Saturday, August 31, 2013

Flights to Yogyakarta from Singapore by SilkAir

SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, will start direct flights from Singapore and Yogyakarta Indonesia, from 25 November 2013, increasing its Indonesian network to 12 destinations. Subject to regulatory approvals, the flights will operate three times weekly on Monday, Friday and Sunday. The new services will be operated with Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft, featuring both Business and Economy Class cabins.

Renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows, Yogyakarta is close to the world famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples and offers a variety of natural attractions and sightseeing opportunities within and beyond the city. Because of its proximity to world famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples, also because having unique Javanese court Kraton culture of Kraton Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta has become the second most important tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali.

The announcement came just 1 month after Silkair has introduced its flights to to Semarang and Makassar on 29 July and 1 August respectively. SilkAir first began operations to Indonesia in August 1992 and has steadily strengthened its network over the years. SilkAir currently serves 11 Indonesian destinations, namely Balikpapan, Bandung, Lombok, Manado, Makassar, Medan, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Semarang, Solo and Surabaya.

With the new destination launch, SilkAir’s frequencies to Indonesia will increase to 70 flights weekly.

Yogyakarta has become the second most important tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali thanks to its
proximity to Borobudur and Prambanan and having unique Javanese court
Kraton culture of Kraton Yogyakarta
The new Yogyakarta services are connected via Singapore with the rest of the more than 90 international cities in the joint Singapore Airlines – SilkAir network.

SilkAir currently operates more than 300 weekly flights to 44 destinations in 12 countries. Recent additions to the network include Hanoi (June 2012), Visakhapatnam (October 2012), Semarang (July 2013) and Makassar (August 2013). The airline currently has a fleet of 23 Airbus aircraft, comprising 6 A319s and 17 A320s. In August 2012, the airline announced the largest order in its history of up to 68 Boeing 737 aircraft, with firm orders comprising 23 Boeing 737-800s and 31 Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Budget Hotels and Hostels for F1 Singapore 2013 Grand Prix

The 2013 Singapore Formula One (F1) Grand Prix scheduled to take place from 20 to 22 September 2013 will be Asia’s most anticipated and biggest motor-sports event of the year. As the first and only night street race in the F1 Championship draws near, demand for hotels are expected to rev up a few notches.

For the first time, the upcoming F1 Singapore 2013 Grand Prix race event will stage a Closing Concert headlined by Canadian pop-sensation Justin Bieber and Owl City. This year’s entertainment highlights also include a stellar line-up of mega-stars such as Rihanna, Big Bang (Korea), The Killers and Tom Jones.

Against such backdrop, finding accommodation in Singapore over the F1 race weekend can be a challenge. High demand from both motorsports enthusiasts and concert goers will drive up hotel room rates. During this F1 season, it will not come as a surprise that most hotels in Singapore may charge up to two times the usual rates.

Danny Lee, founder of, commented: “With the rates of trackside hotels doubling or even tripling during the F1 season, some F1 fans maybe priced out of action. For this reason, visitors can actually consider budget hotels and hostels that are located near the F1 racetrack. These cheaper accommodation options are also within easy reach of MRT train stations, shops and eateries. However, I do strongly advise racing fans to book early as these cheaper rooms get snapped up pretty fast.”

With less than four weeks to the world’s first F1 night race, Singapore budget hotel
specialist urges F1 racing fans to book their hotel stay in Singapore early.
To help cost-conscious F1 and non F1 fans, has curate a list of recommended budget hotels and hostels near the F1 circuit in Singapore.

The budget hotels listed are mostly located in downtown Bugis district and are within 10 to 15-minute walk or one train stop to race venues such as Gates 3, 7 and the Stamford Grandstand. The recommended boutique hostels are also mostly located in Bugis area and Clarke Quay that is about 15-minute walk to Gate 5, Turns 12 and 13 of the street circuit. The hostels come with amenities such as free WiFi and personal locker, and some even come with female-only sections.

To find out more about the list of affordable hotel accommodation near the Singapore F1 circuit, please visit

Holland America LineRoundtrip San Diego Cruises to Mexico, Hawaii & South Pacific in 2013-14

British-American owned cruise line Holland America Line is offering newly expanded itineraries for the 2013-2014 cruise season  with roundtrips San Diego, California departures to some of the most picturesque locations in Mexico, Hawaii and French Polynesia. This round trip cruises from USA will allow guests to embark and disembark in the United States while traveling to exotic destinations that usually require an international flight.

ms Statendam with 1,258 passenger capacity and her sister ms Veendam with 1,350 passenger capacity will offer itineraries from seven- and 12-day cruises to Mexico depart in November and December 2013 and March 2014, while the 17- to 35-day Circle Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas itineraries set sail in October 2013 and February and April 2014.

"These cruises make it easy for travelers to visit extraordinary locales without the need of international air travel," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "Each sailing features varied port calls including some overnights and enriching onboard activities that give our guests a very exciting and comprehensive Holland America Line vacation experience."

During the sailings with several sea days, guests can enjoy all of the onboard experiences that are exclusive to the premium cruise line. For example, with the new and engaging On Location program, guests on cruises to Hawaii might learn how to hula, make a fresh flower lei or get a ukulele lesson from a local, while cruisers on voyages to Mexico are entertained with an authentic mariachi band during a Mexican fiesta on deck. The itinerary sets the theme for guests to indulge in localized experiences that make time onboard as enriching as visiting the ports of call through lectures, demonstrations and performances.

Guests also can fill their time onboard with other exciting activities or simply relax and catch up on personal time with amenities such as the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine, Explorations Café powered by the New York Times or Digital Workshop powered by Windows.

Mexican Riviera in a Week
In November and December 2013 and March 2014, ms Veendam will sail a total of six seven-day itineraries to the Mexican Riviera. The roundtrip San Diego cruises call at Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as well as scenic cruising along Bahia Magdalena — a bay that is noted for the seasonal migration of California gray whales. Departure dates are Nov. 9 and Dec. 21 and 28, 2013 (two holiday sailings), and March 9, 16 and 23, 2014.

Mexican Riviera Port Intensive Cruise in 12 Days
Sailing a longer roundtrip San Diego itinerary to the Mexican Riviera, ms Statendam departs Dec. 4, 2013, on a 12-day voyage that calls at Cabo San Lucas, Pichilingue (La Paz), Loreto, Guaymas, Topolobampo and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Guests will get extra time ashore in Puerto Vallarta during an overnight call where they can indulge in local cuisine, learn more about the country's history or check out the nightlife ashore. This departure also includes scenic cruising in Bahia Magdalena.

Circle Hawaii Voyages of 17 and 18 Days
Between Mexican Riviera cruises, ms Veendam sets sail for the beautiful islands of Hawaii on four roundtrip San Diego itineraries that explore the natural beauty of the Aloha State and add another port call for next season: Kona. These longer sailings offer a leisurely pace that combines exciting ports with plenty of sea days to enjoy the amenities found onboard. The 17-day itinerary departs Nov. 16, 2013, and Jan. 4, 2014, and calls at Hilo, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina and Kona, Hawaii. The 18-day cruises depart Dec. 3, 2013, and Jan. 21, 2014, and add an overnight at Honolulu.

On these cruises, guests can explore Hilo's world-class botanical gardens, the molten lava flows of Kilauea and awe-inspiring Akaka Falls. Lahaina boasts the Haleakala Crater and Hana's seven sacred pools, while Nawiliwili features Waimea Canyon — the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Honolulu offers a classic Hawaiian allure: pineapple plantations, surfing beaches, hula shows and luaus, while quieter moments await at the USS Arizona Memorial. Once the playground of Hawaii's royalty, Kona is synonymous with the famous coffee that grows on the slopes of the dormant Hualalai volcano.

Circle Hawaii, Tahiti & Marquesas from 29 to 35 Days
Guests looking for an exotic adventure can set sail on ms Statendam's 2013 and 2014 Circle Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas itineraries. Ranging in length from 29 to 35 days, these three longer voyages sail roundtrip San Diego to the Hawaiian Islands and the stunning island jewels of French Polynesia.

