Secrets to Enjoying Yourself at the Airport, Part 1: Asia
Typically when you book a business trip, your top considerations are the airline and the hotel; the airport is seldom part of the equation. However, there are few greater inconveniences in life than being stranded in an airport for an exceptionally long time. Uncomfortable seats, exorbitantly priced food, and lack of attractions make up the DNA of most airports.
Nevertheless, there are exceptions to the rule. In this series of articles, I will explore some of the top airports in the world, revealing some of the things you never knew you could do at each airport. After reading these articles, you’ll make the choice of airport part of your considerations for your next trip.
In this first article, I’ll focus on the top three Asian airports business travelers: Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
One of the busiest international passenger airports and cargo facilities in the world, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) was recently named Top Airport of the Year in the ATW Airline Awards and was named Best Airport in China for eight years running. HKG links Hong Kong with 40 cities in China and is a good gateway to the southern part of Mainland China.
The 3,500 charging points and free Wi-Fi in most seating areas means you will never miss an e-mail. More notably, the airport boasts pay-in lounges, which offers a huge variety of services. Food, newspapers, and shower facilities ensure you arrive at your meeting without anyone knowing you just spent eight hours at the airport.
If you prefer to explore beyond the lounge, HKG has a variety of surprising airport entertainment facilities. It’s the home to the Aviation Discovery Centre (ADC), which includes a historical exhibit of aircraft models and SkyDeck—an outdoor platform that offers an unblocked view of the airport runway.
For the movie buffs, there’s an IMAX theatre that features the largest IMAX screen in Hong Kong. The cinema shows both 2D and 3D movies, mainly Hollywood blockbusters and educational films.
Golf lovers will be heartened to know that GreenLive AIR provides 9-hole and 18-hole simulation golf games, allowing you to practice your swing even during business travel.
If none of that appeals to you, HKG also offers art, culture, and music exhibitions and performances that will allow you to learn a bit of the Hong Kong art scene without leaving the compound. The exhibitions are always changing, so check the HKG website to know what’s currently ongoing!
Incheon International Airport (ICN)
Next on the list is Incheon International Airport (ICN), unofficially known as Seoul Airport, South Korea’s largest airport. Highly acclaimed, it was ranked second in Skytrax Airport of the Year awards and rated as World’s Best Transit Airport. In fact, the airport is so successful in making transits less dreary that passengers have been quoted as saying they “never want to leave the airport!”
Free Wi-Fi and computers are a given in any good airport and ICN is no exception. While lounges are equally common, ICN provides swanky Rest & Relax lounges free for everyone. Lounges include free full-body massage chairs and incredibly clean shower facilities complete with towels and shampoo. There is also a free check baggage service so you can explore the airport without worrying about your bags!
Not impressed by HKG’s golf simulator? A 5-minute free shuttle ride from ICN will get you to SKY72 Golf Club, where you can find an 18-hole golf course. What can be better than playing a game of golf between flights?
If you prefer to stay indoors, ICN has no lack of entertainment, including cinemas and indoor eco-gardens (seven, to be exact). Always open and always free, the gardens are great for a change of scenery. The most unexpected find in ICN, however, is the Ice Forest—the first indoor skating rink to ever open in an airport. Pushing the boundaries of airports, Ice Forest gives active travelers another option to pass time while reveling in childhood memories .
It is hard to experience a country’s culture without stepping out of the airport, but ICN does a good job of bringing the Korean culture to you. You can experience superior pampering in a Korean bathhouse environment (jimjilbang) or visit an onsite cultural museum where you can make your own Korean handicraft while watching a traditional musical performance. If you’re lucky, you may even witness traditional processions by actors in traditional costumes!
Changi Airport (SIN)
The last airport on the list needs no introduction. Singapore’s Changi Airport was rated best in the world for the last seven years, and made the top three every year since the inception of the Skytrax award in 1999. It serves 55.4 million passengers a year, which is 10 times the population of all of Singapore.
Business travelers will find airport lounges, free Internet terminals, and Wi-Fi in almost all corners of the airport. Plasma televisions are scattered around so you can catch up on world financial news and the latest stock and equities information. Xperience Zone allows you to catch the latest sporting events in plush cushion seating with surround sound.
The airport itself is bright, airy, and warm. Living up to its name of being a Green City, Singapore has incorporated gardens into SIN. Gardens in airports aren’t a rarity, but only SIN has a Butterfly Garden with over 1,000 butterflies.
Fancy a tan? Take advantage of Singapore’s equatorial climate and get some sun and a workout at the rooftop swimming pool, with its view of the airport runway. Enhance the experience with a cold drink from the bar, and you will be completely recharged for the rest of your trip. Alternatively, if you want to stretch your muscles without being in the sun, you can choose from a variety of games at the Xbox Kinect room, which is free for use.
Less-active individuals can catch a free movie at the airport’s 24-hour movie theatre. Follow up with a uniquely Singapore experience at the fish spa where swarms of Garra rufas will give you a pedicure by nibbling the dead skin off your feet!
Airports around the world have transformed into destinations and without stepping out of the airport, transits can be enjoyable too. Next time you fly through Asia, check out one of these three stellar airports.
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