Category Archives: Far East

Discover the Rich Culture of the Philippines

The Philippines has a rich cultural heritage that appeals to travellers of all ages from all different parts of the world. If you are planning a holiday to the Philippines, make sure you explore the many cultural treasures of this country!

Philippines

Baroque Churches of the Philippines

Baroque Churches of the Philippines are a collection of four Spanish Colonial-era baroque churches drawing the attention of the visitors with their unique architecture. The churches were included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1993 and played an important role in the colonial past and identity of the country. Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, Santa Maria Church in Ilocos Sur, San Agustin Church in Manila and Miagao Church in Iloilo are the four Baroque churches visited by a large number of architecture and history lovers.

Historic City of Vigan

Vigan is best known for its preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. Situated on the west coast of Luzon Island, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and is one of the only five heritage sites in the country. Make a visit to the city and go back to the old Spanish colonial days as you explore the cobblestone streets and the ancient houses.

Chocolate Hills in Bohol Island

Chocolate Hills are a geological formation covered in green grass and are named so for its colour during the dry season. They turn brown during the dry season and seem to resemble the famous Hershey’s Kisses chocolates! Scattered across a 50 square kilometre area, these thousands of cone-shaped hills were declared the National Geological Monument of the country by the National Committee on Geological Sciences in 1988.

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras developed 2000 years ago on the island of Luzon. Situated at the foot of the Cordillera mountain ranges, these terraces were named UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 for their cultural importance. The terraces with an altitude of up to 1500 metres and steep slopes of maximum 70 degrees are sure to impress the visitors.

Intramuros in Manila

Situated within the city of Manila, Intramuros is a 0.67 square kilometres historic walled area. Founded in 1571, this ancient walled city takes you back in time to the Spanish colonial period. The city is popular for its cultural performances and historical walking tours, and grabs the attention with its cobblestone streets and conserved ruins and architecture. For a unique experience in the city, you can enjoy a ride on kalesa – horse-drawn calash.

Cultural Charms of Hong Kong: Top 5 Sites to Explore

hong-kong

Along with stunning skyscrapers, magnificent beaches and luxurious shopping malls, Hong Kong is home to an array of cultural treats that can be enjoyed by the holiday makers. From temples and museums to traditional villages and Chinese gardens, there’s a lot to explore here!

Lam Tsuen

Located near Tin Hau Temple, Lam Tsuen is inhabitated for over 700 years. The area has two towering banyan trees which are believed to fulfil wishes of the visitors! Expectedly, a number of people make their way to Lam Tsuen asking for good fortune; the Lunar New Year is the time when Lam Tsuen sees most crowds. Besides, you can explore the unique charm and customs of the surrounding villages.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Displaying the early history, art and culture of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum is a fantastic place to explore. Situated beside the Sing Mun River with greenery all around it, the museum stands on a 7,500 square metre space and features six permanent galleries. The rotating exhibitions including the most interesting Cantonese Opera Hall that boasts a traditional bamboo shed theatre, and hands-on activities offered for the kids are major draws for the museum.

Sam Tung Uk Museum

Offering an insight into the pre-skyrise history of Hong Kong, Sam Tung Uk Museum is a museum restored from a Hakka walled village in Tsuen Wan named Sam Tung Uk. The village was constructed in the 18th century and was later converted into a museum in the 1980s, displaying the non-tangible Chinese heritage and the life of the Hakka people. The museum has been modified with some changes such as a reception area and an exhibition hall. Besides, the preserved ancestral hall and standalone houses from the original architecture of the complex draw the attention of the visitors with traditional furnishings and Hakka equipment on permanent display.

Yim Tin Tsai Village

Situated in Port Shelter, a harbour containing many islands in Sai Kung, Yim Tin Tsai Village is a small offshore island offering a beautiful holiday experience for the visitors. Just a 15-minute boat ride away from Sai Kung, the island was originally inhabited by many Hakka villagers and is also called “Ghost Island”. Ching Po School, converted into a heritage centre, and St Joseph’s Chapel, a Grade III historical building, are the key tourist attractions of the island.

Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre

Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre is an art colony and multi-disciplinary artist centre. It was an industrial estate and reopened as an arts hub in 2008 after a facelift. Boasting studios, galleries and a small-scale theatre, this creative community impresses with workshops, performances, art festivals and exhibitions. Besides, there is a beautiful Heritage Tea House where visitors can enjoy dim sum lunches and premium brews, and learn about the ceremonies of Chinese tea.

5 New Year Celebrations You Should Not Miss in Thailand

thailand

New Year celebration in Thailand can be a grand affair. Read on and find out about the best New Year festivities in Thailand in 2019!

The Bangkok Countdown Party

Considered one of the top 10 New Year’s Eve parties in the world, the Bangkok Countdown Party, for many, is the best New Year event in Thailand. Make way to Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, close to CentralWorld on New Year’s Eve and enjoy high-energy concerts, magical fireworks, live worldwide broadcasts and pyro artwork. The party starts around 18:30.

Street Party at Khao San Road, Bangkok

Street Party

Bangkok is popular for its street parties and Khao San Road is the place to enjoy the best of it. New Year’s Eve is always a big event here, with live music, street dancing, drinks and a lot more. Have a time of your life grooving to your favourite beats from dusk till dawn as you welcome the New Year! This party is the perfect fit for backpackers and those who like to meet young strangers from all over the world.

Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan

If you are a beach bum, this is the place for you to be on New Year’s Eve! Every year, hundreds of party lovers head to Hat Rin Beach on the island of Koh Phangan and attend the vivacious full moon parties on New Year’s Eve. The party begins when the round moon makes its appearance over the beach; thousands of lamps lighten up the entire place. You can grab a drink, dance like crazy or sit and relax in the warm sands to make the most of New Year’s Eve!

Entertainment and BBQ on Surin Beach, Phuket

Gear up for the biggest New Year party in Phuket! Phuket has always been the party capital of Thailand and Surin Beach is the ideal spot to ring in the New Year. If you are a foodie, you can enjoy the best buffets with a spread of local and international cuisines at the restaurants here. Besides, you can get down to Bangla Road, close to the beach, and take delight in the pulsating nightlife of the area.

Celebrations at Loy Nava River Cruise

Loy Nava River Cruise is a top choice for a romantic escapade. These cruises take you on a luxury journey through the Thai culture. If you are flying to Thailand with your partner for New Year celebrations, plan a cruise on the historic teakwood rice barge on the Chao Phraya River and have an experience of a lifetime! A candlelit dinner under artificial lights and twinkling stars will turn the celebration into a magical date night for you!

Street Shopping in Hong Kong – Visit 5 Most Popular Street Markets

Besides being home to the famous Disneyland, Ocean Park and Lantau Island, Hong Kong is also known as a shoppers’ paradise with a wide array of shopping malls and street markets.

shopping

But it is the street shopping in Hong Kong that promises the most exciting experience to shoppers who visit this former British Colony from all over the world.

Temple Street Market

The largest night market in Hong Kong, Temple Street Market is not just a terrific place to buy interesting stuff but also an exciting spot to spend some beautiful evenings. This 600-metre long, lively market lies in Kowloon, just one block west from Jordan MTR Station. From fake label clothing, watches and footwear to cooking ware and household items, you can shop for all kinds of stuff here. Moreover, you can enjoy delicious street food at this market.

Ladies Market

Ladies Market boasts of three parallel streets and is always teeming with tourists. Located close to the MTR Station, it is a busy shopping street with a number stalls, selling clothes, footwear, fashion jewellery, souvenirs and trinkets. Don’t let the name of the market fool you, there’s plenty of stuff for men and kids too! Do try street food snacks such as fish balls, won ton noodles and crepes while here.

