Culture Lifestyle

Are Socially-Distanced Festivals Part of Our New Normal?

We live in strange, strange times. As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has crippled most of the world, we’ve had to struggle to adapt to what’s colloquially called the “new normal”. This translates to masks being a permanent face accessory, only being able to go out in groups of five, figuring out how to work remotely from home, and so on.

However, as various governments start to gain a stronger hold on the spread of the virus, countries around the world are starting to regain some sense of normalcy. So, what does the future look like or, at least, what can we expect in the conceivable days that lie ahead? 

Perhaps an answer to this question lies in the form of socially-distanced festivals, which might be the key in helping to get the badly-beaten entertainment and music industry back on its feet!

Sure, there have been various livestream gigs but nothing can compare to the experience of witnessing live music acts in the flesh. At the start of August, the United Kingdom’s first socially-distanced concert was held in Newcastle, where around 2,500 people were in attendance. They were segregated into groups of five, with each group having their own elevated platform. Each platform even came with its own table, chairs, and even a fridge! Cars had to be parked two metres apart, with food and drink ordered in advance via an app. 

These socially-distanced concerts also come in many forms such as a drive-in concert, where people can enjoy the live acts whilst being socially distanced in their cars. The vehicles are spaced around six metres apart, allowing people to tune into the music via their car radios. The duration of the event is also kept to the maximum of one hour, with security teams on constant patrol to prevent anyone from getting out of their cars.

Such concerts have been popping up in parts of Europe and the United States, with DJs and performers finding creative ways to interact with the passengers in their respective vehicles. For example, at DJ D-Nice’s drive-in concert in Miami, he asked people to press their car horns in unison — replicating, in a way, the energy of the audience’s cheers!

Tuk Tuk Fest/Facebook

And it seems as if event and concert organisers are not afraid to get creative — in Thailand, the Amazing Tuk Tuk Festival saw hundreds of tuk tuks at the Asiatique promenade, where passengers were treated to a slew of live acts. These tuk tuks stayed within their designated zones, which were clearly demarcated with tape. 

In the Philippines, a drive-in concert was held at the Laoag Sand Dunes, where each 4×4 vehicle had its own dedicated driver/tour guide. Each vehicle could only carry a maximum of four passengers, with sandboarding and an off-road tour thrown in as part of the experience. Measures such as wearing of face masks at all times and banning alcoholic beverage consumption were among some of the protocols implemented.


In Ukraine, the rock band O.Torvald even played their entire set on a building rooftop — where fans could watch the performance from the comfort of their own balconies! Booking of hotel rooms replaced the purchasing of tickets for this ‘vertical concert’, where they could sing and dance freely without being inhibited by a mask.

Tuk Tuk Fest/Facebook

No matter the event, stringent measures are implemented, such as only having outdoor live stages, temperature checks upon entry, the presence of multiple hand sanitising booths and water points, as well as social distancing enforced in areas like bars and campsites. The upcoming Stendhal Festival in Northern Ireland even goes as far as to implement a minimum age of 21, as they acknowledge the trickiness of mandating social distancing practices for younger individuals.

This is a far cry from events that seemed to have forgone safety measures altogether — the recent music festival at Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park shocked the world when photos and videos of its party-goers went viral. The crowds were seen in close proximity with no masks in sight, reminiscent of concerts pre-COVID.

The effectiveness and sustainability of socially-distanced events have been thrown into question. As stated by Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, such events are simply not financially viable. If he had his way, he would use compulsory coronavirus testing as an incentive for partygoers looking to attend acts that are performing at full capacity. However, with the high costs involved, it’s unlikely that this will materialise anytime soon.

There have been mixed reactions from performance attendees as well, with some declaring that such socially-distanced concerts simply don’t offer the same atmosphere as packed live acts. However, these events have generally been met with much acclaim, with some attendees even joking that there are now VIP seats available for anyone and everyone. In fact, these socially-distanced concerts are so popular that they draw attendees from all walks of life! 

For now, no matter the perspective, it looks like we’ve entered a reinvented new era where crowded mosh pits are a thing of the past, with socially segregated concerts indefinitely here to stay. Or at least, for the foreseeable future!

Lifestyle Travel Insights

Yes, Travel is Finally Possible! Here’s What You Need to Know About Singapore’s Travel Bubble

What a tumultuous year 2020 has been. With most of us having been confined to our homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s little wonder that we’re all yearning for a getaway. 

Thankfully, as the spread of the virus starts to slow, various countries have gradually started to relax their border restrictions. And yes, with that, travel – in the form of travel bubbles – has indeed become possible once again! 

What exactly is a travel bubble?

Travel bubbles comprise exclusive partnerships between countries that have managed to control the spread of COVID-19 within their borders. This agreement permits travel between the respective countries without the need for mandated quarantine upon arrival. 

Examples of existing travel bubbles include those between selected cities in China and South Korea, as well as between India and Canada, among others. 

What countries are in Singapore’s travel bubble?

1. Singapore – New Zealand


Singapore has allowed travel to and from New Zealand, effective from 1st September 2020. This also applies to students studying at institutions in New Zealand that do not permit long-distance learning.

Visitors to Singapore from New Zealand will not have to undergo quarantine upon arrival, under the condition that they have not travelled out of New Zealand in the last consecutive 14 days. However, they would have to undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport and will only be allowed to resume their trip after a negative result.

