Syfa & Ganjar

How to Use MRT in Singapore For A First-timer

Written by Syfa

Navigating Singapore is a breeze, thanks to its comprehensive public transportation system. With MRT stations scattered throughout the city and buses with stops every few dozen meters, my husband and I concluded that there was no need to take a taxi during our stay. Instead, we opted to travel by MRT or bus.

We particularly enjoyed taking the MRT to get around Singapore, which is why we intentionally chose a hotel located near an MRT station. For a review of our hotel, Check Inn @Little India, be sure to read our article on it.

In this post, I'd like to share a step-by-step guide on using the MRT in Singapore. This information will be especially helpful for those planning their first trip to Singapore, as you'll likely use this mode of transportation frequently during your stay.

For travelers who have just landed at Changi Airport, you can find MRT stations in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Simply head downstairs using the escalator or elevator to reach the station.

bus to T1, T3, & Jewel
Shuttle bus in Terminal 4

If you land at Terminal 1, make your way to Terminal 2 or Terminal 3 via the link bridge or Skytrain, which connects all three terminals. Those arriving at Terminal 4 can take the free shuttle bus to Terminal 3.

The MRT from Changi Airport stops at Expo Station and Tanah Merah. If you need to transfer to the Downtown Line, alight at Expo Station. For those looking to switch to the East West Line, get off at Tanah Merah Station.

Step 1: Purchase E-Money or Any Acceptable Contactless Cards

The first step to use Singapore's MRT system is to get yourself a payment card. This card will be your key to entering and exiting the gates at each station. Foreign tourists have a few different card options when it comes to riding the MRT in Singapore, including:

  • EZ-Link and NETS Card
EZ Link

EZ-Link and NETS are two of the most popular e-money in Singapore. Both cards can be used to pay for MRT, LRT, and bus fares. We can also use them to go shopping in selected merchants. For Indonesian folks, this cards works the same as Flazz, Brizzi, or Tap Cash.

The card costs SGD 10, out of which SGD 5 is stored for use. We can top up the card in numerous sales points on the island. Please read our article about How to Buy an EZ-Link card to know more about purchasing it, and How to Top-up EZ-Link Card to get the details about checking and top-up the balance. 

  • Singapore Tourist Pass
Singapore tourist pass
Singapore Tourist Pass

For hassle-free city exploration without the need to constantly top up your e-money, the Singapore Tourist Pass is your perfect companion.

The Singapore Tourist Pass grants tourists unlimited travel on Singapore's basic bus services, MRT, and LRT trains for the duration of its validity. With this card, you can enjoy public transportation without worrying about checking your remaining balance each time you use it.

This convenient card is available in one to three-day options, depending on the type of pass you purchase. Prices for standard use range from SGD 10 to SGD 20, making it an affordable choice for your Singapore adventure. To purchase this, please visit Transitlink Ticket Office located at every corner of the MRT station.

  • Visa and Mastercard Contactless Credit Card
Visa Contacless
Credit Card VISA with contactless feature

Suppose you have a Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card with a contactless logo; you can also use it on the Singapore MRT. For me, as and Indonesian, several Indonesian banks support this feature, including BCA, Sinarmas, Mega, and others.

I've personally tried using a BCA Visa credit card for MRT payments, and the process was seamless, with no noticeable difference from using an EZ-Link card. If you're curious about the full experience, check out my article detailing my journey using a BCA Visa credit card on the Singapore MRT:

Step 2: Go to The MRT Station

MRT entrance
MRT entrance
MRT system and its locality map
MRT system and its locality map

Once you've secured one of the payment cards mentioned above, it's time to head to the station. Most stations are underground and feature multiple entrances. Feel free to enter through any door, as they all lead to the same area inside.

If you're carrying large items like suitcases, it's highly recommended to use the elevator rather than the escalator. This helps avoid disrupting the flow of traffic on the escalator stairs, which are often quite busy.

Upon arriving at the station, be sure to check the MRT line map to determine your destination station and the MRT line you'll need to take. These maps are typically found at the station entrance or near the gate before entering the platform.

Choosing the correct line is crucial, as some stations only have one line, while others have two to three lines. Take a look at this comprehensive list of MRT lines in Singapore and nearby attractions to make the most of your journey.

Step 3: Tap Card at The Entrance Gate

Tap kartu MRT

To enter the MRT station, tap your payment card on the entry gate with a green arrow for the line you wish to take. The remaining balance will appear on the screen and the gate will open.

If it doesn't, read the information displayed on the screen. It could be due to low balance, a faulty card, or a malfunctioning gate. Make sure to read the information on the screen carefully for further instructions.

Step 4: Head to The Platform

train platform
train directions
Pintu MRT
Pay attention to the train direction information on the door

Head to the train platform. On one platform, there should be two trains in the opposite direction. Look at the signage to choose the correct train to avoid the wrong destination.

