Given the choice, most of us would pick a direct flight. But there are times when a layover is required. If, for example, you’re flying to Australia or to a long-haul Asian destination. You may have to take a layover and you may have a few options for your layover stop. But a layover can also be a great opportunity to see somewhere new. Well, don’t even consider booking anything until you’ve found out why we love a s Singapore layover.
Here are 10 reasons why we love a Singapore layover.
- No rushing and no fussing
- Wifi and connectivity
- Zen spaces and airport facilities
- Contactless Card is King
- The Metro into Singapore is a delight
- Changi Airport is close to the city
- Singapore is an orderly, safe and clean city
- .Singapore is a small and accessible city
- Singapore has a 24/7 culture
- Singapore has abundant outdoor spaces
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1. No rushing and no fussing on your layover in Singapore
Singapore airport has a total air of calm throughout all of the terminals. Despite processing in excess of 60 million passengers per year, nothing seems fraught or busy at any time. There is ample space in arrivals and departures and never a shortage of seating on your Singapore layover.
Arrivals in Singapore
When you land in Singapore, there is no crowd rush into passport control. You arrive and are immediately within the terminal, with access to toilets, duty free and other amenities before you hit passport control. It doesn’t feel as though you need to push your way through anywhere, it’s all really rather leisurely.
Even once you reach passport control, normally a total nightmare. Singapore airport seems to have got it right. Despite the quite exhaustive passport checks, facial recognition and fingerprinting, there are no excessive queues. It’s almost as if Changi Airport has enough staff, or access to flight schedules to enable them to plan around the numbers of passengers that are landing at different times. Such organisation and a good indicator of what’s to come as you leave the airport!
Checking in for departures is a similarly blissful experience. Transfer between terminals and from the metro is swift and transportation is clearly signposted. The one slight niggle is that Singapore airport does not accept online boarding passes, so you do need to collect a paper copy. But, once again, this is a pain free experience (no queues, machines that work, appropriate staffing levels!)
Next to security, normally a hot spot for stress, but in Singapore what a delight! There are no officious and angry security staff and travellers are 100% clear on what they are expected to do and where they need to go. (There’s a cause-and-effect debate to be had here somewhere.) But the absolute feather in the cap, is that you don’t need to remove your liquids or your laptop from your bag. That’s right, no frantic cramming of toothpaste into a clear bag or wishing you had a third hand to carry your electronics and a fourth one to remove your jacket. Seamless!
The most complicated thing I found in Changi airport is the toilets. In UK airports we are lucky if we find toilet roll. In Singapore, the toilets come with a remote control options menu. Heated seat? Sure. Two different washing options? Ok. That’s a little confusing. An in toilet drier? A new one for me. Let’s just say you don’t want to press the wrong button on your Singapore layover.
2. Wifi and connectivity
Changi Airport in Singapore has excellent WiFi. Not only is it fast and stable (unlike the majority of WiFi in London airport terminals) but it’s also free and your connection is open for 3 hours. You don’t have to provide hoards of personal information to access it and you can join on multiple devices. Not only is this helpful for arrival at the airport, so you can check transport options etc, but it means when you board your outbound plane you can make full use of the WiFi before you leave.
Other Digital Nomads will be relieved to know, that Changi Airport has an absolute glut of phone and laptop charge points. There are numerous work spaces in all terminals, and even the chance to “sit soft” whilst you work. Excellent facilities if you need to work during your Singapore layover.
3. Zen spaces and airport facilities
If you do need to spend time in the airport waiting for a connecting flight, fear not, you will have plenty to entertain you in Changi Airport.
Firstly, all terminals have 24/7 food halls and markets. This means, not only can you have food at any time, but you will have many options. You will not be forced into suffering the last stale tuna baguette (also known as my recent experience in Dubrovnik airport) or eating raspberry twizzles in the absence of any restaurants being open past 20:00 (Washington Dulles, shame on you!)
Secondly, there are lots of spacious seating areas, many surrounded by greenery or water features, creating a perfect “zen space.” There are numerous sofas, so if you need a snooze it doesn’t have to be on a plastic chair with an armrest jabbing you in the back.
Finally, and most famously, there’s a swimming pool (terminal one), it’ll cost you $20, but it is there, nonetheless. And, perhaps less famously, but more fun, there’s a giant slide (terminal three.) It’s 12 metres tall, making it the tallest airport slide in the world. Fancy. If you sign up to Changi Airport membership (free to sign up), you can ride that slide 10 times per day. That’s a lot of entertainment on your Singapore layover.
4. Contactless Card is King
If you’re on a short layover, the last thing you need is to have to withdraw some obscure currency and most likely incur bank charges. By the time you’ve found Wi-Fi or connectivity on your foreign phone, located an ATM and taken cash out, you will have eaten into your layover time. Even worse than this, is being left with various inconsequential pieces of shrapnel when you board your outbound flight.
Luckily, in Singapore, cash is completely unnecessary. Having spent 24 hours in Singapore, I was able to pay for public transport, hotel fees, coffee, dinner out and shopping with contactless card.
