Singapore excites with its exotic mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures. The city-state makes visitors feel comfortable with its clean and well-ordered environment, regulated by government edicts. If you feel like walking to most of the tourist destinations, stay around Marina Bay or Orchard Road. If you prefer more affordable hotels in Singapore and don’t mind taking public transportation, use your booking site to sort options by price. But make sure that the accommodations you pick are near a station for the MRT, or Mass Rapid Transit.
The MRT crosses almost all of Singapore with 95 miles of rail lines and 113 stations. Trains typically run from 5:30 AM to just before 1 AM, with arrivals every one or two minutes during the rush hours and about six minutes during non-peak times. During holiday periods, such as Chinese New Year, services may continue all night. The system currently consists of eight lines: East West, North South, North East, Circle and Downtown.
If you’re disabled, you can still access much of the MRT. For visual impairments, stations use tactile ground surface bumps to guide commuters from the station entrance to the train platform. Each station name is announced as the train pulls into the station. Service animals are allowed on board stations and trains.
Each station also contains at least one entrance and fare gate that is sized to accept wheelchairs. Elevators can then take wheelchair users to all levels. Every train has two wheelchair spaces, which are shown by special signs on the platform floor or screen doors, and then again within the train carriages. Priority seating near the train doors is also available if you’re elderly, young, or pregnant.
You can buy your tickets from agents behind booths or through automated ticketing machines. (Your kids travel free if they’re under 0.9 meters tall.) Single-trip tickets, which are colored green, remain valid only on the date of purchase and only for a half hour beyond the estimated traveling time. Even if your trip requires that your pass through two fare gates, you only have to pay one fare for the entire journey. If you decide to lengthen your trip in the middle of travel, you can just pay the difference at the exit station.
If you’re planning on staying in Singapore for a few days, consider getting a Singapore Tourist Pass, which is available at several stations, such as Orchard, Chinatown and Changi Airport. You can buy a 1-, 2- or 3-day pass, which grants you unlimited rides for the period you bought through the use of an electronic smart card. The pass is valid not only on the MRT but also on the public bus network. Cost of the pass depends on duration plus a $10 card rental deposit that is refunded when you return the card.
When a train arrives, stand to the side of the doors to allow passengers to exit. You may not eat or drink in stations or trains. However, if you must take medication, approach station staff for help. You can take pictures and videos for personal use. Otherwise, you need to get written consent from SMRT management. You’re welcome to bring folded bicycles through stations and on board from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and from 8 pm to end of service on work days, and all day on weekends and holidays.
This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a complete travel platform that allows you to do everything from comparing charter flights and train rides, to finding the best resort hotels and Airbnb rentals.