Jade Market

The biggest outdoor market in Kowloon, Jade Market is a jewellery wholesale and retail area, popular among tourists as well as locals. You can buy jade, pearls, semi-pearls in all sizes, shapes and forms – be it in the form of jewellery, little statues, carvings or chops. Located between the Jordan MTR and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations, the market is a must visit for anyone who has a fondness for the glittering stones!

Stanley Market

An erstwhile fishing village, Stanley Market is an ideal place to enjoy the cultural charms of Hong Kong. Situated in south Hong Kong Island, near the beach, the market is famed for selling art and crafts, calligraphy paintings, faux-antiques and a wide array of other souvenirs. Besides shopping, you can enjoy a stroll along the beach and take delight in the beautiful surroundings of the place. Also, there are different restaurants and bars in the area – where you can enjoy the local favourites!

Jardine’s Crescent Market

Jardine’s Crescent Market is a roadside market that appeals mostly to teens and young adults. Like the Ladies Market, the place offers fashion products, ranging from apparel and socks to accessories, watches and knick-knacks. Indeed, a visit to Causeway Bay is not complete without unravelling what Jardine’s Crescent Market has to offer!

Five Places to Eat at in the Vegetarians’ Paradise, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

With Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi being done to dust, travellers are seeking unexplored locations that still retain the original charm of Thailand. The laid-back Chiang Mai, with its stunning architecture, lush countryside and ancient temples fits the bill perfectly. What is even more exciting about Chiang Mai is that the city is taking active steps towards sustainable tourism, including the opening of a great variety of vegetarian restaurants serving a range of local and international delicacies in an environment-friendly way.

Here are our top picks for places to eat at in Chiang Mai, if you are a vegetarian:

Pun Pun

Its name translating to ‘Thousand Varieties’ , the Pun Pun restaurant serves organic fare aimed towards sustainability. Owned by Jon Jondai of the eponymous organic farm, the restaurant serves an array of popular Thai dishes, including some of the classics that you won’t find elsewhere in the town. Featuring a huge courtyard underneath a Boddhi tree and set against the stunning backdrop of Wat Suan Dok temple, the ambiance of Pun Pun restaurant  impresses as much as the food. Patrons visiting the restaurant will shell out between £O.84-1 for most dishes.

Beetroot Stories

Sitting in the busy courtyard of the Kad Klang Wiang Plaza, Beetroot Stories has perfected a range of popular vegetarian Thai dishes, western cuisine, breakfasts, fresh salads and sandwiches. The restaurant’s name owes inspiration to ample representation of beetroot on its menu, especially amongst salads and juices. Trying to make patrons eat healthy, the restaurant ensures that all its rice dishes are served with brown rice. Don’t go missing the sumptuous smoothies on offer especially the chocolate banana coconut or peanut butter banana chocolate smoothies.

AUM

One of the oldest vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai, AUM has a base of loyal followers who keep coming back here for its home-style fare. The feeling of eating at home is emphasised by floor seating arrangements for which you will have to remove your shoes and sit on cushions on the floor. The restaurant has an extensive menu featuring some great Thai dishes as well as western fare. Fried pumpkin with mushrooms and tempeh is a must-try as is vegan and vegetarian sushi. Those looking forward to eating healthy can consider sweet potato or steamed tofu.

Dada Kafe

Erring on the right side of healthy, the Dada Kafe serves a plethora of local delicacies along with a range of western dishes. You will only have to walk a few steps from the popular Tha Pae Gate on Ratmakka Road to reach to a stunning site –flowers hanging from baskets and reaching the road and a row of colourful lights, making the restaurant stand-out. If you are susceptible to hot weather, please know that the restaurant is not air-conditioned. Some of the dishes that you can’t leave the restaurant without trying include ‘Carpaccio’ of pineapple, basil and ice cream, fried potato & cheese balls, avocado on toast or fried breaded tofu balls. The smoothie selection of the restaurant is massive and has a match to all kinds of temperaments and moods.

