Options for getting to and from Singapore's airport
With hands-down the best public transit system in Southeast Asia, there are more options than just taxis for travelling between downtown Singapore and Changi airport. I’ll take you through all your options, listing the pros and cons of each.
Changi airport is the easternmost stop on Singapore’s extensive subway system, better known as the MRT. From a central station like City Hall the trip takes about 30 minutes and the fare is S$1.90 plus a S$1 refundable deposit. While the train between the airport and Tanah Merah Interchange has luggage racks, once you change to the main East-West line you’ll be lucky to find a seat let alone a place to set your suitcase. The other issue is the train’s limited operating hours. Airport trains only run from 05:30 to 23:18.
Pros: Very affordable (S$2), no rush-hour traffic jams;
Cons: Crowded, nowhere to put your luggage, not available after 23:18.
Public buses also have very affordable fares – about S$2 depending on the distance travelled – but are the slowest way to get to the city centre. SBS bus #36 stops in the basement of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 then leisurely makes its way along the East Coast, past the Esplanade, down Orchard Road, and eventually to Raffles Hotel. Since the airport is the first stop you’ll definitely get a seat. Public buses to/from the airport operate from 06:00 to 22:50.
Pros: Very affordable (S$2), less crowded than the MRT;
Cons: Slow, nowhere to put large luggage, limited hours of operation.
Moving into the private transport options, the Airport Shuttle Service is a shared van that takes you to any hotel in central Singapore for a fixed price of S$9 per adult and $6 for children 12 or under. The shuttle leaves approximately every 30 minutes or when it fills up. There is an Airport Shuttle Service information counter in the arrival hall of each terminal.
Pros: Available 24 hours, door-to-door service, economical for solo travellers;
Cons: Only serves hotels, may not be familiar with smaller hostels.
If you’re staying in the Bugis/Little India area, the BeesyBus Airport Shuttle will take you to or from Changi Airport for S$8. This is a great deal and saves you from trying to fit onto the MRT with a huge backpack. The downside is that this shuttle is only available with advance booking.
Pros: Affordable (from S$8), travels to and from Changi Airport;
Cons: Must book in advance, only serves Little India/Bugis hostels and budget hotels.
Taxis are the easiest but most expensive transport and there is always a queue of cabs at the airport waiting for fares. Singapore’s taxis always use the meter which, depending on the time of day, will reach S$15– S$35 for a trip between the airport and downtown. The reason for the variation is the complicated system of taxi surcharges which increases fares by 35% from 07:00 to 9:30 and 17:00 to 20:00 and 50% from 00:00 to 05:59. In addition, an airport surcharge of S$3 will be added to the metered fare and rises to S$5 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 17:00 to 24:00. Definitely check your watch before hopping in a cab!
Large taxis called Maxi-Cabs are also available at the airport and charge a flat fee of S$50 (plus a S$12 surcharge after midnight) no matter where you’re going. Since Max-Cabs accommodate up to 7 passengers they can be an economical option for groups and large families.
Pros: Available 24 hours, direct service anywhere in Singapore, lots of space for luggage;
Cons: The most expensive option, taxi surcharges add up quickly.