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We often plan our travels around final destinations, forgetting that transit airports can be gateways to other cities and cultures. Yet stopovers provide a whole new mini-holiday with minimal effort – and can alleviate jetlag as well.
Go to The Gulf
Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are all well-connected with Europe and to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. The ultra-modern glitter of Dubai, wedged between sea and desert, makes for a spectacular approach by air, and is even more mindboggling on a stopover.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Supplied.
Ascend the world's tallest building, plunder gigantic shopping malls and refresh yourself at Wild Wadi water park. For culture, there's Al-Fahaidi Fort, gleaming Jumeirah Mosque, spice-scented souks and falconry in the desert.
Tuck into Asia
Heading to Europe? Then exciting stopover cities include Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo, Seoul and Manila. You can get a multicultural experience without leaving Kuala Lumpur, which has an exciting mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, especially when it comes to food and shopping.
Stop in Bangkok and enjoy a Thai beach break or a cultural city mini-holiday as you explore temples and the dazzling Grand Palace. If jetlag keeps you awake, Bangkok has glamorous rooftop bars, night markets and renowned nightlife.
Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Supplied
Singapore is the classic stopover. If you haven't visited recently, you'll find it transformed with redeveloped museums, family-oriented theme parks and a chic bar scene. It still has excellent shopping, dining and colourful neighbourhoods such as Little India and Chinatown.
A Hong Kong stopover offers first-class hotels, restaurants and shops too. The spectacular harbour, Peak rack railway and street markets are big drawcards, and there's plenty to occupy the kids, including Hong Kong Disneyland.
With numerous Chinese airlines flying from Australia, there are many more stopover options on the way to Europe or North America. Beijing is all about culture, with chief sights including the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and nearby Great Wall. Shanghai is a more futuristic choice that showcases China's economic dynamism.
An interesting alternative is Guangzhou, a fast-paced trading city with amazing contemporary architecture. Meanwhile Chengdu, famous for pandas, teahouses and spicy cuisine, is one of China's most laidback, liveable cities.
Guangzhou city, China. Photo: Supplied
If you're flying to North America, options beyond Los Angeles and San Francisco include Dallas and Houston. If you'd rather swap city for beach consider Honolulu, where you can shake off jetlag at Waikiki Beach, famous for its surf culture. Honolulu has a busy arts scene, excellent nightlife and restaurants, thriving Chinatown and nearby Pearl Harbour.
Replace surfboard with skis by transiting through Vancouver. Wedged between harbour and mountains, this is one of the world's most attractive, outdoorsy cities, and has airport shuttles to nearby ski resort Whistler.
Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo: Supplied
You can also reach an increasing number of North and South American destinations via Auckland, which has excellent museums, parks and historical sights and is surrounded by 20-odd golf courses, dozens of cellar doors, windswept beaches and islands.
Flight Centre's Round the World Expert can assist you with finding the perfect stop over. Discover all the world has to offer on the trip of a lifetime. To book your flights or for more information, contact one of Flight Centre's experienced round the world experts today.