A Singapore Stopover Guide

Published 30 March 2016

If you’re on a  flight to Australia or New Zealand, you’ll probably be given the opportunity to stopover in Singapore. Many are tempted to stay in the airport – after all it is home to Singapore's tallest slide – but there are plenty of reasons to go out and explore the city on your stopover.

Singapore skyline in the evening

UK Citizens are lucky enough to receive a free visa stamp on arrival to enter the country for the length of their transit. Then all there is to do, is to get to the city which can easily be achieved by taxi (the quickest method), public MRT train, or by bus.

5 hour stopover

To make the most of your brief five hour stopover, you can register for a free two hour city tour at Changi Airport. The tour departs directly from the airport, before hitting the sights in the city, such as the Singapore flyer – the world’s second tallest observation wheel, Gardens by the Bay, to see the iconic ‘Supertrees’, the magnificent Marina Bay Sands hotel, the Esplanade theatre, Merilon Park, Colonial District, China town, Little India and the thriving Central Business district. It’s definitely a whistle-stop tour!

You must register at least one hour before the tour begins as it runs on a first-come, first-served basis.

12 hour stopover

If your flight has arrived early in the morning and is flying out the same day, use this time to beat the jet leg. For those who failed to snooze on the plane, there are some great coffee places to try in Singapore to get you out of a post-flight slump.

Yellow Cup Coffee, located on Havelock road is a quaint retro café where you can sit and take in a moment to recover before pounding the pavement. If you’re willing to splash out a bit more cash on breakfast, try the pastries and cakes at the Tiong Bahru Bakery which is open from 8am to 10pm. For a mid-morning brunch try Artistry, the menu offers unique choices for the daring diner such as their popular Crab Burger and Gibraltar coffee.

After you’ve perked yourself up, climb aboard the City Tours Hop-on Hop-Off sightseeing bus. This is a great way to see the city in a short time without having to worry about public transport or directions.  You can choose to just see the sights from the bus which takes just under an hour, or you can jump off and explore certain areas –it is entirely up to you and your schedule.

If you’ve arrived on the evening side of a 12 hour try to stop, try up late to experience Singapore after-dark. You can go on a night safari through Singapore’s zoo from 7.30pm to 12 am, sample some cocktails at Bitters & Love bar, browse or buy at the Mustafa Centre's late night shopping, satisfy your sweet tooth at Spize, a 2am desert bar, or even just go for an evening stroll through the Gardens by the Bay to awe at the Super Trees light show.

24 hour stopover

For a 24 hour stopover, you’ll probably want to check into a hotel for the night – so why not treat yourself by spending a night at the impressive Marina Bay Sands hotel. This ship-shaped – literally – hotel stands out amongst Singapore’s finest suites, not only do the rooms give you an incredible view of the Singapore skyline, but the pool at the top really makes this worth the money. You can read about Lauren’s experience in her Stopover in the world’s best pool.

As mentioned before, the hop-on-hop-off tour is a great way to see the city, but with 24 hours to spare you can feel less rushed and take your time to thoroughly explore all of Singapore’s major sights. You can also take a hop-on-hop-off cruise along the Singapore River if you’re not fond of buses.

Top spots in the city include the Cloud Forest (a beautiful display of gardens and waterfalls), the Marina Bay, and the waterfront promenade, which illuminates with colours in the evenings.

Two to three days

With time on your side, not only can you do all of the above with ease, but you can also risk leaving the mainland for half a day. A 10 minute ferry ride will take you to the exotic Palau Ubin, an untouched forest island, perfect for renting a bike and exploring the nature and wildlife. Another short trip out of the city is the MacRitchie Nature Trail where you can take a tree-top walk amongst the monkeys and butterflies, or rent a kayak and go for a paddle.

If you’re travelling with the children – or you’re just a child at heart - then a trip to the Singapore Universal Studios should not be missed. Although you certainly won’t be getting an authentic cultural experience, the mini ‘Holly wood’, ‘New York’, ‘Sci-fi city’ and ‘Lost World’ attractions are all great fun to wander around. Here you can enjoy rides, shows, and 4D films as well as special events, so check the Universal Studio website to see what’s on.

It’s worth buying a Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited bus and train rides for a one to three day stopover. This way you can make the most of public transport to explore the city in your own time, leaving room to find hidden gems that you’d miss on a sightseeing tour.

If you want to explore Singapore, ask our consultants about the Singapore airlines stopover package. This includes accommodation, return airport transfers and admission to the major sights.

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