changi airport singapore orchid garden

What to do in Changi Airport for free? Things to do while waiting for flight

Changi Airport in Singapore is not just any airport – it’s a world-class destination in itself. With its state-of-the-art facilities, award-winning services, and endless entertainment options, Changi Airport is a traveler’s dream come true.

And the best part? You don’t have to spend a dime to enjoy the airport’s many attractions. In this article, we’ll show you how to make the most of your layover or transit time by exploring the many free things to do at Changi Airport.

From art installations to rooftop gardens, there’s something for everyone at this iconic airport. So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover the hidden gems of Changi Airport – without breaking the bank!

READ: 3 DAYS IN SINGAPORE: BEST PLACES TO VISIT


What is Changi Airport famous for?

Singapore’s international airport is one of the most famous and busiest airports worldwide. Aside from being an airport, it’s also a tourist destination, especially when Jewel Changi was opened in 2019. Its 40-meter-high waterfall is the centerpiece, surrounded by verdant beauty.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT TO CHANGI AIRPORT:


Getting to Changi Airport Singapore from the city

Coming from downtown Singapore, getting to the airport is easy. Just board the MRT and voila! You’ll be arriving at the basement of Changi airport.

You can also go by bus by hopping on to the 36 (A/B) bus that will take you to the airport.

To check out the train schedules: SMRT schedule

To check out the fares: the SG transport fare calculator

Traveling with a group? Check out these airport transfer options:

Klook.com

Getting around Changi Airport

Changi Airport has 4 terminals. And that means, you need to be prepared to walk. A lot! So put on your comfiest shoes, and explore all that Changi can offer.

To get to the other terminals, you can opt to take the Skytrain, free shuttle bus, or walk via the travellators. Since I love trains, of course you know which one I took. It takes only four minutes to get to the other terminal, so relish the view outside.

Skytrain connecting terminals 1 to 3 operates from 5 AM to 2:30 AM. The Skytrain is free and you can access it from Transit Hall and Public Area.

There is also a free Transit Shuttle Bus between T2 (Gate E) and T3 (Gate B) that operates from 2:30 AM to 5 AM. Transit Shuttle Buses between T2 and T4 are operational 24 hours for passengers with a valid onward boarding pass.

By the way, much of this airport is carpeted so there is less noise and walking felt more comfortable for me.


Personal experience

When I first flew through SIN, there were 6 hours left before my flight back to Penang and I intentionally arrived early because I heard that Singapore’s Changi Airport is a destination unto itself.

I have since flew through and from Singapore Changi Airport multiple times and it remains as my favorite airport because of the multitude of things to do and experience in the airport.

This airport has been voted as the World’s Best Airport multiple times in a row and is a favorite among my traveler friends. So how did I spend the remaining hours before departure at Changi Airport Singapore? Find out below.


Top things to do for free at Changi Airport

  • Explore Jewel Changi Airport (HSBC Rain Vortex & Canopy Bridge)
  • Check out the Butterfly Garden
  • Ride down one of the slides inside Changi Airport
  • Relax in the free-to-use rest areas & snooze lounges scattered around the terminals
  • Watch a free movie
  • Go on an art tour and check out the art installations
  • Get some sun at the Sunflower Garden
  • Enjoy a free massage on the massage chairs
  • Play arcade games at T4 Entertainment Corner

What is there to do at Changi Airport for free? [Attractions]

So now, what can you see and do to pass the time? Take your pick from the multitudes of free maps available around Changi Airport and choose from there. There are also machines like below that can give you suggestions on what you can do for the number of hours you have until your departure. It prints out the info on a sheet of paper.

You can also download Changi Airport’s mobile app or check the maps on the website.

explore changi airport singapore
Have your Changi airport itinerary printed from these machines!

