There is no shortage of fun stuff to do at Singapore’s beautiful Changi airport.  There are movie theaters, gardens, great lounges, entertainment areas, etc, etc.  On this trip,  though, I took the opportunity to try a Free Singapore Tour.

Garden in the middle of the Terminal 2 concourse.

Requirements and logistics for taking a tour are succinctly explained on an advertising poster.


Two tours are available.  The Heritage tour departs during the day, and the City Lights tour leaves in the evening.  A boarding pass and passport are required at a minimum to pass through Singapore immigration as a transit passenger.

Register at the tour booth in Terminal 2 or 3.


The Heritage tour starts at 09:00, 11:30, 14:30, and 15:30.  The City Lights tour leaves at 18:00 and 19:30.  Each tour takes 2.5 hours.  Registration closes one hour before the tour starts.  Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Those on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir can sign up in advance at a Singapore Airlines registration office.  Tours are in english.  A chinese audio guide is also available.

The Heritage tour treats passengers to a view of some of Singapore’s famous modern and colonial architecture.  The tour begins in the Colonial District and the Central Business District before stopping briefly at Merlion Park.

Singapore is a prosperous city/state of immigrants.  It has done an outstanding job of assimilating the cultures of many religions and countries.  Ironic that the Trump administration selected it for a summit with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Stopping at Merlion Park

The stop at Merlion Park  affords a good view of several stunning buildings and, of course, the iconic Singapore Merlion.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Opera House (lower left)
Esplanade Performing Arts Center
Merlion Park photo opp.  The Merlion is a mermaid with the head of a lion symbolizing the lion city that began as a fishing village.

The stop at Merlion park is only 20 minutes.  Before we got off the bus, the guide told us that time was of the essence due to traffic and the necessity to return on time to avoid missing flights.  He also said that anyone in the group could leave the tour if they wanted to and return to the airport via taxi or public transportation.  When two members of the tour failed to show at the departure time, the driver waited only about a minute before leaving.

On the way to the next stop the guide pointed out more interesting sights and described some of the history of Singapore.

It is now popular in Singapore for new buildings to create more green space that the area the building occupies.


The Fountain of Wealth

The tour drives through some of Singapore’s ethnic neighborhoods.

The Little India area.20180316_135008_resized


Shop houses are ubiquitous in the neighborhoods


Clarke Quay entertainment area and Singapore River

The second and last stop on the tour is Kampong Glam, a traditional Malaysian neighborhood.  Tour members can visit some of the many shops, art galleries and cafes and the Sultan Mosque.20180316_135422_resized

Twenty minutes was enough time to walk around, stretch my legs and purchase a couple of small souvenirs before returning to the bus (a few minutes ahead of time to ensure not being left behind).

Final Thoughts

This was a great, although brief tour, of Singapore.  Even though I’d been to Singapore several times, I found the tour fun and informative.  The free Singapore tour also demonstrates that long layovers need not necessarily be dreaded.  Many international airports have very appealing options to pass the time.  I found a great free walking tour on an overnight New York City layover and there are a ton of things to do including several free tours at ICN.  Just do a little looking around in person or online or ask at an airport information counter.