From Swimming Pools in Dubai to Ice Rinks in South Korea – The World’s Best Airports

incheon-airport

For most  travellers, airports are usually viewed as sometimes boring and often stressful locations, that are necessary parts of a journey. There are many airports, however, where having time to kill isn’t such a bad thing. Places where you can catch a movie, take a swim, and even play a round of golf while waiting for your next flight. Airports with world-class shopping, art exhibitions and giant slides to take you back to your childhood.

In no particular order, here’s a look at the world’s best airports, ideal spots for your next long layover. If you have had an amazing experience in an airport, be sure to let me know in the comments!

11. Incheon Airport, South Korea

incheaon-airport

Incheon Airport in South Korea is a one of the biggest, and cleanest, airports I have ever been to and is definitely one of the world’s best airports. With a whole array of activities to keep you busy including a golf course, a cinema and of course its world-famous indoor ice rink, you would be forgiven for never wanting to actually leave! If you are looking to get a few hours shut-eye before your flight, you can head to their ‘jimjilbang’ (the Korean word for a sauna or spa) and pay a minimal fee to get a soft mat, a blanket and a corner of their heated floor and cuddle up next to up to about 100 other weary passengers. You can also relax in their various hot tubs and have a power shower before you catch your early morning flight.

Another great feature within this airport is the laptop rental facility which will allow you to get work done while in the terminal along with free, and super fast, WiFi. (Korea has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world.)

10. Hong Kong Airport, Hong Kong

hong-kong-airport

Staying on the topic of luxury golf courses in airports, let me introduce you to the spectacular Hong Kong International Airport, home to a perfectly kept 9-hole golf course! I had a flying visit through here last May and am dying to go back again…to both Hong Kong AND the airport!

The airport itself plays host to a wide variety of unique amenities which include Hong Kong’s largest IMAX theatre, and the ‘Dream Come True Educational Park’, designed for children to experience real life working by role-playing in related uniform.
If you are looking to kill time within the airport itself, you will find a movie theatre, an arcade and many free Playstation stations for anyone to use! 

9. Athens Airport, Greece

athens-airport-museum

If you’re making a stop over in this airport and have a few hours to burn then you’re in luck, because there is plenty to do at Athens International. For starters, there’s an authentic ancient museum called the Acropolis Museum with artefacts on display dating back to the Byzantium era.

The airport itself also consists of an ancient Greek design with elegant paintings and sculptures visible throughout the terminals to admire. It’s almost like getting a taste of Ancient Greece without ever leaving the terminal!

8. Samui Airport, Thailand

samui-airport

Next on the list is the enticing Samui Airport in Thailand which oozes tranquility and resembles that of a peaceful Buddhist temple. The open design allows for comfort and beautiful views of the surrounding island, known to be a top honeymoon destination and popular with travellers the world over.  Samui airport is an excellent spot to spend a few hours unwinding, relaxing and possibly meditating before your onward journey….just like the Samui island, you won’t want to leave!

7. Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands

airport-library-amsterdam

A lot of long distance flights I take these days pass through Amsterdam and I’ve never had a complaint to date. One easy way to pass the time in any airport (for me anyway!) is reading a good book and Schiphol Airport has made this even easier for passengers with the introduction of an Airport Library. It’s the first permanent airport library in the world and has an extremely large selection of books to choose from. The airport has also has plenty of cosy spots to chill out and spend your layover in peace and quiet.

If you would rather chance your luck on some blackjack tables. you can head on over to the airport casino in terminal 2. Who knows? You may well win back the cost of your flight!

6. Los Angeles International Airport

lax-airport

An airport making a huge leap in modern and contemporary design is Los Angeles International Airport which has stunning futuristic architecture throughout.

One place you won’t want to miss out is the Encounter Bar. Moonstone quarry walls, a crater-shaped bar and lava lamps create an ultra modern vibe and all the cocktails are flight-themed with names like Jet Set (Bombay Sapphire gin, Campari and sweet vermouth). Beers are also poured out of an alien shaped tap and bar guns emit futuristic sounds and laser lights whenever a bartender pours a drink. A seriously fun place to kill a few hours before your next flight!

5. Changi Airport, Singapore

singapore-airport-cinema

In any event your flight is cancelled or delayed, then Changi Airport is simply as good as it gets. This stunning airport in Singapore has won over 390 awards with some people claiming it to be more exciting than the country itself. And they wouldn’t be too wrong…!

