Driving a Rental Car in Singapore

On my recent trip to Singapore, I decided that I would try renting a car.

My Chevorlet rental car from Avis.


I am an American and used to left-hand-drive cars, but adjusting to a right-hand-drive car was not as difficult as I imagined. Anyway, here are some tips and lessons I learned from my week of driving in Singapore.

Cashcard & IU are crucial.
The rental car comes with an IU unit that is triggered at ERP gantries and electronic parking lots. You will need to buy a NETS cashcard from 7-11 to put in the IU. Make sure that you push the NETS card ALL THE WAY into the IU slot! You will know you have done it correctly if the IU beeps and displays your balance.

If you drive thru an ERP gantry without proper cashcard inserted, you will be fined S$10 + ERP fee.

Parking enforcement seems to be lax.
In HDB parking lots and public parking lots, you are supposed to buy punch out parking cards and display them on your dashboard. I kept forgetting to buy parking cards, but fortunately did not get any fines. I reckon that the Singapore government is so rich that they don’t need to nickel-and-dime their citizens over petty fines (unlike the US).

Parking in malls is cheaper after 7pm.
After 7pm, most malls on Orchard seem to charge a flat per-entry fee of around S$4 rather than a time-based fee. Parking during daytime can be really expensive. Always try to have S$10 in your NETS card so you don’t have to stress about not having enough money for parking etc.

Singaporean drivers are quite polite and traffic is very light
I didn’t have any near-accidents because Singaporeans drive relatively carefully. Traffic-levels were a dream, especially considering that Singapore is the most densely populated city in the world. The government’s strict control of car-ownership has a great effect of preventing traffic jams.

You’re not supposed to park in double yellow curbs, but a lot of people do anyway.
On a related note, absolutely no stopping or parking at double zigzag curbs.

Singapore roads are built like arteries.
In America, we are used to streets being built in a grid-like fashion, which makes it pretty intuitive to navigate without GPS. However, Singapore’s road design is more like an artery system which branches out from the CBD toward the edges of the island. This artery system makes it VERY un-intuitive to navigate without GPS. Make sure you have a smartphone with Google maps. It makes point-to-point driving MUCH easier.

Familiarize yourself with the expressways and their terminals.
I found myself using the PIE (Pan Island Expressway) and CTE often. If you are going to and from Changi Airport, you will probably find yourself using the ECP (East Coast Parkway).

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