A Transit Passenger’s Guide to a 24-Hour Layover in Singapore

A Transit Passenger’s Guide to a 24-Hour Layover in Singapore

While Singapore has historically been an ideal waypoint for travelers en route to other parts of Southeast Asia—and, indeed, the rest of the world—this bustling city-state has so much more to offer than just an easy layover. Singapore brims with rich culture and breathtaking sights that make it a well-loved destination in its own right. Best of all, state-of-the-art public transport systems spanning the breadth of the island ensure that many of its choicest attractions are within easy reach.

Even the most transient of visitors would be remiss not to step away from the travel terminals for a little while and indulge in Singapore’s many wonders. If you’ve got no more than 24 hours on these shores, never fear. This short guide will walk you through some of the biggest must-do’s and help you get the very most out of your day.

Explore Changi Airport

Singapore’s Changi Airport is frequently hailed as the best airport in the world, and with good reason. Its highly efficient operations, clean and secure premises, and competent personnel make travelling through Changi a consistently top-class experience. Furthermore, there’s no end of attractions and entertainment options in and around the airport, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike. You’ll easily find yourself with plenty to do and see before even leaving the grounds.

Notable Changi Airport attractions include the Canopy Park located on the topmost floor of the Jewel Changi Airport commercial complex. The park features mazes, giant slides, bouncing nets and ingenious garden paths that are sure to provide both the young and the young at heart with hours of fun. Guests looking for a more relaxed experience can browse Jewel’s shops or grab a bite to eat in one of its many cafés or restaurants. You can even avail yourself of access to Changi’s swimming pool and Jacuzzi for a fee.

Visit Arab Street

Lovers of colorful, culturally rich neighborhoods will get a kick out of exploring Arab Street, Singapore’s Muslim quarter. Rather than designating a single road, the term Arab Street actually refers collectively to the area covered by Haji and Bali lanes, Muscat Street, and Bussorah Street. This cultural enclave is home to the Masjid Sultan Mosque, a 200-year old historic mosque that’s widely considered the heart of the district.

Between the vibrant Persian rugs and textiles hanging in shop windows and the fragrant teas being prepared all around, Arab Street will provide a feast for all your senses. Take a stroll through the area and you’ll find numerous local bars and cafes to relax in, as well as vintage stores with unique souvenirs on offer. Take time to admire the many street art murals and graffiti, which are a fresh and uncommon sight in Singapore, and be sure to snap lots of pictures to take home.

Have Lunch at Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre

A visit to Singapore isn’t complete without at least one visit to a hawker center, and Lau Pa Sat in Telok Ayer is undoubtedly the most famous of the lot. This lively open-air market offers a near-endless spread of local dishes for you to sample, from pork rib soup and chili crab to the nationally beloved Hainanese chicken rice. The best part is that hawker food will always offer you great value for money without ever compromising quality, so don’t be shy—eat as much as you can stomach.

Go Shopping on Orchard Road

If you find yourself in need of some retail therapy during your layover, look no further than Orchard Road. Flanked on both sides by huge shopping malls, designer storefronts, and classy art galleries, this 2.2-kilometre boulevard is by far the most famous shopping street in Asia. Many will say that if you’re chasing a certain special luxury item and can’t find it here, chances are you won’t find it anywhere else in the world.

Even non-shopaholics won’t lack for entertainment here, as Orchard Road’s malls are also home to cinemas, arcades, bowling alleys and all sorts of other attractions. And if you’re in the mood to venture further, the surrounding neighborhoods are likewise full of fascinating places to visit, including the Singapore Art Museum, the National Museum of Singapore and the historic Fort Canning Park.

Have Dinner at the Raffles Hotel

After a long day exploring the city, why not treat yourself to a feast fit for a king? The renowned Raffles Hotel is one of Singapore’s most distinguished heritage hotels and boasts a wealth of sumptuous fine dining options. It’s also the birthplace of the iconic Singapore Sling, a wonderfully fruity, refreshing gin-based cocktail. This drink was created at the Raffles Long Bar in 1915 by the bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, so don’t miss the chance to sample it where it all began.

If you’re tempted to spend your layover in Singapore catching up on work in an airport lounge or napping in a capsule hotel, think again. Whether you’re interested in sightseeing, shopping, or simply relaxing by the bay, there’s so much you can see and do in those 24 hours. In just one golden day, you’re sure to get a taste of this beautiful city that will immediately have you hungering for a return trip.