@GirlEatWorld’s adventure through Kyushu, Japan

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This week inspirational Instagrammer, and CheapTickets.sg‘s favourite food photographer @GirlEatWorld visited the Kyushu region of Japan.

Psst! From now until Monday 17th October you can enter to win flights for you and a friend to have your own Japan adventure. Enter now.

Here’s her story!

Whenever someone finds out I am visiting Japan, the #1 most common response would be asking if I am going to Tokyo or Kyoto. Those are two very lovely cities, however there are so, so much more to Japan! In this post, I will be introducing the “lesser known” areas of Japan – the Kyushu region, located south from Kyoto. I put “lesser known” in a quote because two of the cities in my itinerary should be familiar if you studied world history in High School 😉

Without further ado, let’s start!

From Singapore, I flew to Osaka to meet with my friend who had been traveling around Kyoto earlier that week. I didn’t join her because I had just been to Kyoto earlier this year, and while it was beautiful I would rather save my vacation days and join her for the later part of the trip.

Hiroshima

Technically, Hiroshima is part of Honshu so it does not count under Kyushu, but we made a pit stop from Osaka to Hiroshima since it is on the way! It was an easy 1.5 hours train ride by Shinkansen (the japanese bullet train) from Shin-Osaka station to Hiroshima station.

Hiroshima should not need any further introduction. It is one of the cities that was decimated by an atomic bomb during World War II, and effectively ended Japan’s world domination efforts. Today, Hiroshima has been totally rebuilt and is a very much a bustling modern city. However, the Atomic Bomb history still played a huge role in the city’s identity.

We reached by 11AM and wasted no time in exploring the city. The weather gods were not on our side that day as it was cloudy and raining the entire day. It makes for a somber mood for visiting perhaps one of the most tragic cities in the entire world.

Places to Visit:

  • The Atomic Bomb Memorial & Atomic Bomb Dome
  • Hiroshima Castle

What to Eat:

hiroshima-okonomiyaki-1

Okonomiyaki
When in Hiroshima, have Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き). “Okonomi” means “however you like” and “yaki” means “grilled”. So when ordering Okonomiyaki, you can really customize what you want to have inside! In Hiroshima, the okonomiyaki ingredients (cabbage, noodles and meat of choice) are layered rather than mixed, and comes with fried egg on top.

Where to have this:

  • Chinchinkurin
  • Okonomimura

Momiji Manju

hiroshima-momijimanju

Momiji Manju is a popular steamed bun snack shaped like Japanese maple leaf that can be found throughout Hiroshima. 🍁 It is filled with red bean jam.

Where to have:

Everywhere in Hiroshima! Even 7/11 or Don Quijote would have one.

Fukuoka

From a history-filled Hiroshima, we took a 1 hour ride with Shinkansen down to Fukuoka’s Hakata Station.

Unlike other Japanese cities I visited on this trip, Fukuoka does not offer much in terms of historic education. But what it lacks in one department, it makes up in another – Fukuoka is an absolute foodie destination. For one, Fukuoka is the home of the world famous Hakata Ramen, which should be familiar to all ramen enthusiasts out there. At night the city transforms into a street food lover heaven with the many Yatai stalls that lines the popular districts of Fukuoka.

Places to Visit:

  • Fukoka Castle Ruins
  • Tenjin Station
  • Nakagawa Seiryu

What to Eat:

Hakata Ramen

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Fukuoka Hakata ramen

Hakata-style ramen originated in Fukuoka, so it’s definitely a must-try whenever you are in the city. This ramen is characterized through the rich tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, straight and slightly al-dente noodles, and fried garlic toppings.

Where to have:

  • Ikkousha
  • Ichiran
  • Ippudo
  • Any Yatai stall!

Yatai Stalls

fukuoka-yataistall-2

Yatai stalls are Food stalls that pops up around Fukuoka when the sun sets. It typically opens from around 6pm to 2am, making it an excellent option for dinner or after-drinks snacks. Generally, all stalls offer the same dishes: Hakata Ramen, Oden, and Yakitori. I found that the ramen I had from the stall was even better than the famous ramen shops!

Where to have:

  • Along the Nakasu island river

Nagasaki

From Fukuoka to Nagasaki, there is no Shinkansen service so we took JR Kamome, which was still just a short 2-hour ride from Fukuoka.

Much like Hiroshima, Nagasaki should be a familiar to all of us. Nagasaki was hit by an atomic bomb 3 days after Hiroshima and to this date remains to be last city to suffer the devastating effect of a nuclear weapon.

Today, much like Hiroshima, Nagasaki has been fully rebuilt. It is now a quaint and charming city with diverse cultural influences. I absolutely fell in love with Nagasaki – although we had originally planned to stay for only one night, we ended up extending one more night.

Places to Visit:

  • Nagasaki Atomic Bomb
  • Grovers Garden
  • Nagasaki Ropeway and Mount Inayasa
  • Hashima Island

What to Eat:

Champon and Sara Soba

nagasaki-sarasoba

The dish to eat in Nagasaki is undoubtedly Champon (ちゃんぽん). This clear pork broth noodle soup with pork meat, vegetables and seafood ingredients like fish cake and squid was an interesting one to have. It tasted like chinese food to me, and after looking it up online it does seem to have come from chinese roots. The name itself is Hokkien for “to eat a meal”. Sara soba is quite similar to Champon, but with gravy instead of soup and fried noodles.

