Making The Most of 12 Hour Layover in Singapore

This was my first layover where I had enough time to explore the city outside of the airport.

Coming from NZ made it pretty easy as all our long haul flights tend to be overnighters. So we could catch some Z’s on the flight and be fresh for a trip to Singapore the next day, bonus!

 12 hours in Singapore.png

Getting to the City

There are a few ways to get into the city from the airport. Taxi is of course one, this is a flat rate of $35 SGD and the line seemed to be pretty short at 8am when we were making our way out of the terminal. We however, opted for the train as it seemed to be an easy and cheap option. For $20 a head we could get a day pass (NAME OF PASS) allowing us on any train on that day around the city. You also get a $10 refund upon return. It was incredibly easy and seemed to be a popular option for locals heading home too.

 Singapore Scenary

Food Options

We found the food options could be a bit limiting depending on what you’re willing to pay. We just wanted a cheap eat as we weren’t feeling too fresh and on a time limit. So a quick bite and we could be off again. Unfortunately we struggled to find anything that wasn’t a food court in a mall or street food outside. Usually, I would be very keen for the local cuisine under a tree. However, the heat was getting the better of us so were looking for an inside spot.

For local cuisine, you can find small stands at the opposite side of the bay to the Marina Bay Hotel, or a few places scattered around street corners. They’re a fantastic alternative to food courts which can be fairly average in my experience.

If you’re looking for something a little fancier than food court grub there are plenty of bars and restaurants near the Marina Bay Area, which is probably your best bet to find somewhere a little special to eat.


How to Spend Your Day

You really have got a lot of options when it comes to Singapore. I haven’t tried all of these and of course your budget may determine what you’re likely to choose.


  • Visit the Gardens by The Bay – These are pretty spectacular and well worth a visit. It can be pretty exhausting in the humidity so best to do this in stages. You can also pay to visit some of the attractions such as Cloud Forest, Sky Walk?? And Flower Dome. Tickets are pretty cheap, we paid $22 for a combined ticket to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.
  • Walk around the Marina Bay – This is what we did as we wanted to watch some Dragon Boaters in the Bay that day. You can also take a walk around the mall which is part of the hotel for an air conditioning break.
  • The Botanical Gardens –  these area little further out of the city at the end of the shopping district, XX. You can catch a train or but there very easily though.


  • Take a hop on hop off bus around the city. This is a fantastic way to see the most the city has to offer. Visiting each district and getting a feel for diverse culture in Singapore.


  • Universal Studios – I haven’t been to the theme park in Singapore but based on the ones I’ve listed in the US I’d say this would be a really fun day! A great option if you wanted to give kids a memorable day out.
  • A trip to the island – Again not something I’ve done myself but by all accounts I’ve read it’s a spectacular visit and doable on a long layover.


So, Is The Layover Worth It?

YES! Especially for our journey which was back to back 12 hour flights. The break of a day trip was extremely welcome.

Although theres debate if a layover trip can count as really experiencing a place. I think they make for a great tester to see if you’d like to go back again for a longer stay and really explore. You definitely can’t get a full feel for a place in 12 hours but you can definitely do a lot in a day. As long as you can get some sleep the night before. Something we found was going from a chill Wellington Winter to a humid 26C was way tougher than we initially anticipated. We had to take regular breaks, drink plenty of water and fuel up on a couple of coffee’s before we carried on.

For anyone looking to save some money on their trip, this layover didn’t cost us any extra on flights, no accomodation costs and very little in travel expenses too.


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