Airport Layovers: 11 Popular Transits And What To Do There


Nur Adawiyati •  Oct 23, 2018

It's no secret that flights are an important part of travelling and as much as we'd love an ideal situation of flying directly to our destination, many affordable flights these days require a layover. We usually have the idea that there’s nothing to do but sleep in the mundane airport environment during a layover, with countless last boarding calls being played through the PA system and people frantically running to their gates to catch their flight ? But these days, exasperating layovers are now a thing of the past. With airports brimmed with activities for you to participate in, you'll forget that you're even spending a couple of hours in transit!

Credit: Giphy

1. Changi Airport, Singapore

Many Singaporeans (like yours truly?) head to Changi Airport all too often. We head to the airport to do just about anything. It's a hangout spot for friends, a studying area and even a great place for shopping and eating! After all, this award-winning airport is so much more than just an airport. If you’re stuck in Changi Airport for a long period of time, count yourself lucky as there are many activities that you can do.

Credits: Changi Airport on Facebook

For those who just need to stretch and take a walk after being cooped up in the plane for too long, head to the various gardens that can be found throughout the airport! The gardens in each terminal are themed differently; Cactus and Water Lily Garden at Terminal 1, Sunflower and Orchid Garden at Terminal 2 and Butterfly Garden at Terminal 3. With the sun shining while you're being surrounded by butterflies and flowers, you’ll totally forget that you’re even in an airport!

Credit: Changi Airport on Facebook

As if the gardens aren't awesome enough, there's even a rooftop swimming pool at Changi Airport's Terminal 1 which lets you relax and unwind before your next flight. The best part is, you'll be able to catch an amazing view of the runway while doing your laps ? But that's not all - Changi Airport also has movie theatres in Terminal 2 and 3 which are open 24/7 ? Seems like there's nothing that this airport doesn't have! Whether you’re reaching at 12 noon or midnight, there’s something in the airport to keep you company and it isn’t jet lag.

Credit: @gimme4fingers on Instagram

Of course, if you're looking for something to fill your tummy, Changi Airport also a wide range of halal food options to choose from. With Korean fried chicken at 4 Fingers (Terminal 1), nasi lemak at Crave (Terminal 2) and authentic Singaporean fare at Curry Times (Terminal 4), you won't go hungry during your layover!

#HHWT Tip: There are multi-faith prayer rooms found throughout the airport's 4 terminals so you can do your prayers at ease. Plus, there are prayer garments and qiblah directions in each room too!

Transit facilities: Business centres, clinics and pharmacies, pay-per-use lounges, rest zones, showers, luggage storage, convenience stores, transit hotels

2. Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea

It's evident that Korean culture has taken the world by storm these days. If you haven’t had time to travel to South Korea but you’re blessed enough to have a layover at Incheon airport, then you’re in luck! Head to the cultural museum at the airport where you’ll be able to create your own handicrafts, try on a hanbok and learn all about Korean history.

Credit: Incheon International Airport on Facebook

However, if you’re completely drained from your long flight, head to Spa On Air to unwind. This spa offers many massage options and it even comes with a sauna. Best part is, it’s open 24/7! You can even have a taste of the traditional Korean spa experience in their jimjilbang (bathhouse).

Credits: Yang Wu on Facebook

#HHWT Tip: At Incheon Airport, there are multi-faith prayer rooms in both its terminals. Qiblah directions in these rooms are clearly indicated and Qurans are found in the room as well but do bring your own prayer garments.

If you want to refuel before your flight, head over to Nimat Halal Cuisine in the Concourse terminal. The eatery serves both halal Korean and Indian food, but their recommended dishes are beef gimbap (sushi roll) and the bulgogi set.

Transit facilities: Pay-per-use lounges, nap zones, kids' zone, free shower rooms, internet zones, relax lounges, capsule hotel

3. Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan

Having a long layover in Japan and madly in love with Japanese culture? You don't have to skimp out on the experience at Narita Airport! There are many activities here introducing you to Japanese culture like tea ceremonies, calligraphy workshops and even ninja meet-and-greets ?

Credit: Narita Airport on Instagram

You'll also be able to check out many traditional Japanese art forms at the airport such as trying on the yukata and traditional armour to ikebana exhibitions and dance performances.

Credit: Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program on Facebook

It’s not Japan if you don’t manage to chow down some Japanese food. You’ll be able to find a few halal dining options while you’re in the Narita Airport - from delicious udon and tempura to Japanese curry ? Plus, with prayer rooms in all three terminals, you can easily do your prayers at the airport!

