Malaysia travel blog and website on eco-tourism, nature, hotels and resorts, islands and beaches and also around Southeast Asia.
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- Theme Parks in Sarawak
The long awaited question, what are the theme parks in Sarawak? which has been asked for years, and to date, there are only two which are in operation. One is in Miri while the other is the newly re-launched project called Sarawak Sentosa Theme Park in Kuching. However, you should not get your hopes too high as these are both very small and does not qualify as world class theme parks, but more for the local family getaways. I am only being honest here as I would not want to deceive readers or visitors heading to Sarawak to be disappointed, therefore I will do my best to highlight them here. In the list are also some of the upcoming theme parks in Sarawak which are scheduled to open in 2017 and 2018, so do look out for them. Theme Parks in Sarawak The water park at Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort in MiriBorneo Tropical Rainforest Resort Water ParkMany may not know of this water park, but it has been around for many years now. Located on the way to the Niah National Park is the Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort and inside the resort, there is a mini water park with a racing slide and twist slides, a play pool and a mid sized swimming pool. The water park in Miri is free for guest staying here while visitors need to buy tickets. This place is very popular with the locals and tends to get busy on the weekends and school holidays. The beauty about this water park is that it is located in a rainforest. Next time you explore Miri, do check this place out as it is a great place to stay at if you are heading to the Niah Caves or national parks here. Sentosa Theme Park in Kuching, Sarawak (Photo from Facebook)Sarawak Sentosa Theme ParkRecently re-branded and re-launched on the 26th November 2016 is the Sarawak Sentosa Theme Park is located along Jalan Stakan in Kota Sentosa, Batu 7, Kuching. Well, this theme park in Kuching is more of an "activity park" as the attractions here are not theme park related. They offer the largest indoor skating rink, indoor archery field, a 12,000 square feet Kuso 5D Museum, 9D VR or Augmented Reality Experience, a few types of Go Karts, bubble football, hover boards, electronic darts and a games area. Originally, this was called the Sentosa World Sports Centre and was opened on 15 Jan 2016, but it was re-branded and re-launched under the brand Sentosa Theme Park. Well, those are most of the attractions offered and generally, it feels more of an activity park than a theme park, but somehow they got the branding Sentosa Theme Park. To be very honest, it is very confusing, especially for the tourist visiting Kuching as the title 'theme park' is very misleading. For locals, this would be a great place to have your kids go crazy and the fun does not stop as adults too can also participate. Sentosa Theme Park is also open 11.00 AM to 11.00 PM, daily and has a cafe and sports section. Currently, this is the talk of Kuching as the city has never had a theme park and this is the first of its kind, well sort of. The one month Mobile Water Theme Park at MJC, Batu Kawa in Kuching, SarawakMobile Water Theme Park at MJC Batu KawaThis interesting concept of a water park made an appearance in MJC Batu Kawa where a massive mobile water theme park was set up for a month in September 2016. This brought locals by the bus loads to experience this fun family concept but after opening it, there was no news of follow up on this mobile water park in Sarawak. Plans were to take this concept to other parts of Sarawak namely Sibu and Miri. Senadin Water Theme Park in Miri, the scale model (Photo from www.miricitysharing.com)Senadin Water Theme Park in MiriThe latest theme park in Sarawak which is scheduled to open somewhere in 2017 is no other than the Senadin Uptown Water Theme Park. Rumours had surfaced that the project was abandoned but the developers have stated that this theme park project is still on. The RM7 million Senadin Water Theme Park will have wave generators, swimming pools, water slides and tubes, and even a water canoe track. There will be a shopping mall, cultural village, hotel, amphitheater and even a planned man-made island in the 36 acre site near Sungai Tujuh, which is very close to Brunei. This massive project is also by the Miri Housing Development Realty Sdn. Bhd. and it was scheduled to be ready by 2016, but judging from the news, it may only be launched in 2018. Borneo Samariang Resort City Theme Park (Photo from ww.sentoria.com)Borneo Samariang Resort City Theme ParkAnother much talked about theme park project is the Borneo Samariang Resort City at Bandar Baru Samariang, which is a new satellite township rapidly taking shape to the north of Kuching. Plans to incorporate a theme park and water park similar to the sister project, Bukit Gambang Resort City will make this one of the top theme parks in Sarawak. Once fully developed and launched in 2018, the project will have a world class theme park, a water park and a safari park, There will also be a resort with 2000 rooms, a team building area and also a river cruise. So visitors will have to wait till 2018 before the Borneo Samariang Resort City opens. Sarawak Theme Parks That Never Made ItThere was in fact a one theme park that was planned by never did take off and it was located in Sibu, central Sarawak. The ambitious plan sounded good, but unfortunately never happened. This is highlighted here just to show that there was in fact, plans for theme parks in Sarawak, especially around 2011 and if it did take off, it would have been pretty good. Hornbill Bay at Pulau Kerto in Sibu, artist impression (Photo from Behance.com)Pulau Kerto Theme Park in SibuAn ambitious plan to build a theme park in Pulau Kerto in Sibu got everyone excited, but the project never did take off. It was also called the Rajang Basin Theme Park. The RM50 million project would have been spread over 50 acres of the island would have seen a an iconic gigantic hornbill sculpture standing at 150 feet high which would have made this into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest bird statue in the world. Rides would have included a river boat cruise, flying fox and a sky lift. A gallery was also planned to showcase Sarawakian historical and cultural artifacts and information of the various tribes of Sarawak. The Pulau Kerto Theme Park project would have put Sibu on the travel map, had this project gone through. It was also called Hornbill Bay, according to another report where the entire bay was shaped like a hornbill head. The giant hornbill that was supposed to be at the Pulau Kerto Theme Park in Sibu (Photo from Behance.com)If you have gone through this list, you may have noticed that all of them are water theme parks or water related, as someone once told me that building a water park is much more cheaper than building a full scale theme park. Anyway, since Sarawak is located in the tropical climate, it is only right to have water parks as visitors can head there to cool off and have fun. For the record, the much talked about and soon to open 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in Genting will be opening in 2017 or 2018, which is the first of its kind in the world and is awaited by the whole world. You can also read this article if you want to know more about Theme Parks in Malaysia as it gives you the complete list. Overall, these are the few theme parks planned for Sarawak and also those that are currently open and in operation. While Sarawak is more of a nature, culture and heritage place to visit, there are still those wanting theme parks in Sarawak as for most locals, they have to head to Singapore or Peninsular Malaysia to enjoy it.
Saturday 3rd of December 2016 04:33:00 AM
- Must Eat Food in Sandakan
If you have wondered what are the must eat food in Sandakan, this list will be an introduction to some of the best Sandakan local food places which can be found around the city area and its outskirts. Over the last ten years of visiting Sandakan on a yearly basis, I have been introduced to many local places, some which have closed while others still serving out the same quality from back then. As a travel influencer, writer or blogger, and having been a regular visitor to Sabah since 2005, I hardly write about food simply because I am no authority to claim which is the best food in Sandakan as everyone has a different taste palate and opinion to judge food. But over the years of experience and reading how food bloggers review places, I could not help but write this article. Here, I will open the doors and you be the judge of the food places in Sandakan that I have narrowed down from the last 10 years and based on many peoples opinions, usually the wise old locals rather than some new food blog or food blogger. Where is Sandakan? This nature city which is also known as Little Hong Kong, is located in the east coast of Sabah and is the gateway to numerous nature attractions like Sepilok, Labuk Bay and the world famous Kinabatangan River. Again, I am not a food blogger but share this information through years of experience eating at these places, and this list of must eat food in Sandakan is in no particular order below.Must Eat Food in SandakanMak Cik herself, poses at her original stall in Pasar Sim Sim, SandakanIkan Bakar at Pasar Sim Sim at Kampung Buli Sim SimFor fish and seafood lovers, Pasar Sim Sim is the most famous place to try the Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish) and many other types of fresh seafood that is barbecued. There are two ikan bakar stalls in this mini 'pasar' which serves the same thing, just that which stall you prefer. Both stalls offer grilled fish and seafood, it is available for lunch and dinner therefore the tip is to go early to get the best selection of squid (sotong), crabs (ketam), prawns (udang) and local sea fish like Ikan Bolu, Ikan Blais, Ikan Putih, Ikan Kerapu and many others. Most locals come here to eat and by seven in the evening, a lot of the selection is finished. You can order rice and other dishes to compliment your feast and don't forget to ask for their local 'sambal' which is really nice and spicy. Just to add on that Ikan Bakar Mama Resepi is one of the popular stalls here and over the years, she has opened a total of three branches all over Sandakan where the younger generation tends to eat at the Mama Resepi Ikan Bakar at IJM, Mile 6, which is one of the newer branches and at a proper restaurant.Mama Resepi Ikan Bakar Pasar Sim SimPasar Sim Sim, off Jalan Sim Sim,Kampung Buli Sim Sim, 1/2 Mile,90000 Sandakan.Tel: +6 016 824 8125 / +6 019 453 0484The unique Kadazan dishes from Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant in SandakanKadazan Food at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant, Mile 4 SandakanThis new Kadazan Restaurant in Sandakan called Borneo Ethnic Cuisine was recently opened ion early October 2016 and at Bandar Indah, Mile 4 Sandakan. The owners have brought the traditional Kadazan cuisine to Sandakan and is the first ethnic restaurant serving this unique food. They are open daily except Tuesdays and open for lunch and dinner and the highlights are the Nasi Linopot Ikan Basung Sets which are simply a must-try for anyone who is curious about Kadazan Food.Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant is open from 10.00 AM to 3.00 PM and then 5.00 PM to 10.00 PM. Pries are very reasonable and for a cultural food experience, this is highly recommended. From Sandakan city, it takes about 15-20 minutes drive to get here and the Kadazan Food Restaurant is located by a famous landmark which is the Kenalanmu Seafood Restaurant at Mile 4. Place is closed on Tuesdays.Borneo Ethnic Cuisine RestaurantGround Floor, Lot 8, Block 6, Mile 4,Jalan Cecily North, Bandar Indah,90000 Sandakan.Tel: +6 019 582 0077 (Stephanie) / 019 883 3842 (Rosaline)The delicious seafood spring noodles at Restoran 88 Sim Sim in SandakanSpring Noodles at Restoran 88 Sim Sim, SandakanThis local restaurant called Restoran 88 Sim Sim at the end of the jetty of bridge No.8 in Kampung Buli Sim Sim is well known for their spring seafood noodles which come in a dry type of noodles, accompanied with a bowl of amazing fresh seafood soup. If you are a noodle lover, this is one of the must eat food in Sandakan as the noodles are purely handmade and one of a kind. They are really springy and fragrant which can be found no where else. During lunch and dinner, Restoran 88 Sim Sim Seafood serves some awesome seafood dishes which are quite original and old school style, unlike the new seafood restaurants. There is a lot of character when you dine here too. For the spring noodles, the tip is to come here early in the morning to have the Sandakan spring noodles as it finishes fast, especially on the weekends. They are also well known for their Cheese Prawns dish. Not to be confused, there are two restaurants at the end of the jetty and this one is on the right side.Restoran 88 Sim SimRight Side, Jambatan No. 8,Kampung Buli Sim Sim,Jalan Sim Sim, Sandakan.Tel: +6 012 816 3633Seafood Bak Kut Teh in SandakanSeafood Bak Kut Teh in SandakanWithout fail, this is one of the most popular food in Sandakan where you can order seafood bak kut teh, a type of pork bone soup but instead of the pork, it is replaced with fresh seafood. From what I have tried here, there are only two restaurants serving this and one of them is the 27 year old Nam Chai Seafood Bak Kut Teh located in Tanah Merah area, along Jalan Leila which is the main coastal road out of Sandakan. It is also a 10 minute drive from the city too. The beauty about this seafood bak kut teh dish is that the owner claims that they do not use any other herbs like how the common bak kut teh is done and instead using only the general bak kut teh spices. This tends to bring out the flavor of the seafood which makes it quite unique and a must-try when you are in Sandakan. For the meat lovers, fear not as they do have the normal bak kut teh being served too. Place is closed on Mondays and the must-try dish here, ask for the 'Lai Mang' fish which sells out really fast.Nam Chai Seafood Bak Kut Teh RestaurantGround Floor, Blok D, Jalan Leila,Bandar Nam Tung, 90000, Sandakan.Tel: +6 089 612 603Kueh Teow with Deep Fried Pork from the 76 year old stall at the Sandakan MarketKueh Teow with Deep Fried Pork at Sandakan Central MarketWho would know that on top of a wet market lies one of the most oldest and famous local food stalls which serves a unique combination of kueh teow and deep fried pork pieces? This stall has been doing the 'Char Yuk Meen' since 1940 and is one of the pioneer noodle stalls where they still home make the kueh teow or flat rice noodles. To experience this, one needs to come here for breakfast and the stall open from 5.00 AM till about 11.00 AM and at times, the kueh teow noodles is sold out by 10.00 AM, so I would recommend you come before nine in the morning to savour this original dish.To find this stall, you need to find the main Sandakan Market, look for the stairs where you walk up two floors and look for the stall with their sign board. It's pretty obvious as you will not miss it among the other stalls here.Keuh Teow Deep Fried Pork Stall2nd Floor, Sandakan Wet Market,Jalan Pryer, Pusat Bandar Sandakan,90000 Sandakan.Tel: -Sandakan's most famous steamboat, 1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill, SandakanIf you love steamboat and seafood, this family run restaurant is hands down the best place to eat in Sandakan. Located on Trig Hill, just 10 minutes drive from Sandakan city, it is best to ask for directions or take a taxi here. The restaurant is called 1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill which has been around since early 2000 and serving mostly locals some of the best, fresh and cheapest seafood steamboat in the east coast of Sabah.1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill is a straightforward and simple restaurant. Walk in, order for how many persons, go get your buffet and eat as you please. The price is RM30.00 per person, but when you look at the seafood buffet, you will be very pleased to know you only paid so little. The seafood is delivered daily, meaning they are really fresh. Prawns are medium to large sized, fish are seafood fillets, monster clams (kerang), average sized flower crabs and white clams.Wait... there's more, there is a selection of fish paste, fish balls, yong tau foo, vegetables, beef, chicken, satay, soft drinks, ice cream, soup, fried chicken wings and the list goes on. Seriously, for RM30, this is a fantastic deal. The tip is to come early, by 6.00PM as they do not refill the buffet. For an additional RM10.00, you can get a grill pan to grill some of the buffet items.1Malaysia Steamboat Restaurant SandakanJalan Bukit Trig, Bukit Bendera,90000, Sandakan.Tel: +6 013 540 4056 / 017 817 0908Sotong Kangkung at Bandar Kim Fong's Market is one of the famous Sandakan foodsSotong Kangkung at Pasar Kim Fung, Mile 4Another popular place for local hawker food is the Sotong Kangkung or Cuttlefish Salad which is found at the local pasar or wet market in Bandar Kim Fung, Mile 4 Sandakan. There are a number of food stalls here that sell a variety of local food but the Sotong Kangkung stall here is one of the recommended places to eat in Sandakan.This stall has been here for over 10 years and the way they prepare the sotong kangkung is unlike others that we have tasted around Malaysia. The lady boss secret lies in some fresh lime that is mixed into the overall dish together with some quality prawn paste, which gives it a very fresh taste. At RM 5.00 a plate, this also results in a very interesting and new flavor compared to the usual dish. While you are here, do try some of the other stalls selling tea time snacks, cakes, chee cheong fun and also the chicken wings.Sotong Kangkung at Pasar Kim FungPasar Kim Fung, off Jalan Pasaraya,Bandar Kim Fung, Mile 4,90000 Sandakan.Tel: -Seri Wijaya Restaurant at Mile 7, Sandakan which serves some awesome Malay food.Seri Wijaya Restoran at Mile 7, SandakanFor Malay Food in Sandakan, there are many choices available, but not many of them stand out or have a strong reputation. The reason is mainly because that Sandakan has many types of Muslims like the Bajau, Javanese and Sundanese therefore, you will find more Muslim food related to these Muslims here in Sandakan. I personally talked to the local Sandakan Malays and even they cannot give me a popular Malay restaurant in Sandakan.Restoran Seri Wijaya in Mile 7, Sandakan was a bonus find as they serve Javanese mix Malay food here. The owners are local Malay mix with Javanese and had recently opened this restaurant in late 2015 and opens from 7.00 AM till 12.00 Midnight. Their dishes are very interesting, freshly cooked for ala-carte and the overall restaurant is clean and hygiene.Food taste, I have to say, totally outstanding and I recommend trying the Ikan Bawal Bakar Set or Grilled Pomfret Fish Set. Another set to to order is the Ayam Kremes Rice Set as the chicken is tender and the crispiness is perfect. Their sets come with ulam or fresh vegetables, some home cooked spicy sambal and a bowl of soup.Restoran Seri Wijaya Off Jalan Lintas Labuk,Ground Floor Block C,Bandar Megah Jaya,Mile 7, Sandakan 9000,Sandakan.Tel: -Sandakan CityOverall, there are many other restaurants and hawkers which we tried but have not included them in this list. Many will know Sandakan for the great seafood restaurants like Ocean King Seafood which has now moved to Mile 6 and also Kenalanmu Seafood Restaurant in Mile 4, but those places are too commercial and over-rated. Other places like bakeries and stalls are popular, but on a very local level and perhaps we will feature the best bakeries in Sandakan in my future articles.For those traveling to Sandakan, and looking for some good food to try, you should know that the main city area is a morning place and everything tends to close around 5.00 PM. A number of famous restaurants in Sandakan are located in the main city area while the others are out of town area, namely Mile 4, 6 and 7 and some even further out of the city area. It is best to rent a car and move around to explore the must eat food in Sandakan as I have mentioned that they are well spread around.For more on Sabah food, do follow Makan Sabah on Instagram as their main objective is to promote real Sabahan food. In general, this list of places to eat in Sandakan is compiled based on credibility and real experiences in October 2016, and recommended to anyone traveling here. When travelers or businessmen visit this nature city the east coast of Sabah, one of the main questions is always what are the must eat food in Sandakan and with this, I hope that you will find a good culinary experience here.
Thursday 1st of December 2016 11:46:00 AM
- Best Way To Get Around Kuala Lumpur
The best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is by taking the multiple train systems as a majority of the popular places in KL are connected by the trains. Kuala Lumpur is not a large city like Bangkok or Jakarta and almost all of the main attractions in KL are mostly found within a ten kilometer radius while some of the attractions or places of interest are located out of Kuala Lumpur. Many have also been asking what is the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur city and currently, the train system in KL is hands down one of the best.Tourist and locals alike have been using the main train system for years with many new lines being added and connecting other places. Nowadays, even locals use the trains to go to work versus getting caught in the crazy traffic jams during peak and off peak hours and this shows that the public transport in Malaysia has improved tremendously over the last decade.When you arrive at KLIA, you need to look for the KLIA Express counter to buy the KL TravelPassTaking a taxi will cost you quite a bit, especially when the traffic comes to a standstill and one never knows when this can happen as usually during peak hours, it generally is neck-to-neck in traffic. However, with the rapid development in Kuala Lumpur, traffic can also get bad during off peak hours and you can never expect it. This also applies to UBER or GRAB as they too will be caught in traffic.What is the Best Way To Move Around Kuala Lumpur? The KLIA Express train that takes 28 minutes to the cityFor the tourist that is visiting Kuala Lumpur, you should take note that the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is in fact riding the Light Rail Transport or LRT Train.Your journey would most likely start when you arrive at the Kuala Lumpur Airport and you can take the KLIA Express direct into KL city and then connect to the LRT train or even Rapid KL Buses to get to your next destination. The KLIA Express is a fast train service that takes only 28 minutes to KL city.In most cases, travelers would be heading towards the city center from the airports, therefore you will take the KLIA Express to KL Sentral and then take the LRT or Monorail to Bukit Bintang, KLCC or even Petaling Street where most hotels are located. And to do this, you would need the KL Travel Pass which is an all transport ticket in one card and saving you time and hassle, especially if you have to change your currency and convert them.KL Sentral is the main transportation hub where you can connect to most areas in the city and also catch your trains to the airport or other cities and town in Malaysia. For express buses, there is another terminal which is not located here but at the Duta Bus Terminal.What is the KL Travel Pass?The KL Travel Pass is a public transportation card that can be used on most public transportation in Kuala Lumpur that accepts the Touch n Go card system. This convenient card is also incorporated with the Touch n Go system and also the KLIA Express ticket.This means, with one card, you can ride the KLIA Express train from the airport into the city for 28 minutes, versus taking a bus or taxi that will take you easily around 60-70 minutes. This is the easiest way to get into Kuala Lumpur city from the airport.Where to buy KL Travel Pass?To buy a KL Travel Pass card, there are currently three main places where you can get them. The first being at the KLIA Express ticket counters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA level 1, when you arrive just before you get your baggage.KL TravelPass CardThe second place would be at the KLIA Express ticket counter at Gateway Mall in KLIA 2, where the budget airlines are located at.And the third location is at KL Sentral, where the main KLIA Express terminal is located, just visit the ticket counter to buy your KL Travel Pass from them.To buy the KL Travel Pass, visit the KLIA Express website for additional information on purchasing the card and places where you can re-load your travel pass.KL Travel PassTwo options for the KL Travel Pass;KL TravelPass 1 - Single Trip for KLIA Express and RM10.00 stored Touch N Go value. KL TravelPass 2 - Return Trip for KLIA Express and RM10.00 stored Touch N Go value. The Touch N Go value of RM10.00 will let you travel about 3-4 times, depending on where your destinations around the Klang Valley.The further it is, the more expensive the ticket price. Average ticket price per person for one way is around RM2.50 for most buses or trains.Reloading KL Travel Pass Touch N Go CardYou can reload your card at over 9000 locations around Malaysia and the best places to do this is at the malls. Some retail outlets like Watson's and Guardian offer reloads, while convenient shops like 7-11, MyNews.com and KK Mart also offer reload services. Other easy places to do this is at popular petrol stations like Petronas Petrol Station or Shell Petrol Stations around the city or towns. Here is a list of Touch N Go reload places in Malaysia.LRT Train at one of the stations in Kuala Lumpur. Image from VisitKL.gov.myI would recommend that you reload around RM20 per person if you are planning to stay and move around Kuala Lumpur for one to two days as you can get to most places or tourism attractions here. Not to worry as for refunds, you can visit the Touch N Go hub at the Nu Sentral Shopping Mall at level two. The refund office opens daily from 10.00 AM till 10.00 PM, even on public holidays.Now you know the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is by using the Kuala Lumpur Travel Pass Card and this would be hassle free, especially if you are a first time visitor to Kuala Lumpur. As long as you see any where that has the Touch N Go sign, you are able to use this card. If you are arriving at the international airports, just look for the KLIA Express counter to buy your KL Travel Pass card.
