Singaporean

Can I Plan An Entire Trip To Japan In Changi Airport In 24 Hours?

If you’ve been to Changi Airport in the past … say, five years, you’d probably have noticed the numerous Changi Recommends booths scattered all around the airport.

And while Changi Recommends is probably best known as the place to rent a travel Wi-Fi router, what most people don’t know is that they offer a host of other travel-related services as well — from SIM cards to insurance to hotel bookings, they have pretty much everything you’d need for an overseas trip.

Looking at their services you’d think that you could plan an entire trip in the airport itself, so that’s exactly what we did. I rather impulsively bought a ticket to Japan (I’m due for a vacation anyway), and saw if I could get everything else I needed from Changi Recommends.

Did I succeed? Let’s find out.

A Hidden Gem

Image Credit: Changi Recommends

The first thing that people usually look for after tickets is accommodation, and the Changi Recommends website has an entire section dedicated to finding the perfect place to stay.

Considering how big the website is, this section surprisingly isn’t an afterthought, either — the interface is easy to navigate and use, and could give dedicated websites like Agoda and Booking.com a run for their money.

Granted, their selection isn’t as diverse as those sites, but for what they lack in quantity (if you could consider 300,000 properties a “lack in quantity”), they more than make up for in value.

Image Credit: Changi Recommends

At the time of writing, a twin room at the ANA Intercontinental Tokyo costs S$378/night and S$328/night on Booking.com and Changi Recommends respectively. Granted, S$328 is a non-refundable price (you can cancel the Booking.com reservation up to two days before your stay), but is a nice option to have if you’re confident of your dates and want to lower your accommodation expenses.

In fact, if you forgo the hotel breakfast the price can go as low as S$254/night. Accommodation? Check.

Mo’ Money, Less Problems

Image Credit: Changi Recommends

Now that the more crucial parts of the trip are settled, the next most important thing to settle is money. Airport money changers don’t always (read: never) offer the best rates, but Changi Recommends’ provides an attractive alternative with their Foreign Exchange services.

Changing S$1,024 at the time of writing netted us 80,000 Yen, which — according to websites like Google and xe.com— is a pretty competitive price.

You can check the rates before making a purchase anyway, so feel free to stand outside your preferred money changer and compare to make an informed decision.

There are a few things to take note (heh) of, though. You must change a minimum of S$300, and it’ll take a day for the money to be delivered to you.

This could be a good or bad thing depending on your needs — it’s not optimal if you need the money immediately, but great if you don’t have to time to visit a money changer with good rates. Money — check.

It’s So Sim(Card)-Ple

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Tickets, accommodation and money — at this point I would’ve gotten everything else in the country itself, but that’s before I found out that Changi Recommends sells all kinds of travel essentials as well.

Personally, the most useful thing on offer here is SIM Cards. Changi Recommends has at least one option for most major travel destinations, and their prices are reasonable based on what I’ve previously paid for overseas (S$21.90 for an 8 day unlimited data SIM is comparable to what you’d find in Japan).

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

If you’re looking to go cross-country, Changi Recommends is also one of the few places that you can get a Japan Rail Pass. / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

In the same vein, Changi Recommends has transit cards for most countries as well. From Tokyo’s SUICA Card to Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, it’s a lot more convenient to get them in Singapore as compared to a train station in a foreign country that you might not speak the language.

And of course, there’s the aforementioned travel Wi-Fi router — prices start from a very reasonable S$2.50/day depending on your destination, and is a great accessory to have if you’re travelling in bigger groups. Data and transit — check.

That’s Not All…

Image Credit: Changi Recommends

You’d think that hotels, money, and SIM cards would be the end of it, but Changi Recommends still has a few more miscellaneous things to offer. 

Changi Recommends also sells tickets to attractions and tours, and while the prices aren’t too different from buying direct (tickets to Tokyo Disneyland cost S$90 and S$95 at Changi Recommends and the counter respectively), it does help you skip the queues.

How does it work? For Tokyo Disneyland, all you have to do is head to Maihama Station (the closest metro station to Disneyland), collect the tickets from an agent, and that’s pretty much it.

The collection method varies from attraction to attraction, but the gist is that buying from Changi Recommends saves you precious time that could be spent…y’know, enjoying yourself overseas.

Image Credit: Changi Recommends

If you’re looking to add some extra peace of mind to your trip, Changi Recommends offers Travel Insurance as well. A basic HyfeAssure plan starts at just S$20, which — according to Moneysmart.sg’s Travel Insurance listings— sits on the lower end of the price spectrum.

Among other things, the plan offers the usual safeguards that the typical traveller would need — medical expenses ($25,000 for adults), loss of baggage ($1,500) and flight delays (S$100 for every 6 hours).

On top of that, HyfeAssure also sets itself apart from the competition by allowing you to instantly claim up to $200 at any Changi Recommends counter. It might not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, but $200 is usually enough to cover more common inconveniences like fever/flu consultation and loss of personal money.

There’s too many specifics to go through everything (you can view the full terms of the plan here), but the competitive price — coupled with the fact that you can conveniently apply for it while doing everything else —  makes it a very attractive option. Itinerary and insurance – check.

The Verdict

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Considering that the only thing left for me to do is board the plane, it’s safe to say that you can get everything you’d need (and more) for a holiday at Changi Recommends.

The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people — me included — don’t actually know about Changi Recommends and their services. Their booths are so ubiquitous that they’re essentially hidden in plain sight, which is a shame considering how much they have to offer.

So the next time you’re flying out of Singapore, you might want to stop by a Changi Recommends (doesn’t matter if you’re in arrival or departure — they’re in both), because it truly is a one-stop shop for all your travel needs.

You don’t need to plan an entire trip on the spot, but I’m pretty sure that there’s something they can do to make your trip easier.


Planning a trip of your own? Changi Recommends is giving Vulcan Post readers some promo codes to make their next purchase (even) cheaper:

– Use the code VULSTAYS  to get 10% off your next hotel booking, capped at $100*.

– Use the code 2FREEDAYSVUL to 2 free days of Wi-Fi router rental**.

– Use the code ONECRHYFE19 to get a whopping 60% off Insurance. The code is valid till 31st December 2019.

– Use the code GTYAS8 to get 8% off your next attraction booking. A minimum spend of $120 applies, and the discount is capped at $30.

– If you’re spending more than $380 on attractions, use the code GTYAS10 to get 10% off, capped at $70.

*valid for bookings by 31 Oct 2019. | Valid for participating hotel properties | Discount is applicable to room rates only, excluding local taxes, service fees and additional charges). Limited to the first 5,000 redemptions. This promotion cannot be used together with other deals, offers and discounts. In case of dispute or abuse of promotion, the decision of Changi Recommends is final. Changi Recommends reserves the rights, at its discretion, to remove and cancel the promotion without prior notice.

**Book by 31 Oct for travels by 31 Dec 2019. | Minimum of 4 days rental, except for Australia, U.S.A. or Europe & U.K. | No minimum rental days required for rentals to Australia, U.S.A. or Europe & U.K. | Valid for single countries rental and Europe packages only. | Not applicable for package rental.


Feature Image Credit: Vulcan Post


 

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