Singapore Layover: entry requirements, things to do, plus a guide to the majestic Changi Airport

One of my favorite things about flying from North America to Asia is doing a Singapore layover because it has the most high-tech airport in the world! In this article, I will share with you everything you need to know about spending 24 hours in Singapore including visa and entry requirements.

📧 Hi Trisha! I have been reading your travel blogs about Singapore and they are very helpful! I am going to the Maldives and my flight requires a Singapore layover. Do I need a visa as an American citizen? Can you give me tips please? I have a 10 hour layover and I am not really sure if I should stay in the airport or go to the city. Thanks for all your help!

Shirley Young, United States
singapore layover

Hi Shirley! Thanks for reading the blog and for following these adventures! I also did a Singapore layover on the way to the Maldives! And yes, you should go out of the airport if you have a 10-hour layover.

To be fair, there are many things to do inside the airport (it’s like an amusement park!) so it’s really up to you if you want to venture into the city or not. But with this time that you have, it’s guaranteed that you won’t miss your flight so you decide!

Here are some of my tips about doing a layover in Singapore. If you have questions that weren’t answered here, just leave a comment and I will answer them as soon as I can! Have a blast in SG!

Xx, Trisha

🇸🇬 Singapore Layover: quick links

🛩️ Can you leave Singapore Airport during a layover?

singapore layover
Waiting for a flight? Catch a movie at Changi’s free 24-hour cinemas in Terminals 2 and 3. | DepositPhotos.com

ABSOLUTELY! If your Singapore layover is more than 4 hours, you should leave the airport and explore the city. Labeled as the best airport in the world, getting out of Changi Airport is convenient via public transport.

Please note that if you decide to exit the airport during layover, you will no longer be labeled a transit passenger but a regular traveler. You have to exit the airport as if Singapore is your final destination and then do the check-in process again.

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🛃 Do I need a visa if I have a layover in Singapore?

singapore layover
Changi leads in technological advancements, with automated check-in, bag drop, immigration clearance, and even cleaning robots. | DepositPhotos.com

Most nationalities do not need a visa to enter Singapore. However, if you plan to exit the airport during your layover, the ground stewards will direct you to the connection lounges instead of customs.

If you are 100% sure that you have time to exit the airport during your Singapore layover, you must follow the arrivals signs instead of the connecting flight signs.

No one will really check you for it as long as you have your onward boarding pass with you. Just do the process as if Singapore is your final destination.

Citizens of  Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America DO NOT need a visa to do a Singapore layover.

Below are the countries that need a visa to enter Singapore:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 
  • Egypt
  • Georgia 
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan 
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Macao
  • Mali
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • People’s Republic of China (PRC)
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
.

✅ Singapore layover requirements

singapore layover
Don’t miss the dazzling HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 40 meters, with a mesmerizing light and sound show. | DepositPhotos.com

As of February 13, 2023, it is no longer required to present any COVID-19 vaccination card or PCR tests to do a Singapore layover.

If you are exiting the airport during the layover, you will have to apply for an SG Arrival Card (SGAC) wiith an electronic health declaration. This applies to all nationalities and it’s very easy to get one.

If you are staying inside the airport or have a Singaporean residency card, you don’t need to apply for the SGAC. To apply for the SGAC online, go to the SGAC e-Service website or simply download the MyICA Mobile app via Apple Store or Google Play.

To apply for the SGAC online, you will be asked for a valid passport, contact information, flight information, and information about your accommodation in Singapore. If you are only in Singapore for a layover, you can leave the accommodation section blank.

The SGAC is free of charge so make sure you only sign up using the links above. Many fake links will charge you so always go to the official SGAC website.

More importantly, your SGAC should be valid 3 days before arriving in Singapore. If you live in the USA, Canada, or Europe, please note the time difference and make sure your SGAC adheres to the local time in Singapore.

Also, note that the SGAC is not a travel visa. It is an extra requirement for all nationalities entering or doing a Singapore layover.

✈️ Singapore layover things to do at Changi Airport

singapore layover
Download this map on your mobile phone to see all the best things to do for a Singapore layover.

If you want to spend time in the airport without going out during your Singapore layover, note that Changi Airport is one of the top 5 airports in the world and there are many activities you can do without going to the city center.

Changi Airport has the fastest airport wifi in the world so I won’t mention the wifi connectivity in each area. I swear, you’ll be amazed about the loading speed of wifi in Singapore!