The 2013 sailing departs San Diego Oct. 4 and Dec. 16 for a special holiday journey for a 30-day cruise. Guests looking to embark earlier can join the cruise at San Francisco, Calif., Oct. 2 or Sept. 29 at Vancouver, British Columbia, for 32-day and 35-day sailings, respectively. In 2014, the ship departs San Diego Feb. 14 on a 29-day Valentine's Day-departing roundtrip itinerary, as well as April 15 on a 29-day roundtrip San Diego cruise or a 33-day itinerary that ends at Vancouver.

After departing San Diego, ms Statendam sails west and makes four calls at the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu, including an overnight call at Honolulu and late departure from Lahaina. The ship crosses the equator on the way to French Polynesia where it calls at Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tahiti, Moorea, Rangiroa and Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands. To ensure that guests have the most in-depth experiences ashore, Holland America Line has allotted extra time with overnight calls at Bora Bora and Tahiti. Statendam crosses the equator once again before arriving back at San Diego.

Explore4 Early Booking Promotion
Holland America Line is offering the Explore4 early booking promotion that features a free Signature Beverage Package or beverage card, a free specialty restaurant dinner, free or reduced fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits for bookings on select 2014 cruises made before October 15, 2013. Guests may receive all four offers when booking a qualified itinerary.
Cruise fares for Mexico itineraries begin at $899 per person, double occupancy for a seven-day sailing and include Explore4 Early Booking Promotion offers.  Fares for Hawaii begin from $1,599 per person for a 17-day Circle Hawaii itinerary with Explore4 early booking promotions.  Circle Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas begin at $3,699 per person.

This is one of the 3 2014 cruise season announcement from 15 ships strong cruise line others being Canada and New England Cruises in 2014 and 2014 Europe Cruise Season.

Source : Holland America Line Offers Diversity on Roundtrip San Diego Cruises to Mexico, Hawaii & South Pacific in 2013-14

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

CASE in dispute with Scoot over refunds for duplicate bookings

Duplicate flight bookings may occur when you accidentally select the payment tab twice, or if the system fails to register a successful transaction. When this rare problem appears with an airline you may be surprised like one Scoot passenger who was billed $1,363, twice the amount for the flights he had booked.

In case of dublicate bookings, the airline refunds the passanger for one of the bookings but this may take some time (measured in months). But refund may not be the case with all incidents according to a Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) press release. CASE got into dispute with budget airline Scoot over refunds for duplicate bookings.

According to CASE press release, over the last three years, it has received 23 complaints from customers who were charged double for a budget flight when booking online. According to CASE out of the four airlines involved, Scoot, which received three complaints, was the only one which did not offer a refund.

A month earlier than the Scoot customer above, another passenger made a duplicate booking and later tried to contact the company repeatedly for a refund, but has not heard from the airline so far. Another was able to reach Scoot with Case's help, and transfer the second booking for a small fee.

But Sccot denies the allegations and says "as long as the names, flights and travel dates are identical, one of the bookings will be refunded."

The other three airlines - Jetstar, AirAsia and Tigerair - offer full refunds for duplicate bookings, although it can take as long as two months. Airline staff urged customers to call up and check on their bookings if they encounter errors online, instead of trying to re-book.

"Don't assume it didn't go through just because you didn't get your itinerary. Always call the airline first," said a Jetstar call centre officer to the The Strait Times.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Holland America Line Canada and New England Cruises in 2014

Holland America Line's 2014 Cruise Season offers are extensive. We have written about Holland America Line 2014 Europe Cruise Season where cruise line's 15 ships will sail for 57 unique itineraries on 105 departures cruising to many fantastic European destinations from the tip of Norway to the beautiful beaches of Turkey.

Holland America Line is also offering an extensive Canada and New England program with 48 sailings spanning spring, summer and fall. With three ships (ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam and ms Veendam) departing from five convenient home ports, more travelers can experience the region's breathtaking scenery, historic seaports, culinary treats and cultural charm.

From May 2014 to October 2014, ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam and ms Veendam depart from Boston , Mass. ; Montreal and Quebec City, Canada ; Fort Lauderdale , Fla. , and New York City for 9 different itineraries. These cruises will range from seven to 15 days and include family-friendly summer cruises and visits during the height of the fall foliage season as summer turns to autumn and the jewel-toned leaves offer one of nature's most impressive showings.

" Canada and New England is one of the most picturesque, historic and culturally rich regions in the world, making it an ideal vacation for families, nature lovers and history buffs," said Richard Meadows , Holland America Line's executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "With our comprehensive program featuring three ships sailing throughout the year, our guests can enjoy a variety of experiences in spring, summer and the beautiful fall season."

Here are some highlights from Holland America Line Canada and New England Cruises in 2014:

Departures Across the Summer Perfect for Getaway or Family Vacation
1,350 passenger capacity ms Veendam, named for the capital of Northern Netherlands's peat colonies, starts Holland America Line's Canada and New England season with a nine-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Quebec City departing May 1, 2014. The cruise ship will make its way up the coast with calls at Gloucester ( Boston ), Mass.; Bar Harbor, Maine ; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia , and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island .

From May 10 through the October 11 departure, ms Veendam will sail 17 seven-day itineraries between Quebec City and Boston . Ports of call include Charlottetown , Sydney , Halifax and Bar Harbor , with scenic cruising on the St. Lawrence River . These sailings also include an overnight at Quebec City , Holland America Line's number-one rated port of call.

Departing Aug. 16 , Veendam adds a single cruise roundtrip from Boston that highlights the historic coastline. During the seven-day itinerary the ship calls at Bar Harbor ; Saint John, New Brunswick ; Halifax , Sydney , and Portland , Maine . While ashore, guests will be able to sample the famous Maine lobster, admire the photogenic lighthouses and learn about the area's interesting maritime history.

Maasdam begins its season with a 15-day northbound cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal departing May 2 . During the voyage, guests will visit Charleston, S.C. ; Newport, R.I. ; Bar Harbor ; Halifax , Sydney and Charlottetown ; Gaspe, Sept-Iles , Saguenay and Quebec City, Quebec , and Trios-Rivieres, Canada , before arriving at Montreal . Highlights include an overnight at Quebec City , scenic cruising in the Saguenay Fjord and the only Canada and New England sailing to call at Trios-Rivieres.

From May 24 through the Oct. 11 departure, Maasdam offers seven-day sailings between Montreal and Boston , with calls at Quebec City , Charlottetown , Sydney , Halifax and Bar Harbor . The itineraries feature scenic cruising on the St. Lawrence River and make an ideal option for families looking to take a summer cruise without traveling abroad.

Maasdam concludes the season with a 13-day sailing departing Oct. 18 from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale . Ports of call include Quebec City , Saguenay, Sept-Iles , Gaspe, Charlottetown , Sydney , Halifax , Bar Harbor and New York City . Guests can take in the beautiful landscape at peak fall foliage time on scenic cruising along the Saint Lawrence River , Saguenay Fjord and Gaspe Bay . Guests may also choose a 10-day option to sail from Montreal and disembark in New York .

ms Veendam, seen here while cruising Alaska. will kick off Holland America Line's Canada and New England 2014 cruise season
with a nine-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Quebec City departing May 1, 2014
Fall Foliage Cruises Bring Region to Life with Nature's Colors 
In September and October, during the height of the 2014 fall foliage season, Eurodam will sail three 10-day cruises between New York and Quebec City , and one 12-day cruise from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale . On the 10-day itinerary departing Sept. 14 the ship calls at Boston , Portland , Maine ; Saint John , Halifax , Sydney and Charlottetown , with an overnight at Quebec City . The Sept. 24 departure spends 10 days exploring Quebec City (overnight), Charlottetown , Sydney , Halifax , Portland , Boston and Newport , with scenic cruising along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Saguenay Fjord. On the 10-day return trip from New York to Quebec departing Oct. 4 , the ship calls at Boston ; Rockland, Mass. ; Halifax , Sydney and Charlottetown , concluding with an overnight at Quebec . Guests will enjoy scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Saguenay Fjord, as well as the line's only call at Rockland this season.

