1. Schiphol, Amsterdam
My absolute favorite. I hate long transits. But when it's Schiphol I always seem to find myself short on time! Schiphol was ranked in 2008 as the world's third largest airport by international passenger traffic, and hence features vast shopping areas. The See Buy Fly slogan and logo of the duty free shops has become a recognisable brand in the world. Despite the abolition of duty free shopping inside the European Union in 1999, Amsterdam airport duty free shops apply one single price, regardless of the destinations.
The prices are on average 10 percent lower than any major European city, and special offers can go as low as 35 percent below the usual prices. The airport souvenir stores even have wooden tulips for those unable to carry the country's fresh bouquets out.
CHECK IN: The Delicatessen at the airport stocks some excellent Dutch cheese. Carry back Baby Gouda & tins of Rougie (goose liver paste)
2. Changi, Singapore
Singapore's Changi is more like a destination by itself than an airport! One of the main aviation hubs in Southeast Asia, despite being located in a micro island city-state which is the smallest nation in the region. A benchmark in the aviation industry for service excellence, the airport scores equally well on the duty free front.
Did you know that Changi's Duty Free has more than 300 shops and eating outlets in its three terminals! Changi's Terminal 3 has the first official FIFA store in the world, and also Asia's first Ferrari travel retail shop. Changi has movie theatres that are open 24 hours daily, and the screenings are free! And then there is the famous Fish Spa & Reflexology at Terminal 1 for a pampering quick treat. Experience the thrill of the world's tallest slide at The Slide@T3 which is 12 metres high reaching fast speeds of up to 6 metres per second! The newest additions to Terminal 1 is The Social Tree.
Changi Airport's memory capsule is like no other – there are eight photo booths where you can capture memories via photos and videos and have them archived permanently, and retrieve them on subsequent visits to the airport. How is that for cool?
CHECK IN: iShopChangi, click to purchase via the website, and pick them up when you are at the departure terminal before going to the flight gate. It is that easy! What's more, there is a 30-day Money Back Guarantee.
3. Heathrow, London
In 2008, London Heathrow was the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, and the second in terms of total passenger traffic. With over 67 million passengers last year, it does not come as a surprise that its duty free had the world's second highest sales in 2008, of more than US$ 1 billion.
The inauguration of the new Terminal 5 in March 2008 added more than 100 shops and restaurants to the space.Heathrow's Duty Free offers truly fantastic tax-free prices on a wide range of products: fragrances, skincare and cosmetics, liquor and tobacco and luxury products. For connoisseurs, Terminal 1's World of Whiskies is a "treasure chest for all whisky lovers", with a range of around 350 malts. Passengers leaving Heathrow are not the only ones, who can enjoy the shopping experience, as it's possible to shop out in the Arrivals stores as well.
CHECK IN: Heathrow offers a complimentary personal shopping service! Your Personal Shopper will arrange where to meet you after security. Based on your brief, your Personal Shopper would have ready a shopping plan to make the most of your time. Personal Shoppers, can meet day or night, speak a wide range of languages and can help you with fashion advice and styling, gift ideas or choosing the perfect travel accessories. Supercool!
4. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai
No longer just a transit area, the sparkling new Mumbai airport is now the first stop on a traveller's itinerary of modern Mumbai--high ceilings, sleek décor, coffee shops, bookstores, cosy lounges and duty free shopping.
It's just the right place for you to do some quick gift-buying if you have missed the chance abroad. Sample this: liquor (premium whiskies, cognacs, champagnes and the best wines), tobacco (cigarette brands, Cuban cigars and pipe tobacco), cosmetics and perfumes (Lancome, Chanel, Dior--you name it, they have it), clothing (Hugo Boss, Ermenegildo Zegna etc), hi-tech electronics (Sony, Olympus, Canon etc), boutiques (Hermes, Burberry, Bvlgari), accessories (Swarovski, Lladro, Majorica and so on). When the shopping drains you, get a refill from the many coffee shops around.
CHECK IN: A Shop & Collect facility is offered by the airport which is pretty cool
With six terminals, Johannesburg's international airport is Africa's busiest. The South African airport also offers extensive shopping facilities, with more than 40 shops in both the public and restricted areas, including Cape Union Mart, Capi International, Ekhaya, Klein Karoo and Out of Africa, which is my all time favourite for local souvenirs.
From bulky hand-knit sweaters to African masks--one of those must-haves from any trip to South Africa--Johannesburg has plenty to keep you on your toes. The shopping area also has about 10 restaurants, including the African Lounge, Cafe di Roma and the world-famous Nandos franchise that offers the hot and spicy peri-peri sauce.
CHECK IN: Smokers have the best deal at Johannesburg, which offers cigarettes at one of the cheapest rates across the world
By: Ritu Agarwal
Chief Content Officer, Inspired Traveller
A travel writer, editor and curator, the travel bug, says Ritu, found her purely by chance and has traveled a long way with her first to India Today Travel Plus, where she was editor for close to 9 years, and currently with Inspired Traveller a digital platform. Ritu is now giving what it takes to be a travel journalist. Paragliding in Goa made her experience some raw emotions while soaring the skies but she is determined to overcome silly fears and crack bungee jumping soon.