I HAD ONE DAY to see Singapore, 15 hours to be exact. After a long 16 hours flight, I landed at 1:30 am in the morning at Changi International Airport. Since I would leave to see Singapore city at around 5:30am in the morning, I didn’t bother making any hotel reservation. Why pay for a hotel when I am only going to use it for 3.5 hours and when Changi is well known as the best airport in the world for a layover. Changi is huge and very clean. I found a super clean/quite meditation room, where I was able to lay down flat for a couple of hours. There were a couple of people napping in this room as well. There were also many lounge chairs in the waiting area and many people just slept on these. If you want to spend SG$50, you can get a room (shared shower) for 6 hours block at the transit hotel (without exiting the terminal). Wifi and internet access in Changi are free, so I made some calls home using wifi calling.
Note that in order to nap in the terminal area as I did, you cannot clear custom yet. Just walk out of your plane and hang around the waiting/shops area inside the terminal. Since you will not be claiming your baggages for a few hours, they will be placed in the lost and found area, which you can claim later. I did a lot of research on this and have never heard of people losing their luggage.
The first MRT train into the city opens at 5:30 am. Around 4:30 am, I freshened up, changed clothes, and checked my luggage in at the Left Luggage Counter for the day. All terminals have luggage services. It costs around SG$8.
I caught the first train (east/west green line) into the city, changed train at Tanah Merah station, and was in the Singapore’s Chinatown in about 30 mins. The train cost about SG$2. You can also buy the Singapore Tourist Pass starting at SG$8, which provides for unlimited travel on MRT and buses. I did spend about SG$10 for the day, so the pass would have made sense. I did not buy the pass because there was no ticket agent at the station in Changi at 5:30am.
You can pretty much see most of Singapore in about 8-10 hours. I was pretty much done sightseeing and ofcourse exhausted by about 4pm following the itinerary below.
- Singapore Chinatown walking tour – visit Sri Mariamman Temple and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
- Maxwell Food Center – visit the local hawker stall for some great cheap food.
- Boat Quay – for a nice walk or lunch along the river.
- Merlion Park – to take a photo with the famous Lion statue.
- Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino – to cool down and visit the Sky Park Observatory.
- Raffle Hotel – to sample to original Singapore Sling.
- Orchard Road – to shop until you drop.
- Little India – to experience a piece of India. If you have never been to India, this provides some glimpse.
- Masjid Sultan and Arab Street – to see one of the most important and beautiful Mosques in the Singapore.
There are so many other places in Singapore which I did not visited on this 1 day trip (National Museum, Night Safari, Asian Civilization Museum, Galang Area, Sensata Island, Zoo, or the boat ride along the Singapore River). Frankly I had no interests in some of those things I missed.
Yes, you can see all of Singapore’s key attractions in 1 day (in 8-12 tiring hours), so if you have an 8-12 hours layover, get out of the airport and do it. For shorter layover, the tourism center at the airport also offers 2-3 hours or half day tour. However, to really experience all that Singapore has to offers (night life, evening walk, chilling at a popular bar in town, and getting some sense of the local daily life/culture), one would really need 2 full days.