Eurodam concludes its New England season on a new 12-day cruise from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale departing Oct. 14 . The itinerary begins with an overnight at Quebec City and then sails for Saguenay, Charlottetown , Sydney , Halifax , Portland , Boston and Fort Lauderdale , Fla.

For seven-day Maasdam and Veendam itineraries, two back-to-back sailings can be combined for an extended 14-day roundtrip journey, allowing extra time ashore to get to know each port better with repeating calls. Guests can hunt for antiques, explore the charming fishing towns, learn about local history and sample more of the region's fresh seafood.

On Location Provides Engagement with the Cruise Destination as Guests Sail
On each Canada and New England cruise, Holland America Line's "On Location" enrichment program brings local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life both onboard and ashore to deepen guests' appreciation of the region. Guests might enjoy a New England clam bake or a Fiddlin' Flapjack breakfast, complete with authentic Canadian maple syrup and featuring local Cape Breton Celtic fiddlers. Other activities to enjoy include regional beer and wine tastings, a Canadian Bar mixology class, cultural cooking demonstrations, and a special Quebecois L'auberge de Lido or New England sailaway party.
Explore4 Early Booking Promotion Gives Added Perks for Planning Now
Presently, Holland America Line is offering the Explore4 early booking promotion that features a free Signature Beverage Package or beverage card, a free specialty restaurant dinner, free or reduced fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits for bookings on select 2014 cruises made before October 15, 2013 . Guests may receive all four offers when booking a qualified itinerary.

Cruise fares for 2014 Canada and New England itineraries begin at $799 per person, double occupancy for a seven-day sailing and include Explore4 Early Booking Promotion offers. With free or reduced third and fourth guests, a family of four can take a dream vacation to Canada /New England next summer on select dates with fares starting at $799 for the first and second guest, and the third and fourth guests in the same stateroom sailing for free.

Source : Holland America Line Features Its Most Extensive Canada and New England Program with 48 Sailings in 2014

Best Hotels in Koh Samui

The paradise island of Koh Samui is the second most popular island destination in Thailand after Phuket. This 3rd largest island of Thailand sits in a 80 island strong archipelo which form the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking and snorkeling paradise.

Koh Samui offers a wide variety of attractions and accommodation for all budgets: there is something on this island for both ultra-tight budget backpackers to ultra-rich high rollers. The island offers white sandy beaches, typical Thailand night life attractions, some of the best and safest skuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking locations on the planet plus many others water sports and land based sight seeing.

Here in this article we have listed some of the best hotels in Koh Samui in different classes.

Best Luxury Hotels in Koh Samui

Banyan Tree Samui

Banyan Tree Samui is one of the best hotels on Koh Samui Island which is literally a stone throw away from the beach, shops, and restaurants. The 78 all-pool villas combine the best elements of a tropical getaway with white beaches and sun. The hotel also provides Kid’s Club, a program where kids can partake in a wide selection of activities such as baking, painting, sand art, etc, assuring a perfect getaway for family bonding. With a full range of popular amenities and a friendly, caring staff, you will keep returning to Banyan Tree Samui Hotel.

W Retreat Koh Samui Hotel

W Retreat Koh Samui is a chic luxury hotel with signiture "W Hotel" "wow" factor.  The resort features seven designs of Villas from Jungle Oasis (163sqm) to Extreme Ocean Haven (892sqm). Its facilities include a library, a ‘SWEAT’ Fitness Centre, AWAY Spa, WAVE Water Sports Centre. The Kitchen Table restaurant is where to enjoy healthy salads, Japanese food or even pizzas while SIP and
WOOBAR both serve modern cocktails and fresh smoothies.

The Tongsai Bay Hotel

The Tongsai Bay Hotel proves itself as a perfect getaway among the natural surrounding of Samui Island. All of its 83 suites and villas are designed under the ‘Great Outdoor Living’ Concept. Apart from the standard room amenities, each unit has a spacious terrace with a bathtub and other open-air facilities to ensure a perfect leisure stay. A range of facilities the resort provides to maximize guests’ relaxation include sailing boats, canoes, windsurfs, snorkeling equipments, swimming pools, children’s wading pool, tennis court, Jucuzzi pool, and Spa with sauna room and massage treatment programs.

Best Boutique Hotel in Koh Samui

Zazen Boutique Resort

Zazen Boutique Resort offers a very relaxing beach holiday with bungalows on the beach, nice food, good service and overall nice Koh Samui experience. Situated in Bo Phut, the resort offers luxury bungalows on the beachfront and in tropical gardens. It is famous with its restaurant which won Thailand Tatler’s ‘Best Restaurant’ award for four straight years and Le Spa Zen which is notable for its outstanding spa treatments.

MAI Samui Beach Resort and Spa

MAI Samui Beach Resort and Spa is the ultimate in beach side fun and relaxation. The resort is at the North-Western tip of the gorgeous island of Samui. The tourist friendly beaches of Lamai and Chaweng can be easily reached, and for a quieter day, MAI Samui offers all the activities minus the crowd. This luxurious resort includes three restaurants, a beach club, two pools, tennis courts and a spa. For the ultimate in beach luxury and a truly enjoyable holiday, MAI Samui Beach Resort & Spa should definitely be booked.

Akaryn Samui

Akaryn Samui is located on its very own beach at Hanuman Bay. Away from the crowds, rooms in the resort are spacious at very reasonable rates.

"We came for a few days of luxury after two weeks Of moving through budget/midrange hotels to finish our honeymoon. We could not have chosen a better place. The staff was friendly and smiling the resort is just beautiful And the room was too good to be true. The room was large, clean and just perfectly designed. The restaurants are expensive but good and there are many Good cheap alternatives near by. We hope we get a chance to come back. It was the closest to paradise we have ever been."

New Singapore Property Market Cooling Measures

New Singapore property cooling measures have hit the shores of flooded property market as Ministry of National Development (MND) has announced 2 cooling measures in a press release today. Basically:
MND says these first 2 measures are in line with those introduced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to encourage financial prudence among borrowers, which is especially important given that the current low interest rate environment is unlikely to be sustained.

According to The Straits Times, there were 51,000 Housing Board flats fully owned by permanent residents as of end June 2013, representing 6 per cent of all HDB flats. In 2013, 130 flats were sold by PRs within three years of their purchase, while 320 were sold within four years of purchase, and 490 within five years.

Singapore PRs need to wait 3 years before buying resale HDB flats

Singapore's Ministry of National Development has published a press release today in its web site announcing that Singapore Permanent Residents (Singapore PRs) will need to wait 3 years before they can buy a resale HDB flat in Singapore. Before the announcement Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) households, i.e. SPR households with no Singapore citizen owner, could buy resale HDB flats as soon as they acquire SPR status.

This new property cooling measure will apply to resale applications received on or after 27 Aug 2013, 5:30pm.

How will this impact the Singapore property market? Previously in a blog article in Housing Matters blog named Who Buy Resale Flats?,  Ministry of National Development has revealed that 20% of resale HDB flats were bought by Singapore PRs. In fact, almost half of the buyers in 4 room HDB category (45%) were Singapore PRs. Although many PRs who carry this status for more than 3 years are still eligible to buy HDB flats, many will not be able to do so. In fact on the ground, one of the main reasons many seem to go to Singapore PR looks like to be able to buy an HDB flat (but I am not sure this can statistically be proven).

Resale flat buyers - Source : Housing Matters Blog

According to some analyst, Singapore permanent residents (PRs) are expected to show greater demand for rental and private homes following the latest measures targeting the purchase of resale HDB flats. “For the next three years, this is going to be a lifeline for the private housing market as a lot of private homes will be completed.” says Nicholas Mak.

I really suspect this expectation will be realized since private homes are beyond reach of many PRs going for resale HDBs. If they go for private homes we will have another group of over extended borrowers to add to the pain when the property prices goes down.

