We love travelling, but being stuck at the airport during long layovers? Not so much. However, we wouldn’t mind it so much if the airport happens to be one of the best in the world. These seven airports have some of the best reputations globally as places to relax between flights — in some cases, many of them are worth a visit just on their own.
1. Changi International Airport, Singapore
Top of the list (obvs) is our own Changi International Airport. But that’s not just local pride speaking. Our award-winning airport takes our “garden city” reputation seriously, and thanks to the numerous parks, ponds and even butterfly gardens, being in transit here is quite literally a walk in the park. In addition to the decor, the airport features snooze areas with lounger chairs in all its terminals. You’ll also find an outdoor pool and a three-floor slide for kids in Terminal 3. The new Terminal 4 is a tribute to local heritage and culture, with a shophouse facade in the departure transit area, a Peranakan art gallery, and even British colonial-themed bathrooms.
2. Incheon International, Seoul, South Korea
Another award-winning airport, Incheon prides itself in giving visitors a taste of Korea whether you’re in transit, or heading into the country. The Korean Cultural Museum and Korean Cultural Experience both give travellers a chance to try their hand at Korean crafts, or take in a show. You won’t find yourself with nothing to do here, since there’s an indoor ice skating rink, and spa and sauna facilities. There’s even a golf course and a casino, which is just a free, five-minute shuttle bus ride away.
3. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong
When it comes to efficiency, nothing beats Hong Kong International Airport which offers an in-town check-in service at the International Finance Centre in Central, located 40-minutes from the airport by train. That means that accessing the city — and not missing your next flight — is easier than ever if you have a few hours to spare on a layover. Even if you don’t leave the airport, you’ll find lots to do. Check out the IMAX Cinema, use the spa and shower facilities, or tuck into the copious amounts of dim sum and local fare on offer.
4. Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
Whatever time you arrive at Hamad International Airport, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. Whether that means you need a power outlet, caviar and champagne, a place to work out, or somewhere to lay down for a nap, the airport has it all. There’s also a hotel within the airport — with options for guests staying for little as five hours — with spa and shower facilities.
5. Dubai International Airport, Dubai, UAE
There’s everything you could need and more at Dubai’s international airport, from snooze pods, to fitness and spa facilities. Don’t miss out on visiting the zen garden in Terminal 3 — a lush, tropical sanctuary where you’ll be able to enjoy some quiet time. Be sure to walk around to have a look at the selection of food outlets, as Dubai airport is one of the best in terms of a wide array of eats. Besides the usual fast food and sandwich options, it offers up a mind-boggling range of world cuisines, from Indian to Chinese, Mexican, and Italian. Heck, even Wolfgang Puck opened up an outlet, his fast-casual The Kitchen (there are only 3 international outlets in the world, with one also at Changi), in Terminal D.
6. Zurich Airport, Switzerland
Beating Hong Kong International Airport for closest proximity to the city, the Zurich Airport is only 10 minutes away by train from downtown Zurich so really, any long stopover is an opportunity for a mini-trip to the city. It’s efficient, it’s clean, it’s basically Singapore in Europe and that’s not a bad thing. Be sure to check out the Sprungli Cafe which serves up some delicious Swiss macarons.
7. Munich International Airport, Germany
There’s so much to do at Munich International Airport that it’s actually tempting work it into your travel itinerary, just for the heck of it. There’s an on-site brewery and beer garden, spa and massage services scattered throughout the terminals, a Kinderland child care centre with activities and a cinema, and even an 18-hole mini golf course in the Visitor’s Park. Wait, we’re not done — the airport boasts seasonal activities and events, from its month-long Christmas market with Bavarian specialties sold by 50 vendors, to an outdoor cafe and surfing installation open in the summer months. If you need to rest, the airport provides Napcabs where you can get a private space to sleep.
Text: Karen Fong