Date: October 15, 2014
Several of the Best Airports in Asia also happen to be ranked among the best in the world! For some travellers, these terminals are so sensational that they become a destination in and of themselves! While this most certainly sounds extreme, there is something to be said for these airports that have found the perfect balance of practicality, efficiency and indulgence. The terminals that are listed below consistently surpass expectations surrounding our four C’s – comfort, convenience, cleanliness and customer service – and then add on movie theaters, koi ponds, elaborate spas, shopping emporiums, cultural experiences, national museums, indoor gardens and pet hotels to boot! Each airport provides a warm welcome to the country, and shares local culture with even those just passing through on a brief (or extended) layover. They most certainly set a standard for airports worldwide that has proven to be very hard to match!
Here are the Top 10 Best Airports in Asia based on overall airport experience as determined by voters in our 2014 Airport Survey:
1. Singapore Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN)
Upon visiting several cities across North America, Europe and Asia nothing compares to the quality of service and the swank look of the Changi international terminals. – a traveller
For the EIGHTEENTH year in a row, Singapore Changi has been voted the best airport not just in Asia – but in the WORLD! Travellers praised the airport for its overall soothing ambiance, its intuitive layout and friendly staff. The sheer volume of activities and amenities left some transit travellers wondering if they has just arrived at a shopping mall or resort rather than an airport. With its themed gardens, cultural activities, world-class shopping, spas, swimming pool, gym, lounges, 4-story slide, movie theatres, TV lounges, entertainment deck, and free Singapore city tour, a layover here is not likely to be boring. Travellers can enjoy free Wi-Fi and recharge all their gadgets at one of over 800 mobile charging points. In July, the airport opened the Wellness Oasis spa in Terminal 1. The unique feature here is the fish spa that exfoliates your feet and legs. As for sleeping in between flights, there is a transit hotel and lounges with napping rooms and showers. Travellers most appreciate the dedicated rest & relaxation zones. There are currently 6 areas set up with reclining lounge style seating. Often busy and sometimes noisy, these areas are appreciated by those travellers who are not so comfortable stretching out on seats at the gate.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Rest & Relaxation Zones • Free City Tour of Singapore • Nap Rooms ($) • Transit Hotel ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • 24 Hour Food Options ($) • Cultural Activities • Entertainment Deck • Movie Theatre • Gardens • Showers ($) • Swimming Pool ($). Visit our Singapore Changi Airport Guide for more information.
2. Seoul Incheon International Airport, South Korea
It’s huge airport but everything is clean and neat. There’s a lot of activity and restaurant open 24/7. – a traveller
Seoul Incheon Airport is a favourite as a result of its impeccable cleanliness, its superior customer service, and the volume of comfortable sitting and nap locations. Amenity-wise, the terminals truly are going above and beyond. Like SIN, you can also find indoor gardens, a spa and small shopping extravaganzas located throughout. Unique features here include the Korean Cultural Street – complete with local cuisine and dance performances – and the indoor ice rink. Unlimited free Wi-Fi, showers and uber-luxurious private lounges further delight those who spend multiple hours here. It almost gets to the point where you’d think the airport wants you to stay forever – but then, you realize they also run free guided city tours for transit passengers as well. They really do it all!
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Rest & Relaxation Zones • Napping Rooms ($) • Transit Hotel ($) • Casino ($) • 24 Hour Food Options ($) • Gardens • Cultural Activities • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($) • Skating Rink ($) • Transit Tours ($). Visit our Seoul Incheon Airport Guide for more information.
3. Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong (HKG)
Airy, light and even at peak times, the check-in area and departure terminal never feel overcrowded and cramped, even though the passenger numbers have increased a lot over the years. – a traveller
Now, Hong Kong isn’t about to be outdone the other consistent top three airports on our list. HKG’s show stopping extravagance is that it is home to the country’s largest IMAX theatre! It also boasts a series of miniature gardens, a cockpit simulator, free Wi-Fi, lounges with sleep rooms, a couple of spas and a sprinkling of showers. Restaurants are plentiful and always open – and the shopping too is quite good. Travellers also appreciate that the architecture consistently keeps the place feeling airy, light and spacious.The terminals are easy to navigate, kept consistently clean, and are filled with delightfully friendly and supportive staff. Best of all, this airport reportedly keeps prices reasonable – for Hong Kong.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Rest & Relaxation Zones • Hotel connected to the Airport ($) • 24 Food Options ($) • IMAX Theatre ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($) • Gardens. Visit our Hong Kong Airport Guide for more information.
4. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL)
The rain forest within the airport is out of this world. – a traveller
Kuala Lumpur amazes visitors by having transplanted a chunk of Malaysian rainforest into the terminal itself. Wooden walkways and the canopy-level mezzanine floor allow guests to tour all tiers of the forest while learning about the rich terrestrial eco-system in Malaysia. While some voters lament that KUL isn’t quite as futuristic as Incheon or Changi, Kuala Lumpur still provides excellent versions of the airport-essentials. This includes long benches, reclining chairs, showers and free Wi-Fi – among other things. Plus, we kind of like that this airport has opted for a tropical theme rather than a science fiction theme. This year the airport closed the much-hated LCCT and opened the long-awaited KLIA2 to favourable reviews.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Free Showers • Rest & Relaxation Zones • Transit Hotel • Luggage Storage ($). Visit our Kuala Lumpur Airport Guide for more information.
5. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (TPE)
The people are friendly, the staff is helpful, and the themed boarding gates (such as EVA Air’s Hello Kitty gate) are fun and beautiful. – a traveller
Relative to other airports on this list, Taipei Taoyuan is considered to be laid back, relaxed and accommodating. In addition to your standard roster of airport amenities (free Wi-Fi, transit hotel and private lounges) the airport has added in a few homey touches. Transit travellers appreciate the free shower experiences, where they are provided with towels and Kiehls or L’Occitane products. They also love the snippets of local sites that have been incorporated – including the National Art Gallery, Museum of History and the Palace Exhibits. That said, what keeps TPE truly unique are the variety of themed waiting lounges. In September 2014, the airport further expanded their collection with the introduction of the Movie Waiting Lounge at C8. If boarding from here, you will have a quick chance to re-live the Golden Horse Awards (ie. The Chinese Oscars), as you walk down the red carpet, sit on theater-style chairs and browse Taiwanese movie mementos. This lounge compliments the Hello Kitty Wonderland, the e-Library and the Unforgettable Yummy Tea lounges at other gates. Cultural activities and free food samples including pineapple cake, sausage, nougat, coffee, and mountain tea help to share Taiwanese culture with passengers on a layover.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Rest & Relaxation Zones • Free Showers for Transit Passengers • Free Massage Chair Tokens for Transit Passengers • Free City Tour for Transit Passengers • Cultural Activities • Movie Theatre • Library • Luggage Storage ($) • Museum. Visit our Taipei Taoyuan Airport Guide for more information.
6. Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan (HND)
It’s got lots of shops, restaurants and a fantastic observation deck! It’s super clean and there are security guards and lots of other people sleeping, feels very safe. – nilamps
Two airports service Tokyo, Japan and Haneda’s distinct advantage is its location relative to the city center. While neighbouring Narita takes 2+ hours to reach, HND is a quick 45-minutes away. Couple that with its reputation for being clean, easy to navigate and efficient and you can begin to understand why voters are impressed. While Haneda doesn’t have any designated rest and relaxation zones, there are plenty of armrest free seating possibilities. Amenity-wise, travellers appreciate the free Wi-Fi, showers, luggage storage, but there is little else to do in between flights. If you prefer more comfortable (and private) facilities, there are pay lounges, a transit hotel in the International Terminal and hotels connected to the domestic terminals.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Transit Hotel ($) • Hotel connected to the airport ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • 24 Hour Food Options ($) • Showers ($). Visit our Tokyo Haneda Airport Guide for more information.
