Just 30 minutes off the coast of Bali, Nusa Lembongan provides a much more rustic and tranquil experience for those looking to escape the crowds. [Read more…] about Exploring Nusa Lembongan
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Just 30 minutes off the coast of Bali, Nusa Lembongan provides a much more rustic and tranquil experience for those looking to escape the crowds. [Read more…] about Exploring Nusa Lembongan
For foreigners traveling to Indonesia, there’s likely just one reason you’d be landing in Sorong;
Raja Ampat has been a diving destination I’ve been wanting to visit since first learning of it and is known as one of the best diving spots on Earth. The closest city is Sorong, which is located in West Papua. Although there’s likely tons of things to do in West Papua for the avid adventurer, Sorong itself is usually just a landing point for people joining a live-aboard or a resort on one of the nearby islands.
However, if you’re like us and you want your short stay to be relaxing, check out the Belagri Hotel and Convention Sorong. Our dive guide recommended the hotel via email and although it’s not the cheapest hotel in the city (rates start around $50 USD), it’s certainly a new and beautiful hotel to spend a night or two at.
We mainly wanted cleanliness, comfort, hot showers, an on-site restaurant and a nice flat-screen TV. We just wanted to lie around and rest before spending a week on a boat and since there’s not a lot to do in Sorong, we were hoping to watch some movies.
The Belagri fit the bill perfectly.
Our rooms were tastefully designed and comfortable. We had a big flatscreen TV with a couple of English movie channels, which provided some entertainment during the evenings. We had fast free WiFi, which was great for planning the rest of our trip. We had a nice hot shower, which felt great after a full day of travel. And last but not least, there was a rooftop restaurant, which not only had a very delicious Mie Goreng but also the best view in all of Sorong. Plus, the staff were so friendly and helpful.
There aren’t a lot choices in Sorong but if you’re looking to kick back and relax before or after an amazing dive trip, check out the the Belagri Hotel and Convention Sorong.
A big thank you to the Belagri for hosting us for one night. We paid for an additional two nights.
With only 24 hours in Singapore before we departed for Indonesia, we decided to live it up at the St.Regis hotel. I had never stayed at a 5-star city hotel before (only on an African safari) and the St.Regis Singapore fit the bill perfectly.
From the moment we walked in, we could feel the caring attention of the staff and the exquisite detail given to all the furnishings and decorations in the hotel. Since we really needed to freshen up (long flight), the staff quickly checked us in, took our bags, and then gave us a quick tour of our insanely beautiful room.
Magnificent. It really felt first class. Even the thick wooden room door felt bulletproof. As we walked in, we were greeted by wall-to-wall windows, a handsome gold-trimmed writing desk, a chandelier, a heavenly king-sized bed, hand-painted chinoiserie silk wallpaper and a 47-inch flatscreen TV. Then came the bathroom. A massive French marble bathroom with a free-standing bathtub and another TV to watch while having a soak. We also had his-and-her sinks and a separate jet massage shower, which really added to the experience. Basically, the room was exquisite. It’s how I’d imagine the first class suites on the Titanic to look like.
It was difficult to leave the room but the hotel also hosts daily one-hour tours of their acquired artwork. We decided to join and it was really interesting to learn about the various pieces, including numerous paintings and sculptures. I really liked the giant candy wrapper, which was created by an artist whose mother wouldn’t let her eat candy as a child. There was also a delightful sculpture by Fernando Botero by the pool and many other pieces by international masters ranging from Pablo Picasso to Marc Chagall as well as Asian artists such as Georgette Chen and Cheong Soo Pieng. If you’re into art, this is the hotel you want to be staying at.
Afterwards, we headed to the Astor Bar for their signature Bloody Mary cocktail, which comes in both the original version as well as a spicy version. The drink has been a part of the St.Regis history since it’s debut in 1934. The newer spicy version is quite good if you can handle it, with chilli padi, Chinese old ginger and lemon grass replacing the traditional Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. We enjoyed both of these tasty drinks while listening to the soft keys of a jazz musician playing the piano.
Then came our incredible dinner at La Brezza. We decided to sit on the patio next to the pool, which looked quite elegant at night when all the lights come on. Chef Luca Moioli prepared so much delicious food for us that I could barely move from the table. I just couldn’t turn away any of the dishes.
First we had Insalata Di Mare, which consisted of Prawns, Octopus, Scallops, Mussels, Clams and Calamari salad. Next came Zuppa Di Porcini E Pollo, which consisted of Porcini Mushrooms, Slow Roasted Chicken Breast, Mushrooms Espuma, and Hazelnut Powder. By now I was already feeling the bulge and still had four more dishes to go. Luckily I persevered because the next dish was a delicious Ravioli Del Plin. These delicious pockets of pasta came with traditional Piemontese Agnolotti filled with Chicken, Pork and tender Veal, and a natural braising sauce. After a couple more outstanding dishes such as over-stewed cod fish with Braised Onions and Milk Reduction as well as breaded veal chop, the exciting moment of having Tiramisu placed in front of me arrived. I love all types of food but I especially love sweets. I was already fuller than full but somehow I stretched my belly and finished off all the dessert. How could I not? Rich Mascarpone Mousse, Homemade Ladyfinger biscuits, coffee liqueur and cocoa powder; I can’t turn that down.
It was difficult to sleep when we got back to the room. Our bodies were focused on digesting all the food so we decided to enjoy the free-standing bathtub. The next morning when we managed to peel ourselves out of the heavenly bed, we made sure to visit the spectacular breakfast buffet before making use of our late checkout to enjoy the room and the refreshing pool.
Before leaving to go back to the airport, we decided to try lunch at Yan Ting, which prepares fine Cantonese cuisine. Not surprisingly, we were still full from last nights dinner and the big buffet breakfast. However, I’m glad we stopped because we had one of our favourite dishes of all time; Deep-fried Sea Perch fillet with spicy mango sauce. Imagine the texture of fish n’ chips but with a sweet and spicy flavour. Exquisite.
And then came the sad moment when we finally had to say goodbye. Our 24 hours were up and it was time to fly to Indonesia and begin our week-long live-aboard diving trip in Raja Ampat. If you’re looking for a very luxurious hotel in Singapore with an emphasis on art and fine dining, look no further than the St.Regis Singapore.
Oh and did I mention that they offer airport transportation in Bentley’s? How cool is that?!
All pictures (except for the Ravioli dish) are taken by myself, Matthew G. Bailey. You can find me on Instagram as well at Instagram.com/MatthewGBailey. The Ravioli photo was provided by St.Regis hotel.
A big thank you to the St.Regis hotel for inviting us for one night in one of their Grand Deluxe Rooms.
Since the moment I began researching a trip to Rajasthan, India, a camel safari into the desert around Jaisalmer had topped my list of things to do. Finally, that moment came and although it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, it was a worthy and memorable experience.
It all started at 1 PM when our guide Fatan (who runs The Real Deal Rajasthan Camel Safari) picked us up at our hotel. We jumped into the jeep with a couple from China and proceeded out to the small village where we would board our camels. Along the way, we stopped at some historic sites as well as some Jain temples and an abandoned village. It was a great addition to the trip that we weren’t expecting. [Read more…] about A Camel Safari in Jaisalmer, India
When travellers land in Hong Kong, they likely think of exploring the concrete jungle of skyscrapers that dot the skyline like a game of a Tetris. What many travellers don’t know however is that Hong Kong has an off-the-beaten-path natural side as well, which is only an hour or two away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
If you’re looking to camp on a white-sand beach, hike through lush green forests, or visit unique villages – all without sacrificing the comfort of your Hong Kong hotel – you’ve come to the right place. Below are five popular hikes in Hong Kong.
The Dragon’s Back
This award-winning urban hike might be close to the high-rises of the city but you’d never know it. Nestled in Hong Kong’s wild south side, the Dragon’s Back winds you through Shek O Country Park and gives you beautiful views over Clearwater Bay and several islands sitting in the South China Sea.
Lion Rock Hike
For those looking for a strenuous but rewarding hike, look no further than Lion Rock. Leave the comforts of the city behind and get a little dirty on this heart-pounding hike that crosses the New Territories from east to west. You’ll definitely work up a sweat as you climb up the mountain but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the New Territories as well as Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
Lamma Island Family Hike Trail
Meander through the green interior of Lantau by taking the Family Trail hike, which goes between the two main villages of Yung Shu Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. Famous for its laidback hippy-like vibe, Lantau provides an easy yet fantastic hike to get some fresh air. With no cars to be found, you’ll truly get the break from the city that you’ve been looking for. You’ll also find numerous al fresco bars, seafood restaurants, and golden beaches along the way.
Sai Kung East Country Park
Also known as the “deserted beaches hike”, Sai Kung East Country Park feels like a remote island despite being just 20 kilometers from busy Kowloon. This beautiful area is home to breathtaking mountain and coastal sea views, along with insight into a past culture that has now moved to the big city.
Plover Cove Country Park Hike
Another popular option is the Plover Cove Country Park Hike, which takes you through some of the most pristine parts of Hong Kong. You’ll see stunning views of Mainland China as well as the Yan Chau Tong Marine Park and the opportunity to witness one of the oldest surviving feng shui woods in Hong Kong. You’ll also get to see abandoned rice fields and terraces cultivated by villagers before returning back along the coastline.
As you can see, Hong Kong isn’t just concrete buildings and neon lights. There are plenty of options for getting away from the city and exploring the beautiful nature that surrounds the big city. From gorgeous mountain peaks to dreamy golden sand beaches, Hong Kong has a little bit of everything.
This article was written as part of the Hipmunk CityLove Project. As a paid writer for Hipmunk, I’ve written a number of articles on world-class cities such as Hong Kong, Vancouver, and New York.
Known for being one of the coolest cities in Asia, this is one place to indulge in a great hotel. Whether you’re after luxury or chic, this list will give you a quick glimpse into the coolest hotels in Hong Kong.
If you’re looking for a hotel that feels like a luxurious yacht or private jet, the Peninsula is the one for you. Since the 1920’s, this legendary hotel has been delivering a world-class blend of Eastern and Western hospitality in a luxurious setting.
If bling is what you’re after, the sophisticated Hotel ICON should be high on your list. This beautiful hotel boasts a vertical garden wall, a luxury spa, a terrace pool, and a private rooftop bar, which make it one of the coolest hotels in Hong Kong.
If you’re looking for a tech-savvy hotel with high quality Bose sound systems, marble bathtubs, and luxury furniture, make sure you book yourself into the Mira. The hotel is centrally located but you won’t have to leave the building thanks to the rooftop lounge and Michelin-starred restaurant.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind party, the stylish Hotel LKF is the choice for you. Not only is it located in the party district of Hong Kong, it also offers its own nightlife including the Tazmania Ballroom Billiards bar, the NYC-style restaurant Lily & Bloom, and a top-floor nightclub. When it comes time to rest, the king-sized beds with views of the city don’t disappoint.
If you’re looking to experience jaw-dropping views of Hong Kong right from your bathtub, the Upper House is the hotel for you. This luxurious hotel also features rain showers, in-room espresso machines, and an iPod Touch for ordering room service.
If you prefer a taste of history with your accommodation, the Hullett House is an excellent choice. Built in a colonial white-stucco building, you’ll feel transported through time thanks to the themed rooms including the Imperial China suite and the Confucian temple suite, which offer an incredibly unique experience over a traditional hotel. Each suite also offers private balconies with stunning views of the city.
If you’re looking for a chic atmosphere, consider the J Plus Hotel, which offers a boutique atmosphere along with complimentary breakfast, afternoon cupcakes, and evening wine. You’ll also be close to Victoria Park and Causeway Bay metro stations, which make it incredibly easy to visit Hong Kong’s star attractions.
If you find yourself attracted to the surrealistic, the Luxe Manor will likely become one of your favorite hotels. With an eclectic mix of both European and oriental décor along with a great location, this hotel is hard to beat.
If you’re after award-winning architecture and a location in the business district, the East Hotel is a fabulous choice. The hotel rooms offer massive windows with views of the harbor and one of the cities most famous terrace bars.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of cool hotels in Hong Kong. Whether you’re in the city for business or pleasure, grab yourself a beautiful hotel and indulge in all the sights and senses the city has to offer.
As a paid writer for Hipmunk, this article was written as part of the city love series.
The capital of Thailand and possibly the most famous city in Southeast Asia, Bangkok is a treasure chest of sights and senses. With a smorgasbord of mouthwatering food, ancient temples, high-rise buildings, and outrageous nightlife, there really is something for everyone. Here’s how to experience the ultimate weekend in Bangkok:
Start your visit at Wat Arun. This is one of the most recognized temples in all of Southeast Asia and makes a wonderful place to start your weekend off. Created in the early 19th century, Wat Arun’s towering spires are remarkable to look at and symbolize the birth of the Rattanakosin Period, and in this case, the beginning of your weekend in Bangkok.
Next, make your way to the Grand Palace. Once the home of Thai Kings, the Grand Palace continues to draw visitors into its fantastic architecture and sheer beauty. Built in 1782, this palace is a must-see; it also houses the sacred Buddha image carved from a single block of emerald.
Afterwards, check out the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Thailand is famous with shoppers around the world, but this market is a must-visit for anyone new to Bangkok. With over 8,000 market stalls and 200,000 visitors, you’ll have no trouble finding new threads for the weekend.
Once you have your new outfit, take a taxi to Khao San Road. Love it or hate it, no visit to Bangkok would be complete without spending some time here. This is where East meets West and many travellers hang out. You’ll find dozens of market stalls, sleek clubs, cocktail bars, Western-style restaurants, and the cheapest hotels in Bangkok.
After a night on Khao San Road, start the next day off with a trip to the Floating Market. Although the market has become a little touristy, it continues to give off an authentic feel and insight into an ancient culture. Bring your camera, as you’ll find wooden boats floating by filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers. You can also fill your tummy with seafood skewers and noodles.
Next, head on over to Wat Pho to see a beautiful collection of murals, sculptures, and inscriptions that depict a variety of things such as astronomy, archeology, and warfare. You’ll also find a landscaped garden and a gigantic reclining Buddha.
Afterwards, pay a visit to Jim Thompson’s House; Thompson is famous for his dedication to the revival of the Thai silk industry and also for mysteriously disappearing into the Malaysian jungle. Luckily, his legacy lives on through an immaculate collection of Thai art as well as a complex of six beautifully preserved Thai-style teakwood houses.
End the day by taking a stroll along the riverside for a taste of some of the oldest settlements in Bangkok. Take the scenic route that goes from Wat Arun to Phra Sumeru Fortress. The glittering temples, stilted houses, river barges, and water-taxis will make this one of the highlights of your ultimate weekend.
Bangkok is a massive city with a tremendous amount of things to see and do. Whether you choose to follow the order set out in this guide or mix and match as you see fit, you’re bound to have an unforgettable weekend in this vibrant cosmopolitan city.
This article was written as party of the Hipmunk CityLove project. As a paid writer for Hipmunk, I’ve written about many world-class cities including Bangkok, Seattle, and Vancouver.
In a city built around extravagance, Dubai is a luxury hotel lovers dream. With more than 90 five-star hotels to indulge in, the hardest part will be choosing the best one. While any of the luxurious hotels would be a treat to stay in, this short list will help you narrow down the choices.
A list of the coolest hotels in Dubai wouldn’t be complete without the world famous Burj Al Arab, which is quite possibly the most famous landmark in the city. Where else will you find luxurious 2-floor suites, a royal suite with a rotating bed, and a reception desk with butlers on every floor? Maybe it’s a little too extravagant but even if you don’t stay here, you can enjoy the light show that moves across the exterior after sundown.
For a toned down but equally luxurious experience, head to the Shangri-La Dubai, which offers deep soaking tubs, rain showers, and local artwork in each of their 302 guest rooms. Located in the heart of Dubai’s shopping and entertainment district, you won’t have to go far to find anything you could want.
The Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach hotel is a luxury hotel close to world-class shopping, restaurants and beautiful beaches. If you can pull yourself away from the beautiful rooms, you’ll also find a gym, treatment rooms with Carita products and five different bars.
This mysterious hotel is located in an ancient dwelling amid a sheltered oasis. Linked by intricate courtyards and lush gardens, the One&Only Royal Mirage Arabian Court is an architectural marvel. Featuring reflective pools along with nature-blended artistry, you’ll find it hard to leave one of the 10 stunning suites that this hotel has to offer. If you can peel yourself away from its beauty, you’ll find over a kilometer of private beachfront.
The remarkable Dar Al Masyaf Madinat Jumeirah hotel is situated right on the luxurious Jumeirah Beach Strip. The 29 two-level suites face the Arabian Gulf and the iconic Burj Al-Arab while offering old-world Arabian charm and world-class service. Take some time to enjoy the 1.8-mile private white sand beach or the two outdoor swimming pools as well as the award-winning spa, health club and indoor lap pool. As an added bonus, the Mall of Emirates is just one mile away and features over 500 retails, 90 restaurants, an indoor ski resort, and movie theatres.
Situated right in the heart of Dubai, this 5-star Crowne Plaza Dubai makes it easy to visit Dubai Festival City, Al Badia Golf Club and Dubai Tennis Stadium. All 316 rooms are air-conditioned and come with satellite TV, DVD players, bathtubs and bidets. The hotel also features a full-service spa, outdoor pool, and sauna.
As you can see, Dubai has many gorgeous hotels to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a desert paradise or a hotel right in the middle of all the action, Dubai has a hotel to suit anyone’s needs.
This article was written as part of the Hipmunk CityLove project. As a paid writer for Hipmunk, I’ve written about many world-class cities including Osaka, London, and Vancouver.