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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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!

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Destinations Lifestyle Travel Insights

10 Rooftop Pools to Dream About While Waiting For Your Next Holiday

Oh, imagine the cool water gliding over your outstretched legs as you sip on a sangria, watching a spectacular sunset that reflects off the pool. Or imagine lying with your back on a float and watching the clouds drift away without a care in the world. 

In the hectic hustle and bustle of our daily lives, what could be better than a short getaway to a rooftop pool that offers a beautiful view and ultimate relaxation too? What a beautiful way to soak up Vitamin D! It truly would be a dream come true, for me at least. 

All we can do right now is dream — as the pandemic has left us grounded to our home countries — and here are ten rooftop pools we can all dream about until we get the chance to pack our bags and set off.

1. Four Seasons Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), Dubai

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The rooftop pool on the seventh floor of this magnificent hotel is equally remarkable, holding a Mediterranean style. You could look out at the Dubai skyline with the Burj Khalifa on one side and the Arabia Gulf on the other. At night, the sight is truly one to behold as internal lighting illuminates the pool, making it shimmer.

2. The Old Clare Hotel, Sydney, Australia

A 69-room boutique hotel situated between two iconic buildings, The Clare Hotel Pub and the Carlton & United Breweries Administration Building, The Old Clare Hotel retains major architectural features of them both. It incorporates both vintage furnishings and modern, urban decor. The rooftop pool comes with a bar, a lounge and a heated pool, of course.

3. NH Collection Mexico City Reforma, Mexico City, Mexico

Situated in the heart of the upscaled neighborhood of Zona Rosa, it is surrounded by high-end boutiques, and restaurants. It is also just a stone’s throw away from the financial hub of Mexico. The red-tiled pool gives an illusion of a never-ending brilliant sunset with crimson hues. You could laze in a heated outdoor pool, admiring the urban views from a chic sun terrace.

4. Hotel Le Crystal, Montréal, Canada

Hotel Le Crystal is conveniently located just a mere twenty minutes away from Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport (YUL). On the twelfth floor, there is an outdoor hot tub, along with a rooftop hot tub, indoor saltwater pool, and a spa overlooking the breathtaking Canadian skyline.

5. Perivolas Hotel, Santorini, Greece

The Perivolas had a humble beginning, where a sailor and his wife purchased a piece of cliff, wishing to transform it into a picturesque holiday retreat. Today, some 300-year-old cliff faces have been changed to 20 beautiful individual suites. The infinity pool overlooking the crystal blue Aegean seas makes you feel like you’re taking a dip in the ocean itself.

6. The Norman, Tel Aviv, Israel

There is a beautiful rooftop infinity pool right next to a pampering wellness center, with complimentary drinking water and towels available at all times. You could unwind after some business meetings, and soak up the terrific cityscape fringed with fragrant orange trees.

7. The W, Santiago, Chile

Situated in the bustling financial district of Santiago, urban life coexists with the unspoiled view of the Andes Mountains. A fine sight to behold indeed, as you unwind and do a few laps.

8. Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, Spain

Located on Passeig de Gràcia, the Mandarin Oriental is one of the city’s best loved hotels. It provides a wonderful balance of style and luxury as the rooftop pool offers a 360-degree view of the city as well as an iconic landmark of Casa Batlló.

9. Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Rome, Italy

Indeed a mouthful, but the sights are truly mind-blowing. A shimmering canvas of blue awaits you, as you dip your toes in the rooftop pool and soak in the rich sights of Rome. Or perhaps you could splurge a little and get a private Jacuzzi that overlooks St. Peter’s Basilica.

10. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Last but not least, a little treat from our home country. Did you know that the massive infinity pool on the fifty eighth floor of Marina Bay Sands’ SkyPark, is one of the worlds longest pools at five hundred feet? It also boasts an observation deck at the same level, for more views.

So what are you waiting for? Hurry now, and pick one of these amazing rooftop pools for a quick vacation or stay-cation, once you are able to travel!

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Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore Travel Insights

Cafe Culture in Singapore

Whether you’re in it for your regular Kopi from the nearby Kopitiam or looking to spice up your taste buds with some artisan blends from all over the world, Singapore’s recent inclusion to café culture has got you covered.

With most cafés in Singapore taking inspiration from the ones in Melbourne or European countries, the style of ‘East meets West’ fusions in the Lion City brings out flavours and experiences like never before.

