Selfie or die trying? Goa says, ‘Enough.’

Posted by - June 27, 2018

EARLIER THIS WEEK, a man in Jalpaiguri, India, was nearly strangled by a rock python.
It was purely by choice, as he had put himself in the compromising position.
#INSTAGRAM
#MeTourism: The hidden costs of selfie tourism Forest ranger Sanjay Dutta was called in by residents to catch the 18-foot snake after it had killed and eaten a goat.
But before putting it into a sack to transport it back to the wild, he draped the animal around his neck to take celebratory selfies.
A python is a python, and it will do what it does best – attempt to coil itself around a mammal. It was a narrow escape for Dutta as he was nearly entangled.

Two days before Dutta’s incident, a 33-year-old mother-of-three fell 500 feet to her death in front of her family while visiting Matheran, a hill station in India.
Sarita Rammahesh Chouhan is believed to have slipped just as she was trying to take a selfie at the popular beauty spot.
Just a couple of months earlier, a first-year college student was killed near Sulur in Coimbatore, India, while taking a selfie on the train tracks.
The 18-year-old was hit by a goods train traveling from Erode to Kerala.
And sometime last year, a 17-year-old boy drowned in a pond and his friends weren’t even aware as they were busy selfie-ing.
Student Drowned As Friends Took A Group Selfie From Just A Few Feet Away (Photos) pic.twitter.com/vng8EKkdiZ
— CityGistNews (@Elexgist1) September 28, 2017
Selfie deaths in India are a dime a dozen.
In fact, a study by Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information recorded 127 selfie deaths in the world from March 2014 to September 2016. Of these, a whopping 60 percent (76) deaths took place in India.
Goa, India’s popular sunshine destination famous for its white sands and warm emerald water, has had enough.
The state identified 24 ‘no selfie zones’ along its coast after a spate of drowning incidents involving people trying to get a good shot.
Goa’s rocky coastline is highly Instrgammable the perfect spot for #photooftheday enthusiasts, but it’s also where travelers slip and drown.
How about take a picture of the destination and not with it? Source: Shutterstock.
The unsafe selfie points that have been marked with signages are:
Baga River Dona Paula Jetty Sinquerim Fort Anjuna Vagator Morjim Ashwem Arambol Kerim Between Bambolim and Siridao (all beaches) Agonda Bogmalo Hollant Baina Japanese Garden Betul Canaguinim Palolem Khola Cabo De Rama Polem Galgibagh Talpona Rajbagh Meanwhile, Goa has made clear the no-swim zones on all its beaches, marking the spots with red flags.
Signage boards in the vicinity will feature pictorial instructions, dos and don’ts, and an emergency toll-free number.
#GOA
Walking on sunshine: Luxury hotels in Goa for the romantic in you Goa’s beaches are monitored and patrolled by the Beach Safety Patrol (BSP), and lifeguards are on duty from 7:30am till 6pm daily during the monsoon season.
Two lifeguards are also present at every lifeguard tower to handle emergency situations.
The post Selfie or die trying? Goa says, ‘Enough.’ appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In pictures: Yangon’s stunning heritage hotels

