On a recent overseas trip I found myself having to spend a 3 hour stopover in Singapore Duty Free. Now usually I’d head into the city, find a bar, get my drink on and head back closer to my departure time. This time I spent my three hours wondering through Terminal 1 of Changi Singapore Airport, given my usual stop overs in Singapore Duty Free were to Terminal 3, I started to compare the terminals for duty free experience.
Ok so to get you in the mood, first here are some fun facts about Changi Singapore Airport. It was the 7th busiest airport globally in 2012 with over 4,000 weekly flights. It connects more than 18 airlines to 220 cities around the world and has 3 terminals operating 24 hours per day. It’s a major connection facility for many routes across Asia and the world so one thing they best do well is entertain the millions (yes millions) of travellers that drag their jetlagged bodies through Singapore Airport every year. So which terminal is best for Singapore Airport’s Duty Free experience?
Singapore Duty Free Airport Terminal 1 – The Strip
The first terminal built at Changi Singapore Airport, has a pretty decent duty free shopping experience. All gates funnel you to the shopping on that same level and with one long strip it’s like Las Vegas Boulevard for Duty Free shopping, if it’s not on the strip it’s not worth visiting.
T1 has everything your duty free heart desires with the DFS Liquor and Tobacco store to pick up your scotch, vodka or pretty much any other alcoholic beverage your heart desires and the cosmetics and perfumes store by Nuance Watson catering for all your beauty needs. Specialty stores surround these stores from brands such as Gucci, Victoria Secret, and Burberry just to name a few (see below for a full list of each terminal’s duty free store offering).
DFS Liquor and Tobacco and Perfumes and Cosmetics by Nuance Watson are both conveniently located smack bang in the middle of the shopping strip directly opposite the immigration and Singapore entry gates. I didn’t spend too much time in Nuance Watsons shop as there was plenty to keep me occupied at DFS’s Tobacco and Liquor store including an awesome try before you buy bar from Belvedere Vodka. A couple of cheeky shots later and I was in the spending mood, but don’t worry there always plenty of deals from DFS so the hip pocket doesn’t get too beaten up here and Duty Free Addict helped me make sure it was cheaper here than picking it up on my arrival back home! A key thing to remember though when you’re buying you alcohol at Changi Singapore Airport is to make sure you get your alcohol purchases early, as they need 1.5hrs to get it to your gate in sealed bags otherwise you’ll lose it at the gate!! But don’t worry there are plenty of signs around to remind you of this fact!
If you’re departing Singapore from T1 (not just passing through) the tax refunds are located behind the DFS Liquor and Tobacco store so you can claim the GST on your purchases before you leave, check out the tax section of our website for what you need to know.
Other bits of Changi Singapore Airport Terminal 1:
If your keen for a bite whilst at T1 level 3 is your best option with a 24hr food court ready to feed your hunger plus a couple of bars and lounges around to grab a drink whilst you wait for your flight, personal favourite is La Cave Wine Bar outside on Level 3. Oh and if you need to grab some duty free quickly on your way to your gate both DFS and Nuance Watson have small stores at each end so you can quickly grab whatever you need on the way.
Singapore Duty Free Airport Terminal 2 – Wide Open Spaces
The Singapore Duty Free experience at T2 in the airport is a bit scattered. The Shopping area is easy to find again centrally located with both gate wings spanning off from here but rather than one long strip T2 is a wide open area with stores scattered in no particular order, it might be a little hard to navigate the randomness (especially after a long flight) so it can be easy to miss key stores which might save you a bit extra on the price so T2 is probably not as effective as T2 to know exactly everything that is on offer here.
Although many of the same stores from T1 are also in T2, DFS Liquor and Tobacco and Perfumes and Cosmetics by Nuance Watson are again the main key note shops but with the addition of the Fashion Gallery and more specialty stores, like Lacoste, M.A.C Cosmetics and for the chocoholic in you there is even M&M World to get your chocolate fix (check out the list below of all shops at each terminal).
I’d have to say the offering in T2 is definitely better than T1, although it’s hard to know this just buy wandering through the arcade. Be mindful also that the same rules apply here, if you want booze buy it early so the staff can get it sorted and to your gate in time for your flight.
Other bits of Changi Singapore Airport Terminal 2:
The common theme of shops on level 2 and food and lounges on level 3 flows through to T2 but again plenty more options for food exist in T2. My favourite bar here is O’leary’s Sports Bar, the lads can catch up on results they’ve missed whilst in the air while the ladies do some damage on the plastic. For passengers who have stayed in Singapore you can claim GST on you’re in country purchases behind the Electronics Computers by Sprint-Class store at the back right once you’re through immigration.
Singapore Airport Terminal 3 – Third Times a Charm
The newest Terminal at Singapore Airport, built in 2008 incorporates what works well in the two other terminals and takes it to the next level. The layout of the Duty Free shopping area goes back to the original long corridor encompassing the greater exposure to as many stores in a simple and effective hallway, but with a couple of small side arteries you get some extra shopping flavour. Encompassing the best duty free stores from T1 and T2 plus additions from Sony, Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger just to name a few shows T3 takes the cake for Singapore’s Duty Free shopping at Changi Airport.
The designers of T3 got it right, compacting the larger offering of T2 with the simple navigation of T1. The big Duty Free chain stores are, as with T1 and T2, located in the middle and surrounded by the specialty brand stores and again you can grab something quickly on your way to your gate. There aren’t as many stores here as in T2 but the selection is in my opinion better with all the high end fashion houses plus good electronics and jewellers for your watches, gold and silver needs. There are also plenty of rest areas so you can shop, rest and repeat!
The Tax Refund is again hidden away behind Perfumes & Cosmetics by Nuance Watson and level 3 will service all your lounge and hunger needs.
Other bits of Changi Singapore Airport Terminal 3:
T3 also offers a few more added benefits like laptop pit stops and free internet area’s where you can jump on your laptop, check emails or make sure your kept up to date with your social media accounts. Hard Rock Café have a restaurant here and you can even get a deep tissue massage if your flight or holiday left you stiff and sore!
And the Winner is….
I’d have to say T3 has Singapore’s best Duty Free offering of all three terminals at Changi Singapore Airport, with the best specialty stores in an easy to navigate layout so you can work your way through and see exactly what’s on offer and where to get it from. But don’t worry if you’re coming in to one of the other terminals (or what you want isn’t on offer in T3) then jump on the Skytrain and get to where you need to super quick. If it were me, I’d be shopping in T3 and heading to T2 for some food and a drink at the sports bar or head on to T1 for a cheeky vino at La Cave Wine Bar.
So what should you buy at Changi Airport Singapore?
Singapore Duty Free:
Duty Free Prices:
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DUTY FREE STORES BY TERMINAL
|TERMINAL 1||TERMINAL 2||TERMINAL 3|
|Perfumes & Cosmetics by Nuance Watson||Perfumes & Cosmetics by Nuance Watson||Perfumes & Cosmetics by Nuance Watson|
|DFS Liquor & Tobacco||Liquor & Tobacco by DFS||Liquor & Tobacco by DFS|
|The Cocoa Trees||The Cocoa Trees||The Cocoa Trees|
|TOP Orchids||TOP Orchids||TOP Orchids|
|Sunglass Hut||Sunglass Hut||Sunglass Hut|
|Paul & Shark||Paul & Shark||Hermes|
|Braun Buffel||Bee Cheng Hiang||Charles & Keith|
|Victoria’s Secret||Discover Singapore||iStudio|
|Madame Butterfly||Hermes||Madame Butterfly|
|Bee Cheng Hiang||Charles & Keith||Bee Cheng Hiang|
|Electronics and Computers by Sprint-Class||Pandora||Electronics and Computers by Sprint-Class|
|So Chocolate||Vertu||So Chocolate|
|Watson’s Personal Care||Gucci||Watson’s Personal Care|
|Discover Singapore||Burberry||Discover Singapore|
|Salvatore Ferragamo||Cheong Kwan Jang||Salvatore Ferragamo|
|The Style Avenue||Cocoa & Co||Pandora|
|Bonia||Guardian Health & Beauty||Swarovski|
|Charles & Keith||Giordano||Burberry|
|Times Travel||Emporio Armani||Adidas|
|Candy Empire||Vine & Leaf||Samsonite|
|Godiva||Bengawan Solo||Cameras Electronics Computers by Sprint-Class|
|Vertu||DFS Watches||Times Travel|
|TUMI||Lee Hwa Diamond Boutique||DFS Vintage|
|Marc by Marc Jacobs||Kikki.K||Rolex|
|Alfred Dunhill||Eu Yan Sang||Montblanc|
|Hugo Boss||Electronics Computers by Sprint-Class||Desigual|
|Ralph Lauren||Times Travel||Tommy Hilfiger|
|Fashion Gallery||Tiffany & Co|
|TWG Tea Boutique|
|Tiffany & Co|