2. Singapore – Brunei


Similar to New Zealand, Singapore has allowed travel to and from Brunei from 1st September 2020 — with all the same rules applied.

For visitors from both New Zealand and Brunei, they would have to apply for an Air Travel Pass between seven and 30 days before their intended date of arrival. They would also have to bear all costs of medical treatment should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 whilst in Singapore.

Do note that Singaporeans looking to travel to New Zealand or Brunei should also check the countries’ respective entry requirements before planning their trip.

Countries permitted for essential travel

1. Singapore – Malaysia

Thilipen Rave Kumar/Pexels

Limited cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia has been approved and ongoing since 17th August 2020 under two schemes:

  • Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), which allows short-term travel for essential business or official purposes for up to fourteen days
  • Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), which allows Singapore and Malaysia residents holding long-term immigration passes for work or business to enter either country for work

This undoubtedly came as a relief for many Malaysian residents, with up to 100, 000 crossing the causeway daily pre-COVID-19! However, Malaysia has also imposed a daily quota of 400 and 2000 travellers under the RGL and PCA schemes respectively. Also, those that enter either country under the PCA option must stay in that respective country for ninety days before they’re allowed to return home. 

Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, on the other hand, do not require the PCA to return to Singapore. However, from 1st September 2020, they will still need to serve a seven-day stay-home notice – which has been reduced from the previous fourteen-day mandate.

Before making the trip, travellers will have to make an application through the Johor Immigration Department or the Safe Travel Portal, depending on which country they’re coming from. 

2. Singapore – China


From 8 June 2020, visitors from China are permitted to enter Singapore for essential travel via a ‘Fast Lane’. This is exclusive to visitors from six Chinese cities, such as Guangdong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Chongqing, and Jiangsu. If all goes well, the fast lane arrangement will be extended to other parts of China.

Travellers from China have to be sponsored by a company of Singapore Government agencies, who will have to submit an application for a Safe Travel Pass on their behalf. When this is approved, travellers will have to undergo COVID-19 tests at the airport at their own costs. This also applies to travellers from Singapore to China.

3. Singapore – Japan

Bagus Pangestu/Pexels

In September, travel between Singapore and Japan will be permitted for short-term business travellers, expatriates, and other long-term residents. Expatriates and long-term residents will still have to undergo a fourteen-day mandated self-quarantine period upon arrival in either country. However, business travellers will not be subject to this quarantine, on the condition that they provide a full trip itinerary, refrain from using public transport, shun crowds, and only travel between their accommodation and place of work.

All travellers to Japan will also have to install the Cocoa app, a COVID-19 contact tracing app, as well as agree to store their phone’s GPS data and report their health conditions via the Line messaging app for two weeks after arrival.

What else is being done?

Addie, Pexels

Restrictions for other countries have also been relaxed. For example, visitors from Australia (except the Victoria state), mainland China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Macau will only have to serve a seven-day stay-home notice period, which is halved from the initial fourteen-day period.

In a bid to revive its travel sector, Singapore is also looking to replace the two-week self-quarantine period with a meticulous testing regime. 

As time goes by, we’ll hopefully see more countries having success in curbing the spread of the virus — allowing more travel restrictions to be eased. Till then, stay safe and stay tuned for more updates!

Adventure & travel Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore

Undiscovered Hiking Trails in Singapore for Your Next Weekend Adventure

What plans do you have for the upcoming weekend? If, like us, you’ve spent most of the week in an office chair in front of a computer screen, there’s no better time to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air.

Hiking has become one of the most popular things to do in Singapore, with some hotspots seeing high footfall over the weekends. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, head to these undiscovered trails in Singapore for some well-deserved nature lovin’ — sans the crowds! 

1. Kranji Marshes 

Kranji Marshes is Singapore’s largest freshwater marshland, containing 57 hectares worth of natural and green habitats. Home to three unique biomes, the area is home to 170 species of birds, 54 types of butterflies, and more. You might also chance upon an estuarine crocodile or monitor lizard along the way!

Head up the Raptor Tower for a panoramic view of the area. Bird enthusiasts will also be delighted to discover species like the Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Purple Heron and Changeable Hawk Eagle. If you’d like to learn more, join the free ‘Evening Chorus at Kranji Marshes’ guided tour through the core conservation area, which is usually not open to the public.

How to get there: Take the Kranji Express Bus from Kranji MRT Station to the D’Kranji Farm Resort, followed by a short walk to Kranji Gate.

2. Bukit Batok Nature Park

Witness a slice of history at Bukit Batok Nature Park, which was developed on an abandoned quarry back in 1988. During the Japanese invasion, one of the most vehement battles took place at the Bukit Timah area. Bukit Batok Nature Park is home to a hill that overlooks the battleground; a WWII memorial was hence constructed on this very hilltop to commemorate the lives lost during the battle.

In addition, the park offers multiple hiking trails that offer magnificent views of the lakes and granite quarry. 

How to get there: Take buses 61, 66, 157, 178, 852 and 985 to Bukit Batok East Avenue 6.

3. Tampines Eco Green

Hidden away between the Tampines Expressway, Tampines Avenue 12, and Sungei Tampines, Tampines Eco Green is a secret park that pays homage to all things natural. True to its theme, the park has no lights or pavements. It doesn’t even have a flushing toilet; instead, its toilet is a compost-based one! The park’s signboards and benches are also made from recycled and environmentally-friendly materials.

