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Ultimate Singapore Itinerary for a Long-Layover

Ultimate Singapore Itinerary for a Long-Layover

Welcome to Singapore, a kaleidoscope of culture, nature, and innovation! If you’re lucky enough to have a few extra hours to spend in Singapore during a long layover, this guide is for you. The best part is – you don’t even need to leave the airport for the best adventures (well you don’t need to go far anyways). The Changi Airport is a perfect representation of how architecture is inspired by art and a showcase of how innovative and creative the Singapore style is. Check out this Singapore Itinerary for anyone with a long layover!

Let’s dive into the best ways to spend your long layover in the best airport in the world, complete with specific attractions, ideal sleeping locations, and free airport excursions

View from plan window while leaving from Singapore's Changi airport

Table of Contents

No matter which terminal you arrive at, or what time of day, this itinerary can be sliced and diced however works best for you! Transportation between terminals is completely free on the Airport Rail and can be reached via walking. Take what you want and leave out the rest to create the perfect day of exploration for you! 

Keep reading to find out about the FREE Singapore Tours, a list of the best excursions by terminal, and info about navigating the airport!

Free Singapore Tour

For those looking to get out of the airport and explore, Changi offers FREE tours of the city! All tours take 2.5 hours, and attendees must be present 75 minutes prior to the tour start time to ensure a timely tour for all participants. This is available for anyone with a layover between 5.5 hours-24 hours, and a ‘Singapore Arrival Card‘ must be filled out. See the following table to ensure the reporting and returning times work for your travel itinerary! 

For up-to-date information, see the Changi Airport website

Experience what it feels like to live as a Singaporean, through an exploration of the charming east side of Singapore, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is great for people who have seen the main sites already or those that prefer a more authentic local experience. 

The first stop is at Tampines New Town, which received the UN World Habitat Award for its high-quality affordable housing. You’ll then make your way to the Tampines Central Park to enjoy the green social space and some uniquely designed playgrounds! The third stop on this tour is at the Our Tampines Hub, the largest community and lifestyle hub in Singapore! Make your way to the Changi Village, a popular recreational hub with plenty of Hawker stalls and quiet village walks. Finally, the tour stops by Changi Beach Park where you will enjoy pristine white beaches and a serenity rarely found in this bustling city. 

Tampines housing and community center
Precinct Tour | Changi Airport

See the modern side of Singapore, catching all of the iconic highlights. Get a photo of the Merlion against the city skyline and marvel at the magical, Avatar-like Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay. Almost every picture you’ve ever seen of the famous city of Singapore will be seen on this tour! 

The tour starts at City Hall, where you’ll see the famous Raffles Hotel (home of the Singapore Sling), as well as St. Andrew’s Cathedral. You’ll then make your way to the Civic District where you can see the distinction between old national monuments against the modern skyscrapers in the Central Business District. Walk across the Jubilee Bridge for a spectacular view of Marina Bay, as you head towards the Merlion Statue – Singapore’s icon! Enjoy the sun at Merlion Park, as you learn about Singapore’s history in trade and fisheries. In the distance, you’ll see the Gardens by the Bay, a Singapore icon (the constructed trees that make you feel like you’re in the Avatar world of Pandora). If you’re lucky enough to take the tour at night, you’ll get to watch this area come to life with lights and colors! Before returning to the airport, the tour concludes with Marina Bay Sands, a convention center that hosts over 200 luxury outlets, a Skypark, and incredible rooftop views of the city!

 

Gardens By The Bay a part of the city sights tour on the Singapore Itinerary
Gardens By The Bay | Changi Airport

Step into a multi-dimensional destination combining retail, dining, and attractions, and immerse in a lush green sanctuary through this 2.5-hour walking tour.

This tour starts in Terminal 3, where visitors will get a chance to see the Changi Control Tower which is at the heart of the airfield operations, allowing the airport to be a central hub for eastern travel. Next, you’ll hop onto a train and venture into the Jewel to take in the serenity of the Shiseido Forest Valley – where mist-covered lush greenery bathes in the filtered light. Central to it all, is the HSBC Rain Vortex – the icon of all of Changi and the tallest indoor waterfall in the world! Explore some of the foreign and local heritage brands in the 6 story shopping plaza, and find your way to the Changi Experience Studio – a digital attraction that allows you to immerse yourself in games and the world of aviation. The tour concludes after a trip to the Canopy Park, located on the top floor of the Jewel. 

