Festa Major – Barcelona’s Biggest Festival Of The Year

For many Barcelona residents, the main highlight of September is the festivities that accompany the feast day of La Mercè, one of the city’s co-patron saints. With summer holidays coming to an end and temperatures very gradually cooling, these four days of fun towards the end of the month make it much easier to return to day-to-day life. Since 1902 the day of La Mare de Deu de La Mercè on September 24 has been celebrated as Barcelona’s Festa major (lit. main festival, and nowadays there’s a packed programme of free events and activities for all that begins on September 21).

La Mercè, as it’s commonly known, is an enticing mix of tradition and modernity. That means that on the one hand you can enjoy typical Catalan cultural customs such as the correfoc (a ‘fire run’ that sees participants dress up as devils carrying sticks with fireworks spinning on the top of them; bold, and well-protected, members of the public dance alongside them in the midst of the sparks, smoke and explosions), castellers (the human tower makers who clamber onto each other’s shoulders as they try to build the tallest ‘castle’ possible), and parades of gegants (giants) and capgrossos (big heads), which in reality are large scale paper mâché figures that represent historical characters and fantastical creatures. And on the other, the extensive BAM music festival that offers free concerts across the city, family-friendly activities, and a wide-ranging fair of local associations that fills Plaça Catalunya. Ciutadella Park is the scene for theatre and dance as well as art, music and other culture from this year’s guest city of Lisbon. And to top it all off in style, fireworks displays are held on several evenings of the festival, a tribute of colour, noise, and light to one of Barcelona’s most important women.

RIMOWA Celebrates 120 Years of Purposeful Travel

Today, in celebration of their 120th anniversary, RIMOWA unveils its first-ever global integrated campaign, complete with a star-studded cast, strong storytelling and cinematic sensibility.

A select cast of renown global cultural icons, all of whom are long-time RIMOWA owners and advocates, celebrate the collective mindset that has made them who they are – a fundamental belief that mastery is a never-ending journey and that no one builds a legacy by standing still. The campaign is a celebratory declaration of RIMOWA’s ethos and its role as the resilient companion for a lifetime of purposeful journeys.

Twenty-time grand slam winning athlete, Roger Federer; Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton & Founder & Creative Director of Off-White, Virgil Abloh; model, spokesperson and activist, Adwoa Aboah; international chef, businessman and restaurateur, Nobu Matsuhisa; and Dior Men’s jewellery designer & Founder and Creative Director of AMBUSH, Yoon Ahn all take part in marking the occasion by sharing their personal interpretations of what travel has meant for their lives.

The campaign also marks the beginning of an exclusive partnership between Roger Federer and RIMOWA that will extend to various projects over the next two years.

Shot on three continents by five different directors, every director worked closely with each cultural icon to create an emotionally insightful and visually distinct expression of their personal journey.

Roger Federer’s film is directed by Karim Huu Do and features a real-life childhood conversation with his father at the moment of young Roger’s first trip to Zurich.

Adwoa Aboah’s film is directed by Jonas Lindstroem and it’s a powerful metaphor for how the model and activist overcame depression by pushing herself to travel.

Virgil Abloh’s film is directed by Dexter Navy and presents an artful visualization of a recorded phone conversation with Abloh’s aphorisms on travel.

Nobu Matsuhisa’s film is directed by Jared Knecht and features an ancient Japanese travel tale that mirrors Nobu’s own life.

Yoon Ahn’s film is directed by I AM HERE and documents Yoon’s antagonistic sources of inspiration while featuring quotes from her private travel diary.

The five films have been combined into an anthem film. In addition to the films, the campaign also features photography by Brett Lloyd.

The global integrated campaign will be featured across paid and owned social and digital channels, Air France in-flight entertainment, selected cinemas in the US and Europe, airports in NY, LA, London, Paris, and Nice, and OOH in key cities like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo.  The campaign will also feature events, retail activations and an exclusive limited-edition sticker.

Created in partnership between Anomaly in Berlin and RIMOWA’s internal creative team, the campaign will be activated globally with special emphasis on RIMOWA’s seven key markets – USA, China, HK, Japan, Germany, UK, and France.