Take your pick from three trails — Diversity Trail, Forest Trail and Marsh Trail — through secondary forests, vegetated swales, and more. Keep your eyes peeled for any of the park’s 75 species of birds and 35 species of butterflies! The park is also home to the Hanguana Rubinea, a native flower that’s found only in Singapore.

How to get there: 20-minute walk from Tampines MRT Station.

4. Thomson Nature Park

Be spoilt for choice at Thomson Nature Park, which boasts five trails that span a total of 3.8 kilometres. Previously a Hainan Village, bits of its heritage have been preserved in the form of old village houses, old street signs and the remains of a rambutan plantation.

Check out the Run and Figs Trail, as well as the Stream and Ferns Trail. If you’re lucky, you might even chance upon a Raffles’ Banded Langur, an endangered primate; or the Sunda Pangolin and Malayan Porcupine, both of which are highly elusive.

How to get there: Take buses 138, 138A, 167, 169, 860 and 980 to Upper Thomson Road.

5. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Comprising the first ASEAN Heritage Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is a haven for nature and wildlife lovers. Home to some of the island’s richest biodiversity, the swamps of Sungei Buloh are home to 140 species of birds, mudskippers, tree-climbing crabs, mud lobsters monkeys, otter, civet cats, monitor lizards, and even the occasional estuarine crocodile! 

The Migratory Bird Walk’s Aerie Tower is a prime spot for bird-watching, especially during the migratory season. To find out more, there are free guided walks available every Saturday at 9.30am.

How to get there: Take Bus 925 from Kranji MRT Station to Kranji Reservoir Carpark B.

If you’re raring for an adventure of bigger proportions, tackle the Coast to Coast Trail, a mega 36-kilometre route that stretches all the way from Coney Island to Jurong Lake Gardens. Along the way, you’ll also pass through Punggol Waterway Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Macritchie Reservoir Park, the Rail Corridor, and Bukit Batok Nature Park. 

Alternatively, the North Eastern Riverine Loop is a 26-kilometre trail that runs through Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol — including Punggol Promenade and Lorong Halus Wetland. This trail is also suitable for cycling if you don’t wish to go entirely on foot! Another option is the Western Adventure Loop, which connects the five parks of Bukit Batok Nature Park, Jurong Lake Park, Zhenghua Park Dairy Farm Nature Park, and Choa Chu Kang Park.

That’s exactly what we love about Singapore — it may be a metropolitan city but, look close enough, and you’ll find little pockets of green space scattered all around that are the perfect escape from all that hustle and bustle.

So, which of these hiking trails will you explore first?

Adventure & travel Asia Destinations Lifestyle Malaysia

Top Mountains to Climb in Malaysia that’re Suitable for All Fitness Levels

Singapore is home to various hiking trails as well as our beloved Bukit Timah Hill, but for those that are raring to climb an actual mountain — our little red dot regrettably doesn’t have much to offer. However, why not make a quick trip across the causeway to our neighbouring country of Malaysia, who has plenty of mountains for you to choose from?

Here are four mountains in Malaysia — that aren’t located too far from Singapore! — that are a great starting point for beginners:

1. Gunung Datuk

E-lyn Tham

Tucked away in Negeri Sembilan, Gunung Datuk is a mountain that’s perfect for beginners. Standing at just 885 metres tall, trekking up and down Datuk will take up about two and a half and two hours respectively. To get to the starting point, descend a path from the carpark, and cross a stream via a bridge. The climb up is a pure test of stamina, comprising a rather steep incline with not much flat ground!

Once you emerge from the jungle, you’ll be faced with a couple of gigantic rocks with steel ladders along their sides. Make your way up and be treated to a panoramic view at the top, which is particularly magnificent at sunrise. 

Distance from Singapore: Approximately three to four hours.

2. Mount Ophir

Stan, Flickr Creative Commons

With a height of 1, 276 metres, Mount Ophir (or Gunung Ledang) is the highest mountain in Johor. There are four trails available; the Lagenda/Sagil trail is the most popular, taking about four to five hours one-way. The trail starts with a gradual incline but gets more exciting towards the top; you’ll encounter the KFC (Killing Fitness Center) that comprises a number of ropes and ladders, as well as a rock face, which you’d have to scale with ropes. 

A limited number of climbing permits are issued each day — do register for yours in advance. For a day climb, the cut-off point for reaching the summit is 2pm; any later, and your (mandatory) guide will have to turn you back. Fun fact: Many climbers use Ophir as their training ground for Mount Kinabalu!

Distance from Singapore: Approximately four hours.

3. Gunung Lambak

With a height of 510 metres, the hike up and down Gunung Lambak will take an approximate total of three to four hours. The trail starts off easy via concrete road, followed by a jungle trek clearly demarcated by steps and railings, and finally, a steep last section, where you’ll be making your way up steps made out of soil and a tangle of tree roots. 

Catch a breather at the summit, enjoy the view, and make your way down the same way you came up. Alternatively, you can continue towards the second twin peak and descend via another route. 

Distance from Singapore: Approximately two to three hours.

4. Gunung Angsi

Ravenblack7575, Flickr Creative Commons

Located not too far from Gunung Datuk, Gunung Angsi is an 824-metre high mountain that’s perfect for a day trip. You can ascend the mountain via Bukit Putus or Ulu Pendul, with the latter being more challenging. 

