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.
#THINGS TO DO
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.

5 new restaurants in Singapore get Michelin-starred

Posted by - July 26, 2018

TRAVELERS who are led by their stomachs would be pleased to know that the Michelin Guide Singapore 2018 has put more Michelin-starred restaurants on the table.
This adds to the existing list of eateries that was announced last year.
#SINGAPORE
Ready to chow down at Singapore’s Michelin Guide Street Food Festival? “Five restaurants received their very first Michelin star in the third edition of Michelin Guide Singapore, bringing the number of one-starred-restaurants in Singapore to 34,” the Michelin Guide wrote on its website.
“There are no restaurants celebrated with three stars this year, the restaurants with two stars last year kept their accolades.”
For the uninitiated, the prestigious annual guidebook sets a standard of excellence with its star rankings and Bib Gourmand selections.
It takes into consideration elements such as product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef’s personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time across the entire menu.
Source: Shutterstock.
The criteria for the star rankings, which was established in 1936, are as follows:
*: “Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie” (A very good restaurant in its category)
**: “Table excellente, mérite un détour” (Excellent cooking, worth a detour)
***: “Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage” (Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey)
This year, the Michelin Guide Singapore 2018 awarded a total of 39 restaurants on the island with Michelin stars.
Get to know the five which have been newly-minted with one star:
Burnt Ends “Modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends, which opened in May 2013 in the Chinatown neighborhood, is famous for its open-concept kitchen with custom-made grills.”
“The four tonne, dual cavity ovens and the three elevation grills heat up to over 1,700 degrees and are fired by coal, apple or almond wood.”
“Grilled beef accompanied by marmalade and pickles, and the buns with beef marrow particularly appealed to the Michelin inspectors.”
A post shared by Burntends_SG (@burntends_sg) on Jul 19, 2017 at 8:21pm PDT
Address: 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391.
Nouri “At Nouri’s open kitchen, chef owner Ivan Brehm creates seasonal and internationally inspired cuisine. Brehm has worked in the finest kitchens in the world, including Per Se in New York, Hibiscus in London and Mugaritz in the Basque Country.”
“Brehm had also joined Heston Blumenthal to serve as the Development Chef at the Experimental Kitchen at The Fat Duck for 4 years.”
“He is best known for leading The Kitchen at Bacchanalia in Singapore to its first Michelin Star in 2016 when he was the restaurant’s executive chef.
“Inspectors noted the “Bread and Bouillon” dish, which combines a leavened rye bread, a silky cheese, and a vegetable broth, as an unforgettable specialty.”
A post shared by Restaurant Nouri (@restaurantnouri) on Jan 23, 2018 at 2:43am PST
Address: 72 Amoy Street, Singapore 069891.
Sushi Kimura “One star has also been awarded to Sushi Kimura at Orchard Road in Palais Renaissance.”
“Sushi Kimura is a 22-seater fine-dining sushi-ya, helmed by Tomoo Kimura, who has spent two decades crafting his fine art while serving an apprenticeship under his sushi master in Tokyo.”
“He rose to become the executive chef at several fine-dining and Michelin-starred sushi-yas before deciding to make his maiden foray as a Master Chef with the opening of Sushi Kimura.”
“Inspectors took note of an abalone dish, cooked for eight hours in sake, as one of the most remarkable creations of this establishment.”
A post shared by Sushi Kimura Singapore (@sushikimurasg) on May 23, 2018 at 3:51am PDT
Address: 390 Orchard Road, #01-07 Palais Renaissance Singapore 238871.
Ma Cuisine “Ma Cuisine, located in a spacious double shophouse along Craig Road was also awarded one Michelin star.”
“The young French owners have curated a collection of over 600 labels from diverse terroirs from wine-producing regions in France to more uncommon regions like Hungary and even Lebanon.”
“Chef Mathieu Escoffier who takes charge of the kitchen sends out rustic French fare that will transport you to the vineyards and rolling hills of Beaune in Burgundy.”
A post shared by Ma Cuisine (@macuisine1996) on Apr 20, 2018 at 12:51am PDT
Address: 38 Craig Rd, Singapore 089676.
Jiang-Nan Chun “Jiang-Nan Chun, led by chef Tim Lam, has been noted for ‘traditional Cantonese cuisine of great finesse’.”
“Inspectors highlighted fried chicken with lime sauce as one of the most emblematic dishes in the restaurant.”
“Chef Tim Lam used to work in Macau and led Ying, a Cantonese restaurant in Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s Altira Macau complex, to their one star in 2017. He joined Jiang-Nan Chun late last year.”
A post shared by Johnathan Giang (@free.the.umami) on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:34pm PST
Address: 190 Orchard Blvd, Singapore 248646.
The post 5 new restaurants in Singapore get Michelin-starred 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.
#PLACES TO EAT
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.
#TRAVEL HACKS
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.

