This is the fifth post in the "My 5 Favorite" series: My 5 Favorite Airports Around the World.
Airports are, at times, stressful, aggravating and a pain in my butt. I have had some truly frustrating moments in airports — the most recent being less than a month ago — and yet, I still love them. To me, they signify the start of a new adventure. They are the beginning of exciting experiences and travel dreams come to life.
Airports are also much nicer than they used to be, with dining and leisure amenities that make waiting for your flight fun and enjoyable.
When it comes to my favorite airports, the ones on this list all have a certain feature that I love. Whether it's the layout, the food options, the atmosphere... whatever it may be, I love it. Here are my five favorite airports around the world:
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Why I Love It: Let it be known that Asia does not mess around when it comes to airports. Back in 2013, I became very well acquainted with the Hong Kong International Airport after passing through there not one, not twice, but three times in two weeks. And each time was a pleasure. From the food options (which are so good) to the other amenities (day spas, nap rooms, etc.), this airport is really great. It's also where I picked up a really fun wooden postcard that reads "Bon Voyage!"
Why It's Worth Visiting: Great food plus nice airport amenities plus being the gateway to one of the best cities in the world make this a no-brainer.
SINGAPORE CHANGI AIRPORT
Why I Love It: I had high expectations prior to visiting Singapore's airport because of its inclusion in so many "Best Airports" lists. The amenities are plentiful — from a butterfly garden and rooftop pool, to a movie theater and spa. The place is basically a theme park disguised as an airport. But that's not the reason I love it because, to be honest, I didn't actually get the chance to explore all of these amenities. But I did eat the food and that alone made this place a favorite. In particular, the kaya toast is amazing!
Why It's Worth Visiting: I don't think there are many airports where you can watch a movie, get a mani-pedi, swim on a rooftop pool and sit among butterflies, all in one day. Also, the food is fantastic.
CHARLOTTE DOUGLAS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Why I Love It: If it were not for the many U.S. Airways layovers I've had at the Charlotte airport in North Carolina, I never would have discovered how nice it is to have rocking chairs in an airport. On several occasions, I have perched myself in one of the rocking chairs lined up along the window and spent hours either watching the tarmac or reading. It's a little touch of the south that makes the stay more pleasurable.
Why It's Worth Visiting: The Charlotte airport has most of the same amenities that can be found in other airports, but with the added bonus of rocking chairs in a serene setting.
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Why I Love It: I never used to love the Miami airport. In fact, I used to dislike it a lot, in part because it felt like a hectic, overwhelming experience every time I was there. That soon changed, and I grew to love the airport and its food offerings, which reflect the culture and flavors of Miami. In particular, I love visiting Cafe Versailles to grab a pastry to go. It's like taking a little bit of Miami with you.
Why It's Worth Visiting: Really good Cuban food and its proximity to Miami Beach make this airport pretty ideal.
Why I Love It: I have never been to an airport like the one in Hoedspruit. Located in the Limpopo Province in South Africa, this airport is like being in someone's home. It's extremely tiny but also extremely comfortable. There are really nice couches, beautiful decor and even a courtyard in the middle. They also serve one of my favorite liqueurs, Amarula, in drink form and in chocolate form! Amazing!
Why It's Worth Visiting: Hoedspruit is one of the gateways to Kruger National Park, so that alone makes it worth visiting. As far as the airport itself, visiting here will feel as though you've stepped into someone's living room.
The Schiphol Amsterdam Airport in the Netherlands was one of the first airports to truly impress me, so that deserves a shout out. The Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica holds many personal memories for me, from buying boxes of Tastee patties to the Digicel billboards that line the airport road. Last but not least, I have to recognize the starting point to many of my worldwide journeys, New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, home to Shake Shack and a bunch of other great eats.
Next up: my five favorite markets around the world!