To some, coffee drinking has become a sort of science. Having to take in the aroma and tasting the different hints of the subtle flavour of the beans chosen has boosted some cafés to make a name for themselves for their house blends.  

For home-grown cafés such as Nylon Coffee Roasters and Dutch Colony Coffee Co., sourcing their beans and creating their blends of coffee is what sets them apart from other coffee joints. Making artisan cups of joe for those who savour and understand the complexity of coffee.

For most customers, a good cup of coffee is enough for them to go about their days. The beauty of café culture in the city-state is the attention to detail in serving good coffee. The standard and expectations of coffee have increased as cafés became more prominent around the neighbourhood.

Having premium coffee on hand has become an integral part of a café, being somewhat an iconic piece to see behind the counters. Of course, café culture in Singapore not only includes the tasting of the roasts. Many take pride in their aesthetics and ambience, one that would be pleasing to the eyes and cameras.  

From following a minimal aesthetic or having a unique theme, cafés in Singapore tend to be very detail-oriented. Most cafés tend to be more laid back and cosy, but to stand out, many add different flares to make a name for themselves.

Cafés such as The Book Café and Café de Nicole’s Flowers, using theme as their interior design motif is what makes them known and remembered. From having stacks and shelves of books and ample space for reading and studying to surrounding the space with floral arrangements that are also on sale, innovative cafés like these are what keeps them on the map.

With a plethora of places to choose from, café culture in Singapore has encouraged locals to discover and experience almost every one of these coffee joints. Café-hopping has been part of the culture ever since cafés started getting more known and popular.

Going from one café to the other, café-hopping has become a regular activity, especially for the millennials. Be it to test and discover the best coffee and food in town or to experience the ambience of each one, café-hopping has allowed small establishments to be put in the spotlight.

Café culture has changed how we go about our days. In the past, gathering in malls or even parks was the go-to for meetups. However, meetings in cafés have become the norm. From casual talks about business or gathering for brunch, cafés are now an option for hangouts and meetings. And one does not have to stray far away from their neighbourhoods to find a decent coffee joint.

Scattered all over Singapore, cafés could be found in every corner. From the busy streets of the CBD or the quiet ones in the heartlands, local coffee joints can be found ready for you to take home the perfect brew.

Sometimes, though, the classic Kopi is all we need to cure the caffeine cravings. With cafés competing with one another with Asian-Western fusion menus and blends, some local coffee shops stay true to the Singaporean taste buds but still want to appeal to the younger café goers.

Old Chang Kee Coffee House, the Singapore classic’s flagship outlet, serves all-time local favourites with a side of nostalgia. With the interior decorated with retro furniture and tableware, local coffee shops like these bring back memories and might even take you back on your first sip of coffee.

Café culture in Singapore is ever-changing. With cafés opening almost every other month, all you have to do is take your pick and decide how you like your coffee. Whether you prefer to appreciate a cup of speciality coffee or to just savour the aromatic caffeine to go about your day, or perhaps just hopping from one place to another or being a regular in one, going to these local coffee joints has become a past-time for everyone.

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Asia Destinations Lifestyle Philippines Travel Insights

5 Underrated Beach Towns and Islands in the Philippines That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

By now, we all know the beauty that is El Nido in Palawan or the white-sand beaches of Boracay. But there’s so much more to the Philippines than these popular tourist destinations. While we won’t be able to cover all of the country’s 7,100 islands, we have handpicked a few that we think should be your next stop when in the Philippines. 

From North to South, we bring you 5 underrated beaches in the Pearl of the Orient that is definitely worth the visit. 

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte 

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Hailing from way up North is this quaint town in the Ilocos Norte region. Located at the northernmost tip of this province, the town of Pagudpud is loved by many local tourists because of its pristine beaches and laid back ambience. Since this town is relatively far from the Philippine capital of Manila, you won’t find as many people here, making this a great spot for those who want to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the city. 

If you’re looking for more action than just lounging by the beach, the waves in Pagudpud are also ideal for surfing. The surf season in Ilocos Norte typically runs from July to September. Besides the amazing waves, you can also visit the Bangui Wind Farm, Kabigan Falls, and the Patapat Viaduct, also known as the fourth-longest bridge in the entire country. 