Wednesday 30th of November 2016 05:37:00 AM
- AirAsia Direct Flights to Luang Prabang
AirAsia direct flights to Luang Prabang in Laos has been launched on 21st Nov 2016 where the airline will fly four times a week to the UNESCO world heritage city in Indochina. In the past, Luang Prabang was only accessible via Lao Airlines and with limited flights therefore connectivity was one of the biggest issues getting here. However, over the years, a number of other airlines have seen the tourism opportunity since 2008 when Luang Prabang was voted as the number one place to visit in the world by the New York Times. Pak Ou Buddha CavesWhat makes Luang Prabang so special is that the entire UNESCO World Heritage city is preserved and free from modern development. Tourist heading here would be those who enjoy cultural and heritage tourism as Luang Prabang offers the best of this. For me, I was fortunate to visit Luang Prabang in 2008 just before the tourism boom and saw what it originally looked like, minus the thousands of tourist that started flocking to Luang Prabang in Laos. I would easily recommend visiting Luang Prabang on a weekday to avoid the huge crowds and booking your accommodations way ahead as the hotels there can get full. One of the best attractions here is also the 29 temples and Stupa's found all over the city. A must visit is also the nightly Luang Prabang Night Market and also the day markets where you will find some of the most unique handicraft, art, fabrics and silver being sold. For Lao Food in Luang Prabang, you should make it a point to try them all as they are very unique and quite similar to Thai food or Indochina food. Luang Prabang was once French colonized therefore you will find a lot of French food in Luang Prabang, especially bakeries and restaurants offering casual to fine dining. Just before dinner, I would recommend you head up Phu Si Hill to catch the beautiful sunset in Luang Prabang and this is one of the best places to do it. Do keep in mind that my last visit here was in 2008, that was eight years ago before this place became one of the top tourist destinations in Indochina. Laos is part of ASEAN therefore, will be promoted for Visit ASEAN@50 in 2017. Places to Visit in Luang PrabangLuang Prabang Night MarketThere are many places to visit in Luang Prabang, some out of the town area where you need to take a boat or even walk a bit and one of the most popular places is Pak Ou Buddha Caves in Luang Prabang. The journey to the Pak Ou Caves requires you to take a boat trip and most likely stopping at the Whisky Village along the way. At the village, they give you about 30 minutes to explore where you can see traditional homes, Lao Silk being processed, Sa Paper being made and also sold.If you are a crafter, the Lao Sa Paper is said to be one of the best therefore it is one of the best places to buy them. If you see some souvenirs, get them here as they could be a little cheaper than in town.What To Buy in Luang Prabang?Lao Silk done at the local villagesThere are a lot of interesting things to buy in Luang Prabang, depending on what you are looking for. Most of the item can be use for excellent souvenirs or even for your own home decoration. The item include;Lao SilkSa PaperHmong Jewelry and AccessoriesLao Silver JewelryLao CoffeeBuddha and Monk PaintingsLao WhiskyTraditional Lao Whisky (With Gecko, Snake, Scorpion inside) I recommend you DO NOT buy this because it is prohibited to be brought into Malaysia and it will be confiscated at the airport. How Long To Stay In Luang Prabang?One of the main temples in Luang PrabangTo be very honest, the minimum required time to spend in Luang Prabang would be at least three nights, therefore a 4D/3N trip is the minimum to really enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage City, but for me, I spent a good 5 days here to see most of the places therefore, to fully experience Luang Prabang, a 5D/4N is recommended. Also, if you are planning to take your time, it is recommended to explore the city area on foot, therefore, expect a lot of walking. The weather here is very cooling as Luang Prabang is located on higher ground. AirAsia Direct Flights to Luang PrabangFlight Schedule for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) ? Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ)Flight No.FromToDepartureArrivalFlight FrequencyAK 562KULLPQ0645 hrs0840 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SunAK 563LPQKUL0925 hrs1330 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SunNote: All times depicted are local time at respective destinations.Note, if you plan on going for 3D/2N, you might as well not due to the return flight timing at 9.25 AM, meaning you need to be at the Luang Prabang airport by 7.30 AM, meaning that is one day gone. To book Luang Prabang flights, please go to www.airasia.com.Other places of interest include visiting the many Luang Prabang temples, walking around the core area of town, exploring the Sa Paper Village, the Whisky Village and taking a boat ride. Now with the AirAsia Direct Flights to Luang Prabang, you can easily fly in and out from Kuala Lumpur.
Wednesday 23rd of November 2016 06:11:00 AM
- Matta Fair Deals 2017
For the many visitors who will attend Malaysia's largest travel fair, most would be looking for the best Matta Fair deals for 2017 where travel agents will offer all kinds of travel packages and promotions. They are usually offered for domestic, international and even special interest packages that range from Muslim, groups and even cruise packages. These Matta Fair Deals for 2017 are usually found from all the agents where each tour company will be offering various promotions therefore it is recommended that you have a destination in mind and then head there to check out what is being offered. At many times, consumer who visit Malaysia's largest travel fair will simple have a change of mind when they are there. All because other packages are more worth it compared to the one that you are looking for. For example, if you are planning to look for a Bandung Package at Matta Fair, you may encounter many tour companies selling Bali packages which is much more worth it, compared to the Bandung one and in the end, some consumers will even buy both packages for the sake of the promotion. Usually, the Matta Fair Deals are offered for popular destinations locally and internationally, where the popular places would be Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan for international. And for local destinations, popular places like Legoland, Penang, Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak are the favorable choices. For the Matta Fair 2017, the Malaysian Ringgit is fared very low compared to the US Dollar therefore, many will be choosing travel destinations around the region versus far places.Various airline tickets on promotion at Matta FairMatta Fair Airline Deals 2017Airlines always take advantage of the Matta Fair by offering special promotions and deals which are valid when bought during the travel fair. Players like Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo and Firefly will have their special flight ticket promotions running throughout the fair. Most of the times, it is done from their booths at the fair and sometimes they run it on their website. Even international airlines like Etihad, Emirates, Qatar and British Airways will be active by offering cheap flight tickets to international destinations but this will be done through the travel agents who sell flight tickets and also travel packages. So, during each fair, you should take note of which airline is offering the best deal for all airline tickets.Visitors at the Domestic Section in Matta fairMatta Fair Domestic Deals 2017Domestic destinations will be one of the most popular sellers during the Matta Fair 2017, simply because a majority of the consumers will be traveling locally, especially during the long school holidays or long weekends here in Malaysia. This can be found at Hall 3 where all the local and domestic travel packages are being sold. Most of the time, the Matta Fair domestic deals will not include transportation and will be ground only, this means you buy the package and find your own way there. However, flights can be included in your package for convenient, but then the price of the package goes up. So, destinations like Langkawi, Sarawak and Sabah would sometimes include flights, but many locals prefer to book their own flight tickets based on the special promotions offered by the airlines. At the International Hall of the Matta FairMatta Fair Cruise Deals 2017With Star Cruise being the leader for cruise packages, there will be a lot of offers on this as many are now looking for cruise packages that take them to multiple countries on one trip. However, there are also other cruise companies at the Matta Fair which are also offering promotions, and they include international cruise packages that range from seven to thirty days. Companies like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise and Costa Cruise are the international players who offer these luxury packages and are found in the international hall. Muslim Travel Packages to JapanMatta Fair Muslim Deals 2017The Muslim travel deals are one of the hottest packages being sold at the Matta Fair where many Malaysians are traveling to new destinations based on these specialized Muslim packages. Among the most popular are the Muslim travel packages to Japan as the country has been working very hard to comply with the Halal certifications for selected restaurants and also opening prayer rooms in various places.Other places include China, Europe, Australia, Indochina, Americas and even Africa. However, there are reputable travel agents that offer these special packages and it is recommended that you speak to them directly to find out more about the facilities, food and so on. At the Matta Fair 2017, you will surely see many travel agents selling Muslim Travel Deals.Matta Fair Honeymoon Deals 2017A more selective travel deal to look for, there are travel agents that specialize in providing honeymoon packages at Matta Fair. However, you need to sit down with them and discuss what is included in these packages. Usually, Bali and Maldives are one of the top destinations for honeymooners but lately, AirAsia X has opened up a new route to Mauritius and this is one of the new honeymoon destinations to look out for.Another popular honeymoon or anniversary package is buying one of the romantic cruise packages. Unless you are the type that wants something very special, like buying a honeymoon package to Bahamas, you need to discuss this with the outbound travel agents as they can do a tailor made tour package for you.Domestic travel deals are one of the popular deal consumers look forMatta Fair Family Deals 2017No doubt, this is something many families look for as family travel has increased in the last 10 years and now even more with many airlines offering good discounts. Most families will book packages to Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, China and even Bali but those wanting to spend a bit more will choose destinations like Australia, New Zealand and even Indochina.Indonesia has been very aggressive on promotions in 2015 and 2016 therefore there will be much interest for the consumers who want to visit new places in Indonesia. Some of them include the Komodo Islands, Makassar, Gili Islands, Visitors asking about package deals at the Matta FairMatta Fair Theme Park Deals 2017Another very popular package sold are the theme park deals at Matta Fair where places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia are well received. However, since China opened their latest Shanghai Disneyland, many will be targeting to plan a visit there. Other further theme park destinations include Korea and Japan or even Australia.A huge disappointment is the 20th Century Fox World Genting Theme Park, where it was supposed to have opened in mid to late 2016 but this massive theme park project got postponed to somewhere late 2017 therefore Resorts World Genting will not be promoting this but their other theme parks like Universal Studios Singapore. Malaysian theme parks to also look out for include the new MAPS Perak or Movie Animation Park Studios in Ipoh, Perak which is scheduled to open in early 2017.Visitors getting informationMatta Fair Shopping Deals 2017A more targeted kind of travel is the shopping travel packages, where consumers book shopping trips to other countries, namely Bangkok, China or Indonesia. These are the common destinations for those wanting to buy for themselves or buy for their business. A number of online businesses or small retail vendors are looking to destinations like China for shopping travel packages.Indonesia is also high on the list as many Malaysians are heading to Bandung or even places for shopping in Jogjakarta as there are many interesting and new products being offered at these places. But the main market is no other than China, namely Gongzhou and Yiwu where there are special shopping travel packages being offered by smaller agents which include translators and so on. Visitors at the Matta FairAmong all the deals that will be offered at the Matta Fair 2017, you need to carefully decide on which package suites you or your family. Do not buy based on because it is cheap, because sometimes, cheap does not mean good. So, always check before buying. Over the years, I have done many articles on the Matta Fair and also on the Matta Fair Promotion Packages as it provides consumer information for those who are unsure about this. For the best Matta Fair Deals 2017, you need to attend the travel fair to check the offers out and if all works out well, you will be getting a fantastic bargain for your next vacation or trip. Who knows, you may even walk away with two or three packages.
Sunday 20th of November 2016 03:30:00 AM
- Factory Outlets in Malaysia
Over the years, numerous Factory Outlets in Malaysia have opened and soon, there will be another major one opening in 2017. Malaysians have always traveled overseas to shop and in the last five years or so, international brands have made their way into Malaysia offering choices of cheap factory outlet shopping here. These factory outlets in Malaysia are located in different states and some of them require some traveling to get to them. However, with the Malaysian economy going strong for certain sectors, this has invited others to consider opening in Malaysia as the country is trying to brand itself as a shopping hub. I would also like to remind you not be confused with some local Malaysian brands as the companies have named themselves as factory outlet like Factory Outlet Store (FOS) which is on a very small scale and more to retail as you can find them in just about any of the shopping malls in Malaysia. In the consumers mind, a factory outlet is a specialized place where reputable well known brands can retail their past seasons collection at a special discounted price. Factory Outlets in MalaysiaJohor Premium Outlets, the first Premium Outlet in Malaysia (Image from Gaya Travel)Johor Premium Outlets (JPO)The first proper factory outlet to enter Malaysia is the Johor Premium Outlets or JPO as most locals call it. Their strategy was to open in the state of Johor which neighbors Singapore and in the up and coming development of the Iskandar Region. The Johor Premium Outlets opened in December 2011 and has catered to most Malaysians and Southeast Asians. In terms of volume, JPO sees an average of 4 million visitors yearly which include locals and tourist and brands you can find here range from most international and local names. The beauty about JPO is that it is located in Iskandar nearby Legoland Malaysia and some other smaller theme parks and attractions. As the first factory outlet in Malaysia, and under Simon Genting group, they have made a name for themselves catering to many tourist visiting Malaysia. Website: http://premiumoutlets.com.my/One of the outlet stores at Mitsui Outlet Park KLIAMitsui Outlet Park KLIA SepangThe second largest factory outlet to open in Malaysia is the over-anticipated Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA (MOP) which opened in May 2015. This was the talk of town back then as many consumers in the Klang Valley were excited as it would only take one hour to drive to this new Japanese named factory outlet on the way to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA. The MOP also serves as a shopping stop for travelers who are transiting at KLIA or KLIA2 and also for those travelers leaving Malaysia, have one last shopping stop before they reach the airport. Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA offers shoppers a total of 128 shopping outlets occupying a massive area of 25,000 square meters, while the location of this outlet is perfect as it is strategically located just 6 km from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the new KLIA2. On of the highlights here is Japan Avenue, which is a place that exhibits and promotes authentic Japanese products, technology, cuisine, service and entertainment. All items are imported directly from Japan and is branded as a space to experience Japanese culture.By 2021, Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA Sepang will be the largest outlet mall in Southeast Asia where a total of 190 shops will be available after the expansion, which is supposedly completed by 2018. Website: https://www.mitsuioutletparkklia.com.my/Freeport A'Famosa Outlet Village in Melaka (Image Source: Azyyati Liah)Freeport A'Famosa Outlet MelakaThis is the latest factory outlet to open in Malaysia where this London based company has joined venture with the A'Famosa group to bring this factory outlet to Melaka. Opened in November 2015, Freeport AFamosa Outlet plans to hit a target of 2.5 million visitors by the first year. This is also the first phase of the factory outlet where the architecture of the outlet is themed on Malacca?s Dutch heritage. Walking around here, you will see a series of open-air plazas and features a windmill, fountains, gardens and a beautiful carousel.This factory outlet in Melaka also takes up around 180,000 square feet and houses around 70 tenants which include known brands like Clarks, Nike, Esprit, Puma, Geox, G2000, Cotton On, Carlo Rino, Forever 21, Samsonite, Saccor, Folli Follie, Camel and many more including kids stores, food and perfumes. Phase 2 of Freeport AFamosa Outlet is scheduled to open in 2018 where another 40 retail stores being added, bringing the total to 110 outlets here. This place is also located about two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur in the A'Famosa Resort on route to Melaka, Johor and Singapore.Website: http://www.freeportafamosa.com/Design Village in Penang, the first factory outlet in Penang. (Image Source: Design Village Facebook Page)Design Village PenangUpdate 23rd Nov - Design Village Penang is opening at 6.00pm 23rd November. Design Village is the latest factory outlet mall in Penang is supposed to open in November 2016 but there could be a slight delay in the opening. News states that the new Penang Factory Outlet is scheduled to open by end November 2016. Design Village also brands itself as the biggest outlet mall in Malaysia which is located only 5 minutes from the Penang Second Bridge near Batu Kawan. This outlet mall is also the first of its kind in the northern region of Malaysia, catering to locals and tourist. Artist Impression of Penang's Design Village.(Image source: Design Village Facebook Page)Design Village will feature luxury fashion labels, premium and high street brands, kids, sports and outdoor selections, F&B outlets, cafés and speciality lifestyle stores. In total, there are 150 stores planned in an area of 400,000 square feet.The landscape will be themed as a tropical garden setting to suite the Malaysian climate and the single-storey semi-open air mall will feature cool weather-sheltered walkways for visitors.Malaysia's biggest Adidas outlet will open here while the first outlet stores for Aldo and Bata will also be one of the tenants. Other branded retailers include Banana Republic, Guess, Padini Concept Store, Sacoor Brothers, Samsonite and Starbucks. For travelers, there is the Travel For All Outlet store and for leather lovers, the first Leather Made Outlet store will also be opened here. Design Village Outlet Mall will provide daily shuttle services to and from hotels and the airport.Design Village Outlet Mall is also developed by PE Land, which also owns and runs The Spring Shopping Mall in Kuching, Sarawak and operates under a mixed-use site that will include a hotel and also high-end condominiums.Website: http://designvillage.today/Genting Premium Outlets, artist impression (Image source: Resorts World Genting)Genting Premium Outlets (GPO)The latest factory outlet in Malaysia to open in 2017 is no other than the much talked about Genting Premium Outlets (GPO) which is also part of Resorts World plan to make Genting Highlands the entertainment and shopping hub of central Malaysia. This will complement the also soon to open 20th Century Fox World Theme Park Genting which is the first in the world too. The Genting Premium Outlet is located in Awana, which is the lower section of Genting Highlands and will be supported by a number of hotels and a new cable car system. Genting Premium Outlets is sized at 600,000 square feet in gross area and also houses 150 local and international designer names that will be tenants, making this one of the top premium factory outlets to date. Brands include Michael Kors, Aigner, Salvatore Ferragamo, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Burberry, Canali, Coach, Ermenegildo Zegna, Furla, Guy Laroche, Polo Ralph Lauren and many more therefore you know you will be getting some of the best brand names here. The GPO will also be be known as Southeast Asia's first hilltop premium outlet alongside with the 20th Century Fox World Genting theme park. To get here, it is only an hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city. With all the factory outlets being already opened, there are a couple more in the pipeline which are also scheduled to open in the next few years which include;Kuala Lumpur International Outlet (KLIO) at Cyberjaya, (Artist impression by Horizon Group)Kuala Lumpur International Outlets (KLIO)Another massive factory outlet in Malaysia which is set to make headlines is the Kuala Lumpur International Outlet or KLIO which was originally planned in 2014 and was scheduled to open in 2016 or 2017. But to date, after we checked online, there has been no news or information that has surfaced on this massive branded factory outlet project. It was stated in a press release a couple of years ago that the construction would begin in September 2014, with the grand opening slated for 1 July 2016.Kuala Lumpur International Outlet is joint venture with Horizon Group Properties and Mainstay Holdings Sdn Bhd, a local property and construction firm with plans to build a 400,000 square foot factory outlet in the Cyberjaya district of Selangor. One of their branding is that a large portion of KLIO will be focused entirely on luxury brands. A total of 140 stores are also planned for KLIO catering to luxury or near-luxury brands selling all kinds of merchandise in a luxurious European style setting. KLIO will have six entrances from the car park including the drop-off area and all the outlets will be located one level above. Retailers include popular names like Coach, Nike and Polo ? while other brands like Hugo Boss and Burberry offer previous season?s collections at discounted prices. The entire project is designed by an international team of architects from Ross Adams USA who worked on Horizon?s stable of outlets in the United States. To date, no added information is available therefore, we are just including this as a reference for future, if there project is still on.Website: http://www.horizongroup.com/Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets. (Artist impression by Sunway Group)Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets / Lost World Shopping MallAnother much awaited factory outlet in Ipoh is being planned but there is some confusion over what it will be called. To date, there are two names, one is Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets and the other is Lost World Shopping Mall. This RM300 million project is spread over 35 acres of land near the Lost World if Tambun, Ipoh's popular water park and will adapt the same concept as Sunway Resort City in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.This massive project will also feature popular luxury outlets like Michael Kors, Coach and Kate Spade in a 600,000 square feet area. Also branded as an integrated city, Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets or Lost World Shopping Mall will also have a hotel, theme park and shopping mall there. Plans also include 8 premium outlets which are 10,000-20,000 square feet each. To date, there has been no official announcement on when the Ipoh factory outlet will open, but a recent report in the local newspapers mentioned that the Lost World Shopping Mall will most likely open between 2017 and 2019.The Two Rawang Outlet Mall. (Artist impression by DA Land)The Two Shopping Outlet Mall RawangA mega massive project called The Two Outlet Mall in Rawang, Selangor is also taking shape and this will be one of the largest projects to day where this integrated lifestyle concept features a shopping mall with a focus on entertainment, dining and shopping through integrated developments such as an outlet mall and indoor and outdoor theme parks.The Two Rawang will also be built on a massive 24 hectare piece of land which is slated as ambitious but interesting with a target of attracting local and international tourist who travel along the north-south expressway. The main attraction here besides the factory outlet will be the largest indoor theme park in Southeast Asia which is also designed by the Sanderson Group.The Two Shopping Outlet Mall is being built and operated by DA Land and will comprise of a RM 5 billion theme park, wholesale city and outlet mall will be the only integrated lifestyle project in Selangor catering to locals and tourist. The project was also officiated and launched by the Malaysian Tourism Minister. Overall, if the project moves smoothly, we could see The Two Rawang opening in 2018 or 2019.Website: http://www.daland.com.my/Oriental Village in Langkawi was the first factory outlet concept which did not do well, but is still there today.First Factory Outlet in MalaysiaFor the record, the first factory outlet in Malaysia was actually in Langkawi, back in early 2000 when the Oriental Village was opened to cater to the huge tourist influx of Langkawi back then. However, the factory outlet business model did not do well and eventually was forced to change its concept to just another place having some stores selling local handicraft, clothes and so on. If you are heading to the Langkawi Cable Car or Langkawi Skybridge, the Oriental Village will be the first thing you see. There is hope for tourism numbers to increase in Malaysia as the Ministry of Tourism has indicated that they are indeed working extra hard to bring in more tourist over the years and China being one of the main targets, however, with a population of only 30 million in Malaysia, many a concerned about the oversupply of shopping malls and factory outlets in Malaysia where it may not be a novelty anymore, especially with the growth of online shopping. To find out more about shopping places in Malaysia, read this article on shopping malls in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur which highlights the best places to shop in KL. But for the shopaholic or tourist, a visit to Malaysia will definitely make you visit at least one of these factory outlets in Malaysia, mainly to see what kind of offers there are, especially with the currency conversions so have a great shopping time here.
