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Travel ingenuity from our island hopping holiday experts

Niseko: The Way To Go

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Famed for prolific white powder snow, fabulous accommodation and apres-ski scene, Niseko lures winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe.  Yet this beautiful region in the northern island of Hokkadio, Japan, has more to offer than top notch skiing and snowboarding, with stunning alpine scenery making it a popular year round destination. Here’s our insider tips on how to get to Niseko.

By Plane

Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport is just 110 km from Niseko and is well serviced by domestic and international flights from many parts of Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok as well as Hawaii. Those travelling from further afield can easily connect through Tokyo Narita International airport, with a two hour flight time to Sapporo.

Flight to Niseko

Ski season runs from late November to early May and if you fly into New Chitose, the quickest way to hit the ski slopes is by taxi or private transfer. Catching a bus is also cheap and easy and takes approximately 2 – 2.5 hours.

For a private door to door service try Sky Express otherwise White Liner Ski Bus, Hokkaido Resort Liner  and NGS Big Runs all have various drop off points in Niseko.  

By Land

Self drive is another option, but while rental cars are fitted with snow tyres, it is not recommended unless you are experienced driving in wintery conditions.

How to get to NisekoParking in Niseko is also limited in the busy winter months, so  its perhaps better to save the hire car option for the summer months when you can enjoy a leisurely cruise up to the mountains, stopping to enjoy the glorious scenery along the way.

Trains also depart direct from the airport to JR Kutchan Station (a 10 minute taxi ride from Niseko), but you will need to change at Otaru station for a total travel time of around 3 hours. Japan has one of the best developed rail networks in the world which is something to consider when travelling from other regions.

Shinkansen - Bullet train

If coming from Tokyo you can experience the famous Shinkansen – bullet train, which travels up to 320 km an hour and hurtles through an undersea tunnel that connects the main island of Honshu with Hokkaido. Travel time is around 4 hours to Hakodate where you can connect with a regional train to JR Kutchan (3.5 hours) .

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All About Flights to Phuket

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Phuket Airport

When it comes time to book flights to Phuket, Thailand,  this holiday hotspot offers a myriad of options.  The newly revamped Phuket International Airport is the international gateway to the island of Phuket and all of its touristic charms.

What’s there to know about

Phuket International Airport – or ท่าอากาศยานภูเก็ต in Thai – is the second busiest airport in the Kingdom of Thailand. 
Phuket International Airport (HKT)
Mai Khao, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand, Phuket Province 83110

“Phuket International” is quite compact and easy to navigate. However, if you have never been to Phuket before it is important to note that the airport is home to two terminals, Domestic and International. While the terminals are within walking distance of each other, it indeed makes travel easier if you are heading in the right direction from the start.

The airport hosts domestic, regional and international passenger and cargo services for over twenty-five airlines. It’s a primary flight connection hub for Thai AirAsia and Thai Airways International.

Are there fights from… to Phuket?

There are 49 cities which offer non-stop flights to Phuket, which makes Phuket International Airport a very busy place. A high volume of passengers arrive early in the morning or late at night on daily flights from China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

As Phuket is a popular destination for holidaymakers from around the globe, flights from countries such as Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Turkey and recently India make up a lot of the airport’s traffic. It is estimated that at least 16 million people pass through the gates of Phuket International Airport yearly.

Can I bring my… to Phuket, Thailand?

On arrival to Phuket International Airport, international travellers are expected to clear immigration. After a long-haul flight this can seem like quite a tedious task, however, it is necessary before entering the Kingdom.

Make sure that you have filled out your international arrival cards that would have been presented on the flight over, and be prepared to queue. While the immigration lines do often appear overwhelming, rest assured that they do move along at a rather quick pace. After clearing immigration, it is time to retrieve your luggage, head out the door and enjoy your holiday!

When is the best time to fly to Phuket?

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10 Bali Villas for Corporate Groups and Wellness Retreats

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Sanur villas for groups

Mix business with pleasure at your next corporate meeting, training or wellness retreat and lap up the luxury of one of Bali’s fabulous villa estates.  Let’s face it, nowhere does villas like Bali does, and unlike large, impersonal resorts, a villa grants you absolute privacy and exclusivity, with your own state-of-the-art facilities. Best of all, service is highly personalized with a round-the-clock team of butlers, housekeepers and security at your beck and call– not to mention highly skilled chefs who can cook exactly what you want when you want it. Healthy meeting snacks? Canapés and cocktails at sunset? Seafood barbecue by the pool? Balinese themed dinner with live dance performance?  You name it and villa staff will provide it, all with the smiles and warmth of hospitality that Bali is famous for.

Expansive, fully-staffed villas in fabulous locations around the island are well set up for groups, with large capacity common areas for group activities and special events. Most offer all the mod cons, from Satellite TV to high speed WiFi and business centre facilities, alongside generous en suite bedrooms, stunning pools set in lush gardens, sensational spa services, and plenty of space for everyone to spread out.

