Thursday, May 9, 2013


Thailand is an incredible destination with beautiful temples, verdant landscapes, mesmerizing beaches, fascinating history and culture. Here’s our pick of top 10 things to do when in Thailand.

1.   Relish a regal and religious experience – The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Thailand’s most sacred statue, the Emerald Buddha, resides at the magnificent Wat Phra Kaeo, right next to the former residence of royalty, the Grand Palace. See the gilt-covered pagodas and exquisite murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Watching the locals praying and observing age-old Buddhist rituals is a genuine slice of Thai life.

2. Crossroads to young travellers - Khaosan Road, Bangkok
Khaosan Road is a lively strip with dozens of street vendors, artisans, fancy bars and restaurants. The road’s reputation has zoomed ever since the movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio was released. Soak in the shopping delights offered here along with food that tantalizes your taste buds. A happening place buzzing with activities, the Khaosan Road is a must visit.

3. The Mammoth Bazaar - Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
The Chatuchak Weekend Market with over 15,000 stalls spread over 35 acres is guaranteed to appease both the thrifty bargain-hunter and the moneyed antique collector. From home decorations and artworks to exquisite Thai handicrafts and exotic pets, you’ll find them all in this behemoth of a bazaar.

4. Biking Tour of World Heritage Sites, Bangkok
Rent a mountain bike to traverse the magnificent ruins in the Sukhothai Historical Park which stands witness to the birth of the first Siamese Kingdom in 1238. Also, cycle leisurely past dozens of remnants from the next Siamese empire, Ayutthaya, once considered the most glorious town and trading port in Asia.
5. Make a big splash in the Gulf of Thailand
Visit some of the famed tropical islands and oceanfront resorts. Dip into Hua Hin for golf, wine and horse-riding on the beach. Try Ko Chang for its abundance of eco-tourism activities. Rock up to Pattaya for its raucous nightlife or savour all of these different delights on Ko Samui.

6. Riding a Jumbo - Elephant Trekking, Lampang
The most scenic elephant treks are in the North of the country where you can climb hills, ford streams and lumber through the jungle, atop an elephant’s back. At the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, in the northern province of Lampang, you can sign up for courses on how to be a mahout. Learn how to ride the elephant, take it to the river to bathe and even sleep with your own elephant out in the jungle.

7. On top of Thailand - Abseiling in Khao Yai
Imagine climbing down a cliff face with a gushing waterfall on both sides of you. That’s the thrill of abseiling in Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to diverse eco-systems and 800 species of fauna. The Park is also renowned for its waterfalls ranging from 15 to 50 meters high. To get to some of the waterfalls requires kayaking across a lake, or trekking through a jungle that is home to wild elephants, gibbons and hornbills.

8. Be adventurous - Andaman Coast
Whether you’re looking for hard or soft adventures, from sea kayaking to jet skiing, from parasailing to banana boat riding, from marine fishing to simply soaking up the sun on a sandy tropical beach, the islands of Krabi and Phuket is the place to be.

9. Meditation for peace of mind
If you are craving some peace of mind, consider doing a meditation retreat in one of the country’s many temples. Learn the secrets of serenity at the forest monastery of Suan Mokkh in Surat Thani or at the Wat Mahathat in Bangkok.

10. Savouring the spices of Thai Life and Cooking
Learn the basics of cooking traditional dishes like Tom Yam Kung (a spicy broth laced with lemon grass and fresh shrimps) and Pat Thai (Thai-style noodles). Choose your own kitchen – a five-star hotel, a humble wooden house or aboard a wooden rice barge. Take a day-long course or longer from a Thai chef and savour the food along with your fellow cooks. 

Canada- Some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth.

There are many ways to enjoy the Canadian Rockies, with its snowy peaks, azure lakes and stunning glaciers. Canoeing your way to a spectacular glacier, on an emerald lake nestled amongst lush alpine forests, is only one of them.
Stumble upon turquoise lakes in Jasper, bump into elk,moose and grizzly bears on a memorable self-drive along the scenic Icefields Parkway to ethereal Lake Louise.
Leave icy glaciers behind on the Rocky Mountaineer Train,ascendSulphur Mountain in the alpine village of Banff.

Embrace the mist as you stand a whisper away from the legendary Niagara Falls, on the Maid of the Mist.
Get a bird’s eye view of Toronto from the famous CN Tower,meander through its exclusive waterfront.
Explore the monuments and museums of the capital, Ottawa,cruise down memory lane in the 19th century Rideau Canal.

Get a taste of Europe in the cobblestoned streets and magnificent Basilicas of Montreal,savour delectable crème brûlée at an authentic French sidewalk café in Quebec.
Look down on an ancient rainforest from the exhilarating Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, journey up Grouse Mountain on the famous Skyride.
Experience Canada on a truly fascinating holiday with Mercury Travels. It will be a journey you will always treasure.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Japan, an extraordinary destination

Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, is a beautiful and mysterious land of magical contrasts – from ancient to modern, tallest to the fastest, hottest to the coolest, east to west. Discover its rich heritage of thousands of years of history. Experience its beauty, adventure, beaches, temples, shopping, nightlife and so much more.
The most modern of countries, Japan retains its ancient traditions and the rich heritage of thousands of years of history. It is a country of impossibly-high modern buildings and ancient castles; of high-voltage energy and serene Buddhist temples.
Japan's archipelago of islands on the eastern edge of the Asian continent is home to awesome natural landscapes of misty mountains, verdant forests and shimmering lakes. Its oriental opulence is highlighted in the magnificent golden temples, secluded shrines and tranquil terraced gardens, while its futuristic cities illustrate the ultra-modernity of this fascinating land.
But nothing beats the immense scenic beauty of Japan during springtime when the delicate pink cherry blossoms bloom on the branches of cherry trees across its gardens, parks, hills and fields. During March to May, as the temperature rises the buds on the cherry trees unfurl and a dazzling ‘cherry blossom front’ sweeps across the archipelago. The blossoms hit Tokyo towards the end of March and then travel north through April and May and are visible in Hokkaido, the northernmost main island, even in June. 
Tokyo, one of the biggest and most dynamic cities in the world, has incredible life and energy. The city teems with fashionable people, modern malls, cutting-edge art galleries, intriguing museums, skyscrapers, temples, shrines, parks, expensive cars and gourmet food. At cherry blossom time, the parks are enlivened by revellers. Check out the Ueno Park, on the slopes overlooking the Imperial Palace moat at Chidorigafuchi, and on the spreading lawns Shinjuku Gyoen.
The iconic Mt. Fuji is another fascinating experience. Ride on the Hakone Ropeway to visit Owakudani, a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs, formed approximately 3000 years ago during the last eruption of the Hakone volcano. Taste the Kuro-tamago or Black Egg, a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs, which are supposed to increase longevity. Cruise on Lake Ashi, a crater lake that offers great views of Mt. Fuji.

Only Rome has more designated World Heritage Sites than the former Japanese capital of Kyoto. This city has a stunning array of temples and shrines, including the Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji temples, the Golden Pavilion, and the Ryoanji Zen garden. Home to the Emperor for over 1,000 years, the city is a repository of the best of Japanese art, culture, religion and philosophy. Walk around Old Kyoto, through alleys of traditional narrow wooden houses, to restaurant terraces along the River Kamo. Visit the geisha quarter's Gion Corner for a glimpse into traditional arts like puppetry and kyomai dance performances by apprentice geisha.
Nara, located 42 kms south of Kyoto, is the older capital of Japan, and was also a major cradle of Japan’s arts, crafts, literature and culture. It is home to the Deer Park, the Nara National Museum, the Kasuga Grand Shrine and the Todaiji Temple. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Todaiji Temple is a Buddhist temple complex and houses the Great Buddha Hall, the largest wooden building in the world and the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana.
Hokkaido, Japan’s romantic northern island, abounds in natural grandeur – mountains, highlands, rivers, lakes, sea and azure skies. Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is located at roughly the same latitude as Milan and Marseille and shares these European cities’ long hours of daylight in the spring and summer. Odori Park, at the centre of Sapporo city, looks magnificent with the pink cherry blossoms on cherry trees, soothing green lawns, fountains and flowerbeds. The city’s culinary choices are vast and the ingredients outstanding, especially as most of them come fresh to the dinner table from the surrounding countryside.
Japan, an extraordinary country of friendly and welcoming people, awaits you! 

Must Do Experiences in Malaysia

Home to prehistoric rainforests and a melting pot of culture, Malaysia is an amazing country to discover.
·         Petronas Twin Towers are the iconic 88-storey landmark of Malaysia. Linking the towers at levels 41 and 42 is the Skybridge for spectacular views of the city.
·         KL Bird Park is home to more than 3,000 birds of approximately 200 species living freely in an aviary that closely resembles their natural habitat.
·         Aquaria KLCC showcases over 5,000 exhibits of aquatic and land-bound creatures over a sprawling 60,000 sq ft space.
·         I-City Shah Alam: From shopping to snow-filled indoor park, from beautiful neon lights that adorn the gardens to the many gourmet restaurants, this City of Digital Lights is best visited at night.
·         School of Hard Knocks - Royal Selangor: Participate in a 30-minute fun-filled session, learning to create your very own pewter dish using traditional tools.

·         Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a wonderland of ecological treasures with thousands of plant and animal species.
·         Mari Mari Cultural Village showcases the culture and lifestyle of various indigenous group of Sabah.
·         Island Hopping to Taman Abdul Rahman Island Park to see exotic animals, snorkel above coral reefs, marvel over white sandy beaches or enjoy windsurfing, parasailing and kayaking.
·         Borneo Sea Walking tour of 20 - 30 minutes underwater, touching marine plants, corals, starfishes and feeding tropical fishes.
·         Scuba dive & snorkel at the many interesting dive sites and wrecks. Complete an advanced or basic diving training course.

·         Penang Cultural Centre offers 2.5 hour cultural tours that showcase Malay martial arts; traditional games; handicrafts and ethnic dances.
·         Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, is built in tiers and culminates in the beautiful ‘Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas’.
·         Ride up Penang Hill on a 30-minute cable car ride to visit some of the grandest colonial mansions, while enjoying the cool air and panoramic views.
·         The Penang National Park is unique for its different types of habitat, including a lake, wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches.
·         Batu Ferringhi beach’s exciting sidewalk bazaar is open every evening from around 6pm until past midnight.

·         Fish and Swim in the clear and cool waters at Lata Berkoh & Waterfall Cascades and feed fish at Kelah Fish Scantuary.
·         Observe some of the best wildlife at Tahan Wildlife Observation Hide on a guided night safari trek or on 4WD safaris.
·         Visit the Orang Asli Settlements to witness the nomadic lifestyle of the original people.
·         Canopy Walk on the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 530 metres above ground to view the rich flora and fauna.
·         Shoot the Rapids as the boats negotiate seven sets of rapids while travelling upstream on Sungai Tembeling from the Park’s headquarters.

·         Dive or Snorkel at Pulau Payar island, famous for its spectacular coral gardens and special Underwater Observatory.
·         Langkawi Underwater World, Malaysia’s largest aquarium, features 200 species of marine and freshwater creatures.
·         Air Trek through Langkawi’s Rainforest on wires approximately 10m off the ground in the tree canopy, finishing off with a flying fox run.
·         Spas with variety of treatments from local Malay massage to Thai massage, from foot massage to traditional Ayurvedic treatments.
·         Langkawi Cable Car Ride to Mount Mat Cincang for spectacular views of the island.  

·         Desaru Beach offers 25 kms of white, sandy beach with lush tropical greenery and activities like swimming, fishing, snorkelling, canoeing, horse riding, jungle trekking, go-carting, golfing and windsurfing.
·         Hello Kitty Theme Park, a four-storey entertainment centre with various interactive activities and rides.
·         Snorkel, dive and fish around the islands of Pulau Rawa, Pulau Tengah & Pulau Besar.
·         Legoland: The 76-acre theme park has more than 40 rides across seven themes including Lego Kingdom, Lego City and Miniland.
·         Shop at Johor’s Premium Outlets and save 25% to 65% on more than 80 designer brands including Coach, Gap, Nike, Salvatore Ferragamo, Canali, and many more.