Posted by - June 26, 2018

YANGON is a city on the move. Ever since Myanmar opened up to tourists and international commerce, much of its colonial architecture, left by the British colonial rule, is starting to get attention.
In fact, the city is dotted with a mix of British colonial architecture, modern high-rises, and glistening pagodas housing Buddhist relics.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
Should ‘voluntourism’ be a thing? Formerly known as Rangoon, the Myanmarese capital’s trademark attraction is its Shwedagon Paya, the country’s most sacred Buddhist monument. However, Yangon also boasts parks, gardens, lakes, sprawling day and night markets, restaurants, and bars.
With Myanmar’s tourism on the rise (Myanmar tourist arrivals rose 18 percent last year to 3.44 million visitors), Yangon is the most exciting place in the country to be. As the country’s commercial and artistic hub, Yangon is at the center of it all.
If the city is on your travel bucket list, there’s surely one thing you’d appreciate – its stunning heritage hotels.
The Strand Founded in 1901 by Aviet and Tigran Sarki, two of the Armenian Sarkies brothers who also started the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and The E&O in Malaysia, The Strand is a Victorian-style hotel located in the heart of Yangon.
Regarded as one of the most iconic five-star hotels in Asia, its awe-inspiring interior is fitted with beloved chandeliers, charming ceiling fans, and authentic period furnishings, which have remained untouched even during the 1989 restoration.
A post shared by The Strand Yangon (@thestrandyangon) on Mar 21, 2017 at 12:13am PDT
Address: 92, Strand Rd, Yangon, Myanmar.
Belmond Governor’s Residence Set amidst landscaped gardens, Belmond Governor’s Residence is a colonial-style hotel located close to the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda. The two-story teak mansion was built in 1920 as the official home of one of the governors from the southern states of the country.
It’s where old-world elegance meets rich Burmese beauty, the hotel emanates style and history all under one roof. Its 45 cozy deluxe rooms and two junior suites are decorated with teak furniture, tropical cottons and silks, and a large handmade free-form bath.
A post shared by Belmond Governor's Residence (@belmondgovernors) on May 6, 2018 at 6:33pm PDT
Address: 35, Taw Win Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
Savoy Hotel Located just 20 minutes away from Yangon International Airport, Savoy Hotel is a heritage boutique hotel that was founded in 1995. It’s said to be one of the best places to stay in Yangon as it offers splendid views of Shewadagon Pagoda.
A silent oasis in the middle of a bustling city, Savoy Hotel boasts traditional Myanmar antique-filled corridors and rooms with teak furniture and spacious bathrooms and an inviting pool shaded by tall, old trees. Picture-perfect during the day, Savoy Hotel is even more beautiful by night.
A post shared by Panos Kazanelis (@panoskazanelis) on Oct 23, 2016 at 12:03pm PDT
Address: 129, Dhammazedi Road, Yangon, Myanmar.
Yangon Excelsior Currently at the tail end of its renovation, Yangon Excelsior is steep in colonial history. Situated on the banks of the Yangon river, it originally housed the general headquarters of the Steel Brothers Company, a conglomerate of companies specialized in the economic development of mining, agricultural, mineral, and wood resources.
All 74 of the hotel’s rooms and suites ooze with the charm and magnificence of British colonial style while boasting ultra-modern comfort and exquisite service. You could say that Yangon Excelsior is the epitome of “the best of both worlds”.
A post shared by Yangon Excelsior (@yangonexcelsior) on Jun 22, 2018 at 7:01am PDT
Address: 19/43, Bo Soon Pat Street, Padeban Township, Yangon 11143, Myanmar.
Rosewood Yangon In December, Rosewood Yangon will receive its first visitors. Located in the heart of the city’s historical district, the “renewed” hotel is housed in a building that was originally constructed in 1927.
Said to be the most significant historic restoration project in Yangon to date, Rosewood Yangon will feature 209 spacious guestrooms, suites, and one- to two-bedroom apartment units. It will also offer five distinct dining venues featuring local, Asian, and internationally-influenced cuisine.
A post shared by Con Questa (@conquesta_concierge) on Jun 23, 2018 at 2:13am PDT
Address: 14, Strand Road, Kyauktada Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
The Peninsula Yangon (2020) Built on the site of the former headquarters of the Myanmar Railway Company in central Yangon, The Peninsula Yangon promises “a new luxury experience” in the city. It will have 88 opulent guestrooms, surrounded by dreamy garden terraces and tropical landscaped gardens with an outdoor swimming pool.
The hotel is expected to open by 2020.
A post shared by Nicholas Kohler (@nicohina37) on Nov 12, 2013 at 3:38am PST
Address: On the corner of Bogyoke Aung San Road and Rule Pagoda Road in Yangon.
The post In pictures: Yangon’s stunning heritage hotels appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

