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When people come to the airport without travel plans, you know you’ve accomplished something.

After landing off a 10 hour flight, most people aim squarely for their hotel for a quick shower and change. With an arrival into Terminal 1 at Changi Airport, that was the last thing on my mind. I had seen the press shots, heard the stories and simply could not wait to take in The Jewel, the newest addition to Changi Airport with my own eyes. I’m so glad I did.

If you’re already in Singapore Changi T1, you hardly need directions to find The Jewel. Just follow the masses of people toward the sound of falling water. First impression: wow, it really is big. The new indoor waterfall is officially the world’s largest indoor waterfall, which creates instant novelty, but also something worth seeing.

Perhaps like many travellers, I assumed that the water fixture was the gist of the new complex, but my goodness was I wrong. I honestly had no idea about the full on scale that the mall here offers. I’d say it’s one of the 10 best malls in the entire world, and yes, I know America loves malls and excels in creating them.

If you’re thinking about going, you can access the Jewel on its own, without going to an actual airport terminal. Just plug in “The Jewel” in Grab, or whatever ride share app you use in Singapore. If you’re in Changi, the Jewel is landside, so anyone can take part. It’s a heck of a place to spend time with family or friends before a flight. And yes, all of The Jewel at Singapore Changi is land side, rather than air side.

What makes this space outstanding is not just the world’s largest indoor waterfall, but really the indoor outdoor design of the entire space. Think big glass dome, with windows into the sky. On a blue sky day with a few scattered clouds, you feel as if you’re in a jungle canopy, even as you ascend in a mechanical escalator. I expected to stay 15 minutes, and was there over an hour.

So what’s actually there? The better question would be: what isn’t? Singapore has brought many of its cultural and culinary gems to the Jewel, creating a “Singapore in a bottle” experience of sorts. There’s set ups from the most beloved Singapore Hawker Stalls and shops like Supermama and Naiise, but then there’s everything you’d expect from Rodeo Drive, or mega mall. Here’s a list of the shops and dining establishments.

Of course, virtually every restaurant, hawker stall or shop in the Jewel is more expensive than the authentic version in town, but that’s another story for another day. Long story short: see the Jewel, but if you can – see Singapore too.

And of course, once you’ve spent to your wallets max, and eaten your fill, there’s the top level canopy park viewing area, which is like a real life foray into the movie Avatar. There are nets to bounce on, even if you’re a grown up, a light mist to cool off and stunning gardens. While the rest of the Jewel is free, this Canopy Park (level 5) area is SGD$5 ($3.75USD).

Again – take this out of the airport and it’s worth going to – put it in an airport, and it’s just absurdly cool. For years, I’ve always rated Singapore Airport the very best airport in the world for transiting, thanks to the outdoor butterfly garden, movie theatre, abundance of first rate airport hotels and proximity to the city, but the jewel makes this an airport worth going out of your way to experience.

Sure, there may be a whole lot of tourists, but if seeing people happy makes you happy, there’s a lot of that on display here, at all ages.

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