Long layover flight plans are fun, only when you get to see the city you’ll be stuck in for a while instead of wandering inside the airport. Transit tours offered by top International Airports help passengers do just that! It’s a trip within a trip! Some airports can keep you occupied for hours within its terminals, while some might just offer you city tours that would have cost you $100 USD in just $10 USD. So, the next time you find yourself stuck in a short layover or a long stopover – here’s a list of International Airports that can come to your rescue –
LAYOVER AT INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SEOUL
Incheon Airport in Seoul has one of the most famous transit tour programmes. As per their Transit Tour eligibility guidelines, passengers who have connecting flights from third countries to another third country within 24hours and are allowed by the Immigration Officer are qualified for the tours. The tours are planned accordingly, varying from a minimum of 1hr upto 5hrs. There are various types of tours which the passenger can choose from at the Transit Tour Information Desks located in Terminals 1 & 2 based on their interests. The passengers are required to pay $10 USD for their own lunches during tour stops. If not in the mood to Travel out of the Airport, there are various freebies available inside the premises which include beautiful gardens, Korean Cultural Museum, traditional Korean Cultural experiences and even view Korean art in the Traditional Cultural Centre.
- Layover time needed: 1-5+ hours depending on the tour
- What to see: Varies based on the type of tour picked according to one’s interest.
- Where to register: The Transit Tour information desk in Terminal 1 or 2.
- Tour schedule & more info: Tours leave every hour from 07:00-18:00.
- Tour schedule & more info: 9 interest tours run on a daily basis.
- Important note(s): on Mondays, the Gwangmyeong Cave is closed, thus the tour is replaced with Incheon City Tour. On Tuesdays, the Gyeongbokgung Palace tours are substituted with Changdeokgung Palace.
LAYOVER AT ATATURK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, ISTANBUL
If you happen to have a connecting international flight with a layover of 6-24hrs in Istanbul, rest assured that you will not be bored. The Touristanbul transit tours offered at the Hotel Desk in the International Arrivals Terminal of Istanbul Airport has various options available like the sightseeing tours, walking tours and sometimes special tours are also run. The tours include transportation services by shuttle bus, meal servings provided and include all museum fees. You can directly sign up for the tours by reaching the Hotel Desk half an hour before the tour starts.
- Layover time needed: 6-24hours maximum
- What to see: Blue Mosque, Hippodrome Square, the Grand Covered Bazaar and more.
- Where to register: the Hotel Desk in the International Arrival Hall, which is located after passport and customs control.
- Tour schedule & more info: 6 tours leave every day 08:00 – 23:00.
- Important note(s): to qualify for the free Istanbul tours, you must be flying with Turkish Airlines. Travellers are advised to check if they need a visa while in transit.
LAYOVER AT DOHA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, QATAR
Your Doha layover can now be an experience of a lifetime with Doha transit tours when you fly with Qatar Airways. The tours hit the major attractions of the capital city like the Souk Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Katara Cultural Village and many more attractions. If your layover is of more than 5hours you can opt for more adventurous tours to explore more of this culturally vast city as well as venture to the outskirts for some adventure rides.
- Layover time needed: more than 5 hours
- What to see: Katara Cultural Village, The Pearl, Museum of Islamic Art and Souq Waqif.
- Where to register: The discover Qatar Tours desk located at concourse A at the airport.
- Tour schedule & more info: 6 tours leave every day from 08:00-21:30. Your onward flight departure must be 5+ hours from the tour start time.
- Important note(s): to qualify for the Doha Transit tours, you must be flying with Qatar Airways. The 5 hours Doha City Tour is the minimum package offered at 75QAR.
LAYOVER AT CHANGI AIRPORT, SINGAPORE
Consistently named World’s Best Airport six times in a row means that the Singapore Changi Airport will give you the best amenities to indulge yourself during your next layover. On a tight schedule? Roam the airport’s in-house gardens in Terminals 1,2 and 3 with even a sprawling tropical butterfly habitat thrown in the mix. You can even catch a free movie! Adding onto the list of attractions inside the airport – the Rain Vortex is a 40 metres high indoor waterfall, at the heart of the Terminal 1 departure hall which is aptly named Jewel. Oh, did we venture out to the city yet? If you have more than 5 hours on your hands, then venture out for the free Singapore tours – selecting between Heritage or City Sights.