These are Asia’s Unesco World Heritage hopefuls

Posted by - June 26, 2018

THE 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee is currently underway in Bahrain.
From June 24 to July 4, committee members will examine the nominations of 29 sites all hoping to receive Unesco World Heritage status and protection.
“Expectations of this session are high and we must seize this opportunity to strengthen joint work for the safeguarding of cultural heritage,” session chairperson Sheikha Haya Bint Rashed Al-Khalifa said.
#PLACES TO EAT
Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? What does World Heritage status mean? The hopeful sites have been divided into categories of natural sites, cultural sites, and mixed sites.
Each site must either already be a classified landmark or be recognizable as having geographical and historical significance.
This could be an extraordinary accomplishment by humanity, such as Machu Picchu in Peru, or an incredible fleet of engineering from Mother Nature, such as Australia’s great barrier reef.
If the committee confers the sites hold enough historical, cultural or scientific significance, they will receive the World Heritage site status and be legally protected by international treaties.
Meaning the sites will be monitored and protected from animal and human interference and attract tourism to grow the local economy.
#ADVENTURE
Why Mongolia should be next on your bucket list While the title immunizes sites from some potential threats, situations such as war are beyond Unesco’s control, meaning many sites have already been lost.
“Across Iraq, over 100 cultural heritage sites have been destroyed, many of which are in Mosul,” Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay said during the session’s opening ceremony.
And unfortunately, the world is home to hundreds of lost sites.
But Unesco is focused on protecting nominated sites and rebuilding those which have been damaged.
“Last February, UNESCO launched an initiative to revive the spirit of Mosul, in partnership with the Iraqi authorities,” Azoulay added.
Currently, there are 1,073 World Heritage Sites around the globe, and these five places in Asia are hoping to join that list.
Qalhat, Oman Source: Shutterstock
In the northeastern region of Sur in Oman, the ancient city of Qalhat sits crumbling between arid hummocks and the strong sun.
In the 13th century, the city served as an important stop for traders journeying the Indian Ocean trade network.
But now, all that remains of the city is the dome-less mausoleum built by Bibi Maryam who ruled the area nearly 800 years ago.
Al-Ahsa oasis, Saudi Arabia Source: Pinterest
Al-Ahsa oasis is an environmental phenomenon in the sun-scorched Arabian Desert.
It is considered the largest palm tree oasis in the world, covering 379 kilometers of land and playing home to 1.3 million people.
The oasis is made up over 160 hot and freshwater springs lined with nearly three million date palm trees.
Kathmandu Valley, Nepal Source: Shutterstock
Kathmandu Valley fits both natural and cultural categories on the Unesco World Heritage qualifying classes.
It is home to at least 130 significant monuments including pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists.
Kathmandu Valley has long been popular with tourism for its vibrant culture and numerous street festivals.
Nepal is already home to 10 World Heritage Sites, seven of them are in Kathmandu Valley.
Sansa Buddhist Mountain Monasteries, South Korea Source: Creative Commons
The Sansa Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do Province, South Korea symbolize the first era of Buddhism on the Korean peninsula.
The monastery complex is made up of 20 buildings and four affiliated temples dating back to the 5th century.
Over the centuries, some of the temples have been destroyed by war and fire and then rebuilt again.
Mount Fanjingshan, China Source: YouTube
Mount Fanjingshan and its surrounding 567-square-kilometers of lush forest in south-central China are up for a title in the natural property category.
Almost 800 plants species cover the land, hosting nearly 2,000 species of animal in their branches.
The region is most recognizable for the towering peaks that jut out the foliage.
The post These are Asia’s Unesco World Heritage hopefuls appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

China’s Hawaii mulls taking down the ‘Great Firewall of China’