Baler, Aurora 

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This tranquil and laid back coastal town is mainly known for its waves that are ideal for surfing. With several surf schools and shops laid out along Sabang Beach, surfing can be enjoyed by experienced surfers or absolute beginners who are looking to learn the sport. While the waves are pretty consistent all-year-round, you can enjoy the best waves brought in by the north swell from October until April. This town is perfect for large groups, families, and even couples. If you’re a solo traveller, you definitely will not be leaving without a friend. The friendly locals in Baler will make you feel absolutely welcome and right at home.

While most tourists would come to Baler for the stoke from surfing, you can commune with nature at the Ditumabo Falls, and enjoy a scenic boat ride to Dicasalarin Cove and hike up to the Baler Lighthouse from there. 

Caramoan, Camarines Sur 

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This secluded island nestled in the province of Camarines Sur is perfect for thrill seekers and nature lovers alike. The Caramoan Islands are the ultimate playground for tourists, where you can enjoy activities such as cliff diving, hiking, and even spelunking. But what most people come to the Caramoan Islands for is the island hopping. 

There are ten stunning islands in all of Caramoan and not one is like the other. For instance, Matukad Beach boasts a 125-metre coastline of powdery white sand beaches with jagged limestone cliffs, while Lahos Island is part of the Caramoan National Park, making it a protected area that is open for visitors. 

Fun fact: some of these islands have actually been featured on several episodes in the hit reality TV show, Survivor Philippines back in Season 8! 

Siquijor Island 

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Despite being the third smallest province in all of the Philippines, Siquijor Island has heaps to offer. Situated in the Central Visayas region, this hidden gem is most popular for its white-sand beaches, underwater sanctuaries, and the enchanting ambience that the island holds.

The experiences on the Island are almost endless. Paliton Beach is great for snorkelling as well as picture taking for the gram beneath rows and rows of towering palm trees. For those who are looking to unwind, you can enjoy a fish spa at a spring underneath the Century Old Balete Tree. And for those who are craving the cool, refreshing waters from a waterfall, Lagaan and Cambugahay Falls are the place to be. 

Siargao, Surigao del Norte

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While Siargao Island is beginning to gain more traction amongst international tourists, this paradise still remains rather untouched. Many locals and overseas travellers flock to this teardrop-shaped island to escape the bustling city and enjoy the waves of the South. Surfing is the most popular water sport on the Island and is an activity not to be missed. To see professional surfers take on big, dramatic waves, head over to Cloud 9, which is the most famous surf spot in Siargao. 

While its best known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, there’s more to Siargao than its world-class waves. Be amazed by the plethora of natural reserves from Sugba Lagoon, the Philippines’ second-largest mangrove forest; Magpupungko Tidal Rock Pools, that are perfect for rock diving; Hagukan Cave with enclosed pathways and crystal clear waters, and the list goes on!

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Asia Destinations Lifestyle Singapore Travel Insights

Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Travel Toiletries Made By Homegrown Local Businesses

Ever thought about how much waste you produce each time you travel overseas? From travel-sized shampoo bottles to plastic toothbrushes, the amount of disposables travellers use on trips is tremendous and we need to strive to become more conscious nomads with a flair for saving the environment. 

Thankfully, there are sustainable business right here in Singapore that caters to those who want to start living a zero-waste lifestyle. With that, here are 4 eco-friendly travel toiletries from local businesses that can get you started on!

Bar Soap by Soaprise 

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Packing bar soaps on a trip is a great way to save valuable space in your luggage while being environmentally-friendly at the same time. Just like packaged liquid soap, there are now many bar soap options to choose from according to your skin or hair type. Whether you have dry or oily skin, or perhaps damaged or textured hair, you’re bound to find something for you. 

Switching to bar soap eliminates the ‘waste factor’ that comes with buying bottled soap. More often than not, certain parts of a plastic shampoo bottle can’t even be recycled. With bar soap, they’re typically packaged with paper or cardboard material, which can be recycled or composted. 

Shop Body Bar Soaps and Shampoo/Conditioner Bars on Soaprise.

Menstrual Cups from Freedom Cups 

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Unwanted visits from ‘Aunt Flo’ while on vacation are the worst. While this may be inevitable sometimes, there is an easy solution for it. Menstrual cups are a zero-waste alternative to pads that are free from toxins, perfumes, and bleaches that you may find on sanitary napkins. It is made of silicone and inserted just like tampons, and are shaped like a funnel to collect period fluid. Menstrual cups are also known to not cause any leakage. They’re also pretty small, making it easy to carry around in your travel bag.