Credit: Noora Hikari on Facebook

Transit facilities: Airline lounges, showers, nap rooms, capsule hotel, baggage storage

4. Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar

Hamad International Airport in Doha is one of the busiest transit airports in the world, thanks to Qatar Airways' affordable flights! With connecting flights from different continents all the time, it's no wonder that there’s so much to do here no matter the time of day. When you step out of your flight, look out for this iconic bear. You won't want to miss snapping a photo with it ?

Credit: Hamad International Airport on Facebook

Bring your kids to this hipster-looking playground designed by American artist Tom Otterness. This might look like any other copper art installation but it's actually a play area made for the children! Pretty cool, isn't it?

Credit: Qatar Museum on Facebook

When you’re in Qatar you know everything’s way fancier. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that their free-to-use computers are all iMacs. Use them for as long as you want to catch up on your favourite TV shows or browse through social media.

Credit: Andriex Pulsen on Facebook

As Qatar is a Muslim-majority country, there are prayer rooms and easily available halal food at Hamad. The multiple prayer rooms found throughout the airport have separate rooms for both men and women. This includes separate ablution facilities too!

Transit facilities: Lounges, quiet room, wellbeing and fitness centre, airport hotel

5. Dubai International Airport, Dubai, UAE

As one of the most important transport hubs in the Middle East, Dubai International Airport constantly stands out for having one of the best facilities for transit passengers. For a peace of mind before your next flight, head over to the Zen Garden at Terminal 3. With tranquil fish ponds and trees, this is a perfect place to unwind.

Credit: Plan'td on Facebook

If you're looking to get active before your next flight, head over to the G-force club for a quick workout. This club not only has a gym but also shower rooms, saunas, jacuzzis and a pool too - just what you need to feel refreshed! But if you just want to catch up on sleep, Dubai Airport's snooze cube is just what you need. Guests can stay in micro-rooms with a bed, free WiFi and a touchscreen TV.

Credit: Lmd Ermitano on Facebook

Of course, you'll definitely need to try Shake Shack while you're here. This American burger chain has taken the world by storm. Try the Shackburger which will definitely be a treat to your taste buds!

#HHWT Tip: Look out for Muslim prayer rooms throughout the airport to do your prayers. They are fully equipped with ablution facilities and prayer materials too!

Transit facilities: Spa, lounges, business centre, airport hotel, showers

6. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

If you happen to have a lengthy layover at Hong Kong International Airport, don't worry as there are lots in store for you. For those who are interested in planes or have kids with dreams of being a pilot, this is the place to be! The Aviation Discovery Centre at Terminal 2’s SkyMall has interactive exhibits perfect for the young ones (and young at heart?) to enjoy. You might even get into the cockpit of a plane stimulator and experience how it’s like to be a pilot!

Credit: Hong Kong International Airport on Facebook

If aeroplanes aren’t your cup of tea, there’s bound to be an event that’s of your interest! Each month, the airport holds free shows and performances for the public to enjoy. From showcasing how planes came about with life-sized props and displays to holding orchestras or flash mobs, this lively airport will keep you entertained.

Credit: Komala Devi Selvaraju on Facebook

If you need to fill your tummy during your transit, head over to Old Town White Coffee for some Malaysian grub or have some halal fried chicken at Popeye's.

#HHWT Tip: The Hong Kong International Airport has non-denominational prayer rooms too. There are two prayer rooms found in Terminal 1 and another in Terminal 2. Despite being a room for many faiths, you can find the Qiblah direction indicated clearly.

Transit facilities: Prayer room, medical centre, resting lounges, relaxation corners, complimentary shower rooms

7. Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan

If you’ve found yourself stuck in Taipei's airport, you don't have to worry as there are tons to do while you’re there. First up, you may proceed to join the free tour of the city! Your layover has to be between 7-24 hours and you’ll be able to register for this completely free half-day tour. It depends if you’re joining the morning or afternoon tour but fret not as you’ll definitely be able to see what Taipei is all about. From visiting their temples, seeing how they craft beautiful pottery and even heading to the distinguished Taiwan 101 ?

If your layover isn’t that long, you may choose to rest in their many themed lounges like the famous Hello Kitty Wonderland, popular with the young ones and those young at heart. If you're not a fan of Hello Kitty, head to the e-Library Lounge where there are books readily available for you or head to the Unforgettable Yummy Lounge where you’re able to sample local tea!

