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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs

 

Netting a bargain Air France has a good selection of European destinations among its latest Web deals. Priced from HK$3,500, round-trip, they include Venice, Athens, Barcelona and Prague; London and other British cities such as Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow; and a number of appealing French destinations such as Nice (above), Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Casablanca is also on the Europe list, for some reason. The bad news is that these prices do not, of course, include tax and fuel surcharges. The latter are fixed, but because airport charges vary, the total sum will, too, according to destination. Generally speaking, you can round up the price to about HK$7,000 (or a disheartening HK$8,361 for London's grasping Heathrow). Bookings must be made at www.airfrance.com.hk by this Friday for departures from May 1 to June 30.

Lucky No7 Boutique hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith has released a list of more than 50 upmarket properties that are offering half-price rooms to anyone booking seven consecutive nights. Hotels and resorts on offer in this part of the world include Anantara Seminyak (above) in Bali, Indonesia; The Bell Pool Villa Resort Phuket and Rayavadee, Krabi, in Thailand; and Maya, near Tangalle, in Sri Lanka. You'll need to be a member to take advantage of the offer but it's free to sign up on the website, where you can find a full list of the half-price properties (www.mrandmrssmith.com/half-price-holidays-apac; you'll need to enter the password, "Boutique"). Bookings can be made until May 14 for stays up to July 14.

 

Off the rails The Japan Rail Pass is often mentioned as one of the world's best travel bargains, offering seven days of unlimited rail travel across Japan, from minor branch lines to all but the fastest bullet trains. It even covers a couple of ferry and bus services. The fact that the price of the pass - 28,300 yen (HK$2,230) - hasn't increased for more than a decade is another selling point. But what makes it a particularly good deal right now is that in Hong Kong dollars it costs - thanks to the plummeting yen - more than 20 per cent, or about HK$600, less than it did six months ago. If the yen continues its downward spiral, you should be able to pick up a seven-day nationwide Rail Pass for about HK$2,000 this summer. Visit www.japanrailpass.net for more details on this and other regional rail passes. For a list of Hong Kong agents selling the necessary exchange vouchers (seven-day passes cannot be purchased in Japan, but shorter, regional ones can), click on the "Where exchange order are sold" link. Note that Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways offices won't sell you one unless you're flying with them.

 

Deal of the week Swire Travel is selling a cheap two-night package to Singapore with accommodation options in all three wings of the Shangri-La (right). Prices start from HK$3,050 for a deluxe room in the Tower Wing. A stay in the jungly Garden Wing, which was refurbished last year, will cost you HK$3,590, or you can splurge on a deluxe room in the swankier Valley Wing (or "Village Wing" as Swire has it on its website) for HK$4,590. The main reason the Valley Wing is more expensive is that guests can avail themselves of an open bar with champagne, wine, beer and canapés throughout the day and evening, which given Singaporean prices can be a real money-saver for inveterate topers. These prices, which are offered per person for two people travelling together on weekends, include economy-class flights with Singapore Airlines and daily breakfast, and must be booked by April 30 for travel until July 11. A weekday travel surcharge of HK$780 per room is applicable until June 4, when it drops to HK$280. For more details and reservations, go to www.swiretravel.com or call 3151 8888.

 

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