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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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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

 

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from only $173

 

 

 

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deals to Hong Kong

 

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

Discover Japan- Tokyo Part 1

Last week, we shared our adventure in Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. This week, we speed forth to Tokyo for some shopping and sightseeing! The fastest way north is to catch the JR Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Tokyo for up to 7,980 yen (Approx. SGD $98), which would take you between 2 hours 20 minutes (Nozomi trains) and 4 hours (Kodama trains), depending on which train. Visit http://www.shinkansen.co.jp/ryoukin_tokaido_sanyo.html for more information. Alternatively, if you want to put that time to better use, then add the Osaka to Tokyo route to your multi-city trip during your flight selection at http://www.cheaptickets.sg! That will only take you less than half the time to get to Tokyo!

Being one of the top global fashion cities, Tokyo is definitely a must-go for shopping! Here are some popular shopping districts in Tokyo that you can’t miss!

Shop it up at Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Shop it up at Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

With several major department stores, electronics retailers, shops and boutiques, shopping arcades and theatres, Shinjuku is one of the largest shopping and entertainment districts in Tokyo. You may even find yourself an unexpected bargain at the dozens of shops located in the underground mall! You can get here conveniently via the subway and alight at Shinjuku station.

Have a shopping spree at Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Enjoy a shopping spree at Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Just a 30-minutes bus ride from Shinjuku is Shibuya, the heart of the fashion world for young people and the birthplace of many of Japan’s youth fashion trends. With trend setting clothing mall like Shibuya 109 housing more than 100 boutiques, and several other small boutiques along the streets, Shibuya is one of the largest shopping districts in Tokyo.

Enjoy two experiences at Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Enjoy two experiences at Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

After your shopping spree in Shibuya, you can walk along Meiji-dori street (which has several fashionable shops along it) for about 15-20 minutes to get to Harajuku. With two parallel shopping streets that cater to very different shoppers, you will enjoy two different kind of experience all in one place. On one side, Omotesando features upscale boutiques and several leading designer brand shops while on the other, Takeshita Dori is a centre of youth fashion and counter-culture. If you want to experience the teenage culture, visit Harajuku on a Sunday as that is the time when many teenagers gather together to engage in cosplay (“costume play”).

After all that shopping, it’s time to gear yourself up for a bird’s eye view of Tokyo city! And where else can we have a panoramic view of Tokyo city but in Tokyo Tower and/or Tokyo Skytree itself?

Have a bird's eye view of Japan from Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, Japan

Have a bird’s eye view of Japan from Tokyo Tower, Japan

Do you know that the Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower of Paris? With a height of 333 meters, visitors can ascend 150 meters to the main observatory and 250 meters to the special observatory to get an amazing view of Tokyo city. In the day, if you’re lucky enough, you may even see Mount Fuji in the distance! At night, the Tokyo Tower lights up and add glamour to Tokyo’s night scenery. Adult ticket prices to the main observatory is 820 yen (Approx. SGD $10) and an additional 600 yen (Approx. SGD $7.30) to access the special observatory.

Soar to greater heights at Tokyo Skytree, Japan

Soar to greater heights at Tokyo Skytree, Japan

If you think you want to soar to greater heights, then pay a visit to the Tokyo Skytree! Opened in May 2012, Tokyo Skytree is almost twice as tall as the Tokyo Tower, with a height of 634 meters! It has two observation decks at a height of 350 meters (Tembo Deck) and 450 meters (Tembo Galleria), making them the highest observation decks in Japan and some of the highest in the world. After taking in the panoramic views of the city, you can even visit the aquarium and large shopping complex located at the base! Adult ticket prices to the Tembo Deck is 2,000 yen (Approx. SGD $24.30) and an additional 1,000 yen (Approx. SGD $12.15) to the Tembo Galleria.

If you think that Tokyo is just about shopping and sightseeing, think again! We are about to embark on a journey to discover Japan’s rich culture and heritage in Tokyo, so join us next week to hear about our adventures!