Posted by - June 26, 2018

CHINA’S Hainan province has floated the idea of introducing a special zone to allow foreign tourists to use Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter as a means to attract visitors.
The southern island province known as China’s Hawaii announced on Thursday it would create a special “gathering zone” for foreign tourists where they can access such sites. Hainan’s provincial government detailed the plan on its website.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
Chinese tourists are the biggest contributors to world tourism The move would have marked a rare departure from China’s long-held stance on the internet, where many foreign websites are banned in the name of maintaining social stability, a restriction dubbed by netizens as the “Great Firewall”.
Facebook has been banned in China since 2009, as authorities blamed the platform for facilitating riots by ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang province.
Zhang Lingyun, director of the Tourism Development Academy at Beijing Union University told state-run newspaper the Global Times that “just like during the initial stage of the country’s reform and opening-up in 1978, special rights and services were given to foreigners to attract them … it will be gradually extended, and local residents may use Facebook and Twitter as well.”
Hainan’s plan quickly faced some criticism on Chinese social media. “Are we establishing the ‘one country, two system’ policy in Mainland China now?” said Wu Ran, a user on China’s microblogging site Weibo.
Another Weibo user said “This is an entirely blatant, contemptible, imprudent, low behavior of reverse racism. This is garbage!”
Will Hainan island be the first destination in mainland China to be ‘Great Firewall’-free? Source: Shutterstock.
According to the Epoch Times, the plan has already been deleted from the Hainan government’s website, and Chinese censors had even blacklisted relevant words from search engines.
The government’s flip-flopping on allowing access to Facebook and Twitter reflects a report in 2013 that these sites would be available within a special Shanghai free trade zone. Beijing later said this was false.
China said in April it aimed to make Hainan an international free trade zone by 2020, an announcement that precipitated a short-lived property boom on the island.
Hainan wants to increase its tourist numbers by 25 percent annually to at least 2 million by 2020 and will promote tourism through advertising on foreign broadcasters such as BBC and CNN.
It said it would boost subsidies to increase the number of international direct flight routes to and from Hainan to 100 by 2020 and would abolish restrictions on foreign investment in air, rail and waterway transport.
Tourists love Hainan island for its balmy weather, tall palm trees, and pristine gold-sand beaches. Source: Shutterstock.
The island will also ensure credit and debit cards issued by foreign card companies Visa and MasterCard are accepted at major tourist sites, hotels and shops by 2019, it said.
Additional reporting from Reuters.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Asian Correspondent.
The post China’s Hawaii mulls taking down the ‘Great Firewall of China’ appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How this LGBTQ+ nightclub in India became a movement

