Travelling with kids: fun things to do with children at Changi Airport

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A giant slide, a pool and playgrounds galore – this is the airport? If you're jetting off and have a couple of pre-flight hours to kill with the family, or are looking for a cheap day out with the kids, you can't beat Changi Airport (it's one of our secret fave hangouts – shhh!) 

Whether you are flying off with the kids to an exciting family-friendly destination, popping out of town on a weekend short escape, or simply need a fun indoor activity to keep the kids amused for a few hours on a rainy day, Changi Airport has a ton of fun in store for all. From arts and craft to cool playgrounds, a themed Hello Kitty cafe to a magnetic train, we have the inside story on all there is to see and do with the kiddos at Changi Airport…

A DAY OUT AT THE AIRPORT (with nowhere to jet off to!)

Spot the planes
We’ve never come across a child who doesn’t love to watch planes taking off and landing, and Changi Airport has aced its public viewing gallery, making The Changi Aviation Gallery at Terminal 3 the perfect place for plane spotters of all ages. Kiddos can also check out the action on the tarmac: the area provides the ideal spot for viewing the ground operations too. Once your future pilots have watched the thousandth plane take to the skies, steer them over to the fun exhibit in the area, where you will find 50 cool facts about how Changi Airport is operated on a daily basis. Fact number one: at least 148,000 travellers and visitors pass through the airport every day! Now you need to go and find the other 49 facts…
Terminal 3, 6am to midnight daily, free admission

Art rubbing stations at Changi Airport

Kids will enjoy the art rubbing stations at Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Photography courtesy of Changi Airport.


Art at the airport 

Paper and crayons are provided for kiddos of any age at the art rub stations at Terminals 1 (at the level 3 viewing mall), 2 (next to the orchid garden) and 3 (next to the fountain area on B2). Little artists can lay their paper over the woodblocks (each one has a different design) and then rub over the top with their crayons to create mini-masterpieces featuring local cultural themes and iconic Singapore landmarks. Fun
and free!
Terminals 1 2 & 3, open 24 hours, free

Hop aboard the sky train
A train on a magnet? With no driver? Kids will adore going back and forth on the skytrain, which connects all three terminals via a quick, free rail track. It takes just four minutes to travel between terminals, which makes it the fastest, and the most fun way of travelling around the airport checking off our list of things to do!
All terminals, open 5am to 2.30am, free


The Kinetic Rain sculpture at Changi Airport: it's hard to tear the kids away from this one!

The Kinetic Rain sculpture at Changi Airport: it’s hard to tear the kids away from this one!

Watch the dancing rain!
If your kids love to watch things move and glimmer, then take them over to the centrepiece of Terminal 1: the world’s largest kinetic sculpture! Kids will be rooted to the spot (a rare occurrence indeed) as they gawp at the choreographed movements of Kinetic Rain, a 1,216 aluminium and copper raindrop display which is controlled by individual motors.
Terminal 1, open 24 hours, free

Send your fearless kids down Singapore’s tallest slide
This is the daddy of all slides here in Singapore, standing at an impressive 12 metres high (a whopping four storeys!), and can be found at Terminal 3, level 1. Sliders need to be aged above seven years, and measure between 1.3 and 2 metres before they are allowed to conquer their fear and hurtle down the slide. Smaller, younger kids (aged five and up and over 1.1 metres) with a sense of adventure can head to the one-and-a-half storey version at basement two.
Terminal 1, midday to 10.30pm daily, level 1 slide is free with every $10 spent at the airport and basement 2 slide is free for all

Burn off some energy at soft play
Expect a carousel, slides, dancing balloons and colouring activities at SingKids’ Teddy & Me indoor playground. Kids will love the Mr Bean in London theme, and with soft floors, and walls to break any tumbles, you can be sure that your little ones will be having maximum fun with minimum worry!
Terminal 3, open 11am to 11pm, cost from $22 per child for four hours of play

 

Kids will love the Hello Kitty themed cafe at Terminal 3

Kids will love the Hello Kitty themed cafe at Terminal 3 for Kitty-inspired eats

Enjoy brunch at a themed cafe
Hello Kitty Orchid Garden is the latest themed cafe in Singapore, and has sprung up at Terminal 3. Take a seat in the whimsical floral setting and try Hello Kitty-inspired dishes such as The Cat In Paradise (a Chinese-style mango pudding with a marshmallow twist), Big Breakfast Surprise (scrambled egg, smoked duck, mushrooms and crispy Kitty waffles) and Let’s Do The Salsa (a stack of shredded chicken, cheese and veggies sandwiched between Kitty-shaped focaccia toast). It’s open 24 hours, so a purr-fect late night dining spot or early morning breakfast joint for those taking flights at unsociable hours!
Terminal 3, Arrivals Hall, open daily 24 hours; www.hellokittyorchidgarden.com

Our own small dude was one of the first to check out the brand new Terminal 4. Photography: Tracy Tristram

Check out the new terminal on the block: Terminal 4!
This brand new snazzy terminal just opened and is well worth checking out to catch the cool immersive wall in the check-in area. The giant LED display showcases Singapore’s skyline and all the great Asian destinations the airport connects us to (and is great fodder for adding ideas to the ever-growing travel bucket list).
Terminal 4, Departures Hall, open daily 24 hours; www.t4.changiairport.com

PRE-FLIGHT FUN (for the lucky ducks jetting off on a plane!)

