Highlights – Cultural Centers, Observation deck, Paris Baguette, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Movie Theater, Public Art, Media Art, Tech Displays.
Most international flights will land at Incheon International Airport, a large 2 terminal airport with tons of food, shopping and even some cultural pitstops. Frequently ranked in the top 2 airports in the world, if you’ve been there you know why.
How to Get to Seoul from Incheon airport?
The airport is known for its efficiency and getting riders in and out quickly, and for it’s main purpose, it is very simple to navigate even for a foreigner who does not read or understand Korean. For tourists like ourselves, there are a number of ways to get to Seoul by Train, Bus, or Taxi. I’d suggest taking the A’REX (express trainline) into Seoul if possible, or a taxi for ease. The A’REX costs about 9,500 won, departs every 20-40 minutes and takes around 40 minutes to get to Seoul Station. While the all stop train for those who aren’t in a rush or if your stop is in-between, costs a maximum of 4,750 won. In my experience, Korea’s train lines are second to none in efficiency, safety and cleanliness. Most stations have some sort of rail or covering for the tracks, and the trains are frequent, clean and orderly. Also like most large cities, do not be afraid to bring your luggage onto the trains. Most stations will have escalators or elevators as well, but not all, so be prepared to potentially go up one or two sets of stairs with your suitcases. Or to avoid all headaches, take a Airport taxi for 44,000 won, but it’ll be about a 60 minute trip, taxi pickup is located at exit 4 in terminal 1 and exit 1 at terminal 2. Uber pickup areas are also available Uber black at exit 14 in terminal 1 and exit 6 for terminal two. I’d personally stick with the train. Do some research on where you’re stop is and walk a few steps, snap a few photos and do a little exploring before you get to your Hotel or AirBnB.
Things to eat at Incheon during a Long Layover or arrive to the airport early.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, the only issue you will have is which of the food vendors to choose. If you want to get one last or first taste of Korean food, there are tons of options.
In Terminal 2, there are 40 locations you can go for Korean food, about 10 if you’d like to try Korean takes on western foods, and 25 other Asian cuisines and food court fast food like American staples Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King, Quizno’s and even a ShackShake. They also have about 40 cafes. I’d definitely suggest grabbing something at any café (one of my favorites is the chain Paris Baguette). From what I’ve experienced walking through Seoul, it might have the most cafe’s I’ve seen.
Terminal 1 has around half the amount of restaurants but similar varieties. there are buses that go between terminal 1 and 2 if you’re inclined to explore both Terminals.
I’d suggest getting some of the local cuisine and grabbing a pastry/coffee/matcha and relaxing in one of the plentiful seating areas or taking in some art/culture displays.
What to do at Incheon during a layover.
There are actually live musical performances. Whether you’re into the new generation KPOP or very traditional classical instruments, event times will be posted in the airport or online. There are also traditional masked dances and walk of the royal family performances. The Korean Cultural Street located in 4F, Terminal 1 is quite cool. A really good photo opportunity and a good mix of traditional with modern technology.
I, however, prefer the Cultural centers. You get to see some of the traditional colors, art, architecture, and gardens. I even got to make a traditional stamped painting of a tiger. There is a lot of public art as well as media/tech art and even an observation deck called Oseong Mountain Observatory deck that you can make your way to with a walking trail if you have time.
I’ve heard there’s also a 5G tech area now where you get to explore and understand the technology behind 5G in VR or AR. Sounds amazing.
I liked walking around the airport and just popping my head into where ever something interested me. Technology and media displays caught my eye as well as the very traditional cultural centers and the plethora of public modern and traditional art. There is ALOT of tech in Korea. To this date, of all the places I’ve ever traveled, Seoul is the most technologically advanced.
Unique things to buy at ICN
Korea is known for some unique traditional souvenirs, skin care and of course unique snacks. Honey butter or corn flavored snacks (chips, biscuits), dried squid and drinks such as different sweet potato milk or lattes from Lotte mart and ginseng items are probably going to be unique. I’d also suggest getting a box of tea or coffee beans. There will also be lots of skin care if you’re inclined to try some new products out, Korean skin care products are world renowned.
Time in TSA lines.
The TSA line’s here are fast, much like the country it’s super efficient. While I still would suggest you arrive 1.5 to 2 hours before an international flight, it may only take you 30 minutes to get into the gates. Lines are orderly and quick. I would go in early just because this airport has so much to see and do.