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Mention Changi, and Singapore’s airport immediately comes to mind - a favourite hangout spot even for locals. One of the many reasons why people love Changi Precinct is because of all that it offers, from authentic local food over at Changi Village to famed cafes like The Coastal Settlement. Read on to find out more about what you can do in Changi Village!
1. Walk down memory lane to trace the WWII history of Changi
Changi Village is a place of rich heritage and history due to its geographical position during World War II, where prisoners-of-war (POW) and civilians were held captive by the Japanese. Get started at the Changi Chapel & Museum in Singapore, where you can view prized artefacts such as photographs, drawings and letters by the POWs and take a complimentary guided tour around the site. You can also listen to audio clips of POWs recounting their experiences. To date, Changi Chapel & Museum has amassed almost 5,000 pieces of documents from the POWs during the war. In fact, the museum has now reopened with new artefacts and more interactive exhibits such as The Happiness Box Musical Adaptation and Scavenger Hunt programme.
Round the bend at Upper Changi Road North into Cosford Road, you will see Johore Battery looming ahead. It is a full-sized replica built in 2002, based on the main British coastal artillery defence network on the north-eastern coast of Singapore. Each gun is positioned 500 metres from each other in a row and has a 16.5-metre-long barrel to target both land and sea objects. The vertical shafts lead to a network of tunnels that are connected to a bunker housing the ammunition.
Visiting the historical sites littered around Changi Village requires walking up gradual inclines. If you prefer to be chauffeured around with a guide in the cool comfort of a bus, you can consider signing up for a Changi WWII tour that starts from Pasir Ris MRT Station, covering the sites mentioned above, including a drive past Selarang Barracks, before ending at the Kranji War Memorial – the final resting place of thousands who perished in the war. However, do note that the tour will end at Kranji MRT Station, and you will have to make your own travel arrangements back to Changi.
Changi Chapel & Museum
Address: 1000 Upper Changi Rd North, Singapore 507707
At the time of writing, Changi Chapel & Museum has officially reopened its doors, so visitors will view the revamped exhibit.
How to get there:
From Tanah Merah MRT Station: SBS Bus 2
Alight after 16 bus stops at the Changi Museum (after Changi Women’s Prison / opposite Changi Heights condominium)
Changi WWII Tour:
Ticket: S$60/adult & S$30/child below 12 years
Tours are available every Wednesday (2:00pm to 6:00pm) and Saturday (10:00am to 2:00pm)
Please make online bookings one day in advance or check for tour availability by phone +65 6325 1631
2. Coasting Changi to discover nature and wildlife
Changi Village is situated next to the coast, and a cool way to experience it is to hit the Changi coastal boardwalk for a slow jog or brisk walk when the tides are low - one of the top things to do in the East for a fun-filled weekend. Look out for thriving wildlife along the mangrove coasts such as mudskippers, starfish and crabs and make sure you have a spare memory card for your camera to capture all the wildlife in action!
Those who prefer water sports can swing by Adventure Paddlers at Ohana Beach House, off Changi Village to check out the list of items available for rental such as stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, or sea cycles and water trampolines for kids, making it a great idea for family get-togethers or couple dates. You may also choose to sign up for a unique kayak eco-tour that will chart the journey right across Pulau Ubin (pulau means island and Pulau Ubin is one that is off Changi but still part of Singapore), along a secured route where very few have ventured. This tour lasting four hours will set you among the mangroves and wildlife, immersed in serenity.
Looking for an exhilarating way to spend a day at the Changi precinct? If you want to try something more adventurous, you can head down to Changi Point Ferry Terminal to catch a 10-minute bumboat for S$4 to Pulau Ubin for some off-road cycling. On top of kayaking, Pulau Ubin is also a prime spot for cycling! You can simply pick up a bicycle from the many rental shops dotted near the jetty at Pulau Ubin. They are available for full-day rentals starting from S$12. Thrill-seekers can seek out Puaka Hill, the highest peak in Pulau Ubin standing at 74 metres tall that takes about 20 minutes to conquer. It is fairly steep and rocky, with makeshift ropes as railings providing extra support. Don’t forget to take a photo at the peak with your smartphone, shield yourselves from the blistering sun with a pair of shades, and bring along your mosquito repellent!
While at Pulau Ubin, nature lovers can also cycle to Chek Jawa – a wetland area and home to one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems. You can then take a stroll down the boardwalk and head up the 20-metre tall Jejawi Tower for an amazing view of the sea, above the towering tree canopies. Cycle with caution as the journey from the jetty to Chek Jawa consists of rugged terrain.