By the sudden policy change, at least 150 property deals have hit the skids. The figure is an early estimate by property agents, who say that similar cases are streaming in, with PRs having been caught out by Tuesday night's surprise announcement, which took effect immediately:
"IT customer service officer Gong Wei, who got his PR status last year, says the new rule is a decision by the Government and he can accept the policy, but a grace period for those who are in the middle of a deal would be a fair concession to make."
To cool the runaway property market further MND has also revised the mortgage loan terms:
To ensure financial prudence in purchase of public housing and discourage over-consumption, we will reduce the maximum tenure for HDB housing loans from 30 years to 25 years. The Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) limit will also be reduced from 35% to 30% of the borrower’s gross monthly income (see Annex C for details). These measures are in line with those introduced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to encourage financial prudence among borrowers, which is especially important given that the current low interest rate environment is unlikely to be sustained.  
In tandem, the MAS will reduce the maximum tenure of new housing loans and re-financing facilities granted by financial institutions for the purchase of HDB flats (including DBSS flats) from 35 years to 30 years. New loans with tenures exceeding 25 years and up to 30 years will be subject to tighter loan-to-value (LTV) limits. 

10 hotels with best views and easiest access to Mount Fuji

Long considered a sacred home to ancient spirits and a source of great power, Fuji-san, as Mount Fuji is known to locals, is a nearly perfectly symmetrical cone that rises gently out of the surrounding plain. For centuries artists have been reproducing its distinctive shape in every medium imaginable, a practice that boomed when Edo – now Tokyo, and only 100km away – was named the capital in 1600. Indeed, most people are probably familiar with the 19th-century woodblock print titled The Great Wave off Kanagawa, part of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series by famed artist Katsushika Hokusai. The print shows a massive wave towering over several small boats, with Mount Fuji standing silently far in the background.

As one of the world’s most geologically active countries, it’s not surprising to learn that Fuji-san is actually a still-active volcano, with sixteen eruptions since 781. The most recent was in 1707, and some geologists believe that another eruption will happen sooner rather than later. The mountain is also a sacred site for followers of the Shinto religion, and visitors will spot dozens of shrines honoring Konohanasakuya, the spirit of the mountain, whose symbol is a cherry blossom. Indeed, it was its status as a sacred site that led to women being banned from walking on Mount Fuji until 1872!

Today, the mountain’s silhouette is instantly recognizable around the world, and it remains the most popular attraction in the country, with heavy crowds 52 weeks a year. Some come simply to take a few pictures while those more adventurous will make the trek to the summit, a task best attempted in summer unless you’re a professional mountaineer.

Fuji-san is often shrouded in mist, and clear, cloud-free days are valued for the views they afford. To help make the most of these days, has provided ten hotels that are perfectly situated to offer the best views and easiest access to Japan’s most famous natural feature.

Fuji Onsenji Yumedono Ryokan

Fuji Onsenji Yumedono Ryokan is a nice, quiet, and comfortable hotel  which provide private/public onsen and is accessible to Mount Fuji with buses.

"A typical Japanese style inn with good service. The location is not easy to find and there is no clear sign that can be seen on the road. In addition, there is no scene inside the room. That is, we cannot see Mount Fuji or the lake! Anyhow, it is a good place to take rest and have a good spa during the stay."

Kozantei Ubuya Ryokan

Kozantei Ubuya Ryokan offers a superb view of Mount Fuji with great Japanese dinner and breakfast and not forgetting the excellent staff attention to detail and service.

"The view was very great and the suite was large. Staff are friendly although not all of them speak English. Food was good too. Would be better to have full WiFi coverage but I think that's fine. Highly recommended."

Mizu no Hotel

Mizu no Hotel has a romantic and good view of Mount Fuji (see the photo on the left from a guest room), a hot spring bath, nice food, nice service and nice rooms. A little expensive but worth it.

"Good hotel with wonderful location, the stuff can speak good English and willing to help with any problems. The hot spring is good but a big small. Food there is fanatic especially breakfast. Its a artistic hotel. The only thing is the room looks old. But the view you can see from the room is wonderful."

Guesthouse Sakuya

Guesthouse Sakuya has this classic Mt. Fuji view behind blossoming cherry trees and offers a 1uiet environment and fresh air.

"We spent a very nice stay in the Sakuya guesthouse. It is very quiet (perfect after few days spent in Tokyo), located in the mountain (10 min driving from the bus station), possibilty to arrange a pick up at the station for free, nice trails around the hostel. Private onsen with direct view on the Fuji. Nice food and staff. We recommend for a quick break."

Fujimien Hotel 3*
Customers say: “Taking the hot spring is a wonderful experience at this hotel as it allows you see the awesome view of mountains including Mt Fuji. The dinner and breakfast are delicious and sufficient. Staff are exceedingly helpful and approachable.” – Tan, Singapore

Kinokuniya Yusenkan 4*
Customers say: This hotel has a nice ryokan feel, hot springs and fantastic meals. The bedroom was very comfy as well.” – Tong, Malaysia

Hakone Elecasa Hotel & Spa 4.5*
Hotel says: From this hotel, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.

Hakone Yunohana Onsen Hotel 4*
Hotel says: For sightseeing options and local attractions, one need not look far as the hotel is close to Yunohanasawa Onsen, Mt. Hakone, and Senjo Waterfall. The Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed train station is close by, and Odawara Station is 40 minutes by taxi.

Sea Grande Shimizu Station Hotel 3*
Customers say: “The hotel is only 5 minutes away from Shimizu Station. When we entered the room we were surprised to see such a huge space!” – Lydia, USA

Daisenya Hotel 3*
Hotel says: All rooms are facing Mt. Fuji, where guests can readily enjoy the beautiful views of Japan's most famous natural landmark. Take advantage of a wealth of unrivaled services and amenities at this great hotel in Izu.

Inside Singapore Video Travel Guide August 2013 with Jamie Yeo

TTV's "Inside Singapore" provides information about Singapore to guests staying in hotels in Singapore. Hosted by gorgeous Jamie Yeo these are basically video version of a tourist magazine, with the show providing an insider's guide to Singapore's attractions, dining, shopping, nightlife, events and transportation.

The latest video, INSIDE Singapore | August 2013 with Jamie Yeo is online in YouTube where Jamie Yeo starts the show from Mount Faber. The video is a quite compact and nice introduction of Singapore to tourists and is a nice where to eat/club/dine and shop guide.

Here are some tips from the show:
  • While at Clarke Quay check out the PumpRoom, Fern & Kiwi, Coriander Leaf, Le Noir, Attica for great nightlife, Royal Selangor and a host of other bars and restaurants.
  • When on Sentosa you must try The Luge, Megazip, Wave House, Go Green Segway, Universal Studios, iFly or just chill on the Beach at the Tanjong Beach Club. Take advantage of the Sentosa Play Pass.
  • There are a host of Museums in Singapore such as the Art Science Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum and National Museum of Singapore.
  • Want to try Something different, check out Ultimate Drive. Grab yourself a Ferrari F430 F1 Spider, or a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and drive the world famous F1 Street Circuit.
  • You can't go past Paragon, Scotts Square and Hilton Gallery when it comes to shopping in Singapore.
  • When it comes top dining the Singapore is the place for you. Whether it's the Hawker food at Newton Circus or La Pau Sat through to some of our favourites such as Level33, Pollen, 1-Altitude, Esquina, Keong Saik Snacks, the Screening Room, Crystal Jade, or the all-day breakfasts at Wild Honey -- you will never be short of food choices in Singapore.

Here is the YouTube channel for Insider TV. You know Jamie Yeo from ESPN/Star Sports Castrol Football Crazy and Maxis Football Extra television shows in Asia. In Singapore she is famous for portraying Tammy in the TV show Growing Up. You can watch July 2013 version of this Singapore Travel Guide here: INSIDE Singapore | July 2013 with Jamie Yeo

Holland America Line 2014 Europe Cruise Season

For travelers who would like to explore Europe with a cruise ship in 2014, Holland America Line's 2014 Europe Cruise season itineraries offers eight of the cruise line's 15 ships, 57 unique itineraries on 105 departures cruising to many fantastic European destinations from the tip of Norway to the beautiful beaches of Turkey.