Where to have:

  • Eirakuen

Kakuni

Kakuni is another result of the chinese influence in Nagasaki. This snack is a meat bun that taste exactly the same as Kong Bak Pao, a chinese braised pork buns. It consist of pork belly simmered in soy sauce until tender, and served between white buns.

Where to have:

  • Iwasaki Honpo

Castella

Castella is a Japanese Sponge cake brought into Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. At that time, Nagasaki port was the only place in Japan that was open for foreign trading. Sugar was an expensive item back then and Castella became a luxury dessert to have. Nowadays, the cake is a specialty of Nagasaki.

Where to have:

  • Bunmeido Castella shop

Chirin Chirin Sorbet Ice Cream

nagasaki-chirinchirinChirinchirin is a popular treat in Nagasaki that has been around for 50 years. Sold my vendors at tourist places, this sorbet is famous for the way it is served – shaped like a rose. The rose shape is achieved by scooping the sorbet little by little and placing each scoop to mimic rose petals.

Where to have:

Various food vendors. I found mine near the Nagasaki Atomic bomb memorial statue

Kumamoto

Kumamoto is extremely close to Fukuoka – only 40 minutes by Shinkansen and perfect for a day trip. Except when we got there, we wished we had allocated more time to this city. Outside the Kumamoto train station, we rented a car for 80,000 yen for 12 hours and started exploring the city.

Kumamoto was unfortunate to be hit by two very strong earthquakes earlier this year in April 2016. That much is evident while we were driving around town – though most of the city has recovered, we saw disarrayed roof tiles and fallen buildings every now and then, especially at the Kumamoto castle. Although we cannot enter the Kumamoto Castle at the moment, we were still able to see the castle from afar and marvel at how this 15th century building were able to survive the strong earthquake.

Then, we continued our drive down Route 339 to a place called Daikanbo, to see Mount Aso and Kumamoto’s beautiful landscape.

Places to Visit:

  • Kumamoto Castle
  • Daikanbo
  • Kumamon

What to Eat:

Ikinari Dango

kumamoto-ikinaridangoIkinari Dango is a Kumamoto dumpling snack filled with red bean paste and sweet potato. Ikinari is Kumamoto slang for “sudden” so the literal translation of this snack is “sudden dumpling” or “instant dumpling” since the dumpling can be very easily prepared.

Where to have:

You can pretty much find Ikinari Dango all over Kumamoto. I got mine from the souvenir shops in Kumamoto station.
Travel to Japan with CheapTickets.sg

Getting to Japan from Singapore is super easy and affordable with special sale fares on flights and hotel rooms. Check out all our travel deals Japan such as sale fares on flights to Nagoya to check out the Chubu region and to Fukuoka for the Kyushu region that @GirlEatWorld explored as well as favourites Tokyo and  Osaka.

Special Travel Deals:

$30 flight discount:  Get a $30 instant discount on your booking when you use the code JAPAN2016 at the checkout when booking your flights before 31 October 2016.

$100 cash rebate: Get a $100 rebate when you book return flights to Japan and a minimum of 4 nights hotel accommodation when you book before 31 October 2016.

You are sure to have a good time on your trip to Japan. Start to plan and book your trip online now at www.cheaptickets.sg.

Special thanks to @girleatworld for taking all the gorgeous pictures featured in today’s blog and sharing her journey with us at CheapTickets.sg, be sure to follow her on Instagram for more travel inspiration. Happy travels!

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Ski in Style in Korea

With all the talk in the news this past week of people having ‘snow day’ around the world due the amount of beautiful white fluffy stuff falling from the skies and our friends in Hong Kong experiencing almost freezing temperatures some of us might be feeling a little hard done by.

Pyeongchang 2018 ski jump imageMake your snow dreams happen with a winter trip to Korea and experience the snow for yourself, you’ll be surprised how quick and easy it is to plan your trip! With Korea being the host nation for the next winter Olympics in 2018 and the games being held in Pyeongchang in Gangwon-do province, there has never been a better time to go.

The CheapTickets.sg guide to booking your ski trip:

Step 1: Book a cheap flight from Singapore to Seoul with CheapTickets.sg. You can grab flights for the last couple of weeks of February until mid March when the snow should still be good from only $500! *Purchase your travel insurance with your flight booking and save up to 40%* (more on travel insurance at the end of the blog).

Step 2: Book a room. Whilst there are many resorts within a couple of hours from Seoul we recommend you head out to Gangwon-do in the east of Korea. You can book rooms in Jeongseon and Pyeongchang on CheapTickets.sg from only $98 per night.

