@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!

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.

Australia’s Northern Territory- A day in Darwin

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

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

CheapTickets.sg Carrie at Crocosaurous covecroc cove

At Crocosaurous cove

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

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

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

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

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

Sunset cruise from Darwin Harbor

Sunset cruise from Darwin Harbour

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets Darwin

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets Darwin

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

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

Win flights to Australia's Northern Territory with CheapTickets.sg

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

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

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

KTX to Busan

KTX to Busan

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

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


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

Taejongdae Park

Taejongdae Park


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

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

The bustling Jagalchi Fish Market!

The bustling Jagalchi Fish Market!

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

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

View from the top!

View of Gamcheon Village  from the top

 

The lovely alleyways of Taegeukdo Village!

The lovely alleyways of Taegeukdo Village!

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

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

The beautiful coastline!

The beautiful coastline!

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

Day 3: Back to Seoul

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

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

Changing of Guard Parade at Gyeongbokgung!

Changing of Guard Parade at Gyeongbokgung, Seoul!

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

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

N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower

 

 

 

 

 

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

Day 4: Seoul Part 2

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

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market in Seoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Myeong-dong (read: shopping paradise)

Myeong-dong (read: shopping paradise) in Seoul

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

Day 5: Seoul Part 3 & back home

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

Ganghwa Ginseng Center, really top grade ginseng!

Ganghwa Ginseng Center in Seoul, really top grade ginseng!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Final stop: Incheon Airport

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

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

Carrie’s Australia Adventure – New South Wales

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

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

CheapTickets.sg_NSW_Selfdrive

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.

CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSWCheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW

CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW

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

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

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

CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSWCheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSWCheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW

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.

CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW

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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CheapTickets.sg_Sydney_NSW

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!

CheapTickets.sg_HunterValley_NSW

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!

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

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

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

Day 4 – Port Stephens

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

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

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Photo credit: Port Stephens

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

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

Day 5 – Port Macquarie

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

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

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

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Photo credits: tripadvisor

CheapTickets.sg_PortMacquarie_NSW

Photo credits: tripadvisor

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

Day 6 – Port Macquarie/Coffs Harbour

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

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Photo credits: Port Macquarie Holidays

CheapTickets.sg_PortMacquarie_NSW

Photo credits: Port Macquarie Holidays

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

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

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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

 

Bangkok
from only $173

 

 

 

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deals to Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong
from only $202

 

 

 

CheapTickets.sg NATAS deals to London

 

London
from only $1152

 

 

 

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