Five airports with unusual ways to pass time

14 Nov 2012

Waiting at the airport is no longer necessarily about enduring hours that pass slowly with nothing engaging to do. Many airports have started trying to provide passengers with more interesting ways to pass the time before they board the plane. Here are five world airports which offer particularly interesting, stimulating, and even educational, ways to spend your stay in the terminal. They might even make you wish you were there for a little longer…

Smell the flowers at Changi Airport

What is it? Singapore’s airport has an orchid garden with flowers in rocky beds and bits of driftwood around a pool filled with orange and red koi carp. There are more than 700 orchids, including spider orchids, Singapore’s famous hybrid butterfly orchids, and moth orchids from Taiwan. The garden also features changing displays of rare flowers and seasonal shows of Singapore’s National Flower; the bright pink Vanda Miss Joaquim.

How to visit? The garden is in the Departure Transit Mall at Changi Airport Terminal 2 and can therefore be enjoyed all passengers who have passed through security. It is free. 

Browse for a book at Helsinki Vantaa Airport

What is it? The Finnish capital’s airport has a book swap room with comfy seats and bookcases full of reading material. Passengers can drop in and take a book they like or leave a book they have already read for others passing through the airport. There are stickers available so you can write messages in the books and record where they’ve been with you. An airport spokesperson said currently there are about 180 books, mostly in English but some in Chinese and Japanese too. “There is a great variety of books,” they said. “From Ian Flemming’s James Bond 007 to Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.”

How to visit? The book swap is accessible by all passengers once through security, on the second floor near gate 27 of Terminal 2. It is open 24 hours and is free.

See famous fine artworks at Schiphol Airport

What is it? Amsterdam’s airport has formed a unique joint venture with the Rijksmuseum, a national art museum in the centre of the city, to open a small annex gallery within the terminal. The airport gallery has a permanent exhibition from the Rijksmuseum’s collection of ten works by Dutch masters of the Golden Age including Ferdinand Bol, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruisdael and also different temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

How to visit? The museum is accessible by all passengers once they’ve gone through passport control. It is between piers E and F and is open daily from 7am until 8pm. Admission is free.

Watch massive movies at Hong Kong International Airport

What is it? The airport has a UA IMAX theatre that can accommodate up to 358 people. The cinema’s screen measures 13.89m high and 22.42m wide, making it the biggest IMAX screen in Hong Kong. The projection technology has crystal-clear images, a laser-aligned digital sound system, while the theatre is designed to maximise each persons view and be completely immersive. The cinema shows current box office hits as well as some edutainment films, in 2D and 3D.

How to visit? The IMAX cinema is located on level 6 of the non-restricted area at Terminal 2, so it is accessible to anybody who visits the airport and to passengers before they go through security. Prices for films vary, but are around HK$100 (US$13).

Experience Korean culture at Incheon International Airport

What is it? Seoul’s Incheon airport features a Korean Cultural Museum, run in collaboration with the National Museum of Korea, with four sections showing different aspects of the country’s culture. In the Traditional Art section, a highlight is Naesosagoryeodongjong, a large bronze bell of the finest Buddhist metal craft. In the Royal Culture section, meanwhile, is Donggwoldo, a fine ink painting of the Eastern Palace. The Print Culture section features Mugujeongwangdaedhara, one of the world’s oldest woodblock prints. Finally, the Traditional Music section has an experiential space where you can listen to traditional Korean musical instruments. 

How to visit? The museum is located after security and so is accessible by all passengers departing from Incheon. It is on the fourth floor of the new concourse and is open from 7am to 10pm.

Nicholas Olczak 

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