Asia

Find Inner Peace in Kyoto Without Worrying About the Cost

Posted August 4, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Kyoto Kyoto combines Old World traditions with modern-day conveniences, making it an ideal place to immerse yourself in both sides of Japanese culture. Take a stroll along the famous Philosopher's Path exploding with cherry blossoms in the spring, brew your own green tea, and relax in a traditional Japanese-style inn. Plus, you don't have to spend a fortune to experience true Zen.

Play
Tetsugaku-no-michi Street (Philosopher's Path): Follow in the footsteps of many famous philosophers, including the well-known Nishida Kitaro, who have come here to contemplate the meaning of life. The path runs alongside a canal between the Ginkaku-ji Temple and the Nyakuoji Bridge, and passes two lesser-known temples. Each spring, Mother Nature covers the walkway with canopies of white cherry blossoms, making it quite the sight to behold. It's free to wander and be one with your thoughts.

Shop
Ippodo Tea Company: With nearly three centuries of expertise in blending and selling high-grade Japanese green teas, Ippodo is the place to go for a lesson in tea-ology. Choose from 40 different types of green tea in the Kaboku tearoom and a salesclerk will show you how to steep it properly. You can also buy loose-leaf teas to take home with you. Teas start around 400 yen (about $4.63 US; check XE.com for current exchange rates).

Stay
Yachiyo Ryokan: The Yachiyo Ryokan may be more expensive than other area hotels, but experiencing the tradition and tranquility of Japanese culture is priceless. Once you arrive, you can put on the yukata (kimono-style robe) in your room, and then wander the lush gardens and enjoy the views of the Higashiyama mountains. Guestrooms in the Honkan building are designed to replicate tea ceremony rooms, with lanterns as the only source of light. You can also find more modern accommodations in the newer Shinkan building.

To search for flights and compare prices to Osaka, which is home to Kyoto’s closest international airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Kyoto Convention Bureau/Japan National Tourist Organization)

Escape From Reality on Boracay Island

Posted May 19, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Boracay Boracay Island is the ultimate beach getaway destination. With four miles of white sands beckoning, the area has been called "the finest beach in the world." Plenty of water sports keep visitors occupied, while relaxing massages and a hot nightlife provide ways to unwind after a long day scuba diving. Located in the Philippines, this Pacific island paradise is just what the doctor ordered for a fun-filled escape from the mundane.

Drink
Jonah's Fruit Shake & Snack Bar: Milkshakes are the name of the game at Jonah's, though food offerings are also available. The popular eatery offers sunset views, on-the-beach seating, and more than 40 tempting concoctions, making it nearly impossible to choose a favorite. So sit back, relax, and try a Banana Peanut, a Pineapple Lemon, or Strawberry Mango fruit shake. The frothy treats start at PHP 75 (about $1.65, see xe.com for current conversion rates).

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Malay, the closest major airport, from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: permanently scatterbrained via Flickr. CC Attribution. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamagenious/)

Explore Hong Kong's Many Sides

Posted May 3, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Hong Kong Hong Kong is a city of opposites. More than seven million people live within the city limits, yet the outlying islands and surrounding rural areas are known for their peaceful serenity. Although Cantonese is spoken by most people, English is also widely understood. And shoppers can find high-end boutiques as well as bargains at local markets. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Hong Kong has something to fit the bill.

Eat
City Hall Chinese Restaurant: If you’re looking to try some local cuisine in Hong Kong, then there’s no better place to go than City Hall Chinese Restaurant. One of the city’s most famous dim sum restaurants, the second-floor eatery has earned its reputation for a reason. Traditional carts are still used here, unlike many Hong Kong restaurants, so you can see what’s offered before you commit to dishes.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Hong Kong from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: iStockphoto/hippostudio)

Get Back to Nature in Bali

Posted April 28, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Bali At just over 2,000 square miles, Bali is a concentrated island that is easy to explore. Tropical flowers, six volcanoes, and crater lakes contribute to the beautiful landscape, and keep visitors coming back again and again. Eco-tourism is a popular reason to visit Bali, and travelers can go scuba diving to see the native sea life, or head to the top of Kintamani Volcano. White and black sand beaches can both be found on the shoreline, enticing tourists from around the world.

