#AkudanKorea: Korea Tourism Organization’s ‘one-stop shop’ for Indonesian solo travelers

Posted by - May 8, 2018

ARE YOU an Indonesian solo traveler seeking a memorable South Korean holiday? Then you’re in luck!
To better provide for solo travelers who want to visit the popular destination, Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Jakarta has launched #AkudanKorea (which means “Korea and I”).
#POP CULTURE
Would you rent an oppa for your South Korean vacay? Through the campaign, KTO Jakarta intends to highly the services and facilities that have been developed to encourage travelers, particularly solo travelers, to explore the best destinations in South Korea.
The country has been getting a lot of traction in the media as of late due to the recent 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and the 2018 inter-Korean summit.
So it’s befitting that KTO Jakarta is using the buzz as leverage to launch #AkudanKorea and push tourism numbers to go the extra mile.
A post shared by Travel Wire Asia (@travelwire_asia) on Mar 11, 2018 at 9:26pm PDT
And as it stands, South Korea was voted one of the best, friendliest and safest places to travel alone in Asia by Skyscanner.
But unbeknownst to many, the country has a lot more surprises up its sleeve than just its burgeoning Korean entertainment industry.
From streets filled with its homegrown skincare/cosmetic brands to Korean drama shooting locations, as well as lush natural landscapes that change with every season to centuries-old historical sites, and not forgetting the uniquely South Korean food places, the country has it all.
A post shared by Travel Wire Asia (@travelwire_asia) on Mar 11, 2018 at 12:22am PST
Along with the launch of #AkudanKorea, KTO Jakarta also unveiled a website to appeal to solo travelers who do not wish to rely on tour guides to explore South Korea.
It contains a detailed event schedule, ongoing promotions and airline deals, tourist recommendations, and a neat #AkudanKorea photo challenge.
Currently, the website is highlighting promotional flights from Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, and Garuda Indonesia. So it’s really a “one-stop shop” for curious solo travelers.

For more information, visit KTO Jakarta’s #AkudanKorea website.
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Would you rent an oppa for your South Korean vacay?

Posted by - April 3, 2018

WINWINCOOK, a South Korean software company, just launched the very thing that may send Korean drama (K-drama) fangirls into overdrive.
Oh My Oppa is a specialty tour service targeting foreign visitors, allowing them to “rent” an oppa.
#TRAVEL HACKS
Arriving in South Korea: Language, etiquette, customs, soju For the uninitiated, oppa is a Korean term used by Korean women to address an older family member, friend, or a romantic partner. Especially in K-dramas.
It’s also quite prominently used in K-pop songs such as Psy’s Gangnam Style, Donghae&Eunhyuk’s Oppa, Oppa, and BLACKPINK’s Boombayah.
How does this service work, you ask?
Could this be every K-drama fangirl’s dream come true? Source: Shutterstock.
For four hours, you and two of your friends (or just you alone, if you’d like), you’ll get to hang out with an oppa of your choice. Depending on who you choose, he’ll meet you at a subway station before you go off on an adventure together.
There are a couple of activities that you can do with different oppas. Fancy a walk along the Han river under cherry blossom trees? Arami oppa is up for it anytime from April 6 to April 14, 2018.
A walk in the park isn’t your thing? Would you rather play dress-up and pretend to be Korean royalty at the country’s largest palace? Architecture enthusiast Ryan oppa is the man you’re looking for.

If you’d like, your designated oppa may suggest activities that require extra payment such as visiting a pet cafe, but there are strict rules to what oppas can or cannot do. For example, they’re discouraged from arranging tours at night or going out drinking with their assigned tourists.
“It started out as a joke that foreigners coming to Korea expect to find men like the ones they see on dramas, but no, there aren’t any men on the streets that are as good-looking, tall and nice as the TV stars,” said Lee Joon Woo Winwincook CEO told The Korea Herald.
Currently, the website features seven Korean men. While they’re not professional tour guides, they are either Lee’s friends or those recommended by acquaintances, and they have had some minimal training.
While the Oh My Oppa service is borderline questionable, it’s not the first, and it’ll likely not be the last.
In China, an app called Hire Me Plz allows people to hire dates to bring to family occasions such as when visiting home during the Chinese New Year festivities. The fake girlfriend or boyfriend will travel with said “client” to meet his or her parents and appease them and their relatives.
The post Would you rent an oppa for your South Korean vacay? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel

Posted by - April 3, 2018

WITH bleisure (a business and leisure travel combo) becoming a phenomenon, more and more business travelers are extending work travel for leisure.
However, extending your stay can be quite costly, especially if additional expenses for the trip has to come out of your own personal budget. This equals accommodation, meals, transport, on top of currency exchange, for the entirety of the extension.
The best way to go about this is to know firsthand which cities are expensive for travel.
#BUSINESS TRAVEL
These Asian countries are most welcoming for expats If you’re coming to Asia, keep in mind that despite the US dollar being the most powerful currency in the world, the cost of living in the region greatly varies and not all Asian countries are affordable.
In a survey released last December, market research company ECA International said 26 of the world’s top 50 most expensive cities to live in are in Asia, with 14 cities in China alone.
“This compares with just four EU cities and three US making it into the top 50,” the firm wrote.
It’s helpful to have a picture of how much life will cost as an expatriate or a business traveler in some of these locations, so here are Asia’s five most expensive destinations for business travel and the average daily expense you’d likely be making.
Tokyo Cost of living in Japan is generally high, with expatriates pegging the average monthly cost at around JPY100,000 (US$945). But it really depends on which Japanese city you’re going to.
For example, Tokyo is cheaper than both London and New York, but really expensive compared to Thailand or the Philippines, and a large chunk of your daily expenses will go to paying for your accommodation. Eating out at a restaurant, drinking at a bar, and going to the theater is also costlier than most Asian countries as they’re seen as more upscale activities.
There’s nearly nothing that you can’t find in Japan’s combinis. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$536 (JPY56,742).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the Tokyo Metro (Japan subway) and stock up on simple, money-saving meals from Japan’s popular combinis (convenience stores).
Hong Kong Although Hong Kong is no longer the most expensive city for business travel, it’s still one of the most expensive in Asia, and it certainly has the potential to empty out your bank account.
Four-star hotel prices in the land-starved country cost about US$284 per day. And due to the high price of goods, meals and drinks can cost up to US$186 per day. If you’re going to eat Western meals every day and dine out at nice restaurants all the time, then be prepared to cough up quite a bit of dough.
It’s not impossible to find affordable eats in Hong Kong. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$508 (HKD3,987).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the MTR (Hong Kong subway) and make cheap food places (market food, neighborhood noodle joints) your daily destination.
Seoul In 2015, The Economist‘s Worldwide Cost of Living report classified Seoul as the most expensive city in the world for buying everyday food items. For example, an average price for a loaf of bread (one kilogram) in Singapore costs US$3.54 while in Seoul it costs US$13.91.
And like the above well developed East Asian countries, staying in this South Korean capital can be expensive and business travelers should expect to fork out US$252 per day on a four-star hotel. That being said, subways, buses, taxis, eating out, and buying basic clothing is cheaper in South Korea than Toronto.
Remember to clink your soju glass and say, “Geonbae!” Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$490 (KRW518,625).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the Seoul Metropolitan Subway and seek out bars like Ssada! Maekju! or Makgeolli Salon in Hongdae where you can get free refills for draft beers (KRW7,295/person), soju (KRW4,863/person), and makgeolli (KRW5,269/person).
Singapore For the fifth year running, the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore the world’s most expensive city to live. That goes hand-in-hand with it being one of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel as well.
Business travelers can expect to spend an average of US$251 on four-star hotels per day and about US$186 on food and drinks. You’ll never have a dull moment on the island because Singapore is home to various attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Underwater World, Madame Tussauds, and more.
But they come with a price, of course.
The world’s most expensive city to live is also one of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$472 (SGD618).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the MRT (Singapore subway) and check out all these free things that you can do.
Dhaka Are you surprised to find that Dhaka, the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, is on the list too? According to The Daily Star, the cost of living in Dhaka is as high as the Canadian city of Montreal although the living amenities and conditions in these two cities are worlds apart. In fact, it’s considered more expensive to live and work in Dhaka than nearby capitals like New Delhi and Islamabad, and cities like Kolkata.
The living cost rose by 8.44 percent in Dhaka in 2017 because of hikes in prices of rice, vegetables, house rents, electricity, gas as well as other services. Hence, you should expect to spend about US$155 on meals and drinks. And as a business traveler, most of your expenses will go to your accommodation as it costs about US$277 on average for a four-star hotel.
Built in 1872 and standing on the Buriganga River, Ahsan Manzil is one of the most attractive historical sites in Dhaka. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$456 (BDT37,921).
Tip for surviving the trip: Public transportation is not an option there, and traffic and pollution are exceptionally bad so plan your travels well and mask up if need be.
The post Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Arriving in South Korea: Language, etiquette, customs, soju

