Flying into Incheon International Airport, in July this year, marked my second visit to Asia. The first visit was at the beginning of my travels in 2012, when I got to Singapore. I am always amazed by how big airports in Asia are. However, I guess most places in Asia are key layover points for people flying East or West.
I didn’t spend too much time in Incheon Airport when I arrived, but upon departing for London, and transiting through, I did. I was exceptionally impressed when I saw that Singapore airport had an indoor butterfly garden, as well as a cinema.
Incheon Airport has been voted the World’s best Airport several times – from 2005-2012. Singapore Airport was voted best in 2013.
International Departures written in Korean, at Incheon International Airport
I spent 3 hours in Incheon Airport whilst waiting for my flight to London, and 6 on my way from Incheon to Seoul. If you have a stopover in Incheon, here are some things you can do ..
1. Take a free shower
After 10-12 hours (or however long on a flight), I normally feel quite unrested (as I don’t sleep properly on flights), jetlagged and in need of a good shower. Incheon Airport offer free showers in the “rest and relax” zone. They give out little packs with shampoo and shower gel, and there appears to be no time limit for how long you use the facilities.
The only downside, is that you are only given a small hand towel to dry yourself with, and there are on hair dryers. So it took a good wee while to dry myself, as well as my hair, but I still felt a million times better.
If you have more time and a bit of extra cash, you can book into a transit lounge or hotel, where you will get food, drink, shower facilities and a bed for a period of time. I did not use these facilities, so have no idea of the cost.
The rest and relax zone is quite nice .. there are a number of lazyboy (recliner) chairs and quiet areas to chill out in.
There are a number of shops at Incheon Airport, where you can buy a range of souvenirs and Korean food items to take with you. There is of course the usual duty free. I don’t tend to buy too much at airports, except perfume if I am going back to where I will be based for a while
Incheon has a range of eateries to choose from, no matter what mood you are in, or what your body clock is saying. You can snack on western foods such as typical Starbucks food, Dunkin Donuts, and McDonalds, to traditional Korean food.
4. Recharge and blog
Incheon Airport is well geared up for the techie Traveller. During my time in Seoul, I found it quite astonishing, about how technology is a huge part of the average South Korean’s life.
So it wasn’t too surprising to see recharge zones in the check in terminal (with a lead for virtually any phone in the world), then points were you can plug cameras, and laptops in. There is also an internet zone, with proper PCs, which is 3000 Won per hour ($3 per hour)(if you don’t have a laptop). I used a lot of my layover time at Incheon on the way back to blog and upload photos to my Facebook.
5. Experience a bit of South Korean culture
Incheon Airport is home to the South Korean culture centre. Here you can see short shows, complete some Korean craft projects and see a range of South Korean artefacts. I didn’t too much time here, but did watch a short parade of Korean ladies walk through the airport, in traditional Korean outfits, to music.
6. Pamper yourself
From massages to a spa and sauna, to a nail bar .. Incheon caters well for the weary Traveller. I didn’t use any of these services, so I can’t comment too much on this.
7. Transit tours
Depending on the length of your stop over, you can sign up for a free transit tour, ranging from 2 to 6 hours. You need to register online for this, prior to your arrival in Incheon.
I didn’t use this service as I had spent 4 days in Seoul, but its worth it if you want to get out of the airport and get a glimpse of South Korea.
I’ve been stuck at a number of airports in my time of travelling, and have been pretty frustrated with the lack of areas to sit, services open and places to charge devices. Incheon airport definitely caters for every kind of Traveller. I happily had a good 6 hour stop over here.