Singapore's award-winning Changi International Airport (tel. 65/6542-4422; www.changiairport.com; airport code: SIN) is a major transportation hub for many of the world's largest passenger airlines, so flights from all corners of the globe are convenient.
Compared to other international airports, Changi is a dream come true, providing clean and very efficient facilities. Expect to find in-transit accommodations, restaurants, duty-free shops, moneychangers, ATMs, car-rental desks, accommodations assistance, and tourist information all marked in English with clear signs. There is even a spa, pool, and butterfly garden. Three terminals are connected by a Skytrain system, so it is easy to get around the airport.
In my experience, the best deals are offered through Asian carriers. Compare fares at Japan Airlines (www.jal.co.jp), Korean Air (www.koreanair.com), Cathay Pacific Airways (www.cathaypacific.com), Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com), and Thai Airways International (www.thaiair.com). Otherwise, I've listed information for a few major airlines below.
Singapore's national carrier, Singapore Airlines (tel. 65/6223-8888 in Singapore, tel. 800/742-3333 in the U.S. and Canada, tel. 0844/800-2380 in the U.K., tel. 131011 in Australia, or tel. 0800/808-909 in New Zealand; www.singaporeair.com), is arguably one of the finest airlines in the world, with reliable service that is second to none. It's the most luxurious way to fly to Singapore, but sometimes the most expensive as well. It connects major cities in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to Singapore with daily flights.
From North America, United Airlines (www.united.com) and Delta Airlines (www.delta.com) link all major destinations in the U.S. with Singapore. From the U.K. and Australia, British Airways (www.britishairways.com) and Qantas (www.qantas.com) collaborate to provide flights to Asia Pacific from major cities in the U.K. and Australia.
Getting into Town from the Airport -- Most visitors to Singapore will land at Changi International Airport, which is located toward the far-eastern corner of the island. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the city by car from the airport. If you're driving, you'll traverse the wide Airport Boulevard to the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) or the East Coast Parkway (ECP), past public housing estates and other residential neighborhoods in the eastern part of the island, over causeways, and into the city center.
A taxi trip to the city center will cost around S$22 to S$25, which is the metered fare plus an airport surcharge, usually S$3 to S$5, depending on the time of pickup. If you've got a lot of people and luggage, CityCab offers a six-seater maxicab to anywhere in the city for a flat rate of S$35. You can inquire at the taxi queue or call tel. 65/6535-3534).
There's an airport shuttle, a coach that traverses between the airport and all major hotels. Booking counters at all three terminals are open 24 hours daily. When you book your trip into town, you can also make an advance reservation for your departure. Pay S$9 for adults or S$6 for children at Terminal 1, tel. 65/6543-1985; Terminal 2, tel. 65/6546-1646; or Terminal 3, tel. 65/6241-3818; and the Budget Terminal, tel. 65/6546-7656.
The city is easily accessible by public transportation. The MRT, Singapore's subway system (www.smrt.com.sg), operates to the airport, linking you with the city and areas beyond. STB will tell you the trip takes 30 minutes, but really, give yourself at least an hour, because you'll need time to wait for the train to arrive, then you'll have to transfer trains at Tanah Merah station, and if you're arriving in Terminal 1, you'll need to hop on yet another train -- a shuttle between terminals. After you get to your station in town, you'll still have to find your way, with your luggage, to your hotel. Personally, I think it's a pain in the neck, but hey, it costs only about S$2.70 to town. Trains operate roughly from 6am to midnight daily.
A couple of buses run from the airport into the city as well. SBS bus no. 36 is the best, with an express route to the Historic District and along Orchard Road. Pick up the bus in the basement of any terminal. The trip will take over an hour, and you'll need to get exact change before you board. A trip to town will be roughly S$2.
For arrival and departure information, you can call Changi International Airport at tel. 65/6542-4422.
While most visitors to Singapore will arrive by air, some will come via train from Malaysia. The Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) operates a rail system that connects Singapore all the way up the Malay peninsula, with stops in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and even connections to service in Thailand to Bangkok. Train passengers will stop for immigration at the checkpoint at Woodlands, just across the strait from Malaysia. In July 2011, the Singapore Railway Station on Keppel Road will be relocated to Woodlands, but at press time, no details were released. Woodlands is in the far north of the island, quite a way from the city center, so expect a taxi to be pricey.
For train information from Kuala Lumpur, call KL Sentral railway station at tel. 603/2267-1200. In Bangkok, call the Hua Lamphong Railway Station at tel. 622/223-7010.
Buses from Malaysia will drop off passengers at any number of points around the city, depending on the bus operator -- there is no proper inbound bus station. For bus service from major Malaysian cities, refer to bus listings in each section. Operators will be able to tell you where you will be dropped off.