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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
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
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.
Though we’re all glad for the warmer weather in summer, when temperatures spike too high it can really be a drag on your vacation. Not anymore! With a bevy of hotel discounts tied to the outside temperature you’ll be praying for a scorcher.
Book a two-night stay at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston from June 29 to July 8 and you’ll receive a discount on the first night based on the temperature at 5pm that day. Plus, you can always beat the heat at the hotel’s swanky Roof Top Pool. Rates for the July 4 Summer Meltdown Package.
Dreaming of an exotic vacation to China, but don’t have enough money or time? Maximize both with this incredible two-city package from China Spree. For just $899 this January or February, get non-stop, round-trip flights from San Francisco (other gateways available), round-trip air from Beijing to Shanghai, luxury hotels, many meals, guided tours and entrance fees.
This Two Great Cities Package includes:
- Non-stop, round-trip airfare from San Francisco [non-stop from New York City available for $1,229, or fly via San Francisco from DC or Chicago ($1,199) or Houston ($1,149)] to Beijing
- Round-trip flights from Beijing to Shanghai
- 6 nights’ 4-star hotel accommodation
- Daily American breakfast, 4 lunches, and 1 dinner
- Guided tours and many entrance fees including: a tour of Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, a rickshaw ride through hutongs (traditional neighborhood alleys), a visit to a courtyard home and local market, a dumpling making demonstration, the Sacred Way of Ming Tombs, the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven (featuring Ming architecture), the Summer Palace, a 16th-century bazaar, the skyscrapers of Pudong, and the Oriental Pearl Tower (with 360-degree city views).
THE VALUE: Flights alone in January and February are around $900 just to Beijing, and the hotels included in the package cost over $880 for six-nights. Factor in the included domestic air, tours, and meals, and this deal saves close to $1,000 per person.
THE CATCH: You’ll pay an extra $257 to cover not-included air taxes and China visa fees. Also, prices are based on paying by check or money order — booking by credit card will cost $200 extra.
THE DETAILS: To book your stay, visit China Spree’s website. This deal is available until sold out.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Start planning your vacation with our China Travel Guide.
In a similar vein to sister brand W Hotel’s Bliss spas, Sheraton now has its own exclusive spa concept it’s calling Shine. Guest feedback played a big role in developing Shine, which eschews the snobbish air of some spas while keeping the feeling of luxury. The announcement also follows a $6 billion revitalization effort of the Sheraton brand.
Each Shine spa offers five signature treatments – a massage, facial, body treatment, manicure/pedicure and a treatment for two – as well as a full complement of treatments unique to each location. Many spas will draw on local ingredients and traditions for treatment inspiration. Germaine de Capuccini was tapped as the product partner for Shine.
For now, most Shine spas are limited to Sheraton properties in Asia: Those with spas currently up and running include hotels in the Maldives (pictured), China, Vietnam, and Slovakia. Sheraton plans to roll out the concept at a dozen new hotels in China and India in the next year or so, eventually expanding into North America and Latin America.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
Backpackers flocking to Southeast Asia for its cheap accommodations, favorable climate, and dazzling natural scenery can trade in crowded hostels for five-star comfort. Sample delectable Balinese curry, dance the night away in Singapore, and watch the sunset on the shores of the Bali Sea from just $1,703 (with fuel surcharge) when you book your package through Singapore Airlines Vacations. Travelers can fly out of every Singapore Airlines gateway around the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York, and Houston.
• Round-trip airfare
• Airport and hotel transfers
• Two-nights’ accommodations at five-star Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore
• Three-nights’ accommodations at five-star Nusa Dua Beach Hotel in Bali
• Daily breakfast in Bali
• Half-day Singapore city tour
• Full-day Bali city tour, including lunch
• Complimentary bus pass in Singapore
THE CATCH: You’ll have to recruit a travel buddy, as rates are based on double occupancy. Taxes of $110 are not included in the package price.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.singaporeairlinesvacations.com to book through August 31. Travel between September 1, 2010 and November 30, 2010, or January 1, 2011 and March 31, 2011.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Browse other International Vacation deals.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find other great deals on vacation packages, airfare, hotels, and cruises.
FOUND A BETTER DEAL? Tell us.
The popularity of cruises in Asia has given the European-based cruise line Costa, the ability to add another ship to its year-round Far East itineraries. The Costa Classica joins its sister ship, the Costa Allegra, to offer another viable option for travelers looking to explore this part of the world.
The Classica will sail from Singapore as well as Chinese ports of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tianjin, providing customers with both short and long schedules. In addition to the more elaborate 14- to 15-night itineraries, the Classica will sail 4-6 night voyages to Japan and South Korea. Costa will also present passengers with a special voyage between China and Taiwan – a first for the cruise industry.
Gazing down the horizon a ways, Costa will also be christening two new ships, the Luminosa, and the Pacifica on June 5, in Genoa Italy, followed by the Allegra’s replacement, the Costa Romantica in March 2010.
For more details on these new ships and itineraries, visit costacruise.com.
Most of us have wondered what it would be like to travel for more than the standard two-week block of vacation time typically allotted each year. I know I still wish I had taken a few months after college to gallivant around Europe. Well, if you’ve ever wished you had the means or the moxie to spend a year abroad traveling, you should enter Hyatt Hotels Big Welcome Contest which will award three winners (one per region in North America, Europe and Asia) 365 free nights at any Hyatt Hotels worldwide and 1 million frequent flyer miles to help get you to your chosen destinations; both valid through June 30, 2014. So whether you just want to live the hotel life for a year or host a big destination wedding or event, why not do it with Hyatt for free. To enter the contest, enter your Hyatt Gold Passport number or enroll in the program and submit a 250-word essay answering the question: How would you spend 365 free nights at Hyatt to create an unforgettable experience? You can also send a video or audio photo to compliment your essay. Entries must be submitted by May 13, 2009, with the final grand prize winners announced on or around June 12, 2009. For more information and to enter click here.
The winner of the Big Welcome content was announced in June: Bill Jolly took the prize with his video entry. See it here.
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