Thursday, January 16, 2014

Snapshots from Singapore Changi Airport

Spending hours at an airport killing time before the next flight is usually an unappealing prospect. That's not the case at Singapore's Changi Airport. After having fun at Changi in the wee hours of the night on our way out of Asia, my girl was disappointed to not have another long layover on our return. With all the fantastic things to keep travelers occupied, it's no small wonder that Changi is often rated one of the top airports in the world.

A few weeks before we departed, Budget Travel Talk posted a picture of Changi Airport's Christmas decorations. It looked so intriguing that seeing it with my own eyes was one of the things I wanted to do while we were there. Wouldn't you want to see this?

She's a real pushover for the Leaning Tower of Pisa

It turns out that the Leaning Tower was just one of the many creative, Italian-themed, horticulture displays at the airport. We found a few others while strolling through the terminal. What was especially interesting was how they kept kids interested, too.

The Colosseum  

The Colosseum... with a special guest gladiator

Hey kids, it's Sponge Bob Square Pants! These displays had something for both classical tastes and those with more youthful inclinations. I thought it was an interesting dichotomy. I'm wondering if the floral designer had a sense of humor or stormed off in a huff when he/she saw how the displays were arranged.

I'm rather sure the original Trojan Horse story doesn't mention Gary the Snail.

While Changi Airport offers a playscape, as do many other airports around the world, its activities for kids go way beyond the norm.

At midnight, the woodblock crayon rubbings still drew a crowd of children. We obviously weren't the only ones trying to keep the kids awake and on their feet despite the late hour. Even at this time of night, the paper was well stocked and the crayons were plentiful.

Woodblock rubbing station next to an Orchid Garden with Koi Pond

If you happen to be visiting Singapore and departing from Terminal 3, stop by the World's Tallest Airport Slide before going through security. It's 4 storeys tall but was, unfortunately for us, closed when we were there.

Reach speeds of up to 6 meters (18 feet) per second going down this spiral slide.

The Butterfly Garden was yet another entertaining diversion, although I will have to say that it's about a thousand times better in the daylight when you can actually see the butterflies. As it was already nighttime during this visit, we spent some fruitless minutes searching for butterflies and then occupied ourselves by looking at the chrysalides. (Yes, I did have to look up what is the plural form of "chrysalis.") This garden is just one of the many themed gardens and nature experience throughout the airport.

Future butterflies

I was surprised to see that many of the airport's upscale stores stayed open past midnight. I'm sure that my husband would have bought me an Herm├Ęs scarf if only the shopgirls had not been locking up at 1 A.M. when we walked by... or maybe not.

As it was, the simple pleasure of the free foot and calf massage chairs was enough to keep me happy. Hubby motioned to me that we really had to go if we didn't want to miss our flight, but I was reluctant to disengage myself from the rollers powerfully kneading my aching muscles. The napping stations off to the sides looked enticing, too, but I knew that I would never get up in time if I allowed myself to lay down.

Other times at Changi, we've checked into the Transit Hotel if our layover was more than 6 hours. I really like that we don't have to clear immigration in order to reach the hotel. That's so convenient. During one stay, we swept aside the hotel room curtains, eager to look at the view. Perhaps we'd see planes taking off! Nope. It was just a blank wall.

Other activities at Changi Airport for travelers in transit:

  • Free 2-hour, guided tour of Singapore
  • Around-the-clock, free movie theatre; although you are cautioned to remember not to miss your flight
  • Rooftop swimming pool free for hotel guests and a charge of S$13.91 for non-guests
  • Fish Spa and Reflexology Center where fish nibble the dead skin off your feet
  • Entertainment Deck with a Kinect, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 perfect for tweens and teens
  • Shower and gym
Have you been to Singapore's Changi Airport? What's your favorite way to entertain yourself there?

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and "Oh the Places I've Been" on The Tablescaper. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. This is absolutely amazing! We went through Changi decades ago and it was just another big (but clean) airport. You've got me wanting to go and spend time there! Great post!!!

