Australia’s Northern Territory- Kakadu National Park

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After a busy day in Darwin my long weekend adventure continued with an early start to venture into Australia’s Northern Territory area of Kakadu National Park.

Travelling in comfort with an AAT Kings tour (I also recommend self driving this region but due to my short trip I went with the professionals this time) we headed out of the traffic free city of Darwin towards the Arnham Highway and the park. Stopping off on the way for a ‘Spectacular Jumping Crocodile’ Cruise I captured the mightly saltwater crocs jumping out of the muddy river for their red meat breakfast. We were also fortunate to get some great close ups of the amazing birds swopping in for the food.

Birds of prey on the jumping crocodile cruise

We stopped in for lunch at the Wildman Wilderness Lodge for a sumptuous lunch with a view out across their personal landing strip and the open landscape. I definitely recommend staying over night here if you can plan it in your trip! We were treated to a leisurely cruise along the Wildmans Home Billabong capturing exotic bird life and getting very close to their local crocs, and a water buffalo!

Crocodile on a plate at Aurora Kakadu ResortNext it was onward to our overnight accommodation at Aurora Kakadu Resort. This group and family friendly resort has large rooms with equally sized bathrooms overlooking their shaded pool (croc free!) and perfect to cool off in. There are not many places to eat nearby here but the hotel restaurant, along with the price of the room is great value for money. I sampled buffalo, fresh oysters and of course crocodile! (the address is amusingly in South Alligator- you can find out the story behind that when you visit).

I awoke early the next morning in anticipation of our day in Kakadu, a World Heritage- listed site accredited for both its natural and cultural wealth. Covering over 19,000 square metres of dramatic landscapes from towering escarpments and waterfalls to floodplains. The changing scenery of the area from the wet season (now) to the dry season makes this a year round destination. To add to my excitement at being in this wondrous destination I was also going to get up close with some of the oldest examples of Aboriginal rock art in Australia.

Wild birds at Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu National ParkWe wet our appetite for the park on another cruise, this time on Yellow Water cruises on Jim Jim Creek. I captured Whistling Ducks, Magpie Geese and Kingfishers to name a few birds, carefully perching around yet more crocs. The near by Barra Bar and Bistro at Cooinda Resort around the corner from the cruise departure point served us up a hearty buffet lunch with a huge selection of cut meats to energise us for the afternoon walk.

CheapTickets.sg Carrie at NourlangieThe highlight of the day was the hike through Nourlangie. Following a 1.5km walk amongst the impressive natural rock structures we learnt the stories handed down through generations of Aboriginal people through their art. Get your cameras ready for the panoramic shots available at the tip of the walk!

A great place to start your Kakadu trip is at the Bowali Visitor centre. As well as collecting your obligatory National Park pass for Kakadu you can collect information on the area as well as refresh and buy a few souvenirs.

CheapTickets.sg Carrie Eaten by a crocThe remainder of my day was spent sitting back and watching the landscape pass by from my comfy seat, sipping on some ‘Pauls’ iced coffee, an iconic brand of The Northern Territory, bliss.

Just wait until you see what was in store for me on my final day in Australia’s Northern Territory!

Win flights to Australia's Northern Territory with CheapTickets.sgThere is still time for you to win return flights for you and a friend to Darwin, Australia to start your Northern Territory Adventure. Enter our sweepstakes contest before 22 September 2014 at http://woobox.com/wzhz9e.

For more information about travelling to The Northern Territory log on to www.CheapTickets.sg/Australia/NT to get the cheapest flight and hotel deals now.

Australia’s Northern Territory- A day in Darwin

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You all know how much I love Australia, with fantastic food, fine wine and blue skies I am always looking for a reason to hop on a flight down under. Having ticked off some great destinations (Melbourne, Sydney and The Gold Coast) already this year I was running out of time for an extra adventure, but I certainly found one worth squeezing in- Australia’s Northern Territory!

Explore Australia's Northern TerritoryMy outback adventure in Australia’s ‘Top End’ started with a short 4 hour flight from Singapore to Darwin (SilkAir fly this route direct with free wifi entertainment on board). With flights from only $377 all-in, this is a cheap Australian destination to fly to. After a 10 minute transfer I arrived at my central Darwin hotel ready for my adventure to start. With only 4 nights to explore I got straight down to business- with a fantastic sunset meal at Char restaurant, sampling a selection of some of the fine Australian beef on offer- washed down with a sumptuous chocolate espresso martini…

CheapTickets.sg Carrie at Crocosaurous covecroc cove

At Crocosaurous cove

The next morning I was up bright and early to blue skies, for a spot of fishing for NT’s famous inhabitants- crocodiles. (For all the keen swimmers out there, the NT’s pristine beaches and cool water holes are not for swimming in, due to their strong jawed inhabitants, there are signs informing where there are croc free pools for your enjoyment) My first encounter with the crocs happened at Crocosaurous cove. I enjoyed a close up encounter feeding 4 different crocs and even holding a baby one. The crocs are surprisingly soft skinned, but definitely not cuddly! For the daring amongst you book in for the ‘cage of death’ experience, swimming in a croc pool with Perspex between you and their teeth!