Among its offerings is a four-story indoor slide suitable for kids and adults, a butterfly garden, a rooftop pool (and rooftop bar), more than 300 shops, napping areas and to top it off…free movie theaters for passengers to while away the hours before their next departure. (The reviewers of Sleeping in Airports are also huge fans….)

4. Haneda Airport, Japan

haneda-airport-starry-cafe

Japan has long tried to make its’ airports more than just places to transit from and more like a large shopping center that you just happen to be able to fly out of. The Haneda Airport is testament to this. Among the abundance of shops is the first airport planetarium called ‘The Starry Cafe’ which allows passengers to enjoy a meal under a dome of 40,000,000 stars.

There’s also a short stay hotel that allows passengers to sleep for a few hours…perfect during those long layovers.

3. Heathrow Airport, London

Harrods_Heathrow

If you’re stuck on a layover in Heathrow, head over to Terminal 5 to check out the T5 gallery, featuring a number of sculptures, paintings, and temporary pieces of art to take your mind off your travels.

The airport has also been awarded ‘Best Airport Shopping’ and ‘Best Airport in Europe’ by Skytrax and for good reason. The Airport has a colossal amount of shops made available for shopaholic traveler and is home to an 11,000 square-foot Harrods department store. Just don’t spend too much!

2. Vancouver International Airport, Canada

vancouver-airport-aquarium

If you’re in the mood for visiting an aquarium while on your travels then a stop off at Vancouver International Airport will not disappoint. Home two massive Aquarium exhibits, a 30,000-gallon aquarium housing more than 5,000 creatures and a separate aquarium devoted entirely to jellyfish, this is one airport you won’t feel bored in!

You can check out the larger tank, located in the International Terminal, to spot wolf eels, sea stars, rockfish, and giant kelp. The airport is also a haven for people returning from Canadian fishing holidays as they have giant freezers to store your catch while you wander the airport and will also ensure your catch makes it back to your home country still frozen and protected.

1. Dubai International Airport, UAE

dubai-airport-zen-gardens

Just finishing up it’s €3 billion refurbishment is Dubai’s luxurious international airport, consistently rated one of the world’s top airports. The food, drink and luxurious shopping areas at the airport are world class. You can cool off and relax in their incredible airport swimming pool and for a small fee you will have access not only to the pool but a fully equipped gym, jacuzzi, sauna and shower facilities.

If you need a little peace and quiet or want to reconnect with nature got a few hours, you can visit the airports opulent Zen Gardens, an indoor oasis where time stands still.

Follow:

Ancient Italy: Comparing The Historic Sites Of Pompeii And Paestum

paestum-campania01

The Grand Tour in Campania

The south of Italy is not only famous for it’s hospitality, the beauty of its landscape and the fabulous food (make sure to try some buffalo Mozzarella, it’s the best in the world) but also for its long and rich history.

Romans, Greek, Lycans, Staufer and Moors all left their mark in ancient Italy. Pompeji, one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, lies just outside Naples, and a little further down the coast is Paestum, both of them a must see for everyone who is at least a little bit interested in ancient history.

In the following article I want to share with you some photos from both of these amazing sites and try to make a comparison, so if you only want to spend one day polishing your cultural appeal you can make an informed choice as to what’s more interesting for you!

Pompeii

pompeii-campania04

Founded by the Oscans on the fertile slopes of Mount Vesuvius around 600BC, Pompeii came under Roman dominance about 200 years later, before it was finally colonised in 80 BC after the city took part in a revolt against Rome. With an estimated 10-12.000 citizens (including slaves) it was a big city and commercial hub at the time, when it was buried beneath 6m of volcanic ash when Vesuvius erupted violently in 79AD.

pompeii-campania06

Only 17 years earlier a major earthquake – probably around 6 on the Richter-scale – destroyed parts of the city, spurning talk of abandoning the site altogether. Instead, they decided to rebuild and make the place even better and more beautiful than before.

After the eruption Pompeii was forgotten for a millennium and a half. It was first rediscovered in 1599 by a Spanish engineer in the pay of the Bourbons who was digging a channel from the river Sarno. Interestingly enough Domenico Fontana decided to rebury and even paint over some of the sexually explicit frescoes he found, presumably to save them for later times. It might be though that he was outraged by the inscriptions he found himself, after all it was the height of counter-reformation. About a 150 years later targeted excavations started and the full extent of the site was discovered.

pompeii-campania07

 

Today around 70 hectares have been dug out, with hundreds of houses for the poor, huge villas with fountains and gardens, temples, theatres, bath-houses and uncounted artifacts. The most disturbing among these are the petrified bodies of people caught in a tsunami of hot ash, huddled together or lying in a corner of their house with their hands above their heads, as a futile gesture of protection. Lovers hugging each other in their last moments of life, cats and dogs caught midstride. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of death like that, the disorientation, the fear.

