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The boarding gates during early morning in Sydney International Airport.

From memory, I don’t think I’ve ever caught a flight this early. My flight was due to depart at 6:45am, so I arrived at around 4:00am to Sydney International Airport. If you’re in a car, save walking time and ask the driver to drop you off at the correct airline check-in zone (each airline has a designated letter).

A surprisingly busy Sydney International Airport at 4am on a Friday morning.

Peace and emptiness at the food court area after passing passport check & security.

When I was waiting in line for the check-in and baggage drop process, I noticed that many people still had physical print-outs of their itinerary and other documentation. If you’d like to save paper, know that as long as you have online documentation that can be produced on your phone, it will suffice. I like using OneDrive to easily save my documents from my laptop so I can access them on my phone.

Awaiting boarding at the Gate!

Singapore Airlines Business Class seats with their plush amenities.

For Australian passport-holders visiting Vietnam, remember that you need to register and purchase an electronic visa via the Vietnamese government website. Allocate around 45 minutes to do this at least a month and a half before your departure date. The visa is valid for a maximum of 90-days. 

I found the Singapore Airlines service professional and tidy.

Economy Class seats. Hot towels were served shortly after seating.

I found this flight (Singapore Airlines, SQ 262) via Skyscanner after setting the destination to Ho Chi Minh. If you’re travelling solo, endeavouring to be budget-conscious, and are flexible with schedule, you can sort the list of available flights from lowest to highest price. The lowest priced flight will often require at least 1 stop-over though. 

My first time sitting in a front row!

The food however wasn’t spectacular, but was ok.

The aircraft (a Boeing 777-300ER) looked and felt older than the one I boarded with China Airlines in August 2023. The inflight entertainment system called “KrisWorld” however, was pleasurable to use and stocked a wide range of movies (many of which were recent releases). Regrettably, I didn’t get to try the unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi because I went straight to sleep – next time! 

Changi Airport is enormous and worth spending a few more hours in to dine and browse shops.

Changi Airport was named the World’s Best Airport in 2023.

The Singapore Airlines crew were charming in appearance and hospitable with service. They easily accomodated my request to change seats, and I found myself happily stretching out my legs in a front-row, emergency-exit seat. Arriving in Singapore, I had 4-hours before my next flight, to Ho Chi Minh. Changi Airport is a destination in itself, so layovers have never felt boring.

The Skytrain operating between terminals was more like a large capsule.

It was my second time visiting Plaza Premium Lounge. I didn’t notice much difference between visits.

Changi Airport has four terminals; I had arrived in Terminal 3, with the Ho Chi Minh leg departing from Terminal 1. I wanted to ensure that the path was clear to my smooth boarding onto the next flight, so I caught the Skytrain to Terminal 1 first, before settling into Plaza Premium Lounge.

Watch planes touch down from a relaxed recline.

Certain dishes are made-to-order by the chef. Keeping things hot and fresh!

If you don’t have membership privileges, the minimum time you can choose to stay in Plaza Premium Lounge (Terminal 1, Changi Airport) is 3-hours. The cost is SGD 55.00 (~63.00 AUD). There are showering facilities (with towel and amenity kit provided) and this costs SGD 20 extra.  

Singapore Laksa and a creamy mushroom soup.

Dining and self-serve drinks area of the lounge.

I enjoy visiting airport lounges. The last one I used was in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. With TV screens updating flight statuses and the regular hum of passengers wheeling out to their journeys, there is always an exciting and anticipatory air about. The self-serve buffets and complimentary drinks are a treat too. 

It’s just as exhilerating even though I’ve already watched the TV series.

Free-to-use snooze lounge in Terminal 1.

Plaza Premium Lounge eases you into a more relaxed mood with its earthy tones and elegant lounge area. My favourite spot is the row of recliner seats next to the floor-to-ceiling window, where you can watch planes come and go. The buffet has a satisfying selection of food, and I enjoy that certain classics like Singapore Laksa and Singapore Chicken Rice can be made gourmet-style. See this video for a tour of Plaza Premium Lounge when I visited en route to Bangkok in February 2023.

On board Scoot airline during the 2nd leg of Singapore to Vietnam.

A great view of (what might be) Saigon River during the plane’s descent.

The flight to Ho Chi Minh was with Scoot, affectionately called the “Proud little sister of Singapore Airlines” (see the bottom of their website). There was a delay in the initial boarding of the flight because the stowage cabins were full (a few passengers were asked to put their bags under the seat instead). Despite the hiccup, I found the crew to be attentive, polite and sincere with their service. The flight time was 2 hours & 15 minutes – I was glad it wasn’t longer because there is less legroom.

Catching a flight ✈️ soon? Here are five key takeaways

  • If you’ve got an early morning flight, don’t think that the airport is going to be empty and that you can arrive for check-in later! Sydney International Airport had queues at 4am in the morning.
  • An Australian passport-holder needs to register and purchase an online visa to enter Vietnam. Budget at least 45-minutes to do this as some questions make you think.
  • If you’re in Economy class on a Singapore Airlines flight and you’re a Krisflyer member, you’ll likely be able to use their unlimited inflight Wi-Fi.
  • If you have more than a few hours during your layover, pay-per-use lounges like Plaza Premium Lounge can be a great way to rest, recharge, or get some work done.
  • If you’ve booked a Singapore Airlines flight with two legs (one leg being much shorter), you might be placed on their budget, little-sister airline called Scoot. You can check this in your boarding pass, Scoot flights have the starting letters “TR”, as contrasted to the “SQ” of Singapore Airlines.

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Friends and family waiting to see their loved ones in Ho Chi Minh.

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My name is Garry Ho, I’m the founder.
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It takes just a minute 🙏

My name is Garry Ho, I’m the founder.
If you have enjoyed our content and found it helpful, please consider supporting us.
All major cards are accepted.

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