Why Thailand is perfect for your next bleisure trip

Posted by - July 31, 2018

What comes to mind when you think of Thailand? Is it the infamous full moon parties jam-packed with backpackers; the notoriously head-titling, mind-boggling entertainment shows; or perhaps the heaps of spicy food?
You aren’t wrong for associating these vibrant images with the Southeast Asian nation, but you would be surprised to know Thailand is one of Asia’s leading regions for business travellers.
When you mix business and leisure travel, you concoct a lexicographer’s nightmare and a travel agent’s dream: “bleisure” travel.
Bleisure travel is a combination of traveling for business reasons but also injecting some local culture and sightseeing on a trip.
Thailand also has the infrastructure to support some of the world’s biggest conferences and events making it a haven for MICE travelers.
Earlier this year, Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre welcomed 60,000 guests and 500 speakers to Startup Thailand 2018, a conference which aims to boost investment and interest in Thailand’s startup scene.
A few months after this successful event, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau further promoted Thailand as the Kingdom of Bleisure, focusing on three major cities. One, of course, being Bangkok, the quintessential Asian metropolis.
Source: Shutterstock
Bangkok The Thai capital takes the crown for providing MICE and bleisure travelers with an abundance of outstanding convention and meeting venues, hotels, retail facilities, fine-dining, local dining, and entertainment options.
The city is constantly expanding to accommodate all types of travelers. Tourism and business hubs are beginning to seamlessly connect via investment in first-rate transport links such as The Skytrain (BTS) and the underground railway (MRT). These easily-navigable modes of transport connect to the newest addition to Bangkok’s thriving business hubs, such as Ratchada, and ensure you don’t waste precious time in the gridlock traffic which plagues Bangkok’s roads.
Located just three MRT stops from hectic Sukhumvit, Ratchada offers a refreshing yet authentic reprise from central Bangkok. It is a place where contemporary and traditional blends beautifully. The area boasts brilliant night bazaars which brazenly lure in travelers with their variety of local food and quirky souvenirs.
However, if travelers spend a moment looking up in Ratchada, they’ll notice they’re among a forest of futuristic skyscrapers, home to the likes of insurance giants AIA, the Stock Exchange of Thailand, and the world’s largest consumer goods company, Unilever. These big brand names have helped earn Ratchada the title of Bangkok’s official central business district.
In the center of Ratchada and just a two-minute walk from Huai Khwang MRT station is Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok. The affordable yet luxurious five-star hotel is located close to Bangkok’s entertainment hub and business hub, and comes without the steep price tag normally associated with this centralized area.
Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok’s 407 elegantly spacious rooms and suites are combined with four delectable dining facilities serving up Cantonese, International, and Japanese cuisines, as well as fresh bakes and an impressive bar.
Source: Swissotel Le Concorde
This hotel also features innovative meeting and convention facilities such as the 4,006-square-meter meeting space, equipped with a team of event planners to take the weight off your shoulders.
For those looking for a little rest and recreation between business meetings, conferences, and events, the hotel’s luxurious Spa De Concorde is the perfect place to unwind and revitalize. Matching the local area’s ambiance of old-meets-new, the spa combines traditional Thai therapy techniques in a tranquil, modern environment.
No matter your reason for traveling, be it business or leisure, or a little bit of both, Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok provides you with an authentic Thailand experience while catering to all your professional and personal needs.
Phuket Another one of Thailand’s charming contrasts is the paradise island of Phuket. The region is best known for its verdant rolling hills, pristine beaches, and warm oceans, but it also has one of the country’s most celebrated MICE cities, as Phuket Tourism Association’s event schedule illustrates.
The southern Thai island hosts annual domestic and international events earning it the title of the “MICE city of the Andaman.” With over 500 hotels to suit every budget, most fully-kitted out with MICE facilities and all set within stunning scenery, Phuket might just be the epitome of bleisure travel.
Phuket’s unique selling point in the MICE and business travel market is its variety of unique venues. Whether you want to sign off on that multi-million-dollar deal on one of Phuket’s 30 outstanding beaches then celebrate with something bubbly as day turns to night, or hold a memorable conference in a traditional Thai venue with charming architecture, Phuket can provide you with ample options.
Phuket is also renowned for its genuinely warm hospitality which can be experienced through the business day and into leisure time, be it on one of the many golf courses around the island, when you’re trying your hand at cooking pad thai, or simply soaking up the glorious sunshine.
When it comes to spectacular MICE facilities and accommodation for the bleisure traveler, Thavorn Palm Beach Resort is a winner.
Set on Karon’s Beachfront, the resort has two luxury-fitted meeting spaces which can be divided into five separate rooms and a banquet hall capable of hosting 460 people.
Source: Thavorn Palm Beach Resort
Its central location isn’t further than 30 minutes away from any of Phuket’s major attractions, including the Big Buddha, Old Phuket Town, and Jungceylon shopping mall. So, whether you’re looking for a touch of Thai culture, a few new additions to your wardrobe, or to learn about the island’s history, it’s all on Thavorn Palm Beach Resort’s doorstep.
Thailand is undoubtedly giving other ASEAN business hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia a run for their money.
But unlike its neighbors, Thailand has all the attributes of a vacation destination to be enjoyed after the business day draws to a close.
*Some of the companies featured on this editorial are commercial partners of Travel Wire Asia
The post Why Thailand is perfect for your next bleisure trip appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Why might Thailand make travel insurance compulsory