Pompeii is like a snapshot of Roman society in the first century, freezing time in a random moment and giving us a unique insight into everyday life. When I visited sadly a lot of the big compounds were closed to the public, but there was still enough to see. If you’re really into it, you definitely need a lot of time to discover all. I spent nearly a whole day on site and still had the feeling that I just started to scratch the surface.

Pompeii is huge and wonderful place to dive into Roman culture and society, take an audio-guide. Open all rear, admission is 11€ (5,50 if you’re a student or senior)

 

Paestum

paestum-campania01

A bit further down the coast lies Paestum. As in the case of Pompeii in its heyday it was much closer to the sea, due a lower sealevel today compared to 2000 years ago. In a way I was even more impressed than in Pompeii for three reasons; the site feels a lot like a park, with less people, it has trees and shade and somehow looked more real to me, even though I couldn’t begin to explain this feeling. Another reason is the fact, that three major cultures left their mark here, the Lucans were first replaced with a Greek colony before that became a Roman settlement, all the while retaining properties of the respective predecessors. Lastly, it has a museum on site, while all the statues and everyday items from Pompeii are in the National Museum in Naples.

paestum-campania07

Paestum is a lot smaller than Pompeii and way less preserved. Although it was forgotten even longer a lot was destroyed over the millenia. For centuries a temple ruin was visible above ground but no one knew anything about it, so the Then-ruling Bourbons built a road beside it in the 18th century – right on top of the amphitheater, through it for all practical purposes.

paestum-campania09

Following excavations were not really up to modern standards, and the people who were supposed to save these rich archaeological finds for the future have been destroying them. Even in the 20th century houses were built on top of the site. Poverty in the South was so big, it seemed more important to create jobs and affordable housing.

Smaller and not as crowded as Pompeii, with a really amazing museum on site that shows hundreds of statues and graves, Paestum is more of a ruin in the classical sense.

Editors note: Thanks to German travel blogger Sascha möllering from the brilliant 60Seconds blog for writing this brilliantly informative post. Really makes me want to spend some time in Italy! All photos were taken by and belong to him. :-)

Follow:

Why Wanderlust Is A Wonderful State Of Being And Not Some Sort Of Illness

Travalot

wanderlust

People say I have ‘caught the travel bug’, but I don’t like that term. When we think of a ‘bug’ we think of something inherently negative. As if my love for traveling the world and exploring new places is some sort of illness, some sort of sickness which I can’t recover from.

People are quick to judge, as always in life. They discourage what is not ‘normal’ and find it difficult to understand why someone is so keen to jump from job to job, country to country with no stability, no secure income and pretty much no clue what they are doing.

Friends and family think I should have ‘grown out of it’ by now or wish I would realize that travel is great for a few years but that I should want to put two feet on the ground and work on my career, my relationships and maybe even start a family. That I can’t keep ‘running away’ from reality.

They cannot get their head around the nomadic way of life so they judge it and they attempt to change you.

When enough people start to tell you that it’s probably time to sink your feet in one city, to get an office job and to start saving for your future…you will slowly start to listen to them.

You will return from your adventures in Australia, South Africa, Korea or Canada, just like I did no fewer than 5 times in 10 years, and you will try to settle. You’ll get a job, buy some new clothes and maybe even think about buying a car. You’ll try to reconnect with old school friends and start to socialize.

But if you’re a nomad at heart, just like I am, you’ll never fully belong.

So here we are, us nomadic souls, with a strong desire to escape, to roam, to hike, to fly…stuck in offices doing the 9-5 shift like everyone else. We will spend every cent we earn on experiences rather than things, preferring to go camping or surfing or skydiving than buying new possessions, but it won’t be enough. It won’t stop our uncontrollable hunger to see the world. We are not meant to stay in one place. it is not who we are.

You’ll start to dream, yet again, of distant lands in exotic locations where rent is never a problem, where beer is cheaper than water and where you meet new and interesting people every day. In real life, not on your phone or on Facebook, but in the flesh.

