Travel is often highlighted as a roadblock to maintaining a healthy diet, especially given the kind of food that is available at airports.
If you have ever walked around KLIA or other airports around the world, you’d have noticed a plethora of cafes selling coffee, cakes and sandwiches. While it is fine to eat them from time to time, your body will, at some point, want real, nourishing food. Which brings me to the point - is it possible to eat healthily when you’re on the road?
Over the last eight months, I have visited 10 countries, 14 destinations and 19 airports. And during this time, I decided to put it to the test! If I don’t prepare my own food before my flights, would I be able to eat healthy and nourishing food at the airport? The answer was a surprise – even to me.
KLIA (Kuala Lumpur)
There are two juice bars on the first floor of KLIA and you can even buy whole fruits in one of them. Boost Juice is located on the mezzanine level in the Satellite Building, Dôme Café offers salads and grilled vegetable wraps, and there are various healthy Asian dishes available in the food court of the main terminal on level two.
KLIA 2 (Kuala Lumpur)
There are many healthy options available at KLIA 2, but my favourite has to be Be Lohas. Located on level two, they sell vegetarian cuisine and provide healthy versions of typical Malay dishes such as nasi lemak with brown rice and veggie paste.
Denpasar International Airport (Bali)
Having been to Bali a few times, I’m glad that they have a new airport, which now offers some great healthy food options. Just after you enter the airport in the departure lounge, there is a new food chain selling homemade bread, which they will fill with whatever you like. Fresh and homemade - this I like!
Don Mueang International Airport (Bangkok)
If you arrive at Don Mueang late at night, you can find Vietnamese spring rolls and fresh juices on the ground floor (the same level as the street). You can also buy fresh fruit (cut or whole) and even tomatoes, nuts and fresh juices.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok)
A little more posh than Don Mueang Airport, you can find various salads, and whole fruits like dragon fruits, steamed veggies and fresh juices at the food court in Suvarnabhumi Airport. Head to level four of the departures area to find a little shop that offers various vegetable dishes. Don’t be fooled by its cheap interior, plastic chairs and lack of Wi-Fi, as the food tastes great and is easy on the purse.
Krabi International Airport (Krabi)
There are a few small shops at the waiting area (before you go to the gate) which carry freshly cut fruits such as dragon fruit, pomelo and jackfruit, as well as nuts - a great snack to have before your flight!
Phuket International Airport (Phuket)
Although Phuket is a popular tourist destination, healthy options are few and far between. However, if you visit the Thai Airways Restaurant on level three, you’ll find some healthy Thai dishes.
Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City)
Vietnam’s healthy snacks are all over Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Head to the food court at the domestic departures area to find various dried and crunchy fruits, sesame seed bars (check the ingredients though as some have high levels of sugar), steamed veggies, ginger tea and fresh juices. They also have a food court near the departure gates called “Next Noodles” offering stir-fried garlic broccoli - simply yummylicious.
Con Dao Airport (Côn Sơn Island)
The only healthy option that I found at Con Dao Airport was water… but I shouldn’t be too harsh about it. It’s a tiny airport and I actually saw two cafes, which were under renovation, that said, “healthy fresh juices.”
Cam Ranh International Airport (Nha Trang)
Before you check in to your flight, there is a restaurant that offers various stir-fried veggies, and after you’ve checked in, there are some coffee shops that (sometimes) offer salads.
Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (Malé)
The airport at Malé is super small, but there are some healthy food options just before you enter the airport at the Thai Express and the Coffee Club.
Kadhdhoo Airport (Laamu)
This airport is altogether around 80sqm (which is, in relation to the size of the island, quite big) and doesn’t even have a door. Not a great place to be hungry or thirsty!
Doha International Airport (Doha)
The new airport in Doha is amazing and offers countless small coffee shops and restaurants. Surprisingly, they offer not only fruit salads, salads and healthier sandwich options with lots of veggies and brown bread, but even vegan snacks like nut-bars and more. The cafe that I decided to have my snacks at was Jamocha Café.
Kuwait has a good array of restaurants to choose from. Everywhere you look, you can find salads as well as the ever popular hummus (which is made of chickpeas). I skimmed through the menus, however I was too short on time to actually try something!
United Arab Emirates
Dubai International Airport (Dubai)
Similar to Doha International Airport, Dubai has many different options, however I particularly got hooked on PAUL - a famous bakery franchise operating throughout the region. Besides their delicious bread, they had quinoa salad, caesar salad, mozzarella cheese salads and more.
Istanbul Atatürk Airport (Istanbul)
Istanbul Atatürk Airport is small but filled with food choices. One shop that caught my eye in particular, was the bakery in the food court. It offers not only bakery goods, but also fresh salads and cut fruits to take away. The Millennium lounge is the only lounge you can pay to enter. While they have great Internet and some lentil soup and fruits, they mostly offer bread and sweets.
Vienna International Airport (Vienna)
The food court at the Vienna International Airport offers soup and salads, cooked dishes such as grilled salmon with steamed veggies, and fruit salads. I haven’t tried any of their healthy desserts though, as I always go for my personal favourite “strudel” (a typical Austrian dish) when I am there.
Graz Airport (Graz)
Even though it is very unlikely that you will ever land at this airport, I’m adding it anyway as you never know! Graz doesn’t have much to offer once you are at the gates, but there are three coffee shops and restaurants that you can check out before you check in. While you can get salad and fish options at the restaurant on the first floor, the bakery offers healthier sandwich options with brown bread and veggies, and the coffee shops offer fresh juices.
There is a saying that goes, “where there is a will, there is a way,” and from my experience, this speaks the truth. Don’t use travelling as an excuse to eat unhealthily. It is perfectly possible, even if you are unprepared. You just need to be picky about what you eat and be willing to search for healthy alternatives.
Which other airports have you visited that offered healthy food options? I would love to hear about your experiences!