Singapore may be a small nation but it is packed with activities and travel destinations. It has been one of the go-to tourist destinations in Asia by travelers looking for a quick escape and unique experiences.
Changi Airport, its entry point, is also hailed consistently as the world’s best for the past years. It is probably why it quickly rose as the airline’s choice for layovers in Asia-Pacific (just a personal opinion). Some travelers may not look forward to layovers, but others may find it as an opportunity to roam around the country. If your next layover is in Singapore, then you’re in luck because an extraordinary adventure awaits you!
Here’s a list of important information that you need to know.
Exploring and Staying in Changi Airport
Spending your layover at the airport? It’s not a bad idea at all. Here are the unique activities you can do while in Changi Airport:
1. Experience nature – Yep, you read that right. Changi is huge and boasts of modern airport features and technologies, but it also includes pockets of lush greenery to ease your eyes in between your flights. Changi has gardens in the airport scattered in its four terminals.
Cost: Free of Charge
Opening Hours – The gardens could be accessed twenty-four/seven since they are located in public areas.
2. Fly into the Butterfly Garden – The garden is home to over a thousand butterflies and is a first of its kind to be opened in an airport. It’s also best for kids and kids-at-heart who are looking for an educational activity while waiting for their next flight.
Cost: Free of Charge
Opening Hours: Open twenty-four/seven
Location: Terminal 3, Departure Transit Lounge, Levels 2 and 3
3. Catch a movie or two – You could enjoy watching different genres of movies while waiting for your next flight. Be mindful of the cinemas’ schedule since they close once a week for maintenance. You can check this link to know the updated movie and weekly maintenance schedules.
Cost: Free of Charge
Opening Hours: Open every day, except during its maintenance
Terminal 2 – Departure Transit Lounge, near the Sunflower Garden, Level 3, Transit Area
Terminal 3 – Departure Transit Lounge North, near the Ambassador Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area
4. Take a dip and swim – Changi is one of the few airports with a swimming pool complete with shower facilities and bar. Looking for a more relaxing option? You could take a dip in their Jacuzzi.
Cost: The entrance fee to the pool is only SGD 17 for non-Aerotel Transit Hotel guests
Opening Hours: 6:00AM – 12:00MN daily
Location: Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area (near Gate D)
5. Appreciate art – Pieces of art is all over the airport. The most famous (and also relaxing to watch) are the Kinetic Rain sculptures that you can find in Terminal 1. This installation is apt since the said terminal is also known as Changi’s Tropical City.
Cost: Free of charge
Opening Hours: You could see the exhibit daily in its location
Location: Departure Check-in Hall, Public Area
You can easily transfer from one terminal to another using the airport train. Plus, you can also leave your luggage at baggage counters in all four terminals. The cost of leaving your luggage will depend on the size of the bags or items. You can check their rates below (as of January 9, 2018):
Free Singapore Tours
You could exit the airport if you have more than 5 hours to spare before your next flight. Singapore offers guided tours for free which will only take two and a half hours.
Here are the tours that they offer:
1. Heritage Tour – Runs four times daily. The tour will bring you to Singapore’s colonial and cultural districts — Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam. Plus you could see the Merlion Park that’s home to Singapore’s symbol.
2. City Sights Tour – Runs two times daily. Longing to see modern Singapore? This tour will bring you to the city’s most iconic sites including the Merlion backdropped by Singapore’s unique and modern architecture in Marina Bay.
Make sure to read the tours’ guidelines and restrictions, and other important information. The registration booths could be found in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Note that you need not exit immigration counters. You have to remain in the transit areas to avail of the free tour. For complete details, you can check this link.
Landmarks not to miss
Whether you are exploring the city on your own or joining the free tour, there are landmarks you shouldn’t miss. We enumerated the destinations below which are situated in Marina Bay and are suitable for a quick tour before your next flight.
You can get to Marina Bay by taking a train at Changi Airport MRT Station CG2. Take the East-West Line towards Tanah Mera. From there, take the East-West Line to Tuas Link and get off at Raffles Place. The Merlion Park, your first pit stop, is just a 10-minute walk away from Raffles.
The landmarks are arranged chronologically in this blog in a way that will make your short tour efficient and exciting. You can also check the map below:
1. The Merlion – There are several Merlion statues in Singapore but the first and most iconic is the one located in Fullerton Singapore at Merlion Park. The Merlion is right on the waterfront overlooking Marina Bay.
Cost: Free of charge
Opening Hours: The statue is in a public park that is always open
2. The Esplanade – One of Singapore’s culture and art centres, the Esplanade runs different shows. But if the shows don’t fit your schedule or you’re not interested, you can just opt to marvel at its architecture. Its unique design is said to have been patterned to Asia’s king of fruits — durian.
Cost: Ticket prices depend on the shows running on the day of your visit
Opening Hours: Depends on the show’s schedule
3. The Helix Bridge – Definitely not your ordinary bridge, this infrastructure was opened in 2010 and adds a nice architectural touch to the famous Marina Bay. Its unique design never fails to amaze engineers, architects, and even regular travelers passing through it. The four inner spirals of the bridge also provide shade for pedestrians during daytime.
Cost: Free of charge
Opening Hours: Open daily
4. ArtScience Museum – Also located near Marina Bay and is known for fusing art and science to show compelling stories through exhibits. It also boasts of a unique architecture that is truly eye-catching.
Cost: Tickets depend on the exhibits running daily
Opening Hours: Depending on the exhibit’s runtime. Best to check their website on the day of your layover
5. Gardens by the Bay – Home to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, both are man-made natural parks at the heart of Singapore. It is also a spectacular sight to see at night, especially once the Supertree Grove is lit up.
Cost: 28 SGD for Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Access
Opening Hours: 9:00AM – 9:00PM
Note though that due to time constraints, you may not be able to visit or enter every museum, infrastructure, or attraction. You may choose which part of the destination you wish to explore within the spare time that you have.
Here are some tips you should keep in mind before embarking on your layover adventure:
1. Immigration officers allow layover travelers – You just have to show your passport and boarding pass/es and they’ll let you exit the airport.
2. Be mindful of your time and schedule – Manage your time and ensure that you’re back at the airport at least 1 – 2 hours before your next flight.
3. Take Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) – It would be best to take the MRT. It is the cheapest and fastest way to roam around the City. You can buy tickets at the station in the airport.
4. Wear comfortable clothes – Singapore’s weather is most of the time humid. Best to wear comfortable clothes and bring extra shirts.
5. Exchange your spare Singaporean Dollars (SGD) at the airport – If you have excess SGD, you could exchange them back to USD or to other major currencies upon returning to the airport.
We hope this article helps you in your future layovers in Singapore. We’ll be updating this article from time-to-time, to keep you posted. 🙂