Posted by - July 31, 2018

Thailand has been in the press a lot recently, and not always for the best reasons.
Following the heroic rescue of 12 young Thai boys and their coach earlier this month from the Tham Luang cave in the Chiang Rai province, Thailand has been caught up in a series of adverse events.
One of these being the tragic boat accident on the southern Thai island of Phuket which left 47 people dead; all of whom were Chinese nationals.
The incident led to thousands of hotel bookings being canceled and caused a drastic fall in Chinese visitor numbers to the country.
#BOOKINGS
UAE among most popular destinations for solo female travelers But Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly committee on religion, culture, and tourism are refusing to let this accident damage the nation’s reputation as a number one vacation spot among Chinese travelers.
A specially organized seminar, held last week in Bangkok, discussed proposals on how to entice Chinese tourists back to the country and how to ensure their safety.
One initiative, in particular, piqued the interest of Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat. The idea was to make travel insurance compulsory for all foreign visitors.
The seminar heard how the boat accident cost Thailand THB64 million (US$1.9 million) in compensation, which was paid to the victim’s families.
This payout has led to Thailand’s tourist protection fund being just one major incident away from going bust.
However, this isn’t the first time Thailand has floated the idea of obligatory travel insurance.
Back in June, Thailand’s tourism officials submitted proposals to make travel insurance compulsory after an estimated TBH3,000,000,000 (US$9.2 million) in unpaid hospital bills were racked up by foreign visitors.
These bills, unlike in the US, are then absorbed by Thailand’s health service.
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The travel insurance proposal has not been enforced but the Bangkok Post reported that the Office of the Insurance Commission will be working to establish insurance distribution channels, such as insurance vending machines at international airports.
At another event earlier this month, Weerasak outlined four areas of tourism focus for 2019, these included “no compromising on safety.”
Weerasak recognized that too many safety-jeopardizing incidents happen in Thailand, “although nobody wants them to happen,” he added.
“If we become known as a country that does not compromise on safety, it will become another plus point for us to be recognized for not being “lax” in our standards.”
Thailand’s newfound attention to ensuring safety is tip-top across the nation. Combined with the potential introduction of compulsory travel insurance, it will result in a reduced risk to travelers.
#ADVENTURES
The world’s riskiest destination for travelers might surprise you The cost of travel insurance is also minimal compared to the huge expense of having to fork out privately for all medical expenses incurred on vacation if something were to happen. Travelers being medically covered will also reduce the burden on Thailand’s healthcare system.
The compulsory insurance proposal also coincides with Thailand being named as the world’s riskiest places, based on the number of insurance claims made. This accolade only illustrates the crucial need for travel insurance.
The post Why might Thailand make travel insurance compulsory appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Which are the most walkable cities in Asia?

