On our recent flight home from Bangkok we would have a Singapore layover. Instead of picking a short layover we decided to choose the flight that would give us 14 hours in between flights to enjoy 12 hours in Singapore. While you can’t see everything in Singapore in 12 hours since it’s a small country you can still see a lot in one day. We flew Qatar Airways landing in Singapore at 12:40PM and weren’t departing until 2:05AM. Here’s what we did on our Singapore layover.
Clearing Customs and Visa Requirements for a Singapore Layover
Singapore does not require US citizens to have a visa if you are visiting for less than 90 days. The immigration officer did ask us how long we were staying and proof of our departure flight so I would be sure to have this handy. Ours allowed us to show him on my phone but I’d recommend having a screenshot in case you don’t have cell phone service to pull it up.
Singapore Layover: Where to Store Your Luggage
Our flight from Thailand to Singapore and from Singapore to home were not on the same airline so our bags did not check all the way through. Qatar Airways only allows check in 3 hours prior to the flight so we couldn’t check our bags in so early. Obviously walking through Singapore with all of our luggage was not an option so what did we do? Changi Airport has baggage storage in each terminal in both the transit and public areas of the airport for easy drop off. It cost us about $15 USD to hold our bags and you can find more information on prices here.
Getting From Changi Airport to Enjoy Your Singapore Layover
Singapore has great public transportation including a train at both Terminal 2 and 3 that will take you into the city. All the stations are luggage friendly with escalators and elevators. It took us 20mins to get to Merlion Park and cost a mere $1.50 Singaporean Dollars. You can see a fare calculator here.
What to Do on a Singapore Layover
You’d be surprised at how much you can do on a Singapore layover. With the 8 hours we had in Singapore we visited Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands, and Gardens by the Bay. Her’s what to do in each location.
Merlion Park gives you a great view of the infamous Marina Bay Sands hotel and a chance to take the obligatory picture of catching the water spraying from the Merlion’s mouth. Unfortunately the big Merlion had scaffolding around it during out visit as it was closed for cleaning but Jordyn still got to attempt the photo with the Merlion cub. There are tons of restaurants and bars in this area as well if you want to eat.
Marina Bay Sands
You can technically walk here from Merlion Park, someone told us it would take about 20mins. We didn’t have a stroller and I wasn’t interested in Jordyn getting tired halfway through and asking us to pick her up so we caught an Uber. If you’re into shopping you can definitely spend some money here as their are tons of high-end stores. If you’re only coming for the view of the city like we did you have two options. Unfortunately the infamous Infinity Pool is only accessible to hotel guests but you can get to the 57th floor by dining at one of the restaurants open to non-hotel guests or paying admission to access the Observation Deck. It’s open 9:30AM-10PM Mon-Thurs and 9:30AM-11PM Fri-Sun. You can pre-purchase tickets online and if you sign up for Sands Rewards you will receive 20% off admission.
Gardens by the Bay
A trip to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without seeing the magical Gardens by the Bay. It’s a quick walk here from Marina Bay Sands you can ask valet to point you in the right direction. The attractions include two conservatories, the outdoor gardens, and the Skyway. The conservatories and Skyway are open from 9AM-9PM and have an admission fee (book your tickets here). If you only want to see the garden show at night and watch it come to life it’s free and there is a 7:45 and 8:45PM show however this area is open from 5AM-2AM. There is also a Children’s Garden which has a splash pad and free of charge but it’s closed on Mondays.
The kids got tired once the sun went down so we didn’t get the chance to do Night Safari Singapore but it’s on our list for our next visit.
Other Things to Do on a Singapore Layover
Of course with only 12 hours in Singapore we weren’t able to do everything. If we have another layover in Singapore in the future we would do these things:
- Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: Don’t feel like navigating the city on your own? Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour and choose when to get off or just stay on the bus the entire time. The tour lasts 50 minutes if you don’t get off at all and runs 8:30am-6:00pm every 20 minutes. Book your ticket here.
- Singapore Flyer: This ferris wheel reaches a height of 40 stories,providing an amazing view over the entire Marina Bay. (Book a city tour that includes the flyer here).
- Singapore Botanic Gardens: A 158-year-old tropical garden that is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Singapore’s first!). You will love the fact that entrance here is FREE from 5AM to 12AM (except for the National Orchid Garden – the park’s crown jewel – that is open 8:30AM to 7PM and charges SGD 5
- ArtScience Museum: This museum is famous for its varied art and science exhibitions and flower shape. You can grab discounted rates if you book online.
- S.E.A. Aquarium: This is one of the biggest aquariums in the world and families will love it. (Book your tickets here).
- Singapore Zoo: The Singapore Zoo has won the best Singapore Attraction Award 9 times so apparently it’s a big deal. You can book tickets ahead of time here.
- Night Safari: If your layover includes time after sunset like ours did consider the night safari which we really wanted to do. Here you’ll be able to see nocturnal animals such as leopards in their natural habitat. Book your ticket here.
- Little India
Free Guided Tour on Your Singapore layover Offered by Changi Airport
If you don’t have a full 12 hours to explore Singapore but have at least 5.5 hours Changi Airport offers free guided tours of Singapore you can join. To get you back in time tours only last 2.5 hours, which is why we didn’t take them up on their offer. While you have to have at least 5.5 hours on your layover you can’t have more than 24 hours or else you don’t qualify for the tour. They are on a first come first serve basis and you cannot make a reservation.
Two tours are offered, the Heritage Tour and the the City Sights Tour. The Heritage Tour runs five times a day and takes you to Merlion Park, Little India, Chinatown Kampong Glam, and the Malay Heritage Center. The City Sights Tour only runs twice a day and takes you to see the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade and Merlion Park.
What to Do at Changi Airport on Your Singapore Layover
While I don’t know anyone who wants to be stuck at the airport for an extended time if you are hope it’s Changi Airport. There is a movie theater, pool, a thriller slide, and tons of play areas for kids. The airport also provides free wifi, plenty of charging stations, and you can borrow strollers and carts to carry your luggage throughout the terminals free of charge.
Singapore was the perfect end to our tour of Thailand visiting Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. We were ready to conquer another long haul flight home with kids. Please share this article if you found it helpful in planning your Singapore layover!