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Singapore 2024 - Chiangi Airport and Jewel

Pictured: The Jewel waterfall, HSBC Rain Vortex, before operation

I wanted to separate the Chaingi Airport and Jewel into it's own part since both are pretty much a destination in themselves. People on vacation actually go to the Jewel to spend lot of time there, even if they don't have to catch a flight, because there's so much to do and places to eat. And some go to the airport early, like myself, to venture around the airport. There are a few differences with the airport side which makes it unique, both good and bad.

Chiangi Airport in one of the best airports in the world, with a plethora of shops and entertainment within the 3 main terminals, which are fused together with a transit system. There is a 4th terminal which it at a separate location serving certain International airlines such as Air France and Qatar, but Terminals 1 - 3 are the main ones. Attached to Terminal 1 is the Jewel which is essentially a big shopping and entertainment complex (which cost about $1.47SG to build).

On thing to keep in mind when traveling to Chiangi, is that the access for both the airport and Jewel are separate, meaning you can't freely wander between the two locations. The Jewel is considered the "Land" side (after you clear Immigration after you've landed). Once you cleared Immigration in that direction, you're in Singapore, and you cannot go back into the Airport (Air Side), unless you have a valid boarding pass.

Conversely, if you go to the Airport and clear the first Security going to the "Air Side", you cannot go back out if you get tired of the airport and want to wander the Jewel. Keep this in mind when you travel there. On my first trip to Singapore in 2020, my fliight arrived at 1am. I had planned to kill some time at the airport since alot of things food stalls and the theater were open 24 hours. But I had cleared Immigration too soon and was on the landside around 2am, for which nothing in the Jewel was open. This trip, i made sure not to leave Immigration early.

For 5:30am, it was surprising how busy it was with travelers and how many stores and food stalls were open. This was in Terminal 2.

I got hungry so I stumbled upon a nice food court which a few stalls open, serving full meals such as chicken rice, roast pork, and even ramen.

The interesting thing is that you order from a central kiosk station for which you can order from any of the stalls that are open.

I ended getting the Roast Pork. It was exceptional for airport food.

Also, found a 7-11 at the airport. Since Japan, I always seeked out 7/11's in other countries because they are 100x better than the ones in the states. Lots more variety of ready-made food and an assortment of drinks. The one here wasn't as good as Japan but still miles better than any in the states

Fast forward to my flight back to the states, I flew out of Terminal 3 this time and this had different attractions such as a 24 hour movie theater and a butterfly garden.

If you have access to Airport Lounges via your Credit Card (Priority Pass) or with your Premium Economy or Business Class ticket, you should be well covered at the Terminal you're in (you can still venture to the other terminal to go to other lounges). If you are on a long layover, there are transit hotel and sleep lounges within the airport.

Terminal 3 also had a food court / Hawker Center with a long list of food stalls. It had central order kiosks for which you can order from any of the open stalls. I got another Hainanese Chicken Rice (one of many on the trip) and it was good

Pictured: Food court in Terminal 3

One of the best things about Chiangi Airport is the Immigration line. Most of the travelers can use the automated lanes, even travelers with foreign passports (Ie. US Passports). You just need to fill out the SG Arrival Card at least 3 days before you arrive. It can be done through it's MyICA mobile app and is pretty easy to use, even if you have more than one arrival date, which I had as I as going to Malaysia for a couple of days then returning to Singapore for a couple more days.

The Immigration process is jut a marvel. You enter a lane with to kiosks. On the first kiosk, you scan your passport. If you are green lit, the door opens to the next kiosk for biometrics. You scan one of your thumbs, then look into the camera for facial recognition. Once you're ok, you'rer in Singapore! The process literally took less than two minutes.

Pictured: The Immigration line into Singapore at 6am

Conversely, for going into the airport for a departing flight, there a few things you should be aware of (which is different for most other airports). The ticket counters and baggage check-in are outside of the preliminary Security gates, which they will do the boarding pass check, then you will go through the two kiosks for passport scan and biometrics. No scanning of your bags at this point.

One of the biggest differences with Chiangi Airport is that the security scanners are at the gate. This does alleviate the bottleneck at the security gates since there isn't one main hub. When you get to your gate, it is an enclosed area with scanners of their own. While there may be some advantages to this type of setup, there are a few cons. One main con is that there are no bathrooms in the gate area. Once you pass gate security and are in the boarding area, you're not able to leave (at least not easily). Another con is that bringing liquids is not easy. I usually buy a soda to bring on the plane but not possible with this setup. Also there are no water fountains within the gate to fill up a water bottle.

Pictured: Enclosed departure gates with security scanners. Go to the bathroom before you enter

The Jewel

Pictured: The Jewel from the Departure Bridge

Jewel Changi Airport is a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex and is attached to Terminal 1. The Jewel has 10 floor levels, 5 above ground and 5 below. It has a vast array and shops, hotels, restaurants and activities. The main attraction is the Rain Vortex which is a huge indor waterfall. It is technically open 24 hours but a lot of the stores don't open until about 9am. The Rain Vortex does start operating until about 10am.

There's a wide array of restaurants, some high end Michelin Star, and lots of regular restaurants. Some chains that you wouldn't expect, like Shake Shack.

There are many services geared for the travelers such as baggage storage and early check-in for certain airlines, so you don't have to go to the baggage counters at the terminals. Just drop your bags and explore Jewel.

There's plenty of attractions, such as the bouncing and walking nets at the top of the Jewel. There's also the Mirror and Hedge Mazes, and several Interactive and Virtual attractions.

With all these eateries, shops and attractions, it's no wonder why Chiangi Airport is one of the best airports in the world. It is also one of the most unique. Suck it, Orlando International Airport!

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