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20 Things To Do at Singapore’s Changi Airport in 2022

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While a lot of things shocked and surprised me when COVID-19 changed the world I’ll admit I did a double take when Singapore’s Changi Airport lost its ‘World’s Best Airport’ crown in 2021, breaking an eight year Skytrax streak.

But then I remembered that in the lead up to those awards Changi had been a shadow of its former self. Two whole terminals, T2 and T4, were shuttered, shops and restaurants and attractions were closed, and passengers could only catch a glimpse of the airport it used to be before and between flights.

Thankfully in 2022 Changi is coming back to full strength. Which is great news for travellers like me who love it, and for those who have yet to experience the Changi effect.

Of all of the “I love Changi airport” stories I’ve heard my favourite comes from my friend Gary. Despite the fact that he lives in Singapore, he confessed “I love Changi so much I checked into the Crowne Plaza when I landed once because I didn’t want to leave the airport.”

While Gary is an extreme case, especially as his home is less than half an hour away, he wasn’t the only one to sing Changi’s praises when I caught up with friends over dinner in Singapore. “Best airport in the world!” seasoned travellers Thomas and Bruce declared. “I once went from wheels down to being in a taxi in 11 minutes!” David insists. And although the idea of getting off a plane, through immigration, and getting in a cab in that time sounds unlikely, David was adamant Changi is just that good.

Mind you, it’s not just me and my friends who rave about it. Changi has taken 566 “Best Airport” awards since it opened in 1981 and it’s so much fun that some locals just go to the airport to have dinner, do some shopping or hang out, even if they’re not flying anywhere.

For those who have yet to fly through Singapore, and for those who haven’t been for a while, here are the best things to do at Changi Airport in 2022.

Visit the Changi Jewel in the Airport’s Crown

Taking the ‘it’s like no airport you’ve ever seen before’ concept to a new level, Changi’s Jewel is 10 stories of retail and dining that just happens to include the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

The 40-metre tall (around 130 feet) ‘rain vortex’ is the star of Changi’s new area which only opened in April 2019, but there’s a whole lot more to discover.

Rain Vortex, Changi Jewel, image Changi Airport
Singapore Airlines Jewel is worth going to the airport a few hours early

Jewel’s Shiseido Forest Valley has walking trails set around more than 22,000 square metres (235,000 square feet) of landscaping, there’s an 11 cinema IMAX theatre, a mirror maze, slides for the kids that look like sculptures, and a super cool new hotel that you can book for the night or just for a few hours with YOTELAIR (more on that later).

And because you’ll be wanting to share pretty much all of it on social media they also have free Wi-Fi and will loan you a power bank for free for up to 12 hours.

The only trick if you’re connecting through Singapore is that Jewel is on the land side or public area of the airport rather than the air side, so you’ll want to have four or five hours between flights to give you enough time to get through immigration and back in again, and to enjoy yourself while you’re there.

If you’re not sure if you can make it in time or not, just look for one of the Changi Experience Agents who’ll be able to help you. They’ll also be able to point you in the right direction if you happen to miss any of the signs around the terminals.

If you’re flying out of Singapore make sure you head to the airport really early to make the most of Jewel. You can do early check in at Jewel with some airlines offering check in up to 24 hours before. The full list of airlines and their early check in times can be found here on the Changi airport website.

And speaking of airlines, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fly in Singapore Airlines Suites I share all in this review (spoiler alert: it’s amazing).

Changi Jewel Rain Vortex, image Changi Airport

And if you want even more time than your early check in allows, or you’d like to drop off your carry on so you can explore bag free, there’s also a 24 hour baggage storage area at Jewel with prices starting from S$5 for 24 hours.

Get a nature fix in the Butterfly Garden, Sunflower Garden and more (T1, T2, T3)

If you don’t have time between flights to go land side, you can still get a burst of nature to shake off that cabin air.

At Changi they really embrace Singapore’s whole Garden City image with five themed gardens throughout the terminals. My personal favourite is the Butterfly Garden (T3) where the sight of around a thousand butterflies and the sound of a waterfall can really lift your spirits.