  2. Oh man, I was just at this airport over Christmas and am SO bummed I missed that slide! How amazing! Also super cool that they have a movie theater, I should have done my research!;-)

  3. I love it when airports really add something exciting in visiting a destination, this is fantastic...wish more international airports would do the same!

  4. Well, if you have to experience a layover, that would be a pretty awesome airport to visit! Love the horticulture displays and I have a feeling my teens would love the slide.

  5. Thanks for linking :) You can see why Changi airport is repeatedly a winner. Was SpongeBob still there? Wow about that slide in Terminal 3 - we didn't see that - pity it was closed for you.

  6. Thank you for adding this wonderful blog post on Changi Airport as your first post of 2014. Looks like you've inspired your readers to come see for themselves what they can do when they travel through Changi Airport.

    All the best,
    Melvin (on behalf of Singapore Changi Airport)

  7. From Marcia Mayne: I'm digging that slide. When I think of the long walks between terminals at some airports, this would be a welcome change."

  8. I can see why this airport has such a high rating for entertaining travelers. My son does the lighting changes for Bellagio's Conservatory. They could take notes on the amazing horticulture displays.

  9. LOVE the horitcultural architecture. That is so cool. Now I'm trying to think if I can alter travel plans to pass through here.

  10. The horticulture displays were incredible! Sounds like the airport is a destination in and of itself!

  11. Airports should all look like this so we wouldn't mind flight delays. Spectacular!...Christine

  12. The airport is a winner.
    "Free 2-hour, guided tour of Singapore..."- I would love that!

  13. What amazing floral displays. I could happily spend a few hours waiting at Changi Airport with all the things there are to see and do. Love your photos, too.

  14. I've lost many an hour at Changi Airport but thankfully it has never been longI If it had been, the 2 hour tour would certainly be a winner for me. I think it's great that they offer so much to do!

  15. Singapore definitely is place to be if you have to have a long wait for your next flight - not like some airports I have had to sit in for hours - this one there is plenty to do and not enough time to do it all!
    Happy travels, have a great week, and thanks for stopping by my blog this week.

  16. I've not been to Singapore, but you do make the airport seem an interesting place. That's more than can be said for most!

  17. I have never seen or heard of an airport that transports one to such a multitude of magnificent destinations within its own 'air space'! Thanks for sharing!


  18. Hi Michelle, Changi is one of my favorite airports. Yes, I also love the massage chairs!
    Those horticulture exhibits are amazing! I like that they mix it with a bit of playfulness to entertain the kids more. I have not seen the Butterfly Garden. Sounds amazing.

  19. Changi is definitely the place to be if you have a long layover. What's more it feels more like being in a hotel lobby than an airport I always think. I didn't realise there was so much to do there though, and your guide has definitely make me think about exploring more on my next trip back to the UK.

  20. I haven't been to Changi since last century but I do remember all the orchids and just how glorious it smelled. Those horticulture displays are awesome and who wouldn't want to go down on that slide. It's too bad it was closed. Ha..learned something today..chrysalides. Thanks :) Glad the kids managed to entertain themselves before your flight.

  21. Yes, Changi is the best in the world. Verily a destination in itself - I actually seek long layovers there! The "Snooze Lounge", those wonderful free city tours (both day and night tours), the amazing "Kinetic Rain" sculpture, oh and... betcha didn't know that there's a "geocache" hidden in that Butterfly Garden! (I'll let you/your readers figure out what that is) ;)

  22. I had no idea that there were so many diversions at the Changi Airport. They've made the layover experience into a pleasant one and it sounds like many places in the airport could follow their lead. I'd like the dead skin eaten off my feet but I might be there all day.

  23. chang mai was the only airport i've ever been in where I didn't mind having a layover. it's amazing all the thngs they have to do. I checked email from free kiosks (pre wifi) and my husband got a haircut!


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