Posted by - June 26, 2018

WHAT WOULD YOU GET if you threw class, fashion, music, champagne, and a rainbow in a large room and mixed it all up?
Kitty Su.
#TRAVEL HACKS
Here’s what you should know if you’re LGBTQ+ and traveling to Asia Founded by Indian hotelier and avid traveler Keshav Suri and his partner Cyril, a Frenchman who “loved to explore new worlds,” Kitty Su at The Lalit New Delhi was influenced by the LGBTQ+ scenes that they had seen everywhere from Argentina to New York to Shanghai.
Rooted in happy pride, Kitty Su is India’s most inclusive nightclub, often packed to the brim with likeminded LGBTQ+ revelers with not a moment of no love-for-all vibe in the air.
“The sophisticated elegance of Kitty Su became a beacon to which all kinds of people – drag queens hailing from Ambala or Chandigarh, transgender personalities and differently abled musicians and artists – could flock, secure in the knowledge that they were in a safe space, at last,” Suri shared with Conde Nast Traveller.
In India, where homosexuality is seen as “shameful,” one man is changing things up with a nightclub. Source: Kitty Su.
“In the last three years, Kitty Su has grown beyond being just a haven for the LGBTQ community.”
But it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies for Suri.
Post-traversing through Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice, New York, and China and soaking up the sensation of pure love and acceptance, then going home to India was “sometimes frustrating.”
All that euphoria and empowerment dissipates in a blink of an eye as the reality hits them.
The LGBTQ community dance and celebrate at a pride march. Source: Shutterstock.
Same-sex relationships, marriages, and sexual activities are illegal in India, and its people aren’t tolerant of LGBTQ people.
Homosexuality is seen as “shameful,” and those who are would usually face discrimination from families and friends.
India criminalized homosexuality until 2009 when the High Court of Delhi declared section 377 of the Indian Penal Code invalid. In 2013, India reinstated its ban on homosexuality, making it a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment up to life.
Due to the lack of understanding and prejudice against LGBTQ+ people, coupled with the spreading of misinformation, the community often falls victim to violence.
Reports of violence against LGBTQ people, including honor killings, attacks, torture, and beatings of the LGBTQ community is common in India. Source: Shutterstock.
In May, a transgender woman was killed and three others seriously injured when they were attacked by a mob of angry locals acting on rumors that the women were child traffickers in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
The women were begging in the southern suburb of Chandrayanagutta when they were set upon.
“They were begging for money from some shopkeepers in Chandrayanagutta at 11pm when some unruly youths started saying they had come to kidnap children,” Hyderabad (South Zone) deputy commissioner of police V.Satyanarayana told CNN.
Up to 20 people took part in the attack, while a crowd of up to 200 people stood by egging them on.
LGBT activists hold a long rainbow-colored flag demanding equality during Queer Swabhimana Yatra 2017 in Hyderabad, India. Source: Shutterstock.
“Homophobia is a global phenomenon, but in India, the fear of arrest for a same-sex inter-racial couple like us is very real. Wherever we go, this fear accompanies us, a paranoia that can feel like a noose is always hovering,” Suri wrote.
One fateful night, however, mid-conversation with Cyril, Suri was empowered to break free from the noose and change things up.
“Over the years, all our travels had demonstrated to us that members of the LGBTQ community had to come out and show their strength and demands to pave the way for mainstream acceptance. Despite the pervasive homophobia in China, for instance, there was a vibrant, high-end LGBTQ nightlife scene in Shanghai, where people could act freely and enjoy themselves with like-minded and open people,” Suri explained.
“It irked me, and I immediately thought, “If China can, why can’t we?”
A post shared by Prateek Sachdeva (@bettanaanstop) on Jun 10, 2018 at 4:22am PDT
And that was how Kitty Su, a product of love, labor, a pinch of paranoia, and more importantly, a whole lot of pride came to be.
Here are seven things you need to know about the nightclub-turned-movement:
It offers the finest high-octane beats ranging from techno to commercial, and house to dubstep. It’s the only nightclub from India to feature in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs poll for three consecutive years. For two years in a row, Kitty Su was awarded the Best Night Club in the Capital. World’s Best Bars called Kitty Su “an absolute ground-breaker on the New Delhi nightlife scene,” being the first to introduce a VIP area. The club is also home to a trendy tattoo parlor and boutique. Kitty Su often promotes and champions its motto, #PureLove, across its social media platforms. It’s open three days a week including Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Kitty Su is located at Basement, The Lalit New Delhi, Barakhamba Avenue, New Delhi, India.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
LGBT escape: Asia pushes pink tourism Aside from Kitty Su, Suri also manages Lalit Group of Hotels’ properties as the company’s executive director. He has since made the properties more inclusive and hopes that in time he will be able to help the community that he’s a part of, the much needed basic human rights that they deserve.
In April, Suri led a petition with the Supreme Court, challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes a consensual relationship between adults of the same sex.
The post How this LGBTQ+ nightclub in India became a movement appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals

Posted by - June 26, 2018

MODERN DAY TRAVELERS seeking off the beaten path attractions and experiences at their destinations like a true local will appreciate TakeMeTour.
Created by robotics engineering graduate Taro Amornched, the online platform aims to match travelers with locals – but not in the sleazy Tinder kind of way.
#AIRBNB
Bali’s ‘Airbnb Experiences’ second most popular in Asia Specifically, it matches travelers with locals who can show them around.
So whether it’s a gastronomical tour of Bangkok’s Chinatown, a hiking trip along Japan’s nature trails, or a dance in a sunflower field your heart desires, TakeMeTour will connect you with the experts with all the know-how.
“On our website, a traveler can browse tours, itineraries, and experiences that are offered by locals. Currently, we have more than 20,000 local experts from 55 different cities. It’s like having a friend, some people you can trust, to show you around,” Amornched said in an interview with The Jay Kim Show.
Let’s get started Log in to the website and select a city you’d like to visit.
Source: TakeMeTour.
Then, choose from the list of one-day tours and experiences available. Once you find what you like, pick a date on the calendar or chat with said local for availability.
When all details are confirmed, book with them directly. Bookings will only be valid once the payments are made through Take Me Tour with a valid credit card.
It’s like making one new local friend with every booking.
“All the local experts speak Thai and English. We have been focusing on English-speaking travelers in the past two years, but starting this year, we will start focusing on a third language. That means you would see local experts who can speak Japanese, Chinese, and French as a starting point,” Amornched added.
About safety and security Is it okay to throw caution to the wind and simply follow a local around in a foreign country?
How safe is it, really?
A post shared by TakeMeTour (@takemetour_thailand) on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:30pm PDT
“We have very strict security measures. We check the ID, bank account, criminal record, and the like to make sure these local experts are actually legitimate. We also make sure we know how to find them,” Amornched explained.
Newly-listed tours will go through stages of approvals by both TakeMeTour as well as its network of bloggers to assure they’re meeting quality standards.
What if things go bad?
“If something bad happens, we can still make refunds. We also provide accident insurance for both travelers and local experts,” Amornched said.
Every listing also includes reviews from previous guests so travelers can gauge if the experience is something that they’d like.
#MEDICAL TOURISM
Healing on a holiday: Cheap rehabs boost Thailand’s medical tourism Currently, the Asian countries that TakeMeTour covers are Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan. The platform is looking to expand to Myanmar next month.
Check it out here.
The post This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Korea Tourism Organization taps into the burgeoning Hallyu once again

