The Long Way to Singapore: Bahrain Trip Planning

The best way to get from Bangkok to Singapore? Gulf Air Business Class, via Bahrain and Singapore of course.

One of the highlights of pre-pandemic flying was the ability to put together really convoluted routings, the kind involving positioning flights, backtracking, multiple stopovers, and annoying Greta Thunberg.

This might be part of a mileage run, or to maximise the enjoyment of a particular cabin product, or to take advantage of a mistake fare. Who can forget the mad rush to book First Class tickets out of Vietnam during Cathay Pacific’s New Year bonanza? Or Qatar Airways’ fat finger fares to the USA back in 2017 (also out of Vietnam, incidentally)?

But with COVID-19 and a tapestry of testing and quarantine requirements to navigate, booking anything other than point-to-point flights was just asking for trouble (even routine transits aren’t a sure thing, as seen from Hong Kong’s transit ban earlier this year).

Thankfully we’ve largely moved past that, and with Singapore reopening its borders under the Vaccinated Travel Framework, I figured it’d be a good time to fly from Singapore to Bangkok, and then back to Singapore….via Singapore and Bahrain. 

🇧🇭 The Long Way to Singapore


Back in April, MileLion community member CG shared a blockbuster fare on Gulf Air Business Class from BKK-SIN-BAH-SIN that cost just below S$390. You can find the details in the Telegram chat, suffice to say (1) it’s not bookable anymore and (2) people have already reported flying it successfully.

I bagged one of these via the AMEX Travel Portal as soon as I could (almost wishing the fare was slightly higher so I could burn my air travel credit), but in reality there was no big rush- unlike other deals which get yanked in hours (or minutes), this remained bookable for more than a week.

I’d have to position myself to Bangkok to start the journey, but that’s hardly a big deal, given that Thailand has scrapped all pre-departure/on-arrival testing and simplified the Thailand Pass application process considerably (which is only a concern if you wish to stay the night in Bangkok; it’s not required for transit passengers).

Even better, Bahrain has dropped all testing and quarantine requirements, regardless of vaccination status. There’s no mandatory insurance or health declarations to complete, and Singapore passport holders are eligible for a visa on arrival (5 BD, ~S$18). 

It’s pack your bags and go, just like the good old days.


✈ The Long Way to Singapore: Flights
: 1250

Arrive: 1420
Cabin: Economy
: 1650

Arrive: 0015 (+1)
Cabin: Business
: 2350

Arrive: 1240 (+1)
Cabin: Business

To get from Singapore to Bangkok, I redeemed 12,500 miles + S$54.30 for a one-way Economy Class ticket on SQ710 (and before you ask “why not Scoot”, the timings didn’t work out and I’d be paying more than S$200).

This gets me into Bangkok at 2.20 p.m, with plenty of time to connect to GF166 at 4.50 p.m. I don’t plan to check a bag (although SQ/GF do interline, in case you were curious), and I’m not clearing immigration in Thailand so a Thailand Pass is unnecessary (though I’ve applied for one just in case, since I’m travelling on separate tickets).

Here’s where the real fun begins. All my Gulf Air flights are operated by B787-9 aircraft, which the airline introduced in 2018 to replace its ageing A330s. These are equipped with 26 Apex Suites in Business Class (which Gulf Air calls “Falcon Gold”), the same product you’ll find on Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Oman Air.

Gulf Air B787-9 Business Class

Don’t let the 2-2-2 configuration fool you, because every seat has direct aisle access. That’s thanks to the clever staggered arrangement of the Apex Suites, which allows the window passenger to access the aisle via a small passageway. No cowboy stepping required here!

Business Class seats are 36 inches wide with 83 inches of pitch, converting into full-flat beds. Assuming you’re not claustrophobic, the extremely private window seats would be my pick of the lot. Once you raise the privacy divider, you’re virtually invisible to anyone in the aisle. 

Gulf Air B787-9 Business Class
Gulf Air B787-9 Business Class (+10 points for random orchid placement)

Business Class passengers enjoy cuisine prepared and plated up by dedicated inflight chefs, turndown service with mattress pads and pyjamas, and amenities kits with THANN skincare products. There’s Wi-Fi connectivity by Panasonic Avionics (fingers crossed Boingo works, it’s been awfully flaky of late), and all in all, a product I’m very much looking forward to review. 


Hilton Garden Inn Bahrain Bay
🏨 The Long Way to Singapore: Hotels
Night Hotel Per Night Cost (Nett)
1 HGI Bahrain Bay 40,000 Hilton points

I’ll only be in Bahrain for one night, but the flight timings present a bit of a pickle. 

My flight lands at 12.15 a.m, and departs at 11.50 p.m on the same day. Short of booking two nights, I either have to:

  1. Book the night before and check out of the hotel by lunchtime
  2. Book the night after and wait till afternoon to check in

(1) is much more realistic than (2), but neither is ideal really (this is when the Marriott Ambassador Your24 benefit would have really come in useful!). 

I tried exploring options on Dayuse, but couldn’t find anything I liked. The next best solution was to book a hotel chain where I had late checkout privileges, and push for as late a departure as I could. 

Hilton Garden Inn Bahrain Bay

That hotel turned out to be the Hilton Garden Inn Bahrain Bay, a 192-room property that opened in July 2021. They could only offer confirmed late check-out till 3 p.m, but maybe I’ll get lucky on the day itself. I redeemed 40,000 Hilton points instead of paying the BD69 (S$254) cash rate. 

What I like about this hotel is that it’s directly connected to The Avenues, a swanky shopping complex with many places to chill and kill a few hours (in true Middle East megamall fashion, they have all the standard American chains: PF Chang’s Five Guys, Shake Shack, Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse, even a TGI Friday’s). 

I suppose there’s also the option of heading to the airport well ahead of time and making full use of the Falcon Gold Lounge. 


KrisFlyer Gold Lounge (from September 2021; not its final form)

I’m flying out just a few days before the new KrisFlyer Gold Lounge opens its doors on 20 May (possibly the only time I’ll be disappointed about having to visit the SilverKris Lounge instead!), but I’m planning a review soon, so sit tight. 

Gulf Air uses the Louis Tavern Lounge at Bangkok Airport, though I wager there may be better options available through Priority Pass. I’ll be visiting at least one lounge, but haven’t decided on which one just yet (suggestions welcome!). 

In Bahrain, I’ll be visiting Gulf Air’s flagship Falcon Gold Lounge, which opened in 2021 along with the new US$1 billion airport terminal. In terms of design, it couldn’t be more different from the (frankly depressing-looking) old facility. 

Gulf Air Falcon Gold Lounge Bahrain | Photo: The Design Air
Gulf Air Falcon Gold Lounge Bahrain | Photo: The Design Air

The lounge offers a la carte dining and a bar (Gulf Air isn’t a dry airline, before anyone asks), along with other amenities like nap rooms, race car simulator, virtual golf, a VR gaming machine and several PS5s. 

Maybe there’s no need for late hotel check-out after all…


Logistically speaking, this will be the simplest trip I’ve done since COVID started, with no testing or paperwork required on either side. In a way, it’s a welcome return to normality, the kind of “don’t think just fly” mentality I hope we can return to soon. 

It will also be my first time in Bahrain, but I doubt I’ll have time to get beyond the airport and hotel. The main objective is to check out the cabin products and lounges, and you can expect comprehensive reviews of both!

Any tips for Bahrain?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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I bought it 4 trips…BTW which FFP will you credit? Etihad or CA


Hi Aaron – there’s chatter in the TG group about crediting it to AsiaMiles via retro claim. Thoughts on that vs Etihad? I reckon there’s some uncertainty over retro claiming, as well as potential AsiaMiles devaluation – is that why you’ve chosen Etihad?


Hey Aaron,
Go visit the Ritz Carlton Hotel & Spa at Bahrain, its simply a class unto its own!
You should also try and visit the F1 track in case they’re open..


Worse air line
Bad food
Untrusted company


I just went a few weeks ago! Just a note that I was only able to go into the transit area 4 hours before departure time, so you will still need the late check-out (as late as possible). And the simulators, massage chairs (out of order) and PS5s were not available during my visit (but maybe need to ask the staff, I didn’t ask on this).


The fine print on BKK Airport says you can’t transit on separate tickets.

It sounds like this isn’t being enforced, but if you’re cautious, getting the Thai Pass so you’re at least legal to enter the country seems like a good insurance policy.