Starting October 27, a United flight will depart LAX at 8:55pm daily, arriving at Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport two days later at 6:50am local time after being airborne 17 hours and 55 minutes (the return flight is about 15 hours and 15 minutes).
The new service builds on the success of United’s nonstop flights between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Singapore that debuted about a year ago. Both routes are operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner planes, featuring Economy Plus seats for extra legroom and Polaris business class. Each Polaris seat reclines to a flat bed; the sleep-enhancing amenities include cooling gel pillows and pajamas.
Upon arrival, shake off the long journey and ease your way into this multicultural city-state by getting to know the green spaces of Singapore. Take a stroll through the enchanting Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site crisscrossed with winding pathways—and then compare that 19th-century site to Gardens by the Bay. Opened in 2012 on reclaimed land, it exemplifies Singapore’s creative modern outlook with its forest of 165-foot-high steel super trees covered with plants and lights that twinkle by night.
Nearby, at the mouth of the Singapore River, is the nation’s colonial core. The elegant neo-classical Fullerton Hotel was the former Singapore Post Office (est. 1928). The majestic colonnaded National Gallery art museum opened in 2015 after combining the early 20th-century Supreme Court Building and City Hall; enjoy stunning views from its rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors. Less grand but much more colorful are Singapore’s ethnic enclaves dating to the 19th century. The side streets of Little India, Chinatown, Kampong Glam, and Joo Chiat are lined with two- and three-story shop houses in a mélange of hues and styles. In these quarters you’ll also encounter Chinese temples with sweeping roofs and pagodas, the ornate gopurams (towers) of south Indian Hindu temples, and the minarets of mosques grand and small.
These neighborhoods are great places to sample Singapore’s famous hawker center food. The stalls with the longest lines speak for themselves. At the Maxwell and Amoy Food Centers in Chinatown, you can sample for Hainanese chicken rice or oyster cakes for just a few dollars—and a bit of a wait. When it comes to fine dining, the Cookhouse and the Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant Candlenut are both set in a high-ceilinged 19th-century army barracks in Dempsey Hill. Meanwhile, Po serves fancy Singapore comfort food, such as popiah and spicy rendang, in the new Warehouse Hotel, a beautifully transformed 19th-century godown (warehouse) along the Singapore River.
As new and shiny as much of Singapore is, it also has a rich heritage that warrants stopping and staying a while.