Sometimes there aren't enough movies, in-flight meals or sleeping tablets to tide me over on an 18-hour flight, which is why some international cities make it as easy as possible to spend an afternoon, day or a few days exploring, eating and stretching one's legs.

So before I hop back on the plane headed towards my final destination, I always like to look at which airports are worth stopping at for long-haul layovers.

Changi


Singapore is one of the most popular and busiest stopovers in the southern hemisphere. That being said, the city is only a short taxi or train from the airport and offers food and cultural exploring for the weary traveller.

While Changi itself has hotels, cinemas, restaurants and other entertainment if I don't want to venture too far from my connecting flight, Singapore city's hawker bars are a popular culinary destination providing everything from Singapore noodles, spicy crab, pitchers of Tiger beer and chicken satay.

And its world-renowned botanical gardens are just a stone's throw away from the hawker bars, so I didn't miss my opportunity to explore the tree-top walks during the day and night, as well as its buildings with a diverse range of flora growing around it.

And after a day's walking, I cooled off with a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel - the signature cocktail's birthplace thanks to mastermind mixologist Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915.
 

Kuala Lumpur


The multicultural business hub of Kuala Lumpur offers culturally significant sites like the National Mosque and Batu Caves, which is one of Malaysia's best tourist attractions on a limestone hill leading to caves and a century-old Hindu temple.

I found Malaysian chicken satay throughout the CDB while Little India offered me a foodie's paradise of banana leaf curry and chat masala, while Chinatown was sizzling with Cantonese soups, spicy chicken and hearty dumplings along Petaling Street.
 

Dubai


I have spent enough time in the air in my lifetime, so of course, I have had a layover at Dubai airport.

It's the city with the world's tallest tower and modern architecture, the shopper's paradise at Dubai Mall and man-made islands like Palm Jumeirah.

But while these were all interesting sites to visit, I didn't want to get back on my plane in a hurry without visiting Dubai's historic and ancient trade routes and century-old recipes made to perfection.

Dubai also had a range of landscapes to help me stretch out before I buckled up again to get to my destination, so any stopover at Dubai would have been incomplete without first visiting its famous beaches, canals and deserts.
 

Taoyuan Airport


Taipei's Taoyuan Airport hosts a large number of people travelling through its skies and scanners each day, so the Taiwanese made sure I wouldn't regret choosing to spend some time in the airport or around the city before I boarded.

I found in Taoyuan Airport everything from massages, food courts and casual eateries to lounges, showers, cinemas and art museums.

But just over the horizon there was an urban sprawl with famous teas, tofus, hikes and cultural sites.

For just a short stay, Cih Ji Palace was beautiful and rich with cultural significance, while the thermal waters at Beitou Hot Spring and the Changing of the Guards at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall made sure my time spent in Taipei was memorable and worthwhile.
 

LAX


It's one of the most famous stopovers and airports in the world and after a quick walk around LAX, I understood why.

The big, busy airport is known for its shopping, eateries, bars and lounges, but just outside its doors I found a world of adventure catering for all budgets and niches.

Downtown Los Angeles was just a short taxi from the airport and the first thing I noticed was the Hollywood sign before making my way down the famous Walk of Fame and then along Venice Beach.
 

Shanghai Pudong Airport


While Shanghai offers a lifetime of experiences, a quick stopover at the esteemed business and trade city of Shanghai might have just helped me decide the next place I visit.

Shanghai is famous for its food like Xiaolongbao, soup dumplings, steamed buns and crab, Peking duck and much more, but I had to try everything myself if I was going to recommend it here, of course.

But when I was full and had marked all the food to try next time I'm back in Shanghai, I checked out the famous buildings like the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and Shanghai Tower.

Yu Yuan Garden, the Confucious temple and The Bund had me wanting more - just as my alarm went off and it was time to head back to my connecting flight.