Overall, Singapore Airport is without a doubt the best airport in the world. Across the board, they are more modern and focus on the passenger experience. Singapore Airport has officially won “Best Airport in the World” many for the past few years consistently. So when I had the chance to spend a full day for a Singapore airport layover, I went for it.
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3 Free Tours For Your Singapore Layover
There are 3 free Singapore tours you can sign up for:
- Jewel Tour: Tour of the Jewel at Singapore airport includes discount a free sampler of food.
- Heritage Tour: Takes you on a bus through historic sites in Singapore. Transportation is included and you won’t need any money.
- City Sights Tour: Takes you to popular sights in downtown Singapore. Transportation is included.
To sign up for any of the free layover yours, you’ll need to present them your passport and boarding passes. They need to see that you arrived in Singapore and will depart within the next 24 hours.
Singapore Free Transit Tour Review: The Jewel
Signing Up For The Singapore Airport Free Tour
While walking around Singapore Airport, I saw a big booth that said “Free Singapore Tour.” Naturally, this caught my attention because I love free stuff. I do the free walking tours in most cities I visit and it’s always been pretty good for the price. Typically, you just tip however much you feel it was worth at the end.
The Free Singapore Tour group had several different tours and I had the time. But then when I took a closer look, most of the tours are during the day. I wanted to take the free city tour, but it was all booked up for the evening. If you plan on transiting through Singapore, you might want to sign up for the free Singapore tour as soon as you can!
For myself, the only tour available at the time was for The Jewel. It’s something I could have and would have done on my own, but HEY, free tour! So I went for it. My interest was piqued because the tour included a premium view of the Jewel, free activities and food.
To sign up for a free tour, they’ll need to confirm you’re a transiting passenger by seeing your boarding passes in and out of Singapore.
For some reason I thought you had to pay an entrance fee to get to the Jewel, you do not. The Jewel is completely free to visit. There is a premium view from the top that you have to pay for, but the tour included that for free.
It’s scheduled as a 2.5-hour walking tour, but could have been completed in half that time. There’s a lot of free time calculated for wandering around and taking pictures. That’s the biggest time killer. There were a total of 5 people in my tour, but you’ll end up waiting around.
You can sign up for the Free Singapore Tour at Terminal 2 and 3, just look for the bright pink booth. Officially, the 2.5-hour walking tour says to sign up by 5pm and it runs from 6-8:30pm. But it actually started at 5pm and ended at 7pm. At least that’s what happened for me.
Baggage Storage at Singapore Airport
Before the tour started, I wanted to place my luggage in a locker if possible. I learned that there are no lockers at Singapore airport, but there is baggage storage. The Singapore Air business class lounge also had no lockers.
Baggage storage costs more than a locker and you have to have a person manually check-in your luggage. They also go through it and itemize and valuables. It’s a slow process.
Prices for lockers aren’t that cheap. It’s not unreasonable for an airport, but I chose just to carry my belongings with me.
Getting To The Jewel
The Jewel is located at Singapore airport, on the Singapore landside. Meaning, if you’re transferring at the airport, you’ll need to go through immigration. Before signing up for the tour, you should the visa rules to enter Singapore.
With the tour, you get a sticker that should help you get through immigration faster. It did not for me. Since we had a small tour, each person went through immigration in different lines. The immigration officer asked me where my guide was, I had no idea. I lost sight of the guide! But I still made it through immigration without any problems.
We exited the airport through Terminal 3 and walked to the Jewel from there. It’s all accessed from within the airport so you’re fully covered from the elements. It’s only a 10-minute walk.
The Jewel Tour Experience
The Free Singapore Tour was a little painful for me. First off, I’m carrying a super heavy backpack since there’s no lockers. So my patience is really low when we have a lot of time fillers. The free tour is schedules as 2.5 hours, but they REALLY stretched out a lot of small things to get to that timeframe.
At the Jewel, the tour started with more directions back to the terminal. Then we got a brief overview of the facilities available at The Jewel. We then made our way to Singapore Airport’s giant waterfall to take pictures on a 15-minute break.
After that, we made our way to the basement level where we could see the Jewel from its lowest point. At the basement level, was the food court. We got another 15-minute break here to do some shopping and look around.
