MEJ Masthead

Canberra meets world

Tenele Conway

It’s been a little more than a year since Canberra was officially connected to the world through the introduction of direct flights via the Capital Express.

It didn’t take long for the direct flight service run by Singapore Airlines to become as cherished as a lonely housewife’s dog-eared copy of Fifty Shades and we are all still feeling a little chuffed that we have a ‘real’ international airport. The question now is… Are we really making the most of the service?

Canberrans are certainly wearing a well-worn path between Singapore, London and Paris but the potential these flights have is barely being tapped. Here is a list of the top five hidden destinations the Capital Express can connect you to. It’s all about thinking outside the box.

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

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We need to start thinking of the direct flights to Wellington as just the gateway. Singapore airlines have partnered with Air New Zealand to give you access from the hub of Wellington to airports all across the country, opening up this neighbouring nation like never before. Jump off the Capital Express and straight onto a direct flight to Tauranga all with the convenience of being checked all the way through from Canberra and you will have access to New Zealand’s premier seaside destination, Mount Maunganui.

Frequented by locals as their go-to beach escape, The Mount as it is known by locals, is still relatively unheard of by Australians. It is time for this to change. With its high-end eateries, trendy bars, boutique shopping and white sandy beaches stretching on for days you won’t be disappointed with this slice of New Zealand paradise.

Hoi An, Vietnam

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Taking the Capital Express through the hub of Singapore you have access to virtually all of Asia. My top pick for South East Asia has to be Hoi An. Singapore airlines will fly you to Da Nang and just a short drive south you will find this UNESCO world heritage town brimming with amazing food, culture and world-classs beach resorts lined up along the South China Sea.

You will be charmed by the Chinese lanterns lit up at night along the canals and the pedestrian only cobbled streets lined with French Colonial buildings will make you wish you could stay forever. The vibe is laid back – take on a cooking class to learn the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine or wander the local food markets to see the heartbeat of this stunning town. This is also the premier spot in Vietnam to get tailor-made clothes. The hundreds of local tailors can whip up outfits in a day or so either creating a one of a kind piece or using your favourite clothes as a blueprint.

The Maldives

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Lucky for us Canberrans, Singapore Airlines is one of the few carriers who can connect you through to the island archipelago of the Maldives. The Capital Express will connect you through Singapore into Male and a short boat trip away will find hundreds of luxury resorts marooned on private islands. This couple’s paradise is truly one of the most picturesque places on the planet. Overwater bungalows are the tourism bread and butter out here in the Indian Ocean and be sure to bring your selfie stick – this is one place you are going to want to throw in the faces of friends and family on social media for years to come.

Copenhagen, Denmark

With five direct flights per week from Singapore straight into the seaside Scandinavian city of Copenhagen this colourful harbourfront city should be the top of your list for your next European vacation.

Lonely Planet have coined Copenhagen the epitome of Scandi-cool and with 15 Michelin Starred restaurants to its name, a clean and efficient transport system and cycle-friendly paths snaked across the city there is simply no excuses for avoiding the cool-as capital of Denmark. Who knows, you might pull a Princess Mary and nab your own Danish royal! One can dream.

Cebu

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With more than two million visitors per year, Cebu is the heavyweight of Philippines tourism and rightly so. Stay a while in Cebu City if nightlife is your thing, or base yourself in a family-friendly beach resort on Mactan island and use it as a base to see the nearby attractions.

Malapascua Island is a must for scuba divers with the normally rare Thresher sharks being a daily sighting and encounters with giant manta rays being a highlight (think six meters wide). Or head south to Moalboal to immerse yourself in the famous Sardine run. If diving isn’t your thing then the Filipino cuisine is sure to satisfy. A unique blend of Asian and Spanish flavours and local delicacies like Sinigang, a tart soup of pork and vegetables, and Lechon Kawali, a deep-fried pork belly dish, you will be in a foodies paradise. As always Singapore airlines has Canberra all hooked up with almost daily flights direct from Singapore with partner airline Silk Air.

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Tenele Conway

Tenele Conway is a veteran of the Canberra Travel industry having worked in retail travel stores around the city for well over decade. Taking full advantage of the perks of the job she has travelled the world primarily at the expense of others and when she isn’t zip lining in Guatemala or cruising the Nile she is bringing together her two passions of world cuisines and travel on her blog www.hungryplanetblog.com. With a cookbook collection worthy of an episode of ‘Hoarders’ she sees a future as a travelling cookbook author, look out Rick Stein.

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