Here are the top things to do in Changi Airport for a layover:

1. Butterfly Garden at Terminal 3

📍 Open on Google Maps

singapore layover
Changi Airport houses a unique Butterfly Garden, home to over 1,000 butterflies across 40 species, a tropical haven for passengers. | DepositPhotos.com

The Butterfly Garden at Terminal 3 is the world’s first butterfly garden in an airport, housing over 1,000 butterflies from various species. You can wander through the lush greenery and colorful flowers, watch butterflies fluttering around, and learn about their life cycle at the educational corners.

It’s a great spot for photography enthusiasts, offering countless opportunities to capture the beauty of these delicate creatures. Benches are scattered throughout, allowing you to sit back and soak in the serene ambience.

Explore the two-story garden, with a waterfall and tropical foliage, making it a perfect activity for a Singapore layover. All gardens in Changi Airport are open-air so enjoy this breath of fresh air after being in the plane for hours!

2. Cactus Garden (Terminal 1)

📍 Open on Google Maps

Home to more than 100 species of cacti and arid plants from the deserts and dry areas around the world, the Cactus Garden is a fascinating place to explore.

Each plant is accompanied by informative signs that educate visitors about the unique adaptations of these plants. The garden offers a rooftop view, which is perfect for watching aircraft take off and land.

There is a bar located within the garden, where you can enjoy a drink or two.

3. Sunflower Garden (Terminal 2)

📍 Open on Google Maps

singapore layover

The Sunflower Garden features several varieties of sunflowers grown in Changi Airport’s own nursery. This bright and cheerful garden is a delightful spot to lift your spirits.

Take a leisurely stroll among the vibrant sunflowers and enjoy the sunny ambiance. The garden provides a beautiful backdrop for photos, especially during the golden hours of sunrise or sunset.

It also serves as a viewing deck for planes, offering a panoramic view of the runway and aircraft.

4. Jewel Changi Airport

📍 Open on Google Maps

Jewel Changi Airport, a stunning multi-use complex located adjacent to Changi Airport, offers a plethora of activities and attractions that can turn your Singapore layover into an enjoyable experience.

Here’s a guide to what you can do during a layover at Changi Jewel:

HSBC Rain Vortex

Witness the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, standing at 40 metres high. It’s a spectacular sight, especially when illuminated at night. It’s a great spot for photography and relaxation.

Shiseido Forest Valley

Explore this lush indoor garden that spans four stories. It’s filled with walking trails set among thousands of trees and plants, providing a serene escape from the airport hustle.

singapore layover

Canopy Park

Located at the top level of Changi Jewel Airport, this area includes unique attractions like the Canopy Bridge, Hedge Maze, Mirror Maze, and Sky Nets for bouncing and walking. It’s perfect for both kids and adults looking for a bit of adventure or relaxation.

Changi Experience Studio

Visit this interactive digital attraction that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of Changi Airport through games and multimedia displays.

Shaw Theatre

A commercial cinema that charges for movie screenings, offering the latest releases in a state-of-the-art environment. This is in contrast to the free movie theatres located in the transit areas of Terminals 2 and 3, which are accessible only to passengers who are in transit.

5. Play areas for kids

If you are traveling with children, you can entertain them by visiting the different play areas inside Changi Jewel. There is an admission fee to access this area, and the cost can vary based on the specific attractions you choose to visit within the park.

Discovery Slides

This is an artistic sculpture as well as a playground, offering four integrated slides, including two tube slides and two sliding surfaces.

Foggy Bowls

This area creates a whimsical play experience with gentle concave bowls filled with mist to create the illusion of playing among clouds.

Canopy Bridge

Suspended 23 meters above the ground in Jewel Changi Airport, the Canopy Bridge offers stunning views of the Rain Vortex and Shiseido Forest Valley. Featuring a glass floor section for a thrilling view below, it’s a breathtaking experience amidst lush greenery.

Hedge Maze

Singapore’s largest hedge maze offers an intriguing outdoor adventure. Navigate through the labyrinthine pathways, discover charming alcoves, and reach the watchtower for a panoramic view of the maze’s intricate layout.

Mirror Maze

This fascinating attraction features a maze of mirrors, creating a world of endless reflections. The unique play of light and reflections offers an immersive and disorienting experience, challenging visitors to find their way through the captivating labyrinth.

To visit these attractions, you would typically purchase a ticket for the Canopy Park, which may offer various packages or bundled options including access to multiple attractions within the park.

6. Nature Trails for jogging and stretching

Changi Airport is designed as an outdoor area with fresh air which makes it the coolest airport in the world, especially if you are in a cabin for long hours of flights.

All areas in Changi Airport have nature trails so you can even exercise during your Singapore layover!