Next I took a short drive over The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to meet another croc, the 5 metre, 780kg sweetheart, who thankfully is now static as part of the exhibit, phew. The highlight for me was discovering more about the history and art of the aboriginal people of the Northern Territory, and the evolution of their unique culture and artwork. You can also learn about Cyclone Tracy that hit Darwin back in 1975 and how the city has rebuilt itself.

Lunch at the Cornocopia Cafe DarwinA spot of lunch on the Cornucopia café veranda overlooking the waterfront was well deserved in my opinion. With a huge chicken caeser salad and cold Pinot Grigio inside me I ready to move on to Darwin’s Top End Tourist Information Centre back in the city centre to gather information for the remainder of my trip. The friendly team there will be able to provide you information on tours, self drive route maps and attractions to visit. You can also get more information before you leave at http://www.tourismtopend.com.au/.

From here I took a 20 minute stroll from the Tourist Information centre through some of the most historic parts of Darwin and down into the darwin waterfrontharbour can passing through the relaxing waterfront area where you can sip coffee or enjoy a sumptuous dinner watching the world go by or dip into (a croc free area) of the wave lagoon in the centre of the waterfront- this will be something I do on my next trip.

After picking up an evening cruise to watch the magical NT sunsets over the Timor Sea, and more wonderful food I headed over for some retail therapy at the Mindil Beach Markets. These open air markets operate Thursday and Sunday evenings until the last Thursday in October and are the place to mingle with the locals as well as buy a few souvenirs (croc skin related mainly!) tuck into local produce and watch the many entertainers who perform around the market.

Sunset cruise from Darwin Harbor

Sunset cruise from Darwin Harbour

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets Darwin

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets Darwin

After a busy first full day I was ready to get to my comfy bed ready for my adventure into Kakadu National Park the next morning.

To win flights for you and a friend to experience Australia’s Northern Territory for yourself enter at the CheapTickets.sg facebook contest now at http://woobox.com/wzhz9e before 22nd October.

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Colourful Korea Part II: Carrie’s 5D4N Jeju Island Discovery Trip

Have you ever heard of Jeju-do? Located just off mainland Korea, Jeju-do, or Jeju Island in English, is a wildly popular destination among tourists for its breathtaking and pristine natural scenery. The island is home to a number of UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites such as Manjanggul Cave and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, as well as distinct tourist attractions like the numerous oreums (Jeju dialect for small volcanic cones) scattered around the island. Apart from its stunning natural environment, Jeju is also known for its fresh and mouthwatering seafood, making it a destination not to be missed! 

Seondol Rock Jeju

Jeju!

Follow me as I share with you the best sights and tips of my recent 5D4N trip to Jeju! Of course, I got the cheapest flights to Korea and hotels at the lowest prices from CheapTickets.sg, with a flight and hotel package from only $715 :D

 Day 1: Arrival at Jeju
Jeju International Airport was a pleasant experience. The arrival hall is clean and uncluttered, and the immigration process was relatively hassle-free.

Jeju International Airport Arrival Hall

Arrival hall at Jeju International Airport

Once we had our passports stamped, we headed straight for the kt Telecom roaming center to rent our portable wifi “egg“. To get there, head to gate 5 where there will be a kt shuttle bus to the center, which is located ~5mins away. The 4G wifi coverage extends to most major areas around the island, very useful to Google translate stuff to Korean or search for directions. Highly recommended to rent one when you’re there! The charge is 8,000KRW (~S$9.80) per day, and a refundable deposit of 200,000KRW (~S$245) is needed for the egg rental.

kt WiBro wifi egg Jeju

Our cute little wifi egg! Super adorable :D

Stocks of the egg are based on availability, so best to make an online reservation a few weeks before your trip!

Manjanggul Lava Cave
First stop, the largest lava cave in Korea! Flowing lava beneath the hardened surface creates long, cave-like channels that are an astonishing creation of nature. Feels like you’re taking an ancient secret tunnel to somewhere mysterious.

Getting here: From Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, take the Donghoe Line Intercity Bus and alight at the car park near Manjanggul Cave Entrance. ~1hour 30mins

Manjanggul Lava Tube Jeju

The tunnel entrance

Manjanggul Lava Tube Jeju

Entrance ticket

Manjanggul Lava Tube Jeju

The tunnels…

Manjanggul Lava Tube Jeju

… are huge!

Gimnyeong Maze Park
Next stop, the nearby Gimnyeong Maze Park! The maze is cut into the shape of Jeju Island, and it can be seen from a bird’s eye view at the observatory.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try navigating through the maze without a map! With a map it only takes ~5mins to get through, but may take up to ~20mins to navigate without one.

Gimnyeong Maze Park Jeju

Let’s go!

Gimnyeong Maze Park Jeju

Err, okay..