Step 3: Head to the slopes! Our trip to check out the snow took us the brilliant facilities at High1 Ski Resort in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon do. Getting there from Seoul airport is super easy with a daily bus taking you from arrivals to your hotel at 7.30 each day, great if you are arriving on the Korea Air 644 or Asiana 752 flights (there are plenty of places to get a snack and a hot drink whilst you wait for the bus). You need to reserve your seats in advance here: http://www.purpleskibus.com/. There are also numerous departures from around Seoul city out to High1, Alpensia Ski Resort and Yongpyong Ski resort in Gangwon. The journey takes about 4 hours to get to the resorts and costs about $48 SGD return for the bus.

High1 Ski Slope Map

High1 Ski Slope Map. I skied the AT3-AT3-1

Step 4: Plan your snow time! All the resorts run shuttle buses to the slopes around the timing of the ski sessions, usually split into AM and PM. If you are a first time Skier you should arrange your lesson in advance to ensure you have an English or Mandarin speaking instructor. You can either contact the ski resort you will be travelling to directly or get the hotel to assist with this on your behalf. Ski lessons are can be carried out 1-1 or with a group and cost about 350,000W for the day (AM & PM session). Ski passes including the gondola range from 40-55,000W per session, you need to buy this in addition to your lessons.

Step 5: Look the part. If you have your ski clothes, great! If not you can easily and fairly cheaply rent your gear at the ski lodge. Estimate prices for the ski gear we rented:

Ski plate, Ski pole & boots: 20,000W
Ski clothes: Jacket & trousers: 15-20,000W
Ski Googles: 5-8,000W
Gloves are not able to be rented but we bought ours for 10,000W next to the clothes hire booth.

CheapTickets.sg Travel Guru Carrie gets her Ski on at High1 resort, Korea

CheapTickets.sg Travel Guru Carrie gets her Ski on at High1 resort, Korea

Step 6: Ski! This was my first experience out on the powder and man was it fun! I spent an hour with an instructor in a group lesson learning the basics (walking forwards and backwards, clipping in and out of the boots and falling over and getting up) before going to the nursery slope to learn to go downhill and very essentially how to slow yourself and stop. Once I had graduated from ski school the instructor took me out to the smallest beginner run. If and when you are ready your instructor will accompany you down a beginner slope in a small group, try and take it slowly as you won’t know what’s around the next corner- for me, my first big slope (which my instructor insisted was small) felt huge but he gave me lots of confidence to get through it and was always nearby. You will be given a special colour coded bib to wear on the slopes so other skiers and instructors around know you are a novice, and who you are with! After the first time going down the slope, which felt like it went on forever I felt like I had conquered a mountain. My instructor quickly guided us to the gondola to give me a pep talk and to go back up and do it again. It was certainly one of the best experiences of my life so far! If you are still a beginner or even staying off the slopes your gondola pass will allow you to go to the mountain top where you can indulge in a snack or even have lunch at the restaurant with fantastic views over the mountain at a reasonable price, the ride up is also a highlight.
You can check out the snow and the slopes through the webcams at High1 here:

Step 7: Après Ski!

Après Ski at High1 Resort Korea includes Churros Sabre fights!

Après Ski at High1 Resort Korea includes Churros Sabre fights! Super yums!

This is often the most fun part of the ski trip! Straight from the slopes I headed for the Churros stand conveniently placed by the gondola exit. It’s warm dough and sinful sugar was so welcome to refuel after my first ski session, don’t be fooled thinking it’s all downhill, it’s tiring work (but we still had the energy to pretend it was a light sabre!).

There are a number of hotels where we stayed in Jeongsun and the High1 resort own a number of hotels including Kangwonland, a huge hotel and casino complex. Entry to the casino is free to foreigners and there are over 200 tables. Be warned, the locals take their gaming very seriously, our 5,000W bets were slightly frowned upon but they warmed up to our gaming style in the end. There are regular shuttle busses from the hotels in High1 to Kangwonland, just ask at your hotel reception. There is also a cinema and a choice of eateries.
Whilst we were staying at High1 Hotel, a couple of KM’s up the hill we found it was very quiet in the evenings and the restaurant closed early (room service was also not available after 2pm) so a trip to Kangwonland in the evening is a must. However one of the plusses of this hotel was its direct gondola going to the mountain top which then carried on back down the mountain to the Ski House if you fancied the ride rather than taking the shuttle bus to start your experience.

Pyeongchang Olympics

Getting ready to do a ski jump at Alpensia Resort (no this is not real, its a trick-eye)

Getting ready to do a ski jump at Alpensia Resort (no this is not real, its a trick-eye)

With the 2018 Olympics new fast approaching I had a little behind the scenes tour into what the athletes will experience during the games. If you are staying at Alpensia resort take time to go to the ski jumping stadium. Take the ride up to the cafe where you can enjoy a huge range of hot drinks (I went for the Mocha) and get fantastic views over the mountains. I was lucky enough to be able to go out to where the ski jumpers will begin their medal winning efforts- check out my video below!

 

 

 

 

Want to take an organised tour to the slopes? Book a day tour from Seoul or a 2-3 day trip with CheapTickets.sg from only $65 here and have the organisation taken care of for you!

Want to find out more great places to visit in Seoul and Korea? Download the ‘Visit Korea’ App now for more information and on the go assistance to help you make the most out of your trip.