The Changi Airport Connector, for instance, is a 3.5-kilometer cycling and jogging path that links Changi Airport to East Coast Park and the Park Connector Network.

Always jog on designated paths or areas to ensure safety for yourself and others. During peak hours or in crowded areas, it might be challenging to jog comfortably. Choose less busy times for a more pleasant experience.

7. Take a dip at the rooftop pool

The rooftop pool at Changi Airport is a popular spot for travelers looking to relax during a layover in Singapore. The pool is situated at the Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel in Terminal 1, near the D gates.

The pool is accessible to non-hotel guests, so you don’t need to be staying at the Aerotel to use the pool. It is open from 12 PM – 10 PM daily.

There is an entrance fee of 25 SGD ($19 USD) to use the pool, which typically includes the use of shower facilities, a towel, and sometimes a complimentary non-alcoholic drink.

In addition to the pool, there are shower facilities, a poolside bar, and a jacuzzi. The poolside bar offers a range of drinks and light snacks. You can enjoy refreshments while lounging by the pool.

8. Best lounges in Changi Airport Singapore layover

Changi Airport in Singapore, known for its world-class facilities, hosts several premium lounges that offer comfort and luxury to travelers. Here are the top 3 lounges, along with their prices and amenities:

Plaza Premium Lounge (Terminals 1, 2, and 4)

Approximately 58 SGD ($44 USD) for 2 hours, 75 SGD ($57 USD)for 5 hours, and 100 SGD ($75 USD) for 10 hours. It has comfortable seating, hot and cold food selections, beverages, and a bar.

It also has shower facilities and Wi-Fi. Some locations offer private resting suites, massage services, and conference facilities for an additional fee.

Ambassador Transit Lounge (Terminals 2 and 3)

Ranges from around 38 SGD ($29 USD) for 2 hours to 58 SGD ($44 USD) for 5 hours. This includes light refreshments, beverages, shower facilities, and rest areas.

Blossom – SATS & Plaza Premium Lounge (Terminal 4)

Approximately 58 SGD ($44 USD) for 2 hours and varies for longer stays. This lounge offers an international buffet and live cooking stations.

There are shower facilities, comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, and entertainment options. Massage services and private resting areas available at an additional cost.

9. Shopping and dining

Changi offers a wide range of retail shops, from luxury brands to local specialties. There’s also a diverse array of dining options, including local Singaporean cuisine, international food, and well-known fast-food chains.

Singapore has the most diverse and probably one of the best cuisines in Asia so make sure to eat and sample dishes during your layover!

10. Guided tour of Jewel Changi Airport

For those who only have 2-3 hours in the airport, you can sign up for a guided tour of the Jewel Changi Airport. A local will take you around the hotspots of the airport. This includes the entrance fee to the Canopy Park.

💁🏻‍♀️ GST tax refund at Singapore Airport for foreigners

Not all travelers know this but if you go shopping in Singapore or purchase anything within the city, you are entitled to a refund for purchases of more than 100 SGD ($75 USD).

However, the GST refund is only applicable to participating shops. You can always see signs at the shops and restaurants if they are participating in the tourist refund scheme.

To get the refund, make sure to collect receipts to get to 100 SGD ($75 USD). To apply for your GST refunds, you can go to the electronic tourist refunds self-help kiosks at the airport. They are easy to spot and you will get the refund instantly.

🚕 How to get to Singapore from the airport

As the best airport in the world, getting out of the airport during your Singapore layover is very easy and efficient. Below are the ways on how to get to the city from the airport:

MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)

The airport is connected to the MRT network, which is a convenient and cost-effective way to reach the city. The Changi Airport MRT station is located at the basement of Terminals 2 and 3.

The cost of an MRT ticket from Changi Airport to various locations in Singapore varies depending on the distance and destination. The fare from Changi Airport to the city center is typically around 2-3 SGD ($1.50 USD approx).

Automated ticket machines are available at the Changi Airport MRT station. These machines accept cash in SGD and major credit cards.

You can purchase a single-trip ticket or a stored-value EZ-Link card, which can be used for multiple trips on the MRT and buses.

The EZ-Link card costs 12 SGD ($9 USD), which includes 7 SGD ($5 USD) credit and a non-refundable 5 SGD (3.78 USD) card cost.

Singapore airport taxi (private)

For those who are traveling with groups or with children, it’s better to pre-book your Singapore airport transportation, especially if you are arriving late at night.

Please note that there is a midnight surcharge of 10 SGD (around $8 USD) for transfers from 12 midnight to 6:00 AM.

