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Singapore Changi Airport Layover Sightseeing

singapore airport layover sightseeing

As a hub for Asian travel, Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) has taken extra measures to make layovers in Singapore and enjoyable breeze. Travellers who find themselves with a layover greater than five hours should definitely consider stepping out of the impressive terminals and embarking on either a guided or self-directed tour of the remarkable city center. The airport itself does offer free two-hour city tours, though public and private transit make reaching the major sights easy, quick and inexpensive. While the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay are certainly among the most glitzy and impressive destinations, there are also a few relaxing and low key options, including the Botanic Gardens and the countless fish-based spas.

Airport Overview

Singapore Changi International Airport is consistently ranked a favourite among travellers who participate in our annual Best Airport Survey. Layovers of less than five hours, are happily spent exploring the depths of this world class airport. The five airport gardens are certainly one of the most unique places to visit, and the entertainment options are most certainly plentiful. Couple that with Wi-Fi and snooze chairs and this Singapore layover is off to a good start. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Singapore Changi Airport Guide.

Sightseeing Options

Below are a few essential sights.

Transit Tour

Together, Singapore Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines offer a FREE two-hour city tour to people with layovers of a minimum of 4 hours. There is a Heritage Tour and a City Sights Tour that both run at select times during the day. Registration can be completed in the airport at the Free Singapore Tours desks in Terminals 2 and 3.

Marina Bay

marina sands bay

A spin through Marina Bay is an exercise in extravagance and modernity. The area is most famous for the Integrated Resort Marina Bay Sands, which houses the city’s largest casino and shopping mall. With gondola rides, sky scrapers and the world’s highest rooftop pool (on the 57th floor!), this monstrosity is sure to amaze. Within Marina Bay, you will also be able to find a number of spas offering the city’s famous fish pedicure, where Garra rufa fish nibble away at dead skin. Be sure to take a walk along the massive pedestrian Helix Bridge as you wander the perimeter of this DNA-inspired piece of architecture, pausing on the viewing platforms for stunning glimpses of the Singapore Skyline.

Time Required: For some, a visit to Marina Bay is a multi-day adventure. For layover purposes, we would recommend budgeting at least 2 hours to explore a few areas of the park – though more time is always better. Note that this does not include travel time to and from the airport.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options, and the associated time required.

Singapore Flyer

singapore flyer

Soar to the height of a 42-storey building as you circle around on the world’s largest observation wheel: the Singapore Flyer. From the peak of the wheel, you will get some of the best panoramas of the city possible – with birds eye views of Marina Bay, the Singapore River, Empress place and the Padang. Each capsule holds up to 28 people, and serves cocktails, snacks and beverages atop during special experience rides. Round off the experience with a 1-hour tour through the Journey of Dreams – a multi-media exhibit that shares the story of the wheel’s development in relation to the city’s history, culture and aspirations. Discounts are available if you book ahead online

Time Required: A single rotation on the wheel takes approximately 30 minutes, and you should also budget 15 – 20 minutes for wait times in line. If you wish to move through the Journey of Dreams exhibit, add on an additional hour. Note that this does not include travel time to and from the airport.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options, and the associated time required.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Craving some fresh air on your layover rather than the intensity of this world city? A trip to the planet’s largest botanic gardens may be the perfect antidote to a long Singapore layover. With over 600,000 specimens enclosed within the 74-hectare perimeter, these trails are sure to help you unwind amidst the explosive gardens. Walking trails run throughout, carrying you through the Tanglin heritage core, the Central belt of the gardens and Bukit Timah, the educational and discovery zone. The gardens also provide an interesting peek into the city’s history and development, given that they were initially founded in the early 1800s.

Time Required: Exploring the full breadth of the botanical gardens could take a lifetime. We might recommend a minimum of an hour to explore at least a section of the park. Free guided walking tours are run on Saturday mornings and afternoons. Note that this time estimate does not include travel time to and from the airport.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options, and the associated time required.

Transportation

Singapore Changi (SIN) is connected to the city through a number of different means. Driving in private transport to the city center covers 11 miles. Taxis take in the neighbourhood of 30 minutes, while public transit takes closer to an hour.

Public transit options include:

  • Buses (stations at Terminals 1, 2 and 3): Bus Service 36 connects the terminals to the city center.
  • Metro (Terminals 2 and 3): The MRT also connects the airport to the city center via the Tanah Merah station.

Private transit options include:

  • Airport Shuttles: The transit desk organizes fixed fare shuttles to most downtown locations.
  • Car Rentals: Rental desks are located in the Arrivals Halls of Terminals 1, 2 and 3.
  • Taxis: Available at the Arrivals Halls of all airport terminals.
  • Free Business Park Shuttles: Changi offers free shuttles between the Changi Business Park and the Airport

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited for your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for long security wait-times, so be sure to do a bit of research in advance and factor that into your overall time-budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Visit our Singapore Changi Airport Guide for information on Luggage Storage.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly:

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