In 2014 Holland America Line's ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Maasdam, ms Noordam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam, ms Veendam and ms Prinsendam will be cruising in Europe. "The allure of Europe is that it offers everything for an ideal vacation: culture, history, culinary excellence, shopping, sun and excitement," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "Europe is the most diverse region in the world, from the snow-capped fjords of Norway to the olive groves of Greece, and our cruises explore every corner of the continent."

The 2014 Europe cruise season showcases Holland America Line's focus on destination diversity, timeless appeal and high-quality experiences, with maiden calls at Antalya, Turkey; Burgas, Bulgaria; Ijmuiden (Amsterdam), the Netherlands; Itea and Kavala, Greece; La Palais on Belle-Ile-en-Mer, France, and Montoir-de-Bretagne (Nantes), France.

Several convenient roundtrip options will be available from nine ports: Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Boston, Mass.; Civitavecchia (Rome) and Venice, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dover (London), England; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Piraeus (Athens) and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Many of the itineraries also can be extended into Collectors' Voyages ranging from 14 to 37 days, which offer the ultimate European cruise experience. These artfully crafted longer cruises combine back-to-back itineraries, enabling guests to visit more ports and spend extra time exploring centuries of art, history and culture.

ms Prinsendam
Known as Holland America Line's intimate explorer, ms Prinsendam will sail 13 unique European itineraries
in 2014 that feature six of the maiden calls.
Here are some notable new itineraries from Holland America Line 2014 Europe Cruise Season:

D-Day 70th Anniversary 
Travelers looking for a memorable and moving vacation can embark Eurodam April 29, 2014, for a 12-day "D-Day 70th Anniversary" sailing from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Copenhagen. The ship will call at ports in Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar before arriving at Portland, England, where guests can visit the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Eurodam continues north to Cherbourg (Normandy), France, where the famous World War II battle took place June 6, 1944. The cruise calls at Zeebrugge (Brussels), Belgium, before concluding at Copenhagen. Cruise fares begin at $1,899 per person, double occupancy.

12-Day Baltic Adventure
From May through August, Eurodam will sail a new 12-day Baltic itinerary roundtrip from Copenhagen that features three overnight calls in some of the most exciting cities in the world: St. Petersburg, Russia; Stockholm, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark. The overnight visits allow for an evening Russian ballet performance, an enchanting nighttime cruise along Stockholm's waterways or a performance at the famed Copenhagen Opera House. The ship also calls at ports in Estonia, Finland and Germany. Cruise fares begin at $1,899 per person, double occupancy.

14-Day Iberian & Gallic Explorer
Departing May 10 from Civitavecchia (Rome), Prinsendam sails a 14-day voyage to Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) that explores the French wine country with an overnight call at Bordeaux, France. The extended visit allows for an exclusive dinner at a vineyard or extra time to sample local French cuisine. The cruise also visits ports in Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, Belgium and additional calls in France. Cruise fares begin at $2,699 per person, double occupancy.

14-Day Bourgundian Explorer
Cruising from Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) Sept. 7 to Barcelona, Spain, Prinsendam visits 11 ports in six countries during the two-week journey. After a call at Vlissingen, the Netherlands, guests will enjoy a day of scenic cruising along the Scheidt River. An overnight at Brussels (Antwerp), Belgium, allows extra shopping time for luxury items such as leather, diamonds and chocolate. The cruise continues on to ports in France, including the maiden call at La Palais, Belle-Ile-en-Mer, as well as Spain and Gibraltar before reaching Barcelona. Cruise fares begin at $2,599 per person, double occupancy.

16-Day Black Sea Explorer
Prinsendam's roundtrip Piraeus (Athens) itinerary that departs Oct. 5 extends from 14 to 16 days in 2014, allowing for two full nights at Istanbul, Turkey, and an overnight at Sevastopol, Ukraine. With extra time at Istanbul, guests can take in sights like the Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque at their leisure. The cruise also includes the maiden calls at Kavala and Burgàs. In addition to ports in Turkey, Ukraine, Greece and Bulgaria, the ship also calls at Constanta, Romania, and guests will enjoy scenic cruising by Mount Athos, through the Bosporus Strait and Dardanelles. Cruise fares begin at $4,199 per person, double occupancy.

14-Day Mediterranean Enchantment
Near the end of the European season when there are fewer crowds and more comfortable temperatures, Ryndam sails from Istanbul to Barcelona on a 14-day itinerary that features nine calls throughout Turkey, Egypt, Greece and Italy. Departing Oct. 18, guests can visit some of the most historical sites in the region, including Ephesus at Kusadasi, Turkey; the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx at Alexandria (Cairo), Egypt, and Mount Etna at Messina, Italy. This itinerary also features the line's maiden call at Antalya. Cruise fares begin at $2,099 per person, double occupancy.

Other Unique Experiences
Additional exciting Holland America Line Europe itineraries enable guests to be among the few to cross the Arctic Circle, transit Germany's Kiel Canal or cruise the Gironde Estuary into Bordeaux. Other unique experiences include visiting the stunning Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao, Spain, and searching for "Nessie" the sea monster in Loch Ness at Inverness, Scotland. Those interested in taking a dip in the famous "Blue Lagoon," Iceland's unique geothermal seawater, can choose the 18-day trans-Atlantic cruise aboard Eurodam, which includes an overnight stay at Reykjavik.

On each Europe cruise, Holland America Line's "On Location" enrichment program brings local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life both onboard and ashore to deepen guests' appreciation of the region. Guests might enjoy a Turkish Taraf with live belly dancers, Garden of the Gods deck party, Nordic Jazz and Food Festival, German Bierfest with a live "oompah" band, regional beer and wine tastings, cultural cooking demonstrations, special tapas sail-away parties and more.

Explore4 Early Booking Promotion Gives Added Perks for Planning Now
Presently, Holland America Line is offering the Explore4 early booking promotion that features a free Signature Beverage Package or beverage card, a free specialty restaurant dinner, free or reduced fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits for bookings on select 2014 cruises made before October 15, 2013. Guests may receive all four offers when booking a qualified itinerary.

Source : Holland America Line's 2014 Europe Season Features 57 Unique Itineraries On 105 Departures

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hong Kong residents demand for budget flights

According to a survey conducted for Jetstar Hong Kong nearly 70% of Hong Kong residents have intentions to fly on a budget airline in the next 12 months. 79% said they will fly more if the fares are lower, 81% said they would spend more on hotels and activities if they saved on their airfare and 84% welcome more home-based budget airlines in Hong Kong. The research is conducted by the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) on behalf of Jetstar Hong Kong.

According to Jetstar Hong Kong CEO Edward Lau this latest research reaffirms the strong demand in Hong Kong for low cost travel. He said the research also indicated strong flow on benefits of more low cost carrier travel with 81 per cent of respondents saying they would spend more on their hotel and holiday activity if they could save on the airfare.

“By making air travel more accessible to more people, not only will we see more people travelling more often, but we will see people spending more money at their destination including those visiting Hong Kong,” Mr Lau said. “This provides new opportunities for the broader tourism industry including hotels, rental car companies and tourist attractions at the destinations where LCCs fly,” he said.

“Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai and Seoul all have home grown LCCs – now Hong Kong consumers are saying it is their turn with nearly 80 per cent saying they would travel more if the fares were lower.

Jetstar Hong Kong is a proposed low fare airline which will be based at Hong Kong International Airport. Jetstar Hong Kong plans to commence services in 2013, subject to the regulatory approval from the Government of Hong Kong. There are plans to expand the fleet to 18 aircraft by 2015. The budget airline will initially serve short-haul routes to cities in China, Japan, South Korea and South East Asia.

Source : Survery reveals Hong Kong's demand for low cost carrier

Sarawak Cruises by Star Cruises

Star Cruises will bring visitors to the home of adventure—Sarawak. SuperStar Aquarius will call into this “Land of Hornbills” when she commences her seasonal homeport deployment from Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, Malaysia, for the first time from 6 November 2013 to 30 March 2014.

As the largest state of Malaysia, Sarawak is one of the most desirable destinations in the tropical country. With natural beauty, rich history, diverse culture, deep-rooted heritage and modern city living all-in-one, Sarawak is a potpourri of experiences appreciated by travelers from all over the world.