There are also taxi lines at the arrivals gate. The taxi system in Singapore is well-regulated, and all taxis use a meter to calculate the fare based on the distance traveled.

Singapore Airport Shuttle (Shared)

The airport shuttle service at Changi Airport provides a convenient way for travelers to get to various locations in Singapore, including hotels.

The shuttle service can usually be booked at the Ground Transport Desk located in the arrival halls of each terminal. These desks are well-signposted and easy to find. Airport staff at these desks can assist you with booking the shuttle and providing information on the next available service.

The fare is around 9 SGD ($7 USD) per adult and 6 SGD ($5 USD) for a child under 12 years. The exact fare can depend on your destination and the service provider.

Shuttle services usually operate at regular intervals, but the frequency can vary depending on the time of day and demand. Standard luggage allowances apply, and there might be extra charges for additional or oversized items.

Busses at Changi Airport

Bus stops are located at the basement bus bays of Terminals 1, 2, and 3. Just follow the signs in the arrival hall to find the nearest bus stop.

The cost of taking a public bus from Changi Airport to the city center in Singapore is very affordable, typically much less expensive than other transport options like taxis or the MRT.

The bus fare from Changi Airport to the city center is usually around 2.50 SGD ($1.89 USD approx). This can vary slightly depending on the specific route and distance.

You can pay the bus fare using an EZ-Link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass, which are both tap-and-go smart cards. These can be purchased and topped up at the airport.

If paying in cash, it’s important to have the exact amount as bus drivers do not provide change. The journey to the city center by bus can take approximately 60-80 minutes, depending on traffic and the specific destination.

Several public bus services operate from Changi Airport, including bus numbers 24, 27, 34, 36, 53, 110, and 858. Bus 36/36A is a common choice for travelers heading to the city center, as it passes through key areas and has a relatively direct route.

🗺️ Things to do during a Singapore layover

Again, if your Singapore layover is more than 4 hours, consider going out of the airport. It’s not a hassle and Singapore is worth exploring!

Here are some of the best Singapore layover tours that I recommend with realistic hours. This way, you can estimate the time you need to go back to the airport to catch your onward flight.

1. Singapore Walking Tour

You probably want to be more active during a layover in Singapore so a walking tour will be ideal. Walking tours usually start in the morning and you can choose the location of the tour:

  • Singapore River and Marina Bay Walking Tour: daily except Tuesdays, from 9 AM to 12 PM
  • Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam: Tue & Thu | 9 AM – 12 PM and Sat & Sun | 2 PM – 5 PM
  • Singapore for beginners | Daily except Sundays | 10 AM – 1 PM

Each of these walking tours has different itineraries. They are also spearheaded by locals so this is the best layover tour as you will learn a lot within 3 hours!

🌟 I recommend the Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam tour for your layover. These are the most colorful areas of Singapore with many activities and hawker food!

2. Singapore on a bicycle

If you don’t want to walk, you can also sign up for a bicycle tour during your layover in Singapore. Like the walking tours above, there are many options for the routes and landmarks:

  • Lion City Bike Tour: 20 KM (12 miles)
  • Katong Food Tour on a bike: 12 KM (7 miles)
  • Downtown SG Food Tour on a bike: 14 KM (8 miles)

Most of these bicycle tours in Singapore go to must-see areas like the Formula 1 Track, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore River, Chinatown, Little India, and more!

😋 Did you know that Singapore has a very rich food culture? I recommend the downtown SG food tour on a bike where you won’t only see landmarks but eat your way through the city!

3. Singapore Street Food Tour (Private)

Private tours are recommended to those who are traveling in groups. With this, you can decide when to start and end your tour. Private tours range from $349 USD for 2 travelers and gets cheaper as the group gets larger.

This Singapore Street Food tour that I love so much will take you to 10 local spots in the different neighborhoods in Singapore. The hosts are also locals (born and raised in Singapore) so they will give you an extensive history class and generous tip about their country!

4. Gardens by the Bay (1-2 hours)

With limited time, focus on the major highlights: the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. Both are iconic, climate-controlled conservatories with distinct themes. Buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in line. This also allows you to check for any discounts or combo deals.

Begin with the Cloud Forest to see the impressive indoor waterfall and the mist-filled mountain covered with lush vegetation. It’s a unique experience that differs greatly from typical botanical gardens.

If time permits after the Cloud Forest, head to the Flower Dome. It’s the world’s largest glass greenhouse and showcases exotic plants from five continents in nine different gardens.

