5 unlikely ways to kill time at Singapore’s Changi Airport

The “world’s best airport” is more than just an airport. Pic: Little Steps

WAITING about for a flight can be a chore when surrounded by noise and chaos in an airport setting. The groans are loudest when your flight is delayed, or when you’re waiting for hours to board a flight in transit.

But at Changi Airport, it’s just a bit easier. Features and entertainment are designed with the traveler’s comfort in mind, what with the airport acting as a waiting area, a shopping mall, and an entertainment precinct at once.

In fact, the recent World Airport Awards saw Changi Airport crowned the title of best airport in the world for the fourth year running, competing with 550 airports around the globe. As far as airports go, it seems unparalleled.

Here are a few ways to make the most of your time at Changi.

Feast your eyes on interactive art installations

Interactive art and visual installations are not uncommon at Changi. A piece that has incited many tourist videos in the last few years is the mesmerizing kinetic rain installation. Created over a span of over 20 months, the piece was made up of 1,216 bronze droplets that transform into different shapes, indicating poetry in motion.

More recently, the LED “Dots Portrait Wall” was erected next to the Skytrain station that allows travelers to take monochromatic portraits of themselves at different spots in Singapore without having to step out the airport.

Motion is detected when you step in front of the wall, a portrait is taken, you pick a backdrop, and you have the option of having your photo superimposed against an iconic Singapore attraction. The final photo is displayed on the screen in a black-and-white flip-dot display, which can be shared immediately via email.

Catch a free flick at the airport cinema

If you have long hours in transit, catch a free movie at the airport cinema. Pic: International Business Times

Changi has two cinemas in Terminals 2 and 3 that are accessible to passengers, but they’re relatively small with each room only fitting up to 55 people.

Screenings are free, and cinemas are open 24 hours daily; the only thing you’ll need to pay for is popcorn. The current schedule features blockbuster films such as Spectre, Joy, and Kung Fu Panda 3.

At the Entertainment Deck is also an MTV booth where you can watch your favorite music videos on a 50-inch plasma, a game console station with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and an Xbox Kinect Room where you can play the likes of table tennis, volleyball, boxing and soccer for hours.

Enjoy a poolside cocktail on the rooftop

How many airports in the world can lay claim to having a rooftop pool? Pic: Changi Airport

Guests of Changi’s transit hotel, Aerotol Airport Transit Hotel, can access the airport’s outdoor rooftop pool overlooking the tarmac. For non-guests, the pool is accessible for a fee of US$12.

Order a drink at the poolside bar and bask in the jazuzzi while you hear aircrafts roaring into the sky. Shower facilities are also available to get yourself cleaned up and dry to catch your flight.

Entertain the kids at the nature gardens

The enclosed, open-air butterfly garden. Pic: Changi Airport

Changi may well be the only airport in the world with an in-house butterfly garden, home to some 1,000 tropical butterflies that flutter about a habitat of lush greenery and a six-meter grotto waterfall. Some 50 species are native to Singapore and Malaysia.

Watch butterflies resting on the knuckles of your little ones by having them feed the colorful creatures with slices of pineapple and flowers. The butterflies are kept in an enclosed open-air garden, which maintains exchange of wind and natural air.

There’s also a cactus garden with over 100 species of cacti and arid plants from dry areas of Asia, Africa and the Americas. There’s a bar within the garden so you can learn a thing or two about the Golden Barrel cactus or the giant ponytail trees with a drink in hand.

In the airport nursery is also a rooftop sunflower garden, from where you can run your fingers through lines of flowers or watch planes take off and land on the tarmac. At night, the garden is lit up beautifully, a sight to distract from the bustle of the airport.

Wrap up the nature tour at the orchid garden, where over 700 orchids of over 30 species are cultivated including rare brown and green orchids.

Have your feet tickled by live fish

The fish are imported from Turkey and nibble on dead skin on your feet. Pic: TurkeyTour.net

At Airport Wellness Oasis, treat your tired feet to a fish spa session where hundreds of tiny fish nibble on your feet. The fish are imported from Turkey and are inclined to nibbling on dead skin; their little bites are gentle so you won’t feel more than a ticklish sensation during the session.

If you don’t want to dip your feet in water full of live fish, primp up those nails with a manicure and pedicure session, get a mud foot bath, have your neck and shoulders massaged, or browse for aromatherapy souvenirs for those back home.