Changi Airport Terminal 2

  • Enchanted Garden – T2 Transit Hall
  • Sunflower Garden – T2 Transit Hall
  • Viewing Malls – Public area
  • The Wonderwall – Public area
  • Free-to-use rest areas – Transit

NOTE: The northern wing of T2 will be fully completed by 2024. The below zones were still present in 2019.

  • Orchid Garden – T2 Transit Hall – 24 hours
  • Movie Theatre
  • Entertainment Deck
  • Children’s playground
  • Experience Zone

Since I only had a few hours, I decided to check out the greenery first in Terminal 2. The Enchanted Garden will surely put you in a trance with the sounds of nature and the stained glass-laden giant flower sculptures filled with fresh flowers and greens.

The Orchid Garden meanwhile, reminded me of my mom and grandmother, being the orchid lovers that they are. You can find more than 700 orchids here in different varieties! There’s a koi pond as well.

Fun fact: Singapore’s national flower is an orchid – Vanda Miss Joaquim!

changi airport enchanted garden
Enchanted Garden at Changi

I searched for the Sunflower Garden and was so happy to see them even with the harsh midday sun. Luckily, there were no other people around so I finally got to take some selfies as well. It would have been relaxing to stay here if only it was an overcast day.

These sunflowers feature different varieties that are grown in the airport’s nursery.

changi airport sunflower garden
Sunflower Garden T2 Transit Hall – Changi Airport Singapore

Stumbled on the Entertainment Deck by accident from the Sunflower Garden and was happy to see the Movie Theatre (also available in Terminal 3). But alas, it was quite full when I checked inside. Lots of sleeping people though. The Entertainment Deck also offers XBOX, MTV booth, PlayStation, and a small cafeteria.

While in Terminal 2, I also passed by a children’s playground, snooze lounges which are all occupied, and art rubbing station which are all available in other terminals as well. There is also the Experience Zone where you can sit in comfy chairs while watching your favorite news or sports.

Changi Airport Terminal 3

  • Butterfly Garden [T3 Transit Hall – open 24 hours]
  • The Slide
  • Crystal Garden (sculpture)
  • CLIMB (Basement 3)
  • Free to use rest areas
  • Movie theatre (Level 3, Departure Transit Hall)
  • Play Area (Basement 2)

You can find the tallest slide in an airport in Terminal 3, Level 1. Max height is around 6 feet so unleash the kid in you!

There is also a Butterfly garden with around 1,000 butterflies from more than 40 species!

NOTE: The below zones might not be present anymore in Changi Airport

For those who want to get a little buzz, The Long Bar by Raffles at DFS Wines & Spirits offers free cocktail tastings such as Singapore Sling.

Koi lovers can find the Koi Pond at T3 Transit Hall. Kids can also feed them during feeding time!

changi airport singapore at 50
Singapore @ 50

Changi Airport Terminal 1

  • Arrival Garden
  • Cactus Garden
  • Discovery Garden
  • Kinetic Rain
  • Piazza Garden
  • Tropical Rainforest Vivarium
  • Water Lily Garden
  • Aerobar by Aerotel
  • Play Area

Cactus garden [T1 Transit Hall] and the art installation Kinetic Rain are the popular ones in Terminal 1. Other gardens include the Piazza garden, Water Lily garden, and Sculptural Tree garden. There is also an outdoor rooftop pool with jacuzzi (SGD 17) if you want to take a dip at the Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel.

The Social Tree is an interactive installation where you can have your photo taken and displayed on the screen.

Changi Airport Terminal 4

Opened in October 2017, Terminal 4 has reopened since September 2022.

  • Chandelier – art installation & playground (Transit)
  • Entertainment Corner
  • Heritage Zone
  • art and sculptures – Hey, Ah Chek!, Immersive Wall, Les Oiseaux, Petalclouds, Singapore Rojak, Steel in Bloom, Travelling Family
  • Free-to-use rest areas

Other amenities and services

Aside from the mentioned above, there is a multitude of amenities and services that Changi airport offers for all kinds of travelers.