Friday 18th of November 2016 08:03:00 AM
- Visit ASEAN@50
The Visit ASEAN@50 tourism campaign was launched by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN on 6th September 2016 and the region wide campaign was unveiled by the 10 ASEAN heads of state at the ASEAN Summit 2016 in Vientiane, Laos. The tourism campaign was also in line with a mission to promote the twin objectives of commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN in 2017, and embracing the ASEAN region of Southeast Asia as a single and united, yet diverse, tourism destination.At the ASEAN Summit 2016, it was also highlighted that objectives of the Visit ASEAN@50 campaign include;Increasing international visitor arrivals to Southeast Asia from 108.9 million in 2015 to 121 million by the end of 2017Increasing tourism receipts from USD75 billion in 2014 to USD83 billion, also by the end of 2017Visit ASEAN Year 2017The ASEAN CountriesVisit ASEAN@50 Multiple activities and promotions will be announced to drive the Visit ASEAN@50 campaign while partners will be revealed at the 2016 ITB Asia travel industry show in Singapore in October. Other promotions include special travel experiences and offers that will be announced at the World Travel Market 2016 in London this November.Key target markets for ASEAN?s 50th anniversary tourism campaign in 2017 will be long-haul markets which include;EuropeMiddle EastAustraliaNorth AmericaChinaJapanKoreaIndiaASEAN Heads of state during the launching of Visit ASEAN@50Visit ASEAN Year 2017The ASEAN Tourism Competitiveness Committee, which is responsible for the tourism campaign implementation with partners has also announced that planned ASEAN@50 marketing activities will include:VisitASEAN@50 official launch at the ASEAN Tourism Forum early January 2017 in SingaporeMedia familiarization trips (FAM Trips) showcasing ASEAN connectivity and multi-country travel routesSpecial tour packages with offers, special airfares, shopping discounts for travel in 2017 (details to be revealed at WTM London, November 2016)Campaign promotion in international travel trade shows in key source marketsCooperative marketing programs with travel, media and airline partners (to be announced at ITB Asia, October 2016)Print and online advertising, as well as TV, video and promotionsSocial media campaigns to enhance consumer engagementPromotional programs by ASEAN?s national tourism offices targeting trade, consumer and MICE markets throughout 2017For more information, you can visit the official ASEAN Tourism Website where you can get full details about what is happening in and around the ASEAN region. Alternatively, you can also check out the GoAsean website for more travel information.Meanwhile for Tourism Malaysia, the directive will be to go along with the Visit ASEAN campaign and promote Malaysia as one of the ASEAN destinations. This is purely due to the tourism budget cuts in Malaysia and there is no tourism agenda for Malaysia in 2017. however events listed in the calendar will still go on in Malaysia.Visit ASEAN 2017 is the 50th anniversary tourism campaign and is part of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025, which was adopted by the association?s tourism ministers in Manila in January 2016 and in line with this, the Visit ASEAN@50 Tourism Campaign is all set to enhance the Southeast Asia tourism economy.
Monday 14th of November 2016 04:00:00 AM
- Japan Travel Fair Malaysia
The Japan Travel Fair Malaysia takes place in One Utama Shopping Mall from 9-13 November 2016 with a mission to provide information about Japan's tourism, Japanese Culture and also the many beautiful destinations from all over Japan to the general consumers. This is also the second time that the Japan Travel Fair Malaysia is taking place in just one year where the first fair was held in February at the same venue and was received well by the Malaysian consumers. Having the second fair at the end of this year is to promote Japan's Winter and also Spring time which is said to be two of the most beautiful and best time to visit Japan, namely the snowy areas and also for the Cherry Blossom or Sakura Season in Spring. At the five day travel fair, anyone buying any Japan travel packages, tours or even airline tickets, JNTO will be giving out a free gift during the JTF2016. To add on, there will also be a lucky draw for the mentioned purchases where you stand a chance to also win return airline tickets to Japan, a Canon Digital Camera and Japanese souvenirs. At the official launching of Japan Travel Fair 2016 in One Utama Shopping Mall in Petaling JayaThe Japan Travel Fair November 2016 event was also launched by the Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia and JNTO's Executive Director Mr. Masatoshi Miyake together with specially invited guest on the 9th November at 3.00pm. Media from mainstream and electronic, representatives from tour companies, invited guests and shoppers were treated to a Japanese drum performance and also the unveiling of Dr. Soo Wincci's new music video which was shot entirely in Japan. As for the events happening during the Japan Travel Fair 2016, there will be a special live performance by Dr. Soo Wincci, a Blogger Talk Show featuring Kampung Boy City Girl, demonstrations on food and craft, quizzes, and many others listed below;11 - 13 Nov, 1.00PM - 1.30PM: Hand-Made Wagashi (Japanese Sweet Making Technique)11 - 13 Nov, 2.30PM - 3.00PM: Art of Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy Performance)11 - 13 Nov, 7.00PM - 7.30PM: Bonodori Performance12 - 13 Nov, 4.00PM - 4.30PM: Mochi Pounding Performance12 Nov Saturday, 6.00PM - 6.40PM: Soo Wincci Performance13 Nov Sunday, 6.00PM - 6.30PM: Blogger Talk Show featuring Kampung Boy City GirlJapan Yes-No Quiz Event11 Nov: 11.30-12.00, 4.00-4.30, 6.00-6.3012 Nov: 11.30-12.0013 Nov: 11.30-12.00Canon Photo Booth at JNTO BoothVisitors can also experience dressing in a Japanese Yukata and have their photo taken at the Canon Photo Booth during the event. Visitors to the JNTO Booth at the Japan Travel Week Fair in One UtamaVisitors checking out the booths at the Japan Travel Week November 2016Japan Travel Fair 2016 MalaysiaThe Japanese travel fair (????????) is located on the Highstreet at the first floor of the One Utama Shopping Mall where a total of 21 booths offering information and also sales on Japanese destinations. Out of the 21 booths, 11 of them are tour companies that specialize in selling Japan Travel Packages to multiple prefectures. The other 10 booths are occupied by the various Japanese tourism prefectures.Visitors can walk in as it is free and you can obtain information on multiple places around Japan here. Prior to the recent Matta Fair 2016, the Japan National Tourism Organization or JNTO has taken added steps to promote Japan aggressively as it is one of the top destinations for Malaysian tourist heading outbound. In 2015, the number of Malaysians that visited Japan had surpassed 300,000 and from January to September 2016, the number had already reached around 250,000 visitors to Japan from Malaysia. A growing number of Muslim visitors to Japan has also contributed to these numbers as Japan has seriously taken into consideration about Muslim Travel around Japan. Many restaurants now offer a special Halal menu while there are Muslim Prayer Rooms (Surau) available in almost all prefectures and also in some shopping malls and airports. VIP's, Tourism Organaizations and Malaysian Travel Agents during the launching of Japan Travel Week in One UtamaVendors at Japan Travel Fair Malaysia 2016The list of vendors and travel agents participating at the Japan Travel Fair 2016 Malaysia is below and you can visit them to obtain more information about the places or packages around Japan. Travel AgentsApple Vacations & ConventionsGolden Tourworld TravelHello HolidaysHIS MalaysiaJapan Travel BureauJ-Horizons Travel (M)Malaysian Harmony Tours and TravelParlo ToursPearl Holiday Travel and TourReliance TravelSunrise Tours and TravelJapanese ExhibitorsJETROMitsukoshi Isetan HoldingShizuoka Prefectural Government Office Okinawa Convention and Visitor BureauThe Flower of JapanWakayama CityYokohama CityHoshino Resort Tomamu, SapporoVision Data (Samurai WiFi)Trip DesignerOne the first day of Japan Travel Week in One Utama Shopping Center, Bandar UtamaJapan Travel Fair MalaysiaVenue: Highstreet, Ground Floor One Utama Shopping Mall, New WingDate: 9-13 November, 2016Time: 10.00 AM to 10.00 PMIf you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, this would be a great place to start at as there is much information about many places. However, for those planning a trip in mid or late next year, you can also visit the Matta Fair 2017 as JNTO will also be there featuring more booths during the travel fair in Kuala Lumpur in March. Alternatively, the Japan Travel Fair Malaysia is created in-between the main travel fairs to capitalize on the months where there are no other travel events going on and has been much welcomed by the local consumers who want to visit Japan.
Wednesday 9th of November 2016 11:17:00 AM
- Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion
Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion or Alitrip MTP was launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister on 4th November 2016 with an aim for China travellers to access Malaysia's travel and tourism products through this e-marketplace which is a local online travel agent (OTA) in China. AliTrip is also created by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and will be managed and operated by Beijing Xinlian Mobile Technology, appointed by Alibaba and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia.Alitrip MTP provides an excellent platform for Malaysian travel trade players to engage directly with Alibaba?s 100 million active online travel products customers. The travel products and services that Malaysian tourism merchants promote and offer directly to Chinese travellers via Alitrip MTP include local tour and hotel packages (with or without flight tickets), shopping and dining mobile vouchers, local attraction and event tickets, and local transportation and communication services. Tourist Arrivals from China to Malaysia 2015In 2015, tourist arrivals from China to Malaysia increased by 4%, reaching 1.68 million against 1.61 million in 2014. The first eight months of 2016 already recorded a 26.3% growth in arrivals from the Chinese market, with a total of 1.4 million tourists. Malaysia is now gearing up to achieve 2 million Chinese arrivals by the end of this year, and 8 million by 2020. Therefore, the Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion couldn?t have come at a better time for the country to achieve this ambitious target. The Prime Minister of Malaysia encouraged Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia as it is now easier for them to travel to the country due to the relaxed visa requirements which supposed to expire by end of 2016, has now been extended until 31 December 2017. Najib Razak and Jack Ma in Beijing. Picture courtesy of Twitter/BernamaThe Prime Minister launched Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion at the China World Hotel in Beijing on the 4th November 2016 where the event was graced by the Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Dato? Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Ambassador of Malaysia to China Dato? Zainuddin Yahya, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Tan Sri Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Tourism Malaysia Chairman Dato? Dr. Siew Ka Wei, Tourism Malaysia Director General Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Prime Minister?s Special Envoy to the People?s Republic of China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and Alitrip President and Alibaba Group Vice President Li Shaohua.Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion or Alitrip MTP is a local China platform where everything is in Mandarin and is targeted to the local China consumers to book tickets for flights and many other things and also ground packages for travel and tourism.
Friday 4th of November 2016 09:39:00 AM
- Malaysia Airlines New China Destination Routes
On November 2016, eight Malaysia Airlines New China Destination Routes have been announced as part of a rapid expansion campaign into China. This was also announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato? Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, who made the official news in Beijing that the airline will serve 8 new destinations and 11 new routes with 35 additional frequencies between Malaysia and China beginning in early 2017. Malaysia Airlines? CEO Peter Bellew has also mentioned that Malaysia Airlines plans to triple the Chinese business over the next five years as the CEO sees potential for direct flights to 20 Chinese cities from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching by 2019. Malaysia Airlines New China Destination RoutesMalaysia Airlines will be flying the following destinations in China after the first half of 2017;OriginDestinationStart Weekly FreqNew Routes Kuala LumpurHaikou Dec-162Kuala LumpurNanjing Apr-173Kuala LumpurFuzhouApr-173Kuala LumpurWuhan Aug-173Kuala LumpurChengdu*Oct-175Kuala LumpurChongqing*Oct-173Kota Kinabalu TianjinTBD2PenangShenzhen*Aug-173PenangShanghai*Aug-174Existing Routes Kuala LumpurShanghai*Apr-17Increase from 7x to 14x weekly Kuala LumpurHong KongJan-17Upgauge of MH 72/73 to A330 *Subject to slot availability. L-R: MAB CEO Peter Bellew, MAB Chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof, YAB Prime Minister of Malaysia, YB Minister of Transport, Khazanah Nasional Berhad CEO Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar in Beijing, ChinaMalaysia Airlines will also be adding a second daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai subject to slots in April 2017. This follows the airline?s recent announcement on the service upgrade to its morning Kuala Lumpur - Hong Kong sector from the Boeing 737 to the Airbus A330 aircraft. As most of the destinations are quite similar to those of other budget airlines, the eight Malaysia Airlines New China Destination Routes will only take off after the first half of 2017 therefore, travelers and businessmen now await the confirmation dates and also the flight timings to each of the destinations in China.
Friday 4th of November 2016 08:50:00 AM
- Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant Sandakan
If you love Kadazan traditional food, there is a new place called Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant in Sandakan that opened in early October 2016. This Sabah ethnic food restaurant has created a hype in the city as there has never been a restaurant serving authentic Kadazan food here before and now, locals are heading here to try the many different choices of Kadazan cuisine being offered here. Borneo Ethnic Cuisine, or BEC is also the brainchild of three friends who have come together to make this ethnic restaurant a reality and after months of planning, they have opened Sandakan's first Kadazan Restaurant which is located at Mile 4 in Sandakan. Mile 4 or Batu Empat is also known as Bandar Indah and is one of the developed areas of outskirt Sandakan city and to get here from town, it is only 15 to 20 minutes drive. Traditional Kadazan Food in SandakanWhen I visited this place based on a recommendation, they had just opened for a week and the place was pretty crowded for dinner on a weekday. Speaking to Rosaline Pinso, who is one of the partners, she had informed me that it was high time that the east coast of Sabah had a proper Kadazan restaurant as there was none available over the years. In terms of the menu, you will see a lot of ethnic Kadazan dishes being sold where some of them are even fusioned with local flavors. Even her son, who is a culinary graduate, is also hands on in the business where he plans to introduce a very local Kadazan Nasi Lemak among many other dishes in the near future. By the time this article is published, some of the dishes will be available for lunch too. Inside the Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant at Mile 4 in SandakanIkan Patin Masak Terjun, a well known local dish served at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine for RM8.00For first timers trying the Kadazan food in Sandakan, it is highly recommended that you try their local set called Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Pinasakan, which comes with Hinava, Bambangan, Sambal Tuhau, salted fish, Sabah vegetables, salted egg and a traditional drink. This interesting menu is also priced at RM18.00 which is a very reasonable deal, considering that this is a pure ethnic dish and time consuming to prepare. Alternatively, you can also try the other popular Kadazan food set which is Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Goreng Kacang Hitam or black bean. This comes with the Linopot rice and the same condiments as above set and also priced at RM18.00. As for me, I have been a huge fan of Kadazan food where over the years, I have tried a number of them and I have to say that the Kadazan food at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine is probably one of the best I have tried in years. Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Pinasakan set which is RM18.00Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Goreng Kacang Hitam set which is also RM18.00For desserts, the Hinompuka is definitely a must try at RM0.50 per piece. This sticky rich is actually made from grinded hill rice and brown sugar and some other ingredients, which gives it a purple colored finish. One glance and it looks like pulut (sticky rice) wrapped in a banana leaf, but it is actually very interesting, as it not too sweet and has a nice mild taste. Another dessert to try here is the Ubi Manis or Sweet Tapioca which is served with Coconut Milk (Santan). Previously, this end shop lot in Bandar Indah was known as Taro's Sushi but the Japanese Restaurant here closed and the new owners took over the end corner lot which is very spacious. An average of 80-100 people can be seated in the restaurant with additional outdoor space as an option for special events or parties. Another landmark is a restaurant next to it called Jom Lepak or directly opposite is the famous Kenalanmu Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan. Hinompuka, a traditional Kadazan dessert sold at the restaurant hereUbi Manis or Sweet Tapioca which is a popular dessert hereKadazan decoration is seen around the restaurant making the ambiance very localBorneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant at Mile 4, SandakanBorneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant Review VideoCheck out this video done by MakanSabah when they visited Sandakan for a food hunt. It shows an overview of Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant, which features the local Kadazan food and desserts found here at Mile 4, Sandakan. For more food photos and videos from around Sabah, follow MakanSabah on Instagram.Borneo Ethnic Cuisine RestaurantBusiness hours at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine in SandakanOpen: Mon, Wed to SundayClosed: Every TuesdayOpening Hours: 10.00 AM to 3.00 PM, 5.00 PM to 10.00 PMParking: Available outsideNo Pork ServedBorneo Ethnic CuisineCorner End of Block 5, Jalan Bandar Indah 1, Bandar Indah, Mile 4,Sandakan, SabahContact: Rosaline Pinso - +6019 883 3842Stephanie Rose - +6019 582 0077Borneo Ethnic Cuisine sign and decoration inside the shop showing some Kadazan attire and itemsThere are a number of must eat food in Sandakan which is found in the main city area right till Mile 7 and this is one of the unique cuisines that totally made my food hunt in Sandakan worthwhile. Overall, the seafood in Sandakan is known to be one of the best in Sabah, but when you dig deeper, there are many other local types of food to be discovered. For anyone heading to the east coast of Sabah, do make a stop at the Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant in Sandakan to sample some authentic Kadazan food.
