Fly via these airports offering free city tours to transit passengers and land yourself some free travel on your next trip.
1. Singapore Changi Airport – Singapore
Naturally, the world’s best airport offers free city tours to transit passengers and they’ve got all bases covered with both a daytime and evening option. Running 4 times a day, The Heritage Tour will give you taste of the eclectic precincts of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam as well as a photo opportunity from the city’s mascot Merlion.
Alternatively, if you’re killing time before a night flight you can join the free City Sights Tour to soak up the Singapore skyline from Merlion Park and marvel at the Avatar-like Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay.
Registration for both tours takes place in the transit area. Find more information on the Changi Airport website.
Suggested route: Fly Melbourne to Manila via Singapore to save up to $359 compared to the direct fare.
2. Hamad International Airport – Doha, Qatar
Discover Doha on a complimentary 3-hour tour when flying via Hamad International Airport in Qatar. The tour covers 4 key city landmarks including chic waterfront development The Pearl-Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art.
Tours are available on a first-come first-served basis and cannot be pre-booked – simply approach the Doha City Tour Desk in the transit area to reserve your place.
Suggested route: Fly with Qatar Airways to Male via Doha for a free city break before you hit the beach.
3. Incheon International Airport – Seoul, South Korea
In ever efficient South Korea you can choose a free transit tour to suit your exact tastes and schedule. Incheon International Airport offers 1, 2 and 3 hour tours, complete with English speaking guide, to local temples and attractions including Incheon Grand Bridge, Gwangmyeong Cave and Songdo Central Park.
If you’ve got over 5 hours to spare you can choose from 4 different Seoul City Tours, which cover the likes of Gyeongbok Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village and the Seoul Tower. You can book a tour online in advance or request one upon arrival at the Transit Tour Desk.
4. Taoyuan International Airport – Taipei, Taiwan
Get a taste of Taipei during a layover at Taoyuan International Airport thanks to free half day city tours hosted by Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Passengers with 7 to 24-hour layovers can choose from a morning or afternoon itinerary that covers several sights in Taipei.
The morning tour includes visits to sites in Sanxia and Yingge, while the afternoon tour includes some big ticket items such as Taipei 101, Longshan Temple and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
You can book up to 6 places 14 to 30 days in advance by emailing an application form or you can sign up upon arrival at the Tourist Service Centre in the Arrival Lobby.
Suggested route: Fly Sydney to Tokyo via Taipei with China Airlines to see 2 great cities on one trip.
5. Narita Airport – Tokyo, Japan
As part of the Narita Airport transit programme a friendly local volunteer will take you on one of 4 free tours to the nearby towns of Shibayama, Tako, Sakae or Narita City. Each destination has its own individual 3-hour course designed to give you a sample of Japanese culture and cuisine.
For something a bit different sign up to course 4 and you’ll get to dress up as ninja or samurai and walk around an Edo Period theme park. (Costume hire is payable extra.)
You can book your volunteer tour guide online or sign up at the Transit Tour Desk on arrival.
6. Ataturk International Airport – Istanbul, Turkey
If you’re flying with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and have a 6-hour layover or more you may be able to join one of 5 fantastic tours ranging from 2.5 to 9 hours long. The Touristanbul programme covers the most spectacular sites in Istanbul including the Blue Mosque, Obelisk of Theodosius, Topkapi Palace, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Grand Covered Bazaar, and more. Amazingly all entrance fees and your meal (Ottoman cuisine) are also included.
No bookings are necessary for the Touristanbul tours, just head to the Hotel Desk in the International Arrivals hall at least 30 minutes prior to the tour start.
7. Kuala Lumpur Transit Tour – The self-guided option
Unfortunately, the Kuala Lumpur Transit Tour is not complimentary but as our data shows that booking flights via KL can save you up to 54% compared to a direct fare, perhaps you’ll have a few bucks spare for this sightseeing option!
Priced at 130RM (approx. $40 AUD) the Kuala Lumpur Transit Tour includes return tickets on the KLIA Ekspres to KL Sentral and a 1 day pass on the KL Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, which stops at popular sights including Chinatown, Little India, Central Market and KLCC for the Petronas Towers.
*Suggested route: Fly from Melbourne to Hong Kong via Kuala Lumpur to save up to 46%. Flight prices here**
Tips for taking free transit tours during your layover
- If you leave the airport during transit you are 100% responsible for catching your next flight. Make sure you have sufficient time to come back through security and immigration once your tour ends.
- You will need a valid visa to enter each country – check whether your passport belongs to a visa waiver programme or if you can apply for visa on arrival before booking your tour.
- On some tours meals and transport are extra – read the fine print and check whether you will need local currency before leaving the airport.
Ready to enjoy a free tour on your next layover? Read our guide to booking a stopover and then search for flights, hotels and car hire with no booking fees.
Written by Jayne Gorman, frequent flyer and travel blogger at Girl Tweets World.