  • Changi Airport Wifi

There is free Wi-Fi (fast!) which you can connect to – WiFi@Changi. There are also internet stations on all the terminals. If you cannot connect to the complimentary WiFi using your mobile phone, just head to one of the WiFi Password Kiosks you can find around the airport. You can also approach Information counters.

Free Wifi Kiosk Changi Airport
one of the free WiFi kiosks at Terminal 3 Changi Airport
  • Changi Airport Shopping

And if you’re fond of shopping, then the Duty-Free shops will surely be a good choice for you. You can even shop online at www.ishopchangi.com. You can shop Duty-Free for up to 30 days and at least 18 hours before your flight. You can even enjoy free delivery in Singapore when you spend above $380 on selected products.

There is also a Travelers Box at Terminals 1 & 3 where you can get travel essentials like SIM Cards or even win raffle prizes.

  • How do I check my flight details?

You can check the status of departing flights through the Changi airport website, mobile app [iOS | Android], flight information screens and kiosks.

  • Where can you sleep inside Changi Airport?

Snooze lounges are available at Terminals 1 -4. You can also choose to check in at the following hotels inside the airport:

Massage chairs at Changi Airport

I was looking for the massage chairs all around (recommended by a friend) but couldn’t find them. I was jumping for joy when I saw these leg massage chairs near my departure gate. Good for my sore and aching feet from walking all around!

You can find the leg massage chairs in Terminals 1, 2, and 3. The full-body massage chairs can be found in Terminal 3.

changi airport massage chair
excuse my feet’s tan lines! hehe

Changi Airport Lounge Access

Do you want to enjoy the benefits of the premium lounges in the airport before your flight but you don’t have a Priority Pass or Lounge Pass? Check out these Klook offers:

Klook.com

You can indulge in local delicacies, relax away from the crowd, and make use of the workstations. You can also take a shower at these paid lounges inside Changi Airport.

Are you a frequent traveler? Join Priority Pass so you can enjoy airport lounges across the world! Plus, savings on airport shopping, dining, and spa experiences.


Free Singapore Tour

If you are spending a long layover in Changi Airport (at least 5.5 hours and less than 24 hours), then you definitely should take advantage of the Free Singapore Tours – Heritage Tour, Changi Precinct Tour and City Sights Tour. Both are guided tours that run for 2.5 hours with 2 stopovers.

Where to register:

  • Terminal 2 Transit (Level 2, Departure Transit Hall (Near Gate F50)
  • Terminal 3 Transit (Level 2, Departure Transit Hall (Near Gate A1-A8)

How about your luggage? You can leave them at the Left Baggage for a fee.

Registration details, eligibility requirements and tour timings can be found in this link.

street view of little india singapore

Where to eat at Changi Airport

Of course, you’re going to get hungry! And don’t you worry for there are countless dining options throughout the four terminals. Terminal 1 has 26 restaurants and cafe, while Terminal 2 has 41, and Terminal 3 has 39 dining choices.

From local brands to fast food chains, coffee shops, and a multitude of cuisines, you will not get hungry, as long as you have money to spend! πŸ˜‰

If you’re on a budget, look for the locals’ open secret: the airport staff canteens at Terminals 1 and 2! Click here for directions. You can also check out the public food court in the basement of Terminal 3.

Japanese food lovers can eat their hearts out at ANA’s Japan Gourmet Hall SORA in Terminal 2 which has 7 stalls and can seat about 300 people. Other food halls can be found in Terminal 1 (Food Gallery Menu of Colors) and Terminal 3 (Singapore Food Street).

Click here for the Changi Airport Dining Directory.

changi airport merlion

Jewel Changi Airport

Jewel Changi officially opened to the public on April 17, 2019. It features the world’s tallest indoor waterfall called Rain Vortex as well as an indoor forest. Jewel also has a hotel, IMAX cinema, and lots of dining outlets. The donut-shaped structure is designed by Moshe Safdie.

