Seoul Incheon Airport is often ranked in the top two in the world and if you have a long transfer or checked-in early, you can do a whole bunch of exploring!
I had a 9 hour stopover in Seoul in my most recent trip, so here some tips I might think is useful …
Free Transit Tours!
Incheon Airport is one of a few airport that have FREE transit tours for tourists with layovers. The trips can be from 2 hours to 8 hours long but you need to make sure there is enough time to go back to catch your connecting flight. It’s possible they won’t let you join if it is too close to your departure time.
They have a website where you can sign-up for the tours. There is limited space, usually just 20, and the most popular shopping tours are often filled up weeks or possibly a couple of months ahead.
The tours are only in the day time and basically can be split into two types – attractions and shopping. One of the most popular tours is to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insa-dong.
The one I really wanted to go to was Gwangmyeong Cave, it’s located in Gyeongg-do and seems interesting.
If you decide to join these tours, you need to meet up at one of two counters at a certain time. The first counter is located just before the customs and the other is after airport security (yes, even if you are transferring you still need to go through internal security again). The tour requires the visitors to go through customs, so proper documents are required to join the trip.
Here’s the website to make your reservation or learn more : https://www.airport.kr/ap_cnt/en/trn/tour/trcose/trcose.do
Note : there won’t be any one at the counter UNLESS you go there at that given time.
I couldn’t go to the transit tour 😦
See a K-Pop Concert Live!
Timing didn’t work out for me for this one because it is only available on Fridays afternoons. If you are lucky enough, check it out and book ahead. More information on this site : https://www.airport.kr/ap_cnt/en/trn/trajoy/trnkpc/trnkpc.do
One of the best thing about Seoul Incheon Airport is that they have free showers! Most airports don’t even have them while others require you to pay.
They also offer towels and includes soap and shampoo. They even throw in a hair dryer. This is actually a better deal than some jimjibangs or public baths because most will not provide free body wash and shampoo, at least for women.
There are two shower facilities with about 8 shower rooms each. They are located on the fourth floor next to where visitors collect their duty free. They do check the boarding passes, so it is only offered to people in transit.
Note : shower has a limit of only 30 minutes each but that’s totally enough! If you are lucky to get into one of the airline lounges, they would also have showers too …
There is also a shower facility at terminal 2 but I couldn’t go to terminal 2 because I was told there is no returning shuttle. It is a one way trip…
The Seoul Incheon Airport is crowded with people and this time, they have little carts with their luggage and all the newly purchased duty free products weaving through the crowds. For some peace and quiet, there is … the rest zone.
The rest zone is a quiet little place right next to the shower and nap rooms. It has one beverage bar and many tables along with a long table where plugs are available for visitors to work, do homework or watch Kdramas.
Yes, there is a nap room. It is inside a dark room where there are comfortable cushy long chairs. However, it is often full. There are also comfortable chairs a little outside of nap room where people can sleep… Finally, if that is full, then there are these wooden benches.
Spa and Salon
This transit zone also has a spa and salon. I think it is a just a massage chair and the price is about 10000 won an hour.
Visit the Cafes in Incheon Airport.
In addition to the familiar cafes, there are also themed cafes like the Charlie Brown Café. There was a Pascucci that was beautifully decorated with a large bookshelf. I went to a Book Café on the fourth floor near Gate 28. You can read many of the free books at the café (mostly in Korean) while sipping a coffee and watching the planes. however, it is next to the duty-free tax return area, so it can get pretty noisy.
Other things at the airport includes: Children pay area, Korean Cultural Experience, Sky Garden, Public Musical performances and even royal appearances by the King and Queen from the Joseon Dynasty.
Go Shopping at duty free!
Last crazy shopping spree for your favorite Korean skincare products and brand name luxury goods. If you’re short on time, you can buy it on the internet and then pick it up at the airport on the fourth floor. Find out more about how to purchase and pickup here: http://www.shilladfs.com/estore/kr/en/shilladfscustomercenter/deliverypointinfo
There is a golf course just right outside the airport. I think you need to go through customs, but those who are addicted to golf don’t need to go far. If memory serves me right, fans of golf can also see into the greens from one of the airport windows!
I also asked about this and it is at the Transportation Center, near the KTX in the basement floor. You’ll have to go through customs.
What it doesn’t have (yet):
As of August 2018, the ice rink is under renovation. Perhaps it even sounds absurd to a Korean as one of the lady at customer service gave me ‘huh?’ face when I asked about the ice rink… but ‘will’ exist. Eventually.
Finally… if you have the time and the proper documents, you can leave the airport and do almost everything in Seoul or close by in Incheon!
If you have a small carry-on bag that you don’t want to take with you, you can leave them at a luggage storage area at departure. It is located on the far left hand corner of international departure terminal (from the entrance). For smaller bags, there are lockers. With no luggage in hand, you can easy and freely hop on the airport line out into the city 🙂
More information here : https://www.airport.kr/ap/en/svc/getFacilityMain.do#
In my 10 hours at Incheon (argh, plane delay), I took a shower, had coffee, did homework, slept on the benches and caught some Korea/Japan region only pokemons.