A brief guide to shopping destinations around the globe

We take a brief look at 6 popular shopping destinations around the globe.

1. Dubai
Dubai has become synonymous with shopping heaven and a worthy premier shopping destination. It comes as no surprise with one of the largest shopping centres in the world – Dubai Mall housing a staggering 1 200 retail shops, 160 food outlets and the world’s largest candy store, Candylicious. More akin to a tiny kingdom, the Dubai Mall comes complete with an indoor ski resort, aquarium, theme parks, waterfall and fountains. The Dubai shopping Festival is held in January and February when discounts up to 70% are offered on electronics, clothing and other popular items.

2. Moscow
A surprising entry but a worthy one onto the list is Moscow. Russia’s answer to a fashion mecca, shopper’s can expect to find everything in between haute couture in exclusive boutiques and gaudy Russian vintage clothing.

3. Milan
The mere mention of Milan conjures up images of haute couture royalty – Versace, Armani and Missoni. The oldest shopping centre in the world – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – which opened its doors in Milan in 1877 features Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores. Not an ideal shopping destination for the budget conscious.

4. Hong Kong
Arguably Asia’s best shopping destination, Hong Kong offers world class shopping bargains. In a research study conducted by Global Shopper City Index in 2011, statistics revealed that out of the 87% of tourists to Hong Kong who shop, 76% found an above average satisfaction on receiving value for money. The trick to an enjoyable shopping experience in Hong Kong is not to be intimidated by shop clerk who can easily be mistaken for borderline stalkers.

5. Tokyo
Shinjuku neighbourhood does not fail to impress an avid shopper. Tokyo’s most famous shopping district has dazzling eye-popping skyscrapers, department stores, electronic megastores and shopping centres that can only be equaled to high-energy shopping. Good news for shopping lovers, the Globe Shopper City Index reported Tokyo to be an affordable shopping destination and Asia’ fourth cheapest city dedicated to providing a distinctive hopping experience.

6. London
London earn its spot as a leading shopping destination as confirmed by the Globe Shopper City Index which finds the city surpassing all other European cities in both the number of shops and how accessible international and local brands are to shoppers. Oxford Street retains its pride of place among the city’s shopping destinations with more than one and a half miles of world famous brands such as Selfridges and Top Shop. Camden Market in the north of London caters to the more eclectic singular taste where emerging designer wear to vintage fashion to antique furnishings are on offer.

Visit Malaysia

Visit Malaysia: 4 reasons to put Malaysia on your travel map this summer

Malaysia’s multiculturalism added to its unique natural wealth of unspoilt breathtaking landscapes, tropical climate and tourist attractions; including excellent shopping expeditions promote the country’s popularity with tourists from around the world. A visit to this Southeast Asian and you can easily see why Malaysia is the 11th most visited country in the world.

A contributing feature to Malaysia’s charm is the world of contrasts to be found here; where soaring skyscrapers offset the rustic charisma of stilted wooden houses and where glamorous luxurious five-star hotels sit mere metres away from ancient coral reefs.

Land of Festival fun

The numerous colourful celebrations hosted by this melting pot of cultures is a superb way to witness how the different cultures, religions and traditions have merged and co-exist harmoniously. The number of annual events and festivals do not cease to amaze first-time visitors to Malaysia. Many of these centre on the cultural traditions of Malaysia’s potpourri of races. The majority of Malaysians are Muslims so the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festival which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan is an event celebrated on an enormous scale. Other major festivals include the Chinese New Year, Deepavali (Hindu festival of Light), Wesak Day (Buddhist ceremony), Thaiponggo (a harvest festival out of the Hindu religion), Penang International Dragon Boat Festival and the National Water Festival (highlights the importance of this natural resource).

