The world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China

Posted by - August 1, 2018

MOST METROPOLITAN destinations in the world host little cultural enclaves such as Little India, Koreatown, Vietnamese suburb, Japantown, and perhaps the most popular town of the kind, Chinatown.
Whether you’re in Cuba or San Francisco, the concept of a Chinatown is the same across the board: an ethnic enclave of Chinese people located outside of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.
It’s often a unifying factor for the Chinese in the area, offering Chinese-themed shopping centers and markets, Cantonese restaurants and cafes, decorated in giddying lanterns and flashing lights, and is often the place to be to celebrate festivities such as Chinese New Year.
The heart of heritage: A glimpse of Bangkok’s Chinatown If you’re Chinese, no matter where you are, a Chinatown will make you feel right at home. And for travelers, a Chinatown is simply a taste of China.
Chinatowns are usually found in an urban setting, so don’t expect peace and quiet if you plan to take a stroll down the cramped streets. Do, however, enjoy being in between all the action in the old and the new, as tradition and modernity blend together to become one.
Here are some of the world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China:
Manila, The Philippines Located in the Binondo district of Manila, the Philippines’ Chinatown has influence that extends beyond Quiapo, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas.
Considered the world’s oldest Chinatown, it was established in 1594 by Spaniards as a settlement near Intramuros for the Catholic Chinese.
Source: Shutterstock.
Aside from its Filipino-Chinese businesses, Binondo is also famous for The Umbrella Alley where street food is aplenty and historical sites such as the Seng Guan Temple and the Kuang Kong Temple.
Niu Che Shui, Singapore Niu Che Shui, which means “ox”, “cart”, and “water”, Singapore’s Chinatown was once an enclave for the island city-state’s immigrant population.
Today, Niu Che Shui is a sharp but pleasing contrast to the high-rise buildings that surround the area and is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.
Source: Shutterstock.
From its historic ornate Chinese and Buddhist temples to the traditional medicinal halls to the bustling street market and food streets, as well as the hip new watering holes and lifestyle shops, there’s never a dull moment here.
Bangkok, Thailand The sights, sounds, and smells of Yaowarat area will be an assault on any visitor’s senses but in all the best ways.
Get ready for an adventure when you stroll down many of Thailand’s Chinatown in Bangkok and sample the treats from its street food vendors, while occasionally whipping out your camera to take shots for the ‘gram.
Source: Shutterstock.
Yaowarat’s fascinating mix of Chinese and Thai cultures sets it apart from other Chinatowns in the world and it’s not an experience that you should miss.
Kolkata, India Located in the eastern part of Kolkata, Tiretta Bazaar was established in the early 19th century and was once home to 20,000 ethnic Chinese Indian nationals.
Today, the area is still very much loved, dotted with Chinese restaurants that offer traditional Chinese cuisine and Indian-influenced Chinese food.
Source: Shutterstock.
During Chinese New Year, throngs of Chinese Indians flock to Tiretta Bazaar to celebrate and also to witness the lion dance performances that continue to be held every year.
Yokohama, Japan Located in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, the Yokohama Chinatown has a history that spans about 150 years long and a population of about 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese people.
Established not long after Tokyo opened its port to foreign trade in 1859, it’s the largest Chinatown in Japan and also in Asia, and one of the largest in the world.
Source: Shutterstock.
Yokohama Chinatown is home to over 200 restaurants serving Japan-influence Chinese cuisine, an eight-story entertainment mall and theme park, Chinese grocery and medicine stores, and two elaborate Chinese temples.
Melbourne, Australia In Australia, the Chinese community is well-represented, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne’s Chinatown is popularly known as the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world and the oldest Chinatown in the southern hemisphere.
It was established upon the arrival of Chinese immigrants during the Victorian gold rush of the early 1850s, a period of extreme prosperity for the Australian colony.
Source: Shutterstock.
Home to many Chinese restaurants, cultural venues, businesses, places of worship, architectural heritage and annual festivals, Melbourne’s Chinatown is a major tourist attraction.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia At the heart of Malaysia where the city never sleeps is a lively and colorful destination with sprawling flea markets, beautiful temples, and quirky art galleries. It has to be Chinatown.
The large covered market is known for its fashion shops selling both must-have items as well as designer rip-offs, handicraft and souvenir stalls, as well as stalls dishing up delectable Chinese food and refreshing beverages.
Source: Shutterstock.
Shopaholics will love haggling for and scoring dirt-cheap steals and deals whilst other travelers shouldn’t miss this mindboggling sightseeing activity.
The post The world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In pictures: Old world charm Ipoh

