Incheon International Airport
- Not to be confused with Incheon.
Incheon International Airport was built to the west of Seoul and opened in 2001, taking over from Seoul Gimpo airport as the nation's international hub. It has convenient connections to the South Korean capital, and is frequently rated in the top three airports in the world. The terminal building is architecturally very impressive, and is a pleasure to look at, even if you are not flying. The nearby city of Incheon is also a significant center of industry.
Incheon is the main international hub for both Korean Air and Asiana, with many airlines flying from North America, Europe, Africa, Australasia and Asia.
The vast majority of domestic Korean flights are still handled by Seoul Gimpo airport which is a short AREX train journey from Incheon airport.
There are a limited number of direct flights from Seoul Incheon to both Busan's Gimhae International Airport and Jeju island every day. These cost slightly more than the corresponding flights from Gimpo, albeit much more convenient. These are actually treated as international connections, and you will pass immigration later at your destination.
The A'REX train link connects the airport to Seoul Station (for further connections to KTX high-speed services) and Gimpo Airport (most domestic flights), operating from 05:20 until midnight. Two versions exist: Express services to the city (every half hour) takes 43 minutes and cost ₩8,000 (with WiFi available on board), while commuter services (every 6 minutes) take 53 minutes and cost ₩3,700.
It is worth noting that with some airlines you can check into your Incheon flight in Seoul Station before you get on the AREX train. Immigration officers are also on hand to stamp your passport, which means you are processed and can quickly go through the Diplomatic Departures entrance in Incheon Airport.
Travel time to Gimpo Airport is 28/35 minutes, with both services charging ₩3,100, making this the fastest and cheap option for intra-airport transfer as well. If you are heading to Incheon International from Seoul Station and using Korean, Asiana or Jeju Air, the express train may be your best option. You can check your bags and even pass through security and immigration, allowing you to skip the lines at the airport and to spend a little longer in the city, or helping you make a mad dash to the airport.
Korea's high speed rail service (KTX) now connects Incheon airport directly with Seoul station, Daejeon, Daegu, Ulsan and Busan. As of November 2014 it takes about 200 minutes to Busan, with six trains per day. There are many more frequent KTX connections from Seoul station itself, so it may be quicker to take an A'REX train there in case you miss a good connection from the airport.
Incheon opened a new Maglev train line in February 2016, connecting Yeongjong Island and Yongyu Station. With a maximum speed of 110 km per hour, it is not exactly the same class as the Shanghai Maglev. Typically tourists will not be too interested in the areas connected by this train, but may be useful for industry and sports events held in Yongyu. Fares are free for a few years after opening.
When traveling into Seoul with a lot of luggage or are heading to southern parts of Seoul (eg. Gangnam) then the airport buses are a very good option. Limousine buses (₩15,000 to/from city for one way, ₩6,500 to/from Gimpo Airport (domestic flight)) travel directly to major areas and big hotels in Seoul, while public buses (₩8,000-9.000) will take you to major transit hubs. If you're visiting for the first time, it's worth paying a bit extra for the limousine bus. For either bus type, consult the big maps or staff to figure out which route best suits your needs; you can then find the shuttles outside 1st floor arrivals (if possible get this information from your hotel before arriving). Or simply, walk out and ask the many ticket sellers (they are wearing vests) which bus goes to your hotel because if it's a popular one or in a popular area, they'll surely know which you'll need. It's best to buy tickets at any of the ticket gates near the bus arrival area but you can also pay the fare using won or a T-Money card if you have one. The limousine bus drivers are extremely friendly but don't count on them knowing too much English. There are maps inside the buses letting passengers know which stops are upcoming and these are also announced in Korean and English. Pressing any of the red buttons inside signals to the driver you want off at the next stop.
You can purchase and recharge a T-Money card at the GS25 store which is located at the end of the arrivals area, next to "International Arrivals F" exit.
If you have a late flight and plan on getting into Seoul via bus, make sure you get out to the curb as soon as you can. The last buses run shortly after the last flights land. If you miss your bus, you'll be stuck paying for a taxi, as the trains will stop running too.
A taxi direct to Seoul will cost around ₩50,000/70,000 regular/deluxe. Black deluxe taxis (모범 택시) and almost all regular taxis accept credit cards, but a few regular taxis (일반 택시) may not. Ask the driver before you get on if you can pay by credit card. You are expected to pay any road tolls on top of the meter fare. Having your destination written down in Korean will be very helpful. Steer clear of taxi drivers trying to pick you up from inside the terminal and even the bus stop. As both buses and taxis are subject to traffic, allow extra time for rush hour delays (or take the train back).
There are two terminal buildings, the smaller one is connected to the main airport by a fast underground train.