Download the visit Korea app for more information on visitng Korea

 

Note: CheapTickets.sg advises all skiers; novice or seasoned athletes to hire and wear a helmet (its included in your basic equipment hire, just ask for it) whenever you are out on the slopes. No matter your experience, please take precautions against severe injury from accidents. CheapTickets.sg travel insurance, underwritten by AIG insurance provides coverage for skiers taking part in sporting activities that are open to the general public without restriction (provided you are not going against general health or fitness warnings). It provides coverage for activities undertaken by local operators provided you are under the supervision of qualified guides or instructors when carrying out the opportunity. If you have any queries as to the coverage of your insurance please drop an email to CheapTickets.sg@travix.com so we can assist you.

See Super Cool Seoul

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I have been lucky enough to visit Korea in both the spring and the summer but with Singapore’s eternal summer I so wanted to get out and cool off and my most recent trip to Seoul was the perfect antidote for this trip.

It starts to get cold in November but it you want to have full on hats, scarf and gloves weather (and a little shopping indulgence pre-trip) and possible snow, visiting from mid December to late Feb is the best period to time your trip (more about the snow in my next post…)

If like me you want to experience Seoul at it coolest here are my must do’s:(apart from getting your super cheap flight from Singapore to Seoul at CheapTickets.sg)

Get your skates on: Seoul Plaza Ice Skating Rink

Seoul Plaza Ice skating rink

Seoul Plaza Ice skating rink

Open from 17 December to 9 February (in 2016) this is one of the best value winter activities in Korea! For only 1000W including skate rental you can zoom around the ice pirouetting and showing off your skills in the midst of downtown Seoul. If you are more realistic about your skills, like me, you can rent a helmet and elbow pads for free, just ask. Be sure to wear bring your own gloves or you will need to pay 500W as every skater needs to wear them.

How to time your skate: Sunday to Thursday- 10:00-21:30 / Friday to Saturday & national holidays – 10:00-23:00. Skate time is one hour. Ice cleaning for 30 minutes between each session.

Cheonggyecheon Digital Garden @ Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon Digital Garden opening times 2

Cheonggyecheon Digital Garden Stream light up times

Straight after your skate take the 400 metre walk along Sejong-Daero north towards Heungyemun gate. On your right you will see a large opening at the first main intersection, this is the entrance to the Cheonggyecheon Stream, home to the Cheonggyecheon digital garden. This year-round art light installation gets an added glow in the winter months with a special Christmas feature. The stream, which is more of a river can be followed for 8.4km but if its really cold you can get a good feel from the first 800 metres and do a loop around the stream (carefully) crossing the stream over one of the stepping stones and heading back to the start on the other side.

The times of the light up vary by month but from Dec- Feb you can view them from 18:00-20:00. We were lucky enough that they left the lights on until 20:40 the day we were there.

 

 

 

 

Too Cool: Charles H Bar at The Four Seasons Hotel

IMG_1586Want to warm your fingers and find out where all the other cool kids have been hiding? Just 200 metres walk away from the entrance to the Cheonggyecheon stream is this little gem of an old school ‘speakeasy’. Hidden at the basement level of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel (which I had the pleasure of staying 2 nights in and highly recommend) is the Charles H Bar. A little challenging to find since when you head down the stairs from the hotel lobby into the basement the bar is not signed posted anywhere (its part of the theme). Turn to your left and take the first left turn, yes it looks like a dead ended corridor but push the wall on your left and all will be revealed. My experience started with a small glass of champagne in a red curtained waiting area whilst I waited for my host to guide me into 1920’s New York and to a table. The staff are fantastic and along with the creative cocktail menu with stories behind each creation the bartenders are eager to show off their craft. A short chat revealed that some of the team are friends with the staff at Singapore local 10 Hong Kong Street- so if you have been there too your expectations will be high, and you won’t be disappointed. I went off menu and had a Cosmo followed by an Amaretto sour. Be warned this place is happening, be sure to make a reservation if you plan on coming after 8.30pm when the city workers descend into this secret spot.

Seoul_Blog_Map_Cheonggyecheon_Digital_Garden,_Charles_H_Bar_and_Seoul_Plaza

How to get from Seoul Plaza to Cheonggyecheon Stream and then to Charles H Bar at Four Seasons

Ginseng Chicken Soup

After all the cool it’s time to warm up and refresh yourself for your next adventure. Whilst there are now many places that claim to have been the founding restaurant of the famed Ginseng soup, Korea Samgyetang (고려삼계탕) restaurant claims to be the oldest and most established and who am I to argue now I have tasted their delicacy? Just around the corner from the Four Seasons is the second and smaller outlet of this family restaurant (why go far when you don’t have to?). The delicious soup was delivered very soon after ordering and was still bubbling away with its dates and garlic on top. Pour in your ginseng wine to the dish and get ready to feast. Whilst I found it a little troublesome to navigate around all the little chicken bones the tender meat was more than rewarding, and the surprise of the beautiful glutinous rice when you tore open the meat was such a delight. The meal with the usual array of Korean side dishes cost 15,000W. The restaurant closes at 9pm each day so don’t leave your meal too late.