- Layover time needed: 5.5hours to upto 24hours
- What to see: Roam the various Terminals of the airport itself, or venture out on a city tour to see Singapore’s iconic locations.
- Where to register: The tour accepts walk-in registrations located at Terminals 2&3. Do not clear immigration procedures as the registration booths are located within the transit area. Registration for tours closes 1hour before the tour starts.
- Tour schedule & more info:
- Important note(s): transiting passengers are allowed to enter and exit Singapore only once during the layover period so only one tour can be joined by each passenger.
LAYOVER AT TAOYUAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, TAIPEI
The Tourism Board of Taiwan is offering a “2019 Free Half-Day Tour” programs for all transit passengers with 7-hours to 24-hours layovers before their next connecting flight. This half-day tour will take you all over Taipei to its cultural heritage sites like the Qingshui Zushi Temple, Sanxia Old Street, Yingge Ceramics Old Street in the morning tour. In the afternoon you’ll be visiting Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei Creative Park, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall with a photo session at the iconic Taipei 101.
- Layover time needed: 7hours to upto 24hours
- What to see: Historical heritage sites of Taipei as well as the stunning Taipei 101.
- Where to register: On-site registration is available for 12 seats and 6 seats out of 18 are reserved for bookings done 14-30 days in advance. The Tourist Service Center is located in the Arrival Lobby for Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
- Tour schedule & more info: 2 tours leave every day from 08:30-12:30 for the morning tour and 14:15-18:15 for the afternoon tour.
- Important note(s): Passengers who have valid R.O.C. visas or come from countries eligible for visa-exempt entry are eligible. To avoid missing departure flights the following passengers are not accepted – morning tour registrations for passengers who depart before 15:00 on the day of the tour and afternoon tour registrations for passengers who depart before 20:30 on the same day.
LAYOVER AT NARITA AIRPORT, TOKYO
Don’t get lost in translation when passing through Japan. At the Tokyo Narita Airport the Transit Program will make sure that you see the very best of the city instead of getting bored at the airport. Experiences include ancient Shrines, countryside tours, Edo period towns, shopping for Sake and bus tours including traditional food culture and theme parks. Volunteer Guided Tours are walking tours provided by volunteering guides for non-Japanese tourists. Self-Guided Tours let you take your time exploring and enjoy at your own pace. The Bus Tours are the hassle-free way of going around places near the Airport. You only pay for the bus and the driver and the tour also includes an authentic Japanese bento lunch!
- Layover time needed: 2.5hours to 6hours depending on the type of tour
- What to see: periodic towns, ancient temples, shopping destinations, art museums and bus tours around the city.
- Where to register: On-site registration is available
- Tour schedule & more info: Volunteer Guided Tours are walking tours run daily. Self-guided tours are available from the program counter from 09:00-17:00. Bus tours run Tuesday-Sunday.
- Important note(s): Tours are free of charge; however, participants are responsible for all personal expenses, including transportation costs and entrance fees, during the tour. Tipping the tour guides is not necessary.
A few common tips when it comes to layovers and stopovers:
- Always have your visa status updated.
- Calculate how long the tour runs for so that you have ample time to go through all necessary procedures for your next leg of the journey.
- Take note of when you need to arrive for tours – some require you to show up 30 minutes to an hour beforehand.
- Some tours may not allow you if they see that your departing flight will be cutting it close with the end of the tour.
- Check online if the transit tours you’re planning on taking require any registration or not.
- Bring money with you. A free tour or stopover doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is free. Also, have ample currency exchanged so that there are no problems during the tour.
- Check what documents you need to board a tour. Commonly you may need to show the airline ticket of your previous and upcoming flight.
- Check tour restrictions and have all the necessary documents on hand.
- You don’t need a visa to take airport layover tours as you’re considered an “in-transit” passenger (Istanbul being an exception). Often you may need to hand over your passport for the length of the tour. Always ensure beforehand that your passport is not an exempt country, as some countries are not allowed to have in-transit passengers.
- Check up on the tour info for any hidden costs for lunch, museum fees etc.
- Consider where to store your luggage if applicable (some tours may not allow you to bring your luggage with you or it will be inconvenient for you). The Tour Desks at the airport will be of help in this.