The new 4D3N cruises departing every Sunday from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei’s Bandar Seri Begawan and Sarawak’s Bintulu will take visitors to a variety of exotic local attractions. They can also immerse in another dimension of cruise fun and entertainment on SuperStar Aquarius’ daily 1-night high seas experience from Wednesday to Saturday.

Shopping spree and food hunting
Visitors can stroll along the busy streets of Bintulu Town or mingle with locals doing their daily chores at the unique native market, where assorted specialty and farm products ranging from fruits to vegetables to handicrafts are up for sale. Take a bite of the authentic brittle snack tebaloi—a cookie made with sago flour, and other local delicacies such as laksa, cendol and rojak there. One can also check out the wet market where fresh fish caught from sea are sold.

Experience local culture and tradition
Do not miss the tour to a traditional community—long house. Upon arrival, visitors will be showered with warm hospitality by the headman and locals in an Iban welcoming ceremony, followed by a long cultural dance and a warrior dance called Ngajat performed by villagers in traditional costumes. Visitors will have the chance to study the one of a kind architecture as well as the local lifestyle and how tribal craftworks are made.

Explore one of the wooden stilt houses when you visit the Malay village where houses are built on water along the Kemena River. You may pay a visit to the headman’s house to see how this community adapts to the modern economy by producing and selling exquisite craftworks.

Sarawak Cruises by Star Cruises
SuperStar Aquarius
Discover true nature
The Similajau National Park is famous for its unspoiled sandy beaches and its rich and vibrant flora and fauna. Dare yourself to cross the suspension bridge spanning the Likau River and go on to the education trail to learn more about the mixed Dipterocarp forest and species that live in the ecosystem. Enjoy the relaxing wildlife sounds of insects and birds along the way.

Heritage attractions
Bintulu is also a place of historical and cultural significance. The Sarawak Legislative Council Monument, where the first Sarawak State Legislative Assembly was held, is a photo spot that should not be missed. The scenic beauty of the oldest Chinese temple in Sarawak—Tua Pek Kong Temple—is equally noteworthy.

SuperStar Aquarius, currently home ported in Keelung, Taiwan, will offer a 8D7N special cruise, departing from Kaohsiung on 30 October 2013 with stops at Hong Kong, Manila, Boracay and arriving in Kota Kinabalu on 6 November 2013.

Source : Discover Sarawak’s extraordinary natural wonders and cultural treasures with SuperStar Aquarius starting November 2013

Royal Caribbean Promotion: Kids Travel Free in 2014 Europe Cruise Vacations

Royal Caribbean International's limited time only "Kids Tour Free" promotion offers free shore excursions for kids 12 and under in Europe cruises when two adults in the same stateroom book the same excursion. Kids Tour Free offer is for the guests who purchase their Europe cruise from August 24 through September 30, 2013 and can book their shore excursion through December 15, 2013.

You can also receive $1,000 off your cruise vacation when you book a balcony or suite stateroom on a 7-night cruise or longer, and book your flight with ChoiceAir. You can save even more by reserving two adult shore excursions in Europe, so the kids can tour free! Choose any ship and itinerary sailing Europe in 2014 to receive a free shore excursion for each child.

Royal Caribbean offers variety of options in Europe 2014 cruise itineraries: Seven-night itineraries on-board Spelndour of the Seas from Venice, Italy, visiting the Greek Isles and Turkey; Liberty of the Seas from Barcelona, Spain, or Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, to the Mediterranean and Brilliance of the Seas sailing from Southampton visiting Scandinavia and Russia.

On Liberty of the Seas there are many fun entertainment options for the kids: guests can enjoy the DreamWorks Experience, featuring parades, themed activities and events based on DreamWorks Animation’s popular feature-film characters, including Po of “Kung Fu Panda;” Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of “Shrek;” and Alex the Lion and Gloria the Hippo from “Madagascar.” Guests also can take in the Broadway musical Saturday Night Fever as well as take a spin on the ship’s ice skating rink or hang ten on the Flowrider surf simulator.

“As kids head back to school, it’s the perfect time for families to start planning their next vacation, especially when you can take advantage of a value driven offer like Kids Tour Free,” said Lisa Bauer, Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean International.  “A Europe cruise vacation is the ideal itinerary to bring text books to life as young minds explore one of our many educational and enriching ports and shore excursions. Plus, the best way for families to enjoy all that Europe has to offer is to combine it with a diverse array of onboard activities from the Flowrider surf simulator and rock climbing wall to a Broadway show and spectacular entertainment for an experience only found on Royal Caribbean.”

Splendour of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas offer their guests Centrum experience – which includes a new high-flying entertainment experience where aerialists glide through the vertical space of the five-story atrium – while enjoying a classic cocktail at the  60’s-inspired R Bar.

Royal Caribbean Promotion: Kids Travel Free in 2014 Europe Cruise Vacations
Royal Caribbean Europe Cruises are not only limited to sailing: while in Europe you can join shore excursions designed with families in mind:  from a visit to the Tivoli Gardens and Theme Park in Copenhagen, Denmark ; and a family bike tour in Dubrovnik, Croatia, to learning how to make authentice Italina pizza in Sorrento, Italy, or experiencing a Russian folk-art tradition at a hands-on Matryoshka doll workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia. Guests can enjoy their time ashore with the peace of mind that all excursions are led by experienced and insured tour operators who offer in-depth knowledge of the cities and attractions visited.

If you are interested in Guests interested in “Kids Tour Free” offer visit for more information.  To explore European cruise vacation itineraries, visit

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Boutique Capsule Hotel in Singapore - The Pod

Singapore now has one more affordable hotel option - The Pod, a boutique capsule hotel on Beach Road (Bugis), has opened. The hotel, which offers 83 capsules to its guests with personalized concierge services and a range of complimentary services such as dry-cleaning and laundry service, hot buffet breakfast with Nespresso coffee, use of business suites, high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity and more.

This new Singapore budget hotel is catering to those travelers who are tight on budget but still want to enjoy the comforts and quality synonymous with a hotel says Mr. Seetoh Kum Loon, co-founder of The Pod Singapore. “Currently, in Singapore, travellers can choose to either stay at a hotel and pay a little more, or opt for the budget backpacker hostels, potentially compromising on comfort, service and amenities. Here at The Pod, we want to give travellers the best of both worlds by offering them the premium amenities, services, look, and feel of a boutique hotel,  along with the communal and affordable nature of a hostel. The Pod was conceptualised to serve this gap in the market.”

Each Pod in The Pod Capsule Hotel comes with a personal locker below the Pod with keycard access, two pillows, personal reading light, fold-down table for laptop use or writing, international power socket, hangers, and a clothes rack.  Adding a touch of luxury, each Pod also comes with 300 thread-count cotton sateen sheets and a fluffy duvet. Pull-down blinds in each Pod provide guests with added privacy.

The emphasis on design and privacy is extended into the washrooms and vanity area. A long marble common vanity against a mirrored wall provides guests with easy access to a quick wash or touch up. Separate self-contained bathrooms  comprising a shower separated from the water closet and sink by a glass screen enable guests to enjoy the comforts of a private toilet within a shared washroom.

There are two Single Pod types in the hotel: front-entry Pod providing more privacy and side-entry Pods offering more locker space. for couples or very closed budget friends, there is the bigger and roomier Queen Pod which accommodates up to two guests. For female travelers, there are also female-only Pods for added privacy.

The Pod Boutique Capsule Hotel Singapore
The Pods in The Pod Boutique Capsule Hotel Singapore
In Singapore's super expensive hotel environment, these budget hotels are also appealing to business travelers for short stays. The Pod Capsule Hotel offers complimentary business suites which come with laptops, telephones with free local calls, Wi-Fi connectivity and printing/scanning services.

The location of The Pod is also quite appealing. It is located at 289 Beach Road, Bugis, very near to Arab Street and walking distance away from Bugis MRT Station.

The capsule prices begin from S$78 for Single Pods and S$98 for Queen Pods.

