Driving Guide

Singapore Driving Guide

When traveling in Singapore and driving in Singapore as a tourist, it is critical to understand how seriously rules and laws are taken by the people, authorities, and government. An international driving permit and this travel guide are must-haves to let you experience the wealthy city-state in Southeast Asia.

2023-11-17 · 9min read

Singapore is a vibrant and modern city-state with a rich culture and history. For travelers and visitors, driving in Singapore offers an exciting experience.

From the bustling streets of the Central Business District to the scenic views of East Coast Park, driving around Singapore can be an unforgettable journey.

With its world-class roads, traffic rules, and regulations that are strictly enforced, visitors must have a good understanding of the country’s driving culture and laws.

Driving in Singapore: What to Expect

Our comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information you need to know about driving in Singapore as a visitor or traveler. From getting your license to understanding traffic laws and regulations, we've got you covered.

With this knowledge, you can ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable from start to finish. Imagine cruising through the bustling city streets or exploring the stunning natural beauty of Singapore with confidence and ease.

Don't wait until you're in Singapore to figure it out - read our expert-curated and thoroughly researched driving guide and be prepared for an unforgettable adventure!

Discover Singapore

Singapore, a captivating blend of cultures, is a tropical paradise located in Southeast Asia. Let's dive into some quick facts:

  • Population: A melting pot of 6.03 million people with Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities, among others.
  • Climate: Expect tropical weather with clear skies and occasional heavy rain showers.
  • Location: Nestled just north of the equator, it's a bustling island city-state wedged between Malaysia and Indonesia, boasting the region's largest port.
  • Languages: Malay is the national language, but English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil are the official languages. You'll also encounter "Singlish," a unique fusion of English and Malay.
  • Size: A tiny 721.5 square kilometers, featuring the main island and several smaller ones.
  • History: Once a British acquisition, Singapore gained sovereignty in 1965, becoming a thriving hub for trade.
  • Government: Led by a ceremonial President and Cabinet, Singapore thrives as a well-organized, democratic republic.
  • Tourism: Tourism drives the city's economy, with visitor numbers doubling since 2009. Must-see attractions include Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, and the Singapore Botanical Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Singapore beckons with its unique charm, making it a must-visit destination in Southeast Asia.

FAQs: International Driver's Permit (IDP) for Singapore

As you explore Singapore, you'll notice both locals and foreigners behind the wheel. If you plan to drive with your foreign license in this vibrant city-state, you'll need an International Driver's Permit (IDP).

The IDP acts as a temporary driving license while you're here. Let's look at the most commonly asked questions for obtaining a driving license in Singapore.

Is a foreign driving license valid in Singapore?

Singapore does not recognize a foreign driving licence from other countries unless accompanied by an International Driver’s Permit. If you have your current licence from your home country and want to drive a car in the country, you must apply for an IDP. Just like a foreign driving licence, your IDP contains information such as your details and a photo. You can’t use the permit for other transactions.

The legal driving age in Singapore is 18 years old, so tourists who are at least that age and have a valid local driver’s license are allowed to apply for an international driver’s permit in Singapore. IDP made foreigners driving in Singapore possible, so if you’re planning on visiting and driving a car in the country, apply now for an international permit to help you learn to drive in Singapore.

Who can apply for an IDP in Singapore?

Tourists who are at least 18 years old and possess a valid local driver's license can apply for an international driver's permit in Singapore. This IDP enables foreigners to drive in the country legally.

Is an IDP required in all cities and districts of Singapore?

Tourists with a valid local driver's license and an international driver's permit can drive in all of Singapore's cities. Applying for an IDP is the quickest way to obtain a driver's license in Singapore.

Does an IDP replace my native driver's license?

No, the IDP serves as your international driving license in Singapore. It is essential for renting and driving a car in the country and acts as validation during checkpoints.

How long is an IDP valid in Singapore?

An IDP from the International Driver's Association is typically valid for one to three years. However, in Singapore, it's valid for up to one year and is not renewable. If you plan to stay longer, you'll need to apply for a valid Singapore license. Ensure your native license is not expired before driving, and check the date of issue before traveling.

Renting a Car in Singapore

Singapore's public transportation is world-class, and its road network is impressively extensive. But whether you're embarking on a solo road trip or traveling with companions, opting to drive your own car or rent one is a superb choice.

You can easily find the best car rental in Singapore amidst the numerous car rental companies that each offer various rental options. Fortunately, Singapore hosts these ample choices.

