If you plan to travel to Asia or Australia there is a good chance that you will have a connecting flight in Singapore, at Changi Airport. Not just any airport, as it is hailed as the best in the world. We checked whether it actually deserves the name!
A note to start with: in order to judge whether an airport is the best in the world, it would be useful to see all the airports in the world, which somehow we have not yet managed to do :) However, we’ve seen a few, and we’ve had connecting flights at many of them, so we already have some strong benchmarks. We took as our starting point the ranking prepared by Skytrax, in which Singapore’s airport took the first position for the 6th year in a row!
When we think of all the BIGGEST things the first thing that comes to mind is Dubai. Although Dubai Airport is regarded as one of the largest in the world, and in 2017 was the leader in terms of international passenger numbers
, it does not necessarily win in ratings by travelers and in terms of convenience and amenities.
This is where Singapore Changi wins out, and when we planned our trip to Singapore we knew we would want to be at the airport far earlier than the suggested 2 hours before departure to see why this particular airport is the leader. Yes, at this airport you can even check in much earlier to take advantage of what awaits you behind “control” (early check-in is possible even 12 hours before your flight). We wanted to see how the airport operates, what can be done here, what are the facilities and technologies used, and whether families with children would also find some interesting attractions.
In this post, we’ll show you why Changi is considered the best airport in the world, and whether we even agree.
But let’s start with the fact that connecting in Singapore is a pleasure – we can spend half an hour, an hour or even a whole day here and believe me you will not be bored.
Of course, if you have all day it would be a sin to stay at the airport – we recommend at least popping over to Singapore itself, such as Gardens by the Bay. The airport also offers short, 2.5-hour free guided bus tours, so this could also be an interesting option for you.
Table of contents
As soon as we entered the airport from the plane, after landing, the first thing that caught our attention was the ubiquitous vegetation and carpets. Although we didn’t have too much time to explore the airport (that’s what we left for the return trip), it was these two aspects that immediately caught our eye.
When we arrived at the airport again a week later, our attention was also focused on the vegetation. At no other airport have we seen so many trees, flowers and even entire gardens.
As in all of Singapore, everything here is almost sparkling from cleanliness. The floors sparkle, the playgrounds are in full working order, the toilets are clean and almost luxurious as in the best hotels. Here the passenger feels like a desirable customer, not a person to be disposed of as quickly as possible.
However, we were perhaps most surprised by the lack of baggage control at the transition to the terminals! Well, hand luggage is only checked at individual gates! This is great for bringing in some drinks or toiletries that you may still need before departure (especially if you are traveling with a child and have more than the aforementioned 2 hours until departure).
There is no problem at all in discerning the airport plan. Everything is visible, we can easily find maps and directions on how to get to the gates or any other place in the airport that interests us.
There are currently 4 terminals in Singapore. They are connected by an automatic train that runs between them every few minutes. It is by far the slowest train we have ever ridden ;) You can also get between terminals on foot through long and wide corridors, with a moving floor, of course.
The overall first impression is that you don’t feel like a passenger to be quickly received, checked in and put on a plane. On the contrary, everything is planned and designed to spend more time here, take advantage of the amenities, and, of course, leave some dollars in the stores, restaurants or service points :)
What to do at the Singapore airport?
But let’s move on to the attractions that await us at the airport. Because it can also be quite a shock for you :) Importantly: except for the first item, all the others are free!
First of all, the pool! Yes, you can jump in your bathing suit or swimsuit here and use the pool! Unfortunately, this is an extra-fee attraction and you need to prepare in advance (you know, not everyone has flip-flops and a costume handy), but there is an opportunity to take a few extra rays of sunshine. Currently, the price to enter the pool is SGD 17, or just under 50 zlotys.
Secondly, during the stopover we can go to the cinema where we will see interesting and even brand new movies. And best of all, we’re not talking about one cinema hall here, but two! They are not some large rooms, but they are sufficient and the atmosphere in them is typically cinematic.