*Admission to Canopy Park is included in the tour, with discounts available to the individual attractions in Canopy Park & Experience Studio.

 

Sheshido Valley in the Jewel Changi is a must see on any Singapore Itinerary
Shiseido Forest | Changi Airport

Discover Singapore’s colonial past and cultural heritage through a visit to the historic Civic District, Chinatown, and the picturesque Kampong Gelam.

The first stop is at Marina Bay, where iconic landmarks such as the Merlion and city landscape show the modernization of Singapore. The next stop is at the Central Business District, where the tour will feast on local (and very cheap) food from the famous Hawker stalls. Chinatown is just a short walk away, a destination you definitely can’t miss here! You will find iconic places of worship, shophouses, and street murals depicting the daily lives of local people. The Singapore River is where this nation’s economy grew from a small fishing region to the powerful trading center that it is today. The final stop on this tour is Kampong Gelam, a traditional neighborhood with strong Malaysian & Arabic influence – the street art is insane here!

Singapore river is a part of the heritage tour on the Singapore itinerary
Singapore River | Changi Airport
Tour Timing Itinerary Reporting Time
9:00 am - 11:30 am
Changi Precinct Tour
Before 7:30 am
11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Jewel Tour
Before 9:30 am
12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
City Sights Tour
Before 10:30 am
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Heritage Tour
Before 1:30 pm
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Jewel Tour
Before 4:30 pm
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
City Sights Tour
Before 5:30 pm

* All tours except the Jewel Tour must accompany the group back to the airport. If you wish to explore longer than the 2.5-hour time slot, you must go out on your own! 

Terminal 1

Water Lily Garden

The Water Lily Garden is the perfect destination to head towards to start the day. Nearby you’ll find a ton of local cuisine options, where you can get the local special; Kaya Toast & a Soft-Boiled Egg (try it, you may be surprised at how good it is!)

Grab the food to go and eat outside in the pleasant surroundings of a pond filled with water lilies, open 24 hours a day!

Cost: FREE

Discovery Garden

A perfect place to move your legs and get some fresh air – the Discovery Garden features a winding trail that takes you to different heights of the trees they encircle. Located on the second level of Terminal 1, this is a great place to pause and stroll through, especially since it’s open 24 hours a day!

Cost: FREE

Cactus Garden

When you’re ready for some fresh air, head to the upper floor in Terminal 1 and you’ll find the Cactus Garden – where succulents and cacti from around the world are ready to be explored! This is a great place to reset, it’s not every day that you find a state-of-the-art cactus garden in the middle of the tropics, or in an airport!

Cost: FREE

Rooftop Pool

For those of you that don’t want to walk all day, you may find yourself craving a lounge chair to kick back and relax while you wait for your next flight. There is no better place than the rooftop pool in Terminal 1, where you can hang out in a cabana with a book and a Singapore Sling, soaking up the sun (don’t forget your sunscreen!)

Cost: S$23

Terminal 2

Sunflower Garden

Located on the roof of Terminal 2, the sunflower garden is a great place to relax and reset before the next leg of your journey! Soak up the sun, read a book, or stretch your body in this floral paradise. Don’t skip this at night either – head to the rooftop to see a spectacular show of lights and colors, open 24 hours!

Cost: FREE

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is a cute installment featuring impressive orchids and floral arrangements, a walking platform that leads to a little pond area, and nature-inspired art installations. You’ll notice the forest come to life as you walk through, thanks to the interactive exhibit that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the world of Avatar.

Cost: FREE

Terminal 3

Butterfly Garden

Now, for my absolute favorite attraction at the Singapore airport; the Butterfly Garden. Walk into this creative space where butterflies get to feast on fresh fruit and flowers, drink water from a waterfall feature, and you can witness it all! 

Cost: FREE

The butterfly garden in Changi is a must-see on any Singapore itinerary

To get to the Butterfly Garden, you have to pass through a Hawker-style food court. Stop by and see what's on the menu for an authentic taste of Singapore!

Long Bar by Raffles

You have probably heard of the Singapore Sling – a refreshing blend of dry gin, cherry brandy, and lemon juice, created in 1915. The original location is located at the Raffles Hotel, but this local icon is available to you at the Long Bar. At the Raffles Hotel, you can get a Singapore Sling for around S$30 (insane), but they are complimentary for travelers right here in the airport!

