Singapore, Changi Terminal 3 – designed with a true traveller in mind

Where do I start?
Well, the question you first have to ask yourself before coming to Changi Airport, Terminal 3 (IATA: SIN) is: how much time do I have? This could be one of the few airports you actually wish to be delayed in. Of course many passengers (37.7 Million passed through the airport in total in 2008) transit through Singapore between flights so typically have between 2 – 6 hours to spend and, oh boy, can they be spent well!

The next question is, what mood are you in?
Tired from your previous flight? Go to one of the many quiet zones throughout the terminal or chill out while getting a foot massage in one of the countless, free foot massage chairs throughout the terminal. Or watch a Koi feeding at the Koi pond which you find on the runway side of the terminal.
Need to spend the remaining cash? Visit the only FIFA store in an airport anywhere in the world and stock up on 2010 World Cup merchandise.
Interested in nature and the environment? Go to the butterfly garden and watch 1,000 butterflies of 47 species swirl around the outdoor exhibit. You’ll find it roughly in the middle of the Terminal on the runway side (see the interactive map for more details on how to get there).

Changi’s Terminal 3 not only gives you a wonderful experience, it thinks on a much bigger scale!. The airport’s flagship terminal, opened in January 2008, also puts a mark on its environmentally friendly approach. For example, the ceiling includes 919 panels to direct the incoming sunlight, therefore, reducing the need for artificial lighting thus conserving massive amounts of electricity. Furthermore in the middle of the massive terminal you will see a 5 storey high and 300m wide live green wall, made of plants (see picture). The green wall is visible from both the departing and the arriving side of the structure making the airport green in the truest sense of the word. That and the meticulously designed sound proofing elements of the airport make your travel experience a truly calm and enjoyable one.

Okay, let’s do the top list but other than my usual ritual of giving you just one list, here are 3 depending on how much time you have at hand:

Under 2 hours

  • Grab a quick espresso and a chocolate treat from the only Guylian Belgium Chocolate cafe in an airport
  • Men: Enjoy the views from the urinals in the pristine toilets of the main section of the terminal
    Women: Check out the “powder room” and work on your soon to be pretty faces. You will find the entrance just below the escalators to the SilverKris lounge
  • Grab a quick foot massage in one of the many free massage chairs
  • Go to the butterfly garden and watch the beautiful creatures feast on the flower and fruit nectar provided- a must see!
  • Quickly check your new email messages on one of the 500 free internet kiosks across the 3 terminals (and decide to answer them later)

2 to 5 hours
All of the above plus

  • Go shop-aholic and check out the numerous retail outlets neatfully aligned in sections by category
  • Grab a movie in the terminal’s own and free movie theatre (tipp: go there first and check out what movie you’d like to see and plan your time around that)
  • Retrieve to one of the quiet zones and nap for a bit
  • Check out the sculpture in the “A gates” zone arrival hall called “coming home” (it’s visible from the departure section too)
  • Find all the “green elements” of this clever airport design (challenge question: what are the nuzzles you see throughout the airport, above head hight and why are they where they are?)
  • (Re-)check your email and decide to respond to a few this time (see “under 2 hours”, above)

More than 5 hours
All of the above and/or

  • Consider purchasing lounge access at the Ambassador Transit Lounge (which also contains sports equipment for your immediate workout needs)
  • Book yourself into the Transit hotel upstairs; they sell rooms in 6-hour blocks
  • Go on a free City tour around Singapore (they depart in 2 hour blocks from 9am to 4pm and you won’t have to go through immigration)
  • Cross over to Terminal 1 for a swim in the rooftop pool (you didn’t forget to pack your swimsuit, did you? Don’t worry if you did, there are plenty of retail shops selling you a new pair!)
  • If you’re in a group – challenge each other on who can make a full round tour around the 3 terminals quicker (one group clockwise, one anti-clockwise)

If you do have more time and don’t mind queuing the 20 or so minutes it took me both times for immigration, then do go into Singapore. The city is only a 30 minute, very affordable taxi ride away. Let’s face it, you have to be able to tell your friends you’ve enjoyed a Singapore sling in the world renown Raffles Hotel on your stopover!

Airport Facts and Ratings

Airport Name Singapore Changi Airport, Terminal 3
Design Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Point
Shopping Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Point
Toilets Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Point
Overall Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Plane Award Point
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum, 100ml at the Duty Free Shop S$ 168 (£74.20)
Bottle of Veuve Cliquot at the Duty Free Shop S$ 95 (£41.95)

[Picture from Changi Airport Group – all rights reserved]