Third, here we can play on game consoles or watch TV in specially designated areas. And perhaps this type of entertainment is becoming more and more common at airports, here these console stands are plentiful, and access is completely free. Unfortunately, it must be admitted that out of the many consoles available anyway, several were incomplete or did not work well, but there were still many working and free ones.
We don’t need to mention that there are desktop computers with free Internet access waiting for passengers? ;)
However, if, like us, you are not interested in looking at the screen then we have good news. At the airport you can go to a butterfly farm, a garden with cacti or sunflowers. The butterfly room is a super option, not only for children. It is a two-story space, full of vegetation, where we can feel like we are in the tropics. Special fruit platters are spread out every piece, with beautiful, colorful butterflies flying into them.
There’s also a garden with cacti, which we reached after dark, so despite the token lighting we didn’t see too much, and the big downside was that smoking is allowed in this open space! Maybe in other conditions it would have been more interesting, but for us it was not extra pleasure, but for Olive it was sensational. We had to keep a strong watch that she did not approach the plants ;)
We liked the sunflower place better. Not only can we take a stroll among the sunflowers, but we can also admire planes taking off and landing from here.
In general, the airport is full of vegetation. In addition to the aforementioned gardens, which you have to deviate from the main routes at the airport to reach, even as you move between terminals or stores, you can find yourself in mini gardens with orchids and ponds.
The airport also features various works of art, including a mesmerizing kinetic rain, consisting of more than 1,200 parts! You can see what it looks like in this video.
However, we particularly liked one part of the airport – with interactive games, where you can, for example, play, dance and create your pixelated, black and white photo with the symbol of Singapore of your choice :) The photo taken later falls into your email.
Let’s not forget about shopping! We rather avoid the stores by a wide margin, and the only thing we buy at the airport is some food and drink, but here it is impossible to pass by the big, exclusive stores that exude wealth, glamour and technology. Although we didn’t look inside, the interesting illuminations and decorations are eye-catching.
However, it’s worth looking into electronics stores, where you can buy the latest brand-name equipment cheaper than in Poland.
However, if none of the above interests you, or you are most simply tired, you will find special loungers and relaxation areas where you can peacefully surrender to the arms of Morpheus.
Facilities for families with children
And finally, some baby amenities. In addition to the aforementioned attractions (cinema, consoles, butterfly house, gardens), you’ll find quite a few playgrounds here, and ones adapted even for the youngest.
So there are both smaller facilities with a few toys, unfenced, but there are also grazed so-called “monkey groves” with high slides. After a week’s stay in Singapore, we were not surprised that everything was clean and working, which, after all, rarely happens at airports ;) We ourselves, by the way, witnessed a man from the cleaning team come in to clean the coin toys. It wasn’t just running a rag over it, but scrubbing each item thoroughly with extreme precision.
For slightly older children (or rather, taller children, i.e., those at least 1.3 meters tall), the slide will be quite an attraction – the tallest in Singapore and the highest airport slide you can use for free if you spend at least $10 at the airport.
From the basic aspects, there are changing facilities in the restrooms, and you can use baby strollers at the airport, which have cool, high-mounted chairs.
And, let’s not forget that the airport has prepared a temporary special Harry Potter zone! How we wish they had done this about six months earlier :(
Anything else? :)
The airport does not stop developing. Another terminal, proudly named Jewel, is expected to open later this year, offering another amazing attraction and making connecting time not an inconvenience, but a pleasure.
Gardens, a special bridge in the treetops, a maze among greenery, exhibitions, original installations are planned here…. The visualizations are incredibly impressive and we are convinced that it will be a unique place.
Changi Airport is unique in many ways, but what surprised us most is that the passenger is the most important thing here. Starting with details like carpets so you can’t hear the clatter of heels, relaxation areas, to gardens, playgrounds and entertainment centers. We have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy so many interesting attractions at any airport.
What is the verdict? Of all the airports we have seen so far, Singapore Airport is the undisputed winner of our mini ranking :) The business goal has been achieved – if we travel to Asia, it is Singapore airport that we will choose as a transfer port.
Read more about Singapore and what to see in our post Singapore – TOP 9 places you must see!
We also recommend our gallery of all photos from the airport: