Singapore at Night

Singapore at Night
Photo by: Timo Balk (Stock Exchange)

Welcome, welcome, welcome to your Disabled Travelers blog! As we round the bend on our accessible Asian excursions today, we’ll be visiting the country of Singapore, a unique island city-state off the southern coast of Malaysia. After an interesting history, Singapore has asserted its independence and, with only about 5 million people and 274 square miles of territory, it is the smallest country in southeast Asia. But don’t be fooled; for the savvy handicapped traveler, there’s plenty of news to go around here. And it’s a perfect “bridge” to a post on Malaysia in the not-too-distant future!

It may surprise you to find out that Singapore is one of the most forward-looking countries in Asia when it comes to mobility impaired access. In 1990, only 25 years or so after its final declaration of independence, it released the “Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility in Buildings”, which mandates universal design standards for all buildings after that date. You can learn more about Singapore’s high accessibility standards from the Building and Construction Authority website. Naturally, it will take some time for this law to catch up with the situation “on the ground”, and there are some notable issues (notoriously, un-railed passenger bridges over major roads are a problem.) But progress is being made.

Thanks to Singapore’s long shared history with Britain, just about anything you need is available in English. This even includes “Access Singapore” – the book that serves as a sort of country-wide access guide. You can get free copies by contacting the National Council of Social Service. Though there is rumored to be an online version of this guide, I have not yet come across it; even so, copies of the printed version are free. And let’s not leave out the “all-purpose” Singapore tourism gateway while we’re at it, and this informative web guide from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. Both sites offer an impressive breadth of info on culture and attractions.

The Disabled People’s Association of Singapore is the main handicapped organization that provides disabled issues education and assistive services throughout the country. It sponsors a large number of events catering to people of all abilities, and coordinates with like-minded groups throughout Singapore. These include the Association of the Visually HandicappedAssociation for the Deaf, and over a dozen other very active advocacy groups.

AngloInfo, a great website with a kind of kooky name, once again has a great variety of information on Singapore for English speakers, including facts on accessible transportation, airports and airlines, and wheelchair access at popular attractions like Singapore Zoo and Bird Park. Also try out Asia Planet’s snapshots of Singapore attractions, which includes locations, approximate time you should schedule for a full visit, costs, and a capsule overview of the accessibility situation for wheelchair users. The country seems very proud of its Singapore Flyer, a giant observation wheel with wheelchair accessible facilities and handicapped-friendly service.

One fairly comprehensive guide I was delighted to snoop out is aimed at medical professionals, but is very useful for any and all handicapped travelers. The Medical Travelers Guide to Disabled Access for Facilities in Singapore is about as long on value as it is on title. It offers a category-by-category, place-by-place overview of accessibility at hospitals, hotels, concert halls, shopping centers, transportation services, and general “places of interest” throughout Singapore. Both useful and concise, it’s a free download and prints out in full color.

For a view “from the front”, peruse this Singapore and Australia article at Apparelyzed. These contributors had some trouble getting around, but, notably, this post is almost exactly ten years old, so take it in context and soak up a quick introduction to the “local flavor.” Disabilities & Accessibility in Singapore from Fodor’s Travel Guides is also useful here, though it takes a less favorable view of conditions for handicapped visitors. Unfortunately, I have not yet come across an accessible tour operator that works in Singapore just yet.

Singapore is one place that leaves me with the impression there’s more to discover. So as we move on to Malaysia and elsewhere, don’t be surprised if I sneak in a couple more Singapore resources. Next time, we’ll be returning to more familiar pastures for a little while as Disabled Travelers catches up with news and views around the States, with (perhaps) a mailbag or two thrown in for good measure.

Keep those questions and comments coming, and adventure on …


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Comment by Barry Acott

Posted on April 28th, 2010

A good site. Singapore is certainly ahead of other Asian destinations regarding disabled trvallers needs.

Comment by Peter Koh

Posted on December 21st, 2010

Hi, I am a Singaporean. It is not that disabled friendly here. The Government is doing something but it is still a long shot for people with disability. Yes, BCA has a Code for Barrier Free Access but it is just only a code. The Housing & Development Board (HDB) just announced that it built it’s 5,000,000 units of public housing. The statutory board is not obliged to follow the code or Universal Design and by an act of parliament, the HDB and it’s staff cannot be liable for any personal injury caused. For example, it’s disabled parking lot is smaller than a normal parking lot and painted with white symbol on bare concrete floor. BCA’s Code for BFA follows the universal design of white symbol on blue background. Can you imagine an authority which houses 80% of it’s population who can do what it likes. They built high rise apartments but it’s lifts does not stop at every floor. Good luck if you become disabled, you have to sell and move to other areas with BFA.
With due respect, when you visit Singapore, the various agencies will bring tourists to those areas that had been spruced up for disabled travelers.

Comment by Harkin

Posted on January 1st, 2011

Awesome point of view. Keep it up. :-)

Comment by Patrick Ang

Posted on March 22nd, 2011

Asia Travel Group Pte Ltd (ATG), partnering with LevelField Consultants who has been providing advice on accessibility in built environment, is the first travel agency in Singapore to cater to the full travelling needs of people with disabilities. ATG works with tour operators, hotels, transport providers, access consultants and other agencies to develop tour packages which are friendly, affordable and accessible to local travellers and inbound tourists. These packages will take into consideration the nature of disabilities, traveller’s limitation, available mode of transport and the availability of a care giver with the travellers.

Do send us an email to if you have any queries on Accessible Tourism in Singapore. We will be most glad to assist you.

Comment by Ravi

Posted on December 7th, 2011

Is there a guide for the disabled person to travel singapore in PDF

Comment by Si

Posted on December 8th, 2011

Hi, Ravi,

I’m not aware of any .pdf guide for accessible travel in Singapore. I’ll check it out over the weekend, and be sure to update in a future post if I find one.