Life Travel Europe on the cheap? Say hello to Asia first

Europe on the cheap? Say hello to Asia first

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It has never been easier, nor more affordable, for Australians to fly to Europe. And the choice of potential destinations has never been wider.

The entry to the Australian market of major Chinese airlines China Southern, China Eastern and Air China, as well as budget carriers like Malaysia’s Air Asia and Singapore Airlines’ subsidiary Scoot, has opened new routes to anyone with time to spare and spirit of adventure.

Where stopovers were previously limited to a handful of Asian cities (and later Dubai and Abu Dhabi), today the canny flyer can break a journey to explore lesser-known destinations and save money in the process.

Here are some appealing options for travellers who would like to expand their horizons – some offer bargains, others the chance to explore a different culture.

Websites like I Know The Pilot offer a selection of cheap flight options on both budget and full-service carriers. This site was recently offering return trips from Australian capital cities to Paris via Bangkok starting from $942.

Athens via Singapore

Take a stopover in Singapore before heading direct to the vibrant Greek capital. Budget carrier Scoot has a range of available flight dates throughout 2018 from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast, with many involving overnight stopovers you’ll need to pay for. But Australian passport holders can enter Singapore without a visa.

Fares are ultra cheap, starting at below $1000 return. Remember, Scoot is a budget airline, so checked baggage and in-flight meals are extra.


Singapore-based budget carrier Scoot can take you from Singapore to Athens.

London via Kuala Lumpur, Delhi or Mumbai

Both Air Asia/Air Asia X and Malaysia Airlines offer flights from Australian capital cities to Delhi and Mumbai with stopovers in Kuala Lumpur. Return prices start from about $500.

No visas are needed for Malaysia, but they are necessary for India.

Travellers can purchase separate tickets (either in Australia or India) to get them from India to a range of European destinations after a stopover. Return flights between Delhi and London on Emirates or Alitalia start from under $800 return.

Budapest via Beijing, Shanghai or Chengdu

Flights to major destinations in China from Australian capital cities and on to Europe start from less than $1000 return for “economy special” Air China fares in March, including destinations like Budapest.

You will need to add visa and overnight hotel costs to some Chinese destinations, however.

Flights from China to Hungary on this fare are operated by German national carrier Lufthansa.

Go north to China before making the leap to Eastern Europe.

Berlin via Singapore

Budget airline Scoot launched its route to the German capital via Singapore with flights from Australian capital cities from under $800 return. Those prices have since risen but good no-frills Scoot deals are available online.

Europe via Colombo

SriLankan Airlines launched its new direct services from Melbourne to Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, in October last year. The daily service takes 10 hours, 50-minutes to Colombo, bypassing the more traditional stopover hubs of Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Free transit accommodation is provided in Colombo. Prices from there to major European destinations start from about $1800 return.

Sri Lanka is a relatively new stopover on the route to Europe.

For those wanting to visit the US East Coast: Washington DC via Hong Kong

Flights on Cathay Pacific via this route are available from $961 from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Cairns for trips from October to December 2018.

All flights involve layovers in Hong Kong but Australian passport holders can enter Hong Kong without a visa.

Cathay Pacific is a full-service carrier, so these fares include checked baggage and in-flight meals. Cathay Pacific is ranked as No.5 airline in the world by Skytrax.

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