travel

We've found 10 impromptu-holiday-approved return flights for under $500.

Who says international travel can’t be cheap? Using the Skyscanner Australia search panel, we’ve found 10 overseas destinations that you can get a return fare to for $500 or less in the next three months.

The good news is that the departure airports vary. We’ve found cheap flights leaving from Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, giving a huge number of Australians the chance to enjoy a cheap holiday.

Auckland, New Zealand

The cheapest flights we found were from the Gold Coast to Auckland, with a return fare costing just $171.

Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city, which is often mistaken for its capital. Located in the north of the North Island, it’s one of the country’s warmer spots (and it’s not too far from the geothermal springs in Rotorua), but it’s still generally colder than most places in Australia.

Some of its major attractions include the Sky Tower (the largest building in the southern hemisphere – with viewing decks and a bungee jumping platform) and day trips to the nearby islands and to Middle Earth.

Other cheap flights to Auckland were available from Sydney ($198) and Melbourne ($172).

Christchurch, New Zealand

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Second on our list is another Kiwi city, Christchurch. Return flights from Sydney can be bought for as little as $195.

Still rebuilding from the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is an old city in a state of transition. The Cardboard Cathedral shows an innovative way for the locals to rebuild, while holiday classics like punting on the Avon and visiting the Peace Bell in Hagley Park remain popular items on visitors’ itineraries.

Flights from Brisbane to Christchurch would also see it included in this list, with fares available from $329.

Singapore


The first Asian city is Singapore, which you can fly to for just $259 from Perth.

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The island city-state is the most developed part of Southeast Asia and the most-family friendly spot in the region. Universal Studios can be found here and kids will also love the attractions on Sentosa Island. Legoland is just a short bus ride across the border into Malaysia.

Other cheap flights to Singapore include the $321 return fare from Melbourne and the $335 option from Sydney.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


For just $359, you can get from Melbourne to Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

This metropolis is one of the biggest cities in the area and has a mix of cultures – the huge Petronas Towers and gargantuan shopping centres show off Western influences while local street food vendors, bustling China Town and intriguing Little India show some of the other countries and cultures that have played their part in building this city.

Outside the capital, Malaysia has some beautiful holiday spots. The Cameron Highlands is a tea lover’s dream, with plantations as far as the eye can see, the Perhentian Islands are the area’s secret beachside paradise and Malacca is a romantic riverside town with a mix of British, Dutch and Portuguese architecture.

Bali, Indonesia

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No list of cheap holiday destinations is complete without Australia’s favourite – Bali. From Adelaide, you can get return flights this winter for as little as $354. This goes down to $3217 from Perth and from Sydney it’ll cost you around the $428 mark.

The tropical island almost needs no introduction. Beautiful beaches, cheap beer and delicious meals around Kuta and Legian are contrasted by the meditation and yoga retreats in Ubud, as well as the quiet scenic escapes in the north of the island like Singajara.

Manila, Philippines


Another cheap destination from Sydney is Manila, available for just $357.

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The Filipino capital is a vibrant city with much to explore. Recent years have seen the rise of the air-conditioned mega-mall, but away from these areas you can still find boutique bars, markets for hand-made products and family-run restaurants that give the city a unique appeal.

Manila is also a gateway to the 7,000 or so islands that make up the Philippines. While Boracay was recently closed to tourists, there are other beautiful options like Luzon, Palawan and Siargao that are just a short domestic flight away.

Taipei, Taiwan

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Visit the Chinese island of Taiwan for just $392 from Perth.

The island’s capital, Taipei, is a mix of Chinese, Japanese and American influences. Spend time at a tranquil Taoist temple, walk through a Japanese mansion then visit a museum housed in military barracks.

One of the best aspects of a holiday in Taipei is the cheap and delicious street food, whether it’s Taiwanese beer, stinky tofu or sugary shaved ice, there’s always something new to try.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Flights to Vietnam’s former capital Ho Chi Minh City are available from Sydney for $414 return or Melbourne for $402.

Many of HCMC attractions are borne from its French colonial period – especially its architecture and its bakeries – or the more recent American war – which you can relive in its museums or the Cu Chi Tunnels that soldiers used to sneak around the country.

From Ho Chi Minh, you can also book cheap flights to Hanoi, Da Nang and other hotspots in Vietnam or neighbouring countries.

Bangkok, Thailand

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There’s not much difference in the price of a flight to Bangkok from Sydney ($386) or Melbourne ($387), making it a great choice for residents of Australia’s biggest cities.

Whether you’re using Bangkok as a springboard for some of the other great spots in Thailand – such as Chiang Mai, Koh Samui or Pai – or you want to explore the capital, this winter is a great time to get some Asian sun.

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Bangkok has more temples and tributes to Buddha than you’ll ever be able to visit, but some of the favourites include Wat Arun and the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. The Grand Palace, Floating Markets and bustling Khao San Road are also favourites among first-time visitors to the city.

Nadi, Fiji


Last, but by no means least, is Nadi, the main gateway to a tropical getaway in Fiji. Return flights from Sydney are available from $437.

Whether you’re flying into Nadi or Suva, most visitors to Fiji get out of the big cities to relax at resorts. The Coral Coast on the south of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, is a popular spot, but there are more than 300 islands that make up the country and most of them offer pristine beaches and waters.

As well as its relaxing atmosphere, Fiji is a great place to snorkel, dive and go on dolphin-watching tours. Surfers can enjoy the natural (and man-made) breaks, while there’s never enough time to sit on the beach or by the pool with a good book.

This article was originally written by Oliver Gaywood and originally appeared on Skyscanner Australia. It has been republished with full permission.

Speaking about holidays, this is the only packing hack you’ll ever need:

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