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Changi Point Coastal Walk
Photograph: JPL Designs/Shutterstock

The ultimate guide to Changi

It's not just home to the world's best airport. It also has a beach, a museum, and the tallest indoor waterfall

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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An aviation hub, Changi is home to the best airport in the world – one that has held the title for eight consecutive years including 2020. But besides its glimmering glory, this 'hood in the east has a rather morbid past. Within its grounds is Singapore's largest – and oldest – prison which was used as a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during the Japanese Occupation in World War II. Furthermore, its beach was the site of the Sook Ching massacre, and its infamous hospital – now abandoned – is the stuff on nightmares.

But further back in time, Changi was once a swampland known as Tanjong Rusa before it was given the name Tanjong Changi in the early 19th century. There are various origins to the etymological roots of its name. Some say it stems from a tall tree called Pokok Chengal, others say it comes from a climbing shrub known as the Changi Ular or Chengal Asir. A mix of old and new, Changi retains its old-school charm by the sea and has the world's tallest man-made indoor waterfall – all in one 'hood.

RECOMMENDED: Ultimate guide to Singapore's neighbourhoods and the ultimate guide to Pasir Ris 

Do

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Changi¬†

After three years since it was closed for redevelopment, Changi Chapel and Museum is finally reopening its doors on May 19. The museum is, arguably, the most iconic of World War II sites in Singapore – never mind the fact that it’s housed in a purpose-built venue, and the chapel is a reconstruction (the original was shipped to Australia after the war). Following the update, the commemorative site features new content and artefacts showcased in an intimate and engaging format to tell the stories of industry and ingenuity within the Prisoners-of-War camps in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation.

  • Things to do
  • Changi¬†

The new 3.5-kilometre Changi Airport Connector allows you to cycle, skate, run, jog, and walk to Jewel Changi Airport and the terminals from East Coast Park or any of the Park Connector Network (PCN), and vice versa. It’s also home to the city’s largest permanent outdoor display of life-sized dinosaurs Changi Jurassic Mile, as well as pit stop facility Hub & Spoke where you can rent bicycles from GoCycling, and cool off with a pay-per-use shower after a sweat session.

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  • Property
  • Changi¬†

Standing at the 40-metres in height, the world's tallest indoor waterfall is the epicentre of the crown jewel of Changi Airport. Besides the magnificent sight, the majestic dome is also home to a myriad of restaurants, shops, and attractions including the Canopy Park. The play wonderland is known for its six-and-a-half-metre-tall Discovery Slides, cloudy Foggy Bowls, colourful Petal Garden, and whimsical Topiary Walk. Over at the Changi Experience Studio, there are a number of interactive games that illustrate the work it takes to get Changi Airport working like clockwork.

  • Things to do
  • Changi¬†

Unlike East Coast Park, Changi Beach Park has a distinct kampong vibe. You’ll feel it the moment you sink your toes into the white sand. In fact, we daresay that this park is your best bet if you want to escape the weekend throngs. Rent bicycles for the family and hit the nearby Park Connectors, or book one of the 20 barbecue pits across the entire park – and since most people flock to its cousin on East Coast, it’s relatively easier to score one here.

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  • Things to do
  • Changi¬†

For a scenic stroll, make your way to the boardwalk in the western end of Changi Point. Start at Changi Creek in the east before traversing the 2.2-kilometre stretch which looks out to neighbouring Johor. Continue towards the western rocky coast near Changi Beach Club where the path eventually branches out to Changi Point and Loyang Park Connector at Nethervaron Road. While you soak in the stunning, rustic views, you'll pass bits of Changi Beach, bumboats taking day-trippers out to Pulau Ubin, and some wildlife too.