Both trails are clearly marked, with gorgeous views of the town of Seremban at the top. It’d take about two and a half hours on average to reach the summit, with another two hours to descend to the base. The way up consists of a series of inclines, with stretches of flat ground in between. There’s a viewpoint approximately 10 minutes before the summit, followed by a root-lined slope that you’d have to climb using ropes.

Distance from Singapore: Approximately four hours.

Amanda Quek

If you’d like, you can combine your mountain adventure with a trip to Malacca, where you can spend a night at Jonker Street; or with a night in Kuala Lumpur, depending on which mountain you’ve set your sights on. For adrenaline junkies, head to Gopeng in Perak, Ipoh, where you can explore the Tempurung Caves and try your hand at Waterfall Abseiling. Alternatively, head to the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls for a splashing good time!

E-lyn Tham

Some tips to keep in mind: always dress appropriately, with long socks to prevent leech bites if your route includes river crossings. These will also help to prevent mosquito bites! Bring at least one and a half to two litres of water with you, as well as a trash bag for all your rubbish. Arm yourselves with proper hiking shoes that have a good grip, and bring along some snacks (we call this ‘happy food’; avoid chocolates, sweets or gummies are preferred) to motivate you — and others around you! — along the way. 

E-lyn Tham

If you’re attempting a sunrise hike, you’d have to make your way up the mountain in the dark. Do equip yourself with a good headlight and torchlight! If this is the first time you’re doing that particular hike, it’s best to do it in the day. Otherwise, make sure you have a guide or that you’re with someone who has done that particular hike before. 

So why not make a weekend out of it, and combine your mountain climb with a little R&R along the way? The climb up may be gruelling but once you’re at the summit, you’ll feel right on top of the world!

Adventure & travel Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore

Unique Accommodations in Singapore to Stay At

Why spend so much on accommodation when you’re going to be out for most of the day anyway?

We won’t be surprised if the above sentence is something that has crossed many a traveller’s mind. Indeed, many travellers look at their accommodation as just a place to stay, simply as a place to keep their belongings and spend the night. However, why not take it up a notch and turn your accommodation into part of the experience?

Look beyond the usual plain vanilla hotel rooms and take your pick from these unique accommodations to jazz up your stay – or a staycation for the locals! – the next time you’re in Singapore:

1. Ocean Suites, Equarius Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa

rwsentosa, Instagram

There’s just something about the depths of the ocean that enthralls people of all ages. Fitted with a giant floor-to-ceiling panel that looks out into the world’s largest aquarium exhibit, the Ocean Suites Resorts World Sentosa offers you the chance to have this underwater wonderland all to yourself — even for just one night!

Lounge in bed and watch fishes of all colours, as well as giant manta rays and hammerhead sharks, swim lazily by. If you’d like, you can even convert the floor in front of the glass panel into a bathtub. Doing so is easy; just call the butler who will be at your beck and call 24/7. The suite also comes with a second floor, which comes equipped with a living area and a jacuzzi. 

2. Glamping

glamping.society, Instagram

A combination of the words ‘glamourous and ‘camping’ — glamping is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Simply put, glamping is for those that love the outdoors, but not so much the actual process of camping. D.I.Y. tents, sleeping bags, and solid fuel are replaced with spacious tents that offer most of the usual creature comforts — actual beds, cushions, a minibar and more — all draped generously in twinkling fairy lights. Don’t worry about the heat, most tents come with huge fans and the ones from Glamping Society are even air-conditioned!

There are many glamping companies in Singapore — Glamping Society, GlampingCity, Wondrous Glampers, just to name a few — that will do all the setting up for you; all you have to do is to turn up and enjoy. Choose from queen-sized or single beds, an additional picnic set-up, a five-course dinner by candlelight, or even a movie screen with a speaker for your very own ‘Movie Under the Stars’ experience. 

3. Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong

hotelindigokatongsg, Instagram

Travel back in time to the Singapore of yesteryear at Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, a Peranakan-themed hotel nestled deep in the Joo Chiat heritage district. The murals in the rooms take centre stage, revolving around detailed depictions of Singapore’s streets and its hawkers. Everything is according to theme: a carrom board functions as a coffee table, with the bathroom decked out in intricate Peranakan tiles, complete with the basin sitting atop a sewing-machine base. 

Batik print from sarong kebayas and tiles adorn the wall behind the reception desk, complementing the ornate marble floor and a wall peppered with ventilation holes — a feature that’s characteristic of old Peranakan shophouses. Indulge in a languid swim in the infinity pool, which boasts unobstructed views of the area. Take your time to explore the surrounding district as well; Joo Chiat is the first designated Heritage Town in Singapore and is a treasure trove of colourful shophouses, street art, coffee shops, and more. 

4. Treetop Lofts

rwsentosa, Instagram

Go back to nature at Resort World Sentosa’s Treetop Lofts, which offer some much-needed respite from the urban jungle of Singapore. There are only two of such lofts, each nestled 12 metres above ground within a lush forest canopy. Each loft has a bedroom, living room and bathroom — on top of a sprawling 90-square-metre outdoor terrace. Kick back with a steaming cup of tea, keep your eyes peeled for the surrounding wildlife, take a deep breath, and enjoy being in the midst of all that nature. The terrace also makes for a splendid sunset spot, complete with panoramic views of Sentosa and Mount Faber.