Khun Churn

Khun Churn brings the food dreams of ardent vegetarians alive by offering a delectable all-you-can eat buffet. The buffet features a range of soups, a huge salad bar, Khao Soi, tofu and grilled vegetables, various rice and noodles dishes and a large selection of herbal teas and fresh fruit water. Savour mixed mushrooms and coloured bell peppers stir fried in a light chili-based prik pao, with the side of authentic brown rice as well as kanom jeen gaeng het, or soft rice noodles covered in mushroom curry to have a burst of flavours in your mouth.

5 of the Most Beautiful Archaeological Sites in Bali

Along with beautiful beaches and rich cultural traditions, Bali is popular for its ancient archaeological sites reflecting traces of the old Hindu civilisation.

bali

If you are holidaying in Bali and would like to take a break from the beaches and astonish the history buff in you, you can explore these prominent, ancient archaeological sites:

Gunung Kawi

Snuggled amidst the picturesque, natural landscape of Tampaksiring, Gunung Kawi is a lovely temple and funerary complex built in 11th century. Consisting of 10 rock-cut shrines, it is where the local Hindus visit and pay homage to their gods and ancestors. It overlooks the Pakerisan River and to reach it, you will pass through beautiful rice terraces and lush foliage. Portraying the mystique of ancient legends and long lost tales of the forgotten Balinese kings, this archaeological site attracts many history buffs from all corners of the world.

Goa Gajah

Also known as Elephant Cave, Goa Gajah was built in the 9th century as a meditation site near Ubud. One of the major attractions of Ubud, it is where you can learn about the history of the region and explore distinctive, appealing sites. The relic-filled courtyard, central meditation cave, rock-wall carvings and a pool are all terrific attractions to explore in Goa Gajah.

Ulun Danu Beratan

Situated on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains close to Bedugul, Ulun Danu Beratan is a floating temple and a popular scenic landmark. Built in 1633, the place saw offering ceremonies to the Balinese lake, water and river goddess Dewi Danu. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvathi, the 11-storey pelinggih meru is a sight to behold in the temple.

Pura Kebo Edan

Famed as the “Temple of the Crazy Buffalo”, Pura Kebo Edan is situated in Pejeng Village of Tampaksiring. This temple is popular among tourists as well as locals for its 3m-high statue called the “Giant of Pejeng”. It got its name from one of the most legendary ancient local figures, Kebo Edan, and attracts visitors with a number of century-old statues including the most prominent Ciwa Bhairawa statue that features the shape of a male human body, and is considered a true portrayal of God Shiva.

Yeh Pulu

With the stunning natural setting of Batulumbang village in Bedulu, Yeh Pulu is a fascinating archaeological site housing the longest sequence of rock relief panels in Bali. The 25m-long range of carvings imprinted into a rock face are a treat for the explorers whereas the fresh air and green paddies make it an ideal relaxing spot for all. A walk through a lush forest trail, freshwater springs and rice fields takes you to this site. The carvings, representing the Hindu gods and the mythological wayang or shadow puppet characters, appeal to all.

Visit Vietnam and Explore Some of its Charming Villages

vietnam

While the beaches, rivers, bustling cities and the Buddhist pagodas make Vietnam one of the best tourist destinations in Asia, the small villages across the nation surprise you with their exquisite old-world charm and tranquil beauty. Take a look at some of them and explore them during your next trip to Vietnam:

Duong Lam Ancient Village (Hanoi)

Loved for its architectural beauty, Duong Lam Ancient Village is situated 45kms west of the centre of Hanoi. With the original structure boasting banyan tree, communal house, water well, and rice fields, the village is home to many typical Vietnamese traditional houses, reflecting the best of the country’s history and culture. Enjoy one-day walking tour through the village and take in the mesmerising beauty of the place.

Vung Vieng Fishing Village (Halong Bay)

Lying in the heart of Bai Tu Long Bay, Vung Vieng Fishing Village is one of the four fishing villages in Halong Bay. It is a peaceful haven where you can explore the cultural life of the fishermen and learn the art of sailing and casting fish nets. The enchanting views of the boats, simple and hospitable fishermen, the pretty houses with hanging nets and the smiling faces of the children are some of the endearing highlights of the place.

Lat Village/ Chicken Village (Da Lat)

Named after a 15-feet tall chicken statue it houses, Chicken Village lies about 10 miles outside Dalat City Centre. Also called the Lat Village, it is home to the Lat ethnic minority, presenting a true glimpse into the life of the locals. The tribes here love to practise traditional silk weaving and textiling; you can purchase some of their best crafts to take back home as souvenirs. Moreover, the location of the village at the foot of Langbiang Mountain makes it a perfect relaxing haven for the nature lovers visiting Vietnam.

Cam Thanh Eco Village (Hoi An)

Lying between Hoi An town and Cua Dai Beach, Cam Thanh Eco Village is a tranquil oasis hidden amidst picturesque coconut forest. You can relax peacefully in the lap of nature, ride a bike and explore the daily life of locals. Besides, you can choose to discover the palm-flanked waterways on a round fishing boat!

Pom Coong Village (Mai Chau)

Nestled in the mountains of northern Vietnam, Pom Coong Village is a small village with a lush landscape and relaxing atmosphere in Mai Chau, a 4-hour drive from Hanoi. Inhabited mostly by the Thais, most houses in this village are open for home stays for the tourists. Spend a day here and enjoy traditional music performances, buy souvenirs, and enjoy regional specialities.

Top Kid-friendly Tourist Attractions in Singapore

Singapore

Singapore is a beautiful, kid-friendly destination where you can enjoy several amazing experiences with your little ones. Read on to learn about few of them!

Night Safari

This could be an exciting experience for your kids! The night safari in Singapore is a great opportunity for visitors to spot nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. It would not only mean entertainment but also education.  As many as 2,500 animals from over 130 species can be spotted here. Surely, you are going to create memories of a lifetime here.

Sentosa Island

This is a man-made island where fun never stops. Resorts World, Universal Studios Singapore, Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore Butterfly & Insect Kingdom are some of the attractions here, promising you and your kids a delightful time in Singapore. SEA Aquarium, one of the largest collections of aquatic animals in the world, is another terrific attraction that’s much loved by families.

Jurong Bird Park

How about having a relaxing time, just sitting in a park and watching birds? The Jurong Bird Park is the perfect place to spot birds of different species from across the world. The children will definitely love it. Some of the major attractions of this place are Southeast Asian Birds Aviary, African Waterfall Aviary, and Bird Discovery Centre and so on.

Ethnic Quarters

This is another Singaporean offering that you and your kids can enjoy together. China Town, Little India and Kampong Glam are some of the places you can visit, try different local delicacies and street food, and become a part of art performances on the streets as well as shopping. From windup toy phones to aromatic spices, there is so much to experience here; it will be like a fair for the children, you must not miss it!

Battlebox

The Battlebox is one of the major tourist attractions in Singapore! It is a huge bunker located 9 meters below ground in Fort Canning Park and features 2 entrances, 27 rooms and a cat ladder escape hatch. Entrance to the Battlebox is via a guided tour only. This historical place will definitely intrigue the kids and give them something to talk about after the holiday is over and they are back to school.

Botanical gardens

Singapore is one of the greenest, most eco friendly places in Asia, and there are several beautiful botanical gardens in the city you can visit with your kids. Admire the beauty of the nature, with countless types of plants and flowers. Also, there are mesmerizing fish ponds where the kids can feed the fish. Imagine a serene escape from the madness of your busy life, enjoying a quiet time with your friends and family.

The Beautiful Bali Promises Many Delightful Experiences

The most popular place to visit in Indonesia, Bali is known all over the world, for being the perfect holiday destination. People visit here from all parts of the world to witness the beautiful landscapes and to enjoy the warm hospitality that includes of luxury stays, terrific spa treatments and exotic food and drinks. Here, have a look at some of the best things you can do in Bali.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu-Temple

Situated 250 feet above the Indian Ocean, this temple is one of the most spectacular places you will ever visit. It literally means the rock on the top. Devotees and tourists visit here from all over, to admire the artistic architecture and historical value of the place. The walk up to the temple is tricky and one needs to be really careful where they step. It is a hike in itself and visitors can have a great time here.

