The writer Douglas Adams may be better known for guiding galactic hitchhikers but he expressed his disdain of airports in the novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, “It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase 'as pretty as an airport' appear.”
Adams never flew via Changi. The airport has been voted the world’s best for the last five years in the Skytrax World's Best Airport Awards. Changi handled 59 million passengers in 2016, many spending their layover hours sampling the uber-cool and unique offerings scattered throughout its three terminals. With Terminal 4 due to open later this year, there is even more to look forward to.
Duty free shopping has been one of Singapore’s principal lures for decades and Changi’s version extends to 360 therapeutic outlets. Fragrances and fashion, electronics and entertainment, watches and wellness. It’s all here.
DFS Wines & Spirits is obliged to ensure it is cheaper than any other airport in the Asia-Pacific region. You’ll find top end tipple, and whiskey tastings, at their 17 Changi shops. At Christian Dior you can sample the entire catalogue of Dior scents dating back to 1947. For a Singapore themed gift, pick up a Vista scarf from Pashma, an SK-II Pitera Essence Starter Kit from Shilla Cosmetics or a Tiger Balm Gift Box from Discover Singapore.
You can also shop online at iShopChangi up to 30 days in advance and up to 18 hours before your flight and collect your purchase at your departure terminal.
Whatever you do, don’t eat on your incoming flight. Changi’s ninety odd (mostly 24/7) dining options include restaurants, cafés, stalls, bakeries, fast food outlets, noodle bars, sushi bars, pho bars and dessert bars. There’s even a Macca’s!
The hawker style huts are popular and cheap. Favourable mentions go to Peach Garden Chinese Dining (T1), Ruyi (T1), Chinta Manis (T2), Soup Restaurant Heritage (T2) and Gurney Drive Restaurant (T3). Locals favour 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken (T1&3) and Bakery Cuisine (T2). For fine dining head straight to The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck (T3).
There are ten airport lounges available to Economy Class flyers, for a price. Fees vary from lounge to lounge but average around AU$40 for a three-hour stay and most offer showers and nap suites for an additional fee. Many lounges require a 24-hour advance purchase, so plan ahead.
As an alternative, check out Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel (T1). It has lots of room options, including suites big enough for a family of five, plus an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub and sun lounges on the roof. Day rooms are available for a minimum six-hour block and per hour thereafter. Pool access only will set you back around AU$20 between 6am and midnight.
Entertainment Deck (T2) boasts a cornucopia of electronic enjoyment, including Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, a 24-hour cinema (there’s another in T3) and music videos at the MTV Booth. Smaller kids can squeal their way down the four-storey tall corkscrew slide (T3) and for every $10 spent at Changi you get a free pass.
There's also five gardens in the three terminals and there’s not a plastic plant among them. You’ll find 500 bright yellow faces at the rooftop Sunflower Garden (T2), 700 orchids of 30 species at the Orchid Garden (T2) and 100 species of cacti and other arid plants, as well as a bar at the rooftop Cactus Garden. Then there’s the seasonal and themed floral displays at the Piazza Garden (T1) and the 1000 butterflies, lush greenery and six-metre waterfall at the Butterfly Garden (T3).
Take in a quick pamper at Airport Wellness Oasis (T1) one of eight massage salons inside Changi and make sure you try the fish tickle treatment for your tired feet. You’ll also find massage chairs scattered all over the airport and dedicated free Snooze Lounges in all terminals.