To top it all off, the ceilings of the loft measure at around 5 to 6 metres high, making you feel as if you’ve got your very own rustic palace in the sky. The Treetop Lofts are located a short distance away from the Equarius Hotel, but free buggy rides are available as and when you wish.

Indeed, a fun and quirky accommodation can make all the difference to your holiday. There’s bound to be something that’ll suit your fancy; other than the options above, how about The Pod Singapore, a boutique capsule hotel, or Hotel Re!, a retro-themed hotel?

This way, you can turn every bit of your holiday into an experience. And for the locals, what better way is there to escape reality than with a staycation that’s, may we say, rather extraordinary?

Adventure & travel Destinations Lifestyle Switzerland

Stunning Mountain Excursions in Switzerland to Check Off Your Bucket List

Ask any traveller about Switzerland and they’d wax lyrical about the country’s gorgeous landscapes. Indeed, look in any direction and you’ll be greeted with towering snow-capped mountains, rolling lawns of green, and mystical valleys that look like they just fell straight out of a picture book.

There’s so much to do in the country, but one of the best ways to experience its nature would be to make your way to the top of its mountains. Here are five incredible mountain excursions to include in your itinerary:

1. Gornergrat – from Zermatt


If you love chocolate, chances are that you’ve snacked on many Toblerone bars. How would you like to see the mountain depicted on its iconic yellow packaging in real life? Head to Zermatt for a trip up to Gornergrat, which offers some of the best views of the Matterhorn.

Take the first train to Riffelsee, where you can catch the sunrise and a beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn in a lake. From Riffelsee, continue up to the summit of Gornergrat for spectacular panoramic views. From the summit, you can either take the train or embark on a four-hour hike back down to Zermatt.

2. Mt. Titlis – from Engelberg


The season of winter has this magical quality about it, an enigmatic promise of charm entangled in its flurries of snow. At Mt. Titlis, you won’t have to wait for long to experience the magic of winter — in fact, it’s a place that experiences snow all year round! 

Frolic in the snow, engage in snowball fights, take lots of pictures with walls of snow that’re taller than the average human, and even explore an enchanting glacier cave. Hop onto the Ice Flyer, and soar through the air to reach the Glacier Park, where you can try snow-tubing. Don’t forget to muster up your courage to make your way across the Cliff Walk, a 100-metre long suspension bridge with a see-through mesh flooring.

3. Mt. Pilatus – from Lucerne


Getting up to Mt. Pilatus is half the fun! The route is called the ‘Circular Golden Round Trip’, which requires you to take a variety of transport options, such as a boat ride, cogwheel train ride and a bus. Besides soaking in the gorgeous views, there’s plenty to do at the summit of Mt. Pilatus — climb up a short flight of steps to a panoramic vantage point and tackle the Tomlishorn hike, which will take around one and a half hours to complete. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wild alpine ibex — a species of wild goat that resides in the European Alps — along the way.

On your way down the mountain, stop at the Frakmuntegg station for the Frakgaudi Toboggan Run which, at a length of 1,350 metres, is the longest in Switzerland. In addition, you can also try a variety of high-element activities and the Dragon Glider, which allows you to glide — whilst suspended from a harness — through a lush forest canopy.

4. Grindelwald-First – from Grindelwald


This is for all the adventure buffs out there — get your fill of adrenaline at Grindelwald-First, aptly named the ‘Top of Adventure’! Like Mt. Pilatus, getting up and down the mountain is all part of the fun. Take a cable car up to the summit of the mountain, then descend via various modes of transport. You can choose to fly down on a zipline or mountain glider, trundle down on a mountain cart or whizz along on a trotti-bike, which is a cross between a bicycle and a scooter. 

Don’t be so quick to leave the summit, however; make your legs go weak at the First Cliff Walk, a mesh bridge that hugs the side of the mountain and extends 45 metres out into the air. You can also choose to go on an easy one-hour hike to the tranquil Lake Bachalpsee. 

5. Jungfraujoch – from Kleine Scheidegg


Known as the ‘Top of Europe’, Jungfraujoch is one mountain excursion that you simply can’t miss. Standing at 3,454 metres above sea level, Jungfraujoch offers a winter wonderland packed with plenty of activities and unbelievably scenic views to boot. 

Take the fastest lift in Switzerland up to the Sphinx Observatory to enjoy views of the Aletsch Glacier. If the weather is good, you can go on a hike across the glacier as well. Explore the depths of the Ice Palace, which is filled with numerous ice sculptures. Before you leave, don’t forget to get a commemorative ‘passport stamp’ of your trip, as well as pick up a couple of tasty souvenirs at the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven!

The next time you’re in Switzerland, venture high up into the clouds and feel on top of the world with any of the above mountain excursions. They’re all easily accessible within an hour from major cities or towns — with the exception of Jungfraujoch, which will take around one and a half to two hours to reach from either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. 

However, in Switzerland, every bit of the journey counts as part of the experience — and you’re definitely in for the adventure of a lifetime!

Adventure & travel Destinations Europe Lifestyle

Hello, Adventure: 5 Unique Things to Do in Iceland

Stepping into the landscapes of Iceland feels like tumbling headfirst into a rabbit hole — onto another planet altogether. Boasting otherworldly scenery filled with ethereal formations, Iceland is a destination fit for the history books. 

And in a country as incredible as this, Iceland is naturally bursting with unique activities for travellers seeking a generous dose of adventure. Check these off your bucket list the next time you’re in the country:

1. Snorkel between 2 tectonic plates


Thingvellir National Park is one of the stops on the popular Golden Circle route, which can easily be covered on a day trip from Reykjavik. Nestled within the park is ‘Silfra’, a rift created between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in 1789. This fissure measures 600 by 200 metres, creating a passage that’s wide enough for divers and snorkelers to pass through.

That’s right, here’s your chance to actually dive or snorkel between two tectonic plates! Silfra is filled with water from the Langjokull glacier, which is said to be some of the clearest water in the world. This allows for underwater visibility of up to 100 metres, with water temperatures remaining between a comfortable two to four degrees celsius all year round. 

2. Hike across a massive glacier


Did you know that more than 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers? A glacier forms when multiple layers of snow are compressed to form colossal blocks of ice — in a process that takes thousands of years. 

Strap on a pair of crampons, arm yourself with an ice axe, and make your way across sprawling blue fields and deep crevasses. If you wish, you can even sample some of the clear glacial water found in chasms along the surface of the ice. Don’t worry, this water is completely safe for consumption! Complete your adventure by venturing into the depths of an ice cave; however, do note that Ice Cave season only starts at the beginning of winter (start of November).

3. Walk amongst icebergs at the Diamond Beach


In Iceland, diamonds are everyone’s best friend. And the country’s home to some of the best diamonds around — which come in the form of countless chunks of ice that sparkle in the sunlight! These ice pieces break off from a nearby glacier and land in the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, before floating out to sea and washing ashore at the Breioamerkursandur Black Beach. 

The beach is dotted with numerous wedges of ice in all shapes and sizes, colloquially earning it the nickname of the ‘Diamond Beach’. Take your time to wander amongst the pieces of ice and even clamber onto some huge ones — at your own risk! — for the photo opportunity of a lifetime. If you’d like, you can even head across the road to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, where you can take a boat ride around the lagoon.

4. Watch a geyser erupt 40 metres into the air

E-lyn Tham

Spanning an area of 3 square kilometres, the Geysir Geothermal Area is a fascinating hive of activity. Wander around and feast your eyes on numerous steaming pools and bubbling fumaroles, complete with jets of steam and a cloud of mist that envelops the area. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts in intervals of 10 minutes or so. When this happens, a large volume of water is thrown up into the air, reaching a staggering height of 40 metres! Do take caution not to stand too close, however; the temperature of the water ranges between 80 to 100 degrees celsius.

5. Explore an 8,000-year-old lava tube

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Conduct your very own ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ at Vatnshellir Cave, which inspired Jules Verne’s 1864 novel of the same name! Located within Snaefellsjokull National Park, the 8,000 year-old-Vatnshellir Cave invites visitors to explore its depths — a whopping 35 metres underground.

Arm yourself with a helmet and headlight, and follow your guide as he enthralls you with tales and information about the various lava formations. Spot all types of stalactites or stalagmites and, at one point of the tour, even experience what it’s like to be enveloped in sheer darkness. The tour does require clambering up and down a couple of metal staircases; a certain level of fitness is hence required for this experience. 

Other than the above, there’s plenty in Iceland to entice visitors of all ages — ride a horse through lava fields, pamper yourself by soaking in a geothermal lagoon, walk behind thundering waterfalls, and even go on a thrilling Northern Lights chase. 

The list goes on and on; all you need is a hunger for adventure, as well as the willingness to put yourself outside your comfort zone, and you’ll be all set!

Adventure & travel Asia Destinations Japan Lifestyle

5 Places in Japan with Free-Roaming Wildlife

Ah, kawaii!

Visit any islands with free-roaming wildlife in Japan and you’d hear incessant shrieks of this resonating through the air. ‘Kawaii’ translates to mean ‘cute’ in English, which adequately sums up any experience on these islands. The animals have free reign of the place and roam around freely — inadvertently creating multiple tourist attractions that allow travellers to observe (and interact!) with these creatures in their natural habitat. 

If you’re an animal lover, a visit to these places might be just up your alley:

1. Feed the deer at Nara or Miyajima


Yes, you read that right — you can actually frolic amongst free-roaming deer at Nara or Miyajima. Nara Park, in particular, is home to around 1,200 of these curious creatures. These deer are regarded as sacred creatures and enjoy continued protection as National Treasures. 

You’ll find the deer everywhere — along the sidewalks, in front of the shops (some of which even put out water for the animals), in front of the temples and lounging on the grass. If you’d like, you can purchase a packet of deer biscuits to feed the deer and if you bow to them, they’d bow right back! You’ll be able to find free-roaming deer at Miyajima Island as well, which is famous for its floating torii gate.

2. Cuddle with bunnies at Okunoshima


Credit: @travelynns, Instagram

It’s rabbits galore at Okunoshima, an island accessible via train and ferry from Hiroshima. The island is inhabited by hundreds of sniffly bunnies, all of which will come clamouring once you step off the ferry — especially if you arrive with a head of cabbage and a couple of carrots in hand. 

The rabbits usually congregate around the ferry terminal, hotel, shrine, observation platform, and the visitor’s centre, so do be sure to hit those spots if you want to be surrounded by all that bouncy cuteness! However, the island isn’t without a dark history; Okunoshima was previously used to manufacture poison gas for the war. No one knows how these rabbits came to be on the island; however, one theory is that they were brought to the island to be used as guinea pigs for the poison gas factories, and abandoned when the operations shut down.

