I have holidays booked for Morocco this year and on the return leg my flight arrives at Dubai International Airport at 1.30am, with a connection to Sydney at 10.15am. Will it be possible to leave the airport and perhaps take a look around the city? If not, what are my options to fill in time at the airport?
- J. Aubrey, Winston Hills.
Nothing much opens in Dubai before 10am and if you left the terminal, you would need to be back by 9am.
Sleep would be top of my list. The Dubai International Hotel (dih-dca.com) is in the Sheikh Rashid Terminal of Terminal 1 and Concourse 2 of Terminal 3.
If you book a room, you'll be met as you step off your arriving flight and escorted to the check-in desk.
Another option is some quiet time at one of the terminal's lounges. The choice is between Marhaba and Ahlan and the grapevine says Ahlan (ahlan-dia.com) is the one to go for. Price starts from 110 dirhams ($30.50).
Fresh flavours for Paris veterans
My friend and I are travelling to Europe in September and will spend six days in Paris. We are not spring chickens but are fit and healthy. We have both been to Paris before but are wondering if you could come up with something special we could do on this occasion.
- D. Endean, Manly.
How about starting with a tour of Paris as passengers in a Citroen 2CV convertible? The Paris-based 4 roues sous 1 parapluie
(4roues-sous-1parapluie.com) hosts sightseeing tours in the classic French car. Passionate Parisphile Richard Leonard, of Rail Europe, recommends an evening tour, with a bottle of champagne to enhance the experience.
You might even do as Leonard likes to do and pop the cork skywards while rounding the Arc de Triomphe - the flute glasses are less prone to spillage.
Every year about 6 million visitors queue for the lift up the Eiffel Tower. What they won't see from the top is the most striking feature of the Paris skyline, the Eiffel Tower. Dinner at Les Ombres , the rooftop restaurant of the Musee du Quai Branly, offers a prime view of the tower. Bookings are essential. +33 1 4753 6800, lesombres-restaurant.com.
A couple of years ago, I did a wonderful walking tour of Paris with Virginia Dae, whose specialty is intimate, small-group strolls tailored to your requirements. Dae is a real delight, a pixie of Piaf proportions who communicates a vivid, gossipy insider's view of the city. +33 1 4372 3882, parisinsight.com.
It's a close call but Jean-Paul Hevin does what is possibly the best hot chocolate in Paris. Go upstairs to the Salon de The at 231 rue Saint-Honore, or try the Chocolate Bar.
Via Singapore, without screens
My husband and I are moving to London next month with our son, who will be 14 months old. We want to stop over for a few days to break up the trip, either at a city or beach location. We need an apartment with a separate bedroom and kitchen. Can you suggest a good place? We are not keen to travel on any airline with a large-screen television because our son will not eat, play or sleep when a TV is on.
- R.Andersen-Waters, Charlestown.
The standout choice is Singapore’s Sentosa Island (sentosa.com.sg). Just a 30-minute taxi ride from Singapore’s Changi Airport, it has beaches, heaps of attractions to entertain that toddler, spas, sports facilities and is within easy reach of the shopping area if that’s on your to-do list. Singapore hangs out the ‘‘sale’’ sign next month (greatsingaporesale.com.sg). Finding an apartment with all that you require is not going to be so easy. Sentosa has plenty of glossy, resort-style hotels with rooms at competitive prices but your wish list suggests a family suite and they don’t come cheap.
Capella Singapore (capellahotels .com), the Sentosa (thesentosa.com) and Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort (shangri-la.com) are three of the island’s finest. Take a look at their websites to see what might suit. If you fly with Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com), the TV screen will not be an issue as the aircraft that fly the Sydney-Singapore-London route do not have bulkhead projectors.
One stop for a family planning several
In January, our family (mum, dad and six-year-old twin boys) intends to travel through Vietnam, Cambodia and possibly Thailand. I have searched the internet for sites on accommodation for families, yet most hotel sites just have prices for two people and rooms with a maximum occupancy of three. Is there a site that extensively covers accommodation for families, or is it a matter of using the regular accommodation sites and contacting motels directly?
- R. Margetts, Bonville.
The Holidays with Kids website (holidayswithkids.com.au) has some valuable tips but there is no single site dedicated to accommodation for families that covers all these countries. A hotel finder site such as Zuji (zuji.com.au) or Wego (wego.com) can help you track down a place that fits your needs and budget.
However, chances are you will need to book a second room because most hotels allow a maximum of only three people a room. You should be able to get interconnecting rooms and this will probably work just fine. Some hotelswill offer you a family-size suite that could sleep all four of you but these are usually more expensive than the cost of two double rooms.
Hotel prices in this part of the world are among the best deals around. If you have a budget of about $200 a night to spend on accommodation, you should have no problem even in popular resort areas such as Vietnam’s Hoi An (pictured). A lot of food in south-east Asia is cooked using monosodium glutamate. While scientific tests have failed to prove conclusively that MSG is a health risk, if you’re concerned for the children you might want to avoid it.
Throughout the region, MSG is known as Ajinomoto, after the Japanese company that makes tonnes of the stuff. Since most food is freshly cooked to order, it’s easy to avoid. If you wave your arms around and say ‘‘No Ajinomoto’’ to your waiter, they’ll get the point.