Monday 31st of October 2016 03:30:00 AM
- Best Places to Visit in Malaysia 2017
Anyone visiting Malaysia this year would want to know where are the best place to visit in Malaysia for 2017 and this article will provide you with my personal first hand experiences at the many places recommended in this list. The places are all located all over the country but I will make it easy for the traveler, as you need to plan your trip properly, in order to visit at least some of the recommended places to visit in Malaysia. Know that when you enter Malaysia, you will land at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) or KLIA2 which is the budget terminal where AirAsia operates from. Then you will either connect on another flight to your next destination or head to Kuala Lumpur city to connect via bus, train or van to other places. The list of best places to visit in Malaysia for 2017 is;PerakIpoh's Concubine Lane on a weekend is one of the must visit placesPerak is one of the lesser visited states but over the last few years, Perak has grown to be one of the up and coming places in Malaysia to visit. Even Lonely Planet has named Perak as one of the Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2017 and this would be bringing more tourist to this state which is a couple of hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city and on the way up north to Penang.Perak has been the epicentre of early Malaya during the colonial rule where tin mining was one of the biggest industries besides plantations. Nowadays, the old colonial towns like Ipoh and Taiping have opened their doors to tourism, and a number of theme parks are already available in the vicinity of Ipoh, namely The Lost World of Tambun, a massive family water park and the all new MAPS Perak or Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh which opens in December 2016.However, Lonely Planet focuses mainly on the core of Ipoh city which is the surroundings of Kong Heng Square which has transformed from an old rundown square to a beautiful fusion of modern day businesses in classic heritage buildings, giving a juxtapose of characters for the visitor. And no, it does not look like a Hong Kong or Singapore replica, but a truly Malaysian style.Taiping is one of the best places to visit in Perak, for a relaxed getawayWhat to do in PerakExplore Ipoh City, as this is highly recommended for first timers to Perak. I have also done an article on places to visit in Ipoh which narrows down the main areas to explore. Some of the current places to explore in Ipoh is no other than Kong Heng Square and Concubine Lane in the Ipoh Old Town area.For those into nature and adventure, there are numerous places in Perak to explore, like Gopeng and Slim River for the white water rafting and caving and for trekking, wildlife, bird watching and other nature experiences, Royal Belum State Park and Kinta Nature Park are the two main places to check out.Taiping is home to some of the firsts of Malaysia, like the first lake gardens, first museum, first railway and so on, therefore the city is rich with culture and information about early Malaya. For island lovers, Pangkor Island is a quaint and pretty laid back island with a very local village and accommodations ranging from backpackers hostels to luxury resorts.Kong Heng Square, the top place to visit in IpohPlaces of Interest in PerakKong Heng SquareConcubine LaneIpoh Old TownIpoh Railway StationTaipingPangkor IslandKinta Valley Nature ParkRoyal Belum State ParkBukit Merah LaketownKellie's Castle What to Eat in PerakIpoh Chee Cheong Fun Noodles, a must tryHands down the food in Ipoh is a must-try for any traveler here. Most of the well known dishes are found around the Ipoh Old Town area but there are some notable places in Ipoh New Town area too.Some dishes not to be missed are the Hakka Noodles, Ipoh Chicken Rice, Lum Mee Noodles, Ipoh Hor Fun Noodles and the Ipoh Chee Cheong Fun flat noodles. Coffee lovers, you should know that Ipoh serves some of the best coffee in Malaysia and you can sample it at Ipoh Old Town area.What to Buy in PerakGenerally, in terms of souvenirs, there is nothing much except food souvenirs which are highly popular among the locals. Many swear by the local Chicken Biscuit (Kai Chai Pang), Ipoh Salt Baked Chicken (Yim Kok Kai), Pomelo fruits and the regional famous Ipoh White Coffee. In terms of handicraft, there is not much or not that I know of, however, if you know of some, please do share it here with me.What to Expect in PerakIpoh Old Town Coffee at Sin Yoon LoongPerak is one of the hottest states in Malaysia, especially in Ipoh so it is best to be prepared for the weather changes as when it rains, it pours there. As for places, you can expect lots of local tourist moving around and in terms of English, it is widely spoken in the larger towns in Perak. The places to visit in Perak are mostly far apart therefore, factor in the time for travel.Best Time to Visit PerakAnytime is a great time to visit Perak in 2017 where the rainy season is around March, April, October to December and September to December being the cooler time of the year. The year end school holidays (Nov and Dec) are probably going to be really crowded with local tourist, so you should book early for some of the popular places.Where is Perak? Perak is the next state up north from Selangor or Kuala Lumpur. You can get there by train, car or bus. From Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, it is only a two hour train ride or drive while from KL to Taiping, it is a three hour drive. Moving around Perak requires to self drive or hire a tour guide. You can rent a car from KL and drive up north to Perak to move around there. Melaka Melaka River CruiseThe nearest tourism city near Kuala Lumpur (KL) is not other than historical Melaka or Malacca, which is only a 90 minute drive from KL. Melaka is also one of two UNESCO World Heritage cities in Malaysia, where the other is Penang and you can expect a lot of old buildings dating to hundreds of years old. Stadhuys in Melaka and the Christ ChurchMelaka has been one of the most important ports of call from the years during 1400 to 1600 and has been heavily influenced by many different countries from around the world which include the Dutch, Portuguese, Javanese, Chinese, Arabs and Indians, where a cultural mix of ethnicity has evolved throughout the centuries here and thus making this place a beautiful and amazing place to visit.What to do and see in Melaka?You will be treated with lots of historical and cultural charm here but apart from this, there are a lot more being offered in Melaka, as in interactive attractions, rides and shopping spots. The multicultural mix here provides a lot of places of worship like temples, mosques and churches. Some of them dating back to the 1700's too. We recommend taking the Melaka River Cruise to have a glimpse of the old Melaka. Below are some of the things to do in Melaka;? Melaka River Cruise (Day and Night)? Joget@Melaka (Special Cultural Show on weekends) Melaka Cendol and Rojak? Melaka Alive Theater Show? The Shore Oceanarium (Newly Opened Aquarium)? Tamin Sari Tower Ride (Melaka Sky Tower)? Multiple Parks, Zoos and Museums? Visit an Old Submarine and Old Wooden Galleon Where to Eat in Melaka?Melaka is one of the melting pots for food in Malaysia but the crème de la crème is no other than the Peranakan or Nyonya cuisines found all over Melaka. Some in simple cafes, while others in any restaurants or even in hotels, these unique cuisines are a must-try for any foodie. What to Buy in Melaka?Apart from the traditional Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan items found easily here in terms of clothing and jewelry, there are also a lot of antique dealers around the Jonker Walk area. Most of the souvenirs sold around the main street include your general everyday types of souvenirs too. For those wanting something a little more, you can check out some of the food souvenirs to buy in Melaka. Best Time to go to Melaka?Honestly, I would recommend going from Tuesday till Fridays as it gets really overly crowded on Saturday and Sunday. But the weekend market takes place during these days along Jonker Walk, so if you are fine with crowds, then go on the weekends. Otherwise, I would recommend a weekday to have a peaceful walk and experience here. What to Expect in Melaka?Melaka city is not that huge and most of the attractions are within walking distances. You should note that there will be a lot of walking around at most of these places so best to come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, poncho, umbrella and lots of water. People are generally nice here and most people speak English. Exploring out of Melaka requires transport and the best is to get a taxi to some of these places.Where is Melaka?Melaka is the state south of Kuala Lumpur or Selangor. It takes around one and a half hours to drive there or about two hours by bus. Usually day trips to Melaka are done but to fully see Melaka, you need to spend a night or two there. Tour companies organise tour or you can rent a car and self drive there. SarawakThe amazingly beautiful Bakelalan HighlandsThe home of the Hornbills and Rainforest on Borneo Island, Sarawak is Malaysia's largest state literally covered with rich dense rainforest, mountains and abundance of culture and heritage. Not your typical touristy city, Sarawak is an entirely different style of Malaysia offering a very unique experience when visited. Most foreigners will also know this place by the name of Borneo, oh and there is no more head hunting doing on here too. What to do in Sarawak?A Chinese Temple in Kuching City, SarawakGenerally, Sarawak is so huge that you need about two weeks to see most of the places here. However, each traveler needs to break down what they want to do and Kuching would be a great place to start.Most of the popular attractions are within one to two hours drive from Kuching. As for Kuching city, it is an easy walk about here to visit the old streets, temples, mosques and museums.For exploring out of Kuching, there is Sibu, Miri, Mulu, Bakelalan and Bario which are best connected via flights. If you plan to travel overland via bus, be prepared to spend more than 8 hours. Miri is a resort city neighboring Brunei and Sabah and is also branded as a resort city. Read about Things to do in Miri which I reviewed based on the places I have visited there. However, Miri also caters as a gateway to unique destinations like Mulu, Bario and Bakelalan in the Kelabit Highlands. One needs to take a small plane flight to these mountainous villages at 1000 meters above sea level. Mulu is renown as a UNESCO world heritage site offering nature lovers one of the best experiences you can have in a rainforest.Sibu, a river city is up and coming with food and culture tourism being the strongest here. For those into the food and culture scene, Sibu would be recommended to visit, but know this - Sibu is not your typical tourist stop but this year is branded as Visit Sibu Year 2017.The beautiful Talang Island in Sarawak, many do not know that Sarawak has amazing islandsPlaces of interest around Kuching Sarawak;? Sarawak Cultural Village? Sarawak River Cruise? Anna Rais Longhouse? Semenggoh Orangutan Nature Reserve? Bako National Park? Talang Satang National Park? Kuching Cat Museum? Kuching WaterfrontKelabit Food from Miri, SarawakWhat to eat in Sarawak?Gawai Festival in SarawakThe local ethnic food which can be found all over. In Kuching city, seafood is very popular at Top Spot Food Court, the foodie should venture around the city to try some of the very local ethnic foods from the Iban or Kayan people here. For eating local food in Kuching, there are a lot of local coffee shops, cafes and restaurants found all over the city where you can experience a daily breakfast or lunch. Umai is a delicacy which is recommended to try apart from the very famous Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee.What to buy in Sarawak?There are quite a few interesting things to buy from Sarawak, but most Asians heading here will opt for the local Sarawak Batik, local handicraft and lot of food souvenirs like Ikan Terubuk and Sarawak Kek Lapis or layered cakes. For the antique collector, there are quite a number of antique shops along the Kuching Main Bazaar the Kuching Waterfront. From my personal views, I think that the ethnic crafts are the best deals in terms of souvenirs to buy in Sarawak. What to expect in Sarawak?The Sarawak Cultural Village in SantubongFor the short stay traveler, you can expect a lot of walking in the city of Kuching while for the adventurous traveler, expect high humidity when traveling from place to place.Culture is the strongest selling point of Sarawak so you have the opportunity to see many different ethnic races and tribes here and one of the best places to see and experience this is at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong. Rainforest are abundance which provide excellent nature, flora and fauna and national parks are the best place to do this.Best time to go to Sarawak?Anytime is a good time as Sarawak lies close to the equator and from my experience, some of the best times are during the harvest festival or Gawai in June, where you can witness or even participate in the celebrations held all over the state. Alternatively, a good time to visit Sarawak is also during the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 which takes place from 7-9 August at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching.Where is Sarawak?Sarawak is located on the island of Borneo, on East Malaysia therefore you need to take a flight from KL or other cities to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. In Kuching city, you can move around on foot, but to travel to other parts of Sarawak, you need to fly or self drive which is quite time consuming. From Kuching to Miri, it is about 12 hours drive or a one hour flight.TerengganuLong Beach on Pulau Perhentian, one of the best places to visit in TerengganuLocated on the east coast of Malaysia, Terengganu is truly a paradise for anyone looking towards a island or beach holiday. Most of the popular islands are located off Terengganu which include Perhentian Island, Redang Island, Tenggol Island and Lang Tengah Island where all are about 30 to 45 minutes boat rides from the coast. One of the beautiful and unique properties on the mainland by the sea is no other than Tanjong Jara Resort, a luxurious private 'kampung' style villa resort located deep in a local village and away from any other property. Here, you are assured of the finest resort hospitality and experiences minus the crowds. What to do in Terengganu?As Terengganu is huge, most of the tourism activitiestake place off the coast, so visiting the islands are one of the top activities as it is also Visit Terengganu Year 2017. As for the state itself, there are also ecotourism spots to explore like the Lake Kenyir Resort which was featured in CNN as one of the 12 Malaysia Rainforest Resorts to Visit.Other places include the Taman Negara National Park where there is an entrance via Terengganu while at the capitol - Kuala Terengganu, you have the opportunity to see the old city style of Malaysia and Terengganu Chinatown is also a recommended place to explore.There are only a handful of traditional boat makers left and you can find them at Pulau Duyong, an island in between a river mouth in the city area. Currently, there are three boat makers located here for those wanting to see how they are made.Places of interest around Terengganu;? Pasar Payang Market? Noor Arfa Craft Complex? Terengganu Chinatown? Islamic Civilization Park? Terengganu State Museum? Kenyir Elephant Village? Lake Kenyir Visit? Turtle Watching at Rantau AbangTerengganu's beautiful resorts, Tanjong Jara ResortWhat to eat in Terengganu?Lots of Seafood, Keropok Lekor and the very unique local Malay food dishes are a must-try for anyone visiting Terengganu. For the serious foodies, there are some very traditional dishes available too, but one needs to ask locals about them. At the resorts or islands, you can find all kinds of local and international cuisines too. For those safe eaters, there are international fast food chains around Kuala Terengganu and Dungun town. What to buy in Terengganu?Batik fabrics are well known in Terengganu and you can visit some of the Batik factories to see how they are hand drawn and made. Other popular unique items here include the traditional brass ware, Songket fabrics and handicrafts, and a great place to see or buy them is at Pasar Payang Market. What to expect in Terengganu?Terengganu ChinatownLots of old world charms, smiles and friendly faces. However, to move around here, you need at least two to three days to see most of the attractions.But if you are planning to do both islands and mainland, then it would be recommended to spend about five to seven days here. The city is a daytime city, so everything happens before dusk. During the fasting month, almost all restaurants are closed in the day and only open in the evenings.Getting to the islands in TerengganuThe main islands are all about 30 to 45 minutes boat rides from the main land. However, you should double check as to which jetty you will depart from as different islands operate from different jetties in Terengganu. Flying in, you will land in Kota Baharu, Kelantan and then take a one hour taxi or van drive down to the jetties. Best time to go to Terengganu?After the monsoon season (October till March) is the best time to go, however you should take note of the fasting month in Malaysia and many vendors, stalls and shops close to observe the 'Puasa' hence you will only fine them open around 6.00 pm in the cities and towns. The island resorts are not affected by this, so if you are staying at any of the islands, you should not be worried.For more travel and general information, you can also visit the Tourism Terengganu website - http://tourism.terengganu.gov.my/Where is Terengganu?Terengganu is located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and to get here, you can either take a bus (6-7 hours), self drive (5-6 hours) or fly from Kuala Lumpur which is only 45 minutes. Once in Terengganu, you can take the local taxis around town or if you are headed to the islands, the local boat service. Langkawi Island - KedahBeautiful white sand beaches in Langkawi Known as the Jewel of Kedah, this northern state near Penang Island called Langkawi Island is one of the most visited islands in Malaysia due to the beautiful beaches, lush tropical rainforest and the stunning hotels and resorts which caters from budget to luxury tourist. The island is also well known as a duty free island where you can get cheap chocolates, alcohol and many other items. What to do in Langkawi?Pantai Cenang activities in LangkawiThere is quite a lot to do around the island, depending on what you like. For beach lovers, Pantai Cenang is the most popular beach here while there are many other beaches which are less crowded.Nature lovers can go for hikes, treks or even bird watching, for wellness lovers, there are a lot of spas found throughout the island in the form of shops to resorts and also to luxury spas.Shopping is quite popular for the locals therefore Kuah town is one of the popular places and the other shopping places in Langkawi are located along Pantai Cenang Beach.Popular things to do in Langkawi;? Mangrove River Cruises at Kilim Geopark? Cable Car Ride to Mat Cincang Mountain? Parasailing at Tanjung Rhu? Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls? Sunset Dinner Cruise? 3D Art Museum? Visit a Night Market in Kuah TownWhat to eat in Langkawi?Local Malay food is one of the must-try cuisines, especially in the local village areas as the northern style is very different from the center and south of Malaysia. Seafood is also a very popular dish but again, just on the surface level and not comparable to those on the east coast of Malaysia or Sabah.Pantai Cenang is loaded with all kinds of restaurants, cafes and bars offering from local to international cuisines, so this would be a great place to start. For an evening to remember, I would personally recommend dining on the beach at La Luna Restaurant at Casa del Mar along Pantai Cenang and best to make reservations. Another unique eatery is located at Bon Ton Villas, which is along the same road here.Known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is one of the popular tropical islands to visit in MalaysiaWhat to buy in Langkawi?Duty free products, among the top are chocolates, liquor, beer, cameras, sporting goods, cookery items and the list goes on. Duty free shopping in Langkawi is one of the highlights when visiting the island and the main places to get these are in Kuah Town or along Jalan Pantai Cenang. There are quite a number of duty free shops and even supermarkets in Langkawi for the serious shopper.What to expect in Langkawi?Quiet day time and busy nights. Most of the visitors to Langkawi would do the general sightseeing in the day and come nightfall, you can see popular places around the island come to life, especially Pantai Cenang Beach. You can also expect to be moving around for activities and one of the best ways is to rent a car or motorbike in Langkawi Island. Best time to go to Langkawi?I would say anytime of the year, but during the months of December till February,the island can get really crowded due to the festive holidays. January to March is also the dry season where rain will not damper any holiday moods too, but on a general note, the best time to visit Langkawi is from October till April.More information on Kedah - http://www.discover-kedah.my/More information on Langkawi - http://naturallylangkawi.my/EN/HomeWhere is Langkawi? Langkawi Island is up north of Malaysia, above Penang Island and bordering Thailand and the best way to get here is to fly to the Langkawi International Airport from KL which is only about an hour. Once on Langkawi, rent a car or bike and move around as it is much easier. Kilim Geoforest in LangkawiBasically I have just summarized the list to the above and there are in fact many other places to visit in Malaysia, just that these are currently the most popular places in Malaysia that many visitors are heading too. I also have another article called where to go in Malaysia for 2016 for those interested to know a little more.Again, the best time to Visit Malaysia in 2016 is just about anytime as we are a tropical country and it is warm throughout the year. During the school holidays or major festive holidays, popular tourism places can get very crowded so it is always best to double check your dates to see if they clash with any major public holidays or school holidays in Malaysia.This article is created by me as I have been traveling all over the country in the last few years and not one of those top 10 lists that is created by researching facts on the internet. There are too many people out there claiming they know it all with just one trip to Malaysia, but I would like to stress that this is written by a Malaysian who is involved with the tourism and travel industry and who has been traveling around the country for the last 10 years for my work.If you have any comments or feedback, please leave them in the comment form below and I will respond to each and every one, based on my availability and I hope you enjoyed this article of Best Places to Visit in Malaysia 2017. Have a wonderful trip here if you are planning to come this year.
