Going Dutch A new addition to Amsterdam's quirky selection of canal-side hotels is the 23-room Canal House (left), which recently reopened after an extensive three-year renovation. Located in the heart of the Canal District, which was last year added to the Unesco World Heritage list, the hotel comprises three 17th-century merchant houses and has already received a number of gushing reviews on TripAdvisor. Room rates start from Euro205 (HK$2,300), including breakfast and tax, but if you stay during the week in July or August, you can get three nights for the price of one if you book through the hotel website ( www.canalhouse.nl ). Also newly opened, just around the corner, is the Het Grachtenhuis private museum (hetgrachtenhuis.nl), where visitors can learn about the Canal District, which dates back several hundred years to the Dutch Golden Age, when Amsterdam was a major centre for art, international trade, science and architecture. Racing ahead It's best to book well in advance for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix, which will take place on the night of September 25, after two days of practice and qualifying races. Swire Travel is running an Early Bird promotion that must be booked by Wednesday, with race-package prices starting from HK$5,990. This includes round-trip flights with Cathay Pacific, two nights' accommodation and breakfast at either the Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen or the newer Ibis Singapore Novena ( www.ibishotel.com ) and a three-day ticket for the races. Other hotels on offer include the Furama City Centre ( www.furama.com/citycentre ) and Studio M ( www.studiomhotel.com ) for package prices of HK$6,190 and HK$6,590, respectively. Flights leave Hong Kong on Saturday, September 24, at 11.20am and depart Singapore for the return trip at 4.05pm on Monday, September 26. For reservations, call 3151 8837, or visit www1.swiretravel.com/F1 to view and book this and other more expensive packages. Individual race tickets, without flights or hotels, are also available for purchase. On the rails If Australia's famous transcontinental train, The Ghan, is still on your to-do-before-you-die list, then this summer looks like a good time to hop aboard. The newly opened Matilda Cafe dining car is the latest in a series of upgrades for the lower-price level Red Service, which now features more comfortable seating and a Red Gum Lounge with panoramic viewing windows. The Ghan runs between Adelaide and Darwin, a 2,979-kilometre journey that takes 48 hours and cuts right across the country, via Alice Springs. A Daynighter full-fare seat for the Adelaide to Darwin trip (or vice versa) costs A$750 (HK$6,235), but a non-refundable Rail Saver ticket (subject to availability) can be had for just A$398. You can book this and other more expensive and comfortable options, as well as a selection of sightseeing and accommodation packages for stops along the way, at the Great Southern Rail website, www.gsr.com.au . Deal of the week A new two-night Dragonair package to Xiamen starts from just HK$1,199 for travellers who don't mind staying at the Jingmin Central Hotel ( www.jmhotel.com ). For a little extra, though, you can choose from more upscale international properties such as Le Meridien ( www.starwoodhotels.com ) for HK$1,539; the Marco Polo (left; www.marcopolohotels.com ) for HK$1,599; and the Sheraton ( www.sheraton.com/xiamen ) for HK$1,699. These prices are being advertised as valid until the end of August, but a glance at the small print shows substantial air-ticket surcharges over much of that period. The surcharge-free dates cover departures from now until June 2, and from June 6 to 29. Otherwise you can add about an extra HK$1,000 to the above prices, which are quoted per person, for two people travelling together. For further details call 2747 4336 quoting tour reference CV0XMN09HKGK or visit www.cxholidays.com .