Car Rental Companies

Singapore offers a range of car rental companies catering to various preferences and budgets. Whether you're seeking renowned car brands or more economical options, you'll find a suitable choice. If you're budget-conscious but still yearn for a touch of luxury, you have ample options to explore. However, before renting a car, it's crucial to be aware of the driving age in Singapore, the process of applying for a driving license, and the availability of driving schools.

  • Asia Express Car Rental: This company provides access to high-end models like BMW and Nissan at budget-friendly rates. They offer multiple options for under $75 per day and are known for their reliability.
  • Exclusive Limo & Car Rentals: A popular and trusted choice among foreigners, locals, and expats in Singapore, this company offers vehicles like the Honda Civic and executive BMW for rent.

Documents Required

To rent a car in Singapore, you should meet the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 23 years old.
  • Hold a driving license with at least one year of driving experience, issued in English by your home country, or possess an International Driving Permit endorsed by authorized bodies.
  • Present a valid Passport.
  • Have a valid credit card.

With these essential documents, the car rental process in Singapore will be hassle-free, allowing you to kickstart your road trip without any delays.

Types of Rental Vehicles in Singapore

Singapore, a global tourist hotspot, offers a wide array of car rental options to cater to travelers from all corners of the world. Your choice of car model will impact the cost of your rental.

In Singapore, car rental companies fall into three primary categories: international companies, local rental providers, and car manufacturers. Some of these rental companies also offer guidance on navigating the process of passing the driving test in Singapore.

  • International car rental companies like Avis, Budget Car Rental, Europcar Car Rental, and Hertz provide a wide range of vehicles but can be relatively more expensive.
  • Local car rental companies like All Trust Leasing, Asia Express Car Rental, Eazi Car Leasing, Lion City Rentals, and My Car Rental often offer more budget-friendly options.
  • Car manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Honda, Audi, Eurokars, and Volkswagen may also have rental services for their respective vehicle models.

At any of these rental companies, you can inquire about the process of applying for a driving license in Singapore, and the knowledgeable staff will be there to assist you.

Car Rental Cost

Owning a car in Singapore can be costly, and public transportation isn't always the preferred choice. If you meet the requirements, vehicle rental offers a convenient solution to explore the city.

Consider rental costs, and below, we provide examples of cars with associated prices to help you plan your budget effectively.

  • Sedan/Hatchbacks - $50 to $150
  • Luxury Sedans - $80 to $600
  • Sports - $100 to $400
  • MPV - $80 to $250
  • Truck - $80 to $200
  • Van - $60 to $160
  • Station Wagon - $75 to $120
  • SUV - $60 to $500

Essential Road Rules in Singapore

Age Requirements

To rent a car in Singapore, you generally need to be at least 23 years old and have held your license for one year. Some companies may accept drivers as young as 18, but those under 18 are usually not permitted. An underage driver fee may apply for those below the age limit.

Car Insurance

Many rental companies include car insurance in their service fees, providing coverage for collision damage and more. It's advisable to rent from a company that includes insurance for a worry-free driving experience.

Road Rules

Familiarize yourself with Singapore's road rules to avoid fines, accidents, and disputes. Key regulations include:

Strict penalties for drink-driving, with a limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content.

  • Mandatory use of turn signals at intersections to indicate your intended direction.
  • Prohibition of mobile device use while driving, with potential fines and penalties.
  • Parking restrictions, such as no parking near fire hydrants, bus stops, and during specified hours on streets with yellow lines.

General Driving Measures

Ensure your vehicle is in good condition before hitting the road, including tires, mirrors, windows, and brakes. Carry essential documents, including your passport, car insurance, and local and international driving licenses.

Speed Limits

Observe Singapore's speed limits, typically 50 km/h unless otherwise marked. Lower limits apply in school zones and silver zones. Exceeding the speed limit results in fines and demerit points, varying based on the degree of overspeeding.

Seatbelt Laws

Drivers must ensure passengers are wearing seat belts, with few medical exemptions. Passengers under 1.35m must use appropriate restraints.

Right of Way

Singapore follows the priority-to-the-right rule, requiring drivers to yield to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections. This system ensures safe and orderly traffic flow.

Traffic Signs

Road signs are crucial for driving safely, as they provide information on speed limits, turns, and potential hazards. They play a significant role in preventing accidents on Singapore's roads.

In Singapore, road signs are primarily in English, one of the four official languages. Additionally, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil languages are used in key public locations like airports, tourist spots, and immigration checkpoints.

Warning signs, typically triangular with a red border and a white background, signal potential dangers or unusual conditions ahead, helping drivers take appropriate actions.

In Singapore, driving privileges come with the responsibility to adhere to traffic regulations. The legal driving age in Singapore is 18 years old.

However, it's crucial to note that accumulating 13 or more demerit points within a year, due to reckless driving or rule violations, can lead to license revocation.

It's important to be aware that individuals under 18 or above 70 are not eligible to drive Singaporean vehicles. Yet, those between 70 and 74 years old can retain their driving license by passing an annual enhanced medical examination and proficiency driving test.

Tourists without an international driving permit cannot drive in the country. However, you can apply for an International Driver's Permit (IDP) to navigate Singapore's cities with ease.

Driving Side

The driving side in Singapore is on the left side of the road. You should keep this in mind when you’re planning on overtaking. Overtake on the right side of the road and keep left if you’re not overtaking.

This rule makes most drivers comfortable driving on the city streets, but you have nothing to worry about since Singaporean drivers are safe drivers.

Driving Etiquette in Singapore

When driving, whether at home or abroad, it's essential to be aware of local driving customs and rules. Ignorance of these practices, especially in a foreign country, can lead to trouble. Therefore, you must familiarize yourself with the driving etiquette of the country you are visiting to avoid potential consequences.

Police Stops

During your drive in Singapore, you might come across unmarked police checkpoints. Stay vigilant for law enforcement officers by the roadside who may signal you to stop. While it may seem inconvenient, these checkpoints are designed to enhance safety.

Always carry the necessary documents when driving in Singapore's cities, as these checkpoints can be unpredictable. You should have your passport, local driver's license, and international driver's permit on hand. Maintain a respectful and courteous tone when interacting with the police authorities.


Random checkpoints conducted by the police authorities are common in Singapore and serve to ensure your safety.

When encountering these checkpoints, be prepared to present your passport, local driver's license, and international driver's permit. Comply with the rules regarding drunk driving and the use of mobile phones to avoid fines and demerit points.

In Case of Accidents

In the event of a vehicle accident, emotions can run high. It's essential to remain at the accident scene, even if it's a minor incident, and not drive away.

If there are injured individuals, call for an ambulance and report the accident to the police if necessary. When renting a car, exchange information with the other parties involved in the accident and gather evidence to provide to the car rental company.

Recognition of Singapore License in Other Countries

For tourists wishing to drive in Singapore, a local driver's license and an international driver's permit are necessary. You might ask, "Why do I need an IDP?" It's crucial because the international driver's permit is valid for up to one year.

If your stay in the country exceeds one year, you must convert your permit to a valid Singapore license, which may involve taking an English-language driving test.

A valid Singapore license can also be used in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia, eliminating the need for an international driving license in these countries.

Driving Conditions in Singapore

Understanding local driving conditions, road regulations, and etiquette is crucial for a smooth road trip in Singapore. Being informed about potential challenges and the specific requirements of driving in a foreign country will help you stay vigilant and confident on the road.

Accident Statistics

Singapore has seen a significant decrease in its road traffic fatality rate from 2019 to 2020, with reduced deaths per 100,000 people. Common causes of road accidents in the country include alcohol consumption while driving and traffic light violations. Distracted driving, such as using mobile phones or GPS while driving, is another major factor.

Toll Roads

Singapore was a pioneer in implementing congestion pricing to manage traffic flow. The system has evolved from the manually enforced Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) in 1975 to the current Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system.

The latter automatically charge drivers when passing through heavily used roads during peak hours. Under the ALS, vehicles other than public buses and emergency vehicles had to purchase permits to enter the restricted zone during operating hours.

Driving Culture

Singapore's well-lit roads and frequent police patrols ensure safety on the road, day or night. Local drivers follow speed limits and other driving rules, making the roads secure. According to research, Singapore's road safety is high by international standards, providing reassurance to foreign drivers.

Fatalities have also decreased over the years as Singapore has taken numerous initiatives to promote road safety among all vehicles, drivers, and passengers.

Kph to Display Speed Limits

It's essential to be aware of the unit of measurement used for speed limits, which varies by country. In Singapore, speed limits are measured in kilometers per hour (Kph), while countries like the USA and Liberia use miles per hour (mph). Understanding this distinction is vital to avoid confusion when driving in Singapore.

Driving at night

Driving at night in Singapore is generally safe due to well-lit and smooth roads. However, be cautious of drivers who don't use their headlights properly, those with constant high beams, and jaywalkers.

Automatic or Manual Driving

If you're planning a short stay in Singapore, consider obtaining an automatic car license instead of a manual one. Automatic cars are more commonly used and easier to operate, lacking the clutch pedal and employing only two-foot pedals.

The Top Destinations in Singapore

Singapore, renowned as one of the best tourist destinations in the world, is a treasure trove of experiences, making it essential to know the best places to visit in Singapore. The country is celebrated for its glitz and glamour and is considered one of the world’s cleanest and most orderly cities. Famous for being a prosperous country, Singapore boasts attractive high-rise buildings, the most pristine bays, the best airport globally, and well-built roads, all contributing to its allure as a top travel destination with numerous must-visit spots.

If you're planning to visit the country and go on a road trip, here are some of the country’s best road trip destinations. Don't forget to see International Driving License packages before you go, as they are essential for driving in Singapore.

Cameron Highlands - Nature's Highland Retreat

Lush tea plantation in Cameron Highlands.
Source: Photo by Jeyakumaran Mayooresan on Unsplash

Tired of the heat? Look no further than Cameron Highlands, a serene destination nestled in the mountains of the Pahang state, bordering Perak to the northwest.

These quaint mountain towns are home to lush plantations, including strawberries, tea, and various fruits and vegetables. It's an ideal weekend getaway for nature enthusiasts.

Hiking enthusiasts will find their haven in Cameron Highlands. Over a third of this region is blanketed by dense forests, with color-coded trails surrounding the eight surrounding mountains.

These trails lead to enchanting waterfalls, scenic vantage points, the ethereal Mossy Forest, and the majestic Mount Brinchang. The journey from Singapore's bustling center takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes, making it a perfect escape.

Driving Directions:

1. Embark on the North-South Expressway (NSE).

2. Choose between two exits - Simpang Pulai & Tapah.

3. Continue straight until you reach the charming Cameron Highlands.

Things to Do:

To make the most of your visit, here's a list of top activities to indulge in during your Cameron Highlands adventure:

1. Tour the Boh Tea Plantation: Established in 1929, the Boh Tea Company is a revered tea brand in Malaysia. A visit to this lush plantation offers a chance to wander through terraces and discover the secrets of tea cultivation.

2. Smell the Roses at Mrs. Robertson's Rose Garden: Besides tea and strawberries, Cameron Highlands is celebrated for its diverse array of roses. For flower enthusiasts, a visit to this garden is a must. Marvel at exotic blooms like the Pink Queen Victoria and Maid of Hearts while enjoying a delightful café setting.

3. Climb Mount Brinchang: The star attraction of Cameron Highlands, Mount Brinchang, promises a hair-raising yet thrilling climb. At the summit, an observation tower rewards you with breathtaking views and the pure, refreshing mountain air. This peak stands at 6,666 feet above sea level.

4. Tour the Orang Asli Villages: Discover the culture of the "Original People" – the indigenous groups residing in Cameron Highlands. These traditional villages dot the region, with some hidden in remote areas. Engage a tour guide to explore these authentic communities.

5. Pick Strawberries at Raaju's Hill Strawberry Farm: Savor the juiciest strawberries in the misty valley of Cameron Highlands. A visit to this farm allows you to handpick half a kilo of these delectable berries. If you prefer a taste without the effort of picking them yourself, the farm's café offers strawberry-inspired delights.

Tasik Kenyir - Southeast Asia's Hidden Gem

Tasik Kenyir, also known as Kenyir Lake, boasts 260,000 hectares, making it the largest human-made lake in Southeast Asia. Nature enthusiasts and animal lovers will find their paradise here, surrounded by diverse flora and fauna, including exotic orchids, rare ferns, and even sightings of panthers and elephants. The drive from Singapore's center takes approximately 7 hours and 58 minutes.

Driving Directions:

1. Head to South Bridge Road.

2. Exit through 242-Yong Peng.

3. Drive towards Gambang.

4. Exit through 858-Ajil.

5. Continue on Route 185 until you reach Tasik Kenyir.

Things to Do:

Tasik Kenyir offers a plethora of delightful activities to engage in. Here's a list of top experiences to consider:

1. Bask in the Glory of Lasir Waterfall: If you're a nature and waterfall enthusiast, a trip to Lasir Waterfall is a must. Located 16 kilometers from Pengkalan Gawi, you'll embark on a boat ride to reach this stunning destination. Apart from the refreshing waters, you can bond with fellow travelers over a leisurely fishing session.

