YOU may have climbed the great wall of China, lounged on the golden sands across Indonesia, dived with the tropical fish in the Philippines and gazed at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
But these are just the beginning of your Asian adventure, and to be honest, the beginning of everyone else’s too.
Asia has so many more spectacular destinations waiting to be explored by intrepid adventurers and culture seekers.
Could Hainan be Asia’s next paradise island destination? Destinations which haven’t already been hash-tagged a thousand times and remain relatively known to many.
These are the places travel agents want to keep a secret but aren’t allowed to.
They are destinations that you can plaster over your Instagram before anyone else does, or simply keep their magnificence to yourself as tropical secret.
Feast your eyes on some of Asia’s hidden gems.
The Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines A post shared by jurn33 (@jurn33) on Apr 24, 2018 at 3:36am PDT
These stunning rice fields effortlessly follow the contours of the emerald mountains in the Cordillera region in Luzon, around 300 miles from Manila.
The outstanding natural beauty has existed here for millions of years with the addition of the rice fields around 2000 years ago.
A post shared by Dina & Chris (@myunbucketlist) on Apr 17, 2018 at 8:01pm PDT
The upkeep of the fields is a family affair with knowledge being passed down through generations.
While the area is far from the luxury found in the Philippines’ El Nido Resort, the adventure and landscape are well worth the basic accommodation.
Hunan Province, China A post shared by BudgetTravel (@budgettravel) on Oct 20, 2015 at 9:36pm PDT
Located in the southern central part of China, the natural beauty of Hunan Province inspired James Cameron’s ground-breaking film, Avatar.
Equally accessible on a short flight from either Beijing or Shanghai, the area boasts Wulingyuan Scenic Area which contains several national parks.
A post shared by Elaine Li | Sydney (@lielaine) on Apr 13, 2018 at 6:06am PDT
One of the most stunning parks is Zhangjiajie. The towering sandstone columns jut out of the flora-covered forest floor creating stepping stones in the sky.
The choice of four-star accommodation around the parks offers adventurous travelers the option of luxury too.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan A post shared by Mᴀʀɪɴᴀ Bʀᴀᴜɴ ↝ Fᴀsʜɪᴏɴ Tʀᴀᴠᴇʟs (@marinabraunnn) on Apr 23, 2018 at 12:57pm PDT
Taskent may be the capital city of Uzbekistan but it’s very different from other major cities.
Unlike London, Beijing, New York or New Delhi, Tashkent is relativelly quiet but steeped in beauty.
History and architecture enthusiasts can enjoy incredible mosaic styled buildings and learn more about the old charms of the Silk Road.
A post shared by Bronwynn Bradley (@bwynnb) on Apr 23, 2018 at 9:47am PDT
Despite its Soviet past, it’s far easier to get around Tashkent than you may think.
Visitors can find taxis and buses all over the city and a beautifully decorated metro runs efficiently.
Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia A post shared by Elephant Family (@elephantfamily) on Jun 26, 2017 at 4:36am PDT
Nestled between the southwest of Cambodia and Eastern Thailand, these stunning mountains are yet to register on tourist’s radars.
Cultural quirks such as 17th-century ceramic pots can be seen high up on rock ledges surrounded by lush forest.
The mountains were once home to fleeing Khmer Rouge soldiers, but now the area is preserved as a gleaming example of community-based ecotourism.
A post shared by Anja (@anjamanuela) on Mar 30, 2018 at 11:36pm PDT
The Cardamom Mountains are perfect for animal lovers as the undisturbed rocky mountainsides and moist climate have allowed magnificent flora and fauna to thrive.
See if you can spot a clouded leopard, Indochinese tiger or dhole.
What’s in a: traditional Thai massage? Shodoshima, Japan A post shared by Japonismo.com (@japonismo) on Apr 23, 2018 at 12:07pm PDT
Think Mediterranean olive grows meets Balinese beaches and you get Shodoshima.
Also known as the Island of Little Beans, this hidden spot can be found between Kagawa and Okayama in the south main islands that make up the extensive Japanese archipelago.
While it is popular among domestic tourist looking for a slice of beach paradise, it’s certainly not on the checklists of international travelers just yet.
A post shared by Eri Qumbar (@e_nico19) on Apr 23, 2018 at 3:16am PDT
When you’re not tucking into fresh olives and relaxing in a natural hot spring, make your way up to Mount Hoshigajo-san, Mount Kingdom of Stars, to take full advantage of mesmerizing landscape views.
Have you visited any off-the-radar gems in Asia you want to share with us? We won’t tell anyone… promise.
The post Asia: Beyond the tourist hotspots appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
YOU may have climbed the great wall of China, lounged on the golden sands across Indonesia, dived with the tropical fish in the Philippines and gazed at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Boutique hotels offer a unique intimacy and wonderful idiosyncrasy that you just can’t get in bigger, faceless hotels. They have a beating heart and an eccentric personality that charms you while making you feel whole heartedly welcome, and Asia is home to some of the world’s finest, most endearing, quirky and incredibly serviced boutique hotels.
These hotels are easy to find if you know where to look and are difficult to leave because you’ll undoubtedly fall in love with them.
Here are a few boutique hotels from across Asia that offer individuality, quirky design, real character, fantastic location, tantalizing gastronomy and a superb level of service.
Editor’s pick: Belmond
The wonderful world of Belmond welcomes guests into 47 extraordinary hotels, luxury railway journeys, and tranquil river cruise experiences.
For the last 40 years, Belmond has constantly been adding to its distinctive portfolio, offering guests unique experiences.
Belmond La Residence D’Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia is a leafy retreat set on the river, just moments from the mystifying temple complexes and close to the town centre.
The enchanting traditional Khmer architecture, hand-woven silks, local artefacts and bespoke artworks give the five-star hotel a genuine sense of place.
Belmond La Residence D’Angkor’s award-winning Kong Kea Spa offers a unique sensory experience taking traditional Cambodian-style healing techniques and combining them with contemporary methods to deliver utter relaxation of body and mind.
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life you can travel to Laos or Myanmar. You’ll find Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, set in Luang Prabang’s secluded heritage zone atop Phou Vao Hill, or Belmond Governor’s Residence, in the quiet diplomatic district of Yangon, the perfect boutique hotels for you.
Immerse in an enchanting world of culture and adventure at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao where guests recline around a freshwater infinity pool looking towards spectacular mountain vistas. Let the fresh scent of frangipani transport you back to simpler times.
Meanwhile, Belmond Governor’s Residence is a colonial-style mansion where old world elegance mingles with rich Burmese beauty, providing guests with a classic pinch of Myanmar magic. Relax beside the large fan-shaped pool before discovering the city sites. After all, Shwedagon Temple is just 10 minutes away. Then return to the Governor’s Residence for signature cocktails and alfresco delectable dinner featuring the finest and freshest seafood.
Or perhaps you’re looking for a beach-side paradise for your vacation? Belmond Napasai on Koh Samui, southern Thailand, and Belmond Jimbaran Puri on Bali Island, Indonesia, will fulfil your dreams of golden sand, crystal clear water and fantastic flora.
Belmond Jimbaran Puri offers delightful stand-alone villas and cottages embraced by lush jungle and enjoying perfect privacy. Each villa is designed to reflect true Balinese style with alang-alang thatched roofs and bamboo interiors complemented with stunning ocean views.
Soak up the atmosphere around the beachfront pool carved from Javanese stone. Then dash across the golden sand to the glistening ocean. At Belmond Jimbaran Puri, you’ll feel a million miles from anywhere.
Last not least among Belmond’s brilliant collection of boutique hotels across Asia is Belmond Napasai on the paradise island of Koh Samui.
Here you’ll find some 17 acres of beachfront tropical gardens and accommodations offering an authentic Thai tropical island feel. The stylish split-level multi-bedroom residences, providing direct access to the glimmering ocean, are entirely unique to this Belmond property.
When you’ve finished admiring this slice of perfect paradise nestled between cashew and coconut groves, enjoy the botanical secrets of Asia at Napasai Spa. Then feast on the finest regional cuisine and enjoy further flavours of Koh Samui mixed in a cocktail while ensconced in this beachside haven.
If you’re looking for a unique tailor-made experience in Australia, stay at one of Lancemore Group’s properties where each of the award-winning boutique hotels are as individual as you are.
Mansion Hotel and Spa by Lancemore at Werribee Park in Victoria is one of the grandest hotels in Australia and perfect for those who have an interest in history.
Guest will experience a cosmopolitan haven of tranquillity and charm through luxurious guest rooms paired effortlessly with exquisitely kept 19th century estate gardens.
Indulge in the spa treatments and take a walk through the English gardens, full of flora and bumbling bees.
Enjoy a delicious meal and fine wine and forget the bustling outside world.
Step outside of the old English style of life and into a world of swimming, snorkelling and diving at Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore in Queensland.
Set against a backdrop of endless turquoise waters and golden sand beaches lined with coconut palms, this boutique hotel is perfect for romantic escapes and family holidays.
Each of the huge rooms reflect the serenity of the hotel’s surroundings and the brilliant staff at Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore will undoubtedly provide you with a perfect holiday.
Back in city life, Larmont Sydney by Lancemore offers a boutique hotel in one of Sydney’s avant-garde hubs, Potts Point.
The unrivalled location of the hotel looks out over spectacular harbour views from gorgeous rooms full of bespoke amenities for the well-traveled guest who wants more than a standard hotel room.
China may not be your first port of call for boutique hotels, but there are some stunning properties waiting to be discovered.
One of these is Rosewood Beijing. The hotel presents contemporary, warm, refined and serene surroundings which give guests the impression of luxury apartment living.
The 282 spacious rooms and suites have walk-in closets, top of the range immaculate bathrooms, chic furniture, beautiful fine art prints, floor-to-ceiling windows and touches of individuality to evoke a home-like atmosphere.
Rosewood Beijing is set in the prestigious Chaoyang District surrounded by urban skyscrapers and high-end shopping.
Guests here are in the perfect place to discover all the culture and history the packed capital has to offer, safe in the knowledge they can stroll through the elegant doors at the end of a busy day and dine at one of the six onsite restaurants offering everything from fine pastries to local cuisine and tapas to French bistro.
There is no doubt boutique hotels are the only way to stay, travel and play.
Why stay anywhere else in Asia when you could have a personalized piece of paradise at any one of these featured properties?
*Some of the properties featured in this article are commercial partners of Travel Wire Asia
The post Luxury boutique hotel groups in Asia-Pacific appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
Marble Temple of Bangkok, part of Back-Roads Touring’s ‘Temples of Thailand and Cambodia’ itinerary British based group-tour specialists Back-Roads Touring has started a new chapter in its 25-year history by branching out from its traditional stamping grounds in the United Kingdom and Europe, with the announcement of its expansion into Asia.
Taking its experience of small group and custom made tours of the highways byways, and of course, back roads of Europe – as well as canal excursions and boutique accommodations – and applied it to eight itineraries:
Bangkok & The River Kwai (five days), Temples of Thailand and Cambodia (eight days), Wonders of Thailand (13 days), Hanoi & Halong Highlights, Vietnam Adventure (five days), Vietnam and Cambodia Discovery (12 days) and Flavours of Vietnam (12 days).
“Exploring South-East Asia in a small group is something that we know travellers are seeking and with our new Asia tours, they can do that with a company they know and trust” said Daryl Raven, Back-Roads Touring general manager.
“A balance of guided experiences and to be able to explore destinations at their own leisure”
“We are committed to keeping up with market demands and customer feedback, and have always taken this on board when we develop any of our new product ranges. We know that our customers are looking for a balance of guided experiences and to be able to explore destinations at their own leisure.”
“In South-East Asia, some of our amazing highlights include experiences such as exploring Angkor Wat with a stone conservation expert, visiting rescued elephants in a rehabilitation facility in Chiang Mai, or even showing you where to experience the best sunset over a deserted beach. With our experienced guides, a Back-Roads tour in Asia is simply extraordinary”.
Raven went on to say: “We’ve seen triple digit growth from UK agents in the last few years with the majority of our business coming this way so they’re incredibly important to us. We believe that the launch of Asia will complement our Europe & UK Small Group Touring programme perfectly so we’re looking forward to working even closer with our existing trade partners and developing new partnerships off the back of this release.”
Back-Roads Touring specialises in authentic, off-the-beaten-track travel and small group tours, capped at 18 in Europe and 14 in Asia, aimed at mature and experienced travellers.
WORLD HERITAGE DAY (otherwise known as the International Day for Monuments and Sites) is held on April 18 each year around the world. The day celebrates cultural heritage, brings awareness to important cultural monuments and sites, and promotes efforts for protection and conservation of the world’s cultures.
It was first proposed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on April 18, 1982, and approved by Unesco in 1983. The events that take place on World Heritage Day includes visits to monuments and heritage sites, conferences, round-table discussions, and more.
Destinations in Asia you might want to avoid in 2018 As of July 2017, there are a total of 1,073 World Heritage Sites: 832 are cultural, 206 are natural, and 35 are mixed properties. 55 of these are in danger, such as the 2.5 million-hectare Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Comprising of three national parks – Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park,, and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park – the site was listed as endangered since 2011 due to poaching, illegal logging, agricultural encroachment, and plans to build roads.
Other sites in Asia that were previously listed as being in danger include the majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It was de-listed in 2004 thanks to the restoration activities coordinated by Unesco since 1993.
Here are some lesser-known, enthralling Unesco heritage sites in Asia that are worth visiting:
China: Wudang Mountains Located in the northwestern part of Hubei, the Wudang Mountains consists of a small mountain range that’s home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries associated with the god Xuanwu. The mountains, one of the “Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism” in China, are renowned for the practice of tai chi and Taoism as the Taoist counterpart to the Shaolin Monastery.
There’s no place quite like the Wudang Mountains for connecting with Taoist history. Source: Shutterstock.
An important center of Taoism, the mountains are popular for Taoist pilgrimages. Its monasteries, such as the Wudang Garden, were made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1994.
The Philippines: Vigan Town On the west coast of Luzon island in the Philippines is the quiet and quaint Vigan town. Established in the 16th century, Vigan town was once the capital of Spanish conqueror Juan de Salcedo’s Ilocos. It’s known for its well preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. Visitors will be drawn to its cobblestone footpaths, horse-drawn carriages, rustic mansions, and the white baroque Vigan Cathedral.
Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Source: Shutterstock.
In 1999, Vigan was listed by Unesco as the best-preserved example of Spanish colonial towns in Asia. In 2014, it was also named as one of the New7Wonders Cities.
Cambodia: The Temple of Preah Vihear Built during the period of the Khmer Empire, the Temple of Preah Vihear is an ancient Hindu temple located atop a 525-meter Dangrek Mountains cliff in Cambodia. It has the most spectacular setting of all temples built during the empire, with a panoramic view that span kilometers-long. An outstanding example of Khmer architecture, it was supported and modified by successive kings since the 11th century, with several architectural styles.
The Temple of Preah Vihear is a stunning ancient Hindu temple surrounded by a beautiful Cambodian countryside. Source: Shutterstock.
Due to its remote location, the site has remained relatively untouched. In 2008, the Temple of Preah Vihear was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Japan: Sacred Shrines in the Kii Mountain Range About two hours south of Osaka lies Koyasan (Mount Koya), one of the endpoints in the pilgrimage routes of the Kii mountain range. The route goes through Mie, Nara, and Wakayama prefectures, and is full of beautiful forest trails going over and next to waterfalls, shrines, temples, streams, and rivers. Located in the dense forests are three sacred sites: Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, and Koyasan. They’re still very much part of the Japan culture, often visited for ritual purposes and hiking, raking in up to 15 million visitors annually.
This vast natural area with its formidable mountains, rugged coastline, gigantic old growth trees, an abundance of waterfalls and scenic rivers, has been revered and worshiped since ancient times. Source: Shutterstock.
The sacred shrines were listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site back in 2004.
Vietnam: Hoi An Known as Vietnam’s “well-preserved ancient town,” Hoi An is a former port city located on Vietnam’s central coast. Unesco praises it for being an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. In fact, this is reflected in the mix of eras and styles in its architecture: wooden Chinese shop-houses and temples, colorful French colonial houses, elaborately decorated Vietnamese tube houses, and the Cau Nhat Ban aka the Japanese covered bridge with a pagoda.
The iconic Japanese covered bridge dates back to the 18th century and is a beautiful historical piece of Japanese architecture. Source: Shutterstock.
In 1999, Hoi An was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
China: Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha Classified as one of the “Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains” in China, Mount Emei is located in the Sichuan Province. It’s home to the first Buddhist temple in China, built in the 1st century in the beautiful surroundings of the mountain. The site also boasts the Giant Buddha of Leshan, the largest stone Buddha in the world. At 71 meters tall, the towering statue was carved out of a hillside in the 8th century and looks down on the confluence of three rivers.
The Mount Emei area, including the Leshan Giant Buddha, comprises the place where Buddhism was first established in China. Source: Shutterstock.
Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha were listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996.
The post World Heritage Day: Lesser-known Unesco sites in Asia worth visiting appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
PLANNING a vacation is almost as exciting as actually being on vacation.
Deciding where to go, planning your outfits, asking others for recommendations – just so you can humbly brag about your upcoming trip – and spending hours looking at glorious Instagram pictures from people who are already there.
For most people, booking a vacation is as simple as researching, deciding, and booking. But for many others, spending time researching other nation’s laws and legislation forms the first part of their decision process.
LGBT escape: Asia pushes pink tourism Why? Because those who identify within the LGBTQ+ community still face discrimination and persecution in 72 countries around the world.
The below shows where in the world it is still illegal to be gay, where gay marriage is legalized and identifies the grey areas in between.
Such as where there are no laws against homosexuality, but the nation is openly intolerant.
New legislation is constantly being introduced and revoked. For example, Indonesia is considering reinstating a law that would re-criminalize homosexuality, whereas Australia has recently legalized gay marriage.
But being openly gay in 72 countries around the world can land you a stint in prison, from month-long sentences to life imprisonment.
In Iran, Saudi Arabi, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan the severe punishment of death is enforced for being gay. What do all these countries have in common? They are conservative.
The updated map of LGBTQ+ laws around the world. Source: Travel Wire Asia
Within Asia, it is illegal to be openly gay in Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, and India. On the map, these nations are marked in red.
Those marked in teal signify the nations that not only allow people to be openly gay but also let them get married.
Because everybody, no matter their sexual orientation, should have the right to get married.
Orange countries signify nations where homosexuality is legal, and there are laws in place to protect those in the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination.
Nations coded in purple, such as Thailand, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea and Nepal, mean homosexuality is legal, but there are only a few protections for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Now for the uglier side of things Blue nations such as Indonesia and China state that homosexuality is not illegal, but there are now laws to protect those in the gay community – meaning people who identify as LGBTQ+ can be discriminated against.
In nations marked in green such as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, homosexuality is legal by default.
This means those states have never enacted legislation specifically outlawing it. So, it is not “officially illegal” to be gay but there are no laws to protect you from discrimination, prejudice and harsh treatments by officials.
Orange countries are essentially red. But because there is no official law, they just sit ominously while not protecting their citizens.
The loudest, proudest LGBT festivals in Asia Where should you travel if you belong to the LGBTQ+ community Do not limit yourself to traveling to countries where homosexuality is legal.
Travel the world but be mindful of how you are perceived and how you act. In countries like Malaysia, it is not only those in the LGBTQ+ community who can be prosecuted.
Anyone who displays indecent signs of public affection, straight or gay, can be called up by the authorities. This is because under Malaysian law if you “offend” some through “obscene acts”, you can be punished.
However, this is unlikely to happen, but just be mindful of your surroundings and don’t parade the fact you’re as gay as James Banham, founder of The-F, tells Six-Two after visiting Indonesia.
“You wouldn’t want to wave the fact you’re a homosexual in the face of anyone. Don’t do that and you’ll stay in everyone’s good books.”
This Australian airline just banned its staff from using ‘guys’, ‘love’, ‘honey’ While we agree that you shouldn’t have to hide your sexual orientations, it’s wise to remember that you’re not vacationing with the purpose of promoting awareness around LGBTQ+ communities.
The best way to choose your next vacation destination is by informing yourself, as James explains, “Don’t be arrogant. Know where you’re going and brush up on the laws.”
In a world where so much hate and discrimination, it is important to stand up for what you believe in. But there is also a time and a place for this, which is most probably not while you’re on your vacation.
The post Here’s what you should know if you’re LGBTQ+ and traveling to Asia appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
ASIAN countries are collectively initiating a clean-up effort to reduce unnecessary waste by banning or regulating the use of plastic bags.
The next time you’re heading to Taiwan, remember to think twice about using plastic, especially single-use plastic products such as straws and utensils. The island is set to ban single-use plastic drinking straws in several phases, starting with the food and beverage industry, according to Hong Kong Free Press.
This is coming not long after Taiwan introduced a recycling programme and charges for plastic bags.
How you could be responsible for Asia’s garbage wasteland problem Taiwan is not the only Asian country that has embraced the anti-plastic movement.
In 2008, prior to the Olympic Games, China placed a ban on all thin plastic bags and asked retailers to charge a tax on thicker bags. This led to a two-thirds reduction in plastic bag use.
China has also banned imports of plastic waste from the start of 2018, a move that shocked most of the UK and the US as they are now unable to send their plastic waste to China, forcing them to increase their domestic recycling capacities.
Before the ban, China was the world’s most dominant importer of such waste. In 2016, it imported 7.3 million tonnes of waste plastics, valued at US$3.7 billion, accounting for 56 percent of world imports, Reuters wrote.
Still using plastic bags for your grocery shopping? It’s time to rethink this. Source: Shutterstock.
According to Ocean Conservancy, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are five countries that are dumping more plastic into the oceans than the rest of the world combined.
In Asia, trash often clogs waterways in cities, increasing the risk of floods, or gets swept up by wind and cast into the ocean. Due to poor waste processing infrastructure, in the five Asian countries listed above, only about 40 percent of garbage is properly collected.
Eliminating the use of plastic bags is necessary to decrease the amount of waste and pollution in a long term. Other countries in Asia that have plastic bag bans or taxes in place include:
Bangladesh Bangladesh, a South Asian country to the east of India on the Bay of Bengal, was the first country in the world to impose a ban on plastic.
In 2002, Bangladesh banned thinner plastic bags after they were found to have choked the country’s drainage system during devastating floods.
Wastage plastic material and toxic chemicals from dying factories dumped in a canal in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Source: Shutterstock.
This kicked off a positive domino effect, encouraging other countries such as Australia and China to follow suit.
It also changed shopping habits and everyday lives, as shopkeepers in the Bangladeshi capital would refuse to deliver their wares in polythene bags.
Cambodia Home to Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, Cambodia is taking a stand against the use of plastic bags by charging supermarket shoppers for using plastic bags.
The government is also looking to ban the production, import, and distribution of the plastic bags that are thinner than 0.03mm and less than 30cm in width.
Four local unidentified girls of school age arrange large bags with different kinds of trash on a bicycle. Source: Shutterstock.
Cambodia plans to curb the usage of plastic bags by 50 percent by 2019.
The additional charges for the use of plastic bags will be implemented throughout the country by 2020.
Hong Kong In 2015, Hong Kong imposed a levy that requires all retailers, from street hawkers to electronic appliance stores, to charge customers no less than HKD0.50 (US$0.064) for a plastic bag.
The ultimate goal of the levy scheme is to cultivate a habit of “Bring your Own Bag” (BYOB) within its society.
A young woman eating a popular Hong Kong street snack, the egg waffle, wrapped in a paper bag. Source: Shutterstock.
The government appears to be taking the new law very seriously, even slapping a Hong Kong grocery store owner a HK$5,000 (US$640) fine a year later for failing to charge customers for plastic bags.
The owner was the first to be criminally charged for not abiding by the new law.
India One of the top polluters in the world, India, tackled their plastic waste issue by introducing a ban on disposable plastic, in accordance with a ruling by its High Court, starting with capital city Delhi.
It was introduced after complaints about the illegal mass burning of plastic and other waste at three local rubbish dumps, which has been blamed for causing air pollution, The Independent wrote.
Half of India’s states and union territories have introduced a blanket ban on plastic bags. Source: Shutterstock.
As such, cutlery, bags, cups and other forms of single-use plastic have been prohibited by India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT).
To date, Jammu, Kashmir, and 17 other states and territories governed by New Delhi have imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of plastic bags.
Indonesia During the rainy season, thousands of tonnes of rubbish discarded in rivers and waterways washes up on Indonesia’s shores.
To put an end to plastic pollution, Indonesia has pledged up to US$1 billion a year to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic and other waste products polluting its waters.
That straw you’re using to sip your cold soda, the plastic bags holding your week’s groceries, and all those plastic containers you’ve hoarded from takeaways – they all have to end up somewhere eventually. Source: Shutterstock.
Also, in 2016, a tax on single-use plastic bags was trialed in 23 cities across Indonesia. The country launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags, with guidelines for retailers to charge consumers up to IDR5,000 (US$0.37) for each plastic bag used.
Although the campaign was met with some resistance from both consumers and the industry, the Indonesian government reported a big reduction in plastic bag use. Moving forward, Indonesia is planning to table a Bill to impose a nationwide tax of not less than IDR200 (US$0.014) per plastic bag.
Malaysia In 2015, a study published in Science Magazine by Jambeck and his associates estimated that, out of 192 coastal countries in the world, Malaysia is the eighth largest producer of mismanaged plastic wastes.
Malaysia produced almost one million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste (waste not recycled or properly disposed of) in 2010.
Asian countries have embraced the anti-plastic movement. Source: Shutterstock.
To curb the problem, a ban on conventional plastic bags in favor of biodegradable and compostable plastics bags and food containers officially took effect in Malaysia’s Federal Territories – Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur – in 2017.
Selangor also eased into the idea of banning plastic bags by first encouraging plastic bag-free Saturdays. The campaign later expanded to no free plastic bags on all days. Consumers who need plastic bags are charged RM0.20 (US$0.05) for each.
Taiwan Taiwan Minister Lee Ying-yuan confirmed last month a blanket ban is set to be introduced in 2030 on all plastic bags, disposable utensils, and disposable beverage cups.
As of next year, food and beverage stores such as fast food chains must stop providing plastic straws for in-store use. And from 2020, free plastic straws will be banned from all food and beverage outlets.
Taiwan’s signature drink, bubble tea, is often drunk through plastic giant straws. Source: Shutterstock.
From 2025, the public will have to pay for takeaway plastic straws.
The post The big Asian clean-up: How Asia is tackling plastic pollution appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
GOODBYE, UBER. It has been swell, and all good things have to come to an end.
But has it, really?
On March 26, 2018, Grab released a statement confirming rumors that the company will be taking over Uber’s operations and assets in Southeast Asia as both ride-sharing giants will merge into one, effectively turning Grab into a ride-hailing juggernaut.
This includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Uber is not giving up on Singapore Uber, which is preparing for a potential initial public offering in 2019, lost US$4.5 billion last year and is facing fierce competition at home and in Asia, as well as a regulatory crackdown in Europe, Tech Wire Asia wrote.
“Grab today announced that it has acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations. This deal is the largest-ever of its kind in Southeast Asia,” Grab wrote.
“Grab will integrate Uber’s ridesharing and food delivery business in the region into Grab’s existing multi-modal transportation and fintech platform.”
As part of the acquisition, Uber will take a 27.5 percent stake in Grab and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.
Singapore-based Grab has confirmed purchase of Uber’s Southeast Asian business. Source: Shutterstock.
While Uber employees in Singapore and Malaysia were scrambling to evacuate the offices, Uber’s loyal riders took to social media to wail: “What about my five-star rating on Uber?”, “With no competition, does this mean no more competitive pricing?”, “Will I still be able to order food from UberEats?”
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s going to happen to your Uber account? As a rider, getting a five-star rating on Uber is such an immensely gratifying achievement. What’s going to happen now that the ride-sharing giants are merging?
Your account will still be active, so your five-star rating is not going to just disappear into the virtual abyss. But you can only use it in countries where Uber operates.
With Grab and Uber coming together, your account’s data will be transferred over to the Grab app. Source: Shutterstock.
You will still be able to view your past trips and ratings in the Uber app, but data that you’ve previously shared with Uber (excluding payment information) will be transferred to Grab and it will not be visible in the Grab app.
If you don’t have the Grab app, you will need to download it and register your account.
Will fares change? No competition equals no competitive pricing?
Grab says fret not.
According to Grab, the calculation of fares will still be fair. Source: Shutterstock.
Just like before, fares will continue to be calculated based on a base distance, with an applicable surcharge based on demand and supply, traffic conditions and estimated time taken for the journey.
For the GrabTaxi (Metered) and GrabTaxi (Executive) options, passengers will continue to pay by metered fares set by taxi companies.
Does this mean faster booking? The assumption is that the Uber and Grab merger will result in more drivers on the road and therefore, shorter waiting times and faster bookings.
And that is the dream.
Eventually, riders will be able to experience shorter wait times. Source: Shutterstock.
However, as the companies are going through a transitional period, so will the drivers. Grab will need to get Uber drivers on board the Grab platform and also iron out the kinks.
As a rider, expect some service disruptions during the transition timeframe. But all will be well once the trial and error period is over, and you should be able to enjoy a faster booking experience.
What about UberEats? Did you just start loving Uber’s food delivery app and how you can literally have food delivered right to your doorstep at work?
Unfortunately, UberEats will cease to exist in Southeast Asia in May.
Grab’s food delivery business just bit an entire chunk out of Uber’s. Source: Shutterstock.
In its place will be a new food delivery platform, GrabFood. GrabFood already exists in Indonesia and Thailand but an expansion to Singapore and Malaysia, and other major countries in Southeast Asia, is currently underway.
All your favourite restaurants on UberEats will be available in the new GrabFood app and the prices are expected to remain the same as before. To use the service, you will have to sign up with a fresh account and profile on GrabFood.
I’m an Uber for Business user. What gives? Just like Uber’s service in Southeast Asia, the Uber for Business service will no longer be supported for trips taken in Southeast Asia.
The merger affects Uber for Business users too. Source: Shutterstock.
Uber for Business lets companies set up corporate accounts through which employees can charge their rides directly to their employers.
If you’ve been using Uber for Business, it’s best to start looking for alternatives if you need to be shuttled about in Southeast Asia for work.
Is Asia all Uber-ed out? The Uber app will continue to operate for two weeks to ensure stability for Uber drivers.
Come April 8, 2018, Uber’s services in Southeast Asia will be unavailable.
The post So Uber got Grabbed but what does it mean for travelers? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
IT’S NEVER EASY to uproot and leave home to start over in a foreign place, especially if you’re expected to work in a new environment, make new friends, adjust to culture shock, pick up a new language/dialect, and speaking in a local accent.
All while struggling to feel at home.
No matter how many times you’ve visited the place prior, actually living there is a different ball game.
If you’re lucky, you’ll land Portugal, which is the most welcoming country for expats, according to an Expat Insider.
Malaysia is recognized as one of the top destinations for expats Expat networking site InterNations released a recent Expat Insider survey which is based on the insights of 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories.
The survey found that social butterflies will love settling down in Portugal, Canada, and Mexico, where there are native English speakers as well as second-language speakers.
It also helps that the people from these nations are generally friendly. Ninety-four percent of expats currently living in Portugal said locals have a friendly attitude towards expats and are helpful, and they look out for each other.
Thus, it’s safe to assume that making friends won’t be much of a problem.
Surprisingly, three countries that made top 10 in the survey are non-native English-speaking Asian nations. Taiwan, Cambodia, and Vietnam took second, fourth, and ninth place respectively.
Portugal Taiwan Mexico Cambodia Bahrain Costa Rica Oman Colombia Vietnam Canada Despite its people speaking primarily in Mandarin and the Hokkien dialect, Taiwan is a place that expats may never leave. Thirty percent of survey respondents applaud the country and agree that they’re likely to stay forever.
This is not the first time Taiwan is claiming such a high spot in an Expat Insider survey.
In 2016, Taiwan was awarded the title of best expat destination in the world.
Typing to Taipei, a website for everything Taipei-related run by an Australian expat wrote, “As most expats based here will attest to, Taiwan is without a doubt one of the best places to live in the world as an expat.”
“Not only is it relatively easy to integrate here as an expat, there are so many facets to Taiwan that will keep you constantly intrigued. Taiwan boasts the most captivating blend of attributes: warm-hearted locals, a fusion of historic and modern culture, mesmerizing temples and shrines, sweeping natural landscapes, ridiculously delicious cuisine, and a buzzing nightlife.”
Trendy Taiwan: China’s cool neighbor Cambodia and Vietnam also did quite well in the “friendliness towards expats” aspect, with 92 percent and 83 percent of expats agreeing respectively.
On the flip side, expats heading to Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, or Kuwait will have to brace themselves for a chilly reception as these countries are right at the bottom of the ranks.
The post These Asian countries are most welcoming for expats appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
YOU may think you’re being polite by eating everything on your plate.
Perhaps you think everyone else around you is being rude as they slurp their soup and suck up the slithery noodles while making an almighty racket.
But you’re wrong.
Asia has a rich history of culinary etiquette, but it’s not continent-wide. So there are lots of variations of eating rules.
Breaking these established rules may get you disapproving looks, while others will get you chucked out of the restaurant entirely.
#PLACES TO EAT
Totoro fans listen up, we’ve got a tasty surprise for you Here are a few tips and tricks to make you look like an Asian-dining-etiquette pro.
Japan A post shared by Meliina (@meliinaida) on Oct 1, 2012 at 4:05am PDT
Sticking chopsticks in your mouth to resemble a vampire-walrus isn’t cool and neither is standing them upright in a bowl of food.
Doing this is thought to bring bad luck, so make sure you use the chopstick holder beside your bowl when you’re not gobbling down your dinner.
Also, avoid passing food from chopstick-to-chopstick as this is a process done at Japanese funerals. However, it’s not food that’s passed around, it’s bone fragments from the deceased.
A post shared by Johnny (@johnnytonton) on Mar 20, 2018 at 9:38pm PDT
Some other points to remember, if you don’t want to feel like an ignorant tourist, is to not wave your chopsticks around or point them at people.
Equally, don’t scratch yourself with them, because that’s gross. And while you may be new to the chopstick game, try to avoid stabbing your food. Take the time to learn how to use chopsticks and impress the locals.
A post shared by Victor Chien [簡VIC] (@natureboy.vic) on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:41pm PDT
In Japan is it entirely fine to make as much noise as possible while eating as it tells the host and the chefs that you’re enjoying your meal.
Malaysia A post shared by Febiyani Sitepu (@febiyanisitepu) on Oct 7, 2017 at 2:43am PDT
If you’ve ever traveled to Malaysia, you will know it is a nation of multiculturalism, stunning natural beauty and home to some of the most delicious Pan-Asian cuisine.
There are three different types of dining etiquette here: Malay-Malaysian, Indian-Malaysian and Chinese-Malaysian, each with their own set of rules.
Malaysians strictly eat with their right hand as the left is for washroom purposes only.
A post shared by Melissa Calvi (@mel_calvi) on Jan 21, 2018 at 2:54am PST
It is polite to let the elders take the helping first if you are eating at someone else’s house. Always remember, only take what you know you can eat as every grain of rice is sacred and should not be wasted.
If you’re devouring a dinner of delicious Chinese-Malaysian food, then be prepared to share. Often, the Chinese will order dishes for everyone and then you pick what you want, place it in your bowl and nosh away using chopsticks.
Perhaps one of the most famous Indian-Malaysian dishes is banana leaf rice. Rice, curry and a selection of scrumptious pickles, chutneys, and accompaniments are served on a giant green banana leaf.
A post shared by Leong Li-Ern (@liernleong) on Mar 20, 2018 at 3:09am PDT
Always show utmost appreciation when dining with Indian-Malaysians and never eat in a hurry. Once you’re done, make sure you fold your banana leaf towards yourself, as folding it away tells your host you hated the meal…which is virtually impossible.
China A post shared by Tabemachita (@tabemachita) on Mar 20, 2018 at 10:13pm PDT
The same chopstick rules as in Japan apply to eating a Chinese meal. However, there are a few added rules.
Never leave your chopsticks pointing directly at someone across the table and don’t suck the grains of rice off your eating utensils even at the end of a meal.
Unlike in Malaysia and Japan where it is good practice to eat everything on your plate, in Chinese etiquette, it is polite to leave some food at the end of a meal as a sign that the host went above and beyond to provide you with a good and ample feast.
If you’re dining out, it is courtesy to argue with your host about paying the bill. Insist at least two or three times that you will pay for it or split it. However, don’t ever fully insist on paying the whole bill as it insinuates your host can’t afford it.
Equally, don’t just let your host pay without putting up a fight as it implies your host owes you.
There needs to be a fine balance and one that will take practice.
Thailand and the Philippines A post shared by Bangkok foodies (@bangkokfoodies) on Mar 18, 2018 at 7:20am PDT
Anyone who has a fear of using chopsticks can heave a sigh of relief as Thailand and the Philippines use forks, knives and spoons to eat.
A post shared by Jemi (@jemstagram21) on Mar 20, 2018 at 9:21am PDT
Both nations pride themselves on having a friendly hospitality industry. Filipino and Thai hosts will go above and beyond to create a great dining experience so it’s important to remember not to lose your temper or get angry in a restaurant if something doesn’t go your way.
This is called “losing face” and you will end up embarrassing yourself more than those you intended your yelling at.
Cambodia A post shared by Marlon Julius (@marlon.julius) on Mar 20, 2018 at 12:39pm PDT
This is a nation where you can expect more to be plonked on your table than you ordered, but nobody is complaining.
Often, restaurants will bring out food you didn’t order. It’s worth trying a bit of everything but don’t worry, as you’ll only be charged for what you eat.
A post shared by Cem Akkaya (@cemakkaya) on Mar 20, 2018 at 7:50am PDT
On the table, you will find forks, chopsticks, and spoons. Avoid eating with forks. Instead, use it to place food on your spoon or between your chopsticks.
Vietnam A post shared by Siobhan Moss (@shivmossy) on Dec 22, 2017 at 9:31pm PST
Expect eating here too big a family affair. The Vietnamese tend to eat together with family or friends and order plenty of dishes for everyone to share.
You should do the same, as it’s the best way to try everything. Also, if you’re dining out, expect the men to be first served first (quite literally feeding the patriarchy).
A post shared by 플리페 현경부원장 (@pllipe_kyong) on Mar 20, 2018 at 9:26pm PDT
Also, make sure you always get up and ask for the cheque as it is considered rude for the server to bring it to your table.
Never feel obliged to tip in Vietnam either, it is entirely at your discretion, but everything is so cheap in Vietnam and the food is some of the best in the world – so you’ll probably want to show your gratification.
Get your Obama fangirl on at this Vietnamese restaurant South Korea A post shared by Tomáš Pek (@tominopek) on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:18pm PST
The chopstick rules that apply to all other Asian countries apply in South Korea too.
In South Korea, make sure you let your host know how much you’re looking forward to the meal and always thank them after you’ve finished. Gratitude and politeness are the biggest etiquette winners in South Korea.
A post shared by Sangho Lee (@sang_ho_u) on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:40am PDT
Don’t be surprised if your host or servers at a restaurant encourage you to drink, as this is a big part of the South Korean culture.
In fact, it is considered rude to turn down alcohol, but remember to always top up other’s glasses before your own.
The post Don’t make these cultural Pho-pas when eating in Asia appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.
BEFORE booking a beach vacay, there are always a couple of things to consider.
Who are you going with? How will you get there? Where would you stay (hotel, chalet, villa)? What’s the cost of living like? The list goes on.
Hitting the beach could be better for your mental health But don’t overthink it – the most important things to consider are, “Which beach should I go to?” and “When is the best time to go?”
Of course, you wouldn’t want to rock up to a beach only to discover that it’s rainy season, complete with strong monsoon winds, and everything is closed. You’d also want to avoid places that are way too crowded or are too overdeveloped.
Well, you’re in luck. Grab your flip-flops and your sunnies because here are our picks for the top 11 beaches in Asia and the best time to go.
Agonda, India: Agonda Beach Located in the South Goa district of India, Agonda is a large village famous for its beach and one of the only four beaches designated as turtle nesting sites in India.
Visitors love it for its tranquility and seemingly endless coastline that’s far from the frenzy of holidaymakers. In fact, the beach is only lined with simple beach shacks as hawkers aren’t allowed.
The perfect beach for while the day away reading, meditating, or stretching your limbs during a relaxing yoga session.
A post shared by ksenia prilutskaya (@k.prilutskaya) on Mar 18, 2018 at 2:03am PDT
Best time to go: November – April.
Ngapali, Myanmar: Ngapali Beach Ngapali is so peaceful, you may have to whisper when you talk or risk stirring the birds and the bees from their nap.
Located on the Bay of Bengal coast in Myanmar, Ngapali (pronounce Napally) is said to be named after the Italian city of Naples. The beach boasts beautiful resorts dotted along an idyllic stretch of white sand coast lined with palm trees.
Enjoy long, undisturbed walks along the beach or check out the traditional fishing villages.
A post shared by Tari (@tariterrafirma) on Mar 16, 2018 at 12:34am PDT
Best time to go: November – March.
Havelock Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Radhanagar Beach The largest of the islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands, Havelock Island is home to an astounding beach named Radhanagar Beach. Said to be the best beach for swimming in India, the beach is a picturesque paradise surrounded by turquoise waters, white sand, and lush green forest.
Havelock is a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs, and lush green forest.
Find your nook, hide in the shade, and sip on some fresh coconut juice while staring out at the endless blue.
A post shared by Nishant Prakhar (@nomadictravelling) on Mar 12, 2018 at 6:58pm PDT
Best time to go: November – April.
Ao Nang, Thailand: Phra Nang Cave Beach A place of many mysteries, Phra Nang Cave Beach is as its name promises because there’s a cave right on the water.
It is believed that the cave was named after a princess goddess named Phra Nang. However, in another legend, Phra Nang was the wife of a fisherman who was lost at sea, who lived out the rest of her days in the cave while waiting for her husband’s return.
You’d need to hire a boat to get to Phra Nang Cave Beach. Hop on one from Krabi. It takes about 10 minutes and will cost you only THB100 (USD3.21). Then kick back on the beach and the remarkable view against a stunning backdrop.
A post shared by Marianna Huhkamo (@mariannna_h) on Mar 16, 2018 at 2:24am PDT
Best time to go: Year-round.
Bentota, Sri Lanka: Bentota Beach Travelers who really want to just “get away from it all” will really love Bentota beach.
Said to be the best-known destination for water sports in Sri Lanka, feel free to hop on a surfboard or board a catamaran while you’re there. If water adventures aren’t your thing, then pick a spot on the beach and laze like the beach bum you intended to be.
The sunsets are not to be missed so do stay out long enough to witness it with your own eyes and remember to whip out your camera to take some snaps.
A post shared by Tim (@dawnofanewtim) on Mar 17, 2018 at 6:17am PDT
Best time to go: October – April.
El Nido, the Philippines: Nacpan Beach An untouched territory and a hidden gem at its best, El Nido’s Nacpan Beach in the Philippines has been said to be unexpectedly unforgettable.
The long coastline is clean and well-maintained, with golden sand and beautiful crystal waters. Unlike its friendly rival island Boracay, Nacpan is not a party beach. In fact, it prides itself on being a place of total rest and relaxation.
You may find it hard to leave after spending a couple of days there.
A post shared by Veronica Mocanu (@veromockk) on Mar 18, 2018 at 7:54am PDT
Best time to go: December – March.
Veligandu, Maldives: Veligandu Island Beach The Maldives is not the easiest place to get to, but the journey is worth it.
Get your sunny side on at Veligandu island beach, the paradise where no flip-flops are needed. Slather on some sunscreen (or tanning oil, whichever floats your boat) and get some sand in your toes as you walk along the paths that lead to you the bars.
If you enjoy swimming, jump into the azure waters for a soak in the sun then swim out a bit to marvel at the coral reefs.
A post shared by Nadejda Pedersen (@nadejdapedersen) on Mar 17, 2018 at 2:13pm PDT
Best time to go: Year-round.
Selong Belanak, Indonesia: Selong Belanak Beach Located in a largely uninhabited part of Lombok in Indonesia, Selong Belanak Beach is the ideal place to flaunt your beach hair.
One of the most prestigious beaches on the Indonesian island, it has powdery white sand and a sprawling beach. Surfers often flock to the area to ride the gentle, rolling waves. If you’re curious, check out one of the many surfing camps such as Hary Surf or sign up for an evening yoga lesson. Or both.
When you’ve tired yourself out proper, head to one of the restaurants to sample some local fare, such as grilled squid or tenggiri (fish).
A post shared by OLA OLA Lombok Indonesia (@olaolalombok) on Mar 17, 2018 at 5:31am PDT
Best time to go: May – October.
Busan, South Korea: Haeundae Beach Perfect for a Sunday morning stroll while sipping a hot mug of Americano or a chill out night with a bottle of soju in hand, Haeundae beach is often considered one of South Korea’s most famous and beautiful beaches.
The beach’s 1.5km stretch of white sand creates a beautiful coastline before a shallow bay, making it perfect for people watching or frolicking in the water. Don’t be surprised to find sand sculptures come summer, random art installations, or street performers entertaining visitors until late into the night.
There are many restaurants in the area so be sure to chow down on some Korean chimaek (fried chicken and beer).
A post shared by 篤生 (ATSUKI) (@atsuki_k_j) on Feb 25, 2018 at 2:02am PST
Best time to go: June – August.
Hoi An, Vietnam: An Bang Beach About 1km from the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of Hoi An and 22km south of Da Nang is the breathtaking An Bang beach.
Still relatively unspoiled by development, An Bang beach boasts a large space and smooth sandy beach under swaying palm trees. Known to the locals for being a great swimming spot, visitors can sign up for activities such as paddle-surfing and surfing if they want. Alternatively, they can also take a stroll along the fishing villages.
Don’t feel like getting wet? Hit up one of the many street food stalls, then find a nice, big beach umbrella and settle down with a bite to eat.
A post shared by 옥일재 (@o.iljae) on Mar 12, 2018 at 1:24am PDT
Best time to go: May – September.
Sihanoukville, Cambodia: Otres Beach Craving a leisurely and relaxing getaway in Cambodia? Look no further than Sihanoukville’s Otres beach.
Charming and relatively quiet, Otres is widely regarded as one of Cambodia’s most unspoiled beaches. Although it has been marked for development, the beach is still very well maintained, with dozens of small-scale independent resorts and beach bungalows in the area. Wildly popular among locals and tourists alike, Otres has warm, clear waters and a 5km-long sand bank shaded by seemingly endless casuarina trees.
So sit around and enjoy the magical view, particularly at sunset, and don’t forget to exhale.
A post shared by Kara Lee Ortchison (@karalee_92) on Mar 18, 2018 at 6:23am PDT
Best time to go: November – March.
The post Nobody likes a soggy beach: The best times to go to Asia’s top 11 beaches appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.