Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Guide to Hong Kong's neighbourhoods

Dive into Hong Kong’s diverse and exciting neighbourhoods with Trip.com and you’ll be guided into experiences in places you never knew existed, and where you’ll gain a new understanding of local Hong Kong life, up-close and in detail.

Each is a destination in its own right. Like tiny cities within a sprawling metropolis, each has its own culture and personality, shaped over time by fascinating people, foods, communities and stories, as well as rich and varied histories.

Use Trip.com’s handy guide below to show you how to explore all these neighbourhoods like a local, with deals to match and you’ll discover the Hong Kong that is missed by most guidebooks.

With hotels on offer from under $100 per night and return flights from around $680 with Qantas and Virgin, Hong Kong never looked so enticing.

Sign up online too, as Trip.com’s loyalty members can benefit from deals available only to them, in Hong Kong, during this campaign launched this week, designed to encourage travellers to explore beyond the same old tourist haunts.

TripPLUS members who have accumulated loyalty points called “Trip Coins” whenever they have booked flights and hotels or written a review on Trip.com platforms, can use them to gain exclusive discounts on future purchases.


Take a quick glance at Central’s glittering skyscrapers and it would be easy to dismiss Hong Kong’s financial hub as boring. But beneath the canopy of this concrete jungle lies some of the city’s most exciting (and exclusive) bars, restaurants and modern-art galleries. Perched on the north shore of Hong Kong Island, the district’s transport links are as good as you’d expect from a place named ‘Central’ – this is where you’ll find the Victoria Peak Tram, the Mid-Levels Escalator and the Star Ferry.

Sheung Wan

If suits own Central, then hipsters control Sheung Wan. Sitting in the shadow of Central’s high-rises just west of Hong Kong’s towering business district, Sheung Wan was a typical residential neighbourhood until it began to modernise rapidly in recent years, welcoming a wave of trendy coffee shops, bohemian vintage stores and cutting-edge eateries to its streets. Here, you can shop for antiques on Hollywood Road; visit Man Ho Temple, one of the oldest in Hong Kong; and take photos of the street art in PoHo, the area around Po Hing Fong and Tai Ping Shan Street.


SoHo is another spot favoured by Hong Kong’s arty crowd. Sandwiched between Central and Mid-Levels and sitting next door to the craziness that is Lan Kwai Fong, SoHo is short for South of Hollywood Road and covers the area between Staunton and Elgin Streets. All along the Mid-levels Escalator route are where cool new bars, restaurants, boutiques, comedy clubs, galleries, design stores and cafés seem to spring up every day.

Lan Kwai Fong

Welcome to Hong Kong’s party central. Home to more than 100 bars, Lan Kwai Fong has a venue for everyone. Young professionals, expats, backpackers, cashed-up locals, yuppies and anyone else thirsty for a drink or three converge on this part of town on the weekend, flooding legendary nightspots like Club Qing, Levels and Cé La Vi.


This district might be mainly residential, but the Mid-Levels boasts some of Hong Kong’s best views from the slopes of Victoria Peak. Hop on one of the 20 escalators or three ‘travelators’ snaking between the glitzy apartment blocks to escape the Central smog and enjoy some fresh air in one of the mountainside parks, then climb even higher to the summit of Victoria Peak for peerless vistas over Hong Kong. On the way back down, make sure to stop off in one of the many boutiques, bars and bistros that line the escalator route.

Wan Chai

Wan Chai used to be infamous for its red-light district, but the sleaze and smut has made way for stylish hotels and cultural centres. Occupying the waterfront east of Central, Wan Chai has traded raunchy sailors and boozy bars for the avant-garde Hong Kong Arts Center, the world-class Academy for Performing Arts, and the iconic Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Just east of Wan Chai sits Causeway Bay – an area teeming with department stores – and to the south is Happy Valley, home to one of the most famous horse-racing tracks on the planet.

