It’s been almost 2 years since I moved to Singapore to further my studies at SIM. Coming from a small town, I’ve got to give myself a pat on the back for making it this far. Truth is, I was never alone. That’s because I’ve joined Breaking Boundaries@SIM (BB@SIM), a programme that helps new international students to adapt to life in Singapore. Apart from learning about Singapore’s unique culture and meeting fellow students from around the world, I learned how to get to places of interest using Singapore’s public transport system. If you’re new to Singapore and are worried about finding your way around, don’t be! Singapore’s transport system is fairly convenient and you can get to most places with ease. Here are some tips to help you with getting around.
If you’re new on the island, an EZ-Link card is one of the essentials you’ll need if you plan on taking public transport. It’s basically a contactless smart card that you can use to pay for trips on buses and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains (most locals just call it the ‘MRT’). EZ-Link cards are sold at most MRT stations and bus interchanges, and can be topped up at any time. Once you’ve gotten yourself an EZ-Link, just follow these tips and you’ll be able to find your way around Singapore in no time!
MRTs are really a convenient way to travel. It’s best to plan your route ahead though, as often, there are multiple ways to get to the same place. When our BB@SIM peer mentors first brought us around on the MRT, I was amazed that many of the attractions are located so close to the stations. There are currently five MRT lines: The Circle (yellow) line, the East-West (green) line, the North-East (purple) line, the North-South (red) line, and the Downtown (blue) line. Most places of interest, shopping malls and housing estates are along these routes. Service hours are from 530am to midnight daily and are extended during festive periods (Side note: Singapore celebrates quite a number of festivals!) Trains come daily between 2 to 3 minutes every peak hour and every 5 to 7 minutes for off-peak hours. Did I mention that there are new MRT lines coming up? Yes, travelling around Singapore will only get easier!
Depending on traffic, the waiting time for buses can be between 5 to 15 minutes. To track bus arrival times, you can download some of these apps. Did you know that there are several bus services that take you to SIM? I really love how convenient it is to get to our campus. But if you have a morning class, be wary of heavy traffic on the roads from King Albert Park, Clementi, and Dover MRT stations. It’s no fun to be caught in the morning jam, so it’s better to leave home earlier if you don’t want to be late for your lecture! Find out more about the bus numbers which can get you to campus on SIM’s website.
All taxis in Singapore are metered, with fares based on a flag-down rate and the distance travelled. Don’t be caught by surprise if you may be required to pay surcharges during peak hours. If you too aren’t exactly fond of waiting by the road or standing in line for taxis, try using this app to book your ride. If all else fails, there are also ride-sharing options like Grab and Gojek.
The public transport system here is just one of the things that I love about Singapore. As you can see, it is fairly easy to navigate around. This really helped to ease some of my anxieties about studying abroad.
I hope that these tips have been useful! For more information on living and studying in Singapore, head over here.
Best of luck everyone!