Wednesday 26th of October 2016 08:31:00 AM
- Things to do in Labuan Bajo
Apart from the famous Komodo Island, there are many other interesting places worth exploring here and here is a list of things to do in Labuan Bajo, Flores which is located in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Many may only know Komodo Island which is located about an hour from Labuan Bajo and after visiting Flores twice in the last year, I can now share with you on the many other things to do around here. Your main gateway into Flores is also the city of Labuan Bajo or Ende where there are direct flights available from Jakarta and Bali and most visitors would fly into Labuan Bajo for the opportunity to see the Komodo Dragons or for their diving trips here. As I have personally visited Flores twice, once with the #TripofWonders campaign from Indonesia Tourism and recently in September 2016, with Skyscanner Indonesia therefore, on both trips, I managed to see quite a bit of Flores Island and also Labuan Bajo where I can now share my experiences with the would be visitor here. Things to do in Labuan BajoKomodo Island Tours1. Komodo National Park - This is the number one place to see the the worlds largest lizard called the Komodo Dragon. There are four islands that are home to the Komodo Dragon but only two are open for visitors, which are Komodo Island and Rinca Island. You can book day trips to these islands or even book an overnight live-on-board boat experience to a number of islands. Prices range anywhere from IDR 600,000 to IDR 2,000,000 per person, depending on the type of Komodo Island Package you choose and most people would do a 2D/1N live-on-board trip. Pink Beach at Komodo Island2. Pink Beach - One of them most unique beaches in the world are found here in the Komodo National Park and imagine pink sand.There are around nine pink beaches located around the national park where most Komodo Island tours will bring you to the most popular one on Komodo Island.The Pink Beach at Komodo Island is also perfect for photo shooting and social media and in general, this place attracts all walks of life , so coming here on a weekend will surely be crowded. Snorkeling here is quite amazing too as the marine life is very impressive. Some even take a 15 minute hike up the main hill that overlooks the pink beach for that epic landscape photo. 3. Komodo Island Hopping - For the sun seekers, photographers and explorers, there are a number of beautiful islands located around the national park here and visiting them can be arranged with your boat or tour operator. Note the price is slightly different when you book a multiple island hopping package in Labuan Bajo too. It is always best to ask about the prices and islands you are visiting before you confirm the trip. 4. Sembilan Island Stingless Jellyfish - I have heard about this place but never got a chance to visit it due to the time constrain, but the tour operators offer a visit here where at Pulau Sembilan or Nine Island, there is a small pond in the island that is home to a species of sting-less jellyfish where you can snorkel and see them. Truly amazing and this is one my next place to visit in Flores.Padar Island5. Padar Island Photography - Hands down the most epic photo you will get at the Komodo National Park. Padar Island is part the the national park and many visitors come here to trek to the top of the island for their epic photo and mesmerizing view. The trek up is around 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your fitness level and once up there, all your tiredness will vanish. The Padar Island photo went viral a few years ago after an epic photo of someone standing with the amazing view went viral in Indonesia. Now, hoards of local and also foreign tourist, some even dressed up, make their way here to get that epic photo taken at the top of Padar Island.6. Manggarai Cultural Village - A very ethnic cultural village located in the highland of Flores, which is around one hours drive from Labuan Bajo where you can see the Manggarai tribe perform their traditional dances (Caci Dance) while sampling some of the local food and also local Flores Coffee. Suitable for culture lovers, this experience would take you around three to four hours and needs to be booked by one of the local tour agents in Labuan Bajo.A beautiful Labuan Bajo Sunset7. Sunset Watching at Labuan Bajo - The best place to see the Labuan Bajo Sunset is from the many beaches or some of the modern beach resorts and bars that face the west. For me, I have seen beautiful sunsets from the hotels I have stayed at, namely the Sylvia Waicicu Beach Resort (www.sylviaresortkomodo.com/) which I highly recommend, Le Pirate Bajo Hotel (https://lepirate.com/labuan-bajo/) for hipsters and for the family traveler, Laprima Hotel (Email firstname.lastname@example.org) by the sea.Other sunset watching places in Labuan Bajo are Atlantis Beach Club or Paradise Bar which sits on a hill overlooking the bay where you can have cocktails or a drink just before dinner. For those wanting a magnificent and beautiful view, you can explore towards the Sylvia Resort where there are a few hills behind the resort where you can walk up or drive up there. The view from up here is simply breath-taking and you can see both sides of the island from up here.Street life in Labuan Bajo8. Exploring Labuan Bajo Town - To be very honest, this place is just developing in terms of tourism therefore the main street is probably the only place you will be exploring. The main road called Jl. Soekarno Hatta goes one loop around the main town area as it is one way and near the old harbor area, there is a great night market selling all kinds of fresh local Indonesian food and also seafood worth exploring. For the main street area where hotels are also located at, you can find some local and international restaurants, cafes and even a French Bakery next to a Mexican Restaurant! There is also a spa, banks with ATM machines, pharmacies and general stores so this is your one-stop place to get items and so on. 10. Try the Flores Coffee - This is one of the top coffee produced in Indonesia and you can find the local Flores Coffee at some of the local cafes here. One coffee joint in Labuan Bajo which stands out is the Cafe In Hit Coffee Shop, located just next to Le Pirate Bajo Hotel. Here you can get some really good latte and cappuccino (some say it's perfect) for your daily fix apart from the iced latte and frappes and also some interesting salads and sandwiches. Prices are very affordable for now too.Bird Watching in Labuan Bajo9. Bird Watching in Labuan Bajo - For the avid bird watcher or birder, Labuan Bajo and its surroundings offer some pretty interesting species of birds to spot or photograph. In total, there are over 10 endemics in Flores and around 280 plus species of birds throughout the island.In the city area of Labuan Bajo, you can easily spot Eagles, Kingfishers, Drongos, Flowerpeckers, Pigeons and many others. As I am still an amateur bird watcher, I can easily say that I spotted at least 30 species of birds during my last trip in September 2016 and thus, I highly recommend bird watching in Labuan Bajo, Flores. 10. Diving at Komodo Island - Scuba divers will be in for a treat as the Komodo Islands are one of the best places in Indonesia to dive and most operators in Labuan Bajo are professional and offer all kinds of diving in Komodo, ranging from day trips to live on boards which are a plenty. Personally for me, I did a Komodo day trip dive because of the time restriction we had so we visited three of the most popular dive sites - Pink Beach Dive Site, Manta Point and Batu Bolong where all three are fascinating. Each of the dive sites offered a different kind of diving in Komodo with unique seascape and marine life.Photos of Labuan BajoBelow are various photos taken around Labuan Bajo town and its surroundings in September 2016.A panoramic photo of Labuan Bajo. Click to see full image.Local boats at the Labuan Bajo portManggarai People from West Flores, near Labuan BajoVarious tour packages in Labuan BajoLocal wet market in Labuan BajoSylvia Resort in Labuan BajoTo get to Labuan Bajo, you can fly directly from Bali via a number of airlines, namely Wings Air who does two daily flights and only takes an hour from Denpasar. Alternatively, you can check Skyscanner for the cheapest flights as I checked from Kuala Lumpur to Labuan Bajo, it cost only RM1,700 with three stops. But if you fly direct to Bali and connect to Labuan Bajo, it could be cheaper too.If you are also heading elsewhere in the country, you can also read my other article on places to visit in Indonesia to give you some idea as I have personally visited all of the places listed in that article due to my previous trips around Indonesia. If you are heading to see the dragons, you can also read my article on how to get to Komodo Island which I wrote about a few months ago. As I personally think that Flores will be the next destination to explore in 2017, I highly recommend you start thinking about heading here early before the main commercial tourist start to flood the place and prices will start to rise. So with this list of Things to do in Labuan Bajo, I hope you get the chance to visit this amazing place soon.
Monday 17th of October 2016 03:00:00 AM
- Inuyama Castle
One of the Japanese National Treasures is Inuyama Castle, located in the city of Inuyama which is also in the Aichi Prefecture, 25 kilometers north of Nagoya. This castle is also said to be the oldest castle in Japan where it was completed in 1537 and was built by a relative of one of the greatest Samurai Warriors of the Edo period in Japan. The castle is also called Inuyama Hakutei Castle. Now, this National Treasure is one of Nagoya's top tourist destination attracting not only locals but foreigners here to see the beautiful castle architecture and its surroundings, especially the Kiso River which runs next to the castle. History also states that the castle was originally completed in 1440 but this was heavily debated, however this still remains as one of the oldest castles in Japan and standing at a height of 25 meters from the ground level, but it is located on a hill overlooking Inuyama City. Inuyama CastleAt the top of the castle, you can see the beautiful view of Inuyama City Visitors can also go up to the top level where you can get a beautiful panoramic view of Inuyama City. In total, there are four main floors and two basement floors in Inuyama Castle. Outside the Inuyama Castle area, visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the Inuyama Artifacts Museum and the Karakuri Exhibition Room to see some of the historical pieces on display.Inuyama Castle Shrine (Sanko Inari Shrine)Sanko Inari Shrine at Inuyama CastleAs you exit the Inuyama Castle, you will head towards the Sanko Inari Shrine, which is a beautiful Shinto Shrine where you can observe Japanese people doing prayers. You are allowed to walk around the shrine and as you exit the shrine area, you will pass the beautiful red arches called Torii which is one of the best places to take photographs. Inuyama Castle Information;Inuyama Castle Ticket PricesAddress: 65-2 Kita-Koken, Inuyama-shi, AichiOpening Time: 9.00 AM till 4.30 PMOpen: DailyClosed: December 29-31Tickets Adult: ¥550 (2016)Tickets Child: ¥110Below are random photos taken at Inuyama Castle and the beautiful views from the castle top. The steep wooden staircase inside the castleA replica model of the Inuyama Castle at one of the museums outside the castleView of Inuyama city from the castleView from the rooftop of Inuyama CastleInuyama city viewHow to go to Inuyama CastleFrom Nagoya - Take the Meitetsu Line which takes about 40 minutes and exit at the Meitetsu Inuyama Yuen Station. From the station, it is only a 15 minute walk to Inuyama Castle. If you want, you can take a taxi to the castle, but note that taxis in Japan are not cheap. I would recommend taking a slow walk and admire the Japanese small town lifestyle which is so different from the major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Recommendations for Inuyama CastleFor those planning a day trip, this would be the best as you can take a train from Nagoya in the morning, visit Inuyama Castle and its surroundings, then head to Inuyama Old Town for some awesome Japanese food and then head back to Nagoya after dinner. Alternatively, you can choose to spend a day or two here as Inuyama does have some interesting attractions like Meiji Mura Village which is a massive outdoor village museum and theme park. There are proper hotels here with Tatami style rooms and staying here will allow you a glimpse of the typical small Japanese city lifestyle. There is also the Inuyama Temple Town where small streets are lined with street vendors selling local produce. Other attractions in Inuyama include the Urakuen Japanese Garden and The Old Isobe House from the Edo period. The best time to visit Inuyama is also in Autumn to see the beautiful foliage colors. Inuyama Castle is one of four important national treasure castles of Japan. The four castles are Himeji Castle, Matsumoto Castle, Hikone Castle and Inuyama Castle which are listed as the most beautiful castles while there are a total of 12 castles found throughout Japan.
Saturday 15th of October 2016 11:12:00 AM
- MIDE 2017
MIDE 2017 takes place from 12 - 14 May at the PWTC Kuala Lumpur and earlier that it usually is scheduled for the month of July as it was brought forward to facilitate the fasting month and the Hari Raya celebration. More good news is that MIDE 2017 is also moved from Hall 3 to Hall 1 at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) to a bigger hall space of 8,000 square meters and covering a total gross space of 12,000 square meters of exhibition and retail space. The largest dive expo in Malaysia is also looking at more than 2,000 exhibitors, with 200 participating companies from local and abroad attending. MIDE 2017 is geared to welcome business entrepreneurs, tourism boards, dive agencies brand manufacturers and distributors to utilize the platform that has been created and designed to meet the lucrative business for every organisation.Some of the new products that will be featured at MIDE 2017Pros and Cons of MIDE 2017With any event, there are bound to be pros and cons and for MIDE2017, there are the great sides while there are also the negative. The good thing about the dive expo is that many consumers or beginners get added awareness about scuba diving and also about the many different types of services and products found in the international markets. While the dive expo is well known as the main place for purchasing of dive equipment, courses and dive travel destinations. many consumers now have been spoiled to wait for the expo to buy their dive equipment and this has lead to a slowdown of purchases from the general retailers throughout the year. As I am a diver myself, I have been attending MIDE over the years and I have also spoken to to a number of people which includes consumers and also retailers. In the end, the consumers are the big winners as they hold back their general purchases until the event takes place. The retailers on the other hand, do good business, as suppliers and distributors would take advantage of the massive turn out by offering special discounts for their items or packages.Most of the time, you would see a number items sold at really cheap prices and they are 'Only at MIDE Prices', meaning you can only get those prices if you come for the event. Suppliers and distributors are also seen clearing stock with amazing deals, most of the time, overstocked items or last season's items. Some smaller retailers have expressed frustration as in this niche industry, the larger companies have a strong monopoly over the mass consumer, leaving the piece of cake much smaller than it was ten years ago. For example, Hypergear, the maker of dry bags offered a serious 30% discount on some of their bags and many consumers waited for MIDE to buy these bags. A 20 liter fancy dry bag backpack retails at RM 320.00 with no discount, and at the expo, it was going for RM 220.00 which is a steal. In 2015, the Malaysian dive expo generated a total sales of RM 8 million and for the year of 2016, overall sales reached at approximate total of RM 10 million and the organizers are anticipating a turnover projected sales between RM 10 to 12 million for MIDE 2017. The organisers also claim that the expo has delivered and continue to deliver a great significant growth of revenue for participating companies and further contributes positively to a healthy economic growth towards the dive tourism.Visitors checking out some of the booths at MIDEDiving in Malaysia or Abroad? Most new divers are also spoiled for choices when it comes to dive destinations as ever since AirAsia and many of the other budget airlines came about, the choices to visit neighboring countries was no longer a luxury and affordable to just about anyone. divers now compare countries and live on boards versus back ten years ago when it was just which island in Malaysia we dived at. Recently, I as a diver did my inaugural diving at Komodo Island where it was on a tourism work trip and for me, an experience to share with my readers, but the truth be told, many divers have already been there due to the easy connectivity from the budget airlines. If you talk about diving in Maldives, chances are four out of ten divers have already been there. This goes to show that divers now have many choices and do not mind spending that extra money to go abroad for scuba diving. The writer diving at Mantanani Island, SabahRaja Ampat seems to be the flavor over the last few years and is one of the most expensive dive locations in the region, but during MIDE 2015, a few dive operators from Raja Ampat were seen at the dive expo, the one I talked to was a Raja Ampat Budget Dive Operator who was offering basic homestay on land and boat dives.Speaking further with the operator, they had already known that there are in fact many new divers in Malaysia who are seeking budget destinations, but not your normal places and more exotic ones, like Raja Ampat.For diving in Malaysia in 2017, I would have to say that Miri in Sarawak is one of the growing destinations to explore due to the many beautiful reefs that some even say are comparable to Sabah. There are only one or two dive operators there who frequent the many beautiful Miri dive sites which are around an hour from the mainland.Visitors entering the Malaysia International Dive Expo in KLADCON 2017While MIDE happens, the Asia Dive Conference 2017 (ADCON 2017) will also take place where this special dive conference will enable visitors to explore more option of the conference that will be take place during the 3 day event. The venue for the Malaysia dive conference will be held within the main venue hall to enable visitors have easy access to the seminar room.ADCON 2017 will also focus on bringing more insight on technical aspect on diving, servicing and maintenance of dive equipment, camera housing, demonstration on latest products hands-on, demonstrating and teaching on Photoshop techniques, exploring on nitrox certification courses and more.Diving Tourism and Social Media Branding AwarenessThe writer diving at the Red Sea in JordanUnfortunately, there is no speaker to promote digital dive tourism and social media and diving as this is the current trend with society over the years. Digital and Social Media for diving is one of the best platforms to help businesses, dive resorts and operators to brand themselves online.I have spoken to many local universities and events on social media and tourism, even as a diver who has been to a number of places around the world, I have been promoting this hobby over the years using Malaysia Asia and my multiple social media channels. Perhaps one day, it would be an honor to be invited to talk at a diving forum or seminar, but in the mean time, you can follow Malaysia Asia in Instagram for my updates.MIDE 2017Date: 12-14 May, 2017Time: 10.00 AM to 9.00 PMVenue: Hall 1, PWTC, Kuala LumpurWebsite: www.mide.com.myWith a strong consistent track record from 2006 till 2016, a total of approximately 110,000 visitors have been visiting the MIDE dive exhibition and expo here in Kuala Lumpur. The number of scuba divers have also grown over the last five years with more and more people wanting to experience this amazing hobby, locally and also abroad and with MIDE being the pioneering force behind the scuba diving industry in Malaysia who organises these events, the number will continue to grow steadily. MIDE 2016 was equally impressive with huge turnout numbers and vendors and for the would be diver, I will easily say that a visit to MIDE 2017 will definitely open up your diving interest and possibly excite your passion to see the unique underwater life found at many places around the region and also the world.
Thursday 13th of October 2016 04:12:00 AM
- A Successful Borneo Bird Festival 2016
With a turn out of over 7,000 people during the 8th Borneo Bird Festival 2016 in Sandakan from 15-17 September, the annual birding event was a success based on the daily attendance, activities and events held throughout the three days at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, 30 minutes from the city of Sandakan.During the Borneo Bird Festival 2016, a total of 12 local and international teams took part in the annual bird race which saw teams from as far as Hong Kong and also China, where in a time span of 24 hours, a total of 90 bird species was spotted by the teams. Among the many contest that took place here, there was also a bird photo race that saw a large number of participants as the attractive prizes was sponsored by Canon Malaysia. Visitors from as far as Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu made their way there to participate and take part in the many activities which also saw a number of local people coming from as far as the Kinabatangan region of east coast Sabah. One of the highlights for this year include the inaugural Borneo Bird Run 2016 where around 550 participants signed up for the fun run which offered three categories and an attractive finishing medal. Most of the visitors to the Borneo Bird Festival were families that spent the weekend here, exploring the RDC as it is locally called. They were seen enjoying the free guided nature walks, trying out the flying fox over the lake, exploring the steel canopy walk at the Rainforest Discovery Centre and also participating in the many activities. There were food and drink stalls which offered a variety of fast and local food and also souvenir stalls that sold local handicraft. A temporary tattoo corner was a popular spot as many children and teenagers were seen getting all sorts of bird tattoos. On the academic side, a number of invited speakers from around the region was invited to give speciality talks on birds, conservation and even on social media and birding where I was the speaker for that special segment that introduced the added awareness utilizing social media and the internet for birding or bird watching. Overall, with today's generation and being in the digital age, many are still unaware of the potential tools that can be used for bird watching. I truly hope that I can continue to contribute my years of experience by speaking to the bird watchers, bird guides and even bird tour companies in Malaysia.Cede Prudente, president of the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club and organiser of the Borneo Bird Festival gives a speechTalking to the PeopleAs I spent three days at the birding event, I took the initiative to talk to some of the locals and visitors at the Borneo Bird Festival 2016 and from the consumer point of view, they wanted the event to be even bigger, with more international and local participation, in terms of bird watchers, competitions and also more related products and information instead of the same old vendors every year. Some even highlighted that this event was indeed a special event and more industry players from the region should have their presence at the bird festival while others were excited to have more international bird watchers and also bird clubs attend this auspicious event held here in Sandakan. After all, there could be a government to government (G2G) agreement to send some of the bird clubs in the region to attend this event due to it being the largest and most prominent birding event in the entire Malaysia.A Potentially Global Birding Event, only if......There was presence of two bird clubs, which was the Philippine Bird Club and also the Brunei Bird Club who were excited to see how the local homegrown event had taken shape after all these years. Other bird clubs from around the region had also shown interest, but the lack of funding from the local side hampered in assisting these clubs to attend the festival.Perhaps for the next Borneo Bird Festival 2017 or Borneo Bird Race 2017, the tourism ministry, local council, corporations, airlines or even hotels could work together to assist in making this event a global birding event that would attract more birders, bird watchers and also nature lovers to participate or attend the festival. After all, it has been eight years to date. In other words, this would contribute largely to the tourism industry of Sandakan where foreign visitors would not only come for this but also continue to spend their trip by visiting some of the special tourist attractions around Sandakan like Sepilok Organ Utan Rehabilitation Centre, The Borneo Sun Bear Sanctuary, Kinabatangan River or even venture to other places around Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.The Borneo Bird Festival marshals, officials and teamsVisitors at the Borneo Bird Festival 2016Marketing the Borneo Bird Festival to the WorldIn terms of marketing or branding for the event, there could be more emphasis on digital and ground advertising and promotions, which should be done way in advance, at least six to ten months before the event as foreigners need to plan their trips. A different approach should be done for this as birders are a very unique audience and not your usual tourist. Bird Forum at the Borneo Bird FestivalAttending just one or two international bird fairs is not going to do much justice as for the British Bird Watching Fair in Rutland, England is held in August while the Borneo Bird Festival is held in September or October, plus for the Europeans to come all the way here, it would require huge costs therefore an immediate regional tactic should be imposed where the organisers and tourism board re-think the strategy, instead of looking too far. This means, we should start the main focus on the immediate region of Southeast Asia and Greater Asia countries as connectivity and cost are much more reasonable compared to Europe and the Americas. Neighboring countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore and the Philippines have a large following of bird watchers and nature lovers hence a proper strategy could easily attract these markets. Special packages can be created in advance to lock down the commitment of the visitors while as to attract the participants for the bird races, more attractive prizes could also be looked into, instead of the usual pocket cameras, hampers and so on. As there are many new bird watching gadgets in the market, perhaps prizes that birders seek could be in the form of scopes, binoculars, telephoto lenses and even flight tickets, which could be a pulling factor. Sometimes, going that extra mile results in better awareness, provided everyone sees the same vision.During the Borneo Bird Festival Bird Race, teams spotting various birds at the RDCBirding FAM Trips in Sabah MalaysiaChina is one of the growing birding markets and bird watchers or bird photographers from here should also be looked into. This means, reaching the right channel or network is highly important and media trips for birders should be arranged, especially in the early parts of the year. But this being said, usually one media trip would be done and it would not yield much effect and my recommendation would be to have a series of Birding FAM trips to promote the main event to selected countries. Selecting the right media is highly important and having a small media group is much more effective versus trying to save cost and lump 15 media or photographers in one trip. This is clearly the old method of media familiarization trips that work for mainstream, and even that is changing too. I would highly recommend organizing special birding media trips to Danum Valley, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Kinabatangan River, RDC, Kinabalu Park and even in Kota Kinabalu City area, and to do this successfully, a local social media specialist should be hired to ensure that everything in the social side works as planned. A team member notes down the bird she saw during the Borneo Bird RaceA media trip does not mean arranging the locations to visit, transportation and guide as this is the old format of media trips. Nowadays, you need to know the digital and social milestones that can be achieved from a media trip which can easily generate a higher ROI from the trip. I truly hope that this would be seriously considered to market and brand the Borneo Bird Festival 2017 or the Borneo Bird Race 2017. Most organizations will revert to the old formats of media trips, simply because of cost savings, but after all these years, has it really been effective? In certain areas, it may have been, but when you are looking at special, niche or new area, you can involve outside assistance, who knows the industry or the demands from the new digital age or the new generation of tourist who depend purely on the social and digital world. Clients who claim to already know what is social media all about is a clear shot in the foot as there are so many different areas to cover. Sadly, most Malaysians would term social media as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but that is only the tip of the iceberg when you look deeper into it.Kids flocking around the Bornean Bristlehead at the Borneo Bird FestivalWhat is Next for the Borneo Bird FestivalAll of the above mentioned requires funding, and with minimal funding, the event will never grow to an international world class level. If we truly want the Borneo Bird Festival and Borneo Bird Race to be on the world map, then we really need to look into this carefully as it is a very unique event that has potential to make Sandakan the birding capital or hub of Malaysia, and the only way for this to happen is to have an open mindset from the industry players. In terms of the local birding professionals, I strongly believe that the Sabahan birders are already there, after years of commitment from each individual, be it the birding guides, marshals and the organizers. This I say with confidence as I have been attending the Borneo Bird Festival for years and have seen with my own eyes how each individual person involved has taken so much pride for the event. If you look at some of the other birding events in Malaysia, many want to achieve it but it is not easily done due to the serious lack of experience, proper trained guides, lack of passion, proper advertising and marketing and these are the main factors that ends up with a very low level participation or turn out. Malaysia is a naturally rich country filled with huge amounts of resources, but many a times, I truly wonder why we prefer to promote other man-made events. Personally, I hope that in the years to come, the Borneo Bird Festival will be one of the world renown birding events that will put Malaysia on the world map.
