Photo: There is nowhere quite like Singapore.

Whether you’re stuck in transit or just checked in waaay to early for your flight leaving Singapore (90 minutes is plenty), there’s no reason to be bored at Changi Airport. Save that Bill Bryson novel for the plane – a ton of fun and completely free things to do beckon within the secure departure area.

If Singapore is the “garden city” then Changi is definitely the garden airport. The whole airport is lush with tropical plants and orchids, but the theme gardens in each terminal are worth seeking out. Look for the cactus garden in Terminal 1, ferns, orchids, and sunflowers in Terminal 2, and the fragrant garden with frangipani and other sweet-smelling flowers at the Budget Terminal’s outdoor terrace (which also happens to be the smoking area). The best of the bunch is Terminal 3’s butterfly garden, the first of its kind in an airport, with nearly 50 colourful species fluttering about a walk-in enclosure with flowering plants, a waterfall, and educational stations where you can learn all about their lifecycle.

Go ahead, check in early.

For more high-tech diversions, head to the Entertainment Deck at Terminal 2 for LAN computer games, Xbox 360s, Playstations, music listening stations, and a giant plasma TV tuned to MTV. This is also where you’ll find one of Changi Airport’s two movie theatres (the other is in Terminal 3). The movie theatres are open 24 hours and the only thing you’ll need to pay for is popcorn.

Fly the friendly skies.

Airplane enthusiasts will want to check out the Changi Aviation Galleries in Terminals 2 and 3. Highlights include model airplanes, displays with fun facts about Changi’s daily operations, and a viewing area where you can watch the massive A380s and other planes on the tarmac. It may sound a bit dry, but the galleries are informative and interactive with hands-on activities especially for kids.

Families will also appreciate the children’s playground in each terminal – the perfect place to burn off some energy before a long flight.

If you have more than five hours to spare at Changi Airport you can sign up for a free sightseeing tour of Singapore. The tours last about two hours, are guided in English, and have either a cultural or colonial theme. Tours depart at 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, and 16:00 and require advance registration at the tour booth in Terminal 2 or Terminal 3. Of course, participants need to be eligible for a Singapore visa so they can enter the city.

Last updated on 13th November, 2014.

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