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How to get to the city center from Singapore Changi Airport?

We look at the various options, and tips on which one you should take.

· 7 min read

Arriving at any new destination is exciting, but figuring out the best way to get to the city center from the airport could be a little overwhelming for many. After a long flight, chances are that you just want to get to your hotel or accommodation fast, so that you can deposit your luggages, freshen up, and head out to explore the city! If you are looking at how best to get to your accommodation from Changi Airport after arriving in Singapore, this cheat sheet will help you decide how best to get to the city center from Changi Airport.

  • If price is important: Take the MRT
  • If convenience is more important: Take a taxi / PHV
  • If time is a concern: Take a taxi / PHV
  • If you have a lot of luggage: Take a taxi / PHV
📢If you have any questions about visiting Singapore, or want to find out more to prepare for your trip to Singapore, we are now launching a time-limited event where we will open ourselves up as locals to help answer any questions you might have about visiting Singapore! Hit us up on our WhatsApp Business account and ask away!
Singapore Changi Airport

How to get around Singapore: public transport options

Singapore has a very efficient and well-connected public transport network. Compared to other major cities worldwide, the small size of the city-state also means that the public transport network isn't all that complicated, primarily made up of the MRT (which is somewhat like a subway or metro) and buses. There is also the LRT - which is a light rail system, and fairly similar to the MRT except with smaller trains and routes that are more localised to certain residential areas.

As a tourist, it is unlikely that you will be taking the LRT a lot, so the MRT and buses will be your main modes of transport.

Of course, there is also the option of taking a taxi, or by getting a private hire vehicle / ride share. Note that Uber does not operate in Singapore. Instead, if you wanted a ride share, Grab, TaDa, and Gojek are some of the main apps to use.

Source: William Cho

How to take the MRT from Changi Airport to City Center

There is a MRT station connected right next to Terminals 2 and 3 of Changi Airport, and you can easily follow the signs to reach the MRT station. However, if you will be arriving at the other terminals, here are some things to take note of:

  • If you are landing at Changi Airport Terminal 1, it is possible to get to the MRT. However, you'll have to walk across the skybridge to get to the other terminals first before reaching the MRT station.
  • If you are landing at Changi Airport Terminal 4, you will have to take a shuttle bus to get you from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3, which is then linked to the MRT station.

Note that the last train departs from Changi Airport a little past 11:15pm, so you might want to take that into account when planning which transport option to take.

Which MRT line to take from Changi Airport?

Changi Airport is served by only one line (the East-West line, or more commonly referred to by locals as the green line) so you don't have to worry about hopping onto the wrong line. However, take note that the MRT to Changi Airport only goes back and forth between 3 stations: Changi Airport, Expo (which is an interchange for the Downtown Line (or blue line - but it's rarely referred to that way)), and Tanah Merah.

Assuming your accommodation is in the city center - whether you are at the City Hall / Marina Bay / Bugis / Orchard area - you will need to alight at Tanah Merah, and change to another train, still on the East-West line (green line). At Tanah Merah, take note that there are three platforms - the center platform serves Changi Airport, and the other two platforms go in opposite directions: one towards Pasir Ris, and the other towards Joo Koon. If you are heading towards the city center, you will want to board the train that goes towards Joo Koon.

Remember, although you are still traveling on the East-West line (green line), you will need to alight at Tanah Merah. Otherwise, you will find yourself going back to Changi Airport.

MRT Green Line
Source: Cmglee

Changing to the Downtown line from Expo can also bring you to the city center, but the transport time is much longer and we generally wouldn't recommend that.

If your accommodation requires you to change lines multiple times, here are some tips for you:

  • The walk from the East-West line (green line) to the Northeast line (purple line) at Outram park is really far.
  • If you will be changing lines between Newton station on the North-south line (red line) and Downtown line (blue line), you will need to tap in and out of the station on both lines. The same applies for Tampines station (on the downtown line and East-West line)

How do I take the MRT in Singapore?

It is easy to take the MRT in Singapore. You can pick up a transport card (known as a EZ link card) from the transit office at the station. Or you can simply use your credit cards that have contactless payments to tap in and out of the train stations!

Remember to use the same card to tap in and tap out to avoid duplicate fare deductions.

Any MRT etiquette or rules that I should be aware of?

  • Eating and drinking is not allowed in the MRT stations and trains.
  • The darker coloured seats are reserved seats, but it doesn't mean that you cannot occupy them, especially if it is an empty cabin. Just give them up to someone who needs it more when you spot one. In fact, this same rule should apply to all seats on the train.
  • Keep to your left on the escalators unless you are walking up/down the escalators, though you most probably wouldn't be if you have your luggages with you.