Go for a dip
If you have time to spare before you jet off to somewhere fabulous, then why not start your holiday cooled off and chilled out with a dip in the pool at the Ambassador Transit Hotel? This  Balinese-themed swimming pool, jacuzzi and poolside area is perfect for getting the holiday started, and the kids worn out nicely before the flight.
Terminal 1, open 7am to 11pm daily, $13.91 per person for non-residents, p.6542 5538; harilelahospitality.com

 

X-boxes, Play Stations and all things electronically fun are the name of the game at the Entertainment Deck

X-box and Play Stations are the name of the game at the Entertainment Deck. Photography courtesy of Changi Airport.

Keep the kids busy at the Entertainment Deck
Our love for Changi Airport deepened all the more when we discovered the Entertainment Deck at Terminal 2. We are talking five fabulous activities that will quieten the kiddos beautifully while you relax before the flight…

1. Xbox Kinect room: Yes we know we are always telling the kids off for ‘too much screen time’, but with an arduous journey ahead (because let’s face it, flying with kids can be hard work), who are we to deny ourselves some peace and quiet while the kids are kept busy on Kinect Sports? Plus this particular gaming experience will wear them out a treat with fun virtual sports to play including table tennis, beach volleyball, track & field events, bowling, boxing or soccer.

2. MTV booth: Kids (and grown ups!) can take some down time listening to and watching music videos on a whopping 50-inch plasma television, with sounds piped straight to your seat! Dancing optional.

3. Movie theatre: A cinema experience in an airport? Yes please! Keep the kiddos busy at the movies with some family-friendly blockbusters.

4. Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3: More games console choice and a large range of action-packed games to pick from will make the kids happy and parents relaxed for a moment or ten.

5. Food! All that fun leads to hungry, thirsty kids. Refuel at the Entertainment Deck’s cafeteria where delicious local and international fare is served up.
Terminal 2, Level 3, Departure Transit Lounge (next to the Sunflower Garden)

Discover playgrounds galore!
Playgrounds are a tried, tested and approved way for kids to burn off some energy before boarding a plane. Kids aged one to 12 can have a heap of fun in the indoor, air-conditioned playgrounds in departure lounges in all three terminals. There are plenty of seats around the areas, and decent coffee too, so sit back, have a cuppa and watch the kids wear themselves out before taking to the skies.
Terminal 1, Departure Transit Lounge East, next to Outdoor Garden, Level 2, Transit Area
Terminal 2, Departure Transit Lounge North, next to the Family Zone, Level 2, Transit Area
Terminal 3 , Departure Transit Lounge Central, next to SATS Special Service Lounge, Level 2, Transit Area and Departure Transit Lounge, outside gate holdroom A16 – A20, Level 2, Transit Area

 

Brighten your day with a visit to Changi Airport's rooftop Sunflower Garden at Terminal 2.

Brighten your day with a visit to Changi Airport’s rooftop Sunflower Garden at Terminal 2. Photography courtesy of Changi Airport.

Get back to nature
While gardens and nature might not immediately spring to mind when thinking about an airport, Changi boasts no less than seven areas brimming with green…

1. Sniff out the gorgeous blooms in the Water Lily Garden, which features these beautiful flowers in a natural, aquatic garden space at Terminal 1.
Terminal 1, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2, Transit Area

2. Try not to get too prickly with the kids at The Cactus Garden, which showcases more than 100 types of cacti and arid plants from around the world. (Psst: there’s a bar up there too…).
Terminal 1, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area

3. If you are departing from Terminal 2 then the colours of The Orchid Garden are definitely worth checking out: there are over 700 orchids on display to represent the four elements of nature (earth, water, fire and air) here.
Terminal 2, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2, Transit Area

4. Are the small humans driving you nuts before you’ve even boarded the plane? Cheer yourself up instantly with a visit to the bright and happy Sunflower Garden! This spot is also top-notch for the kids to spy planes from: rooftop views are directly over the runway and parking bays.
Terminal 2, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area

5.  Enchanted gardens are always a hit with the littlies, and the one at Changi is truly enchanting! The interactive area is full of nature sounds and huge flowers which are lit up by fibre-optic and LED lighting, plus we are always impressed at the giant glass bouquet centrepiece, which is decorated entirely with mosaics and stained glass. Real flowers entwine with the glass versions to give a truly magical feel.
Terminal 2, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2, Transit Area

6. A butterfly garden? In an airport? You couldn’t make this stuff up! This is a world-first of its kind in an airport, and the garden is designed as a tropical butterfly haven with over 1000 flying beauties from 40 different species brightening up your pre-flight hours. We are talking a six-metre grotto waterfall, a heap of flowering tropical plants, lush greenery and educational corners where kiddos will love getting up close to watch the butterflies feeding (and breeding too: good luck explaining that!).
Terminal 3, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2 & 3, Transit Area

7. Head to the Pizazza Garden (not to be confused with a pizza garden), where seasonal and thematic displays are changed throughout the year. Check out special displays during Singapore’s cultural and ethnic festivals for plants and flowers to represent the celebrations happening at that time.
Terminal 1, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 2, Transit Area       

Catch some cartoons
Head to the Family Room where the whole fam can chill out at the small playground or zone out watching some cartoons. You’ll find nappy changing rooms and nursing rooms here too.
Terminal 2, Departure Transit Lounge, opposite playground, Level 2, Transit Area

Indulge in a pampering session
Send the kids off with dad to the Entertainment Deck or the playground, and check yourself in for some pre-flight decadence with a hair or beauty session at one of Changi’s two spas!
Terminal 1, Airport Wellness Oasis, Departure Transit Lounge East, Level 2, Transit Area, p. 6546 2433, open daily, 24 hours.
Terminal 2, TranSpa, Departure Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area, p. 6542 2849, open 11am – 9pm daily.

Lead Image: Changi Airport

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