In the meantime, if you can’t wait to get to Japan, www.cheaptickets.sg has an exclusive $30 discount for your Japan flight! Enter the discount code JAPAN30 at the checkout page for any return flight booking to Japan from Singapore on a full-fledged airline before 14 Feb and enjoy your $30 flight discount!

Discover Japan- Kobe, Kyoto, Nara

After our adventures in Osaka, we are now heading down to Kobe, only about 30 minutes away via the Hankyu Railway, from Umeda Station (Osaka) to Sannomiya Station (Kobe) at a cost of 310 yen (Approx. SGD $4).

Tour the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum, Kobe, Japan

Tour the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum, Kobe, Japan

Kobe’s Nada district is Japan’s top sake (rice wine) producing region due to its availability of high quality rice, purity of water filtered from streams and good weather conditions. You can spend half a day just exploring some of the breweries there. I would recommend for you to visit the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum which is about a 5-minute walk from Hanshin Sumiyoshi Station. The museum offers comprehensive English coverage, including pamphlets and video clips of sake production. Visitors can also enjoy a taste of Hakutsuru sake that cannot be found elsewhere. With free admission, what are you waiting for?

Witness the brewery in action at Shushinkan Brewery, Kobe, Japan

Witness the brewery in action at Shushinkan Brewery, Kobe, Japan

If you are visiting in the winter, why not check out the Kobe Shushinkan Brewery, where you can see the brewery in action. About an 8-minute walk from Ishiyagawa Station, where reservations have to be made one day in advanced for a free guided tour to its sake cellar and brewery. For more information, visit http://www.enjoyfukuju.com/english/our_brewery/index.html.

Now that we have toured Kobe, it’s time to experience some Japan’s traditional culture! And the best city to truly experience that is none other than Kyoto – a world of traditional beauty! You can get to Kyoto easily in about 30 minutes from Kobe via Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train). Kyoto is home to many World Heritage sites, as well as temples and shrines. Many shops here also allow visitors to try their hand at traditional pastimes like tea ceremony, flower arranging or even wearing kimonos!

Experience Kiyomizudera, Kyoto, Japan

Experience Kiyomizudera, Kyoto, Japan

One temple that you must visit is the Kiyomizu-dera (literally “Pure Water Temple”), located in Southern Kyoto. Established in 778, Kiyomizu-dera houses many important cultural monuments, and has 15 colourfully-painted halls and pagodas. The two most famous places of the temple are the Main Hall (Hondo) and the Kiyomizu Stage, which is a porch of the Main Hall. The Main Hall has been designated as a national treasure, where it houses the Eleven Headed and Thousand Armed Kannon Bodhisattva. The Kiyomizu Stage offers a great spot to have a spectacular view of Kyoto’s city centre. During Spring (mid March to mid April) and Fall (mid November to early December), there will also be special evening illuminations that enhance the beauty of Kiyomizu-dera. For more information on the opening hours and admission fees, check out http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/lang/01.html.

Another district that you must visit is Arashiyama, located at the western outskirts of Kyoto.

Stroll at Togetsukyo Bridge, Arashiyama, Japan

Stroll along Togetsukyo Bridge, Arashiyama, Japan

The landmark of Arashiyama, Togetsukyo Bridge is famous for its views of cherry blossoms and autumn colours. It is also a romantic place for couples to stroll at. Surrounding the bridge are many small shops, restaurants and other attractions, including some historical shrines, temples and even the famous bamboo groves.

Experience tranquility at Bamboo Groves, Arashiyama, Japan

Experience tranquility at Bamboo Groves, Arashiyama, Japan

If you would prefer a serene experience here, I would recommend you to visit the bamboo groves in the night. Can you imagine how splendid it would be to walk along this path while being surrounded by a forest of tall bamboos in the night? It would definitely be an experience you can’t forget!

