Sinagpore by MRT: the North South Line, Marina South Pier to Ang Mo Kio

The plan:

Complete my adventure of visiting every MRT (subway) stop in Singapore! The goal is to see what the island looks like if you cover the entirety of this part of the transportation grid, and it’s been a remarkable journey. For my last leg, I rode the southern half of the North South Line (less formally known as the Red Line).

The stops:

Marina South Pier

This is one of the southernmost MRT stops in Singapore (though I suspect that a couple of the stops on the Circle Line have it beat). From the station, it’s just a few steps from the ferries that run out to the beaches of St. John’s and Kusu Islands; it is also the home of the Singapore Maritime Gallery.

You might struggle with luggage in the Singapore heat, but it is possible to walk from the Marina South Pier station to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. In normal days, this is the center of the Singapore cruise industry; in COVID times, your only option is a Cruise to Nowhere.

The North South line is the oldest of the MRT lines, and most of the stations are pretty bare. But Marina South Pier is part of a later expansion, and it’s one of the newest stations in the country. So it has several pieces of LTA (Land Transport Authority) art, including Past.Transition.Present (made up of 27,000 pieces of old MRT cards) …

… and Singapore Tapestry (a giant clay tile mural with images based on stories told by 1,500 different Singaporeans):

If you hop on the train going north from Marina South Pier super-early in the morning, you can have the train all to yourself.

Marina Bay

The Marina Bay station sits in the middle of an empty field — this is the kind of stop that’s clearly been built with future expansion in mind. You can see from the iconic towers of the Marina Bay Sands hotel off in the distance that it’s a several-block walk from this station to Marina Bay itself.

Right now, the closest building Marina One — but plenty of other people get off at this station to head to work at the edges of downtown.

This station offers a wonderful photo montage, National Day Babies in 2015, which features fifty different people born on Singapore’s National Day from 1965 to 2014:

Raffles Place

The Raffles Place station brings you right up into the heart of downtown — and to one of the coolest-looking MRT station facades:

There’s an interchange with the East West line here, and between that and the access to downtown, this is one of the busiest MRT stops in Singapore. But walk just a few blocks, and you can stroll along the Singapore River, where you can see Boat Quay …

… and some of Singapore’s historic civic buildings:

Fun fact: Raffles Place is one of four MRT stops to be featured in the “Uniquely Singapore Edition” of Monopoly (and the station has a copy on the wall):

City Hall

City Hall actually refers to Singapore’s old City Hall (pictured above) — which, along with the old Supreme Court building, has been turned into the Singapore Natural Gallery.

There’s so much to see at this stop: art (at the National Gallery), the oh-so-British-looking St. Andrew’s Cathedral, malls, office towers, and a giant field known as the Padang (at the end of which stands the famous Singapore Cricket Club).

The City Hall stop is a North South-East West line interchange — and like Raffles Place, it is another extraordinarily busy station. Opened in 1987, it is one of the oldest stops in the MRT network; but unlike many of the other stops built in the late ’80s, it has original station artwork:

Vitreous Enamelled Mural

Dhoby Ghaut

Dhoby Ghaut is HUGE — it’s currently the only three-station interchange in Singapore (it meets up with the Circle Line and the North East Line) — and is also one of the deepest. I think of this as “the land of a thousand escalators.” The Dhoby Ghaut station provides access to multiple Orchard Road shopping centers but also to some remarkably calm places: the Istana (Singapore’s presidential palace), a row of old shophouses and storefronts

… and Dhoby Ghaut Green, where you can stop and relas on the wonderful Victorian-style swings that dot so many of Singapore’s public spaces:

Because this station has been revamped multiple times to make way for new lines, there’s plenty of public art here.

Somerset

When I think of Somerset, I think “shopping malls, hotels, and tall buildings” — and that’s not wrong.

But if you step out of the lesser-used back entrance, Somerset has a surprise: one of Singapore’s few skate parks …

… complete with street art:

Orchard

For many, this is Singapore’s Mecca: Orchard Road, block upon endless block of shopping malls.

In truth, the Orchard MRT stop is just one of three stations that serve this shoppers’ paradise (the others are Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut). But this one boasts famous icons such as ION …

… and Tang Plaza (which also houses a hotel):

It’s busy, it’s electric, it’s a nightmare on a Sunday afternoon — and for many people, Orchard is heaven.

Newton

Tourists flock to Newton for just one reason: to visit the Newton Food Centre, Singapore’s very first hawker-style food area.

Beyond that, the Newton station mostly serves a bunch of office buildings and condos, as well as the boxy and colorful Alliance Francaise and our local LDS church.

While was revamped to add an interchange with the Downtown Line, Newton is one of the original MRT stations (it opened in 1987). And like nearly all of the northerly stations built in that era, it has a theme color — in this case, vivid orange:

Novena

Novena is green!

The Novena station sits right underneath a giant shopping mall, and the station is surrounded by a frenzy of hospitals, office buildings, condos, traffic, and construction.

Just one block away is the wildly popular Church of Saint Alphonsus, also known as Novena Church (hence the name of the station).

Toa Payoh

Toa Payoh is yellow!

This was the very first station to be completed in all of Singapore. It’s in the middle of all sorts of things: a mall (of course), a bus exchange, a sport and swimming complex, and rows upon rows of HDBs.

If you want to buy and HDB, this is where you do it (at the HDB Hub. If you want to see a mock flat, you can do that right here at the My Home Gallery (sadly, at the time of this writing, it’s closed due to COVID). You can cross the street and visit the Toa Payoh Town Park …

… which offers a nice break and a chance to see flora and fauna:

Walk a little further — about 10 minutes from the station — and you’ll be at the Dragon Playground at Lorong 6.

This is one of Singapore’s most iconic landmarks, and it’s still a great place to play around.

Braddell

I think of Braddell as the station that time forgot. One of the first five stations in the MRT network, this tiny spot is as unassuming as they come — no malls, no public art, no bright colors. There’s not much around, either; this is the land of a thousand HDBs.

If you’re willing to walk a little bit, you can get to Toa Payoh Seu Teck Sean Tong, a temple and medical center that offers free services “regardless of race, language, or religion.”

My very favorite place in this area — an inconvenient 20 minute walk between Braddell and Toa Payoh — is Dove Desserts. A stall in the middle of the Kim Keat Palm Market & Food Centre, they serve one of the best bowls of chendol on the island.

Bishan

Bishan is busy. There’s a giant mall here (the hugely crowded Bugis Junction), and it’s an interchange with the Circle Line. Bishan is also home to a dense concentration of MRTs and multiple condos, including one of my favorites (from the outside, anyway; the apartments themselves aren’t so great): Sky Habitat.

I’m a big fan of Bishan and have written about it elsewhere — but it’s worth adding here that if you’re up for a walk, you can get from the Bishan MRT station to the fabulous Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

Ang Mo Kio

The MRT pops above ground between Bishan and Ang Mo Kio (AMK), where it will stay all the way to Jurong East. Completed in 1987, this is one of the five oldest stations in Singapore. It lets out onto AMK Town Centre, which is notable for its wonderful murals.

AMK is as local as it gets, the epitome of the Singapore Heartlands. It’s small shops and a bird singing club and tiny altars in back alleys …

… and it’s HDBs as far as the eye can see:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s