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Malaysia Asia

Malaysia Asia

Malaysia travel blog and website on eco-tourism, nature, hotels and resorts, islands and beaches and also around Southeast Asia.
URL: http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/

Malaysia Asia





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2012-02-23 16:12:32

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  • 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 reservation@hotellaprima.com) 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 : faten.chambers@cempaka.com.myWebsite: 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
  • Places to Visit in Ipoh
    Ipoh may not be on everyone's radar but this charming city in Perak is one of the up and coming destinations in Malaysia and this list of places to visit in Ipoh was compiled after a recent trip there in early 2016 to get an update of what has changed over the last few years.  Ipoh lies about two hours north of Kuala Lumpur city and you can get here by car or ETS (Electric Train Service). However, to fully appreciate Ipoh, I would highly recommend that you stay at least a night there, and probably at one of the new hotels in Ipoh, which are all located in the central city area. The best part is that Ipoh is centrally located between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, therefore it is easy to make this place a stopover if you are traveling either way. All the places to visit in Ipoh are easily accessible by foot and this means, no buses or taxis, unless you want to head to the outskirts of the city area. To start, I recommend exploring Ipoh Old Town which offers a journey into what the place used to look and feel like back in the old days.Concubine Lane in IpohWhere to go in IpohIpoh Old Town - This is the oldest part of Ipoh where you will find decades old coffee shops and businesses that are still functioning as if time stood still. The old town area is divided by a river and once you cross the bridge, you will enter into another era of a place once known as the tin mining capital of Malaya. you can easily walk there from the main city area, but it will take about 20 minutes or so to walk there.Kong Heng SquareKong Heng Square - This is probably the most interesting part of Ipoh city where a group of businessmen have come together to develop the Kong Heng heritage square into one of the most popular places in Ipoh to date. On weekends, this place springs to life with hundreds of visitors walking all over this square. There is a bazaar selling arts and craft, shops selling collectibles and a number of modern cafes and restaurants that are packed with guests. A prominent structure here is the famous Sekeping Kong Heng Hotel, which has made world headlines and also listed in many travel guide books.Concubine LaneConcubine Lane Ipoh - One of the most interesting lanes to explore, Concubine Lane is filled with character and is about one hundred meters long. This place is also best visited on the weekend and also in the day as many shops and street vendors are open. Souvenirs, food and drinks are popular along this lane which is wide enough for people to walk.Street Art in Ipoh - For street art lovers, you must not miss the chance to see some of the amazing street murals along Jalan Masjid and Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street) in the main town area.Located in an alley behind the main road, you will see over 20 murals painted on both sides on the walls. If you take the Ipoh Heritage Trail walk, you will see other world renown street artist with their massive works painted on certain buildings in the Ipoh Old Town area. Ipoh Art Lane for the amazing street artTambun Lost World - For theme park or water park lovers, this is a must visit as the Tambun Lost World is probably the best water park in the northern region which offers families non-stop fun.There is also the Lost World Hotel located in the park which is about 20 minutes from Ipoh city. Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh - A new theme park which has been postponed to open at end 2016 or early 2017, MAPS Ipoh is about 30 minutes from the city.This animation park offers quite a bit of attractions for the whole family and there are also some hotels located around the vicinity of this new theme park in Ipoh.  Gunung Lang Recreational Park - Nature and outdoor lovers will love this place as the Gunung Lang Recreational Park is perfect for anyone wanting to do some simple trekking and walking. The park is located about 15 to 20 minutes out of Ipoh main city. Kek Lok Tong Temple Cave - This unique cave temple has an award winning landscaped garden which is different from the usual cave temples and the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple is located at Gunung Rapat, about five kilometers from Ipoh city. If you live Chinese culture and caves, this is one of the caves to visit.Sam Poh Tong Temple Ipoh - Photo: VirtualMalaysiaSam Poh Tong Cave Temple - A must-visit in Ipoh is one of the most beautiful cave temples in Malaysia, the Sam Poh Tong cave temple offers visitors beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture and a 246 step up to a viewpoint that overlooks part of Ipoh city. This cave is also located at the Guning Rapat Mountain area, a short drive from Ipoh. Han Chin Pet Soo History Museum - For historical fans, you can come to this museum to find out more about the tin mining culture that made Ipoh what it is today. Founded in 1893 as the Hakka Tin Miners Club as an exclusive place, it is now turned into a private museum that houses an interesting collection of artifacts, collectibles and also photographs from the 19th and 20th century Hakka community. Gerbang Malam Ipoh Night Market - In English, this translates as Gateway of the Night in Ipoh where a night market takes place daily in the main town of Ipoh. You can find most consumer goods here which include clothes, shoes, accessories, snacks, food and a number of other interesting things. Ipoh Street Art MapQing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village Ipoh - I will be honest as I did not have enough time to visit this Chinese Cultural Village in Ipoh and this place will be next on my list when I plan another trip to Ipoh.Apparently, the Qing Xin Ling Cultural Village in Ipoh showcases some authentic Chinese cultures from the 60s and 70s and is popular for day trips for locals.A nice lake surrounds the place and you can rent old style bicycles or even trishaws to move around the village.If you are a huge Chinese Temple fan, then Ipoh is definitely the place for you to visit as there are nice prominent temples located all around Ipoh, some of them in caves while others are stand alone temples. For other places of interest in Ipoh, do visit the Ipoh City Tourism Website. What to eat in IpohIpoh is probably one of the top three places for food in Malaysia, if you did not already know, but foodies from all over head here to sample some of the unique Chinese Malaysian food found all over Ipoh. The most popular dish being the Ipoh Chicken Rice and Ipoh Hakka Noodles which can be found at a few places around the main city area. While many swear by certain restaurants, others have their own favourites therefore I am only going to share with you the popular dishes. It is up to you to decide which are the ones you like.Sin Yoon Loong, one of the oldest coffee shops in IpohIpoh White Coffee is hands down a must try for any coffee lover and me being a coffee traveler, I have personally tried most of the local coffee there and apart from the nationwide famous coffee shop in Old Town Ipoh, my personal favourite is the Ipoh White Coffee at Wah Nam Cafe. Again, you may or may not like it, but for locals, the coffee around Ipoh is a must try. Where to stay in IpohHonestly, there are quite a number of places to stay in Ipoh and most of the hotels are located all around the city. As for me, I did not want any hassle therefore I used Traveloka to book my hotel stay and the main reason for this is because of their hassle free system and no additional fees involved. A total of 20 hotels are available to choose from, which range from two stars to four stars, including a couple of resort style hotels.Best Western Premier The Haven Ipoh, one of the lake facing unitsPersonally it took me a few minutes to find the best Ipoh hotel deal and I was pleased with the outcome as I had booked my stay at one of the new properties which is the Best Western Premier The Haven Ipoh, which is one of the unique Condotels located in a natural surrounding. As I drove there, it was easy for me to move around. Best time to visit IpohTo be honest, there is no best time to visit Ipoh as the weather is constantly the same throughout the year. Many locals claim that Ipoh is also one of the hottest cities in Malaysia therefore it is highly recommended for women travelers to bring an umbrella and sunscreen while for the men, a cap and also drink lots of water due to the humidity levels there. Below are the hottest and wettest months of Ipoh. January - Hottest MonthOctober - Wettest MonthHow to go to IpohGenerally, you can take the ETS or Electric Train Service from Kuala Lumpur which takes only two hours. Other ways to get to Ipoh are via tour company day tours which send you in the mornings and return at night. You can also take the local express bus to Ipoh from various bus terminals in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.One of the old shop houses along the Ipoh old townMy recommendation is to rent a car from either KL or Penang and self drive to Ipoh to spend a night or two there. This way, there is no rush and you can fully enjoy all the places to visit in Ipoh.Check in to one of the hotels by booking through Traveloka and you can easily walk around the city or drive to other tourist spots. Alternatively, you can even experience the Kuala Lumpur - Ipoh - Penang experience where you pick up your rented car from KL and drop it off in Penang. With popular tourism spots like Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Penang, I personally think that Ipoh is one of the up and coming destinations in Malaysia that visitors should go to, simply because it is not over rated and very much still conventional. 
    Thursday 18th of August 2016 03:26:00 PM
  • AirAsia X Flights to Istanbul and Barcelona
    Great news for budget airline fans as in late October, there will be AirAsia X Flights to Istanbul and Barcelona, providing everything works out well. The unofficial news has been public in August where the award winning long haul airline has been working hard to connect its Europe route since it pulled out in 2012. With the news of AirAsia X Flights to Istanbul and Barcelona this October 2016, many travelers are quite excited from both continents, Europe and also Southeast Asia as this will make budget travel between these two continents affordable. Europeans can now connect to Southeast Asia while Southeast Asians can easily travel to Europe with low fares. Currently, the plan is for AirAsia X to fly to Istanbul, Turkey and then connect to Barcelona in Spain. In other words, if you are planning to go to Barcelona, you will transit in Istanbul for about 90 minutes and the same thing when flying back from Spain to Kuala Lumpur and the plane used will be the Airbus A330-300 aircraft. The beautiful Blue Mosque in Istanbul, TurkeyAirAsia X Istanbul and Barcelona Flight ScheduleAir Asia X has filed to operate a daily service linking Kuala Lumpur with Barcelona via Istanbul. The daily flight would be operated by a modern A330-300 and the planned flight schedules are:· D7001 departs Kuala Lumpur 1000 - Arrives Istanbul 1500· D7001 departs Istanbul 1630 -  Arrives Barcelona 1920· D7002 departs Barcelona 2050 - Arrives Istanbul 0120· D7002 departs Istanbul 0250 - Arrives Kuala Lumpur 1930If you did not know, Air Asia X last flew to Europe in 2012 with services to both London and Paris but withdrew from both cities four years ago due to unprofitably and other minor issues, despite the routes being very popular with almost full loads both ways. Many have been speculating that AirAsia X will resume its flight back to London by the end of 2016, but for now, there has not been any solid news on this.AirAsia X latest destination from Kuala Lumpur to Mauritius in October 2016In terms of competition, Air Asia X will compete directly with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul to Barcelona and there are also no direct flights linking Barcelona with Kuala Lumpur, therefore the airline will also compete with both Emirates and Qatar Airways for this route. The airline has also announced in May that they plan to start AirAsia X flights to Mauritius in October 2016 and also possible news of a direct flight to Hawaii in 2016 or 2017. At the end of the day, consumers want choices and for the long haul budget airline to offer this, many travelers, students and businessmen are looking forward for the AirAsia X Flights to Istanbul and Barcelona, regardless when it starts. Once we get full confirmation, we will publish more information here.
    Friday 12th of August 2016 12:08:00 PM
  • How to save money before traveling
    This article focuses on how you can save money before you travel and there are quite a number of ways to do this. Basically, the biggest chunk of your money always goes to the airline tickets and accommodations, provided if you are not backpacking. Well, in this current lifestyle day, many Malaysians and also Asians tend to travel more compared to ten years ago and nowadays, there are many ways you can cut corners before going for your trip. So, how do you save money before traveling? This is probably the trickiest question asked by everyone and let me just share with you my personal experience in this as I have been traveling quite frequently over the last ten years, especially around Malaysia, Southeast Asia and Greater Asia.Gone are the days of walking into a travel agent and booking your holiday or trip where nowadays, with technology in your hands via smartphones, you can simply check and book your flight tickets or even hotel accommodations at your fingertips. This means, there is no more 'I'll do it when I get home', and when you get a good deal, you can instantly do it.After going through many different travel applications or apps in short, I have found that one company has created everything at ease for consumers like me and they fully understand how Asians travel where price is one of the biggest factors. Traveloka App is helping travelers find the best deals and cheap rates for hotels and flights, no matter anytime of the day and hence, I use this to book the two most important matters in my travels. And the most important part - there are no hidden fees when you book anything, so what you see is what you get.Traveloka AppBy using the app, I have saved quite a bit of money and to be honest, who does not want to save money before traveling? Everyone nowadays is looking for travel promotions or good deals online and there are quite a number of new online travel agents or OTA's in the market, but which one will give you ultimate savings? Some of them may give you a good hotel deal but not for flights, while another may offer you the reverse.So, after going through many of these apps, I have found the Traveloka App the most practical where I can get a good deal for both, hotel and flights. The trick in getting good deals is by downloading and signing up with the company and when they run any promotions, they will send out an email informing their subscribers about the promotion and then you can get first hand information on these travel deals.End of the day, I want to travel and save money booking my flights and hotel, and I know that many out there also want the same thing, so finding the Traveloka App is one of the best discoveries that I have found to date.
    Friday 15th of July 2016 05:00:00 AM
  • Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016
    The Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) 2016 will be taking place from 24-30 July 2016 at the Sabah Cultural Complex in Penampang which is about 20 minutes from Kota Kinabalu City. The cultural complex is also known locally as the JKKN Building (Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara) that houses traditional structures of the ethnic Sabahan people. This also marks the 11th year of the Sabah International Folklore Festival and a total of 11 countries will be taking part in this unique event and festival and the theme for this year is 'Peach Through Culture'. This also promotes the East-West cultures through the event held here in Sabah. An opening and welcome dinner will be held from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm on the 25th July at the Sabah Cultural Centre Penampang where it will be graced by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister - Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun among the participants and guests.The team from Sabah performing at the last eventLocal ethnic warriors dancingThe team from Kazakhstan in SabahTeam Philippines at last years eventSabah Traditional Food and Handicraft ExhibitionA Sabah Traditional Food and Handicraft Exhibition will also take place during this event to showcase the many unique food and craft found form the various ethnic people of Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. These two events will also be held at the Sabah Cultural Complex Penampang. The countries taking part for the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival are;MalaysiaSouth KoreaEstoniaAustraliaIrelandIndonesiaIndiaThe PhilippinesRepublic Sakha Yakutia, RussiaSri LankaThailand2015 Winners - RussiaLast years winner for Sabah International Folklore Festival 2015;1st Place - Russia 2nd Place - The Philippines3rd Place - SlovakiaKK City International Folklore ParadeA special KK City International Folklore Parade will take place at three venues across Kota Kinabalu City on 26th July from 12.00 noon to 5.00 pm. The parade will be flagged off by the Sabah State Cultural Board Chairman - Datuk Seri Panglima Wences Angang at Wisma Budaya around noon. The three places for the parade are;Wisma Budaya - 12.00 noonLintasan Seasoka, Gaya Street - 2.00 pmKota Kinabalu City Hall - 3.00 to 5.00 pmSabah International Folklore Festival Itinerary (Click to enlarge)Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016 Program (Click to enlarge)Sabah Folk Art Exhibition 2016In conjunction of the Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016, the Sabah Art Gallery under the Cultural Board itself, will organise the 6th Folk Art Exhibition at the Sabah Art Gallery in Kota Kinabalu. This is highly recommended for anyone who is into art or especially folk art as there will be some unique displays here. The Sabah Folk Art Exhibition will also take place from the 25 - 30 July and is free entry.Photography Contest in SabahSabah Photography Contest 2016There will be a Sabah photography contest in conjunction with the folklore festival where cash prizes are to be won for individual themes held throughout the festival.Each of the themes is a category from the even and they are;International Folk Dance CompetitionKK City International Folklore ParadeSabah Traditional Food and Handicraft ExhibitionPocket ShowPrime ShowThe Photo Contest Prizes;1st Prize : RM 1,500.002nd Prize : RM 1,000.003rd Prize : RM 700.00Consolation Prize x 10 : RM 300.00This is open to everyone and for additional or more information for the photography contest in Sabah, please contact:Rinah Linggom at +6 088 254 958 or +6 019 8400 178Tickets for the Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016For the entire three days, tickets will be sold for each individual day and for the dance competition and priced at;Kids/Students: RM 10.00 (17 years below)Adults: RM 30.00A special ticket package is also available for the dance competition during the entire event;Kids: RM 30.00Adults: RM 80.00Free Entrance for the SIFF Folklore Parade, Folk Art Festival and exhibitions. You can buy tickets at the various places below;Wisma Budaya, Lembaga Kebudayaan Negeri Sabah (+6 088 268836 / 268808)Pusat Kebudayaan Sabah Penampang (+6 088 715464)Pusat Konservasi Balai Seni Lukis Sabah (+6 088 268748 / 268825)Map to the Sabah Cultural Centre in Kota KinabaluHow to go to the Sabah Cultural Complex/JKKN in PenampangAs the Sabah Cultural Complex is located in the district of Penampang and about 15-20 minutes from Kota Kinabalu City, the best way to get here is by taking a taxi from the city center. To get back to the city, it is best that you get the taxi driver's number and call him to pick you up. Alternatively, you can also use Uber in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. For those self driving, the JKKN building is located along Jalan Penampang, just before the Rainforest Park (Taman Rimba Tropika) and by the Sabah National Library. The road that leads into the JKKN is Jalan Tasik, after the park. GPS Coords are 5.956876, 116.077184. A dance performed during the last festivalFor additional information, you can contact;Encik Jason BlasiusTel: +6 088 269862 / 258762H/P: +6 013 8501579SIFF OfficeTel: +6 088 268460 H/P: +6 011 1206 1209Email: siffborneo@gmail.comWebsite: http://siffborneo.wix.com/borneosiffOfficial: http://www.sabah.gov.my/lks/v2/index.php?q=siff-mainThis event is organized by: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, Malaysia.For anyone visiting Kota Kinabalu or Sabah at the end of July, this would be an interesting event and festival to attend and witness, especially if you want to learn about the Sabah culture and ethnic people. and as a bonus, you will also be exposed to the many other countries cultures, all here in one place for the Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016. 
    Thursday 7th of July 2016 09:29:00 AM
  • Kuala Lumpur Upside Down House
    A new tourism attraction in KL is the Kuala Lumpur Upside Down House pr KL Upside down House which recently opened its doors in June 2016. This fun attraction is also located in the KL Tower or Menara Kuala Lumpur vicinity and is currently the talk of tourist here. Locally it is also called Rumah Terbalik KL in Bahasa Malaysia. So, what is an upside down house attraction in KL all about? Generally the KL Upside Down House is actually a house that has been constructed upside down, with everything inside fitted... you guessed it, upside down. This gimmick has been the rave of locals and also tourist visiting Malaysia in the last three to five years where there have been many attractions like this mushrooming all over Malaysia and finally, Kuala Lumpur having a piece of the cake. The upside down garage with  car outside the attractionThe first upside down house was constructed in Tuaran, Sabah in 2012 followed by one in Penang, one in Melaka and also the recent Upside Down Gallery in PD or Port Dickson. As for those mentioned in this list. only the Upside Down House in Sabah resembles an actual house while the others are all located in shop lots, which is not up to quality tourism standards. I am guessing that those were done cheaply therefore the owners did it in a shop lot versus building an actual house on land. Anyway, the latest upside down house in KL claims to be the first in Kuala Lumpur and the tallest Upside Down House in Malaysia? Seriously, the tallest in Malaysia? No offense but why even bother to claim such a title like that, because if you have a good tourism product, it should sell by itself, not by strange accolades. A weird example is like saying that Kuala Lumpur has the Tallest Museum in Malaysia... isn't that totally weird?  Inside one of the rooms of the Upside Down house in KLThis new attraction in KL is suitable for just about anyone - locals, tourist, families with kids and even couples as the plus point of this is that it is a fun attraction. Meaning, you go there, take lots of photos outside and then inside and you are done. In total, you simply need about an hour at most to complete the attraction before moving on to possibly the KL Tower. Inside, everything is upside down where you start from the main living hall, kitchen and then stairs that take you up to the rooms and so on. Outside the house, there is an upside down open garage complete with a car. Kuala Lumpur Upside Down House LogoTickets for the KL Upside Down HousePromotion Period: from 8 June ? 4 August 2016Adult: RM15 (MyKad)Kids: RM10 (MyKad)Opening Hours: 9am ? 7pm dailyLocation: KL TowerKL Upside Down House AddressMenara Kuala LumpurJalan Puncak, 50250Kuala Lumpur,MalaysiaTel: +6 03 5523 0840 or +6 010 802 7547Inquiry: klupsidedown@yahoo.comWebsite/Facebook: www.klupsidedown.comKL Upside Down House Map How to go to the KL Upside Down HouseAs this is located at the KL Tower or Menara KL, it is in the same premises at the tower, so just head to KL Tower and you will see the upside down house next to it. All taxis and most Malaysians would know where the KL Tower is located at too. Another landmark - Behind the Shangri-La Hotel KL and it is also a 15 to 20 minute walk from KLCC or Petronas Twin Towers.  *All photos here are from the official KL Upside Down House Facebook Page. A visitor poses in the dining area of the  KL upside down house New Tourist Attractions In Kuala LumpurThere are a number of other new attractions found around the Upside Down House in KL which are of course, the KL Tower or Menara KL, Mini Zoo Menara KL, Blue Coral Aquarium, Sky Box KL Tower and the all new KL Forest Eco Park. All of these places are very short walking distances too.Well, with this unique house being added to the many tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, this has to be one of the quickest ones too. A tip would be to come here as early as possible, when they open to beat the huge crowds, especially if you don't want loads of people in your photos, and then make your way to the KL Tower for a birds eye view of Kuala Lumpur City before heading to the other places nearby. For those wanting an adventure at a rainforest in the city, head to the new KL Forest Eco Park which is just outside the KL Tower area where you can explore this place with some trekking and even trying the new KL Canopy Walk here. If you are visiting the Kuala Lumpur Upside Down House, you should be pleased to know that you can take photos and videos inside here so do take lots of photos and hope you have a fantastic time there and also in KL, Malaysia. 
    Sunday 3rd of July 2016 06:00:00 AM
  • Lang Tengah Turtle Watch at Tanjong Jara
    In an exclusive partnership with Lang Tengah Turtle Watch and Tanjong Jara Resort, a new conservation unit and turtle hatchery will be unveiled on 2 July 2016 with the launch marked by the release of turtle hatchlings at 9.00 pm at the main beach of the resort.The turtle hatchery, located on the beach fronting Tanjong Jara Resort, will offer guests the opportunity to discover more about these magnificent creatures, learn about the dangers they face and the conservation efforts made to protect their hatchlings from poachers, and return them to their natural habitat in the sea. A nest adoption program will also be available, where guests? pledges will save a nest from poachers preventing them from being sold as food at the marketplace.The new turtle hatchery at the beach of the resortFounded in 2013, Lang Tengah Turtle Watch exemplifies what can be achieved when enterprising private owners and corporations use their independence to take control of a conservation issue on their own property, yet are open to multifaceted external resources? welcoming others in collaboration ? and thereby drawing in experience, knowledge, ecological expertise and finance.Having released over 8,000 turtle hatchlings since its inception, 300 of which were critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles, Lang Tengah Turtle Watch is now expanding its operations to the mainland of Terengganu in a joint initiative with YTL Hotels? award-winning Tanjong Jara Resort. A turtle makes her way back into the seaThe unveiling of a new conservation unit and turtle hatchery named ?Lang Tengah Turtle Watch at Tanjong Jara Resort? will be held on 2 July 2016 with the launch marked by the release of hatchlings at 9pm. The turtle hatchery, constructed using a simple wooden trellis, allow guests a view of the nests whilst keeping predators at bay. Guests will have an opportunity to discover more about the lives of these majestic creatures and, if fortunate, to witness the emergence of hatchlings by night. To date, this new project has seen the release of 693 hatchlings from 9 out of the current 24 nests, with many more to come.Inspecting the baby hatchlingTurtle Adoption Program at Tanjong Jara ResortGuests will also be able to subscribe to a nest adoption program, whereby a pledge of;MYR 300 for 50-99 turtle eggsMYR 500 for 100-150 turtle eggsTanjong Jara BeachThis program will save a nest from being sold as food to the marketplace. Guests that are part of this programme will receive regular email updates with photographic progress reports and an invitation to return to the resort to witness the hatching of their nest. YTL Hotels has constantly been in support of conservation initiatives through its luxury properties with Resident Naturalists and a Marine Biologist helming the ecological endeavours. Tanjong Jara Reception: +6 09 8451 100Email: info@langtengahturtlewatch.orgWebsite: http://www.langtengahturtlewatch.org/tanjong-jara/Lang Tengah Turtle Watch, which strives to protect the magnificent sea turtles by monitoring turtle landings and saving their eggs from poachers, is delighted to be working with the luxury resort, as both recognise that tourism, if properly implemented, can play a large role in the conservation of these endangered sea turtles from supporting eco-friendly initiatives to spreading environmental awareness through the Lang Tengah Turtle Watch at Tanjong Jara. 
    Friday 1st of July 2016 02:51:00 PM
  • Sarawak International Bird Race 2016
    The Sarawak International Bird Race 2016 will be held this 24-25 September at the Kubah National Park and Borneo Highlands Resort and it is organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak, in collaboration with the Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) Kuching Branch. Sarawak is also home to over 400 species of birds and out of the 60 endemic species, 54 are found in Sarawak making the state one of the up and coming bird watching areas in Borneo. This will also be the second time that the birding event in Sarawak is taking place and also after the 2nd Borneo Bird Race 2014 which took place in the Borneo Highlands here. As Sarawak is well known for tropical birds, there are various species to be spotted and photographed all over the state and this bird race will focus mainly on the coastal, lowland and montane birds in Sarawak. A birder checks his book for the species spotted at the Borneo HighlandsSarawak International Bird Race LocationsThe Sarawak International Bird Race 2016 will take place at three different locations which are all nearby to Kuching. The bird race will also start at the Buntal Esplanade at 8.00 am on the 24th September. The three locations are;Buntal - Part of the Bako-Buntal Bay and is incorporated into the East Asian-Australian Flyway Network Site since 2012 and is also recognized as an Important Birding area or IBA of Sarawak. More than 25,000 birds from 27 species have been recorded to date and some of the rare species include the Chinese Egret, Nordman's Greenshank, Far Eastern Curlew and the Asian Dowitcher.Kubah National Park - This lowland rainforest national park boasts of an area of 2230 hectares and is one of the main national parks of Sarawak. Here, expect to find rare birds like the Blue Banded Pitta, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Scarlet Breasted Flowerpecker, Banded Kingfisher and the White Crowned Hornbill. Borneo Highlands Resort - The only highland golf resort in Sarawak and located just one hour from Kuching is one of the Important Birding Areas or IBA since 2010. Over 200 birds have been recorded here including the Bornean Falconet, Bornean Barbet and Pygmy White-Eye. A Crested Jay bird spotted by the writer at the Borneo HighlandsEarly morning birding in SarawakSarawak International Bird Race Rules and Regulations;Each team must consist of 3 team members Each team must have a team name Each team will have to pay a fee of RM50,00 A special Sarawak Bird Race t-shirt will be given to each team memberNot included;TransportAccommodationFood (except for packed lunch at Kubah National Park) Sarawak International Bird Race 2016Dates: Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th September 2016Locations: Buntal, Kubah National Park and Borneo Highlands Resort.Closing date for registration: 23rd August 2016Prizes;1st Prize - RM5000.00 plus Certificate2nd Prize - RM3000.00 plus Certificate3rd Prize - RM2000.00 plus CertificateTo join or for more information:MSN - http://mnskuching.blogspot.my/2016/06/sarawak-international-bird-race-2016_20.htmlEmail: sarawakbirdrace@gmail.comBirders in action as they spot a species at the Borneo HighlandsYou can also read my previous article on the Sarawak Bird Race 2015 which took place at the Borneo Highlands in Sarawak as the ministry has been actively promoting this hobby and sport over the last few years. Apart from Sarawak, other states in Malaysia have also been organizing birding events at states of Sabah, Pahang, Terengganu, Perak, Langkawi and Melaka. Bird watching in Malaysia has also been one of the growing activities among the bird society around the world where the introduction of the Borneo Bird Race saw 11 countries taking part in 2014 and the next race should be held possibly this year, if not in 2017. For those who want to know more, you can read this article about what is the Borneo Bird Race all about. Birders and bird watchers out there, this is your chance to participate in one of the unique birding events in Borneo as the Sarawak International Bird Race 2016 will be in its second installment and promises an exciting time. 
    Friday 24th of June 2016 04:00:00 AM
  • Hilton Kota Kinabalu Review
    This is a pre Hilton Kota Kinabalu review just before the opening of this new five star property in KK city where it is scheduled to open in the third or even fourth quarter of 2016. This will also be the talk of Kota Kinabalu when the 12 story luxury property opens, which is offering a total of 305 rooms and suites, all day dining, event ballroom and complete facilities for business and leisure travelers. The guest rooms at the Hilton Kota Kinabalu come in suites, executive rooms and standard deluxe rooms which are all tastefully designed with contemporary décor and natural wood accents and each of the rooms come with a 48 inch flat screen television. All rooms also come with a media hub, laptop-sized safe and a minibar while another cool feature is the smart lighting and motion sensors which is fitted in all guests rooms and suites here. There is also a rooftop outdoor pool which comes with cabanas and complimented with amazing views of Kota Kinabalu city from the top. For fitness lovers, there is a 24 hour fully equipped gym complete with steam and sauna rooms. An executive lounge floor offers free snacks and drinks and also complimentary use of the meeting facilities there.The Hilton Hotel in Kota Kinabalu cityRestaurants and Bars and the Hilton Kota KinabaluFor dining and entertainment, the Hilton KK has carefully thought of what to offer guests that range from business travelers to family vacationers and they are;Rooftop Bar and Grill - Located on the highest level of the hotel serving imported grilled meats and a fresh selection of seafood and not forgetting the wide selection of international wines. Urban Kitchen - Located on the ground floor, this would be the main restaurant serving local and international cuisines cooked from an open kitchen. Zest Grab N Go - Located in the lobby area, this cafe style place offers light breakfast, cakes, sandwiches, pastries and drinks to go.The Gastro - This will be the only bar in the hotel located on the ground floor which is designed in class and elegance that offers the finest selections in drinks. Rooms at the Hilton Kota KinabaluEvents and functions at he Hilton Kota KinabaluThe grand ballroom easily caters to a maximum of 800 people for a banquet style setting and 1,100 people for a theatre style setting. Weddings are one of the main events that will be occupying the grand ballroom when the hotel opens in Q3 of 2016. The year end will also see many corporations from the private and government sector hosting their annual dinners and functions here. For business events or meetings, there are a total of six functions rooms that cater from 14 to 800 guests in various styles of seating and settings. Artist impressions inside the Hilton Kota KinabaluGrand ballroom at the KK HiltonFor now, there has not been an official opening date for the hotel but it is stated that it should be opened between July and September 2016 and this is definitely going to be the talk of town, especially with the tourism industry as this has now added another international chain hotel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Hilton Kota Kinabalu SabahJalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Asia City,Kota Kinabalu, Sabah 88000MalaysiaTelephone: +60 88 318000 Website: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/malaysia/hilton-kota-kinabalu-BKIKKHI/index.htmlHilton Kota Kinabalu MapThis Hilton Hotel in KK is owned by Pekah Hotels Sdn. Bhd, which is is a family owned and privately held company based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Pekah Hotels has engaged the Hilton to manage this property which will be the fifth property in Malaysia under the Hilton Hotel & Resorts brand. While we await the official news, I trust that this Hilton Kota Kinabalu review will give you a better idea of how KK city has developed so fast over the last few years and what the hotel looks like, The luxury hotel is also going to liven up the Asia City area where the famous Welcome Seafood and Boreno's Fried Chicken is located at. 
    Wednesday 22nd of June 2016 04:00:00 AM
  • Things to do at the Rainforest World Music Festival
    As the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 takes place during the weekend of 5-7 August and at main venue of the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, there are quite a number of things that you can do around the Santubong area which requires some walking to the many interesting and fun places. This list of things to do at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 is purely based on my recent years of visiting the music festival here in Sarawak and will cater to possibly anyone who is visiting the event. You should note that the RWMF takes place in Santubong, which is about an hours drive from Kuching city.Activities include tours, trekking, hiking or plain sightseeing which is suitable for singles, couples and even families with kids. Some of them can be done in a short time while others may take half a day or so. The list is in no order below;A sting workshop being conducted in the day at the Bidayuh House1. Attend the RWMF WorkshopsThe workshops at the Rainforest World Music Festival are not to be missed as they highlight some of the unique classes involving cultural and traditional music. Some classes discuss traditional music instruments while others may involve traditional dances or even special showcases. These workshops are held around the Cultural Village and at various traditional houses. Special music showcases are held in the auditorium and each of the workshops are an hour long which start late mornings till the afternoons. Check with your event schedule on the timings of each of the workshops.The craft bazaar during the music festival here2. Visit the Craft BazaarThe craft bazaar is one of a kind and features the many traditional and ethnic crafts of Sarawak. Here you can see various tribes showcasing their bead work, weaving skills to traditional instrument making. This bazaar is held at two places, one at the bottom of the Melanau Tall House and the other at the traditional Malay House in the Sarawak Cultural Village. You can purchase traditional jewelry and other local souvenirs here and prices are pretty affordable. The craft bazaars usually open just before lunch till about 10.00 pm.Traditional tattoo's being done at the Borneo Traditional Tattoo Expo3. See the Traditional Tattoo Expo at Damai CentralThe Borneo Traditional Tattoo Expo 2016 will be taking place at Damai Central building which is just opposite the Sarawak Cultural Village. This is also the 4th time that the tattoo expo will be taking place here in Sarawak and the uniqueness about this expo is that the focus is on the traditional and ethnic tattoo culture, art and techniques. See local and international tattoo artists working live during this expo and who knows, you may even get one for yourself here. This event is held from Friday till Sunday (5.7 Aug).Damai Beach in Santubong4. Hang out at Damai BeachDamai Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Kuching area and it is here that many locals and also tourist come to visit. There is one main public beach area which is where Damai Central is located at. The beach stretches for about one kilometer and is shared with the Damai Resort. One of the best things is to catch the Sarawak Sunset from the beach by hanging out at one of the local bars or cafes here. You can visit Damai beach anytime of the day.Irrawaddy Dolphins seen at Santubong Village5. Look for the Rare Irrawaddy DolphinsAround here at Santubong, visitors can go for a tour and look for the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins which are spotted around the main river mouth, river estuaries and also along the shallow coastal areas. They are usually spotted outside the fishing villages and one of the hot spots is around Kampung Santubong. Tour operators run these tours to spot the Irrawaddy Dolphins and if you are extremely lucky, you can even spot the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins too. These tours take you on a boat cruise and also a visit to the Satang Island National Park and operates in the mornings. Price is around RM215 per person and minimum two to go.Santubong Wildlife Cruise - Image from Borneo Adventure6. Try a Santubong Wildlife CruiseA more nature adventure is to try the Santubong Wildlife Cruise where you will have the chance to see crocodiles, Proboscis monkeys, birds and other mangrove wildlife.This cruise usually starts around 4.00 pm and ends just after sunset. Reason for this is that most wildlife is best spotted in the evenings and when night falls, your cruise will also take you to see the amazing fireflies around here. This is also done with a tour operator and you can contact your hotel about this. Some tour operators package the Irrawaddy Dolphins sighting with the wildlife cruise too. Price is around RM225 per person.Mount Santubong Map7. Climb Mount SantubongFor the serious adventurer, Mount Santubong is one of the fun mountains to climb and this can be done in a day, depending on your fitness level.Mount Santubong is also 810 meters (2657 feet) high and the total distance from the park entrance to the summit is 3.5 km.This climb is also rated for moderate to advance climbers and the price per person is around RM250 which includes lunch, bottled water and an English speaking guide. Minimum is two persons to climb and you need to contact a tour company or the hotel to arrange for this.The tomb of the only Sultan of Sarawak8. Visit the Tomb of the Only Sultan of SarawakJust five kilometers from Damai Central is the Tomb of Sultan Tengah or Makam Sultan Tengah where Sultan Tengah was the first and last Sultan of Sarawak, who is buried here alongside with his family. A great place for anyone who is into history of Sarawak Borneo. You can take a walk here to visit this historical spot.Damai Golf and Country Club in Santubong - Image from CanonReflex9. Go for a round of Golf at the Damai Golf and Country ClubIf you are into golf, then you are in luck as the Damai Golf and Country Club is one of the best and the only one in the area. This 18 hold golf course was built and designed by Arnold Palmer in 1996 and is a 72 par with a total length of 6318 meters. This is also the first international course in Malaysia which was built by the legend Arnold Palmer. The uniqueness of this course is that there is a Mountain Nine and also an Ocean Nine course which makes this very interesting for golfers.Green Fees:9 Holes Mon-Fri - RM60, Sat, Sun, PH - RM9018 Holes Mon-Fri - RM100, Sat, Sun, PH - RM160Buggy - RM60, Caddie - RM50Email info@damaigolf.com or call +6 082 846088Santubong Trekking Trails10. Trekking at the Santubong National ParkCalled Taman Negara Santubong, this is the main national park here where you can explore by going for a hike or trek at the Santubong National Park. Trekking here will let you explore the beautiful rainforest's treks and also visiting some beautiful waterfalls in Santubong and there are two main treks, the basic one and the summit trek which is for advance trekkers. The treks are free of charge and one should follow the directions carefully. The most basic trek here will take you no longer than two hours.Picture Rock in Santubong - Image from Peter Lee11. Visit the Unique Picture Rock (Baru Bergambar)This very interesting stone is about 15 minutes drive from Damai Central and located at Sungai Jaong. The area has a total of 10 carved sandstone boulders with anthropomorphic etchings and some with geometric designs. The largest and most famous of these carved boulders is the Batu Bergambar (Picture Rock) which depicts the figure of a human on a boulder. History also claims that this amazing carving was made 1,000 years ago. Best to engage a local tour guide to bring you here and explain the history of this place.Scuba diving in Santubong, Sarawak - Image from Sarawak Tourism Board12. Go Diving and Snorkeling in SantubongYes, you can! Many do not know this but you can actually do diving in Kuching and here in Santubong. One of the main dive operators is called Aquabase and located near the Damai Puri Resort and Spa. The diving season in Kuching area is also from March to October while there are snorkeling trips for beginners, leisure diving and also advance diving for macro and shipwrecks. Aquabase Dive Center which is a PADI center also offers introductory diving course, license course and daily diving trips. To dive in Kuching, just head to Damai Puri Resort and look for Aquabase there.Map to SantubongFor some of the visits and tours mentioned above, you are recommended to engage a tour company and use their local tour guides. Most of the hotels in Santubong can arrange this for you and as visitors here, it is always best to go with a tour guide as they speak the local language and can share accurate information with you.As for first timers who are visiting this unique music festival, you should also take note that there are quite a number of things to do and you can also check out this list of what to do in Kuching if you are staying in the city area during the festival.Kids participating at one of the drum workshops during the RWMFFor those visiting the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016, there are a lot of things that you can do besides attending the festival. In the day, you can easily explore the Santubong area to do some of the things mentioned above here as some of them are free while others require booking a tour service.If you are looking for a place to stay, you can check this list of hotels in Kuching for the RWMF as it highlights all the accommodations ranging from budget to luxury. You can contact the hotels or guesthouses directly to book your stay. Note that the RWMF is held in Santubong, about 60 to 80 minutes away from Kuching via car.Overall, the RWMF will take place from Friday till Sunday and you would have some free time to move around Santubong to experience some of the things to do at the Rainforest World Music Festival. The RWMF 2016 takes place from 5-7 August at the Sarawak Cultural Village so see you there.
