Singapore is known for its gardens, interesting architecture, food and shopping. Often, these facets of Singapore’s culture come together. For example, the purple avatar-like Supertrees, which are soaring vertical gardens at Gardens by the Bay that support a several-story high walkway and restaurant, and are home to a nightly light show.
If you have had the opportunity to see Supertree Grove or the nearby Cloud Forest and Flower Dome – large, cooled conservatories – then you probably won’t be surprised by Singapore’s newest attraction, but you’ll still likely be impressed.
This week I travelled to Singapore for a quick work trip, which meant on the way home I had the opportunity to see the newly-opened Jewel at Changi Airport. Jewel, which opened 17 April, combines Singaporeans’ love of gardens, food and shopping in an interesting and impressive structure. It is a massive glass dome, shaped sort of like a large doughnut, and its outer-shell is very similar to the Cloud Forest. Jewel sits in the middle of the “U” formed by Changi Airport’s Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and is connected to all three.
The main attraction is the HSBC Rain Vortex – a massive circular waterfall in the center of the building that appears to be pouring out of the dome’s centre and falling through the floor. According to Jewel’s guide, the Rain Vortex is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 40 metres (131 feet) high. It is surrounded by an indoor garden, full of flowers, trees, shrubs, and a cascading waterfall that step down all five levels of the buildings interior. Between 7:30 pm and 12:30 am, the entire garden becomes the viewing platform for the hourly light show on the Rain Vortex.
Around the vortex and it’s garden is a circular shopping mall, full of local and international shops and eateries. There are 5 levels to the building, plus two basement levels. Many of the levels are still two stories high themselves. This means the circular hallway has soaring ceilings and many of the shops and restaurants still have an upper and lower floor, while still being on the one level.
Much of this mall portion of the building is geared toward the locals that live in the area – providing them with a brand new shopping mall close to home. If you are not into shopping, it’ll probably not interest you. There are, however, many more eating options available for travellers who want something more than the existing airport options. There is pretty much every type of cuisine you can think of available, including a few international food chains that have opened their first Singapore location at Jewel. There where hour-long queues at Shake Shack and A&W, due to the locals’ excitement. I expect these queues will lessen over time.
The basement levels house a few more shops and a food court around the Atrium, the centerpiece of which is the internal catchment of the Rain Vortex. It’s pretty cool to see the water cascading down the inside of a clear cylinder.
Level 5 will have soon have some additional attractions for the travellers, such as a walking net hung over part of the garden, a hedge maze and slides for the children. These attractions aren’t set to open until mid-June.
There are also some important airport functions available at Jewel. There is an early check-in available so that you can check your bags and wander around Jewel before going through immigration to your gate. There is also baggage storage, a lounge, and a hotel. Jewel is attached to the Terminal 1 Arrival Hall, so travellers can easily make their way into T1 from the ground level. Alternatively, there are walking bridges to T2 and T3.
Fly to Changi Airport and clear immigration to enter Singapore. Then take the link bridges from the T2 or T3 Departure Halls, or walk in from the Arrival Hall of T1.
If you are already in the city, reach Jewel the same way you would get to the airport; either by MRT, bus or Taxi.
It is important to note that Jewel is on the public grounds of Changi Airport – meaning that you must be able to enter Singapore and have cleared immigration and customs to be able to experience it. As it is connected to the airport, it is a good, easy option to entertain yourself if you have a long layover, without the worry of having to make it back from the city on time.
If you are not able to enter Singapore, or just don’t have a lot of time, you can always take the Sky Train from T2 to T3 – it passes through the centre of Jewel and past the Rain Vortex so you can get a quick 2 minute view without the need to clear immigration or walk.
Jewel is officially open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. However, these times are mostly for the shopping centre as the Rain Vortex show continues through 12:30 am and there are several food venues open 24 hours.