Gimnyeong Maze Park Jeju

View from one of the skywalks!

Hallim Park
Really beautiful park, plenty of flora and fauna exhibitions here! There was also a special Hydrangeas exhibition going on (last 2 pics).

Getting here:  From the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a westbound express bus and get off at Hallim Park. ~50mins

Hallim Park Jeju

Flora…

Hallim Park Jeju

and Fauna!

Jeju stone figures

Jeju’s iconic stone man!

Hallim Park Jeju Hydrangess

Hydrangeas!

Hallim Park Jeju Hydrangeas

Really pretty

Hyeopjae Beach
Last stop for the day, Hyeopjae Beach! It’s right opposite Hallim Park.

Hyeopjae Beach Mermaid

Weet weet

Hyeopjae Beach Sunset

Sunset

Jeju Black Pork Belly

Dinner – Jeju’s famous black pork belly. Must try!!

Jeju Black Pork Belly

Has more fat and a stronger pork taste

 

Day 2: Cheonjeyeon Falls
Roughly translated as “Pond of God”, legend has it that fairies will descend here to bathe at night. Yeah, we chuckled when we heard it too, but you’ll understand why when you see the pictures!

Getting here: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take Seogwipo-bound intercity bus and get off at Jungmun Resort ~50mins.
Walk 5-10 min to the entrance of Yeomiji Botanical Garden.

There are 3 parts to the waterfall: The first part only falls when there’s heavy rain, the second part is the main one where people usually go, and the third waterfall is pretty small.

Cheonjeyeon Falls Jeju

Part 1

Cheonjeyeon Falls Jeju

Part 2 – The main waterfall

Seonimgyo Bridge Jeju

Seonimgyo Bridge – Really big and pretty!

Cheonjeyeon Falls Jeju

Very pretty right? Yeah I know. The waterfall’s not bad either hehe

Cheonjeyeon Falls Jeju

You can rest at this traditional pavilion

Cheonjeyeon Falls Jeju

Wishing fountain!

Seopjikoji
Next stop is the beautiful eastern coast of Jeju Island – Seopjikoji! This is the filming location of the super popular gambling K-drama All In (2003). You can also ride a horse along the coast for just *gasp* 5000KRW(~$7)!

Getting here: From Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, take the intercity bus that runs on Il-ju Road to the east and get off at Seongsan-eup Goseong-ri. (~1hour 30mins) Go the rest of the way on a cab, should take about 5-10mins at most.

Seopjikoji Jeju

The Seopjikoji coastline

Seopjikoji Jeju

Rugged but still beautiful!

Seondol Rock Jeju

The ‘Seondol’ rock

Seopjikoji Jeju

Ride a horse for just $7!

Ojo House of Women Divers
Final stop of the day: Jeju’s famous abalone porridge at this place near Seopjikoji. The servings are very generous and all the sea produce are hand-harvested by the renowned Jeju ‘Hanyeo‘, or sea women. The meal only cost us about 11,000KRW (~$13) in total!

Jeju Hanyeo Abalone

One of Jeju’s must eats!

 

Day 3: O’sulloc Tea Museum
Really cool tea museum, teaches you all about traditional Korean tea culture. Sells really amazing matcha ice cream, swiss rolls and yogurt too!

Getting here: Take a taxi! Public transportation doesn’t reach this museum.

O’sulloc Tea Museum Jeju

Inside of the tea shop

O’sulloc Tea Museum Jeju

Best matcha ice cream I’ve ever eaten!!

O’sulloc Museum Jeju

Green tea swiss rolls, sold out really quickly

Innisfree House
Next to the tea museum is the newly opened Innisfree House, a popular Korean cosmetics and skincare brand. You can attend a soap-making workshop here for just 15,000KRW (~$19). Super fun to make the soaps :D, just have to knead them into the dough and use the tools to create your own design!

Innisfree House Jeju Soap workshop

There’re iPads to guide you along!

Innisfree House Jeju Soap workshop

The soap kit

Innisfree House Jeju Soap workshop

Ta-da!

 

Day 4: Seongsan Ilchulbong
Dragged ourselves up at 4:30am to watch the sunrise at Jeju’s iconic Seongsan Ilchulbong peak! It’s said to be one of the best places in Korea to catch the sunrise, hence earning it the nickname “Sunrise Peak”. And it doesn’t disappoint! The moment the sun started to come up, we could only stand and gape at it.

Getting here: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take the ‘Dongilju‘ bus bound for Seongsan and get off at Seongsalliipgu bus stop. ~2hours

Seongsan Ilchulbong Jeju

This is the iconic peak

Seongsan Ilchulbong Jeju

Simply stunning!

After the sunrise, we headed to the top of the peak. Amazing view of Jeju and a refreshing sea breeze made us so tempted to set camp there for the rest of the day!

 

Day 5: Hallasan Mountain
Sitting proudly at the centre of Jeju, Hallasan Mountain is one of Jeju’s most recognizable landmarks. Follow one of the 7 hiking trails to explore this dormant volcano’s many exciting treasures!

