Here’s Where You Want To Be! Believe it or not, there are some airports that are just as thriling to visit as your final destination. Here are our top picks.
Travelling around the globe has become a challenge—especially with increased security measures, flight delays that seem more frequent than ever, and those long layovers. So we took a look at airports where being stranded for a few extra hours definitely won’t be the worst part of your trip. Many airports are now boasting top caliber amenities, such as luxurious spa services, tranquil Zen gardens, trendy rooftop pools, and everyone’s favourite—Duty Free shops with selections that rival New York’s Fifth Avenue. Skytrax, a UK-based airport review and ranking firm, recently held their annual Skytrax World Airport Awards, and the top honour, for the second consecutive year, went to SIN—Singapore’s Changi Airport.
SIN (Changi Airport, Singapore)
What makes this airport so special? It boasts some of the best leisure activities a traveller could hope for to occupy a layover. From a design perspective, it’s pretty spectacular. Spread across three terminals, the airport offers peaceful gardens with koi ponds for fliers to relax their body and mind; a live butterfly garden with a majestic and serene 20-foot waterfall; free movie theatres that stay open 24 hours each day; and a rooftop pool. If that isn’t enough, you can even get a free foot massage before you get on your next flight.
ICN (Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea)
Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is in a race to beat Changi for leisure activities. The airport boasts an 18-hole golf course, private rooms to get some shut-eye, an ice-skating rink open 24/7, and a casino. It also has a massive duty-free shopping mall, rated as one of the best in the world.
AMS (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands)
Amsterdam’s sleek and modern airport offers vacationers a chance to experience the Rijksmuseum (the national art gallery of the Netherlands) and see works by Dutch master painters without ever leaving the airport. Anyone older than18 can also test their luck in the casino. If you have extra time, a high-speed train can take you into downtown Amsterdam and have you back in time for boarding call.
HKIA (Hong Kong International Airport)
This futuristic airport floats on an artificial island off of Hong Kong Harbour. It’s one of the busiest airports in Asia. There are copious amounts of upmarket eateries, as well as luxury and duty-free shopping throughout the terminal. Entertainment is the main attraction at the international terminal, with a 300-seat IMAX theatre. If you prefer something that keeps you a little bit more active, maybe a round of golf at the nine-hole golf course is the ticket.
YVR (Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia)
Vancouver International Airport is the only North American entry in Skytrax’s top 10 list of the world’s best airports; this gateway hub to Asia was ranked North America’s best airport for the fifth year in a row. It is home to two satellite Vancouver Aquarium marine exhibits, including a 114,000-litre main aquarium and a smaller 1,800-litre jellyfish aquarium that showcase the beauty of BC’s underwater ecosystems. The province’s art and architecture, representing the diversity of BC’s landscape and people, are featured prominently throughout the airport.
PDX (Portland International Airport, Oregon)
Although Portland International Airport didn’t make Skytrax’s list, it was chosen as America’s top airport in a recent Travel and Leisure reader’s survey (2013). Why? Besides its excellent shopping, it has one of the best on-time departure records in the US. Stanford’s Restaurant and Bar is also a big hit with visitors, with many applauding the fish tacos, burgers, and BLTs.
Parm Parmar is a freelance travel and food writer based in Toronto. Connect with her on twitter @parmiep, or via her blog www.planetblueadventure.com