Bintan package from Singapore

Bintan Island of Indonesia is one of the most popular islands near Singapore thanks to its proximity to the island state. It is easily accessible by a short ferry ride from Singapore's Harbourfront Ferry Terminal or Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and is especially popular a weekend getaway destination. Better known for family friendly resorts compared to its sister Batam, many tours and packages exist to enjoy a nice short holiday on this beautiful island.

One of the most popular way to find good and cheap Bintan packages from Singapore is checking Bintan deals in popular deal sites. Many people has started to visit the island and enjoy discounts amounting to 50% or even more.

Most Bintan deals on deal sites include hotel stay, 2-way ferry and occasional pluses such as SPA, city tour, etc. These deals are some of the best and cheapest ways to do a short holiday in Bintan. You can check Singapore coupon sites' travel deals sections such as Travel deals page for latest travel deals which almost always include one or more Bintan Island deal.

Here we have listed some of these Bintan package deals from Singapore which include a nice hotel stay and 2-way ferry tickets.

You’ve either heard or been to both islands, but ever wanted to experience a different kind of getaway at the same time? Then get the best of both worlds as you relax in Batam and Bintan! Lounge around at the beach or get in the fun with activities doled out for you. Get a massage or simply tuck into seafood delicacies. Cordial hospitality served by the equally great 4-star Batam Harmoni One Hotel and Bintan Nirwana will charm the hearts of you with its well-appointed rooms and amenities. This 3D2N Bintan + Batam 2-in-1 deal combines stay at 4-Star Bintan Nirwana Resort Hotel & Batam Harmoni One Hotel and includes return ferry, massage, seafood lunch and activities.

2D1N / 3D2N Stay at Nirwana Beach Club - A restful sleep is ensured when you check-in to Nirwana Beach Club and stay in a comfy Cabana Room with amenities provided. Waking up to the greetings of natural surroundings is just pure bliss. Nirwana Beach Club Restaurant offers various delicacies, from local to western and Asian cuisines. Party-goers can immerse in upbeat tempos by dancing away in La Luna, an open-air disco and pub. A mangrove tour lets you immerse in nature’s beauty while cruising down the river or see beautiful flickering lights afloat around with the fireflies tour option.

This deal  comes with 6 price options available starting from only $135 per adult instead of $168 (%30 OFF).

Bintan Sayang Resort provides a relaxing accommodation that differs from other hotels with the emphasis of preserving natural environments as well as providing modern comfort. The Sea Villas offer finest views of the entire resort, and an enticing sea view, can be seen right at the balcony of the spacious bedrooms. These villas are elegantly designed with an exquisite interior and exterior over-water wooden cottage, blends harmoniously with the clear blue sea and azure sky. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway from all hustle & bustles of life, so grab this DEAL today and enjoy every activity offered.

This 2D1N Stay Deal at Bintan Sayang Resort is only $123.30 per person instead of $159.90 (Min 2 Pax).

Retreat to Bintan for a short breathe of fresh air. Invigorate your senses, sight and mind with today’s deal as it includes everything you need for a breather – from famous Ayam Penyet to a nourishing bird’s nest soup and a relaxing massage. Shopping excursions is also included for all your bargaining and haggling needs, and later replenish energy with an exquisite seafood lunch and a comfortable stay at Laguna Hotel. Enjoy 2 days’ worth of fun and relaxation in Bintan with your loved one by grabbing this deal today.

This 2D1N Bintan Escapade is only $88 per person instead of $158 (Min 2 Pax).

Qatar Airways baggage allowances increase in September 2013

Qatar Airways has very good news for worldwide air travelers: Starting from September 2013, Qatar Airways baggage allowances per person will be increased for Economy Class, Business Class and First Class flyers.

Qatar Airways baggage allowance for Economy Class will be increased from 23 kg to 30 kg while Business Class and First Class will be increased from 30 kg and 40 kg to 40 kg and 50 kg respectively. The number of bags remains the same and dependent on the type of ticket purchased. The increased weight allowance does not apply when travelling to points that are regulated by per-piece allowance.

“Revising our standard baggage allowance comes at a time whereby the number of destinations we fly is increasing and our global reach is broadening,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “The number of customers we see travelling for longer periods of time, whether for business or on holiday, reflects the necessity for increased baggage allowance no matter their destination.

Those passengers who have traveled prior to 1st September will be able to take advantage of the increased baggage allowance on their return trip if travel is on 1st September or later. The Company will also publish new Excess Baggage rates in September which will also see an increase. Passengers will be able to purchase Excess Baggage at discounted rates of up to 20% on Privilege Club members will continue to enjoy excess baggage allowance in addition to the new increased baggage allowance.

Checked baggage allowance
First ClassBusiness ClassEconomy Class
Flights to and from Brazil 2 pieces, each not to exceed 32kg (70lb) and a maximum dimension of 158cm (62in)
Flights between Brazil and Argentina
2 pieces, each not to exceed 23kg (50lb) and a maximum dimension of 158cm (62in)
All other flights to and from Argentina, Canada, and the U.S.2 pieces, each not to exceed 32kg (70lb) and a maximum dimension of 158cm (62in)
2 pieces, each not to exceed 23kg (50lb) and a maximum dimension of 158cm (62in)
Flights to and from all other destinations

New allowance beginning
1 September 2013
40kg (88lb)30kg (66lb)23kg (50lb)
50kg (110lb)40kg (88lb)30kg (66lb)

Qatar Airways operates services across Africa, Central Asia, Europe, Far East, South Asia, Middle East, North America, South America and Oceania, and was named Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012 at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. The carrier is scheduled to reach full membership of Oneworld alliance in October 2013.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Daily flights from Seattle to Hong Kong by Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines will launch a new daily nonstop service from Hong Kong International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on 18 June 2014, subject to government approval. Tickets are available for purchase from 24 August 2013.

The new service complements existing nonstop service from Hong Kong to Tokyo-Narita which offers convenient connections to eight U.S. gateways and is an important enhancement to Delta's growing trans-Pacific network between Asia and the U.S..

“With our new nonstop service to Seattle, Delta continues to build our industry-leading trans-Pacific network, one which provides the most convenient choice for our customers traveling to the U.S,” said Vinay Dube, Delta's senior vice president – Asia Pacific. “Over the past three years, Delta’s revenue has grown more than 60% in the Asia Pacific market and we will continue to invest in the network, product and service, airport facilities and technology to improve the customer experience in the region.”

The flight will operate using a 234-seat Airbus 330-200 aircraft with 34 full-flat bed seats in BusinessElite, 32 seats in Economy Comfort and 168 Economy class seats.

Like all of Delta's trans-Pacific flights, the new Hong Kong services feature full-flat bed seats in BusinessElite – each with direct aisle access – as well as Economy Comfort seating and inflight entertainment in every seat throughout the aircraft.

 Delta's BusinessElite service includes a five-course gourmet meal including Chinese meal option, paired with a wine menu curated by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. The inflight experience is completed with Westin Heavenly In-Flight bedding, which includes exclusively designed pillows and comforters, as well as Tumi amenity kits with products from Malin+Goetz. Every seat throughout the aircraft offers a personal on-demand entertainment system featuring an extensive library of movies including Chinese, TV shows, music and games.

Cruise from Shanghai in 2014 by Sapphire Princess

Sapphire Princess of Princess Cruises will home port in Shanghai in 2014, announced by Carnival Corporation. Beginning in May 2014, Sapphire Princess will start round trip cruises from Shanghai in 3 to 7 days which - according to Princess research - shows is the ideal number of vacation days for the Chinese market.

The 7-day cruises from Shanghai will head to Korean capital of Seoul, on to the culturally rich beach resort of Busan and finishing at the magical Island of Jeju, before returning to Shanghai. The four-day cruise will call at Busan and Jeju, the five-day cruise will call at Jeju and Inchon, while the three-day cruise calls at Jeju.

Quickly expanding throughout the Asia region, Princess Cruises has placed China foremost in the company’s deployment plans. Carnival Corporation, parent group of Princess Cruises, has already opened offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu.

Passengers on the new China-based cruises will be treated to numerous programs including world leader dinners, sommelier wine excursions, daily English high tea, a 24-hour buffet, Tai Chi and Zumba, a “Princess Night” bedtime experience, and a complete shopping experience. Personal enrichment courses will also be offered for adults and children.