Stop by between 3 pm – 11 pm, and get your first drink on the house!

Cost: FREE Singapore Sling Cocktail

Climbing Wall

There’s no better way to spend a layover than moving your body and getting on a climbing wall! Even if you’ve never done it before – there are package options for guided or un-guided sessions so you. can learn or play as you want.

Located in the basement of T3, open between 10:30 am-9:30 pm! For more info check out the Climb@T3 webpage.

Cost: S$19

Giant Slide

The Changi airport is home to the world’s tallest indoor slide, designed with kids & adults in mind, take the chance to zip down this 4-story slide!

Cost: FREE with Changi Membership (Free to join)

*Located land side, meaning you will have to go through security to leave the airport

Jewel

The Jewel is an attraction that is visited by locals and travelers. However, since it is not on the air side of the airport, you must exit the airport by going through security and immigration. If you don’t have enough time to explore the Jewel fully, make sure to hop on the Skytrain connecting Terminal 2 and Terminal 3! This rail goes through the center of the Jewel, with an up-close view of the waterfall.

HSBC Rain Vortex at Changi Singapore airport

Rain Vortex

The main attraction of the Jewel is the HSBC Rain Vortex – a 40m tall waterfall that flows through the center of the roof straight down, 3 floors below the first floor. This spectacle is lit up in vibrant colors at night – an attraction everybody should see! 

The best part is the central area of the Jewel where you can marvel at the waterfall is completely free to enter. There are seating areas and a walking path that encircles the dome building, so you can get a glimpse of the vortex from different heights and angles before checking out the rest of the attractions!

Canopy Bridge

Get the highest view of the Jewel & the Rain Vortex, by walking across the Canopy Bridge. The bridge is suspended 23 meters above the ground floor, with glass floors and the best vantage point! Open from 10 am – 10 pm daily. 

Cost: S$14

Changi Experience Studio

Join this interactive exhibit where you can learn about the airport, play immersive games and so much more! This is where technology, education, and fun all come together to create an experience perfect for any traveler. Located on L4 of the Jewel complex, this studio is open throughout the week. 

See their website for timing and to buy tickets!

Cost: S$25 for adult

If you join the Free Singapore Tour – Jewel, you will receive exclusive discounts to the Changi Experience Studio & FREE entrance into Canopy Park!

Additional Attractions in the Jewel

Canopy Park Walk – Discovery Slides, Petal Garden, Foggy Bowls, Topiary Walk – S$8

Bouncing Net – L5 Canopy Park – S$25

Walking Net – L5 Canopy Park – S$19

Hedge Maze – L5 Canopy Park – S$14

Mirror Maze – L5 Canopy Park – S$19

 

Sleeping in Changi Airport

If you’re traveling on a budget, you likely haven’t booked a cozy hotel to get some rest. Luckily, Singapore has a lot of options for sleep to fit every traveler’s budget and travel style. Changi hosts rest zones, hotels, and lounges, and they used to have sleeping pods pre-COVID (not sure when/if they’re coming back)!

The best sleeping place for you will depend on which terminal you’re arriving at the airport from, and what time. The snooze zones fill up quickly, where sleepy passengers lounge in recliners. Check out the Lounge Buddy app to see what deals and offers are happening in the airports you’re traveling in!

We arrived at 11 pm, so all these areas were occupied. We wandered around a bit and found a quiet corner where we slept on the floor (we never travel without our eye masks & headphones)! Give yourself some time to explore and find the best spot for you!

For more specific details on seeping areas, head over to the expert – Sleeping in Airports.

Luggage Storage

If you have any bags that you don’t want to lug around with you in or outside of the airport, check out these luggage storage options! Anything can be stored for a cost between S$5-S$18, per 24 hours.  There is a storage location in each of the 4 terminals, but during this writing, T2 & T4 are out of use! 

Check out this Baggage Storage link for updates and exact locations! 

Summary - Ultimate Singapore Itinerary - Long Layover

Too often the airports are a boring to-do that comes with travel. But when you find yourself in Changi with extra time to kill, you will be amazed at everything you can do! You can spend days here, and still not see it all while keeping your budget as low as you need to.

My favorite spots in Changi were sitting in the Jewel just watching the vortex, the Butterfly Garden, and taking the Skytrain to get up close to the falls. What things are you excited to explore in Singapore?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Singapore, 0 comments