Posted by - July 31, 2018

COUNTRIES IN ASIA are designing cities not just for buildings, but also for people.
Because by doing so, it increases walkability and promotes sustainable living.
#ENVIRONMENT
Which are the greenest countries in Asia-Pacific? What exactly is a walkable city?
The truth is, all cities are technically walkable, but not all of them have proper pedestrian facilities, are easily navigable, or are enjoyable to walk.
There are a handful of walkable cities in the world such as San Francisco, New York City, Montreal, and London, just to name a few. And these cities are way ahead of Asian cities, having had the necessary infrastructures and conditions in place for decades now.
For example, in the Philippines, two million Filipinos own private vehicles while the remaining 98 million cannot afford cars or choose not to have one. They have no other choice but to walk, cycle, or get on public transportation.
Unfortunately, there’s a lack of proper sidewalks, and their public transportation is notoriously unsafe.
Makati City skyline at night in Metro Manila, the Philippines. Source: Shutterstock.
Recognizing the importance of how friendly an area is to walking, cities in Asia are ramping up efforts to ensure they are well-connected with easy accessibility for locals and tourists alike.
This includes building proper sidewalks, improving public transportation, enhancing parks and recreational facilities, and increasing services.
In Pune, India, the Mahatma Gandhi Road was converted to a vehicle-free walking plaza from 4pm to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It saw between 10,000 and 20,000 pedestrians each weekend where families and children could play, move, and chat along the plaza.
Such social interaction encouraged people to be a part of a thriving, inclusive community. Businesses also benefited from the walking plaza, as they attracted more business than they had before the road closure.
The project was discontinued for a couple of years, but there are talks to bring it back.
Source: Shutterstock.
Which are the most walkable cities in Asia?
Shanghai, China Shanghai has some of the most interesting neighborhoods in the country, with pocket parks scattered among a network of low-rise and high-rise buildings and narrow lanes.
The city’s pedestrian-friendliness and walkability are what distinguishes Shanghai from most Chinese cities, perfect for those who love to explore on foot.
A post shared by Lisa (@lisa_petersohn) on Jul 29, 2018 at 3:27am PDT
Travelers would love strolling through the French Concession (streets lined with leafy French plane trees and old colonial architecture) and discover a cute shop, cafe, or gallery that they wouldn’t have otherwise spotted on a train or cab ride.
Seoul, South Korea South Korea’s megacity is so walkable; it’d be such a waste to not put on your walking shoes and head out.
Let your feet lead you to one of the many historical palaces in the heart of Seoul and around the city center where towering skyscrapers seem to touch the sky.
A post shared by Jerome 제롬 / Shim, Jeong-Wook (@jeromeshim) on Jul 16, 2018 at 3:13am PDT
Then, take a leisurely stroll down and dip your feet in Cheonggyecheon stream, a serene waterway that runs through the metropolis, before heading off to one of the city’s gazillion coffee shops for coffee and cake.
Tokyo, Japan Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolis and has a world-renown, efficient albeit labyrinthine metro system that’s complemented by an equally reliable bus service.
Locals often commute by subway or bus, but they also often walk to work (if it’s not too far out), to buy groceries, for meals, and to meet friends.
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The city is so safe and so built for wandering, with sidewalks that are super connected, you’d gladly wear out your sneakers. In fact, you might find it a better way to destress than going to one of those baths.
Taipei, Taiwan Taipei, the energetic capital of Taiwan, is one of the few truly dynamic places in the world, a toss between traditional and rapid modernization.
Like most bustling cities in Asia, Taipei is both chaotic and comfortable, but it’s also completely clean and walkable, with one of the most reliable subway systems in the world.
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Prepare to discover Taipei one step at a time when you prowl the streets, turning off only to check out one of the immaculately maintained parks around the city, before ending your walk at one of the sprawling night markets.
Singapore If there’s one thing that Singapore has got going for them aside from being voted the world’s safest country and being Southeast Asia’s business and economic hub, it’s the fact that it’s extremely well planned.
It has cheap and efficient public transportation but is also pedestrian-friendly.
A post shared by Felicia Fey (@missfeliciafey) on Jul 30, 2018 at 2:54am PDT
Whether you choose to walk, bike, or jump on a scooter to go to the mini-mart, there are endless ways to enjoy the landscape of Singapore without having to hail a ride.
Hoi An, Vietnam Hoi An comes highly recommended from travelers who have had experience trawling the ancient town and it’s easy to see why.
Formerly an important trading port, the Vietnamese destination has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Although you’d need to fork out an entrance fee of VND120,000 (US$5.17), it’s worth it as it comes with admission tickets for five attractions.
A post shared by RaRa's (@rara_5607) on Jul 29, 2018 at 9:04am PDT
Hoi An is even more amazing at night and a sight to behold when traditional lanterns illuminate the streets. So do as tourists would do and remember to whip out your cameras.
The post Which are the most walkable cities in Asia? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How to outsmart mischievous mosquitoes this summer

Posted by - July 31, 2018

DID you know mosquitos are one of the world’s most dangerous animals?
Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half the world’s population is at risk from deadly virus-carrying mosquitoes such as the Aedes aegypti species.
#WELLBEING
9 tips for preventing illness on vacation Mosquitoes come in 3,000 different varieties, starting at three millimeters and ranging up to four inches with an 11-inch wingspan.
Those found in tropical and subsaharan countries can carry a variety of deadly diseases including malaria, Chikungunya, encephalitis, yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and the Zika virus.
Each of these potentially fatal diseases is treatable, but what’s even better than a cure? Prevention.

