Wherever home might be, there’s a fair chance you’ve got one hell of a long flight awaiting you when the time finally comes to say goodbye to Oz.
So you might as well turn a negative into a positive by stopping off somewhere exciting along the way. Not only does it break up the journey, but it’s like having a free holiday, often adding very little to your flight costs.
Here’s our top 10 list of the easiest and best places to call in at.
Go there for: A hip, bohemian melting pot, where anything goes.
Tell me more: the most chilled locale in the whole of America, this is the ultimate place to come and let your hair down. Be sure not to miss taking a cable car (tram) around the rolling hills, which have played host to many an icon, including Steve McQueen in Bullitt. A harbour tour is also essential to get an eye-catching view of the bay area – Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf with its aquarium, museum ships and street performers being particular highlights.
Anything else: The amazing Yosemite National Park is a pleasant four-hour jaunt by car.
Flight time from Sydney: 13 hours 30 minutes.
Go there for: Volcanic mountains and warm tropical waters full of idyllic reefs.
Tell me more: This tiny republic is an adrenalin junkie’s wet dream. Snorkelling and cave exploring are just some of the exciting things you can do on this group of 300-plus islands. On the Wainikoroiluva River, it’s even possible to kayak or whitewater raft through magnificent rainforests. Alternatively, take it easy by just splashing about underneath gorgeous cascading waterfalls.
Anything else: It’s two biggest islands are Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, with the latter’s city of Nadi being the main tourist hub.
Flight time from Sydney: 3 hours 30 minutes.
Go there for: Exotic festivals, temples and beaches.
Tell me more: Despite it being the fourth largest financial centre in the world, there’s a lot more to this place than glammed-up skyscrapers. It’s surrounded by the sea so there are many wonderful outlying beaches, as well as some cool urban ones inland. And fortunately, the Hong Kongers definitely know how to party, as they seem to have an über-festival for every occasion. Indeed, Chinese New Year with its fireworks and the Dragon Boat (Duanwu) celebrations will definitely knock your socks off.
Anything else: It was in the British Empire for 155 years, until the handover back to China in 1987.
Flight time from Sydney: 9 hours 30 minutes
Go there for: Active volcanoes, trekking and killer waves.
Tell me more: Hawaii is an archipelago in the central Pacific, which consists of eight main islands and several smaller ones. Formerly, most of its wealth derived from whaling and the pineapple and sugar cane industries. Now it’s almost totally given itself over to tourism. And as a consequence, awesome surfing – be sure to check out the legendary Waikiki Beach – hiking through rainforests and canyons, eco tours and scuba diving are just some of the fun things you can do there.
Anything else: It was the last state to become part of the USA, in 1959.
Flight time from Sydney: 9 hours 45 minutes
Go there for: Your own hut on a gorgeous wedge of seafront.
Tell me more: The islands of Ko Samui and Phuket are a beach bum’s paradise, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, as there’s over 3,000km of idyllic coastline. The capital, Bangkok, is just as engaging with its myriad of ancient temples, contrasting with the hustle and bustle of Chatuchak Weekend Market; 8,000 stalls make it one of the biggest on the planet.
Anything else: Although hit by the tsunami, it’s largely recovered so attractions are abundant.
Flight time from Sydney: 9 hours
Go there for: One of the world’s fastest growing and most modern metropolises.
Tell me more: As China transforms into a superpower, it has literally turned Beijing into a Legoland-style development project, almost overnight. Thus, swanky new shopping arcades, bars, cafes and nightclubs seem to spring up in less than the blink of an eye. However, as well as the contemporary, ancient sites like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and various temples also make this place awesome.
Anything else: It has formerly been known as Dàdu and Peking.
Flight time from Sydney: 13 hours
Go there for: A mesmerising archipelago where there is something for everyone.
Tell me more: Although it’s the world’s most populous Muslim nation, and has over 13,000 islands, ironically one of its highlights is the alcohol-spiced nightlife of Bali. Volcanic Javanese vistas, the orangutans and tigers of Sumatra and a plethora of sun-kissed beaches are other reasons why you’ll never get bored.
Anything else: Internal conflicts and a terrorist threat have led the British Foreign Office to warn against visiting some parts. See www.fco.gov.uk for the latest info.
Flight time from Sydney: 7 to 8 hours
Go there for: An unrivalled oasis of entertainment and luxury.
Tell me more: Now a slick cyber city, it’s almost as if Dubai is a mirage, as it was once just a sleepy, old fishing village. However, no amount of bling has been spared to ensure that futuristic hotels, malls and leisure resorts inhabit every nook and cranny. Shopaholics who want a more historic experience can rock up to the maze of small stores and stalls that make-up Deira’s Gold and Spice souks (old markets). A different type of thrill is to be had by ‘dune bashing’: a rollercoaster drive in an SUV over magical desert landscapes. Surprisingly, it’s actually possible to ski or snowboard – indoors, in the ‘Mall of the Emirates’.
Anything else: It’s the second biggest of seven emirates in the UAE.
Flight time from Sydney: 14 hours 30 minutes
Go there for: Outlandish themed bars and restaurants, hi-tech and designer shopping, and hot springs.
Tell me more: Japan’s culturally rich capital is the ideal milieu to experience nightlife with a twist to die for. Whether it’s the nurses’ uniforms and drinks served in test tubes of ER Alcatraz, the skulls and coffins paraphernalia of the Vampire Cafe or the spectacular glass and fantasy rooms of Alice in Wonderland, there seems to be something zany going on in all of the eateries and drinking holes. Or why not go all crazy over the latest gadgetry, in what is a consumer electronic heaven? Just check out Akihabara (Electric Town), if you don’t believe me. Alternatively, put your feet up in a wonderful sentō(public bath) or onsen (hot spring).
Anything else: the Greater Tokyo metropolitan area is the most populous on earth, with over 35 million inhabitants.
Flight time from Sydney: 9 hours 30 minutes
Go there for: Natural beauty, swimming and tantalising local cuisine.
Tell me more: A microstate off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, she has a diverse cornucopia of fantastic environments that are teeming with wildlife. Enjoy losing yourself in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (a great spot for rock climbing, to abseil or mountain bike) and Singapore Botanic Gardens. Or, another haven is in the 40 hectares of jungle that adjoin the national zoo. There they offer an unbelievable night-time safari. And on your stop-off, have a sumoesque-sized banquet of the native gastronomy – a mixture of Chinese, Indian and Malay with Western elements. Chilli crab, gong-gong and fish head curry have never tasted better. Yummy!
Flight time from Sydney: 7 hours 50 minutes