Singapore in a stopover
Singapore. The only city-island-state. The cleanest city in the world. A former British trade centre, now Southeast Asian financial hub and busiest shipping container port in the world. The geographically advantageous location and cosmopolitan appeal of the city has made it a traveller’s hub for many decades now. Appealing to those coming from Australia/Europe to break up a long journey, to those from around SE Asia seeking shopping sanctuary, and to those looking for a fashionable weekend escape, Singapore is never short of visitors.
A not-uncommon scenario is the long layover. Maybe for 8 or so hours, maybe it’s a night, what do you do in that time in Singapore? Well, by luck, P+P have been in this situation before and will happily give you a few suggestions.
Stay in Changi!
There are many good reasons passengers have voted Changi as the world’s best airport in the SkyTrax awards for the past 3 years (2013, 2014, 2015). It really is a lovely airport. There’s an openness and space to it that feels both inviting and secure. The architecture is very pleasing and we haven’t come across an airport which utilises the local environment as well as Changi does to create a thriving ecosystem of plants and trees at every turn. The climbing gardens are very pretty, but not as charming and lovely as the dedicated gardens in the terminal. Did you know there’s a Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3? Also a Cactus Garden! An orchid garden! And many others!
If you have a loyalty program that allows lounge access, all the better, but if not, there’s several paid access lounges for when you’re dead on your feet and need a comfortable place to sit or rest. Seeking a bit more comfort? Crown Plaza Changi Airport is mere metres from check-in. Seeking to fill your suitcase? There is all of the duty-free and other shopping necessities you require. Want to go on a slide? Yes! Wait, what? Yes, Changi has an indoor, four-storey slide you can ride for free (after spending a minimal amount in the airport). Radical.
Shop in Singapore!
It’s about 25mins to Singapore CBD (and around the same amount in Singapore Dollars) from Changi. It’s quite close, and very accessible for a major airport near a major city. Orchard Road is a continuous stretch of shopping to satisfy all of your needs. There’s also a selection of all the usual boutique and upmarket clothing, jewelry and bags if that’s your thing. But, if you’re a traveller of typical Australian/Northern European/American size you may not have a lot of luck finding a good selection of items that fit you. Electronics are also a key shopping staple here, which is obvious considering the close proximity to the technology hubs of Japan, Korea and China. Feel free to pick up a new laptop, phone or TV, but that may require a bit more suitcase space.
Explore in Singapore!
Once again, the close proximity of Changi to the rest of Singapore provides ample opportunities to spend your time outside the airport. The list of potential attractions to spend your time in is impressive. Sentosa Island has something for everybody – beaches, animals, a water show, indoor skydiving, just to name a few. Singapore Flyer is the local observation wheel, a version of the London Eye, which also has scheduled cocktail flights that are an indulgent way to see the city. There’s also Universal Studios, the Singapore Zoo, botanic gardens, a bird park, a night safari, and the Sri Mariamman, an ornate 19th century Hindu temple. And if you’re travelling there in the middle of September, you might even be able to find you way to some Formula 1 action on the Marina Bay road circuit which runs through the main city.
Wine & Dine in Singapore!
There have been many influences on the culinary culture of Singapore. The colonial British ties have as much of a part to play as the ethnic diversity of the population. Street foods with Indian and Chinese influence mix with the Malay staples and all of the expected international flavours to provide a smorgasbord of options. There is no sane person who could be disappointed with the choices on offer. Don’t be afraid to sit amongst the crowds in a hawker market – that’s where all the other Singaporeans will be anyway.
For liquid refreshments you’ll find a nice mixture of local specialities (e.g. rose syrup or lemon barley drinks) and the typical coffee, beer and wine influences of other countries. Tiger is the most popular national beer, though it’s only a fairly mediocre lager. There’s a growing craft beer scene in Singapore though, even if there isn’t a lot of brewing going on. RedDot brewhouse has a microbrewery on site and has a few tasty items. The place to drink at the moment is Draft & Craft, a small bar on Circular Rd down by the river. Craft beers on tap and a fully stocked fridge of imported goodness will quench any traveller’s thirst.
So even if you only have a few hours to kill in Singapore, never fear – you’ll quite easily find something to fill up the time!