Changi (Singapore International Airport): What Great Airports Should Be

Terminal 3's green wall and waterfall.
Terminal 3's green wall and waterfall. | Source

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

The ideal airport for international layovers should contain recreational activities to while away the waiting hours, plenty of retail and restaurant options, and a place to rest the body after a long, confining airplane flight. Changi Airport, which is a main hub for Singapore and Southeast Asia, delivers on all these promises with efficient and modern style. It’s about the only airport in the world where I schedule extra time for stopovers to enjoy its features.

Snooze chairs.
Snooze chairs. | Source

Comfort

International airports often trumpet the virtues of their airline lounges, which are accessible to anybody who buys a first- or business-class ticket. Such high-priced comfort is almost irrelevant at Changi given the free amenities available. Start with the different types of chairs, which range from undistinguished metal benches to plush and comfortable wrap-around armchairs.

You can catch 40 winks at leather snooze chairs with head and foot rests. If you’re lucky, you can snag a free massage on one of the recliners, though you’re limited to 15 minutes when people are waiting. Separate foot massage machine are also available. The best way to find these goodies is to ask at the information desk.

Fun

Many seating areas are clustered around large flat-screen TVs showing English-speaking channels like CNN or National Geographic. Look for the world’s largest 103-inch HD plasma display at Terminal 2. If you need to browse the web, free Internet terminals are plentiful. But my favorite stations are located at the iConnect Lounge on the second floor of Terminal 2. They’re next to the Gaming Center that showcases the latest in console entertainment. If you prefer your entertainment on the big screen, check out the free movie theaters in Terminals 2 and 3.

Exhibits displaying the latest high-tech products or celebrating holidays or art are common and always changing. I’ve encountered gift-laden Volkswagen beetles at Christmas, camcorder launches, boy bands and Chinese New Year festivities. Check out the latest activities at the airport website.

What is billed as the world’s tallest airport slide rushes you from the top of Terminal 3 down four stories through a winding tube. You’ll need to spend at least 10 Singapore dollars in one receipt at an airport retailer to redeem a ride. Or you can try a free 1.5-story preview ride at Basement 2. One other catch: the slide is in the public area, so it’s not accessible if you’re only in transit.

The Merlion is the symbol of Singapore and visible on the city tour.
The Merlion is the symbol of Singapore and visible on the city tour. | Source

Tour

If you have at least five hours until your next flight, take one of the free city tours, which whisks you in air-conditioned comfort to famous landmarks, . You’ll even have time to leave the bus and explore the outdoors. The Cultural Tour is recommended for first-timers to the city because it gives you a taste of the country’s Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures. If you’re more interested in history, the Colonial Tour explains how Britain influenced local growth. You can register at Terminals 2 or 3.

Retail

The airport’s 300 retail spaces, consisting of more than duty-free shops, put many city malls to shame. Souvenirs, clothes, books, electronics, toys and jewelry are just some of the items that provide hours of browsing. Selections range from the low end such as 7-Eleven, Burger King, and Starbucks to the top-of-the line like Bvlgari, Swarovski and Cartier. Though most of the eateries keep regular business hours, if your flight arrives at an odd time, you can dine at the 24-Hour Food Gallery or at such outlets as McDonald’s, KFC, Delifrance and Dome.

When you’re finished with the selections at your terminal, enjoy the free and efficient Skytrain to travel among other terminals and visit other shops. The airport guarantees that the prices you pay are not more expensive than the retailer’s off-airport locations. Otherwise, you get twice the price difference in refunds.

Gardens

After the enclosed artificiality of an airline cabin, You can experience natural beauty through Changi’s six gardens, which display butterflies, cacti, ferns, orchids, koi and fragrant plants. My favorite is the sunflower garden, which is the only one located outdoors, and exposes you to the city’s sunny and humid weather. The planes and the runways are visible from here but you have to contend with smoke in this designated smoking area.

Paid Amenities

If the freebies aren’t enough to keep you busy, Changi has no shortage of paid delights. The Crowne Plaza Hotel is linked to Terminal 3 by a sky bridge and offers luxurious accommodations and restaurants. However, the Ambassador Transit Hotel offers cheaper rooms that don’t require you to go through immigration. You can take a dip in the Balinese-style swimming pool, which also includes jacuzzi, shower, towel and a free non-alcoholic drink. Finally, haircuts, massages and other services to pamper you are available in all three terminals.

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Comments 33 comments

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

I love this airport. Staff so friendly and the various amenities such as shower, massages, hotels. I would give this airport a five star.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Wow! That is quite an airport! I can only imagine how nice it must be for international travelers like yourself. I can assure you that Houston International is nothing like that...nor any airport that I have ever been in for that matter. Thanks for this useful and interesting hub. Will share!


