Changi Airport – the mere mention of it takes me back to 2004 when I had an 18-hour layover at the airport Singapore. I was thankful that it was this airport where I had to spend that amount of time. Remember this was before the Kindle era or even Internet-enabled mobile era. So you had to look for options to pass time at the airports. I remember I took their two free city tours, checked into a transit hotel for a quick nap & shower and roamed around the airport. So, earlier this month when I got an invite from Changi Airport to visit them, I was more than happy to go back. And explore all the new things it might have added since then.
We were taken through a fun-filled exploration of the airport. That is a destination in itself through various activities that involved adventure, luxury, nature, entertainment, food, and some authentic Singaporean delights. With each activity, we were discovering a different aspect of the airport. A full day was not enough to explore the airport. I came back with a list of things to explore when I am next to the airport like exploring its Art Trail.
There are a million things that you can do at the airport based on how much time you have at hand and how many times you visit it. Allow me to share my top picks at the airport in Singapore.
Eat & Drink
Now, if you have been reading this travel blog, you know I am a vegetarian and that many times mean hunting for the food that you can eat. You can eat Shuddh Desi South India Vegetarian Food at Kaveri restaurant at Terminal T2 food court.
Apart from this, you can try some local curry joints that can serve you rice and curry. Of course, there are bakeries and your comfort chains like Subways & McDonalds for a predictable meal.
If you like Alcohol, the double-storey DFS store has an interesting display of bottles, the total of which adds to an auspicious no 998. There is a history of popular alcohol brands and beautiful displays of what is precious to the connoisseurs. The drink to try here is a famous Singapore Sling. However, if like me you do not drink, ask for some mocktails, made out of juices and sugar syrup and decorated with cut fruits.
This picture shows the drinks Tropical Sunrise, Virgin Mojito, and Virgin Sunset.
My biggest recommendation though is Kaya Toast and Local Coffee called Kapi. You can get them at various outlets like Wang Café, Kaffe and Toast, Toast Box and Ya Kun Kaya Toast. Kaya toast is a simple toast with Kaya butter – a unique and popular breakfast item. Kapi that comes in varieties like Kapi-O, Kapi-C is a MUST try. I had it at a Ya Kun Kaya Toast outlet in town and came back looking for it at Airport while departing from Terminal 2. If you feel lost, ask the information desk for the local Kapi outlet and they would direct you to the nearest one. If you are tech savvy, there are kiosks where you can search for the outlet you are looking for.
You can even see the museum-like display of memorabilia associated with this coffee / Kapi at T3.
Adventure at Changi Airport
If you are traveling with kids, actually even if you are traveling without kids I recommend the Slide at T3. That is almost 4-stories tall slide and takes you down a few levels on the airport. I am not sure when was the last time I went down a slide. I wondered if I would be scared or if I would really enjoy doing it. But you know what, the moment you start sliding, the kid in you comes out. As soon as you come out of the other end, you invariably ask ‘ Can I do this once more?’
You can buy a ticket for the slide or you can claim a free slide if you have done some shopping at the Airport.
Sit Back & Relax
There are snooze chairs everywhere at the airport. But if you want to spend some quiet time, looking at a green expanse, while nibbling some food as your gadgets charge or as someone massages your feet there are many lounges that you can try. I tried the Plaza Premium Lounge and I am damn impressed by the service quality and the smiling staff. I took a foot massage and had a coffee while my camera and phones charged themselves.
Lounges at the airport like elsewhere can be accessed through exclusive membership that may come with your credit card. Or for a small fee that you can check online or at the counter.
The perfect option to explore if you are jet lagged.
There are two movie theaters inside do free screenings. Movies played are English and Chinese movies.
Perfect option if you have 3-5 hours to spend at Changi Airport.
There is an open experience zone too where you can sit in plush chairs and watch sporting events on Television or browse the Internet or play games.
There is a social tree that lets you play games with many others; lets you take selfies for posterity and even let you flaunt the selfie on a giant screen.
My biggest recommendation though is to see the Kinetic Rain. A beautiful display of raindrop shaped balls going up and down creating patterns and waves that mesmerize you. If you have 30 mins or more to spend at Changi Airport terminal T2, this is where you should go. I think children would love it and also learn how to make simple principles of science work to create beauty in our worlds.
Indulge in Nature
Now Airports are not particularly nature spots. Yes, we do have some potted plants here and there, but more often than not Airports are as urban and as concrete as space can get. Thankfully the airport in Singapore has tried to undo this convention by building many small gardens across its three terminals.
The most popular gardens are
- A Cactus Garden at T1
- A rooftop Sunflower Garden at T2
- An Orchid Garden at T2
- An Enchanting Garden at T2
- A Butterfly Garden at T3
If you have to choose one of them, go for the Orchid Garden that has a fishpond with many coins in it thrown by people in the hope that their wishes come true. So each coin is actually a wish. Every time I passed by this it reminded me how we are all bound together by common beliefs.
Take the Free Singapore Tour
Having done this many years ago I would definitely recommend the 2-3 hour tours conducted by Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines. At the time of writing, they offer two different tours – a heritage tour and a city sights tour. However a few years back I had taken a tour to Sentosa Island as well. Check their website for the latest update on tours offered and timings.
For a traveler and a travel blogger like me, this is the best use of time that you can make when you stop over at Singapore’s Airport.
There are a million options to shop at the airport. You can buy all luxury brands – be it electronics, beauty and wellness products, chocolates to indulge in or your regular duty-free stuff. You can simply get lost in shopping areas of Changi or treat yourself to Retail Therapy as you like it.
My top pick to buy would be local delicacies at Bengawan Solo. Try their Kuey Lapis – a fusion of cake and Bebinca, or their pineapple tarts or their various nut-based cookies. Colorful packaging makes it a perfect gift to carry back home. Bengawan Solo outlets on all the three terminals will remind you of our own Mithai shops in India.
That’s it from me!. For a longer list of 50 things to do at Singapore Airport check this list or download the iChangi App for instant access to updated information.
Now it is your turn to tell me what is your favorite thing to do?
You may like to read my travel blog posts from other countries I visited.
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