Posted by - June 26, 2018

SOUTH KOREA’S Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) have appointed mega K-Pop idol boy group EXO as honorary ambassadors.
Their engagement will last the entire year.
#TRAVEL HACKS
Arriving in South Korea: Language, etiquette, customs, soju “EXO is one of K-Pop’s most representative stars, as can be seen by the fact that they performed at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. They have a strong fandom base all over the world, and we believe they will be a great contribution in bringing more tourists to Korea,” KTO said in an official statement.
The group will help promote South Korea under KTO’s “Korea Asks You, Have you ever?” theme.
According to KTO, the theme refers to unique experiences in South Korea but from a foreigner’s perspective.
Source: Korea Tourism Organization.
EXO will be featured in promotional videos divided into six different categories: history and tradition, daily lives of Koreans, adventure, trend, healing, and Hallyu. Each of the nine members will take on a topic and introduce various experiences and activities that tourists can enjoy.
The campaign will showcase activities related to peace in the Korean peninsula by promoting trips to the DMZ, Hallyu-related content, and things to do in areas outside of Seoul as well.
The videos will be launched in August and aired across television channels both local and international, as well as Facebook and YouTube.
#INDUSTRY NEWS
#InterKoreanSummit: DMZ sees tourism boom This is not the first time that South Korean celebrities are being handpicked to represent and promote things to do and places to eat in their country.
Psy, the artist who made Gangnam the hottest buzzword of the decade, was tapped as ambassador back in 2013. Descendants of the Sun superstar Song Joong Ki completed his stint ambassador in 2016. And Lee Jong Suk, of Pinocchio, W – Two Worlds, and While You Were Sleeping fame was appointed ambassador last year.
Other K-Pop idol groups that were selected as honorary ambassadors by KTO previously include Super Junior and BtoB.
The post Korea Tourism Organization taps into the burgeoning Hallyu once again appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How to be a mindful mosque visitor

Posted by - June 26, 2018

PLACES OF WORSHIP are beautiful, sacred places that are major tourist attractions around the world.
Some of the more spectacular ones boast awe-inspiring architecture and magnificent facades, such as the Brihadeeswara Temple in India, St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, and The Paro Taktsang in Bhutan.
#BHUTAN
In pictures: The staggering beauty of Paro Valley, Bhutan Aside from its many islands, pristine beaches, and abundance of greens, Malaysia is also home to wondrous mosques with stunning design elements, both classic and modern.
The country is where Islam is a predominant religion and the fastest-growing hence mosques can be found practically everywhere.
In between streams (Masjid Jamek), floating (Malacca Straits Mosque, Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque), peeking out from the top of a hill (Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque), and on a man-made island (Crystal Mosque).
Built with steel, glass, and crystal, the stunning Crystal Mosque or Masjid Kristal is a mosque in Wan Man, Terengganu, Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock.
There are some mosques that prohibit non-Muslims from entering but in general, most mosques in Malaysia allow visitors except during certain times of the day, particularly during prayer times. For example, the National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur have restricted visiting hours for non-Muslims.
And if Muslims have certain rules to follow inside the mosque, so do non-Muslims.
Recently, two foreign tourists were caught on video dancing indecently and disrespectfully in front of Sabah’s city mosque. Sabah’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Environment strongly condemned the behavior and the government is planning to take action against the tourists and the tour operator.

