Date: October 15, 2016
If we were to pick a theme that unifies the Worst Airports in Asia, it would certainly be the appalling condition of the bathrooms. In these terminals, voters often say that the toilets are best avoided since they are frequently dysfunctional, dirty or full of smokers. More broadly, many of these terminals also have notoriously unhelpful staff, who do little in the way of encouraging organization amidst the mass of travellers packed into tiny and chair-free spaces. Instead, the focus is too often on collecting bribes or executing crafty scams. Long and unruly queues also do little to enhance the user experience. Best of luck in passing through these airports – and remember to bring your own snacks and watch your luggage closely!
Here are the Top 10 Worst Airports in Asia based on overall airport experience, as determined by voters in our 2016 Airport Survey.
1. Tashkent International Airport, Uzbekistan (TAS)
When going out of the overcrowded bus that lead us from the plane to the passports control, people pushed me, I fell and then several local passengers walked on me while I was on the floor. – survey respondent
Tashkent made the leap up this year to earn the title of Worst Airport in Asia. As the primary airport for Central Asia, travellers here are most unimpressed by the multitude of checkpoints they’re required to pass through. Worse yet is that while these lineups are in place to enhance security, the pushy mobs waiting to pass through often have the inverse effect. When you finally make it to your boarding gate, life hardly improves. The chairs available are old and especially hard – and in notoriously short supply. The only saving grace here is the airport’s lone service and facility: free Wi-Fi. Bring an electronic device and disappear into it. It’s your best bet at sanity. ( Photo courtesy of akhmatkulova / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Tashkent Airport Guide.
See also: Worst Airports for Overall Experience
2. Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal (KTM)
Some of my darkest memories are from having to use the toilets at this airport. – survey respondent
Kathmandu’s International Airport continues to struggle, though we feel it is important to recognize the devastation that occurred in Nepal in 2015. Small improvements have definitely been made to the international terminal in the years since; however, if you’re traveling domestic, be prepared for crowds and chaos. The terminal is especially dirty – and the toilets are said to smelly and should be “avoided until absolutely necessary”. Signage and food options are generally inadequate, and the staff do little in the way of being helpful. Couple all this long immigration lines and multiple annoying checkpoints, and you’re bound to have some unhappy travellers. ( Photo courtesy of prashant.np / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Kathmandu Airport Guide.
3. Peshawar Bacha Khan International Airport, Pakistan (PEW)
It feels more like you are in a bus-stand. It doesn’t feel/look like an airport AT ALL. – survey respondent
New to the list of Worst Airports in Asia is Pakistan’s Peshawar International Airport. Criticized for being packed with passengers and devoid of organization, this terminal is said to be more like a poorly run bus terminal more than anything else. Many of the services here, like the issuing of boarding cards, are done manually – which exacerbates already-long line-ups. And worse still, crowd control is non-existent meaning you spend an awful lot of time vying for a spot in the alleged line. ( Photo courtesy of eph0tan / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Peshawar Airport Guide.
4. Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan (KBL)
I have been in airports in the west and throughout Asia and have never had such a horrible experience in a restroom in my entire life. – survey respondent
While Kabul Airport is a constant on our Worst Airports in Asia list, we should note that travellers do feel like things are getting better here. The bathrooms remain fairly revolting, and the staff are still particularly unhelpful. However, a string of renovations help raise an otherwise very low bar. Things like free Wi-Fi and regularly cleaning would definitely up the ante even faster, but given the political situation in Afghanistan, travellers should be happy with what they’ve got! ( Photo courtesy of daniellejmoylan / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Kabul Airport Guide.
5. Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippines (MNL)
Transferring to NAIA Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 will take you hours because of traffic and not enough public transportation to take you there. – survey respondent
Oh Manila… It was another tough year for this airport, resulting in a lot of colourful criticism from travellers participating in this year’s survey. After showing signs of improvement following a series of renovations, Manila NAIA climbed a few spots on this year’s list of Worst Airports in Asia. Once again, survey respondents were quick to let us know when things were not going well. Major complaints include a bullet-planting scam, frequent power outages, lapses in air conditioning, uncomfortable (and insufficient) seating and complicated terminal transfers. While some travellers report improvements to the airport structure and facilities since 2011, survey responses this year indicate cleaner bathrooms, more chairs and some general organization of taxis in front of the terminal would help to make life here a lot more manageable. ( Photo courtesy of janineninonu / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Day Rooms ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Manila Airport Guide.