#TrumpKimSummit: The delightfully Western-Asian fusion lunch menu

Posted by - June 12, 2018

SO THE HISTORIC HANDSHAKE between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has happened.
The Trump-Kim Summit today saw millions around the world tuning in from as early as 8am (GMT +8) to witness the momentous occasion, a half-day summit during which a sitting US president will meet the leader of North Korea for the first time.
#BUSINESS TRAVEL
Trump-Kim summit: Here’s why Singapore was chosen The highly anticipated meet took place at the ultra-luxurious Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore.
As the summit went on, the hashtag #TrumpKimSummit quickly trended on Twitter, as spectators wired in to grab any slivers of information that they could get their hands on, retweeting at rapid speed.
The #TrumpKimSummit wrapped up with a working lunch, also at Capella Hotel, in which both leaders were joined by their aides. Trump was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and a few other aides.
Kim Jong Un was joined by his top aide Kim Yong Chol and others.
The historic handshake lasted about 10 seconds and was capped off by a pat on the shoulder. Source: Giphy.
Thanks to the magic that is Twitter, we’re getting a glimpse of what was on the menu. And it appears to be a delightful Western-Asian fusion to accommodate its patrons.
Highlights include mango kerabu, a refreshing salad dish made of fresh unripe mango tossed in a tangy dressing; Yangzhou fried rice (Yeung Chow fried rice), a popular Chinese-style wok fried rice dish which originates from the city of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province in China; Oiseon, a Korean dish of cucumbers stuffed with beef, brown oak mushrooms, and egg white and yolk garnish; Beef short rib confit, beef shot rib slowly cooked in fat or oil; and Daegu Jorim, soy-braised codfish with radish.
The meal was topped off with a selection of desserts including Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice-cream with cherry coulis and Tropezienne, a dessert pastry consisting of a filled brioche, thus ending the #TrumpKimSummit on a sweet note.
Here’s what Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are having for lunch pic.twitter.com/rSpZrsduIb
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) June 12, 2018
Meanwhile, in a press conference held after the #TrumpKimSummit, the US president described his day with Kim Jong Un as “very intense” but also praised the latter, calling him “very talented”.
Trump explained that “real change is indeed possible” and he’s prepared “to start a new history” and “write a new chapter” between the two nations. “The past does not have to define the future,” he said.
The post #TrumpKimSummit: The delightfully Western-Asian fusion lunch menu appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Why would anyone want to become a durian master?

Posted by - May 31, 2018

DURIAN: you either love it or hate it.
Known as the “king of fruits”, the pungent, plump Southeast Asian delicacy is almost otherworldly in appearance and taste.
Said to be native to Malaysia (it takes its name from the Malay word “duri” meaning “thorns”), Indonesia and Brunei, the fruit is also cultivated in other countries of similar climate, and exported to Western markets, including to countries like the UK and Australia.
#TRAVEL TECH
Are you ready to get a taste of GrabFood? It is often the subject of polarizing debates; as we mentioned earlier, you either love it or hate it.
To those who love it, the fruit’s aggressive-looking appearance isn’t enough to deter them from prising open its husk to savour the yellow, soft, fleshy fruit inside.
For others, even with the husk still intact, the smell of the durian alone is a major put-off; once whiffed, it can never be forgotten.
Chef-turned-food writer Anthony Bourdain describes eating durian as, “…Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”
And food writer Richard Sterling doesn’t have a cheery description either, “its odor is best described as… turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.”
A post shared by Khunn_JJang (@khunn_jjang) on May 30, 2018 at 8:16am PDT
It is commonly banned on public transport around Southeast Asia and has been known to trigger mass evacuations on suspicion of it being a gas leak.
Are you getting the durian picture now?
Despite the rotten press it receives, in Malaysia, the durian export trade brings in around US$18 million (RM70.68 million) to the economy each year.
But who is eating this stinky delicacy?
Although the durian is native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, a report recognizes Singapore to be the biggest consumer of durian per capita.
Fitting then that durian-lovers can indulge their infatuation even further on June 23, at Serangoon’s Durian Appreciation Workshop.
Ironically, the workshop won’t be held at the Esplanade building, nicknamed “The Durian” after it’s appearance, but instead at The Durian Story on Upper Paya Lebar Road.
For US$38 (SG$50), participants can taste every significant variety of durian and learn the history of the controversial fruit.
#PLACES TO EAT
Do you know where your food comes from? Guests will also learn how to properly open and dissect a durian as well as spot the tastiest one in a pile.
If this workshop interests you, have a think about how you’ll get home from a day of durian-delights as the fruit is banned on public transport in Singapore.
Date & Time: 23 June 2018, 3pm – 4.30pm
Location: The Durian Story, 151 Serangoon North Avenue 2, #01-11, Singapore 550151
The post Why would anyone want to become a durian master? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

