How to survive a transit in Singapore

How to survive a transit in Singapore

Our base location is changing. Maybe for a while or maybe forever. We haven’t decided on that yet. But let me make this post the announcing platform, to say that we have moved to Australia. It is a bittersweet feeling in terms of travelling, because there is so much more left to do in Sri Lanka. Of course we traveled a lot for the past year and a half, but still, there is a long list of places we want to cover. It will happen over the next few years. We will make it happen.

Our layover was set to Singapore. It was not intentional, but since we are heading to Adelaide, Colombo – Singapore – Adelaide was the route for us. At the time of booking tickets we noticed the layover was 15 hours! For most of us, the number is a horror. For us, we were excited! Yay! Free trip to Singapore! We had so many questions about doing this layover tour. What are the do’s and don’ts? What about luggage? What is the best way to spend the time? How to make sure to get back on time? and a whole lot more. The idea of this post is to answer all the questions that we had.

Things to do during the layover

There are many ways to enjoy a long layover at Changi airport. These were the options that we found and considered.

1. Enjoy facilities & services within the terminals.

There is so much to do in Changi! It’s not at all an exaggeration that Changi airport is named as one of the best airports to get stuck in. From Food, to movies, to gardens, there are so many entertainment options that you wish your transit was longer. For someone who doubts about leaving the airport and getting back on time, staying back at the airport, enjoying the amenities is the best way to kill time.

Also you get the option to have pay-per-use lounges, where you can have a wash, or a nap, or even a massage. For those who are in desperate need of comfort and rest, this is a good way to use the transit hours. There are free snooze areas as well, but usually they are occupied.

2. Sign up for the Free Singapore Tour

Want to tour Singapore but not sure if you will make it on your own? doubts on getting back on time? Then the best thing to do is opt for the free Singapore tour offered by Changi airport. The duration is about 2 1/2 hours for each tour and there will be two types of tours to choose from. One is a heritage tour that runs during the day time, and the other is a city tour that happens in the evening. Depending on your flight departure times, you need to select which tour you opt for. More details are listed here.

3. Explore the city on your own

From what we heard, the free Singapore tour would leave people like us wanting for more. Having 15 was more than what is needed for travaloholics like the two of us. So that is what we did! Explored the city on our own. I will start detailing out exactly what we did.

Planning: Be realistic with where you want to visit.

Right after a flight, crammed in to a tiny space for 3 hours, you honestly can’t do a lot as you think. Not exactly with that thought process, but we thought to stick to just two places without being greedy.

Spending money: Where to exchange money in Singapore?

Once you arrive at Changi, you can use the exchange services to get some Singapore Dollars in to your hand to spend around the country within the day.

Get Light: Can we leave baggage at Changi Airport?

Changi Airport provides the facility to leave luggage while you roam around the city. The luggage drop point is likely to miss, and when asked for directions, you often get a “Someshopname and right behind that”. We walked past the place a several times before we were able to locate it. For a reasonable rate, we left the baggage.

Note: You can’t leave laptops 🙁 I know, that is the heaviest and the most annoying for me when being touristy. Have backpacks to carry the heavy gadgets so you keep your hands free. Find the pricing details here.

Enter Singapore Officially: Do I need to pass Immigration for the tour?

Since you are going on your own, you need to pass through immigration. No hassle over there. They will ask a couple of questions and you are not doing anything out of ordinary. A lot of travelers opt to explore the city in their own time.

Travel options: How to travel in Singapore?

We had our own plan, to visit Gardens by the Bay & Art & Science museum. A separate post is done, with details on each of these locations. You can either get a taxi for transport, or you can be local and travel by metros. If you are following the same route as ours, you can get a metro from Changi Airport, until Gardens by the Bay itself. Do check the station names properly once you get hold of a site map. They usually have the metro map as well, so planning is easier.

After we got to a Metro Station, we purchased tickets from the automated machines. We took a return trip only up to Gardens by the Bay and back to Changi. For the two of us, it cost SGD 6 if we are correct.

Important things to keep in mind

1.Set a time to get back to airport.

This is a no-brainer, but please be mindful about the departure time, terminal, and leave enough time to get back to the airport at least 4 hours before the departure time (just in case).  If you have to depart from a different terminal than the one you arrived, best is to go to that particular terminal before you leave to the city. Leave baggage in that particular terminal, so even if you get late to be back, there is one less problem of getting the baggage back.

2.Keep your travel documents safe!

You will be out, having fun, enjoying and maybe getting mesmerized by anything that you are seeing for the first time. At all times, please keep the travel documents safe with you. You haven’t finished the journey yet.

Freshen up before the flight: Showers in Changi Airport

This helped us a lot to relax during the next 8 hour flight. After walking and being under the sun for a good 6 hours in Singapore, we came back to the terminal, exhausted! I was badly in need of a wash! In terminal 2, you find the Ambassador Lounge where the pay-per-use facility is available for shower rooms. Good, clean shower rooms with towels and toiletries provided. Just when I thought they lack a hair dryer, there is separate area with ceiling high mirrors and ample lighting, to do your hair and makeup. If you pay a bit more, you can get a room for yourself to have a nap. There are many other facilities provided by the lounge for a cost, if you just want to slouch on a couch and just wait the 15 hours in the airport.

After the massage, we managed to find the much needed massaging chairs! Must tell you that they are occupied all the time! You need to wait or stare at the person until it’s uncomfortable, if someone is using it for more than one round. While there are many foot massagers, what you need to get in to is the full body massager couches. Since there was no waiting line, I spent a good half an hour getting massaged from head to toe and then we went straight to the flight.

I don’t know if it was the uneasiness to leave my family behind and migrate, or the night travel but I couldn’t sleep for about 2 days. Thanks to the comfy shower, the massage and a serving on good old Baileys, I slept! I slept well enough and walk up to see the dawn in Adelaide after 8 hours.

Hello there, Australia! 🙂

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