• Layover at Incheon International Airport?


    The changing of the guards at the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Visitors witness this ritual in the morning.

    Try the transit tour.

    Having a long layover at an international airport may seem like eternity especially when you are on a long haul flight.

    Getting to one's final destination may seem to take forever.
    Nonetheless, travellers have options on how to make these layovers worthwhile and have a delightful experience.

    Try to go out of the airport and explore the place, discover new interests or meet the locals.Think of it as a little vacation on your way to your destination.

    However, this means you have to go through immigration and security checks again. Some international airlines are said to offer travel packages during a layover that is more than 24 hours. In some cases, some international airports offer free transit tour services, depending on the length of your layover.

    The Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, for instance, offers free tours to travellers with less than 24 hours of layover time.


    Depending on the length of your layover, you may choose from a list of places to visit, explore and experience.

    The free tour usually starts at 8 a.m. Thus, if you arrive at the Incheon International Airport very early in the morning, like 6 a.m., you can visit the Transit Tour Desk at the Transfer Area where brochures on the free Korea Transit Tour are displayed. The tour programs are on a first come-first served basis.

    The transit tours are divided into seven themes to suit the traveller's interests. These are Tradition, Shopping, Temple visit, Adventure, K-Culture, Old and New and Entertainment.

    These tours are guided and free of charge except for the four-hour Temple tour that charges US $4 for the entrance fee and the five-hour Tradition tour that charges US $10 which includes lunch and the entrance fee to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. In the Tradition tour, visitors take lunch at Insadong, a popular neighborhood where antique shops, small shops selling souvenirs and traditional goods and folk art galleries can be found.

    The brochure also describes the destination and states the length of time per destination of your choice so you can manage your time.
    The Transit Tour desk opens at 7 a.m and it helps if you line up early and make reservations for your desired destination.

    The transit tour staff will give instructions on how to get to the main Transit Tour Desk at the airport's ground floor near Gate 3. Since you have to pass through immigration, be sure you do not have handcarried Duty Free goods especially liquor because you will be taxed if you bring these out in transit. Remember, you have to pass through immigration again to get into the airport so you can catch your flight after the layover.

    Moreover, transit tourists will also be required to present a passport, boarding passes and visa at the Free Transit Tour desk for registration.

    Tourists are also given pins to wear to indicate that they are part of the free transit tour group. More instructions are given at the main Transit Tour Desk at the ground engages the visitors during the trip. But they are also very particular about being on time otherwise you have to go back to the airport on your own.

    You can also leave your carry-on items at the Transit Tour Desk which is quite safe. Just make sure your luggage is secure and properly identified. It is best to bring with you your valuable items like the laptop, though.

    Meanwhile, the most popular choice among the destinations is the Tradition tour where transit tourists visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty in 1395.
    The average length of a tour is four hours.

    This temple was built 1,300 years ago by a politician who prayed for his son to ascend the throne.

    The shortest tour takes one hour. One is the temple built 1,300 years ago by the politician Heungseon Daewongun. He made the temple as his temporary residence for 10 years praying for his son to ascend the throne.The other one-hour tour is the Paradise City Art-tainment, the first Korean-style resort complex in North Asia that offers a diverse range of entertainment and cultural amenities and accommodations.

    The longest courses are those that take five hours inclusive of the trip going to the destination and returning to the airport.
    These are the visit to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insadong and the popular shopping districts of Myeongdong and Namdaemun Market.

    There are also four-hour tours to the Jeondeungsa Temple and the Deokjinjn Fortress, the Gwangmyeong Cave, theWorld Cup Stadium and Hongdae Street.

    The only two-hour course is the tour of the old Songdo Hanok Village and the moden Triple Shopping Street.

    When you're done with the tour and you're back in the airport after the routine immigration and security checks, you can then freshen up or take a shower and take a nap for free at the fourth floor. Maybe there's even time for a quick snack.

    Thus, the next time you find yourself in a layover for less than 24 hours at the Incheon International Airport, check out its transit tours. What interests you?

    The tours are from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. (Thea C. Rinen)
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