More Than Just an Airport Why Changi Airport Is the Best
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More Than Just an Airport: Why Changi Airport Is the Best 

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Changi Airport constantly tops “Best Airports in the World” lists. Skytrax is the most renowned company that reviews and ranks airports, and recently, they crowned Changi Airport as the World’s Best Airport in 2023

This isn’t the first time Changi Airport was given the title. In fact, it also won this title in the past few years. 

But what makes Changi Airport so great? This article discusses all the reasons why Changi Airport is the best, and if you’re a first-time visitor, you can also find tips to make your travel experience smooth and hassle-free! 

All About Changi Airport

Located on Airport Boulevard in Changi, the Singapore Changi Airport—more commonly known as Changi Airport—is the major international airport that serves Singapore. It serves over 100 airlines, making it one of the world’s busiest airports.

Changi Airport actually wasn’t the first international airport in Singapore. The first airport was Kallang Airport, which began operations in 1937, and then it was transferred to Paya Lebar, which opened in 1955 and only had a single runway and a small terminal.

The airport’s location was changed once again because Paya Lebar was constantly facing congestion problems. Paya Lebar was also an area with potential for urban growth, so the government decided to make a new airport. 

After deliberation, they settled on making a new airport on the existing site of Changi Air Base. Once Changi Airport became the main international airport, the one at Paya Lebar was renamed Paya Lebar Air Base and is now only used for military purposes. 

How many terminals does Changi Airport have?

As of now, Changi Airport has four terminals, and they’re arranged in an elongated inverted “U” shape. Their locations are as follows:

  • Terminal 1—the northern end
  • Terminal 2—the eastern end
  • Terminal 3—the western end
  • Terminal 4—the southern end

Changi Airport is currently undergoing expansion for Changi East. Essentially, Changi East is a new area in the airport that spans 1,080 hectares and features additional features, such as:

  • Terminal 5
  • A three-runway system
  • New tunnels and other underground systems
  • Landside and aviation support facilities
  • The Changi East Industrial Zone

There’s no specific date for when Changi East will be completely finished, but the estimate is somewhere in the 2030s. 

Why is Changi Airport considered the best airport in the world?

Exceptional and Efficient Terminal Operations

Changi Airport is a world-class aviation hub. The terminals all have modern conveniences to make your experience as smooth as possible. 

Moreover, there are signs everywhere directing you to important destinations, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost. And of course, the employees are friendly and quick to act. 

Because of all these, coming to Changi Airport is a hassle-free experience. Even if you’re visiting during the holidays, you don’t need to stress about uncontrolled crowds or getting stuck in lines.

High-End Technology

The Changi Airport is designed for the future, and that’s why it features high technology in every aspect. 

One technological highlight is the foreign object debris (FOD) detection system, which detects foreign objects from the runways. I also like the automatic people mover (APM), which allows you to travel from one terminal to another in just a short amount of time.

With all these technological features, Changi Airport operates like a well-oiled machine.

High Safety and Security Standards

No matter how well-oiled the machine is, accidents and emergencies still happen, and luckily, the staff at Changi Airport takes safety and security seriously. 

When there are reports of an accident or emergency—for example, a fire—the security team will respond and deal with it in under a few minutes. Such quick thinking is really impressive, considering how busy the airport gets. 

In my opinion, the COVID-19 outbreak really showed how much the airport cares about people’s safety and security. They immediately abided with the precautionary measures, implemented plans to help the airport’s partners, and employees were retrained. 

Because of all this, Changi Airport was able to rebuild passenger confidence in just a few months. 

World-Class Shopping Experience

Most airports already have places for you to shop within the premises, but Changi Airport takes shopping to a whole new level by having Jewel Changi.

If you’re unaware, Jewel Changi is the crown jewel of Changi Airport. It’s a nature-themed entertainment complex and a shopping mall right in the middle of the airport, and it houses many shops and attractions. 

It even has the Rain Vortex, which is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, and you’ll never see a picture of Jewel Changi—or of Changi Airport, for that matter—without this iconic landmark.

With a floor area of 135,700 square meters, Jewel Changi just offers many opportunities for exploring and shopping, making it a great place to be if you’re on a layover.

An Impressive Array of Fancy Dining Options

Jewel Changi isn’t just a haven for shoppers; it’s also a food lover’s paradise. 

You will not believe the array of dining options here. There are over 100 eateries available! 