7. Osaka Kansai International Airport, Japan (KIX)
There is an information desk open 24H and upon request they will lend you a blanket at no cost. – Prakash
Located on a manmade island 38 kilometers outside of Osaka Kansai, this terminal is well-reviewed for its efficient in-airport navigation, the limited queues and the overall cleanliness. Given the terminal’s unique location, the only option is the one hotel connected to the airport. There are no nearby airport hotels so unless you want to head into the city, be prepared to pay for a room or sleep in the terminal. And, just to clarify, when we say ‘everyone’ we mean pets too – KIX is one of three Japanese airports to offer a pet-hotel to local furry friends. The good news for human sleepers is that the terminals are filled with armrest-free benches that are generally reviewed for being both quiet and comfortable. Blankets are freely provided at the information desks, and coin-operated showers are available 24-hours a day. Beyond the free WiFi, activities are fairly limited here.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Hotel connected to the Airport ($) • Free Luggage Trolleys • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). Visit our Osaka Kansai Airport Guide for more information.
8. Tokyo Narita International Airport, Japan (NRT)
There are only limited hostel-style sleeping areas in the secure area, all of which fill up immediately. At midnight everyone is taken out of the gate areas and herded into one area with no seating conducive to sleeping. – a traveller
Tokyo Narita is the second airport servicing the Japanese capital – and the one that is located further away from the city center. While Haneda may win big points for proximity, Narita is the clear winner when it comes to reviewing actual airport amenities. Here, you are able to find an Oxygen Bar, a series of shower and changing rooms, capsule sleep pods and (of course) a Pet Hotel – all of which are staffed by extremely helpful and courteous individuals. More unique highlights include a rotating series of Japanese cultural activities – a favourite being the classes on origami making. There is after all, no reason not to learn something new while you wait for a plane! The downside to Narita is that in spite of being a fairly major connection site, the airport all but shuts down at night. Food and activity options become very scarce after 11pm, and sleeping is restricted to a few controlled (and not so comfortable) spaces. In July, a pod hotel opened outside Terminal 2.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Sleep Pods ($) • Cultural Activities • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($) • Silence Rooms. Visit our Tokyo Narita Airport Guide for more information.
9. New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, India (DEL)
Wonderfully decorated. It was so much fun I nearly missed a flight wandering – a traveller
The international terminal (T3) of the New Delhi Airport got a serious face lift in 2010. This shiny new space sits in direct and fairly harsh contrast to the domestic terminals. Perks in T3 include the plentiful dining restaurants and shopping options. Showers, spas, relaxation zones, private lounges, sleep pods further add comfort to the overall experience here. That said, criticisms of this airport revolve largely around the Domestic Terminal where there are restrictions with gaining access until 3 – 4 hours before your flight – and the pre-security area of the terminals are much less glam.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Transit Hotel ($) • 24 Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). Visit our New Delhi Airport Guide for more information.
10. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand (BKK)
The food court on level 1 of the airport is brilliant for a cheap meal – coolbananna
While the facilities in Bangkok’s primary airport are fairly typical, what earns BKK a spot on this year’s list is its extremely clean facilities. A number of voters remarked on the spotless surroundings, with a few individuals making particular reference to the sparkling bathrooms. Couple that cleanliness with access to free showers and a few thoughtful and classically Thai touches, and its easy to understand how the airport made the list. BKK did however drop a few points this year, possibly because of the intermittent and limited Wi-Fi service – or because of the occasional crowds that swamp the gates. It also seems to be increasingly more difficult to find and secure one of the limited armrest-free padded seats. That said, there are a few relaxation spaces and day rooms that provide a bit more comfort, though the latter is rented out for a fee.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Transit Hotel ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • City Tours ($). Visit our Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Guide for more information.
Having now gushed extensively about Asian airports, it is perhaps wise to balance all of that excitement by reading about the Worst Airports in Asia.