Singapore is a busy aviation hub, and at some point, you’ll end up transiting through this city-state. But rather than simply passing through the airport and onto your next flight, why not make a day of it? Break your flight up with a day in Singapore and discover some of the delights of the ‘Lion City’ in 24 hours…
At the airport
Stumbling in Changi, stiff limbed and bleary-eyed, you’ll probably need to freshen up and stretch the limbs. Fortunately, Changi Airport has you covered when it comes to airport facilities. Consistently ranked #1 airport in the world, you’ll find 24 hour food outlets, free sleeping areas, a movie cinema, cactus garden, giant slide, butterfly house and more. In fact, there’s probably enough here to keep you occupied for the entire 24 hours. But we didn’t add this layover just to stay in the airport, so let’s head out!
First up, there’s luggage storage in each of the terminals, so dump any excess here for a small charge ($4 – $8) and head through immigration (Aussies don’t need a visa for this visit, just have your onward ticket to show them). The MRT platforms are located between T2 & T3 – this is your exit to the city.
But first, pick up a one-day tourist pass from the kiosk (T2 side of the platform). This baby gives you unlimited public transport around the city and costs $20 ($10 refundable on return of the ticket). Ten bucks for unlimited transport including a return trip to the airport is a bargain in my eyes and the best way to get around in your 24 hour extravaganza!
In the city
Alighting at City Hall, I spent the morning walking through Fort Canning Park, watching locals tend to the community herb gardens, poring over the open-air archeology exhibit and generally taking refuge in the shade – Singapore is bloody hot!
I also poked around Chinatown, when even mid morning it still seemed to be waking up, and then headed over to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The famous Orchid exhibition actually requires you to open your wallet, so not being a huge fan of orchids in the first place, I opted to recline in the gardens and watch red-eyed turtles surface menacingly from the pond instead. The Botanic Gardens was actually somewhat short of shaded areas for sitting, so it may not be your best bet for an afternoon nap.
The heat and humidity had played havoc with my appetite and it wasn’t until late afternoon that I felt like eating. So I caught the MRT to Little India in search of a good vegetarian feast. And Little India didn’t disappoint! Taking a walk down the main street, several restaurants were vegetarian only, but check before you sit down if they are cash only. I ordered a huge thali lunch special and the biggest mango lassi I could (did I mention it’s really hot?). So good, so filling. I practically waddled over to my next destination…
Gardens by the Bay
From lunch I took the MRT to Marina Bay, where the famous hotel of the same name resides. Wandering through the luxe interior (including a Venetian-inspired canal in the middle of the shopping complex with a gondola). Follow the signs towards the garden, walk up and over the bridge and you catch you first glimpse of the Super Grove Trees.
When I first saw these enormous, strange trees rising in the distance, it honestly took my breath away. Modern marvels of public art, they are one part of the larger Gardens by the Bay complex. You’ll find plenty of stunning (and free!) gardens & public art installations here, such as Martin Quinn’s Planet, a giant baby that seems to float. There are also a couple of attractions that cost a couple of $$$ but are definitely well worth it.
The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are the biggest paid attractions here, and are a package deal for non-Singapore residents, so make sure your leave enough time for both. While both were incredible examples of conservatories, the Flower Dome felt more like a place just for visitors to get their ‘gram on. The Cloud Forest however, I really enjoyed. A giant misty mountain, you’ll learn just how important these rare areas are to the planet’s wellbeing (plus the IG opportunities are pretty great here too).
Back to the Supergrove Tree, you can pay to walk up along the canopy, which is quite fun, but you don’t miss out on too much if you choose not to. Then, pick out a spot and settle in with a snack and drink and wait for the sun to set and the trees to light up.
The Garden Rhapsody, a light and music story spectacular that starts at 7:45pm & 8:45pm, is the perfect way to end your day in Singapore. Afterwards, you can board the MRT at the nearby Bayside station and make your way back to the airport to freshen up and get ready for your onward flight.
Have you had a long layover in Singapore? What would you recommend?