This is not the first time tourists were caught misbehaving in Sabah.
In 2015, Briton Eleanor Hawkins, Canadians Lindsey and Danielle Peterson, and Dutchman Dylan Snel were given jail terms and fined for posing naked on Malaysia’s highest peak, Mount Kinabalu.
Mount Kinabalu is estimated to be at least 15 million years old and is protected as Kinabalu Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Regarded as sacred to the Kadazan-Dusun tribe and seen as the resting place of their ancestors, the mountain has been worshipped for centuries.
Locals believe that the tourists angered the spirit of the mountain, as a 6.0 magnitude earthquake shook Sabah, the strongest to affect Malaysia since 1976, a week after the naked tourists’ offensive picture went viral.
Puncak Seringgit aka The South Peak at Mount Kinabalu, Sabah. Source: Shutterstock.
Planning on visiting a mosque sometime soon?
Here’s some mosque etiquette to keep in mind.
Observe the prayer times There are five prayer times in a day: salat al-fajr (dawn, before sunrise), salat al-zuhr (midday, after the sun passes its highest), salat al-‘asr (the late part of the afternoon), salat al-maghrib (just after sunset), and salat al-‘isha (between sunset and midnight).
The easiest way to tell if you can or cannot visit the mosque is if you hear the azan, the Muslim call to prayer, being broadcasted over loudspeakers.
Source: Shutterstock.
If you happen to see people praying outside the prayer times, let them fulfill their prayer duty in peace. Do not stare at them or walk in front of them.
Cover up, please Try to dress modestly as a mark of respect.
Countries like Malaysia are pretty humid and hot, and you may want to dress down when you’re out and about. However, if you’re planning to visit a mosque, make sure the bare parts of your body are covered.
Source: Shutterstock.
For women, grab a shawl or a big scarf to cover your hair.
Take off your shoes Like most homes and places of worship in Asia, you will be required to take off your shoes when visiting.
Believers take them off at the entrance and leave them in the racks.
Source: Shutterstock.
However, to save yourself the hassle of potentially losing your shoes in a sea of shoes should the mosque be particularly crowded, and to prevent a potential shoe mix-up, put your shoes in a bag and carry them along.
Don’t cause a ruckus Don’t run, dance, scream, shout, or laugh out loud. Talk in whispers and remember to turn on the silent mode on your smartphone or switch it off altogether.
Most mosques will allow you to take photos or shoot videos, but do so with no flash photography, and don’t shove your camera in the faces of believers.
Source: Shutterstock.
Whether they’re in the middle of their wudu (ablution) or halfway through salat al-zuhr, they’d appreciate it if you gave them some privacy.
The post How to be a mindful mosque visitor appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How to make it through an awful hotel stay

