Why you shouldn’t skip over travel insurance

You might have seen the STB ad with Justice Bao recently reminding Singaporeans to purchase travel insurance to protect you when you travel, and they are right. But in case you missed it here are a couple of reasons you shouldn’t travel without cover.

  1. It’s so easy to buy. Don’t make excuses that it’s a hassle to purchase travel insurance or forget to do it before you fly. Just one click with your flight booking adds the option to your transaction on CheapTickets.sg. Your policy documents will be delivered to your inbox almost instantly after you have booked it.
  2. Help is just a call away when in need. At CheapTickets.sg we work with insurance hero’s AIG to provide you with insurance. They have a contact number ( +65 6733 2552 ) with friendly ATAP professionals ready to assist you. What kind of emergencies can they help in?
  • Sick and need to find a nearby doctor? The ATAP can help guide you to the nearest hospital/clinic.
  • Lost your passport? ATAP will assist in the replacement of lost or stolen travel documents including help with visas.
  • Lost luggage? The ATAP team will coordinate with the air carrier and assist in getting your luggage back to you.
  1. Recover your costs if you are not able to travel. Ever worried about falling sick and missing out on that trip you have been planning or maybe a parent or spouse falls sick and you need to care for them? You could get monetary reimbursement on your flight and hotel arrangements for up to $5000 for anything you are not able to cancel.
  2. Return medical care: If you’ve ever caught something on the way home or injured yourself did you know you are still covered for 2 days once you get home? Your doctor’s fees would be covered even once you are back in Singapore.

With travel insurance from only $8.5 per day for travel in South East Asia and $9 per day in Australia when you purchase your travel insurance with your CheapTickets.sg flight, it’s worth the small addition for the piece of mind when you travel.

Terms and conditions apply. Please read the policy coverage available at check out for more details.

5 Reasons why Tasmania is the Ultimate Wanderlust Destination

From sparkling sapphire bays to fossil-rich limestone, Tasmania is brimming with natural wonders sure to take your breath away

It may sit near the bottom of the globe, but with a treasure trove of natural wonders, it is hard to imagine anyone resisting Tasmania’s allure. Get bitten by the wanderlust bug as you explore more of what Tasmania has to offer.

Here are the top five reasons why the Apple Isle is the ultimate travel destination.

#1 Wineglass Bay

Freycinet Experience Walk

Freycinet Experience Walk, Wineglass Bay Photo: Tourism Australia

Located within the Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay, considered one of the top 10 beaches in the world, boasts a sparkling sapphire basin and a crescent of soft, white sand. For a truly spectacular view, take a short trek to the Wineglass Bay lookout. While the uphill walk might be a bit of a scramble, the view from atop is well worth the effort. There are many more short walks across the park, suitable for all. These mostly lead to secluded bays, beaches and bird-filled lagoons.

Adventurous travellers can try out the Freycinet Experience Walk, a four-day guided hike across the entire length of the peninsula. While on the walk, keep a sharp lookout for some of Tasmania’s native animals in action. If you’re lucky, you just might spot some native white-bellied sea eagles diving into the bay for food!

The bay’s calm and clear waters also makes it the perfect location for those who enjoy fishing, sailing or simply soaking up the coastal scenery.

#2 Freycinet Marine Farm

Food is the word on every Singaporean’s lips. And with Tasmania’s cool air and pristine waters, there can only be one thing on everyone’s mind — seafood!

Taste some of Tasmania’s freshest seafood at Freycinet Marine Farm, which rears everything from succulent Pacific oysters to Tasmanian Blue Mussels. For a truly immersive experience, the farm encourages visitors to sift for oysters straight from the waters. Just picture yourself ankle-deep in water and feasting on freshly shucked oysters!

#3 Maria Island

maria-island-credit-maria-island-walk-and-great-walks-of-australia

Maria Island photo credit: Maria Island Walk and Great Walks of Australia

Immense, raw and awe-inspiring — that is what walking through Maria Island feels like. The world heritage national park, located in a mountainous island to the east of Tasmania, is a sanctuary of stunning historic ruins and dramatic cliffs — and a goldmine for Instagram-worthy pics.

Fossil Cliffs is a real-life Jurassic Park, containing fossils of ancient creatures that date back to 300 million years ago. Hunt for remains of extinct organisms like the Eurydesma, a giant thick-shelled clam, which can be found embedded in beds of rocks.

