Singapore Changi Airport

Claiming baggage in T3 is a relaxing task

Singapore Changi Airport (IATA: SIN) is the main airport of Singapore situated on the eastern edge of the island with good public transport links to all parts of Singapore.

Consistently voted one of the best airports in the world, Changi's also a major hub in Southeast Asia and a common stop on the Kangaroo route between Europe and Australia.

Understand

Changi airport is located on the east coast of Singapore, about 25km from the downtown area with good rail and road connections. There are no domestic flights due to the small size of Singapore; all flights from Changi are international. (Singapore only has one other civilian airport: Seletar.)

Opened in 1981, Changi is one of the world's busiest, and often considered the world's best airport. Passengers are made to feel at home while in transit, with more facilities than you'd typically expect at an airport. Air-side gardens and artworks soothe the eyes, a massage parlour and spa relax the muscles, a swimming pool at Terminal 1 helps keep the body fit, while a cinema and giant television screens provide visual entertainment. There are even butterfly gardens and koi carp ponds! The airport's schedules are dominated by Singapore's flag carrier, Singapore Airlines, and its regional subsidiary, SilkAir. Low cost carriers have also sprung up offering flights to other countries in the region, primarily Indonesia and Malaysia.

Flights

Changi houses three terminals: Terminal 1, 2, and 3. Most airlines, especially low cost carriers, use Terminal 1, but a few others use Terminals 2 & 3. Singapore Airlines flights depart from either Terminal 2 or 3, depending on your destination. If you are flying Singapore Airlines and arrive by taxi at the airport, be sure to tell the driver your destination so he or she knows which terminal to take you to.

All other airlines use Terminal 1.

Terminal 3 has concourses A & B. Concourses C & D, E & F are in Terminals 1 & 2, respectively. Note that these letters precede the gate number for any flight information. Each concourse has a transfer desk to collect your next boarding pass. Check the TV screen for information about where to retrieve the boarding pass for your flight.

If you are arriving on a Singapore Airlines flight and are transferring to another Singapore Airlines flight, you can often find your arrival and departure gate information from the onboard flight entertainment system, or from information screens when you exit the arrival gate. There are no boarding calls and boarding gates close 10 minutes before departure.

Fortunately transfers are quite easy, and all three terminals are connected by a free Skytrain service from 04:00 to 01:30, without passing through immigration. Terminal 1 is also physically connected to Terminals 2 and 3, and you may not notice you're in a different terminal unless you read the signs.

Unlike most other airports, there are no separate zones for departing and arriving passengers in the main terminals before passport control, hence arriving passengers are free to shop and eat at the airside if they are not in a hurry. In addition, unless they have checked luggage, they can clear passport control at any terminal.

Ground transportation

From the airport there are a number of ways to get into the city:

By train

Changi Airport is connected to the East-West line of the MRT. The MRT station is located between Terminals 2 and 3, and is well indicated from Terminal 1. When going to the city, you'll need to change trains at Tanah Merah – exit on the left hand side door and cross the platform. When going to Simei, Pasir Ris or Tampines, exit on the right hand side. When returning to the airport, cross to the middle platform. The 30-minute ride to City Hall station costs $1.90 plus a refundable $1 deposit. Trains run from 05:31 to 23:18.

By shuttle

A Ground Transport Desk is available in the arrival hall at all terminals and can arrange shuttle bus transfers. The shuttle costs $9 per adult and $6 per child (aged 12 years and below) and will take you to most downtown hotels.

A coach service to Kotabaru II Terminal, Johor Bahru, Malaysia (to Larkin Terminal from 1 Aug 2014) has been launched by the Transtar Cross Border Service. Fares are $7 (cash only!). The first bus departs at 08:15 and the last leaves at 23:15.

By taxi

There are 2 types of taxis to choose from. Depending on how many people are travelling with you.

By bus

Bus terminals can be found in the basements of T1, T2 and T3. 06:00-23:00 only. Fares are less than $2.00, exact fare required (no change given) if you pay cash. Bus number 36 directly goes to the city centre, which takes roughly 50 to 60 minutes travelling on expressways through the East Coast to City Hall and Orchard Road. It has luggage racks at the front of the bus.

Get around

The departures board in Terminal 2

All three terminals are well-connected by the SkyTrain, an automatic driverless people mover, that operates from 04:00 to 01:30. When the train is not in operation, you must walk. A walk from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 or vice-versa should take about 30 minutes as you have to pass through Terminal 1. A buggy car that will take you to your boarding gate, very useful if you are in a hurry, is available upon request.

Wait

Airside

Even if you are stuck in the airport, there are plenty of ways to kill time, as each terminal has a unique design and the airside areas of T1, T2, and T3 are attractions in themselves. T2, arguably the most interesting, has an indoor garden, a music listening area with couches and mood lighting, a computer gaming room, a small cinema (you can bring your luggage trolleys inside and park them at the back), paid massage services and, of course, plenty of duty-free shops. T3, the newest, has a butterfly garden and plenty of natural light, but fewer entertainment options. T1 has a swimming pool for $13.91 and jacuzzi, both open until 23:00. There is an outdoor cactus garden on the roof of T1. You can travel between the main terminals without passing through immigration and, if you have no checked-in luggage to collect, you can clear passport control and customs at any terminal.

Lounges

Eat and Drink

Food options are varied and generally reasonably priced, with some choice picks including the Peranakan-themed Soup Restaurant (T2 landside), which serves much more than just soup, and Sakae Sushi (T2 airside). If you're up for a little adventure, seek out the staff canteen at level 3M of the car park next to T2, it's open to the public (with discounts for airport staff) and serves local food. It is relatively cheap compared to other food options in the airport but not exactly cheap compared to elsewhere in Singapore. There are also staff canteens in Terminals 1 and 3.