Alan Buckelew, President and CEO of Princess Cruises said, “We’re excited to bring a new premium cruise travel experience to China’s shores. Though we have carried thousands of Chinese travelers on our ships over many years, we think the time is right for a new premium cruise experience that offers a new type of vacation experience for the Chinese consumer, sailing from China.”

Sapphire Princess
Sapphire Princess cruise ship, which has 18 decks and 28 premium suites with private balconies, can carry 2,670 passengers. The cruise ship also includes a casino, duty-free shops, fitness center and spa, sports deck, children’s and teen’s centers, library, internet café, wedding chapel, art gallery and a golf putting course, among other features.

Beginning November 2014 through February 2015, Sapphire Princess will sail roundtrip Asia cruises out of Singapore

Princess’ new 2014 season of cruises will go on sale to the public on 1 November 2013. The line is currently inviting charter opportunities through 1 October 2013.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Singapore Night Festival 2013

Singapore Night Festival 2013, the 6th year of spectacular aerial performances, music, dance and installation artworks at the heart of Bras Basah nights, is back. For the next two weekends (Fri 23 & Sat 24 and
Fri 30 & Sat 31 Aug 2013) , from 7pm to 2am, the night festival now stretches all the way to CHIJMES and Raffles City on one side, and Plaza Singapura on the other.

Last night (August 21st) there was the media preview of the Singapore Night Festival outside the Singapore National Museum. The main events and special events with late night openings will take place at cultural venues such as the National Museum of Singapore, the Peranakan Museum, Singapore Art Museum and The Substation and more! There will be outdoor showcase of spectacular interactive light installations, and vibrant showcase of heritage, arts and culture in Singapore.

In conjunction with Singapore Night Festival, National Heritage Board will be presenting Night Lights, an outdoor showcase of spectacular light installations. Night Lights 2013, which promises to be a visual feast for all to enjoy, will feature light installations at Singapore Art Museum, National Museum of Singapore, The Cathay, School of The Arts and Raffles City.

This is the sixth year of the Night Festival. The festival has grown over the years, with growing support from
Singaporeans of all walks of life. In its first year in 2008, the festival attracted 40,000 people. In 2012 the festival saw 476,000 people over 4 nights of festivities!

Singapore Night Festival 2013
Singapore Night Festival 2013
In 2013, the organizers  have renamed the festival to the Singapore Night Festival. The Singapore Night Festival is the largest and most ambitious annual event organised by the team at the National Museum of
Singapore. At the same time, it has grown beyond the ambition of the museum to become a landmark event for the Bras Basah.Bugis precinct.

Admission to Singapore Night Festival 2013 is free. You can download the free booklet of the festival here and Singapore Night Festival 2013 map here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Best Hotels and Resorts in Batam Island

You know Batam is not only known as the red light destination from Singapore any more. In the past few years this Indonesian island right next to Singapore has started to transform itself from that image to a nice weekend family getaway from Singapore. Thanks to many new and quality hotels and resorts, many well organized tours, popular travel deals from coupon sites and the last but not the least efforts of Batam to transform itself, it is now a popular weekend escape island from Singapore which is just 45 minutes ferry ride away.

As Batam Island is transforming itself, new hotels and resorts have opened their doors for visitors while the old ones are upgrading themselves. So if you are asking where to stay in Batam, here in this article we have compiled some of the best Batam Resorts and Hotels to stay if you are eyeing to visit this island.

Best Batam Resorts

Tempat Senang Resort Spa and Restaurant
Sekupang, Sekupang, Batam Island

Voted No. 1 in the hotel category of Best Resorts and Spa on Batam Island consecutively since 2010, including the 2012 Certificate of Excellence and TripAdvisor Travellers Choice 2011 Top 10 Spa Destination in Asia award, Tempat Senang Boutique Spa and Resort at Batam Island is a small, cozy haven conveniently located 45 minutes away from Singapore in the beautiful Indah Puri Sekupang enclave, created with the passion to offer pure indulgence of the senses for individuals, lovers, and small groups.

Tempat Senang Boutique Spa and Resort at Batam Island
Tempat Senang Boutique Spa and Resort Presidential Apartment
Montigo Resorts Nongsa
Jalan. Hang Lekir, Nongsa, Nongsa, Batam Island

Montigo Resorts Nongsa on North-Eastern coast of Batam Island is just half an hour away from Singapore by private Montigo Yacht Transfer or ferry. Composed of 88 villas with panoramic views of beautiful sea, the resort is also close to world class golf courses and offers its guests to enjoy many activities including water sports nearby, village treks, cylicing tours and mangrove fishing.

Montigo Resorts Nongsa Batam Island
Montigo Resorts Nongsa
Holiday Inn Resort Batam
Waterfront City, Batam, Marina City, Batam Island
The Holiday Inn Resort Batam provides various selections of stay from your family trip to corporate incentive groups. The resort locates 15 minutes drive from Sekupang Ferry Terminal, 5 minutes from Waterfront Ferry Terminal and 30 minutes drive to Hang Nadim International Airport. Total 235 spacious suites & rooms, room size starts from 45 sqm in Studio Suite up to 120 sqm in Three Bedroom Suites, 4 dining outlets including Chinese, Japanese, Thai & International cuisines, Sports Lounge, KTV Bar, 2 indoor and 1 outdoor swimming pools, Balinese style Tee Tree Spa gives you series of activities or just stay away from daily life and pumper yourself. Kids’ facilities including kids club, kid’s swimming pool, water slide and games room assure all your family members have fun.

Holiday Inn Resort Batam
Holiday Inn Resort Batam
Turi Beach Resort
Jalan Hang Lekiu, Nongsa, Batam Island

Turi Beach Resort is nested in Nongsa Resorts, at the northeast of Batam Island, and  is surrounded by 18 hectares of lush tropical landscape and offers beautiful and serene place to relax and enjoy great sea view. Although it takes 15 minutes to reach by ferry, the location of this Batam resort is a bit out of the way and far from the city. But if you are looking for a nice resort to relax and for a short getaway from Singapore and away from a busy city, Turi Beach Resort offers one of the best and easiest to access alternative. With different type or rooms such as Tirta Junior Suite, Riani Deluxe Beachfront, Tirta Premier Beachfront, Riani Suite, Tirta Premier, Riani Suite Beachfront, Tirta Executive Suite, Riani Deluxe, Riani Superior, all equipped with Air conditioning, Cable television, Coffee/Tea maker, Minibar, Dressing area w/vanity & sink etc., the beach and swimming pool will be just right in front of the room.

Turi Beach Resort
Turi Beach Resort
Best Batam Hotels

Harris Hotel Batam Center
Jl. Engku Putri, Batam Center, Batam Island

Facing the sea, a minute away from Batam Center International Ferry terminal, walking distance to shopping mall and to Government offices, Harris Hotel Batam Center is ideal for both leisure and business travelers. The 171 room hotel provides meeting facilities, tours, Wi-Fi in public areas, valet parking, shops to ensure our guests the greatest comfort.

Harris Hotel Batam Center
I Hotel
Jl. Teuku Umar, Bukit, Nagoya, Batam Island

I Hotel Batam is an integrated hotel and apartment specially designed for daily and long-staying business travelers in mind. More spacious than most other hotel rooms in Batam, I Hotel offers Superior or Deluxe room, Suite or Studio Apartment and Executive or Deluxe apartment. I Hotel in Batam also has 12 one-room apartments and three (3) deluxe apartments. The hotel also offers long-stay rates. Lowest rates for 30 meter square superior rooms start from USD $83++ and 68 meter square Suite Rooms from $200++.

I Hotel
Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay
Jl. Duyung, Sei Jodoh, Batu Ampar, Batu Ampar, Batam Island

5mins walk from Harbour Bay, Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay is a brand new clean and value for money hotel in Batam which is near to good restaurants and seafood dining. The hotel features 179 guest rooms, each including air conditioning, internet access – wireless (complimentary), in room safe, desk, mini bar. The hotel also offers a variety of recreational facilities, including spa, garden, fitness center, massage.

Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay
Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay