On my last trip to Thailand I ended up with a twelve hour layover at Incheon International Airport (ICN) in South Korea. Located just 30 miles west of Seoul, ICN is often referred to as Seoul airport since it serves as Seoul's international airport despite officially being located in the city of Incheon. However, as is the case with many metropolitan areas, the two cities flow into each other and you'd have a hard time telling when you left one and entered the other. I don't usually mind long layovers if I have someone to hang out with, but knowing I'd be alone in ICN was making me dread my time there. That is, until I did some research and discovered that I'd hit the jackpot having my longest layover be at ICN. It's an amazing airport, and if you have to have a long layover somewhere in Asia, ICN would be an excellent pick.
10 Reasons to Have a Long Layover at Incheon Airport/Seoul
1. Once again named as one of the top three airports in the world at the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards.
2. Great for Sleeping - With multiple public lounges complete with darkened nap rooms and relaxation zones, you're in luck if you want to catch some sleep, although being a very busy airport, you may have to wait for awhile for a bed or lounger to become free. If you want a guaranteed spot to rest, you can get a room in the airport's capsule hotel, Darakhyu, located in transportation area 1F.
3. Loads of Entertainment - Here are some of the ways you can spend your time on your layover: Attend one of the 5 daily classical music concerts, attend one of the 3 daily art and cultural performances in the Millennium Hall, attend a craft class, costume program, or musical performance at the Traditional Korean Culture Experience Center, watch the Walk of the Royal Family (a re-enactment display), visit the Museum of Korea Culture, see a film at the CGV Movie Theater, go skating at the indoor ice skating rink, or take a 5 minute ride on a free shuttle to the airport's golf course!
4. Spa Time - Thanks to Spa on Air, passengers can go the spa for some pampering during layovers and enjoy a sauna, showers, sleep rooms, and free luggage storage.
5. Great for Kids - If you're traveling with kids, ICN is an especially great place to have a layover with its 8 play rooms and 9 nursery lounges, equipped with nursing rooms, diaper-changing stations, reclining chairs, washstands, water filters, cribs, couches and televisions.
6. Medical Care - Incheon International Airport Medical Center, run by Inha University, provides medical treatment for emergency cases occurring at the airport. They also offer general medical and dental services.
7. Free Shower Facilities for Transit Passengers - At the end of my layover I took a shower at the free transit passenger shower facility. Passengers wait in a lobby until a shower is available, at which point they are called to a desk by a staff member, based on time of arrival, and provided a towel and toothbrush + toothpaste if desired. I've showered at other airports and its always been a single stall deal, but not at ICN. You get your own private bathroom complete with a proper shower, toilet, sink, and mirror. Shampoo and body wash were in dispensers in the shower.
8. Great for Business Travelers - Perfect for business travelers with free WiFi throughout the airport, a computer lounge, lots of outlets for charging phones and computers, fax and copy centers, lounges with tables, and dry cleaning services.
9. Amazing Food - Named one of the best airports for foodies with everything from international cuisine to fabulous bakeries to street style food. There are even two restaurants specializing in halal food.
10. Free Airport Transit Tours - Free tours around the city and beyond for international transit passengers, led by English speaking guides. Passengers can choose from 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 hour tours, all leaving at various times, which just about guarantees anyone can go on a tour if they want to. Some of the longer tours visit sites that have entrance fees or stop at restaurants and passengers obviously have to pay for those things, but the tour I went on was completely free. Yes, I went on a tour, despite usually hating doing things like that alone. To be completely honest, the main reason I went on the tour was so that I could tell ya'll about it... you're welcome ;) I ended up only doing the 1 hour tour and while neither of the two sites we visited were particularly spectacular (a temple and a war memorial), I'm really glad I did it. I met three other lovely passengers that I hung out with after the tour and our guide was funny and delightful to interact with. The tour was also very organized and stuck to a strict time schedule to guarantee that passengers making connections wouldn't miss their flights. It was made clear to us at the start of the tour that if we were late returning to the tour bus, we would be left behind and would have to make our own transportation arrangements back to the airport.