Photo courtesy of Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport was just named the world’s best airport in 2015 by the World Airport Awards.
This is the third year that Changi took the top spot in Skytrax’s World Airport Awards, the most prestigious airport award in the industry.
Skytrax evaluates over 400 airports around the world for service, check-in, transfers, shopping, security, immigration, and more.
It’s no surprise that Changi took the No. 1 spot. The international transit hub has incredible amenities, like a butterfly garden, rooftop pool, movie theaters, hotels, spas, and showers, and even a four-story slide.
I visited the airport during a trip to Singapore a few years ago and had a chance to explore. The bottom line: This is a place where you’ll actually enjoy having a long layover.
Disclosure: Our trip to Singapore, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board.
The airport is an architectural marvel. The newest terminal, Terminal 3, was designed by CPG Consultants, in collaboration with Woodhead, Tierra Design and SOM, Bartenbach LichtLabor and Hugh Dutton & Associates.
Most passengers enter the airport at Terminal 3, the newest and largest terminal at Changi, which is where Singapore Airlines is based. At 380,000 sq. m., the terminal is spacious, with high ceilings and an open, airy feel.
There’s also a lush vertical garden here called the “Green Wall.” It has more than 20 varieties of plants, vines, and flowers growing on it.
It’s easy to get between terminals on the Skytrain.
One of the best things about Changi airport is its Balinese-themed outdoor rooftop pool, located in Terminal 1. Passengers can pay to use this pool for about $14. (It’s free for guests who are staying in the Ambassador Transit Hotel.)
You can watch planes take off and land directly from the pool garden.
The pool also has its own Tiki bar.
And its own fitness center (along with locker rooms, where you can shower after).
Each terminal has an Ambassador Transit Hotel, where passengers can rent hotel rooms for a minimum of six hours — perfect if you’re exhausted and have a long layover. Room rates start at S$76 for a 6-hour block and are charged hourly after that.
Rooms here look like normal hotel rooms, with two twin beds or one double bed, bathrooms, TVs, and desks. Some rooms have windows that look out onto the tarmac.
The airport has a nature trail, which encourages passengers to go outdoors and breathe in fresh air while at the airport. There are five gardens in the airport, including a rooftop sunflower garden.
There’s even an enclosed butterfly garden — the first such garden in an airport — which is home to butterflies, flowers, lush greenery, and a 6-meter (20-ft.) waterfall.
There’s lots of greenery inside the airport too.
There are free Internet terminals scattered throughout the airport, making it easy to stay in touch.
And free charging stations, where you can lock up your phone while it charges.
Everything here is technologically savvy—even the bathrooms. Each bathroom has an electronic monitoring system where passengers can rate the cleanliness of the bathroom. If you’re not happy with the service, simply tap the frowny face on the touchscreen monitor.
Then tap the reason why you’re unhappy with the bathroom, and a message will immediately be sent to the bathroom supervisor alerting them to the issue.
High-end designer shops, like Gucci, Burberry, and Hermes, keep shoppers occupied while they wait for their flights.
But there are also some more affordable shops, and lots of duty free stores.
There are tons of dining and drinking options. The airport even has an outpost of Singapore’s famous Harry’s Bar.
But I chose to eat at the sumptuous buffet in the first class lounge.
And had some dainty petit fours for dessert.
When you’re tired of eating, drinking and shopping, you can watch a movie. There are two movie theaters in the airport, which show a rotating roster of current movies.
There are plenty of play areas for kids.
Kids will love the awesome four-story, 40-ft. slide. If you spend $10 at any airport venue, you’re eligible to ride the slide.
The whole airport is designed to help people relax and to make the flying experience less stressful. You’ll find seating areas scattered throughout the airport with cushy chairs for napping, reading, or TV watching. The chairs were really comfortable.
Even the art exhibits are supposed to be soothing. This Kinetic Rain sculptural installation in Terminal 1 changes shape in a hypnotic dancing motion.
Changi is planning to build a new terminal (Terminal 4), which is slated to be completed in 2017.