Shopping expeditions to set the heart aflutter

The capital city, Kuala Lampur, is Malaysia’s answer to a shopper’s paradise. With shopping a favourite leisure activity of the local inhabitants during the weekend and on public holidays, it is not surprising that the city houses huge shopping malls to offer an awesome shopping adventure. There are about 50 shopping centres here, ranging from the basic to the elegant gigantic megamall. Some of the more popular shopping malls for tourists include Pavilion KL, Suria KLCC (located directly beneath the Petronas Twin Towers), Fahrenheit88 and Berjaya Times Square. Visitors who love shopping as much as the locals do will find much to take delight in.

An array of adventure activities to thrill

Malaysia’s diverse landscapes offer an array of adventure activities destined to satisfy a thrill-seeking tourist’s desires. Verdant tropical rainforests, mountains and an extensive list of beaches and islands provide ultimate adventures in hiking, mountain biking, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, yachting, white water rafting and jet skiing.

A nature and bird lover’s paradise

Bird and nature enthusiasts can take pleasure in the many bird parks and sanctuaries around Malaysia. Tasek Perdana Lake Gardens with its dozens of exotic species and lush gardens, Penang Bird Park housing designed aviaries for over 400 species of birds, and ornamental gardens; and Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary were in addition to birds, a visitor can spot otters, long-tailed macaque and ridge-back dolphins form part of the long list of top tourist attractions.

Experience the magic of Malaysia and put this sought after destination on your travel map this summer.

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The world’s top skiing holiday destinations

Think of skiing on picture perfect snowy white slopes and Switzerland and the Austrian Alps spring instantly to mind. But there are more places on the planet that offer the scintillating adrenaline rush of skiing. Some as unlikely as in Morocco.

A top ski resort should be a comfortable combination of many features. The resort’s available facilities, quality of the slopes, accommodation and restaurants are all essential considerations. Anyone and everyone should be accommodated for, from the beginner to the pro, individual guest to the whole family. The list of skiing destinations is a lengthy and varied one. Let’s take a look at some of the world’s top skiing holiday destinations.

Vail Mountain, Colorado
Vail is considered to be the largest single ski resort in the world. Located at an altitude of 8 150 feet, has an average of 350 inches of snow every year and experiences extreme winters, there is no shortage of skiers who flock to this highly popular skiing destination. Both beginner and expert skiers are catered for with plenty of trails to excite all levels of experience.

Aspen, Colorado
Aspen has long been the ski hotspot for celebrities and has the reputation for being one of the most glamorous ski resorts in the world. One of the mountains, Aspen Snowmass has three terrain parks on offer, serves both the inexperienced and the pro skier.

Zermatt, Switzerland
One of the more exclusive of ski resorts in Switzerland, Zermatt is couldn’t be more perfectly placed than at the foot of the Matterhorn mountain which initially was made famous in the 1860 for mountaineering. A charming feature of this resort is that all the vehicles here are electric. The ski zone is characterized by more than 300 kilometres of skiing mountain paths. The resort is also boasts the Paradise Glacier – the highest peak in the whole of Europe accessible by cable car – and boasts an unrivalled 360 degree panorama of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps.

Perisher Blue, Australia
The largest ski resort in Australia, Perisher Blue is an avid skier’s happy place. There are seven peaks, six terrain parks and one superpipe to provide many hours of super skiing adventures. All levels of skiers can practice their much loved sport to their hearts content.

Crans Montana, Switzerland
This ski resort is another inclusion in Switzerland’s bombardment of luxury and glamorous ski resorts. Skiing is offered throughout the year. There are 150 kilometres of ski loving slopes which range from 1 500 metres at the bottom of the station to the staggering 3 000 metres on the Plaine Morte glacier.

The sport of skiing is not only reserved for the rich and famous. There are many health benefits that should motivate you to reach for the skis and head off to the slopes. Skiing provides a great workout for the lungs and a fabulous way to burn stubborn calories.

With so many holiday destinations around the world devoted to ultimate skiing pleasure, there are plenty to consider for your next holiday adventure.

Camping tips

Camp like a pro: tips for happy and successful camping

Treasure a glorious sunset surrounded by nature and loved ones while relaxed around a camp fire or recharge the soul with the change in pace. At the centre of any great camping trip is the initial planning and preparation phase – the gel that holds the key to a successful and happy camping trip. Allow the magic of camping to bring the family together.

There are plenty of good reasons to go camping. At the top of the list are the wonderful family traditions and memories that can be made while camping that can last a lifetime and be brought alive at many times over at the dinner table. Camping definitely brings the family together; there are few ways to bond better than by tackling tasks with teamwork. On a camp your children can learn many valuable life and survival skills.

Before setting up camp, make sure your designated area is free from clutter and litter. Stones and sticks should be removed to prevent tripping over. Pay heed to any restrictions posed by the campsite especially with regard to campfires.

A must of on any camping trip and highly recommended by seasoned campers is the use of durable high quality camping equipment like sleeping bags and the tent. These do not necessarily need to be expensive as long as they are of high quality. Durable equipment is sure to protect you against all weather conditions.

Unless you have a wand or spell that can put up a tent in seconds like those in the Harry Potter movies, you may need to put in the time practising in your obliging back garden or living room. This will prevent any embarrassment when putting up the tent at the campsite, particularly with more experienced onlookers watching. The size of the tent should correspond to the number of campers it will house.
Decide on a meal menu beforehand so that you can stock up on items not easily available at the camp site. Have lots of snacks on hand to keep children happy. The fresh air and plenty of exercise outdoors result in hungry kids.

Gas tanks should be checked for any leaks and be filled up before you leave. Essential gear consists of a folding table, camping chairs, enough lighting equipment, toys for children and you cannot go amiss with enough wet wipes. Aluminium or enamel cutlery and crockery is ideal as they are unbreakable and are more eco friendly than paper cups and plates.

A first aid kit is an essential item to pack when going camping as well as any medication that is required. Check the expiry date on all the items. Replace any expired items. Sunscreen and insect repellent come in handy so be sure to pack them in.

Camping is definitely a more fun and a cheaper alternative than more conventional holidays. Children can explore their artistic and creative skills and be inspired by the ultimate of creators – Mother Nature herself.

Daocheng Yading Airport

China’s record breaking Daocheng Yading Airport becomes the world’s highest airport

The highest-altitude civilian airport, China’s Daocheng Yading Airport stands at a staggering 4411m above sea level and is located in the Sichuan region, in remote Tibet. It is believed that the airport will effortlessly ease the lengthy two day road journey from the Chengdu, the provincial capital, to the Yading region by reducing the journey to a comfortable 65 minute flight.

The airport is part of China’s multibillion-dollar plan to reap the economic benefits of tourism in the region. Additional infrastructure projects to be introduced along the Tibetan Plateau are a seventh airport, a Swiss inspired tourism town and a 4.7 billion USD theme park.

At the cost of $258 million Daochen Yading airport which took two years to build, will be able to accommodate 280 000 passengers a year and will provide easy access to the Yading Nature Reserve. This locale is well known for its unspoilt natural beauty. China’s state news agency touted this eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau as the “the last Shangri-La” and “the last pure land on the blue planet.”
For now the airport will begin operating routes to Chengdu with the addition of Chogqing and Maerkang County by the beginning of October. More routes to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an will be incorporated in 2014.

Daocheng Yading Airport is the latest of six airports in the Himalayan region of China and points to the country’s firm commitment to boosting and promoting tourism in the region with the target of 15 million tourists and $327 million in tourism revenue in the next two years. In addition the Chinese government sees these development projects as employment creation opportunities and uplift the poor communities in areas.

The airport may earn its claim to fame by being the current highest civilian airport in the world, yet it does not evade controversy. A one way fare between Chengdu and Daocheng would cost the equivalent of 260 USD. This puts the facilities in the hands of the wealthy and out of reach by the poorer local population.
There remains some concern that the airport was built with a dual purpose in mind. The region is often under tight Chinese control and the argument is that the facility will provide easier access to military troops in times of conflict between the Chinese government and the local population.

Alistair Currie, spokesman for the campaign group Free Tibet, was quick to point out to The Telegraph upon hearing of the opening of Daocheng Yading Airport that, “What China does in Tibet, it does for China, not Tibet.