Tsim Sha Tsui

Jump on the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to reach one of Hong Kong’s liveliest neighbourhoods on the southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula. Tsim Sha Tsui is one stop that every visitor should add to their Hong Kong itinerary. Take in Nathan Road’s neon-lit Golden Mile, the Avenue of Stars – China’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame – and gargantuan shopping malls such as K11 and Harbour City. This neighbourhood has a veritable smorgasbord of upmarket dining options: visitors can choose from Michelin-star fine dining, traditional Cantonese cuisine and international fare from pretty much everywhere around the world.

Mong Kok

Mong Kok is all about one thing: markets, and lots of them. The air here is filled with the smells of food wafting from the stalls on Sai Yeung Choi, Dundas, Fa Yuen and Soy Streets – perfect for satisfying your hunger after a long day exploring the Ladies’ Market or the district’s specialist markets dedicated to birds, flowers and even goldfish. Hipsters should venture further north to Sham Shui Po, an up-and-coming food and shopping hub.

With the TripPLUS rewards program, members can earn 25 Trip Coins for every US$100* they spend on flight bookings, 80 Trip Coins for every US$100 spent on hotel bookings, and up to 120 Trip Coins for every hotel review they post. Members can either make instant savings on Trip.com hotel products by selecting the number of Trip Coins to use when booking, or exchange Trip Coins for access to promo codes. By enabling instant saving through Trip Coins, Trip.com will offer further attractive products in the highly competitive online travel market.

TripPLUS works in tandem with Trip.com’s tier membership system, which includes Silver, Gold and Platinum membership. Members of all three tiers are entitled to exclusive hotel deals, while Gold and Platinum Tier Members will respectively receive 10% and 30% more Trip Coins on any flight or hotel booking. Higher levels of membership are reached through the separate accumulation of “Tier Points” on Trip.com platforms, earned through making flight and hotel bookings.

Download the Trip.com app to keep up to date with the latest special deals that are regularly on offer. Check your flight status, manage your bookings, and reach us 24/7 for any help, plus lots more.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Sydney's Celebrity Hot Spots

Wonder where celebrities like actors, singers, and models hang out during their Sydney holidays?

After all, Sydney is known to be one of the Southern Hemisphere’s cultural capitals, favoured by the glitterati of Australia and beyond.

In this article, we will reveal the best locations in the Emerald City for a celebrity sighting.

But before you go stargazing, here’s some good news: visitors to Sydney may soon enjoy a long-awaited extended nightlife scene, if shops, eateries, and other businesses in central Sydney are finally given the go-ahead to operate at all hours of the day. Currently, the city’s “lockout laws” prohibit entry into bars, pubs, and clubs after 1.30am. There is also a stipulated time for last drinks—3.00am.

"It's not going to all happen at once, but it will slowly start to build," says Sydney councillor Jess Scully. "It's setting Sydney's nightlife up for the future, and for how we live now."

Thankfully, there’s already plenty to do in Sydney. If you need quirky Sydney activities to fill your day, or ideas for fun things to do in Sydney at night, take your cue from Sydney’s celebrity visitors, and make a stop at the city’s hippest spots. Put on your glamorous togs and read on to find out more.

1. Have Breakfast at Bills Restaurant

Address: 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9360 4762
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 7.00am to 10.00pm
Saturday to Sunday: 7.30am to 10.00pm

Why begin your day at Bills? It’s run by Bill Granger, Aussie celebrity chef and the “egg master of Sydney.” Bills at Surry Hills was pop superstar Taylor Swift’s first stop—fresh from the airport—when she arrived in Sydney for an awards show some years back.

At Bills, the scrambled eggs are creamy to a fault, the sweet corn fritters have been proclaimed the city’s best, and the ricotta hotcakes have earned a devoted following too. Yet Granger remains charmingly modest about his culinary talents. "It's not complicated. It's not science. I'm not… out there in the kitchen devising. I'm very much a domestic cook," he once said.

