Singapore’s New Attraction: Jewel Changi Airport
Singapore’s latest attraction, Jewel Changi Airport, offers travellers an experience they won’t find anywhere else. Part entertainment complex, part indoor garden, part shopping mall, part air terminal, it has something to please almost everyone.
Jewel has quickly become the centrepiece of Changi, long considered one of the world’s best airports. A huge glass and steel dome, it’s built on the site of a former open-air car park outside Terminal 1 and is linked to three of the airport’s four terminals.
Jewel opened in stages from April to June 2019. It has 10 levels, including five basement levels, four of which serve as a car park. At its centre is the Rain Vortex, a 40 metre waterfall that’s billed as the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, surrounded by terraced gardens.
Jewel is open to the public and draws a lot of Singapore visitors in addition to air travellers. You’ll see long queues of young Singaporeans at some of its most popular eating places.
As a traveller, a good option is to check in at your designated terminal at least three hours before your flight, and then make your way Jewel. This gives you the opportunity to explore it for an hour or two before returning to your terminal.
Jewel is connected to the arrival hall of Terminal 1 and is a 5-10 minute walk on link bridges from T2 and T3, with moving walkways most of the way. From T4, take the free shuttle bus to T2 and walk from there.
Depending on the airline you’re flying with, you also have the option of checking in at Jewel itself up to 24 hours before your flight. To see which airlines offer this service, and check whether your own flight is included, visit the Jewel website.
But do check in advance. Although many long haul airlines offer this early check-in service at Jewel, some well-known Asian airlines don’t, among them Malaysia Airlines, Garuda and Cathay Pacific.
Once you’re at Jewel, the best way to get a feel for it is to start at the top level, Level 5, and gradually work your way down from there.
Level 5 is where most of the attractions are. They include Canopy Park, with a bridge that takes you close to the waterfall, as well as mazes, slides and trampoline-like nets that you can bounce on. The level has eight restaurants too.
I must confess it’s a little annoying to discover you have to pay for some of these attractions, including the Canopy Park. Jewel would surely be a better place if they were all free. The airport already has sponsors for some of the main attractions – the HSBC Rain Vortex and the Shiseido Forest Valley, for example – so does it really need to squeeze money out of visitors?
Prices for individual attractions start at 5 Singapore dollars (around US$3.70) for foreign visitors, and you can buy bundle packages starting at 38 Singapore dollars (US$28).
After taking in the terrific views of the waterfall and gardens, older travellers who don’t fancy bouncing on the sky nets or zooming down the slides may wish to move down to the lower levels. These are less crowded but also offer excellent views of the waterfall and gardens.
The top six levels all have a wide range of restaurants and shops. It’s like being in a high-end shopping mall.
If you’ve had enough retail therapy and just want to relax, Jewel is large enough for you easily to find a quiet spot for a leisurely meal or drink before gradually making your way back to your terminal.
Like any airport public space, Jewel does become a little exhausting after a while, especially for older travellers who easily tire of crowds. But there’s no doubt it takes the airport experience to a new level.
Header image: © Alan Williams