Singapore Layover: Things to Do In & Out of the Airport in 24 Hours or Less

thumbnail

Explore Singapore on your own!

Before you get drawn into the next tab that says the magic word “FREE“, I recommend doing this DIY Singapore layover tour by yourself if you rather want the flexibility to choose the places that you actually want to go to. After all, the free tours offered by Singapore Changi Airport typically don’t give you enough time to explore the city and its stops. This is aside from the fact that they have limited tour time slots.

IMPORTANT TIPS:

  • Much like I’ve already mentioned above, this kind of Singapore layover itinerary is ideal if you have at least 6 hours in between your flights (8 hours being the safest) — this is taking into account traffic, transit, check-in and immigration times.
  • Don’t forget to leave your luggage at the airport. It’s best to leave your carry on too, as well as any other heavy backpacks because they will be a pain to carry when you explore the city.
    • All terminals in Singapore Changi Airport have baggage storage and counters and they are even available 24 hours daily. Prices for this typically start at USD$4. For more information, see here.
  • It’s also best that you have all of your flights under the same airline, if not operated by airline partners, so that you can have your checked in luggage go all the way to your destination. (This saves you the hassle of checking in your luggage again after your Singapore layover or stopover).
  • To know how to get in and around the city, scroll up and check the “Tips” section above.

Now, I’m NOT telling you to do all of the below activities in one go, because that’s just impossible. Sure, Singapore may be a small mega city but it still holds tons of attractions and activities.

So what I suggest instead is that you pick 1 or 2 categories below (colored orange, depending on your preference) and then you either do all the activities under it or a few (depending on how long your layover is).

Marina Bay Sands

◘◘ The typical hotspots
Marina Bay Sands: This is an iconic resort complex that faces Marina Bay in Singapore and it features The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a museum, two large theatres, restaurants, Crystal Pavillions, art-science exhibits, casinos and so much more!

  • SkyPark Observation Deck = Providing breathtaking panoramic views over the city,  this observation deck also has the world’s longest elevated swimming pool with a vanishing edge (a.k.a. infinity pool) that’s located 191 meters above ground. (You can only swim in it though if you’re a guest of the hotel; but still and the same, this is a great spot to be in and you can buy entry tickets through this link).
  • Spectra Light Show = This is an amazing outdoor light and water show that’s displayed along the promenade. The show happens at 8PM and 9PM on Sunday to Thursday, and at 8PM, 9PM and 10PM on Fridays and Saturdays. (If you ask me, it’s better to watch this show from the other side of Marina Bay Sands).
    .

Gardens by the Bay: This mystical oasis features more than 500,000 plants and about 18 Avatar-like Supertrees that will take your breath away! To book entrance tickets for this as a part of your Singapore layover, go here. Take note that there are a LOT of attractions here but notable of which are the following…

  • SuperTree Grove: These Avatar-ish trees light up at night and have a music and light show at 7:45PM and 8:45PM daily! It’s even possible to have your dinner inside this SuperTree and feel like a modern Tarzan and Jane (or Jake Sully and Neytiri, in line with the Avatar feel).
  • Cloud Forest:This features the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 35 meters as well as a scenic mist-filled Treetop and Cloud Walk!
  • Flower Dome: This is the largest glass greenhouse in the world as listed in the 2015 Guinness World Records!
  • OCBC Skyway: Placed 22 meters above the ground, this is an amazing stroll that goes through the Gardens and gives you a great view over the Marina Bay skyline as well.
    .