Eat

  • Restaurants
  • Caf√©s
  • Changi¬†

Located off Changi Airport Terminal 2, lies a secret garden café that is hidden from plain sight. Hub and Spoke Cafe offers a tranquil escape to unwind and grab a bite – the glasshouse-looking space lets in oodles of natural sunlight, and the breezy alfresco veranda comes flanked by plenty of fauna. The menu here captures a colourful, multi-cultural variety – from steamed yam buns ($4.50) and kopi (from $1.30) to salmon Benedict ($11.90) and even bubble tea.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Changi¬†

A new concept has rolled into town: a specialty cinnamon bun kiosk. Rrooll is dedicated to the humble cinnamon roll – served in ways both classic and novel. The classic cinnamon ($3.40) comes dusted with premium spice sourced from Korintje, Indonesia; while those with a sweet tooth can sample the fluffy bread topped with apple compote ($3.40), and cocoa with orange ($3.40). For something savoury, try the Japanese curry ($3.90) stuffed with chicken ham, garlic onion and cheese ($3.40), and Hawaiian ($3.90) that comes mixed with tomato sauce and pineapple chunks.

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  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Changi¬†

Much closer to Changi Point Ferry Terminal (the main transfer point to Pulau Ubin), this hawker haunt is popular among weekend fishermen and supper seekers in the east. There are more Malay-cuisine stalls here as compared to other hawker centres, and Changi Village Hawker Centre is hailed as a nasi lemak haven by most locals. Order a plate at International Muslim Food Stall Nasi Lemak (#01-03) known for their take on the famous rice dish ($3.50) which comes with crispy and juicy fried chicken, lemongrass-tinged pandan rice and chunky otah.

  • Restaurants
  • Changi¬†

Located on the outskirts of Changi, this casual dining hotspot is a treasure trove of retro memorabilia. Think antique bicycles, vintage cameras and kerosene lamps. The restaurant itself is spacious and airy, flooded with natural light due to its floor-to-ceiling windows, while surrounding greenery provide ample opportunities for an outdoor shot. The menu includes sharing plates like har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken) ($16) and wagyu cubes ($24), while seafood selections like the grilled octopus ($31), sambal squid ($21) and drunken lala clams ($23) promise to be fresh and filling. 

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Tampines
  • price 1 of 4

Set against the backdrop of the Singapore Straits, this alfresco restaurant along Changi Coastal Walk welcomes all to wine and dine under the stars – or sun, if you're here for an afternoon munch. But trust us, it's most romantic during sunset. Snag the best seats on the boardwalk or under one of the shady Bali-style cabanas, and savour the flavour of its signature Western delights including the spaghetti marinara with prawn, scallop and mussel ($24), Hawaiian pizza with chunks of sweet pineapple and savoury ham ($19), and the creamy Tiramisu ($10).

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Changi¬†

For a bougie-er alternative, opt for London's Burger & Lobster's debut Singapore restaurant perched on Jewel Changi Airport's topmost floor. Crack into its signature lobster platters ($65) – steamed or grilled lobsters from Canada served with a side of fries and garden salad. Otherwise, grab a bite of its Nabraskan beef burgers ($25) finished with house-made pickles, onions and secret sauce, or buttery brioche lobster roll ($40). The restaurant also offers stunning views of the Shiseido Forest Valley and the HSBC Rain Vortex while you dine.

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  • Restaurants
  • Peranakan
  • Changi¬†

If there's anyone who knows how to dress up and elevate humble Peranakan cuisine, its Violet Oon. Besides a few dishes she’s kept exclusive to each restaurant, the menus share favourites like chicken buah keluak ($23), sweetened braised daging chabek beef cheek ($35) and Oon's invention of dry rice noodles, coated in a rich laksa sauce ($22). Elevate your experience at its Jewel outlet (the biggest) with the exclusive Nyonya Poh Piah Party ($58). Each platter comes with toppings such as bamboo shoot and jicama braised in our savoury prawn bisque, Chinese sausage, house-made chilli, dried sole fish, steamed prawns, and more. There are six skins you can gussy a roll up to your liking – figuring out how much you can stuff in there without breaking the skin is half the fun. Eating it like a burrito is the other half.

Drink

  • Bars and pubs
  • Changi¬†

Yes, it’s ridiculously ulu. But trust us, a visit to this 400-seater microbrewery and smokehouse is well worth your Grab fare. Little Island Brewing Co occupies a warehouse-like space on the eastern reaches of Singapore, pouring out a range of ales, porters and stouts, as well as its very own craft beer. Bonus points for its laid-back vibe – the beach is just a stroll away – and the ’60s psychedelic-inspired beer labels.

