PHOTOS: The world’s best airport just unveiled a $1.3 billion glass dome mall with a stunning forest waterfall – here’s what it’s really like inside Jewel Changi Airport

The waterfall in the centre of Jewel Changi Airport sits amid a landscaped forest valley. The mall was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who also created Marina Bay Sands.
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Here’s one thing I’d bet my life savings on: Changi’s going to be crowned the best airport on the planet again this year.

Singapore’s famous airport – which has held the world number one title for six years running in the Skytrax awards – officially unveiled its first shopping mall, Jewel, on Thursday (April 11).

Changi Airport said in a statement that it expects 20 million visitors to the mall each year.

On Thursday (April 11), the media and some members of public were allowed in for a special ticketed preview ahead of the opening on April 17.

Business Insider went to take a look at the S$1.7 billion (US$1.25 billion) development – and we were blown away by how stunning it was.

Here’s what we saw:


The 10-storey Jewel Changi Airport was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie to reflect the country’s reputation as “a city in a garden”.

Before opening, it had already won four awards, including the International Architecture Award.

From the outside, the 38,500 sq m mall looks like a garden in a glass dome.

It’s located in the middle of Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and is reachable by a short walk from all three.
Facebook/Jewel Changi Airport

The mall – which took five years to build – sits on the space that used to be a carpark for Terminal 1.

The “before” to Jewel’s “after”.
Facebook/Jewel Changi Airport

Entry to Jewel is free. In fact, the mall was built to serve travellers with longer stopovers who have time to kill, but not enough hours to explore the city.

It also had kiosks that let travellers check-in over three hours before their flight, drop off their luggage, then enjoy the mall.

Currently, 26 airlines are offering the early check-in service.
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At the mall’s main entrance were “crystal clouds” made of wire and faux gems.

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Thanks to the glass walls, the “clouds” sparkle at night against the dark sky.

Jewel Changi Airport

After passing through the main entrance, visitors are immediately treated to a stunning view of of the mall’s centrepiece: a 40 metre-tall waterfall, flanked by four storeys of flowering terrace gardens.

Changi claims it’s the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
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Rainwater is collected and sent down the waterfall, then used to water the gardens around it.

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At night, the waterfall turned into the backdrop for a gorgeous light show.

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Jewel’s landscaped forest valley houses one of the largest indoor collections of plants in the country, with over 2,000 trees and 100,000 shrubs. 

The trees took nine months to obtain and two years to acclimatise in a local nursery before being moved into the mall.
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Every few minutes, the waterfall alternated between spewing water and mist.

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The roaring water had a majestic feel, while the mist gave it a mysterious vibe.

The overall look was very similar to the Cloud Forest exhibit in Gardens by the Bay.
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The water cascades down to the lower levels, ending in a pool.

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On the ground floor, pathways to the waterfall were covered in plants.

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Changi Airport Group managing director Jayson Goh said the greenery helps stressed-out travellers to relax.

There was even a mini bamboo forest.
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I took a walk around the waterfall. It was incredibly beautiful.

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Surrounding the waterfall were seating ledges and another, smaller waterfall.

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Some eateries even even had views of the waterfall.

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There were stairs that let visitors climb the terraces up to the top floor.

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Colourful orchids adorned the route up.

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There were fantastic viewing points of the waterfall from floors six to ten.

Of course, people went crazy taking pictures.
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One of the airport’s skytrains passes through the centre of the mall. It does not make a stop there, but riders get to enjoy a different view of the forest area.

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On the canopy level, a concierge counter was nestled among the trees.

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Next to it was Cloud9 Piazza, an indoor dining area with an al-fresco feel.

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Eateries here include London’s famous Burger and Lobster, Tanuki Raw, and Singapore’s first Tiger Beer “global concept store”.

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The Canopy Park’s main attraction was a walkway spanning several play areas. Here’s a one-minute walkthrough of the whole area:

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There were four play areas for kids, including a reflective slide… 

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… and a delightful woodland area called the Foggy Bowls, a grassy zone with dips and humps. 

Complete with soft “stone” cushions.
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Every few minutes, the dips filled up with smoke, which made sitting in them feel like being inside a cloud.

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There was also a hedge maze, a mirror maze, and a series of suspended nets that let children climb up into the trees.

However, these attractions will only be open to the public on June 10.
Jewel Changi Airport, Rachel Chia/Business Insider

There was a quiet pond flanked by tropical plants.

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The tropiary section featured animals like birds and an elephant made of flowers…

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… as well as a photo spot with two orangutan models – the mascot of the Singapore Zoo.

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Overall, the mall was so beautiful, it’s well worth a visit even if you don’t have a flight to catch.

Just ask the throngs of locals that swarmed it on preview day.
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Read also: Changi Airport Group and SIA are among top 75 employers Singaporeans want to work for – here’s who else made the list