Preventing being bitten by one of the trillions of the vampiric menaces means not having to endure the irritating and itchy bite it causes and also avoiding contracting a life-threatening illness.
There’s a multitude of tips on keeping yourself safe against mosquito bites, from reducing your CO2 emissions to splashing a little extra cash of good repellant.
End them before they begin
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Some species desire clean water for their babies but mostly, stagnant is the chosen type.
It only takes a week for an egg to grow into an adult, so if you can destroy them before they hatch, you’ve already won half the battle.
Avoiding stagnant water
Mosquitoes live on every continent except Antarctica, so the abundance of penguins down there are safe from these predators.
However, this means if you choose to vacation just about anywhere in the world, you stand a chance of being a mosquito’s supper.
Help yourself by not lingering around stagnant water. This means ponds, lakes, slow flowing rivers, unused birdbaths, pastures, woodland pools, drains, and even rainwater-filled ashtrays.
Focus on your extremities
Some mosquitoes, such as the Aedes aegypti which are carriers of yellow fever, have learned to live “harmoniously” with humans and know how to avoid detection.
They do this by aiming for the feet and ankles of their victims and go unnoticed until the frustrating deed is done.
Try to keep these areas covered with socks and shoes.
Mosquitoes are bad fliers
Considering it’s their primary mode of transport, mosquitoes are not renowned for their flying ability.
In fact, any wind speed over one mph can blow them off course, so a simple plug-in fan could deter the critters from biting you.
Try not to omit much CO2
Perhaps not something you’ve ever had to consider before, but it’s worth noting that mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2 which humans release.
CO2 levels tend to increase when we give our hearts a workout, this can be anything from exercising to eating spicy food.
If you have CO2 level-increasing activities planned, consider doing them inside because mosquitoes can’t penetrate doors.
DEET yourself up
DEET is a combination of chemicals scientifically proven to repel mosquitoes. One of the best formulas on the market containing DEET is called OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent.
It offers eight hours of protection again mosquitoes and ticks which carry Lyme disease.
Dousing yourself in mosquito spray is a sure fire way to slip under the bug’s radar. Remember to apply it everywhere and as often as you can.
Wear light clothing
A mosquito’s eyesight is almost as bad as their flying skills. Apart from sniffing out CO2, they find their victims by spotting differentiation in colors.
So by day, wearing light clothing means you’ll blend into the horizon from the perspective of a mosquito and ultimately be camouflaged against a mozzie attack.
#ENVIRONMENT
Did you know Phuket has a rogue ocean-going crocodile? If you’ve followed these hacks and still wind up with some itchy lumps, try not to scratch them and apply antihistamine creams to reduce the swelling.
There’s little chance they’ll be wiped off the face of the planet via human intervention so we just have to wisen up and outsmart the critters.
The post How to outsmart mischievous mosquitoes this summer appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In pictures: Old world charm Ipoh

Posted by - July 31, 2018

LOCATED in the state of Perak in northwestern Malaysia, Ipoh is the third largest city in the country by population after Georgetown, Penang (second) and Kuala Lumpur (first).
However, the town is easily overlooked by travelers who are not in the know, especially if they’re simply rushing from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.
#PLACES TO EAT
Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? For Malaysians, however, Ipoh is a major pitstop on the way to Penang island.
The town has both the Malayan Railway’s West Coast Line and the heavily used North-South Expressway cutting through the city, making a convenient stopover. But that’s not why locals make it a point to visit Ipoh.
The charismatic destination has a rich history behind it, having first started out as a rich, tin-bearing valley of the Kinta River in the 1880s.
Source: Shutterstock.
It didn’t take long for tin mining activities to help Ipoh grow from a quiet village to a full-blown tin mining town as a result of the booming industry.
It was one of the richest cities in Malaysia , and its success earned it the title of the capital of Perak, replacing Taiping. However, in the later half of the 20th century, the decline of the tin mining industry caused the growth of Ipoh to stagnate.
As the tin mines closed, its population moved out to seek employment in other cities within Malaysia. For decades after, Ipoh suffered decline and neglect.
Source: Shutterstock.
In spite of that, Ipoh has managed to pick itself up and today, it’s popular with locals, with tourism being the main driver of the town’s economy.
What makes the destination, still very much a quiet town as compared to Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur, so compelling? For starters, Ipoh has a rich architectural, cultural, and culinary heritage, minus the crowd.
It’s also surrounded by majestic Paleozoic limestone hills, caves with dramatic rock formations, tranquil hot springs, sprawling theme parks, quaint laneways lined with period buildings, a crop of boutique hotels, and the occasional street art tucked away in a street corner.
Source: Shutterstock.
Food is an abundance and you’ll be sure to never go hungry as you eat your way through Ipoh.
Savor the local classics such as tauge chicken (bean sprouts and chicken), kai si hor fun (flat rice noodles with shredded chicken in broth), and creamy tau fu fah (beancurd pudding) before washing it all down with a hot serving of Ipoh white coffee.
Alternatively, you could just treat yourself to a day-long cafe-hopping spree, as the town is known for its hipster joints with the most gorgeous interiors and delicious grub. After all, they don’t call Ipoh the “hipster capital of Malaysia” for nothing.
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The world’s best beach party destinations revealed