Since you’re in Osaka, your trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting Nara Park in central Nara. To get to the city, you can take the Miyakoji Rapid Service from Kyoto and connect to Nara in about 45-50 minutes.

Visit Todaiji, Nara, Japan

Visit Todaiji, Nara, Japan

At Nara Park, you can find Todaiji (Great Eastern Temple), one of the most famous and historically significant temples in Japan, and a landmark of Nara. It was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all of Japan’s provincial Buddhist temples. Todaiji’s main hall (Daibutsuden) is the world’s largest wooden building and houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha.

Feed the deers at Nara Park, Japan

Feed the deer at Nara Park, Japan

Nearby Todaiji, be in for a unique experience as you get up close to the deer – yes, you saw it right! – deer that roam freely around the park! With nearly 1200 of them, these deer have become a symbol of the city and have been designated as a natural treasure of Japan. Don’t worry, these cute little creatures are calm and friendly, so you can safely feed them with deer crackers that can be purchased around the park for about 150 yen (Approx. SGD $2). Some of these deer have even learned to bow to visitors in order to be fed!

We’re about to make our journey north to the Capital City Tokyo. So join us next week to hear all about our adventures! If you want to join us too, enter our contest at http://bit.ly/1i4wrbt to win a pair of return flights to Japan – including taxes and fees!! Hurry before the entries close on 30th Jan!

Discover Japan- Osaka

Have you started planning for your spring or summer trip? If you haven’t, now’s a good time to start! Kick-start your journey in 2014 by visiting Japan – the perfect place for you to experience traditional customs combined with a mix of modern and futuristic technology and fashion! With so much to offer – from relaxing to exciting and fun-filled activities, you will be in for a good time at Japan!

Make your holiday worthwhile by taking a multi-city trip in Japan at www.cheaptickets.sg (Just select ‘multi-city’ when selecting your flight and choose the airport you want to depart from!).

Why not start off your journey with Osaka – a city filled with vibrancy and energy, featuring many shopping streets, large-scale shopping malls, bustling restaurant districts and several tourist attractions.

Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan

Visit Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan

You can first visit one of the three most famous castles in Japan – the Osaka Castle. Be sure to go to the top of the 50-meter castle tower where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the large Osaka Castle Park, city skyline and the splendid mountains in the distance.

If you’re lucky enough to visit in spring, you will be able to view some cherry blossoms here as well! The Osaka Castle Park is one of Osaka’s most popular Hanami (Cherry Blossom viewing) spot during the cherry blossom season, where you can enjoy a picnic with your family and friends while soaking in the glorious ambience of the festival under the blooming trees. Admission fee is 600 yen (Approx. SGD $7.50) per adult.

Now, it’s time for some shopping and entertainment at Dotonbori! To get there from Osaka Castle, take the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line, from Osaka Business Park Station to Shinsaibashi Station.

Shop it up in Dotonbori shopping district, Osaka, Japan

Shop it up in Dotonbori shopping district, Osaka, Japan

Dotonbori is a single street running alongside the Dotonbori canal in Namba (Osaka’s main shopping and entertainment district). Its neon lights are some of the best in Asia, livening up the atmosphere in Osaka. Here, you can find theatres that play traditional puppet shows, storytellers’ halls and other popular entertainment.

Do you know that Osaka is known as the gastronomists’ town? Hence, it is not surprising to see Dotonbori filled with an unbelievable number of famous restaurants. Be in for a treat with some Osaka local specialties such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) here at Dotonbori! How can you miss these local specialties when you’re in Osaka.

Feast on okonomiyaki in Osaka

Feast on okonomiyaki in Osaka

Tuck into Takoyaki in Osaka, Japan

Tuck into Takoyaki in Osaka, Japan

 

If this has whet your appetite for Japan and you want to join us on our exciting journey of discovery, enter our contest at bit.ly/1i4wrbt to win a pair of return flights to Japan – including taxes and fees!! Hurry before the entries close on 30th Jan!

Join us later this week to hear about our adventures in Kobe, Nara and Kyoto!

Dream, Explore & Discover Taiwan

Are you already planning how to celebrate New Year’s Eve or even Chinese New Year?  Taiwan is one place you shouldn’t miss, boasting impressive scenic sites, vibrant centres of culture and entertainment as well as the famous Taiwanese cuisine.

Whilst most trips from Singapore to Taiwan start in Taipei but don’t let that stop you exploring the rest of this beautiful country. There are of course some ‘don’t miss’ moments of Taipei to take your breath away. Return flights to Taipei starts from only $247 at CheapTickets.sg

Taipei 101

Celebrate New Year's Eve in Taipei at Taipei 101 with CheapTickets.sg

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Taipei at Taipei 101

Did you know that one of the worlds most famous and iconic pieces of architecture is the Taipei 101? It stands at 1667 feet and has the fastest ascending elevator speed, which travels as fast as 16.83 metres per second! If that is not fascinating enough, it also has the largest countdown clock which is displayed during New Year’s Eve. If you are like me, planning to spice up the coming New Year’s Eve, then ringing it in at Taipei 101 is a fantastic choice. Not only do you get to witness the spectacular vibrant display of the fireworks, you can get your energy pumped up and feel the adrenaline rush as you join in the wild crowd. It is truly a once in a lifetime celebration worth travelling to.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market

A trip to Taipei wouldn’t be the same without a shop, take a trip to check out the Shilin Night Market in Taipei. It is one of the largest, most popular night markets in Taiwan, and when it comes to the food… It is located in Taipei’s Shilin District, just a mere 70 meters from MRT Jiantan station between Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Rd, and Jihe Road. The maze of alleyways is filled with a wide array of local, traditional, and international merchandise that appeals to both local and foreigners. How great is that!

Have a taste of the unique flavors of the traditional recipes such as the giant fried chicken steak, tempura, the most notorious Taiwanese goodie, Stinky Tofu and the most popularly recommended food in Shilin Night Market is the Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎), pronounced by everyone in Taiwanese as ó ā jiān.

You can get there by MRT by taking the Red Line to Jiantan Station (劍潭站) Take the Exit 1, diagonally across the street to the left to enter the night market.

Sato Hotel

Sato Castle Hotel Cinderella Room

Sato Castle Hotel Cinderella Room

Want to stay in by far the coolest hotel in Taipei? Check into the Sato Hotel and be treated like a princess for a night (of a few more…) with their themed rooms. Sleep in pirate boat, between the Man United goal posts or shoot into the future with their incredible rooms. Being a princess my pick is the fairy tale room where you can sleep in Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage complete with horse…rooms start from only $148 at CheapTickets.sg. Book now.

Sato Castle Princess Room 2         

Taichung

Taiwan is more than just about Taipei. With over 36,000 square miles of beauty to explore, take a trip down to Taichung. Get to Taichung via the bullet train which takes only an hour and costs $30 SGD for an adult ticket!

National Museum of Natural Science

National Museum of Natural Science Taichung

National Museum of Natural Science Taichung

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Taiwan’s first remarkable museum of science. Even though it lacks in the English explanations (except for display titles), it is still worth visiting. It has a visually interesting dioramas, models and exhibitions. You will definitely be in awe when you see the life-size dinosaur skeletons and the moving and roaring dinosaur automatons.

Carton King- Dakeng

World icons in Taichung at Carton King Dakeng

World icons in Taichung at Carton King Dakeng

Travelled all the way to Taiwan but feel like taking in some world monuments? At Carton King Dakeng you can visit international landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Arc de Triomphe or the windmills of Holland, houses and even a zoo, all of which are made out of corrugated cardboard. Even the chairs in the restaurant (which are surprisingly stable) are made out of cardboard. Half of your $8 SGD entrance fee can used to buy yourself a take home souvenir. Carton King can be found at 2 Second Alley, Tungshan Road, Beitun district, Taichung 406, Taiwan.

