Tips for getting to and from airports in Asia.

When planning your trip to Asia, do consider how you will get to and from the airport to your final destination. Asian airports and transportation infrastructure vary greatly from city to city, and from country to country. While you might have had quality service in one city, you might find yourself stranded at the airport at another, or running late for your flight connection due to the traffic conditions.

While cost is definitely a factor to consider, you would want to take into account your particular needs or situation. Do you have a fixed appointment, and you need to get to your destination in the shortest time possible? Are you traveling in a group, or alone? Are you expecting to arrive in the daytime or nighttime? Can you speak the local language? You would also want to take into consideration particular aspects of that city – what do you know of the city’s traffic conditions and public transportation system?  Are you familiar with the city?

As far as possible, carry out some research. One great thing about the modern international airports in Asia is that many of them have up-to-date websites in English that provide useful information to guide travelers. It literally pays to do some research to find out schedules for land transfers from the airport to your final destination. This could help you select the best timing for your flight, as certain public transport options may not be available at all times of the day.

Award-winning airports, such as Hong Kong International Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon Airport, and Japan’s Narita International Airport, have a variety of transportation options to suit different needs and budgets. There are buses, luxury coaches, high-speed rail and trains, private hire cars, taxis and private limousines. Traveling by public transport to your final destination, even if you are traveling alone, or traveling at odd hours, is possible.

Hiring a taxi is a top choice for many travelers to Asia. Overall, travelers to Asia will find the cost of hiring a taxi reasonable, when compared to taxis in Europe and the US.

When estimating the costs of hiring a private taxi, do bear in mind that not only will the cost increase in proportion to the distance between the airport and the city, the higher the cost of living in that city, the greater will be the cost. For example, the Narita International Airport in Japan is around 60 minutes from the city centre, and fixed fare taxis start at around Y15,000 (USD$150). In comparison, in sprawling Shanghai, while the distance from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport is around 45 minutes to the city centre, the average fare cost around RMB150 (USD$20).

One hassle-free way to move around is to ask about land transfers to and from the airport, when making bookings for hotel accommodations. Many high-end hotels in Asia will offer this service for free, or at a small charge. This is a good alternative, and saves you a lot of trouble having to navigate through an unfamiliar city, especially if you do not understand the local language. If you have business dealings in Asia, it is common practice for your business partner to arrange to have you picked up from the airport.

In cities where traffic is notoriously heavy, for example, in Jakarta or Bangkok, you would want to allocate ample time for the land transfer. In Bangkok, it is not uncommon to hear of travelers leaving 4 hours before their check-in times. In busy airports, such as Mumbai’s Shhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, where it can get crowded, be prepared for the public transport options to be challenging as well. It is, however, an interesting way to be introduced to the city. If you have a tight schedule, make prior arrangements to have someone pick you up to minimize delays.

Be prepared for limited land transfer choices in smaller-capacity and/or domestic Asian airports. For a start, you may pay more than what you might have paid for your trip from the international airport in the same country. At the Phuket International Airport in Thailand, for instance, hiring a taxi here will cost more than a taxi trip in Bangkok. Depending on your flight arrival time, you may find your choices limited. Certain transportation options might also be available at certain times of the day only.

Part of traveling – whether it is for business or pleasure, is the experience. Even with the best of plans, keeping an open mind to unforeseen circumstances will enable you to enjoy the ride along the way, no matter how rushed or rough the ride was.

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