One of the highlights of travelling to a new city is the shopping.
And while the likes of New York, Paris and London may be the most famous shopping destinations that come to mind, many people overlook the chance to indulge in some high-end retail therapy at the airport.
Luxury brands and upscale boutiques are filling up airport terminals across the world, capitalising on people’s loose purse strings when they travel.
So, whether you’re killing time during a layover, looking to upgrade your wardrobe with a tax-free purchase, or simply searching for the perfect souvenir to bring home, these are the 10 best airports for luxury shopping.
1. London Heathrow
Britain’s busiest airport and Europe’s busiest in terms of passenger traffic has won best airport for shopping eight years in a row at the Skytrax World Airport Awards. And with good reason.
Terminal 5 is probably the best terminal for shopping at Heathrow. It features such well-known names as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Bulgari, Hermes and Rolex. The Harry Potter shop in terminal 5 is also a popular attraction to young and old wizards alike.
2. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport
As the largest airport in south-east Asia, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is also one of the region’s best for shopping. A wide array of boutiques and world-famous brands, from Fendi to Prada, sell everything from perfume to cosmetics to jewellery.
If it’s luxury you’re looking for, head over to Level 4 in Concourse D, where the most exclusive top-end brands from around the world have set up shop, including Burberry, Bvlgari, Cartier, Dior, Hugo Boss and Swarovski. Premium vodka brand Royal Dragon is also now available at King Power’s departures stores at Suvarnabhumi airport.
3. Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport is often voted the best airport in North America. And one of the main reasons the airport is so highly regarded is the nearby designer outlet mall – McArthurGlen Designer Outlet.
Fashion-hungry travellers can browse designer names like Armani, Coach and Banana Republic at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport, where hordes of world-famous brands are situated alongside top-notch restaurants and stylish coffee houses. Prices are also reduced – some up to 70% – making Vancouver Airport all the more attractive to the savvy spender. The outlet is also being expanded to house another 35 new premium lifestyle brands.
4. Changi Airport Singapore
Easily the best airport in the world, with amenities such as a free cinema, the world’s first airport butterfly garden (with waterfall), and a rooftop swimming pool, Singapore’s Changi Airport is an attraction in its own right.
On top of that, a brand new complex is set to open this year that will add to the already impressive haul of shops, entertainment facilities and hotels. Singapore is a huge shopping destination, and the 350-plus shops at Changi Airport grant visitors the chance to continue their spree all the way to departure. What’s more, for every $S10 you spend, you earn a free ride on the world’s tallest airport slide – a 12m, four-storey attraction found in Terminal 3.
5. Hong Kong International Airport
Home to two separate shopping malls, Hong Kong International is paradise for the trigger-happy credit card crusader. Between them, SkyMart and SkyPlaza offer nearly 300 retail options for travellers, making this one of the best airports in Asia to shop until you drop (or until your flight gets called).
Numerous luxury brands can be found in the SkyMart in Terminal 1. These include Armani, Chanel and Versace. SkyPlaza, located in Terminal 2, is where you’ll find a variety of fashion, electronics and accessories. SkyPlaza also features an impressive entertainment zone with a 4D cinema and a sports simulator.
6. Dubai International Airport
Given the Emiratis’ love of luxury, it comes as no surprise that Dubai International Airport has an abundance of top-end boutiques and designer names. The airport essentially doubles as a duty-free shopping centre, with most of the luxury brands found in Terminal 3, the biggest airport terminal on the planet.
Along with posh spas and fancy lounges, Terminal 3 is home to retailers like Chanel, Hugo Boss and Christian Dior, among many others. There’s also two Apple stores, whilst watches from Montblanc, Cartier, Rolex and OMEGA can also be found here.
7. John F. Kennedy International Airport
The JFK airport is huge. So if you’ve got some time to kill, and you like to shop, then you’re in for a treat.
Although Terminal 4 is well-known for its fine-dining and upscale restaurants, Terminal 1 is where the majority of luxury names can be found – such as Cartier, Bvlgari, Hermes, and Salvatore Ferragamo. There’s also still plenty of big names spread across the rest of the airport’s 8 terminals, so get exploring.
8. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
One of Europe’s nicest airports, with its clean and airy terminals, Schiphol also features a vast selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment. Many items even come with a lowest price guarantee, meaning that you won’t find them cheaper anywhere else in the Netherlands.
For the best deals, Schiphol Plaza shopping centre, located just beyond passport control, houses more than 75 tax- and duty-free stores. Here you’ll find everything from perfume and clothing to toys and electronics. Expect to find international brands alongside typical Dutch products, all of which are on average 10% lower than in any major European city. Aviation enthusiasts should also visit Planes@Plaza, a popular aviation-themed shop selling aircraft models and other air memorabilia.
9. Seoul Incheon
It’s no secret that Seoul is a shopping mecca, and this is also the case at its Incheon International Airport. A layover at this airport yields plenty of activities to pass the time. Throw down some cash at the casino, swing a club on the 72-hole golf course, or catch a film at one of two cinemas.
Or, as any true shopaholic would, whip out the credit card and pay a visit to high-end shops such as Burberry, Cartier, and the world’s first Louis Vuitton airport boutique.
10. Paris CDG
Being one of the largest airports in Europe, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport may not be the most attractive, but it does house a sea of shops. And this being Paris, the fashion capital of the world, exclusive brand names and designer boutiques that are usually seen along the Champs-Élysée are found throughout the airport’s three terminals.
However, Terminal 2 is perhaps best if it’s luxury you’re after. It is home to upmarket brands such as Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo and Longchamp. Looking for something shiny? Cécile et Jeanne, Hour Passion, and world-famous watchmakers Cartier are also housed within the terminal.
Airports are home to some of the best shopping of any destination, often at very reasonable prices. So, why waste valuable time carting heavy bags around the city when all of your shopping needs can be fulfilled at the airport on your way home? Happy shopping!