3. Walk with foxes at Zao Fox Village


Now, this is something that most travellers normally wouldn’t expect to do in Japan. Get up close and personal with 6 different fox species at the Zao Fox Village, a sanctuary that’s home to over 100 foxes. Till this day, wild foxes still approach the village in search of water and food — in turn finding a forever home where they’ll have a safe space to roam and play.

Take a stroll through the free-roaming area, where you’ll be wandering among multiple foxes! Watch as they play in the shade, stretch out on rocks, or take a nap on the grass. If you’d like, you can purchase some food to feed them from an elevated platform. If you’re lucky, you might even have the chance to hold a baby fox in your arms — at an additional cost, of course. 

4. Check out the monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park

Andrew Tan/Pixabay

Every winter, the snow monkeys of Jigokudani Monkey Park make a prized appearance. These monkeys are of the Japanese Macaque variety, all of which normally reside in the Jigokudani Valley. The monkey park is home to one giant natural hot spring, which the monkeys flock to in search of some respite from the cold. Indeed, it’s quite a sight to watch these monkeys soaking in the waters of the hot spring!

Granted that you won’t be able to interact with the monkeys but they’re mostly accustomed to the presence of humans, so you’ll be able to observe them from up-close. Sightings of these monkeys are common all year round but the best time to visit is during winter, where the contrast of the monkeys in the steaming pools amidst the surrounding snow makes for an utterly unique scene.

5. Hang out with cats at Ainoshima Island

Kanon Serizawa, Flickr Creative Commons

Both aloof and affectionate, cats make for some of the world’s most beloved pets. However, for those that don’t have the privilege of having a pet of your own, you can head to Ainoshima Island to get your fill of all things furry and cute! Ainoshima Island can be easily visited from Hakata Station in Fukuoka and has a small area of just 1.25 square kilometres. The island is home to around 500 fishermen and, you guessed it, plenty of cats.

There are about 150 to 200 cats on the island, most of which usually congregate around the port, around the warehouses and at the shrine. Ainoshima may be the most famous cat island in Japan, but the cat islands of Aoshima and Tashirojima are well worth a visit as well — especially if you can’t get enough!

Arm yourself with some bribes in the form of food — yes, animals can be rather superficial creatures — and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an animal whisperer at any of the above locations. Are you ready for all that cuteness?

Adventure & travel Asia Lifestyle

Ready, Set, Temple Run: 5 Must-Visit Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Most travellers visit Siem Reap for one purpose, and one purpose only; and that is to visit the magnificent Angkor Wat. However, did you know that Angkor Wat is just one out of more than 50 temples in the entire Angkor complex? 

Sprawling over 400 square kilometres, the Angkor Archaeological Park is an enchanting labyrinth of temples, each more intricate than the next. It’s easy to feel intimidated when planning a trip but for a start, here are some must-visit temples: 

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat is a temple of grandeur, and easily the most famous of the lot. Start your day early by heading to the small lake in front of Angkor Wat for a magnificent view of the sunrise, complete with a mesmerising reflection of the temple in the waters. 

Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument, and is even pictured on the country’s national flag. Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is a stone palace filled with bas-relief galleries, stone chambers, towers and courtyards — all of which are connected by a maze of staircases. Every visit to the temple is inexplicably laced with mystery and intrigue; choose to explore the temple by yourself or with a guide, who will regale you with tales about the history of the temple.

Ta Phrom


At first glance, the area of Ta Prohm seems to be a messy tangle of overgrown tree roots, vines and ferns. However, look closely and you’ll discover a temple swallowed by the forces of nature, where its ruins have trees growing out of its walls, and roots snaking across every available surface. 

Exploring Ta Prohm feels like the start of an intrepid adventure; and rightly so, with the temple once acting as the filming location of the famous Hollywood movie, ‘Tomb Raider’. The temple dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries, where it fell into disarray after the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century. There’s a curious symbiotic relationship between the temple and the trees — the trees are the very thing that caused the temple’s walls to collapse; yet, today they’re the only thing holding the ruins together!



Known as the temple with many faces, Bayon boasts a total of 216 stone faces that depict the image of Avalokiteshvara, Cambodia’s most revered king. Each stone face measures a height of 4 metres, and faces a particular cardinal direction. They all have the same expression; with their eyes closed and mouth curved up in a serene smile — which is said to be symbolic of the achievement of inner peace or the state of Nirvana. 

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Bayon is also decorated with multiple ornate bas-reliefs that can be found all around the temple. These illustrate everyday life back in 12th-century Cambodia, as well as the construction process of the temple. 

Do note that a visitor pass is required to visit the Angkor complex. A 1-, 3- and 7-day pass costs USD37 (~SGD50), USD62 (~SGD83) and USD72 (~SGD97) respectively. All 3 of the above temples can be visited on the same day; either rent an e-bike to explore them at your own leisure or choose to hire a tuk-tuk driver, who will bring you to each temple and patiently wait as you explore.

If you have the time, you can also venture out of Siem Reap on a day trip to the Prasat Thom and Beng Melea temples.

Prasat Thom


Prasat Thom is a sight to behold; boasting a formidable seven-storey pyramid that rises majestically out of the forest. The pyramid is found within the ancient city of Koh Ker, which previously functioned as the capital of the Khmer Empire between 928 and 944 AD. The area of Koh Ker is peppered with more than 180 sanctuaries and smaller temples, of which about 40 are open to the public today. 

If you wish, you can even climb a narrow staircase to the top of Prasat Thom for a panoramic view of the area. 

Beng Melea


Known as the less-touristy sister of Ta Prohm in the Angkor complex, Beng Melea is perhaps one of nature’s best-kept secrets. Gloriously overrun by the forces of nature, Beng Melea is a 12th-century maze of dark chambers and hushed walkways. 

Enclosed by a large moat, visitors should be prepared to clamber through narrow holes in the walls, scamper over giant pieces of sandstone, as well as skip over masses of roots and rubble. A wooden sidewalk is also available if you prefer, but where’s the fun in that?

A ticket is required for entry into both Prasat Thom and Beng Melea, which costs USD10 (~SGD13) and USD5 (~SGD7) respectively. 

The trick to discovering the beauty of Siem Reap’s temples is just to take it slow. Wake up early for the sunrise at Angkor Wat, return to your hotel for a siesta or swim (Siem Reap can get very hot around mid-day!), and have a leisurely lunch before returning to explore the other temples.

Take your time to soak in the full splendour of the ruins — there’s really nothing like it!

Adventure & travel Asia Bangkok Destinations Lifestyle Thailand

Squeal Your Heart Out at These Dog Cafés in Bangkok, Thailand

Dogs are truly man’s best friend. Where else can you find a pet that’s as unnervingly loyal? However, if you aren’t lucky enough to own one of your own, you can still get your fill of cuteness — right here at these dog cafés in Bangkok!

Take your pick and get ready to squeal with joy.

Big Dog Café

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As the name suggests, the dogs at the Big Dog Café are of the bigger variety. And boy, are they huge! Cuddle up with Alaskan Malamutes that, when standing, tower over the average human; Old English Sheepdogs with strings of hair in their eyes; gentle Central Asian Shepherds; eager Airedale Terriers; impossibly furry Chow Chows and more. The dogs are released in batches and are all incredibly friendly — they’ll run right up to you for a pat, sniff, or cuddle.

You might also chance upon some rare breeds, such as a Russian Wolfhound, an Afghan Hound, and a Komondor. Other smaller breeds are also present at the café, such as Pomeranians, Corgis, and Westie Terriers. 

Make your reservations via their Facebook page for the timings of 9.30-11.30am, 12-2pm, 2.30-4.30pm, 5-7pm, or 7.30-9.30pm. The entrance fee of THB199 (~SGD8.70) includes a welcome drink.

Address: 88 Ratchadaphisek Rd, Huai Khwang, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10310, Thailand

Corgi in the Garden

If, however, your affections tend towards dogs of a smaller variety, the Corgi in the Garden café might be just the place for you. Surround yourself with 12 little bundles of fur that go by the adorable names of Porkchop, Salmon, Babycorn, Buttercup, and more! Watch as they bound up to you with goofy smiles on their faces, or bribe them for a selfie with treats that you can purchase from the café. 

So how did this corgi café come about? The owner used to own two corgis, who then gave birth to a litter of three puppies. Little did she know that one of her dogs would then go on to have a surprise litter of seven puppies, bringing the total to a whopping 12 corgis altogether! The owner wanted to keep all the dogs and hence decided to open Corgi in the Garden, where her beloved corgis can continue to bring joy to all who visit.

The entrance fee of THB250 (~SGD11) includes a drink; top up an additional THB100 (~SGD4) for a piece of cake as well. Make your reservations via their Facebook page for 1-hour slots at 10.30am (weekends only), 12.30pm, 2.30pm, and 4.30pm.

Address: 338/1 Kallapaphreuk Road Bang Wa, Phasi Charoen, Bangkok 10160, Thailand

True Love at Neverland

TrueLove at Neverland, Facebook

Huskies have a piercing blue gaze that can stop anyone in their tracks. Get up close and personal with these majestic creatures at True Love at Neverland, a café that’s home to over 25 huskies! The huskies are separated into three different pens — they belong to separate ‘clans’, so we were told — and visitors are free to rotate between the pens. The huskies are surprisingly endearing, with many willing to rub up close against your shoulders or plop down in front of you for a belly rub. 

The true highlight is at the end of the session, where you’ll get to watch the huskies being summoned for their meal. Besides the huskies, you’ll also get to play with a Japanese Akita, a Shih Tzu, and 2 Australian Shepherds. 

Slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis, The ticket counter opens at 11.30am daily, for 2 sessions a day. The first starts at 12pm, with playtime from 1-2pm; the second starts at 3pm, with playtime from 4-5pm. The ticket costs THB500 (~SGD22), inclusive of a drink and choice of food or ice cream cake.

Address: 153 Soi Ari Samphan 2, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

Dog in Town – Dog Cafe, Facebook

Alternatively, if you prefer to just be surrounded by dogs, dogs and more dogs — no matter the breed! — you can also head to the Dog in Town or House of Paws cafés. Dog in Town has more than five different dog breeds, whilst House of Paws offers more than 10 different dog breeds. You’ll also be glad to know that House of Paws is the only dog café to be located in the heart of the city.

Indeed, Bangkok doesn’t have to be all about shopping or eating. Fall in love with the dogs at these cafés, who will be all yours to love and cuddle — even if just for an hour or two!