You’re flying through Singapore for transit, and your travel schedule, unfortunately, doesn’t allow you to do a stopover to check out what Singapore has to offer. That’s alright. You’ll be glad to know that you can still get a quick cultural immersion during your transit without even having to step out of Singapore Changi Airport.

As one of the best airports in the world, Changi Airport presents an experience that’s quintessentially Singapore. Whether you have an eight-hour layover or a shorter transit duration, there are plenty of activities and attractions to busy yourself with. You can look forward to exploring lush tropical greenery, eating like the locals do, shopping (another favourite pastime of Singaporeans), checking out some art along the way and even bringing home local souvenirs.

1. Fawn over flora & fauna

Singapore, known as the City-in-a-Garden, is one of the greenest cities in the world and home to Gardens by the Bay, the largest glass greenhouse in the world. Even if you are stuck in the airport, you won’t miss out on the tropical greenery because there will always be a garden or lush vertical foliage to greet you at every turn. Explore the airport to discover green zones where you can catch a breather after hours of being cooped up in a pressurised cabin. Here are three of our favourites.

Butterfly Garden @ Terminal 3

butterfly garden changi airport butterfly garden changi airport

Transit passengers can make their way to Terminal 3 and revel in the enchanting garden of butterflies, curated by Changi Airport's horticulture team.

The Butterfly Garden at Terminal 3 features a two-storey walk-in garden that is home to 1,000 free-roaming butterflies from 40 species and a 6m-tall waterfall. If you’re lucky, you may even spot Singapore’s national butterfly, the Common Rose Butterfly, fluttering around you. All the flowers in the Butterfly Garden are specially curated by the Changi Airport's horticulture team to provide nectar for the butterflies, food for caterpillars, or act as foliage for butterflies to roost. Did you know, close to 200 pots of flowers are replaced with fresh ones weekly to provide the butterflies with a continuous fresh supply of nectar?

Sunflower Garden @ Terminal 2

sunflower garden changi airport sunflower garden changi airport

The Sunflower Garden at Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 lets you get a breath of fresh air while admiring the runway and aircraft parking bays from the rooftop garden. Perfect respite during your layover, indeed!

Get your dose of vitamin D at the Sunflower Garden at Terminal 2. Here, you will get to enjoy a variety of fresh sunflowers that have been carefully cultured in Changi Airport’s very own nursery. Did you know that they take up to 90 days to flower and can grow up to 1.5m with flower heads as wide as 15cm? This makes it the perfect spot to snap some Insta-worthy shots as you stroll through the rows of lush blooms. If your layover is in the evening, fret not, as you’ll still get to enjoy the garden in all its glory with the help of special lighting, giving it a different mood too.

Shiseido Forest Valley @ Jewel Changi Airport

hsbc rain vortex changi airport hsbc rain vortex changi airport

Take in the lush greenery of the Shiseido Forest Valley with the cascading waterfalls and 40m-tall HSBC Rain Vortex in the centre.

Before you grab your bags and make a dash for Jewel, we recommend you to have at least five hours in between your connecting flights. Jewel is located in the public area, accessible from Terminal 1's arrival hall. This means you would need some time to clear immigration before and after visiting. This immersive experience at Jewel is not to be missed. It's one of the best Changi Airport attractions even locals can't get enough of. With limited time on hand, you may choose to take a short stroll through the trails of the Shiseido Forest Valley, set in a dense forest with cascading waterfalls and mist clouds. Explore the verdant landscape bathed in natural sunlight, accompanied with the sound of rushing water from the 40-metre-tall HSBC Rain Vortex in the background. If you only have a couple of hours to spare, you can take the skytrain and travel through Jewel. You'll pass by the HSBC Rain Vortex in such magnificent glory from a height.

2. Indulge in retail therapy with exclusive experiences

Orchard Road is Singapore’s famous shopping belt and is a retail haven for both locals and tourists alike. Even though you may not have time to make a trip to town during your layover, you would be delighted to know that Changi Airport is a shopping destination in itself offering a wide variety of retail experiences for travellers. Besides savings from tax- and duty-free shopping, there is always an exciting line-up of retail promotions bringing you the latest Changi-exclusive deals and souvenirs.

Exclusive Changi 1st retail pop-ups

changi airport shopping duty-free-during layover changi airport shopping duty-free-during layover

Be among the first to check out exclusive launches and concept pop-ups within Changi Airport's transit area during your layover.

Due to Changi Airport’s strong connectivity to many cities across the globe and the confluence of global travellers at Changi, many international brands choose to launch their products first at Changi Airport, ahead of their launches in other parts of the world. As such, there’s a good chance that you might be among the first to see merchandise from global brands such as Johnnie Walker, Hennessy X.O., Chanel and Dior with Changi-exclusive launches and concept pop-ups, while you’re shopping within the transit area during your layover. Get to see and try out the latest products ahead of everyone else, and indulge in these unique and innovative retail experiences only available at Changi Airport.

Local Brands

changi airport shopping snacks during layover changi airport shopping snacks during layover

When in Singapore, have a taste of the local culture. Dive into some of our local food products at Changi Airport, including kueh, bakkwa and kaya.

