Hong Kong Airlines will be breaking Dragonair's monopoly on the Hong Kong to Phnom Penh route next month, when it begins a thrice-weekly scheduled service to the Cambodian capital. Although Dragonair flies 12 times a week, Hong Kong Airlines' Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoon departures and same-day evening returns should offer a cheaper alternative. Economy-class passengers can also take advantage of a new Plaza Premium Lounge (www.plaza-network.com), which opened this month at Phnom Penh International Airport. Prices start from US$35 for two hours and US$50 for five hours usage, which includes shower and spa facilities, Wi-fi and food and drinks. Also new this month is the latest edition of the excellent DK Eyewitness Travel Cambodia & Laos guide, which has some of the best guidebook coverage of Phnom Penh.
The concept of a suitcase that automatically follows its owner around is not a new one. Back in 2001, an inventor in London was widely reported to be developing something called Loyal Luggage, which was essentially a wheeled suitcase that would stay at heel by picking up a radio signal emitted from a device carried by its owner. It never went into production. Then, in 2012, a Spanish student won the James Dyson Award for his "Hop" luggage design, which used Bluetooth technology to follow its owner's mobile phone. It, too, failed to reach the market. Now an Israeli company, NUA Robotics, is attracting attention with luggage that uses a smartphone app to keep up with its owner (and perform various other tasks), but which, rather wisely, also has a conventional retractable handle for manual use (pictured). You can see it in action at nuarobotics.com, but it is not expected to be ready to go to market for about a year.
Deal of the week TLX Travel's Chiang Mai Special Promotion offers two nights' accommodation in the northern Thai city, with round-trip flights on Dragonair, from HK$2,390. This is the starting price for a standard double room at the centrally located Mercure Chiang Mai while other budget options include the Dusit Princess and Holiday Inn from HK$2,550 and HK$2,660, respectively. Better hotels include the Dusit D2 from HK$3,000 and the Shangri-La (pictured) from HK$3,310. These prices will be available until the end of March, but with Lunar New Year surcharges and blackout periods around the second week in February. For a longer list of hotels and further details, go to www.tlxtravel.com.