Image credit: Instagram @changiairport

How to get to Jewel Changi?

  • From Terminal 1, you can reach Jewel’s North Entrance through the Arrival Hall at Level 1
  • From Terminal 2 and 3, head to Departure Hall Level 2 and take the escalator to level 3 to get to the link bridge to Jewel
  • From Terminal 4, there is a complimentary 24-hour Airport Shuttle Bus to T2 then follow the instructions above
link bridge from terminal 3 to jewel changi
From Terminal 3, take the link bridge to Jewel (on the left side of the picture)

What to expect at Jewel?

  1. Check-in early at the Jewel Changi Early Check-In Lounge (check if your airline is eligible)
  2. Have your picture taken with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the HSBC Rain Vortex, which also has a free light and sound show at night. [Mon – Thu: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM; Fri – Sun, including PH: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM]
  3. Check out the 4 levels of Shiseido Forest Valley which features different plant species from around the world. [Open 24 hours – free – luggage not allowed]
  4. 5th level attractions require admission tickets
    • Canopy Park – SGD 5 (includes Discovery Slide, Foggy Bowls, Petal Garden, Topiary Walk) – 9 AM to 3 AM
    • Canopy Bridge – SGD 8 (9 AM to 3 AM)
    • Manulife Skynets Bouncing – SGD 22 (includes Canopy Park attractions)
    • Manulife Skynets Walking – SGD 15 (includes Canopy Park attractions)
    • Hedge Maze – SGD 12 (includes Canopy Park attractions)
    • Mirror Maze – SGD 15 (includes Canopy Park attractions)
  5. Lots of shopping, food, and entertainment options.
  6. You can also sleep in YOTELAIR CHANGI, located on the 4th level of Jewel Mall.
  7. Learn more about Changi Airport at the Changi Experience Studio on the 4th level
  8. Try Singaporean and other Asian cuisine at the Jewel Changi Food Court (FOOD REPUBLIC)
Klook.com

Travel resources

Before you fly, don’t forget to book the following:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Have you been to Changi Airport? What was your experience like? 

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Darlene is currently on the road again and traveling full-time after being an expat/overseas Filipino worker in Qatar. She's rediscovering what it means to travel solo and in her 30s while working on her blogs.

Comments

  • I’ve not visited Singapore yet. Part of the reason I want to visit is due to its amazing airport! What was your favourite part? When I make a stopover there I’m going to strategically plan a long layover. How long would you recommend spending there?

  • Maureen

    Hi. I’ll be arriving at changi airport at 12 am. Is it ok to stay there till 6am? Thank you. First time to travel to singapore. ??? Cant wait to go there. Thanks to your review.

    • Yeah no problem. Enjoy Changi Airport’s facilities. πŸ™‚ I suggest you try the cinema, or the snooze chairs πŸ˜‰ there are also paid transit hotels inside the airport.

  • Wow. I never expected this from an airport! An airport with gardens? Crazy! But so cool! I bet it’s nice to actually wait for your flight there, in contrary to most airports!

  • I didn’t know Changi Airport have these facilities. Everyone raves about this airport and I can totally see why! It’s an adventure in itself ! I love the sunflower garden and the orchids.

  • This airport is INCREDIBLE! We were delayed here once and didn’t notice at all! Spent too much time shopping and sitting in massage chairs! Love!

  • Catherine

    This is amazing! I love the sunflower garden and the orchids. Shame you actually have to catch a flight to enjoy this very cool airport, would be a great place to hang out for fun! Lovely photos.

  • Kirstin

    Great recap!
    I’m looking forward to my layover in Singapore almost as much as my holiday itself πŸ™‚ will be sure to check out all your great tips when I’m there.

  • I lived in Singapore for three months so spent many many hours in Changi airport. It wasn’t bad at all! I remember the time I finally found the movie theater, they were showing the Secret Life of Walter Mitty — how apropos! Useful info!