Posted by - July 31, 2018

LOCATED in the state of Perak in northwestern Malaysia, Ipoh is the third largest city in the country by population after Georgetown, Penang (second) and Kuala Lumpur (first).
However, the town is easily overlooked by travelers who are not in the know, especially if they’re simply rushing from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.
Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? For Malaysians, however, Ipoh is a major pitstop on the way to Penang island.
The town has both the Malayan Railway’s West Coast Line and the heavily used North-South Expressway cutting through the city, making a convenient stopover. But that’s not why locals make it a point to visit Ipoh.
The charismatic destination has a rich history behind it, having first started out as a rich, tin-bearing valley of the Kinta River in the 1880s.
Source: Shutterstock.
It didn’t take long for tin mining activities to help Ipoh grow from a quiet village to a full-blown tin mining town as a result of the booming industry.
It was one of the richest cities in Malaysia , and its success earned it the title of the capital of Perak, replacing Taiping. However, in the later half of the 20th century, the decline of the tin mining industry caused the growth of Ipoh to stagnate.
As the tin mines closed, its population moved out to seek employment in other cities within Malaysia. For decades after, Ipoh suffered decline and neglect.
Source: Shutterstock.
In spite of that, Ipoh has managed to pick itself up and today, it’s popular with locals, with tourism being the main driver of the town’s economy.
What makes the destination, still very much a quiet town as compared to Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur, so compelling? For starters, Ipoh has a rich architectural, cultural, and culinary heritage, minus the crowd.
It’s also surrounded by majestic Paleozoic limestone hills, caves with dramatic rock formations, tranquil hot springs, sprawling theme parks, quaint laneways lined with period buildings, a crop of boutique hotels, and the occasional street art tucked away in a street corner.
Source: Shutterstock.
Food is an abundance and you’ll be sure to never go hungry as you eat your way through Ipoh.
Savor the local classics such as tauge chicken (bean sprouts and chicken), kai si hor fun (flat rice noodles with shredded chicken in broth), and creamy tau fu fah (beancurd pudding) before washing it all down with a hot serving of Ipoh white coffee.
Alternatively, you could just treat yourself to a day-long cafe-hopping spree, as the town is known for its hipster joints with the most gorgeous interiors and delicious grub. After all, they don’t call Ipoh the “hipster capital of Malaysia” for nothing.
A post shared by Pelanggan Selesa Hakak Gembira (@zulianayanahomestay) on Jul 29, 2018 at 7:54am PDT
A post shared by Becky Hesilrige (@beckyhesilrige) on Jan 19, 2018 at 12:33am PST
A post shared by BoHan_Ken 林柏翰 (@bohan_ken) on Apr 1, 2017 at 10:00am PDT
A post shared by #ihaveathingforwalls (@ihaveathingforwalls) on Jan 17, 2018 at 4:35pm PST
A post shared by Ipoh (@ipohcityawesome) on May 10, 2018 at 11:43pm PDT
A post shared by Ridzuan Khaw (@mr.duwe) on Dec 26, 2016 at 12:17am PST
A post shared by Jee (@najeehaadam) on Jul 8, 2018 at 11:35pm PDT
A post shared by Bibi Misbah (ビビ・ミスバ) (@spiritedtojapan) on Jul 30, 2018 at 10:45pm PDT
A post shared by on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:33pm PST
A post shared by Shelby (@shelbybisou) on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:31am PDT
A post shared by Tuan Paznieyza Bt Tuan Pa (@nieyzabubblesh) on Feb 16, 2018 at 3:40am PST
A post shared by jeslynho (@jeslynho) on Mar 26, 2017 at 1:12am PDT
A post shared by Hwang Min-cheol (@sniper0724) on Feb 7, 2018 at 1:41am PST
A post shared by @ganleeco on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:41am PST
A post shared by Agie Elanthamilan (@agie_elanthamilan) on Jul 26, 2018 at 10:32pm PDT
A post shared by Janice (@janicee) on Jul 15, 2018 at 9:10am PDT
A post shared by Wong Yu Jin (@wongyujin) on Jul 13, 2018 at 2:38am PDT
A post shared by Michael (@rattyboom) on Dec 27, 2017 at 1:02am PST
A post shared by Wan Noor (@wannoorzamran) on Jul 30, 2018 at 5:04am PDT
A post shared by Fared Zainal (@zainalfared) on Apr 29, 2018 at 1:29pm PDT
The post In pictures: Old world charm Ipoh appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Malaysia vs. Singapore: Food fight

