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Asia's Airports, Decoded: All the Info You Need to Know Before You Travel

By Amanda Sheppard 5 October 2018

Tropical paradises and concrete jungles lie no more than a few hours away from Hong Kong, but to get there, you’ll have to navigate Asia's airports. We’ve put together a list of the best (plus the rest) airports in the region, and what to expect from each.


BKK

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport replaced Don Mueang Airport as the city’s largest. Just 30km from the city centre, it now serves Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, and Thai Smile as these airlines’ main hub.

  • Open since: 2006
  • Distance from city centre: 30
  • Transport: Taxi, Train
  • Number of terminals: 1
  • Fast Track Immigration: Yes

Thumbs up: Free drinking water

Thumbs down: Expect long walks between gates

PEK

The aptly named Beijing Capital International Airport boasts three terminals which, in comparison to its Shanghai counterpart, are easily navigable and well sign-posted in English as well as Simplified Chinese.

  • Open since: 1959
  • Distance from city centre: 32km
  • Transport: Train, Taxi, Bus
  • Number of terminals: 3
  • Fast Track Immigration: No

Thumbs up: Well sign-posted in English

Thumbs down: Lengthy immigration and transit queues

HKG

Designed by Sir Norman Foster, Hong Kong International Airport is the pride and joy of many a Hongkonger. Efficient though it may be, we wouldn’t advise arriving with endless time to spare – there is little by way of entertainment, though five lounges offer paid entry.

  • Open since: 1998
  • Distance from city centre: 40km
  • Transport: Train, Bus, Taxi
  • Number of terminals: 2
  • Fast Track Immigration: No

Thumbs up: IMAX cinema land-side

Thumbs down: Little air-side leisure and entertainment

KUL

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is Malaysia’s busiest airport and serves as the main hub for both Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia. Known to be busy year-round, it has developed a reputation for remaining efficient and clean.

  • Open since: 1998
  • Distance from city centre: 28km
  • Transport: Taxi
  • Number of terminals: 2
  • Fast Track Immigration: Yes

Thumbs up: Known for cleanliness and efficiency

Thumbs down: Allow time for additional security at departure gates

MNL

An overview of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila presents difficulties off the cuff – with the four terminals located quite a distance apart, they can feel like entirely separate entities. There are multiple security checks throughout the departure process, so keep your luggage organised.

  • Open since: 1998
  • Distance from city centre: 8km
  • Transport: Taxi
  • Number of terminals: 4
  • Fast Track Immigration: No

Thumbs up: Terminal 3 boasts a spa

Thumbs down: Tourists have been known to fall prey to petty-theft scams

SIN

Long-hailed the crème-de-la-crème of international airports, Singapore Changi Airport has lived up to its reputation in more ways than one. This is one of few airports you’ll want to stay in and can be well worth factoring in some time to explore before you board your flight.

  • Open since: 1981
  • Distance from city centre: 17km
  • Transport: Taxi, Train, Bus
  • Number of terminals: 3
  • Fast Track Immigration: No

Thumbs up: Butterfly garden, cinema, rooftop swimming pool

Thumbs down: Patchy WiFi

PVG

As one of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities, Shanghai Pudong International Airport welcomes international travellers in abundance. The result, however, has been the notoriously congested air traffic.

  • Open since: 1999
  • Distance from city centre: 30km
  • Transport: Taxi, Train, Bus
  • Number of terminals: 2
  • Fast Track Immigration: Yes

Thumbs up: Easy to navigate

Thumbs down: Frequent flight delays in and out of Shanghai Pudong

Following a brief and bitterly cold stint in Scotland, Amanda returned to Hong Kong—a place she’s called home for over 18 years—to begin her career as a writer. She can often be found getting lost somewhere very familiar, planning her next holiday, and enjoying a cup (or three) of good, strong coffee.

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