The world's tallest indoor waterfall is coming to the world's best airport

Hugh Morris
Jewel's 'rain vortex' is its indoor waterfall - changi airport

Holidaymakers arriving at Singapore Changi from mid-April will be met by the sight of the world’s largest indoor waterfall as the airport prepares to unveil its £951 million Jewel development.

Long in the making, the vast extension built over a former car park is to open on April 17 and will feature an indoor “forest valley” with 3,000 trees, a 40-metre high “rain vortex” and more than 280 shops and restaurants.

Jewel at Changi, an airport regularly ranked as the best in the world, will be 10 storeys high, cover 137,000 square metres and feature a “canopy park” with walking trails and a playground.

It will be connected to terminals one, two and three, which cover both British Airways and Singapore Airlines flights to and from London.

It was designed by a team of consultants from Safdie Architects as well as RSP and Benoy.

Jewel features more than 3,000 trees Credit: changi airport

“Jewel is set to be a unique destination, like no other,” said Ivan Tan, group senior vice president of communications at Changi Airport. “It offers a mix of lush greenery, a scenic waterfall, incredible retail offerings and family play attractions that together make for an unrivalled experience. We are excited to bring a new dimension to the travel and leisure experience of our visitors.”

Jewel will also be home to its own 130-room hotel by Yotel, a brand that specialises in airside cabin-type pods. Shops in the space will include the largest Nike store in south-east Asia, a Uniqlo and a Marks and Spencer.

A second phase of development is planned for later in the year, which will include three further attractions: Sky Nets, Canopy Mazes and Discovery Slides.

The rooftop canopy will provide a playground Credit: changi airport

Is Singapore Airport the best in the world?

According to the Skytrax World Airport Awards it is, and has been for the last six years.

  1. Singapore Changi
  2. Seoul Incheon
  3. Tokyo Haneda
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Doha Hamad
  6. Munich
  7. Centrair Nagoya
  8. London Heathrow
  9. Zurich
  10. Frankfurt

What makes Changi so special?

It has a butterfly garden, for starters. Found in Terminal 3, it features flowering plants, a six-metre waterfall and 1,000 butterflies from 40 species.  

Those using Terminal 1 will have to console themselves with a cactus garden (featuring 40 species and a cocktail bar), a rooftop swimming pool and jacuzzi (from which you can watch

Changi is one of the world's busiest airports Credit: changi airport

planes taking off), a water lily garden, and the Kinetic Rain art installation featuring 1,216 polished copper raindrops.

Terminal 2 treats travellers to a collection of rare orchids, 500 bright yellow sunflowers,  decorative mosaic sculptures, and the Entertainment Deck, home to Xbox 360s and a free 24-hour cinema.

There’s also a cinema in Terminal 3. And a koi pond. And a 12-metre high slide.

All travellers enjoy free Wi-Fi (since 2002) and free city tours (if they are waiting for a connecting flight).

Is it the busiest airport in the world?

Opened in 1981, Changi has grown steadily, handling 23.8 million passengers in 1998, 30.4 million in 2004, 42 million in 2010, and 65.6 million last year. There are still many busier airports, however, with Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International top of the pile. More than 107 million travellers paid it a visit in 2018.

For more on what to see and do in Singapore, see our expert guide. Or else use it as a stopover for a flight to Australia or New Zealand (or even Papua New Guinea).