“More than 95 percent of visitors to Tibet are Chinese, and business interests are dominated by Chinese immigrants or existing Chinese companies. The economic benefits of these kinds of developments almost always flow out of Tibet.” He further added, “For China, Tibetan culture and landscape is a resource to be exploited.”

The Daocheng Yading Airport overtook Bangda Airport in Qamdo, Tibet as the world’s highest civilian airport beating it by 77 metres.

Robben Island

4 must-see museums in South Africa

It is a sad state of affairs when museums – the unsung keepers of a country’s history and heritage – are relegated to only being good enough for a school outing. Museums contribute a more important function to society. They can be seen as centres of learning, documenting the humble beginnings of an area to celebrating proud human achievements; and often showcase natural and geological treasures as well as man-made accomplishments.

South Africa has such a rich history with such a joyous conglomeration of cultures that it has been rightfully dubbed ‘the Rainbow Nation’. The choice of museums in South Africa is wide and varied from museums heralding history to those celebrating cultures to themed museums such as the Apartheid museum South African Breweries museum and the James Hall Transport Museum. Some notable museums that should be visited at least once include:

The National Cultural History Museum
Located in the city of Pretoria, the National Cultural History museum showcases the multicultural diversity of South Africa; housing both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Visitors can expect to see displays of San rock paintings and engravings, Iron Age figurines dated a thousand years old from Schroda in Limpopo. The in house Art gallery offers an overview of the cosmopolitan culture of South Africa through the exhibiting cultural objects, sculpture and paintings.

Museum Africa
Housed in the cosmopolitan soul of the Johannesburg CBD, Museum Africa is a highly popular attraction for local and foreign visitors. The vast array of exciting exhibitions held in this museum grabs the immediate attention of the visitor. One can expect to engage with the history of civilization in the area traversing the Stone Age through to modern day. Extensive collections highlighting geology, anthropology and archaeology contribute to the main attractions.

Robben Island Museum
The value of the Robben Island Museum to South Africa’s and world history is such that it has earned the status of being a World Heritage Site. This museum represents a reminder of what price South Africa paid for democracy and freedom. Once used as a place of banishment and imprisonment, it serves as a reminder of justice and human rights. The island is also famed for its flora and fauna and conservation efforts.

The Cradle of humankind
Gauteng’s only proffering South Africa’s eight dedicated World Heritage Sites and key international tourist attraction is the world renowned Cradle of Humankind. Experience the birthplace of humankind at Maropeng, the exhibition centre focusing on the development of human civilization over the past few million years. The Sterkfontein Caves also earns its reputation for the many fossil treasures discovered here and for its contribution to the global academic world of paleoanthropology.

Museums are a great resource to learning and appreciating the people and events that shape the course of history of a society.

Child friendly

7 child friendly cities to visit on holiday

A genuine concern while planning a family holiday is what activities are available for the whole family to enjoy? Increasingly more and more cities around the world join the list of ‘children friendly’ holiday destinations as the hospitality tourism ‘powers that be’ have recognized the importance of providing family friendly fun-filled attractions.

1. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is regarded as the theme park capital of the world. This is not surprising with six theme parks at Disney World, Sea World’s Discovery Cove, Gatorland, zip lining at the Amway Center, a show at Cirque de Soleil, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Lego Imagination Center, Epcot and iFly Orlando, there won’t be a dull moment left in your itinerary.

2. London
The land of Harry Potter, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, a visit to London should excite any child at heart (this includes adults). The city is filled with family-friendly things to do. Interesting activities and places of interest include: river cruises on the Thames, the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds wax museum, London Zoo and the bird’s eye view of the city from the London Eye.

3. Chicago
Chicago boasts its own array of child friendly must-do attractions. The extraordinary Field Museum ranks high on the list. Kids will take delight in the interactive features of the exhibits. Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, North Park Village Nature Center with its waterfall and wildlife fit a kid definition of fun.

