Everyone needs a big adventure from time to time; a chance to experience different cultures from the other side of the world. The flight times can be long, and at first, it might put you off, but these adventures give you the perfect opportunity to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and discover another country at the same time.
So if you want to make the most of your time in another world, or perhaps you’re looking for a way to break up your flight, then read on as we’ve gathered a list of our favourite stopover destinations, where you can rest, acclimatise and explore these beautiful cities over a few short days.
Singapore is a great introduction for people who have never been to South East Asia before. It’s a very clean city with a super-efficient underground system that gets you wherever you need to go. Known to the locals as the city in the garden, there’s plenty to do over the next 2-3 days before heading to your next destination. Go down to Sentosa Island, a place built for nothing more than fun, with zip-lines, luge rides, white sandy beaches with plenty of water sports and a night show set against the open sea.
Learn all about Singapore’s history from a bumboat ride on the river, which takes a cruise around Merlion Park, walk through Haji Lane, the original ‘indie neighbourhood’, and grab yourself a famous Selfie Coffee (Yep. it’s exactly what you’re thinking), or if you’re a foodie lover, head to Lau Pa Sat for some lunch, it blends striking architecture and history with scrumptious food – you’ll find all sorts of Asian dishes here.
No trip to Singapore is complete without a visit to the Gardens by the Bay. Spanning 101 hectares, it’s home to the world-famous super trees and biodomes cloud forest; if you come here in the evening, you’ll also be dazzled by the Garden Rhapsody show – there’s nothing quite like it.
Top Tip: Instead of going to the viewing platform of the Marina Bay Sands, go to the hotel reception and tell them you would like to have a drink at the rooftop bar. You will spend as much for the drink as for a ticket for the platform, however, you are one level higher, have a better view and a lovely drink
Bangkok is one of Asia’s most buzzing cities, famous for its delicious food, floating water markets and lively nightlife. Whilst spending the next few days exploring the city, the grand palace is a must-see in our books. A complex of buildings in the heart of Bangkok, the palace was the home of the King and his government until the early 1900s. With the Emerald Buddha situated here, it’s considered to be Thailand’s most sacred site, and with its white buildings and golden roofs, it’s certainly a treat for the eyes. Khao San Road is a bustling street brimming with tasty food, plenty of shops and enthusiastic people from all over the world. It’s a great place to grab yourself some street food, a cheap drink and meet new people.
There are actually many parks around the city providing lush landscapes. It’s the perfect place to escape the bustling city life, enjoy some fresh outdoors, take part in some of the sports facilities, hire paddleboats or sit and indulge in a picnic. If you want to have an insight into how the locals’ shop – make sure you head to the floating markets, Khlong Lat Mayom is one of the best in Bangkok, authentic and has delicious food to try.
Top Tip: You’ll find some of the most authentic and flavoursome Thai dishes on the streets- not just in restaurants! Avoid food that looks like it’s been sat there for a while and opt for dishes that are cooked in front of you, or stalls that draw bigger queues.
Bogota is a city of contrasts – with high-rise buildings standing next to colonial towns. It’s the capital city of Colombia and known for its delicious coffee, cobbled streets and colonial buildings. Bogota’s a popular destination for artists and photographers, due to its beautifully graffitied city and free entrance to the art museum featuring work from famous artists like Fernando Botero, Pierre Renoir and Claude Monte. It’s also home to some of the most tropical, tasty fruit in the world, and you’re sure to discover some new, exotic flavours at the local fruit markets in the city.
For the best scenery, find Monserate Mountain that towers over the city. You’ll have panoramic views of the city and the famous ‘El Senor Caido’ statue, we recommend coming for the sunset- the amazing views make the perfect photo. The food scene in Bogota is known for its delicious and cheap menus, in some places, the price can be as low as a few pounds for a full course meal and you’ll find a number of veggie and vegan restaurants scattered around so you don’t have to worry about where to eat.
Top Tip: Graffiti in Bogota is celebrated as genuine art. Make sure you head on a guided graffiti tour while you’re in the city – the guide is a local street artist and you’ll find it hard not to be impressed by the street paintings.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, known best for its gleaming skyscrapers, impressive architecture and the vast number of attractions. There are plenty of things to do in the city for people of all ages and interest. For those wanting some peace, head to the Perdana Botanical Gardens – the largest collection of gardens in KL city centre, with the standout feature of the Orchid Garden. For the foodie travellers, Jalan Alor is the cultural heart of the city’s cuisine and the best hawker food in the city. From Chinese seafood dishes to classic chicken and rice or barbecued meats and noodles, you’ll see why this is some of the best food in the city.
If you have enough time during your stopover for a day trip, then just outside of KL lies the Batu Caves, a 400 million-year-old limestone hill surrounded by caves. The caves are guarded by a golden Hindu statue and are a national treasure to Malaysia. The main temple is free to explore but to discover some of the other wonders, the cost will be around RM35.
Top Tip: A trip to KL will not be complete without the panoramic views of the impressive city. Instead of heading up the Petronas towers, we recommend the KL towers, this gives you a beautiful view of the city and the Petronas towers!
Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates where modern skyscrapers meet vast deserts. It’s known for its luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. For the shopaholics, Dubai is probably on your bucket list. The Dubai mall has over 1200 shops, plus plenty of facilities – so many that a whole day there wouldn’t be enough. But for shoppers who want to experience the local culture more, head to a traditional souk. A souk is an Arab marketplace, and Dubai has plenty all in walking distances from each other. The Gold Souk is probably the most famous market, as is one of the best places in the world to buy jewellery, silver, gold and gemstones. You’ll also find souks for perfumes, spices and textiles.
Less than 20 minutes from downtown Dubai, you’ll find the majestic landscape of the desert. The desert is a must-see in Dubai and has numerous activity options for everyone. Whether that’s riding the dunes in a 4×4 wheel drive, heading on an off-road adventure on a quad bike, sandboarding down slippery slides or if time allows, experiencing desert life overnight.
Top Tip: To see the most impressive view of Dubai, head up the Burj Khalifa at sunset – but make sure you book tickets in advance online a good few weeks before your trip, as it can get pretty busy, and no-one wants to wait around in the heat.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that is now part of south-eastern China. It’s known for being a glamorous city, but you’ll find it’s also steeped in culture and history and has a lot more to offer than the skylines. One of the most popular attractions here is the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. It’s a 34-meter bronze statue that people can climb too, and it gives impressive panoramic views over Hong Kong. If climbing up steps to get here doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, take a 25-minute trip on the cable cars.
For those wanting the more authentic and slightly edgier side of Hong Kong, head to Kowloon. You’ll find a serious mix of old and new cultures, plus plenty of things for you to do. See the unspoilt countryside, Kam Shan country park, where you can hike the picturesque scenery admiring the vast population of monkeys and variety of flora on the way. If you’re feeling a little peckish, Mong Kik covers a labyrinth of narrow streets packed with street food that offers some foodie classics, from deep-fried tofu to curry fish balls and egg waffles. For some peaceful relief and to add some culture into the mix, you’ll find Wong Tai Sin temple, the most impressive temple in the city. Take a wander around the grounds and gardens and watch locals light incense and pray. In the evening, sit down for a drink on a high rise bar for a view of the city at night, eyebar is known for its delicious cocktails and spectacular views.
Top Tip: If you decide to venture to the Big Buddha by cable car, then make the experience even more amazing by opting for the glass bottom cable car, known as a crystal cabin. You’ll see bits of the sea and lots of beautiful greenery.