Getting here: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus 5.16, and alight at Seongpanak. ~30mins

Hallasan Mountain Jeju

Flowers in full bloom!

Hallasan Mountain Jeju

Can see the mountain from almost anywhere in Jeju!

 

Final Stop: Jeju International Airport
Once again, time to go home :( Don’t forget to return your wifi ‘egg’ on your way to the airport if you rented one! 

Korea has really enthralled us during this Jeju trip and our previous trip to Seoul. There’s a special indescribable vibe in Korea, be it in the natural beauty of Jeju or the urban class of Seoul, that really added colour to our trips. Enjoy this 5D4N Jeju Island Discovery Trip from just $715 nett!! We’re sure you’ll find it equally magical as well. You can also get an additional $30 discount off your flight to Korea at www.CheapTickets.sg/Korea/Discount. For more information and booking, visit www.CheapTickets.sg/korea/packages.

Till the next time, stay tuned!
Love, Carrie

Colourful Korea: Carrie’s 5D4N Seoul & Busan Discovery Trip

Have you been to Korea? It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. Packed with countless sights to see and places to visit such as the ancient palaces, traditional markets, and fantastic shopping. Korea is a modern nation that still retains the exquisite charm of its glorious past. Follow me as I share with you the best sights of my recent trip 5D4N trip to Seoul as well as the beautiful coastal city of Busan! Of course, I got the cheapest flights to Korea and hotels at the lowest prices from CheapTickets.sg with a flight and hotel package from only $650.

Day 1: Arrival at Seoul
Upon arrival at Seoul Incheon airport, we were pleasantly surprised at its beautiful architectural design. But, no time to admire as we had to hurry and catch our 11:50 KTX train from Seoul Station to Busan!

KTX to Busan

KTX to Busan

The view along the way was really spectacular, especially around the Gyeonggi-do region and the Sangdong-myeon area. The trip was also relatively short, about 2hours 45mins. Not surprising though, since the KTX trains travel at an incredible *gasp* 300km/h!
*psst* Carrie’s secret tip: Try to get seats on the left for the best views along the way!

After settling down into our lovely hotel, we headed straight out to explore Busan!


Taejongdae Park
Getting here: From Busan Station, take the city bus #88 or #101 that will bring you straight to the park.

Taejongdae Park

Taejongdae Park


Reputed for its craggy cliffs dropping straight down into the sea, the Taejongdae park is truly a sight to behold for nature lovers. Over 200 pine trees and camellias line the coast at this really gorgeous park. We visited the famous Mangbuseok statue too – named after a woman who waited day and night at the coast for her husband, who was taken away to Japan.

Jagalchi Fish Market
Getting here: Take city bus #30 from Taejongdae park which will take you directly to the market.

The bustling Jagalchi Fish Market!

The bustling Jagalchi Fish Market!

What’s the best thing about visiting a coastal city? The seafood of course! This hugely popular market had the freshest produce for us to sample and the market atmosphere was a really unique local Busan experience. In particular, the Mackerel fish is a Busan specialty. YUM!!
Day 2: Busan Part 2

Gamcheon Village (aka “Taegeukdo Village”)
Getting here: Take bus #17 or #61 from Busan Station and alight just outside the village.

View from the top!

View of Gamcheon Village  from the top

 

The lovely alleyways of Taegeukdo Village!

The lovely alleyways of Taegeukdo Village!

Nicknamed “Korea’s Santorini”, our eyes were delighted with a visit to this little village in Gamcheon. Low-rise apartments sporting colourful hues sat side by side on a gentle mountain slope by the sea, making it a truly wonderful sight to behold. After navigating our way up the mountain through the lovely winding alleyways of the village, we found a great view of the sea!

Haeundae Beach
Getting here: Take bus #6 out of Gamcheon Village to the Goejeong Station and change to bus #1001.

The beautiful coastline!

The beautiful coastline!

Arguably the most famous beach in Korea, the Haeundae Beach has a truly amazing backdrop along with refreshing coastal breezes. Next to the beach is also the Busan Aquarium, perfect location for a family outing or a romantic date!

Day 3: Back to Seoul

Said bye to our lovely Busan hotel :(, headed back to Seoul on the KTX. Once again, amazing views along the way!

Back in Seoul, first stop – Gyeongbokgung Palace!
Getting hereFrom just outside Seoul Station, take bus #1711 or #7016 straight to the palace.

Changing of Guard Parade at Gyeongbokgung!

Changing of Guard Parade at Gyeongbokgung, Seoul!

Arguably the grandest and most beautiful of the “5 Grand Palaces”, this 6-centuries old palace is one of Seoul’s most recognizable sights. Remember to catch the impressive changing of guards parade as well as the National Museum of Korea while here!

Seoul Tower
Getting here: (1) By Cable Car – Hop onto subway Line 4, alight at Myeongdong Station(Exit 3). Keep to the left of Pacific Hotel and walk for about 10mins, the cable car platform should come into view.
(2) Hop onto the subway Line 3 or 4 and alight at Chungmuro Station(exit 2). Take the yellow bus from the bus stop, which will take you straight to the parking lot of N Seoul Tower.

N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting atop Nansam Mountain (243m), the 236.7m tall N Seoul Tower offers an exhilarating panoramic view of Seoul. We also paid a visit to the acclaimed N Grill revolving restaurant, highly recommended!! It gives really amazing views while you dine.

Day 4: Seoul Part 2

Namdaemun Market
Getting here: Hop onto subway line 4 and alight at the Hoehyeon Station.

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market in Seoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Named after Korea’s National Treasure Namdaemun (South Gate), this market is popular among local residents for its great deals in street food, clothing and accessories. Tiny stalls pack the streets selling practically anything imaginable, making this the perfect place to experience Korea’s amazing market culture!

Myeong-dong
Getting here: Hop back onto the subway line 4 to Myeongdong Station.

Myeong-dong (read: shopping paradise)

Myeong-dong (read: shopping paradise) in Seoul

After market shopping in Namdaemun, we headed over to the more upmarket and modern part of Seoul in Myeong-dong. It is a shopping haven for Korean cosmetic and beauty products. Internationally renowned brands such as Laniege, Etude House, Faceshop etc are all housed here and prices are really super attractive, can be up to *gasp* 60% cheaper than in Singapore! No better place to go on a 6-hour shopping spree than here.

Day 5: Seoul Part 3 & back home

Ganghwa Ginseng Center
Getting here: Take the subway line 1 to Yeongdeungpo Station. Hop onto bus #88 just across the Shinsegae department store to Ganghwa terminal. From the terminal, turn right and walk for about 300m to the ginseng center.

Ganghwa Ginseng Center, really top grade ginseng!

Ganghwa Ginseng Center in Seoul, really top grade ginseng!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before heading home, we visited this small market to buy home some authentic Korean ginseng. Widely considered the best quality ginseng, be sure to check for the Korea Insam seal which ensures that the product you’re buying is quality Korean Panax ginseng instead of a cheaper version imported from China!

Final stop: Incheon Airport

It’s time to go home. :( can’t believe 5 days flew by so quickly! Already started missing Korea before even departing, but one thing for sure – I’ll definitely be coming back soon to explore more of Korea, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, why not head to Korea and experience the amazing sights in person? Let the wanderlust grip you and enjoy our 5D4N Seoul + Busan Discovery Tour from just S$650 nett! You can also get an additional $30 discount off your flight to Korea at www.CheapTickets.sg/Korea/Discount. For more information and booking visit www.CheapTickets.sg/korea/packages

Carrie’s Australia Adventure – New South Wales

Sydney, the capital city of Australia, is regularly voted as the world’s best for its natural beauty and iconic landmarks. I embarked on The Legendary Pacific Coast self-drive in October last year… I guess it’s about time for me to share my awesome experience! ;-)

Check out our super fun self-drive route on The Legendary Pacific Coast!! We drove approximately 930km over 8 days.

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Map credits: Google maps

Day 1 – Sydney

Upon arrival at Sydney we went straight for afternoon tea at The Grounds of Alexandria, a holistic café situated in a heritage-listed warehouse that roasts their own bean and grow their own organic ingredients. The rustic interior is sure to calm any post-flight discomfort and settle you right into the relaxed mood of Sydney.

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CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW

If you traveled by dog, please park it here. Hehe.

The Grounds of Alexandria
Address
: Building 7A, No. 2 Huntley St. Alexandria NSW 2015
Phone: +61 2 9666 2225

After settling ourselves down with some good coffee, we headed to our accommodation for the next two nights at Blue Sydney – A Taj Hotel. A boutique hotel in the heart of a luxury marina, entertainment and apartment complex, many shopping districts and tourist attractions are within walking distance, including the Sydney Opera House!

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Blue Sydney – A Taj Hotel
Address:
6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Phone:
+61 2 9331 9060
Website: www.tajhotels.com/sydney

We then strolled along the Woolloomooloo wharf, located just by the hotel. Woolloomooloo is the longest timbered-piled wharf in the world! It used to be a busy wool and cargo dock, but is now known for its relaxed atmosphere for people to stay, eat and drink.

In the evening, we took a stroll at Darling Harbour, and walked towards Darling Quarter entertainment precinct for good food and entertainment at Stacks Taverna.

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CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW Photo credits: tripadvisor

Stacks Taverna
Address
: Southern Building, Shop 24/25 Darling Quarter, 1-25 Harbour St Sydney
Phone: 1300 989 989
Email: restaurant@stacksbar.com.au
Website: www.stacksbar.com.au

Day 2 – Sydney

First thing in the morning, we visited Bondi Beach for the world’s largest annual outdoor sculpture exihibition, Sculpture by the Sea. Held from 24 October – 10 November last year, the sights were amazing. With the beach as its natural backdrop, the sculptures were beautifully woven into nature. What’s better is that the exhibition was free to the public!