If you don’t know where to start with your food adventure in Changi Airport, here are my recommendations:

Membership ProgramWho Is It For?Price
Arteastiq Bistro
  • Sunday to Thursday: 10 am to 10 pm
  • Friday and Saturday: 10 am to 12 am
  • A fancy French restaurant nestled amidst lush greenery and offering panoramic views of the Rain Vortex
  • Must-tries include the Hokkaido scallop and squid ink spaghetti and the Monet tea
  • Tapas ClubMonday to Sunday: 10 am to 10 pm
  • Treat yourself to the delicious cuisine of the Iberian Peninsula.
  • I suggest you order the hearty paella, but you can also go for the Ibérico cold cuts and Spanish wines.
  • SampanmanMonday to Sunday: 10 am to 10 pm
  • Serving dishes inspired by the various ethnic groups in Southeast Asia
  • Known for their “boat seafood,” which features crabs, lobsters, prawns, and more
  • Perfect for sharing with a group
  • Hitoyoshi Izakaya
  • Sunday to Thursday: 10 am to 10 pm
  • Friday and Saturday: 10 am to 12 am
  • A cozy Japanese restaurant serving iconic, classic meals and innovative creations
  • If you don’t know what to order, you can never go wrong with the Hitoyoshi Premium Bento Set.
  • Coucou Hot PotMonday to Sunday: 10 am to 10 pm
  • A charming restaurant that takes you to the heart of Taiwan
  • I recommend trying the coconut chicken soup for its gentle sweetness and rich coconut flavor.
  • This restaurant is also perfect for sharing.
  • Chock-Full of Interesting Attractions and Fun Things to Do

    Aside from having a retail complex and a great array of restaurants, Changi Airport features many mini-attractions that will keep you busy.

    As of now, the airport has 44 attractions within its premises, and many of them are actually free! If you want to know my absolute favorites—both paid and free attractions—here they are: 

    Attraction Name Admission Fee Description
    Butterfly GardenFreeThe world’s first butterfly garden in an airport, with over 1,000 tropical butterflies across 40 species
    Cactus GardenFreeTransport yourself to a desert landscape filled with various species of cacti and other arid plants.
    ChandelierFreeA 16-meter play structure that lets you climb to your heart’s content
    Kinetic RainFreeA sculpture made up of 1,216 bronze droplets, it truly takes your breath away.
    Immersive WallFreeA panoramic LED display that showcases Singapore’s skyline and breathtaking landscapes
    The Slide at T3FreeAt 12 meters tall, it’s the tallest slide in Singapore and the world’s tallest slide in an airport!
    Bouncing Net
  • Adult Standard Rate: S$24.90
  • Child Standard Rate: S$19.90
  • A net meters up from the ground that makes you feel like you’re jumping to reach the sky
    Mirror Maze
  • Adult Standard Rate: S$18.90
  • Child Standard Rate: S$13.90
  • Get lost in a maze like no other. Aside from the maze, the ticket also gives you access to Canopy Park.
    Canopy ParkS$8 for both adults and childrenFeatures a variety of attractions, namely Discovery Slides, Foggy Bowls, Petal Garden, and Topiary Walk
    Changi Experience Studio
  • Adult Standard Rate: S$25
  • Child or Senior Standard Rate: S$17
  • Experience this exciting virtual world! Here, you can play interactive games, watch immersive shows, and much more digital goodness!

    Well-Connected to the Public Transportation System

    — From: bikingbella

    Another great thing about Changi Airport is that it’s well-connected to Singapore’s public transportation system

    The basement has a ton of bus bays. There’s also a Changi Airport MRT Station, and the arrival area comes with several taxi stands.

    If you prefer a much more hassle-free mode of transport, you can also easily book an airport transfer or a private hire car through Grab or any other ride-hailing app available in Singapore.

    Because of all this, it’s so easy to travel from the airport to your hotel or any other destination of your choosing.

    Committed to Sustainability 

    Last but not least, Changi Airport’s commitment to sustainability truly makes it stand out from the rest. We’re all aware that airplanes aren’t the most environment-friendly inventions, but the airport still puts in the effort to lower its carbon footprint.

    For starters, Changi Airport always adopts the best aviation technologies that make the least impact on the environment, and for another, there’s an Energy and Emissions Management team that tracks all the emissions within the premises.

    It also helps that many of the attractions within Changi Airport are green! 

    Tips When Visiting Changi Airport for the First Time

    Tips When Visiting Changi Airport for the First Time
    • Prepare all necessary documents. Make sure all your immigration documents and visa requirements are ready. 
    • Learn more about dutiable and prohibited items. Singapore has a list of goods and items that are either taxable or prohibited, so to avoid getting detained or fined, be sure to do your due diligence and research.
      • A few examples of taxable or prohibited items you might inadvertently bring to Changi Airport are pocket knives, bottles of alcohol, e-cigarettes, and pepper sprays.
    • Download ride-hailing apps. If you’re too tired to take public transportation, you can book a private ride for convenience.