You probably already know that Changi Airport in Singapore is consistently rated as the best airport in the world, or at least one of the best, winning a clutch of awards every year. But what makes the airport so good, and what are your options for enjoying a layover in Singapore or an overnight stopover? Here are three different options, no matter how long your Changi Airport layover.
2 Hours Layover in Singapore
2 hours isn’t that long to enjoy what’s on offer at Changi Airport, but there’s far more options available than just browsing the usual duty-free and luxury brand shops. Try these…
Relax at the Gardens
At each of Changi’s 3 terminals (helpfully called Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and linked by the Skytrain plus internal corridors), there are different gardens to visit. My favourite two are the Orchid Garden (Terminal 2) and the Butterfly Garden (Terminal 3). Yes, in the latter you walk into an enclosed space filled with tropical butterflies, and can view them up close, with the chance that they’ll even land on you! There’s also the Cactus, Sunflower and Water Lily gardens.
Dine at Singapore Food Street
Singapore is famous for its hawker centres, and now the experience has been extended to Changi Airport. Head to Terminal 3 for the Singapore Food Street, a 1960s themed food street. Best of all the prices are reasonable, with many meals costing between S$6 and S$10.
Redeem your Changi Dollar Vouchers
If you’re transiting through Changi on a flight operated by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir, plus your flight originated in Europe, Africa, China (Mainland), India, Indonesia, Australia or New Zealand and you’re from a selected list of countries, you may be eligible to receive S$40 of Changi Dollar vouchers. Check here for the full conditions. Collect the Changi vouchers at the iShopChangi Collection Centres near the GST Refund counters in Terminals 2 and 3, and redeem at a wide range of outlets in the airport, of which S$20 is only redeemable for liquor, perfume or cosmetics.
Visit the Social Tree
Changi’s largest interactive installation is the 9 metre tall Social Tree (Terminal 1), where everyone has the opportunity to upload their photos and video for display on the tree, plus retrieve and revisit your memories on later visits.
6 Hours Layover in Singapore
Normally a 6 hour layover is anticipated with dread by most travellers. Seriously, how can you keep yourself occupied at most airports for that long? And often it’s not long enough to head into the city and get back in time for your next flight, as many airports are a long distance from the city that it serves.
At Singapore, it’s certainly long enough to visit Singapore itself, great for first time visitors wanting a glimpse of the island city. Even better, there are free tours operated by the airport. Alternatively, if you would prefer to stay at the airport, there are a number of options to consider.
Changi Transit Tours
The free transit tours operated by Changi Airport takes all the hassle out of transport to the city, working out what to see and getting back in time for your next flight. There are multiple options. The Heritage Tour is offered 4 times daily and and is open to transiting passengers with at least a 5.5 hour stopover. The evening City Sights Tour is offered twice a day and requires transiting passengers to have at least 6 hours free. Registration for both tours occurs at Terminals 2 and 3, and closes 1 hour before the start of the tour, with seats on a first-come-first-serve basis. For more details on the Changi Airport free tours, click here.
Have a Swim
Changi is one of the few airports in the world with a swimming pool open to all travellers, located on the rooftop in Terminal 1 near the Transit Hotel. Entry to the Changi Airport swimming pool costs a sightly pricey S$17, but is well worth paying to chill out here for a few hours and have access to showers. Plus there’s a poolside bar where you can order light refreshments and drinks as you watch the runways from the sun loungers.
Catch a Movie
You may have already overdosed on movies on your flight, but if not there are free movies to catch in multiple theatres at Terminals 2 and 3 that operate 24 hours per day. Showing a selection of recent movies, check the current timetable here.
Relax in a Lounge
If you are eligible for the Changi Dollar Vouchers, you can redeem one of your vouchers for one-time access to the Ambassador Lounges at Terminals 2 and 3 for up to a two hour visit, where you can access a gymnasium, shower facilities and private napping suites. Alternatively, pay for access for a visit of up to 5 hours (S$58.85) or head to the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 (S$58 for 5 hours) or The Haven in the Public Area of Terminal 3 (from S$82.39 for 5 hours). Find out more details here.
Overnight Layover in Singapore
If you’ve got an overnight stopover at Changi Airport, there are two options available: staying at an airport hotel or spending the night in Singapore proper.
Staying Overnight at Changi Airport
If you’d prefer to stay at the airport, especially if you have an early morning departure, skip passing through immigration completely and head to one of the three Transit Hotels. At Terminal 1 is the Aerotel Transit Hotel, while both Terminals 2 and 3 have an Ambassador Transit Hotel. Each of these hotels is bookable for mere blocks, rather than a traditional overnight stay.
A six hour block at the Ambassador Transit Hotels for a single person in a budget room costs S$90, while a similar length stay at the Aerotel Transit Hotel costs S$55 in a small room or S$90 in a medium room, plus offers complimentary access to the swimming pool adjacent to the hotel. For full details, click here.
Stay Overnight in Singapore
Alternatively, head into Singapore for the night. A taxi takes about 30 minutes, costing between S$20 and S$40, or a train connection is available. There’s a large variety of hotels on offer in Singapore, although generally prices are expensive.
Once checked in at your hotel, feast at one of the many hawker centres, head to a roof top bar or wander through the Gardens by the Bay, with the outdoor gardens open until 2am every night, with free admission.
A fun option if you have time in the morning, would be to book in for breakfast at the Singapore Zoo with the orangutans. (Make sure you book in advance!) It’s certainly a unique way to start the day before you head back to the airport for your next flight.
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