest aviation hubs, so unless you're coming from Peninsular Malaysia or Batam/Bintan in Indonesia, the easiest way to enter Singapore is by air. In addition to flagship carrier Singapore Airlines and its regional subsidiary SilkAir, Singapore is also home to low-cost carriers Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia.

In addition to the locals, every carrier of any size in Asia offers flights to Singapore, with pan-Asian discount carrier AirAsia and Malaysian regional operator Firefly operating dense networks from Singapore. There are also direct services to Europe, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, North America, and even South Africa. Singapore is particularly popular on the "Kangaroo Route" between Australia and Europe, with airlines like Qantas and British Airways using Singapore as the main stopover point.

As befits the country's main airport and major regional hub status, Changi Airport is big, pleasant and well organised, and immigration and baggage distribution is remarkably fast. The airport is split into three main terminals (T1, T2 and T3) plus a dedicated Budget Terminal for low-cost airlines (currently only Tiger Airways, Cebu Pacific and Firefly).

From the airport there are a number of ways to get into the city:

• taxi – simply follow the signs after clearing customs. Meters are always used in Singapore and prices are reasonable. A trip to the city during the day will be between S$20 and S$30 including S$3-5 airport surcharge. An additional 50% surcharge applies between midnight and 6 am;

• limousines charge a flat S$50 to anywhere in the city and are a pretty good deal after midnight, as you can skip the queue and avoid the surcharge; the same pricing applies to chartering van-sized MaxiCabs, which are good for large families or if you have lots of baggage;

• shuttle – shared six-seater MaxiCab shuttle service to designated areas/hotels costs $7 and can be booked in advance or in the arrivals hall; 6 am to 2 am, every 15 to 30 minutes;

• subway – MRT trains run from a station between T2 and T3, but you'll need to change trains at Tanah Merah to a city-bound train: just exit through the left hand side door and cross the platform. The 30-minute ride to City Hall station costs S$1.40 plus a refundable S$1 deposit, and trains run from 5:31 am to 11:18 pm;

• bus – bus terminals can be found in the basements of T1, T2 and T3; 6 am to midnight only, and exact fare is required (no change given) if you pay cash.

By Rail

Singapore is the southern terminus of Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railway or KTMB) network. There are two day trains (the Ekspres Sinaran Pagi and Ekspres Rakyat) and a sleeper service (Ekspres Senandung Malam) daily from Kuala Lumpur. Trains are clean and fairly efficient, but slower than buses.

For time being, trains arrive at the small colonial-era railway station in Tanjong Pagar at the southern edge of the CBD, a bit of a hike from Tanjong Pagar MRT station. There's no ATM in the immediate vicinity, but there is a money changer, a simple restaurant and a taxi stand just outside to the right. Alternatively, you can also get off in Woodlands right after immigration and continue into Singapore by bus or taxi; from July 2011, this will become the only option.

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