    Saturday 18th of June 2016 03:43:00 AM
  • Recommended Travel Guide For Japan
    Many a times, I have been looking for some recommended travel guides for Japan and most of the time, I end up with those brochures from the airport or just information from the internet. There are bad and good in these kind of travel information where the bad is that you are getting just the general information or outdated information, or you need to print the internet information and carry it along with you. Most Malaysians love to travel to Japan as nowadays as it is quite reasonable and easy for just about anyone to visit Japan, especially with all the flight promotions that budget airlines offer during promotions, even more so during travel fairs like the Matta Fair in Kuala Lumpur. For under RM5,000, Japan is easily accessible with AirAsia X and you can visit places like Tokyo, Osaka and even Sapporo, but having the flight and accommodations booked, you next need a good travel guide for Japan.So, where can one find a recommended travel guide for Japan? For me, I have always depended on those brochures that you find at the airports with the standard city map and places to visit and after numerous times to Japan, I found those not very informative. Eventually, I had to do some homework for my previous trip to Tokyo and there is a lot of information available online, but are they accurate? Plus the fact that you needed to print all that information and carry it along? No thanks. Applications on smartphones or tablets are sometimes no better, because there are too many in the market and everyone putting the same old general content and it is not really helpful if you ask me. Therefore, a friend of mine told me to check out the Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide, which is sold at local book stores here in Malaysia, so off I went to one of the bookstores to pick up a copy of a Tokyo travel guide book.Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide Tokyo TitleAfter going through the guide book, it totally changed my perception as it was incredibly complete and updated with all kinds of information required and it is like having the ultimate Tokyo travel bible in my hand with anything and everything in there, including those local popular places to eat and shop.When I arrived at my hotel in Tokyo, I just took a brief glance on where to have breakfast and in the Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide Tokyo title was a few pages dedicated to a variety of world breakfast with reviews and details on how to get to each of these places.There are also special sections for all kinds of sweets and snacks that are very popular in Tokyo so you will not miss any of them. With this, my food adventure was quite complete trying the many special that Tokyo offered. One of my favourites is the Miyazaki Wagyu Chili Sauce with Sunny Side Up and Bacon Pancake from the Rainbow Pancake Shop in Harajuku.A selection of sweet shops around Tokyo featured in the bookList of popular restaurants in Tokyo also featured in the guide bookApart from food, Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide Tokyo title highlights each district like Shibuya, Omotesando, Ueno, Asakusa, Ginza, Odaiba, Tsukiji and even areas around Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea with the show times, parades and even down to the little details of where to get what kind of souvenirs and also food and snack places.For example, in Harajuku - Omotesando, the guide book details everything from a hand picked selection of the best foods, popular shops, breakdown of Takeshita Street's famous spots, Cat Street review in Harajuku, popular landmarks around the area, lunch spots, shopping malls and museums and art places. All this in one section of the Tokyo guide book.Harajuku and Omotesando information from the guide bookIf you are a huge Japanese fashion fan, then Shibuya is the place you need to visit as this is the capital of fashion in Japan where you can find the latest trends and so on. While shopping, you can also check out the many trendy cafes and restaurants which are also reviewed with photos in the book which also shares which department store has what items and what specialty.Exploring Takeshita Street in Harajuku, TokyoThe guide book also lists the Best 10 for Tokyo GourmetVery detailed information on Takeshita StreetThere are three bonus mini books when you get the Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide Tokyo book If you are wondering where to go for sightseeing in Tokyo, the guide book also narrows down the best places in Tokyo to visit, including which subway train to take, which station to get off and also what else there is to do around each of these areas.One of the must visit places is no other than the Tokyo Sky Tree Tower which is the tallest structure in Japan standing at 634 meters tall. From up here, you can get an amazing view of Tokyo city and around the tower, there are so many interesting things to do. One of them is to visit the largest Daiso outlet in the world.Tokyo Skytree information from the bookOverall, the Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide Tokyo title is perfect for Malaysians and just about anyone who reads English because everything you need to know about Tokyo is in this guide book. For foodies and food lovers, you will be in for a treat as there is so much of Japanese food and snacks reviewed in the book too.As for maps, there are complete maps based on areas in Tokyo and also the entire Tokyo Subway map. Honestly, the way the book was created is perfect for Malaysians as it gets straight to the point - popular places to eat, shop and see.        The five titles or Japan travel guides from Rurubu Omotenashi (click on image to enlarge)Apart from the Tokyo title, there are also four other titles of Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide which are for Okinawa, Kyoto, Kyushu and Hokkaido. So if you are planning to visit any of those place in Japan, I would highly recommend getting the travel guides as they will make your travels much more fun and interesting. As for me, I am planning a trip to Kyoto and Okinawa next and I have already got those books where I am using them to plan my travel itinerary.If you are looking for a recommended travel guide for Japan, the Rurubu Omotenashi Travel Guide is priced at RM49.50 (Peninsular Malaysia) and RM50.50 (East Malaysia) and can be bought at local bookstores like Popular & Harris, MPH, Borders, Times and Kinokuniya. You can also buy them online from GEMPAK STARZ? who is the main distributor for the books.
