Recently I’ve made a change. For years Hong Kong has been my hub of choice when flying from Australia to Europe, Asia or North America; but with the continued growth of Singapore’s airport and Qantas relocating their international hub back to Singapore, I’ve found myself spending more and more time at Singapore’s Changi Airport; and I love it!
What makes Changi so special is that’s it’s worked hard to be more than an airport; it’s a destination for visitors and locals alike with heart, not a soulless shed like many other international airports. It’s been voted the world’s best airport for the ninth time, so it seems like I’m not the only one who agrees!
Locals visit the airports landside for great food and shopping. For passengers transiting, it’s more than a place to swap planes and do some duty-free shopping. Make your next layover a welcome part of your travels and check-out some of the great things to do at Singapore Changi Airport!
The best things to do at Singapore Changi Airport
Behold the Butterfly Garden
Singapore is also known as ‘The Garden City’, and that vision has been realised within Changi Airport, with each terminal home to a feature garden.
In my opinion, the most impressive garden would have to be the Butterfly Garden. The world’s first airport Butterfly Garden is filled with 1,000 tropical butterflies amidst lush greenery, flowering plants, and a 6-metre grotto-waterfall! If you are lucky, you might get to see one of the 40 species hatch while you’re there.
If butterflies aren’t your thing, check out the open air Sunflower Garden or Enchanted Garden (Orchid & Koi Pond) in Terminal 2. There’s also a Cactus Garden in Terminal 1.
Location: Terminal 3 Transit area
Slide down the World’s Longest Slide*
Get your adrenaline fix by sliding down the world’s longest slide in an airport* – The Slide@T3.
To ride the slide you’ll need to spend SGD$10 in the airport but with so many stores you’ll easily be able to find a memento to take home.
Location: Terminal 3 Landside
Cool down in the airport pool
Travelling can be stressful and there’s nothing better than a relaxing swim at the hotel pool to unwind. Well, how about a relaxing swim at the airport?
The Balinese-themed rooftop pool at Singapore Changi Airport has a bar (serving cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks) and views across the runway. Oh, and a jacuzzi!
It’s $13 to use (free for Transit Hotel guests) and includes a free non-alcoholic drink.
Location: Terminal 1, Level 3, near D Gates
Open: 6am – 12am
Get a taste of the city with a free tour of Singapore
Don’t have time for a stopover but want to have a taste of the city? Singapore Airways and Changi Hotel offer passengers complimentary tours.
If you have at least 5.5 hours before your connecting flight, why not sign up for a Free Singapore Tour. This is one of the best things to do at Singapore Changi Airport and will give you can get a glimpse of Singapore’s stunning sights, sounds, and bright lights?
There are a few different tours to choose from: the daytime Heritage Tour, which will take you on a whirlwind drive through the bustling cultural districts of Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam. Or be dazzled by the City Sights Tour, which showcases the island’s cityscape and includes stopovers at Gardens by the Bay and Merlion Park.
Each guided tour lasts for 2.5 hours, ensuring you will be back at the airport with time to spare before catching your flight – and plenty of inspiration for your next trip to Singapore!
Location: look out for the ‘Free Singapore Tour’ booths in airside in each terminal!
Explore the Aviation Gallery
Learn about the history of aviation in Singapore and the day-to-day operations of Changi Airport, through a free educational and multisensory exhibit. One of the displays consists of 600 miniature aircraft hanging from the ceiling to give visitors an idea of the number of flights that Changi handles every day! For the aviation enthusiasts, you can also watch aircraft on the tarmac from the Viewing Gallery.
Location: Terminal 3, landside.
Open: 6AM – 12AM
IS THIS ASIA’S BEST LOW-COST AIRLINE? Scoot Airways
Watch a movie
If you have time to spare, there’s plenty of entertainment to keep you occupied. Consider talking in the latest blockbuster movie in the movie theatres open 24-hours a day. Each theatre offers different movies catered to all ages. Best of all, they’re free of charge! Check out what’s going to be showing in the blockbuster schedule.
Location: Terminal 2 near the Sunflower Garden; Terminal 3 near the Ambassador Transit Lounge
Have a free massage
The best things in life are free, and a truer phrase couldn’t be said about Changi’s free massage chairs!
Throughout the airport terminals, you’ll find free foot massage machines to rejuvenate tired feet after long flights or busy days exploring Singapore. The excellent combination of massage rollers and airbags gently massaging your calf will have you in a blissful state of relaxation. It’s no wonder there is often a line of people patiently waiting their turn.
Initially, I was skeptical about trying their full body massage chairs in T3 (near The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck) after one too many painful experiences but these chairs are like magic. Their rolling and kneading will have you in a blissful state and feeling refreshed for the next leg of your journey.
Prefer your massage to be away from prying eyes? The Airport Wellness Oasis in Terminal 1 (on Level 2 near the D Gates) is a relaxing oasis for the weary traveller. Open 24-hours, choose from a range of traditional massages (I’m a big fan of their head, neck, and shoulder massages), indulge in a manicure or pedicure or unwind with a hot shower.
Airport Wellness Oasis is also home to the Doctor Fish spa. Place your feet into the ‘fish spa’ and let dozens of tiny feet nibble at the dead skin. It tickles, but you will have noticeably softer skin. Finish with a signature foot reflexology session and you’ll be looking good, feeling good, and telling everyone that its one of the best things to do in Singapore Changi Airport too!
Be hypnotised by Kinetic Rain
Changi is full of art, and one of the most popular pieces is Kinetic Rain.
Made up of 1,216 bronze droplets, the two Kinetic Rain sculptures in Terminal 1 can form 16 different shapes ranging from abstract art forms to recognisable patterns including airplanes, a hot air balloon, a kite and even a dragon. The design element in each shape shows the movement of flight through slow, fluid movements.
While you are there, look around Terminal 1 and see if you can spot all the hidden secrets of the Terminal, aptly themed as ‘Tropical City’, rain being just one aspect the city is known for.
Location: Terminal 1, landside in the Departure Hall
While more airports are adding shopping experiences into their mix, Changi Airport is a shoppers paradise by staying ahead of others in price and choice.
Whether you are seeking that perfect item from luxury brands or need to top up your wardrobe with high street fashion (check out the Zara duplex in Terminal 3!), Singapore’s Changi Airport has you covered. Alongside specialty shops, they have dedicated duty-free areas for beauty, perfume, and alcohol.
I’ve been told that Changi Airport is so committed to offering the best price at the airport, they have a team who go around department stores in downtown Singapore to make sure. They’re so confident they have a price guarantee, where if you find an item cheaper in the city they’ll pay you twice the price difference.
It makes sense why locals shop at Changi: you don’t even have to be flying to shop GST free. People on the land side can get 7% off their purchases!
Get a FREE SGD$20 with the Changi Transit Program at the bottom of this article!
Take part in different Changi Xperiences
If you’ve got some time between flights, head to the Xperience Zone to try your hand at interactive gaming with Xbox Kinect or play your favorite Xbox or PlayStation 3 video games.
If you simply want to unwind, relax in comfort while watching your favorite music videos in the MTV Booth, or send an e-Postcard home at the interactive booth!
Location: Terminal 2, Level 2, Airside (near the Sunflower Garden)
Work out at the Fitness Corner
For those with a longer layover, remember to pack your sneakers. For SGD$28 (SGD$42 if you require gym clothes) you can access the airport’s lounge and on-site gym!
Get sweaty in the recently refurbished and well-equipped gym. With a mix of weights, cardio equipment, and other various machines. When you are done, cool down with a refreshing shower. The Ambassador Transit Lounge is comfortable and has a nice range of both Singaporean and western food; alcohol costs extra.
For the best value, consider their Work it! Package for gym + lounge access pass.
Location: Terminal 2, Level 3, airside (near the Sunflower Garden)
PREFER TO RELAX IN THE LOUNGE? Check out Priority Pass and access hundreds of airport lounges around the world!
Surf the web
It’s easy to get connected at Singapore Changi. Connect to#WiFi@Changi and submit either your phone number online to receive a code via text or pick up a password from one of the information desks. There are also 550 Internet kiosks dotted around the terminals.
Freshen up before or after a long journey in one of the airport’s 24-hour pay-for-use shower facilities. Many of these facilities also have massage or beauty treatments:
- Terminal 1:
Airport Wellness Oasis (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, near D gates)
Plaza Premium Lounge (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, near C gates, rate SGD 16).
- Terminal 2:
Ambassador Transit Lounge (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, near F gates)
TranSpa (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Central Level 3)
Wellness Spa (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Central Level 3).
- Terminal 3:
Ambassador Transit Lounge (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3)
Be Relax (airside, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2).
Spend the night (or day) in a Changi Airport Hotel
Forget sleeping on the floor. Travelling is exhausting and airplanes are far from comfortable. While you are transiting in Changi Airport, consider sitting back or catch a nap in one of these places:
Designated Rest areas: Changi’s comfy snooze chairs are located in the quietest areas of every terminal. Relax in the specially designed reclining chairs for a comfortable sleep without spending a cent.
While Changi Airport is quite a safe airport, in my opinion, be sure to keep your carry-on baggage safe by securing it to your bed with a sturdy Pacsafe retractable lock (also great if you are using a laptop at the hotel or cafe when you travel) or – for something a little more robust protection – a Pacsafe backpack and luggage protector.
Snooze area locations:
- Terminal 1: Snooze Lounge, airside, Transit East, Level 3.
- Terminal 2: Oasis Lounge, airside, Transit North Pier, opposite E11 or Sanctuary Lounge, Transit North Pier, opposite E5.
- Terminal 3: Snooze Lounge, airside, Transit North Mezzanine, next to Singapore Food Street.
