a group of people standing on a glass ceiling

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.

a group of people inside a glass ceiling with plants and treesIf 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.

a highway with cars on itSo 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.

a group of people in a buildingAnd 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.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Claustrophobic! Loud! Humid! Crowded! Long lines!! Nauseated!

    One of the worst features (and there are many) is the MRT to Changi Airport is overly crowded with people going to Jewel. It’s a mass of travelers and tourists and people going to Jewel. An absolutely stupid place to drop a mall.
    Changi lost their edge with airport security due to the huge number of people coming through the terminals.

    Was there a few weeks ago; via T2 connection. Walkway was solid with people and strollers, suitcases. Families walking 3-5 across as slowly as possible. Horribly hot walkways with people stopping on people movers taking selfies; so stupid!

    It’s a friggin mall. I guess they got tired of Suntec. Inside, overly crowded floors with gawkers and people taking selfies. Noise level mind numbing.
    Not sure why people would wait a long time for restaurant. All of them are open-to-the walkways and the noise level and sea of gawkers makes a chaotic dining experience.
    This is what you get when you mix Las Vegas and ack-ack-ack people that put money over security and intelligent design.

  2. The Jewel is stunning. Had a chance to visit last month. Well worth the visit and easy to spend over an hour there. The US ought to be ashamed of itself to not have something even remotely comparable. Tisk tisk

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