Asia’s amazing subways

A Singapore MRT train passes the Central Post Office. Photo: williamcho / Flickr Creative Commons

A Singapore MRT train passes the Central Post Office. Photo: williamcho / Flickr Creative Commons

Asia’s big cities are a great place to live the “car-free” lifestyle.  Thanks to onerous taxes levied on cars and license plates, many governments also encourage usage of mass transit to relieve traffic congestion.

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia did a round-up of the rails: Asian city public transport guide. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, and Tokyo are prominently profiled.

I still remember the first time I saw the Tokyo metro map.  Although I had ridden on metros in Europe, I was still completely baffled by the labyrinth of routes in Tokyo.  There are dozens of regular lines mixed in with lines for long-distance trains, regional commuter trains, and even private trains.

For sheer convenience, I’d rate the Taipei MRT at the top. It was praised by Wired magazine as a Marvel of Mass Transit.  The Taiwanese also have cool funky decorations for some of their stations.  Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall station has art on display from the National Palace Museum.  Guting station has art installations hanging from the walls. The Taipei MRT stations also have public bathrooms, which can’t be said for the Hong Kong MTR.

My favorite thing about the Hong Kong MTR is the Octopus card, which can be used as electronic cash all over Hong Kong. You can pay with an Octopus card in convenience stores and many other places.

As for sheer cleanliness, the Singapore MRT can’t be beat. Although the place names can be a bit confusing, as this article discusses: Deciphering the mystery of Singapore’s MRT station names.  The bonus is that there is a line that goes to Changi airport.

Do you have a  favorite subway in Asia? Was it one that wasn’t mentioned in the article?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | September 10, 2010
Category: Asia, Notes from the collective travel mind

Comments are closed.