Kintamani and Mount Batur

One of the highpoints of your trip to Bali is going to be the live volcano sighting. It is a popular trek and people from across the world become a part of this once in a lifetime experience. The road downhill will lead you to naturally occurring hot springs which are a famous highlight of this area as well. There are three main villages in the locality namely Batur, Kintamani and Penelokan. Batur Caldera Lake is an amazing place to spend some time with friends and family.

Bali Marine Park and Safari

This is the perfect day out activity with your friends and family. Exploring the wildlife on the island in the best way possible, you can try the safari that takes you through dense 60-acre forests where you witness a host of animals in their natural habitat such as Himalayan bears, African Hippos, Indian White Tigers, ostriches, baboons, zebras, camels and so on. Similarly you will also be able to witness aquatic animals.

Ubud Art Market

Indonesia is famous for its art and handicrafts and you shouldn’t leave without admiring some of them and maybe even taking some home. The Ubud Art Market is known to have an amazing display of local paintings, wall hangings, jewellery, silk scarves and bags. Apart from being a proud owner of such fine work of local artists, you can also help spread the word about them to the world.

Goa Gajah

This beautiful archaeological site remains the must visit site here. It is a meditational cave, with fountains and bathing pools here. The sculptures in the cave and the inscriptions on the walls are majestic and people visit from all over the world to appreciate them.

Top 5 Traditional Festivals You Must Be Part of in Vietnam

vietnam

Vietnam is fast emerging as an interesting and popular travel destination in Asia, inviting an increasing number of nature lovers, pilgrims and history buffs every year. While bustling cities, beaches, rivers and Buddhist pagodas are all major lures for the tourists, some of the festivals, reflecting the rich history and culture of the country, are inviting too.

Hoi An Full Moon Festival

Hoi An Full Moon Festival is held on every 14th day of the lunar month in Hoi An’s ancient town, a UNESCO World Heritage site on Vietnam’s central coast. During the festival, the town bans the road traffic and turns into a huge performance venue with the streets illuminated with plenty of colourful lanterns. This festival aims to preserve traditions that were practised during the Nguyen Dynasty and it amazes visitors with many cultural events, old-fashioned games and performances for a week.

Lim Festival

Held in Lim village, few kilometres from Hanoi, Lim Festival takes place on 13th day of the first lunar month, every year. The festival amazes you with a number of exquisite dance performances by Quan Ho, a UNESCO recognised tribe; the traditional costumes and dragon boats are a treat to watch during the celebrations. Besides, visitors can enjoy playing games such as tug-of-war, cockfighting, wrestling, human chess, and Danh du (bamboo swings).

Perfume Pagoda Festival

The most popular Buddhist pilgrimage site in Hanoi, Perfume Pagoda is a group of sacred caves where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit every year to welcome a happy and prosperous year. The Perfume Pagoda Festival begins from the 6th day of the first month and lasts till the end of third month of the lunar calendar. It is a place that not just welcomes pilgrims but also nature lovers all throughout the year who come to take delight in its terrific landscape.

Thay Pagoda Festival

A joint festival of four villages, Thay Pagoda festival is celebrated in Thay Village located at the foot of Sai Son Mountain. It takes place on the 5th-7th days of the 3rd lunar month and is celebrated to worship a Buddhist monk who became a popular king. The festival begins with a religious performance supported by traditional music, and amazes with its famous water puppet show and numerous games played here.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Also called Moon Festival, Lantern Festival, Reunion Festival and Children’s Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the biggest holidays in Vietnam. It is held in the eighth lunar month and is famed for various activities such as lion dances, children carrying paper lanterns and food booths selling sticky rice, fruits, moon cakes and various other sweets. The festival draws families from all corners of the world.