Now that I’ve covered both Taipei and Taichung, there is only one more stop left on this journey. If you guessed it to be Kaohsiung, you’re right! You can get there by taking a 1 hour train journey from Taichung to Zuoying, in the Kaohsiung region. With a journey cost of only $35 SGD. How cheap is that?

Kaohsiung

Now that I’ve covered both Taipei and Taichung, there is only one more stop left on this journey. If you guessed it to be Kaohsiung, you’re right! You can get there by taking a 1 hour train journey from Taichung to Zuoying, in the Kaohsiung region. With a  journey cost of only $35 SGD. How cheap is that?

Escape 41

Escape 41 Kaohsiung

Escape 41 Kaohsiung

After my exhilarating journey through the country, I decided to take some time to relax and unwind. Imagine having a drink or two and chilling somewhere on the mountain, or rather, just down the slopes of it, a few meters above the blue sea? With good attention to food, Escape 41, in the Gushan district is worth the effort to get here. Pizza is the best dish but there are good veggie options, and a broad cocktail and wine selection to hang out in the evenings. You get to enjoy the breath taking view of the sea!

Love River

Love River Kaohsiung

Love River Kaohsiung

How about taking a slow and relaxing walk along the Love River or locally know as the Ai River? The river is of great cultural significance to the people of Kaohsiung, central to its economy and tourism. Witness the clean water flowing as you walk by, occasionally, sitting on the bank-side promenades with their benches, shady trees and outdoor cafes which are popular hangouts for both locals and visitors. Alternatively you cruise along parts of the 12 km river day and night taking in the Holy Rosary Cathedral and Kaohsiung Bridge. (20-minute boat rides $3.5 SGD).

Getting back to Taipei for your return flight is cheap and easy with a 2 hour train ride priced at only $67 SGD from Zuoying to Taipei, enjoy the beautiful countryside as it wheezes past you. Truly an amazing ride!

If all of this adventure has got you pumped up and eager for a fun filled journey CheapTickets.sg has an exclusive online promotional return flights from Singapore to Taipei from only $497 with Eva Air.If you are feeling very romantic you can book a long weekend in Taiwan over Valentine’s Day from only $500 with Eva Air.

Love River KaohsiungHurry! Book your tickets now so that you won’t miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime!

Penang: art hunting and lots of munching. An escape after the haze.

Has the city been driving you hazy crazy recently? Do you feel like you need a quick weekend escape but don’t want to travel too far? Penang could be the solution to feed (literally) your travel hunger pangs.

Looking at the world map (or South East Asia due to my time and budget constraint) I pin pointed Penang as my escape destination. Less than an hour in the air delivers you straight to the green island in western Malaysia. I grabbed my return flight at www.CheapTickets.sg for only $87 with Tiger Airways, an absolute bargain I think you will agree? Book a ticket now at the deals page.

Where to eat: The first thing to say about my experience of Penang is- don’t go there if you are on a diet. The food is amazing, we tried everything from street stalls to fine dining. Some of my must trys:

Penang laksa Joo Hooi cafe

Penang laksa Joo Hooi cafe

  1. Penang Laksa- different from the Singapore Laksa in that it is slightly sour with its tamarind base, accompanied with mint, cucumber, onions, shredded lettuce and pineapple.

Where to have it: Joo Hooi cafe, 475 Jalan Penang on the corner of Lebuh Keng Kwee.

2. Ice Kachang- perfect for cooling off after a spicy street dish or just a hot day touring the old streets of George Town. There is also great chendol if you are that way inclined.

Where to have it: Although called the Penang road famous teochow, chendol and ice kachang stall it is actually positioned on Lebuh Keng Kwee just outside the Joo Hooi cafe.

Beef Hor Fun at Yeng keng cafe

Beef Hor Fun at Yeng keng cafe

3. Hor Fun: In particular the beef hor fun. Delicious with a generous portion of both meat and the gravy- I love the egg that is mixed in at the end.