Posted by - June 25, 2018

IS MALAYSIAN FOOD the same as Singaporean food? Which country does it better? Who really owns chicken rice?
It’s an age-old food fight between the neighboring countries that will never truly end.
Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? Malaysia and Singapore often get compared because of their proximity to each other and similar demographics. Much more so than Thailand and Malaysia.
Although the assumption is the two countries are quite literally joined at the hip, the differences between their cost of living, the standard of living, palates, and cultures are what sets them apart.
This includes food, of course.
Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur is famous for many food stalls and outdoor dining. Source: Shutterstock.
Often, Malaysians and Singaporeans debate over the quality of their food and for years, the nations have been staking claim over some identical dishes and what they think is rightfully theirs.
Case in point: The well-loved Hainanese chicken rice. Said to be one of the world’s 50 most delicious foods (according to CNN GO), the dish has been caught in this tug of war for decades, with Singapore calling it their national dish.
“(They say) chicken rice is theirs (and) if we’re not careful, ‘char koay teow‘ will become theirs (one day too),” Business Insider quoted Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng as saying.
‘Char koay teow’ is a popular noodle dish in Penang, Malaysia. It’s usually stir-fried over very high heat with light and dark soy sauce, chili, a small quantity of ‘belacan’ (shrimp paste), whole prawns, deshelled blood cockles, bean sprouts, chopped Chinese chives, and egg. Source: Shutterstock.
Those who don’t know any better may think that Malaysian food and Singaporean food are one and the same. As they always say, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”
But here are some popular Malaysian and Singaporean dishes that are actually different.
Wantan mee Wantan mee (wonton noodles) is a Cantonese noodle dish which is popular in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
The Malaysian version of wantan mee. Source: Shutterstock.
Malaysia: The noodles are either served in a hot broth, garnished with leafy vegetables, and wonton dumpling, or relatively dry, dressed with oyster sauce, and garnished with chopped spring onions, with wontons and soup in a separate bowl.
Singapore: The dish includes noodles, leafy vegetables, barbecued pork, and bite-sized wonton. However, the Singapore version uses less soya cause and is often served with chili ketchup.
Bak kut teh Bak kut teh (Hokkien words which mean “meat bone tea”) is a pork rib dish cooked in broth popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore, and also in neighboring areas like Riau Islands and Southern Thailand.
Bak kut teh is done differently in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock.
Malaysia: Usually cooked in a claypot, bak kut teh contains a variety of herbs, pork meat and ribs, and soy sauce creating a more fragrant, textured and darker soup.
Singapore: Ordinarily, bak kut teh restaurants serve the Teochew style of clear soup bak kut teh, which is light in color but uses more pepper and garlic in the soup.
Hokkien mee Hokkien mee is a dish in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine that has its origins in the cuisine of China’s Fujian province.
There are distinctive differences between Singapore and Malaysia’s versions of hokkien mee. Source: Shutterstock.
Malaysia: Cooked over a raging charcoal fire, it’s a dish of thick yellow noodles braised in thick dark soy sauce with pork, squid, fish cake and cabbage as the main ingredients and cubes of lard.
Singapore: It’s a stir-fried dish of egg noodles and rice noodles in fragrant stock (made from stewing prawn heads, meat, clams, and dried fish). It also has a lighter color than the Malaysian version and is usually served with lime and sambal (hot sauce) for that extra zing.
Laksa Laksa is a spicy dish popular in the Peranakan cuisine, consists of noodles chicken, prawn or fish, served in soup. It’s found in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and southern Thailand.
Asam laksa is a sour, fish and tamarind-based soup with thick rice noodles. Source: Shutterstock.
Malaysia: There are various types of laksa across the country, even some state-specific recipes such as Asam laksa (Penang), Sarawak laksa (Sarawak), Laksa Kelantan (Kelantan), Laksa Johor (Johor), curry laksa, Nyonya laksa (Malacca), and laksam (Kelantan and Terengganu), just to name a few.
Singapore: The country’s variant of curry laksa is better known as its local “Katong” version. It’s a spicy soup stock the color of a flaming sunset, flavored with coconut milk and dried shrimp, and topped with ingredients like cockles, prawns, and fishcake.
Don’t make these cultural Pho-pas when eating in Asia The countries aren’t always at loggerheads though. As much as food is one of the reasons why Malaysians and Singaporeans can’t see eye-to-eye, food is also a big uniting factor.
For example, Singapore and Malaysia banded together with Indonesia in a furor over MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace’s crispy chicken rendang comment.
The post Malaysia vs. Singapore: Food fight appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia?

Posted by - June 20, 2018

DO YOU LIVE TO EAT or eat to live? In Asia, it’s likely the former.
Asia is a melting pot of cultures and that translates well into the plethora of cuisines and tastes that can be found in the region. In fact, Asian countries are beginning to come out on top of well-known culinary destinations such as France and Italy.
Don’t make these cultural Pho-pas when eating in Asia Any visitor to Asia will find that “Where to eat?” and “What to eat?” are important everyday questions.
For the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, “Have you eaten?” is probably the first thing that people you meet will ask you.
Good food is the very thing that keeps their stomachs and hearts full, so much so that it’s a major deciding factor for the vacations that they take.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their desire to sample food and drinks motivates their travels.
A post shared by T(bar) (@tbar_teabar) on Jun 18, 2018 at 10:32pm PDT
According to a survey conducted with over 50,000 global travelers, 82 percent of Hong Kong travelers are planning to take a dedicated food tourism trip sometime this year and 70 percent of them say they pick a destination for its great food or drink.
The survey also said that gastronomy tourism or food tourism is particularly popular among Asian travelers from China (65 percent), India (57 percent), Thailand (53 percent), Indonesia (50 percent), and Hong Kong (48 percent).
A post shared by bings_sydney (@bings_sydney) on Jun 19, 2018 at 1:31am PDT
Asian travelers are particularly attracted to just about anything Instagrammable, including food. Beautiful flat lays or close-ups of food and an explosion of colors are bound to get their attention.
The top four food destinations in Asia, according to millions of’s traveler reviews, are:
Ipoh, Malaysia Located nearly 180km north of Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh is a city in Perak that first got its claim to fame for being the world’s largest producer of tin way back in the 1900s.
Aerial view of Ipoh at sunrise. Source: Shutterstock.
In the 1980s, after the collapse of tin prices, Ipoh took a seat back and simply became the ideal retirement place, thanks to its beautiful limestone karst mountains and serene ambiance.
These days, Ipoh has become a main “pit stop” for travelers heading to Cameron Highlands or Penang.
And truly, when it comes to its food, it can get pretty hard to decide what to eat.
A post shared by Shelby (@shelbybisou) on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:31am PDT
Our picks: Ming Court dimsum, Concubine Lane tau fu fah (bean-curd pudding), Thean Chun kai si hor fun (flat rice noodles with shredded chicken in broth), Thean Chun caramel pudding, Lou Wong bean sprout chicken rice, and Sin Yin Loong Ipoh white coffee.
Kaohsiung, Taiwan What first started out as a small trading village in the 17th century is now Taiwan’s must-visit destination.
Tips: Go to Kaohsiung with an empty stomach. Source: Shutterstock.
Located in southern-western Taiwan, the bustling Kaohsiung is a massive port city with impressive skyscrapers, gorgeous sprawling parks, and lively night markets.
Natural, historical, and industrial attractions aside, the city also boasts culinary delights and mouthwatering hidden eats that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
The food here is also relatively cheaper than Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
A post shared by xinkai09 (@xinkai09) on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:56pm PST
Our picks: Gang Yuan beef noodles, Gao Xiong Po Po shaved ice dessert, Hongmaogang Restaurant (for seafood), Liuhe night market, Wu Pao Chun Bakery, Duck Zhen braised duck, Royal Beef Cubes’ hand-torched wagyu beef cubes, and Ban Jiushi pan-fried milkfish.
Nagoya, Japan With a population of over two million people, Nagoya is the fourth-most populous city in Japan.
Nagoya has more than just its Edo period castle to be proud of. Source: Shutterstock.
It’s also an agricultural and economic center with automotive as its main industry due to its strategic location near the fertile Nobi Plain and the Pacific coast on central Honshu.
What really sets Nagoya apart from other Japanese cities, however, is its distinctive cuisine, referred to in Japanese as “Nagoya meshi”, which means Nagoya’s local food.
“A study conducted by the city of Nagoya related to domestic tourism found that more people visited the area to enjoy the food (50.9 percent) than to see the famed Nagoya Castle (49.9 percent),” CNN wrote.
A post shared by OG (@oga_yuki) on Jul 25, 2017 at 1:04am PDT
Our picks: Nonkiya doteni (pork or beef and vegetables simmered with miso), Atsuta Horaiken hitsumabushi (grilled freshwater eel with rice), Yabaton misokatsu (deep fried pork cutlets served with miso sauce and rice), Yamamoto Honten misonikomi (udon noodles simmered in miso), and Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi (flat udon noodles in broth).
Johor Bahru, Malaysia Just a short causeway ride away from Singapore and at the tip of peninsula Malaysia is the capital of Johor, Johor Bahru.
Johor Bahru is one of the biggest cities in Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock.
Regarded as one of the fastest-growing cities in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru (or JB, as locals would call it) is the main commercial center for the state and is located in the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle.
However, the city flies under the radar when it comes to Malaysia’s food havens as it’s often overshadowed by Penang, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and Ipoh.
This just means there are more surprising culinary gems for travelers to discover, from restaurants to the simplest hawker fare.
A post shared by irene (@riinns) on Aug 23, 2017 at 7:25am PDT
Our picks: Hwa Mui Kopitiam chicken chop (Hainanese-styled), Bukit Chagar roti canai (Indian-styled flatbread), Kerala Curry House banana leaf rice, Hiap Joo Bakery banana cake, Restoran Ya Wang herb roasted duck, Restoran Tua Thow kway teow soup (flat rice noodles in broth), Ong Shun Seafood Restaurant, Restoran Ah Piaw wantan mee (wonton noodles), Kam Long Restaurant fish head curry, and Toddy’s Coconut Wine Shop.
The post Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Are you ready to get a taste of GrabFood?

Posted by - May 25, 2018

EPICURIOUS locals and travelers in Malaysia will be delighted to know that GrabFood is set to launch in the country on May 28, 2018.
This is coming after Uber announced two months ago that Grab 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.
So Uber got Grabbed but what does it mean for travelers? The much-anticipated food delivery service will connect consumers to over 300 of Malaysia’s kitchens, from local and Asian delights to halal and non-halal cuisine, as well as modern and traditional desserts.
Some mouthwatering Malaysian favorites include KGB (Bangsar), Makirito, La Juiceria Superfood Cafe, Humble Chef, Inside Scoop, Devi’s Corner, and more.
Need meals and snacks delivered right to your doorstep?
Get on the GrabFood app, order your grub, and pay seamlessly via GrabPay, Grab’s cashless payment method.

Also, keep in mind that operating hours depends on your area and the restaurant’s hours.
That having said, GrabFood begins delivering as early as 8am and run as late as 11pm.
Here are some things you need to know before you place your order:
No minimum order: From light bites to big meals, order to your heart’s desire without any minimum order requirement. Food prices: The vast majority of menu prices on GrabFood will be the same as they are in-store. In some cases, menu prices on GrabFood may be higher than in-store prices. Flat rate delivery service: GrabFood delivery fee is set at a flat rate of RM5 per order so you can satisfy your cravings at any time of the day. Schedule orders in advance: Have a party to host? Plan and order meals up to five days in advance. On the day of the delivery, simply track the status of your order in the app. Then, kick back, relax and wait for your food to be delivered to you. Get rewarded for every order: Every GrabFood order gives you GrabRewards points which can be used to redeem goodies and perks. RM1 = five GrabRewards points. Points can be used to redeem rides or any discounts from the GrabRewards catalog. GrabFood is currently only available in Mont Kiara, Sri Hartamas, Bukit Damansara and Bangsar.
It will be serving five additional areas including Kampung Baru, Chow Kit, KL City Centre, Titiwangsa, and Setiawangsa, with more areas to follow in the coming weeks.
Do you know where your food comes from? To download the app, go to GrabFood’s website.
The post Are you ready to get a taste of GrabFood? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Dragon Boat Festival: Where to go for a roaring wet fun day

