Probably the most obvious and important link between Singapore and the rest of the world is its international airport. Changi Airport perfectly reflects Singapore’s image as one of the economic powers of the world while also highlighting the island state’s focus on modernity and effectiveness. The several hundred awards and accolades the airport has collected in little more than 30 years of existence are testament to that.
Three terminals offer connections to 320 cities in 80 countries worldwide. More than 55 million passengers arrived and departed in 2015 — nearly eleven times the population of the country. As Changi is one of the main hubs in the region, for example as a stopover on the Kangaroo Route from Europe to Australia, it is also well known among people who have otherwise had very little contact with Singapore. In any case, chances are that Changi is the first thing you will see of Singapore.
Changi Airport is not only of utmost importance in terms of global connections, but also as a local economic motor. Around 2,000 people are employed at the airport, assuming a wide array of positions from store clerk to control tower operator. In fact, according to the airport’s own estimates, with several hundred retailers under its roof, Changi is steadily becoming a prime shopping venue for residents as well, not only for travelers.
Entering and leaving Singapore by car is a completely different issue. Not that the entry restrictions and customs regulations are any different at road checkpoints — it is simply a lot less likely that you would use a car to enter or exit Singapore.
This has two very simple reasons: First off, as Singapore is an island, the only land links from Singapore lead to Malaysia, which drastically reduces the number of expats who could feasibly make use of their car to come to Singapore. The second reason is an economic one. As we have detailed in our article on driving in Singapore, using and maintaining a car here is a luxury, and with the excellent public transportation system, a fairly unnecessary one at that.
Still, if you are dependent on your car or simply choose to use one, no matter the cost, the Johor-Singapore Causeway and the Tuas Second Link Bridge are the two roadways you can use to drive out of or into Singapore. Both lead to Malaysia, the former to the city of Johor Bahru, while the latter leads to the village of Tanjung Kupang. Apart from road traffic, the Causeway also offers rail connections. While it would technically be possible to walk the distance between Singapore and Malaysia on both links (at a length of 1 and 2 km), it is not allowed due to immigration restrictions.
As the MRT can be considered the national railway of Singapore, the country does not boast a separate operator for long-distance railway travels. However, KTM — also known as Malayan Railways Limited — offers connections to and from the Woodlands train checkpoint in Singapore to various destinations in Malaysia, most notably perhaps to Kuala Lumpur via the KTM Intercity North-South Line, which roughly services Malaysia’s west coast. Many of the stops also offer interchanges to lines leading to other parts of Malaysia and neighboring countries.
If you are looking for a relaxed method of getting out for a weekend getaway, this might just be what you were looking for. The price is about 34.00 MYR for the most inexpensive single trip option from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is hard to beat. The KTM website has additional info such as fares, schedules, and stops.
In the years to come, train connections between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore might experience a surge in popularity and significance. In the beginning of 2013, the Malaysian and Singaporean governments agreed to cooperate on a high speed rail connection between the two cities, aiming to reduce travel times to 90 minutes. For commuters interested in working in Singapore, but reluctant to pay the ever-increasing rents on the island, this could be a godsend. However, the project is still in a early state, and much can change until the proposed opening date, scheduled for 2020.
Singapore’s neighbor to the west and south, Indonesia, is not quite as easily accessible as Malaysia. However, you do have the option of getting on one of the many ferries which leave from the two terminals at the HarbourFront and Tanah Merah. Those do not only navigate towards the many smaller islands which are part of Singapore, but also to Indonesian and Malaysian ports nearby. You can choose between a total of ten destinations, with ferries departing several times a day. The Singapore Cruise Centre offers a complete overview of the lines, as well as information on fares and schedules on their website.
If you don’t necessarily want to leave the country, but would still like to experience a nice boat ride on a sunny weekend afternoon, give the River Cruise a try — for 25 SGD, you will be able to see Singapore’s landmarks from quite the unique perspective.
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