Ever since my daughter turned 1, we’ve taken an annual trip to Indonesia to visit my family. Next week, she’ll be going on her 7th transatlantic flight (our 4th one with just the two of us) and her 7th transit in Singapore’s Changi Airport, arguably the most complete and entertaining airport in the world.
The time we spend inside Changi Airport is always a lot of fun as there are things to do, eat, and see that could keep you busy for days.
ACRONYM KEY TA = TripAdvisor Rating SGD = Singapore Dollar
The first thing I always do when I arrive at Changi is get access to the FREE WI-FI. There are four ways to set this up:
1. Text Message via Mobile Phone
This is not ideal for international passengers due to roaming charges. If you’d like to go this route, enter your mobile number on the WiFi login page to receive a One-Time-Password via SMS/text message.
2. WiFi Password Kiosk
Simply scan your passport at these WiFi Kiosks to obtain a password for 3 hours of free WiFi access. Renew at any similar kiosk once the 3 hour period ends. They are located strategically across terminals and inside some gates.
3. Information Counters
Simply approach the counter and present your passport to the customer service agent to obtain a password for 3 hours of free internet access.
4. Computer/Internet Stations
If you don’t have a Wi-Fi enabled device, there are internet stations with computers throughout the airport.
At Changi Airport, you will find a huge variety of food from all over the world, from your typical American fast food joints to sushi, ramen, donuts, and pastas. One of my favorite things about Singapore, however, is the “Singaporean” food. With it’s Chinese roots and it being a central hub to many Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, the food options at food courts and hawker centers can seem ENDLESS, and possibly, a little overwhelming for a first timer.
YOU WILL HAVE TO GET RID OF ANY BEVERAGES AND NON-TSA APPROVED LIQUIDS BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT.
At Changi Airport, you go through the typical TSA airport screening as you enter your gate just before departure.
FOOD TO CONSIDER TRYING
Of course, the following is a very short list compared to the long list of actual options you’d have eating in Singapore. Here are just a few ideas of things you might consider ordering if you come across it while at Changi Airport instead of … yet another burger, sandwich, or spaghetti.
I haven’t even scratched the surface with the following examples of food you can eat at Changi. A *** indicates a popular dish in Singapore and a must try.
Find some of the best and cheapest hawker fare for as low as 3 SGD (that’s under US$3 a plate.)
Terminal 1 Hours: 7AM-8PM This is the biggest canteen with more than 25 stalls. Follow signs to the restrooms with red doors and take the elevator down to Basement 1.
Terminal 2 Level 3 Mezzanine, near parking area. Locate the Starbucks on Level 2, take the nearest elevator to the car park at Level 3, walk up the staircase, turn left, and look for the unlabeled iron door.
Note: CNN featured an article about the airport staff canteens HERE.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao Decent dim sum. Terminal 1
Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert Delicious custard egg tarts. Terminal 2 & 3
Ippudo Express A branch of the popular ramen shop in NYC. Terminal 2 & 3
Thai Express I loved the branch in Jakarta which closed down, so while the Changi location hasn’t been as great, I tend to go back just to order my favorite mango salad (but only when the mango is still green). Terminal 3, outside of Transit Area
SLEEP + NAPPING
If you have a long layover, you’ll probably want to get a little sleep.
1. Snooze Lounges (Free) Terminal 1: Transit East, Level 3, Transit Area Terminal 2: Sanctuary Lounge, Transit North Pier, opp E5 Terminal 2: Oasis Lounge, Transit North Pier, Opp E11 Terminal 3: Transit North Mezzanine, near to Singapore Food Street
TA 4* They have hotel rooms that you can rent for 6 hour blocks or a marginally less expensive lounge for you to nap, shower, and use the gym. The hotel has been fully booked twice on my visits, so I’d recommend booking in advance.
5. Off-Site Hotel
This last option means leaving Changi Airport, but leaving/returning to the airport is pretty fast and seamless relative to other countries’ airports, and there are plenty of nearby choices for you to book a hotel room with free airport transfer.
1. Take a FREE Tour of Singapore Assuming you have a transit of more than 5.5 hours, you can sign up for a FREE 2.5 TOUR of Singapore. All you have to do is register at least one hour before the start of the tour by visiting the Free Singapore Tour (FST) Registration Booth (near Transfer Lounge F in Terminal 2, or Transfer Lounge A in Terminal 3) upon arrival. Make sure that your passport is on the visa waiver list by checking HERE.