Adventure Paddlers Ohana Beach House
Address: 159W Jalan Loyang Besar, Singapore 507020
Stand-up Paddle Board: S$15/hour
Sea Cycling: S$40/45 minutes
Water Trampoline: S$120/hour
Pulau Ubin Kayak Tour: S$45 to S$60
Admission to Pulau Ubin & Chek Jawa is free
Bicycle rental: Approx. S$12 for full day
How to get there: Catch a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal
Boat fare: S$8 for two-way (up to 12 pax)
3. Eat your fill with endless food options around Changi Village
It’d be a sin to leave without trying the food at Changi Village. The Changi Village Hawker Centre is a good starting point, where a must-try is nasi lemak (coconut rice served with a variety of side dishes). You can pick between International Muslim Food Stall Nasi Lemak (#01-03), known for their fluffy coconut rice and their highly raved sambal chilli (a spicy paste made from a variety of chilli peppers and ingredients like garlic, shrimp paste, lime juice and more) and Mizzy Corner Nasi Lemak (#01-26), who is known for the fragrant rice and crispy fried chicken – both have their loyal supporters and are equally worth queuing for.
You can also dig into pisang goreng (fried banana fritters) at Million Stars Goreng Pisang (#01-49) where the sweet and moist bananas are cocooned inside a crunchy batter. The delicious chicken hor fun (rice noodles) from Weng Kee Ipoh Hor Fun (#01-04) is also not to be missed, served with succulent fried chicken meat atop a mound of slippery rice noodles covered in a generous drizzle of gravy, this stall in Changi Village Hawker Centre never fails to draw a queue.
Just across the street from the hawker centre, you will find Chock Full of Beans, a famous hipster brunch cafe with expert baristas who can create the most amazing 3D latte art for the perfect Insta-photo opportunity. They are one of the cafes in the East that serve absolutely delish eggs benedict. Here’s looking at you brunch-lovers!
Beyond Changi Village Food Centre, you can get your food and coffee fix at The Coastal Settlement, a laid-back casual dining restaurant surrounded by lush trees with a view of the sea. Its interior is decked out with retro memorabilia such as vintage cameras and kerosene lamps. Some of their popular favourites include the straight-cut truffle fries drizzled with white truffle oil and an all-day big breakfast combo which comes with scrambled egg, creamed mushrooms, maple glazed bacon, chicken cheese sausage, crispy potato, mesclun salad and artisanal toast. Some of its signature sharing plates are the har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken), crispy pork ribs and wagyu cubes.
Wind down your day by the coast at Little Island Brewery Company for some fresh, locally-brewed craft beers and casual western cuisine. Think barbecued ribs, fish and chips! Most of the seating area is outdoors and is perfect for al fresco dining at dusk and till late. Alcoholic beverages such as cocktails, beers, wine are dispensed from automated taps and diners can pay by tapping a stored-value card to purchase. Try the fish and chips which uses local sea bass encased in a thin and crispy batter or the Wagyu beef brisket that is smoked for 15 hours and marinated with a mix of gula melaka (palm sugar), sea salt, smoked Australian jarrah and lychee wood powder. If you prefer sinking your teeth into wholesome burgers, indulge in the juicy stack of Wagyu beef short rib patty, aged cheddar and smoked ham.
Changi Village Hawker Centre
Address: 2 Changi Village Rd, Singapore 500002
Chock Full of Beans
Address: 4 Changi Village Rd, #01-2090, Singapore 500004
The Coastal Settlement
Address: 200 Netheravon Rd, Singapore 508529
Little Island Brewery Company
Address: 6 Changi Village Road, Singapore 509907
4. Dig into fresh seafood off the coast of Changi
Want fresh seafood from the middle of the sea? There is no better place to enjoy seafood fresh from the source than at a kelong (an offshore platform built predominantly with wood). Check out Smith Marine, Singapore’s first floating kelong dining destination, for the ultimate farm-to-table seafood dining experience. Take a 15-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal and catch your own snapper or sea bass at the ‘sure-catch’ pond. You can choose how you’d like your seafood to be done and the restaurant will take care of it.
Smith Marine was built in 2006 with a focus on breeding sea bass, tiger grouper, flower crab, mussels, lobsters and other live seafood. Besides eating your heart out, you can also take a short walk on the decks to see how the fish is farmed. Talk about taking al fresco dining in Singapore to a whole new level! Dining at Smith Marine is just like any other typical zi char (a Hokkien dialect term which means ‘cook’ and ‘fry’. It describes a food stall that sells commonly-found home-cooked dishes) restaurant. For bigger groups – an eight-course set menu for 10 is priced reasonably at S$300.
How to get there: No walk-ins are allowed, so do contact Smith Marine at +65 9792 7609 for reservations at least three days in advance. They would assist in arranging a chartered bumboat from Changi Village Ferry Terminal. It would cost S$100 for 12 persons for the two-way trip, and payment will be made directly to the boatman upon embarkation.
Aside from other wellness-related activities in Singapore, Changi Village presents a breath of fresh air for those looking for much-needed respite. It is a prime spot for revelling with the locals and soaking in its serene vibes. Beyond the famous aviation hub that Changi is known for, it is also home to a treasure trove of rich history, nature, recreational activities and glorious food. Head down to Changi Village to discover this hidden gem away from the city and get in some much-needed respite!
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