Are you looking forward to your European vacation, but dreading the long flights? Most airlines will let you break your trip for a few days at no extra flight cost, so make it easier on yourself and explore another country by adding a stopover to your itinerary. Here are three places that I’ve stopped at and I’d love to go back to…
A city of contrasts with something for everyone. Modern skyscrapers and traditional Chines markets. Lively shopping and Buddhist temples performing ancient rituals. Mountains and beaches. There’s even Hong Kong Disneyland for the kids (and the big kids). You will need a few days to visit all major sights and soak in the city’s unique atmosphere, but there’s a lot you can do even if you only have a short time. I managed to visit the markets, see the Giant Buddha, climb Lantau Peak (the highest publicly accessible summit in Hong Kong) and visit Disneyland all in one day.
Singapore is my personal favourite stopover destination. It’s another big city that combines the modern and the traditional, technology and nature, bustling life and tranquil gardens. Singapore is often called the ‘Garden City’ and for good reason. If you look at it down from the plane, all you see is the colour green. The Botanic Gardens with their main attraction, the National Orchid Gardens, were the highlight of my stay in Singapore and a nice change from being stuck on a plane for hours. I also loved mingling with the locals and trying traditional food at China Town and Little India.
If big cities are not your thing, you may need to do some extra travelling to get to a more pristine destination. Langkawi is a short flight away from Kuala Lumpur (at extra cost) and it’s an archipelago of small islands with beautiful beaches and forests. It’s not overly touristic and once you walk away of your resort and the main strip of shops, often you may have a hard time finding someone who speaks English. Even so, everyone I met there seemed to be very friendly and welcoming.
You can spend your stopover relaxing at the beach, admiring the amazing views of the island from the Skybridge or taking a boat tour to the mangrove forests. Another place I really enjoyed that was different from anything else I’ve visited was Lagenda Langkawi Dalam Taman, a beautiful folklore-themed park portraying Langkawi legends. There was only a handful of people there and I felt like I was walking in a fairy tale.
Depending on your airline, other stopover options include Tokyo, Soul, Bangkok or Dubai, just to mention a few. If you have some destinations on your bucket list, check with your travel agent if there’s any way to add them to your itinerary without too much extra travel and cost.
Image by William Cho via Flickr (Singapore River view)
By Tatiana Apostolova