Image Credit: Changi Airport Group

Changi Airport in Singapore has kept the title of World’s Best Airport for three years in a row, thanks in part to its numerous entertainment and leisure options, hundreds of shopping and dining outlets, and plenty of kid-friendly activities. But one other thing makes their terminals stand out from the competition: the gardens.

The first garden was built in the late 1980s, and there are now five dispersed throughout the terminals. In total, there are about 500,000 plants and 250 plant species growing on the rooftops and inside the airport. There are two rooftop gardens—one for cacti and the other full of sunflowers—as well as the indoor Enchanted Garden, and the Orchid Garden with Koi Pond.

To top those off, in August 2008, Changi Airport became the first airport to have an indoor butterfly garden [PDF]. Located in Terminal 3, the two story, open-air, 330 square meter (3552.09 square foot) garden has a curved roof made from stainless steel mesh and glass panels to contain the butterflies and “maintain exchange of wind and natural air which is vital to the survival of butterflies and maximize the butterflies' flight activity.” According to an article on Quartz, the garden took about seven months to plan and half a year to create.

When it first opened, there were 1000 butterflies representing 47 different species native to Singapore and Malaysia. Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua, the Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, attended the launch ceremony and noted that the Butterfly Garden will provide visitors with “a tranquil haven offering respite from the stresses of traveling.”

Changi has a team of 11 horticulturalists—led by Khaja Nazimuddeen Abdul Hameed— tending to the gardens, but outsources the landscaping work to a number of contractors and vendors.

Right now, they’re working on the next garden, which is set to open with the launch of Terminal 4 in 2017. Hameed hopes that it’ll keep Changi ahead of its main competition. Incheon International Airport in South Korea—which is ranked as the world’s second best airport—also has gardens. There’s a sneak peek animated tour of the project available on YouTube

All photos courtesy of Changi Airport Group.