You’ve done the hard bit and survived the long-haul flight, now you want to hit the city centre. For most of us that means ASAP, but also with an eye on our finances.
For these eight cities, a bus is almost always the cheapest – and the slowest (by far).
Train, especially an express such as London’s speedy (but not especially cheap) Heathrow Express, will potentially beat any road vehicle.
If you have several bags, prefer to be greeted by a sign bearing your name, and whisked straight to your destination, consider booking a private airport transfer. It’s a preset price, pre-paid, usually less than a taxi (unless you choose a genuine limousine service) and efficient.
Take the time to crunch the numbers. If there are at least two of you, a private transfer may be cheaper than the express train (though it might be slower, too).
And, of course, there’s Uber. Check each city for details.
Heathrow Airport, London
Distance: 32 kilometres.
Train: The Heathrow Express to Paddington departs every 15 minutes and takes 15 minutes to Paddington. The off-peak fare (booked online) is £25 ($44).
The slower Heathrow Connect departs every 30 minutes and takes 31-49 minutes with stops en route to Paddington. Fare £10.20 ($18).
The trip on the Tube (the Underground) takes about 50 minutes. Trains depart on average every 10 minutes and the fare is £6 ($10) but it is cheaper if you have an Oyster Card. It can be crowded and there are all those stairs and escalators.
Taxi: A traditional London taxi will take 30-60 minutes and the fare ranges from £48-£90 ($84-$160).
Private transfer: A pre-booked transfer in a car or mini-bus takes 30-60 minutes and the fare ranges from £50-£120 ($90-$215).
Bus: The National Express bus runs from the airport’s Central Bus Station to Victoria Coach Station. The service is irregular and during peak periods you’re likely to be stuck in traffic. Fares range from £8-£11 ($14-$20).
Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris
(Also known as Roissy-Charles de Gaulle)
Distance: About 25 kilometres.
Train: RER (Paris by Train), an express train, departs every 6-15 minutes and takes 35-40 minutes to reach Paris-Chatelet station. It also connects to the Metro at several stations. The fare is €11.40 ($18).
Taxi: The taxi ride takes from 30-60 minutes and the fare is €50-€60 ($80-$95). There’s a surcharge between 5pm and 10am and on Sundays and holidays. Traffic can be horrendous.
Shared/private transfer: Shared shuttle transfer is popular in Paris. The cost is €16-€25 ($25-$40) a head, depending on the number of passengers, and it drops you right to your hotel. It must be pre-booked. You may have to drop off other passengers on the way, so it can take a while. A private transfer is €75 ($118) for four people.
Bus: Local buses (routes 350 and 351) take 75 minutes and the fare is €6 ($9).
Roissy Bus departs every 15-20 minutes and takes 60-75 minutes to Paris Opera. The fare is €13.20 ($20.60). Le Bus Direct departs every 30 minutes and takes about 60 minutes to Eiffel Tower. The cost is €17 ($27).
Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, Rome
Distance: 26 kilometres.
Train: The Leonardo Express is fast, efficient and guaranteed to run even if there’s a transport strike in Rome. It runs every 15-30 minutes and takes 31 minutes to Termini Station (the central station). Fare €14 ($21).
Taxi: The official fare from airport to within the city walls is €48 ($75), including luggage.
Private transfers: Pre-booked private transfers are often a good deal in Rome. You pay in advance and the driver is waiting with your name on a sign. The fare starts from €50 ($80) for three people direct to your hotel (in a Mercedes Benz, no less).
Bus: Terravision shuttle bus runs seven times a day from the airport to Termini Station. The trip takes 70 minutes and has five stops. The fare is €5 ($8).
John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport, New York
Distance: About 23 kilometres.
Train: You’ll have to lug your bags on the AirTrain but it’s a bargain at about $US7.25 ($9.50). Runs 24 hours a day and takes 35 minutes to Penn Station.
Taxi: A cab to Manhattan takes on average an hour and in peak hour could take two hours. The fare is a standard $US52 ($69) plus any tolls and 50 cents (65 cents) tax – and don’t forget to tip. There is a maximum of four passengers and a peak surcharge of $US4.50 ($6) from 4-8pm on weekdays.
Private transfers: Pre-booked private transfers from JFK Limousine Service will meet, greet and drop you in Manhattan for about $US110 ($145).
Airport shuttles: Ride-sharing is popular and these can be cost-effective. Be sure to choose smaller vans – they’ll have fewer people to drop off before you get to your destination.
Changi Airport, Singapore
Distance: 19 kilometres.
Train: MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) trains depart about every nine minutes and take 32 minutes to City Hall. Fare about $S1.74 ($1.70). It’s cheap but you will have to change trains to get to some of the better-known accommodation areas.
Taxi: The trip takes 20 minutes during off-peak to City Hall and the fare ranges from $S20-$S40 ($19.60-$39). Surcharges apply for peak travel and from midnight to 6am.
Bus: The airport shuttle departs every 15 minutes (every 30 minutes off-peak) and takes 25 minutes to the city. The fare is $S9 ($8.80). Local buses cost about $S2.50 ($2.45) and take about an hour to the city.
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
Distance: 30 kilometres.
Train: The Airport Rail Link takes 30-40 minutes and makes six stops en route. The fare ranges from 15-45 Baht ($0.60-$1.80). Given the city’s legendary traffic, it’s a good option.
Taxi: The trip takes 30-45 minutes on average but if traffic is bad it could be two hours. The average cost is 350 Baht ($14), including tolls and the airport surcharge.
Private transfers: A pre-booked airport limousine fare starts from 1000 Baht ($40).
Bus: There is a 24-hour bus service. Take a free shuttle bus to the Transportation Centre then choose your bus. The fare is 35 Baht ($1.40) but buses are frequently stuck in traffic.
Narita Airport, Tokyo
Distance: 60 kilometres.
Train: The JR Narita Express (NEX) departs every 30-60 minutes and takes about 50 minutes to reach Tokyo Station. The fare is 3000 Yen ($35.40). Everyone takes the express.
Taxi: The trip takes 60-90 minutes. The fare can be by the meter or fixed (confirm before hiring) and ranges from 20,000-25,000 Yen ($236-$295), plus tolls.
Bus: The Airport Limousine bus stops at major hotels and takes 85-115 minutes to Shibuya. The fare is 3100 Yen ($36.60).
The Tokyo Shuttle bus, the Keisei bus, takes about 90 minutes direct to Tokyo Station. The fare is 1000 Yen ($11.80) during the day and 2000 Yen ($23.60) for early morning and late-night trips. There are about three buses an hour.
Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong
Distance: 34 kilometres.
Train: The Airport Express departs at about 10-minute intervals. The trip takes 24 minutes to Hong Kong station and there’s a free bus shuttle service from there to most major hotels. The fare is $HK115 ($19).
Taxi: Taxis in Hong Kong are fast and efficient and cost from $HK235-$HK333 ($40-$56) depending on traffic, plus tolls and $HK6 ($1) for each piece of luggage.
Private transfers: Available from $HK330 ($58) for three people.
Bus: The Hong Kong Airport Shuttle departs every 10-20 minutes and stops at major hotels. Book online, the fare is $US19 ($25). A cheaper option if you know where you are going is a local bus with the A21 to central Hong Kong Island taking 50-65 minutes and costing $HK40 ($7).
NOTE: Most trains, metro, buses do not run between about midnight and about 6am – at that time you‘ll need a taxi, pre-booked transfer or Uber. All fares are one-way.