Posted by - March 16, 2018

IF you’re still under the impression that the Japanese and Korean culture are basically the same, you can’t be more wrong.
For starters, in the Korean culture, respect for elders is paramount and politeness is very important. As such, the level of respect to be shown based on age, seniority, or societal ranking is stricter.
#CULTURE
Arriving in Japan: What we can learn from the Logan Paul controversy In Japan, it’s rude to ask someone for their age, especially upon first meeting. But in Korea, it’s one of the first questions that will be asked in other to determine hierarchical ranking. The ranking determines how you would address the person and speech (formal for elders/seniors and informal for juniors) from there onwards.
For example, younger men would address older men as hyung while younger women would address older men as oppa. Younger men would address older women as noona while younger women would address older women as unnie.
And those are just the basics.
Interactions Formal speech is not only for elders/seniors among friends, peers, at school, and at work, but also for the family.
Most Koreans speak to their parents with proper honorifics and formal speech, especially with their father. It may sound cold and distant to someone who doesn’t know any better, but it’s a form of respect and a sign of maturity.
For tourists or foreigners, it’s best to use some formal speech or honorifics when speaking to Koreans, unless told otherwise. For example, instead of casually saying, “Annyeong!” (hello in Korean) to a Korean that you’ve just met, go with “Annyeonghaseyo!” instead.
And remember to bow slightly for good measure.
Source: Shutterstock.
Fun fact: When speaking to someone senior, avoid direct eye contact as it’s considered impolite and it gives the other party the impression that you’re challenging them.
BB cream it up South Koreans put a lot of effort into their appearance. After all, the country is famed for its skincare, cosmetics, and plastic surgery.
Vanity and beauty standards aside, South Korean women don’t leave the house without at least some BB cream (blemish balm) and lip tint (lip stain). South Korean men, on the other hand, would always ensure that they’re dressed well. A good appearance is an image of success and tells people that they can handle themselves well while the opposite is a sign of laziness and can translate badly in business or work performance.
Source: Shutterstock.
Fun fact: Men’s cosmetics has been growing in popularity in South Korea. According to global market research firm Euromonitor International, in 2012, South Korean men reportedly spent US$565 million on skincare, accounting for nearly 21 percent of global sales. South Korea has the biggest men’s cosmetics market to date.
Stand-right, walk-left Unlike in some parts of Asia, such as Malaysia or Singapore, Koreans stand on the right-hand side of escalators to let people pass them on the left-hand side. This is especially important to ensure that you’re not entirely oblivious while getting on and off subway station escalators as other commuters could be in a rush. You don’t want to be that person who ignorantly stands on the left and holds up about 20 other people behind you.
Ignore this simple etiquette and you could be inviting a couple of loud and disapproving “Aish!”s or “Tsk tsk!”s and killer dagger stares.
Source: Giphy.
Fun fact: Seoul’s subway system has been described as the world’s longest, beating the UK’s London Underground (otherwise known as the Tube) and New York City’s subway, and rated one of the world’s best by CNN and Jalopnik. It carries almost seven million passengers per day on nine lines.
Sidewalk space out Similar to the aforementioned standing right and walking left rule of thumb, one also shouldn’t be idly spacing out while out and about. Much of South Korea’s cities, specially metropolis Seoul, draw large crowds due to people commuting via public transportation on the daily.
And most are constantly in a rush to keep up with the public transportation schedules. As such, don’t be too surprised about being pushed, elbowed or jostled. And don’t expect an “Excuse me” or an apology either.
Best if you don’t space out on the sidewalk altogether.