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After soaking in some morning sun we proceeded to have lunch at Formaggi Ocello, a contemporary Italian restaurant-café serving superb coffee, wine and quality deli goods.

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Delectable cheese!!

Formaggi Ocello
Address
: 16/425 Bourke Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: +61 2 9357 7878
Email: sogna@ocello.com.au
Website: www.ocello.com.au

Day 3 – Hunter Valley

Departed Sydney for Hunter Valley! Our first stop was the Hunter Valley Gardens, which feature 10 stunning gardens in the heart of Hunter Valley vineyards. Be transported into a whimsical wonderland as you roam the gardens – a perfect activity for the young and old. Join the Mad Hatter for afternoon tea in the Storybook Garden!

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Photo credits: Australian National Botanic Gardens

Hunter Valley Gardens
Address
: 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin, NSW 2320
Website: www.hvg.com.au

We moved on afterwards to the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory, where we got the chance to try even more cheese! They house award winning cheeses, delicatessen products – and take the opportunity to view their cheese maker in action!

CheapTickets.sg, Australia expert

 

Hunter Valley Cheese Factory
Address
: McGuigan Wines, McDonalds Road, Pokolbin 2320
Phone: +61 2 4998 7744
Email: huntervalleycheese@westnet.com.au
Website: www.huntervalleycheese.com.au

Time to check-in to our hotel! We were hosted at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. Just look at the greenery surrounding the pool that makes it perfect for a carefree break –

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Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley
Address
: 430 Wine Country Drive, Lovedale, 2320
Phone: +61 2 9380 0228
Website: www.crowneplazahuntervalley.com.au

Day 4 – Port Stephens

After breakfast, we made our way to Port Stephens, a 2-hour drive from Hunter Valley. When we arrived, I was amazed at how pristine and clean the beaches were, and how white the sand was! It was a breathtaking sight.

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Our next activity was the Quad Bike Tour, organized by Quad Bike King!

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Photo credit: Port Stephens

It was a super exciting and unique way to explore the sand dunes and eco-system of Stockton Beach, as we rode across the dunes, catching glimpses of the beautiful ocean, bushland and Newcastle. It was a great activity for groups like us, and we had lots of fun racing each other across the dunes!

Quad Bike King
Address
: 2130 Nelson Bay Road, Williamtown
Phone: +61 2 4919 0088
Email: sales@quadbikeking.com.au
Website: www.quadbikeking.com.au

Day 5 – Port Macquarie

We departed Port Stephens in the morning for Medowie Macadamias, a macadamia plantation established in 1980, with more than 12 acres of land harvesting five different varieties of macadamia nuts! A family business, Medowie Macadamias makes sure to be involved in every stage from production of nuts to experimenting with new, tasty products to be taken home.

Medowie Macadamias
Address
: 672 Medowie Road, Medowie
Phone: +61 2 4982 8888
Email: sales@medowiemacadamia.com.au
Website: www.medowiemacadamias.com.au

We visited the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre in the afternoon, immersing ourselves in rich Aboriginal culture, flora and fauna. This rainforest is one of the largest, least disturbed and most diverse coastal rainforests in NSW.

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Photo credits: tripadvisor

CheapTickets.sg_PortMacquarie_NSW

Photo credits: tripadvisor

Sea Acres Rainforest Centre
Address
: 159 Pacific Drive, Port Macquarie
Phone: +61 2 6582 3355

Day 6 – Port Macquarie/Coffs Harbour

We started the morning with a visit to The Koala Hospital, a one-of-its-kind and first ever Koala Hospital, established since 1973. The hospital has featured in various documentaries and wildlife programs throughout the world, and is Port Macquarie’s most visited attraction! You can even adopt a wild koala – proceeds go towards helping sick koala’s treatments and preservation causes. Just look at their cute squishy faces!!

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Photo credits: Port Macquarie Holidays

CheapTickets.sg_PortMacquarie_NSW

Photo credits: Port Macquarie Holidays

The Koala Hospital
Address: Macquarie Nature Reserve on Lord St, Port Macquarie
Phone: +61 2 6584 1522
Website: www.koalahospital.org.au

Time for some strawberry picking at Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries! Tall strawberry vines climb up beside tomato houses in beautiful shady enclosures.

CheapTickets.sg_PortMacquarie_NSWCheapTickets.sg_PortMacquarie_NSW

Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries
Address
: 221 Blackmans Point Road, Port Macquarie
Phone: +61 2 6585 0633
Website: www.ricardoes.com

Departed Port Macquarie for Coffs Harbour, which is 2 hours away. Visited The Big Banana when we arrived, tried some local banana produce and took an exciting toboggan ride!

