top of page

8 fun and free things to do with a short layover in Singapore's Changi Airport.

Singapore's Changi Airport was named the World's Best Airport at the 2023 World Airport Awards, the 12th time it has won this award (including an impressive 8 year run between 2012 - 2019)! As well as being very clean and spacious, with excellent food and transport facilities (it also won the awards for the World’s Best Airport Dining and World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities), it is the huge range of awesome (and free!) activities available airside that really puts Changi over the top.

Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are linked by Skytrain and are also walkable, to get to Terminal 4 you can get a free shuttle bus from Terminals 1 and 3 - bear in mind the bus can take up to 18 minutes to transfer so make sure you have enough time to get back to your departure gate before heading off to explore!

If you have a short layover while changing planes in Singapore (less than 5 hours) and you're fed up with browsing the duty free shops, here are some of the top fun and free things you can do while transiting in Changi Airport:

1. Check out the Jewel

One of Changi Airport's most iconic landmarks, this green jungle themed complex, featuring the Rain Vortex, world's tallest indoor waterfall, flower gardens and canopy walks is absolutely spectacular. Annoyingly, if you want to fully explore the Jewel, you'll need a long layover (we'd say 8 hours+) as the entrance is landside. This means you'll need to go through immigration/security and physically leave the airport in order to walk in (depending on where you're from, you might also need a Singapore visa as you're officially entering the country), as well as come back through again in order to get back to departures and catch your connecting flight.

However! Don't despair, you can still see the beautiful green interior and EPIC waterfall in the Jewel without leaving the airport by catching the free monorail that runs through it, between terminals 2 and 3. This Skytrain shuttles around between transfer points E in T2 and B in T3, and as it does so it passes through the Jewel slowing down inside so that you get an amazing view of the Rain Vortex waterfall cascading from the roof and the surrounding forest.

The free Skytrain passing through Changi airport's Jewel
The free Skytrain passing through Changi airport's Jewel

2. Catch a movie.

If you don't want to walk around Changi's terminals and fancy grabbing a seat and watching a film to help pass the time, Changi's Terminal 3 features a completely free cinema. Get comfy, enjoy the air conditioning and catch a film! This is also a useful time filler if you're transiting in the wee small hours and the shops are shut, as the cinema runs 24/7.

Changi's Butterfly Garden
Getting back to nature in Changi's Butterfly Garden

3. Visit the Terminal 3 Butterfly Garden.

One of our favourite free things to do in Changi Airport: step into this beautiful butterfly habitat in Changi's Terminal 3 and enjoy around 1000 butterflies fluttering around a 6 metre waterfall.

4. Get some vitamin D at the Sunflower Garden

Head up to the roof of Terminal 2 and catch some rays with rows of glorious cheerful yellow sunflowers. You also get a good view of the runway and planes from up there!

5. Relax in the Cactus Garden

Up at the top of Terminal 1 is the Cactus Garden, a fab collection of 100 cacti and desert plants. They also have a bar up there (not free, sadly) so you can enjoy the sunshine and a cocktail while you wait for your connection!

RELATED: need more budget travel tips for cities around the world?

In the USA: Free things to do in Las Vegas & Washington DC

In Europe: Free things to do in London, Edinburgh & Dublin

In Australia: Free things to do in Sydney

In Asia: Free things to do in Tokyo

Purple orchid in Changi airport
Orchids and Koi

6. Feel zen at the Orchid Garden

This gorgeous garden of more than 30 orchid species can be found in Terminal 2. Huge displays of colourful blooms surround a large koi pond, and it's a really lovely place to take a few moments to breathe and escape the hectic feel of a busy airport.

Changi Airport actually features 9 lovely gardens! As well as the 3 we've mentioned, you might also enjoy seeking out the Enchanted Garden, Water Lily Garden, Piazza Garden, Crystal Garden and Arrival Garden.

7. Get cultured at the T4 Heritage Zone

Take in Terminal 4's stunning colourful façade of historic Peranakan shophouses, the architecture so familiar in Singapore. LED screens periodically play 2 short films telling stories about the shophouses' residents.

While you're over in T4, you can find other fab art like Steel in Bloom, a 6m steel botanical sculpture incorporating a living koi pond and real plants and Travelling Family by renowned Swiss artist, Kurt Laurenz Metzler.

8. Ride the Slide

Whizz down this awesome 4 storey slide in Terminal 3! The Slide@T3 is open for both kids over 1.3m tall and adults (max height 2m) - in order to have a go, you need sign up for free Changi Rewards Membership, then head to the Terminal 3 Customer Service Counter in Basement 2, present your Changi Rewards e-Card and redeem 10 slides!

Heading to Changi Airport? Pin this blog for later!


bottom of page