You have the usual suspects – cabs, rental cars, limos, public transport in various flavours, bicycles and good, old fashioned (or the new health and / or environment consciousness) walking. Your choice of getting around depends on the place of course, and also your preference and convenience in terms of ease of access, security and cost.
Cabs and Rental Cars. They offer more control on your conveyance and maybe offer better comfort than public transport and so obviously cost more almost everywhere on the globe, except perhaps in fuel-rich nations in the Middle East. If you are a group of 4 to 6, hiring a cab makes sense if the difference in total fare on public transportation and the cab fare is not much. Almost all developed nations have taxis on call or can be booked online. A new-kid-on-the-block is a service called ‘Uber’ (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has a stake in it) – present in more than 200 cities on the planet, it offers good quality car transportation simply using your mobile phone. As of this writing, you can book your ride only using their apps on iPhone (iPad only if it has a call facility), Android phone and Blackberry. You can monitor your car on your phone and pay using credit card. No nasty surprises, since all fares are fixed as per distances. There are similar services offered by local transport companies in most destinations.
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Public Transport. Singapore has a wonderful system of public transportation which comprises buses and rail transport namely MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) akin to our Delhi metro and LRT (Light Rail Transit) which are one-car rail systems acting as feeders to MRT. Now, in a single pass, one can avail all these forms of transport as per the validity of the pass. Such efficient systems are present in many cities around the world and you can get the pass or tickets at most public places like airport arrival area, bus and train terminus, supermarkets and kiosks. In certain cities like Rome, even tobacconists and hotel desks sell the passes! Getting the day passes is a good idea since it offers unlimited travel on the network – so even if you get lost you don’t cough up more money finding your way back to the hotel. And what better way to see the city like a local. You can chat with them and know more about the place and their culture.One can also feel secure with people around them especially if one is alone and moreso if you are a lady. In certain cities, ferries or small boats also qualify as transport. We simply loved our ‘Abra’ ride crossing the creek in Dubai. Venice has its share of water-buses as also many other cities like New York’s famous ferries. You can get an idea of modes of transport at your destination through the usual websites and forums like Wikitravel.org and TripAdvisor.
Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) Bus Tours. I thought this was important enough to be given its own paragraph. For your intended destination, see if there are any hop-on hop-off bus tours…you know the double-decker, usually open-top kind? These bus tours originated in London, but now are available in most major tourist destinations over the world. Besides single-city bus tour companies, there are global bus tours like The Big Bus Tour at 14 cities and City Sightseeing at 30 places and counting. Tickets can be purchased online on their website, on Viator, Isango and similar sites as also offline at various places listed on their website. You can even get tickets on the bus itself. The tip here is that if you purchase the tickets online you stand to get discounts of up to 20%. A 48-hour ticket works out even cheaper. The bus tours usually have two or more routes which may be colour coded like Red Route’, Blue Route and so on. These routes are planned in such a way that stops are mostly in the vicinity of attractions or activities. Download the maps found on their website or you will get one on the bus itself. You should generally start at the stop located closest to your place of stay, so you can finish off at the same place. If it does not make much of difference in distance, you can go to the start of the tour so you can get a seat of your choice. While it is a good idea to go to the front of the bus in London or Istanbul, it may not be such a good one if you have to sit in an open-top (with no canvas cover on) bus in Dubai. in 45 degree heat. With HOHO, you can get on and off as many times in the 24 hour or 48 hour ticket you have, listen to live or recorded commentary and get down at places of your interest. This way you get to know more about the city as also save on transportation. At destinations which have rivers, the bus tour ticket also includes a complimentary cruise on a motorized boat which is another fun way to see the place. Do check to see what other freebies (walking tours, museum tickets etc.) the company is offering. And yes, at places where there are multiple tour companies, search, compare and read reviews online at TripAdvisor and other places before buying the tickets. You should schedule your hop-on-hop-off bus tour on the first day of sightseeing to enable you to get a hang of the city layout and attractions. Then you should hop on and off for those attractions which do not require much time. Anything more than 3 to 4 hours, skip it and return at leisure by some other transport.
Two-Wheelers & ATVs. You can hire two-wheelers in most cities across the world. Paris and Rome have Vespas on hire. You can hire motorcycles like the Harley in US and other types of scooters and motor-bikes across many places. Some beach towns and cities also offer ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) on hire. They are cheaper than hiring cars and are a fun way to move around the town. We saw tourists moving across in Santorini Island in Greece on these. It is not an ideal vehicle for a family with small kids, but for those with bigger kids and couples or friends this is a nice way to go up and down the sloping roads while exploring the place or zoom around on the beach.
Bicycles, Walking & Segway. These modes of transport are best used in places which are pedestrian / cyclist friendly. You will find them being used in Europe and the US. European cities also have the advantage of being compact where you have most of the attractions in a relatively smaller radius which makes it easy to walk or bicycle around. A new form of transport has taken many tourist places by storm and that is the Segway. It is a delightful way to move across the place. There are tour companies which offer walking tours, bicycle tours and yes, even Segway tours. Of these walking is obviously best in terms of cost benefits (and health), followed by bicycling. If your hotel or apartment is located in the proximity of most attractions, your best option is to walk down and save not only money but time as well. Getting stuck in traffic during office hours is a global phenomenon which is best avoided. If you are slightly away, consider bicycles for you and your group. Bicycle lending or sharing programs have mushroomed in most major cities in the world. As per latest statistics, there are over 500 such programs all over the world comprising more than 500,000 bicycles! The concept of these programs is to provide free or affordable use of bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorised transport, in effect reducing traffic and pollution. Check if your destination has one and then go to their website or if available using a smartphone app check the locations where you can get the bicycles. Get one, ride and deposit it along with payment if required. It’s that simple.