There’s also the Cactus Garden (T1) which has an open air bar and on some nights even has live music (just make sure you do as the man on the sign suggests and don’t be tempted to touch any of these plants). Unfortunately the Sunflower Garden (T2) remains closed at the moment but hopefully that will reopen soon so you can step into the fresh air and be a plane spotter amongst the flowers.

Read: The most amazing themed hotel rooms in the world

Then there are the indoor gardens, including the Water Lily Garden (T1) where you can see the Sacred Lotus, the Screw Pine and the Amazon Water Lily, which is one of the largest aquatic plants in the world.

And while at the time of writing they remain closed until further notice at the time of writing, the Enchanted Garden (T2), which features sensors that trigger bird sounds as you wander around and the Orchid Garden (T2) with rare and seasonal orchids surrounding a Koi pond will hopefully be back soon.

And don’t worry if you land in one terminal and want to see things in another one. The Skytrain makes it easy to zip between terminals and runs every few minutes. Just double check when you have to be back at your departure gate, buffer in enough time to return, and go explore.

Visit the Kinetic Rain Sculpture (T1)

Beautiful and hypnotic, the Kinetic Rain sculpture is a piece of installation art featuring 1,216 bronze droplets that transform themselves into 16 different patterns and shapes. The sculpture was commissioned to take the place of the fountains that were originally found in the departure hall of Terminal 1, and have become the backdrop for many a Changi happy snap.

You can get a taste for Kinetic Rain in this little video:

Shopping at Changi (T1, T2, T3)

It can be a cruel thing to have a short connection in Singapore, especially when there’s more than 350 shops to check out. You have your designer stretches of the terminal with Prada, Burberry, Tiffany & Co, and so many more lined up in a row. Then there’s the high street fashion options, electronics, gifts and of course all of the cosmetics and fragrances.

Not only do DFS have all the major brands covered, and the sort of wine and spirit selection that has eyes light up, they also have cocktail bar stations in the terminals. The clinking of ice in a cocktail shaker in the middle of an airport was enough to turn my head, and I noticed other travellers were equally happy to sample a Grey Goose concoction or two.

Changi Airport shopping T3 Shilla Duplex, image courtesy Changi Airport

I’m told Changi airport has people going around department stores in Singapore to make sure they have the cheapest prices at the airport. 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.

This is also the only airport I’ve found where you don’t even have to be flying to shop GST free. People on the land side can also get 7% off their purchases. Actually, all of those locals going shopping at the airport is starting to make sense.

Have a Free Massage at the Airport (T1, T2, T3)

Oh the joy of a massage after a flight. Or before one. Or in between. Oh, okay, I love a massage pretty much any old time.

At Changi you can find free foot massage machines around the airport, and even some magic, full body massage chairs in T3. Now I’ve been in a few massage chairs in my time and usually I can take them or leave them. But the one I tried at Changi was absolute heaven. To the point that I almost put one on my credit card afterwards (yes, they also sell them at Changi with shipping to various countries).

If you prefer a person to do your massage, you can also find plenty of those options around the terminals, though you do have to pay for that service. My personal favourite is at the SK-II Pitera Lounge in the Shilla Duplex in T3. Their 30 minute head neck and shoulder massage is so good I almost don’t want to mention them in case I can’t get a booking next time. And as for their facials? Another little piece of relaxing heaven that also makes your skin glow.

But back to those free massage chairs. To find the full body ones, head to the The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck in T3. They’re just around the corner from there. The only downside is the people who decide to sleep in them.

When I went back for a second massage (don’t judge me, it was 8 hours later!) there was a guy snoring loudly in one, which made the chair have to work all the harder to stop me tensing up. Apparently that happens quite a bit and personally I find that really selfish, especially when so many people want a massage and when Changi actually has designated rest areas and sleeping zones with comfy chairs made for just that thing. Or of course if you really want a good sleep you can…

Spend the Night in a Changi Airport Hotel (T1, T2, T3, Jewel)

YOTELAIR hotels are stylish little airport hotels where you can either spend the night or even just freshen up with a few hours’ sleep inside the terminal.

With the opening of Jewel, Changi got its own YOTELAIR and now travellers can stay in rooms inspired by first class airplane travel.

The Changi YOTELAIR is located inside Jewel Changi Airport, so just outside of the transit area, and is walking distance from Terminals 1, 2 and 3. As well as being a sweet spot to sleep they also have a fitness centre and free WiFi throughout, and complimentary use of Changi’s rooftop swimming pool (more on that shortly).

Also on the land side of Changi, you’ll find one of the world’s best airport hotels Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. And that’s not just my opinion, they’ve got the Skytrax’s world airport awards best hotel titles to prove it.

Changi’s Crowne Plaza has gorgeous rooms, including a big bath, strong shower and super comfortable bed. There are runway view rooms for the plane spotters and big and small kids to enjoy, or you can do as I did and get a room looking over their pool for an oasis feel.

The rooms are quiet – I heard a gentle sound in the distance a few times which I then realised was a plane (and considering a plane takes off or lands at Changi Airport every 100 seconds, that’s saying something).

Breakfast is delicious, with a range of Asian and Western options and where I had fun creating my own little Yum Cha of a morning, and the pool is just beautiful and is the only place I’ve been able to float in a pool and look up at both palm trees and an airport control tower.

If you are between flights and want to stay on the air side (that’s the side you fly in and out of, on the plane’s side of immigration) you can also get a room in one of the Ambassador Transit Hotels. These are a more simple affair, but offer the chance to sleep in a real bed and have a shower, and you can book for just six hours or more. Mind you, these are very popular so you want to book at least a couple weeks ahead.

Booking.com

Take a Swim in the Airport Pool (T1)

While you have to be a guest at the Crowne Plaza to look up at the air control tower as you float in their pool, there is another one you can try at Changi.

Pack your swimmers in your carry on because this rooftop pool is a great chance to get out into the fresh air between flights and wash that plane air away. The pool also has a jacuzzi and poolside bar, as well as shower facilities with towels provided.

The Changi airport pool is in T1 and costs S20++ to use, and includes a free (non alcoholic) drink at the bar. And even if you forgot to pack your swimmers just sitting by this pool with a drink can a treat in itself.

Eat up! (T1, T2, T3)

One of the things I love about Singaporeans is how much they love their food. And with around 160 places to eat and drink in Changi, the biggest problem is deciding what to have.

While some of the restaurants are yet to reopen in 2022, there’s already a long list to try including the first Yun Nans outside of China, the dim sum delights at Tim Ho Wan, and the award winning chilli crab at JUMBO Seafood.

There are also 24 hour dining options so you won’t go hungry no matter what time you fly. Just click here to check out all of the Changi airport dining options and opening hours.

Get on your (exercise) bike

It’s a great idea to get the blood pumping between all of that sitting down on flights, and at Changi they have a special corner where you can do just that.

Their Power Cycle stations aren’t like the indoor exercise bikes you might have at home. These babies charge your mobile phone while you’re riding away.

That’s right, your pedal power will power your device and you can play on the free internet while you’re doing it.

Bicycle mobile charging station at Changi airport, image credit Changi Airport Group

You can find the bicycle charging stations in T3’s Transfer B area.

Ride the Giant Slide (T3)

The “world’s tallest slide inside an airport” isn’t the sort of thing you come across every day. When I first saw the 12 metre (that’s four storeys!) high slide in T3 I really wasn’t sure how I’d go. It looked rather intense, but in the name of research I put on my brave face and got into position.

What happened next was an adrenalin rush with (hopefully) muffled squeals as I flew down, down, around, around and had an absolute ball doing it. To ride the slide you need to be at least 1.3m tall and Changi Rewards member (don’t worry, it’s free).

Take a free tour of Singapore

If you have five hours or more between flights you can take advantage of a free tour that Changi Airport provides of the city. You can’t book before you arrive at the airport, so if you want to do this one head for one of the City Tour stands and sign up as soon as you arrive. If you need a hand finding them, just ask the friendly folks at the Information Desks.

Read: Shangri-La Hotel Singapore’s new Tower Wing review

The tour is a great introduction to the city if you haven’t been before. Our guide was funny and informative, and you get the chance to get out at the Merlion to take some pictures at one of the most photographed spots in Singapore. Sit back, check out the sights and relax knowing they’ll get you back in time to catch your flight and make it to your next destination.