Another reason to visit Maria Island is The Painted Cliffs. This site is covered in beautifully patterned sandstone that comes in stunning shades of red, orange and yellow; sometimes all at once. Fishing for more “Likes” on your Instagram photos? This is the place to be.

#4 Lavender Fields Forever

The best desserts always get a little messy 😉 Great pic by @tasmaniadotcom

A post shared by Bridestowe Lavender Estate (@bridestoweestate) on

Sifting for travel ideas this December or January? Look no further than the world’s largest commercial lavender farm, Bridestowe Lavender Estate, located in northeast Tasmania. Be mesmerised by rows and rows of gorgeous lavender bushes that form a colourful palette against the brilliant blue skies.

And don’t just stop and smell the flowers, you can taste them too! The Woodcroft Café on the estate sells a range of lavender-infused desserts, like lavender fudge brownie and lavender ice cream, which you can enjoy while curled up on one of the farm benches or under a grand oak tree! Is there any better way to spend a fine summer’s day?

Those looking to do a spot of souvenir shopping can purchase Bobbie, Bridestowe’s resident lavender-filled teddy bear. Aside from its lovely colour and soothing lavender scent, these bears also make the perfect cuddle buddy.

 

#5 Cataract Gorge Reserve

Cataract Gorge Cottage 22/2013

Gatekeepers Cottage Photo: Tourism Australia

Located less than two kilometres from Launceston’s city centre, Cataract Gorge, framed by an ice-cold river, bushland and cliffs, offers an escape from the buzz of city living. Interested in a walkabout? There are two walking tracks that straddle the gorge. Cataract Walk is level while the Zig Zag Track is steep. Both offer stunning, clear views of greenery and water.

If you are travelling with kids, the gorge offers a free outdoor swimming pool and barbecues for a lovely family outing in the summer. Be sure to take a ride on the world’s longest single-span chairlift and keep a lookout for sociable peacocks, which can be found strutting about the gardens.

Special Travel Deals

Book your trip to Australia before 31st March to be able to redeem the CheapTickets.sg  $100 cash rebate promotion when you book your flight and minimum of 4 nights hotel in Australia now! There has never been a better reason to pack yourself off to Tasmania.

Want to discovermore in Tasmania? Check out our new Runway Australia self-drive and come with us to the Tasman Peninsula to see the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere, see wild whales and eat the best oysters in the world.

Runway Australia Tasmania

 

3 Foodie ideas not to miss in Melbourne

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Australia’s capital of culture brings many surprises for travellers on the hunt for exciting city-based experiences.

Ranked as the world’s most liveable city for the sixth year running, Melbourne has all the elements of a must-visit urban destination: a buzzing culture-rich core, a love for coffee and celebration, hip precincts, and lush parkland topped off with breathtaking nature. Here are 3 experiences that showcase the cities thriving food scene at its finest.

With return flights to Melbourne from only $394 and hotels from $98 why not book yourself a bargain trip and get a $100 cash rebate promotion when you book your flight and minimum of 4 nights hotel in Australia now!

1. Eat Your Way to the Top

Melbourne is a haven for any seasoned Singaporean foodie. At one of the city’s many cafes, pair creative brunch fare with coffee micro-roasted to perfection. For a spin on café culture, pop by Seven Seeds in Carlton for its university vibe, recycled timber interior and top-notch cappuccino.

The world’s best pizza is not in Italy, it’s at 400 Gradi on Lygon Street in Brunswick. Affable Aussie owner Johnny Di Francesco’s wood-fired Margherita is a must-try, having bested global contenders to win the 2014 World Pizza Championships in Italy.

For a spectacular view in an unusual setting, pay a visit to Easeys in Collingwood. Tuck into a cheesy burger as you perch on a rooftop in one of three train carriages. Try your best not to spill the tomato sauce!

2. Off the Beaten Truck

Melbourne Food trucks

Food Truck, Melbourne Photo: Visit Victoria

Food truck parks are an iconic part of Melbourne’s food scene. These food truck gatherings often occupy both an indoor and outdoor area, which makes for a lovely dining-under-the-stars experience — particularly in the summer.

Indulge in top-notch grub from over 40 street food vendors at Hank Marvin Market, which opens every Saturday at St Kilda East. This park transforms into a hub of fresh produce, food trucks and street food stalls serving everything from pizzas to wood-fired bagels. Just 20 minutes north of the city is Welcome to Thornbury, Melbourne’s first permanent food truck stop. With up to 43 trucks onsite and a host of craft beers and cocktail jugs for sharing, this park is the perfect eating spot for travellers who are new to the food truck scene. The 4,000-square metre venue features a 200-seater bar, where you can knock back some grilled bites and beer.

3. Heed the Call of Collingwood

Smith Street cafes, Collingwood

Smith Street, Collingwood Photo: Visit Victoria

Popular with locals, this neighbourhood is home to a monthly farmers’ market showcasing local goodies produced within a 160-kilometre radius. Grab a punnet of fresh berries, set out for nearby Yarra Bend Park and hop on a rowboat for the chance to see native grey-headed flying foxes in action.

Those itching to bring home a piece of Melbourne can hit the stores along Smith Street on Collingwood for unique collectibles. These stores typically specialise in handcrafted trinkets and jewellery with unusual features, like laminated flowers, pencils and recycled vinyl records.

What’s not to miss in Collingwood? The Melbourne suburb is home to Beanhunter’s number 1 cafe in Melbourne, Aunty Peg’s,  which is essentially the cellar door to Proud Mary Coffee Roasters. Aunty Peg’s is a must visit for a Melbourne coffee lover looking to discover their perfect brew. What’s the best way to get there? From Bourke Street take the 86 tram to Hodgson Street stop 18 and walk along Stanley Street to Wellington Street, it will take about 20 mins so enjoy the ride.

Don’t forget to book your trip to Australia before 31st March to be able to redeem the CheapTickets.sg  $100 cash rebate promotion when you book your flight and minimum of 4 nights hotel in Australia now!

What’s next after Melbourne? Check out our new Runway Australia self-drive and come with us from Melbourne city to the Mornington Peninsula to swim with dolphins and seals, eat fresh seafood by the beach and galavant through olive groves.

Take off for Runway Australia with CheapTickets.sg and ZALORA

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons To Celebrate Australia Today

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Happy Australia Day! That’s right, every January 26th Australians celebrate, well, being Australian. Originally the date marked the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales. Today celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history and welcoming new members of the Australian community.

We thought we would mark this year’s celebrations by sharing 5 reasons we love Australia!

  1. It’s picture perfect. Every picture we see of this beautiful country on the gram just melts our travel hearts and makes us want to book another flight to Australia (insert small plug about how you can book a return flight from Singapore to Australia from only $289 all-in, fare, tax, everything included!).
    One of our favorite examples: Crawley Edge Boat Shed, Perth

 

2. The food. Everywhere you look, there is amazing, fresh food made from local produce. Whether it’s the Lavender ice cream below in Tasmania, Black Star Pastry’s famous watermelon cake, freshly shucked oysters or just a tasty, perfectly cooked steak cooked on a beachside bbq (hungry yet). It’s there, waiting for you in Australia. Looking for something exciting in Sydney? Check out our list of hidden foodie gems.

 

3. The wildlife: Australia knows how to do cool animals. Yes, there are the slightly scary animals if you go looking for them but then there are these amazing creatures just waiting for you at check in on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays.

 

4. It’s Iconic. From the Sydney Opera House to Uluṟu and even the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. There are so many places to put on your bucket list that we would struggle to whittle it down to 100 for a post. Make a list, check it twice and start planning where to go first.

The spiritual heart of Australia. Photo thanks to: @tscharke #seeaustralia #exploreuluru #uluru #ntaustralia #stars

A post shared by Explore Uluru (@exploreuluru) on

 

5. Utterly beautiful beaches. Lots of them. Let’s face it, Australia is an island, and the majority of people (80% of the population) live on the edge of it, and we can see why. We think every Australian has a favourite beach, and with so many to go around unless you are heading to Bondi on Christmas Day you won’t need to share it with too many people.

Happy Australia Day!

Celebrate Australia every day by following the beautiful posts from @australia and @cheapticketssg for your daily dose of Australian inspiration. Happy travels!

Happy #australiaday from the awesome @ausoutbacknt

A post shared by CheapTickets.sg ✈ (@cheapticketssg) on

5 reasons you need a last minute long weekend in Margaret River

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It’s the end of the year! Refresh yourself a little with a long weekend away before the final stretch. Things can get hectic and if you need to clear a couple of days leave this is the perfect place to escape too. You deserve it! Need more of a reason? We’ve got some inspiration for you.

