When I flew home for the holidays, I booked a pretty excessive flight to save a bit of money. It took me three days and five layovers to get from Vietnam to Atlanta and part of that plane journey included a long layover in Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Things to do in the Changi airport on a long layover
It’s pretty common for travelers to have a long layover in Singapore. The Changi airport is one of the largest airports in Asia and is almost always a connecting stop on a multi-stage flight. Just take a look at Sky Scanner or Scott’s Cheap Flights and you’ll see tons of routes passing through Singapore.
And it’s also common for travelers with long layovers to trek into the city, find a hostel, look lustfully at the Marina Bay Sands hotel, walk around those big metal tree sculptures, and sample some Michelin starred street food. There is so much to see in Singapore!
But I did none of those things. I stayed in the Singapore airport.
Why? Because the Singapore airport is often regarded as one of the nicest airports in the world. Business Insider even did a story about it just a few months ago, calling the Singapore airport the World’s #1 Best Airport.
I’ve always had a bit of a strange affection for airports. They’re soothing to look at, like old maps or blueprints or lizards. So rather than take a jaunt into the city, I decided I would use my twenty-hour layover to explore the airport and find out what all the fuss is about.
Where to Sleep in the Singapore Airport
The Singapore airport is big, but thankfully it’s so well laid out that it’s easy to get around. There are four terminals and the three main ones to explore are all connected with a fast train. The train comes every few minutes and it is very quick to travel between terminals.
I arrived at the Singapore Airport exhausted… too exhausted to notice the convenient trains and maps pointing me to the nearest sleep lounge.
Don’t do what I did.
Don’t sleep on the floor outside the food court because you misread the signs and got lost and gave up. Stumble your tired self to the train and head to one of the many snooze lounges for the proper nap you deserve.
Take a nap in a free sleep lounge
- Terminal 1 – On the Third Level
- Terminal 2 – In the Transit Hall
- Terminal 3 – On the Second Level between “Wine and Dine”
The sleeping lounges have reclining chairs, power outlets, and plenty of space for your belongings. A substantial upgrade from the weirdly patterned carpet where I slept the night before. I’ve never been too fancy for floor sleeping, but when I found this luxurious nap spot just a short train ride and learned it was FREE, I was kicking myself.
Hotels inside the Singapore Airport
If sleeping in a public snooze lounge isn’t your style, you can stay at the Crowne Plaza located right in the Changi Airport! It’s in Terminal 3.
Free Tours from the Singapore Airport
The Singapore Airport will make sure you’ve got plenty to do! They offer city tours from the airport as well as tours around the airport itself.
Take a free tour of the City Center
Location: Sign-up Desk in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3
Guys, I tried really hard to do this tour. I’d read about it for weeks leading up to my long layover. The 2.5-hour bus tour takes travelers around the most iconic neighborhoods of Singapore and even makes a few photo stops. It sounded like the perfect way to see a bit of the city.
I woke up from my floor spot, grabbed a coffee, and booked it to the tour counter in Terminal 2. As soon as I spotted the tiny booth, I knew I was in trouble. Even at 8:00 am, the line to book free city tours stretched all the way down the hallway. I waited in line anyway but by the time it was my turn, all the morning tours were booked.
According to the man running the sign-up desk, you can’t book the tour in advance. Since it’s first-come-first-serve, you’ve got to reserve your spot as soon as you get off the plane. You can reserve a spot in Terminal 2 or Terminal 3.
Take a free Discover Changi Tour
Location: Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4
If you don’t make it on the Singapore City Center Tour, don’t worry! You can always opt for the Discover Changi Tour instead. And yes, this is actually a free tour of the Singapore Airport. Crumble up this blog post and throw it out the window because the folks at the Changi airport got me beat. This tour runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from terminal 2, terminal 3, and terminal 4.
Gardens and Green Spaces in the Singapore Airport
I was so surprised by the amount of green garden space in the Singapore Airport! They’ve clearly gone out of their way to make sure travelers get some time in nature. I mean just look at these green spaces:
Cactus Garden – T1
Water Lily Garden – T1
Orchid Garden – T2
Sunflower Garden – T2
Enchanted Garden – T2
Butterfly Garden – T3
If you only have time for a few of these gardens, prioritize the Sunflower Garden and the Butterfly Garden. The Sunflower Garden is outside so you get some fresh air and it has an awesome view of the runway. The Butterfly Garden is inside and filled with beautiful butterflies!
Entertainment in the Singapore Airport
Play Games on the Entertainment Deck
Location: Terminal 2, just before you go outside to the sunflower garden
It may sound like it’s for kids, but when I walked through here it was only adults pretending they were kids. With several rooms of video games and a movie theater, the Entertainment deck is a great way to pass some time while you wait for your connection.
Catch a Free Movie
Location: Terminal 2 and Terminal 3
One of my favorite parts of flying is getting to watch movie after movie after movie, guilt-free. But in Changi, you don’t have to stop watching movies just because you’re back on the ground. They play free movies all day erry day in the theaters in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.
Go for a Dip in the Rooftop Swimming Pool
Location: Terminal 1, Third Floor
Okay, let’s just take a minute and appreciate the fact that this Airport literally has a rooftop pool you can hang out in. Taking advantage of this awesome feature requires a bit of planning. You’ll need to pack a bathing suit in your carry on luggage, but I seriously can’t imagine a more relaxing way to spend a layover than poolside. There’s a bar out there too. It costs $17 to use the rooftop pool and you can access it on the third floor of terminal one.
Best ways to spend a long layover in the Singapore Airport – Final Thoughts
In addition to having a ton to do, the Singapore airport is just a generally pleasant place to spend a layover. It’s clean and high-tech, there are outlets everywhere, the staff is lovely and helpful, and things just seem to work.
I hope to come back one day and give the city of Singapore the time it deserves, but until then, I’m happy knowing that my Changi Airport layovers will be far from boring. The airport feels like a destination in itself.
If you missed it, you can see my day in the Singapore airport over on Instagram. It’s saved in the highlights.
Ever experienced a long layover? What’s your favorite way to pass the time?