You will start browsing Skyscanner as if there’s no tomorrow. You’ll start planning your exit, planning your escape. You’ll become disheartened with life in your home country and slowly grow sick of doing the same things again and again and again.

You see, unfortunately for your friends and your family and all your loved ones, this is one bug, one illness, one state-of-being that you’re never going to recover from. It’s apart of you and probably always will be.

552468be4c7e85431a63b394_wanderlust-1000x666

If I’ve caught anything over the past 29 years, I would say it’s a major case of wanderlust rather than any type of crazy travel bug. It’s an irresistible urge to go, to leave, to escape.

Like many nomadic warriors, my desire to travel and see the world is stronger than anything else inside of me. It is a turbulent, spinning, burning passion that won’t seem to go away.

My wanderlust defines me. It makes me who I am and it makes me want to be a better person each and every day.

My irresistible desire to travel is also a pretty amazing motivator in life. Seeing a picture of a deserted beach in Thailand or animals roaming freely in the great African plains gets my heart beating. It makes me smile, it makes me yearn, and it makes me work harder and longer than ever. For without money, there can be no travel. 

What if money were no object?

I’m pretty sure everyone’s answer to this question is the same. We would all get out there and travel the world. Because, at the end of the day, we are all alike in a way. We all have a streak of wanderlust inside of us just dying to escape. We are all curious by nature and we all dream of a better life, with less stress, fewer worries, less hassle.

For me, and many others, a nomadic lifestyle is similar to winning the lottery. It’s a life with few worries, where finance and bills and money are never the most important thing in our everyday lives. It allows us to live the life we have always dreamed of, meeting new people and tasting new food and exploring new places.

We still work, of course, but we do jobs we enjoy and that we are passionate about. We write, we blog, we take photos. We teach English, we work in beach bars, we work in dive centers. We are aid workers, health workers, construction workers. We are entrepreneurs. Creatives. Authors. Poets. Travelers.

We are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons. We live, we love, we laugh. And we travel.

“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”

Travel allows us to be free, to be present in the moment. Travel allows us to live in the here and the now. To be free from the weight of the past and free from any anticipation of what the future holds. Free to realize they we are the masters of own destiny and we ourselves are the only ones who can control how we feel about anything.

Leaving behind the comforts of our own home, and moving to the other side of the world allows us to see things for what they really are and allows us to give our time and energy to what really matters in life. What really matters to us.

Travel allows me to think happier thoughts. To listen to my emotions, and to choose to feel good, to feel better than I feel anywhere else. Travel allows me to be happy, always.

As much as I will never stop learning, never stop laughing and never stop living…I will also, for the rest of my life as I know it, never stop travelling.

Follow:

Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is Actually The Best Advice Of All Time

globe-travel-money

There are different types of travel, just as there are different types of people.

Just because we can’t all move to Europe to pursue a masters degree or spend a summer sailing around the Greek Islands on a yacht with a group of other twenty-somethings, does not mean we cannot travel. Or, at the very least, does not mean we should be dissuaded from doing so, as Chelsea Fagan does so articulately in her recent Medium article entitled, ‘Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is The Worst Advice Of All Time’.

Fagan says that travel is ‘a way for the upper classes to pat themselves on the back for being able to do something that, quite literally, anyone with money can buy.’ I would argue that travel is not something that one can simply ‘buy’. People can buy flights, and buy bus tours and buy expensive meals in exotic locations, but money cannot buy genuine experiences. Money cannot buy new friendships, an appreciation of different cultures and an insight into how people live in other parts of the world. That is all up to the individual. That is all up to the traveler.

I believe that most people in this world could drop everything and move to another country, if that is their inner most desire. It’s not just about money, it’s about courage. The courage to let go of possessions, normality, relationships, friends. The courage to do something that might not work out for the best. The courage to do something that perhaps nobody you know has done before.

Fagan writes that ‘nothing about your ability or inability to travel means anything about you as a person.’ I would argue the exact opposite is true. How can such courageous and often life-changing decisions not say anything about you as a person? I believe it says everything about you as a person. It shows your desire to learn, your appetite to experience new cultures, to meet and interact with other nationalities through different languages. It shows your need to grow as a person and your willingness to understand more about this great world we live in, accepting there is more to this world than the small bubble of your home country.

Travel does not always mean dropping everything and following your dreams. It doesn’t mean you will, for one second, totally forget about money and bills and healthcare and every other type of worry we are burdened with on a daily basis. But that should not, for one second, stop anyone from at least dreaming of a life overseas. It should not stop us from writing down our goals, our dreams, our inner most desires, in the hope that we can one day achieve them.