Tuesday 11th of October 2016 01:40:00 PM
- Diving at Komodo Island
For scuba divers, one of the ultimate experiences is doing some diving at Komodo Island which is highly rated as one of the must-dive sites in the world. Many have heard about this mystical place which is home to the largest living lizard in the world - The Komodo Dragon, which is found on a number of islands in the Komodo National Park, namely on Komodo Island and Rinca Island. Before you go on, I would like to credit my appreciation to GotMuck.com for the amazing header image of one of the dive sites at Pulau Komodo. When you get to Labuan Bajo, the main entry point to the Komodo Islands, you will either book a live on board (LOB) dive package or a day trip package from the many tour operators here. Usually, divers headed here will pre-book their packages where everything is arranged and all you need to do is just fly in, dive, see the dragons, suntan at the pink beach and you are done. It is quite simple when you do a pre-booking for your Komodo diving package. For those who want to shop around for the best deals, your options are many as there are about ten dive operators in Labuan Bajo where all of them are part owned by foreigners, namely Australians or Europeans who also have interest in Bali and the Gili Islands. The main street in town is the only place where you can walk shop to shop enquiring about prices, packages and even the different types of Live On Boards offered. Most shops have signs indicating tomorrow's dive departure and you can jump on them if you are a single or couple diver.A video posted by Kiersten ? The Blonde Abroad (@theblondeabroad) on Sep 26, 2016 at 4:13am PDT Check out this amazing Komodo Island Diving Video done by Kiersten who dived with me on the trip.For dive groups, those of four and above, you have the opportunity to pre-book or self book the dive package on the spot when you are in town. All the dive shops in Labuan Bajo speak good English and the dive masters or instructors are mainly local or foreigners with experience. Simply walk in and they would be very happy to serve you.One of the recommended dive operators that took me diving in Komodo was Ora Dive (http://oradive.com/) who had a fantastic local Indonesian team. The well knowledgeable dive master had over 20 years experience of diving at Komodo Island while the management team was very professional and friendly.Komodo Island Diving. Photo by Lida Pet SoedeDive Sites at Komodo IslandThere are more than 30 dive sites at Komodo Island which are all equally unique and interesting and also depending on your dive certification level. Most of them are located around the main national park islands and it takes about an hour to get there via speedboat from Labuan Bajo. Not all the dive sites are accessible anytime due to the strong currents and when I say strong, they are very strong as I have seen from the surface. Diving safety is very important here and I strongly suggest that you have some minimal diving experience before coming here to dive. Komodo island Dive Sites Map. Click on the image to see full sizeSome of the dive sites at Komodo IslandWith over 40 dives sites, I would estimate that you may need at least 10 trips to see probably half of them, but then again, some of the dive sites are current pending, this means that it does not mean that you want to visit one of those sites and you will get a chance. The currents at some of the sites are pretty strong and caution is advised for all divers. For me, I did only three dives and they are in bold;SabolonEven snorkelers have a chance to see Mantasat Komodo Island. Photo by Azuriette.blogspot.comSebayor KecilMini WallTatawa Besar East and WestTatawa KecilBatu BolongEnd of the WorldBatu SabunSiaba KecilPengahOne TreeGili LawaManta Point or Karang MakassarBatu Tiga LightHouseCastle RockCrystal BommieCannibal Rock Darat Passage SouthDarat Passage North ?The Cauldron?Pink Beach Red Beach or Pantai MerahLoh NamuIndihiangPilaarsteenThree SistersYellow Wall of Texas PayungNusa KodeCannibal RockInvertebrate WallCrynoid CornerBouldersLoh SeraTalaGerman FlagManta AlleyLangkoi RockWhite AngelsNE Gili Banta (outside of the Komodo national park)GPS Point (outside of the Komodo national park)NW Gili Banta (outside of the Komodo national park)Batu Bolong, one of the interesting dive sites at Komodo National Park. Photo by www.komododivecenter.comKomodo Island Diving InformationBelow are some basic information about the dive sites, waters, visibility, temperature and so on. Depth: 5m - >40mVisibility: 5m - 30mCurrents: Can be very strongSurface conditions: Can be roughWater temperature: 20°C - 28°CExperience level: Intermediate - AdvancedNumber of dive sites: 40+Manta Rays seen on a dive at Komodo Island. Image from www.mermaidliveabroads.comBest Time to Dive in Komodo IslandThe beauty about diving at Komodo Island is that all through the year, you can dive there, especially when the live on boards operate all year. There are many different companies and some of them operate during the peak diving season at Komodo Island which is between April and August. There are also visiting Live on Board dive boats that come in from April till around November. However I would recommend based on your first diving experience in Komodo to be planned for what you want to see and below are some of the months which you can choose. April to November - Dry seasonNovember to March - Rainy seasonBest Month to Dive - AprilBest Visibility in Komodo - November to January with 30mRough Waters - January to March Rough Seas - July and AugustBest Time to See Manta Rays - December to February Best Time to See Mola Mola (Sunfish) - AugustFor those interested to see the different things while diving at Komodo Island, you should take note of the best times above as you would not want to go all the way there in September to see Manta's only to find they are not around. Just like me, I dived at Manta Point in September just to try my luck, but after an hours diving, there was nothing but on the other hand, I saw quite a lot of other interesting things. I will be posting my next article on my Komodo Island Diving Trip Report.My dive team members and dive master Jac Seah from Singapore (middle) and Henry from Australia (right)Types of Komodo Island Dive PackagesThere are mainly two types of Komodo Island diving packages which are day dive trips and of course, the most popular which is the liveaboard or live on board dive boats. Prices also vary for each of the types and they are;One of the general Komodo Island Liveaboard Boats Komodo Island Day Trip Diving - Prices are anywhere from USD $125 per person for three dives on a day trip while many offer two dives and see the Komodo Dragons at the same price.Komodo Island Live On Board - These are the highly sought after for groups as the packages vary from budget to luxury. A standard four day liveabroad trip can cost you anywhere from US$700 per person and a 7D/6N liveabroad trip is around US$1295 which includes everything except flights.Komodo Island Budget Liveabroad - A lot of divers are looking for budget liveabroad boats at Komodo Island and there are quite a few companies that offer these budget friendly dive packages. You should know that these liveabroad boats are not your luxury type but serve the purpose if you do not mind simplicity. Prices start from US$100.00 per person per night for 3-4 nights and you can find them online or even at Labuan Bajo town.Diving Course/Licence - For those interested in taking up a scuba diving open water course, there are many dive instructors in Labuan Bajo which offer open water diving courses from IDR 5,000,000 (US$380) per student and this course takes 2-3 days.*Komodo National Park Fees - Usually the park fees is included in your Komodo Island dive package, but you need to double check with your dive operator on this as I have heard that the really budget dives do not include the fees, hence they are cheap.How to go to Komodo IslandFirst thing is how to get to Komodo Island and there are two ways to get here which is via boat or flight. and trust me, the best way to get here is via flight. If you take a boat, it will take around tow to three days from Bali or Lombok, but for me, I flew in via Bali which takes about an hour and checking Skyscanner, there are a few options for flights to Komodo, depending on where you are flying in from.More importantly, Komodo Island dive packages are usually for the equipment, diving, food and accommodations which usually does not include the flights, therefore if you want to save some money, I would recommend you use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Labuan Bajo. At the end of the day, you just want to get here safely and in a timely manner for your diving at Komodo Island, which I highly recommend.
Monday 10th of October 2016 08:26:00 AM
- Matta Fair 2017
The Matta Fair 2017 will be held in March at the PWTC Kuala Lumpur and this will be the first major travel fair in Malaysia for for the year as it is held twice where the second Matta Travel Fair on will be held in September. Being the most popular travel fair in the country, this three day massive travel fair will attract over 100,000 people from all walks of life. Why people attend the Matta Fair 2017 is simply because of the amazing travel packages and deals that are being offered throughout the fair. There are usually four main areas here which range from domestic, ASEAN, international and a special promotion hall, each dedicated to its own region or genre. The largest Malaysia travel fair starts at 10.00 am and ends at 9.00 pm and an estimate total of over 1000 booths will be on display from various travel agents, tourism bodies, hotels and resorts, travel related services and many more.The general crowd at the Matta Fair on the weekendWhat to look out for at the Matta Fair 20172017 will be an interesting year for travel as there are many new destinations available while most Malaysians would be in the market for popular places like Japan and Korea as there have been direct flights into various cities across these two northern countries.However, Indonesia is also one of the growing destinations and by saying that, it is not your usual Bandung and Bali Tour Packages, but some of the recent promotions by Indonesia Tourism where they are aggressively promoting new and interesting places like Komodo Island, Jogjakarta, Lombok, Makassar and even East Nusa Tenggara.Australia and New Zealand have also been one of the must-visit places due to the favourable currency exchange versus the US dollar, British pound or even the Euro, but with recent issues in Europe, some consumers may have shifted their long holiday plans to elsewhere.New Destination Travel PackagesAs budget airlines have increased their flight routes internationally, there are so many choices of places to visit for your vacations or holidays. Airlines like AirAsia and Malindo Air have been quit aggressive in 2016 where new destinations from AirAsia include Mauritius, Luang Prabang, Tehran, Sapporo and a few other places. Talks of AirAsia flying back to London are also probably in early 2017 so expect cheap London travel packages at Matta Fair 2017. More big news is that AirAsia X plans to start flying to Hawaii in the USA in 2017, but the exact dates are still being worked out therefore, if AirAsia begins flying to Hawaii, you can expect to see a some interesting Hawaii Travel Packages at the Matta Fair 2017.Malindo Air has also introduced some new destinations which are Chiang Mai, Medan, Hanoi and also Taipei so this will allow more choices for packages to these destinations in Asia. Most of the travel agents will be offering choices for your flights when you book these packages during the fair too.Local 'Dekat Je' Malaysia Travel PackagesVisitors checking out the many travel packages at the Matta FairAs always, the local travel packages at Matta Fair always make a huge impact to the general consumers where promotions on travel packages around Malaysia are always hassle free and much cheaper. Consumers trends include buying multiple packages due to being able to visit a few places rather than one long vacation.Popular places include islands, beaches, theme parks and cities for food, culture and shopping. Some of the much talked about destinations in Malaysia include Johor, Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak while Ipoh is slowly getting some attention for the weekend packages. At the Malaysian Hall, you will find everything there, including the tourism boards, theme parks, homestays and even hotels and resorts from various states of Malaysia, each individually promoting their property.Cruise Packages at Matta Fair 2017One of the growing tourism genres is the cruise travel packages which have made an impact since 2013 and more Malaysians are now looking at cruise tourism as one of the vacation getaways. Usually the most common cruise packages at Matta Fair would be Star Cruises but in the last two years, Costa Cruises has also come into the game offering various packages and giving healthy competition to cruise tourism in Malaysia.For those looking for Matta Fair Cruise Packages, you should take note of the different types of packages offered from the four main companies below. The companies include;Star Cruise Packages - Most popular with short cruises around Malaysia and Southeast Asia.Costa Cruise Packages - Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.Royal Caribbean Cruise Packages - Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand. Norwegian Cruise Packages - Europe, Rest of the World. Muslim Travel Packages at the Matta Fair 2017Muslim Travel Packages at Matta Fair 2017Every year, more and more Muslim travelers seem to be doing long haul travels to places like Europe, North Asia, China and even the Americas. Tour companies keep coming out with different packages to cater to this growing trend of Muslim travel. For 2017, Taiwan and North Asia may be the favor of the consumers but then again, the trends could shift depending on the consumers demands. 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in GentingThe much talked about theme park which is scheduled to open in early 2017 has now been rescheduled to open in late 2017. So those hoping to get first experience here will have to wait it out before the official announcement of the opening of the 20th Century Fox World Genting Theme Park. The news states that this will be the first in the world and here in Malaysia, therefore many are patiently waiting for the opening of this new theme park in Genting. However, there are still other theme parks that will be at the Matta Fair offering special promotions and discount tickets or packages. Theme parks include Legoland Malaysia, Sunway Lagoon, KL Bird Park and even the new Movie Animation Studios Park in Ipoh, Perak which opened in December 2016. Check out the theme park booths in the Malaysian Hall during the fair. Various promotion packages available at Matta Fair 2017Matta Fair Promotion Packages 2017As usual, the Matta Fair Promotion Package for 2017 will be determined by the consumer demand but at times, the travel agents will also hold special packages to certain destinations and offer discounts for them. Some of them may be very attractive and with new international destinations offered by budget airlines, one of them will be the Matta Fair Mauritius Travel Packages which will be offered during the fair. For first timers going to the Matta Fair, you should know some of the terms and conditions set by the travel industry as you may be confused when the tour agents start using certain codes for the Matta Fair Promotion Packages. Take a look at them and understand the basics so you will know what they are referring to when they tell you things like two to go and ground only. Matta Fair 2017 Booth BookingFor travel agents who want to inquire about a booth, please contact Matta Malaysia directly for the information and price. The Matta Fair booth price is handled by the organizers and you need to book them months in advance too. You are advised to contact Matta directly to do this and not me. I just provide the information online. Thank you. Matta Fair 2017Date: MarchVenue: Putra World Trade Center (PWTC), KLTime: 10.00 am to 9.00 pmTicket: RM4.00 Per DayChildren: Below 12 Free EntranceFor those seeking affordable or special travel packages, the Matta Fair 2017 is probably the best place to find them and you should probably go there early to avoid the super large crowds and best to visit on the first day of the travel fair here in Malaysia.
Friday 7th of October 2016 01:49:00 PM
- Travel Social Media Influencers
What are Travel Social Media Influencers? Back in the day, it used to be travel bloggers that were being sought after by agencies or clients who wanted to make an impact in the social media world but of lately, this new term of social media influencer was coined up by the online marketing industry which resulted in just about everyone claiming to be one.In Malaysia, this is considered as a new thing and many bloggers out here are now changing their style to meet the new industry standards of this term. But in reality, it is something to really look into and I will share my points of view on travel social media influencers and how some people quickly move towards that genre and re-branding themselves. From lifestyle, food and fashion, a huge majority has taken to calling themselves as social media influencers.With Instagram's incredible network of over 500 million engaged users, it is now one of the most sought after platforms for brand sponsorship opportunities and digital influencer partnerships from many local and international companies around the world and also here in Malaysia. This article sheds light in the world of Travel Social Media Influencers, especially in Malaysia and if you are a client or PR company, you should probably take note of this.Travel Social Media InfluencerTravel social media influencers are people who are active on certain social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These people have a strong following and engagement on their profiles which are sought after by the clients or agencies where their influence is highly sought after due to the number of followers, likes and comments on their posts.Well, I can easily say that I am a prominent Malaysia travel social media influencer since I have been active for the last 10 years promoting tourism and travel online, and before 2006, I was writing online blogs since early 2000. But here's the fun part.The Reality - Well, since almost everyone in this social circle wants to be popular, be invited for events, launches, product reviews or even trips, many have resorted to using bad ethics to become social media influencers. A number of those who claim they are, in reality are actually not. Trust me, I know a number of them who clearly deny any wrong doing.Here's Why - Simple, you can buy followers for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. So, just about anyone with money can completely change their numbers and be a potential influencer. Well, in most cases, this is what's happening to the current influencer generation.Buying Instagram Followers - This has been around for quite some time and back about 3 years ago, the price of buying followers was really high. But nowadays, a simple check on Google by keying in 'Buy Instagram Followers' will show you very competitive offers, packages and deals for this. Cut a long story short, you can get 10,000 followers for USD 45.00 or even less. So if you wanted 100,000 followers, prepare to fork out USD 575.00 or less for that package. Different companies offer different packages too.So, how did this go through without clients even knowing? Well, the sad truth is that even some agencies know about this and just keep hush hush with the client, giving the client their paid ROI for the social media influencer campaign. If you remember a couple of years ago, Instagram did a massive clean up of Fake Followers but the Instagram Farms got smarter and hired real people to operate their accounts.Then, clients became smarter (Well, some of them did....) - By looking at the engagement of each influencer, clients and some agencies started to gauge the likes of each influencer for postings done on Instagram in order to be an influencer. Numbers were a big criteria back then, so if someone had 100,000 followers on Instagram, he or she was categorized as 'very influential'. But each time he or she posted a photo, only about a thousand likes were seen which was un-natural in many ways and looked fishy. For the smart clients, they would know of this, but sadly, many clients are till in the dark. All this because followers were easy and cheap to get, suddenly, people knew about this.Buying Instagram views for your IG videos is also popular nowadaysBut the Influencers became a little smarter - Yes they did, simple because the competition was getting tough, some companies started to sell 'likes' and influencers could support certain photos posted by buying 500 to 5000 likes for each photo. However, those were only likes and trust me, the client or agency is not going to filter through each and every person that liked your photo so Influencers were riding high on paid likes.And soon, engagement came along - With fake followers and fake likes, eventually, many could not be fooled therefore, people were looking at engagement ratios. Meaning, if someone had 100k followers and posted a photo, the clients or agencies wanted to see the likes and comments and this changed the game a little. However, the common misconception is that the engagement ratio is now set at 2% to 3% when it should be at least 5% to 10% for true engagement. Different regions have a different ratio standard too.One of the dashboard planes of the Instagram Auto Likes websiteBuying future likes for Instagram - This is currently the trend for many social media influencers where they are paying for automatic likes on their future postings. Also called 'Buying Automatic Likes', there are many companies selling this service. How creative is this? Meaning, you pay a company lets say, US$ 9 a week and you can have 250-300 likes for any photos you post that week.This works well when you are on a campaign or traveling where instantly, all your future photos posted on Instagram will receive additional 250 or more likes. Personally, I know a number of Malaysian Instagrammers who are actually doing this for their trips or even campaigns. The problem is when you start doing this, it cannot stop as people are monitoring your posts. So it is an ongoing process. The worst part is when your purchases overlap and suddenly your photos get extra 250 or 300 likes for the next few photos or days, even though your photos are not popular or it is a sponsored posting.You can also customize your IG Auto Likes package from the companiesBuy Targeted Likes - This is very popular among the more frequent Instagram users where you can specify how many likes per photo posted and so on. The site that sells this package also gives you an idea of how it works.The new autolikes package feature is for people who would like to receive likes on future posts. You can specify account name followed by the amount of likes the account is to receive and then the amount of likes per post. The system automatically posts the amount of likes specified by you to each new post on the account till the amount of likes ordered is finished. You also have the option to stop or freeze the service at any time. The system will only check for new posts on the account that are uploaded after the order is made not old posts. Once the amount of likes specified is complete the system will mark the order as done. For example: user1 orders 10,000 likes for all future posts with a set amount of 500 per post then after the 20th post the system will mark the order complete as it would have delivered 500 likes to the accounts last 20 posts from time of order placement.Buying Instagram Video Views - Another new service offered where you can buy Instagram video views to show everyone that your videos are super popular. This is part and parcel of the influencers objective when he or she goes on a trip or reviews a product for clients. For a cool US$10, you can get 1000 views or more for your Instagram videos posted.Outcome - Clients want to see numbers, likes, engagement and do they really care? According to one source, a local agency knows what is going on, but with technology moving so fast, most of the clients do not have a clue therefore the agency was heard mentioning "Just give the clients what they wan, they are very happy with the numbers and the cute girls look good". Well, if this keeps going on, then the entire influencer society is a total waste of time and agencies can really make a lot of money with campaigns while there is no true engagement being achieved at all.The cheap prices of buying Instagram likes nowadaysChecking for Fake Instagram FollowersThere are a number of companies that offer free fake follower check for social media accounts where you can just key in the account name and let the system do its work. While this is still very new, the system may or may not work due to many people trying to use the system. However, if it is any consolation, you can go ahead and test it and see.Follower Check for Instagram - http://www.followercheck.co/Twitter Fake Follower Check - https://fakers.statuspeople.com/Twitter Audit - https://www.twitteraudit.com/I ran a check on one of the local social media influencers in MalaysiaThere are some paid tools that agencies or larger companies use but in general, you should be alert of how to spot a user with a large number of fake followers or engagement. Until an official tool is released, we still need to identify those who manipulate the system for their own gains.How to Determine if an Instagram Account Bought Followers or LikesI came across an article that shed some light on this for those who are into this whole social media influencer thing. Simply said, if you really want to investigate a social media influencer, you can use the simple steps provided below as this is probably one of the best methods to determine is an influencer had bought followers or likes, however this could be time consuming when you want to check multiple accounts, but a spot check can easily tell you from the followers or comments of each individual.These are all questions to ask yourself and look out for when spot checking:Do the usernames have a bunch of numbers in them.When you click on the username, does the account look spammy?Does it have under 10 photos and little to no engagement on the photos.Do the accounts look to be in a language that isn?t the same language as the account you?re verifying?Do the accounts look to be a bunch of child owned accounts?Are most of the accounts private accounts?Do the accounts seem to match the niche of the account they are liking? Someone with a gardening account likely isn?t going to be liking photos on a car account.These insights should help you determine if the account is buying likes or followers.A Twitter Audit on one of the 'so called' travel bloggers in MalaysiaSocial Media AuditFor now, there are a few companies doing audits or offering audit services for free or for a fee which checks individual social media accounts and this is one way of weeding out or highlighting all the fake Instagram followers for accounts. Twitter has had this for a while now where you can simply key in a twitter user name and see the amount of fake twitter accounts out there.Twitter Audit (https://www.twitteraudit.com/) is one of the best in the market to spot the fake or bought followers. It is open and you can tell by just seeing the audit score.How to check for Fake Instagram Followers or Likes? Again, I know companies are working on this program to catch the fake Instagram accounts, likes or even future likes, but to date, there is none except for Social Audit, a company that has a system to trace the fake followers of Instagram and other social platforms. On the other hand, I am sure Instagram knows of what is going on and will hopefully weed out the fake followers.For those out there who are unsure, here are a few ways to tell if someone has fake followers.If Instagram followers have no profile pictures or have no content, they are fake.Instagram accounts with over 30,000k followers but each of their posts are getting maybe 100-200 likes only. An unusual increase in followers is most likely the result of a buying followers. Unless you are featured by Instagram for your unique work.The truth is always floating on the surface and waiting to be discovered, so do not be easily fooled by Instagram accounts with over 50,000 followers. Risks of Buying Fake Instagram FollowersIn life, everything is a risk and with social media, there are many too and the risks of buying fake followers or engagements are even higher than you think. Imagine getting your account banned for life after all that effort you put in, or like when Instagram did a massive clean up in December 2014, suddenly everyone can see what a fake you are. I read this interesting article about the risks of buying fake Instagram followers and it was very true.Conclusion Good news is that a new research project developed at Carnegie Mellon University has set out to solve the fake user and engagement problem with an algorithm called FRAUDAR and it is based around graph mining, referring to a method for seeking out patterns in data. Professor Faloutsos and his team have also published the Fraudar algorithm online for free as open-source code so that companies can use it freely to stop the rise of fake engagement and followers. Information from Digital Trends.I honestly hope that clients would read up more about how influencers operate rather than simply engaging just about anyone for the sake of doing it. There are genuine Travel Social Media Influencers in Malaysia and one needs to know how to identify them among the many who claim they are. With technology advancements nowadays, people will do just about anything to get something and thus, only when we are ignorant, things will get out of hand.