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Elephant Safari Park: Get up close and personal with these gentle giants at the Elephant Safari Park. You can learn more about the animals by looking at the museum’s elephant collection, plus see the only Mammoth skeleton in Southeast Asia. Then, watch elephants swimming in the lake or even feed them during meal time. And if you’re brave enough, perch atop an elephant for a ride through the Taro forest. Admission to the park costs $16 for adults and safari rides cost $45; but if you purchase both together, you’ll save 50 percent off the cost of admission.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Bali from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: iStockphoto/James Rangihika) 

Air New Zealand Introduces Love at 35,000 Feet

Posted July 17, 2009 by Katie Blais


Planeheart_formatted As a single gal I'll admit, at times the dating game can be a little daunting. Those magical moments of meeting someone by accidentally grabbing the same gallon of milk at the grocery store or randomly sitting next to a handsome, rich, smart, funny, well dressed, and single stranger during your plane ride seems to only happen in movies.

Air New Zealand is hoping to change all that--well, at least the plane scenario; if you're on the prowl at the deli counter, you're still on your own. My favorite Kiwi airline is offering a match-making flight complete with special guest stars Jason Mesnick and his gal pal Molly Malaney from The Bachelor. Will there be a rose ceremony in place of the usual in-flight movie, or at the very least some tips for finding the guy or gal of your dreams, maybe right after the in-flight safety talk? I'm rooting for it.

Hopeful singles should book a round-trip flight for September 19, 2009, departing from Los Angeles (LAX) and landing in Auckland the next morning. Book by July 19 and you'll receive $200 off your ticket. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to find your soul mate in the friendly (or, in some cases, maybe even frisky) skies, you can still use your cheap flight to New Zealand to check out all it has to offer, culturally and romantically. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your match during your stay! All the better if he looks like Bret from Flight of the Conchords!

(photo: www.dailymail.uk)

Around the World in 80 Tweets

Posted April 3, 2009 by Katie Blais

Twitter_fail_whale Truly a tale for these times. British traveler Paul Smith has completed a trip around the world solely using the good will of others on Twitter. While most people use Twitter to stalk their favorite celebs or tell everyone they are stuck in traffic on their way to work, Smith decided to use it for a good cause, helping him get from London to New Zealand all while raising around $7,000 for his water charity. The rules were that he couldn’t plan anything more than three days in advance, he couldn’t stay in any destination longer than 48 hours, and it had to come from one of his friends on Twitter.  

At the end of his journey (he was just shy of his final destination of World Heritage Site Campbell Island because the next ferry doesn’t depart until November), Paul had 11,000 followers on Twitter and had gained enough media attention that he was able to score a free flight to New Zealand and got his picture taken with Liv Tyler—not too shabby if you ask me!

It makes me want to use my Facebook and Twitter accounts for than just posting pictures from last weekend’s shenanigans and picking my top five favorite cartoons.

Find Inner Peace in Kyoto Without Worrying About the Cost

Posted April 2, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Japan-Kyoto-Cherry-DEF Kyoto combines Old World traditions with modern-day conveniences, making it an ideal place to immerse yourself in both sides of Japanese culture. Take a stroll along the famous Philosopher's Path exploding with cherry blossoms in the spring, brew your own green tea, and relax in a traditional Japanese-style inn. Plus, you don't have to spend a fortune to experience true Zen.

Play
Tetsugaku-no-michi Street (Philosopher's Path): Follow in the footsteps of many famous philosophers, including the well-known Nishida Kitaro, who have come here to contemplate the meaning of life. The path runs alongside a canal between the Ginkaku-ji Temple and the Nyakuoji Bridge, and passes two lesser-known temples. Each spring, Mother Nature covers the walkway with canopies of white cherry blossoms, making it quite the sight to behold. It's free to wander and be one with your thoughts.

Shop
Ippodo Tea Company: With nearly three centuries of expertise in blending and selling high-grade Japanese green teas, Ippodo is the place to go for a lesson in tea-ology. Choose from 40 different types of green tea in the Kaboku tearoom and a salesclerk will show you how to steep it properly. You can also buy loose-leaf teas to take home with you. Teas start around 400 yen (about $4 US; check XE.com for current exchange rates) for 20-gram bags.

Stay
Yachiyo Ryokan: The Yachiyo Ryokan may be more expensive than other area hotels, but experiencing the tradition and tranquility of Japanese culture is priceless. Once you arrive, you can put on the yukata (kimono-style robe) in your room, and then wander the lush gardens and enjoy the views of the Higashiyama mountains. Guestrooms in the Honkan building are designed to replicate tea ceremony rooms, with lanterns as the only source of light. You can also find more modern accommodations in the newer Shinkan building.

To search for flights and compare prices to Osaka, which is home to Kyoto’s closest international airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Kyoto Convention Bureau/Japan National Tourist Organization)

Find Inner Peace at Low Prices in Bangkok

Posted February 27, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Bangkok-RecliningBuddha-DEF As a major metropolis, Bangkok is always on the move. However, you can slow down its pace by meditating alongside a gigantic Buddha, dining at a riverside restaurant, and staying in a hotel designed to help you relax. Plus, at the low prices you'll find throughout Bangkok, you can check "worrying about money" off your travel list.

Play
Wat Pho: The Wat Pho temple is many different things to many different people. Some come to sit in the tranquil courtyard, others come for treatments at the massage school. Most, however, show up to view or meditate by the 150-foot long, 49-foot high reclining gold Buddha. There is a minimal admission fee to enter, but you can spend all day on the grounds.

Eat
Khinlom Chomsaphan: As you enter Khinlom Chomsaphan, you're greeted by large aquariums filled with live fish that may end up as your dinner. Grab a seat outside on the wooden terrace overlooking the Chaophraya River, and enjoy views of the Rama Seven Bridge. You can choose from a range of seafood options, including charcoal-grilled crab and lobsters. Live music plays nightly until 2 a.m.

Stay
Phranakorn Nornlen Hotel: Though there may be cheaper places to stay in Bangkok, Phranakorn Nornlen Hotel provides an oasis in the city for prices that are far more affordable than other big city hotels. Try a traditional Thai massage given by the professional in-house masseuse for 300 baht per hour, or relax in the open-air living space known as the "sala" where "slow life" is key. Double rooms start at 2,200 baht, or about $61 U.S., per night (check XE.com for current exchange rates).

To search for flights and compare prices to Bangkok, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Maureen Roihl)

The World's Top 10 Vertigo-Inducing Attractions

Posted April 3, 2008 by Zak Patten

If you're a traveler like me, your typical vacation will include a trip up to a scenic lookout where you're likely to have the best view of the place you're visiting. And if you're a big wuss like me, as soon as you get to the most scenic vantage point, your knees will start wobbling and you'll grip the handrail with vise-like intensity/strength, thinking, "I could've gotten this view from a postcard in the lobby!" For those of you who like the idea (if not necessarily the reality) of a great view, I've put together the following list of 10 attractions, each of which is extremely nosebleed-friendly.

10. The CN Tower

The CN Tower is 553 meters tall, which is a Canadian way of saying 1,815 feet off the ground. Technically, it's the "tallest free-standing structure on land," but that just means it's not a place where people live or work. Which is just fine by me, because I have absolutely no interest in living or working anyplace higher than my third-floor bedroom or fourth-floor office. The CN Tower was completed in 1973 and is used primarily for TV and radio broadcasts, as well as tourism. Fans of 1940s music will be dismayed to learn that there is no AM antenna on the Tower.

Vertigocntowersunsetweb
Overcompensate much?

9. The Jungfraujoch Railway Station

What do you get when you cross the Swiss Alps with Europe's love of passenger trains? The Jungfraujoch railway station, which is 11,333 feet above sea level. Okay, that's not much of a joke, but the Swiss aren't known for their sense of humor (kidding!). So once you've made this hair-raising train trip to the top of the world, what can you do besides gorging on Swiss chocolate and fondue? How about checking out an Ice Palace or a ski and snowboard park that's only open in the summer?

Vertigojungfraujochwebshopped_2
om nom nom

8. Mt. Kilimanjaro

For number eight, let's take this a notch higher. It's true that Mt. Kilimanjaro makes the Alps look puny. But with a summit of 19,340 feet, Africa's tallest peak is actually accessible enough for real people to climb, sans oxygen tanks. Of course that's not to say it's an easy task, especially if you're the type who favors the escalator to the stairs.

Vertigokilimanjaroweb_2shopped
Floor 5895: Neon hiking gear and ridiculous hats

7. London Eye

Coming back a little closer to earth, the London Eye is essentially a big ol' Ferris wheel. If that doesn't wow you, consider that the 443-foot-tall ride was the tallest of its kind when it opened in 2000. If you want to make your visit more upscale, you can purchase a glass of Champagne for an additional £30. I think I'll pass on the pricey drink. I'll be happy just to hold down my lunch while in one of the pods.

Vertigolondoneyewebkittie
OH NOES!