After reading more about the Ginseng Chicken soup I discovered that it is actually a dish that Koreans like to enjoy in the summer when the country is at its hottest. They believe the soup can help to replace nutrients lost through sweating.

Korea Tourism has some details about the main outlet of the restaurant here. You can visit the restaurants own site here.

Ever wondered why metal chopsticks are used in Korea?

I am intrigued why metal chopsticks are used more commonly in Korea as opposed to wood or plastic. I don’t have the exact answer, but here are a few reasons why; apart from the fact that they are considered more hygienic as they are easily washed and sanitized they also prove less wasteful then throwing away wooden chopsticks as they are more durable. There is also the view that their use stems from social aspiration where brass and silver chopsticks were used by Korean royalty and aristocrats making it a desirable option. Some theories suggest that the king used metal chopsticks in ancient times to be able to test if poison had been added to their food by monitoring corrosion to the metal once it made contact with their meal before they ate it.

 

Want to find out more great places to visit in Seoul and Korea? Download the ‘Visit Korea’ App now for more information and on the go assistance to help you make the most out of your trip.

Download the visit Korea app for more information on visitng Korea

Go K-razy in starry starry Seoul & beyond

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You may or may not already be riding the K-pop wave and gotten totally K-razy over the all singing all dancing mega groups coming out of Korea: think EXO, 2NE1, Super Junior, global phenomena PSY and my new personal favourite Bigbang with the phenomenal G-DRAGON .

Whether you are already a Hallyu (한류) follower or not there are some places that you need to visit in Korea to get in touch with and grow your ‘fangirl’ side to appreciate this musical phenomenon. I have to admit that before this trip to Korea I was more of a Gangnam style dance floor hits kind of person but I have now fully fallen in love and am now proudly following the k-wave.

IMG_1462 (1)

PSY at the Grévin wax museum, Seoul

I started my journey with a red carpet experience at the Grevin Wax Museum in Seoul. Alongside the usual suspects (US President Obama, The Queen, George Cloony & Brad Pitt) you will also find a host of K stars in their ‘Hallyuwood’ (their name not ours!). Meet and greet stars from popular dramas and even have the opportunity to take your seat on a chat show sofa to interact with some of the stars before wondering off the red carpet and onto the international sports field. What’s different from other wax museums is that the Grévin museums promise entertainment, and they certainly deliver. Not only can you pose alongside worldwide stars but you can interact with them too; from playing roulette with the Oceans 11 cast to riding through the starry sky with ET or piloting Air Force One, you can do it here.

Entry into Grévin Wax Museum costs 23,000 W per adult, 18,000 W for students (ages 13-18), 15,000 W for children (ages 3-12), and 15,WKRW for seniors (ages above 65). Children under 3 get in free accompanied by an adult. Operating Hours: Open Daily: 10am-6pm.

How to get there: City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1,2), Exit 6. Walk straight for 5 min. Or, Euljiro 1-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 1. Walk straight for 3 min.

IMG_1559 (2)Next up on the wave, dive into the K-pop concert world with a 30 minute K-pop showcase hologram concert at K-LIVE. Conveniently located to break up a shopping and eating fest in Dongdaemun on the 9 & 10th floor of Lotte FitIn, dance yourself silly (it’s a pretty dark room if you are shy) to the K-LIVE concert with stars such as G-DRAGON, Bigbang, PSY & 2NE1.

The 270° performance will captivate you with its interactive elements (be prepared for your face to be used as a backing dancer) and make you feel as though you are almost at a real concert. At 33,000 W its one of the most pricey activities you can do in Seoul for the time you spend there but if you are a big fan this might be as close to the real thing as you can get!

View of Dongaemun Design Plaza from K-Live balcony in the Lotte FitIn

View of Dongaemun Design Plaza from K-Live balcony in the Lotte FitIn

Concerts  can be viewed at 30 minute intervals from 2-10pm Tuesday- Sunday. How to get there: Located on floors 9 and 10 of Lotte FitIn. Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Lines 2, 4, and 5) exits 11 and 12 (connected by underground path). If you go to the K-LIVE centre at dusk you can get a pretty cool view from the balcony by the cafe inside.

IMG_1928If you want to the biggest chance to run into the stars* (my personal highlight of this K-tour) head to MBC World just out of Seoul City Centre. Visit 3 difference sections of this ‘world’ packed with photo opportunities and interaction zones using the latest technology to bring the stars to life before your eyes. From hanging on the sofa with your favourite singer and having him lie on your lap, performing with your favourite girl band to getting cheeky bed shots with a movie star (you need to go there to see how) you will be entertained for a full morning or afternoon.

I was lucky enough to ‘run’ into Yoo Jae Suk of running man fame at the coffee shop in MBC world. Nicked named ‘MC of the nation’ he certainly was tolerant of the sudden excitement at the quiet corner of the studios whilst I managed to get a snap of him before his entourage tried to calm us down J If you are a big fan, maybe research the when your favourite star is being interviewed or filming a series at the centre and try and spot them (but not in a stalkerish sense…).

