Going to Asia? Shoot for a layover in Seoul!

No matter where you are headed in Asia you are almost guaranteed a layover flying from the USA. Especially us on the east coast. Through various research I have determined that Seoul, South Korea is usually your best option. It involves long layovers but they have figured that out and offer a lot to do with your time.

Options include:

  • Transit lounge - At the time of writing the access to the lounge costs $21 USD (approximately) and the lounge offers internet, clean bathrooms, comfortable seats, open bar, buffet food, showers, business center, and great service. 
  • Spa on Air - The Incheon Airport (ICN) has a spa outside the secure area. It includes hot tubs, saunas, message (paid), sleeping rooms (limited, extra costs), and lounge with couches, recliners and TV's. You are allowed to sleep in the lounge. Cost: 20,000 Won at time of writing. Add 15,000 if you want a private bedroom if it is available.
  • Day Trips - There are lots of options. On the expensive end you have tours into Seoul and the DMZ zone with North Korea. For the budget minded you can take the train that connects to the Seoul subway system and have your own tour. Buses also run into the city but cost more and are susceptible to traffic. Seoul has great food, shopping, shows, and sites to see to kill 5+ hours.
  • Free Sleeping Lounge - I used this back in 2006! There is an area with beds in the transit hall. If one is available have a nap and catch your next flight if you arrive at odd hours or just not up to leaving the airport
  • Restaurants - some offer free internet access with purchase. Others have entertainment such as music and TV's. No matter your budget you can find something to pass the time!
  • Airport Hotel - Asiana and Korean Air offer free stays in the airport hotel under certain conditions. It is best to call the airline when you have a ticket booked to get details.
South Korea is less expensive than other major hubs (such as Tokyo or Beijing) and is a lot more tourist friendly as they are heavily promoting tourism. With all the above amenities in the airport I cannot think of a better place to be "stuck" on a long layover. If you face a long layover why not pick an interesting and relatively inexpensive place?