Surprisingly, the passion for food doesn’t run in Granger’s family—cooking was even viewed as a chore to rebel against. But, following his parents’ separation, Granger began to change his perspective. "We never sat down together as a family, so for me, food was a way of bringing the family together,” he told The Telegraph. “Food is a conduit to good relationships."

Last year, Bills at Surry Hills celebrated a fresh start, by reopening at a site next door to its original location. This was the restaurant’s first update after 23 years. Its breakfast classics are still there, along with newer dishes (seared duck breast) and a delectable wine range sourced from South Australia’s Riverland region. (Click here to see where else you can find Bills in Sydney, and around the world.)

Get directions to Bills

2. Scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge

You might not spot a celebrity at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but if you conquer the BridgeClimb Sydney—by reaching the bridge’s summit—you would most certainly be following in celebrity footsteps. Which celebrities, you may ask? Recent star climbers include actor Luke Evans, musician Sam Smith, retired Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, and Hollywood megastar (and Sydney native) Hugh Jackman.

There’s an even better reason to put this on your list of things to do in Sydney today: the BridgeClimb was named Australia’s top experience by TripAdvisor last year. It also clinched the No. 4 spot on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 list of the best experiences in the world.

Not exactly a fan of heights? Here are some tips by the BridgeClimb experts for staying on course: slow down your breathing to relax naturally, steer your mind towards positive thoughts (“I’ll love the view!” or “This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”), look horizontally instead of downwards, and most importantly, trust BridgeClimb to bring you safely up and back.

As for what to wear, those who’ve done the climb recommend comfortable casual wear, such as a t-shirt and tights.

Note: the Sydney BridgeClimb does come at a price, with some packages costing as much as AU$388 per person. If you’re keeping an eye on your spending and don’t mind doing a shorter version of the climb, try the BridgeClimb sampler for AU$174 (adult price).

Get directions to Sydney Harbour Bridge | Buy tickets

3. Chill Out at Bondi Beach

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Address: 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9365 9000
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 12.00pm to 12.00am
Sunday: 10.00am to 10.00pm

“Definitively Sydney, Bondi is one of the world’s great beaches,” says Jeroen Meijer, general manager of PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney. “It’s the closest ocean beach to the city centre (8km away), has consistently good—though crowded—waves, and is great for a rough-and-tumble swim.”

If you’re looking for calmer waters, Meijer’s advice is to “try the child-friendly saltwater sea baths at either end of the beach.” To enjoy warm sea temperatures, the best months to visit are from December to March. But rest assured that people still visit the beach during the winter months of June to August.

To spend a full day at Bondi, you could begin with a morning or midday surf lesson, and cool off at the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, where luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, model Alexa Chung, and actress Sienna Miller have been spotted. Post-lunch, you can check if any festivals or celebrations are happening in the vicinity, or go shopping along the nearby Gould Street, where you can find international labels as well as homegrown designer fashions.

Hungry again? If you haven’t had a chance to sample Australian cuisine at Bills (see above), there’s a branch at Bondi Beach you can visit.

Get directions to Bondi Beach

4. Explore Sydney’s Classiest Neighbourhood

Chargrill Charlie’s Mosman
Address: 884 Military Road, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9969 7107
Opening hours: 9.00am to 9.00pm daily

Taronga Zoo Sydney
Address: Bradleys Head Road, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9969 2777
Opening hours: 9.30am to 4.30pm daily

In 2017, pop sensation and former bad boy Justin Bieber rented a home on Coronation Avenue, in the Sydney neighbourhood of Mosman. Today, Coronation Avenue has been named the lower north shore’s most desired street for buyers, according to an Australian real estate site.

Mosman is reputedly one of Sydney’s most affluent and prestigious suburbs, and it’s worth a drive there to see how the city’s well-heeled live. Use the Sitchu guide to explore the restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area, or simply head to Chargrill Charlie’s, as Bieber himself did.

