Saturday, June 23, 2012

10 EASY TRIPS

The imposing Sigiriya is a Unesco 8th Wonder of the World

Executive summary by darmansjah

Skin in Niseko, cruise around Halong Bay and catch the colours of Sinulog in Cebu


Colombo , Srilandka

Why Go Now. Visit Sri Lanka this February and luxuriate in cool, post-monsoon climate in the glorius ancient city of Sigiriya, a spectacular pre-historic fortress built by King kashyapa in the 5th century. An astonishing feat of engineering and construction, the Sigiriya fortress complex consists of an imposing flat topped rock formation that rises 200 meters above the surrounding plains, two rectangular precincts on the east and west that houses terraced gardens and monumental remains, surrounded by two moats and three ramparts. The Sigiriya rock, or Lion Rock, is one of the greatest archaeological legacies in the world. At its summit you’ll find King Kashyapa’s fourtified palace with its ruined buildings, cisterns and rock sculptures.

For the ultimate photo opportunity, don’t miss  ‘The Sigiriya Damsels’, a sheltered gallery of frescoes painted on the sheer rock face. These heavenly maidens are similar in style to the paintings of Ajantha in India and are still in remarkably good for a bird’s eye view of the ancient fortress’ regal architecture bathing in the breathtaking Ceylonese sunset.

How Do I Make It Happen. Srilanka Airlines (srilanka.lk) flies direct to Bandaranaike Airport in Colombo from Singapore and KL. From Singapore, direct flights to Colombo are also available from Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com), Emirates (emirates.com) and Singapore airlines (singaporeair.com). AirAsia (airasia.com) and Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) fly direct from KL.

Casa Colombo Hotel is located in central Colombo, close to the Sinhalese Sports Club and Sri Lanka National Museum. This five-star property offers secretarial services, an outdoor and indoor pool, a psa tub, a fitness facility, and high-speed internet access. *(from US$200; cascolombo.com)


Cebu Philipines

Over a hundred islets with sandy beaches and pristine clear waters surround the urbanized metropolitan city of Cebu-allowing visitors to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Come January, Cebu City celebrates one of the grandest festivals in the country, the Sinulog Festival. This annual feast of colours commemorates the Cebuano people’s pagan origin and their acceptance of Roman Catholicsm. Sinulog’s name is derived from the Ceubono adver “sulog” which roughly means “like water current movement” describing the unique forward backward movement of the Sinulog dance that is on proud display throughout the festival Celebrations last for nine days and culminates on the final day, 15 January this year, with a grand parade that boasts street party bands, jubilant dances and music, colourful processions, and brilliant fireworks in the evening (sinulog.ph).

 colourful and elaborate costumes and enthusiastic dancing are the main spectacle of sinulog
Cebu Pacific (cebupacificair.com), silair (silkair.com) and Tiger Airways (tigeraiways.com) have direct flights from Singapore Changi Airport to Mactan-Cebu International Airport. From Kuala lUmpur, fly into Manila before connecting to Cebu with Airphil Express (airphilexpress.com), Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines (philippineairlines.com) or Zest Airways (zestair.com.ph). 

Cebu City Marriot Hotel is located within the financial district, right next to ayala mall dand 10 minutes from downtown. Its newly refursibhed 278 rooms and 23 suites offer high-speed internet access, and the luxurious furnishing gives the rooms a posh and sophisticated look (from US$80; Marriott.com).

Melobourne, Australia

Heralded as one of Australia’s premier outdoor alternative lifestyle, music dan arts festivals, the Rainbow Serpent Festival is widely regarded as the epitome of Victora’s cultural  unity. Held in Beaufort, Victoria, the festival-whose name is derived from the aboriginal mythical figure the Rainbow Serpent-is about connecting people from all walks of life throughout the world. At Rainbow you will find people from all communities and demographics, brought together by joie de vivre and a desire to learn and experience new things.
 Carzy costumes and colourful characters at the Rainbow Serpent Festival
Running from 27 to 30 january each year, Rainbow attracts over 10,000 people from all over Australia and the world with its unique blend of rave music, workshops, activities, Australian and aboriginal performance art, market stalls and mouth-watering food on offer.
Fly Emirates (emirates.com), Jetstar Airways (jetstar.com) Qantas (Qantas.com) or Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) direct from Singapore to Melbourne . air Aisa X (airasia.com) and Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) provide direct flights from K. L.

Newly renovated and bursting with pride at its modern-day look, the trendy quality hotel batman’s hill on Collins is a hit with the energetic revelers. The plush furniture, stylish cocktail bar, sweeping staircase and wide open spaces give it a too-cool-for –school feel (from US$140; batmanshill.com.au)

Koh Samui, Thailand

Located east of the Thai peninsula, Koh Samui’s dry seasons runs from January through to June but plan a trip there now to avoid the heat and peak season charges that start from March.

One of the most popular activities travelers to Koh Samui partake in is a day trip out the Ang Thong national Marine Park. A stunning archipelago made up of 40 or so jagged limestone islets, Ang Thong’s many small coves, hidden lagoons and beautiful beaches make for a fascinating sightseeing excursion. While you’re at it., explore the caves and tunnels by kayak and marvel the underwater world while snorkeling.
For those who’d like to get a closer peak at Koh Samui’s rich marine life, the island offers a range of diving experiences for all skill levels; and if you’re pressed for time, there are plenty of attractive dive sites just off the main shore, though the more ardent scuba divers would do well to base themselves on the nearby island of Koh Tao, the ultimate playground for scuba neophytes.
Silk air flies direct from Singapore’s Changi International airport to Samui International Airport five times a week. Bangkok Airways (bangkokair.com)flies to Samui from both Singapore and Hong kong.

The drive up to Conrad Koh Samui is long and incredibly winding, but once you pull up into the hotel reception, the jaw-dropping views of the Gulf of Thailand are more than worth it. All 80 luxuriously furnished villas come with a private pool and an ocean view (from US$585; conradkohsamui.com).

Mumbai, India

A city of colour, tantalizing eats, beautiful landscapes and architecture, Mumbai has even enticed Hollywood actor Tom Cruise for a whirlwind tour in recent months. As the fourth most populous city in the world, Mumbai is known for being the commercial and entertainment capital of India, and home to the well-known film industry – Bollywood.

January 13 marks the celebration of Lohri Festival, a popular bonfire festival in which people rejoice the end of the tough winter season and pray for good harvest. During this celebration, sacred bonfires are set and people dance around and feed grains to the fire. This is accompanied by a kaleidoscopic bevy of music, dances and scrumptious feasts.
Fly air India (airindia.com) from Singapore Changi Airport or Jet Airways (jetairways.com) from K. L.  International Airport to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai.

Facing the sea front and overlooking the majestic Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Palace is as luxurious as its name suggests. Boasting exquisite exterior and luxuriously furnished interiors, the hotel offers 560 rooms and 44 suites, excellent service, and one of the largest swimming pools in Mumbai (from US$220; tajhotels.com).

Singapore

Singapore will present its annual grand street parade, Chingay celebrate on 3 and 4 February at the Pit building. The parade will display a dazzling collection of floats accompanied by multi cultural local and international performances. For the first time in the history of Chingay, floats will be paraded along a 360-metre waterway, crating wave after wave of stunning  visuals and auditory treat. Expect bright dragon and phoenix floats, LED hip-hop dragon dance, samba dance and exhilarating bicycle stunts (chingay.org.sg)
One of the major parades in Singapre, Chingay celebrates passion, harmony and sommunity spirit
A number of international carriers including Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways (thaiairways.com) and Jetstar Airways cater flights to  Singapore from major of Asian Cities.

Located a few minutes walk from the parade grounds is The Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore, where guests can enjoy a luxurious stay and world-class service, with the nearby convenience of shopping and transportation (from US$450; ritzcarlton.com).

New Delhi, India

 Welcome the New Year with the festivities and euphoria of one of Inida’s most celebrated holiday, Republic Day, happening on 26 January. The celebrations commence at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, where the Prime Minister pays homage to the martyrs of the revolution and is followed by a parade, displaying India’s unity in diversity’ and her military might. Expect thousands of spectators to cheer the marching contingents as they strut along the eight kilometer route from the Raisina Hills to Red Fort. Signaling the grand finale of the parade is a spectacular fly past by the Indian Air Force. Streaks of je planes etch the sky with intricate patterns and shower rose petals on exuberant participants.
 Lavish parades decorates the streets of Delhi
For a deeper understanding of india’s rich culture and history, be sure to visit the National Museum in Janpath. The museum’s unparalleled collection includes a highly informative selection exploring Indus Valley culture and India’s Buddhist Heritage, as well as many artistic masterpieces that remain a great source of national pride.

