Trunk call The era of cumbersome but luxuriously capacious steamer trunks is as long gone as the days when one could pay a porter sixpence in local money to lug them from the customs shed to the hotel. The palatial Ciragan Palace hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, is, however, offering its frequent guests at least a taste of those times by renting out traditionally styled wardrobe trunks - complete with three drawers and a clothes-hanging rack - so they can leave behind a full set of holiday attire and accoutrements, helping to offset some of what the hotel calls "the pain of modern air travel". For €175 (HK$1,700) per month, or €1,050 a year, the hotel will store your belongings in a trunk to which you will have your own key. Deep-pocketed travellers expecting to visit Istanbul on a regular basis can find out more at www.kempinski.com.
Long haul January 2014 might seem a long way off, but it would probably take most of us from now until then to prepare, and indeed save up, for Silversea's world cruise, which sets sail from Los Angeles for Barcelona, Spain, on the sixth of that month. Over the course of 113 days, the Silver Whisper will put in at 54 ports in 29 countries, including Kiribati, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Palau, the Philippines, China, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Italy, before finally dropping anchor in the Catalonian capital on April 30. Hong Kong passengers would be able to use a two-night stopover in late February to check their mail and water their plants. Onshore events will be held in Hong Kong, Angkor Wat (to be reached via charter flight from Bangkok) and Istanbul. The Silver Whisper carries 382 passengers, and 80 per cent of her cabins have verandahs. Full-board fares start from US$52,550 and include a US$2,500 per person spending credit, which can be used for shore excursions, spa treatments, restaurant dining, premium wines and spirits, and purchases in the internet cafe and shipboard shops. For more information and reservations, visit www.silversea.com/worldcruise2014.
Flying tonight? Anyone planning to visit northern Thailand via Bangkok for this week's Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai should note that Thai Airways has suspended or rescheduled its evening flights from the Thai capital to those two cities for this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The reason for this is the airline's fear that one of the myriad flying lanterns launched to celebrate Loy Krathong (or Yi Peng as it's better known up north) may bring down one of its aircraft by getting sucked into an engine. An alternative would be to take the long-distance bus from Bangkok, but to anyone who has done that, flying through a barrage of flaming lanterns would probably seem the safer option.
Deal of the week TLX Travel's two-night package to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, starts at a budget-friendly HK$2,380 per person (twin share) for round-trip flights with Vietnam Airlines and accommodation at the Lavender Hotel Saigon. Also on offer are some of the city's more interesting historic hotels, including the Hotel Continental (which first opened in 1880), the Majestic (once, but no longer, the city's finest and opened in 1925) and the Vietnam war correspondents' favourite, the Caravelle, for HK$2,810, HK$3,190 and HK$3,390, respectively. Top of the list is the Park Hyatt, which will cost you HK$4,840. These prices, which include daily breakfast, will be available until the end of March, with a HK$900 surcharge at Christmas and Lunar New Year. Early-morning flights get you into Ho Chi Minh City at 9.25am and return flights leave at 7.05pm, so you'll have the best part of three full days in town. For further details and reservations, go to www.tlxtravel.com or call 2270 7600.
French fare Skiers and snowboarders heading to the Alps this season will have a new flight option from December 5, when Emirates (www.emirates.com/hk) begins a five-times weekly service to Lyon (below), via Dubai. The airline is offering a fare of HK$7,775 for a round trip, including tax and fuel surcharges, available for booking and departure before January. Air France flights via Paris, however, may offer a better cultural compression chamber to prepare you for arrival on French soil. Fares are available, for the same time-frame, from about HK$8,000, when tax and fuel charges are factored into the HK$4,400 advertised fare at www.airfrance.com.hk.