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Adventures for All

Review – South Korea’s Incheon International Airport

incheon korean airlines 747 golf course

South Korea's Incheon Airport shows its whimsical side.

I’m watching people in traditional Korean dress teach art classes. To my left, there’s a string quartet playing to a growing audience. But when I look to my right, I get roped back to reality – masses of travelers rushing to gates or shambling toward the baggage claim after a long flight. This is Incheon International Airport, and it’s seriously the best damn airport that’s ever waved me through a magnetometer.

Let’s start with these art classes: Travelers can drop into one of the Korea Traditional Cultural Experience centers scattered throughout the terminal behind the security area.

There, they can take a free lesson in a few different simple Korean art projects. It’s a great way to spend part of a four-hour layover … and I have visions of an Arizona Traditional Cultural Experience Center at my home airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor (I have visions of a shooting gallery, a road-rage driving simulator and a mechanical bull).

Is that not some spacious airport architecture? (Kanchi1979)

What else is cool about Incheon?

Wi-fi, food, architecture and transit. Let’s talk wi-fi first – you’re in luck if you have your own computer. But if you don’t, just drop into Naver Square Internet Lounge, where you can hop onto a netbook for absolutely free.

Food’s important for an airport, too.

Incheon has the array of Asian food you’d expect, with just about every country represented. I had a nice Vietnamese fried rice from one of the food courts just upstairs from the main floor. Sarah and I both scooped up some quality gelato – I was tempted to try the black sesame flavor, but it didn’t have anything chunky in it. It’s one of my odd quirks that I like chunks in my ice cream. I’m typically not a hot dog person, but they have some crazy hot dogs throughout Korea. I didn’t try any since, like I said, I’m not a huge lover of nitrate-crammed cylindrical mystery meats.

They have to taste better than they look. The Asian entrees appealed to me more!

The architecture is open an airy, with plenty of windows.

Plane spotters must surely love it, though I didn’t find any outdoor areas for taking photos. For such a busy airport, it never felt cramped. Traffic flowed, and it was easy to find anything you might need, when you need it.

It’s easy to get to and from Incheon.

By rail is the best way, with commuter and express trains zipping people into Seoul and its surroundings. There are also buses, and plenty of helpful airport staff members to help you navigate if your Korean language skills are limited to “hello” and “thank you” (like mine!).

And there’s one final thing about Incheon that I love – that current of energy that permeate nearly every major intercontinental airport. People from everywhere stream across the globe – some for business, some to enjoy new-to-them cultures, people and sights. It’s one of my favorite parts of travel. Incheon brings it to a rare height by having that unmistakable vibe while also being a paragon of design.

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4 Responses to Review – South Korea’s Incheon International Airport

  1. Andy says:

    Was that a mini golf-course on the 1st photo? Cool.

  2. I’m pretty sure it was just decorative … which made it an even funnier thing to plop down atop a jetway.

  3. Nichole L. Reber says:

    There’s nothing about frying your skin whilst lost in the desert?
    Unfortunately this post reminded me of the surreal pink cylinders they call hot dogs in China. Not only is this vegetarian turned off but the smell could make a cow and chicken rancher nauseous. The Chinese love them though and eat them off thin, wooden sticks, not unlike I’d eat tofu satay here in the US or Thailand.
    Meanwhile, airport architecture rarely impresses me. It most always looks the same. Admittedly, though, Beijing’s and Frankfurt’s were the worst airports I’ve been in– impossible to navigate and overly sized, even for their respective populations/purposes.
    The art classes, though, now that I’d partake in. Super kewl stress reliever and introduction to the culture.

  4. Oooo, you make those Chinese hot dogs sound like a cure for over-eating.

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