Wednesday 5th of October 2016 03:08:00 AM
- What to do in Gili Trawangan Island
Probably the most popular island to visit in Indonesia, here is a list of what to do in Gili Trawangan Island, which is located just after Bali and Lombok Island towards the east. Popularly known as the Gili Islands, this unique cluster of three islands have gone through it all, from the days of some serious backpacker partying in the nineties to a tourist friendly island since going through a massive makeover in 2005. The three islands located next to each other are Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno where the Tranwangan is the largest of the three. Gili Air is pronounces as Ai-Yea and not air as most foreigners would call it. The beauty about the Gili Islands is that there is no motorized vehicles allowed on any of the islands therefore, it is such a charm to see horse carriages and bicycles being used as the main mode of transport. There is no airport available here therefore the only way to get here is via boat of ferry from Lombok or Bali which is a one or two hour ferry ride. As for accommodations, you can find luxury resorts, boutique hotels, budget hostels, backpacker guest house and even homestays, catering to all kinds of travelers. As for food, you must know that there is no pork available through the Gili Islands making it halal or pork free, however you can find almost all kinds of wines, spirits and beers catering to the international travelers that seek the perfect island getaway. As for what to do in Gili Trawangan, here is a list of what I experienced during my trip here in July 2016. What to do in Gili Trawangan IslandChoices of bicycles available at the Gili Islands1. Rent a bicycle and cycle around the islandThis is probably the best option to move around as it takes no more than 40 minutes to make one round the entire Gili Trawangan Island. Bicycles are available for rental from most hotels and resorts or from the shops along the main beach road. Prices are anywhere from Rp. 60,000 for the whole day or Rp.25,000 to Rp. 30,000 for a couple of hours. Some of the bicycles for rent include the classic city bicycle with a basket in the front or the 4x4 off road monster tire mountain bikes. 2. Island Hopping from Gili Trawangan to Air to MenoVisiting the neighboring islands is a must-do activity as you can see the smaller islands and the laid back life there. As Trawangan is the most inhibited island, you will find things easier on the other two islands but nevertheless, a well worth trip to explore if you love islands. What I noticed was that many travelers hop from one island to another to eat, drink and explore.Datu Swings at Ombak Sunset Hotel3. The Swing in the Sea at Gili TrawanganThe most popular tourist stop is the world famous 'Swing in the Sea' which is originally at Ombak Sunset Hotel on Gili Trawangan Island.There are a total of four swings at the original spot but due to popularity, another resort followed suit and built their own set of swings in the sea, so if you want the original, it is at Ombak sunset while the other one is at Pandawa Beach. At the Datu Swings, you need to line up in an orderly fashion to wait your turn to get that legendary photo of the Gili Trawangan Swing in the Sea. This is probably the most shared photo in social media, especially with the younger travelers. 4. Diving at the Gili IslandsHands down this is truly a scuba divers paradise with over 20 dive resorts and operators on all the islands. The scuba diving price on Gili Trawangan ranges from around USD$28 per dive and a slight discount when you take a package.There are dive centers with foreign speaking dive guides while all of them speak English. As for dive sites around the Gili Islands, there are 20 dive sites for you to choose from and unfortunately for me, there was not enough time to do a check dive in Gili, but I am sure I will be back to try some diving at the Gili Islands.A turtle spotted while snorkeling at Gili Air5. Snorkeling at Gili IslandsAnyone who comes here is bound to try snorkeling at the Gili Islands and you can do it from the beach or take the many snorkeling trips being offered by the operators on the island.Usually there is a island hopping package where it takes you from one island to another island, and they will make a stop at one of the beautiful reefs for guests to snorkel.Through my personal snorkeling experience, I noticed a very rich marine life which is beautiful and occasionally, the curious turtle may just pass you by. You should also make sure that you do not wander too far as sometimes currents can be strong and you may need to swim against the current back to your boat. 6. Hike up the Gili Trawangan View PointIf you are into hiking and trekking, look no further as there is a view point at the highest point of Gili Trawangan where you can see the sister islands and the beautiful overall view of the Gili Islands. The view point is about 30 minutes trek up from most parts of the island and if you are a photographer, this would be the perfect place to catch sunrise and sunset.Wide selection of local food at the Gili Trawangan Night Market7. Eat at the Gili Night MarketA very popular spot is the Gili Night Market which is hard to miss as it is located on the only main road around the island. Here, you will see loads of tourist and travelers ordering all kinds of local foods like mixed rice dishes, cooked or grilled seafood and a variety of local deserts. Go early to get a good spot and the night market is open from around 5pm till 11pm, nightly too. If you want to try Indonesian food, island style, this is the place. Nearby there are convenient stores and coffee shops.8. Watch a Movie by the BeachA popular attraction is the movie by the beach at Gili Trawangan where guests pay around Rp.50,000 or 60,000 to watch a movie inclusive of a juice. Comfy bean bags are provided on the beach and limited to a number, so you need to come early to get your spot.From the beach road, you will not be able to see anything, so no freebies here. A time table of movies ant show times are displayed on a board while they show international movies here on a big screen. Great for those wanting to just chill and relax.Movie on the beach at Gili Trawangan9. Try a Cooking Class on Gili Trawangan Yes, there is a cooking school on Gili Trawangan called Sweet and Spicy Cooking School where you can learn how to cook. Open to around six or eight students at a time, this fun cooking class is conducted by a local chef and is quite entertaining as those passing by will have the opportunity to witness your cooking skills. For those interested in learning how to cook, this would be the perfect experience for you to attend a traditional cooking class on Gili Trawangan. 10. Get a Sun Tan on the BeachAs the island is literally surrounded by beaches, you can simply pick your own spot to sun tan, if you want privacy or not, the choice is up to you. Some places are private, so you need to take note while most of the beaches are public. Deck chairs are also on rental or belonging to a resort, so please check first. Don't forget that SPF30 if you are planning to get a sun tan and the best time to do it is before 11.00 am.Sun tanning at the many beaches on the Gili Islands11. Enjoy a cocktail at the beach bars on Gili TrawanganBars at Gili TrawanganAs you arrive on the islands, you will notice loads of beach bars, restaurants and cafes which are situated directly on the beach areas. Some of them private owned and most of them are hotel operated.It is here that you can enjoy a cocktail by the bar or even on the beachside and absorb the natural island beauty. For Muslim travelers, they serve Mocktails, juices and other non-alcoholic drinks too. Take note of the happy hour times they offer as sometimes, you can find a good deal at some of the bars at Gili Trawangan.12. Go for a Spa at Gili TrawanganNothing beats having a traditional spa on an island and here at the Gili Islands, there are spas located almost everywhere. Prices vary from one another while you should book early for your spa session as it tends to get crowded during peak hours, especially at the hotel and resort spas here. There are a few more things that one can do at Gili Trawangan but the above are some of the main things you should not miss. If you love water sports, there are a number of operators who offer various types of water sports. As for money, there are ATM machines located all over the island so getting cash is not a problem while convenient and pharmacies are also available along the main beach road, in case you come down with the flu.Beach road along Gili IslandsThe Best Time to Visit Gili TrawanganYou must take note that the best time to visit Gili Trawangan Island is in July, August, September as this is the super peak period and also December for the year end season, therefore it is advised to book way ahead for your hotel room or you will be turned away as it gets really packed and if you plan to just try a walk-in, most hotels there will hang signs outside stating 'No Rooms' or 'Hotel Full'. The low season at Gili Islands is from February, March and April. The other months are the rainy months where you can expect showers in and out and for divers, November to April is the worst possible time to go diving at Gili Trawangan. Again, with the recent influx of tourism here, sometimes during the low months, rooms can be fully booked too, so best to always book your Gili Trawangan Hotel ahead of your trip.Gili Islands Map, click to enlarge. Map from Lombok MediaPerhaps you are interested in exploring somewhere new other than Bali and the Gili Islands are the next best thing in trend. Right now (as of July 2016) there are a lot of European tourist who are flocking here to avoid the over commercialized Bali while some Asians are also coming here due to the wow factor of the islands and in time, this place will be the talk of town where loads of tourist will be packing this place up, therefore I recommend you visit the Gili Islands before it gets super commercial and busy. If you have questions or suggestions on what to do in Gili Trawangan Island, please do leave them in the comment form below. For those who want to find out about the many places I visit around Indonesia, you can also follow Malaysia Asia on Instagram as I frequently travel around Southeast Asia exploring islands and other places of interest. This trip was organised by Indonesia Tourism on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia to promote the #TripofWonders campaign for 2016.
Thursday 22nd of September 2016 03:30:00 AM
- Where to go in Jogjakarta
For the first timer visiting Jogja, it is always a question on what to do and where to go in Jogjakarta, and this article sheds some basic information about the many places of interest found around Jogja, as the locals calls this place. For most travelers, the first thing that comes to mind is of course, one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world called Borobudur, which still stands magnificently since the 9th century. Next would be the amazing Prambanan Temple, which also hails from the 9th century and is of Hindu origins, and both the temple complexes are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and for the city lover, there is the famous Malioboro Street for your shopping in Jogjakarta. I will not be highlighting the two main temples of Borobudur and Prambanan as there is much information on these places, but there are some other interesting places to go in Jogja which I will highlight below. An Andong or Horse Carriage along Malioboro Street in JogjakartaMalioboro Street ShoppingThis place is probably Indonesia's answer to Bangkok's street shopping scene where you can find traders of all sorts in every possible corner of the main Malioboro Street. However, the items sold here are mostly apparels, jewelry and tons of souvenirs and great for those wanting to get some. The thrill is to walk the entire length of the street and then take an Andong (Horse Drawn Carriage) and Becak (Trishaw with rider at the back) which are the main traditional transportation around here. On weekends, the place gets jam-packed with thousands of locals and tourist who are seen all over the shopping streets here. There are hotels, traditional massages and tour agents located in the side streets while there are a few shopping malls where you can get fast food and many other items along Jalan Malioboro Street Shopping. Malioboro StreetAddress: Jl. Malioboro, Yogyakarta, IndonesiaOpening Hours for Shops/Malls: 010:00 ? 22:00Opening Hours for Street Vendors: 08:00 ? 00:00 An intricate European styled gazebo at the Kraton Palace groundsKraton of YogyakartaFor those who are into history and culture, you should not miss the Kraton Palace as it holds a rich cultural history of the Sultan of Yogyakarta. This massive palace complex is located in the city of Jogjakarta, and it is also the main seat Sultan of Yogyakarta and his family.The Palace also serves as a cultural center for the Javanese people and contains a museum that displays the sultanate's artifacts. The architecture of the palace is quite interesting, where you can find elements of European and Dutch influence infused into the designs around the Palace grounds which was built in 1756. Keraton PalaceAddress: Jl. Taman, Kraton, Yogyakarta 55133Opening hours: 08:00 ? 14:00Entrance Fee: 3000 IDR (US$ 0.25)The pools were on maintenance when I visited the Taman Sari Water CastleTaman Sari Water CastleThe Sultan's luxury playground and royal gardens, a magnificent aristocrat area with beautiful water pools and lush landscaping and you though that you would have to see this is Europe? In Jogjakarta, you can see it just two kilometers from Kratron, where the Taman Sari Water Castle is located at. The exquisite gardens are also said to be built by a Portuguese architect in between 1758 and 1765. There are four main areas here so expect to spend at least an hour or two here. Inside, you will see the main central bathing complex with two main swimming pools which were once used by the Sultan and his family as a royal bathing area. Nowadays, this place serves as an important element of the Yogyakarta Sultanate history.Keep a lookout for two concrete gates that lead to the bathing complex. One is located in the western side called Gedhong Gapura Hageng and one at the eastern side called Gedhong Gapura Panggung and here, you will see the gates decorated with beautiful ornaments of stylized birds and flora. A great place to get your photo taken. Taman Sari Water CastleAddress: Jl Komp. Taman Sari. Yogyakarta 55133Opening hours: 08900 ? 15:00Entrance Fee: 7000 IDR (US$ 0.50)Underground Mosque in JogjakartaUnderground Mosque in Jogja (Sumur Gumuling)Probably the only unique mosque in the world where it is located underground and inside a local village near the Kampoeng Cyber area. In short, you can walk here from the Taming Sari Water Castle but moving around here is quite a maze, so best to get a map or ask someone if you are going alone.Look out for the entrance to the Underground MosqueThe beauty about the Underground Mosque or Sumur Gumuling is that it was built around the 18th century by the Sultan of Yogyakarta where it is said to be his private prayer place.Getting here is an adventure as you enter through what looks like a tomb entrance and then you walk down along a tunnel which resembles a very European catacomb and then you arrive in a circular room which is the main prayer area and the technology from the 18th century is pretty amazing as the acoustics of this place is well planned. This is also a great place to visit and also for photography as it is truly one of a kind here. Again, the directions to get here are not easy, but you can always ask the locals there and remember to dress decently for the Underground Mosque in Jogja. Underground Mosque in JogjakartaAddress: Jl. Komp. Taman Sari, Yogyakarta 55133Opening hours: 08:00 ? 14:00 (to 12.00 on Fridays)Entrance Fee: FreeMap of Kampoeng Cyber in JogjakartaKampoeng CyberKnown as Kampoeng Cyber RT 36, this traditional Indonesian village is one of the show models for a modern and developed village has a strong community working together. The Cyber Village with around 45 families is Indonesia?s first Internet-saturated communities and also located in the main Taman Sari area which is one of the popular tourist destinations in Jogjakarta and you will need to go through this village to get to some of the attractions here.Artist at work in Kampoeng CyberThe name Kampoeng Cyber was coined after almost all of it's residents got connected to the Internet, mainly to sell their local handmade Batik and many other items using online and social media methods.As you walk around the village, you will also see a lot of wall murals and street art on the homes of these locals. Some of them are very nicely done. While exploring this area, you will also have the opportunity to see into the homes of some of these locals where they are painting art or hand making Batik. Asking some of them, they are very friendly and allow you to go in to their homes to take photos of them and their work.Something unique that caught my eye was a notice stating that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg had visited Kampoeng Cyber on October 2012. Very impressive.When I walked through Kampoeng Cyber, I was very impressed with the initiatives taken to beautify and have an identity for themselves. It was also the way to the Underground Mosque here and a visit here is highly recommended.Kampoeng CyberAddress: Jl. Taman, Kraton, Yogyakarta 55133Opening hours: All DayEntrance Fee: FREERatu Boko Temple in JogjakartaRatu Boko TempleOne of the lesser known temple complexes due to not having any prominent mega structures is Ratu Boko Temple Complex, which is near to Prambanan Temple. This is now considered one of the very important archaeological sites where there is on-going work being done as visitors explore this place. If you love history and culture, this is also one of the must-visit places in Jogjakarta where Ratu Boko in Javanese means "Stork King" and the entire temple complex lies 196 meters above sea level on a hill where you can see Prambanan Temple in the distance. If you trek all the way to the top part, yo can get an areal view of the entire area. A number of people come here for the sunset photos as it is not as crowded as the other temples.There are English speaking private drivers (supir) that you can rent with a car for around Rp600,000 for 12 hours where they will take you to these places. The entrance fees are not included and this is one of the easiest options to move around from temple to temple here. Ratu Boko Temple ComplexAddress: Jl. Taman, Kraton, Yogyakarta 55133Opening hours: 09:00 ? 21:00Entrance Fee: 110,000 IDR (US$ 8.50)The Ramayana Ballet Show in Prambanan, JogjakartaRamayana BalletOne of the must-see theater shows in the world is the Ramayana Ballet which is held in the Prambanan Temple Complex in Yogyakarta. This stunning show is hands down a world class performance that brings visitors through the world of a Hindu Poem but in the Javanese version.The Ramayana Ballet showcases over 200 dancers that take you through a magical performance in the open aired stage area with the natural background of Prambanan Temple. There are also indoor shows on selected dates as well and the two hour show starts at 7.30 PM on selected days therefore you are advised to book ahead or ask your tour company about the preferable dates.This means, you should be visiting Prambanan Temple Complex around 3 to 4 in the afternoon and just after sunset, take a walk over to the show theater area which is about 10 minutes walk from the main temple and your tour bus or guide will pick you up from the theater area. Ramayana BalletAddress: Jl Jogja-Solo Km 16 YogyakartaPhone : +62 274 496 408 / +62 274 497 771Show Time: 19:30 ? 21:30Ticket Prices: 125,000 to 325,000 IDR (US$ 9.50 to $25.00)More: Ramayana BalletJogjakarta Street ParadeAt the Jogja Street Parade 2015If you are visiting Jogjakarta in October, don't forget to ask about the Jogjakarta Street Parade which takes place on a weekend. In 2015, the Jogja Street Parade was held on 19 October therefore it will be better to ask about this years parade.During this procession, the main roads are closed for a cultural parade that showcases the many different cultures and people of Indonesia in one massive street parade here.An event not to be missed, it takes place from around 6.00 pm till about 11.00 pm and provides a perfect photography moment for those into photography. If you are staying at the Phoenix Hotel in Jogjakarta, it takes place just outside the main road of the hotel which is really convenient.Jogjakarta Street ParadeAddress: Jl. Jend Sudirman, YogyakartaShow Times: Month of October, 18:00 ? 23:00Entrance Fee: FreeBatik Museum in JogjakartaJogjakarta Batik Museum and WorkshopNot to be confused, but there are a number of Batik Museums in Jogjakarta and most of them are shops that have some type of workshop showing tourist how Indonesian Batik is made.But having this trip organised by the Ministry of Tourism, we were taken to the right place where visitors can engage in a Batik drawing and coloring experience. The museum is also locate about 1.5 kilometers from Jalan Malioboro.The Batik Museum in Jogjakarta is also one of the oldest around as it was established in 1979 by the Hadi Nugroho family. It is also said to be the most complete Batik museum in Jogja therefore if you love all things Batik, this is the place to visit and have a go at Batik painting.Batik Museum in JogjakartaAddress: Jl. Dr. Sutomo No. 13 A, YogyakartaOpen: Mon-Sat, 09:00 ? 15:00Tel: +62 274 562 338Entrance Fee: FreeWebsite in Indonesian: Museum Batik YogyakartaBorobudur Temple at around 5.00 am for the sunrise tourThe places above was personally visited by me on one of my trips around Indonesia, under the Ministry of Tourism on the campaign Wonderful Indonesia and #INATopBucketList team. We explored different regions around Indonesia where we visited Bandung, Jogjakarta, Bali and Komodo Island. For more information on Jogjakarta or other beautiful places, you can also check the official Indonesia Tourism Website. There are many other places of interest around Jogjakarta but I am yet to visit them, and perhaps the next time around I would have the opportunity to visit some of these other places. As a travel writer and Travel Social Media Influencer, I do my best to share my experiences in more informative method versus trying to rank for keywords, therefore if you have any comments, please do share them with be in the comment form below. With this, I trust the next time someone asks you where to go in Jogjakarta, you share this with them.