From here, the Taronga Zoo Sydney is within easy reach. “[T]his bushy harbour hillside is full of kangaroos, koalas, and similarly hirsute Australians,” quips Jeroen Meijer. “Highlights include the nocturnal platypus habitat, the Great Southern Oceans section, and the Asian elephant display. Feedings and encounters happen throughout the day, while in summer, twilight concerts jazz things up.”

Get directions to Mosman
Get directions to Taronga Zoo Sydney

5. Party at The Ivy

Address: 330 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9240 3000
Opening hours: Hours vary, check website for details

Looking for things to do in Sydney at night? If you fancy running into the likes of reality star Kim Kardashian or English comedian Russell Brand, The Ivy is where you need to be. This urban playground features intimate lounges, as well as dance floors and plenty of food and drinking options—essentially, all your party needs under one roof. (Did we mention that there’s a rooftop pool bar too?) The Ivy tends to attract those who want to be seen, so go ahead and make the extra effort.

Sadly, it appears there are redevelopment plans afoot for The Ivy, with no closure date given as of now. Your best bet is to visit The Ivy while it’s still around!

“I've been to nearly every club in Ibiza. I've been... to Miami Music Week and several festivals. [The Ivy] is one of the best clubs I have ever been [to],” raves a satisfied clubber. “It's not only this really great venue…. the people you're going to party with [are] perfect!”

Get directions to The Ivy

Looking for a celebrity-worthy place to call home during your Sydney holidays? Book a stay at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, where all rooms and suites have been furnished to create a luxurious residential feel. (Read this interview with PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney’s Jeroen Meijer to find out more.)

More reasons to book us: kids stay and eat free, and early birds enjoy savings on our Best Available Rates. View our room offers or get in touch with us today!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Philippines: Ten great things to do in Cebu

Located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, Cebu draws almost 2 million foreign travellers each year with its white-sand beaches and spectacular diving. Consisting of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is filled with lots of places for travellers to explore, and with so many destinations on offer, many travellers only plan a couple of activities in Cebu before heading onto another island. The Philippines Department of Tourism has compiled a list of 10 things for travellers to consider doing in Cebu before moving on.

Ms Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippine Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand said,

“Tourism to Cebu is really booming at the moment. From cultural and heritage sites to natural destinations and more active activities, Cebu has so much on offer. The capital of Cebu City alone is filled with lively bars, emerging eateries and shops to explore, there really is so much to do. Travellers do not often realise that they can enjoy a full adventure-packed week and more in Cebu alone.”

1. Sirao Flower Garden
This so-called “Mini Amsterdam” is attracting tourists from far and wide to view the stunning range of flowers within. Located just a few minutes from Lahug, Cebu City, the 8,000-square-meter piece of uphill land is filled not only with flowers, but bicycles, a windmill, fountains, and picket fences to resemble the fields of Amsterdam.

2. Osmena Peak
The Highest Mountain in Cebu, Osmena Peak forms part of a range of green jagged hills, similar to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Set amidst limestone cliffs, the hills offer the perfect hiking trail; a relatively easy 700-metre climb which can be done in around 20 minutes, with incredible views out to sea from the top.

3. Kawasan Falls
A stunning three-tier waterfall in the South of Cebu island, Kawasan Falls is one of the Philippines most famous waterfalls; a tropical oasis surrounded by turquoise natural water to swim in. Bamboo rafts are also on hand to take travellers around the blue pool and under the waterfall.

4. Heritage of Cebu Monument
The Heritage of Cebu Monument is located at Parian in downtown Cebu and is amongst one of the most visually interesting sights in the Philippines. Consisting of sculptures made from concrete, bronze, brass and steel, the monument shows scenes about events and structures related to the history of Cebu.

5. Basilica of Sto. Nino
The oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, the Basilica of Sto. Nino is a basilica in Cebu City which was founded in 1565. The church itself is built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú was found during the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi.

