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How I Relaxed in Changi Airport During a Long Layover!

Changi Airport-Singapore-SkytrainWhen your family lives on different continents, a family get together makes cross-country Thanksgiving travel seem trivial.

The last time we returned to Penang, Malaysia, we had a short transit in Hong Kong and then flew into Changi Airportthe World’s Best Airport 2014–in Singapore just after midnight. We had an early morning connecting flight to Penang, Malaysia. We were looking at a long 8-hour layover, which is not long enough to be worthwhile to book a hotel away from the airport.

Transit hotel

We decided to book a room in a transit hotel in one of the terminals. A transit hotel is a hotel inside an airport where you don’t have to pass through immigration. Experienced travelers use these “secret” hotels to freshen up and get some real sleep. These hotels charge for an initial 6-hour block with an additional hourly rate. We stayed in a basic double room with an attached bathroom – just like a typical western business hotel room. It had a clean bed and a good hot shower. We got a good 5-hours of sleep (which is really good for jet lag!) before the last leg of our journey to see family.

Depending on the length of your transit and particular needs, you can also book a budget room without a shower or toilet. Or you can just pay to use the shower facilities to refresh yourself before continuing your journey. This is a great way to travel for cheap and stay sane!

Rest areas

Changi Airport has several rest areas with reclining lounge chairs for you to nap on. Unfortunately, they were all occupied when we were exploring around at 2 am. If you are arriving after a long journey, I wouldn’t count on these napping areas having available space unless you are the gambling type and are looking for the absolute cheapest way to travel. If you want to ensure a comfortable rest, the transit hotel is the best bet.

Free massage

There are many free foot massage machines scattered around the airport and a few free full-body massage chairs in T3 by the Hard Rock Café. We had a relaxing time trying both types of massage machines.

If you really want to indulge yourself, you can enjoy a full body or foot massage with an airport masseuse. Just think of how much you have saved by flying economy class. You deserve a treat!


You can travel between the three Changi terminals (T4 is scheduled to open in 2017) using the Skytrain. Just make sure you have enough time to return to your departure gate. Wear comfortable shoes. The airport is very large, and I discovered that the Skytrain stations and the attractions could be located far apart.

Wheelchair rental

In addition to the wheelchair service provided by the airport for boarding and disembarkation, you can also rent a wheelchair by the hour at the airport medical centers. The airport wheelchair service is meant to assist you to the departure gate and then assist you for boarding. So for a long transit, you may consider a brief hourly wheelchair rental for your family if the boarding wheelchair is needed for other passengers.

Plan with your comfort in mind

Many of us have families back in Asia with flights that need at least one stop over. To stay sane, I prefer to transit at an airport that has good facilities so I can recover from the long haul flight and be ready to enjoy my family reunion.

Fly Confident!