Merlion Park:A landmark that you must NOT miss! Located at One Fullerton, you will find here the iconic Merlion, a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of fish — a widely used mascot of Singapore

Singapore Flyer: Reaching a height of 40 stories, I recommend riding this ferris wheel at night to have an amazing view over the entire Marina Bay. You can also try their signature drinks here such as the famous ‘Singapore Sling’ that dates back to over 100 years! Also, unlike typical ferris wheel rides, the capsules here are huge. (Book your tickets here)

Singapore Botanic Gardens: A 158-year-old tropical garden that is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Singapore’s first!). You will love the fact that entrance here is FREE from 5AM to 12AM (except for the National Orchid Garden – the park’s crown jewel – that is open 8:30AM to 7PM and charges SGD 5

ArtScience Museum: This place is that giant white flower-like building that you see on Marina Bay and it is famous for its varied art and science exhibitions. One of the most popular of which is the Future World exhibition for its impressive light set-ups (in collaboration with teamLab, a renowned Japanese interdisciplinary art collective). Entrance here typically start from USD $9~ and you can grab discounted rates if you book online.

S.E.A. Aquarium: This is said to be the biggest aquarium in the world that features state-of-the-art facilities that lets you explore the depths of the oceans and glimpse at several sea creatures. (Book your tickets here).
.

Singapore Food

◘◘ For shopaholics
The Shoppes in Marina Bay Sands: As one of the largest shopping malls in Singapore, this should be on your Singapore layover itinerary if you want to do some luxurious shopping

Orchard Road: This is a 2.2 kilometer long major road in the city that is regarded as a famous shopping street. It holds a lot of fashion favorites, specialist stores, and so much more

Haji Lane: Considered as a ‘hipster’ neighborhood, you will love the boutique shops in this area (not to mention the impressive wall art).
.

◘◘ For nightlife
Clarke Quay:This is a historical riverside in the city that is now a hotspot for bars, clubs, and restaurants

Orchard Road: After dark, the party animals come out to play at Orchard Road too! Be sure to check out Emerald Hill Road.
.

◘◘ For foodies
Singapore is passionate about food and you will find some of the best places in the following areas:

The Old Airport Road Hawker Centre: This is one of the biggest hawker centers and which a lot of Singaporeans swear by given its long history! You can never go wrong in any of the stalls as you try some of the famous Singapore food items such as chili crab, chicken rice, char kway teow (stir-fried ricecake), lor mee (noodle dish), satay (skewered and grilled meat), and rojak (salad dish) among many others.

Kampong Glam: This is a neighborhood in the city that’s filled with watering holes, cafes, and restaurants to fill up your tummy. One of the places you must not miss is Zam Zam in order to try their murtabak (stuffed pancake) that’s famous since 1908.

Chinatown: This ethnic enclave is also a place that you must witness, other than its distinct Chinese cultural elements, you should enjoy the area by grabbing a bite at one of the hawker stalls and a drink too in places such as Tea Chapter. Don’t forget to buy some Chinese souvenirs! (Want a guided tour? Reserve your spot online now!)

Little India: As the name suggests, this is the center of the Indian community in Singapore. While here, head over to Serangoon Road to enjoy the atmosphere and don’t forget to try fish head curry!

Singapore Cable Car and Sky Dinner: If you’re still in the city during night time, I suggest riding the Cable Car Sky Network to soar above the city’s views and then have a romantic dinner. (Book this experience here).

Niigata food
Wondering what Singapore food or dishes that you must absolutely try?

Check out this blog post to find out: Top Singapore Food Dishes to Try
.

.

◘◘ For out-of-the-city places
Pulau Ubin: If you’ve got the time during your Singapore layover, go ride a bumboat to rach Pulau Ubin, a nearby island that is famous for its wildlife, cycle trails and footpaths. Truth be told, this might just be the last real ‘kampung’ (village) in Singapore and you will love its unspoilt and rustic charm.

MacRitchie Nature Trail: This is a gateway to the city’s natural reserves and it is a well-known spot for nature-lovers and exercise enthusiasts. One of the things you must try here is their Treetop Walks, a 250-meter aerial suspension bridge that spans the two highest points within MacRitchie. (Nearest train station: Marymount).
.