If you’re heading to Jewel, take home a token of love from Singapore. Located on Level 1 are some beloved local brands to check out. Get a taste of kuehs (traditional bite-sized pastries) or the ever-popular pandan cake at Bengawan Solo. While you’re there, bring home a jar of kaya (fragrant coconut jam – note that this needs to be checked in), an iconic staple in a traditional Singaporean breakfast. On top of that, a must-buy souvenir for many visitors to Singapore is some sweet and smoky Bakkwa (barbequed meat, similar to jerky) which can be purchased vacuum-sealed at Bee Cheng Hiang. If you’re looking to shop for some homegrown apparel, check out Lovet. They carry minimalistic and sophisticated pieces fit for any occasion. You can check out more Singapore food souvenir ideas here.

Alternatively, purchase local snacks on iShopChangi online, and pick up your purchases from the Collection Centres nearest to you.

3. Appreciate the beauty of art

The Bugis-Bras Basah precinct is the place to go in Singapore if you want to experience a slice of Singapore’s arts and heritage scene – that neighbourhood is home to museums such as the National Museum of Singapore, and national monuments like the Armenian Church. With little time to spare during your layover, you can still indulge and be mesmerised by Changi Airport’s curated collection of art installations. Swing by Terminal 4 to check out how technology marries art with sculptures and kinetic artworks that are representative of our local cultures and way of life.

Heritage Zone

changi airport attractions to see during layover heritage zone changi airport attractions to see during layover heritage zone

Discover Singapore's past in the heart of Changi Airport at Terminal 4's Heritage Zone. This attraction explores a vibrant journey through time with its colourful Peranakan-style shophouses.

Changi Airport's a stunner of art! Stroll along the departure hall in Terminal 4 transit, and you will come across the Heritage Zone, which evokes a sense of nostalgia. It features a row of brightly coloured shophouses, modelled after the Peranakan houses you would find in Singapore’s Katong, Joo Chiat and Chinatown districts. Observe the elaborate shophouse façade, and you’ll notice that they are displayed in chronological order, beginning with the Baroque design, followed by the Rococo style, the Peranakan style and lastly, Modern Décor.

If you’ve time to kill, grab a seat and stay tuned for a 6min theatrical performance that is screened at intervals. This attraction provides a glimpse of life in 1930s Singapore. Playing along to a traditional melody, Peranakan Love Story tells the story of a blossoming romance between two passionate musicians living next to each other. There’s also a prelude to this called Nanyang Blossom, set in the 1830s.


changi airport attractions petalclouds changi airport attractions petalclouds

Marvel at Petalclouds in Changi Airport's Terminal 4, an enchanting 200m art attraction with orchid-shaped petals dancing to classical tunes, their motif echoed throughout the terminal.

Designed by the same creators of Terminal 1's Kinetic Rain, Petalclouds is an aluminium installation that stretches 200m and is an art piece that can be seen from almost anywhere within Terminal 4. The moving sculpture comprises 16 petal-shaped frames suspended from wires that are choreographed to form various patterns, accompanied by classical music composed by Olafur Arnalds. The orchid-shaped petals form a ubiquitous motif throughout Terminal 4, so you may find them recurring on carpets, skylights and even dustbins. Check out other art installations and attractions within Changi Airport here if you're keen to explore more.

4. Excite your taste buds with local food fare

changi airport food changi airport food

Don’t miss out on the best food options at Changi Airport, even if you have a short layover period.

The food culture in Singapore is an extremely vibrant one – it is a melting pot of different cuisines and flavours from Southeast Asia, China, India and beyond. Some would say it would be a sin to layover in Singapore and leave without trying any local delights. The depth and diversity of the food scene is one that locals are extremely proud of. With locals frequenting the airport for their meals as well, it’s safe to say that Changi Airport lives up to Singapore’s reputation as a top-notch destination for food. With so many dining establishments across our terminals, you’ll be introduced to uniquely Singaporean food and get a feel and taste of the pride Singaporeans have in their food scene.

Check out long-time local brands like Old Chang Kee and Curry Times for a hit of spice with its curry puffs and curry dishes, respectively; or Heavenly Wang or Ya Kun Kaya Toast for the quintessential kaya (coconut jam) toast. If you’re travelling with a group, we recommend heading to one of the many food courts located in the transit areas of the terminals, which emulate the local hawker centres (only it’s better because there’s air-conditioning!). Check out the Singapore Food Street at Terminal 3 to sample food from some of Singapore’s best hawkers around the island, from Hainanese chicken rice and Bak Kut Teh (a peppery pork rib soup) to minced pork noodles and roti prata (a local flatbread served with curry). Over at Terminal 2’s Straits Food Village, an equally exciting range of delectable local fare awaits you.

Make your Changi Airport layover a memorable one!

Not just a physical launching pad for your flights, Changi Airport is truly a microcosm of all that Singapore offers – from its greenery and food, to shopping and culture. With so much to see and do, we won’t be surprised if you’re hoping you had more time to explore by the end of your transit. Beyond these, you can also enjoy a comfortable stay at Changi Airport's transit hotels if you have a longer layover period. This is perfect - leave your luggage in your room and set out to explore all that is to discover about Singapore's bustling airport. 

Next time round, if you’re passing through Changi – consider a longer trip so you can take on a uniquely Singaporean layover!

For more information, such as shower facilities or lounges at Changi Airport, view our guide to transiting here.

If you’re travelling out of the airport, consider looking for tours on Changi Recommends for attractions to see and activities to do.


For more updates on Changi Airport, follow us on FacebookInstagramTiktokTwitterTelegram and YouTube. You can also sign up for a Changi Account and have the latest news and articles delivered right to your inbox.