CheapTickets.sg_CoffsHarbour_NSW

The Big Banana
Address
: Pacific Hwy, Coffs Harbour
Phone: +61 2 6652 4355
Website: www.bigbanana.com

Day 7 – Grafton, Byron Bay

We headed to Grafton in the morning for the Jacaranda festival – a floral festival from the last weekend of October up till the first weekend of November, opening with the crowning of the new queen in an open ceremony under the beautiful canopy of Jacaranda blooms.

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After a long drive in the afternoon, stopping for oysters at Yamba and taking photos along the way on our road trip, we finally arrived at Byron Bay. Immediately, we checked into our rooms at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa. Enjoy the seemingly endless summer here at The Byron, which promises only the most comfortable rooms and best services.

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The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
Address
: 77-97 Broken Head Road, Byron Bay
Phone: +61 2 6639 2000
Website: www.thebyronatbyron.com.au

We then headed for dinner at Fishheads Restaurant that offers fresh local seafood cuisine, available for takeaway too!

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Fishheads Restaurant
Address
: 1 Jonson Street at Main Beach, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Phone: +61 2 6685 6011
Email: functions@fishheads.com.au
Website: www.fishheadsbyron.com.au

Day 8 – Byron Bay

Breakfast at Byron Beach Café – perfectly positioned with views of both mountains and the sea, and offering both indoor and alfresco dining, you get to pick your setting for the ultimate breakfast experience.

My choice of breakfast: Eggs Florentine. YUMMY!

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Byron Beach Café
Address
: Clarkes Beach, Lawson Street, Byron Bay
Phone: +61 2 6685 8400
Email: ben@byronbeachcafe.com.au
Website: www.byronbeachcafe.com.au

No breakfast is complete without coffee! Although there was no café at Zentveld’s Coffee for us to sit down for a kopi break, the aroma of the coffee beans was enough to wake us up.

CheapTickets.sg_ByronBay_NSW

Zentveld’s Coffee
Address
: 193 Broken Head Road, Newrybar NSW 2479
Phone: +61 2 6687 2045
Website: www.zentvelds.com.au

We then headed to Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens, showcasing acres of lush gardens, panoramic views, amazing natural crystals and exquisite jewelry. The Shambhala Gardens features giant crystals and sacred statues, including the incredible World Peace Stupa, unique in the southern hemisphere! Also, stroll along the Buddha Walk and see Australia’s biggest Blessing Buddha.

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Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens
Address
: Monet Drive, Mullumbimby, NSW 2482
Phone: +61 2 6684 3111
Website: www.crystalcastle.com.au

After a holy afternoon at the Crystal Castle, we proceeded to the Cape Byron Headland Reserve, Australia’s most easterly point. We went up the lighthouse, taking about a half-hour walk as we soaked in sights and sounds of the ocean and distant mountains, and when we finally reached the lighthouse, we were generously rewarded with spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean.

CheapTickets.sg_ByronBay_NSWCheapTickets.sg_ByronBay_NSWCheapTickets.sg_ByronBay_NSW

Cape Byron Headland Reserve
Address
: Lighthouse Road Byron Bay, NSW 2481
Phone: +61 2 6620 9300
Website: www.environment.nsw.gov.au

As our trip came to an end it was time to say bye to our trusty cars that carried us across The Legendary Pacific Coast. This self-drive was one of the most exciting and adventurous trips I had ever embarked on. From food, to nature, wildlife and adventure, it was all easily accessible thanks to the self-drive!

 

For more information on our Australia self-drive packages, don’t hesitate to contact our Aussie specialists: 

Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm at +65 6372 4217
or email cheaptickets.sg@travix.com

Visit www.CheapTickets.sg/Australia now for more information about all things Australia!

Plus, from now till 24 April 2014, receive $60 off when you book a flight to Sydney! Just use the code: SYD60 before check-out to redeem your discount. More details at www.CheapTickets.sg/Australia/discount. Don’t miss it!

Chef Carrie’s Top 10 Eggs of the Week

Tradition has it that Easter eggs represented a new lease of life – the tough outer shell representing Jesus’ tomb, and the hatching of chicks a representation of new life. Hence, Christians used Easter eggs as a way to remind themselves of Jesus’ ressurection. In Singapore though, the Easter egg tradition is not practiced, but at CheapTickets.sg we’re interested to bring the tradition a little differently… Singaporean-styled!

If you’re a foodie like me, you must definitely love eggs! Chef Carrie has picked out her top 10 favourite del-egg-table egg dishes from all around the world, in no particular order:

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

1. Hong Kong: Portuguese Egg Tarts

Crispy on the outside and unbelievably soft on the inside, this heavenly Portuguese egg tart hails from Macau, an ex-Portuguese colony. It is said that these egg tarts are quite different from those in Portugal, although they may look similar. The Hong Kong take on these egg tarts are completely different as well! Coming fresh out of the oven, you can expect the best egg tarts along many street bakeries.

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Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Lord Stow’s Bakery, Macau

2. France: Croque Madame

A classic ham and cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side up, the sandwich is named as such because the French thought that the egg resembled a lady’s hat. And yup, you got it – without the egg, the sandwich is called the Croque Monsieur. How glamorous, right?

