Ranking The Best City Stopovers On The Way East

Ranking The Best City Stopovers On The Way East

11 min read

Dublin to Tokyo? 9,579km. Dublin to Sydney? 17,204km. Dublin to Auckland? 18,167km. You don’t need us to tell you that’s a monster distance and unsurprisingly, you won’t be able to from A to B without a stopover.

Long haul stopovers are either a painful and necessary evil or a massive opportunity to explore some incredible cities depending on your own perception.

Our advice – be the latter! We’ve helped thousands of travellers get to far flung places from our little home and we’ve ranked our favourite stopover destinations to enjoy on the way to your new life, or just a long haul adventure!

8. Mumbai, India

Ready for an assault on your senses? The second you disembark in Mumbai international airport you’ll be greeted with a cacophony of noise, a burst of aromas and a sense of disorientation.

With over 5 million overnight visitors a year, that puts Mumbai inside the Top 10 cities in the world. It’s a common route from London too with an average of five flights a day taking a shade over 9 hours.

Mumbai is not an enormous city in terms of sq km but it is in terms of population at over 18 million. As a result, despite being 20 miles from the city centre it could take you up to 2 hours to reach it from the newly renovated airport.

Great for: Culture (Gandhi’s House, Gateway of India)

Good for:  Something different, splitting the journey in half (12 hours to Sydney), Food

Not so good for: Access to city, security queues, crowded city,  luxury/comfort.

7. Doha, Qatar

Qatar is probably most famous for being given the 2022 World Cup via some, shall we say, questionable tactics but having said that, the city itself has emerged as a third Middle Eastern superpower.

Doha is a more conservative and traditional in terms of an Arabian city but that absolutely shouldn’t put you off as the city retains it’s Middle Eastern heritage quite well. Even if it’s now surrounded by some stunningly modern skyscrapers.

Doha does some things incredibly well, namely luxury! All the major global players in hospitality have properties here and the immaculate surroundings of the Ritz Carlton and the Grand Hyatt are really affordable (from €140 per night for two people sharing).

A massive plus for considering Doha in 2017 is with Qatar Airways introducing direct flights from Dublin next month. Not only that but they’ll pay for your five-star stay too! Sweet.

Great for: Arabian culture, food, luxury. Free night accommodation for Dublin passengers!

Good for: Modern Architecture, Museums, Direct flights from Dublin from June 2017.

Not so good for: Very, very hot! More conservative city in terms of alcohol etc, unethical treatment of migrant workers in the past.

6. Bangkok, Thailand

The world’s most visited city ranks sixth on our list of stopovers. If you haven’t checked out our recent feature on how to spend 24 hours in Bangkok then it’ll give you a real feel for what this insane metropolis is like as a stopover.

In a nutshell there are certain aspects of Bangkok life that won’t appeal to the masses. Yes, it’s overcrowded. Yes, it’s badly polluted. Yes, there is a huge chasm between the social classes.

However, if you can park this you will still find plenty to see and do – the Bangkok Skybar made famous by the Hangover Part II is a must for example.

London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome are all direct routes into Thailand’s capital. While Bangkok itself may be an acquired taste for some, another cheap and short hop down to Phuket or Koh Samui is a hugely popular strategy for Working Holiday Visa participants. Two weeks in Thailand, then the year of your life!

Great for: Wat Arun Temple, a hub for a micro-holiday to the islands

Good for: Food, Bangkok Skybar, River Cruise Tour

Not so good for: Pollution, overcrowding, seedy reputation.

5. Singapore

There used to be something a little bit cold (not literally) and sterile about Singapore. Uber clean and efficient, Singapore always seemed to lack a soul, for lack of a better term.

However, what the city lacks in traditional Asian culture in makes up for in some incredible architecture, great food and as close a representation of what a Utopia is intended to be than most other huge cities.

Personally speaking, the solar-powered Singapore ‘Supertrees’ would have me choose it as a stopover regardless of anything else.

Aside from this you’ll find more glorious luxury, theme parks and some of the best shopping in the world (but bring your wallet). To top it off, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the Singapore Grand Prix which has since become Asia’s answer to Monaco.

Great for: Shopping, Technology, Skyline

Good for: Food, Entertainment & Accommodation, Accessibility

Not so good for: Traditional oriental experiences, Affordability

4. Dubai, UAE

You may be surprised that Dubai only ranks fourth on our list but hear me out. Yes, there are an awful lot of things to see and do here but for me, the lack of heritage and history about the place just seems off putting. Dubai is shiny, glamorous and modern but it also seems a bit, ‘plastic’.