Posted by - May 1, 2018

CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, the Duanwu festival, otherwise known as the Dragon Boat Festival, has nothing to do with dragons. But it has got to do with boats.
The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and ministry who died in 278 B.C. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Milou river after he was slandered by the members of the Han Dynasty and exiled from his home. After which, the local people who admired him raced out in their boats in an attempt to save him or retrieve his body.
When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body.
‘Venice of the East’: Charming water villages in China Thousands of years later, revelers across Asia still come out in droves for one day in the early summertime to eat sticky dumplings and race ornate boats shaped like dragons to honor Qu Yuan.
This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on June 18, 2018, a public holiday in some Asian countries including Hong Kong and Taiwan. In celebration of the holiday of Duanwu, rowers will take to the rivers to show off their months of preparation for the festive dragon boat races.
A dragon boat is a brightly decorated human-powered boat or paddle boat that is traditionally made of teak wood to various designs and sizes that range anywhere from 40 to 100 feet in length.
It has a front end shaped like an open-mouth dragon and a back end with a scaly tail.
This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will take place on June 18, 2018, a public holiday in some Asian countries. Source: Shutterstock. Source: Shutterstock.
Usually, a sacred ceremony is performed before any race in order to “bring the boat to life” by painting the eyes. The first team to grab a flag at the end of the course wins the race.
Some of these races and festivities kick off way before the actual celebration.
For example, Jakarta’s Dragon Boat Festival will be held on May 5 to May 6, 2018, on the waterfront of Baywalk Mall in Pluit. Spectators can expect more than 40 teams comprising over 800 paddlers competing over two days, vying for 18 trophies, 340 medals, and cash prizes.
The race, which encompasses 250 meters, includes mixed, men, women and student invitational categories.
Dragon boat racing is a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization, and endurance. Source: Shutterstock.
Apart from the dragon boat race, attendees will also be able to engage in social events and enjoy the festivities around food and merchandise stalls.
Other Asian countries that will be a part of the Duanwu celebrations include:
China Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Xixi National Wetland Park, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China. Details: Website | Facebook. Taiwan Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Taipei’s Dajia Riverside Park, Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City Taiwan. Details: Website | Facebook. Hong Kong Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Details: Website | Facebook. Macao Observed dates: June 16 to June 18, 2018. Venue: Nam Van Lake Nautical Center, Macao. Details: Website. Malaysia Observed dates: May 12 to May 13, 2018. Venue: Likas Bay, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Details: Website | Facebook. The post Dragon Boat Festival: Where to go for a roaring wet fun day appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Fancy a tipple? Take a cocktail tour of Kuala Lumpur

