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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs (tchecks@gmail.com)

 

Autumn leaves Japan's springtime cherry-blossom season is widely considered the best time to witness the country in all its visual splendour, but the autumn leaves that spread progressively north to south from this month are equally spectacular. One of the best places to partake of autumn-leaf viewing, or Momijigari, is Kyoto, both around the temples (many of which provide specially illuminated scenes in the evenings) and on the forested outskirts at places like Arashiyama (top). Late November to early December is the best time to visit, and you can get there with a Cathay Pacific Holidays (www.cxholidays.com) package starting from HK$4,240. The best of the hotels on offer is the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, which is available for a package price of HK$5,260. You'll have to make your own way to Kyoto from Kansai International Airport by train, which takes about 75 minutes.

 

Burmese Daze Rumours of Dragonair's launch of scheduled flights to Yangon have just been confirmed by the carrier, with the announcement that it will be flying to Myanmar's largest city four times a week from January 9. A couple of airlines have offered short-lived non-stop services from Hong Kong in recent years, but it has been almost half a century since Cathay Pacific stopped flying to Yangon (then Rangoon), which it served via Bangkok from 1947 to 1965. With recent political changes, the country has seen a rush of airlines applying for landing rights. Korean Air started flights into Myanmar last month, followed by Qatar Airways, Taiwan's EVA Airways and All Nippon Airways, earlier this month (operating an all-business-class service). Singapore Airlines gets in on the act today, taking over about half of the 16 weekly flights operated by subsidiary SilkAir. Biman Bangladesh Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines are also expected to have launched Myanmar services by the time Dragonair's first flight touches down. Several tour operators are offering tours of the country themed around George Orwell's first novel, Burmese Days, among them Slow Travel Burma (burma-travel.info), Exotissimo (www.exotissimo.com) and North by North East (www.north-by-north-east.com). Readers interested in the Orwell angle can find out more about the writer and the country in Finding George Orwell in Burma (2011) by Emma Larkin. Visitor visas for Myanmar can be obtained online at www.myanmarevisa.gov.mm

 

Looking for truffles Milan's Hotel Principe Di Savoia Milano (right) is offering its guests a chance to join the hunt for truffles in the medieval village of Roddi, and to visit the nearby town of Alba and its annual truffle fair in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes. The package runs from now until the end of November, and there is a three-night minimum stay, with rooms starting from 550 euros (around HK$5,500) a night, including tax and breakfast. For more details and reservations, visit www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com

 

Staying connected China's two Pentahotels, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai, are doing a good job of selling themselves as hubs of convenience for business travellers and anyone else who needs to be online and in touch while on the road. Not only do they offer free Wi-fi connections throughout, from lobby to guestrooms, but they have recently introduced multi-device power chargers in their pentalounge facilities, which are compatible with iPhone, iPad, HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, AA/AAA batteries, GPS, PSP, and most digital camera models. The hotels also recently added bicycles (left) to their list of freebies, and they come with specially designed maps for two-wheeled exploration of the local neighbourhood. See www.pentahotels.com for more information.

 

Cold comfort The palatial Gstaad Palace hotel in the Swiss Alps is selling a four-night Igloo Experience package, which actually includes just one night in traditional Inuit-style architecture (complete with private Jacuzzi at the nearby Igloo Village at Saanerlochgrat) and three nights at the hotel in a "double classic" room. The half-board package rate is 1,560 Swiss francs (about HK$13,000) a person, which is not too outrageous for one of the best hotels in one of Europe's most exclusive resorts. Reservations can be made at www.palace.ch/offers.

 

 

Green rooms It sounds more like the title of a Somerset Maugham short story, or a play by Noel Coward, but Parkroyal on Pickering (right) is a hotel opening in Singapore (a destination once favoured by both the aforementioned) at the end of next month. The new property's big selling point: its expansive greenery, which seems, at least from the artist's end-of-the-world-type renderings, to exude from every external orifice. Two-thirds of the hotel's entire land area is taken up by greenery, according to its list of eco-friendly credentials, which can be found at the website singaporehotels.parkroyalhotels.com/pickering

 

Deal of the week A two-night stay in the historic Vietnamese town of Hoi An is being offered by Tiglion Travel from HK$3,690. Accommodation at this price is at the Swiss Belhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa, with the two other properties available being the Life Heritage Resort and the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa, priced from HK$3,890 and HK$4,090, respectively. These prices also include round-trip flights to nearby Danang via Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines. The same agent is selling a similar package with three nights for the price of two, spa treatments and lunch at the rather more upmarket Nam Hai resort (left) from HK8,190. For details and reservations, go to www.tiglion.com/package or call 2511 7189.

 

 

 

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