Anyone who has been to Dubai before will know that the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Islands and The Mall of The Emirates are all must visits. there’s just something a little bit hollow about the place.

The opening of Dubai Parks and Resorts is sure to attract millions more visitors, both via stopover and as a holiday destination in it’s own right. Travellers through Dubai will absolutely have a brilliant time but I think you can do better…

Great for: City Skyline, Entertainment, Tourist Activities

Good for: Accessibility, Accommodation, Weather

Not so good for: Getting off the beaten track, History

3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This is such a beautiful city. If you’re ever stuck between deciding upon Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, just look at how much further up the list Malaysia’s capital sits.

The Petronas towers held the coveted tag of tallest building(s) in the world from 1998 to 2004 and to this day, they’re still one of the world’s most eye-catching.

Underneath the towers, you’ll find KLCC Park. It beats Lumpini Park in Bangkok, dare I say it might beat Central Park in NYC.

KL (as the cool/lazy kids call it) also boasts a huge amount of history with the Sri Mahamariamman Temple and the National Museum opening a window on Malaysia’s fascinating history.

Another massive bonus for KL is affordability with Malaysia Airlines London to Oz via KL up there with the most affordable ways to fly to this part of the world.

Great for: Affordability, Petronas Towers, Food, Museums, KLCC Park

Good for: Accommodation, Public Transport, Shopping

Not so good for: Crazy Humidity (but KL has the best air-con in the world, hands down!)

2. Abu Dhabi, UAE

In a battle of the three Middle Eastern goliath’s, Abu Dhabi comes out on top for us. The sheer amount of different things to do here is astonishing and exciting.

You could honestly spend two weeks here, every day different to the last.

In no particular order, must do’s here include Ferrari World, mangrove kayaking, a spin around Yas Marina F1 circuit, camel trekking, dune buggies in the desert, golfing at ADGC, stay at night at the Yas Viceroy and much more! Here’s Kaiser Chiefs frontman, Ricky Wilson cramming 25 things into 48 hours…

In fact, we’ve done an in-depth feature on Abu Dhabi recently that you should definitely check out (said in the most humble way possible).

Great for: Tourist activities, Corniche Beach, Luxury, Shopping

Good for: Daily flights from Dublin with Etihad, Guaranteed Sunshine, Sheikh Zayer Grand Mosque

Not so good for: I got sand in my eye at one stage…

1. Hong Kong

As we’ve said, stopovers should be designed as an addition to your adventure, rather than the necessary evil of 7 hours dragging in an airport terminal. As subjective as it is, we think that Hong Kong is the best stopover towards Australia and New Zealand. There, we said it. Now to prove it…

Hugely cost-effective via Cathay Pacific, an airport a stone’s throw from the city centre and a much cheaper city than Singapore. These are all massive plus points and that’s before you do a thing while you’re here.

First off, you need the best way to see the city. The great news is there are two! Firstly, head down to the amazing promenade and hop on the two-hour Aqua Luna red-sail boats that are iconic to the city. Secondly, Victoria Peak stands at 554 metres above sea level and offers that out-of-this-world view of the entire city.

Beneath the stunning facade of Hong Kong, there are plenty of more tranquil surroundings to relax, recover from the jet lag and soak in a calming atmosphere.

There are 21 parks and botanical gardens on Hong Kong Island, arguably the most beautiful nestled among the skyscrapers at Hong Kong Park.

We’re leaving the best part until last. The Hong Kong skyline will stay with you forever (not dissimilar to the first time you lay eyes on Manhattan) but it’s not a static beast. Each night at dusk, the 15-minute Symphony of Lights combines lasers, music and of course the entire skyline as it’s canvas. No videos do it justice but here’s a taste of what it’s like…

Great for: Skyline (Symphony of Lights), Accessibility, Affordability, Accommodation, Victoria Peak, Sail boat tours, Food

Good for: Shopping, Culture, Diversity

Not so good for: Do you really think we’re going to bad mouth our #1? Possibly a bit foggy at times but a truly amazing city to visit.

So there you have it, and we didn’t even mention Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing or Jakarta! Need some help planning your next adventure? In 50 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about helping Irish travellers see the world. Drop us an email info@usit.ie call us on (01) 602 1906 or drop into any of our stores nationwide.

 

 

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