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These 6 Airports Will Turn Your Long Layover Into a Quick City Tour

May 1, 2014 at 11:16 AM | by | ()

Lunch with the locals in Istanbul

A 6+ hour layover sure sounds like guaranteed misery, right? Wrong, if you're between flights at one of the several international airports that offer city tours for passengers in transit.

Some airports provide these tours absolutely free as a way to promote tourism, but all require that you clear immigration and customs in order to take them.

So before you settle down for a 10-hour boredfest on a bench near an airport Sbarro, try out one of the transit tours at these six airports:


Where it goes: This is the "Flying Dutchman" floating bus tour. Yes, a floating bus. After "diving" into the water, a tour bus floats by the NEMO Science Centre, the Maritime Museum, the river Amstel including the Magere Brug and, on the way back, the Hermitage Museum.
How to Book: First off, you've got to have a layover of at least four hour and be cool with spending some 45 minutes of the 2.5-hour tour out on the water in something that floats but totally looks like it shouldn't. Prices are 39 Euro per adult or 19.50 per child and the bus picks up in Schiphol Plaza before heading into town. Visit the official website to book.


Where it goes: The short tour is general, covering "palaces, temples, museums" and a boat ride along the Chao Phraya river. The longer tour, which lasts until night, includes time for shopping, heading to a spa and going out for a drink and dinner.
How to Book: If you've got between 6-12 hours to wait for your next flight at Bangkok's major airport, you're eligible to book the Transit Tour by Oriental Escape. Visit their official website to make a reservation. The tour is 3500 THB ($113) and includes the transport and an English-speaking tour guide.

Hong Kong International

Where it goes: Depends on which tour you prefer, as there are two options. The Hong Kong Island Orientation tour visits The Peak, Aberdeen fishing village (includes an optional sampan ride), Repulse Bay lookout, a jewellery factory and Stanley Market. The Lantau Island and Monastery tour visits Tai O Fishing Village, the Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery (with a vegetarian lunch), Ngong Ping Village, and the Ngong Ping Cable Car.
How to Book: Visit the official website and choose between the two tours, call the number or visit the tour desk in the Regal Airport Hotel (attached to the terminal). The HK Island tour departs the airport daily at 10:30am, while the Lantau Island tour leaves at 10am.
Price: For the HK Island tour, it's 580HKD ($74) for 8 hours, including a dim sum lunch. For Lantau Island, it's 700 HKD ($90) for 5 hours, including a vegetarian lunch.


Where it goes: The FREE tours, which depart three times a day, visit a range of landmarks around Istanbul. These may include the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome Square, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower, Eyüp Square, and Obelisk of Thedosius.
How to Book: First, you must be flying through Istanbul's Atatürk airport on Turkish Airlines, with a layover of at least 6 hours. Visit the website for the latest information and then turn up at the hotel/tours desk to catch one of the tours (no prior reservations needed).


Where it goes: Well, there's a huge variety of tour options at Incheon, each based on layover length. For example, if you've only got three hours to spare, there's a $60 tour which'll take you to Incheon's Wolmi Park and Sinpo Market. For longer layovers over 6+ hours, we like the $100 DMZ Tour. Imagine flying from the US to Seoul, taking a quick trip to the border between North and South Korea, and then continuing on with your flight to whatever other country. Awesome.
How to Book: Visit theofficial site for the latest information, but when you're at the airport you'll want to head straight to the Transit Tour desk located between exits 8 & 9 on the 1st floor passenger terminal.


Where it goes: There are two FREE tour options of only two hours each: the day tour and the night tour. During the day, you'll visit some of the following highlights: Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Flyer ferris wheel, Merlion Park, the Colonial District, Chinatown or Little India. For the night tour, you'll hit the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, Bugis Village, Raffles Hotel and the Marina Bay Financial Centre.
How to Book: Check up on the latest details at the official website first. Head to the "Free Singapore Tours (FST)" desk in Terminal 2 and 3 to head out on the tour; no prior reservations needed.

Onboard a bus ferry on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok

[Photos: Jaunted]

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