Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am

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On yer bike

The bicycle might seem an unlikely mode of transport for visitors to Tokyo, but the city is one of the easier Asian capitals for two-wheeled exploration (above far right). For one thing, riding on the pavement is widely practised and accepted, and for another, drivers tend to be rather more considerate towards cyclists in Tokyo than they are in, say, Bangkok or Jakarta. Cycling also has the advantage over metropolitan rail travel in that it doesn't require the use of mind-boggling ticket machines or a degree in cartography. One of the best places to rent a bike from in the city is Tokyo Rent A Bike, which has an English-language website (www. tokyorentabike.com) that offers rental bikes for private use and guided bicycle tours around the city. The price for a six-gear bike rental is just 1,000 yen (HK$96) a day, with a custom-made route map included. At the top end of the market, The Peninsula Tokyo (www.peninsula. com/Tokyo) equips guests with BMW bicycles for self-guided tours around the adjacent Imperial Gardens, Hibiya Park and Ginza district, though for a full day's cycling you'll be paying per hour what Tokyo Rent a Bike charges per day.

Crazy capital

No nation revels in its own eccentricity with quite as much gusto as England, and being 'a bit mad' is often the self-applied label of those who wish to be thought of as interesting or 'quirky'. True eccentrics, however, are harder to find. Guidebooks to London aimed at foreign tourists tend to contain a few lines devoted to that bastion of eccentricity Speakers' Corner, and perhaps a peculiar pub or two, but one guidebook to the city is devoted entirely to the unconventional personalities that give London much of its fruity flavour. Published in a third edition this weekend, Eccentric London: a Practical Guide to a Curious City provides close to 400 pages of bizarre attractions for visitors, from the petrified pile of century-old hot cross buns at the Widow's Son pub to a man who rides the River Thames in an Edwardian bath chair. Plenty of unusual shops, pubs and restaurants are also featured in a volume that will add lots of colour to the more conventional Olympic Games/diamond jubilee tourist trail. Eccentric London is available from the publisher at www.bradtguides.com for GBP14.99 (HK$185), and at a 30 per cent discount (at the time of writing) at amazon.co.uk.

On the road

The Hotel Principe di Savoia (above left) in Milan, Italy, is running a package that includes a self-drive trip to Lake Como or Lake Maggiore in a Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster, Ferrari California or Ferrari F430 F1. Sure to appeal to anyone who has watched with envy as the presenters of Top Gear drive similar vehicles in similar locales, the deal includes a support car to lead the way. Prices start from Euro1,657 (HK$16,700), with two nights' accommodation in a junior suite and a few other extras, which are all listed at www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com/drive-your-dreams-package.

Deal of the week

No one seems to know the exact date the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (above centre) was built in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, but it was around the same time as its better-known near-neighbour, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel (E&O), which opened in the mid-1880s. The mansion was a private home for about a century, but was bought by a group of conservationists in 1989, and turned into a 16-room guesthouse and museum in 1995. More evocative of its time than the sanitised E&O, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is the most interesting accommodation choice in Tiglion Travel's Penang package, which includes two nights' accommodation with breakfast and economy-class flights with Cathay Pacific for HK$2,490 per person, twin share. The E&O is also available for HK$3,590. Both prices will be available until the end of June. For reservations and further details, call 2511 7189, or e-mail travel@tiglion.com and quote package ID 3275.