If you're planning a holiday, here are some travel options you might like to
Whether you decide on an option that takes you to the East or West, the
itineraries are all set to provide you with a wealth of sightseeing, shopping
and cultural experiences.
Here's a preview of itineraries and promotions that you can expect to come
out of the second edition of Natas Holidays 2012, which will be held at
Singapore Expo Halls 3B, 4 and 5, from August 24-26 from 10am to 9.30pm daily.
The admission fee is $4 per person, with free entry for children below 12
years old. MasterCard cardholders have the chance to win prizes when they
charge at least $2,800 to their credit cards as well as other offers to enter
the Grand Draw. MasterCard PayPass cardholders also get priority access when
they pay at the dedicated MasterCard PayPass queues*.
Check out the deals here.
There may be stormy economic clouds hovering over Europe right now, but
that’s not going to stop Asian travellers from heading in that direction. In
fact, as the Natas Fair 2012 runs from Aug 24 to 26 at the Singapore Expo,
industry analysts are predicting a demand for European destinations, thanks
mainly to the weak euro.
They say visitors to the fair, touted to be one of the biggest yet with over
165 exhibitors, will get many tempting offers from the various travel agencies
to popular European destinations like France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
In July, Reuters reported that Asian – particularly from India – and Middle
Eastern visitors were flocking to Switzerland, one of the most popular European
destinations. Swiss statistics show that hotel stays by Asian tourists grew by
8.3 per cent while stays by Europeans slipped 4.6 per cent in May this year.
Asian and Middle Eastern tourists also spend a lot more while travelling.
According to a survey by Hotels.com, an online hotel booking site, Indian
travellers emerged as the sixth biggest spenders on hotels globally in 2010
with an average spend of Rs6,722 per night, surpassing travellers from the UK,
France, Germany and Singapore.
Besides western Europe, eastern Europe is also seeing a demand from Asian
travellers and countries like the Czech Republic are wooing Indian travellers
in a big way. In April this year, the Czech Tourism Board launched an art
gallery in Mumbai to encourage Indians to visit the country and learn more
about its culture, reported travel site Expedia India. There are also plans by
the Czech Republic to invite Indian artists to the country in October to share
In Singapore, New Shan Travel is offering an 11-Days Explore Europe package
which includes countries like Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium and
France. The tour will kick off in Italy with a boat ride in Venice before
heading into Milan and the Black Forest – the largest forest in Germany –
before ending in Paris where a city trip is included. The whole package costs
$2,488 (excluding taxes) and vegetarian meals are available. For more
information, call New Shan Travel at 6546-7333.
It is the best show on earth and no fireworks are required. The Aurora
Borealis or the Northern Lights is a phenomenon that has been thrilling
travellers for years.
This year, American space agency NASA has predicted that the Aurora Borealis
will be at its brightest and most intense for 50 years.
This marvel of nature is understood to be caused by solar wind or
electrically-charged particles that the sun constantly throws across the solar
system with varying degrees of intensity. The particles are drawn to the poles
due to the earth’s magnetic fields, hence its visibility at the Arctic and the
Antartic regions. In the southern hemisphere, the phenomenon is known as Aurora
Australis which has almost identical features to its northern counterpart.
Most experts agree that the best Aurora Borealis-watching vantage point is
northern Canada, particularly near Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.
It is located directly under the Aurora Oval, a narrow band encircling the
pole in which the Aurora Borealis is at its most brilliant and where there is a
reported 90 per cent success rate of viewing.
New Shan Travel is offering a nine-day Northern Light Experience from
$7,788. The tour will include of course the Northern Lights spectacle, an
exclusive stay at the Trout Rock Lodge at frozen Great Slave Lake, dog sledding
or ice-fishing. It will also include full winter suits and meals. The departure
dates are Dec 10 2012, Jan 9, Feb 6, March 6 and April 10 2013.
All you need to say is mush.
Four caves in Ajanta will soon be shut down by the Archaeological Survey of
India. If not, the intricate carvings and elaborate paintings which date back
to 2nd century BC will be lost for ever.
But worry not. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation plans to
replicate the carvings and paintings at a visitors centre near the UNESCO World
Hertiage site. The Times Of India reported that the replica, made using
simulated stone face plaster, will be almost identical to the original caves
and include carved columns, beams and sculptures.
A source told the newspaper that the approximate area of the Ajanta visitors
centre would be 323,000 sq m. Pointing out that carbon dioxide generated by the
large number of visitors to the caves is causing the paintings to deteriorate,
he added that visitors will be able to spend more time viewing the replicas at
the visitors centre, which is expected to be ready by April next year.
Senior manager of the Maharashtra tourism department Sanjay Dhekane told DNA
newspaper the project is being developed about 3km away from the actual caves,
keeping in mind environmental concerns. It is being done with a soft loan from
Japan. The Ajanta caves in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district attracts around
3.3 lakhs visitors annually, of which at least 10 per cent are foreigners.
The 30-odd caves at Ajanta overlook a gorge and contain some of the finest
examples of Buddhist religious architecture and paintings. Inside these caves
are Chaitya Halls or shrines that are dedicated to Lord Buddha. Not far from
Ajanta lies the Ellora caves, which are younger by some 600 years, and plans
are already afoot to set up a visitors centre there too. However, it will be
smaller, with an approximate floor area of 12,000 sq m.
The 34 caves in Ellora contain Buddhist Chaityas and Viharas, or
monasteries, as well as Hindu and Jain temples.
The Buddhist caves were excavated between the 5th and 7th centuries AD, when
the Mahayana sect was flourishing in the region.
The Hindu caves were developed between the middle of the 6th century and the
end of the 8th century. The five Jain caves at Ellora belong to the 9th and
10th centuries. While the caves in
Ajanta were discovered early in the 19th
century by a group of British officers, the ones in Ellora have continuously
attracted pilgrims through the centuries to the present day.
How to get there: Nearest airport is Aurangabad which is 30km from Ellora
and 106km from Ajanta. Flights link Aurangabad to Mumbai (388km). From
Singapore, several airlines offer daily flights to Mumbai.
Get refreshed with a sea cruise
Do not miss this final chance to
board the Royal Caribbean
International’s (RCI)Legend of The
Seas cruise ship.
The 11-deck, 2,074-guest vessel
will be back in Singapore from October
to kick off her final season of South-east
- Two-night Getaway Cruise (from $232* per person)
Sailing dates: Nov 3, Feb 6 2013 and March 23, 2013
Port of call: Malacca
- Three-night Best of Malaysia Cruise (from$279* per person)
Sailing dates: Oct 31, Nov 9, 16, 23 and 30, Dec 7,14 and 26, Feb 22, 2013,
March 1, 8 and 29, 2013
Ports of call: Penang and Malacca/Kuala Lumpur* (*Ports of call will vary)