While the price point may seem hefty at first, menstrual cups can last up to a decade when cared for properly, which actually saves you more money than you think. Since it is reusable, you also ultimately reduce your packaging and material waste. Not only does it hold more liquid, but menstrual cups are also known to not cause any leakage. More comfortable periods while saving the environment — what’s not to love? 

Shop menstrual cups from Freedom Cups.

Bamboo Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Tabs from The Sustainability Project

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Bamboo, in general, is a material and natural resource that is safe for our environment. Unlike plastic toothbrushes, the bamboo handles can be recycled or even composted after use. It also doesn’t compromise on quality and is just as good as plastic toothbrushes. The problem with plastic ones is that they are rather difficult to be recycled and take over 400 years to decompose, leaving them in landfills indefinitely. 

Additionally, toothpaste tablets or tooth powder are also a great alternative for packaged toothpaste. For tablets, all you have to do is chew it, run your brush with water, and brush as per normal. For powder, sprinkle a tad bit of product on the toothbrush, and run it in water as well. Lightweight, easy-to-use, and absolutely zero-waste. 

Shop bamboo toothbrushes and tooth powder from The Sustainability Project.

Washable Facial Pads by Bamboo Straw Girl 

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Say goodbye to single-use cotton pads and make the switch to reusable facial rounds instead! Did you know that conventional disposable cotton pads that we’re familiar with are extremely harmful for the environment? They are usually made with harsh chemicals, use a large amount of water to produce, and would easily be thrown in a landfill after usage since it cannot be recycled. 

Unlike their disposable counterparts, reusable cotton pads will not only help you minimise your waste and impact on the cotton industry, but they are also easy to bring along when travelling and to look after. All you have to do is place them in a mesh bag and pop those right in the washing machine at 40°C to eliminate bacteria. 

Shop Reusable Cotton Facial Rounds from Bamboo Straw Girl.

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Lifestyle Travel Insights

5 Simple Zero-Waste Swaps You Can Bring On Your Travels With Ease

With disposables being readily available and easily accessible whenever we’re on a trip, we have become dependent on single-use items for our everyday needs. This includes bottled water, disposable cutlery, and the list goes on. According to Sustainable Travel International, tourists produce up to two times the amount of waste than the locals in some places. 

But living sustainably as a conscious traveller doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Swap your conventional disposable items for these reusable ones and reduce your waste as you embark on your travels! 

Reusable water bottle

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Imagine how much we spend on bottled water on the road and the amount of plastic waste we generate with each purchase. Reusable water bottles have become a travel essential staple for many tourists due to its convenience and waste-free factor! 

From hostels, airports, and even restaurants, clean drinking water is accessible in most places for travellers and we no longer need to be reliant on bottled water all the time. Airports around the world have water coolers where you can refill your bottle and many hostels usually provide drinking water at the desk or reception that comes in barrels for their guests to drink. 

Coffee Cup

Those who cannot start their day without a cup of coffee in hand will love this zero-waste swap. Investing in a reusable coffee cup is possibly one of the best sustainable purchases you could ever make. You essentially reduce your waste, it saves resources, and even saves you money. Some disposable cups can be recycled, but the entire sorting process is generally difficult and expensive at the same time. 

In order to encourage people to reduce their waste, some cafes have even introduced a scheme where their guests can enjoy a small discount for each time they bring their own reusable cup. Today, the options for reusable coffee cups are endless — there are even collapsible ones now! Once you’re done with your beverage, it can easily be folded into a smaller size and make for the perfect companion for a hassle-free trip. 

Reusable bags

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When travelling, it’s almost impossible to come across a store that does not use plastic bags. Reusable bags are inexpensive, lightweight, and can be washed and reused multiple times. Unlike reusable bags, plastic ones are not durable and are harmful to the environment. In fact, only one per cent of plastic bags are returned for recycling according to Waste Management.

The beauty of reusable bags is that you can use them for almost anything — for groceries, souvenirs, and so much more. Sometimes you don’t even need to buy a new one. Just look at what you already have and you are sure to find something you can use. 