Source: Shutterstock.
Fun fact: Stay alive, alert, awake and steer clear of the ahjumma (elderly woman or aunty). They’re tougher than they appear to be.
Recycle, you must South Korea is very strict with its recycling policies and has a proper garbage system in place. Trash has to be separated according to very specific types.
Things like paper, glass, steel, fabrics, and plastics are recycled, and trash must always be separated into types and compressed or flattened before disposal.
Recyclables must then be put into specific bins, and this applies nationwide be it at home, at the office, on the streets, or in a subway station. Do the opposite and risk having a local ahjumma give you an earful about what you’re doing wrong.
Source: Lainey.
Fun fact: In South Korea, food trash will be recycled as animal feed or compost. As such, things like shells (seafood, nuts, eggs), bones, fish organs, tea leaves, and hard seeds shouldn’t go into the same bag.
Surviving the bus Getting on the bus is another popular form of transportation in South Korea, particularly at the lesser known provinces such as Jeju and Gangwon as they’re not as connected (via the subway) as Seoul. For the most part, bus drivers are excellent at maneuvering and they seldom get into accidents.
But they’re also known for their Formula 1 capabilities.
The trick to surviving a bus ride, however, is to hang on tightly. As fast as bus drivers can Michael Schumacher-it up, they can also brake just as fast. Hold on to the bar or the handle to avoid falling over an unassuming, seated passenger.
Also, unless if you’re old, disabled, injured, young enough to need adult supervision, or pregnant, do not sit in the end seats towards the front.
Source: Giphy.
Fun fact: Like all these other countries in Asia, South Korea has “one card to rule them all”. Tourists can buy the T-money card to make their travels convenient as the card can be used for subways, taxis, and buses.
Shoes off As with other parts of Asia, when visiting someone’s home in Korea, be sure to take off your shoes at the door before you step into the house without them having to ask.
Koreans consider it a great disrespect if the custom is not followed. Other than for purely hygienic reasons (who knows what you’ve stepped on while you’re outside?), Koreans often sit and sleep on their floor while eating, drinking, sleeping, and resting. Most Korean homes have heated floors which are really comfortable to walk on during the colder days and nights, and shame to be underappreciated by shoe-wearing feet.
Some restaurants, especially the more traditional ones, will also require you to take your shoes off.
Source: Shutterstock.
Fun fact: Embarrassed about exposing your bare feet (just in case you’re not a socks person)? Fret not. Most Koreans will offer you house slippers called sil nae hwa (literally translates as “room indoor shoes”) that you can wear.
The soju style No holiday or stay in South Korea is complete without sampling the country’s many brands of soju (Korean rice wine) as it is the national alcoholic beverage. But when drinking soju, there’s also a set of etiquettes to follow and rules to abide by.
When filling the cup of an elder or senior, the one pouring the drink must use two hands to support the bottle. When a junior’s cup is being filled by an elder or senior, they must lift the cup up with both hands and slightly bow their head. And when taking a sip in the presence of elders or seniors, the junior must face away from them so as to not appear disrespectful.
Source: Giphy.
Fun fact: Korean distiller Jinro is the largest manufacturer of soju accounting for half of all white spirits sold in South Korea. Unsurprisingly, soju accounts for 97 percent of the category. Global sales in 2013 were 750 million bottles. The second-largest spirits brand, Smirnoff, sold less than half that number.
Other South Korea-related articles that you might like:
Relive iconic moments from your favorite Korean dramas at these spots Halal eats: 10 Muslim-friendly restaurants in Seoul The post Arriving in South Korea: Language, etiquette, customs, soju appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Drinks with a view: 5 best rooftop bars in Asia