Posted by - April 20, 2018

COCKTAILS have transformed from brightly colored, umbrella-wearing mixtures, into signature must-haves for every chic bar.
Contemporary cocktails consist of fresh ingredients such as petals and herbs infused with classically aged whiskey bourbons, dry gins and any other spirit highly trained mixologists want to throw in there.
The result: a sip so delicious, you just must have another.
Feeling extra hungry at the airport? It’s not your fault Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s shining capital city, is home to some of Asia’s coolest cocktails bars.
If you only know where to look, this delightful metropolis is brimming with a variety of watering holes. Whether it’s the extravagantly fitted parlors serving only the most premium of spirits or the quaint little speakeasy joints tucked away in alleyways, each one entices you to adorn your best frock for a night out on the town.
Thirsty? Then we suggest you go get that thirst quenched at the joints below. It is Fri-yay after all.
Omakase + Appreciate A post shared by Thirsty Belly (@thirstybelly) on Feb 1, 2018 at 1:04am PST
Winner of the Most Creative Cocktail Bar award at The Bar Awards Kuala Lumpur, and Number 10 on Asia’s Best Bars list, Omakase + Appreciate is a place that could easily be missed, but shouldn’t be.
The door to the bar looks like one only janitors would enter. However, if you stroll through the rows of diners at Ming Annex to the door at the back, you’ll find yourself in Omakase + Appreciate.
The Omakase practice means, “I’ll leave it to you”, so the bartenders here are happy to whip you up a treat based on your tastes.
However, if you fancy trying something a little different, we suggest the Lava Hawthorn: Bacardi, lavender honey water, red date hawthorn syrup and sweet vermouth.
Are you licking your lips?
Address: 9, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Price: Average US$10 (MYR40) Dress code: Casual cocktail soiree Botak Liquor A post shared by botakliquor (@botakliquorbar) on Oct 20, 2017 at 2:25am PDT
Embodying the modern fresh-ingredients ethos, Botak Liquor prides itself on the concept of farm-to-glass.
Each of the botanical ingredients is collected straight from the farm and brought to the bar for patrons to sample.
One of the most impressive cocktails which also perfectly illustrates the focus on botanical ingredients in the Limau purtu and carrot cocktail.
Offering sippers sublime tastes by infusing pineapple pisco, kaffir lime, carrot juice and house-made Botak hot sauce.
Likened to a fruity and delicious tom yum, without the seafood.
If you want something a little more traditional, but with the same herbivore approach, try the sweet pea and elderflower cocktail – unaged whiskey, sweet peas, organic elderflower cordial and lemon.
Even if you’re not a drinker, head along with the beautiful décor of draping flora and handmade benches.
Address: 156 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, 50000 Price: Average US$10 (MYR40) Dress code: Casual and airy PS150 A post shared by jasonteezy (@jasonteezy) on May 23, 2017 at 7:53pm PDT
If you’re a cocktail buff and want to further expand your knowledge, head to PS150, a cocktail tavern hidden in the middle of a Toy Shop – not very PG right?
The bar is lit by red Chinese lanterns, lending it a sort of shabby-chic feel. While it’s not exactly a speakeasy bar as the luminous sign outside tells you where to go, it certainly does give off secretive and exclusive vibes, perfect for date night.
Moving out of out of the dimly- lit and aptly-named Opium Den, guests can experience the Tiki space in an open-air courtyard which is great for bigger groups.
If you’re looking for a fruity number, opt for the Lychee No.3 made up of London dry gin, lychee, ginger flower and lime.
Address: 156 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, 50000 Price: Average US$10 (MYR40) Dress code: Casual and airy Three X Co A post shared by Three X Co (@three_x_co_bsc) on Apr 19, 2018 at 12:29am PDT
Now, this bar is as about as speakeasy as it gets.
But don’t worry, we are going to speak of it, to make it easy to find.
Three X Co can be found in another part of Bangsar Shopping Centre on the third floor next to pop-up barbershop, Othrs.
You’ll need to pull the wall panel next to it covered in Muhammad Ali posters to gain access – but that’s all part of the fun.
The dimly lit bar will transport you back to an era of great glamour with deep green walls, Chesterfield style sofas, and beautifully cut class.
We recommend trying the Three X Co’s take on a traditional Old Fashioned. Watch as your bartender mixes Kraken spiced rum, Malaysian gula Melaka – a sweetener made from coconut palm sugar – and chocolate bitters.
Address: Level 3, Bangsar Shopping Center, Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandaraya, Kuala Lumpur, 59000
Price: Average US$15 (MYR60) Dress code: Smart and chic #BOOKINGS
Asia’s most refreshing long-term alternatives to Airbnb W.I.P A post shared by Whipped Into Place (@wipbangsar) on Mar 30, 2016 at 7:00pm PDT
Moving far away from speakeasy bars, but still in the same building as Three X Co, W.I.P (Whipped into shape), offers quest an uber-chilled atmosphere to sip a wide range of cocktails.
The restaurant and bar venue have just undergone an elegant facelift making the surroundings as Instagrammable as the divine cocktails.
Our favorite is the sugarcane sweetened strawberry mojito. The delicate berry is perfectly complemented with Cuban rum, fresh mint leaves and a squeeze of ripe lime.
But if you’re sweet enough and prefer something packing a punch, opt for the sophisticated apple martini. The blend of honeyed apple liquor and dry Vermouth makes for an irresistible drink.
The modern tentacle-like bar provides plenty of seating space and the outdoor areas make for the ideal place to dust off your dancing legs and groove to some funky beats.
Address: Lot G111, Ground Floor, Bangsar Shopping Centre, 285, Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandar Raya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Price: Average US$7 (MYR30) Dress code: Cool casual The post Fancy a tipple? Take a cocktail tour of Kuala Lumpur appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Gluten-free in Kuala Lumpur? We’ve got you covered 