    Wednesday 15th of June 2016 12:12:00 PM
  • Shanghai Disneyland Opening
    The much awaited Shanghai Disneyland Opening will take place this 16 June, 2016 and will be the latest Disneyland in the world. The news was initially announced in 2007, and the park was supposed to open in late 2015 but the opening was pushed to June 2016 due to delays and this makes it the sixth Disneyland in the World costing a total of US 5.5 Billion dollars and built at an amazing area of 963 acres. Currently, this is the talk of the world as the Shanghai Disneyland or Shanghai Disney Resort will be Asia's largest Disneyland and thousands of people are waiting for the official opening. The park boasts of six themed areas with a number of new and latest attractions and rides for all ages too. A trail Opening for the Shanghai Disneyland was conducted on May 7, 2016 and was only for special guests, which include staff involved in the massive project, construction workers and their families and media, who were specially invited for this auspicious moment. Tickets for the opening day of the Shanghai Disneyland have reported to be sold out within hours after going on sale therefore, if you are planning on going on the opening day, you might as well plan for another time. The latest Shanghai Disney Resort which will open on 6th June 2016Attractions at the Shanghai DisneylandAs always, the attractions and rides as Disneyland are one to look out for and for this park, there are quite a number of new and interesting attractions catered to all ages. One of the highlights is the Star Wars Launch Bay, Tron Lightcycle and the Marvel Universe.Mickey AvenueThe main street at the entrance of the parkAvenue M ArcadeGift Shops Collectible ShopsDisneytownOne stop dining, shopping and entertainment50 stores available hereWalt Disney Grand Theater Adventure IsleCamp DiscoveryRoaring RapidsSoaring over the horizonFantasylandAlice in Wonderland MazeEnchanted Storybook CastleHunny Pot SpinMany Adventures of Winnie the Pooh'Once Upon A Time' AdventurePeter Pan's FlightSeven Dwarfs Mine TrainVoyage to the Crystal GrottoGardens of ImaginationDumbo the Flying elephantFantasia CarouselGarden of the Twelve FriendsMarvel UniverseTomorrowlandBuzz Lightyear Planet RescueJet PacksStar Ways Launch BayStitch EncounterTRON Lightcycle Power Run (60 mph ride)Treasure CoveExplorer CanoesPirates of the Caribbean - Battle for the Sunken TreasureShipwreck ShoreSiren's RevengeShanghai Disneyland PhotosHere are a series of photos of Shanghai Disneyland taken by Ivsky.com from China who had the opportunity to visit the park before the opening. They are taken from various sections of the park.The Enchanted Storybook Castle at the Shanghai DisneylandAnother view of the Enchanted Storybook CastleInside AdventurelandTreasure Cove viewOne of the unique restaurantsA life sized pirate ship at Treasure CoveAlice in Wonderland MazeEntrance to Treasure CoveView of the Enchanted Storybook Castle from across the lake at FantasylandThe Mat Hatter's Tea Party inside Alice in Wonderland's MazeThe main entrance to the Alice in Wonderland MazeAround Shanghai DisneylandEcological Green Park which is located in the north east section will offer visitors a serene experience with beautiful landscapes and incredible 100 year old Ginko trees. an aromatic herb harden will also excite guests here while there are streams and recreational sections throughout. Wishing Star Park is another beautiful park where you can find the Wishing Star Lake, a 900 seat Amphitheater and also a colorful Dragonfly Playground for the kids. This place is also a 2.5 km walkway along the lake here. Chuansha Town is a historical town located near the Shanghai Disneyland and will be one of the main attractions here as this place holds quite a bit of interesting history. There is an old town area plus a lot of local Chinese restaurants found here. Shanghai Village is a luxury factory outlet shopping center that will feature over 140 of the world?s leading international and local brands and also offering up to 75% savings all year round. For those who love shopping, this is your place. For more information, visit the official Shanghai Disneyland Website. Star Wars Launch Bay, one of the main attractions (Image from Disney)Shanghai Disneyland Ticket PricesThe ticket prices for the Shanghai Disneyland is slightly cheaper than the Hong Kong Disneyland and offers a 1-day ticket and also a 2-day ticket. 1 Day Ticket PassAdults: CNY 499 (USD $ 75.00)Kids: CNY 375 (USD $ 55.00)Seniors: CNY 375 (USD $ 55.00)2 Day Ticket PassAdults: CNY 950 (USD $ 144.00)Kids: CNY 710 (USD $ 107.00)Seniors: CNY 710 (USD $ 107.00)*Children below 1 meter (3.3 feet) enter for freeShanghai Disney Resort Park MapAs the park is really huge, we are expecting at least one full day to fully see this place. Then again, you now know whey they have a two day pass, so that visitors can take their time to enjoy the place. Below is the park map for the Shanghai Disneyland. Shanghai Disneyland Park Map (Image from Disney)Hotels at Shanghai DisneylandThere are currently only two main hotels here which are; Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel, both offering different experiences and both out of the park. The Toy Story Hotel is closest to the theme park. Alternatively, you can stay in Shanghai or Pudong area for those with a budget and still make your way here.How to go to Shanghai Disneyland?There is a special high speed Disney Train that goes direct to the park and stops at the Disney Station Resort, which will be the main subway station outside the park. The Disneyland Park Station was opened in late April 2016 and there has already been about one million visitors a month to outside the park even before the official opening of the Shanghai Disneyland where a majority of the visitors are local Chinese from around Shanghai and China. You can take the train from central Shanghai direct to the park. The train line is No.11 and from Huaqiao to Disneyland. It passes interchange stations like Xujiahui, Longhua and Oriental Sports Center. Take Shanghai Subway Line 11Stop at the last station - Disney Resort StationCredits: Main Image from news.takungpao.com and other images from Disney.The Tron Lightcycle, one of the most anticipated rides that goes up to 60 mphIf you have been to any other Disneyland around the world, this would be something to add on to your list as this park will be the latest and most modern to date. And if you are visiting Shanghai now, this has added another major attractions to the things to do in Shanghai apart from going to places like The Bund, Xintiandi, Yu Yuan Gardens, Tianzifang and many other places.As for me, the writer, I have personally been to all the Disneyland's in the world (Anaheim in the US, Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, Euro Disney in Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland) and with the Shanghai Disneyland Opening this June 2016, I now have to plan for a trip here to complete my mission, and I thought I had seen it all. 
    Saturday 11th of June 2016 04:30:00 AM

Malaysia Asia Stats

Daily Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Today 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yesterday 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 26 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 25 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 24 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 23 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 22 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 21 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 20 0 0 0 0 0 0
October 19 0 0 0 0 0 0
Highest 5 5 0 0 3 12
Weekly Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 0.9 0.9 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.6
This Week 0 0 0 0 0 0
Last Week 0 0 0 0 0 0
Week 41 0 0 0 0 0 0
Week 40 0 0 0 0 1 1
Week 39 0 0 0 0 2 2
Week 38 0 0 0 0 0 0
Week 37 1 1 0 0 1 1
Week 36 2 2 0 0 1 1
Week 35 4 4 0 0 1 1
Week 34 2 2 0 0 0 0
Highest 8 9 0 0 4 12
Monthly Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 6.2 6.4 0.0 0.0 5.1 5.1
This Month 0 0 0 0 1 1
Last Month 5 5 0 0 4 4
August 16 10 11 0 0 6 6
July 16 3 3 0 0 4 4
June 16 3 3 0 0 4 4
May 16 7 7 0 0 7 7
April 16 6 6 0 0 8 8
March 16 8 8 0 0 5 5
February 16 14 14 0 0 7 7
January 16 6 7 0 0 5 5
Highest 20 20 0 0 8 14
Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Overall 464 487 0 0 153 164

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