Posted by - June 25, 2018

THE realization that your hotel has catfished you is a painful one, to say the least.
As you hold up images of turquoise pools, beach views, elegant dining halls, and a fully stocked bar, next to what appears to be a set for a 1970s low budget horror movie, you can feel your heart sink faster than an anchor finding the seabed.
#TRAVEL HACKS
Here’s how to save money on accommodation when you travel For some, the shock is too much to bear, immediately seeking Agoda’s help to find a new hotel.
But for others, rebooking isn’t an option, either for money reasons or perhaps because it’s the only resort on a tiny island in the middle of the South China Sea.
No boats for a week, no signal and “complimentary WiFi” to match the rest of the hotel – abysmal.
What’s left to do other than get on with it?
Here are a few tips to turn your gloomy hotel stay into a sunshine-filled vacation.
Start with a deep sigh and…
Explain your issues to senior management Source: Shutterstock
The sooner you can complain to management, the better.
Hotels rely heavily on reviews so it will be in their interest to resolve a problem before a guest broadcasts it online.
Whether it’s broken air conditioning or a busted toilet, most hotels will fix the problem or move you to another room.
Speaking to management also creates a record of your disgruntlement meaning you have evidence of a complaint if you wish to take it further.
Remember to keep calm and name the solution you’re looking for.
If the hotel is fully booked Source: Shutterstock
If it’s a case of lump it or leave it because no other rooms are available, it’s normally worth lumping it, unless you’re worried for your safety.
Just spend as little time as possible in your room and go explore.
Whether it’s lounging on the beach, hiking the hills, strolling through the city s or sampling local delicacies, remind yourself a room is just a place to dream.
Ask for freebies Source: Shutterstock
In some cases, a fully booked hotel could work out well for you. If you’re stuck with an unsatisfactory room, you have every right to ask for items to make your stay better.
Whether it’s unlimited WiFi access, free meals or a bottle of something sparkling on the house.
Request these things politely and calmly while communicating a threat of a bad review through your eyes.
The room’s fine, but the bed is a concrete slab Source: Shutterstock
Particularly in the Asia Pacific region, beds tend to be harder than most Westerners are used to.
Unfortunately, this will likely be the case in most hotel rooms. A quick trick is to ask for extra duvets and pillows to sleep on.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
Decades-old travel memento trends that don’t go out of style The hotel’s great but your geography failed you Source: Shutterstock
If the hotel exceeds your expectations, but it’s not where you thought it was, chances are the onus is on you.
But all is not lost.
Enquire at the reception about transportation to local attractions and ask for a local’s opinion on what you should do in the area.
Perhaps you’ll stumble across a delightful restaurant and make local friends.
Always trust your instincts Source: Shutterstock
If you feel unsafe, run away and sort out a refund later.
If your traveler’s instinct is telling you a place feels unsafe or highly unhygienic, it’s probably because it is.
There is no amount of money you should risk your life or health for. Tell reception you need a refund, explain the reasons and go.
Warning signs of an unsecured or unclean hotel include faulty door locks, broken safes, dirty bathrooms and stained sheets, all with the additional frustration of unhelpful staff.
Remember: Always leave a review, either directly on the hotel’s website or on trusted platforms such as TripAdvisor. This way, future guests will be informed and won’t have to endure a nasty surprise.
The post How to make it through an awful hotel stay appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Chinese tourists are the biggest contributors to world tourism

Posted by - June 25, 2018

WORLD TOURISM has been on a rapid development in recent years and one of its biggest contributor is the world’s most populous country, China.
According to United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) executive director Zhu Shanzhong, China’s outbound tourists now accounts for 10 percent of the total of global tourists.
#CHINESE TOURISTS
How the world is evolving to become more Chinese tourist-friendly In fact, China’s outbound travel hit another record last year by having 130 million overseas trips and US$115.29 billion in receipts.
Chinese tourists are taking over the world, invading Thailand, shaking things up in the UK, storming Singapore (topping tourist arrivals and tourism receipts), overtaking Kiwi visitors in Australia, and even going to destinations as far as Africa.
Germany alone received over 10 million Chinese tourists last year while the Asia-Pacific region has the geographical advantages for Chinese tourists to visit. Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, too, have benefited from this large number of Chinese tourists in recent years.
The trend is pushing countries, companies, and brands to evolve to become more Chinese tourist-friendly.
Outbound travel is China’s new power tool. Source: Shutterstock.
“In 2012, China became the world’s top spender in international tourism and has remained so ever since. We can say that this is indeed a great contribution to the world tourism market and no country in the world can match China in this regard,” XINHUANET quoted Zhu as saying.
China already has the world’s highest spending on outbound tourism. When the country cut tourism to South Korea over the deployment of a US missile shield last year, it cost South Korea up to US$15.6 billion and 402,000 jobs.
Zhu added the Chinese tourists have shown improved behaviors as well, and that they deserve being treated with hospitality and respect. However, he urged Chinese tourists to protect their legitimate rights by not using irrational means.
“Excessively protecting their legal rights as tourists or by using irrational means will hurt the Chinese tourists’ interests and tarnish the national image,” Zhu said.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
Sun, sea, sand, surgery: Top medical tourism destinations in Asia Meanwhile, Chinese couples are now going abroad in search of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment after China ended its decades long one-child policy.
Considering how significantly China can contribute to world tourism, it won’t be long before fertility tourism becomes a thing.
The post Chinese tourists are the biggest contributors to world tourism appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.