Credits: Taoyuan International Airport on Facebook

There are also many rest zones available for you if you happen to have a layover in the middle of the night. You’ll be able to recline in comfortable padded lounge chairs found throughout the airport. And if you happen to hear your tummy rumbling in the middle of the night, they do have 24/7 halal chains opened! Halal Dennis Deli is one of the few shops that are open throughout the night. There’s also a multi-faith prayer room that can be found in the airport ?

Credit: Taoyuan International Airport on Facebook

Transit facilities: Medical centre, relaxation room, shower rooms, transit hotel

8. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Being the capital city of the Netherlands and having the biggest airport, Schiphol is bound to be extra packed. Though a quiet sleeping corner may be hard to come by, there are many activities you may engage in while you're there! If you have time to spare, go out into the city and explore this City of Canals and head to the famous Anne Frank Museum.

Credit: Well traveled gentleman on Instagram

But if you're stuck in the airport, don't worry! Head over to their many coffee shops and grab a cuppa. It’s bound to keep you awake throughout your layover! One of their more popular coffee options is at Café Chocolat. Not only do they serve coffee but yes they do sell all sorts of chocolates too! From bon-bons, chocolate blocks and cakes, this will definitely be a haven for those who are truly deeeeply in love with chocolate.

A flight to and from any part of Europe has got to be draining, on both the mind and body. So, why not opt for a spa session instead? Head over to the airport's relaxation spa which offers massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. Plus, you can even get your hair done here!

Credit: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Facebook

A multi-faith prayer room can also be found here. However, it's called "The Meditation Centre" instead. As this is a multi-faith prayer room, they do conduct weekly Sunday church services. So be sure to check the timings of when this room isn’t in use.

Transit facilities: Relaxation room, shower rooms, medical centre

9. Heathrow Airport, London, UK

Heathrow Airport is a huge airport and the gateway to Europe for many travellers. If you have slightly more than 6 hours to spare on your layover, it will be best to make your trip to London worth it by taking the express train downtown! Once you're in the city, head to iconic London sights like the Big Ben, Tower of London and Tower Bridge along River Thames ?

Credit: Heathrow Airport on Facebook

If you're unable to head into the city, staying at the airport will be just as fun. One of the many stores you need to visit is the Harry Potter store. Calling all Potterheads! From jelly slugs to the Marauder's map, there's something you're bound to buy. Accio wallet ?

Credit: Heathrow Airport on Facebook

There are many multi-faith prayer rooms throughout the airport too. If you happen to be here on a Friday, Jumma'ah prayers are performed here at around 1 pm.

Credit: Xaved Talukder on Facebook

Transit facilities: Airport lounges, rest and relaxation rooms, shower rooms

10. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Multiple times a year, we find ourselves in Kuala Lumpur Airport either for transit or for a weekend getaway. Either way, there's plenty to do while you're in the airport.

Credit: Malaysia Airports on Facebook

First up, try catching a movie for free at the movie lounge! Showing HBO movies throughout the day, you'll find yourself settling down in a comfy chair and catching a good movie before catching your next flight.

Credit: Malaysia Airports on Facebook

While you're at KLIA, it's fairly easy to find a prayer room with it being located on every level! Fully equipt with all you need for prayer, it's really convenient to do your prayers here☺️

Credit: Malaysia Aiport on Facebook

Transit Facilities: Lounges, shower rooms, transit hotel

11. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

If you're in Bangkok, the first thing that comes to mind is to shop at its markets! However, if you're stuck at Suvarnabhumi Airport, don't worry! You can still make the most of your layover.

Credit: Bluewave Bookings on Facebook

You're in the home of Thai massages, so it only makes sense to soak in this cultural experience and get a massage! Not only will you be able to relax your mind, but you'll also be able to relax your body before your next flight out. Head to one of the many spas found and treat yourself ?

Credit: Airline Review on Facebook

Another amazing point to note while at the airport - there's a prayer room specifically for Muslims! The prayer facilities are also separated for males and females.

Credits: Thura Min Naing on Facebook

Transit facilities: Lounges

With all these airports filled to the brim with activities, there shouldn’t be any reason for anyone to dread layovers. From catching the latest movies for free to going for free tours, these activities will be great even for anyone travelling on a shoestring budget!