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Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Au Petit Suisse, Paris

3. Taiwan: Oyster Omelette

Better known in Hokkien as oh-ah-jian­, this dish is popular in Singapore as well. The Taiwanese version is slightly different, topped up with specially concocted sweet and sour gravy. Oyster omelette is commonly found along the streets and at night markets, energizing you for even more shopping!

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Take your pick from Shilin Night Market (士林夜市), Taipei

4. Japan: Ajitsuke Tamago

If you think about it, it’s just a half-boiled egg. But what sets it apart from regular half-boiled eggs is that it’s perfectly marinated and cooked just long enough to keep the yolk runny and amazing. The perfect addition to any Japanese ramen, it’s no wonder that nobody can resist them!

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-omendation: Takano (多賀野), Tokyo

5. England: Scotch Eggs

Wrapped with minced sausage and bread crumbs, just wait till the yolk’s yellowy goodness oozes out and it’ll be gone in seconds.  A popular food item in bars, it goes well with beer (you might even forget the alcohol while gobbling the egg down).

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Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Harwood Arms, London

6. Spain: Tortilla

Don’t confuse the Mexican tortilla with this Spanish one! While we are familiar with the Mexican tortilla chips, Spanish tortilla consists of a thick egg omelette made with potatoes fried in olive oil. Don’t underestimate this typical-looking omelette, and try the best Spanish omelette Carrie reggommends!

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Meson de la Tortilla, Madrid

7. China: Century Eggs

A nice touch to regular porridge, this healthy preserved egg is perfect for the health-conscious – through its preservation it retains most of the vitamins and proteins, less the carbohydrates. Only for the acquired taste, the century egg is not for everybody, but Carrie approves.

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Bandao Jiu Lou (半島酒楼), Shanghai

8. New York: Eggs Benedict

Packed within an english muffin, ham, bacon, egg and hollandaise sauce, the origin of the Egg’s Benny is highly disputed. But who cares – as long as it’s good, we love it.

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Peacock Alley, New York City

9. Korea: Gyeran-bbang

Crispy, soft; savoury, sweet – all things good packed in a punch is what the gyeran-bbang (literally translated as egg bread) tastes in a bite. A common street snack among locals and tourists, queues at these stalls are always long but don’t worry, because they move fast.

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Get one freshly made from street stalls, all over Seoul

10. Italy: Frittata

A simple omelette enriched with vegetables, pasta, meat or cheese, the fluffy Frittata is a classic favourite for all, young or old. A bite into this savoury goodness just leaves you wanting more! Pair it with some butter chicken or Florentine steak for more Italian goodness.

CheapTickets.sg Easter sales

Carrie’s R-egg-ommendation: Trattoria Sostanza (Il Troia), Florence

How about you? What are your favourite unique egg dishes? Share them with us in the comments section below!

3 reasons to book with CheapTickets.sg during their NATAS pre-sale

CheapTickets.sg NATAS Pre-Sale has startedEveryone’s favourite local travel fair is back, but are you dreading the hassle of squeezing with the crowds and waiting in line at the Singapore Expo this weekend? Abandon those plans and try booking from CheapTickets.sg in the comfort of your own home instead! It’s a simple philosophy: save time, save money!

1. Get it cheap

In lieu of NATAS, various major airlines have already reduced their fares by large margins of up to 40%. CheapTickets.sg is providing an exclusive $70 off every flight booking from now till the 3rd of March! Just key in this code: NATAS70 when booking to be automatically entitled to this awesome discount. If you still want to compare our prices with those at the NATAS travel fair, simply use our mobile site while you’re at the fair and compare the air fares for yourself!

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deals

Photo credit: Disney

2. Get it online

CheapTickets.sg provides additional services that are not yet provided by any other online travel agency – to help you increase your savings, take advantage of the unique features of CheapTickets.sg:

  • 24/7 access to live updates of the cheapest fares available
  • Compare fares between all airlines – from budget to full-fledged airlines
  • Mix and match flight carriers to get the cheapest fares on your ideal travel dates, without having to make multiple bookings on different sites

With all these amazing functions, the savvy traveler in you is given the freedom to independently search for your preferred dates of travel, rather than be restricted to structured packages offered by other travel agents.

3. Get it now

The NATAS travel fair means competitive prices not just from the travel fair, but from airlines and various travel agencies as well. This means that a large influx of bookings will be expected by the end of the week, and seats on the best flights will definitely fill up quickly. CheapTickets.sg recommends our dear travelers to secure your ideal holiday dates early to avoid disappointment!

To help you start your search, CheapTickets.sg has found great deals to a few of your favourite destinations!

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deal to Bangkok

 

Bangkok
from only $173

 

 

 

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deals to Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong
from only $202

 

 

 

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deals to London

 

London
from only $1152

 

 

 

What are you waiting for? Hurry over to www.CheapTickets.sg/NATAS to grab these awesome deals now!