Singapore must have the most regulated Taxi system in the world - your are fa, far more like to to be ripped off in Sydney or Melbourne.
They all run on the meter (there are 2 meters, one the metered fare and for surcharges). All taxis have to give you a receipt including distance travelled, they all have to display licence inside the cab with a phone number to call from within the cab is you have any dispute. Sure there may be the odd rouge who will want to negotiate a fare first (normally at night from Clark Quay where the official taxi queue can be lengthy) - but these are easy to avoid.Edited: 01 July 2012, 10:10
1// <<Do all taxi drivers have to go with the meter or do I have to negotiate a price first? >>
ONLY metered rides, no bargaining whatsoever.
2/ <<And do the taxi drivers have a tendency to rip you off with overcharging?>>
In general taxi drivers do honest job and try to fetch you to the destination the most efficient and swift way. Anyway ... you can always complain to the taxi company if you are not happy with the service provided.
3/ a small THANK YOU at the bottom of your post might be nice too
Singapore taxis are as safe as any in the world, by a country mile. Yes they're cheap.
''Do all taxi drivers have to go with the meter or do I have to negotiate a price first?''
If anyone offers you a ''negotiated price'' he/she is up to some scam or another, DON'T accept any ''deals'' it'll end in tears.
It's meter (totally visable, complete with photo, name and number of the driver) or don't go.
''And do the taxi drivers have a tendency to rip you off with overcharging?''
No they have a ''tendency'' towards being honest, but as in all walks of life there are the odd bad un's.
Good luck. Alan.
After travelling to many Places in the world, Singapore still has the best taxi system available.
Don't worry as ALL taxis are required by the law to charge customers based in meters. There is no such thing as to "tempered" meters here in Singapore. U would never have to worry about taxi charges here.
Singapore taxis are required by law to use the meter, they are also required to display the meter pricing schedule in the car - its usually a sticker on the windows.
Failure to do so means you take the drivers license number, ideally the license plate fo the car and make a complaint - police or tourist board.
Now do be careful as there are a complex series of surcharges, so don't accuse a taxi driver of ripping you off simply because they added a surcharge you forgot about - or because they went through a few ERP gantries. The meters are essentially automatic and add on the price at the end. There are two meter types that I have seen, one lists the tariff type and fixed extras but doesnt add percentage surcharges till the end of the trip, another actually has a running totoal of surcharges to come.
There are slight differences from company to company (usually the precise cost of the pickup/minmum fee) but the companies are all very similar and certainly the surcharges are oten government mandated so are the same - here is a fairly standard set of pricing from the SMRT company
If you are worried about the price charged - then if you are going back to the hotel you can always ask the hotel doorman, they wll always help a resident out either by explaining the charge or saying if its been unreasonable....rogue taxi drivers are rare because things are enforced heavily.
THere is one place I think that they were allowed to negotiate from memory, although Im not sure if they can still do so thats the premium taxi types waiting at the limo stand at the airport - but the fact that the Ground Transport desk has fixed prices limits what they can practically charge - and so most settle on that fixed price through the desk anyways.
Just spent 6 days in Singapore, 7 days in Kuala Lumpur, and 30 days in Bangkok. Taxis in all of these cities are better and less expensive than most other countries of the world. All go by the meter (the law) and practically none of them try to cheat you. Tipping cab drivers in KL and Singapore is not normally done nor is it expected. In Bangkok they will gladly accept tips. However, it's not necessary nor really expected. Taxis in Bangkok and Kl are much less expensive than in Singapore, although Singapore taxis are still not extremely expensive by USA or European standards. Getting around Singapore, by Subway (MRT) is much easier and more comprehensive than in either Kl or Bangkok. However, Singapore's MRT is not cheap and approaches the cost per mile of taxis.
Taxis in Singapore are cheap by Australian/UK/US standards. HK taxis have similar service and costs to Singapore. When I was in Bangkok I found the taxi drivers were reluctant to use the meter, would quote extortionate prices and would not negotiate. As the area we were staying in had no alternate transport I felt we were held to ransom by the taxi drivers. On subsequent visits to Bangkok we stayed close to the Sky Train which was fantastic. The MRT in Singapore is cheap, especially if you use an ezi link card. It cost me $1.70 to go from my apartment to Changi Airport by train or $20-30 by taxi so I don't know why one would think the MRT is not cheap.
I found taxis in Singapore safe, reliable and affordable. They are a very good option to reach quickly your hotel from airport (especially if your are 2+ pers with baggage) or attractions in a remote location (zoo, night safari, jurong bird park, changi museum, ...). Also they are still there when the MRT stops operating after midnight.
As Myrm said Singapore taxis have a complex system of surcharge (pickup, night surchage, ...) that add to the normal fare. When not aware of this system you may feel like being scammed.
I have never bargained with a Thai taxi driver. Their taxis have meters, just like in Singapore, and it's against the law to not use them. Maybe being a foreign female they try to take advantage. However, I just open the rear door, get in, and tell them where I am going. There is no bargaining involved. You pay what the meter states at the end of the trip and if you want them to use the expressway you also pay the toll.
If you pay point to point fares the MRT is pretty expensive. I thought that the EZLink card was simply a more convenient way to ride the MRT where you don't have to buy a ticket every time you ride. However, are the prices, point to point, not the same? It's like a credit card where pay as you go and top it up with additional funds. Can't see how it would be cheaper. also, you lose 5 Singapore dollars by buying the card.