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Totally agree with you. We spent time in this airport 2 years ago en route and from Australia and it was immaculate. It was dark both times we were there, but we still enjoyed the gardens. You’ve done a great job highlighting this airport.


annart profile image

annart 4 years ago from SW England

How I agree with you alocsin. I love Changi and I love Singapore. In contrast, when I come back into Heathrow it's so awful I feel ashamed! Dull, unwelcoming, no smiling people, no light or freshness, no greenery - what a shame we don't make an effort. I wrote a long, long complaint about it when I was waiting to be met, but it wasn't even acknowledged. Voted up and interesting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, it sounds good enough to have a vacation there in the airport! lol! seriously it sounds so much better than the airports that I have been too, it seems we could learn a thing or two over here in England, rated up and sharing, fascinating!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

At least it's not Los Angeles International, annart, which is also unwelcoming and so thoroughly unlike the entertainment capital of the world.


hoteltravel profile image

hoteltravel 4 years ago from Thailand

No wonder Singapore is the stopover capital of the region. Trust them to know a thing or two about hospitality. Voted up, useful and interesting. Shared.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Why go anywhere else? This is a vacation in itself! I saw the slide on the video and it looks like a thrill ride my grandkids would enjoy. Perhaps one day I will get to visit this wonderful airport and city. A very well written hub. Voted up!


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

This is how an airport should be, sadly Heathrow and Gatwick leave a lot to be desired. The seating is awful.

The slide caught my eye. I saw a very similar one a few years ago in the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London. I actually rode it!

I wonder if it is the same slide?

Voted up, interesting, useful and shared.


LucidDreams profile image

LucidDreams 4 years ago from St Petersburg, Florida

I think I would like to hang out there! I like airports anyway, there is something about them that makes me do a little dreaning. Great hub!


cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

How I wish our international airport at least half as good as that. NAIA is one of the worst airport in the world :(. At least the last survey says so (I wouldn't doubt it though).


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

I've to agree since I'm originally from Singapore. In fact, I just came back from a 10-day trip. It's defintely one the finest, so is their airline--Singapore Airlines is one of the best in the world. Thanks for sharing and voting it up and up.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

For my money, Singapore Airlines is the best one in the world.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

What a stunning airport! I had no idea such a wonder existed. Fabulous and interesting hub!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Wow, what a Beautiful Airport...It's like a Vacation Spot in itself...and how about that slide! Another Wonderful read Alocsin, and my Votes, of Beautiful, Interesting and UP, way UP!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

A good airport can make the trip much better. The free trips here sound like a great benefit for long stopovers. I also like airports that put on a few freebies, as you pay so much for travel, you shouldn't have to pay fortunes while you wait too!

Thanks for SHARING.


joanake profile image

joanake 4 years ago from Singapore

Love your article. I work at Changi Airport and I'm proud that travelers enjoy what we do our best to provide :)


dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 4 years ago from India

Great and impressive. Is this airport or some five star hotel? May be some day will get a chance to visit Singapore and I will surely remember you alocsin.

Rated up and beautiful


Melis Ann profile image

Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

This looks amazing! Certainly seems that it would take a lot of the stress out of traveling and waiting!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Los Angeles International ain't far behind NAIA, cebutouristspot. It has been steadily losing international traffic to San Francisco Airport.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

I'm surprised with your Asian travels, Brett, that you haven't experienced it personally.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

You guys do a fantastic job! You should write some hubs about SIA.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

It's almost worth a trip by itself, b. Malin.


savanahl profile image

savanahl 4 years ago

what a great hub. It makes me miss Singapore. It's been quite a few years since I've been there and it seems they've added a lot of new amenities. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

So very interesting;take care and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

Oh my gosh! This airport sounds like a traveler's heaven, especially compared to the hustling-bustling airports in the U.S. I appreciated the pictures accompanying this hub; I could feel the tranquility.

Voted up and SHARED.


festersporling1 profile image

festersporling1 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Very interesting hub.Changi is the place for you to relax, unwind, spot planes and enjoy part of your trip.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

An extremely well-written hub on my favorite airport! I visited Singapore twice and hence visited this airport four times(arrival and departure). I enjoyed the panoramic view of this attractive airport. Sadly, I did not visit the gardens, long slide and massage rooms but nevertheless I had loads of fun hanging out in the lounge, enjoyed snacks at the coffeshop, did shopping and walked around. This hub reminded me of my good times at this mentioned airport!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome and Interesting. Voted up and Socially Shared.


taw2012 profile image

taw2012 4 years ago from India

WoW!!! A five star airport. This would be the king of airports for sure. Nice way of writing.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Glad you liked my favorite airport too, ishwaryaa22.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Aurelio, I wish I'd read your hub several years back. Though I was in transit for a few hours, maybe, I could have explored a few of these wonderful places.

Next time I'll make it a point to visit all these. Bookmarking this awesome information.

Voted up and across.

I'm sharing this too.


Dancing Water profile image

Dancing Water 4 years ago

I love this airport, and your wonderful description of it is so spot on! Thank you for sharing what air terminals can be. Changi definitely raises the bar!


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Singapore Airport is great! Clean, friendly and healthy with places for plenty of rest. Great article.

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