Making the most of a stop-over break
Even with huge advances of technology, flying long-haul from Australia to some parts of the world still requires a change of flights. Rather than being an annoying inconvenience, this stopover is actually a great opportunity to enjoy a mini-break, en-route to your final destination. Think of it as two holidays in one. Here is our guide to making the most of a short amount of time, in some of the most popular stop-over destinations.
Hong Kong – To get around quickly and easily in Hong Kong in a short amount of time, first pick up an Octopus card, for easy travel across all of the forms of transport in the city. Take the tram up to The Peak, Hong Kong’s most famous mountain, and enjoy incredible views over the whole city. Although the angle of the Peak tram seems almost impossibly vertical, it’s extremely safe, with no recorded accidents. Check the weather forecast beforehand, and choose a clear day for the best views, if you can spare the time. Make the most of your time at the top with lunch at one of the many restaurants inside the Peak tower, and take in the numerous skyscrapers below piercing up from the sprawling landscape.
Hong Kong is also well-known as a shopper’s paradise, with many vast shopping malls. The biggest is the Harbour City mall, with nearly 800 shops, and running an incredible three kilometres long. For something a little different, visit the Festival Walk. This mall was designed entirely in accordance with ancient Feng Shui principles, with gentle curves and water features, as well as a variety of one-off shops. The best place to grab a bit to eat in Hong Kong is amongst the hustle and bustle of the streets of SoHo, where you’ll find some of the most delicious Cantonese cuisine in the world, along with a variety of other restaurants. If you’ve still got the energy to hit the town after a long flight, head to the Lan Kwai Fong district, with a mixture of hip bars, thumping nightclubs, and smaller venues, perfect for getting a quiet drink.
Bangkok – You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to filling in a couple of days in Bangkok. One must-do is the bustling and heaving Chinatown market. It’s slightly off the beaten path, but arguably offers a ‘real’ market experience. There is so much to discover, with stalls at every twist and turn selling a huge range of goods –you never know what you might find. Take in the stunning, ornate 17th-century architecture of the Grand Palace, with its incredible detail. For 150 years, this was the home of the Thai King, but now, anyone is welcome to visit and observe the remarkable detail of the buildings.
For a taste of old-world Bangkok, visit the area of Soi Rambuttri, which has more of a local, less commercial feel, than the neighbouring Khao San Road. By day, Rambuttri is shaded by a number of leafy banyan trees, and by night, the area is lit up with the orange and red hues of paper lanterns. Continuing the traditional theme, cruise down the Chao Phraya river alongside Thonburi, a former independent province, on a bright, colourful flat bottom boat. Other highlights of Bangkok include the Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, one of the most recognisable sights in South-East Asia, featuring beautiful floral pattern, that is simply stunning to see up close. After a long day sight-seeing, watch the warm hues of the sunset colours atop one of Bangkok’s many rooftop bars, with the peace and quiet a million miles away from the crowded streets below.
Dubai – This sprawling metropolis just seems to grow and grow, and with the pace of development moving along at seemingly breakneck speed, there is so much to experience in Dubai. Nothing here is done by halves, with every experience seemingly the biggest and most elaborate in the world. It’s probably the only place you can ski in the middle of the desert. Check out Ski Dubai, the world’s biggest indoor ski resort with snow that never melts, and five different runs of varying difficulty. For families, there is a snow park for kids that is directly adjacent. For a more ‘conventional’ Dubai activity, visit the world’s tallest building, the astronomical Burj Khalifa hotel. If you’re not staying here while in Dubai, you can still enter the hotel for a fee, and enjoy an indulgent, over-the-top afternoon tea while taking in views from the world’s best vantage point.
If you’re keen to escape the city, you’re in luck, as the desert is directly on the doorstep of Dubai. The Dubai desert experience offers the chance to camp in the desert amongst the Bedouin people, gaining an insight into their way of life. Then, go wild amongst the vast sand dunes on safari, zipping along on an open four-wheel-drive vehicle. Of course, Dubai also does relaxation on a grand scale. To freshen up before your flight, visit the Madinat Jumeirah Resort and indulge in an in-houe Talise spa treatment. However, you’ll need plenty of time, as the treatment is six hours long, and includes a foot ritual, awakening body mask and even a fingerprint massage.
Singapore – Singapore is well-known for its fantastic shopping and dining options, and while this is certainly true, with an abundance of designer boutiques dotted along the famed Orchard Avenue, But Singapore is also a treasure trove of great places to visit, spread throughout the city state, and just waiting to be discovered. Take a stroll in the Botanic Gardens, a green oasis of calm in the grey of the city’s skyscrapers, and observe the peaceful movements of the numerous tai-chi practitioners. For lovers of all things floral, the National Orchid Garden features more than 3,000 species of pure and hybrid orchid varieties, in almost every colour imaginable.
Next, hop aboard the Singapore Flyer for soaring views over the panorama of the city. At more than 165 metres high, it’s very similar in style to the London Eye, but is an even more impressive feature, as the world’s largest observation wheel. Elsewhere, learn more about the Peranakan culture with a visit to the Peranakan Museum. It explores the history of the Peranakan people throughout Singapore and Southeast Asia, and is the only museum in the world of its kind. Then, take in the visual feast of the Chinatown Heritage Centre, where the 19th and 20th centuries are brought back to life, with complete, intricate recreations of bedrooms, kitchens, and downtown streets from the bygone era.
Find out more from your local, personal travel manager on how to make your stop-over a better experience. Visit http://www.travelmanagers.com.au/ptm-search/