I am writing this new post as I sip my tea from one of the free transit lounges at the Seoul-Incheon International Airport. Since I moved to Mongolia, I have had the chance to do several stopovers in this airport, and after that, I cannot stop talking about how awesome this airport is. So, I researched it and turns out that, indeed, this airport is the best airport n the world. It has won the Best Airport by size and region ACI Awards (Airports Council International Award) for several consecutive years. Skytrax, an airport services consultancy, places the Seoul-Incheon Airport in the second place, following Singapore Changi Airport, which I also saw once, and could not stop raving about it.
But what makes this airport so cool for passengers in transit? Let me give you a brief list below.
Free transfer lounges
These are no average waiting areas. These lounges provide all the comfort that you could expect from other exclusive, only-members lounges. You will find resting areas with comfortable seats, computer areas, free showers, and my personal favourite: the nap zone, with reclined individual beds separated by panels for your privacy.
Have a long layover? Don’t worry, there are hotels inside the airport that will make your wait much more pleasant for a reasonable price. Be sure to book a few days in advance, you might not get a spot if you ask last minute. Worst case, you will have to go to the free sleeping area, aka nap zone (yay!).
Given the fact that you won’t spend more than one day inside the airport, entertainment possibilities seem endless. There are a few designated areas in the terminals where different music, dance performances and even parades are held. There are an interactive Traditional Culture Experience Centre and different exhibitions that give you some insights about Korean culture and traditions. Do you want to do less cultural things? Try the virtual gym, the IT experience zone or get a massage!
There are a few little playgrounds near the doors in the departure areas with super famous cartoon character Pororo. Besides that, you also have the much bigger Kids Zone, what both children and parents always dreamt of having inside an airport.
This airport is modern, clean, and pleasant to walk around. It features some garden areas with trees and water fountains that instantly invite you to sit nearby and relax. You will also have the chance to contemplate different pieces of artwork displayed along the different terminals. Without a doubt, this airport provides a sensory experience that helps you relax for a few hours in the midst of the travelling chaos.
Airport shopping is honestly not my thing, so I cannot talk from experience. However, I have seen more people carrying duty-free bags in this airport than any other airport I have ever been to. That must mean shopping at
If you have 5 plus hours of transit, consider going out to Incheon on one of the free tours they offer. They have several options at different hours of the day. Check with them as soon as you get to the airport so that you can make a better decision of what to visit. I found it very well organized and easy to get in and out of the airport. If you are on a 24 + layover, there are 1, 2 or 3 day tours for a fee which will organize your whole transit stay until you need take your next plane.
There is a vast variety of options, from the more mainstream western chains to different little cute restaurants. I personally find the food court the most convenient, cheapest way to go if you are hungry and plan to eat a full meal. It allows you to browse different options at once without having to walk around so much. But if you are on a long layover, hey, walk around and explore. Cool little spots I found on my little excursions along the terminals: Snow Fox, which features sushi and a few healthy treats; and Sapoon Sapoon, which is next door, if you want to try ginseng tea.
Technology at the service of the traveler
There are basically 3 different terminals where you can end up. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to go after you exit the plane. Along your way, you will find massive interactive screens that will give you directions to anywhere you need to go. Sometimes you will see a lady robot strolling around the hallways. She looks pretty cool, but she offers basically the same information as the static screens. Well, she talks, too.
For more information about the airport, in case you have time to plan your layover on top of your holiday, visit their website here.