The Best Meal At Changi Airport: Staff Canteen!

by Shelli

When visiting an airport that for many years has been the number one rated airport, it can be challenging to know how to best spend your time. At an airport, it’s not about the sites or stores, but for me, it’s about the food and enjoying a local experience before jetting off. I received a fun “secret” tip about where to get the best meal at Changi Airport. I took the suggestion and was thrilled with my experience. Welcome to the world of staff canteens at Singapore’s Changi Airport!

Given all there is to see and do at Changi, I got there plenty early so as not to be rushed. After a fantastic hotel stay in Singapore, I departed on a Sunday morning. Traffic to the airport was quick with barely a 20 minute taxi ride. Check-in for my Malaysian Airlines flight was a breeze and immigration was super easy to negotiate.

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One unique part of the Changi airport experience was that security is at the gates. I’m not sure whether I prefer that or not because it did mean I had to get to the gate earlier than I normally like to. I think I’d have to experience security at the gate a few more times to see whether or not I prefer it.

Butterfly Garden

Image by Changi Airport

There are a few terminals to visit to take in all the amusements. First, I went to Terminal 3 to see the butterfly garden. I had no idea what to expect, and though it was a small garden, it was really special to be in the midst of all the butterflies and spend some time just watching them do their butterfly thing.

Using the Skytrain at Changi Airport

The Skytrain system at Changi is fantastic. And you can take your luggage carts on the Skytrain. This will come in handy if you use a luggage cart.

SATS Premier Lounge

I went back to Terminal 2 to check out the only lounge I had access to. It’s a SATS Premier Lounge that I had access to with Priority Pass. It was not at all crowded when I went in.

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As lounges go, I thought the food was great with dishes that were Asian-based. There was laksa and an assortment of curries. The lounge design was pleasant with good counter space for eating and working, as well as tables and chairs throughout the lounge. I liked that there was plenty of natural lighting.

Changi Airport Canteen

So many different food options in the canteen.

Then it was time for my canteen visit and the best meal at Changi Airport!

How To Find The Best Meal At Changi Airport

After checking in for my flight, I asked how to get to the canteen for employees. My ticketing agent gave me directions, but they were more like her swinging her arms right and then left and then right again and when I walked away I realized I had no idea where she meant for me to go.

I decided to head toward the end of the terminal and find some employees to follow and see where they went. Looking back on having done that, it probably wasn’t the best idea to start following airport employees, but in fact it worked! I ended up going up stairs, and through a parking garage. Then in an elevator and down a long hall. And there it was……the canteen.

Changi Airport Canteen

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I did get some strange looks because it was obvious I wasn’t an employee. The vendors were nice and helpful. I never mind getting stared at when I know I’ll benefit from a good meal.

Changi Airport Canteen

So many choices all looking so good!

The Choices At Changi’s Staff Canteen 

After looking around and seeing all the different food stands and watching what everyone else was ordering, I decided to keep it simple. I ordered Hainan chicken which came with rice, salad, and chicken soup. It was $3.60 USD. Can’t beat the quality or that price! Fun for me to get behind the scenes, too.

Best place for a meal at Changi Airport

Even if you don’t eat, it’s fun just to go and see the scene at the canteen.

Final Thoughts

As someone who generally never gets to airports any sooner than I have to, this was a fun few hours and time well spent. Insider tips are always the best. Next time you’re at Changi, head to the canteen. This is definitely the best meal at Changi Airport. It’s great that the canteen is not restricted solely to airport staff. If you have any other secret places in airports to grab a great meal, let me know. I promise not to share them 🙂

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Bill July 16, 2019 - 2:37 pm

At KUL, I ate at “nz Curry House” below Tower G. It’s not an employee canteen, per se, but employees get a discount and I was the only traveler dining there.
Great selection. Very tasty food, and VERY inexpensive.
An Air Asia mechanic sat down next to me. We started a conversation, and I got to ask a bunch of AV Geek questions.
One of the most memorable, and delicious, meals from my travels.

Shelli July 17, 2019 - 3:40 am

Great addition, Bill. Thanks. Wish I knew about this when I passed through KUL earlier this year. Those spontaneous conversations that we have when traveling do leave wonderful memories, I agree.

dayone July 16, 2019 - 3:42 pm

I learned about the Changi staff canteen 6 or 7 years ago. There is another one in the basement of T1.

Shelli July 17, 2019 - 3:37 am

Thanks for adding the T1 option!!

Ken July 29, 2019 - 3:09 am

Can i still go to the staff canteen even if I am just transiting thru changi airport? I have my connecting flight there and my layover time is 3 hours?

Shelli July 29, 2019 - 3:24 am

Thanks for reading and asking a great question, Ken. I do not know. However, given your 3 hour layover time, I would ask at Changi. I’m sure they will be able to direct you to the staff canteen if it’s available from where you are transiting. Do let us know if you get access!


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