2. Explore Gua Bewah: Formerly known as the "kilang tahi kelawar," Gua Bewah is an excellent choice for first-time cave explorers. Automatic solar lights illuminate your path as you descend a staircase into the cave. Keep an eye out for the elusive white snakes hiding among the rocks.

3. Play with Fishes at Kelah Fish Sanctuary: Nature enthusiasts seeking wildlife interaction will relish visiting the Kelah Fish Sanctuary. Swim, feed, and play with the fish while respecting the strict "no fishing" policy to preserve the natural spawning grounds. This sanctuary is nourished by 91 streams from Mount Padang, a renowned hiking trail in Terengganu.

4. Bathe with Rescued Elephants at the Kenyir Elephant Conservation Park: For a unique wildlife experience, head to the Kenyir Elephant Conservation Park. Witness elephants in their natural habitat, a stark contrast to zoo settings. The knowledgeable staff ensures your safety as you get up close and personal with these gentle giants, even sharing a refreshing waterfall bath.

5. Visit the Bird and Orchid Park: Bird enthusiasts will enjoy the Bird Park on Pulau Terengganu Mati, a mere 15-minute boat ride from the lake. Here, you can spot various avian species, including peacocks and swans. If you have a penchant for botanical sights, don't miss the Orchid Park, a short boat ride from Pengkalan Gawi.

Malacca - Rich in History

Step into the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Malacca, where heritage buildings, ancient landmarks, and colonial structures seamlessly blend with rich local cuisine. Savory delights such as chicken rice balls, Nyonya Assam laksa, cendol, and Kristang dishes await your taste buds. The journey from Singapore's city center is a leisurely 3 hours and 56 minutes.

Driving Directions:

1. Drive towards Johor and follow the signs to Kuala Lumpur.

2. Once in Ayer Keroh, continue straight.

3. Pass by Melaka Hospital.

4. Proceed straight until you reach Melaka town.

Things to Do:

Unveil the treasures of Malacca with a variety of engaging activities:

1. Visit Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple: Travel back to the 17th century by exploring the Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple, hailed as Malaysia's oldest. This sacred place of worship offers invaluable insights into the culture and history of the Buddhist Chinese community in Malacca.

2. Enjoy the Views at the Taming Sari Revolving Tower: The Taming Sari Revolving Tower rises to a majestic height of 110 meters and accommodates up to 66 passengers at a time. Climb for 7 minutes, followed by a 5-minute walk at the apex to witness the panoramic city views before descending.

3. Admire the Sultanate Palace: The Sultanate Palace, a replica of the original wooden palace of Sultan Mansur Shah, offers a glimpse into Malacca's historical heritage. Stroll through its gardens while appreciating the impressive architecture.

4. Walk around Stadthuys: The crimson facade of Stadthuys stands as a prominent landmark in Malacca. Dating back to 1650, it's the oldest Dutch colonial-era structure. Formerly the governor's town hall and residence, it now houses the History & Ethnography Museum.

5. Go Shopping at Jonker Walk Night Market: Friday to Sunday evenings come alive with the vibrant Jonker Walk Night Market on Jalan Hang Jebat. This bustling market offers a diverse array of goods, from souvenirs and antiques to local handicrafts. Don't forget to sample street food delights like pancakes, waffles, rice balls, and cendol while you shop.

There you have it – three distinct destinations, each offering a unique blend of nature, culture, and culinary delights. These enriching experiences will undoubtedly create lasting memories for travelers from around the globe.

Make Way for the Splendor of Singapore

Driving in Singapore can be a thrilling and memorable experience, allowing one to explore the city-state's rich culture, vibrant streets, and beautiful landscapes. However, it's essential to be well-prepared and informed about local driving customs and laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Our comprehensive driving guide has provided the necessary information, from understanding the legal requirements and driving conditions to staying safe and courteous on the road. Now, you can embark on your Singaporean adventure with confidence and ease.

But before you start your journey, don't forget to obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP). It's a crucial document that ensures you're driving legally in Singapore. With an IDP, you can navigate the city's streets without worry.

Get your IDP today, and then be ready for an unforgettable road trip in Singapore! Safe travels, and enjoy the scenic beauty and vibrant culture of this remarkable destination.

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