4 Things to Do in and out of the Airport on a Singapore Layover
We probably can all agree that layovers aren’t any fun, and long layovers are even less so. When you just want to get from point A to point B, staying in limbo at an airport for hours until your next flight is something of an inconvenience, at best—unless your layover is in Singapore’s Changi Airport. It has held the title of World’s Best Airport according to UK-based review and ranking site Skytrax for 7 years running, and with the opening of a massive shopping and lifestyle mega-complex called Jewel last April 2019, there are very few places on the planet better to be stuck in. Read on for a list of things you can do with your spare time while in the area:
Catch Some Z’s
Suppose you’ve just gotten off a cross-continental flight and are stopping in Singapore before heading to a tropical island destination elsewhere in Southeast Asia. What most people want to do after such an ordeal is put their heads down and get some rest after having been stuck in an uncomfortable seat for the better part of 12+ hours. There are a lot of places in and around the airport that offer a safe and quiet place to sleep: there’s at least one rest area in each of Changi Airport’s Terminals 1 through 4 and they’re all free for public use.
These Snooze Lounges (except in Terminal 2, where they’re called Sanctuary and Oasis Lounge, respectively) are equipped with comfortable recliners for a quick nap. Some of them have massage chairs to relieve those tired back muscles, and you’ll be able to find a charging port for your phone, laptop, or tablet in most. There’s also the option of heading into Changi’s YOTELAIR for more privacy or if you just happen to have that much more time to kill and you’d prefer to spend it in an unconscious state. The branch at Jewel is the first in Southeast Asia, and they’re open 24 hours a day to cater to travellers coming in at all times of the day and night. If you’d rather venture outside, there are several choices as well: check out Village Hotel Changi or any of the other selections close by.
Eat Your Way through the Airport
There are 210 food and beverage outlets in Changi Airport; 112 of them in Jewel alone, and 33 of those are open 24 hours. The numbers are mind-boggling, as is the sheer variety of cuisine on offer. If you don’t already know that Singapore is one of the best places in Asia to get good eats, get familiar and quick—authentic local dishes and delicacies such as kaya toast, char kway teow, Hainanese chicken rice and laksa can all be had without ever stepping foot outside of the airport premises.
It’s not just hawker stall favourites, either; Changi Airport has everything from your staple fast food outlets to hip dessert cafes, fine dining options to signature cocktails—which you can sample for free at the Long Bar by Raffles if you happen to be departing from Terminal 3. There’s so much good stuff to be had, you’ll start wishing your layover was longer.
Take in the Scenery
If you have between 5 and a half hours to a full day to spend in Singapore and you’d like to see more of the island outside of Changi, the airport offers two free guided tours that last about 2 and a half hours apiece. The Heritage Tour takes you to Merlion Park before moving on to neighbourhoods that showcase the very best of Singapore’s multi-faceted culture: Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam. The City Sights Tour takes you on a journey to see modern Singapore at its finest, with stops at the Singapore Flyer, the Esplanade, the Marina Bay Financial Centre and Marina Bay Sands, and Gardens by the Bay. Registration for both tours can be found in Free Singapore Tour booths located in Terminals 2 and 3.
If you’d rather play your sightseeing fast and loose, or if you have less than 5 and a half hours to wait, there’s plenty to see inside the airport as well: 46 separate attractions which include various art installations and gardens, a hedge maze, entertainment centres, and a swimming pool on the rooftop, equipped with a jacuzzi. There’s the much-talked-about T3 Slide, Singapore’s tallest slide at 12 metres, or the Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and subject of a million Instagram stories.
Pick Up a Souvenir
Whether it’s stocking up on the essentials, looking for a memento to remember your visit by, or dropping serious cash on a luxury item, Changi Airport spoils the shopaholic with over 400 stores located on the premises. Prices at The Shilla Duty Free are lower than in the downtown malls, so this is a good place to score a bargain on something pretty and expensive like cosmetics, perfume, or consumer electronics. You can also browse a selection of offerings online and pick your purchases up at the terminal when you arrive—now that’s hassle-free shopping.
A layover at Singapore’s famed Changi Airport can be more than a short pause in the middle of a long flight. With its many conveniences, amenities, and food offerings, the airport itself can be considered a destination that can make your trip a more delightful one.