Gardens by the Bay is photogenic, so have your camera ready. The Cloud Forest’s waterfall and the Flower Dome’s floral displays are particularly picturesque.

Expect to do a fair amount of walking. Comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing for a humid environment are recommended.

If you have a few extra minutes, take a quick stroll in the outdoor gardens. The Supertree Grove, with its futuristic tree-like structures, is especially worth a quick visit.

5. Merlion Park and Singapore River (2 hours)

singapore layover

Visit either early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds and enjoy cooler temperatures. Evenings offer a beautifully lit skyline.

Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Singapore River. The riverside is lined with historical sites, artwork, and provides a glimpse into Singapore’s past and present. If time permits, quickly visit nearby attractions like the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay or the Marina Bay area.

Consider a quick visit to Clarke Quay or Boat Quay, both vibrant areas along the river known for their dining and entertainment options.

Utilize public transport like the MRT or buses for easy access to and from Merlion Park. The nearest MRT station is Raffles Place.

✅ I only recommended 5 things to do during a Singapore layover in this article since I don’t want to overwhelm you with choices, given that you will be pressed for time. If you want more options for activities, refer to this article.

🏨 Singapore Layover Hotels

singapore layover

Most of you will opt to stay in a hotel close to the airport for a layover and I totally understand that – you don’t want to miss your connecting flight!

However, Singapore’s transportation is really efficient so rest assured that you will get to the airport in time for your flight, should you decide to book a hotel during your layover.

The best approach is to stay in a hotel near the MRT Raffles Station so you’ll be close to all the landmarks and the train station to the airport. Below are some of my recommended Singapore layover hotels:

HotelPriceRating
Aerotel Airport Transit Hotelnfrom $2457.8/10
RadZone Hostelfrom $438.6/10
The Fullerton Hotelfrom $3298.9/10
Ibis Budget Clarke Quayfrom $1097.1/10
The Clan Hotelfrom $3798.9/10
Lyf Funan Singaporefrom $1368.5/10
The Scarlet Chinatownfrom $1448.4/10

🧳 Luggage storage in Singapore

If you are only in Singapore for a layover, you won’t have to claim your baggage since it’s tagged to your final destination. You only need to take your luggage if you are switching airlines during your layover.

Once you check in your luggage at your original destination, make sure to ask the stewardess or check your suitcase for the tag.

If you booked a hotel for your Singapore layover, the luggage storage is FREE of charge.

There are luggage storage facilities available in Singapore, providing convenient options for travelers who need to store their bags temporarily. Here are a few places where you can find luggage storage services:

Changi Airport Luggage Storage

Changi Airport offers luggage storage services at all terminals. The service is available 24/7, making it convenient for travelers arriving or departing at any time. Rates typically range from 5-15 to SGD ($3-11 USD) per piece for 24 hours.

MRT Stations Luggage Storage

Some MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations in Singapore, especially those in central areas or near tourist attractions, have luggage storage facilities.

These are self-service lockers, typically coin-operated or with electronic payment options. Prices range from 10-20 SGD ($8-$15 USD) per day, depending on locker size.

Luggage Storage Services

There are also dedicated luggage storage services in Singapore, such as Locker & Lock, Luggage Storage Singapore, and Baggage Storage by Smarte Carte.

These services are located in various parts of the city, including popular tourist areas. These are secure storage, sometimes offering additional services like luggage wrapping. Prices range from 5-12 SGD per day.

Luggage Delivery Services

Luggage delivery services in Singapore offer a convenient way for you to transport your bags from the airport to your hotel, residence, or vice versa, without the hassle of carrying them around.

This is a door-to-door delivery that is very popular for travelers but not every traveler know about this! Most services offer tracking options and ensure that your luggage is handled securely.

Delivery can be scheduled according to your arrival, departure, or hotel check-in/check-out times. Some providers also offer luggage wrapping, storage, and even temporary holding.

As a general estimate, prices can range from around 10-20 SGD ($8-$15 USD) per bag for standard delivery. Check the service hours to ensure they align with your travel schedule!

Here are some of the reputable luggage delivery services in Singapore:

  • Changi Airport’s Baggage Service: offers delivery from Changi Airport to any address in Singapore. This is useful for travelers who want to explore the city hands-free before checking into their accommodation.
  • Porter Xpress: provides luggage delivery between the airport, hotels, and cruise terminals. They also offer luggage storage and transfer services.
  • CARTS: specializes in luggage delivery and storage services for passengers at Changi Airport. Services include luggage delivery, storage, and even a mobile luggage wrapping service.

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