This Is the Absolute Best Airport to Land at Hungry

Singapore Changi Airport has a hawker street, robot bartenders, a tea tasting, and 200 restaurants amid the terminals.

<p>Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg via Getty Images</p>

Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Singapore Changi challenges the notion that airports are merely transit hubs made of concrete and steel. Known for its exceptionally lush greenery, it’s an architectural marvel that incorporates nature at every opportunity, creating an airport that’s become a destination in and of itself.

Home to the world’s largest indoor waterfall, Changi’s seven-story tall Rain Vortex cascades down from a tessellated glass canopy to a garden of more than a thousand trees. It’s also stocked with a butterfly garden, rock climbing wall, movie theater, rooftop swimming pool, and a dazzling array of over 200 food outlets.

The airport’s Terminal 2 reopened last year after a multi-year makeover, featuring an impressive digital sky that changes colors with the time of day. There’s also a two-story bar with a robot bartender, a whiskey lounge, and a smattering of new vendors in the Gourmet Garden. Dine at The Satay Club by Harry’s, which has a top-notch nasi goreng and, true to its name, generous amounts of satay. Or stop by for breakfast at The Hainan Story, which serves hot cups of coffee with condensed milk and kaya toast.

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Changi’s restaurant scene reflects the city-state’s status as an international culinary hub. There’s Japanese-style ramen, soba, tempura, and sushi, as well as Chinese dim sum, hot pot, and rice noodles. It’s home to The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, whose menu includes Western comfort classics like pizza, French toast, and burgers.

Then there are, of course, dozens of odes to Singapore itself. SampanMan, with its impressively large plates of shellfish slathered in chili crab sauce, pays a tribute to the boat-faring cultures of Southeast Asia. There’s rich Peranakan fare at the recently opened Baba Nyonya, such as duck soup, crispy deep-fried sea bass, and wonderfully flaky mung bean biscuits. Noyah La Maison specializes in unconventional Singaporean fusion fare such as pasta tossed in tempeh cream and sambal-coated shrimp and squid stuffed inside a croissant.

Elsewhere, in Terminal 3, travelers can stroll around a midcentury-style hawker street market, where vendors sell comfort dishes like poached chicken over rice and bak kut teh, a medicinal pork rib broth perfect for cold days. For souvenirs or snacks on the go, Yikowei, a local confectionary brand, also located within the terminal and stocked with freshly-baked buttery pineapple cakes and smartly packaged cookies.

Changi also offers plenty of libations for the weary traveler. If you’re hanging around Terminal 4, stop by The Craft Collection, which offers small-batch and locally made beer and spirits. If alcohol isn’t your thing, consider a tea tasting at TWG Tea, a Singaporean tea brand that claims more than 1,000 varieties in their repertoire.

Having recovered to about 90% of its pre-pandemic passenger volume in 2023, Changi is poised to achieve a complete recovery in traffic in 2024. To manage the influx of arrivals, it’s slated to become one of the first passport-free airports in the world sometime this year and will allow travelers to flow out without physical documentation. Immigration clearance will be done via biometric data, which uses fingerprints and facial recognition.

And of course, the 43-year-old airport has no plans to slow down. The Singaporean government announced last year that they’re infusing another $2 billion into the hub. Construction for Terminal 5 is scheduled to begin in 2025 and be finished around the mid-2030s. It will be the airport’s largest expansion to date.

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