Maybe it’s a sign that we have world-class airport facilities. Or maybe it’s a sign that Singaporeans are just bored. Whatever it is, Changi Airport is a legitimate weekend destination for those who’re tired of wandering through shopping malls.
But hanging out at the airport can be just as harmful for your wallet as being a mallrat. Because in true Singapore-style, the retail and F&B sections at the airport’s three (soon to be four) terminals are huge.
Here are seven free things to do at Changi Airport the next time you’re in the area. Best of all, these are all in the public area so you don’t even need to check in to a flight to enjoy them.
1. Check out the art
Yes, you heard that right. While your typical suburban estate is as featureless as a block of concrete, Changi Airport boasts a few interesting sculptures and installations.
Probably the best-known of these is the Kinetic Rain installation… you know, those hypnotic metal raindrops suspended from the ceiling which move in perfect synchrony? Everybody has stared at these after checking into their budget flights at Terminal 1.
Then there’s the Daisy sculpture in the Terminal 3 departure hall by German artist Christian Moeller. It looks like a massive red fan or windmill, and swivels around at random. Also at Terminal 3 is local artist Han Sai Por’s Floral Inspirations, huge, textured sculptures of seed pods.
2. Visit the Changi Aviation Gallery
Unbeknownst to even the most seasoned travellers, there is a little aviation-themed gallery on the top floor of Terminal 3, with various displays showcasing fun facts about aviation and Changi Airport itself.
There are also interactive exhibits to keep the fidgety ones amongst you busy, and kids tend to love clambering over the oddly-shaped displays.
3. Check out planes at the viewing gallery
Want to gaze upon the planes, wishing you were on one that would take you far, far away?
While you can’t view the runway from the public area, meaning seeing planes take off and land is impossible from the airport, there is a Viewing Gallery on level 3 of Terminal 1 that lets you view aircraft taxiing on the tarmac.
4. Take a ride on a giant slide
Changi Airport is home to the world’s tallest slide. This 12-metre / 4-storey tall slide enables people to reach speeds of up to 6 metres per second. This is probably the only way grown adults will get to slip down a slide without being looked upon as paedophiles/mentally-unsound.
You get one free ride on the slide each time you spend $10 in a single receipt.
5. Do some art rubbing
Want to get the kids to be quiet for 5 minutes without having to resort to the iPad?
On level 3 of Terminals 1 and Level B2 of Terminal 3, there are art rubbing stations where kids and adults can grab a sheet of paper and pencil, place them over the templates provided and rub their own imprints of rather elaborate Singapore-related scenes and graphics.
6. Watch planes take off and land
Okay, technically you can no longer observe the runway from Changi Airport itself. But there are a few spots in the surrounding area where you can grab a Tiger Beer and almost watch planes take off and land.
Changi Village, Changi Beach Park and the Eastern end of East Coast Park are close enough to the airport to let you see the planes up close as they roar overhead.
7. Check out a temporary exhibition
Events are constantly being held at Changi Airport. Last year, there was a big Pokémon event which saw a giant inflatable Pikachu holding court at Terminal 3.
Last month, there was a Nordic-themed event featuring cartoony Viking iconography, a kitsch rendering of Stockholm’s Old Town and performances by Hello Kitty and friends.
This month, check out the Hari Raya Aidilfitri Celebratory Displays, an impressive horticultural arrangement at Terminal 2.
What are your favourite things to do at Changi Airport? Tell us in the comments!