Up until I landed in Singapore’s Changi airport, I hated layovers. Nothing to do but zone out in a boring airport, zonking yourself out with overpriced cocktails or fitfully sleeping till your next flight – right? Not so at Changi International!
This airport is a major hub for people travelling anywhere in Asia. Most flights connect or re-direct through Singapore. Both legs of my journey (to NZ, then back to Taiwan) left me with a 6 hr. stopover at Changi. And, you know what? It wasn’t enough time to do and see everything at this gem of an airport. It’s really a mini vacation spot in itself!
The airport has 3 terminals – all connected by a “skytrain” which is really an automated outdoor rail system. So here’s what you can do in each terminal. Keep in mind, some of these things are on the Singapore side of customs, and others are on the departure side of customs – If you are at Changi for a while, best find a place to stash your luggage so that you can walk in and out of customs easily to see all of this stuff.
1) Cactus Garden (Departure area, after customs)
All sorts of different varieties of cacti (cactuses?) are on display here. Makes you forget that you are in an airport. My pics didn’t work out, so I stole some:
2) Rooftop swimming pool (Departure area, after customs)
That’s right! A pool. On the roof. Looking at the stars. At an airport. Extreme Awesomeness.
Except that both times I was there, it was closed, so I never got to see it properly. The damn thing closes at around 8 pm.
The deal is, around Singapore $13 (US $10.40) gets you access to the pool with one drink. Would’ve been great if I had experienced that. No, I’m not bitter at all!
3) Moving metal raindrop sculpture (Public area, before customs)
This one was really cool. Teardrop shaped pieces of metal moved in a programmed pattern to create all sorts of shapes and sizes. Something one could be mesmerized by for a long time:
Here’s a brief video of them in motion:
1) Entertainment Zone (Departure area, after customs)
A gamer/movie addict’s heaven, this area is set up with individual gaming consoles:
group gaming consoles:
and a full out movie theatre where you can watch flick after flick after flick:
Oh ya, also next to this area is a fully decked out gym with showers if you need to relive some stress after getting your ass kicked at Tekken or whatever fighting game they have at the time.
2) Sunflower Garden (Departure area, after customs)
Another relaxing area surrounded by flowers and nature takes you away from layover dreariness. Again, I saw it at night, but was still a nice place to chill:
3) Orchid Garden (Departure area, after customs)
Another picturesque garden with various orchids and hybrids, this one is located inside the airport:
4) Xperience Media zone (Departure area, after customs)
This is a massive loung-y type area with giant screens – some playing sports events and some with interactive touch screen programs running. You can couch surf your way to your next flight here:
1) Butterfly Garden (Departure area, after customs)
This peaceful oasis takes up 2 stories at the airport. Unfortunately, I was there at night, so didn’t get to see it in all it’s glory, but it has a very tropical feel (with all the lush vegetation and butterflies around). There’s also a waterfall in this area. Again, makes you forget that you are in an airport:
2) Giant slide (Public area, before customs)
If you need to be boosted out of your travel weariness, this one’s for you. Coming in at 4 storeys (12m) this monstrosity is bigger than most slides I know of. The people who made this airport really went for gold eh?
There is a cost to this slide ( I think you get 2 rides for every $22 you spend in the airport). There is a smaller slide beside it you can ride for free:
3) Koi Pond (Departure area, after customs)
This one’s located next to the Butterfly Gardens. If you are in a relaxed mood, and don’t want to go flying down slides, the Koi pond provides a calming atmosphere where you can sit and chill:
Some of them are pretty huge:
These are the attractions that I managed to get a glimpse of during my time there, but I’m sure there are more. Best of all, most of them are free, and if not, the cost is meager – well worth driving away the layover blues. And if you aren’t interested in any of this, Changi also has mini rooms available (with beds etc.) that you can crash in for only around $40 for 6 hours. This airport really has everything.
You can obtain a booklet of everything there is to do at Changi with much more detailed descriptions. Also, if you have a long enough layover, the airport organizes tours that take you out into Singapore for free.
Changi was absolutely amazing, and the next time I travel through Singapore, I might just try to get a longer layover to have a pre-vacation in the airport before I reach my destination.