Give Over! The World’s Best Layovers

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As inconvenient as it may be, adding a layover (or even two) to your journey is almost guaranteed to reduce the price of your flights. This is especially true of long haul trips, and has led to international airports massively stepping up their stopover game. One need no longer simply wait in a rigid plastic chair to reboard. Instead, boutique shops, tasty eateries, spas, cinemas, sleep pods and even swimming pools are now on the cards for the lucky ones who choose to break up their journey in the following hotspots.

Changi Airport, Singapore


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With a cool 700 million pound investment in 2019, Singapore airport is looking fresh, and topping best airport lists the world over. It’s not hard to see why when the three-terminal mega structure boasts the world’s highest indoor waterfall, two FREE 24-hour movie theatres and an outdoor swimming pool complete with jacuzzi and showers. Must-sees at the airport include its many gardens – start in Terminal 1 at the rooftop cactus garden, then hop on the Sky Train to Terminal 2 for the rooftop sunflower garden and finally, finish in Terminal 3 at the beautifully opulent butterfly garden. Once you’re all natured out, take a trippy spin around the mirror maze and finish your stopover in a high-speed chase in the retro arcade.

Haneda Airport, Tokyo


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Just as Tokyo does a brilliant job of melding its traditional and modern qualities, so too does its busiest airport. Wander back in time with a stroll around Edo-koji, a shopping area modelled on traditional Japanese architecture, with quaint alleyways lined with boutiques selling kitsch souvenirs and restaurants serving ramen and oden. Next, take a walk over the near-perfect reconstruction of the Nihonbashi Bridge, where, on the far side, you can take an ema (wooden tag) and write a message to hang on the wall for good luck. Then take in a bit of classic Japanese retail therapy at the nation’s favourite Toy Park and Hello Kitty stores – both outlets are bursting with an array of colourful souvenirs and toys.

Dubai International Airport, Dubai


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A city with such a reputation for luxury must also deliver the goods at the airport, and Dubai certainly does. However, if you’re not looking to splash the cash while you’re there, then a relaxing walk around the Zen Gardens is a great way to chill for free. If you’re wiped and looking for some privacy, then book an igloo sleep pod (which costs around £10 an hour) and recline in peace. Those who want a refreshing wake-up call can hop into the complimentary showers in Terminal 3, while those looking for a massage or a cheeky mani can check into one of the three spas. Last but not least, be sure to take advantage of the duty-free designer boutiques that fill the airport’s shopping zones.

Munich Airport, Munich


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Munich regularly flies the flag for Europe in the best airport stakes, and it’s not hard to see why. Beer lovers who visit the city for its famous beer halls are not let down when they get to the terminal, which boasts its very own brewery! The airport’s Visitors Park does everything it can to bring out the big kid in you with a giant slide and mini golf course. Meanwhile, the Christmas season sees the annual construction of an ice rink and Christmas market. Those who want to catch some Z’s can now take advantage of swish Napcab sleedpods. These are dotted around the airport and are available to book from £10 an hour.

Incheon Airport, Seoul

Incheon Airport oozes cool, with slick modern architecture and plenty to see and do. First stop on a sunny day should be the rolling greens of the golf course, which is just a short shuttle bus away and accessible for all airport passengers. Alternatively, if you’re feeling a little lucky, the Paradise Casino Incheon can be an exciting way to pass a few hours. Those looking for a calmer layover should take a wander in one of the seven indoor gardens, walking amongst water plants and tropical flowers. Movie buffs can catch a flick at one of the two cinemas, while foodies should take the opportunity to sup on Korean favourites – like bibimbap and fried chicken.