a group of trees with lights at night

Given the choice of connecting airports or short breaks in Southeast Asia, we’re going Singapore every time…

When visiting Asia, the city you first land is is rarely the main event you’ve come for, but choosing the perfect gateway can turn an exciting trip into something so much more than a layover. Despite recent Hollywood fame and glory, travelers still overlook Singapore as a place to connect, or a place to kick jet lag for a few days of fun in the sun and that’s a total mistake. It’s easily the best stopover city in Southeast Asia, and there’s good reason behind that.

a highway with cars on itFirst Off, It’s The Best Airport

Transiting through some airports in Southeast Asia can be a shambolic, nerve racking experience.  Singapore however, offers not only Asia, but the world’s most advanced airport. Singapore Changi features the world’s largest indoor waterfall, an outdoor butterfly garden, a movie theatre and spa area. That’s for all passengers, not just those traveling in business class. The airport is worth a day of tourism! Oh, and the food is great!

You Must See Gardens By The Bay Before You Die

Singapore isn’t a city which requires much more than two days to get a great picture, but you really need to experience it at least once. As the sky high super trees illuminate the night sky and classics such as “Ave Maria” take over the park with dancing lights dance at every turn, you may find yourself feeling this is one of the greatest things you’ve ever seen. You really can’t say you’ve experienced all the world has to offer until you’ve seen this (free) show at least once.

Getting Airport To City Is Super Easy

Grab, the Southeast Asia equivalent of Uber is incredibly cheap and efficient in Singapore. Getting from airport to central cocktail den or hawker stall shouldn’t take more than half an hour, and it’s a beautiful ride however you go. The train is also super easy, and very cheap, which is nice. Basically, its one of the easiest Southeast Asian cities to reach from the airport, without the craziness of many others.

a large room with tables and chairsSpeaking Of Cocktails

Singapore has not one, not two, but three of the worlds 15 best bars, according to this years list. Even if you only have a night, bar hopping from Native to Operation Dagger to a final nightcap at Atlas is a highly entertaining way to beat jet lag, even if it’s not strictly doctor recommended. Hey, there are worse ways to spend your sleepless nights…

Onward Flights Are Easy

One of the best ways to create a stopover, other than using the Singapore Air stopover program is just to simply make your own. Buy flights to Singapore, then buy separate onward flights for a later date. Singapore is home to both discount, low cost airlines and the most luxurious legacy carriers in the business, so it’s a great place to find exactly what you want with direct options pretty much everywhere in Asia and further afield..

people standing in front of a food standHawker Stalls Make An Expensive City Cheap

Singapore is nowhere near as cheap as other potential stopover cities in Southeast Asia such as Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, but you can take a big dent out of expenses if you explore the amazing hawker centers of the city. It’s where you’ll find the world’s cheapest Michelin starred meal, which is about $2, if you can spare an hour wait. Any stall you choose will be a cheap treat. Plus, there’s Little India, which is like an extra sensory mind explosion of delicious cheap food. You can always find a good cheap beer or bite up Haji lane as well.

Singapore Has The Worlds Best Airport Hotel

Choosing between the Crowne Plaza Changi and the Fairmont Vancouver Airport is like choosing between your two children who both won Wimbledon. They are the very best in their class. For a short break, the Crowne Plaza Changi offers basically the equivalent of a nice five star hotel, with outdoor pool and all, but all within an airport terminal. It’s absurdly nice and less than half an hour into the city, you can still get a real Singapore experience.

a group of trees with lights at nightBut City Hotels Are Otherworldly

Singapore’s top hotels are ridiculously famous and perhaps none more so than the Marina Bay Sands with its futuristic shape and iconic rooftop pool. Its far from the only one though, the Fullerton Bay, Ritz Carlton Millenia, Raffles and Intercontinental are all in a class of their own, but newcomers such as the Andaz and One Farrer are bringing a new twist on “crazy rich” luxury. Fortunately, there are great options whether you prefer using points or cash, and all are relatively central.

Basically, It’s The Easiest, Which Is Priceless

When you’re coming off a long haul flight, or faced with one ahead, traversing through a manic city with endless traffic horns and congestion everywhere is not the vibe you’re going for. Of all the best options in Southeast Asia, Singapore is by far the most tranquil, advanced and modern. It’s worth at least a 48 hour stopover, but even if you’re just stopping through and staying in the airport, there’s literally none better on earth. It’s a fact, Skytrax rated Singapore Changi world number one as well.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Agree with everything except Crowne Plaza. Rooms felt cheap and very poorly decorated. Outside hallways made the rooms feel muggy. The room I stayed in had really shown its wear. You think it compares to Fairmount YVT or Hyatt MCO, Grand Hyatt DFW? Novotel BKK? There are many other airport hotels that put the Crowne plaza to Shame. You can get a luxury hotel in the city for around the same price.

  2. Now with the Singapore Airways direct flight from EWR to SIN, Singapore is the perfect stopover on the way to other Asian cities. While it is currently the longest flight in the world, the sale prices are quite good. Totally agree with your suggestions yet my heart still belongs to Raffles.

  3. Agree with Ryan, Crowne Plaza Changi is convenient but neither luxurious or approaching the service levels of an 5* hotel.

    Singapore Changi primarily uses security for flights at each gate, so an onward boarding pass isn’t necessary to access the numerous facilities inside the secured areas of the airport, if you are there for a long connection. Singapore Changi offers many options for remaining in the secured area with opportunities for relaxation, rest and freshening up.

  4. I far prefer Bangkok to spend a couple of days on a layover. It’s not as convenient as Singapore but the food’s far better (and much cheaper) and the sights far more authentic. Singapore is pretty sterile and repetitive. On top of that, you can stay at a luxury hotel in the center of the Bangkok for the same price as a dirty, dodgy room in Singapore (seriously, be careful. The cheap hotels in Singapore have hourly rates because they are used mainly for prostitution).

  5. Leaving for Singapore next week on the EWR-SIN non-stop in PE. Second trip to Singapore and again will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express Clark Quay & plan on using the roof top pool shortly after check-in. Love the city & sights. Thinking about making a quick trip out of SIN to Phuket, to James Bond Island, to see the locale of my favorite Bond movie “The Man With The Golden Gun”.

  6. Disagree 100% with the premise. Both Hong and Bangkok have far more to see and do and are much cheaper and fun. Singapore is a wonderful place but BORING and expensive. The only part that you got right is the airport, which is far superior to the others. But that means SIN is a good place to transit, not to stopover.

  7. When I travel to India, I have to be in tip top shape on arrival, not half asleep. I always choose Singapore as the stopping point to rest for 1-2 days. I suppose I could choose Dubai or, in some cases, Japan or Hong Kong, but it has always been Singapore.

  8. Where are you going that Singapore makes sense as a stop over for the travel plans? Singapore is too far south and not far enough east; you will always end up travelling further and likely spending more.

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