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During our trip around the world, I built in a few long layovers, thanks to United’s generous routing rules. The third of these was our Singapore layover. Unlike the previous two layovers, we were not extremely rushed on this one. We arrived at 12:30pm and departed the following day at 10:30am, giving us 22 hours on the ground. With this amount of time, we didn’t plan everything to the minute, like we did during our 8 hours in Hong Kong. We had a few checklist items to see, but otherwise, we wandered around and took recommendations along the way. Singapore is an amazing city, with lots to see and do. Come along with us for our Singapore Layover Guide.
When we arrived, we breezed through security and customs. Since we don’t check bags, we save a ton of time at the airport. A quick stop at the ATM to get fee-free cash with our Schwab Debit Card, and then we walked to the train platform. The airport train offers easy access to downtown Singapore.
After a 25-minute train ride, we arrived a couple blocks from our centrally-located Intercontinental Hotel. Hotels in Singapore can be quite pricey, especially ones within walking distance from the main attractions. We really wanted to stay at the Marina Bay Sands, but rooms there start in the mid $400’s per night!
We selected the Intercontinental Hotel, because of the location and the opportunity to use our IHG free night certificate (earned from the Chase IHG credit card). The cash price is around $200 per night, and the point cost is 50,000 IHG points. The hotel itself is quite nice, with air of elegance about it. Our room was relatively basic, with a king-size bed and a large bathroom. We didn’t look for anything too fancy, since we would only be spending a single night there. We checked in, freshened up, and headed out to explore!
What We Did
Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel
We had planned to try the famous Singapore Sling cocktail during our time in the city. The original recipe was developed by the bartender at Long Bar inside the Raffles Hotel. Unfortunately, the original Long Bar (home of the Singapore Sling) was undergoing renovations. We still got a chance to sip on this famous drink at the temporary location though.
Two things you should know before you go: be prepared to wait in line, and do not be shocked by the outrageous price of the drink. It cost nearly $35 USD for one drink! Needless to say, Brooke and I shared one. According to the menu:
“The Singapore Sling was created in 1915 at Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. Following the turn of the century in Singapore, Raffles Singapore was the gathering place for the community and it was common to see gentleman nursing glasses of gin or whiskey. Unfortunately for the ladies, etiquette dictated they could not consume alcohol in public. The talented Ngiam thus saw a niche in the market and decided to create a cocktail that looked like a fruit juice. Masking it in pink gave it a feminine flair and together with the use of clear alcohol, he cleverly led people into thinking it was a socially acceptable punch for the ladies. With that, the Singapore Sling was born.”
The drink was delicious, and the bar was a really neat spot. Definitely worth the splurge.
The Merlion is the mascot for the city of Singapore. You can find the statue, with a lion’s head and the body of a fish, overlooking the Marina Bay. The lion’s mouth is a fountain that sprays water into the bay.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple can be found in the Chinatown area. It was built in 2007, but it showcases many artifacts of Buddhist art and culture, including what they believe to be an actual tooth from the Buddha. The temple is ornately decorated inside and out.
Maxwell Foods Centre
When we asked locals for recommendations, the number one thing they said was, “You must visit a food centre!” The Maxwell Foods Centre is very close to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, so we decided to pop in. Food centres offer tourists and locals the opportunity to sample various local foods, including Hanianese chicken, spicy soups, oysters and eggs, and an assortment of other oddities. We found a local brewery booth, and they said we had to try the famous Tian Tian Hanaianese Chicken Rice. I also got a little adventurous and tried scrambled eggs with oysters and spicy sauce, eaten with chopsticks. Mmm, indigestion!
Marina Bay Sands – Sunset
Leaving the food centre, we grabbed a cab to ride to the Marina Bay Sands hotel. This hotel is probably the most famous structure in Singapore. It sits across the Marina Bay from the city, giving it’s three towers and skypark a larger-than-life appearance.
Atop the Marina Bay Sands hotel, you will find a bar, an observation deck, a skypark, and the world’s highest infinity pool. Unfortunately, the pool is reserved only for hotel guests, but we decided to go up to the bar for some cocktails and a sunset view. You have two options to get to the top from the lobby. Option 1: Pay $20/person to access the observation deck for unimpeded sunset views. Option 2: Pay $20/person to get to the SkyBar, and get $20/person toward a cocktail at the bar. We took Option 2, grabbed a couple cocktails, and watched the sunset from the bar. The bar sits behind the observation deck, giving it a slightly worse vantage point. Fortunately, one of the attendants allowed us to walk to the edge for a quick picture as the sun hit the horizon!
Next, we walked over to catch a glimpse of the infinity pool. I really wish we could have taken a quick swim! After that, we walked to the other side of the SkyPark to look down into the Gardens by the Bay. The view from above is fantastic, especially around sun set.
Spectra Laser Show at the Bay
Every night, you can watch the free, 15-minutes Spectra light and water show on the Marina Bay promenade, immediately in front of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. This show is similar to ones we have seen in Dubai at the Burj Khalifa and in Las Vegas at the Bellagio. Show times are 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm (third show only on Fri & Sat).
Gardens by the Bay Super Trees
On the other side of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, you will find the expansive Gardens by the Bay. The most famous attraction in the gardens is the Super Tree Grove. These man-made “super trees” look like something directly from the movie, Avatar. Every night they also feature a light and music show, with show times at 7:45pm and 8:45pm.
If you plan correctly, you can watch the Spectra Light show at 8pm and the Garden Light show at 8:45pm.
Bridges and Fountains
When the light show ended in the Gardens by the Bay, we were very tired. We walked back to our hotel via a few ornately-designed pedestrian bridges. Along the way, we took a few pictures of the skyline at night, and we passed by the Fountain of Wealth. Singapore is a beautiful city when it lights up!
Ambassador Transit Lounge
After a good night’s rest, we boarded the train back to the airport. Changi Airport in Singapore is the #1 rated airport in the world. We wanted to explore the whole place, but our flight was out of Terminal 2, which doesn’t have most of the main attractions. We opted to use our Priority Pass (benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve) to access the Ambassador Transit Lounge. The entry price would have been nearly $50 per person without Priority Pass!
We settled in for a couple hours to wait for our flight to the Maldives. The lounge had an impressive buffet breakfast, comfortable chairs, showers, an outdoor garden area, and even a full gym!
We had a great time exploring Singapore during our long layover. Without really planning ahead, we managed to cram a lot of stuff into one afternoon/evening! Our favorite parts were watching the sun set from atop the Marina Bay Sands, and experiencing the light and music show beneath the super tree grove. If you have a few hours to spend in Singapore, I hope you find this guide helpful!