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People travel for plenty of reasons: business, pleasure, to start life under a new identity after faking your own death. Many travelers also plan entire trips around visiting a particular landmark that will bring them good fortune – like kissing Ireland’s Blarney Stone to gain the gift of gab. Sure, hanging off a cliff to make-out with a rock makes perfect sense, but is it silly to think you could find wealth and happiness based on where you sit on a plane? Jetstar Asia, a Singapore-based carrier, doesn’t seem to think so; they’ve become the world’s first airline to entice passengers with the benefits of feng shui, and believe finding health, friendship, and love is as easy as planting yourself in Row 14, Seat B. Read more
In Singapore, eating is a national obsession. So much so, that upon greeting each other, Singaporeans will often throw out a “have you eaten yet?” before asking, “how are you?” The city’s culinary scene is constantly exploding with new restaurants fueled by innovative fusions and celebrity chefs, but for the visitor on a budget, the long-established Singapore hawker centers (numbering more than a hundred) are the Holy Grail for delicious eats on the cheap.
Hawker centers are temples for food worshipers, purpose-built facilities bursting with as many as 200 food stalls specializing in different dishes. The term “hawker” is a throwback to the days when migrant food vendors trolled Singapore streets hawking their fare; later, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, in the name of food safety and hygiene, the vendors were relocated to designated hawker centers throughout the city. Today, stalls are strictly monitored and must display their grades as awarded for hygienic standards and stall cleanliness, so that customers can enjoy the street food experience without any uncomfortable side effects. Read more
The Philadelphia Zoo’s resident orangutans were recently awarded some newfound freedom to roam. Using a set of enclosed trails, called the Great Ape Trail, the orangutans can travel around the zoo property at will, suspended above visitor walkways. Lemurs and small monkeys at the zoo have been doing this for a year on their Treetop Trail. The Philadelphia Zoo is not alone in letting some of their tenants roam the grounds. Other zoos around the world have made similar concessions to their primate inhabitants. In fact, some let their animals roam freely among their human guests.
Airlines, bloggers, cruise lines, and resorts flood our inboxes daily with travel contests and sweepstakes. The prizes are always tempting, but it’s tough to figure out which giveaways are worth your valuable time (and contact information) and which you should demote to the spam folder. To up your odds of scoring a free vacation, we’ll feature one travel contest each week – and say why it’s worth your while.
Contest: Angry Birds aficionados will attest that the mobile game is crazy addicting, and eight lucky gamers will get to prove it onboard Finnair’s Angry Birds Flight from Helsinki to Singapore September 20. The entire plane will be decked out in Angry Birds paraphernalia – think game-inspired entertainment, Angry Birds-themed crew uniforms, and a real live Angry Bird – and each seat equipped with a mobile tablet to master the game. When the plane reaches cruising altitude, the Angry Birds Asian Challenge commences; the highest-scoring players, as well the eight Finnair contest winners, advance to the final competition.
Winners receive not only a seat on the Angry Birds flight but also transportation from their home airport to the appropriate destinations; Finnair will also provide accommodations in Helsinki and Singapore, if necessary.
Whether killing time or scrambling to find last-minute souvenirs, most of us are at one time or another saved by airport shopping. Yes, every airport comes with the standard magazine stands and tacky gift shops, but our top 10 airports for shopping take their retail seriously. We’re talking endless duty-free arcades, luxury boutiques galore, and, maybe most notably, small local retailers that supply homegrown items unique to the destination itself. And isn’t that what souvenir shopping is all about? These gateway hubs span the globe, from Portland to Dubai, and offer the traveler more than just a distraction before boarding – they provide a viable (not TSA-related) reason to arrive the recommended three hours before (international) departure time. Get a sneak peek at the goods with our Top 10 Airports for Shopping slideshow, then read our Top 10 Airports for Shopping article to plot your next layover.
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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.
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On Friday, July 23, hundreds of athletes will take to the 1,504 stairs of the Sydney Tower, the second-tallest building in Australia, to see how quickly they can reach the top.
No, they’re not taking part in a reverse fire drill. The event, called the Sydney Tower Run-Up, is part of an emerging trend called vertical running or tower running. The setting? The stairwells of some of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Taipei 101, the Empire State Building and the Sydney Tower.
The effort involved is grueling – the Taipei race, for example, means climbing 2,046 steps – but brief. In Sydney, the average finish time is 15 minutes, though whoever reaches the top the fastest will win an impressive $25,000 prize.
Airlines have been busting out the big guns of late to try and entice travelers to ignore recession woes and instead take advantage of unprecedented offers, particularly to international destinations. A number of carriers have added on free hotel stays, sightseeing packages, daily breakfast, and more, in addition to their competitively priced fares. Case in point: Singapore Airlines has just announced the return of its Fabulous Singapore Stopover.
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