See also: Worst Airports for Layovers
6. Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Pakistan (ISB)
As soon as the announcement is made to board your flight women and children will be thrown aside as passengers race to get through as quickly as possible – survey respondent
Islamabad’s International Airport is said to be simply too small to function properly. Once you’ve pushed your way into one of a few long queues, you’ll find yourself in a tiny waiting areas with far too many passengers. As with many other airports on this list, customer service and bathrooms are equally as unappealing, and the overall state of the building makes a strong case for a total overhaul. Voters are split as to whether or not splurging for a lounge is worth the cash – while it does give you a bit of personal space, the amenities are limited. A new airport has been in the works for years. The open date has been pushed to August 2017, which can’t come soon enough for some travellers. ( Photo courtesy of salmanrajan / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounge ($) • Free WiFi • Showers ($) • 24-hour Food Options ($). For more information, visit our Islamabad Airport Guide.
7. Chennai (Madras) International Airport, India (MAA)
You are in the constant fear of the roof falling on your head with this newly constructed airport. – survey respondent
Apparently, the big problem with Chennai Airport is the sky is quite literally falling. As of July 2016, there were 66 incidents of glass panels falling from the ceiling! This number puts the bleak food choices and limited space in fairly harsh perspective. All the while, the toilets here continue to garner harsh criticism, with one voter saying that they’re better avoided all together. The line-ups and less than accommodating staff do little to help MAA’s ranking, nor does the absence of charging points and chairs. In spite of large renovations back in 2011, several voters say this terminal is barely salvageable! ( Photo courtesy of chandrancpk / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Day Rooms ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Chennai Airport Guide.
8. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China (CAN)
I bought a cup of coffee in one of the airport’s foodcourts. The quality is just horrible and price almost double that of Hongkong or Singapore – survey respondent
China’s second busiest airport, Guangzhou, is heavily criticized for being over-crowded, expensive, and short on chairs. Voters were also frustrated by the terminal’s overall disorganization. Signage inside is kept to a pitiful minimum, and the taxi stand in front is said to be entirely unregulated (and full of scams). The smoking situation is also a pain. A few people mention that the terminal smells like cigarettes – likely because staff and travellers are allegedly encouraged to smoke in the bathrooms. Rumour has it that life in the lounges is well with the splurge, as they’ve got recliners, powerpoints, couches and food here!
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • 24-hour Food Options ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Guangzhou Airport Guide.
See also: Worst Airports for Layovers
9. Dhaka Shahjalal International Airport, Bangladesh (DAC)
We needed a bus to travel from the plane to the airport but we had to wait around 20 mins for the bus which was late “due to some unavoidable circumstances”. – survey respondent
When traveling to/from Dhaka, give yourself extra time. Here, immigration lines are extremely slow, and waiting for luggage isn’t any better. Huge line-ups are seen throughout the terminal, and the overall mess and number of bugs makes waiting in them even more unpleasant than usual. While a few frequent travellers do feel like the mosquito situation is getting better, and transit is becoming more efficient, those new to DAC are still shocked by the presence of stray cats!
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Dhaka Airport Guide.
10. Siem Reap International Airport, Cambodia (REP)
I had to tip the immigration staff to have my passport stamped.- survey respondent
Based on the responses in this year’s survey, Siem Reap Airport is said to have insufficient seating and restaurants for the volume of people who fly here on route to Angkor Wat. While the lineups to clear through security and immigration are generally quite short, a few voters say they were harassed for a bribe or tip when passing through. The only saving grace at REP is that the two shops, both located airside, are quite nice for last minute souvenirs. Otherwise, prepare yourself to lean up against the wall and wait for your departing flight.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Siem Reap Airport Guide.
It’s not all bad in Asia – the region is home to the best airports on the planet as well. Continue on to read about the Best Airports in Asia!