A Taste of Singapore
Even though the tour was moving slowly, the food sampler made it worth all that time. Even though you only got a small portion of several Singaporean dishes, it was free and delicious! Definitely do the free tour, get the food, then bail on the rest of the tour.
The Tour (continued)
We then took a 5-minute restroom break, before taking an elevator to the top floor.
At the top floor of the Jewel, you can find restaurants and activities. The restaurants are free to access, but the activities are on the paid side.
Included with the free Singapore layover tour is access to the premium side of the Jewel. You’ll have access to the canopy park and the sky garden. Having access to this part of the Jewel is pretty useful because it’s not as crowded as other parts of the Jewel.
The tour ended at 7pm and lasted about 2-hours. On paper it says it’s a 2.5 hour tour, but realistically it should be a 1-hour tour.
Directions Back To The Terminal
No one asked. Literally no one in the tour group asked for super detailed instructions to get back to the terminal. There’s signs all over the airport. But, our tour guide spent probably 30 minutes throughout the entire tour giving us directions back to the terminal. She gave us directions while we were in the terminal, when we first arrived at the Jewel and at the end of the trip. Super detailed directions like you’re explaining it to a very young child. I did not like that, but that’s because I was carrying a 12kg backpack and they didn’t allow carts on the tour.
The Fake Legend
“Legend has it, that the mist from the Jewel will make your skin look 10 years longer.” That’s what our tour guide said. I was in a bad mood from carrying around a heavy backpack and almost responded with, “Lady, you must be 100 years old then.” I didn’t say that, but thought it. It’s too mean. I just didn’t like hearing a fake legend about a waterfall that was recently constructed at the airport. Come on! That’s ridiculous.
Singapore Layover Tour Thoughts:
What was useful/fun?
The tour guide gave detailed information on the structure and materials used to create the Jewel. She also gave us info on the architect and that he is known for using water in all of his creations, because water represents prosperity.
I thought that was interesting, but would have loved to just hear about all the features at Singapore airport.
What could be improved?
The tour can definitely be cut down to 1-hour. Filler just makes the tour boring.
The Jewel Show at Singapore Airport
The Jewel is Singapore Airport’s most popular feature. A giant indoor waterfall, surrounded by an almost equally as amazing mall.
For those of you that don’t shop, they have everything else. Lots of popular restaurants, cafes, street food, movie theatre and special activities like bouncing around the rope nets above the Jewel.
Every evening, there’s a light show at the Jewel at 7:30pm and last about 5-minutes. This was a nice experience to catch and the view was great from the top. Not too crowded, which is the way I like it.
Other Features At Singapore Airport
Besides having ultra high-end shopping, Singapore airport also offers many free activities accessible to all travelers. See my YouTube channel for more details on that.
Not pictured below (but I have on video), is the butterfly garden and movie theatre. They have movie seats around the airport, but this is an actual movie theatre with seats and darkness.
Free Foot Massages
Stationed around the Singapore Airport terminal, you can find free foot massage stations.
I tried it, very effective.
Kid's Play Area And Lounge Space
Just look at how nice this is! All the seating is very comfy. At the tables next to each seat are power outlets. Along the big couches, you can take a sleep at Singapore airport or do some plane spotting. They even have a kid’s play area.
The really popular Singapore airport slide is located just outside of Terminal 3. It’s free if you spend at least $10SGD at the airport and you can use the slide again for ever $10SGD you spend. So if you have a receipt for a purchase of $43SGD, you can use the slide 4 times.
Singapore Food Street: At The Airport
You can get the full experience of Singapore Hawker stalls each specializing in their own type of dish. There’s plenty of food options at Singapore airport on the land side and air side.
Best of all, they even have a 7-Eleven with reasonable prices. They don’t pull the “you have no other option” move that you would see at any airport in the United States.
Security Checks are At The Gate
So if you want to enter the secure side (air side) of Singapore airport, you just need to scan your passport. You won’t need to go through security until you reach your gate. This makes incredible sense!
Going through security is the biggest bottleneck for passengers at most airports. Now what if, you only went through security when it’s time to board your flight? That’s what they did at Singapore airport.
By grouping gates and having security stations with each group of gate, you don’t have to go through security until it’s time to board your flight.