The airport is well signposted and caters to all your traveler needs, and even includes a small mall. It's spread out over five floors:
- 4F: Viewing lounge, upscale restaurants, food court
- 3F: Departures/Transit level, tax-free shopping, fast food
- 2F: Business center
- 1F: Arrival level, tourist information, buses and taxis
- B1F: Starline shuttle (transit side)
"Spa on Air" sauna, cafeteria, hospital (landside)
- Incheon is somewhat close to the North Korean border, and dedicated DMZ tours are available if you have some hours to spare.
- A booth in the arrival hall offers "free Korea Transit Tours". See the Visitkorea site and the airport site for more details. The only downside is that the last official trip starts at 1500. If you are have a few hours to spare from 1500 onwards, you'll have to figure out the trip arrangements yourself. If you want to visit the small Yonggungsa Temple (location #1 on the "free Korea Transit Tours" suggestion), which is not overwhelmed by tourists, the taxi round trip is about 30 dollars and 40 minutes (two-way travel time). Bus is significantly cheaper, but will take several times as long. The airport information booth can help you plan this trip, or you can use Google Transit to plan this trip. The Google Map friendly address of this Temple is "667 Unnam-dong, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea".
- Revive yourself with a reasonably priced Korean sauna experience on the basement level.
- JES Massage Center, 2 locations: Passenger Terminal 4th Floor Rest & Relax Zone & Concourse A, ☎ +82 32 743 6925.
- Learn about Korean traditional culture in the dedicated cultural learning center. This is actually very well organized.
- There is also a small museum at the airport that you can walk through in less than 5 minutes.
- Watch a traditional Korean performance troupe walk through the airport.
- Grab a coffee and surf free internet in the Samsung lounge.
- You can surf the internet free almost anywhere on the airport thanks to free Wi-Fi (hassle free - no registration of any kind required, connect to Airport Wi-Fi network and you are good).
- Korean Air has a very large lounge for 'Morning Calm' passengers, equivalent SkyTeam members, Prestige class passengers, and First class passengers. Showers are good, but a long wait is possible during busy times. There are separate lounges for First class and Prestige class.
- Cathay Pacific has a functional lounge with basic refreshments, bathrooms, comfortable seating and fast internet. It does not offer showers. It is in the satelite terminal near the gate for Cathay flights
Eat and Drink
Land-side there is a food court named "Food on Air" in the first floor that offers Korean, Chinese and Japanese, and a lot of other menus. It is divided with two parts, which is called as "Studio 1" and "Studio 2". Two separate studios have different menus. It is popular with airport workers. Also, there is a McDonald and a KFC on the first floor. There is also a Paris Croissant Kitchen, which offers a varied pastas and a variety of breads.
On Incheon Airport Transport Centre, there is a Korean BBQ restaurant named "Bong Pi Yang". Also, there is a small cafe named "MojiTalk", which sells salads and pastas.
Air-side there are some fast food establishments on the ground floor, however the fourth floor above them has higher quality restaurants with good Korean food. Definitely worth trying if you are on a stop-over and want to experience something of Korea's food.
There are Starbucks and Gloria Jean coffee outlets on the air-side. For novelty value, there is a new "Hello Kitty" cafe as well.
There is a Starbucks in the basement of the land side, as Coffee Bean & Tea leaf, Dunkin Donuts on the Departure Floor, Floor 2.
Incheon is a pretty good shopping experience. Duty Free shops offer many products specific to Korea such as Soju (rice wine) and Ginseng root herbal products. All the luxury goods are also available. There are some electronic shops, although not with the range and prices that you would expect of a major electronics player such as South Korea.
Note that you have to leave sufficient time (around an hour) between buying your duty free product and your airline departure time.
There are many global ATMs and currency exchanges throughout the terminal. Free Internet access is available in the transit zone. The airport is open 24 hours, although most shops are closed from 21:00 to 07:00.
Air side there is a Samsung lounge with a selection of comfortable seats and battered laptops with which you can freely browse the internet.
There is free airport WiFi (AirportWiFi) available on both land and air side. This apparently has a one week limit, with a warning thereafter.
The "ollehWiFi" and "T wifi zone" WiFi hotspots are, as elsewhere in South Korea, available to subscribers.
There is a 24 hour prayer room near Gate 29. (Not faith specific)
There are a few smoking rooms around.
If you're connecting through ICN to another destination on Korean/Asiana and have over 6 hours to spare, you may be entitled to a free transit tour or hotel — ask at the transit desk.
- Spa on Air sauna. overnight stay from ₩15,000 with private rooms for ₩27,000.
- Hyatt Regency Incheon.
- Best Western Incheon Airport (700m from terminal. Infrequent shuttle bus). Brand new hotel.
Near the north side of the airport is a ferry to the smaller nearby islands of Sindoli and Jangbongni.