The 10 Coolest Airports Around the Globe
What do beach volleyball tournaments, swimming pools and 4-D film screenings all have in common? No, they’re not just cool summer activities for the kids, they’re all services that can be found in airports around the world. These days, airports are no longer just a place for travelers to play the waiting game for their next flight. Check out our list of the 10 coolest airports around the globe.
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Singapore Changi Airport
Forget hotels and resorts — Singapore Changi Airport is a vacation destination in itself. The airport is loaded with freebies for travelers: Xbox 360 and Playstation games, film screenings at the in-house movie theater, themed nature gardens around the terminals, and even a shuttle bus to take you on a guided tour around the island. Passengers waiting for their transfer flights can refresh themselves with a quick shower, dip into the airport’s rooftop swimming pool, or check into a napping facility. It’s no wonder that Singapore Changi Airport was honored as the World’s Best Airport 2010 by Skytrax World Airport Awards.
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Hong Kong International Airport
The Hong Kong airport caters to an assortment of travelers. Techies can catch a short film on the 4-D Extreme Screen, which has seven multi-sensory special effects that keep spectators on the edge of their seats. The business traveler can take a swing at the airport’s adjacent nine-hole golf course. Or for those who just want to relax, sit back at the children’s TV lounges and play areas stationed near the departure gates.
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Incheon International Airport
Handling more than 150,000 take-offs and landings annually, Incheon International Airport in South Korea doesn’t disappoint the 24 million passengers that stroll through the country's single largest building each year. The plethora of food vendors at Incheon will melt any food lover's heart. Passengers can dine at Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Western restaurants, some of which are operated by South Korea’s high-end hotel management. Sip on wine at Panorama Lounge, which offers some of the best views of Incheon’s runway. Be sure to dine on dessert at one of the 14 bakeries and ice cream parlors scattered around the four-level airport before boarding your flight.
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Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Kuala Lumpur’s airport doesn’t disappoint air travelers with its adopted “Airport in the forest, forest in the airport” theme. Vacationers can gawk at Malaysia’s beautiful outdoors, as the nation’s main international airport is situated in an area surrounded by 86 species of trees and a handful of streams. Snap a picture of the rainforest inside one of the airport’s buildings. Keeping true to its green theme, the tropical showpiece was transported from a local jungle.
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London Heathrow Airport
Heathrow was crowned Best Airport Shopping by the Skytrax World Airport Awards in 2010, and the honor is well-merited. Designer brands like Gucci, Prada, Tiffany & Co., Dior and Bulgari are available for shopaholic travelers after a tiring flight. For those unenthused by retail therapy, 60-inch TV screens across four of the airport’s five terminals will air live coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup thanks to an Emirates Airline sponsorship. After being entertained with shopping and sports coverage, travelers will likely be disappointed to hear they have to board their flights and leave.
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Munich Airport in Germany is perfect for the Irishman inside of you. At Airbräu Brewery, seven different types of beer are served, and even better, a pint only costs €2.30 — that’s less than $3! The airport also hosts special events throughout the year, such as beach volleyball tournaments, children’s parties and a Christmas market. Makes you wonder why you don’t fly into Munich more often.
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McCarran International Airport
Even after tourists have left the Las Vegas strip, they can’t escape the sounds of slot machines. Travelers flying in and out of Sin City’s airport should keep their wallets out to play one of the 1,234 slot machines sitting at the terminal gates. For those short on money after blowing all their cash at the city’s multitude of casinos, take a tour around the airport’s five art displays, which include glass and concrete sculptures, murals and children’s art.
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Dubai International Airport
Aside from the two open-air garden areas, three hotels and swimming pool, Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates stands out from the rest of the pack because of the jaw-dropping design within the airport’s terminals. Palm trees line the moving walkways, and contemporary archways welcome guests at the check-in counters. As travelers fly into or out of Dubai, they have to look out the plane window. Terminal 3 of the airport — the world’s largest building by floor space — was designed to resemble an airplane wing.
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Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport
Bangkok’s central airport has a great blend of traditional Thai culture infused in a building full of Western design and architecture. The shopping at Suvarnabhumi gives travelers a sneak-peek into the rich culture and history of the nation. Travelers will be lured into the airport’s specialty shops that sell arts and handicrafts of Thailand’s hill tribe people and contemporary Thai artwork pieced together by locals.
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With wooden architecture filling the airport’s interior and a breathtaking view of the Thai island Ko Samui, it’s no wonder why Samui Airport made it onto this list. The terminals were designed to look and feel like a tropical resort, and the airport was built using local materials such as palm, wood and rattan. Travelers are free to lounge on the waiting area’s plush, colorful couches while cooling off using the airport’s natural, open-air cooling system. The airport’s organic design hasn’t gone unrecognized. Samui was honored with the Environment Impact Assessment Award for its environmentally-friendly approach to construction.
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