Yoo Jae Suk

Yoo Jae Suk from running man needs coffee too!

*we can’t guarantee that you will see/meet one, although we would love to be able to promise it!

Petit France 1

View from the bell tower at Petit France

My final stop on the starry tour took me from stage to screen as I visited one of the most romantic places in Korea… where Do Min-jun and Cheon Song-yi from My Love from the Star had their first kiss in Petit France. I took some time to wonder around this beautiful French themed village in the foothills of the rolling countryside of the Gyeonggi-do region just to be transported to somewhere that could be in the Mediterranean or The Piedmont Alps. From is cafes to halls and galleries this little village will captivate you. My visit in the winter time was particularly enjoyable with all the festive decorations and lights twinkling as dusk set, and of course that cool wintery breeze offset by the hot chocolate I sipped looking out over the nearby lake. Entry into Petit France is 8,000 W for adults and is open from 9am- 6pm. If you are driving to this area combine your trip to nearby Nami Island and The Garden of Morning Calm to make the most of your day. You can book an hotel room in nearby Chunchon from only $70, located just on the edge of the Gangwon region. Spend the evening relaxing and eating at the famed ‘Chicken Street’. For more information on visiting Nami Island and surrounds visit our special site about visiting Gangwon.

N Seoul Tower

Show your love at the N Seoul Tower

Fans of My Love from the Star can take a dedicated tour from Seoul visiting Petit France among a host of other filming locations including the N Seoul Tower and Namsan Hanok Village. The tours guide will share all their insider knowledge and gossip from the show as well as help you create cool photos where the characters pursued their romance ending the day at Palm Piano Restaurant where you can tuck into the shows signature combo of fried chicken and beer (maekju) together called chimac. The tour can be booked online in advance (to guarantee your place) at CheapTickets.sg now for only $162.

 

To get information on where to visit and how to get there in Korea download the ‘Visit Korea’ App now. Plus until 15 January 2016 redeem a $30 discount on all return flights from Singapore Korea, book now! Get the download links and your discount code now at www.CheapTickets.sg/korea#promo

Download the visit Korea app for more information on visitng Korea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Korea! Discover Gangwon

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For those of you who read this travel blog regularly, you know I am an avid fan of taking my trips to Korea…Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, I always discover another treasure on my trips. Its not just the food that took me back this time (my stomach often leads my flight purchases) but my yearning to discover some new places that I hadn’t yet laid my bag. I got a direct from Singapore to Seoul for only $658 with Asiana Airlines. Normally I would save money and take one of the cheaper stop over flights to Korea but this was such a great deal I had to book the cheap flight deals from Singapore to Korea!

Eating the famous Dakgalbi in Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street

Eating the famous Dakgalbi in Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street

This time I flew into Seoul and started my adventure in the region of Gangwon-do. If you are out visiting Gangwon, a must do stop off (and on many of the tour bus routes if you are taking one of those) is the riverside town of Chuncheon. You can catch a direct train from Seoul Station to Chuncheon in just under 2 hours. A 10 minute walk from Chuncheon station you will find the ‘must try’ Chuncheon Dakgalbi Street. Nicknamed the Myeong-Dong of Chuncheon this now famous street started off with only 2-3 dakgalbi restaurants but today you can count no fewer than 25! This spicy stir-fried chicken with vegetables is not to be shared, your appetite will automatically increase when you get your plate, if they smell when you walk into the restaurant hasn’t already set your mouth watering. The region has been well known for its abundant amount of poultry farms for many years so you can also be sure you are getting the freshest chicken.

The ferry to Nami Island

The ferry to Nami Island

If you are heading to Chuncheon on the train or driving there you must visit Nami Island, a short coach ride, or 1.5 hours away on public bus. Although also easily accessible for a day trip from Seoul if you are really going to explore this little island of hidden gems, take the time to stay the nice in Chuncheon, or even book one of the cabins on the island. Famous for its tree lined roads this idilic island is home to watersports during the summer and beautiful walks in the winter. Did I mention there also a themepark with merry-go rounds and a roller skating rink? This is the ideal place for a couple to come and enjoy themselves, shame I left my better half at home this time! If you are going free & easy, that’s it, be brave, Book hire a car in Korea and explore yourself, you can catch the ferry over with your car at 10-20 minute intervals from 9am-6pm daily.

The entrance to the DMZ 2nd tunnel in Gangwon, Korea

The entrance to the DMZ 2nd tunnel in Gangwon, Korea

Are you keen to explore into North Korea? OK so maybe not fully over the border and into life up there but just to say you have stepped over, even if just for a minute. The 2nd Tunnel, as it is known was made by the North Koreans to invade South Korea and was discovered on 24th March 1975. The tunnel is 3.5kms long and going 50-160 metres below the earths surface at its deepest point. The tunnel can accommodate up to 30,000 people at any one time and is large enough for full size tanks to pass through. There are tours that you can pick up From Baengmagoji Station taking you around the major sites in the area from 6,000 KW. A train to here from Seoul would take 2.5 hours but if you are centralising in Chuncheon you will need to drive or book in on a private coach tour to the area.