Jet Airways, Air India and Singapore Airlines fly direct from Singapore to Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi. Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia X fly direct from K.L.

Providing the historical backdrop for Pandit Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mounbatten’s discussion of the volatile issue of the partition of Inida and creation of Pakistan, The imperial is a marriage of priceless historical significance, timeless architecture and truly world-class amenities (from US$220; theimperialindia.com).

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Fifteen years ago, HaLong Bay was accorded Unesco world Heritage Site status. Just this past year, the beauty of its magical and mystical seascape once again earned it the accolade of a one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.
Literally translated as “Bay of Descending Dragons”, Halong Bay’s spectacular seascape of limestone karst formations include some 2,000 island and islets jutting out dramatically from the Gulf of Tonkin. Though the weather in this region starts getting cool and drizzly come February, the ensuing fog that clouds the vistas add an ethereal air to the place. Plus it sure beats heading there in summer when tropical storms are frequent.
Take the chance to go on a boat cruise through the bay. More participatory folks can rent a kayak to go island hopping and cave visiting our just find a secluded bay and soak in the amazing surroundings.
Jetstar Asia Airways has recently started a new route direct from Singapore Changi airport to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport. Vietnam Airlines (vietnamairlines.com) also flies direct to Hanoi from major Asian cities like K.L, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. Halong Bay is a three and a half hour drive from the airport. Rental cars are available for hire (from US$85 return). Alternatively, seek bus and tour operators in downtown Hanoi.

Life Heritage Resorts operates a fleet of 22 heritage junks, on which guests can spend the night in uflly-furnished 32-square-metre cabins featuring local Vietnamese touches, carved hardwood detailing and wide panoramic windows (life-resorts.com).

Niseko, Japan

Get into the heart of winter in Hokkaido and head up to world class winter playground Niseko. Home to rolling mountains and beautiful ski slopes covered by snow for approximately 130 days of the year, Niseko attracts skiers and snowboarders from all around the world for its champagne powder snow and stunning slopes. Have a go at any of the slew of snow activities such as snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling an snowtubing.

When you’ve gotten enough of the snow and cold, take refuge and soak in a hot springs (onsen), including the 100-year-old ombu onsen, Niseko has more than 15 local onsens dotted around the area. From fancy hotels, traditional ryokan (Japanese-styled hotel), casual day spas to outdoor baths, the plethora of onsen options make it hard to resist dipping into a warm pool of mineral-rich waters.

Fly Singapre Airlines from Singapore or Malaysia Airlines from K.L into Haneda Airport, Tokyo. Transfer from Haneda Airport with Japan Airlines (jal.com) to New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. From there, take a two-hour JR train or bus to Niseko Town.

Hilton Niseko Village sports 506 rooms, spa and hot spring facilities. Guests can enjoy a range of outdoor activities just steps away from the hotel (from US#410, niseko.hilton.com).

 

Sabah, Malaysia

 

Embark on a journey to discover Borneo’s teeming oceans at the marine ecology research center (Merc), housed within the cobalt-blue waters of Gayana Eco Resort in Sabah, Malaysia. Visitors can learn more about Merc’s efforts in marine conservation by participating in programmes such as the Giant Clam Propagation Programme and the Marine Sanctuary Programme; educational and engaging ways in giving back to nature.

The center seeks to increase awareness on the importance of preserving the ocean’s fragile ecosystem through various enriching activities. One such programme is the ‘Asopt a Coral’ programme, where tosts and teenagers are taught specific procedures to propagate corals and nature them in the surrounding waters of the research centre. Once an ‘adoption’ is completed, the centre sends half-yearly updates charting the coral’s growth progress to their ‘foster’ parents.  Besides imparting valuable knowledge, Merc also provides visitors with the opportunity to touch and admire various invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, starfish and sea anemones (merc-gayana.com).
Direct flight to Kota Kinabalu from Singapore and K.L are available from Air Asia . alternatively, Malaysia Airlines and Silk Air offer flights from K.L and Singapore respectively.

A great destination for couples and families, the Gayana Eco Resort rests at the edges of a lush coral reef island off the coast of Borneo. All 52 overwater villas are architecturally designed to enchance the sounds of the surf below while capturing the enduring vistas of Mount Kinabalu on the horizon (from US$285; gayana-exo-resort.com).






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