I have five hours between flights at Changi Airport and Scoot made me collect my bags between them, meaning I'm not airside.

My favourite thing in Singapore is the cheap traditional food in the local foodcourts all over the place known locally as "hawker stalls".

I feel like strolling around. In there such a hawker stall near the airport, in walking distance?

(For the sake of this question I don't want to use public transport at all thanks.)

  • 5
    Why the reluctance to use public transport? If you hop on the MRT train network, you can be in the Singapore heartlands in half an hour, or downtown Singapore in an hour. If you clear immigration quickly enough, that should be enough time to track down the perfect hawker center!
    – Gaurav
    Aug 3, 2016 at 23:51
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    Man why the reluctance to just answer the questions as the OPs like to answer them. I like walking. I like exploring. I intend to hitchhike for a year and the sooner I get used to using my feet the hard way the better. Aug 4, 2016 at 3:47
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    Can I just say how much I love these answers? I wonder what other airports have such great secret places to eat that are open to the public. Aug 4, 2016 at 4:29
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    @ZachLipton: I never expected this question to be such a hit. Or that it would get any answer at all let alone such an epic one. Airport secrets would make a great topic for the travel.stackexchange blog, but we never found somebody who wanted to take on the task of doing the blog. Some other SE sites have theirs though. Aug 4, 2016 at 4:39
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    @hippietrail There are two reasons for the "reluctance to just answer the questions as the OPs like to answer them". One is that people generally try to answer the question in a way that the answer will also benefit other people in addition to the OP, following the SE ideal, and overly specific restrictions are hindering that. The other is the observation that we all like to run into the XY problem from time to time (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/66377/what-is-the-xy-problem), hence they want to challenge them on their premises.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 4, 2016 at 12:12

3 Answers 3


Yes: more specifically, the staff canteens at the airport are open to the public, serving authentic and tasty Singaporean fare at rock-bottom prices! Despite the name "canteen", these are mini-hawker centres with a dozen or so independently run stalls each specializing in specific dishes/cuisines. There are at least three of these:

Terminal 2

The one you'll never find by accident is next to Terminal 2: head out from Customs, turn left, cross the road, enter the carpark (2A) and take the elevator up to level 3M, which is marked "Staff Canteen". Here's the illustrated journey, photos mine:

To Multi-Storey Carpark To Canteen (Level 3M) The secret door... And we're in the canteen!

Terminal 1

There is a similar but newer one in Terminal 1, detailed instructions here. TL;DR: find Row 13 in Departures hall, take lift at end down to B1.

Terminal 3

The least secret of the three is the Kopitiam food court in the air-conditioned shopping mall below Terminal 3 (level B2), between the MRT station and arrivals: just follow the signs for "24 hr food court" right after Customs to take the escalators or lifts two floors down. This is slightly more expensive (meals from around S$5), but it's also air-conditioned, attractively presented and has a good selection of halal options:

enter image description here

...and still half price compared to the airside food courts.

  • 14
    +1 Great answer and a great alternative to the typical expensive and mediocre offerings in an airport terminal. Looks like they charge the public about 1/3 more than they charge staff, but still quite reasonable. Aug 3, 2016 at 13:58
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    This is probably the most specific answer I've seen on Travel. Not only did you describe well how to get there, you included pictures of the exact path to take!
    – BruceWayne
    Aug 3, 2016 at 17:13
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    I do not think that I would normally go through the door you show in the 3rd picture. Aug 4, 2016 at 3:12
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    @happybuddha This is one of my favorite sooper sikrit Singapore insider tips, and explaining it is complicated enough that I took some pictures last time I visited! Aug 4, 2016 at 8:48
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    @happybuddha I can't guarantee it, and the operator has changed since my last visit anyway (Kopitiam Group took over in May 2016), but I would be surprised if there wasn't at least one vegetarian Indian or Chinese outlet. In particular, there are usually vegetarian "economy rice" options. Aug 5, 2016 at 4:40

The canteen I stumbled upon was much smaller than the others at Changi Airport that jpatokal revealed. It's also less comparable to an actual hawker stall

This one is called "Yan's Cafe" and was kind of in an outside edge of the Terminal 2 building according to a reference to it I found online though at the time I thought it was the Terminal 3 building.

Yan's Cafe at Changi Airport

I enjoyed what I consider a pretty typical Singaporean canteen meal. Typical Singaporean food at Yan's Cafe, Changi Airport

Most of the customers seemed to be local taxi drivers, shuttlebus drivers, etc, rather than uniformed airport staff as in jpatokal's amazing answer.

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    I wish UK airports could serve up food like the above.
    – camden_kid
    Aug 5, 2016 at 14:36

Google maps claims there is, with Hai Chang Fishhead Steamboat being identified as a Hawker Stall.

It appears to be a part of the Tampines Round Market, so is likely not the only one there.

I can't get it to give walking directions, but it's about 4-5km if I eye-ball the distance, so for me that's walking distance, but YMMV.

A blog review or two are available online if you'd like some photos.

  • 5
    As far as I'm aware, the only way to for the public to enter Changi Airport by road is via the East Coast Parkway, which does not allow pedestrians or have walkways for them. Aug 3, 2016 at 13:01
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    @jpatokal interesting. Well, I guess it's walking distance, and if there's a way to walk somehow that's allowed, hippietrail will find it I"m sure ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 3, 2016 at 13:03
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    I did walk for an hourish but in the northern direction because that's the road I managed to find. It didn't feel totally legal though - I was rarely on anything remotely officially pedestrian-capable. Reminds me of the time I tried to hitchhike from Singapore to Malaysia (-: Aug 3, 2016 at 15:45
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    @insidesin under an hour? I've walked that just this past hour on the way home. Each to their own I guess.
    – Mark Mayo
    Jan 15, 2019 at 8:01
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    @insidesin Utter rubbish. That's your subjective definition of the term. You have no claim on "any definition of the term". I may be unusual in the number of world airports I have walked to or from on foot, but I am definitely not unusual in feeling 4/5km very walkable if I have the time needed. I know plenty of people who feel the same even if you feel there are no such people based only on your limited experience and opinion. Sep 7, 2022 at 10:45

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