Why Singapore’s Changi Airport is Worth More than Just a Long Layover

Even the most experienced travelers typically don’t think of airports as fun places. But Singapore’s Changi Airport is the exception to the rule.

I wish my six hour layover had been longer. Truthfully, I think I’d enjoy spending a weekend at the airport.

Jewel and the Rain Vortex should be your first stop. The world’s tallest indoor waterfall, you can get here from any airport terminal. (It’s connected to terminals 1, 2, and 3.  Terminal 4 runs a shuttle to Terminal 2.)

Once there you can stroll on aerial walkways or bounce on giant nets in the sky. The Forest Valley – all of that beautiful green – boasts more than 2-thousand trees and palms and more than 100-thousand shrubs. What you can’t see in my picture, behind all that green, is the hundreds of stores where you can go shopping and eat in the mall.

There are early check-in counters and baggage storage facilities, but there is also a supermarket, so this isn’t just for folks flying through. Locals come here too. It’s a destination in its own right.

The world’s first butterfly garden in an airport is also in Singapore. More than a thousand butterflies call this lush spot in Terminal 3 home. The butterflies are the star attraction, but the flowering plants in the garden are worthy of attention as well. There’s lot of opportunities to get a close up look, and it’s simply a nice calm quiet spot to be, right in the center of the airport.

You can feel kind of cooped up in an airport, so any chance to step outside is typically welcome, especially when you can stroll through a sunflower garden where there’s about 500 sunflowers in full glory. Most of the plants are grown in the airport’s plant nursery. Started from seed, depending on conditions and the variety, the sunflowers take about 90 days to grow before being brought to the garden to bloom and impress.

If you’re just connecting through Singapore, and have never been before, the airport has found the perfect way to convince you to come back. They run  free guided tours of Singapore to give you a taste of what you’re missing.

If you have at least 5.5 hours to spare until your flight, you can join a free 2.5 guided bus tour. The bus tours runs seven times a day with itineraries that include a couple short photo stops at famous landmarks like Merlion Park and the Gardens by the Bay. It’s a quick taste of Singapore, and it might help tire you out a bit for the long ride home.

If you’re already simply too tired to think about any of this, don’t feel guilty, just go see a movie. Free screenings run 24 hours a day in two theaters. (One’s in Terminal 2 the other in Terminal 3.)

Or how about a swim? There’s a small cost – $12.50 for three hours – but plane spotting from a pool comes with bragging rights.

Or you can find a nice place to sit and watch the koi fish, or maybe sit next to the orchid garden.

I ran out of time and didn’t get to ride on the world’s tallest slide in an airport. So I guess I’m going back to Singapore.

For more about Dana’s adventures and writing, follow her on Instagram @danarebmann and Twitter @drebmann. You can also visit her website.

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