Some people hate long layovers-- that extremely cold airport ventilation, the uncomfortable seat, the expensive food, and just the act of waiting for long hours to catch another flight just right after getting off another. You’d usually experience this for long-haul flights to different continents or when you’re trying to save money on flight tickets.
What is the silver lining in long airport layovers then?! It’s the fact that if you stay long enough, you can actually go out of the airport and explore the city. Some airlines even provide for a free hotel and a free city tour. Yay! Next time you’ll be out on a long flight, plan your layovers well because the good thing about it is that you can actually go on a quick side trip to another country.
In this article, I’ll tell you which airports are best for layovers some of those where Filipinos can explore even without a visa! :)
1) Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey if you’re flying with Turkish Airlines
Plan your trip with Turkish Airlines because once you are qualified, you could get a side trip of a lifetime all for free with their Touristanbul Program which includes the shuttle service, the tour guide, and museum fees. To be able to avail of this, you must:
1) Be flying with Turkish Airlines (duh) on an International Flight; and
2) Your layover must be between 6-24 hours.
How to avail of the Free Touristanbul: All you have to do is sign up for Touristanbul at the Hotel Desk in the International Arrivals Terminal of Istanbul Ataturk Airport after your Turkish Airlines connecting international flight.
Points of interest: The Blue Mosque, Galata Tower, Yedikule Fortress, Old Samatya Armenian District, Yeni Kapı Harbour, Walls of Constantine, Eminonu District, Galata Bridge, Dolmabahçe Palace, Taksim Square, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, and the Aqueduct of Valens
Visa requirement for Filipinos: Evisa required but only for holders of visa or residence permit from the Schengen, US, UK or Ireland. Apply at iVisa and you can get your Evisa in just 6 hours!
Related article: How Philippines Passport Holder Can Apply For Turkish Tourist Visa
2) Changi Airport at Singapore
I doubt if you’d ever want to go out the Changi Airport which happens to be the best in the world but if it’s for free, then I bet you will!
Eligibility: You are a transit passenger of Changi Airport and your layover period is at least 5.5 hours and less than 24 hours. See the schedule here.
Requirements: Passport, boarding passes and valid entry visa (if applicable). Should you have bulky cabin baggage, you must leave them at Baggage Storage before joining the tour.
Visa requirement for Filipinos: None. It is visa-free!
How to register: Proceed to any of the following registration booths:
Terminal 2: Transit Area, between Transfer Lounge F and Skytrain to Terminal 3 near the escalator to Arrival Immigration (Level 2)
Terminal 3: Transit Area, near Transfer Lounge A and Gate A1-A8 (Level 2)
Other Terminals: Stay in the transit area and proceed to the booth at Terminal 3 to register, or inquire with the nearest Information Counter.
Points of interest: For the Heritage Tour- Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam, and a short stopover at the Merlion Park. For the City Sights Tour- Merlion, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade, and Gardens by the Bay.
3) Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
This is a Filipino favorite and I’m sure you’d do anything to get this long layover. I don’t think anyone would want to stay inside the airport knowing there’s a beautiful world out there with delicious food and totally handsome oppas!
Eligibility: The passenger must have a connecting flight from third countries to other third countries within 24 hours and you can reach the registration desk at terminal 1 & 2 by using the shuttle train at the basement.
Visa requirement for Filipinos: None but you have to join the Transit Tour Program.
Points of interest: Incheon Airport offers 9 Tours in total ranging from 1-5 hours. It is insane! It’s gonna take so much of this article if I write it all here so please feel free to check all the tours on this link.
How to register: Sign up on their Online Registration and follow the instructions given.
4) Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan
Another favorite destination due to its huge night bazaars. Surely, it will be nice to go out of the airport and get a taste of that stinky tofu.
Eligibility: Transit or transfer passengers with 7 to 24-hour layovers before their next connecting flight, who have valid R.O.C. visas or come from countries eligible for visa-exempt entry.
Requirements: Passport valid for at least six months and a completed immigration embarkation/disembarkation card available at the immigration counter
Visa requirement for Filipinos: Visa-free until July 31, 2019. After which, it will be reviewed for another extension.
How to register: Book your tour after arrival at the Tourist Service Center located in the Arrival Lobby of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the Taoyuan International Airport. From 14 days to 30 days prior to your arrival, you could also reserve a tour in advance. Just fill in the application form and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that only excel files are accepted and passengers can join only one tour during each stopover.
Points of interest: For the Morning Tour- Qingshui Zushi Temple, Sanxia Old Street, Yingge Ceramics Old Street. For the Afternoon Tour- Ximending, Taipei 101 and lots of other attractions to pass by. Click here for more details.
5) Doha International Airport in Doha, Qatar
Eligibility: Layover must be for more than 5 hours.
Visa requirement for Filipinos: Transit visa required. You can get this for free with Qatar Airways on this link provided that: 1) You submit a clear passport copy for each passenger (including infants); 2) The passport should be valid for a minimum of six months at the time of entry into Qatar; and 3) The confirmed tickets into Qatar and onwards must be on Qatar Airways operated flights only. After successfully applying for the visa, you can check the status of your application using your visa request number or by emailing them at email@example.com
How to register: Book in advance online until 48 hours prior to arrival. You must be at the Discover Qatar Tours desk in the airport 90 minutes before the tour starts.
Points of attraction: Katara, The Pearl, Museum of Islamic Art and Souq Waqif. See the complete list of Transit Tours here. Note that this is subject to fees.
6) Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan
Eligibility: You must have enough time to join the tour. This tour is available for non-Japanese travelers who are changing planes at Narita Airport (either domestic or international flights) or who are staying in the Narita area. Tours are free of charge but you will be responsible for all personal expenses, including transportation costs and entrance fees during the tour so bring enough Japanese Yen.
Visa requirement for Filipinos: Transit visa required. Click here for details.
How to register: Pick your preferred tour here and book it online. When you arrive at the airport, proceed to the Travel & Stay Program’s reception counters at Terminal 1 or 2 of Narita Airport.
Points of interest: There’s a total of 11 tours you can choose from with Narita Airport’s Travel & Stay Program. You can either choose to cycle around the countryside in Tako Town, get a cultural experience at Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple, go shopping at the Shisui Premium Outlet, and a whole lot more!
7) Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah, USA
Eligibility: Your layover should be 2 hours or more.
Visa requirement for Filipinos: US Visa required. Click here on how to apply for a US Visa.
How to register: Go to airport information desks in terminal 1 or 2 and ask for a shuttle brochure, which shows time and day schedules.
Point of interest: Temple Square
Note that these tours don’t allow huge pieces of luggage inside their shuttle so it’s best to keep them at the airport baggage concierge. Terms and conditions apply and they will not be held responsible if you miss your connecting flight due to any unforeseen incidents. Visa requirements may be applicable. You can read all of my visa application tips and step-by-step guides here.