Universal Studios Singapore

◘◘ For families
Sentosa Island: Not only for the kids but also for the ‘kids-at-heart’, this island resort off the southern coast is a leisure place filled with fun and recreation! (Nearby train station: Harbourfront). Here are just some of the many things you can do here…

  • Universal Studios Theme Park = Go beyond the world of cinematic entertainment to enjoy the seven themed lands here in Singapore’s very own Universal Studios! (Book your tickets here).
  • Skyline Luge: Ride this fun half go kart and half toboggan-like sled through two different trails. This is the only Asian site of New Zealand’s famous luge activity. (Book your tickets here).
  • Resorts World Adventure Water Cove:  Escape the summer heat and visit this must-see attraction in Resorts World! Your young ones will love the Riptide Rocket and Rainbow Reef! (Book your tickets here).

Singapore Zoo: Occupying 28 hectares of land within the city’s heavily forested area, this zoo has an “open concept” which means that you and your kids will get to closely experience the wonders of nature given that the animals here roam freely in their natural habitats. (Book your tickets here).

Night Safari: This is the best way to see the world’s nocturnal animals. As a unique night safari experience and the world’s first nocturnal zoo, you can also board a tram that goes through the 86-acre rainforest! Don’t miss out on this unique experience!(Book your tickets here).

River Safari: Can’t get enough of the wildlife? Make a stop to Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park where you can encounter manatees, giant pandas and other creatures! (Book your tickets here).

.

The Best Tours in Singapore?

.

NEW: Visit Changi Airport’s Jewel

Jewel Changi Airport
Opened in 2019, Jewel Changi Airport is the newest 10-level glass-dome complex that has an array of attractions not limited to gardens, a hotel, aviation facilities and 300 retail and dining facilities. Some things that you must NOT miss out are…

  • HSBC Rain Vortex: The world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 40 metres high and the nucleus of Jewel. Open daily from 8AM to 12:30AM.
  • Canopy Garden: Take a stroll along creative garden trails, glide down giant slides or hide in bowls of gentle mist!

    • Canopy Bridge: Suspended 23 metres above ground, with a glass bottom at the centre portion for a gripping vantage point, the Canopy Bridge is sure to thrill and impress.
    • ManuLife Sky Nets: Experience the thrill of being almost weightless as you leap about this giant net! Stretching 250 metres long, even little ones can safely indulge in free play. At its highest point 8 metres above the Canopy Park, you’ll feel like you can reach the sky.
    • Discovery Slides: As the name implies, this is a fun playground but also an amazing work of art!
    • Foggy Bowls: Let your child slip in among puffs of cloud and hide away in gentle bowls of non-toxic mist. Kids will love the chance to play in this dreamy setting and let their imagination take flight.
  • Shiseido Forest Valley: A lush green sanctuary and retreat in the core of Jewel.
  • Hedge Maze: Have a field day weaving your way through Singapore’s largest hedge maze. Be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the maze’s intricate windings when you reach the watch tower at its core.

NOTE: Jewel is found landside of Changi Airport so you need to clear immigration in order to explore this complex. But if you are short on time, you can still get a glimpse of this amazing building if you take the Skytrain that passes from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 and back.

Anyhow, Jewel is easily connected to the Arrival Hall of Terminal 1. A free airport shuttle bus service also goes between Terminal 4 and Terminal 2.

.

Explore Singapore for FREE!

This is a service provided for FREE by the Singapore Changi Airport and the tours last around 2.5 hours. It’s important to remember that this is only available for transit passengers of Changi Airport who have at least 5.5 hours of Singapore layover period and are staying in Singapore for less than 24 hours.