Friday 16th of September 2016 03:30:00 AM
- Jalan Malioboro Street Shopping in Jogjakarta
In Jogjakarta, Jalan Malioboro's street shopping is probably Indonesia's answer to Bangkok's street shopping scene where you can find traders of all sorts in every possible corner of the main street in the city center. Every tourist visiting Jogja would or should at least make a visit here due to the high popularity of the area. Personally for me, this was my second time here in one year too. The location of Jalan Malioboro Street is smack center of Jogjakarta where the length of the street is around 1.3 kilometers long, so walking along this street is pretty easy. Along this street, you will come across many shops, restaurants, some malls and loads of roadside vendors or traders. In the side alleys of Malioboro Street, you will find many hotels, restaurants, more shops, tour agencies and massage places.Walking along the main street is an experience by itself as there are a number of items that will catch your eyes, usually it is the price factor as the items sold here are relatively cheap. Most of the regular items seen sold here are apparels, jewelry and tons of souvenirs and great for those wanting to get some. Again, use your bargaining power for the street vendors as there is always room for a discount.An Andong or Horse pulled carriage, commonly seen on the main roads hereBecak riders waiting for passengers in MalioboroA local version of a food truck, a drink truck selling local coffeeThe thrill of Jalan Malioboro is to walk the entire length of the street and then take an Andong (Horse Drawn Carriage) and Becak (Trishaw with rider at the back) which are the main traditional transportation around here. On weekends, the place gets jam-packed with thousands of locals and tourist who are seen all over the shopping streets here.For food at Jalan Malioboro street, you have quite a number of options where if you have an iron stomach, I would easily recommend trying some of the very local Jogja dishes from the restaurants at the side lanes. You can also get other Indonesian foods like Nasi Padang, Rawon, Pempek and so the famous Lesehan. For those wanting some proper restaurant food, try the Indische Koffie Cafe at the end of Jalan Malioboro where the Fort Vredeburg Museum is located.For coffee lovers, fear not as you can easily find cafes serving all kinds of local and international coffee and if you are a fast food lover, you are saved as there is KFC, McDonald's and some others along the main street, some even in the shopping malls here. There are various ATM machines along the way and some money changers are available on the main road.Below are random photos taken along Jalan Malioboro Street. Click on them to see a larger photo.Locals shopping at Jl. MalioboroStreet vendors along Jalan Malioboro at nightTypical daily scene at Jalan MalioboroHorse art sculptures along the main road hereThe side roads of Jalan MalioboroSome of the accessories being sold by the street vendorsMal Malioboro, where you can get fast food and other itemsInside the Mal Malioboro, very new and modernA 'Becak' rider takes a moment to relax by the main roadWhat some of the shops look like along Jalan MalioboroRamai Mall, a popular place for gadgets,smartphones and IT stuffRianty and Janoko Batik shops along the main streetA toy vendor pushing his cart along the main streetsInternational Village in JogjakartaStreet food in MalioboroLesehan, a very popular style of local diningTerang Bulan Malioboro, a famous food dish hereMalioboro Inn, located at one of the side roadsFor those visiting Jogjakarta in October, you should know that they have the Jogjakarta Street Parade which also celebrates the independence of Jogjakarta. This street parade is filled with characters and lots of color, so if you love local cultures, don't forget to catch the parade in October. Please check with the local on the exact day it takes place.A tourist information center is located in the half way point of the street, for those seeking more information or there are many travel agents who will act on their behalf to sell you other places to visit in Indonesia. At the end of the day, those visiting Jogjakarta will most likely stay in the city area and when you have some free time, Jalan Malioboro Street Shopping will be one of the thins you will be doing.
Monday 12th of September 2016 12:30:00 PM
- Makassar, Indonesia's Undiscovered Gem
When you say Indonesia, the first thing that comes to mind is Bali, followed by Bandung or Jogjakarta and so on, but over the years, people have been flocking to these cities over and over again not noticing some of the other fascinating places in Indonesia that are yet to be explored. One of them is Makassar, Indonesia's undiscovered gem in the South of Sulawesi island. For me, it was an eye opener and you may be curious on to why I said this - Well, let me just share with you that this is my first time visiting Makassar in this part of Indonesia and the best part was that I did not do any research whatsoever prior to coming here. My style nowadays is that I would rather accept everything as a surprise, versus knowing what lies ahead. I was actually very impressed overall with Makassar, the largest city on the island of Sulawesi, simply because it offered a wide variety of tourism genres for all walks of life and I will share with you some of the experiences I had when I visited this stunning city in July 2016.The beautiful clear waters of Kodingareng Keke IslandFor historical buffs, Makassar is the fifth largest city in Indonesia and located on the southwest coast and facing the Makassar Straits. Historically, Makassar has been a dominating free trade city since the sixteenth century and till today, the trading families still exist where some of the affluent people in Indonesia hail from Makassar. The Portuguese and Dutch both had both ruled in Makassar from the sixteen to seventeenth century and today, you can still see historical remains like Fort Rotterdam in the port city, which is one of the most thriving ports in the region. With an estimate population of two million people, Makassar is what my vision of an original Indonesian city looks like - motorbikes and cars at every possible road, traders and hawkers selling food by the five foot ways and road corners, Pete-Pete (Angkuts/Van Taxi's) monopolizing the streets and lots of friendly local faces. And mind you, all of this not fully disturbed by rapid modernization which gives the city time to slowly adept and grow. My group and me were put up at the beautiful Aston Hotel Makassar, a three star modern property located in the main city area and walking distances to most places of interest around Makassar. There are a number of 3-4 star hotels in Makassar while there are also a number of budget hotels and guest houses as well.Sunset in Makassar by Losari BeachSo, what is there to do in Makassar? The golden question that many will ask, and for me just being there only once for a few days does not give me the authority to pass judgement and make a 'Top Places to Visit in Makassar' as others would easily jump on the bandwagon to capitalize on the title, but I can just share with you the places that I visited in Makassar during my recent trip. The list below is in no order too. Losari beach road in MakassarLosaris Beach (Pantai Losaris)Hands down the most popular place in Makasar where everyone, and I mean everyone goes there in the evenings to just relax, catch the sunset or hang out by the many roadside stalls selling desserts and drinks. Losaris Beach is probably the most famous landmark due to the huge red words spelling out Pantai Losari which means Losari Beach.If you walk here from the main part of town, you will most likely see the main waterfront square before Losari where you can find the famous huge red words spelling City Of Makassar. This will be the main waterfront area where hundreds of locals hang out in the evenings to catch the beautiful sunsets.Bantimurung WaterfallsBantimurung National ParkThe closest national park to Makassar and only about an hours drive away. Here, you can find a beautiful waterfall which is open to the public and not far from the main entrance of the national park and as you explore further, the main trek filled with flora will lead you to a cave and another small pool or lake.The total trek from the start to the lake will probably take you only thirty minutes. There are street vendors selling souvenirs and local restaurants. Entrance tickets for tourist is also Rp.255,000. More info and a need to translate is here - http://www.tn-babul.org/View from Kodingareng Keke Island, MakassarVisiting Kodingareng Keke and Samalona Islands Bangkoa Jetty in MakassarFor those who seek the sand, sun and sea, there are two islands located about 30 minutes from the city of Makassar. They are called Kodingareng Keke Island and Samalona Island which are paradise perfect offering crystal clear waters for snorkeling or even diving.To get here, you need to go to the Bangkoa Harbor Jetty, which is also in the main town area where you have to walk through the main arch as in the photo, towards the jetty area.There are also probably hundreds of people there, mostly locals so if you need assistance, you best look for someone who speaks a little English. A four hour boat charter will cost around Rp500,000 to Rp600,000 for about 6-8 persons and you will need to negotiate your price with the local boat men here.Boat to Kodingareng Keke IslandSamalona is the closer island to the city and offers basic accommodation, similar to homestays and most visitors come here to have their food. Kodingareng Keke island is another 15 minutes away and this is the beautiful island that has no buildings apart from a fairly huge three level concrete lookout tower, which is awesome to take photos from.The waters around Kodingareng Keke are simply amazing while there are healthy coral patches around the island making it ideal for snorkeling and diving.As for the size of this island, you can walk from one end to the other in under five minutes. Snorkeling equipment is available for rental from Samalona Island for about Rp50,000 per set, so you need to ask the boatman about this before you head to Kodingareng Keke Island.The Fort Rotterdam words in red outside the tourist attractionFort RotterdamInside Fort RotterdamOne of Makassar's most popular tourist attractions is not other than the 382 year old Fort Rotterdam, which is also located in the main city area. This fort, once used by the ruling Dutch, holds quite a lot of information about the long history of Makassar and Sulawesi.Inside there is also a museum called La Galigo which has exhibitions about history and culture of Sulawesi dating back to the 17th century.Outside the main entrance, you can see huge red words spelling out Fort Rotterdam which is a popular place to get a photograph. Inside, you can spend around one to two hours exploring this place and learning about the interesting history since the Portuguese first came in 1511 before having the Dutch take over in 1667.Trans Studio Theme Park in Makassar (Image from Indonesia Tourism)Trans Studio Theme ParkAsia's largest indoor theme park and the third largest in the world at a whopping size of 20,000 square metres, however due to our travel schedule, we did not manage to visit this place. But I will list it down here as those traveling with kids should make a stop here as this indoor theme park is really huge.Trans Studio in Makassar is also an integrated park with a shopping mall and a resort therefore it would be a perfect one-stop for any family visiting here. There are a total of 21 rides and four main areas to explore here. For more information on Trans Studio Theme Park in Makassar, please visit - http://www.transstudioworld.com/Coto Makassar, a must-try local dish hereTrying the local Makassar FoodHands down, anyone visiting Makassar must try the local food here and without fail, the Coto Makassar (Pronounced as Choto) is the most famous dish which can be found around the city. Some of them from roadside vendors while others in proper restaurants. I had walked about 500 meters from the Aston Hotel Makassar down the road to a well known Coto Makassar restaurant called Coto H.Daeng Tayang along Jl.Sultan Hasanuddin.Local Makassar dishes at one of the restaurantsAnother well known dish is called Pallubasa at a very amazingly popular restaurant called Pallubasa Serigala, where only locals are seen here. However, due to some local influencers in our group, we were taken to this astonishing place to try this dish which is very similar to Coto Makassar, but with an egg mixed in. The Pallubasa Serigala Restaurant is located along No,54, Jl. Serigala in Makassar and you cannot miss the orange signage in the front.Other must-try food in Makassar is the Pisang Ijo which is actually banana wrapped in a green pandan layer of flour, served with a dash of condensed milk and sugar syrup. These can be found at almost every corner of Makassar and along with another similar dish called Pisang Epe or grilled banana that is condimented with brown sugar syrup and a topping of your choice from cheese, chocolate and durian.A huge monkey structure before entering the Bantimurung National Park in MakassarIf you explore Makassar on foot, you would most likely see a lot of many other foods that range from noodles, fish and meats, however you should know that there are a lot of Chinese influenced dishes that carry Indonesian names like Pangsit Mie and Mie Kanton where Mie is actually Mee or noodles. For the food traveler, it is recommended to explore the various delicacies around Makassar, but do it in the day.I visited Makassar in July 2016 under a familiarization trip organised by the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia and from the Wonderful Indonesia campaign. This was also the inaugural trip under this years campaign called Trip of Wonders where we also visited Lombok, Gili Tarawangan, Banyuwangi, Mount Ijen and also Bandung.I had previously visited other parts of Indonesia under the same campaign which took me to places like Komodo Island, Borobudur, Jogjakarta, Palembang, West Java and many other very interesting places. If you plan to visit Komodo, I have an article on how to get to Komodo Island for those needing some information and you can also read my article on places to visit in Indonesia for 2016.Samalona Island, 15 minutes from MakassarThe experiences gained has helped me understand the many other unique places that Indonesia has to offer apart form the usual popular tourist places. As this was my inaugural trip to Makassar on Sulawesi Island, I believe that this place would be the next popular destination for Indonesia as there is so much natural attractions offered which has yet to be discovered by many travelers.One of the much talked about places in Sulawesi is also Tana Toraja, which is located 328 kilometers north of Makassar and is one of the must-visit places if you love culture. However, the journey here would be something to remember as it takes about 8-10 hours via bus from Makassar to this highland county. Again, for those who are planning to visit this place, I can easily say that Makassar is truly Indonesia's undiscovered gem waiting to be explored.
Sunday 4th of September 2016 02:34:00 PM
- KL Sky Tours Titiwangsa
A new KL Sky Tours Titiwangsa has been launched where helicopter tours from six to forty five minutes have been created specially for tourist wanting to experience a birds eye view of Kuala Lumpur by helicopter. This is now one of KL's latest tourist attraction for those wanting something different while visiting Kuala Lumpur. A soft launched is being held on the 25th August for media and invited guests for this product too. Previously, there was another company doing KL Helicopter Tours but this used to be operated from the old Subang Airport in Selangor where they would do a giant loop from Subang to Kuala Lumpur and then back to Subang, but that company no longer operates that tour. This is mentioned here because when you do a search on Google, the previous company comes up in the search results, but is no longer in operation. View of Titiwangsa Lake, Image from Cempaka Helicopter Facebook PageKL Sky Tours Titiwangsa has now taken the initiative to operate from Titiwangsa Lake or Taman Tasik Titiwangsa where it is just a short drive from anywhere in KL City to the Titiwangsa Helipad, making it much easier and hassle free for guests. The helicopters they use are the Robinson R44 which seats three passengers and one pilot while the slightly larger one is a Robinson R66 Turbine which seats four persons and one pilot. Both choppers offer panoramic views from all seating position too. The KL Sky Tour desk at Titiwangsa Lake, Image from Laurie K. GilbertThe Robertson Helicopter used for the tours. Image from Cempaka Helicopter Facebook PageKuala Lumpur Helicopter Tours PackagesCurrently, there are four different Kuala Lumpur helicopter tour packages offered by the company which ranges from six minutes to forty five minutes, each one offering a different experience and also a different price package depending on which helicopter tour package you choose. They are listed below;The KL Express Helicopter TourFor first timers or those wanting to experience flying in a helicopter, this 6 minute tour will take you around the many iconic landmarks of KL city centre where you will see places like the KL Tower and the world famous Petronas Twin Towers. Price: RM 198.00 + 6% GST per personMinimum 3 persons per flightThe City Explorer Slightly longer than the first package, this 15 minute flight takes you over iconic structures and landmarks in Kuala Lumpur including Batu Caves, King?s Palace and Kuala Lumpur city centre.Price: RM 448.00 + 6% GST per personMinimum 3 persons per flightThe Jungle EscapeA mix of both, this 30 minute helicopter tour takes you on an adventure from KL?s concrete jungle to a real jungle on the outer brim of Kuala Lumpur. Price: RM 960 + 6% GST per paxMinimum 3 persons per flightThe Mountain View This ultimate helicopter tour package brings you through main KL city to the many valleys and mountains and then to Genting Highlands, one of Malaysia's top highland resort destination. Price: RM 1388.00 + 6% GSTMinimum 3 persons per flightView of the Petronas Twin Towers, Image from Laurie K. GilbertKL Sky Tours Titiwangsa is operated by Cempaka Helicopter Corporation Sdn Bhd?s (CHCSB) and their main office is located at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Malaysia. The company has been established since 2004 and has a current Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia (DCAM) for Public Transport.They currently operate Helicopter Tours in Langkawi and Taman Tasik Titiwangsa KL with more destinations planned. The group is currently working to get the next few tours for various cities;Kuala Terengganu Helicopter ToursPenang Helicopter ToursMalacca Helicopter ToursCempaka Helicopter Tours also provides a wide range of services including private helicopter charters and also corporate and VIP transfers. For more information, please contact: Cempaka Helicopter Corporation Sdn. Bhd.Tel No : +603 7845 4677 Sales line : +6019 258 68 18 Email : email@example.comWebsite: http://www.cempaka.com.my/If you are headed north to Langkawi, the company also operates the Langkawi Helicopter Tours and you can also contact them for bookings. Prices are slightly different from the Kuala Lumpur helicopter tours. And if you are headed to Sabah, you can also check out the Helicopter Tours in Sabah for some pretty amazing views of the landscape there. With this being introduced as a new tourism product for Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, this product is also supported by the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau and the Kuala Lumpur City Council. You will also most likely see the company promoting their tour packages at the Matta Fair September 2016, where you may be able to get some promotional prices to experience the KL Sky Tours Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur.
Tuesday 23rd of August 2016 11:02:00 AM
- Visit Sibu Year 2017
A Visit Sibu Year 2017 has been launched to attract more tourist to one of the lesser visited places in Sarawak Borneo where it is also getting to be known as one of Malaysia's best kept tourism secret. Not many people have actually visited this charming town in the middle of Sarawak and for those with an appetite, Sibu is one of the foremost places for traditional Foo Chow food in Malaysia.Sibu, a predominantly Chinese and Melanau area has been one of the important towns from back in history as it served as the main gateway into the upriver places of Sarawak. Traders would sail into Sibu and barter trade before continuing up the mighty Rajang River to reach the deep settlements by the riversides. Even nowadays, the river is still being used to move goods and people up and down river making Sibu one of the key cities in central Sarawak.Visiting Mukah via boatSibu Central Market, the largest in MalaysiaIn terms of tourism, Sibu offers visitors a number of unique experiences like food tourism where one can explore the city to sample the unique Foochow style local dishes. For culture, Sibu showcases some interesting Melanau heritage and the best place to start is at the Sibu Heritage Centre, located in town. And for local culture, one should not miss the amazing Sibu Central Market, which is the largest market in Malaysia, showcasing over 1000 stalls selling all kinds of local produce.One can easily spend a couple of hours exploring this massive market and I believe that this would be one of the highlights for Visit Sibu Year 2017. The best time to visit the Sibu Central Market is also in the mornings when it is very active. You can also find some souvenir shops selling ethnic tribal items like Iban and Melanau things.An original Melanau Village by the riverVisiting a traditional Melanau Village in Sibu is also one of the must do activities as these river side villages are so different and unique compared to other traditional Sarawakian villages. The experience allows you to do a day trip or even an overnight trip where you stay at a traditional Melanau house by the name of Lamin Dana where tours are organised by Mr. Hou Kang of Greatown Travel as he has been the pioneer tour operator in Sibu for a long time.For Visit Sibu Year 2017, the council together with the Sarawak Tourism Board has come up with a dedicated website to showcase the many places of interest around Sibu and they have also listed down a list of places of interest in Sibu for visitors. If you should also know, there is an amazing nightly food market in the town area while at certain places around Sibu, you can find some street art too. Lamin Dana, a boutique lodge and homestayFrom my personal experience in visiting sibu in May 2016, I was taken to a number of interesting places and stayed at Lamin Dana, the traditional Melanau house along the river village. My journey also took me to the town of Mukah which is a coastal town filled with local charm.Food in SibuBack in Sibu, I was brought to visit the best restaurants in Sibu where the traditional Foochow food was served and if you are a serious food traveler or foodie, Sibu is recommended, especially at the Sibu Night Market where you can find lots of Chinese and also Malay street food. Currently there is no Sibu Food Trail, but I am pretty sure, there will be one soon enough as Sibu is filled with a lot of exciting foods.Among the famous foods are the Foochow noodles with super large freshwater prawns which come at a price of RM25 per bowl. Other dishes include the Mee Sua, local porridge and some pretty interesting rice dishes like the Fish Rice, imagine Chicken Rice, but with deep fried fish instead. One great place to experience most of these dishes are on top of the Sibu Central Market.As for those seeking a little more modern food, fear not as there are plenty of cafes which caters to the hipster generation. You can find coffee joints and fast food around Sibu while for the halal traveler, there are a number of Malay restaurants available here too.A Melanau fisherman checking his catch of the day at the local Melanau villageMy personal point of view, I would easily say that it is probably best to visit Sibu and spend at least one or two nights there. For those traveling from Kuching to Miri, you can opt for an overnight stay in Sibu before continuing your journey. From the local tourism council, it would be a different perspective due to the governmental involvement which will see many new events being held around the city. More information on Visit Sibu Year 2017 can be obtained by visiting the official Visit Sibu websiite.For anyone planning to travel to Sarawak in 2017, I would highly recommend making a stopover at Sibu for the Visit Sibu Year 2017 as it is easily accessible via land or even ferry service from Kuching. There are also flights into Sibu via AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines for those wanting a quicker journey.
Friday 19th of August 2016 07:44:00 AM
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