Sleeping in Airports: Staying overnight at Singapore Changi Airport

Staying overnight at Singapore Changi Airport

While booking flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Denpasar (Bali), the two cheapest flights on offer were overnighters with connections in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). If you know anything about LCCT you would know not choose to do an overnighter there, so I picked the luxurious SIN.

Usually I would spend a night in Singapore and make a day of such a connection, but my flight arrived at midnight and left the next day at midday, so there wasn’t enough time to justify a hotel stay for a few hours sleep.

I used to do overnighters at airports when I was living in London, especially when there were Ryanair sales with flights for 1GBP. These flights were mostly at 5am at Stansted Airport, which is a horrible airport to overnight in. Each time I would do it I would swear never to do it again, and then I would be lured back with another cheapo flight. It’s been a few years since I have slept at an airport so I figured I would see how I go at one that is rated as one of the best to sleep in.

Part of the reason I decided to overnight it was because I remembered seeing reclining transit lounge chairs on a previous SIN layover. Upon arrival at Changi I started walking around the airport but I couldn’t find these mythical chairs anywhere. In the end I settled for some lounge chairs located near a cafe.

Sleeping on chairs - Singapore Changi Airport

I have a hard time sleeping sitting in chairs so I didn’t sleep. I always look on with envy at people who can sleep in uncomfortable positions in noisy environments. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but the land of nod wasn’t happening. In the end I gave up pretending I will sleep did some work.

The good news for airport insomniacs is that Changi is a great airport if you cant sleep. There is free wifi, which is available as a 4 hour voucher from any of the information desks. After knocking out some emails I ended up spending a couple of hours wandering around the long corridors. On my wanders I realised why this is such a good airport – it’s the wall-to-wall carpet.

Carpet - Singapore Changi Airport

Changi is covered with acres of carpet and it has a warm feeling to it compared to, say, Bangkok BKK with it shiny white tiles.

I also love departure boards and SIN has flights going everywhere.

Departure Board - Singapore Changi Airport

There 6 theme gardens located throughout the 3 terminals. Going to all 6 gardens is a good way to get the legs moving if you have a few hours on a layover. The sunflower and cactus garden are on the roof so you will see smokers up there and get a view of planes taking off and landing.

Sunflower Garden - Singapore Changi Airport

The gardens inside the terminal are lovely too.

Fish Pond - Singapore Changi Airport

Late into my stay I found a movie theatre which I would have gone to had I known earlier. I had a look inside and they were playing Twister from HBO TV. Not exactly a new release, but good way to spend a few hours if need be.

Movie Theatre - Singapore Changi Airport

If you find The Social Tree you can take a photo of yourself and have it emailed to you, and post it to the tree while you are at it.

Social Tree - Singapore Changi Airport

Here is my 6am-with-no-sleep face.

James @ The Social Tree - Singapore Changi Airport

Another thing that SIN has which many airports don’t is free water. Seriously, that drives me crazy to have to empty my water bottle out while going through security and then be forced to buy expensive water once you are airside. There are drinking water taps everywhere.

The food is also reasonably priced as well. Noodles and soups can be found from $4SGD.

Mie Siam - Singapore Changi Airport

By the time my flight departed my eyeballs were hanging out of my head and I once again swore that I would never again overnight it in an airport, but if I have to do it again I wont mind if it’s at Singapore Changi airport.

If you would prefer not sleep in a chair an airport then check hotel rates here.

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Comments

  1. I happened to overnight at Changi yesterday and a week ago to catch 2 Tiger airways flights. I agree with you on the free wifi and the free drinking water – you only need an empty bottle, after security check you can fill yours in again. You even get massage chairs.
    About the reclining chairs, I stayed at Terminal 2 and it’s opposite E11. I believe there’re similar chairs in T1 and T3 too. Had to ask a lady at the Info desk though. It’s just a huge airport and you might not venture into E gates to see them.

    • Thanks for the tip, Thu – I should have asked about the chairs!

    • If I collect baggage and clear customs, can I still take advantage of the theatre etc. I have abt 12 hrs layover so I won’t be able to check in until few hrs before the flight.
      Thanks.

      • The theatre is on the airside so you won’t be able to access it until you are checked in. Some airlines do allow early checkin so it is worth checking to see if you can.

  2. WOW. They really look after their guests. One thing I hate about airports is how they try to extract as much out of the flyers. i.e Sydney but it looks like Changi actually want people to be as comfortable as they can be. Have a good one in Bali mate

  3. I hate the water thing as well!
    The Montréal airport in Canada does have water fountains as well, I noticed on my last trip. Not the nicest water to drink, but it beats paying $3 or more for a bottle.

  4. Nice! The airport does look great. Flower garden concept is good too. A traveler can at least breathe before setting off for another flight.

  5. Sean Murphy says:

    As another option at Changi there are always the Ambassador Transit Hotels in the terminals which are great to get a good few hours sleep, shower and and rest between connecting flights!

  6. Singapore is really amazing. But I think the noodle is a bit costly at 4 sgd. You should’ve ordered lentil soup or a camomile tea. It will help you relax and acts as a sedative to make you sleepy. You could’ve gotten atleast a 30min – 1 hour nap.

    • Sure, 4sgd is expensive for Singapore but it is cheap for airport food 🙂 I use camomile tea at home but I don’t sleep in bright and noisy places.

  7. Ooh thanks for this blog post. I am debating whether to just stay at the Airport till morning coz I arrive at 1am and not sure if I want to spend on a hotel just to sleep a few hours before heading to work.

    But unlike you I don’t have a connecting flight hence I’m not sure if the airport will allow me to sleep there? I’m actually one of those who can sleep anywhere so sleeping on a chair doesn’t really bother me. And I could’ve sworn those reclining chairs are still there somewhere in the airport=)

    • You could actually stay in the airport because it is open all hours and they won’t be checking if you have an onward flight. One of the commenters did mention the chairs are still there so good luck finding them!

  8. Ryanslf says:

    I once arrived from Phonm Penh and spent overnight there. Take shower for $8, get food, then sleep in praying room. Trust me it’s very comfortable

  9. Thanks for the info. I have a long layover in Singapore for an upcoming trip (DFW to SFO to SIN to DSP). Initially I’d booked a capsule hotel by the quay (my flight will get in at 7pm and depart at 7am the following day). Even though lodging wouldn’t be crazy expensive and I was excited to check out a capsule hotel, I didn’t really feel like running all over the place and have to get up early to get back to the airport (and pay for a cab). It’s good to know that Changi airport is overnight friendly. I’ve never spent the night at an airport before so there’s 1st time for everything. If i have my boarding pass for the next flight (I should), I would also be able to use the lounge (priority club) to shower and rest a bit. It’s a win-win. Exploring Singapore would have to be on another trip when there’s sufficient time.

    • Hi Sally, yes that is a good move to just overnight at the airport as you would barely get a few hours sleep in a downtown hotel. Good luck with the overnight airport adventure!

  10. I will land in Changi at 20:30 and will fly out the following morning around 10am.. If I get my baggage will I have to exit through the arrivals lounge and then re enter through the departures lounge? Will they allow this 12+ hours before my next flight? :/
    Many thanks

    • If you get your baggage then you will need to go through immigration to collect your bag. Remember too, that if you are flying on one ticket and your bag is checked through to your final destination then you won’t be able get your bag. I would just bring enough things in your carry on to get you through the night.

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