Where to have it: The Yeng Keng Cafe (362 Lebuh Chulia) is attached to the hotel, conveniently located for a lunch drop in whilst touring the area.

4. Nyonya: Our Peranakan food journey certainly peaked at the Kebaya restaurant at the 7 terraces hotel. Opt for the special, usually a dish slow cooked for up to 72 hours. They only serve a set menu from 7-10pm it is worth booking ahead.

Art hunting: Opting for a slower paced weekend we spent our 2 days just strolling around Georgetown, and still ended up cramming a lot in. Between eateries we trailed some of the famous local street art by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic. His creative wall work incorporates physical objects making for some great snaps. Here are some of my favorites.

Little girl in blue, Muntri Street, George Town

Little girl in blue, Muntri Street, George Town

-          “Little Girl in Blue” Mural, Muntri Street, George Town, Penang

-          “Children in a Boat” Mural, Chew Jetty,

George Town, Penang

-          “Boy on a Bike and Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur” Mural, Ah Quee Street, George Town, Penang

Many of the hotels hire out bicycles to residents, it’s a great way to see the town, plus on Sundays the central part of Georgetown is closed to cars making it even easier to get around- just mind the cobbled streets!

Where to stay in Penang

Georgetown is relatively cheap for hotel rooms. With options ranging from 5* to hostels there are rooms for every taste and budget.

I checked into the Eastern and Oriental hotel for a touch of luxury. Sat on the coast of northern Georgetown this colonial style hotel was first established in 1885. With its recent refurbishment completed I recommend checking into the new victory annex suites. We made good use of the Planters Lounge which serves complimentary breakfast, all day coffee/tea and evening cocktails and canapés from 5pm to 7pm complimentary with your room booking. Rooms come with small private balconies and you can chill out by the stunning pool as a perfect way to relax after a hard days walking. CheapTickets.sg has the cheapest hotel deals for this hotel and rooms are available at up to 50% discount from $230 per night when you book now.

The pool at the Victory annexe at The Eastern and Oriental hotel, Penang

The pool at the Victory annex at The Eastern and Oriental hotel, Penang

For a more modest but certainly not downmarket option try the Yeng Keng Hotel on Chulia street. This centrally located heritage boutique property has that homely feel with a welcoming team, and you can find the fabulous beef hor fun recommended above in their restaurant. Save up to 45% of double rooms from $121 per night when you booking advance, book now.

What are you waiting for, book that weekend getaway you have been thinking about today. Get all the latest flight and hotel deals at www.CheapTickets.sg.

Max out your European adventure with flights from $65

Living in Singapore it’s easy to make friends that eventually end up all over the world, and with wedding season approaching and invitations arriving my feet are getting itchy.

As we all know, weddings can end being just expensive for the attendees as the couple getting married themselves, especially when flights and hotels are involved. If you are already traveling to another continent for a wedding, it would be rude to miss the opportunity to visit a few other places whilst you were there…my solution to this problem has been solved at www.CheapTickets.sg with amazing flight deals around Europe. Budget airlines originate from Europe, and flights with them still remain competitively cheap.

Buy internal flights in Europe from only $65 (Barcelona- Rome) at www.CheapTickets.sg

Buy internal flights in Europe from only $65 (Barcelona- Rome) at www.CheapTickets.sg

Here is how I plan to spend 2 weeks in Europe:

8 May: Singapore- London. Flight cost: $456

3 nights in London to attend wedding number 1. Still time take a cruise down the Thames and try to spot The Queen.

12 May: London- Barcelona: Flight cost: $72

4 nights to relax and indulge in the vibrant Catalan capital of Barcelona. Shop up a storm in Las Ramblas, act like a culture vulture at La Sagrada Familia and party up a storm in the gothic quarter.