Wait until your train comes. Make sure to wait on the other side of the door, so you don't block other people's way. When it's your board turn, wait for other passengers to exit before you enter the coaches.

Step 5: Board The Train

MRT from the inside

When you get on the train, find an empty seat. However, if you don't find one, hold on to the hanging strap to help you stand still in the MRT. Here are some dos and don'ts of taking the MRT in Singapore:

  • Don't Sit in Priority Seating
priority seat
priority seat is in red

The first seating in the MRT is usually reserved for those in need. This seat has a different color and has signs on its wall. This seating is designed for seniors and people with disabilities (including those with temporary disabilities such as a broken foot, pregnant, or someone carrying small children.) So, make sure the seat is vacant.

  • Don't Eat, Drink, and Smoke

MRT normally forbids commuters from consuming food and beverage on board and in the station area. This is to prevent commuters from littering the train and its station. As for smoking, passengers who smoke in every station area will be arrested.

  • Don't Eat or Bring Durians

Durian is a popular fruit in Southeast Asia, known for its creamy texture and unique odor. However, its strong scent has caused controversy, with some countries banning it from public transportation or enclosed spaces.

In Singapore, durian is widely available at markets and stalls, and it is best to consume it on-site rather than risk causing discomfort to fellow commuters on the MRT system.

It's important to be mindful of others when using public transportation and to follow the rules and regulations set in place to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for everyone. If not, bringing durians onto the MRT may result in fine.

  • Pay Attention to The Announcement
MRT's line and announcement
train position's indicator

It is crucial to pay attention to the announcements made while using trains, particularly those informing about the upcoming stop to avoid missing your destination. Keep in mind that not all trains have screens or indicators displaying information about the next station.

The announcements made on the Singapore MRT system are primarily in English. However, there are some lines where announcements are made in four languages simultaneously: English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil. These languages were selected as they are Singapore's official languages, reflecting the country's multicultural nature.

Step 6: Get Off of The Train

When approaching your destination station, move towards the exit to help with the process of getting in and out of the station smoothly. After arriving at your destination, please exit the train in an orderly manner, being mindful of the gap between the train floor and the platform.

It's essential to pay attention to the direction signs when exiting the station. If you are leaving the station, look for the signs labeled "Way Out." If you need to transfer to a different line, follow the signs indicating the line you want to take.

Step 7: Tap Card at The Exit Gate

tap out
information about the fare and your remaining balance

To leave the station area, tap the card at the exit gate. You know the drill already, if you tap it, the screen will display the information about the fare and the remaining balance of your card.

Last but not least, choose your exit gate. We can leave through any exit door. But to save time, you should choose the closest exit door to your destination. Look at the "Locality Map" near the exit gate to decide which doors you go to.

So, there they are - the steps for riding the MRT in Singapore. It is relatively straightforward, isn't it? On the first day, it's natural to feel a little overwhelmed and need time to adapt. However, over time, most people become accustomed to the system's flow.

Singapore's MRT operates from 05.30 am until 01.00 pm. However, when there's a special event like F1, the operational hour will be extended and adjusted based on the event.

Commuters are also given the duration between the first and last boarding (not alighting). Two hours is the maximum for a bus or train within a journey. If you stay inside the area station for more than two hours, you will be charged an additional fare.

Should you have any more questions about Singapore's MRT, please comment down below! We'll try to answer them one by one. Let's roll!

We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

More about Syfa & Ganjar →

2 comments on “How to Use MRT in Singapore For A First-timer”

  1. Hi,
    I am travelling To Singapore from South Africa In June 2024

    1. Can we use the Card on all lines (different colours)
    2. Can we interchange MRT to get to the required destinations?
    3. can the Same Card be use for a family of 4

    1. Hello, Daniel. I'm Syfa. Thanks for reaching out with your questions. Let me try to answer them one by one.

      1. Using the Card on All MRT Lines: Yes, you can use the same card on all MRT lines in Singapore, regardless of their color. Singapore's MRT system is integrated, and the card used for fare payment, commonly known as the EZ-Link card or the Singapore Tourist Pass, is valid across the entire network. This includes all MRT lines (e.g., North-South, East-West, Circle, Downtown, Northeast lines) and LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines as well.

      You can also use Contactless VISA/MasterCard to pay for the MRT. Please check this article for more information:

      2. Interchanging Between MRT Lines: Absolutely, you can interchange between different MRT lines to reach your desired destinations. The MRT system in Singapore is designed for easy transfers between lines, often without the need to exit the fare gates. Stations serving more than one line are common, and they are equipped with clear signage to guide you to your connecting line.

      3. Using One Card for a Family of 4: No. Each passenger needs their own card. The EZ-Link card or Singapore Tourist Pass is intended for use by a single individual. It's not possible for multiple people to use the same card for a single journey as the card needs to be tapped both at the entry and exit points of your journey. So, you would need to obtain four separate cards.

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We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

More about Syfa & Ganjar →
Syfa & Ganjar
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