My Melody to captivate fans in Singapore with themed cafe

Posted by - May 28, 2018

SHE’S SUGAR, spice, and everything nice. And she’s ready to win the hearts of the people in Singapore.
My Melody (マイメロディ, Mai Merodī) is a white rabbit that first debuted portraying Little Red Riding Hood in her version of the classic fairy tale. She wears the trademark red (or sometimes pink) hood that covers her ears.
#POP CULTURE
Hello Kitty fans, here’s your first look at the Hello Kitty Shinkansen She’s a good friend of Hello Kitty’s, having appeared alongside the world-famous cat in the television series The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends.
Her hobby is said to be baking while her favorite food is almond pound cake. Which is only apt since a cafe in her name is opening in Singapore soon.
A post shared by My Melody Cafe Singapore (@mymelodycafesg) on May 25, 2018 at 8:34pm PDT
Located at Suntec City, the cafe will boast a cute indoor al fresco garden setting, complete with a floral arch, a garden-themed mural wall, and a cottage.
If the My Melody Cafe in Shibuya, Tokyo is anything to go by, fans can expect a menu packed with adorable-styled but palate-pleasing pink dishes.
A post shared by takako (@takakotje) on Nov 17, 2016 at 10:56pm PST
This includes mains, desserts, and drinks which will likely be character-customized.
From the spicy red curry with rice to the pretty eggs benedict with dollops of pink sauce, as well as the dessert pizza with melted marshmallows and the yummy strawberry parfait, fans will find themselves spoilt for choice.
A post shared by @chakshokryo on Oct 12, 2017 at 4:16am PDT
Wash it all down with an iced fruit-flavored soda or sip on a hot latte to curb your food coma. And please don’t leave without taking lots of pictures.
For more information, visit My Melody Cafe on Facebook.
The post My Melody to captivate fans in Singapore with themed cafe 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.

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.
#RIDE SHARING
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.
#RIDE HAILING
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.

Are you ready for Singapore’s new burger and shake joint?

Posted by - March 22, 2018

WHAT is your burger of choice? Do you go for the classic juicy beef patty in a sesame bun with pickles and jack cheese?
Or does your culinary flare shine brightly when it comes to burger combos?
Maybe you’d go for something with a Parmesan-panko crust, topped with fresh lettuce and a helping of spicy kimchi, three-battered onion rings and a squirt of Sriracha mayo?
A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on Mar 20, 2018 at 2:12pm PDT
Well, whatever your burger choice may be, things are about to be cranked up a notch as Singapore welcomes New York’s gastronomic phenomenon that is Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer.
Towards the end of the year, between August and December, Black Tap are looking to set up shop in the East.
#BANGKOK
Steals, deals, chills for night owls at Bangkok’s best offbeat markets It will be the first branch the burger joint has in Southeast Asia and it can’t arrive soon enough.
So, what exactly is Black Tap?
The burger joint was started by a Michelin-starred chef, Joe Isidori, who creates the most devilishly divine dishes, while nightclub developer Chris Barish designs the epic old-school interior.
A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on Dec 6, 2017 at 9:09am PST
Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer is set to make waves in Marina Bay Sands and we don’t doubt the queues for this joint will stretch around the block.
Some super scrummy delights from the menu include The Old Fashioned, which is a prime burger topped with crimini mushrooms, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and horseradish sauce.
A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on Dec 21, 2017 at 2:16pm PST
Also very noteworthy is The Falafel Burger – a chickpea patty, tahini, pickled onion, Greek feta, and hummus.
You’ll probably want some sides to accompany your burger. Choose from fries and onion rings with a choice of nine sauces, including truffle mayo, buttermilk-dill, Korean BBQ and salsa verde, for all the sauce pots out there.
A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on Nov 14, 2017 at 2:04pm PST
Before you get carried away chowing down in burger town, pick a beer or shake to help wash down your dinner.
The beer list is extensive and of course, it includes New York City favorites like Brooklyn Lager and Blue Moon.
A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on Mar 2, 2018 at 2:20pm PST
If you’re looking to get a little waved, opt for a Gun Hill 177 at 10ABV, but drink responsibly.
If you’re keener on snapping that perfect Instagram picture and less worried about getting tiddly, then order a crazy shake to make all your followers envious and probably hungry.
Yum.
A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on Jan 17, 2018 at 2:07pm PST
This new burger joint is certainly set to be as Instagrammable as it is delicious.
See you soon, Black Tap.
The post Are you ready for Singapore’s new burger and shake joint? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Save money in Singapore with these free activities

Posted by - March 19, 2018

THE Economist Worldwide Intelligence Unit recently released a report naming Singapore as the most expensive city the world to live in, for the fifth year in a row.
However, it’s not just residents that feel the pinch. It’s travelers too.
For this very reason, it is often avoided by those who are traveling on a budget. But this needn’t be the case.
Not everything in Singapore has to cost an arm and a leg and there are plenty of free things to enjoy in this little nation.
Here are five super fun activities that define the saying, “the best things in life are free.”
Relax at one of Sentosa’s beaches A post shared by Mohammad (@photo.mhe) on Mar 16, 2018 at 1:01am PDT
If you’re feeling tired from all the city-exploring, then head to one of Sentosa’s beaches to enjoy sea, sand and green spaces.
Palawan beach, in particular, is pretty awesome. The beach has a suspension bridge linking it to the southernmost point of Continental Asia which is also the closest point to the equator.
The beachfront has shops and a quaint restaurant to escape the midday sun in favor of some tasty delights.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
LGBT escape: Asia pushes pink tourism Catch a free movie under the stars with MovieMob A post shared by MovieMob (@moviemob) on Nov 10, 2016 at 4:16am PST
Although the movies here might not be the most recent releases, they are still classics.
MovieMob runs intermittent film nights on the weekends and they usually have a theme to go along with them.
The most recent one was I Still Do in conjunction with Valentine’s day. Movie viewers were encouraged to bring along picnic goodies and sit back to watch Cinderella find her prince charming – cute.
Find out when the next free movie night is here.
Get all your souvenirs in one place – for free A post shared by Lil Washington RRFM (@reallyfreemarket.lw) on Jan 2, 2018 at 5:12pm PST
Singapore’s Really Really Free Market is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. It sort of works as a yard sale, but the difference is that everything is free.
Anyone with items they’re looking to get rid of can pitch up. Then browsers can take what they wish.
Although traditional souvenirs aren’t displayed here, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick a quirky gift or two.
Find out when the next Really Really Free Market is here.
Explore Lorong Buangkok – the last kampong A post shared by Valentina&Singapore (@valentinaesingapore) on Feb 7, 2018 at 9:17pm PST
Often, Singapore is thought of as a sprawling metropolis with gleaming malls and incredible art installations.
But long before this was the case, Singapore used to be a sleepy fishing region where communities could be found living in kampongs (villages).
The last remaining kampong is Lorong Buangkok and it’s entirely free to explore. Stroll the narrow street lined with tin houses and get speaking to the locals who still remember what Singapore was like before the cosmopolitan city was built.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
Could this be the fastest Hello Kitty collaboration ever? Gardens by the Bay – obviously A post shared by Gardens by the Bay (@gardensbythebay) on Mar 15, 2018 at 5:30pm PDT
It is almost rude not to visit Gardens by the Bay when in Singapore. The park resembles an alien landscape and is dominated by the Supertree which plays home to over 300 species of plants.
The trees light up at night in an array of greens, violets, pinks, oranges, and yellows – the perfect city rainbow.
The post Save money in Singapore with these free activities appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.