How to avoid taxi surcharges in Singapore

Singapore has a fleet of 25,000 taxis and they always use the meter. Taking a taxi is an affordable luxury with base fares of S$3 and S$0.60 per kilometre, but surcharges complicate things and can add up quickly. Follow these tips to keep your taxi fares as low as possible.

Hail a cab on the street. Calling for a taxi comes with a booking fee of S$2.50-$3.50 and advance bookings (i.e. requesting a taxi for 18:00 tomorrow) cost a whopping S$5.20. You can hail a taxi on the street or look for a taxi stand outside hotels, malls, and attractions. Unless it’s raining, it shouldn’t take long to find one.

- Don’t travel during rush hour. Not only will waiting time in traffic send your fare up (S$0.20 for every 45 seconds or less of waiting), but there’s a 35% surcharge on the metered fare weekdays from 07:00-9:30 and 17:00-20:00 plus 17:00-20:00 on Saturdays.

- Don’t catch a cab downtown. Taxi trips from Singapore’s central business district (CBD) incur a S$3 surcharge from 17:00-00:00 Monday to Saturday. This surcharge is only applicable to taxi trips originating in the CBD, not if that’s your final destination.

- Party near your hotel. If you’re a night owl, find some entertainment within walking distance of your accommodation because fares go up by 50% after midnight. The MRT and most buses also stop running around midnight, leaving no alternative to a taxi. The late night surcharge ends at 05:59.

- Avoid the “luxury” taxis. The black Chrysler 300C taxis cost 50% more than others, including the Mercedes taxis. Why? Nobody knows. Just avoid them.

- Take the MRT from the airport. There are many great reasons to travel light, one of them being the option to avoid long taxi queues and surcharges at Changi Airport by taking the subway to the city. The airport taxi surcharge is S$5 Friday-Sunday from 17:00-midnight and S$3 at all other times. The airport surcharge is only applicable to taxi trips starting at the airport, not if it’s where you’re headed.

- Electronic road pricing (ERP) tolls must be reimbursed by the passenger and will be added to your receipt. If there’s a way to get where you’re going that bypasses the road tolls, the taxi driver will know.

Note that these surcharges are all applicable on top of each other. That means if you call for a taxi at 19:00 on a Friday to pick you up from your downtown hotel, you’re looking at the meter charge + 35% + S$3 CBD surcharge + a $3.50 booking fee. In situations like this, just take the subway.

Last reviewed by:
Tanya Procyshyn is a Singapore-based freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea. She blogs at www.idreamofdurian.com.

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