1. It’s a gourmet Escape! The Margaret River is a foodies dream at any time of year, known for its local produce and award winning wines but from 18-20 November the world comes to the region for The Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Take your seat to taste creations from 50 culinary superstars from around the world during the 5th anniversary of this mesmerizing foodie event. If you are looking for a taster be sure to buy tickets for the Gourmet Village to gain access top tasting opportunities, artisan producers, restaurant pop ups surrounded by music and lounges. Entry on the Sunday is just $45 on the door.

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Fresh oysters at Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Image credit: Elements Margaret River

2. BBQ on the beach with Rick Stein. There are still some tickets for the lunch and dinner at the iconic Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ on Sunday 20th available… This exclusive event promises privileged access to Castle Bay Beach which will be transformed into a waterfront eatery with giant tipis and live music. On arrival be tantalized by artisan gin cocktails crafted exclusively for the festival by Palmer- Watts and award winning local distillery Limeburners before canapés and the main event- local produce sizzling from the grill cooked by celebrity tong masters from Movida Melbourne and Guillaume in Sydney. Did we mention how insta-worthy this will be. You might have a few friends joining you next year after this.

Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ with Rick Stein

Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ with Rick Stein Image credit: Elements Margaret River

3. Food, food everywhere. OK so we keep going on about this food thing, but seriously we know you won’t be disappointed in the MR. From the breaky burget at Morries (think chewy brioche from the local bakery, bacon from The Farmhouse, aioli, Swiss cheese and free range eggs that ooz a deep yellow yolk when you bite it) for your arrival breakfast to dining alfresco on platter of local produce including wagyu venison pate at Brookwood Café for dinner whilst the sunsets.

🍸🍔🍤💏

A post shared by Em O'Connell (@emmyokie) on

4. So much more than just the town. You might find it hard to go straight to your hotel in Margaret River with all the spots to stop along the way, just let your trip flow. Landing early? Make your first stop at Busselton and stride off your plane legs with a walk (or a train ride on the cute motor) to the end of the jetty. With seaside cafes, kiosks and restaurants you will be spoilt for choice, we think you might love it so much you want to spend the night so consider adding a day onto your itinerary if this sounds like your idea of a perfect location? Check out our self drive route from Perth through Margaret River to Augusta taking in just some of the jewels of that this region has to offer.

#nofilter needed. #thisiswa #wanttogoback to Busselton! ❤️

A post shared by CheapTickets.sg ✈ (@cheapticketssg) on

5. You can do it cheaper than you think!

Book a 4 day trip from only $803 per person all in. How?

Direct flights from Singapore to Perth with Qantas= $545

3 nights 4* accommodation at the Margaret River Resort= $227

4 days car rental of a Toyota Corolla or similar= $86

Ticket entry to the Gourmet Escape Festival Village= $45

Less DBS $100 cash rebate for your booking= $803 (valid until 15th November)

From now until the 17th November, book a minimum of return flights and 3 nights accommodation in the Margaret River between 15-22 November with any ticket to The Gourmet Escape and get a $100 travel rebate when you pay with a DBS card. For full details click here.

@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!

5 Reasons you should have Canberra on your ‘must visit’ list

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What is the capital city of Australia? Rewind to the end of Year 5 quiz and the tie breaker question to win the huge box of chocolates for my class comes down to me, because it’s a geography related question and well… I have always been obsessed with wanting to put pins in my world map of places I have been. My opponent quickly answers “Sydney”, and I know we have won. “It’s Canberra” I say; celebrations all round. The thing is, I had never actually been to Canberra, until now!

IMG_8983

The first thing I ate in Canberra, at the beautiful Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Restaurant. I knew it was going to be a good trip!

When I heard there was going to be a direct flight from Singapore to a new city in Australia I thought, “hurrah, another place to explore”. With direct flights from Singapore to Canberra starting on the 20th September you can book your flight now.

With Canberra only being a three hour drive from Sydney I thought, “why wait for the new flight? I’ll go now and check it out.” Now I wonder why I didn’t go sooner. I booked a flight to Sydney and a hire car from the airport and got on the road through the picturesque valleys towards the capital- the Australian Capital Territory.