Utensils

When you come across a street food stand at a local market, chances are it’ll be ‘disposables galore’. Majority of plastic cutlery is made from a type of plastic called polystyrene, which is incredibly difficult to recycle and would end up in a landfill more often than not. 

Nowadays, you can easily find cutlery sets that include everything from a spoon, fork, knife, chopstick, and sometimes even a straw. Alternatively, you can just bring silverware from your home, put in a pouch, and bring wherever you go. Imagine all the plastic waste you can save just by simply bringing your own utensils! 

Go digital

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Ever think about all your boarding passes, train tickets, and bus stamps which generate a significant amount of paper waste? While some may argue that these can be recycled, that actually isn’t advisable. Especially for flight boarding passes, it holds all of your personal data that people can use to access your information or even your identity. While the odds of this happening are relatively slim, it’s still best to be safe than sorry. 

Opt for digital boarding passes if you can, to make your journey as seamless and uncomplicated as can be. 

Living sustainably while travelling doesn’t have to be difficult. While there are plenty of zero-waste swaps we can make, the easiest way to ultimately reduce your waste is to refuse. Before making a purchase or bringing something along, ask yourself if there really is a need for it and if there is a more sustainable option as an alternative. 

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Asia Bali Destinations Exclusive Lifestyle Manila Philippines Travel Insights

Unique Airbnb Experiences in Southeast Asia

Many of us are familiar with Airbnb by now and know it as the go-to online marketplace that connects homeowners with travellers, by offering their properties as accommodation for tourists. Today, there are over 7 million Airbnb accommodation listings around the globe. 

In 2016, Airbnb launched ‘Experiences’ as a way to elevate their travel services. This feature gives access to travellers who are looking for experiences that go beyond famous landmarks and well-known tourist destinations. What’s more is that these activities are curated and organised by local hosts themselves, which gives it a more authentic feel for tourists. 

Ever since they integrated ‘Experiences’ into the mix, this has definitely changed the game significantly for the travel industry.

Here’s a list of unique Airbnb experiences that you can encounter right here in Southeast Asia!

Cambodia: Discover the Hidden Gems of Angkor Wat on Bike

What’s better than discovering one of the largest temple complexes in the world than by bike? Visitors will come face to face with astounding structures that are full of history like the Elephant Terrace, Preah Khan, and Srah Srang, which is commonly known as ‘The Royal Baths’. 

Many tourists that have joined this historical bike tour have mentioned that it was refreshing to be able to explore the temples on bike, since it is typically visited by taxi or tuk-tuk.

Angkor Bike Tour Discovery: From S$78/person 

Indonesia: Immerse Yourself in The Balinese Culture and Witness the Uluwatu Kecak Fire Dance 

Bali has been ranked as the most-visited destination for foreign tourists in all of Indonesia is loved by many for their world-class surf spots and stunning beaches. But beyond all of that, Bali’s cultural roots run deep and can be felt everywhere around the Island, and is something visitors should not miss. 

The Uluwatu Temple is dubbed by many as the best sunset spot in Bali with a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean from atop a cliff. What makes this spot special is their famous Kecak Fire Dance, which is a portrayal of the historical Ramayana. Visitors will surely be mesmerised by the dancers’ movements and the burning bright flames. 

Uluwatu Kecak Fire Dance & Sunset: From S$49/person 

Laos: Try Your Hand at Traditional Weaving with Katu Sisters

Traditional weaving has been a long-standing tradition in Laos for many years. Weaving emerged in Laos due to the cultural contact of different ethnic groups in the country and has birthed a beautiful and intricate art form that many locals take pride in. 

In this experience, tourists will be able to make their own crafts from headbands, bracelets, camera straps, coasters, and even bookmarks, as well learn the history of weaving from the locals themselves. 

Traditional Weaving with Katu Sisters: From S$64/person 

The Philippines: Taste and See the Real Manila 

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The Philippines is home to some 7,100 islands and has some of the world’s best beaches like Boracay, El Nido in Palawan, and world-famous surf spot, Siargao Island. But what many don’t know is that the streets of Manila hold such a rich history. 

Discover the hidden gems of this Philippine capital on this AirBnb experience with activities ranging from eating local street food, visiting the historic Stanta Cruz Church, the oldest apartments in the city, and your typical Filipino markets. You’ll also have the chance to ride on a jeepney, which is one of the most common modes of transportation for many Filipinos that many tourists find unique. This Airbnb experience is perfect for travellers who are strapped for time and have a day or two to spare on their short layover in the Philippines. 

Hidden Gems of Manila: From S$51/person 

Vietnam: Cruise Through the Mekong River Just Like The Locals 

If you even just one day to spare outside of the city when in Vietnam, you should definitely spend it at the Mekong River when in the South. The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and winds itself around five other countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. 

In this tour, tourists will get first-hand local experience through a range of activities from enjoying a boat ride to Thoi Son Island, visiting a bee farm, indulging in a Southern local lunch on a riverside restaurant, as well as watching traditional folk music performances. 

Explore Mekong River Delta Day Trip: From S$46/person 

We have yet to uncover all of the hidden treasures of Southeast Asia and we’re just getting started. In the meantime, try adding these unique experiences to your list on your next adventure! 

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Destinations Lifestyle Travel Insights

Travel the World From Home with These Virtual Experiences

With many of international borders still closed, travel bans in place, and many of us still stuck in our homes indefinitely, travelling this year looks a little bleak and is more of a distant thought by now. 

That’s when tourist attractions globally resorted to curating online experiences for their visitors during this time of isolation and distancing. In turn, this has given many people a chance to virtually visit some of the favourite destinations on their wish list. 

Here a few online experiences that can take you around the world in the comfort of your own homes. 

Virtual Museum and Art Exhibitions

Museums are definitely one of the most visited attractions when tourists plan their travels. However, with COVID-19, there’s no telling when we’ll be able to physically visit these museums. As soon as major cities around the world begun their respective lockdowns in the early part of the year, museums were quick on their feet and launched various virtual tours of their spaces and exhibitions. 

Endless activities such as online exhibits and interactive experiences have been introduced in the digital space for art enthusiasts to satisfy their craving for art. Visit the Louvre in Paris to catch sight of Europe’s finest collection of regal art, or head to the Museum of Modern Art in New York to gain exclusive access to Dorothea Lange’s powerful photographs and revolutionary sculptures by Donald Judd. If you’re more of a Van Gogh or Picasso fan, you’ll love Guggenheim’s extensive online collection available on their website. 

Wildlife Live Streams

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From marine creatures to mammals in the wild, say hello to your favourite animals through live streams aired by various zoos across the globe. The world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium in California features 10 different live cams for viewers to choose from. Whether you want to catch a glimpse of majestic sharks or waddling penguins, you’ll definitely find the ideal live stream for you. If you’re looking for something closer to home, our very own Singapore Zoo is offering Virtual Programmes From The Wild to enhance e-learning in schools and even at home. 

Not only will this digital experience save you the hassle of waiting in line, but it will also give you a more intimate look at the day-to-day lives of these amazing creatures. 

Visit the World’s Most Famous National Parks

This one is for all the nature lovers out there. Google Earth is offering 3D virtual tours of over 30 National Parks worldwide including Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion National Park. 

Google Arts & Culture also partnered with the US National Park Service to showcase 5 Parks through an immersive 360-degree experience. This project is an interactive documentary showcasing five breathtaking national parks in the United States —  the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, and Dry Tortugas in Florida. 

Outer Space Tour with NASA 

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If you’re looking for something more out of this world, head to outer space with NASA’s wide range of virtual tours that will take you into another dimension. For starters, space explorers can take a 360-degree tour of the Space Telescope Operations Control Center (STOCC), which is the home of the Hubble Space Telescope. The tour includes activities such as learning about the spacecraft, visiting the lobby, and even getting a deeper look at the tools used by astronauts to repair the observatory. 

Of course, what’s a virtual tour by NASA without including the International Space Station. Headed by NASA astronaut Suni Williams, take a step outside of the earth’s atmosphere and watch Williams float around space and show you the ropes of what it takes to live in the ISS. 

Skip the lines at your favourite theme parks

Ever had to wait in extremely long lines on your favourite ride at a theme park? With these virtual theme park tours, there’s no such thing. Disney Parks launched its first-ever 360-degree panoramic views on Google street view to give people a sweeping view of the park from all angles as if they were really there. 

Universal Studios Orlando also launched The Wizarding World of Harry Potter experience virtually, where you can walk through Diagon Alley. You can also try out the 360-degree videos of some of their most iconic rides like The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Krakatau Coaster, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. 

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Destinations Lifestyle Singapore Travel Insights

Here Are 10 Attractions in Singapore That Have Finally Reopened

As part of the Singapore Tourism Board’s efforts to resume attraction and tours operations, here are 10 attractions that have finally reopened in Singapore! 

Universal Studios Singapore

If you’ve always wanted to visit Universal Studios Singapore without having to wait in line for forever, now may be the best time to do so. USS has reopened to visitors on 1 July 2020 with revised timings and enhanced safety measures in place. Until further notice, the theme park will only be open from Thursday to Sunday from 2 pm to 9 pm. 

However, guests can purchase a Priority Entry Special add-on on top of their ticket for only SGD 9 to enter the park as early as 12 pm. Priority Entry pass holders will be able to dine in at select restaurants and enjoy exclusive Meet and Greet experiences!

S.E.A. Aquarium

Likewise, S.E.A. Aquarium has also revised its operating hours to contain crowds and are only open from Saturday to Tuesday from 10 am to 5 pm. All ticket reservations need to be made online to ensure everyone’s safety. Despite stricter protocols in comparison to the pre-COVID days, you can still marvel at the beauty and abundance of sea creatures that call the S.E.A. Aquarium their home. 

All shows, meet-and-greet and public feeding sessions have been suspended until further notice. 

Singapore Zoo

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The Singapore Zoo is happy to welcome guests back to enjoy a meaningful wildlife experience in a safe and pleasant environment. To adhere to enhanced social distancing measures, the park is currently only operating on 25% of their usual capacity and requires online bookings to be made prior to the date of visit. 

While not all activities are available such as feeding sessions, there is still much to discover in this wide, open playground for the young and the young at heart. 

River Safari

Asia’s First and Only River-Themed Wildlife Park has also made it to the list of attractions that have reopened to the public. Say hello to the gigantic and friendly manatees in the Underwater Gallery or perhaps embark on a boat ride adventure on the Amazon River Quest, designed to simulate a journey along the Amazon River. 

Shows are currently still operating but have a limited capacity of up to 50 people as part of Safe Management Measures. 

Night Safari

You can finally catch a glimpse of majestic creatures of the night at the Night Safari for discounted prices when you buy tickets online or apply for a membership pass! To celebrate the reopening of the World’s First Nocturnal Wildlife Park, local residents can enjoy 1-for-1 beer and house wine deals at the famous Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant where you can also try their new Bulgogi Burger. Cruise the park on a comfortable 40-minute guided tram tour that will take you through the depths of the park to get an up-close experience with the animals. 

In line with the park’s safe distancing measures, the Thumbuakar Performance, Evening in the Wild Unique Dining Experience, and Keepers’ Chit Chat have been suspended indefinitely. 

Jurong Bird Park

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Don’t miss the chance to see the majestic Philippine Eagles that have just landed on our shores last May 2020 as well as the iconic pink flamingoes at the Jurong Bird Park. The park resumed operations on 30 July 2020 and is finally ready to welcome guests with open arms once again. 

Unfortunately, token feeding at the Waterfall Aviary and Bird Photography has been temporarily suspended. But attractions such as the High Flyers Show and newly opened zone, African Treetops remain open for visitors. 

Bounce

If you’re looking for something more fun and energetic, look no further than Bounce. This indoor trampoline playground is a great training ground for aerial aerobics enthusiasts or simply those who want to unleash their free spirits and just have fun. Enjoy their two-hour Superpass promotion for only $29 and go wild at practising your freestyle skills, or jump as a group of four and save with the 4some ticket!  

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Super Sessions, Saturday Night Jams, Sunday Escapades, birthday parties and corporate bookings have been suspended temporarily. 

Gardens by the Bay

New visiting guidelines have been set in place for guests who will be entering Gardens by the Bay. Locals can now enjoy the indoor gardens once again and enjoy a calming experience as you revel in the abundance of nature. The Flower Dome is now officially reopened, while the Cloud Forest looks forward to welcoming the rest of the public on 6 August 2020. 

Besides the indoor gardens, other parts of Gardens by the Bay remain closed until further notice. 

Art Science Museum

Erwin Soo, Wikimedia Commons

Alongside Gardens by the Bay, the Art Science Museum is finally in full swing once again and is back with exhibits, screenings, and special events available in the museum as well as online. 