Tiger Street Lab
  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean

This isn't your regular beer garden. Tiger Street Lab is the brand's first global experiential concept store where visitors can taste the flavours of Singapore, ranging from beer and food to fashion and design. It's the only place where you can try seasonal Tiger brews, the first is the Orchid ($10), a black lager infused with our national flower. What better to pair it with than with some local food? The brand is partnering up with Keng Eng Kee Seafood to offer zi char favourites like moonlight hor fun ($10), coffee pork ribs ($15) and chicken cutlet ($18) doused in a Tiger Lemon Radler sauce.

Before you leave, don't forget to make your own personalised beer bottle label. All you have to do is head over to the interactive touchscreens and choose from a couple of exclusive designs. You label is printed on the spot so you can savour and enjoy.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Tampines
  • price 2 of 4

Popular among Tokyo worker bees, Japanese izakayas are cheap drinking and snacking bars that provide an ideal setting to destress and socialise after a hectic day at the office. Taking this as its template, the bar serves Asahi draught all day, every day at $5 for a half-pint. If Japan’s premier brew isn’t your choice of poison, sup on a range of international beers for a bucket of five.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Changi¬†

This sports bar-slash-gastrobar in nostalgic Changi Village serves up pub grub such as the classic fish and chips ($18.90), lasagne ($15.90), and BYOB (build your own burger) burgers for you tuck into while you cheer on for your favourite football or rugby team on screen. Wash it all down with a specially shaken (or stirred) cocktail or a pint of your favourite brews including Tuas Brewing Co's Singapore Lager, Miller Genuine Draft, and Grolsch Premium Lager.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centres
  • Tampines

Changi City Point is home to many high-street fashion outlets. Pick up some everyday basic threads for cheap from Cotton On and Esprit or shop for comfy shoes from Bata, Aldo, or Clarks. While you’re at it, stock up on athleisure wear from Bods Bodynits and replace your old runners with a new pair of spiffy shoes from Royal Sporting House, Puma, or Adidas at a considerable discount.

  • Shopping
  • Shoes
  • Changi¬†

Upping the street cred at Level 2 of Jewel Changi Airport is the new Converse flagship store. This is where you can pick up the latest and most exclusive collections from the iconic shoe brand – and get an eyeful of Converse's first indoor City Forest mural and two in-store wall murals designed and painted by the young Converse All-Stars team of creatives. And there's more than meets the eye. Whip out your phone and scan the QR code for a surprise – the jungle foliage comes alive with the magic of AR, revealing factoids about gender equality milestones in Singapore.

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  • Shopping
  • Fashion
  • Changi¬†

With pastel-coloured walls and high ceilings, what draws you in the store is how much it looks like a museum. The local label offers shoppers a retail experience beyond just clothes. The curated collection includes their womenswear, menswear, and children's wear which is known for its timeless silhouettes and quality fabrics; and also books, accessories, scented candles, and chocolates. Refuel with something sweet like a scoop of ice-cream from Birds of Paradise, which sets camp in the store. The ice-creamery is known for gelato created from herbs, spices, and botanical ingredients.

  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • Changi¬†

The first centre to open outside Japan, the Pokémon Center Singapore is a specialist store for all things Pokémon. Think plush toys, video games, trading cards, apparel and more. The centre looks just like the ones in Japan but the Jewel Changi Airport outlet also stocks Singapore-exclusive official merchandise so if you’re a huge fan, you’ll probably need to collect ‘em all.

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  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Changi¬†

Just another shoe store in town? Not quite. For the first time in Southeast Asia, Nike will feature its full product showcase across all sports and lifestyle categories, right here at the Jewel at Changi Airport store – which is why the store is also the largest one in Singapore. Both like a Nike museum and store, fans of the brand can browse through the huge collection of footwear, apparel and accessories for your running, cross-training, football, basketball and other sporting lifestyle needs.

Explore more 'hoods

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