  • Kristine Li

    I had a lot of fun at the sunflower gardens when I went up, though it was many years ago. Now I mostly go there to dine or chill or to take off! Glad you had fun and thanks for featuring our airport!

  • Around two decades ago, I worked in Trade Winds Inc., which is a general sales agent for SilkAir (MI) and Singapore Airlines (SQ). Even at that time, Changi Airport was already renowned for being a destination in itself. It has accolades including one of the best airports in the world.

    If I get stranded here, I wouldn’t mind. I wouldn’t go out even. There are so many things to see and do in that airport alone.

  • Everyone raves about this airport and I can totally see why! It’s an adventure in itself! I’d love to see the enchanted garden. I need to make my way to Singapore just for the airport hahaa

  • I didn’t know Changi Airport have these facilities. Too bad I wasn’t able to experience it when I went to SG. Maybe next time! hahaha

  • I had an 8 hour layover here and did not even feel it one bit. Thanks to all these attractions at Changi. I had a blast visiting the various gardens here. The best is unlike other airports, I did not even have to indulge in shopping. The themed gardens were good enough. Loved your post on this.

  • ay leg massage was the best here! haha Singapore airport is just so world class. No wonder it’s always on the top list! I haven’t really roamed around this airport and I wish I have a long time lay over here to take advantage of everything for free! hooolaa! hahaha

  • I didn’t see the sunflower garden. Well actually I didn’t see too much at the Airport. Because its so huge and I feel lazy to walk. hahaha. Regardless, I super love this airport because of its free strong wifi connection and comfortable chairs too πŸ˜‰

  • Do I have to pay for the leg massage? Because I am so going to try that hahaha… I don’t think I will have enough time to sleep in Changi Airport, but let’s see. Can’t wait to go there already and see for myself why it’s considered the world’s best airport. So far, I haven’t really seen anything different from the other airports apart from the connection with the train in Japan. And the airports with shops, that’s common. But one with a cinema, and a butterfly garden? Now that I haven’t heard of before.

    • Leg massage is also free! And it’s so easy to get lost in Changi and lose track of time so I really recommend the maps.

  • Changi airport is considered one of the best in the world (read somewhere recently). I recall having to walk a lot but they were so creative with the decor. The kids had a great time there. I suspect, each time you are there – they have something to surprise you with !

    • Hi Swati, it’s been voted World’s Best Airport for 5 years in a row now. As stated in my first paragraph. And yup, they are even going to open the terminal 4 this year.

  • Changi Airport is at its own class. Very unique and offers a lot for the visitors. Probably because the management has known that their airport is one with the most layovers. But then, I haven’t visited those areas you mentioned here because I had no layover flights yet! xD

    • Even if you’re not on a layover, you can still experience Changi airport’s facilities when you’re flying to and from Singapore

      • Esther Kinuta

        I wish to check out these themed gardens, but can i do so after arriving in changi? I noticed that the locations are ‘departure transit areas’. Tia for replying! Will be flying in on jul9.

        • Hi Esther! Yeah most of the attractions are in the Transit/Departure area. I think that would be possible if you don’t clear immigration and get your luggage immediately. However, doing so will result to your baggage being sent to the Lost & Found. Here’s a thread I found that can help you in this:

  • One word!! CINEMA!!

  • Indrani

    I have been there twice and enjoyed the interiors thoroughly. The orchids are a joy. I am unable to recollect the terminals though. It looks like lots have changed and time for another visit there.

  • minute details at every point in your writting tells about you being very particular person and being a traveller adds to the beauty of it.
    keep surprising us with these details.
    neatly done.

  • wow..the airport itself is nothing less than a park!! It is a really useful piece of information. Often we have connecting flights but the duration is not big enough to allow us to transit outside. So, knowing how best to spend our time inside the airport really helps

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