6. Singapore Flyer

With about 100 more vertical feet than the London Eye, The Singapore Flyer took the role of world's highest Ferris wheel when it opened this month. One of the coolest things about the Flyer is its taxi-driver promotion, which currently awards all cabbies a free ride. I guess the idea is they'll be so taken with their trip that they won't be able to stop talking up the attraction to their customers. I'm assuming they're not trying to recruit the drivers to be "pod pilots." Just one warning to those who do take the Flyer: Don't write your name in your cabin. They're not big fans of graffiti in Singapore.

Singaporenightshopped4
Never Forget: Michael P. Fay

5. The Top of the Rock

The Empire State Building is great, but it's soooo 20th century. For the latest in Big Apple views, you gotta hit the Top of the Rock. The "Rock" in question is Rockefeller Center, and while its 850-foot-high observation deck doesn't reach the Empire State Building's height, , this deck affords a much better view of the ESB than you'll get when you're standing on the building itself. Oh, and our sister site TripAdvisor's users rank the Top of the Rock number one of 1,296 New York City attractions. 'Nuff said.

Vertigotopoftherockweb
Hey, is that Tina Fey? Let's not forget her either.

4. La Paz

Just about any spot in La Paz, Bolivia, the world's highest capital city, can make the most grounded person feel as if his head is in the clouds. At 11,942 feet in elevation, La Paz is an attraction in itself. If you go, make sure you're prepared for the altitude. You can take a medicine such as Diamox, or just chew some coca leaves like the locals. La Paz's Museum of the Coca Plant is the place to learn more about the coca leaf and all its interesting uses.

Cocacat
im in ur bolivia sniffin ur cokez

3. The Edge

It might be in Melbourne, Australia, but there is nothing "Down Under" about The Edge, a glass cube that juts out of the Eureka Tower, which at 975 feet is the world's tallest residential building. The worst … er, best part of it all is that The Edge doesn't just sit there like all the other observation decks. No, you get in and it physically moves outward until you're hanging out with nothing between you and a long fall but some chintzy glass panel. 

Vertigoskydecktheedgeweb_2shopped
Hello, Hello. I'm at a place called Vertigo.

2. Taipei 101

The Taipei 101 is currently the world's tallest building at a height of 1,670 feet, though the Burj Dubai is set to overtake that record when it officially opens. At that height, I'm really not interested in which one is taller, but rather how the hell I can get down safely. What I think is coolest about the 101 is not just its height, but how big it is relative to the buildings around it. It's as if former NBA big man Manute Bol decided to show up and play pickup hoops with you and your friends. Basically, the Taipei 101 doesn't care about its neighboring skyscrapers—it's going to dunk on their asses.

Vertigotaipei101webshopped
Manute enlarged to show texture.

1. Insanity, the Ride

Which brings us to number one. Yes, Insanity, the Ride, at Las Vegas' Stratosphere, is not only the most vertigo-inducing attraction in the world, it's probably the most wetting-your-pants/barfing-your-guts-out one as well. The casino-hotel stands 1,149 feet above The Strip, which is what you'll be gaping down at as you are spun at three-Gs by a "massive mechanical arm" extended 64 feet out from the building. I can barely even look at the picture below without feeling queasy.

Manutebucket
Serving suggestion, some assembly required, ManuteBucketTM not included.

Continental Airlines and Guam Celebrate 40th Anniversary

Posted March 12, 2008 by SmarterTravel.com

Guambbqweb Continental Airlines lists four airports as its hubs: Newark (EWR), Houston (IAH), Cleveland (CLE), and—drumroll, please—Guam (GUM)!  In fact, Continental just celebrated its 40th anniversary of service to Guam!

To honor the occasion, I thought I'd let you in on some fun travel and tourism tidbits about Guam.  Did you know:

  • The CIA’s 2007 population estimate for Guam was 173,456?
  • That Guam is home to an airport with an unpaved runway (and four with paved ones)?
  • Three decent malls (Micronesia Mall, Guam Premier Outlets, and Agana Shopping Center) are responsible for a large portion of Guam’s tourism and economy?
  • Craigslist is even available in Guam?
  • Flights to Guam represented just 0.03% of all BookingBuddy user searches in February?
  • According to the same data, Las Vegas is the 10th most popular departure airport for flights to Guam?
  • The Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans, lists “Fish, Chilled, Fresh, Frozen, Dried, and Salted” as the number one commodity for the last half of 2007 to the tun[a] of $12.9 million?
  • The supposed wreckage site of Oceanic Flight 815 from the television series Lost is only a mere 2,514 miles away from Guam? (Lost theorists … GO!)

Okay, that was REALLY random (yet Guamtastic).


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