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Changi International Airport
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIt’s not hard to see why Singapore’s Changi Airport has been awarded the top prize in the prestigious SkyTrax’s World Airport Awards, for three years running. Along a comprehensive array of services, it also boasts an impressive list of extras aimed solely at the enjoyment and relaxation of transiting passengers. Here, you’ll find a glorious butterfly garden, a sublime rooftop pool; various movie theaters, a wealth of indoor landscaping; amazing transit lounges, and even fantastic beauty spas. In fact there is so much stuff to see and do in this beautiful airport, that it warrants a full day tour of its own accord.
Along with those of Bangkok and Hong Kong, Changi handles the largest volume of passengers in Southeast Asia, with an estimated 54 million people transiting through it every year. This makes Changi the fifth busiest aviation hub in the world. The international airport is serviced by more than a hundred airlines and can connect you to just over 300 destinations worldwide. It is the main hub for the premium Singapore Airlines, Jetstar Asia, and Tigerair, among a few other smaller, local carriers.
Changi has been operational for more than 30 years and, in this time, has won over 450 industry awards. Unlike Hong Kong's HKG, which seems to have been built for practicality, Singapore Airport’s manages to retain the same practicalities as well as incorporating stunning architecture and interior decoration. Constant renovations have allowed it to remain right at the top of its game.
This airport boasts three extensive passenger terminals, all built next to each other for ease of access. Although walking between them is effortless, the terminals boast an automated people mover for greater ease and speed. The airport is connected to the city’s MRT System which makes getting to and fro incredibly easy.
- The busiest day on record was the 20th December, 2014, when the airport serviced 186,000 passengers.
- With over 350 shopping outlets and more than 120 food outlets (many of which are before passport control), the airport is rated as one of the city’s best ‘dining and shopping’ destinations.
- The Butterfly Garden is home to more than 1,000 colorful butterflies, of 400 different species.
- There is a lovely sunflower garden on the 2nd floor of Terminal 2.
- There are extensive and very good kids’ playgrounds at each of the three terminals.
- The Social Tree (T1) is a place where you can take photos of your loved ones, and from where you can download directly onto your social media accounts.
Visitor Information & ServicesAll three terminals are equipped with several visitors’ information desks where you can pick up a plethora of info and maps on the city and all it has to offer. Aside this, there are several entertainment outlets to help while away the transit hours:
Aviation GalleryAn interesting display of model planes and interactive games to keep kids enthralled for a while. Free of charge.
Entertainment Deck: a multi-faceted area with Xbox Games, musical jam sessions, quiet music appreciation area, movie theatre and MTV music video screen. Free of charge.
3D Experience ZoneA large collection of 3D games to play and movies to watch. Free of charge.
ZonexYet more arcade games aimed at children of all ages and, you guessed it, free of charge!
Slide at T3Fastest way to descend four floors, show receipt for a S$10 ($7.40) purchase at the airport and you slide for free.
Movie Theatersall three terminals boast free movie theaters showing the latest movie releases.
Live MusicHead to O’Leary Sportsbar in T2 where live bands play between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
GardensThere are several gardens at Changi Airport, which are wonderful places for a relaxing stroll. They include the above-mentioned sunflower and butterfly gardens, as well as a bamboo, fern, and cactus gardens.
City TourThe airport offers two free, two-hour long city tours without the need to get a visa (for certain nationalities). One daytime and one night-time tour are on offer.
ATM & Currency ExchangeAll three terminals are equipped with a multitude of ATMs and 24-hour currency exchange booths.
Airport Transfers in/from city centreOne of the main reasons Changi has been awarded top awards for years, is that it boasts the best infrastructure for getting in and out quickly, if that is what you wish. The airport is 20kms out of the city center, and staff at the 24-hour Ground Transport Desk can help you book shuttle buses and private transport to your chosen destination.
By ShuttleThe shuttle service on offer from the Ground Transport Desk costs S$9 ($6.66) per person and stops at all major hotels city-wide.
By BusPublic bus 36 services all three terminals and reaches Singapore, far and wide. Fares cost S$2 ($1.48) per person and buses run every 10 minutes. A ride into town should take about an hour or so.
By Rental CarDriving in and around Singapore is infinitely easier than doing the same in Bangkok or Hong Kong. You’ll find several rental car companies represented at the Arrivals Halls of all three terminals.
By MRTThere are two MRT stations at Changi Airport, on the basement levels of T2 and T3. Follow ‘Train to the City’ signs and you’ll find the access points in both terminals. You can buy tickets from vending machines. You can either purchase a single fare ticket or a multi-day card, which is your best options if you’re staying in town for a few days and plan to get around by electric train.
By TaxiDespite the ease of access of all other transport options, hopping in a cab is still the fastest and most convenient of all. A fare to the city should cost between S$20 ($15) and S$30 ($22).
Food & RefreshmentsChangi is home to hundreds of retail and dining outlets, which are somewhat evenly spread about the three terminals. There are so many eateries here, that we recommend you download a guide to the airport’s dining scene if you have several transit hours up your sleeve. This aspect of the airport is what puts all others to shame, yet it’s not just quantity for which Changi excels, but also quality. There are some truly fantastic places to eat here, including Asian noodle shops, Italian pizzerias and phenomenal seafood restaurants.
ShoppingShopping aficionados are going to have a field at Changi, an airport which boasts about as many shopping outlets as it does dining and drinking ones. If you’re not into shopping, but need to pick up some duty free, then take advantage of iShopChangi, a great online service which allows you to do your duty free shopping remotely and before you travel, and simply pick up your goodies on your way to your boarding gate.
WiFi/Internet accessWiFi is free throughout all terminals, and you’ll also find more than 500 internet spots is you’re travelling without a laptop.
Transfer LoungesOnce you’ve had your dose of entertainment, shopping and dining, you can head to one of Changi’s many transfer lounges, which are quiet places where you can catch a shuteye. Each terminal boasts two Rest Areas, equipped with reclining, leather lounges.
Paid LoungesThere are seven lounges at Changi which are accessible by economy class paying passengers, for a nominal daily fee. all of them offer equally great services like meals, showers, WiFi, beverages, television, and reading materials. Prices vary between S$20 ($15) and S$30 ($22) depending on the lounge, with the Wellness Airport Oasis being the most expensive.
- T1: Skyview, Rainforest and Wellness lounges.
- T2: Green Market and Ambassador Transit lounges.
- T3: Ambassador Transit and the Haven by JetQuay lounges.
Airport HotelsAlthough there are certainly worse things to do than spend a whole night at Changi Airport, there are three very good transit hotels at your disposal should you wish to have a few quiet hours to yourself. The Ambassador Transit Hotels (one in each terminal) are accessible from the arrivals lounge BEFORE you pass through customs. Want to plunge into that delightful rooftop pool? Then the transit hotel in T1 is the one you’ll want to book. For you info, do note that you can access the pool even if you’re not staying at the hotel, by paying a few of S$14 ($10), which will grant you access to the pool and shower facilities.
If you have a very early flight and want to stay nearby, then opt for the Crown Plaza Hotel, which is just off T3 and linked via skywalk. This hotel also offers day rates.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Apr 06, 2015