Just because you don’t have a lot of money does not mean you cannot travel. Just as there are different types of people in this world, there are also different types of travel.

First of all there is the nomadic type of travel, reserved for people looking to get back to their roots and to live in nature. Reserved for people who might not have very much money, but who are also lucky enough not to have to provide for their elders or look after their younger brothers or sisters. They are free to wander the world at a slow pace, living off the land, walking or hitchhiking wherever they go, camping by lakes or on mountains and relishing their (temporary) distance from civilization.

Next you have the working abroad option, perfect for people who have always dreamed of living and travelling in another country but cannot escape financial responsibilities such as student loans, a mortgage or providing for family members. Take teaching in South Korea, for example, where your return flights are paid for, your accommodation is free for the year and you will probably be left with more disposable income that you had back at home.

You could choose to be a nanny in Russia or an Au-pair in Ireland, or you could get yourself to Australia and work very long hours on a rural farm or in a mine and earn more money than you could ever dream of.

Many people opt to volunteer abroad, a perfect option for those with basic savings but not enough to fund long-term travels. I’m not talking about the ridiculous variety of ‘volunteeting’ chosen by upper-middle class gap years, who pay 1,000’s of dollars to play with lions or spend 2 weeks in a children’s home in Cambodia.

I’m talking about programmes such as Wwoofing and HelpX, which give slow travelers a place to stay, food to eat and a small allowance in exchange for a few hours of work each day. Programmers like this allow for people ona very small budget to travel exotic locations such as South America or even Europe for up to six blissful months.

Travel does not have to mean saving 1,000’s of dollars and leaving your job. It could be working from your computer as you go. If you are sufficiently skilled at copy-writing, blogging or have a specific skill set you can sell online, you could consider becoming a digital nomad. If you can make the same amount of money you were making in the US and in the UK, but were suddenly paying 90% less on rent, money (or lack there-of) would no longer be as big a burden.

Money is important and you should never brush it aside as something trivial, but it also should not be the sole thing stopping you from travelling if that is your dream.

Apply for travel bursaries or student scholarships in countries you have never heard of. Hitchhike, sleep in tents, couchsurf. Work for food and accommodation. You could sing on Grafton street in Dublin and make up to 200 bucks a day then continue your travels around the country.

There really are options for everyone, if you open your mind wide enough to see them.

This article is also live on Medium, you can read it here.

Follow:

The Absolute Cheapest Flights On Skyscanner

locals walking on beach in zanzibar

Browsing Skyscanner is a hobby of mine, so much so that I will have to start adding it to my list of skills on LinkedIn and on my CV! I could easily spend 1 hour every night browsing through various flight deals, dreaming of exotic destinations.

Tonight, I have decided to share with you some of deals I have  found recently in a bid to encourage you to escape to the sun.

Whether your budget is 30 euro or 300 euro, be it a ski holiday, a hiking trip or a safari adventure in East Africa, here are the cheapest flights on Skyscanner this week, all for under 500 euro. Because you really should NEVER have to pay more than that for a flight. Go forth and book!

Let’s start with this: Below are all the places you can fly to this September for less than 50 euro. FIFTY EURO. Eat beans on toast for a week and skip the Friday night pints and next thing you know you could be eating Begian chocolate in Bruges or sampling dutch delights in Amsterdam. Such a bargain!

skyscanner-dublin

Dublin – Paris. 50 euro.
city-of-love-flightsparis-at-night

Dublin to Norway. 46 euro.

cheap-flights-norway

beautiful-norway

Dublin to Prague. 66 euro.

cheap-flights-prague

prague-at-dusk

Dublin to Morocco. 78 euro.

cheap-flights-morocco

morocoo-camels

Dublin to Iceland. 160 euro.

flights-to-iceland

iceland-lights

Dublin to Kenya. 357 euro

cheap-flights-kenya

Maasai Warriors Dancing, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Dublin to Tanzania. 357 euro.

tanzabnia-skyscanner

tanzania-safari

Dublin to Dubai. 340 euro.

cheap-dubai

dubai-skyline

Dublin to India. 335 euro.

india-flights

india-visit

Dublin to Canada. 363 euro.

cheap-flights-toronto

toronto-skyline

to Barbados. 488 euro.

flights-to-paradise

barbados-paradise

Follow: