Ultimate downers: ultimate travel experiences

The world’s most polluted city? Delhi, India.
Photo: Belinda Jackson.

Hi, travel stats lovers, as an addendum to the previous story on ultimate travel experiences, ‘Boasters with the Mostest, here’s five travel downers, from worst airline to most dangerous city.

1.      
Worst
airline
: Scat (Kazakhstan), Kam Air
(Afghanistan), Agni Air, Buddha Air and Tara Air (all Nepal) and Bluewing
Airlines (Suriname) (airlineratings.com)
2.      
Worst airport: Dilapidation and poor customer
service makes Manila airport the world’s worst, say travellers (sleepinginairports.net)
3.      
Most
polluted city
: New Delhi bounced Beijing down to second place as the most
polluted major city in 2013, says India’s Center for Science and Environment (cseindia.org)  
4.      
Most
expensive city
: Singapore has pushed Tokyo off the throne as the priciest
town. Sydney came in fifth, and Mumbai the cheapest in the 131 cities surveyed
by the Economic Intelligence Unit (eiu.com).
5.       Most dangerous city: San
Pedro Sula, Honduras, wins this award for the second year running, with 187
homicides per 100,000 capita in 2013, says Mexican thinktank the
CitizensCouncil for
Public
Security and Criminal Justice. 


This article by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald 
and The Age newspapers. 


Boasters with the mostest: ultimate travel experiences

The world’s highest bar, Ozone, in the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

 Biggest, highest, most blindingly expensive. Belinda Jackson
rounds up the ultimate travel experiences, from super-luxe to just plain
boastful. 

LAND
Longest walking track

The Pacific Crest Trail runs 4264 kilometres from the US-Mexico
border to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. Budget five
months to walk it entirely, or you can jump a pony, as the trail is also
open to equestrians. Yep, there are bears in there (pcta.org).

Longest train journey
The legendary Trans-Siberian generally wins this category,
with the 9289km journey from Moscow to Vladivostok via Lake Baikal
taking seven days. But as train guru the Man in Seat 61 points out (seat61.com),
the honour for the longest continual journey should go to the No. 53
Kharkiv (Ukraine)-Vladivostok route, about 9714km, another seven-day
epic.

The world’s highest train journey, on the Qinghai-Tibet railway

Highest train journey
More than 550km of the 1956km Qinghai-Tibet railway is laid
on permafrost. Every train has a doctor and enough oxygen for every
passenger, and the highest point is Tanggula Pass, at 5072m. It also
passes through the world’s highest and longest rail tunnels.

Highest bar

Drink in the views of Victoria Harbour at Ozone bar in the
Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, Kowloon side. Set on level 118, it’s 468.8
metres above sea level (ritzcarlton.com).

Biggest building
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building at 828
metres, with 124 levels. It also has the world’s fastest elevators and
highest restaurant (At.mosphere on level 122, 442m) (burjkhalifa.ae).

It holds the crown until 2018, when the 1000-metre Kingdom Tower in
Jeddah, in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, is complete. Another design by
Burj architect Adrian Smith, expect fewer nightclubs (kingdomtowerskyscraper.com).

Noma restaurant, Copenhagen

Best restaurant
Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant (noma.dk)
is back on top, bumping Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca off the perch as
the 2014 winner of the authoritative San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants (theworlds50best.com). Judges name the winter potato cooked in fermented barley as chef-owner Rene Redzepi’s standout dish.


Best ethical travel destination
The Bahamas has been named Ethical Traveler’s greenest
destination, taking into account its environmental protection, social
welfare and human rights.
Others in the top 10 include Chile, Latvia and Mauritius (ethicaltraveler.org).


Most expensive tours
With a spare million dollars, you can spot 18 endangered
species in 12 countries, with one-tenth going toward conservation
projects (naturalworldsafaris.com). Otherwise, $1.5 million will let couples visit all 962 UNESCO
World Heritage sites. Put aside two years. Its other tours include the
10 best photo spots, for $130,000 (includes cameras), and the 10 most
luxurious suites in 21 days for $359,000 (veryfirstto.com).


AIR
Biggest airport
The busiest airport by passenger numbers is
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, US, handling 92
million travellers a year, but yet again, Dubai gets in on the act: on
completion in 2027, its $32-billion Al-Maktoum International airport
will be able to accommodate 160 million passengers a year (dwc.ae).

Best airport
Singapore’s Changi airport consistently rates one of the
world’s best, taking out first place in Skytrax 2014 World Airport
Awards, followed by Incheon (Seoul) and Munich airports.
Sydney Airport was ranked Australia’s best, at No. 21 (worldairportawards.com).

Best airline
Air New Zealand was named AirlineRatings.com’s 2014 airline
of the year, with Qantas the best economy airline, while Skytrax 2013
World Airline Awards rates Emirates as the world’s best, followed by
Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines, with Qantas coming in at No. 10. (worldairlineawards.com).

Safest airline
Qantas holds the record as the world’s safest airline, with a
fatality-free record since 1951, says airlineratings.com, rivalled by
Air New Zealand, according to jacdec.de.

Most luxurious airline lounge
For those of us fortunate enough to get a look in, Lufthansa
first class lounges were named the world’s best first-class lounges
while Qatar Airways took the business class gong at Skytrax’ 2013 World
Airline Awards (worldairlineawards.com).

Longest flight
Like to watch movies? Qantas’ ultra long-haul flight from Sydney-Dallas is the longest flight by distance, at 13,804km (qantas.com.au).
Should Turkish Airlines enact its plans for an Istanbul-Sydney route,
it would take the crown for its 17-hour, 14,956km flight (turkishairlines.com).

Ultimate airline travel experience: A three-hour flight on
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will cost $260,000, taking you 100km
above the earth, travelling at three times the speed of sound. Includes three days’ space training (virgingalactic.com). For a more modest $128,300, you can fly around the world in 24 days on Four Seasons’ new Boeing 757 private jets (fourseasons.com/jet).

SEA

Allure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International ship

Biggest cruise ship
The godmother of Allure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International ship, is super-sized Shrek ogress Princess Fiona. At 362 metres long and more than 225,000 tonnes, it can take
6295 passengers. The liner has 24 elevators, the first Starbucks at sea
and Broadway hit Chicago on show.
Its position will be usurped by another RCI ship, as yet unnamed, in 2016 (royalcaribbean.com).

Largest superyacht
With two helipads and a missile defence system, you can hire
Eclipse, owned by Russian oligarch and Chelsea football club owner Roman
Abramovich, for $2 million a week, excluding running costs.
At 162.5 metres, it’s the world’s second-biggest private
yacht after UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s new
180-metre yacht, Azzam, complete with armour-plated master suite.
The Azzam is not for hire.

Best beach
Brazil’s Sancho Bay on the remote island of Fernando de Noronha wins best beach, according to TripAdvisor.com.

Longest beach
Brazil wins again, with the 241km Praia do Cassino Beach. Gippsland’s Ninety-Mile Beach comes in fourth place. Whitest sand beach in the world: One for the home team,
according to the Guinness Book of Records, the whitest beach is Hyams
Beach in Jervis Bay, 2½ hours from Sydney.

Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW Australia

Best island
If money is your measure, you can rent the Caribbean’s
Calivigny Island in Grenada, for a cool $1.55 million a week. Sleeping
50 guests, it comes with a 173-metre yacht for your use (calivigny-island.com).More accessibly, the TripAdvisor community has voted Ambergris Caye, in Belize, its top island for the second year running (tripadvisor.com).

World’s highest pool
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s pool, is the world’s highest at 490 metres (ritzcarlton.com), towering over Marina Bay Sands’ dizzying infinity pool, 55 storeys, or 198 metres, above Singapore (marinabaysands.com).

World’s biggest pool
Running alongside the ocean, the lagoon pool at the San
Alfonso del Mar resort, in Valparaiso, Chile, is 1013 metres long,
earning its Guinness Book of Records entry. The 8 hectare, 250
million-litre saltwater pool is a pleasant 26 degrees and has a
100-metre waterslide (sanalfonso.cl).
Its sister lagoon, in the Egyptian resort city Sharm el-Sheikh,
reportedly covers 12 hectares and a Dubai project, under way, will cover
40 hectares.

The world’s largest pool, San Alfonsa del Mar, Chile

BEDS
Largest hotel
By room count, the three-star Izmailovo Hotel in Moscow,
Russia, with 7500 rooms, is largest. Most of the world’s mega-hotels,
with 4000-plus rooms, are in Las Vegas.

Most expensive hotel room
At $73,177 a night, the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel
President Wilson is on the banks of Lake Geneva, with views of Mont
Blanc. There are 12 rooms, 12 bathrooms, a Steinway grand piano and yes,
it’s bulletproof. More modest rooms start at $483 (hotelpresidentwilson.com).

Tallest hotel
Six of the top 10 tallest hotels are in Dubai, including the tallest, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, which tops 355 metres (marriott.com). At 488 metres, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is taller but is ruled out as the building is not solely a hotel.

Smallest hotel
Central Hotel, Copenhagen, 2.4m by 3m, including a minibar and photos of Ronnie Barker (the owner’s a fan), $360 a night. (centralhotelogcafe.dk).


This article by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.

A material whirl: eight great shopping cities

Gorgeously photogenic babouches, leather slippers
from Marrakech, Morocco

Belinda Jackson lists eight favourite destinations at which to arrive
with empty bags. 

Busted your luggage allowance lugging home a treasure only to find it in
your local ‘hood? The best shopping is a rejection of globalisation: it’s about
going back to the source or finding something that only that city or country
can provide.

LONDON

Basking in a design
renaissance, London’s smoking-hot fashion and design is being peddled by a
James Bond (Daniel Craig), a welter of celebrated sportsmen and the new baby
Windsor.
Locals love Stylist and personal shopper Rachel Meddowes says London’s
hottest strip is Chiltern Street, in Marylebone, W1. “It’s a return to a
coterie of small, chic, beautifully designed and curated shops including
fabulous Tyler Brule’s the Monocle Cafe, Cire Trudon for the best candles,
uber-cool men’s boutique Trunk, and Atlas Gallery, for its photographs. If I
had to say one shop, it would be Mouki (mouki-london.com)
for its stylish, insider brands of women’s fashion and lifestyle.”
Must-visit Selfridges is home to the world’s largest women’s and
men’s shoe departments. Its new Denim Studio includes a free denim doctor to
help women find their perfect pair of jeans from 60 brands. The Conran Shop
(including the newly refurbished Marylebone store, conranshop.co.uk) and Liberty (liberty.co.uk) are design stalwarts.
Local hero For a catch-all day of browsing, use the cobbled Seven
Dials, north of Covent Garden, as your compass point and branch out (sevendialsco.uk). Check out Cambridge
Satchel Company (cambridgesatchel.com),
Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve (twenty8twelve.com)
or, for a village vibe, Neal’s Yard.
Wild card The flagship Burberry Bespoke (burberry.com) has more than 100 screens
flashing your customised trench on the catwalk or in a movie, in-between
sporadic digital thunderstorms.
STOCKHOLM
The bellwether of
ice-cool design, you can’t visit Stockholm without admiring the masters’ design
ethic.
Locals love “To get to the heart of modern Stockholm, head over
to SoFo – South of Folkungagatan Street (sofo-stockholm.se)
– with a profusion of fashion and interior designers with antique and vintage
clothing shops, trendy bars and restaurants,” says Birgitta Palmer, of the
Stockholm Visitors Board.
Must-visit Get your head into Swedish living space at Svenskt Tenn (svenskttenn.se), your stationery fix at
Ordning&Reda (ordning-reda.com)
and gifts at DesignTorget (designtorget.se).
Local hero Cruise Acne Studios’ flagship store and V Ave Shoe Repair
for the ultimate in Swedish fashion (acnestudios.com;
vave-shoerepair.com). Every
self-respecting Swedish child wears Polarn O. Pyret, designer of unisex,
hard-wearing children’s clothes (polarnopyret.com).
And who can say no to Bjorn Borg-designed knickers (bjornborg.com)?
Wild card Uncover the next big thing or total trash at the weekend
market Street, in Sodermalm. A tip from Sean Naughton, concierge at Benny
Andersson’s Hotel Rival (www.rival.se): if
you can’t afford the heavyweight fashion names of Bibliotekstan, score
discounted fashion at Barkaby outlet centre (qualityoutlet.com/in-english).
BANGKOK
Tap into the Thai
design aesthetic – it’s cheeky and cute, and if you don’t leave Bangkok with a
bag full of silk, you’re just not trying.
Locals love “Post-Nerd [Siam Square] is a favourite for cool
T-shirts with unusual designs,” says Bangkok resident Mark Thomson, of
Anantara hotels. “Also Propaganda, which is home to Mr P, who appears in
anatomically correct cartoon lamps and other … products.” (propagandaonline.com).
Must-visit Siam Discovery, in the cluster of Siam Square malls, has
been recently made-over with an edgy open plan; several floors are given over
to Thailand’s fashion designers. It’s also the home of Madame Tussauds Bangkok.
The massive Chatuchak market is in every guidebook, allegedly the world’s
largest weekend market. Grab a map at the entrance before you dive in (chatuchak.org).
Local hero A perennial favourite is FotoFile, for fantastic new and
second-hand camera gear in the beloved, budget-easy MBK mall. Unlike the rest
of MBK, prices are fixed and labelled.
Wild card Take home the scent of a Thai spa with success story
Thann, whose lush products feature Asian ingredients: think jasmine blossom,
tamarind, rice-bran oil and nutmeg. Find them in all the major malls and a new
Thann cafe at level 3, Gaysorn Plaza.
MANILA
The Philippines has a
special flair that makes it an interior design powerhouse and, of course, shoes
are a hot item.
Locals love Bespoke menswear and womenswear designer Joey Samson loves
three homewares stores. A11 comprises three townhouses that are a furniture and
design gallery (F.B. Harrison Street, Pasay). AC+632 stocks Gallic homewares
with a Philippines twist, including excellent tassels (Greenbelt 5, Makati),
while W17 is a celebration of Asian interiors using local materials (w17home.com).
Must-visit Cram your bags with South Sea pearls in all shapes and
sizes, from just a few dollars each (Greenhills market, San Juan). For upmarket
indigenous design visit revered jeweller Arnel Papa, whose materials may
include buffalo horn and ebony wood (Greenbelt 5, Makati).
Local hero Alice Blue soy candles capture the scent of sampaguita,
the Philippines’ national flower (Glorietta 3, Makati), while the omnipresent
SM (which stands for Shoemart) fits any tastepoint, from ballet flats to
nightclub dagger heels, at great prices (sm-shoemart.com).
Wild card Score a pre-loved, genuine-label handbag from Bagaholic.
Expect Chanel and Gucci with serial numbers if you can bear to carry last
year’s hottest tote (Almeda Arcade Building, Makati, bagaholic.com.ph).
DELHI
For breathtaking
colour and exotic motifs Indian shopping is in a league of its own, from haute
couture to Hindi kitsch.
Locals love Fiona Caulfield, author of India’s definitive shopping
guides including Love Delhi, tips three hot locales: Meharchand Market, Khan
Market and ShapurJat of Hauz Khas. “Snigdha Shekhar has created one of the
best interior and lifestyle stores in Delhi at Artisan Luxe,” she says.
(Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road.)
Must-visit Shop for
contemporary homewares at Khan Market’s Good Earth then take a break in its
excellent rooftop cafe, Latitude 28 (goodearth.in).
Local hero Bring India’s eye-popping colour home with beautiful
textiles: hunt down your wallet-friendly Indian wardrobe of cotton kurtas (long
shirts) and salwars (trousers) in Fabindia (Khan Market) or Anokhi (www.anokhi.com). Stay ahead of the pack at
Alecca Carrano’s Drawing Room for shawls and wraps (aleccacarrano.com).
Wild card “Run by the Crafts Council of India, Kamala is the
new face of craft in India. This beautifully curated collection is sourced
directly from artisans,” Caulfield says. “Superb shopping!” (craftscouncilofindia.org.)

BUENOS AIRES
Though dubbed
“the Paris of the Pampas”, the city maintains its own colourful
character, and those pampas turn out some mighty fine leather to boot. Or rug.
Or bag.
Locals love “Buenos Aires’ hottest spot to shop is jewellery
atelier Celedonio [Uraguay 1223, Recoleta],” trend hunter Lucia Radeljak
says. “Celedonio Lohidoy’s signature pieces are baroque necklaces with
precious stones and pearls. He has collaborated with international fashion
houses Kenzo and Ungaro, and his store is worth visiting for its garden
alone.”
Must-visit Hunters of antiques and atmosphere head to San Telmo
antique fair to scour old vinyls and snap up such must-haves as cobblers’ lasts
and local jewellery (Sundays, Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo).
Local hero The best cowhide rugs are Argentine: try Calma Chicha (calmachicha.com). Too heavy? Beautiful
leather bags are found at tiny Humawaca (humawaca.com).
Wild card Hit Av Suipacha, aka “sweater street”, and shop
for the lightest cashmere or pick up a pair of hand-made tango shoes on Av
Esmerelda, which runs parallel.
MARRAKESH
Breathe deeply and steel
yourself for a shopping extravaganza. Don’t rush at the first shop off the main
square, Djemma el-Fna. You’ll regret it.
Locals love Akbar Delights is pricey, but the fine embroidery and
detailed clothing are well worth it, says Marrakesh-based artist Dawn
Boys-Stone. Warda la Mouche (127 Rue Kennaria) is great for women’s and
children’s clothes in traditional Moroccan style with modern fabrics.
Must-visit Shoe lovers know that Atika crafts hand-made leather shoes
in classical Occidental styles (34 Rue de la Liberte, Gueliz).
Local hero Marrakesh’s antiques scene is fantastic. Try Mustapha
Blaoui (142-4 Rue Bab Doukkala).
Wild card Love leather? Go the ornate local leather slippers,
babouches, found on most street corners, in traditional yellow or every shade
of the rainbow.
JAKARTA
So close to us,
Jakarta remains a mystery for most. Persevere: it throws up seriously desirable
oddities, and its midnight mall sales are legendary.
Locals love “Otoko is a hidden gem of a boutique amongst all the
big malls in Jakarta,” says Susanna Perini, of Biasa.
“It stocks menswear only and presents a unique experience when you visit.
The store has great synergy … a sense of ‘quiet luxury’ with a sleek and
contemporary design.”
Must-visit Locals adore Jakarta’s malls and are serious international
label devotees, though even the biggies, such as Grand Indonesia (grand-indonesia.com), have Indonesian
Fashion Avenues for local designers. Geeks on a budget make for Ambassador
Mall.
Local hero The Bali-based Biasa label (biasabali.com)
serves up soft, deconstructed men’s and women’s fashion on Jalan Kemang,
Jakarta’s boutique strip, where you’ll also find local designers.
Wild card Visit the colourful bird market (Pasar Pramuka) and the
nearby antique market (Pasar Surabaya); you totally need that old map, stuffed
animal and brass betel nut-cracker.

Hey, big spenders! Shopping holidays in Asia.

Plastic loaded and flats on feet? Experts tell Belinda Jackson where the bargains are in Asia.
It’s official: Hong Kong is the hottest shopping neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The food, the shopping, the views, the energy, the noise, the waterways – HK’s alive and buzzing 24/7,” says design tracker Anne-Maree Sargeant, on our panel of shopping experts who share their secret haunts and favourite hot spots in the region’s top 10 shopping cities, according to a Global Shopper survey (globeshopperindex.com).
The cities were chosen based on their visitor numbers – Sydney is the only Australian city to make the list – and each city was marked out of 100 based on its affordability, shops, convenience, hotels, transport, climate and culture.

1. Hong Kong, 69/100

The insider Art and design journalist and hunter Anne-Maree Sargeant (thesnapassembly.com).
What’s hot Best in show for its fashion, electronics, watches and jewellery. 83/100 for the shops.
What’s not Pricey hotels that are permanently booked out. 58/100 for retail affordability.
The address book Hit Cat Street Gallery for emerging and mid-career artists (thecatstreetgallery.com) and the inaugural Hong Kong art fair (May 23- 26, 2013), run by the hugely influential new owners Art Basel and Design Miami (hongkongartfair.com). Stylish superstore Lane Crawford is stacked with luxury brands and designer offerings. Check the capsule store featuring furniture and lighting from favourite Brit designer Lee Broom (lanecrawford.com). Get your fix of Harvey Nicks at The Landmark, the Asian Harvey Nichols flagship store for revered luxury and designer offerings (blog.harveynichols.com.hk). Monocle Shop is the first of a new “retail/news” concept for British style tome Monocle (shop.monocle.com).
Getting there Fly Sydney to Hong Kong direct with Qantas (qantas.com), Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com) or Virgin Atlantic (virgin-atlantic.com).
Staying there The 117-room Upper House hotel, designed by architect Andre Fu, sits above Pacific Place Shopping Mall, Admiralty, Hong Kong Island (upperhouse.com).

2. Kuala Lumpur 65/100

The insider Belinda Jackson, travel writer and former international shopping columnist.
What’s hot Low prices in great malls and off-the-scale seasonal sales. 76/100 for shops.
What’s not Sticky climate and few attractions. 50/100 for climate and culture.
The address book Malaysians do shoes, led by the master, Jimmy Choo, in luxe mall Suria KLCC (jimmychoo.com). The new Choo is said to be Lewre Lew, found in Parkson department stores (lewre.com). Buy batik shoes from Jimmy’s fave designer, Fion Poon, in the Central Market (fionpoon.com). Brothers Charles and Keith Wong’s Charles & Keith are unmissable for affordable, high-style shoes and accessories (charleskeith.com). For stingray clutches, head to Klutched in Mid Valley Megamall (klutched.com). High-energy Low Yat Plaza has every computer invention at one-third of the price of Singapore, with one floor dedicated just to repairs (plazalowyat.com). KL is justly famous for its malls – hit the strip of Bukit Bintang for big-dollar Starhill and Suria KLCC, chic Pavilion, street-smart Fahrenheit88, Lot 10 and perennial bargain fave Sungei Wang.
Getting there Fly direct from Sydney to Malaysia with Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) and Air Asia (airasia.com).
Staying there The Westin Kuala Lumpur is at the start of Bukit Bintang, making it ideal for shoppers (starwoodhotels.com).

3. Shanghai 63/100

The insiders Fashion designer Alex Zabotto-Bentley and events director Anna Patterson of AZBcreative (azbthecreative.com).
What’s hot International brands, affordable hotels and long shopping hours. 84/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Nasty sales taxes. 59/100 for affordability.
The address book Spend a weekend afternoon at the iconic Dong Tai Lu Antiques Markets. Enter from Xizang Lu into Liuhe Lu, near Xintiandi, and haggle. Spin has amazing handmade ceramics: think industrial chic meets a Chinese art gallery (360 Kangding Lu, near Shanxi Bei Lu). Casa Pagoda is the ultimate in East meets West, with exotic fabrics, old lost-and-found furniture and homewares (casapagoda.com). We love Madame Mao’s Dowry for womenswear and Chinese kitsch for the home (madamemaosdowry.com). The streets Xinle Lu and Changle Lu in the French Concession have amazing women’s fashion, cafes and art deco furniture. Try The Villa for high-end international fashion (shopthevilla.com).
Getting there Fly Sydney to Shanghai direct with China Eastern (flychinaeastern.com) or Air China (airchina.com.au).
Staying there For immaculate location and architecture, stay at the Waterhouse at South Bund (designhotels.com).
More info cnto.org.au.

4. Beijing 61/100

The insider Still-life master and photographer Dieu Tan (dieutan.com).
What’s hot Long shopping hours, top World Heritage sites and good hotels. 84/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Limited foreign languages spoken and few deals. 49/100 for shops.
The address book Hunt hard for genuine Chinese antiques among the reproductions at Panjiayuan antique market (21 Dongsanhuan Nanlu, Chaoyang District). Spend a day or two in Dashanzi Art District’s galleries looking at Modern Chinese art. Most work is for sale, so visit the UCCA gallery shop (2 Jiuxiangqiao Lu, Chaoyang District). Sanlitun Village is one of the hippest areas in town, with ultra-luxe brands with a Beijing edge (19 and 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District). The Gulou/Houhai area houses the traditional Beijing hutong style of architecture, some of which is converted into stylish shops for local art, home deco, tea, fashion and accessories (Gulou Dong Da Jie, Dongcheng District). The Sanyuanli food market is where many Western restaurants and international grocery stores buy wholesale (Shunyuan Jie, west of Sanyuan Dongqiao, Chaoyang District).
Getting there Fly Sydney to Beijing direct with Air China (airchina.com.au).
Staying there Hotel G is a 110-room hotel in the Sanlitun district. Workers’ Stadium West Road, Chaoyang District (mrandmrssmith.com).
More info cnto.org.au.

5. Singapore 60/100

The insider “House whisperer” and stylist Megan Morton (meganmorton.com).
What’s hot Safe, culturally diverse and convenient. 71/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Pricey hotels and high transport costs. 50/100 for affordability.
The address book Expect cups, trinkets and objects you didn’t know you had to have until you saw them at gallery-store Little Drom Store (thelittledromstore.com). Red Dot Design Museum’s Design Journey is an excursion to 18 of the city’s most design-oriented places (red-dot.sg/museum). Locals dress their spaces with Miles & Theodore’s modernistic offerings from Copenhagen’s Massproductions, France’s Revol and Carpet Reloaded floor coverings (milesandtheodore.com). Go for the rose-petal tea; go for the marmalade; go for the vintage selection: Carpenter & Cook is a tea room that trades vintage curios, furniture and kitchenware (carpenterandcook.com).
Getting there Fly Sydney to Singapore direct with Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com), Scoot (flyscoot.com), Qantas (qantas.com), China Eastern (www.flychinaeastern.com), British Airways (britishairways.com) and Virgin Australia (virginaustralia.com).
Staying there Every room in the New Majestic Design Hotel differs, the service is great and the rooms are energising. (31-37 Bukit Pasoh, newmajestichotel.com).
More info yoursingapore.com.

6. Sydney 58/100

The insider Style queen Melissa Penfold, author of Australian Style and co-author of Melissa Penfold’s Little Black Book: Sydney’s Shopping Secrets.
What’s hot Great weather, cultural attractions. 71/100 for climate, culture.
What’s not Short trading hours, costly hotels and tricky visas. Bargain central, it’s not. 34/100 for affordability.
The address book The Country Trader has hundreds of antique-look table accessories in silver, glass, china and wood (thecountrytrader.com.au), while Spence & Lyda’s glam new showroom is the place for Missoni Home linen (spenceandlyda.com.au). Double Bay’s Transvaal Avenue is hot right now: start at My Island Home for Caribbean living style, African home lovelies at Doveton Kay Interiors, or French pretties at Maison et Jardin. Jan Logan Jewellery has great taste at sensible prices (janlogan.com) and Anny Lada Jewellery is the celebs’ source of big, affordable, shell-based South Sea pearls (shop 37, 22 Knox Street). Top Australian fashion designers reside at The Intersection in Paddington, with Acne and Bassike for brill basics. At Robert Burton, get French Cire Trudon candles, fab Bensimon sneakers and Petit Bateau womenswear (robertburtonshop.com).
Getting there By cab or bus.
Staying there Everyone’s talking about Sydney’s newest hotel, QT in the heart of the city (qtsydney.com.au).
More info seesydney.com.au.

7. Bangkok 57/100

The insider Photographer Matt Burns splits his time between Australia and Bangkok (southeastasiaimages.com).
What’s hot Fun street markets, great hotels and spectacular food. 69/100 for affordability.
What’s not Dodgy counterfeits. 50/100 for culture and climate.
The address book Monte Carlo tailors isn’t a cheap option, but the staff do provide fantastic quality and service. Expect to pay $300-$1000 for a suit, depending on the cloth (mctailor.com). I can’t recommend Fotofile in the MBK Centre highly enough for its professional camera equipment and unsurpassed knowledge and service. Try and talk to Khun Kong for the best service (fotofile.net). Pantip Plaza has every piece of computer equipment you’ll ever need, but know your prices first (604 New Petchaburi Road). For clothes, homewares and pretty much everything in the world, visit the Chatuchak weekend market. Get in early before the heat and crowds (chatuchak.org) and shop for Thai silk at Narai Phand in the Royal Thai Government Handicrafts Centre (naraiphand.com).
Getting there Fly Sydney to Bangkok direct with Thai Airways (thaiairways.com.au), Emirates (emirates.com) or Qantas (qantas.com).
Staying there The new, wallet-friendly Aloft Bangkok is a quick tuk-tuk trip to Bangkok’s shopping strips (aloftbangkoksukhumvit11.com).
More info thailand.net.au.

8. Tokyo 56/100

The insider Melbourne/NY interiors stylist Glen Proebstel (glenproebstel.com).
What’s hot A great events calendar. 92/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Few sales and super-high hotel, transport and dining costs. 20/100 for affordability.
The address book Claska Gallery and Shop is the perfect destination to sample the best of local and international design makers and crafters (claska.com). New York fashion store Opening Ceremony opened a Tokyo branch that’s a must-visit (openingceremony.us). For beautifully chosen industrial vintage, visit Journal Standard Furniture (js-furniture.jp). As the name says, I Find Everything Tokyo (ifindeverythingtokyo.com). Fog Linen Work has been a recognisable brand in many boutique homeware stores throughout Australia, but nothing compares to visiting where it all began (foglinenwork.com).

Getting there Fly Sydney to Tokyo direct with Qantas (qantas.com) or with Jetstar, via Gold Coast or Cairns (jetstar.com).

Staying there The Park Hotel Tokyo is a soothing oasis amid the neon (en.parkhoteltokyo.com).
More info jnto.org.au.

9. Seoul 55/100

The insider Australian model Jessica Gomes, a bona fide superstar in Korea (iamjessicagomes.com).
What’s hot Good mix of old markets and new boutiques. 66/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Dodgy weather and a challenging hotel scene. 43/100 for retail affordability.
The address book The Galleria Department Store, in the Apgujeong-dong retail district, is super-modern and cool for international luxury brands. Dongdaemun Shopping Market is open from midnight until early morning. I love buying from young Korean designers who provide great quality at a good price. The Hyundai Department Store has a mixture of Korean and international labels, as well as a great food market. Green Street has cool hipster cafes and boutiques. Korea has great labels such as VOV (myvov.com) and really good up-and-coming designers in the boutiques in Apgujeong-dong.
Getting there Fly Sydney to Seoul direct with Korean Air (koreanair.com) or Asiana Airlines (flyasiana.com).
Staying there The IP Boutique Hotel is a quirky hotel in the expat Itaewon district (737-32 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu,ipboutiquehotel.com).
More information visitkorea.or.kr.

10. Delhi 53/100

The insider Interior stylist, creative director and owner of The Society Inc, Sibella Court (thesocietyinc.com.au).
What’s hot Fabulous sights and haggling shopkeepers. 63/100 for affordability.
What’s not Weak for mall rats, tough visas and struggling transport. 40/100 for shopping.
The address book The Full Circle Bookstore has every book of every author who has ever spoken or been a part of Jaipur’s incredible literary festival (fullcirclebooks.in). The National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum gives an insight into the skill and technique behind it all, and craftspeople sell their wares in the courtyard (nationalcraftsmuseum.nic.in). Anokhi is great for the travelling basics – scarves, cotton pants – all lovely and affordable (www.anokhi.com). I love the Chandni Chowk market in Old Delhi, especially the hardware section with all the vendors tinkering away. Kamayani has amazing handmade textiles from across India, selected with a superb eye (kamayani.in).
Getting there Fly Sydney to Delhi with China Southern (via Guangzhou) (csair.com/en), Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) and Virgin Australia via Singapore (virginaustralia.com).
Staying there The Manor is a stylish boutique hotel in New Friends Colony, with just 15 rooms and a lot of luxury (themanordelhi.com).
More information incredibleindia.org.com.

Travel deals: 29 July 2012

TOURWATCH: Bend to pray at Kumbha Mela 2013

Surfers flex their pecs in Port Macquarie, while saints and holy men, seers and the devout bend to pray in India.

TASMANIA
Nature lovers can also be comfort lovers, especially when
we’re talking winter in Tasmania. Admire the glory of the Freycinet peninsula,
home to the perfect crescent of Wineglass Bay, from the tub. The eco-friendly
Freycinet Lodge has just refurbished its 10 premier suites, complete with new
bathrooms (and TV) earning them a 4.5-star rating. Snap up a winter special
until August 31, normally $300 a night, rooms start from $170 a night.  1800 420 155,
freycinetlodge.com.au

NEW SOUTH WALES

The Australian Surf Festival kicks off 11-26 August in
Port Macquarie, where up to 400 surfers are expected to flex the pecs as they
fight for 25 Aussie titles. There’ll also be movies, music and art exhibits
around a surf theme. Stay three nights in a 2-bedroom riverside spa cottage in
the Sundowner Tourist Park and get a free platter of local produce, a $50
voucher to blow at the Port City Bowling Club and midday checkout. Costs from
$441 for three nights, from August 1-31. 1300 303 155, portmacquarieinfo.com.au

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL
TERRITORY

The Fireside Festival runs throughout August, with
100-mile dinners, wine and degustation dinners in 25 venues across Canberra. Stay
two nights in a King Bed superior room at the Crowne Plaza Canberra and save 20
per cent, book until August 17 and stay until September 30. Costs from $336 a
room for two nights, including breakfast. 1300 888 180, zuji.com.au

Spicers Balfour Hotel, Brisbane.
QUEENSLAND

Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art has pulled off yet
another major coup, currently showing masterpieces from Madrid’s Prado in its
galleries, so it’s time to head north. You’ll turn heads when you let drop
you’re staying in one of the town’s hippest little hotels, the nine-room Spicers
Balfour Hotel. Set 3km from the CBD in funky New Farm, book 14 days ahead and save
$60 a night. Includes breakfast, canapés in the rooftop bar and wi-fi. Costs
from $299 a room. 1300 597 540, spicersgroup.com.au.

VICTORIA

Pull on your walking boots for a spring trek along
Victoria’s south-west coast and save $110 when you book the Great South West
Walk (22-25 Sept) and Great Ocean Walk (27-30 Sept).  Carrying just your day pack, the guided walk
follows well-maintained trails and includes a night in Cape Otway lighthouse
and lunch with the 12 Apostles as a backdrop. Both trips depart from Melbourne
and groups are limited to 14 people. Costs $2190 a person. (03) 9877 9540,
parktrek.com.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA & NORTHERN TERRITORY
Katherine Gorge

See the best of the west, from Perth to Darwin, over 18
days, visiting some of the world’s greatest beauty spots: Ningaloo Reef, the
windswept limestone formations of the Pinnacles and the gorgeous gorges of the
Territory. There’s a touch of luxe, too, at Cable Beach Club Resort in Broome,
and El Questro Wilderness Park. Save $650 on coach tours departing September 6
and 29 and October 18. Costs $6345 a person. 1300 805 493, travelmarvel.com.au.

FIJI
Zipping in from the remote islands and need a pad to hole
up for the night? Or want to get to grips with the street markets of Nadi, the
Novotel Nadi and Mercure Nadi are knocking 20 percent off their room rates for
two-night stays. Includes free airport transfers, on stays until January 31.
Costs from $87 a night (Novotel) and $70 a night (Mercure). 1300 656565, accorhotels.com

FRANCE
Wander the medieval cobbled streets of the rue du
Faubourg St-Antoine on the Right Bank, for a slice of Parisian life. Stay four
nights, pay three at the three-star Le Patio St Antoine when you book and
travel before August 31. Includes breakfast daily, costs $321 a person, twin
share. 1300 747 400, creativeholidays.com.

CUBA
It’s a country with one of the coolest soundtracks… aaah,
Cuba, you’re hip to the eyeballs. This tour covers the length of the country,
from Havana in the west to the old pirate haven of Baracoa in the far east,
with stops for the Che Guevara museum, Trinidad’s beaches and some sultry salsa
in Santiago de Cuba. Book by August 27 to for September 1 departure and
save $456 a person. Costs $1369 a person, 15 days. 1300 018 8701, intrepidtravel.com
.

South Luangwa game drive, Zambia

ZAMBIA
There are just seven safari tents at Sanctuary Puku
Ridge, which treat lightly on the earth of the South Luangwa National Park.
Watch the sun rise from your bed, and animals gathering at the waterhole near
your tent. Stay three nights and save more than $1700 a couple, including all
meals, drinks, game viewing and flights from Lusaka. Costs $2120 a person, twin
share, until October 31. 1300 195 873, benchinternational.com.au

ALASKA & CANADA
The fish are
seriously big on Alaska’s Kenai peninsula, as are the bears. It’s Alaska’s wild
playground. Discover it in 5-star style, o a 28-day journey from Canada up to
the Arctic Circle, including seven nights cruising the Alaskan coastline,
slipping between the icebergs of Glacier Bay National Park. Couples booking before
October 19 will get one free return flight to Canada. Costs from $16,010 a
person, twin share, which includes flights for the second person travelling.  1300 723 642, scenictours.com.au. 

TOURWATCH
Saints and holy men, seers and the devout: watch the
swirl of humanity as India bends to pray at Kumbha Mela, one of the world’s
largest pilgrimages. In January and February 2013, up to 60 million people will
gather in Allahabad, in the Uttar Pradesh, at the confluence of point
Hinduism’s three holiest rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and the ethereal Saraswati.
Devotees stretch 15km along the riverbanks on auspicious bathing days to
cleanse themselves of sin. This eight-day tour starts in Delhi and warms to the
religious theme with a visit to the holy city of Varanasi, south of Delhi,
before continuing to Allahabad, where you’ll stay in a tented camp in the heart
of the action. Costs from US$809 (A$780) a person. Unique Tourism, (02) 921
6590.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper

Game On! A guide to Delhi

Just in case you are going to Delhi this week for the Commonwealth Games and oh, don’t have accommodation, or even a singular clue about the city, here’s a quick guide for the completely clueless. If you’ve been too busy to think about it because you’ve been practising your lawn bowls technique, we salute you, and good luck!

Where to stay, shop, eat and play.

 click here!

Pic credit: Reuters & Sun-Herald