For some local food, try a kaya toast set at Ya Kun Kaya Toast (T3 landside) or Killiney Kopitiam (T2 airside). Soft-boiled eggs, coconut jam on toasted bread, and some kopi (coffee) are nice to eat at any time of the day.

Buy

If you are flying by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir and transiting in Singapore for less than 24 hours, you are entitled to a $40 voucher good for virtually everything but convenience stores & money exchanges! Present your electronic ticket, boarding pass, and passport at the iShop@Changi counter at Terminals 2 & 3 to claim.

ATMs abound and money changers offer reasonable rates as well, although you pay a small premium compared to the city.

Shops are extremely varied and, if removed to more than 100 countries, would constitute their largest mall! All accept American Express, VISA and MasterCard; most accept Diners Club, JCB and UnionPay.

If you're just arriving and need to buy a SIM card for your phone, there are plenty of tourist help-oriented shops that will be happy to sell you one with $50-70 of credit on it (and that's how much it will cost). 1GB of data for a week is only $7 though, so if you're only in Singapore for a short time, the bigger cards are definitely overkill. Instead, head to the money changers - you can buy a $15 SIM card there.

Connect

There are two ways to connect to the Internet at the airport. One option is Wi-Fi connectivity. Use the WiFi@Changi access point, give your phone number, and a verification code so that you can browse the Internet will be sent to you via text message. Don't really count on its speed and reliability though. A much better option is to use the 200 Internet kiosks throughout the airport. You have 20 minutes for each session, although you can always re-login. Both of them are always free of charge!

Any local calls made within the departure transit lounge are free! You can use the public payphones or head over to the convenience stores. If you are on the land side, you can rent a smartphone or buy a prepaid card.

Passengers that have liquid, aerosols, and gels that are too big to make their way pass the security checkpoint, can take advantage of the Speedpost@Changi service. Just purchase an envelope from the security offices or at the mailbox, drop them in, and wait for them to be delivered within 5 working days to most cities! Note that you must drop them in the mailbox by 30 minutes before departure!

If you want to send some last minute post cards, you can buy stamps from the 7-Eleven on the airside of Terminal 1 on the right hand side of the immigration control, and put the cards in the mail box behind the Aspial store. You can also drop them at Transfer F at Terminal 2 or near the GST Refund Counter at Terminal 3.

Cope

Singapore Changi Airport is one of the best airports in the world, and its facilities are certainly one of its contributing factors! Every terminal has multiple baby rooms, a left baggage facility both airside and landside, a prayer room, multiple money exchanges, and lounges. Raffles Medical has clinics at all terminals for emergency services or should you just feel unwell at some point in the airport, and some pharmacies. All of them are user-friendly to cater to travellers should they need anything.

If you need to ask for information, there are information desks at each end of the terminal, although only a few of them open for 24 hours. You can also go there for renting a wheelchair, stroller, or a buggy car.

In each toilet and at information centres or exhibits, there is a touch screen that you can use to give feedback about how the facilities are. Make sure not to leave without a review!

Airport maps and signs to some essential facilities are clearly indicated at various points in the terminals, although you can also just grab a free guide book to make your way through the airport. You can also scan your boarding pass at the scanner kiosk to look for which gate your flight is departing from!

Sleep

Airside

Terminals T1 (closed since June 2015 for refurbishment), T2 and T3 all have airside transit hotels. ☎ +65 6541 9106 or book on-line via the Ambassador Transit Hotel website. A 6-hour "block" for a single/double/triple costs $105.93/129.47/158.90, budget singles (shared bathroom) $64.74, extensions $23.54 per hour. You can rent a shower (without a room) to freshen up for $17.12.

Landside

The only hotel on the airport grounds landside is Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, located next to Terminal 3. However, there are several options available in the neighbouring Changi Village and other parts of eastern Singapore. Sleeping at a budget price is available within the Geylang Area, about 10 to 15km from the airport. Get off at either Aljunied or Kallang MRT stations.

Stay safe

WARNING: Singapore has very strict drug laws, and drug trafficking carries a mandatory death penalty — which is also applied to foreigners. Even if you technically haven't entered Singapore and are merely transiting (i.e. changing flights without the need to clear passport control and customs) while in possession of drugs, you would still be subject to capital punishment. The paranoid might also like to note that in Singapore, it is an offence even to have any drug metabolites in your system, even if they were consumed outside Singapore, and Customs occasionally does spot urine tests at the airport! In addition, bringing in explosives or firearms without a permit is also a capital offence in Singapore. If you must travel with controlled medications, see "Get In" under "Singapore" for obtaining permission to carry them.

By and large, the airport is safe as police frequently patrol by Segways and buggy cars and the building is well-lit throughout the day. The airport practically never sleeps, so even at dawn there will always be a few people at some points in the airport. Report any unattended items to staff.

Nearby

If you arrive early enough (often there are big queues) and have over 5 hr to spare, there are free city tours at 09:00, 11:30, 14:30, 16:00 and 18:30.

Register at a Free Singapore Tours (FST) Registration Booth at least one hour before.

On the other hand, if you only have one night in Singapore, you could grab a classic Singaporean late-night supper in Geylang or East Coast Lagoon Food Village in the East Coast. Or head over to the pubs and clubs in Riverside and Chinatown.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, December 27, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.