According to a 2015 survey by Virgin Atlantic, more than 60% of respondents noted that when travelling overseas for work, they will extend the trip by a few days for leisure. Of those travellers, more than half said they bring a family member or significant other with them.
For travellers coming to Asia specifically, this comes as no surprise. Exotic destinations and inexpensive travel makes the region a great place for a few extra days either before or after a business trip.
Business travel hubs like Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are ripe for this new breed of business traveller. All have a fascinating blend of urban wonder and old-world charm, and business travellers will find plenty to love beyond the doors of their conference centres or five-star hotels.
Buffalo Tours – a tour company operating in 11 Asian nations – have a few tips for would-be business travellers to Asia. Their experts highlight a few important tips on how to make the most of your next work trip in Asia, even if only for a few extra days.
Book a Walking or Food Tour
After spending hours on end in a hotel conference hall or meeting room, getting outside to enjoy the city is a welcome change of pace. Since most business travellers will only have a few extra days to explore their destination, the best way to get a sense of the city is on a short, guided tour.
For history buffs, a great way to explore the city’s highlights beyond the guidebooks is with a walking journey. Local guides can provide context for visitors, and point out unique hidden attractions that travellers short on time might miss.
Some destinations are best explored through food, so for travellers new to a country’s cuisine, food tours are a great culinary primer. Most food tours will sample a variety of dishes, rather than one or two full means. This is great for travellers with only a few days to spare. By narrowing down the list of dishes to try, visitors can make the most of their breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Plan a Day Trip
Many of Asia’s top business travel destinations are popular starting points for day trips outside of the city. These are great getaways for those that want to avoid moving hotels just for a change of pace, and even better for travellers who have a bit of time between business meetings.
From Kuala Lumpur, travellers can easily visit nearby Malacca within a day. In Hong Kong, many will depart the main island to explore nearby Lantau Island or the New Territories. Those in Singapore can escape the city on Bintan Island or Palau Ubin, and visitors to Bangkok can explore Ayutthaya by boat within a day.
Plan Transfers in Advance
Many business travellers who are short on time won’t have the luxury of extra hours to play their commute by ear. Even without guided tours, getting to and from attractions in Asia’s larger cities can be time-consuming for those not familiar with the options. To save time, plan transfers to and from top attractions beforehand – a surefire way to ease stress if you only have a few hours to spare.
Depending on your destination, some travel companies offer ‘free and easy’ itineraries that provide the bare bones for travel – usually including city transfers and entry into attractions. This can be a great way to save time and energy without needing to plan the specifics of your visit too far in advance.
Hire a Private Guide
If you’d prefer to stay flexible with a visit, but want to make the most of your time, a local guide is a great option. As experts in their city, local guides promise a level of depth that guide books simply can’t offer, and can help you navigate a new city with ease. In Asia where English can sometimes be limited, a local guide can also help bridge the gap between you and the locals.
For business travellers who want to avoid larger group tours, private guides are well-worth the extra expense. With the added benefit of flexibility, a local guide means you can enjoy an in-depth experience outside of rigid tour timetables.