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If you have a layover of 5 hours or more at Changi Airport, you can partake in a free tour of Singapore. Since I had a layover of 8 hours and it was pouring rain when I arrived, I decided to sign up for the tour rather than brave the weather by myself.
They offer five tours per day, although the times are a little misleading since you’re supposed to be ready to go about an hour before the stated time. So although the tour I signed up for was supposed to be from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, I was told to be at the booth at 5:25pm.
Once at the booth, they handed out numbered stickers that we were supposed to wear, and then we headed off to Terminal 2, to pick up the other people signed up for the tour. Then, as a giant group, we made our way through immigration. Even though they had two immigration officers dedicated to the tour group, it was a very slow process.
After immigration, we boarded a bus for the tour. We were told that we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the bus, unless we were shooting things outside. I’m not sure why this was.
I was expecting more of a guided tour where we would go from touristy place to touristy place and our guide would tell us interesting facts. It was more like we drove directly from the airport to a singe drop-off location, got the chance to walk around for 15 minutes, and then drove directly back to the airport. And the tour guide was rather patronizing and full of propaganda. Lots of stories ended with statements like, “and that’s why Singapore is the best nation in the world”.
The tour did offer the chance to see the Singapore skyline and the merlion statue, but the free tour was a very sterile perspective of Singapore. It’s a cool idea in theory, but in practice, I think it would have been better to have skipped it and explored the city on my own.