It has to be said that arriving in Singapore, and then making your way to your hotel or apartment, is actually a relatively pleasant and stress-free experience. Although enormous, Changi Airport is clean, efficient and easy to find your way into and out of. Everything is clearly signed and you should have no trouble at all finding where you need to go. The drive from the airport into the city is via a tree-lined expressway on which the traffic flows pretty smoothly (although there will naturally be some delays if you arrive at a busy time of the day), and the run into the city is an ideal introduction to Singapore.
If you don’t have anyone waiting to collect you when you arrive, getting to your destination is fairly cheap and easy, and because Singapore is a pretty small place you can usually get to where you’re staying in no time at all.
Taxis in Singapore are available 24 hours a day and you can board one easily at a clearly-marked location at each of the arrival halls. They are clean and usually well-driven, and most Singapore taxi drivers will speak English. However, if you have the name and address of your hotel written down clearly, there will be no difficulties at all. Taxis have flag down rate of between SGD$3 and SGD$5 depending on the type of cab, and you are then charged for the distance you travel, which is clearly displayed on the meter. (There may also be surcharges depending on the time of day you travel and the amount of luggage you have.) You can expect to pay up to $SGD45 to travel to central locations such as Orchard Road and Marina Bay, but it may be less at quiet times during the day.
If you want a private transfer in a luxury car (4 seater), maxi-cab (7 seater) or mini-bus (9 seater), these operate 24 hours a day and can be booked at the Ground Transport Desk in each arrivals hall or in advance online. These will take you to the door of your destination and are perhaps the best alternative if you are travelling with your family. For a car, the fee is SGD$60 while for a maxi-cab or mini-bus it is between SGD$75—$80.
Airport Shuttle Services are also popular and affordable, with the advantage of being easy to board if you have a lot of luggage, and they will take you to hotels all over the island (except Changi Village and Sentosa). You can book and pay your fare (around SGD$9 for an adult and SGD$6 for a child) at the Ground Transport Desk in each arrival hall.
The MRT (or metro, subway or tube, depending where you’re from) is another cheap and efficient alternative. Changi Airport MRT station is on the East-West (green) line, which connects easily to the other three MRT lines that cover Singapore. You will need to change trains at Tanah Merah MRT station (EW4) as trains from Changi Airport aren’t direct, but this is simple provided you’re not weighed down with too many suitcases. The journey time to Orchard Road is between 35—50 minutes, depending on the time of day, and will cost around SGD$2 for an adult. You will of course need to make your way from your destination station to your hotel or apartment, so it’s a good idea to have checked out on a map how far away it is. (For more information, see Getting Around)
Once transportation has been taken care of, what other things do you need to think about in the first few hours and days? Firstly, be prepared to take it easy for a day or two. There will be things to sort out and organise, but don’t push yourself too hard. Depending on where in the world you’ve come from, the tropical climate in Singapore can take it out of you, and it may well take you some time to adjust, so allow for this in your planning.
However, do make an effort to get yourself into your new time zone as soon as you can. A useful way to do this is to stay up until a reasonable hour on the day your arrive, and set your alarm for your normal time the next morning. And as tempting as it might be, try to avoid taking naps, at least for the first few days, as this can really throw off your body clock.
During your first few days of orientation, look for some places to eat that offer the sort of food you’re used to at home (not at all difficult in Singapore). There will be plenty of time to experiment with Singapore’s outstanding cuisines, but in the meantime, especially if you’re travelling with children, comfort food is always a good idea.
The most helpful quality of all in these first few days is a positive and enthusiastic outlook. Singapore is a great international city, full of people from all over the world who, like you, want to experience all that it has to offer. You’ll find that Singaporeans are generally helpful and friendly, and so never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.