4. Nassau, Bahamas
A haven for water filled fun activities that children love. Kids will find Nassau’s water wonderland perfect for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. The Atlantis aquarium is also a major hit with both the young and old. Families would enjoy a leisurely stroll through the craft markets and duty free shops.

5. Chiang Ma, Thailand
This family friendly town seems to summarize the best of big city Bangkok. Families who love outdoor adventure will appreciate the elephant rides to water rafting to a visit to the local zoo to hiking in the hillsides. There also remains the opportunity to give your children the invaluable experience of experiencing a different culture.

6. Dublin, Ireland
Plenty of family friendly hotels and endless attractions to keep little tourists busy and entertained, Dublin is a city to delight all ages. A hop on/off city tour is a pretty good way to access the top visitor attractions with over 25 stops including the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and the national museums. The National Aquatic Centre, the Chocolate Warehouse and EcoAdventure Ireland also provide plenty of pure pleasure filled hours.

7. New York
New York may rank as the number one city to visit. With the abundance of attractions to delight children, it makes for a great family holiday destination too. The American Museum of National History, a Location tour (locations of TV and film), Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium at Coney Island and the overwhelming number of dazzling shopping destinations are all good reasons to make a visit to this vibrant city.


travel tips

20 top travel tips from seasoned travellers

Every traveller knows the pitfalls of an unplanned trip. While travelling on holiday to an exotic location may be an explosion of excitement, being forearmed with travel tips from the well-travelled lessens the sting of stress. Here are 20 top travel tips to consider:

1. Have a check list before you pack of all the ESSENTIAL items you will require whilst travelling.
2. Take out travel insurance. Secure yourself and your valuables against unforeseen misfortunes.
3. Valuables including jewellery, expensive digital equipment and money, traveller’s cheques, etc should ALWAYS be kept out of sight no matter which destination you head off to.
4. Have a good night’s sleep and hydrate by drinking lots of water the night before you are due to fly out.
5. The quickest way to endear yourself to the locals is to use their language. It helps in transforming an apathetic attitude into a congenial one. Equipped in common phrases such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘sorry’ in the local language will promote you in getting better service or assistance.
6. The best time to pack for travel is after doing the laundry. This helps in giving you maximum choice in choosing what to pack.
7. Clothes that don’t require ironing is preferable.
8. The key word when it comes to packing clothing for travel is COMFORTABLE.
9. The moment you think of something you need to pack, the travel-size sewing kit for example, pack it or add it to your things to pack list immediately.
10. Take pre-packed snacks such as nuts, dried fruit or cereal bars along. They will always come in handy no matter where you are, be it trekking across the Sahara or squatting on the uncomfortable airport chair during a long stop over.
11. Be an eco traveller. Use a refillable water bottle for your drinking water needs.
12. As a cautionary measure, make photocopies or scan and email copies to yourself and family or friends of passports (front and back) and other important documents as well as credit cards before embarking on your travel.
13. Window seats on an airplane may be handy for laying your head against, but aisle seats are more convenient for those without big bladders and their nearest neighbours.
14. For those that suffer from motion sickness, a combination drink of half ginger ale and half club soda is helpful in overcoming nausea.
15. Have a handy pack of travel tissues; toilet paper may not be available in certain places around the world.
16. Be sure to stand stretch aching muscles from time to time using the aisle during long-haul flights.
17. Turn your mobile phone into a multifunction gadget. The camera function can be used to ‘take notes’ of nametags, destination signs or restaurant names. Taking a photo of your luggage is a good idea should you have the misfortune of it going missing. A picture is worth more than words can describe.
18. Carry-on luggage should include a change of lightweight clothes.
19. Work your way out of jetlag and sleepless travel by exercising. Cardiovascular exercise works well.
20. Alert your credit card company of your travel intentions. Note down customer care and helpline numbers.

Lost and Found

Common and strange items left behind by guests in hotel rooms

The list of items left behind in hotels is altogether incredibly impressive and strange. Hotel guests seem to be notorious for leaving behind prized and personal possessions when checking out of hotels. This seems surprising considering the agony you go through in not forgetting to pack them in the first place. The lost and found department of hotels have seen employees left dumbfounded by the number of strange objects forgotten by travellers.

