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Is Asia the new Caribbean? For thousands of experienced cruisers ready to visit exotic places — such as China, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia — the answer is a resounding “yes.”
While some first-time cruisers set off for Asia, most are intrepid travelers who have already island-hopped in the Caribbean and sailed the familiar cruising grounds of Europe and Alaska. Now, they’re venturing off the beaten path — and cruise lines are delivering with more routes and better ports. Here’s a peek at what’s hot.
Is there anything more hip than a hotel that’s tucked in a converted warehouse?
Ovolo Southside is a 162-room property that popped up this summer along Hong Kong’s artsy South Coast, in the town of Wong Chuk Hang. With art in abundance and a rooftop bar, too, this is the sixth Ovolo Hotel to open in Hong Kong. (The hotel group also has a property in in Melbourne.) And just as exciting as the trendy digs are the low costs of enjoying them.
As one of our favorite under-rated cities in Asia, Taipei has only recently started to get mainstream attention. (Case in point: The New York Times chose it as one of the 52 Places to Go in 2014.) If you’re considering a trip, here’s a starter guide with some of the most-visited spots for where to eat, where to shop, what to do, and where to stay – but we’ve also included some beloved lesser-known alternatives where you’ll find fewer tourists and lots of locals.
This winter, there isn’t a more delicious way to warm up than with one of many specialty noodle soups across Asia. Tender, red-braised oxtail is the long-simmered star of Taiwan’s beef noodle staple (pictured above), with a dark broth fragrant with five-spice and bean paste. Best of all, a steaming bowl will only set you back by 150-180NT or $5-$6. For more photos of slurptastic noodle soups in Asia, plus the best restaurants to try them, keep reading here.
It might be getting cold outside, but you don’t need to bundle up to enjoy stunning photos of unbelievably intricate ice sculptures and larger-than-life winter wonderlands from around the world. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in northeast China (pictured above) is one of the world’s biggest and most surreal. There, a mini-city of castles, towers, and sculptures galore rise from more than 12 million cubic feet of ice and snow. See photos of some more “cool” sculptures and playgrounds across Europe, North America, and Asia…right here.
Though mainland Malaysia is already considered a budget-friendly destination for many travelers, the cost of traveling to Malaysian Borneo might initially seem like an unnecessary expense if you’re trying to see the country on a budget. However, with incredibly affordable round-trip flights now being offered by Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching for as low as 120 ringgit (about $36), there are tons of reasons to add a few more days to your trip and explore this often overlooked island. If you stay away from the higher-end resorts and expensive restaurants, you’ll find that seeing Malaysian Borneo is not only easy on your wallet, but also a phenomenal place with jungles, a cat city, ancient ruins, national parks, and plenty of monkeys. Here are my top five ideas for enjoying the best of Borneo for a lot less than you might expect.
Take a day trip to one of Borneo’s national parks:
While there are plenty of national parks all throughout the island of Borneo, my favorites were Bako National Park (where you can likely catch of a glimpse of the rare long-nosed proboscis monkey) or Niah National Park (where you can see gorgeous cave paintings dating back 1,200 years). The only costs you’ll incur on a day trip like this is getting there and paying your entrance to the park, so there’s absolutely no reason not to add a day of nature to your itinerary.
Getting to Bako: Simply take a bus to Bako Bazaar in Kampung Bazaar (1.50 ringgit; $0.45) and then charter a boat to the park (they wait at the dock for customers). If you’re willing to share the boat ride with other passengers, you can cut your cost down from 40 ringgit per person to as low as 8 ringgit ($2.40). Entrance to the national park for foreign visitors is just 20 ringgit ($6).