Frank Hahn, Executive Creative Director at Anomaly Berlin, comments:

“Why settle on one director if you can work with five? ‘Never standing still’ as the core of this campaign demands exciting films and storytelling. We decided to work with five film directors to bring the genuine stories of five famous individuals to life. From Nobu’s Japanese tale to Adwoa’s story of transformation to Virgil’s experimental travel journey. A production maze and marvel on all levels. The campaign culminates in a collected anthem film with the contribution of all five directors. A powerful manifestation to keep moving.”

Hector Muelas, Chief Brand Officer at RIMOWA, comments:

“The campaign’s narrative is inspired by RIMOWA’s own history and its relentless commitment to creating the essential tools for purposeful travellers. From the beginning, we knew we had to leverage the brand’s strongest equity: its community. We selected a group of like-minded travellers that have embarked on ambitious, lifelong journeys, and that happen to be authentic RIMOWA customers. Despite the differences between each of those personal stories, there’s a shared belief that mastery is a never-ending process, and that travel is a powerful vehicle to make a mark in the world.“

Alexandre Arnault, CEO at RIMOWA, comments:

“For 120 years, RIMOWA has been a leader in quality, innovation and craftsmanship, creating a product that’s loved cross-generationally for its ability to aid in the pursuit of inspiration and discovery through travel. As we look to the future with our heritage in mind, we want to celebrate that mission of relentlessly seeking perfection through action. It’s the shared mindset that both RIMOWA and its most iconic travellers demonstrate in our pursuits.”



Five Amazing Gastronomic Activities in Catalonia

1. Lunch at the mussel beds

Visitors can embark on a relaxing cruise across the Alfacs Bay in Sant Carles de la Ràpita and Fangar Bay in L’Ametlla de Mar and gain an insight into seafood farming before enjoying shellfi sh tasti ng and spotti ng flocks of flamingos.

2. Drink wine aged in the depths of the ocean

No experience is as unique as drinking wine aged under the sea at a depth of 27 metres, with the bott les having beencarefully selected to those that are best adapted to the submerged conditi ons. On the seabed, the wine is aff ected by varying factors, such as the water pressure, the lack of oxygenation through the cork, the movement of the bottle due to the currents, the light level and the exchange of salinities with the wine. Travellers can enjoy this truly unique experience at Hotel Cala Jòncols in Costa Brava.

3. Vinegar tasting at Avgvstvs Forvm winery

The Avgvstvs Forvm vineyard is located where once was the Roman road that connected Rome with the most important cities in the Mediterranean. Avgustvs Forvm is recognised for both its wines and vinegars. What makes it very special, is that it is the only winery in Catalonia specialised in vinegar. Here, visitors can fi nd wine and vinegars tasting, food pairing and family activities.

4. Olive Oil experiences – millenary olive trees

There are fi ve protected designati ons of origin of extra-virgin olive oil in Catalonia: Les Garrigues, Siurana, Terra Alta, Baix Ebre-Montsià and Empordà, each off ering a product with very different body and aroma thanks to the diversity in climate, soil and olive varieties. Visitors can enjoy olive oil experiences all over Catalonia but one of the most special and unique ones is to visit the ancient olive trees fields of Ulldecona. The tour takes visitors through an area that boasts almost two thousand trees aged between one thousand and two thousand years. These trees have 8 meters of perimeter and have been catalogued as monumental trees. The visit finishes with an olive tasting of these millenary olive trees.

Celebrate Your Special Occasion at Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia

Located in Cambodia’s southwest Koh Rong archipelago, Song Saa Private Island invites couples to celebrate their special occasion in style on the romantic islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong locally known in Khmer as ‘Sweethearts’.

The private island resort is a luxurious escape set amongst an oases of rainforests, tropical reefs and glistening white beaches. Song Saa Private Island offers several special experiences for ceremonies on the island including beachfront bare-foot, a sunset big-sky wedding or, more intimate gatherings in various locations around the property.

Beach Ceremony

Beachfront ceremonies are amongst the resort’s most photogenic with a choice of spectacular backdrops. Couples can choose from a scenic sunset panorama directly behind the ceremonial gazebo and where pool-side dining offers a shaded area just steps from the shoreline, a perfect venue for a glass of champagne before watching the sunset from the beach.

Driftwood and Vista

Song Saa Private Island can also organise a toes-in-the-sand under candlelight ceremony at Driftwood taking in the seemingly endless sky overhead on the Vista. Located on the beach, Driftwood has a relaxed and rustic feel, offering a pizza and tapas-style menu with event seating up to 36 undercover with a further 18 in the open-air space by the water’s edge. Alternatively, Vista is located just off the island’s shoreline, surrounded by the house reef and gazette marine reserve, this incredible space accommodates an intimate 36 in the main venue as well as 12 on the open-air deck featuring contemporary Western and Cambodian cuisine.Bespoke Blessing

To celebrate in the most authentic Khmer way, the tradition of Monk Blessings is perfect for a spiritual experience. The blessing ritual begins with an incense lighting to make a wish or prayer for the future couple. Once seated, the couple will offer three bowed prayers before clasping their hands. The Monks will then chant to ward off any negativity that may surround the couple. The head Monk will sprinkle the blessed flower water, chanting a personal blessing to the couple. A sacred red thread will be tied around each couples wrist by the monk leading the ceremony as a talisman of the blessing, enhancing their life energy and compassion.

Exclusive Island Rental

An exclusive island rental is the most highly recommended option for a guaranteed private, intimate and personalized experience. Song Saa Private Island’s expert team can curate a unique and outstanding wedding and ceremony package for special occasions starting from USD4,500++.

Getting There

To reach Song Saa Private Island, there are direct flights from Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Guangzhou, Shanghai and connecting flights from Beijing to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

From Phnom Penh: A luxury private vehicle can be arranged for the 3.5-hour transfer from Phnom Penh Airport to Sihanoukville Port, where Song Saa’s luxury speed boat awaits. A new option to consider is to fly with Bayon Airlines, a 50-minute flight straight to Sihanoukville International Airport.

From Siem Reap: Cambodia Angkor Air and Bayon Airlines both offer direct flights to Sihanoukville International Airport, where Song Saa’s driver awaits.

It is an easy 35 minutes from Sihanoukville Port to Song Saa Private Island by speedboat based on the daily transfer schedule.

For reservations or enquiries, please email reservations@songsaa.com and browse www.songsaa.com.

Intrepid’s first 18-29s brochure empowers millennials to travel

Intrepid has released its first 18 to 29s brochure, offering socially conscious millennials the chance to get way off-the-beaten-path with more than 80 travel experiences from flying high in Turkey to camping around Iceland and island-hopping in Croatia.

Brett Mitchell, Regional Director for Asia Pacific at Intrepid Travel, said the new range was created in response to feedback from young customers, who told the company that they wanted to travel responsibly with like-minded people their own age.

“Young travellers want to have authentic, immersive experiences with their peers. These tours are for travellers who don’t want to backpack in large dorm rooms or booze it up but instead, want to break down cross-cultural barriers and make a positive impact on the local communities they visit,” Mitchell said.

For every booking, Intrepid will make a donation to Friends-International, a leading social enterprise saving lives and building futures for marginalised young people around the world.

“The next generation of travellers has the power to make the biggest difference in the world so we are thrilled to give them the opportunity to see the world the Intrepid way,” Mitchell said.

“In usual Intrepid style, the small group tours include all the local elements, from leaders to transport, so our young travellers can do things their way, inspired by a local, and have the spontaneous moments that makes travel so addictive,” Mitchell added.

With a focus on sustainable, immersive local experiences, the new tours have been created especially for the next generation of responsible travellers who want to make a difference and connect with their fellow guests, while discovering new places and cultures.

Because millennials want big-time experiences without a big-time price tag, the 18 to 29s trips are priced at the same level as Intrepid’s Basix range, with tours starting from $390* for a five day tour of Cappadocia.$99 deposits are available on all 18 to 29s tours.

Highlights of Intrepid’s 18 to 29s brochure include:

  • One week Split to Dubrovnik Sailing trip– An eight day adventure aboard a private yacht hopping from the island of Vis to the magical blue grotto of Cave Bisevo and the untouched forests of Mljet, an island yet to be overrun by busloads of tourists
  • One Week Camping in Iceland– Proving there’s a lot more to Iceland than ice (and Bjork), this seven-day tour takes travellers to the tongue of Europe’s biggest glacier, to the massive walls of ice in Skaftafell National Park, into the epic wilderness of Thorsmork National Park and back to Reykjavik for some party vibes
  • Essential Russia– A nine-day tour that includes the majestic Kremlin Palace, stunning St. Petersburg and the artsy Nikola-Lenivets Park, where you can have a spa with locals
  • Real Santiago de Cuba Carnival–On this 12-day tour, travellers can conga like the Cubans at carnival time in Santiago de Cuba, find out who that guy on the t-shirt is at Che Guevara’s museum and mausoleum, chill out in Trinidad and enjoy a mojito in Havana
  • Real Mexico – This 15-day tour takes in some of the many churches in Puebla, the best mezcal around in Oaxaca and finishes with some snorkelling and swimming at Playa del Carmen
  • Real Turkey– A 15-day round-trip tour from Istanbul to rocky sites, a rural village at the edge of a canyon overlooking the Mediterranean and the jaw-dropping sights from a hot air balloon at Cappadocia.

For more information or to book visit:

 *subject to availability, conditions apply

British Airways Offers Exclusive Special Fares to HSBC Mastercard Cardholders

British Airways is offering travellers a 10% discount in all cabins when booking with HSBC Mastercard® Credit Card

British Airways announces a special discount of 10 per cent on fares in all cabins from Hong Kong to London, the UK and Europe when booking with HSBC Mastercard® Credit Card. The limited-time offer applies to bookings made at designated website from now until 20 August 2018 for travel between 6 July 2018 and 31 March 2019.

In addition to this, British Airways Executive Club Members who are HSBC Premier MasterCard® credit card cardholders can also enjoy 25 per cent bonus Avios when converting RewardCash to Avios. The offer is available from 1 July to 31 August 2018. For more details, please visit https://www.redhotoffers.hsbc.com.hk/en/latest-offers/red-hot-travel-special/offers/travel-merchant-offers/

The special offer enables travellers from Hong Kong a long travel window to visit the UK and Europe, where they can enjoy a variety of experiences from strolling along the Thames in London, admiring the city lights from the top of the Eiffel Tower, to indulging in Italian cuisine in Florence. A relaxing trip to the UK or Europe will always be a welcome diversion from our hectic daily lives.

Hong Kong travellers can experience the most quiet and comfortable journey in the sky on the Airbus A380. British Airways is the only airline to operate the state-of-the-art A380 non-stop between Hong Kong and London.

All the flights from Hong Kong arrive at London Heathrow Terminal 5, which is exclusive to the customers of British Airways and its sister airline Iberia. In March 2018, London Heathrow won the awards for the Best Airport Shopping, Best Airport Terminals (T2 & T5) and the World’s Top 10 Airports at the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2018.

Emirates A380 continues to capture the imagination of travellers after 10 years of operations

Emirates is celebrating 10 years of A380 operations. Since its first flight to New York from Dubai on 1 August 2008, the Emirates A380 has carried more than 105 million passengers, clocking in more than 1.5 billion kilometres on 115,000 flights, equivalent to 39,000 trips around the globe. Watch the Emirates A380 10 year journey here.

Emirates is the world’ largest operator of the A380 aircraft, with 104 double-decker aircraft flying to 49 cities on 6 continents on scheduled services with more than 80 daily departures from Dubai, the airline’s hub. In addition to its 104-strong fleet, the airline has a further 58 A380s on order. Today, Emirates also operates the world’s shortest A380 route from Dubai to Kuwait and the world’s longest A380 non-stop route from Dubai to Auckland. The airline has also grown its scheduled services to major airports and has also successfully grown demand at regional airports such as Manchester, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, Houston, Prague, Kuwait, Mauritius, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo.

In Hong Kong, Emirates is the airlines operating the most number of A380 service with three daily flights departing from Hong Kong International Airport every day to Dubai. From Dubai, Emirates’ hub, Hong Kong passengers can easily continue their journey to Emirates’ global destinations in six continents.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “It’s been 10 extraordinary years since the first Emirates A380 flight took to the skies, and today it has become one of the most recognisable and admired aircraft in the world. Passengers love to fly it because of its spaciousness which provides more comfort across all classes, and its iconic products like the OnBoard Lounge, Shower Spa and First Class suites have redefined air travel.  We remain committed to providing the best experience for our customers aboard our flagship aircraft, and introducing new innovations that will continue to ‘wow’ them every time they fly with us.

The Emirates A380 has also had a significant impact on the aerospace industry and its high-value supply chains, fuelling hundreds of thousands of jobs for skilled workers, and creating significant economic benefits in countries which have A380 production facilities. The aircraft continues to boost tourism and trade wherever it flies by stimulating further traffic and demand, and we hope that it continues to play an important role in the economies and societies that it serves in the years to come.”

Aviation history making moments

The Emirates A380 has been at the centre of a number of aviation firsts over the last decade, including the unprecedented formation flight in 2015 with the Jetman Dubai duo. The stunning formations were conducted over the Dubai skyline and the Palm Jumeirah, showcasing how far aviation has come. That same year, Emirates introduced the world’s first 2-class A380, with capacity for 615 passengers.

In 2017, the A380 took to the skies again at the Dubai Airshow with a special fly-past accompanied by the Boeing 777-300ER, closely followed by the UAE’s air display team, Al Fursan.

The Emirates A380 has also touched down in 73 airports for one-off and scheduled services, special commemorative flights, chartered flights, test flights and other operational deployments and the aircraft has been instrumental in maximising efficiencies at slot constrained airports.

Inspiring a better customer experience

From First Class to Economy Class, the Emirates A380 has been an industry step-change for passengers to experience new standards of in-flight comfort. Emirates revolutionised the A380’s cabin space design when it introduced its bespoke version of the aircraft in 2008, incorporating higher ceilings, mood-lighting as well as signature, industry-first elements like its OnBoard Lounge, a social area at 40,000 feet where jet-setters could meet in an ambient setting. In 2017, Emirates introduced the next generation of the OnBoard Lounge featuring a sleeker design, new colour palette, social seating arrangement and surround sound, among other touches. The popular Shower Spa has become a defining feature of the premium experience on the Emirates A380’s three-class configured aircraft, and over 80% of long-haul First Class customers have utilised it.

Emirates’ First Class experience on its A380 provides passengers with an unprecedented level of privacy and thoughtful touches of luxury with more than 1,400 A380 First Class suites flying today.

Across all classes, over 120 million meals have been served on the A380 since 2008. First Class customers have consumed 2.7 million tins of caviar, and more than 3.5 million fresh flowers have been loaded on A380 flights.

Emirates multi-award winning in-flight entrainment system, ice, offers unparalleled choice and quality when it comes to entertainment, with more than 3,500 channels. The Emirates A380 Economy Class seats feature among the widest individual in-seat screens in the industry, measuring in at 13.3 inches.


Emirates also has 1,500 flight deck crew and over 20,000 cabin crew specially trained to operate its A380 fleet.


Positive impact on societies and economies


The Emirates A380 programme supports manufacturing jobs across the global aircraft manufacturing supply chain, and Airbus estimates that Emirates’ A380 orders support 41,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Europe alone. The estimated Europe-wide impact of Emirates’ A380 investment contributes €3.4 billion to the GDP of the region.*


In January 2018, Emirates ordered a further 36 A380s worth US$16 billion, taking the airline’s commitment for the aircraft to 178 units, and further generating catalytic benefits for European economies with the airline’s impending deliveries beyond 2020.


Since 2013, the Emirates A380 has also conducted humanitarian ferry flights in partnership with the Airbus Foundation, transporting over 120 tonnes of food and vital emergency equipment to those in need.


Dubai – a global centre for A380 maintenance and operations


As the largest operator of the Airbus A380, Emirates’ engineering division, based in Dubai, has become a global leader in A380 maintenance. The airline operates modern, extensive facilities that include seven heavy maintenance hangars and four light maintenance hangars that can all accommodate the A380. Emirates Engineering has also amassed the experience, know-how and infrastructure to provide the most comprehensive Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities and services in the world, with 157 A380 C-Checks conducted to date. In addition, more than 25 A380 aircraft have been repainted and 16 large aircraft decals are currently emblazoned on Emirates’ A380s, in addition to all A380 aircraft displaying the Expo 2020 nose decals. All aircraft repainting and decal applications are completed at the airline’s Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai.


In 2013, the world’s largest A380 hub welcomed the opening of Concourse A, a first of its kind purpose-built Concourse dedicated to A380 operations. The US$ 3.3 billion facility offers travellers unprecedented convenience with direct boarding to the A380 aircraft from the First and Business class lounges, as well as other world-class amenities.


* According to Frontier Economics analysis carried out in 2015


*Catering figures taken from Emirates’ A380s departing Dubai only. This does not include meals loaded overseas.

Eventful Ways to Discover Noosa!

There’s always a reason to visit Noosa and over the next few months, Noosa will host a selection of events from arts and cultural events, jazz, sporting and more.

Noosa alive!  20-29 July. This unique festival offers ten days of great entertainment, food, culture and fun from July 20-29, 2018. The event features 80+ ticketed and free events, with 250 artists and the 2018 festival will feature three world, six Australian and five Queensland premieres. www.noosaalive.com.au

Noosa Strade Bianche. 11-12 August. Celebrate the golden age of cycling at Noosa Strade Bianche, Australia’s premier vintage cycling festival with 3 routes (33km, 82km and 135km) through hinterland villages, a vintage bicycle show and shine, and a swap meet. www.noosa-stradebianche.com.au

Noosa Classic. 26 August. This exciting new road cycling event for Noosa is the third Gran Fondo cycling event from the award-winning team behind the Bowral Classic and the Clare Classic. With three courses including a 45km social, the challenge classic at 120km and the maxi classic at 160km, that will take riders throughout the beautiful Noosa Hinterland. www.noosaclassic.com.au

Noosa Open Studios. 17-26 August.  This free art trail through Noosa’s coastal and hinterland communities provides the opportunity to discover the private studios of more than 60 emerging and established artists. From painters, ceramicists, mixed media artists, print-makers and ore. This is a great opportunity to learn about the artists’ processes and see their beautiful works. www.noosaopenstudios.com.au

Noosa Jazz Party. 30 August – 2 September. The Noosa Jazz Party brings together Australia’s leading jazz musicians for a feast of classic jazz performances throughout Noosa. www.noosajazzclub.com

Noosa International Rugby Seven’s. 12-14 October.  This unique weekend of rugby has grown to become Australia’s premier rugby sevens event outside of the IRB International World Series. With 100 teams coming from across Australia and from overseas, its Australia’s biggest seven’s event and will provide plenty of action on and off the field. www.noosainternationalsevens.com.au

Wild Women Adventure Race & Prologue. 13-14 October. Discover the beautiful Noosa hinterland in this  women-only fitness challenge where teamwork and brain power outshine speed and endurance. Teams of 2 women will navigate around a course on foot, mountain bike and canoe/kayak, using a map and compass as they look for hidden checkpoints (paddle craft supplied).  They have also added a prologue – come and try style event with a family-friendly focus- a two hour course involving trekking, mountain biking and navigation. www.triadventure.com.au

Noosa International Film Festival. 25-28 October. The Noosa International Film Festival screens new release Australian and international feature length films and high quality short films, and stages inspirational workshops and talks with leading industry experts – all set in the beautiful backdrop of Noosa. www.niff.com.au

Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival. 31 October – 4 November.  The Noosa Tri is a bucket list Tri event and Australia’s favourite finish line party. The largest Olympic distance triathlon in the world the event starts off with a swim from beautiful Noosa Main Beach, a ride that takes in the Noosa hinterland and a run that soaks up the riverside atmosphere. Of course the five days includes other great events and social activities. www.noosatr.com.au

Whatever your passion is, Noosa will provide the perfect backdrop for a great event that is the perfect excuse to visit Noosa!  To book your Noosa holiday head to www.visitnoosa.com.au

Busan, South Korea is Lonely Planet’s Best Place to Visit in Asia for 2018

Global travel authority Lonely Planet has today revealed its 2018 Best in Asia list – an agenda-setting collection of the continent’s 10 best destinations to visit in the year ahead.

For this third annual Best in Asia list, Lonely Planet’s in-house Asia experts have named “eclectic” and “vibrant” Busan, South Korea, as the number one destination; while the jewelled architecture and ancient cities of Uzbekistan are in second place; and in third comes Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, “a supercity that somehow keeps getting cooler”.

Asia is such a vast and diverse continent for anyone dreaming of an escape,” Lonely Planet‘s Asia-Pacific Media Spokesperson Chris Zeiher says. “Our experts have combed through thousands of recommendations to pick the best destinations to visit over the next 12 months.”

“From Nagasaki in Japan, to Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka,” Chris says, “this is a line-up to inspire a multitude of travellers – whether they’re based in Asia, or maybe they’ve already visited some of the region’s heavy-hitting destinations.”

Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia 2018 is available online, with accompanying articles to each destination, at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia.

  1. Busan, South Korea

“A stunning confluence of scenery, culture and cuisine…Busan packs an eclectic offering of activities to suit all travellers: hike hills to Buddhist temples, settle into sizzling hot springs and feast on seafood…at the country’s largest fish market. Poised to steal the spotlight, Busan is East Asia’s Culture City for 2018 and will be at its most vibrant with…colourful events showcasing the country’s cultural heritage, from street art festivals to traditional dance shows.”

  1. Uzbekistan

“Change is afoot in a country that has remained largely closed off to the wider world due to tight control following the end of the Soviet era. Uzbekistan has long held sway over travellers’ imaginations, with its dreamy mosaic-clad mosques and Silk Road lore…and in 2017 took huge strides in opening up to tourism, announcing visa-free and e-visa schemes, new air routes and extensions to its shiny high-speed rail line, making access to its arsenal of jewelled architecture and ancient cities easier than ever”.

  1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The southern supercity of Ho Chi Minh City somehow keeps getting cooler. Aging apartment blocks are being colonised by vintage clothes stores and independent coffee shops, innovative breweries are

fuelling one of the best craft beer scenes in Southeast Asia, and…eclectic venues are strengthening the local music scene. Add in long-standing attractions The War Remnants Museum and a pioneering street food scene…and this buzzing Asian megalopolis is in no danger of going out of style”.

  1. Western Ghats, India

“The Western Ghats offer…an atmospheric mirror to Shimla and Darjeeling, with added jungle appeal… coffee, tea and spice plantations, charmingly dated colonial outposts, thundering waterfalls, and a steam-powered mountain railway. These rugged hills are Unesco listed as one of the top spots for biodiversity in the world, protecting the neelakurinji flower, which blooms only once every 12 years and will be painting the hills in purple livery from August to October 2018”.

  1. Nagasaki, Japan

“For most, Nagasaki is synonymous with the tragic atomic bombing of August 1945…but remarkably, the city has converted the catastrophe into a call for peace, exemplified by the tranquil Nagasaki Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. However, Nagasaki‘s identity transcends one violent act…visit a new foreign-trade museum housed in Japan’s oldest church, or pass the verdant harbour towards the hiking routes that snake through the surrounding volcanic hills”.

  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

“This former capital of the Lanna Kingdom feels plucked from the pages of history, where visitors browse stalls of antique jewellery…among archaic alleyways…yet despite this, a young, creative population has taken up residency in Chiang Mai bringing an exciting buzz…alongside majestic chedis (stupas) are cafés known for their latte art, mural-walled fusion cuisine restaurants and the newly-opened, award-winning MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum”.

  1. Lumbini, Nepal

“For decades, Lumbini was somewhere travellers flashed through en route from India to Nepal, unaware they had passed within yards of the birthplace of the historical Buddha. Today, Lumbini is on the ascendancy…a new international airport is under construction offering a safer route into Nepal, and ever-more aweing temples are springing up”. Despite these developments, “the town’s cardinal draw will remain its tranquillity”.

  1. Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

“This surf town on Sri Lanka’s east coast…has managed to retain its cool as holidaymakers swarm the rest of the country’s ancient citadels and hiker-strewn hill stations. Barefooted boarders sprawl outside vegan cafes…but if the turquoise swells can’t tug you in, Arugam has grown its onland offering with…beachside bars and makeshift music festivals; plus a handy proximity to Kumana National Park, home to leopards, elephants and crocodiles.

  1. Sìchuān Province, China

Far-flung villages, towering skylines, giant pandas and fiery cuisine; Sìchuān Province is a microcosm of modern China…gain perspective surveying the Lè Shān Grand Buddha or climb Éméi Shān to absolve a lifetime’s sins…ride the first section of the Sìchuān-Tibet Railway to visit time-frozen Tibetan villages…or spot the mushrooming of luring brewpubs and boutique hotels in cosmopolitan Chéngdū.”

  1. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

“New flight connections have made Komodo National Park more accessible than ever. Aside from laying eyes on the illustrious Komodo dragon, visitors to this cerulean-silhouetted archipelago can hike to hallowed viewpoints on Padar, sample laid-back beachside living on Kanawa and dive with a mind-boggling array of marine life in the reefs. A nature enthusiast’s nirvana”.

Visitors to lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia also have the opportunity to enter a competition for a chance to win either a trip for two to Busan, South Korea, or a camera drone package from DJI. Terms and conditions apply.

Singapore: The perfect summer family holiday destination

Summer is the best time to travel! Singapore has long been a popular holiday destination for family trips, with delicious food, unique cultural experiences, and fun, family-friendly attractions. With free admission to many of these attractions, Singapore is the ideal summer family holiday destination.

Splashing good time at free water parks

Head to Sentosa for a free attraction that’s perfect for parents and children to escape the summer heat. A water playground designed for children aged 3-10 years old, the Palawan Pirate Shipincludes gushing fountains, slippery slides and a swinging pirate-head that sends bucketloads of water downwards at regular intervals.

At Gardens by the Bay, Far East Organization Children’s Garden is another kids’ paradise. Divided into two main areas, the park includes an Adventure Trail, Water Splashing Zones, restaurants, slides, swings, tree houses and more for a fun day out that the whole family will love.

 Hang tough at Airzone

Located in the space between the second and sixth floors of City Square Mall, Airzone truly takes the playground experience to new heights. The world’s first elevated playground, Airzone contains themed games on each floor. Kids can take a dip in the floating ball pit, find their way out of an exciting maze, or catch a ride down the long slide that transports them from the sixth to the second floor.

Standing the test of time

Parents who travelled to Singapore when they were younger will be pleased to know that many of the city’s parks that were built in the 1970s and 80s are still going strong. Not only do they capture the collective memory of many Singaporeans, they also remain popular with the little ones thanks to their colourful and creative landscapes. Watermelon Park at Tampines Central Park uses bright tiles of red, white, yellow and green to recreate slices of watermelon, complete with holes in the walls that look like the seeds of a real watermelon.  The swings and slides are open to public at any time of the day with free admission. The National Gallery Singapore is currently hosting a free exhibition titled The More We Get Together: Singapore’s Playgrounds 1930 – 2030 where the family learn more about the history and future urban planning of Singapore.

Singapore’s first Children’s Centre for Creativity

Kids can explore their imagination at Singapore’s first Children’s Centre for Creativity. Hosting a variety of holiday camps, workshops, art fairs and talks, families can play, create and be inspired in unique workshops that explore the possibilities of pinhole cameras, water rockets, and painting, among others. The Children’s Centre for Creativity is run by Playeum, an independent registered charity that champions children through play and creativity, with the aim of serving all children and families.

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