Most common items left behind are the ones we painstakingly try to remember to pack. These may be: phone or laptop chargers, clothes, underwear, jewellery, electric toothbrushes, toiletry bags, books, laptops or tablets, satellite navigational tools, mobile phones and suitcases. The question does beg asking – how do you leave a suitcase behind?

In one article by, 10 of the strangest items left behind included: false teeth, wigs, money, dogs, birds, adult toys, fish, wedding rings and car keys.

Seeing that books are regular items carried by travellers to while away the time on a long haul flight or extended stopover, it comes as no surprise that it is also an item easily forgotten. Here’s one astounding statistic for the history books: Travelodge notes that over 20 000 books were left behind in as many as 38 000 rooms with an astounding third titled ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by EL James.

In the drive to providing the oddest list of left-behind items on holiday, Travelodge seems to hover in the top spot. Their list of left-behind items includes:

• A winning EuroMillions ticket
• Keys to a Bugatti
• A stamp album worth £250,000
• A box of 200 Queen Elizabeth masks
• A valuable set of Olympics tickets
• A trunk of Cadbury chocolate bars
• A diamond encrusted wedding ring
• A Persian Chinchilla kitten worth £600
• A suitcase of vinyl records
• A set of false teeth with diamonds
• A Rolex watch worth £50,000
• A Tiffany engagement ring
• A pilot’s training manual
• A Kenwood Magimix worth £600
• Joseph’s Dreamcoat
• A pantomime horse
• 7,000 copies of Fifty Shades of Grey
• 76,500 teddy bears

A common cited reason for leaving behind personal possessions, be they expensive or extraordinary is the fast pace of life.

What happens to left-behind items

Travelodge has initiated a policy that has been in practice since January 2012 that such items as left behind by guests, if not claimed within three months, would be donated to Cancer Research UK charity shops across the UK.

South African passport

E-visas facilitates easier and cheaper travel says South African Tourism Minister

The 6th annual E-tourism summit takes place at the International Convention Centre in the city of Cape Town. The summit hosted by South African Tourism in partnership with Cape Town tourism, addressed interested parties within the local tourism industry and SMME’s. Speakers include delegates from Youtube, Facebook, TripAdvisor and Expedia.

“Travel needs to be less cumbersome,” says South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk while addressing interested stakeholders at the E-tourism summit. He also took the opportunity to highlight the global tourism industry’s exponential growth over the last sixty years.

The vital roles of digital and online destination marketing as well as the convenience of e-commerce contributed to local and international growth; and this favourable trend is set to continue.

As recourse to reducing the barriers to entry, the minister was quick to point out that, “We need to address the present outdated system of always having to go to embassies, filling in forms and standing in queues. In a few years times this will be non-existent”.

In a positive response to questions regarding the progress of the e-visa as proposed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) at the 2012 G20 meeting, Van Schalkwyk said, “I believe this is the way to go. Not only is it much cheaper and easier for travel but from a security point of view it is much more effective.” He further encouraged governments to address additional barriers to entry such as various taxes imposed in the travel industry. He urged that travel become more viable and accessible.

The tourism summit this year looks at trends and developments that are changing the face of tourism; with focus on the highly significant contributor – the rising and popular use of online platforms – to influence travel choices and decisions. Advice on the best ways to utilize online platforms to establish and grow a business was discussed.

CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, Damian Cook sees the future of travel being influenced by promising online trends. “It’s exciting to see how the online travel world is evolving and where the new trends are emerging.

The e-visa system would boost the tourism volume to South Africa. One of the off spins would be the creation of new job opportunities in the tourism industry. Central to this innovative system is the facilitation of easier and cheaper opportunities to explore and experience new places and cultures.
Positive predictions as a result of preliminary research conducted by UNWTO and WTTC released at the 2012 G20 meeting point to tourism experiencing sustained development in the coming years with an astounding 1.8 billion international travellers in 2030.