Total cost: 29.5 ringgit (under $10) Read more
Take a minute and ask yourself which of the following two activities you did on your most recent trip: checked out a new art exhibit, or went shopping at the mall? I’m embarrassed to admit the latter. Not that I go out of my way to find the malls, mind you. It’s an unfortunate truth that shopping malls, souvenir kiosks, and multiplex cinemas often make themselves more available to tourists than museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions. Like any traveler, I want to feel enriched by my trip, no matter where the destination, but sometimes the familiar allure of chain department stores, air-conditioned food courts, and gliding escalators just proves too strong.
When it comes to dream destinations, Southeast Asia is high on many American’s travel wish lists. Whether it’s the beautiful beaches, exclusive overwater bungalows, exotic wildlife, or just the food, Southeast Asia has a lot to offer any traveler. So why does the destination remain so out of reach for many? Well, there’s the issue of getting there, paying for your stay, communicating in a foreign tongue, and ultimately, somehow managing to stay out of debt from a single trip.
Hotels often rely on inflated descriptions of their rooms. Got a single room with a tiny balcony? That’s a deluxe. Or throw a couch in there and it turns into a suite, with the extravagant price tag to match. In response to travelers wanting better options, a new crop of vacation rental websites has sprouted up offering everything from sprawling mansions to air mattresses, often with significantly more space than your average hotel room. Combine that with lower prices and locations in less touristy neighborhoods, and you could be experiencing your destination just like the locals do. Here are some vacation rental sites to look into for your next holiday.
Don’t let the Carnival Cruise Line’s recent newsworthy items deter you from hitting the high seas. There are millions of cruises that sail each year without making the news. They have great customer service, activities for families, couples, and seniors, onboard entertainment, and unique ports around the world. Today we’ve rounded up the best of the best, from exotic international cruises to the always-popular beach destinations. Read more
Green beer, nearly legal drinking in the streets, and raucous, overcrowded parades; they all come to mind when we think of St. Patty’s Day. But the holiday isn’t just an excuse for the Irish (and the “Irish For A Day” types) to get a bit boisterous.
We go to the movies (or sit at home on the couch), in hopes that they will transport us somewhere else. Sometimes they succeed and create a believable 2-D world that we can immerse ourselves in for a few hours. Movies have the remarkable power to take us to the middle of the South Pacific, or follow us as we wander the streets of revolutionary France, and even animate our surroundings with the rich green rolling hills of the Scottish highlands.
While we’d all love to travel more than we do, silly things like money, jobs, children, and crippling anxiety keep us trapped in one place (often our homes that are filled with old newspapers). Thankfully, modern technology allows us to experience the world more easily than ever before. We can Skype with our friends on other continents, tour museums on our phones, and experience just about anything online. But what if you want to explore other cultures and places more tangibly and can’t hop around the globe like Indiana Jones? Well, if you have space in your yard (and don’t mind your home resembling the SkyMall Tuesday headquarters), then SkyMall has everything you need to bring the world to you. Rather than break the bank and exhaust all of your vacation days on constant travel, why not surround create a menagerie of handsome lawn sculptures that allows you to live internationally without ever leaving your house? Read more
Travel to the Garden City of India and stay at a trendy, 4-star hotel located in the shopping and business district of Bangalore. Take in the panoramic views of the Indian metropolis, including the spectacular Ulsoor Lake, when you stay at the Ista Bangalore for just $100 a night – a savings of 25 percent on competitor sites.
With Ista Bangalore’s Business Saver promotion, you’ll also receive complimentary breakfast for two every morning, free Wi-Fi, and half off drinks from 7-9pm each night. The hotel’s contemporary rooms feature king beds, luxurious bathrooms, large bay windows, and LCD TVs. The property includes two restaurants and one bar, each with its own distinct character.
Outside the hotel, experience the culture and modernity of Bangalore, visit local markets and upscale boutiques, or relax in one of the city’s many parks (hence its “Garden City” nickname) to see how cosmopolitan this city has become.
This deal is available for any four-night stay in a Superior King Room or Premium King Room. These low rates with the Business Saver promotion are available for bookings made by September 30. To book, visit Ista Bangalore and enter the promotion code PKGBUS.
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