16 May: Barcelona- Rome: Flight cost: $65

Climax the holiday with a beautiful wedding in the town of Sorrento, just under a 3 hour drive from Rome airport. Take in the gourmet delights of Naples (Pizza anyone?) and not missing the historic Roman city of Pompeii

21 May: Rome- Singapore: Flight cost: $625

All 4 of these flights from Singapore to 3 amazing European cities costs only $1218. Even if you don’t have any special events to attend, this would still be my dream itinerary. To add to the excitement, May is one of the most pleasant times of the year to travel around Europe. The season is fairly dry and the temperatures in the early 20’s, relatively mild before the summer scorcher months.

For all your hotel needs you can also check out hotels with up to 75% discount. Get travelling!

CheapTickets.sg Flash hotel sale up to 75% off

CheapTickets.sg Flash hotel sale up to 75% off

Where is your New Year travel resolution?

Working in travel, our team is constantly exposed to amazing destinations and cheap flight prices to the places that they want to visit. As the New Year approaches, I asked some of my team where they want to travel to next year and why…

Kate J- CheapTickets.sg Customer Service officer

Kate J will travel to Tokyo during Cherry Blossom season

Tokyo- Kate J: Customer Service Officer

My new year’s resolution is to travel and explore the world, improve my Japanese vocabulary and lead a healthier lifestyle. I am planning to travel around Japan.

Firstly, I would like to see the ‘sakura’ (cherry blossom) at Chidorigafuchi in central Tokyo. Normally in early April, theJapanese celebrate that time of the year with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties under the blooming trees.

 

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Hundreds of cherry trees decorate the moats of former Edo Castle around Kitanomaru Park, creating one of Tokyo’s most outstanding cherry blossom sights. The hanami celebrations usually involve eating and drinking, and playing and listening music. Some special dishes are prepared and eaten at the occasion, like dango and bento. I can imagine myself under the tree breathing in the cherry blossom filled Tokyo breeze with the wind blowing in my hair and petals falling on my head.

A visit to Japan is never complete without visiting Tokyo Disneyland. Rediscovering the inner child in me,I would go on all the rides and meet the famous cartoon characters!

After all that excitement, I long to relax in an outdoor Onsen(hot spring bath) and that is how I would end my day.

Return flights to Tokyo are currently available from only $506 and Osaka from $640 at CheapTickets.sg.

Victor P- Snr Software Engineer, CheapTickets

Victor plans to travel to Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne- Victor P:  Snr Software Engineer

My New Year’s resolution is to leave my comfort zone and try something new. It can be as simple as visiting a new country and try their local food that I never have tasted before,  and be more adventurous and  take full advantage of the time that I will be there. This year I would love to soak up under the sun of Melbourne’s beach like St Kilda. I also would like to dine in the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant  and travel city streets while enjoying their local cuisine with my friends. And it will not be complete if I will not try Kayak and stare at the beauty of the city from a far.

Return flights to Melbourne are currrently available from only $780 on CheapTickets.sg

 

 

Jin Toh, CheapTickets.sg Marketing Intern

Jin hopes to travel to Berlin, Germany in 2013

Berlin- Jin Toh: Marketing Intern (Nanyang University)

I want to travel to Berlin, Germany because it is one of the world’s most sophisticated countries. Its rich history (although somewhat tainted), beautiful city architecture and passionate culture draws me to this beautiful nation. The Berlin Wall is a splendid example of a structure that bears great historical and cultural significance, and I would visit it if I go there.  German food culture is also fantastic, with the best sausages in the world (WürsteFrankfurters). Couple that with some Erdinger Weißbier and you’ll get the best meal ever.

Jin would like to celebrate Octoberfest in Munich

Jin would like to celebrate Octoberfest in Munich

The Oktoberfest in Munich is definitely one of the events that I would LOVE to join, because of the beer and sausages! Berlin is definitely a must go for me, and I’m looking forward to a trip there soon! Atchung! I’m coming soon!!

Return flights to Germany are currently available from $1007 to Frankfurt, Munich from $1207 and Berlin from $1283 at CheapTickets.sg