The smart traveller's guide to Singapore's main airport
Some people love airports. Others hate them. But even if you're one of the latter, you could still love transiting at Changi Airport. Changi is as good as an airport gets; it's one of the world's best and regularly wins accolades in the World Airport Awards. In addition to the usual shopping, dining, and lounging experiences available at an international airport, at Changi there's a host of unique attractions, and most of them are free. It's the kind of place where you might smile if your flight is delayed: there is time for that free foot massage after all.
One of the 1,216 copper raindrops in the Kinetic Rain Sculpture / Image courtesy of Changi Airport website
Here's a guide to the main attractions at each of the three Changi terminals.
T1 serves almost half of the 50 million passengers who pass through Changi each year. It's the original and the longest running terminal and was recently upgraded to a tropical theme. In the departure check-in hall there's a Kinetic Rain Sculpture comprising 1,216 copper raindrops (welcome to the tropics). The raindrops hang from the ceiling and dance with choreographed movements to form 16 different shapes, including a plane, of course.
Accessible from the transit area, and continuing with the tropical theme, are three outdoor gardens–the Lily Pad Garden, the Structural Tree Garden, and the Cactus Garden. In these you can stroll through greenery, breath fresh(-ish) air, and marvel at over 40 species of cacti and succulents from Africa and the Americas.
Cactus Garden / Image courtesy of Changi Airport website
Also outdoors in the transit area is a Balinese-themed rooftop swimming pool. For a small fee (currently S$13.91) you can use the pool, jacuzzi, and showers; and enjoy a non-alcoholic drink from the bar.
The Social Tree is a nine meter tall structure made up of 64 giant high-definition screens that offer a 360 degree display of various animated backgrounds, including the Singapore skyline. You can become part of Changi Airport history by posting an image of your travelling party on the 'tree'. Retrieve your images the next time you pass through the airport to relive your past Changi experiences.
T2 boasts three of Changi's five 'Nature Trail' gardens, including the newest and the most lavish, the Enchanted Garden. Thanks to motion sensors, this garden 'comes to life' as you weave though the glass sculptures of bouquets, stained-glass mosaics, freshly cut flowers, and ferns. The other two gardens at T2 are the Sunflower Garden and the Orchid Garden & Koi Pond. The Sunflower Garden is on the roof; at night it transforms into a charming light garden with firefly lights and illuminated fixtures. The Orchid Garden features more than 700 orchid plants from 15 species. The orchids surround a large pond that swims with brightly coloured Koi. In the garden there's a seasonal display of Singapore's National Flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.
At the T2 Changi Aviation Gallery you can learn about Changi's ground operations. The interactive gallery contains displays and touch screens that provide information about landing and take-off procedures, baggage handling, environment-friendly measures, and emergency and rescue services. If you're travelling with children, then take along this Aviation Gallery Fact Sheet for them to complete.
For a multi-media fix, head to the Entertainment Deck or the Xperience Zone where you can play Kinect Sports or Playstation games, relax to music, create e-Postcards and send them to your friends, or watch the latest Fox Movies in the Movie Theatre.
The Xperience Zone / Image courtesy of Changi Airport website
T3 is the newest and the largest terminal at Changi. It was designed to be eco-friendly and features natural skylighting and spacious gardens. It boasts two 'airport world firsts': the world's first butterfly garden inside an airport and the world's tallest slide inside an airport. The Butterfly Garden is home to over 1,000 butterflies. There are educational displays; breeding, feeding, and emergence enclosures; and a six meter waterfall. The garden also contains a collection of carnivorous and insectivorous plants.
The Slide@T3 is four storeys (12 meters) high. If you're bold, you can race down it at speeds of up to six meters per second; if you're not so bold, you can try the 'baby' slide nearby. Every S$10 you spend at Changi in a single receipt will entitle you to one ride on the Slide@T3.
The Slide@T3 / Image courtesy of Changi Airport website
At the T3 Changi Aviation Gallery you can learn about the airport's flying operations. Find out how in-flight meals are prepared, what an A380 looks like close-up, what is the only commercial plane capable of reaching supersonic speed, and more. If you're travelling with children, then take along this Aviation Gallery Quiz Sheet for them to complete.
Woodblock rubbing was popular in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s, and now at T3, you can make your own prints on the woodblocks designed by Singaporean artist Justin Lee. Visit the Woodblock Rubbing Stations to create your free souvenir from Changi.
Create a free souvenir from Changi at a Woodblock Rubbing Station
T3 also has a Movie Theatre where you can watch the latest movies.
At all Changi terminals you can enjoy the following FREE activities, facilities, and services:
-2 hour Singapore Tour. If you have at least five hours to spare in transit, then register for a free sightseeing tour. The Heritage Tour runs four times a day, and the City Lights Tour runs once in the evening. The tours leave from T2 and T3; passengers at T1 can proceed to T2 for registration.
-15 minute foot massage at the Foot and Calf Massage Stations.
-Children's Play Area. Suitable for babies to pre-teens.
-Mobile Charging Stations.
-Rest Areas. Take a nap in a specially-designed snooze chair.
-TV and Entertainment Lounges. Watch the latest news, sports, and entertainment in comfort.
-Wi-Fi and internet access.
If you're stopping in Singapore for a few days, then click here for a list of free things to do on Sentosa Island and here for tips on how to make the best of your Singapore stopover.