Getting ready to Ski at the Alpensia Ski Resort in Gangwon, Korea

Getting ready to Ski at the Alpensia Ski Resort in Gangwon

There are so many other awesome places to visit in the Gangwon area. With the winter season coming and the Pyongchang area to host the 2018 Winter Olympics you can bet you are going to get good snow sports in the area. Many of the Cheap Hotels in Gangwon Korea will arrange transfers from Seoul during the high season. My favourite is the Intercontinental Alpensia for that little bit of luxury during the colder months.

The Donghae Sea Train in Gangwon Korea

The Donghae Sea Train in Gangwon

Heading further east in Gangwon you can take time to explore the coastal towns try picking up the Sea Train from Jeongdongjin station to Samcheok. Every seat delivers tourists ocean views with large windows to enhance your experience as you cruise along the coastline taking in majestic waves over 1 hour 20 minutes. Departure information can be found Travel information for the Gangwon East Coast Sea Train.

Wherever you want to go in Korea, CheapTickets.sg makes sure you get your travel at the cheapest flight price from Singapore to Korea. Visit our special Korea website now to check out all our favourite places to visit.

Exclusive Korea travel promotions from CheapTickets.sg

From now until 31 August get $30 discount on your return flight from Singapore to any Korean destination. Get your Korea flight discount and book now- Click here

Book return flights from Singapore to Korea for 2 people and a minimum of 4 nights at a Book a cheap hotel deal at CheapTickets.sg and get 2 complimentary tickets to see Fanta-Stick- the Fusion ‘Gukak’ Music Show in Seoul, worth 50,000 Won per person.

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Carrie’s 2015 Long Weekend Getaway Guide

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Hello travellers! I’ve been really busy sorting out my weekend getaway ideas and planning out my travels for the year. Let me share with you how I am going to maximize Singapore public holidays in 2015 to go on 10 long weekend getaways with just 3 days of annual leave!

Visit Palawan Philippines cheap flights from Singapore $448

Hidden beauty beach, El Nido, Philippines

I am all ready for my Chinese New Year Long Weekend adventure! This will be my first time visiting Palawan in the Philippines and I have already booked a Honda Bay Island Hopping + Firefly Watching Tour to experience the beauty of nature. Since I have four days over there, I am also going to explore hidden beaches and shrines in El Nido.

In case you are wondering if it is too late for you to hop on a plane to Palawan for the long weekend, I have just done a quick search for you and return flights from Singapore to Puerto Princesa (Palawan) are still available from $448! Book Now.

If you think booking your Chinese New Year long weekend getaway now is a little too rushed for you, feel free to join me in my next adventure in Japan during Good Friday Long Weekend. I am so excited to be visiting The Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo during Japan Cherry Blossom Season on an Easter Weekend.

Visit The Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo during Cherry Blossom's this Easter

Visit The Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo during Cherry Blossom’s this Easter

In order to have more time to explore Fukuoka as well as being able to witness the full bloom of cherry blossoms, I have decided to take one extra day off to make it a 4-day trip. Hurry make your return flight bookings to Japan from $502 now before the tickets are gone!

Are you bitten by the travel bug yet? Check out the full guide of 2015 Long Weekend Getaway Guide here to get some inspiration on where to go and what to do for the rest of the long weekends! Make full use of 2015 public holidays to check your dream destinations off your travel bucket list!

My tip for making the most of the 2015 Singapore Public Holidays Long weekends: Always plan ahead and book early to get the best deals possible.

48 hours in Magical Macau

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The island of Macau is well known for its casinos and bright lights due to its 33 casinos. However, what’s less well known is that this former Portuguese colony actually offers so much more to intrigue travellers than just poker and baccarat. Having been colonized for 442 years – from 1577 till 1999 Macau has a rich history steeped in contrasting heritage and architecture. A casual evening stroll down the quaint streets might just leave you wondering if you’ve stumbled into old Europe, while a lion dance happening on the next street will bring you straight back to Asia. Macau is a perfect long weekend destination, time to squeeze in a combination of culture, shopping and of course plenty of eating. I spent only 48 hours discovering the magic of Macau but I will definitely be back for more.

Breakfast on Cathay Pacific Business ClassTaking an early morning flight from Singapore to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, I planned to have a leisurely on board breakfast followed by catching a couple of the hundred or so films on offer- however the heavenly new flat beds now on offer in business class stole away a couple of my hours to sleep. I still managed a light breakfast and a big latte to get my adventure off to a good start.

Cathay Pacific Business Class from Singapore to Hong Kong

The new business class seats on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to Hong Kong

Carrie on the TurboJet ferry to MacauOn arrival at Hong Kong International Airport it was a short 5 minute walk through the arrivals terminal where I easily found the ferry connection desk just before immigration. After a 50 minute cruise on the TurboJet ferry I arrived at Macau ferry Terminal where I jumped on the free shuttle to my new home at The Holiday Inn Macau and grabbed a map from reception and off I went on my adventure. (you can get a free ferry transfer from Hong Kong Airport to Macau when you book a return flight and a hotel room at www.CheapTickets.sg until March 2015!)