ELIGIBILITY:
– You are a transit passenger of Singapore Changi Airport.
– Your layover period is at least 5.5 hours and less than 24 hours.
– Your flight schedule fits in with their tour timing slot requirements

REQUIREMENTS:
– Passport
– Boarding passes
– Valid entry visa (if applicable)

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Availability of the free tour spots is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • They only accept walk-in registrations — but if you’re flying with Singapore Airlines and SilkAir, you have the option to pre-book for this free Singapore layover tour up to 72 hours in advance. (This is still dependent on tour time slots, just inquire with your airline).
  • Tour itinerary may change, depending on weather and traffic conditions.
  • Take note that as a transit passenger, you are only allowed to enter and exit Singapore once during your layover period. That being said, your are not able to join more than 1 tour.
  • Don’t forget to leave your luggage at the airport. It’s best to leave your carry on too, as well as any other heavy backpacks because they will be a pain to carry when you explore the city.
    • All terminals in Singapore Changi Airport have baggage storage and counters and they are even available 24 hours daily. Prices for this typically start at USD$4. For more information, see here.
  • It’s also best that you have all of your flights under the same airline, if not operated by airline partners, so that you can have your checked in luggage go all the way to your destination. (This saves you the hassle of checking in your luggage again after your Singapore layover or stopover).

To date, they have two (2) tour options wherein you can choose only one (1)…

Merlion Park

◘◘ Heritage Tour
As the name suggests, this tour will take you through Singapore’s past and present. The place you’ll get to visit are as follows: Colonial District, The Central Business District, The Merlion Park , Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and Malay Heritage Centre.

Registration
Closes at 8AM
Closes at 9AM
Closes at 10:30AM
Closes at 1:30PM
Closes at 3PM

Tour Timing/Slots
9AM to 11:30AM
10AM to 12:30PM
11:30AM to 2PM
2:30PM to 5PM
4PM to 6:30PM

Your flight departure
After 1:30PM
After 2:30PM
After 4PM
After 7PM
After 8:30PM

Registration Booths:

  • Terminal 2: Transit Area, between Transfer Lounge F and Skytrain to Terminal 3 near the escalator to Arrival Immigration (Level 2)
  • Terminal 3: Transit Area, near Transfer Lounge A and Gate A1-A8 (Level 2)
  • Other Terminals: Please stay in the transit area and proceed to the booth at Terminal 2 to register, or inquire with the nearest Information Counter

NOTE: Stay in the transit area and do NOT clear immigration because the registration booths are located at the transit area.
.

Gardens by the Bay

◘◘ City Sights Tour
Held at night, this is a great Singapore layover tour that shows you the city’s beautiful modern cityscape. You will be making stopovers at the following places: The Singapore Flyer, The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Marina Bay Financial Centre, Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands , Gardens by the Bay.

Registration
Closes at 5PM
Closes at 6:30PM

Tour Timing/Slots
6PM to 8:30PM
7:30PM to 10PM

Your flight departure
After 10:30PM
After 12AM

Registration Booths:

  • Terminal 1: Please stay in the transit area and proceed to the booth at Terminal 2 to register.
  • Terminal 2: Transit Area, between Transfer Lounge F and Skytrain to Terminal 3 near the escalator to Arrival Immigration (Level 2)
  • Other Terminals: Please stay in the transit area and proceed to the booth at Terminal 2 to register, or inquire with the nearest Information Counter

NOTE: Stay in the transit area and do NOT clear immigration because the registration booths are located at the transit area.
.

Explore Singapore Changi Airport’s wonders!

As I’ve previously mentioned, Singapore Changi Airport is so huge that it can be a destination in itself, making it a perfect place to spend your Singapore layover. It’s no wonder that it’s the world’s best airport!

So if you ever find yourself with less than 6 hours worth of flight layover/stopover, below are the number of things that you can do to fill up the time.

TIP: Are you flying with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, or Air New Zealand…? If you are, don’t forget to claim your transit reward that is valued from SGD $20 at any of the iShopChangi Collection Centers at the transit areas of Terminals 2 and 3 (open 24 hours daily).

