singapore airport

Singapore Airport: A Disneyland for backpackers

December 26, 2013

I’ve spent my fair share of time sitting in airports, usually in an isolated corner picking my nose and listening to Taylor Swift.

Earlier this year I spent about 12 hours sitting around in Mumbai airport, and a few years before that I was having the time of my life prancing around Nairobi’s airport for 18 or so hours.

Needless to say sitting in transit sucks. You probably haven’t showered for over 30 hours, all the good seats are taken, the food is ridiculously expensive and everyone is in a super shitty mood.

Unless of course you’re in Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Chances are you’ll have more fun in Singapore airport than you’ll have in actual Singapore. I promise, it’s so cool that I’m actually looking forward to the next time I have to transit here. The place is like a gigantic big kid’s playground, with more big screen TV’s, video games and computers than Dick Smith Electronics.

Let me show you exactly how much fun you can have while in transit in Singapore.

First of all, there’s a Left Baggage service available. For me personally I hate carrying stuff around the airport. Don’t you ever get sick of tying your backpack to your leg while you sleep? Or trying to strategically place your massive suitcase in the cubicle while you poop?

At Changi Airport you can leave your bags with someone else, and it’s cheap. I left two bags with them for about 12 hours and it cost me $5 USD!

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Trust me, you’ll be so happy to leave your bags somewhere because this airport is enormous. It has 3 terminals, all connected by the Skytrain. It comes every 4 minutes or so, and takes about a minute to get between terminals.

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While in transit you always need to eat. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s not, but in Changi airport your only problem will be trying to choose. Every type of food is available – pizza, Burger King, chicken laksa, BBQ pork on rice, McDonald’s, wonton noodle soup, fried chicken and chips, vegetarian Indian…whatever you want – it’s here. The food’s not expensive either, this Hainan chicken rice only set me back $4USD! Or $12, cos I had 3 of ‘em :D

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Then, it’s time to charge up your stuff. But what power plug do they use in Singapore? Doesn’t matter, because the airport has craploads of universal plugs, including USB’s. 856 of them to be exact. No more sitting on the floor against a random pillar, waiting for your phone to charge…

Singapore Airport

What I hate about sitting in the airport is the lack of fresh air. It’s like a big air conditioned greenhouse of zombies breathing recycled oxygen. Luckily for you, Singapore has a handful of garden areas where you can lay low, breath some real air and chill.

My favourite is the butterfly garden:

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The cactus garden and sunflower garden aren’t too shabby either:

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Then, just when I start to get bored Singapore brings me back to technology. Scattered throughout the airport are free internet terminals, and there’s so many of them that they’re never full. The internet is fast, too.

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Then once you’re done stalking your ex on Facebook you’ll probably wanna sit back and relax somewhere. Head to the free movie theatre and catch one of the latest blockbusters.

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If the theatre’s full, don’t worry. Just head to the other one.

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And if you don’t like the hush hush of the cinema, you can catch a movie on one of the many flat screens scattered through the terminal:

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Once you start feeling weary, get a massage at one of the many health spas. Prices start at around $20USD, but most will be closer to $40.

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Are you getting anxious about what’s happening in the markets? Just head to the free Bloomberg corner, where you can run rampant on Bloomberg connected computers and watch the market news. I didn’t even have access to this while working as an accountant!

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Bored yet? Guess you better head to the game zone, where they have 9 free Playstation 3’s hooked up with the latest games. What!!!!

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Once you’re done losing at Fifa, you can head to the sports TV, sit back in your lounge chair and watch the real thing on the big screen.

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You probably want more video games now. You’re in luck, because they also have a free LAN cafe set up with six gaming PC’s, ready for you to Battlefield it up! OMG!

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Getting tired? Take a nap! You can access a sleeping zone in a lounge for around $25, and around $9 will get you a drink and a hot shower.

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After that you can head to the TV zone and relax in your own private television cubicle. There’s a lot of them, so you should be able to find an empty one :)

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Walking through this place is always interesting. It’s scattered with fish ponds and gardens which are such a refreshing change to the dull, sterile boxes that airports so often are.

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Now you probably need to use the internet again but you’re bored of using a normal computer. Guess you better have a go with these wall mounted touch screen ones…

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Miss your dog? Give him a call using these free internet phones:

Singapore Airport phones

Heading to the beach in Thailand or Bali? There’s always time for one more gym session:

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If you really need a decent snooze, there’s a couple of transit hotels you can check into without needing to go through immigration:

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And if you ever feel like you’re getting bored of the airport (which is impossible), there’s a free tour of Singapore on offer that will get you out into the real world.

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Then came the best surprise of all. I was so exhausted from running around looking at all this cool stuff when I finally came across a massage chair. Ready to spend my few remaining dollars on a much needed foot rub, I sat down and twisted myself in circles trying to find the coin hole. Turns out, it was free! AHHHH!

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But what’s even crazier than all this is that this isn’t even half of it! I had about 4 hours in here and I still didn’t get a chance to see the swimming pool, the hair salon, the other gardens, the 4 storey high slide, the Aviation Gallery, the Zone X video arcade (arrgh!), let alone browse through all the amazing duty free shopping on offer.

All I can say is, if you ever need to transit in Singapore don’t get upset. In fact, I’d try and change your flights up so you can make your transit even longer. I could spend 2 days in here and not get bored. LAN party, anyone?

Oh, and I nearly forget the most important part. There’s beer, too :)

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Truth is, I was actually a little disappointed when it came time to board my flight. I felt like I was Charlie and my time in the chocolate factory was being cut short. Next time I’ll make sure I get a little more time here :)

Heading to Singapore? For help with finding the cheapest accommodation, I’d recommend Agoda – they usually get the lowest rates in town. For other attractions and things to do, you can’t go wrong with TripAdvisor. Happy travels!

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115 thoughts on “Singapore Airport: A Disneyland for backpackers

  1. Ku Manahan

    I was in Changi a couple weeks ago, and I must say that your piece hits the nail on the head! Changi is a wonderland! I enjoyed every minute I spent there waiting for my flight back to Manila. so many things to see, so many things to do! Happy travels!~

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Im a Singaporean who travels a lot, but I have always been very proud of my country’s airport. Thanks for this write-up. It provides info that even I dont know about!

    Reply

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