6. Sea of Clouds at Mt. Mago in Carmen, Cebu
Mount Mago is one of the easiest hiking and camping destinations in the Philippines, with gently rolling hills and a well-established trail to explore. Travellers may also be lucky enough to witness a surreal natural phenomenon whilst on the trail – a sea of clouds appearing right before their eyes.

7. Taoist Temple
Built in 1972, the Taoist Temple is located in Beverley Hills and is one of the many highlights of Cebu. Located on a hillside and offering views over Cebu, the temple is a place for meditation and is beautifully designed with carved dragons, a variety of colours and topped with a pagoda-style roof.

8. Oslob Cebu, Diving with the Whale Sharks
Swimming with the whale sharks is one of the top attractions in Cebu, and one not to be missed. In Oslob, travellers have the opportunity to get in the water and snorkel or dive with these gentle giants and watch them swim by, offering a unique and unforgettable wildlife interaction.

9. Sardine Run, Moalboal
Moalboal is widely considered to be a scuba diving mecca, with easy shore diving and numerous dive sites located along the beaches. The sardines are easily the main attraction here, forming huge clouds and creating different shapes in the water, providing incredible underwater photography opportunities.

10. Mt. Manunggal Eco-Adventure
Located in Baguio City in Northern Luzon and surrounded by pine trees, this stunning mountain view destination offers spectacular natural sceneries. With a range of adventurous activities on offer, travellers can choose from an exhilarating sky bike attraction, horseback riding, trekking and mountain climbing, and a soon-to-be-opened zip line.

For more information, visit Tourism Philippines. Follow Tourism Philippines on Facebook and Instagram. #itsmorefuninthePhilippines #Philippines

Monday, June 10, 2019

When is the best time to visit the Southern Serengeti?

Tanzania is a veritable wilderness extravaganza. From the snow-capped summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the game-rich Ngorongoro Crater and the endless plains of the Serengeti, this vast and sparsely populated nation hosts some of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth. Throw in 14 national parks and numerous game reserves, home to some of the largest animal herds on the African continent, and it’s no wonder it’s the safari insider's hot tip.

It is also offers up amongst the best opportunities to take in one of the world’s most spectacular wilderness shows – the Great Migration as millions of wildebeest and zebra make their way around the Masai Mara and Serengeti – especially in the autumn, when the herds make their dramatic crossing of the Mara River in the Serengeti’s north.

But like all hot tickets, the autumn migration can come with its share of hassles, including higher prices and traffic jams as safari vehicles jostle for space near the best sightings. So when and where to go if you want to experience some great game viewing without the crowds?

Well, according to Michael McCall, Sanctuary Retreats’ Director of Sales Australia, NZ & Asia McCall, the Green Season in the Southern Serengeti from late January through to mid-March is seeing an increasing number of visitors heading to the region, where an estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during the six-week period each year. But he says the winter months in this part of the Serengeti can be equally rewarding, offering up extraordinary opportunities to experience the Great Migration, in exclusive wildlife locations well off the tourist track.

Swahili phrase Baridi Nzuri means ‘the beautiful cold’ and it is an apt description of the Southern Serengeti in winter. By the June Solstice food is scarce; cold winds blow across dried golden grass; and the pastel colours of the sky give light to majestic days. It is also a time of considerable hardship as animals are pushed to their limits in the quest for water; with predators lurk at the watering holes, ready to pick off thirsty antelope, zebra and wildebeest.

Sanctuary Kusini is the only permanent camp in this unspoiled and remote part of the Serengeti, providing front-row seat to Tanzania's spectacular wildlife. According to McCall Kusini's location was specially selected after extensive research by the company’s guides and the local experts.

“The Camp overlooks the plains where game are a common sight pretty much all year round and every year wildebeest congregate on the camp's doorstep. It’s also built around a spectacular rocky outcrop and on the path of the wildebeest migration, which make it ideal for seeing wildlife on the grassy plains nearby.”

The park is also noted for its lion and cheetah populations and leopards and there is the chance to contribute to the cheetah watch project that is taking place in the region.

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