The Museum’s box office will be open for visitors to purchase tickets but online bookings are highly recommended. Public exhibits like the ‘Future World – Sliding through The Fruit Field’ and ‘2219: Futures Imagined – Blooming and Everything But Gold’ is temporarily unavailable. 

Zero Latency

Zero Latency Singapore brings you the ultimate virtual reality experience that can take you absolutely anywhere. As the largest VR gaming arena in the country, expect high-intensity gaming that will definitely get your adrenaline going with their available games like Undead Arena and Zombie Survival. 

To keep in line with safe distancing requirements, each session is limited to a maximum of five players to prevent cross-contamination within different social groups. 

Other attractions that have reopened include the Casino at Resorts World Sentosa, Madame Tussauds, as well as Sands SkyPark and Observation Deck at Marina Bay Sands. 

We know that this isn’t much yet, but it’s definitely better than nothing. As we begin to roam around these attractions, remember to keep practice social distancing and don’t forget to enjoy!

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Asia Bali Destinations Indonesia Lifestyle Travel Insights

Heads Up — Bali Might Be Reopening to Tourists in September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has evidently changed different aspects of our lives and forced us into a ‘new normal’ indefinitely. It has also put a halt on some of our plans, including all our travels that we had planned for this year and the next. With many international borders still closed, it’s almost impossible for us to travel outside of our cities during this time. 

But here’s some good news, finally. For those itching to head to the beach to catch a few waves or simply bask in the sun, Bali is planning on reopening their borders for international tourists this September.

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According to Mr I. Putu Astawa, head of Bali’s tourism agency, they have set a goal of reopening its borders to international travellers on 11 September 2020 but this is still “subject to approval from the national government”.

In early July, Bali began their three stages of reopening by slowly opening tourism sites for their residents, followed by allowing local tourists from other parts of Indonesia to enter since 31 July 2020. If overseas tourists are permitted to enter in September 2020 by the national government, this would be their third phase of reopening. 

This comes after the announcement in May by the Indonesian Tourism Ministry of their plans to launch a promotional campaign to revive and breathe new life into major destinations in the country. This includes the cultural capital of Yogyakarta, the exotic and understated Riau Islands, and of course, Bali. 

Tourism is at the heart of what keeps the economy of Bali going with its overseas visitors in the millions each year. In 2019 alone, there were 6.3 million international tourist arrivals, making Bali the most popular destination for tourists in Indonesia. 

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Bali is absolutely loved by many for a plethora of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is the abundance of pristine beaches on the Island. From popular sights such as Kuta and Canggu beach to more remote areas that are only known by the locals, each beach in Bali has its own distinct charm. Whether you’re looking for a beach to jump off of cliffs, to swim in the crystal clear waters, or just lounge in the sand, you’ll end up finding one that you love. Or perhaps, falling in love with each one you visit. 

Besides their lush white-sand beaches, Bali is also considered one of the best surf destinations in the entire world with at least 60 surf spots. Veteran surfers and beginners who are looking to learn the water sport never fail to turn to Bali as their go-to playground. The Island boasts many world-class surf breaks and perfect waves all year round, which always keeps surfers coming back for more. 

Above all of that, visitors love the Balinese hospitality and culture that is deeply engraved in every corner of the Island, from their people, their food and its natural beauty. Most people who have visited Bali agree that the locals are incredibly friendly and will make anyone feel right at home. 

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In order to prevent imported transmissions of the virus, visitors are required to be tested negative for COVID-19 before their scheduled trip and need to have additional documentation. 

With the pandemic gravely affecting the tourism industry in Indonesia, many locals in Bali have also suffered. With no certainty on when this will end until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, there is a need to reopen the borders for tourism activities to keep the economy running. 

Despite finally reopening for tourism, Bali Governor I Wayan Koster mentioned that they may have to close certain areas of the Island if ever inspections spike again. The local government has established several guidelines for travellers coming from abroad that include wearing masks and social distancing, and seek their cooperation during their stay in Bali. 

If we want to enjoy our visit to the ‘Island of the Gods’ to the fullest, let’s do our part to practise the guidelines set in place to keep ourselves and everyone around us safe. But as much as possible, steer clear from non-essential travel if you can. Let us wait out the storm and travel once we’re finally in the clear.