St Paul's selfie

St Paul’s selfie

Having seen the iconic Ruins of St. Pauls in pictures for years I was happy to start my trip with a selfie there to share with my friends on facebook (it’s important to share myself being cultural and not always shopping!) .This iconic monument is one of the most recognizable sights of Macau. Most of the old church was destroyed by a fire in 1835 and all that’s left standing today is the front facade and grand steps. The ruins of St.Pauls has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005 as part of the Historic Center of Macau! Ironically, just at the foot of the steps of the ruins is a huge Forever 21, and a starbucks… so naturally I had to check these out (where I met some fellow Singaporeans).

 

 

Portuguese Egg Tarts in MacauNext it was off for an afternoon treat- of Portuguese Egg Tarts. Ok, I dropped the first one whilst being overly keen to get a good picture of me tucking into it (serves me right?) but really, it was the best egg tart I have ever tasted… so I had quite a few. My favourite tarts being from the stall in the picture- I didn’t catch the name but you can find it on the left on the way down the hill from St. Pauls ruins to Senado Square. On this hill you will also find at least 20 Bakkwa shops, you can easily get your fill by having tasters from each one, you will notice 50% of the other tourist have purchased bags of the stuff.

St Dominic's church Senado Square Macau

St Dominic’s church Senado Square Macau

After realising quite how many calories were in the foods that I had just consumed and one of my KPI’s of this trip to be to find baked duck rice I thought I had better get on with some exercise. The lovely people at Macau Government Tourist Office have come up with 4 walks around the city following different interest areas. From Senado Square I picked up the East Meets West Macau Walking tour taking in picturesque St. Lawrence’s Church, St Josephs Seminary and Church and the contrasting culture of Mandarin’s House and A-Ma Temple. The route highlights the cultural intersections of the influence of both the Portuguese and Chinese people.

CheapTickets.sg at the A-Ma Temple Macau

A-Ma Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As evening fell I took a cab across to the water to Taipa Southern Island of Macau to explore some of the big hotels and casinos. The bright lights of the tunnel to the City of Dreams attracted me to check out the ‘city’ inside. Unfortunately the cast of the water spectacular ‘House of Dancing Water’ whose show is based in the entertainment complex were having a couple of weeks off to recoup but instead we were treated to the 18 minute immersive experience of ‘Dragons treasure’. This 360 show inside a 30 metre dome will have you marvelling at the special effects. At only SG$8 per adults and half price for children, it’s a bargain entertainment. With showings every 30 minutes on the hour and half past from 12 noon to 8pm don’t miss this show. If you eat at the City of Dreams restaurant, bar or shop and spend over MOP200 (around $34) you can redeem a free ticket to the show There are tonnes of shows and entertainment events in Macau to keep you captivated all year.

Dragons Treasure City of Dreams Macau

Dragons Treasure City of Dreams Macau

Macau tower at night

Macau tower at night

 

 

 

 

Post show I was famished and so wondered across and into the spectacular Venetian hotel in search of more food. Before wondering the streets of Venice I stumbled upon a huge food court in the hotel, I didn’t manage to get the baked duck rice I had been so avidly searching for but the chicken pot rice certainly didn’t disappoint. Still with more food to hunt for, there is always a reason to come back to Macau!

Venetian Macau panoramic

Venetian Macau panoramic

To end my perfect day in Macau I jumped in a cab back to Senado Square to capture the scene at nighfall where lights had perfectly illuminated the historic buildings for some final snaps. After a 10 minute stroll back to the Holiday Inn hotel I settled down at the hotel bar to reminisce about my day- and plan for my next adventure.

Check out my video of my trip to Macau here!

Getting to Macau

There are 23 flights daily from Singapore to get to you to Macau. Direct flights taking just over 3 hours 30 minutes with Tigerair depart Singapore twice daily or there are 21 flights from Singapore to Hong Kong International Airport where you can hop straight on a Turbo Jet ferry to Macau, taking only 50 minutes. Transfer from flight to ferry in Hong Kong airport is quick and easy, on arrival head towards immigration, you will signs directing you to the ferry services (do not pass through immigration! This will be done in Macau). From now until 30 March 2015, book a flight to Hong Kong and at least 1 nights stay in Macau and get a free 1 way ferry transfer from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau! With return flights from only SG$233 all-in and 3* hotels from $80 a night, get booking at www.CheapTickets.sg.

Getting about Macau

On arrival at the Macau International airport on Taipa or by ferry from HKIA you will arrive at Macau ferry terminal (except on the 10:15 service which berths at the Macau Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal) you will find complimentary shuttle buses departing every 30 minutes to most major hotels. No worries if you’ve just missed the bus, taxis can be caught just outside the terminal with fares similar to what you are used to in Singapore. Once in the city most hotels run a shuttle service between Macau (the northern part attached to the mainland) and Taipa, the southern island where the airport is so you can easily explore what Macau has to offer. One of the best ways to see the beauty of historical Macau is by following a walking tour. Check out Macau walking tours.