Posted by - March 15, 2018

A THRIVING NIGHTLIFE keeps things interesting in cities.
And as the cocktail bar scene continues to grow in Asia, more and more bars are mushrooming in the region.
#AMANPULO
Cocktails afloat a bamboo raft: Could this be the world’s best bar? From hunting down speakeasy-styled bars or hitting up neighborhood watering holes to enjoying a romantic interlude at snazzier and classier joints, going for a drink or two in a foreign city tops some travelers’ to-do lists.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a refreshing glass of Long Island Tea at one of these rooftop bars in Asia, overlooking the vibrant city lights, wind in the hair and all that jazz.
Singapore: 1-Altitude Located at One Raffles Place tower in the heart of Singapore, 1-Altitude features several dining and drinking venues stretching from the 61st to 63rd floors. Sporting a 360-degree view, the bar (said to be the world’s highest al fresco bar) boasts the highest views and arguably some of the best. But here’s the catch: there’s nothing but a thin, shoulder-height glass panel to impede the vista below. While you’re on top of the world, you’ll not only be able to spot Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer but also all the other surrounding neighborhoods. By evening, it’s a top stop for sunsets but as the sun goes down, the music level and the energy goes up with live music and DJs taking over the bar.
A post shared by Hwang Min-cheol (@sniper0724) on Feb 7, 2018 at 1:41am PST
Be sure to make reservations in advance as getting a table can be quite a challenge.
Thailand: Vertigo and Moon Bar Reach for the clouds at Bangkok’s rooftop bars Vertigo and Moon Bar, located on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree hotel. Arguably the best ones in the city, it’s so popular that post-work city slickers flock to the bars to destress and enjoy a drink or two. Both bars are distinctively different though – Moon Bar provides a glamorous alfresco lounge with soft blue lighting, panoramic views, live jazz and fresh cocktails while Vertigo offers a romantic “wine and dine” experience for those who love their Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon.
A post shared by Robert Schenkenfelder (@endowzoner) on Feb 8, 2018 at 11:45am PST
Vertigo’s surf ‘n’ turf comes highly recommended to do chow down on some seafood or steak while you’re there.
Indonesia: Rock Bar Bali Perched atop rock formations along Jimbaran’s sunset coast, Rock Bar Bali at Ayana is breathtaking – and perhaps not for the weak-hearted. The bar is located on the edge of a cliff along Jimbaran Bay in Bali, offering a gravity-defying experience. Much more so if you’ve had a couple of drinks. To get to the bar, travelers will need to make their way over by cable car, with dramatic cliffs on either side. Once you’re there, enjoy the sound of the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean and soak in what’s remaining of the day as the sun sets, before fist-pumping to international DJs who perform from a booth that’s been carved directly into the cliff face.
A post shared by Rock Bar, BALI (@rockbarbali) on Dec 28, 2017 at 11:13pm PST
They don’t call it the premier sunset venue for nothing.
South Korea: Bar 81 The new 555-meter-tall Lotte World Tower opened in Seoul in April 2017 to much fanfare. Current the fifth tallest building in the world, the tower comprises of offices, galleries, residences, more offices, a skywalk, an observation tower, and the super luxurious Signiel Seoul hotel. On the 81st floor of Signiel Seoul is Bar 81, a bar so high up that it probably needs a postal code in the clouds. Guests can enjoy the contemporary Parisian menus of chef Yannick Alléno and even have a glass of champagne to go with it. The bar has the largest menu of champagne labels in South Korea, but also a wide range of other liquors.
A post shared by 2쥬 (@2__joo_) on Feb 11, 2018 at 8:08am PST
Don’t forget to look up and admire the glitzy glass art installation overhead.
China: Cloud 9 Shanghai is China’s bustling central business district (CBD) and thus, it should come as no surprise that the city is dotted with sophisticated drinking spots. One that’s definitely worth more than just one mention is Grand Hyatt Shanghai’s posh Cloud 9. Taking over the Jin Mao tower on the 87th floor of the hotel, the dark mahogany and chrome bar features a maze of terraced levels and diving columns, and a hide-away mezzanine bar. Cloud 9 overlooks the iconic Bund and also offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Shanghai, allowing you to admire neon-lit skyline while you sip on one of the bar’s classic cocktails.
A post shared by @charliegarcia73 on Dec 28, 2017 at 4:00pm PST
Best to get a table facing west for views of the Bund, Pearl Tower, and the lights of Puxi, and southeast for views of the Shanghai World Financial Center.
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