Here are my top 5 reasons to visit Canberra:

  1. Café hopping
Freakshakes at Patissez in Canberra

Freakshakes at Patissez in Canberra

VisitCanberra’s tag line is ‘one good thing after another’ and that is certainly true when it came to getting my foodie fix. Whether it was breakfast at Ona Coffee or The Cupping Room or fuelling up on coffee at Local Press, I was happy from dawn till dusk eating my way through the city. My favourite place was Pâtissez; made famous by its freakshakes and being all over Instagram with their calorific creations, it was well worth the trip. If you need any more reason to put this on your list check out their list of shakes here. Don’t over look their food either; they certainly know how to do perfect poached eggs on sourdough toast with smashed avo. Hungry? Did you know you can also road test four of the freakshakes here in Singapore at their new store in Holland Village?

2. Get cultural

It’s the capital city of Australia… and there are lots of free things to do! My top pick is The National Museum of Australia, which is nestled beautifully into a nook of Lake Burley Griffin and has an amazing collection of historical pieces from Australia’s history and events that have shaped the nation. Entry is free and with the museum only ever closing on Christmas Day this is a great way for travellers of all ages to spend three hours. History buffs need to visit between now and 29th January 2017 to experience 2 million years of human history in one room when the British Museum collection of ‘A history of the world in 100 objects’ comes to town. Whilst I usually swerve well clear of the pens and bookmarks of museum shops this one is not to be missed with its collection of unique gifts including beautiful Indigenous designs, jewelry and home wares. Most of my purchases were more ‘self gifting’!

3. Soar over the city

The National Museum of Australia sitting in Lake Burley Griffin during Balloons over Canberra

The National Museum of Australia sitting in Lake Burley Griffin during the Canberra Balloon Spectacular

To be honest, my Canberra dream is to come back and do a hot air balloon flight over Parliament House. I didn’t manage to fit it in on this trip (and it is an early start) but I do recommend seeing the city from a bird’s eye view. For those who don’t want to splash the cash, take your hire car up to Telstra Tower, just a few minutes’ drive from the National Museum of Australia and for $7.50 per adult you can get an awesome vista and test out the panorama app on your phone.

 

Driving up Black Mountain to Telstra Tower to get a view over Canberra

4. Go on safari

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Fancy a bath? Yes, that is a Tiger nestling into his bed in my hotel room…

OK so not a safari but it comes pretty close, but with a touch of extreme luxury. A clever entrepreneur, who I was lucky enough to meet briefly during my stay at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, has created an experience unlike any other in Australia. Think, a night at the museum, but in a zoo. Attached to the National Zoo & Aquarium is this 5* hotel where you can wake up to the roar of the lions, feed a giraffe from your personal tree house or just have a tiger looking into your room, yes a real one, not the can of lager.  You need to book in advance to get one of the wild encounter rooms but all guests are treated like kings with a personal tour of the zoo, going in the enclosures, feeding a rhino, before dining with the lions. It was a real treat (and the food was pretty fantastic too!)

 

 

5. Explore the region

There is so much to do, all within 30 minutes drive from your base in Canberra. Take a day away stopping off at  the morning Capital Region Farmers Market on a Saturday morning before lunch at Grazing in Gundaroo. Be sure to visit the Clonakilla vineyard, where the fantastic wines served in Singapore Airlines’ First Class come from, and if you are the designated driver be sure to take a bottle of two back with you enjoy back at the hotel. If you need to walk off the day’s indulgence stop by Cockington Green Gardens where you can enjoy a trip around the world in miniature form and a special treat for the little or not so little ones among us on the stream train. Toot toot!

If you don’t need to fly straight back after your trip to Canberra, take the scenic route back to Sydney via Jervis Bay by following our Capital Coast and Country Self Drive route taking you past vineyards, whale and dolphin watching spots, and the whitest sand in the world at Hyam’s Beach.

Check out these dolphins showing off to my camera as they swan in the wake of the boat during my outing with Jervis Bay Wild Cruises.

What are you waiting for? Catch the Capital Express to Canberra now!

Cost of trip:

Return flights to Sydney from $349 or now fly direct to Canberra from $956.

Book 4* hotels in Canberra from $120 per night. Its best to avoid the Parliamentary sitting dates as hotels are quite full and generally higher in price, check out the dates here:

Book car rental from Sydney airport from $45 per day.

Get a $30 discount on all flights from Singapore to Canberra from now until 30th September 2016 by entering the discount code CANBERRA. For redemption details see here.