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A decision that will have to be made if travelling to Europe, Africa, most of South America or most of North America. Do you sacrifice a few days of your onward destination to take in the sights and sounds of somewhere new? Somewhere you might not ever travel to otherwise? Or do you bite the bullet, pop the sleeping pills, and travel all the way through to your end destination? Whichever you choose, here’s a handy guide on the best places to stopover.
Stop for a few hours
Singapore’s Changi is consistently voted amongst the best stopovers in the world, and for good reason! Transferring through Singapore is a breeze thanks to efficient staff, short queues and easy terminal transfers. But it’s the facilities that really take the cake here. Chill with a drink in the rooftop cactus garden, take a dip in the open air pool, take the kids through the butterfly sanctuary, go to a movie, or even book yourself a quick nap in the in-terminal hotel.
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If you have at least a five hour stopover, you can jump aboard a free 2.5 hour bus tour of the city!
Known simply as KLIA, Kuala Lumpur International Airport is one of the largest and most modern in the world. Most of the airlines are housed under one roof, which makes it very easy when transiting. The only exception are low cost airlines such as AirAsia, who have their very own dedicated terminal called KLIA2. That being said, both terminals are linked by an efficient train service.
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Got time to grab a bargain? There’s a massive outlet mall just six kilometres away!
Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is one of the world’s best, and has the silverware to prove it! It’s been voted the best airport in Asia-Pacific every year since 2006 by Airports Council International, the world’s best transiting airport yearly since 2013 by Skytrax, and the world’s cleanest airport in 2015 to boot. But it’s the unique facilities we really like here, including a spa, ice skating rink, casino, gardens, and even a golf course!
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You don’t even have to leave the airport to learn more about Korea, they have a Museum of Korean Culture within the terminal.
Stop for a Night or Two
The gorgeous ‘City on the Bay’ is a perfect quick stopover destination. Sights in the city include Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, the iconic trams, and Chinatown. Further afield you’ve got the vineyards of Napa Valley, many Pacific Coast beaches, the Silicon Valley, and the world famous Yosemite National Park.
Dubai is an excellent example of taking advantage of a stopover to explore a destination you might not ever visit otherwise. And there’s more than enough to keep you entertained in this city! Take in the view from the world’s tallest building, shop till you drop in the world’s second largest mall, hit the slopes on the world’s largest indoor skifield or 4WD over the sand dunes of the Arabian Desert.
You’ve probably never thought of Honolulu as a stopover spot, but if you’re travelling to North America then it’s a great option to split up that 14 hour flight to LA or San Francisco, as well as avoiding their busy airports. And even better, you can spend your stopover time touching up your tan on Waikiki Beach!
Stop for a Mini Break
Another destination that doesn’t spring to mind right away, but has so much to offer! Forget the cheap shopping, Beijing is all about iconic monuments. Check out Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City before heading out of the city to climb the Great Wall of China, and walk amongst the thousands of warriors in the Terracotta Army.
Thanks to Air New Zealand’s new direct service, the Argentine capital city’s popularity is booming. Get your cultural fix by learning Spanish, checking out BA’s massive theatre scene, and maybe even mastering the tango! Then head bush to spot beautiful toucans, black panthers and monkeys of the Iguazu National Park. Complete the mini break with a night or to at Iguazu Falls, arguably the most spectacular waterfalls on Earth.
A long time family favourite, Los Angeles still comes out tops if you have the little ones in tow. You could spend days at Disneyland alone, but once you unhinge your child from Mickey Mouse, there’s still San Diego, Santa Monica, Hollywood and the Pacific Coast right there, just begging to be explored.
> Read the entire March 2016 edition of Inspire here
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