For the love of all things free, never ever miss any opportunity of touring Singapore if you have time to spare till your connecting flight in Changi Airport.
As mentioned on my previous post, our layovers ranges from 7-10 hours long. Seven hours layover, though for some it might seem like a long time to wait for a connecting flight, for Feb and I, being the foodies that we are, this amount of time is only sufficient for eating, napping and roaming around Changi Airport (I know, its just that, we sisters entertain each other so much we tend to stay in one place for a long time gabbing and bullying each other. Lol). This time we deliberately choose flights with 10 hours layover in order to experience the Free Singapore Tour.
3 things to check before registering for the tour:
- Timing: You are eligible to join the free tour IF you are a transit passenger of Changi Airport and IF your layover period is at least 5.5 hours and your flight schedule fits in with the tour timings.
- Visa: Eligibility to participate in the tour is subject to visa entry requirements stipulated by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (Philippine passport holders can be issued visa on arrival for stays up to 30 days). You need your passport, boarding passes and valid entry visa to register.
- Baggage: Backpacks are allowed, cabin baggage’s are not. There are payable baggage storage in all terminals of Changi should you need to leave your bags.
Where and How to register:
- Where: Free Singapore Tour booths are located at Terminals 2 and 3 Transit Areas.
- How: Present your passports, boarding passes and valid entry visas (if applicable) to the clerk at the booth.
- Registration will close 1 hour before the tour start time and participants will be guided as a group to clear immigration before the tour starts.
- Availability of seats is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
- Transit passengers are allowed to enter and exit Singapore once during their layover period; therefore, passengers are not able to join more than 1 tour.
- For more details, click here.
Okay, that’s enough for the nits and grits. Lets dive right in to the tour itinerary, shall we? There are two types of tour available for free. The City Sights Tour that showcases modern Singapore, which we have yet to avail because it is scheduled in the evenings and The Heritage Tour that features the colonial and cultural districts of Singapore.
A total of 2 hours and 30 minutes guided tour The Heritage Tour bus will make 2 short stops. Along the way, you will see lush greeneries (City in a Garden, remember?) and amazing architectures. We’ve passed through the Colonial and Business Districts while our tour guide chatters about how Singapore got its name – it comes from ‘Singa Pura’, which means Lion City in Sanskrit.
Then it’s time for the first stopover – The Merlion Park. Feb and I were stoked upon hearing that we will have 20 minutes of free time, finally! We got off the bus and walk straight into the garden of humidity and stickiness. Welcome to Singapore! Lol. Out of excitement, it slipped through our minds that Singapore is a tropical country; we were still wearing hoodies and jackets from the autumnal Seoul.
Taking pictures while profusely sweating is a new talent Feb and I had acquired while in Merlion Park. The Merlion is the national personification of Singapore, the mythical creature has a head of a lion and body of a fish. The body symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning ‘sea town’ in Sanskrit. Its head represents the Lion City ‘Singapura’.
Time’s up! Next destination is Kampong Glam and Malay Heritage Centre. To reach the next stopover, we passed along fascinating buildings of China Town and colorful streets of Little India.
Then we’ve reached Kampong Glam. It is the heart of Singapore’s Malay community with strong Malay-Arab influence. It has various art galleries, craft shops, café’s and restaurants. What really caught my eye is the Sultan Mosque and its golden domes, though, there are lots of these in Dubai where we live, and it’s nice to see something familiar in an unfamiliar place. I’ll say that the balance of this ethnic district and the modern Singapore is truly outstanding.
If I would have to rate my tour experience, I would totally give it the highest score. The sneak peak of Singapore highlights through the windows of the bus absolutely intensified my interest into traveling Singapore longer and deeper the next time.