How long does it take to get to the city center from Changi Airport?

As a general guideline, getting to City Hall from Changi Airport will take about 35 minutes, but you will have to factor in time waiting for the train to depart from Changi Airport, which could easily go up to 10 minutes.

A trip from Changi Airport to City Hall will cost you about SGD2.

Can I take a public bus from Changi Airport to the City Center?

Yes, you can. Changi Airport also has a bus terminal at each of its three main stations, and there are signs that you can follow to get to the bus terminals. Terminal 4 also has a bus stop outside the arrival hall, where you can hop onto a bus that gets you to town.

Which bus should I take from Changi Airport?

There are a number of buses that serve the Changi Airport terminals, but the bus that you would most likely be taking to get to the city center is Bus 36. Bus 36 passes through Orchard Road, Bras Basah, and City Hall - all of which are some of the most common locations that tourists will be staying at.

Singapore bus 36
Source: Singapore Buses

How do I take the bus in Singapore?

Taking the bus in Singapore is straightforward. You can pick up a transport card (known as a EZ link card) from the transit office at the station. Or you can simply use your credit cards that have contactless payments to tap in when you board the bus. Remember to also tap out when you are alighting so that the fares are deducted accurately.

If you forget to tap out? Don't worry - nothing is going to happen to you. You will still be able to use your transport card for your next trip, but the maximum transport fare will be deducted for your previous trip.

Also, remember to use the same card to tap in and tap out to avoid duplicate fare deductions!

How long does it take to get to City Hall from Changi Airport if I take the bus?

If you are taking the bus, it will easily take you about an hour to an hour and a half. Traffic conditions during peak hour could make the ride even longer.

We'll generally never recommend anyone to take the bus to get from the airport to town; but if you heading somewhere in the East or Northeast (so somewhere in Bedok, Pasir Ris, or Punggol), then sure, a bus could be a better option.

Take a taxi and/or rideshare from Changi Airport

Taking a taxi and/or ride share from Changi Airport is the option that we would usually recommend to visitors to Singapore - especially if you were arriving in Terminal 4.

How much time would I save by taking a taxi/rideshare from Changi Airport?

You can get from Changi Airport to City Hall in a little under 30 minutes if you were to take a car. Compared to taking the MRT, you'd be able to save 15 minutes or so; and compared to taking a bus, you'd be able to save at least half an hour.

But, if you were comparing the time taken to travel to other parts of the city (for example, Orchard / Marina Bay / Chinatown), then you will get even more time savings from taking a taxi/rideshare. In addition, you don't have to deal with having to drag your luggages from the station to your hotel.

How much is a taxi ride from Changi Airport to the city center?

A typical ride from Changi Airport to City Hall would cost you about SGD25 (inclusive of airport surcharge but not other surcharges). However, here are some things to note:

  • The taxis go by meter here, and if traffic conditions are bad and you are stuck in traffic, the meter will continue to jump and costs could go up.
  • If you are taking the taxis between 12am to 6am, there is a midnight surcharge of 50% added to your base taxi fare - and yes, that makes it really expensive.
  • There is a Changi Airport surcharge of $8 from 5pm to 12 midnight, and $6 at all other times.

Take note that the estimate for these charges are for a standard taxi. Singapore also has premium taxis which charges higher fares. Here is how you can differentiate between the taxis:

  • The standard taxis are usually blue or yellow
  • The premium taxis (which are more expensive) are usually in white, black, or silver
Singapore blue cab
Standard Taxi | Source: SmrtBusesLuver

If you join the taxi queue at the airport, you will be ushered to whichever taxi is available. However, if you are ushered to a limousine-type taxi and you want to pass, you can just let the usher know that you will wait for the next one. One thing you should know is that if you have a lot of people - or a lot of luggages - then you might not be able to choose, as the standard taxis will not always be able to fit everything that you have brought along.

Should I take a rideshare instead of a taxi?

Given the multiple surcharges involved with getting a taxi, it is often cheaper if you were to get a rideshare / private hire.

Remember that Uber doesn't work in Singapore. Instead, use these apps:

  • Grab
  • TaDa
  • Gojek

We recommend that you do a comparison of prices across all three apps to find the best prices. Gojek typically has the best prices, but the waiting time is often much longer. Take note that as with rideshare apps, surge pricing sometimes do apply especially when demand is high — and when there is a surge in prices, taking a taxi could sometimes add up to be cheaper.