Asia Layover? Catch a Movie, or a 'Tornado'

Who would've thought spending an extended amount of time at an airport could be fun? Several airports around the world offer unique entertainment and activities that might actually make you wish for a delay or cancellation.

Singapore's Changi Airport
Darren Booth for
Singapore's Changi Airport

The latest airport adding a new way to kill time is Hong Kong International Airport. Beginning in June, travelers and locals alike will have access to the world's first airport IMAX cinema in Terminal 2 before security. A combination of Hollywood blockbusters and other films are expected to be offered at a cost of about HK$150 (US$20).

Other activities at HKIA include an "i-Sports" area offering various one-of-a-kind sports simulators such as soccer, basketball, golf, boxing, skiing, car racing and shooting. For an actual sporting activity, a 9-hole golf course is adjacent to the airport and offers shuttle pickup to and from the terminal. Airline and airport geeks like me will enjoy the aviation discovery center complete with an observation area overlooking the runways.

If you have a longer layover, the attached Regal Airport Hotel is probably my favorite airport hotel of any around the world. Accessible via an air-conditioned walkway, the immaculately maintained property features multiple dining options, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, garden areas, fitness center, business center, children's play area, and walking and bike paths.

Singapore Changi Airport
Source: Changi Airport Group
Singapore Changi Airport

As wonderful as Hong Kong's airport is for killing time, my favorite remains Singapore's Changi Airport.

As a transit passenger, you have the option to take a free 2-hour sightseeing tour of Singapore, wander through nature trails including the world's first airport butterfly garden, or even go for a swim at the transit hotel's pool for a small fee. Movie theaters, an arcade and other interactive exhibits are also found inside the terminals.

But the coolest activity at Changi is "The Slide@T3." Open to adults, it's a 4-story tornado slide in Terminal 3 similar in design to what you'd find at a water park — without the water.

Unfortunately, activities like these aren't found at any U.S. airports. But we're starting to think out-of-the-box. San Francisco International Airport this year opened what's being touted as the world's first dedicated yoga room at an airport in Terminal 2.

For me, though, I'll take a twister slide or movie any day. How about you?