Posted by - April 10, 2018

IN the world of dietary requirements, intolerances and diet preferences, restaurants have almost become disillusioned with customers who “claim” to be allergic to an ingredient.
Often, if a diner names anything but shellfish, nuts or dairy, a server may give a blank stare or a “Let me just go and check with the chef”.
This can be a daunting prospect for those who are genuinely allergic to food groups outside of the widely recognized allergies.
Navigate through Asia on one of these cruises The prospect of being accidentally fed it in a foreign country, after failing to communicate in a language you don’t understand, can be enough to put some off from eating out at all while on their vacation.
But if you’ve got a gluten-free diet or even been diagnosed with celiac disease and you’re traveling to Kuala Lumpur, you needn’t worry about where to dine as there is a selection of fantastic restaurants offering divine gluten-free food, including a parlor that sells luscious ice cream and cake.
Here are five of Kuala Lumpur’s best gluten-free eateries.
Ashley’s By Living Food A post shared by Ashley's (@ashleysbylivingfood) on Mar 4, 2018 at 10:36pm PST
Found in the trendy area of Bangsar Baru, Ashley’s offers an extensive menu with plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free, raw, vegan and vegetarian dishes – all of which happen to be exceptional.
The restaurant can be accessed through one giant sliding glass door which floods the tables with sunlight.
Driftwood, glistening lights, shelves lined with colorful Buddhas and an open plan kitchen create a chilled atmosphere.
The super helpful servers will take you through the menu and answer any difficult questions you may have about cross-contamination, cooking methods and ingredients; nothing is too much trouble.
A post shared by Ashley's (@ashleysbylivingfood) on Sep 18, 2017 at 8:24pm PDT
Gluten-free dishes are marked on the menu and each server has an extensive knowledge of which dishes are suitable and which ones can be made gluten-free.
We highly recommend the bun-less lamb burger made with a grass-fed lamb patty, provolone cheese, crunchy almonds and a balsamic reduction.
Then finish it off with the Living Cream Pocket – a thin crepe skin with almonds, bananas, sweet nut cream and fresh fruit.
Open seven days a week: Monday to Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday 11am-12pm, Saturday 9am-12am, and Sunday 9am-11pm.
Address: No. 11, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100.
Antipodean A post shared by Antipodean Bangsar (@antipodeanbangsar) on Oct 1, 2017 at 7:31pm PDT
Not one, not two, but four Antipodeans grace the Malaysian city with its extensive menu, fresh juices, chilled vibe and delicious coffee.
Antipodean doesn’t explicitly have gluten-free written on the menus which adorn the cafe walls, but just a simple “Can you tell me what’s gluten-free please?” will do the trick.
You may even have trouble remembering all the options.
There are plenty of exciting fresh salads on offer as well as traditional satay dishes and gluten-free bread to add to your smooth scrambled eggs and creamy avocado (our top pick).
If you’re grabbing brunch then try one of their fresh juices. If it’s evening, opt for the Bloody Mary (if alcohol is your poison).
A post shared by Antipodean Bangsar (@antipodeanbangsar) on Sep 23, 2017 at 1:44am PDT
With Antipodean cafes dotted around Klang Valley in Bangsar, Ampang Park, and Atria and Mid Valley shopping mall, you’re unlikely to go hungry no matter what part of the city you’re in.
The cafes are bustling but not crowded, and while you may have to wait a short while for a table, it’s so worth it.
Order a coffee that could rival London’s or Sydney’s best and read the extensive menu while you wait.
Find out more about Antipodean and the locations here.
Antipodean Atria – 8:30am-10pm daily. Antipodean Bangsar – Sunday to Thursday 8am – 10pm, Friday to Saturday 8am – 11pm. Antipodean Mid Valley – Sunday to Thursday 7:30am – 11pm, Friday to Saturday 7:30am – midnight. Antipodean Tan & Tan – Sunday to Wednesday 7:30am – 5 pm, Thursday to Friday 7:30am – 7pm. Fittie Sense A post shared by Fittie Sense (@my_fittiesense) on Jan 31, 2018 at 12:47am PST
That’s right, just like the noughties rap sensation, 50 Cent – only cooler, chicer and probably way more delicious.
You could easily miss this hidden gem in Bangsar at it sits above the shop fronts that line the cool district.
But if you look up you’ll see the glowing green lights of Fittie Sense which is accessible by a side stairwell.
The restaurant has wood floors, white walls and a fabulous cake table that teases you as you choose your food.
The super friendly staff are more than happy to make recommendations and direct you towards a colorful plate of tastiness.
A post shared by Fittie Sense (@my_fittiesense) on Oct 22, 2017 at 9:40pm PDT
Almost everything on this menu is gluten-free except for the spiced beef kofte in wholemeal pita bread.
The portions here are huge and delicious. If you’re carnivorous, opt for the Cajun pan-seared chicken chop served on a bed of fresh green leaves, quinoa, and crushed avocado.
Feeling ravenous? Order a side of the moreish sweet potato fries too.
Try a naturally carbonated, low sugar soda or opt for the chai latte to warm your soul.
With breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and divine desserts, you can expect flavor to be packed into every mouthful here.
Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 11am – 10pm; Saturday to Sunday 8:30am – 10pm.
Address: No. 23A, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Goodness Greens A post shared by Goodness Greens Cafe (@goodnessgreenscafe) on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:35pm PST
For a long time, Goodness Greens in TTDI was known as a great place for celiac sufferers.
However, they have recently changed the menu and taken the little GF logo off.
But this doesn’t mean they don’t cater to gluten-free dietary requirements. You just have to ask.
It’s all about the customized salads and yummy juices at Goodness Greens.
A post shared by Goodness Greens Cafe (@goodnessgreenscafe) on Nov 9, 2017 at 10:01pm PST
Have a “Vital Shot” of juice to give you energy or boost your immune system or choose from a rainbow selection of little bottles packed full of nutrients.
Enjoy Thai-inspired salads, a traditional Caesar, mixed seafood, towering tofu and so many other combinations of deliciousness in a bowl.
Open daily from 8am – 10pm.
Address: No. 32, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Kind Kones A post shared by Chemical-Free Vegan Ice Cream (@kindkones) on Mar 9, 2018 at 3:49am PST
If you want to skip breakfast, lunch, and dinner and head straight for dessert at Kind Kones, we don’t blame you.
Kind Kones is a completely vegan and mostly gluten-free ice cream and cake parlor.
The unsuspecting vendor offers incredibly mixed ice cream and sorbet flavors that are chemical-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and unprocessed.
All the ice cream is hand-churned and boy oh boy can you feel the love that’s gone into it.
Almost all the scrumptious cakes are gluten-free, and we’re not talking about a semi-stale brownie.
A post shared by Chemical-Free Vegan Ice Cream (@kindkones) on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:43pm PDT
We mean melt-in-your-mouth pecan pie and crunchy peanut butter cake, to name a few.
At Kind Kones you can taste the pleasure without tasting the guilt of these usually chemical- and sugar-packed treats.
Open daily from 10am-10pm.
Discover all the Kind Kones outlets in Kuala Lumpur here.
The post Gluten-free in Kuala Lumpur? We’ve got you covered appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Taste your way around Kuala Lumpur