The world’s first airport butterfly garden has flowering plants, lush greenery and a grotto-waterfall. It contains around 1,000 tropical butterflies from as many as 40 species during the different seasons of the year. There are also areas where you can learn more about the breeding and feeding of the butterflies.
Water Lily Garden (FREE) Terminal 1, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2, Transit Area
This may not be a large space, but as someone who grew up finding water lilies intriguing, this is one of my favorite spots to walk by at Changi. These plants include the Sacred Lotus and the Amazon Water Lily – one of the largest aquatic plant in the world.
This garden features more than 100 species of cacti and arid plants from the deserts and dry areas of Asia, Africa and America. Part of its popularity may also be the bar within the garden, where travelers can enjoy a drink or two as they relax.
This is one of my daughter’s favorite areas of the airport. This is an interactive and decorative garden that “magically” comes to life with sight and sound by way of motion sensors and LED lighting while you weave through the garden. This “garden” includes a combination of freshly-cut flowers, soft ferns, and stained-glass.
Canopy Playground by T1 Garden (FREE) Departure Transit Lounge East, next to Outdoor Garden, Level 2, Transit Area
The sign at this playground says that the mostly padded play structure is for kids ages 18 months to 12 years, but it looks like it might be more appealing to younger kids below the age of 7. Vibrant colors, tunnels, a slide, and obstacles makes this a popular choice.
Mr. Bean-Themed SingKids Playground (18 SGD) Terminal 3, Basement 2
This playground has a bouncy house, some slides, a small padded area for younger kids to use ride-on toys, and many other structures. What sets it apart from a regular playground is, aside from the size and sheer amount of equipment, the “Mr. Bean” theme.
4. Go to the Movie Theater
Terminal 2 Departure Transit Lounge, near the Sunflower Garden, Level 3, Transit Area
Hours: 24 hours, but closed for weekly maintenance between Thursday 10PM and Friday 4AM
Hours: 12PM – 10:30PM Daily
Requirements: Must be 1.3m-2m or 51″-78″ to slide.
Cost: This slide is sometimes free to travelers boarding T3. In addition, for every $10 spent at T3 of Changi Airport in a single same day receipt*, visitors can redeem one ride at the Terminal 3 Level 1 Information Counter.
Cross off the world’s tallest indoor slide in an airport from your bucket list. At 4 stories tall and 12 metres high, you’ll get a thrilling experience and a chance to revisit the kid in you.
This automated driverless people mover isn’t just a convenient way to move between Terminals 1, 2, and 3 at Singapore Changi Airport, but also a great way to entertain the kids! It takes approximately 4 minutes to get from one terminal to another. All stations are air conditioned and offer screens indicating the arrival time of the next train.
Neat fact: This was the first driverless and automated system in Asia when it opened in 1990.
8. Take a Dip in the Rooftop Swimming Pool or Jacuzzi
Cost: SGD 17
Hours: 6am-12am daily Terminal 1, Aerotal Airport Transit Hotel, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area ( near D Gates)
This rooftop pool is located at the Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel at Terminal 1 and free for all guests of the hotel, but anyone willing to spend 17 SGD can use the pool, jacuzzi, poolside bar, and/or the shower facilities. Travellers are invited to relax and enjoy these facilities while waiting for their next flight.
This is an area for those interested in learning about the history of aviation in Singapore and Changi Airport’s ground operations. Kids who have an interest in airplanes might be delighted to see actual models of unusual aircrafts or learn about how inflight meals are prepared and how pets travel on aircrafts. They also provide fun kid friendly fact sheets.
If you aren’t traveling alone with kids like I am, why not take the opportunity to pamper yourself before your final destination?
Below is the shower at the pay-per-use Ambassador Transit Lounge. Image Source
Take a Shower
Visit one of the available pay-per-use lounges to take a shower or visit a gym. Scroll up and check the “Sleep” section of this post to find a list of lounges at Changi Airport.
The shopping options at Changi Airport are ENDLESS. From casual wear to high end designers like Hermes and Chanel, you can find a wide array of places to shop for goods while avoiding hefty taxes or the hassle of collecting your receipts to obtain a tax refund at the end of your trip.