Or if you’d rather do your own thing you could also get a private airport transfer. Klook’s Changi airport options include standard and luxury cars up to mini vans and coaches for larger groups and can take you to and from some of Singapore’s most popular attractions including Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands, while Jayride lets you choose between around 50 transfer companies for your shuttle booking.

Merlion, Singapore

And then there was Harry Potter…

This one is now sadly over as it finished in 2019 but after being lucky enough to pass through Changi Airport when it was in full Harry Potter mode I’m keeping it as another example of how much Changi rocks.

Hogsmeade Village-inspired Harry Potter scene at Changi Airport's Terminal 3 Departure Hall, image Changi Airport Group

Built in conjunction with Warner Bros, there were four life size Harry Potter scenes in three terminals, with a replica Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley in T3, a Whomping Willow in T2 departures and Newt Scamander’s Menagerie with magical creatures to see in T1.

That’s just wizard!

Changi Airport's Harry Potter themed Wizarding World Holiday, image Changi Airport Group

Yes, there’s an awful lot to do at Changi Airport. Which may be why Singapore Airlines lets you check in 48 hours before your flight. What a great idea…  get rid of your checked luggage and go on an airport adventure before your flight.

 

 

Amanda Woods travelled and stayed as a guest of Changi Airport and Crowne Plaza. As usual all opinions are her own. 

Leave a Comment

  1. It’s a great airport I agree! And there’s no other really quite like it is there? What did you think of the fish pedicure?:)

    • Ajay Negi says

      Airport is vey fine and beautiful but Why they don’t have a massage chair in T4?
      Got a disappointment after knowing that they have it in all the terminals except T4 πŸ™

  2. I would NEVER have considered an airport as a destination. What a cool place! Love that you did the fishicure. I want one of those one day!

  3. The butterfly garden is incredible. I’ve heard about it but never saw photos. Massage machines make so much sense. I tried the “dr fish” in japan previous. a little weird for sure, and not so bad if you don’t actually think about what is happening !

    • Ha! I’m with you on the Dr Fish… so ticklish and fun, but kinda gross if you think about it πŸ™‚ And yes, you must pop into the butterfly garden, and check out the other great spaces when you’re in Changi next. A great way to freshen up between flights.

  4. Rose Huynh says

    I am in Changi Airport now, and I will enjoy every bit of it, it’s really nice, thank you very much for sharing.
    God bless you.

    • Thanks Rose! I hope you had a lot of fun on your Changi stay and that you got to enjoy some of the beautiful gardens (and the food, and the massage, and….. )

  5. Alex Bartley says

    If you do one of the free tours what is the procedure for this. Do you have to check out your luggage etc?

    • Hey Alex, the good news is no need to get your baggage, as that will be checked through to your destination. Although of course you will have to take your hand luggage with you.

      You do have to clear immigration and come back through so you’ll need your passport and boarding pass, which you will obviously have on you anyway. The tours are on a first come first serve basis so if you’re interested, head for the first information stand you see when you get off the plane and they can point you in the right direction. Happy travels!

  6. Hi, 2013 was my very first flight with Singapore Airlines. Being totally new to international travel, we thought to arrange the shortest possible layovers.Unfortunately this was also night time. We were also very disappointed to find everything Changi had to offer but were not able to take advantage of. Next trip was 2018 to Barcelona. Everyone said Emirates is the best airline so we flew with them. BIG mistake! Seats were most uncomfortable. I am visiting New Zealand again and refuse to fly with any other airline, comfortable seats, decent food and friendly, professional and efficient crew. This time we have opted for a long layover so that we can take advantage of the many pleasures Changi has to offer.

    • Hi Pat, what a shame that you missed out on the full Changi experience last time but so glad you have longer this time around. The last time I flew through I had to get straight off one plane and onto another and hated missing out on the Changi fun! I’ll be doing the same and having another longer stay next time πŸ™‚

  7. Tom Genest says

    Great site! Very informative. Thanks for writing.

  8. Changi airport is a lovely airport except Jewel. Sure you can get in for free but limited in view and walking area. Otherwise over $10 to go anywhere. Pity now as Singapore going this way.

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