The one exception I found for paying by card, was dining at the Hawker Centre in China Town which appears to be cash only. Having queued for a fair while to enjoy the delights of Hawker Chan’s Pork Belly, I was dismayed to find I couldn’t pay with card – but just across the road outside of the Hawker Centre is Hawker Chan restaurant, where I could pay by card and get my pork fix. What a relief! So you don’t really need cash on your Singapore layover.
5. The Metro into Singapore is a delight
From Changi Airport, you can take the Metro (MRT) into the city quickly and easily. The service is frequent, and you can be in downtown Singapore in less than 45 minutes.
Unlike taking the Picadilly line out of Heathrow into London, the Singapore Metro is luxuriously spacious. There are plenty of seats, but also space, so you don’t have to sit with your luggage on your lap and another passenger’s elbow in your face.
In stark contrast to getting the metro in other cities, say Paris, there’s very limited confusion. In Paris, unless you’re a native French speaker, the whole system is baffling. Whereas in Singapore, it’s almost like they are expecting foreign people to use the Metro. Signposts are clear, trains turn up when you expect, and announcements are in English. This makes your Signapore layover.
It’s very difficult to miss your stop on the metro as there are three ways to check where you are – a flashing map on the wall, train announcements and a ticker tape display alerting you to the current station and the next one.
6. Changi Airport is close to the city, perfect for your Singapore layover
Singapore airport does not lie to you! It’s actually in Singapore! The airport is around 20km from downtown Singapore. This has to be one of the closest airports to a city centre, especially unusual for an airport of Changi’s size.
If you take a cab, you can be in town in around 20 minutes. The shuttle bus also takes about 30 minutes and the Metro a similar timeframe. So, you have numerous different routes into the city, depending on where you are headed to.
7. Singapore is an orderly, safe and clean city
As soon as you arrive in Singapore, it becomes very clear that this city is orderly. There’s no room for confusion. It’s clear when you need to cross the road, which part of the pavement you should walk on, when you should queue or not queue.
It comes as no surprise to find out that Singapore is the fourth most law abiding country in the world, following on from three Scandi countries. I’m all for a country that has rules for which side of the escalator to stand on and which to walk on. Londoners will recognise this, but unlike in London I didn’t detect any passive aggression being hurled at anyone who got it wrong.
It’s a rare combination to be simultaneously busy and buzzy, whilst also chaos free. But that’s what I found in Singapore and it’s one of the reasons that Singapore is a great layover destination.
Finally, Singapore is incredibly clean. Anyone littering will be prosecuted. Even leaving a plate and tray on a table in a food court counts as littering. Everyone is encouraged to tidy up for themselves, and it seems to work. That, and I even noticed that the pavements get mopped in the mornings. Only the best for your Singapore layover.
8.A small and accessible city for your Singapore layover
If you have only a short time in a city, then it’s best to choose one that is small and easy to get around. Not only is the airport in close proximity to the city centre, but the city is also easy to navigate. The maximum distance between most locations that you may want to visit on your layover in Singapore is around 2 to 3km. This sort of distance is easy to walk, but you can also opt for a short metro ride to speed up your journey.
Depending on what you’d like to do in Singapore, you can choose where you stay. Chinatown makes a really good option if you want incredible food, souvenir shopping and late nightlife. This is also a great area to visit for budget travellers, as you can get a really decent meal for less than $10 (Singapore dollars) including a large beer.
If you have a bigger budget and also want to do some shopping in Singapore, then the Orchard Road area or near the Bay would suit you.
9. Singapore has a 24/7 culture
If you land late, or early in the morning, that’s not an issue in Singapore. The city always has something going on. In Chinatown, 24/7 eateries are plentiful. Want some noodles and a beer at 03:00? No problem. Head to Chinatown.
In Singapore, you can pretty much get whatever you need whenever you want. If you need a massage, or a haircut, that’s no problem. Groceries or refreshments, that’s easy too. You can get anything you need at any time during your Singapore layover.
Whatever you need or want, at pretty much whatever time, you can find it in Singapore. So don’t assume that you need to stay cooped up in the airport late at night waiting for an early morning flight – get out into the city!
10. Singapore has abundant outdoor spaces
One of the best ways to acclimatise to new time zones and beat jet lag, is to get out into the open air for some exercise. Not only does Singapore have the perfect weather for this, but it’s also got an abundance of really beautiful outdoor spaces.
Depending on where you are staying, there are a couple of options if you want to get outside during your Singapore layover.
- Botanical Gardens: Very close to the bustling Orchard Road, are the stunning and peaceful Botanical Gardens. Not only are the gardens a little slice of paradise, but they are also free to enter.
- Gardens by the Bay: Again, free to visit, the Gardens by the Bay offer a picturesque and exotic garden walk. Make sure you visit the Super Tree Grove for a unique experience.
- Marina Bay Walking Trail: Head down to the water and you can follow the Marina Bay Walking Trail, which will take you on a loop around the water across bridges and taking in all of the main sights of this area. More information on this walking trail can be found here.
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