Posted by - July 31, 2018

PARTYING is no new trend, but how people choose to dance the night away and let their hair down has changed considerably over time.
The last century has seen the ultra-conservative days of Victorian dinner parties, and formal balls evolve into the swinging 20s, jiving 40s, rock and roll 50s and 60s, synthesized 80s, raving 90s, and the digital noughties.
#ADVENTURES
Why Thailand is the perfect go-to surfing destination Party venues have also been redefined over time. From stuffy village halls and darkened nightclubs to underground raves and yacht parties. However, one venue has remained unchanged for decades: the paradise beaches around the world.
Beaches are seen as the first nightclubs for entertainment-seeking travelers. They offer a romantic, yet wild setting to dance under the moonlight on the powdered sand, often with naked flames outlining the waters edges and music that can be heard for miles.
Word of mouth, Instagram posts, and a thirst for the world’s best parties have enticed thousands of people to hang out, drink and dance on beaches, and they now feature on many traveler’s bucket lists.
#ENVIRONMENT
Did you know Phuket has a rogue ocean-going crocodile? Popular sandy celebrations such as Thailand’s full moon parties began back in the 80s in Koh Phangan with around 30 people. But these monthly and sometimes bi-monthly parties now receive more than 10,000 people with every full moon in the sky.
Beach parties have gained so much popularity over the last decade, receiving nearly two million hashtags on Instagram, it can be difficult to know where to go and which ones are the best.
But panic not as Germany-based booking and research company Beach-Inspector has revealed the world’s best beaches for parties and we think the top spot might surprise you.
Dubai’s Barasti Beach claimed the accolade for the best party beach in the world.
A post shared by Екатерина Тищенко (@tischenko_ekaterina) on May 5, 2018 at 5:49am PDT
It is the only beach in Dubai where alcohol is served all day long making it a haven for singles looking to mingle.
Barasati Beach also screens major sporting events, live music on Thursday and Fridays, and boasts a dance floor, a restaurant with views as incredible as the food, and of course the refreshing ocean to cool off in.
The second and third positions on the list were awarded to Playa de Palma beach in Majorca, Spain, and Playa d’en Bossa beach in Ibiza, Spain. Both are known for their heavy party scenes where sleeping is more of an emergency solution than a necessity.
Rocking into fourth place is Haad Yuan Beach in Koh Phangan, Thailand, a place nestled between the sea and jungle with the perfect formula of delicious drinks, groovy beats, and white sand to keep you dancing from sunset to sunrise.
A post shared by Haad Yuan beach � (@haadyuanbeach) on Mar 12, 2017 at 3:27am PDT
Fifth place goes to Playa de Magaluf beach in Majora, Spain. Magaluf is synonymous with young Europeans embarking on their first international vacation without the watchful guise of their parents. Cue copious amounts of unidentifiable cocktails.
Sixth place was scooped up by Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan which is the original full moon party venue in Thailand. This is the place to experience the party of all beach parties.
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The seventh spot goes to Lo Dalam Beach in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, a beach known for its perfect balance of daytime relaxing and nighttime partying.
Wrapping up the list and taking eighth and ninth are Golden Sands Central Beach in Bulgaria and Kavos Beach in Greece.
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Each beach, whether they’re in Asia or further afield, made it on to the world’s best list becuase they’re guaranteed to unlock your inner party animal and create unforgettable memories.
So as the saying goes, “Go forth and boogie on the beach.”
The post The world’s best beach party destinations revealed appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Got an issue with your Scoot flight? Talk to M.A.R.V.I.E.

Posted by - July 31, 2018

SINGAPOREAN low-cost airline Scoot is celebrating its one-year anniversary of the Tigerair and Scoot by announcing a new addition to its family, the most awesome and resourceful intern one could have.
A virtual one, that is.
#AIRLINES
Scoot and Tigerair merge, new routes added The transactional Facebook Messenger chatbot, the first of its kind in Asia, is named M.A.R.V.I.E. – short for “Most Awesome and Resourceful Virtual Intern Ever”.
“M.A.R.V.I.E. is one of the first of Scoot’s efforts towards this goal; instead of having our customers come to us, we are committed to meeting them where they are, when it’s convenient for them,” Scoot chief commercial officer Vinod Kannan said in a statement.
“As the first airline in Asia to enable flight bookings and payment via our chatbot, we aim to make it simpler and more convenient for customers to realize their travel plans with Scoot, through a mobile-first approach beyond just the website and mobile app.”
Source: Scoot.
Developed with the expertise of Caravelo, a technology company specialized in solutions for the airline industry, M.A.R.V.I.E. was initially soft-launched on July 2, 2018, to handle queries from customers.
In addition to handling queries in English, M.A.R.V.I.E. is able to assist customers to search for flights, display the same fares and availability as reflected on Scoot’s website and mobile app, make flight bookings, and allow payment by credit card.
Since its soft launch, M.A.R.V.I.E. has serviced about 50 unique users a day and has had has a success rate of 37 percent on handling customer queries through Facebook.
According to Scoot, the most commonly asked queries pertain to baggage information, the Scoot Insider programme, KrisFlyer (the frequent flyer programme of Singapore Airlines) integration, as well as flight search and bookings.
“We are super proud of M.A.R.V.I.E. and of our long-standing partnership with Scoot. For the last two years, we’ve been pioneering conversational commerce in the airline industry and Scoot’s goals of meeting customers where they are and making travel planning simpler resonate with our view of digital servicing and retail,” Caravelo chief commercial officer Jonathan Newman said.
“It’s great that Scoot and M.A.R.V.I.E. are setting the standard in Asia.”
In future, M.A.R.V.I.E. will be able to accept promote codes and more payment modes, assist customers in managing and making amendments to booking records. M.A.R.V.I.E. will also be involved in purchasing ancillary products such as preferred seats and travel insurance and to make interline booking with partner airlines.
For now, it can only handle queries in English, but there are plans to make M.A.R.V.I.E. available in more languages and on more platforms, including Scoot’s website.
#TRAVEL TECH
Which technologies are helping companies transform the travel industry? Chatbots are also a fuss-free way to have all queries and important information saved in a single conversation flow in the conversation history, so a user will always have it at their fingertips.
With Chatbots, time-starved (or impatient) travelers can get their queries across and expect a quicker response than, say, sending through an e-mail.
Other companies that use it include Air New Zealand (named Oscar), Finnair (named Finn), Allora (named Dorothy), FCM Travel Solutions (named Sam), and 30SecondsToFly (named Claire).
The post Got an issue with your Scoot flight? Talk to M.A.R.V.I.E. appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Night sights: ‘Dark tourism’ in Japan

Posted by - July 31, 2018

FORGET the sakura season and the fall foliage, yakei is the next big thing.
It’s not a new concept for the Japanese, but it’s becoming a big reason for travelers to visit the East Asian country. Who knew that sightseeing in the dark could emerge a trend and spur tourism numbers?
#TRAVEL FAILS
No, Japan is not running out of ninjas Yakei, which can be translated as “beautiful night views” or “illumination”, is where brilliant light installments transform cities into a breathtaking visual experience.
The “phenomenon” first started at the Sapporo White Illumination back in 1981 and since then, it has gone on to illuminate more cities, becoming one of Japan’s latest travel trends.
To fully admire yakei, timing and the conditions of the season are important.
The weather must be ideal for walking around the outdoors to see the illuminated lights in the cities and mountaintops. Therefore, the best seasons for partaking in the experience are spring, autumn, and winter.
Each season features different themes, ranging from historical-era time travels, the Garden of Illuminated Flowers, as well as the prehistoric Geo Illumination.
Some of the best yakei destinations in Japan, each with its own character and charms distinctive of their locality, for this year and next are:
Sapporo City Home to a rich brewing history, beer, skiing, the 1972 Winter Olympics, and the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, Sapporo is a city on the island of Hokkaido.
Aside from the abovementioned claims to fame, the capital is also famous for its illuminating lights in the city and from Mt. Moiwa.
Source: Shutterstock.
The Sapporo TV Tower is also a visual delight, anchoring its eastern end while the Sapporo Shiryokan stands at its western end, making the park one of Sapporo’s best sightseeing spots.
Nagasaki City Nagasaki in Kyushu prefecture has come a long way since the World War II atomic bombings.
In fact, the city was voted one of the best night views in the world alongside Hong Kong and Monaco at the Night View Summit 2012. In 2015, it was chosen as one of “Japan’s new top three night views” along with Kobe and Sapporo.
Source: Shutterstock.
Aside from popular night scene spots like Inasayama (a landmark location for enjoying the night view), Nabekansan, and Glover Garden, Nagasaki also hosts illumination events and a candle-light festival.
Ashikaga Flower Park About 80 kilometers from the metropolitan city of Tokyo is Ashikaga Flower Park.
Located in Tochigi Prefecture, the flowers haven is popular for hosting the largest collection of wisterias in the country – over 350 wisteria trees and 5,000 azaleas in full bloom.
Source: Shutterstock.
While the blooms are available for viewing throughout the seasons, its night view is also quite a sight to behold. In the winter, an event called “Flower Fantasy: Bejeweled Flower Garden” is held, where three million light bulbs decorate the park.
Enoshima, Fujisawa City Located off the Shonan coast of Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, Enoshima is known for the Enoshima Shrine, with statues honoring Buddhist goddess Benzaiten. But it was its Enoshima Sea Candle lighthouse (also the Shonan Observatory Lighthouse) that earned the small island a spot on the yakei list.
The nearly 60-meter lighthouse, which sits atop the highest point of the island, has become a landmark symbol for the area. It offers 360-degree panoramic views and treats visitors to some of the best, most beautiful sights of Mt. Fuji.
Source: Shutterstock.
But come nighttime, the Enoshima Sea Candle lighthouse can be spotted from miles away.
Oi Racecourse Also known as Tokyo City Keiba, the Oh Racecourse was built in 1950 for horseracing. Or at least that was the initial plan.
Today, it hosts one of the largest Tokyo flea markets, attracting hundreds of sellers peddling pre-loved clothes, accessories and shoes, food, watches, handmade items, and miscellaneous goods.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Other than going there to witness the weekday races or to shop at the sprawling market, visitors also frequent the racecourse for a yakei experience.
Katsuyama City Located in far northern Fukui Prefecture, Japan, Katsuyama is a rural city that’s surrounded by soaring mountains on all sides.
The city has been blessed with cultural assets abundant natural beauty and is particularly popular for its nature activities such as mountaineering, skiing, and snowboarding.
Source: Shutterstock.
In 2007, it was ranked the ninth cleanest city in the world by Forbes Magazine. It was also named a Japan Geopark in recognition of its geological features and the numerous dinosaur fossils found.
For more information on Japan’s yakei tourism, visit its website.
The post Night sights: ‘Dark tourism’ in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

What you can do to stay safe during an earthquake

Posted by - July 30, 2018

14 PEOPLE have died in the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that jolted West Nusa Tenggara and the tourist island of Lombok in Indonesia over the weekend.
A Malaysian tourist who was on a hiking trip to Mount Rinjani, the second highest volcano in the country, is among those killed.
The victim had been participating in a climbing mission with 17 other Malaysians, six of which have been injured while the others are safe.
#ENVIRONMENT
Lesser-known Gili island to get major makeover Lombok may be less famous than its neighbor 40 kilometers away, but that just means the island is relatively untouched.
Located east of Bali and west of Sumbawa, Lombok is part of the Lesser Sunda Island chain, known for its pristine beaches, hiking trails, and surfing spots.
Travelers particularly love its nearby motor-vehicle-free Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno) which offer clear warm waters, perfect for diving and snorkeling.
Source: Shutterstock.
According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake was 50km northeast of Mataram in northern Lombok.
It was followed by more than 60 smaller earthquakes, with the largest recorded at a magnitude of 5.7. The tremors were felt as far as the Gili islands as well as Bali.
BBC Marathi journalist Vinayak Gaikwad, who was on Gili Trawangan island at the time of the earthquake, said, “The tremors were strong – I noticed waves in the hotel pool. A group of us ran out of the hotel.”
An Indonesian village security officer examines the remains of houses, after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck, in Lombok on July 29, 2018. Source: AFP PHOTO / Aulia AHMAD.
While you can’t stop earthquakes from happening and you can’t exactly avoid getting caught in one, you can reduce the risk of getting hurt.
For example, identify beforehand if the destination you’re going to sits anywhere near the volatile Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
Countries in Asia-Pacific that happen to be associated with it include Indonesia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Japan, and Taiwan.
The volcanoes in Indonesia are among the most active of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
If you’re indoors during an earthquake, stay indoors but take cover under furniture or against a wall. Trying to leave a building can result in more injuries because objects can fall on you.
If you’re outdoors, quickly move into the open, away from street lights, trees, utility wires, buildings, or anything that can potentially hurt you. Stay out of damaged buildings until the authorities say it’s safe.
If you’re in a moving vehicle, stay in it until the shaking has stopped.
#INDUSTRY NEWS
How Indonesia is gearing up for the 2018 Asian Games The aftershocks can occur hours, days, weeks, or months after a quake so be prepared for them. Keep yourself tuned in to the local radio station or stay connected for updates on the emergency situation.
Lastly, don’t forget to report your status to your country’s embassy or consulate in the country you are visiting.
The post What you can do to stay safe during an earthquake appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

The hotel suites from famous movies you can actually stay in

Posted by - July 30, 2018

ASIA is home to some of the world’s most iconic movie scenes.
From Danny Boyle’s 2000 blockbuster The Beach to Sophia Coppola’s tender rom-com, Lost in Translation, Asia’s cityscapes and natural beauty provide directors with an array of ideal filming locations.
#POP CULTURE
If film directors made travel posters this is what they would look like It’s no secret that people travel the world to discover these locations and get the perfect picture to prove they’ve been there.
There’s something undeniably satisfying about treading in the footsteps of movies stars, but imagine if you could stay in the same beds as they did too.
While a lot of movie interior shots are filmed in the studio, these Asia-based blockbusters utilized charming hotel suites to create authentic scenes; and you can check in to them for your very own cinematic experience.
The Hangover Part II, Thailand
In the second installment of the outrageous “bachelor party gone wrong” film, The Hangover Part II, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and the gang head to Bangkok, Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding.
The group ends up with facial tattoos, a monkey, a severed finger, and no memory.
Many of film’s scenes were shot in Lebua at State Tower hotel, a property known for its lavish suites, breathtaking views, and iconic rooftop bars.
A post shared by Vincènt Conversano (@vincent_conversano) on Jul 29, 2018 at 4:26am PDT
A one-night stay here starts at US$107, but if you’re going in for the true Hangover experience and want to stay in the original suite, it’ll set you back US$931.
However, the suite from the movie sleeps 11 people, so it could be a great choice for a raucous bachelor party of your own.
Address: State Tower, Yan Nawa 1055 Si Lom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand. Telephone: +662624999. Lost in Translations, Japan
“The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you,” Bob Harris (Bill Murray) tells Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in Lost in Translation as they lay on a bed in Park Hyatt, Tokyo.
Park Hyatt’s elegant oasis is an antithesis of Tokyo’s chaotic atmosphere and a stay in the Lost in Translation suite starts from around US$750 per night.
A post shared by Mike Locke (@djmikelocke) on Jul 26, 2018 at 7:23am PDT
Head up to the New York Bar on the 52nd floor to sip whiskey and plenty of other delights just like Bob and Charlotte did in the film.
Address: 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, Japan. Telephone: +810353221234. Octopussy, India
“Bond, James Bond,” is one of the most iconic movie lines ever and James Bond, a fictional spy, is an archetype of British culture.
He’s traveled the world, from Russia to Hong Kong and Italy to India, which is where the stunning Taj Lake Palace hotel from the 1983 Octopussy starring Roger Moore as James Bond can be found.
A post shared by Royal Highness Of Udaipur (@royal_highnessofudaipur) on May 20, 2018 at 3:51am PDT
Often referred to as one of the most romantic hotels in the world, the marble-clad Taj Lake Palace is set on Lake Pichola and only accessible via boat.
You can dine on the terrace where James Bond wooed one of his many ladies and experience the luxury suites for as little as US$281 per night.
Address: Postbox 5, Udaipur, Rajasthan – 313001 , India. Telephone: +910294248800. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, India
This endearing film stars some of Britain’s biggest names such as Dame Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, and Dev Patel.
The Best Marigold Hotel features in the film as a blissful retirement home for foreigners but in reality, it is the Ravla Khempur hotel.
A post shared by Mercè Comamala (@merce.comamala) on Oct 15, 2016 at 4:00am PDT
All the rooms are exactly as they appear in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, if not a little better after its recent refurbishment.
For those going to India to seek culture and an authentic experience, Ravla Khempur hotel is a wonderful place to stay especially if you want to take 40 winks in the same bed Bill Nighy slept in, and for only US$53 per night.
Address: Khempur Village, Mavli, District, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, 313203. Telephone: +91295537154. #DESTINATIONS
Asia’s most enchanting tourism videos The Impossible, Thailand
The Impossible recounts the tragic story of one of the tens of thousands of families caught up in the catastrophic 2004 tsunami which hit Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Malaysia and many other nations bordering the Indian Ocean.
In the film, the family stays at the Orchid Beach Resort in the Khao Lak region, directly on the seafront. In a heart-wrenching tale, viewers see the family yanked apart by the devastating wave then embark on a harrowing journey of survival and defiance.
A post shared by Sylvi love traveling (@syvidiekuhlemom) on Jun 1, 2018 at 2:39pm PDT
The resort was in fact damaged by the tsunami but has since had a beautiful renovation. It offers four types of accommodation for singles, couples, families and friends, all with stunning ocean vistas.
A vacation in this beautiful setting starts from US$44 per night depending on which month you go.
Address: 61 Moo 3, Khuk Khak Beach, T.Khuk Khak A.Takuapa, Phang Nga, Thailand 82190. Telephone: +660764862212. The post The hotel suites from famous movies you can actually stay in appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.