The ultimate guide to transiting through Jewel Changi Airport
21 Jan 2020 // Singapore
A guide to this forest of an airport.
Waaaallllaaooo ehhhh mai god so beautifullll... This airport ah, really like no other man. *continues with a string of muttered praises*
My monologue went unnoticed since everyone was focused at taking the perfect shot of/with this most Instagrammed indoor waterfall
I have mixed feelings about airports. Because the journey through it can either be exciting, with the prospect of new adventures, or the familiarity of going home. Or it can be really sad if laden with goodbyes.
Jewel Changi Airport: an airport that needs no introduction, being such an Instagram star. This particular trip to Jewel Changi Airport though, was exciting for two reasons: I was flying home for Chinese New Year after 5 years, and my inner archi-geek was dying to check out this airport. And I met a new friend here as well on an earlier trip as a chance encounter. My flight that day was around noon- the perfect time to explore Jewel because it was a humane hour. (FYI, go before 10am if you want to get a good shot of the waterfall before people come flooding in. OR, take a photo from the higher floors because L2 and L1 are where most people take the photos from.)
It was around 10.00am, so all the shops were already open, and it was still relatively calm and empty.
- Jewel Mapped Out -
Without this, future me will get lost. Again.
B2: There's a food court here for cheaper hawker options, and Chinese food (think Beauty in the Pot). There's also like a market stall area of popular local concept stores like Otah sandwiches, an açai counter too! Individual stools are positioned at the base of the waterfall for resting or eating. The atmosphere here is more cosy, I think also because of the families milling around.
B1: More shops and dining options here with a variety of cuisines. The eateries here encircle the waterfall. This floor really exudes a calming and therapeutic atmosphere: the waterfall blankets the space in a tranquil blue, complemented with the therapeutic sounds of flowing water, at once silencing the troubled mind.
L1: This is where you can check in early. There's also a giant KOI Tea stall here and Paris Baguette.
L2 (Main Entrance): Upon entering I was greeted with double storeyed everything: from a gigantic Starbucks, to Lady M, to Muji and Tokyu Hands etc. I think it's pretty ingenious how the sheer size of these popular international chains are laid out: it really sets an impression.
L3: Sky trains and link bridges to the other terminals / where to dash to if you lose track of time.
L5: Ahh, the brunch/adventure area that you want to be at if spending a long time in Jewel. It is a literal indoor outdoor landscaped courtyard. Even the cafes are designed such that it feels like you're strolling down a street! Featuring popular restaurants like Arteastiq. This is where you can 'dine in a garden', with loads of sunlight for good Insta photos, for people-watching in peace from above, and yet still be in an air-conditioned area to beat the heat. Not into fancy brunch? No problem! There's also a Canopy Park here for the adventurous. (This is ticketed though.) Completed with mazes and even a walk across a net suspended 25m off ground. Side note: If you have a fear of heights, just don't stand too close the balconies on the 5th floor.
View from L5
- A cute find: Naiise Iconic -
I only had 2.5 hours. But I needed coffee, desperately. I was torn! To sit and read or to takeaway and walk? (Wow. That sounded like a shallow brat. I swear my life is usually never so chill to be concerned with such trivial matters. Please don't judge.)
I was considering my options until I stumbled across this cute shop carrying all sorts of things from food, to handicrafts, perfumes, teas, art- but everything a product from local entrepreneurs and designers. It's a curated store with loads of beautiful things you could gift, or you know, where I'd love to buy everything...
There's a tea bar inside called Teapasar that sold local tea brands. My coffee fix became a Genmaicha Matcha-iri Latte fix in the end but it was really good, so not complaining. There was a sneaky scoop of vanilla goji berry ice cream inside which made it deliciously creamy with just a subtle hint of sweetness. This idiot here, ordered the drink with an emphasis on NO SUGAR, thought she was being really healthy, and was marvelling at how naturally sweet the genmaicha-matcha combination was. Until she could no longer ignore the mystery of the goji berry bits and asked about it after slurping up the whole thing. "Oh, it's a scoop of this ice cream!" replied the friendly staff. "Oh wow, NO WONDER it's so delish!" les idiot responded with stiffened laughter. (I found out later that this particular ice cream is by Nuude, and is healthier, with lower sugar and fat content.)
Anyway, no regrets though! And besides, Chinese New Year = Just treat yourself.
- Eat in a forest? I also want! -
I noticed restaurants peeking out of the greenery. So I die-die also wanted to experience dining in this indoor foliage before leaving. And landed in a Korean restaurant (also because it was advertising a lunch meal deal). It really did feel like I was in the woods. But without the heat.
I'm an old-fashioned soul- and one thing I love about airports is being able to watch planes land and take-off, and to browse duty-free shops in corridors adorned with neon gate signage. Jewel really is an experience unto its own that has pretty much created its own destination within Singapore. But it's curious how there is a complete lack of the sight of planes and boarding gates while travelling through Jewel. It didn't feel like an airport- but more of a different dimension whereby you can temporarily disengage yourself from an airport. As I walked back to familiar territory that is Terminal 2, I felt like I was going back to reality. There was a sense of comfort to be greeted with a sight so poignant, so filled with memories of the many adventures that stemmed from it. In a world of rapid transformation, where does the line of development stop? Where is the line whereby the old becomes more valuable than the new, when architects pull a stop on dreams, to conserve memory?
Chim moment over. Here's some Jewel Travel tips:
Exploring Jewel Before Departure:
You can only get an early check-in to all terminals from Jewel at L1 if you arrive AT LEAST 3 hours in advance! More detailed information on that here.
Jewel's Waterfall Operating Hours
The waterfall starts at 9am to 11.30pm daily.
Jewel to Terminal 2:
If flying from Terminal 2, you can only access Jewel from the outside/before you enter security. Its around a 10 minute (fast) to 20 minute (stroll) walk whereby you will arrive at the Departure Halls/check-in counters of T2 via a link bridge from Jewel at L3. Checking-in is really efficient, so I arrived at T2 at around 12.15pm for a 1.30pm flight with no rush.
If you have 3 hours before the flight:
You can either walk the entire thing like I did which took about 2 hours more or less (including the occasional browsing, strolling the 5th Floor, and photography).
Shops : I love looking at stationery, or unique products so definitely check out Naise! It has 2 floors so there was quite a lot to browse. I literally spent 40% of my time there LOL. There's a Muji (with a cafe as well), and Tokyu Hands (it's not very big though so I was done pretty quick). There are a few other gift shops on the upper floors but other than that, it would be clothes/shoes/accessories like Zara, Adidas, even a Pokemon store (but don't expect the size of that as in Japan!) But personally, I don't like shopping for clothes in airports because I prefer to do that whilst in the city. So my 2 hours did NOT include browsing these stores.
Eats : Now that I've walked pretty much all of Jewel, I would honestly prefer spending my time in one of those embedded-in-the-greenery restaurants for a good meal and a book. Albeit man-made, I find it really relaxing to peep at the waterfall/ to people-watch through the trees. And it's very comfortably cool (even though the thought of the sheer amount of energy required to keep the AC running is rather disturbing). If in a rush, there's always the hawker food court in B2 and a lot of takeaway options.
If you have A LOT of time before the flight :
I'd say definitely check out the 5th floor! Book yourself brunch at Arteastiq or something, catch up with friends. There's always the Canopy Park too which does look pretty cool. From the size of it, I think one could finish the experience in around 1 hour or so. But this is pure speculation, and I am one impatient and fast walker.
That's it- hope this helps.
And in lieu of the Covid-19 outbreak, stay healthy everyone!