Where should you spend your Asian stopover?
Singapore or Hong Kong? Both are attractive stopover destinations for Australian travellers, offering a multitude of easy options for breaking a long-haul journey. And as a tourist, you don’t need a visa for either of them for stays of up to three months.
Singapore’s vast Changi Airport has so much to do that sometimes it almost seems you don’t need to leave the airport – which is great if you’ve got only a few hours to kill. Head to the rooftop garden, the orchid garden or the Butterfly Garden, have a massage or facial, or even a swim.
If you’ve got five hours or more in transit, Changi Airport offers a free city tour. The two-and-a-half hour guided tours run regularly; just register at the Free Singapore Tours booth in the transit area, leave your luggage at Left Baggage for just a few dollars, and head out on either a City Sights or Heritage tour.
Hong Kong International Airport also offers transit tours, either to Lantau Island (near the airport) for a peek at the Buddhist monastery or to the island’s top spots – The Peak, Aberdeen harbour, a scenic coastal drive, and to the village of Stanley. Tours run every morning and cost HK$810 and HK$570 respectively, and you need to have 10 hours or more for the orientation tour.
If you’ve got a couple of days for your stopover in Singapore, spend some time visiting the Singapore Botanic Gardens, open from 5am until midnight daily. Another of my favourites is Gardens by the Bay, with its towering Supertrees. The best time to visit is at night, for the light and sound show (7.45pm and 8.45pm).
Spend a day on the island of Palau Ubin. Take a taxi (very cheap by Australian standards) to the Changi jetty, and a SG$2.50 five-minute boat ride to the island. For SG$2, hire a bike to explore the island.
In Hong Kong, first-timers might opt for a tour that takes in the major sights (as on the transit tour) or head to the Hong Kong Observation Deck for the best view in town. For those who’ve been before, a trip to the New Territories shows a different side of this bustling island as you head into the countryside and the villages of the native Hakka people.
Or then again, you could just shop-till-you-drop in either stopover city!
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