Best airports to transit through while travelling abroad

From the exotic to the mundane, the necessary to the indulgent – travel through the airports that promise an exciting experience.

1. Changi Airport

Would you like to be part of a giant tree that flashes your picture among a million others uploaded on its ‘branches’? The Social Tree at Singapore’s Changi Airport is their big social experiment, where you imprint yourself in one of the largest transit lounges in the world. The 29-ft tree has 64 42-inch TVs where your images will flash. Eight booths are available for uploads. The Wi-Fi at the airport is superb, in case you’d rather post the selfie on your own network, with free dial-up connections, broadband (details at the info kiosks), as well as free Internet corners. You will never be bored. Read here to know more about Rules and Regulations at Singapore Changi Airport.

2. Hong Kong International Airport

If Hong Kong has been your destination at least thrice a year, you can clear immigration like a VIP or, at the least, faster than the average passenger. In case you haven’t, we suggest you do some deft time management just so you can take advantage of the nine-hole golf course and the 4D cinema theatre. The Cathay Pacific Pier Lounge is a particular jewel in the Hong Kong crown – it has five restaurants and a wake-up call service. If you’re well and truly bored, drop by the Aviation Discovery Centre for a turn at the simulators. Read this if you have any queries while travelling from Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok Airport.

3. Vancouver International Airport

You know those moments when you disembark and get a fright when you look at the mirror? Bid adieu to those moments at the Vancouver International Airport. The Absolute Spa & Salon does a mean wash and blow-dry and if you have the time to spare, can re-touch your highlights, give you new ones, polish up manicures and pedicures and transform you. Men can indulge in a hot towel shave. Either way, you’ll emerge looking superbly groomed. There’s even a dry-cleaning, shoe repair and same-day alteration service. Read and know all about Vancouver Airport here before you plan your journey.

4. Zurich Airport

Few things cure jet lag better than chocolate. And Zurich Airport lies unchallenged in this regard. Waft towards the heavenly scent of freshly-made truffles at the Confiserie Sprüngli in Dock E. You’ll forget about Ladurée here – their signature dish is the Luxemburgerli, or macarons in plainspeak. Remember, this is the luxury corner of chocolates, so be prepared for a dent in your wallet. Get over the shock as you sip hot chocolate at the café. It’s made from Ecuadorean and Venezuelan cocoa beans and is heady enough to make you forget your destination. Know about Rules and Regulations as well as services at Zurich Airport here and be better prepared for your journey.

5. Dubai International Airport

Ignore the irony – Dubai International Airport has the best range of liquor and a fabulous range of Cuban cigars. Once you get past it, indulge yourself as you try to pick what you’re going to pile into your Duty Free cart. If you’re travelling Business, kudos. You get your own immigration and customs station and, most importantly, a limousine service between the terminal and the aircraft. If Business is this good, what might the First Class passengers enjoy? The Dubai Emirates First Class Lounge has a spa and three lounge spaces – Asian, Arabian and Mughal. Did we mention their exhaustive wine cellar? Curious? Read here about Dubai Airport and all the gaps we left will be filled in.

6. Incheon International Airport Seoul

Not all of us are geared for spas and bars at airports. So we won’t look at you accusingly, and instead point you towards Seoul. The Incheon International airport is brimming with ‘things to do’. Start off at the casino – yup, it’s that cool. Once you’ve lost/gained a bit, move on to the 18-hole putting course. That’s a 330-yard driving range, intriguingly called The Sky72 Golf Club. And if you’re so inclined, head to the Korean Culture Museum for a quick dip into the country’s very varied culture via its architecture and traditions. Of course, for the rest of us mortals, there’s a Thai spa as well. The airport has a lot for its tourists. Check here for more details of Seoul airport.

7. Heathrow Airport

Great food and airport have not necessarily been the best bedfellows. But at Heathrow, the Gordon Ramsay Plane Food is a chic and modern restaurant that’s been serving up an expansive and innovative menu. Start off on the Cool Wave, a ginger beer cocktail with rum, strawberries and infused with lemongrass, as you watch the chefs prepare your 28-day aged steak. If you’d rather travel light, choose the apple and cinnamon martini and pair it with the steamed sea bass. Don’t worry about timings – if your stomach can handle it, they’re serving from 5.30am. Here is all you need to know about London’s Heathrow Airport and you can be well informed by reading it.

8. Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino Airport

Most tourists head straight to this wine bar at the airport – it makes sense when you’re up against a long flight in cramped seats. And at the Leonardo da Vinci– Fiumicino airport, the bar is a treat in more ways than one. The Frescobaldi Wine Bar is a popular wine bar chain—yes, they are that awesome! Along with vintages from the owner’s vineyards in Tuscany, the bar also serve almost 50 wines by the glass. Feeling peckish? Try their cheese and cold-cut platters; the beef carpaccio with truffle oil is the best last supper you should have before leaving Rome. Any doubts still lingering? Read more about Rome Airport here and have all your doubts cleared before you start your sojourn to Rome.

9. Doha International Airport

The Middle East has long been the cynosure of shoppers. Big brands, big bargains and endless stretches of malls spell out retail therapy on an unimaginable scale. So why should airports be left out? The Doha International Airport makes shopping an exclusive experience for First and Business Class passengers. In a terminal devoted entirely to them, Cartier and Chopard stock wide ranges of 18-, 22- and 24-carat gold jewellery. You can choose from chains and earrings, iconic bracelets, fine links of necklaces and statement cuffs. Read more about the Doha International Airport here and plan your trip accordingly.

10. Arlanda Airport

Food might not be on your mind all the time, but at the Arlanda Airport it’s impossible to ignore. Head straight to the Fine Food store in Terminal 2. There’s literally something for everyone here. Breads, cloudberry jam and artisanal cheeses for the vegetarians. And for adventurous non-vegetarians there are jars of fish roe, smoked reindeer meat and marinated salmon—all Swedish specialties. Swirl it down with some OP Anderson Aquavit, a fennel, aniseed and caraway flavoured liquor. Know everything about Stockholm Arlanda Airport here and plan your stay accordingly.

Insider Tip:

If you’re looking for amazing bargains, remember to check Heathrow Terminal 3 and 5 for Chanel boutiques, which offer heavy discounts on perfumes. Zurich Airport is also great for picking up watches, and Split airport at Croatia is where you can stock up on truffle oils as well as black truffles.