Posted by - April 3, 2018

“Makan” is possibly the only word you’ll need to get by in Malaysia. It means to eat and eating certainly forms a huge part of Malaysian culture.
From the traditional nasi lemak, moreish roti canai, long-pulled tea, coconut shakes and Milo dinosaurs to soul-warming banana leaf and durian – if you dare – there are so many flavors to discover here.
Malaysia’s love for food drives a fantastically vibrant dining scene. From 24-hour mamaks serving traditional Indian-Muslim dishes, to the abundant satay stalls where hungry late night diners can enjoy anything from whole fried squid to the freshest steamed pak choi, all served on a stick. Simple, yet so delicious.
Perhaps one of the best places to find all the cuisines Kuala Lumpur has to offer in one fun, lively and inspiring place is in the renowned Golden Triangle part of the city.
Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle is made up of sparkling entertainment complexes, shopping malls, cinemas, luxury hotels, fine-dining venues, but probably most exciting of are the restaurants that serve a variety of mouth-watering local fare.

The four bustling areas found inside this dynamic neighbourhood are Bukit Bintang, Imbi, Sultan Ismail and Raja Chulan. Between each of these are strands of streets filled with the most delicious dishes.
If you’re a foodie on tour and want to discover Kuala Lumpur through its cuisines from the spicy delightfulness of the nasi lemak to century eggs and chicken feet, then the perfect place to stay is at the Golden Triangle’s most conveniently located PARKROYAL Serviced Suites.
PARKROYAL Serviced Suites is adjacent to Bukit Bintang, which comes alive at night and just round the corner from the equally vibrant Jalan Alor strip where you can stroll up and down tasting devilishly divine dishes.
PARKROYAL Serviced Suites is perfect for family vacations, business travelers and backpackers who want to experience luxury without the hefty price tag.
The apartment-style hotel in Kuala Lumpur provides guests with a tranquil sanctuary, mere moments from some of Malaysia’s most notable attractions.
PARKROYAL Serviced Suites offers the choice of Studio Suites, One-bedroom Premier Suites, Two-bedroom Suites and Executive Suites.

All are fitted with sizeable kitchenettes and a beautiful space to relax after exploring the city.
The Mezzanine Lounge is also perfect for unwinding in the evening or you can head up to the rooftop to dangle your feet in the cool pool and admire views of Kuala Lumpur’s stunning skyline, including the Petronas Twin Towers.
Once you’ve spruced up your energy levels in the serene atmosphere in PARKROYAL Serviced Suites, you can look forward to an evening of feasting in the local area.
Just a short stroll from PARKROYAL Serviced Suites is the bustling Jalan Alor, one of the most famous roads in Kuala Lumpur.
Here, you can find hawker stalls and seafood restaurants which are all fresh and inexpensive.
Choose from Korean barbequed meats, Chinese crispy omelettes, fiery noodles, crispy or steamed satay delights, oodles of hearty broths with fresh toppings, sweet traditional treats and so much more.

If your stomach is rumbling and you want to head to somewhere you know is going to be fantastic without perusing all that Jalan Alor has to offer, then head straight to either Yap Hup Kee or Betel Leaf.
Yap Hup Kee serves smile-inducing Chinese dishes, from saucy chicken noodle curry to traditional fried yong tau foo – a Hakka Chinese cuisine consisting primarily of crispy tofu stuffed with fish paste.
If you want to get stuck in with your hands, head to Betel Leaf for authentic and scrumptious Chettinad cuisines.
Betel Leaf serves both South and North Indian dishes including curries, seafood dishes, veg-packed sides and ample sweet treats.
If all the divine food has warmed up your dancing legs, then head to Changkat Bukit Bintang, just a three-minute stroll from PARKROYAL Serviced Suites.
The area has been likened to London’s Piccadilly Circus and host plenty of enticing bars and clubs.
Here you can find live music, DJs, parties, cocktails, towers of beer, a friendly atmosphere and welcoming locals.
One of the most popular places along the strip is Havana’s, which hosts a salsa party night every Friday and a comedy night on the first Thursday of each month.

If you want to rock out to some live music, then head to Yoko’s on a Friday evening and catch some local indie band performance classics and originals.
By day time, the raucous party scene of the night before disappears from the strip and quietness overcomes the street.
This is the perfect time to wander around and see the stunning pre-war colonial style buildings in the day light.
To round off your stay in Kuala Lumpur, you must try the famous and oh-so-delicious nasi lemak. And staying at PARKROYAL Serviced Suites means you’re super close to some of the best nasi lemak in the whole city.
Head to Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa in Kampung Baru for lunch. The combination of fried chicken, sticky coconut rice, crispy fried anchovies, protein-packed peanuts and fresh cucumber will work wonders for that naughty hangover Changkat Bukit Bintang gave you the night before.
From here, you can see unblocked views of the glistening Petronas Twin Towers and then stroll back to PARKROYAL Serviced Suites for an afternoon lounging around the rooftop pool while you decide what adventures to have next.
PARKROYAL Serviced Suites truly couldn’t be in a better location to explore this historic, beautiful, bustling city.
With incredibly comfortable beds, welcoming staff, first-class facilities and a winning location, PARKROYAL Serviced Suites really does have everything to make your stay in Kuala Lumpur memorable for all the right reasons.
To find out more about PARKROYAL Serviced Suites please visit the site here.
The post Taste your way around Kuala Lumpur appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

So Uber got Grabbed but what does it mean for travelers?

Posted by - March 27, 2018

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.