19 Feb Five of the best free airport city tours
When booking a long-haul flight, most of us opt for the route with the shortest stopover, so we get to spend more time at our destination and less time wandering around airports. But if you plan properly, choosing flights with a long stopover can actually allow you to see two cities for the price of one. If your flights from Sydney Airport are taking you through one of these five cities, consider adding a long stopover to take advantage of their free city tours.
1. Singapore – Changi Airport
Singapore is a popular stopover for travellers flying from Sydney both because of its convenient location and its famously well-equipped airport. Although there’s plenty to keep you occupied inside (including a free 24-hour theatre, an indoor butterfly garden and even a massive slippery dip), if you’ve got time to spare you can join one of the airport’s free 2.5-hour city tours. Daytime travellers can jump on the Heritage Tour to visit Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam, while those with night flights can join the City Lights tour which takes in Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade and Gardens by the Bay.
Length of stopover required: 5.5 hours
How to join the tour: Bypass immigration and head straight to the Free Singapore Tours booth in either Terminal 2 or Terminal 3. Registration closes one hour before the tour and places are filled on a first come first served basis so make a beeline for the booth as soon as you land.
2. Tokyo, Japan – Narita Airport
If you’re headed to one of Japan’s many holiday hotspots, you can squeeze in a sightseeing trip into Tokyo without the hassle of staying the night by planning a long stopover at Narita Airport. Narita has one of the most impressive free tour offerings, with four different 3-hour tours led by an English speaking volunteer guide. You can choose to visit handicraft shops and temples, eat home-style cuisine and discover aviation history, cycle through the countryside or dress up in Edo-period clothes in an historic theme park. Or if shopping is your priority you can simply hop on a train and head to one of the malls.
Length of stopover required: 5 hours
How to join the tour: You can book your tour online in advance, or head to the Narita Transit Program Counter in Terminal 1F when you land.
3. Taipei, Taiwan – Taoyuan International Airport
If you’re flying through Taipei, it’s worth searching for an even longer stopover to take advantage of the generous free half-day city tours. The morning tour stops off at the traditional suburb of Sanxia and the pottery hotspot of Yingge, while the afternoon tour takes in the lively shopping district of Ximending and the country’s tallest building Taipei 101.
Length of stopover required: 7 hours
How to join the tour: Head to the Tourist Service Center located in the Arrival Lobby of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the Taoyuan International Airport, or reserve a tour in advance here.
4. Seoul, Korea – Incheon Airport
Even if you’ve only got a short stopover, you can still probably squeeze in a free city tour in Seoul. The Seaside Tour to Eurwangni Beach and Masian Beach is just one hour long but if you’ve got more time to spare, there are tours as long as five hours available. The options include visits to market and shopping districts, temple tours, historical palaces and city highlights.
Length of stopover required: No limit imposed, just makes sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get back for your flight.
How to join the tour: Take the shuttle train to the registration desk in Terminal 1 or 2 and look for the kiosk marked Transit Tour.
5. Istanbul, Turkey – Ataturk International Airport
If you’re travelling between Europe and Asia, chances are you might find yourself transferring at Ataturk International Airport. Turkish Airlines offers 6 different complimentary tours ranging from a quick 2.5 hour journey taking in tourist hotspots like Taksim Square and Galata Tower to a full 9-hour day trip which includes a visit to the Grand Bazaar. There’s also a 6-hour evening walking tour which includes a visit to the Blue Mosque.
Length of stopover required: 6 hours
How to join the tour: Although it may sound counterintuitive, head to the Hotel Desk at International Arrivals. You’ll need to arrive at least 30 minutes before the tour starts.
After squeezing the most sightseeing possible out of your travel schedule, you won’t want any holdups on your return to Sydney Airport. If you’ve opted for the best-value airport parking in Sydney, you can simply order your complimentary Park on King on-demand shuttle as soon as you land to take you straight to your car. What’s more, if you save your money on airport parking in Sydney and avail yourself of free stopover tours on the way, you’ll have more money left over to enjoy at your destination.