  • Just present your passport, boarding pass, and e-tickets that show your full itinerary.
  • Transit means that you have a layover at the airport that is not more than 24 hours.
  • Your e-ticket numbers must begin with 618 or 629 or 086 and you must be on transit in Changi Airport on both legs of your jearny — so no, one-way journey tickets are not eligible. If you’re flying with Air New Zealand, flight numbers are SQ4281, SQ4282, NZ281 or NZ282. If with Scoot, flight numbers are TR597 or TR596.
  • This transit reqard can be used at all retail outlets in transit and public areas of Changi Airport. Or you can use it for a o-time access to the Ambassador Transit Lounge located in the transit areas of Terminals 2 or 3 for up to two (2) hours.
  • For more information on this, go here.

Singapore Changi AirportPhotos from Singapore Changi Airport

◘◘ All terminals
All of Singapore Changi Airport’s terminals (1 to 4) have the following things which sure makes for a fun Singapore layover…

  • Duty-free shopping and dining shops (see a full list here).
  • FREE foot massage on OSIM machines.
  • Play Area and/or Family Zone Fun for families with kids
  • 24-hour paid lounges with facilities for shower, foot reflexology, spa massages, etc. (best to have a Priority Pass on hand).
  • Prayer rooms
  • Charging points. In fact there are about 3,400 USB ports and universal power sockets in the airport!
  • Baby care room  for parent’s nursing needs
  • Baggage storage and left Baggage counters
  • Clinics and pharmacies
  • Free-to-use rest areas
  • City sightseeing buses that arrive every 15 minutes
  • — and more!

…but below are the unique things that you can find in each terminal.
.

◘◘ Terminal 1
Airport Lounge Service by Plaza Premium Lounge: Private lounge with showers, food, massage & more if you reserve your spot online!
Airport Wellness Oasis:  Relax and get a massage. Also try their signature Fish Spa!
Kinetic Rain: Watch 1,216 polished copper raindrops dance in the air, an art installation which is this terminal’s centerpiece.
Arrival Garden: This is the airports first garden.
Rooftop Jacuzzi and Pool: Who would have thought that one day, you could swim in an international airport, right?
Cactus Garden: This is a rooftop garden that has over 100 species of cacti and arid plants from Africa and the Americas.
Piazza Garden: Features seasonal and thematic plant displays throughout the seasons.
Sculptural Tree Garden: Has three tall tree-like sculptures clad with an interesting collage of foliage.
Water Lily Garden: See water lilies in a natural aquatic garden environment.
.

◘◘ Terminal 2
Movie Theatre: Yes, you can watch recent films in the 24-hour cinema! The best part, it’s FREE!
Entertainment Deck: From Xbox 360 to Kinect stations, this is your one-stop multimedia entertainment centre.
A Million Times at Changi: One of the biggest kinetic artwork in the world, made up of 504 clocks moving in perfect unison.
Enchanted Garden: Interactive and decorative garden that comes to life with sight and sound.
Orchid Garden: Holds a colourful collection of rare orchids.
Sunflower Garden: About 500 bright yellow flowers amidst the runways.
Xperience Zone: Catch the latest sports events on large screens while lounging on plush seats.
.

◘◘ Terminal 3
Butterfly Garden: The first butterfly garden in an airport and home to over 1,000 butterflies.
Crowne Plaza: Want a proper snooze during your Singapore layover? Check in to this stylish accommodation.
Crystal Garden: A great place to get some calm.
Movie Theatre: You can also catch the latest blockbusters and movies for FREE in this terminal.
The Slide @ T3: Take a ride on the world’s tallest slide in an airport!
.

◘◘ Terminal 4
Game room & Entertainment Corner: Offers a fun selection of arcade games.
Heritage Zone: Experience the city’s heritage via culture shopfronts featuring multi-colored facades of old Peranakan houses.
Petalclouds: The centerpiece of Terminal 4, this is a grand-scale kinetic sculpture.
Steel in Bloom: This is a garden that also features a 6-meter high centre piece of plants and steel.
TV lounge: Families can take a break and catch up on their favourite TV shows on these comfy couches.

TIP: Are you departing from Singapore Changi Airport? Well, guess what? You can check in as early as 48 hours on select check-in counters! To check if your airline is a part of this, check by with this link.

Back To Top