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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Our favourite tiny airports from around the world

Airports are usually the low-point of any holiday, with queues, bad food, clinical strip lighting and, now, reams of documentation to contend with. Even the award-winning supersize airports with their shopping malls and waterfalls can feel like an ordeal rather than an enjoyable experience. However, around the world is a scattering of tiny airports that are a pleasure to travel through, with inspiring mountain or beach locations, attractive design and even decent restaurants. From runways made of sand or ice to beautiful teak wood terminals filled with tropical plants, we round up our favourite diminutive airports in the world. 

Luang Prabang International Airport, Laos

For an increasingly popular tourist destination, the sleepy temple town of Luang Prabang has maintained a very small but rather charming airport. And if you are travelling to little landlocked Laos, given its patchy infrastructure and potholed roads, you’ll likely pass through this airport, although there’s always the option of a two-day slow boat down the Mekong from Thailand. 

On a visit in 2012, I remember watching the cabin crew personally roll our suitcases from the plane and place them onto the single rickety luggage belt. An ultimately pointless but endearing exercise. The airport has been upgraded since then, but remains pleasingly petite. You can also get a decent pre-flight bowl of spicy noodle soup from the on-site restaurant – a much better option than the fast food joints that usually dominate. And better yet, it’s only a 15-minute tuk tuk ride to the centre of town. 

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