Filling in Time at Changi

Air travel comes with the all-too-common possibility of lengthy stopovers. Yet, experienced travellers know how to fill in the time. Some check in to hotel rooms and catch up on sleep. Others clear customs and explore the city they’re stranded in before being summoned by their boarding calls.

If I find myself stranded in Singapore and there’s not enough time to explore the city, or not enough funds to check into a room, then I know I’m not going to be too worried or bored. Changi Airport is one of my favourite airports because there’s plenty to do for a cash-strapped, time-rich traveller. Plus, there are lots of free things to do!


Changi Airport is the world’s seventh busiest airport and spans over 70,000 square metres across three terminals. So, I like to wander to get the blood pumping through my legs. Along the way, I always find foot massages. The settings can be tuned to any level and the massages also massage the lower legs. It’s simply a matter of sitting, slipping off the shoes and pressing the on button. The massages operate for about 15 minutes and my feet and legs feel relaxed long afterwards. I must admit, I have sat for multiple sessions if no one else is waiting a turn!

If I’m tuckered out before boarding time comes around, then there’s the nifty Skytrain that operates between terminals. It’s fun to ride the train, though it can be a tight squeeze when I’m competing with crowds and bulky bags. Early mornings have proven to be a good time to ride; there’s usually space abound and peace aplenty.


I once read that staring at a green setting is all you need to rejuvenate the eyes. Plenty of greenery can be found in themed gardens dotted around Changi Airport, ranging from flower displays, orchid gardens and koi fish ponds. Benches are also located near these ponds so I love the chance to sit and take in these playful and colourful fish. There are also little bridges to cross over these ponds too.

If I feel the urge to step outside, then I head to the butterfly garden. This double storey sanctuary, complete with waterfall and colourful variety of plant and flower species, is home to a stunning display of butterflies in all shapes, sizes and colours. You can view these flying beauties up close and there are many butterfly photo opportunities too.

I also like to walk through the cactus garden. However, this is a smokers’ area which means I pick and choose my moments. It is possible to wander through this towering display of over 40 cactus species without sharing the space with puffers, but again timing is everything.


A walk around Changi Airport’s terminals can reveal ad-hoc art and sculpture exhibitions. There are permanent pieces erected around the airport, though I have found intimate exhibitions from time to time. This is another way I take in some colour and knowledge while I’m stuck in transit.

Around Changi Airport, there are computer terminals equipped with PCs and free internet. I always leave my connection devices at home, so this is a great way for me to catch up on email before I head to my destination or home.

I find the snooze lounges located around Changi Airport offer body-length reclined seats. These quiet areas are perfect for rest, sleep or reading a book.


Even though I’ve spent my fair share of transit time in Changi Airport, there are still a few experiences I’m yet to try!

The free cinema that screens full-length feature films
The rooftop swimming pool
The slippery slide that connects all levels. Yes, a slippery slide!
The free two-hour Singapore tour

Do you have a favourite airport where you like to fill in time? Or, do you have your own ways to pass the hours before your next flight?