World's Strangest Airport Attractions

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Ha Pak Wong

For so long, airport layovers have meant tucking into a Robert Ludlum novel or impulse shopping in duty free. No longer. Much to the delight-and relief-of travelers of all ages, unexpected services and attractions are cropping up at airports around the world.
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Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

From teeth cleaning to "4-D" movies, fliers are finding unusual ways to make the most of their layovers.

For so long, airport layovers have meant tucking into a Robert Ludlum novel or impulse shopping in duty free. No longer. Much to the delight-and relief-of travelers of all ages, unexpected services and attractions are cropping up at airports around the world.

Asia's largest 4-D projection screen, for example, is not in the heart of Tokyo, Beijing, or Shanghai-it's at the Hong Kong Airport. Curious fliers can not only enjoy the latest blockbuster, but they can even go inside the movie, thanks to 3-D glasses and extreme real-life special effects-wind, water, and murky foglike clouds. Other popular attractions are decidedly low-tech, not to mention unique to the country or city, like Istanbul's Ataturk Airport's "chewy" ice cream vendor, who roves Terminal 1 astounding travelers by stretching this Turkish treat like ribbons of taffy.

From meditation rooms to places where you can have your teeth whitened for a fraction of the cost for same service in the U.S., here's a rundown of some of the strangest airport attractions.




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Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Dubai International Airport, Terminals 1 and 3, DDF Raffles kiosks

Details: Since 1988, the Finest Surprise raffle (tickets $139) has offered up an ever-changing selection of cars and motorbikes as prizes. Odds are one in 1,000 for the car series and one in 2,000 for the "special" car series. Recent cars include an Aston Martin DB9, Mercedes-Benz S500, and Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe, all shipped to the winner free of charge. If you're willing to part with $274 for a ticket, you can win $1 million in the newest raffle, Millennium Millionaire; odds are one in 5,000.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Tokyo's Narita International Airport, Terminal 1, Oxygen Lounge Juko

Details: In this minimalist space, guests hook themselves up to self-serve tanks that pump exotically flavored oxygen, from eucalyptus menthol to cinnamon, into their lungs; choose from 10-minute (600 yen/$6) and 20-minute (1,200 yen/$12.50) sessions. The benefit? You decide-many claim increased oxygen eases headaches, induces alertness, and even reduces the effects of jet lag.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Vancouver International Airport, Levels 3 and 4, Vancouver Aquarium displays

Details: British Columbia's vibrant native sea life is on display in two outposts of the Vancouver Aquarium. In the Departures area, a 30,000-gallon tank houses some 850 marine plants and animals-including rockfish, anemones, and sea stars; upstairs, a smaller cylindrical tank holds more than 100 undulating moon jellyfish.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 2, 4D Extreme Screen

Details: Asia's largest 4-D projection screen-a 360-seat theater where films come not only with 3-D glasses but also special effects such as wind, fog, water spray, and bubbles-happens to be in Hong Kong's airport. Check the website for movie times for blockbusters such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, Terminal 2, HC Clinica Odontológica

Details: If you've been putting off a visit to the dentist, this spotless dental office will clean your teeth, whiten, and take X-rays for a fraction of the U.S. price ($40-$60). The doc is in from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Paris's Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Terminals 1 and 2, Sony PlayStation kiosks

Details: Take time out to play on one of 73 free Sony PS3s set up near departure gates throughout the terminals. Conceived with Sony for Aéroports de Paris, game stations have side panels for privacy, and stools let you sit for hours playing 20 of Sony's best-selling demo games, like Burnout, Top Spin, and NBA.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, International Terminal, roving cart

Details: Turkish ice cream is stickier and chewier than its Western counterpart-it stretches. The secret ingredient is salep, the ground tubers of wild orchids. Available in chocolate or vanilla, sold from a cart and twirled on long-handled paddles, this is a completely authentic Turkish ice cream experience: even the most discerning Turks give it two thumbs up.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: Singapore Changi International Airport, Terminal 3, Butterfly Garden

Details: Stop along Changi's Nature Trail for a breath of fresh air. This tropical garden near T3's koi pond is home to 47 species of butterflies that roam free among hanging plants, including carnivorous pitcher plants and palm trees; there's even a waterfall. Don't miss the butterfly breeding and feeding corners.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

Where: London Heathrow Airport, Newall Road, Heathrow Academy

Details: During the recent construction of Terminal 5, a team of 80 archaeologists scoured approximately 250 acres around Heathrow-the U.K.'s largest single-site dig-and excavated more than 80,000 artifacts dating back to the Mesolithic Age (circa 6000 B.C.). Among the findings were a hand axe (circa 3000 B.C.) and the only wooden bowl that has ever been found from the Middle Bronze Age (circa 1500 B.C.–1100 B.C.). Stop in here-or at the Museum of London-to see what was unearthed.

Worlds Strangest Airport Attractions

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