- Terminal 4: Snooze Lounge, airside, Departure Transit, Level 2M
Want your own bed? Try these:
- Aerotel Transit Hotel: Large, spacious and modern rooms, including runway view options. M Rooms come with ensuite bathrooms complete with rainfall shower. S rooms offer shared facilities. On-site pool, Library Lounge, complimentary beverages, and fitness corner. You can book day rooms for a minimum of 6 hours, pay by the hour thereafter. (Located in T1)
- Ambassador Transit Hotel: Located within the Departure areas at Singapore Changi, the Ambassador Transit Hotels feels like a boutique hotel. There are three styles of room to choose from – Single, Double, Triple, and Budget. While I preferred the spaciousness of the Double Room, for those travelling solo on a budget, the Budget Room (T2 only) is all you need and equipped with a single bed, desk, Internet and ensuite bathroom. Guests can pay additional to use the gym.
Shower only facilities are available and include a complimentary beverage.
Please note: these hotels are located on the airside. To access do not clear customs. (Located in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 airside)
- The Haven by JetQuay: With a selection of 18 nap rooms available and just a 3-hour minimum booking time, the comfortable nap rooms at The Haven are the perfect place to have a short rest and freshen up. Each private room provides a comfortable bed, cable TV, desk, and fast WiFi. Prices begin from SGD$75 for a three-hour period and can be extended for SDG$15 p/hour thereafter. (Located in T3, landside)
- Crowne Plaza Changi: The award-winning Crowne Plaza Changi is located adjacent to Terminal 3 and accessible by a covered walkway. With spacious modern rooms, high-speed Internet, a pool and rooms overlooking the runway, it’s the perfect stopover hotel.
For those who are looking for a luxurious rest spot, day use rooms and facillities are available from 11 am til 7 pm.
WHY DON’T YOU STAY A LITTLE LONGER? Check-in to Singapore’s coolest boutique hotels
One of the best things to do at Singapore Changi Airport is eat. You can find almost every type of cuisine at Changi and you don’t even need to leave the airport to get it! Here are just a couple of my preferred places to eat:
- Bakery Cuisine: Economical and delicious, these tasty treats are perfect is you want to use up the last of your Singapore dollars. Try their Salted Egg Yolk Buns. (Terminal 2, landside. Open 24-hours; Terminal 4, landside. Open 7am – 11pm.)
- Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao: If you love Chinese food or just feel like some cheap but incredibly tasty dumplings, this is the place to go! (Terminal 1, Level 3, airside)
- Dian Xiao Er: A traditional Chinese restaurant that is popular for having casual meals. Be sure to try their renown herbal roast duck – yum! (Terminal 3, landside. Open 10.30am – 11pm)
- Gong Cha: You can’t have a layover in Asia without a delicious refreshing bubble tea! (Terminal 2, landside. Open 24-hours.)
- Hello Kitty Orchid Garden: the world’s first 24-hour Hello Kitty cafe is now at Changi! Try Hello Kitty-shaped meals and desserts. Their sweet treats are my first pick. (Terminal 3, landside. Open 24-hours.)
- Killiney Kopitiam: Coffee is a whole new experience in Singapore. Try a delicious Make sure to try one of their traditional Singaporean Kopis or Teh (served hot or cold). If you are peckish, try a traditional breakfast with kaya on toast (a coconut pandan spread which is delish!) (Terminal 2, airside. Two locations: South location is open 24-hours, Central location open 6am – 1am)
- Toast Box: Try classic Singaporean dishes like kaya toast, laksa, and curry chicken. (Terminal 3, landside. Open 24-hours.)
“HAVE YOU EATEN YET?”: Eat your way through Singapore’s Chinatown
How to transfer between terminals at Changi Airport:
Singapore Changi Airport has 4 terminals but they are all easily connected by the free SkyTrain or transit bus.
Between Terminal 1, 2, and 3, passengers can take the complimentary Skytrain between 5am and 2.30am, or make the connection between foot. It takes approximately 4 minutes to travel between each terminal and operate in both the airside (transit side) and landside (public). Between 2.30am and 5am there is a free shuttle bus connecting all terminals.
Running 24-hours a day, the Airport Shuttle Bus connects travellers from Terminal 2 to Terminal 4. The journey takes about 10 minutes and runs regularly. Passengers in Terminals 1 or 3 will need to make their way to Terminal 2 to connect to Terminal 4.On the Skytrain, Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are all a 2-minute ride between each other.
Save more with the Changi Transit Program
Just when you think that Singapore Changi Airport couldn’t get any better, they’re giving away free vouchers to shop and eat your way around the airport; whaaaat!?!
Passengers transiting through Changi on a Singapore Air, SilkAir or Air New Zealand flight are entitled to vouchers up to the value of $40. You simply need to take a copy of your passport and boarding pass to the voucher desk near the Tax Refund counter and you’ll be issued with vouchers to be spent at selected outlets across the airport. You can even use it for access into the Ambassador Transit Lounge!
The current promotion ends March 31st, 2019, but between you and me, this seems to be a yearly promo so keep your eyes peeled before you transit through Changi next. Read more about the Changi Transit Program here.