Sound good? Here are our top ten villa picks for your next corporate event, training or wellness retreat.

Sanur Residence – Sanur

Sanur is the most southerly town on Bali’s ‘Sunrise Coast’ and retains its laid back charm with leafy streets, art galleries, cosy cafes and atmospheric seafront promenade. The three sleek, supremely spacious villas that make up Sanur Residence are wonderfully located on the quiet beach of Padang Galak, just minutes from town and accommodate up to 18 people. The epitome of contemporary elegance, each stylish villa has expansive en suite bedrooms, kitchen and open plan living areas, with one villa housing an ocean-facing, semi open-air banquet/meeting/dining room with the capacity of a 20m² meeting table or up to 40 people in 8 round tables, ideal for presentations or panel discussions. A 23-metre infinity pool, delightful manicured gardens, expansive roof terraces and huge lawn create ample space for socialising and soaking up the endless ocean views.

Villa Pushpapuri – near Sanur

If you like the idea of being slightly more remote, a Pabean Beach villa near Sanur is an inspired choice.

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Thai King’s New Baht Banknote

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New Baht Thailand Currency

For travel in Thailand, money basics are a need to know. The Thai Baht (pronounced /bɑːt/ and abbreviated to THB, or ฿) is the official currency of Thailand. Thai Bhat is a common misspelling! In Thai, it is written: บาท and subdivided into 100 satang. Coins come in denominations of: 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht, as well as 25 and 50 satang. Banknotes come in denominations of: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht.

A Fresh New Look

What you may not know is that in April 2018 the Bank of Thailand (BOT) began circulating a brand new family of banknotes, ‘Series 17’, the first ever to feature a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose revered father, the late King Bhumipol Adulyadej passed away in 2016, ending a world record-breaking seven-decade reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX, has appeared on baht banknotes for the past 70 years.

The main colours and sizes of the notes haven’t changed, with the back designs featuring images of the Kings of Thailand from past to present. The 20, 50 and 100 baht banknotes were released on Chakri Memorial Day, April 6, 2018. The final two denominations of 500 and 1,000 baht will be issued on the new king’s birthday on July 28, 2018.

Current (left) V. New (right)
Banknotes (Photos via Bank of Thailand)

The Bank of Thailand will issue a new ‘Series 17’ set of banknotes on July 28 featuring a portrait of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun in the Royal Thai Air Force uniform, to mark the 66th birthday of the King. Current ‘Series 16’ banknotes of the late king will remain in circulation. 

Creative Design & Functionality

Unlike some countries in South East Asia the banking sector in Thailand has, over the years, proven to be a major stabilising force for the Thai economy. Lessons learnt from the industry collapse over 20 years ago have seen Thai banks showing fresh resilience today, due in no small part to the regulation of financial institutions.

Once approved by the Minister of Finance, the BOT is responsible for the design, print, issuing, and management of banknotes. Although no longer hand drawn, banknote designers must be able to combine visual artistry and technical expertise with cultural identity and counterfeit deterrence features.

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Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey

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See Bali Island in the 1970s’

Travel back in time and catch a glimpse of daily life on the island of Bali in the 1970s. Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey is a must-see material for anyone who loves Bali and Indonesia. I for one got hooked from the very first minute I started watching this series of five documentaries. It was back in 1972 when the English brothers Lorne and Lawrence Blair set off from Great Britain to the Indonesian Archipelago to explore mystical lands and indigenous tribes, not knowing if they would ever return. Their journey led them from the deep jungle of Kalimantan to pirate territory in Sulawesi, to primitive tribes in New Guinea and Sumba, to giant lizards on Komodo Island and finally to the sacred island of Bali with all of its temples, shrines, Gods, demons and mysticism. I found it inspiring and intriguing to watch these two brothers going off-the-grid like true explorers without any modern-day luxuries such as Google Maps, Google Translate or whatsoever. They went on a crazy insane adventure and they were lucky to survive…

How it all began

Following in the footsteps of naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, Lorne and Lawrence Blair initially traveled to the Spice Islands of Indonesia to capture footage of the legendary Greater Bird of Paradise. The things they discovered on the way were more compelling than they ever could’ve imagined. Before they knew it, a decade had passed, exploring places, islands and indigenous tribes off the map.
When they started out, Lorne was an ethnographic filmmaker who had been working for BBC and Lawrence had just earned his Ph.D. writing a doctoral thesis on psycho-anthropology. The brothers left their familiar civilization behind on a Phinisi boat with Bugis Pirates on the island of Sulawesi and they jumped into a world unknown to them.

A decade of exploring lands unknown

The brothers Blair made nine expeditions between 1972 and 1985. In total, Lorne shot over 80 hours of video footage on a 16mm film. The footage is authentic, raw, intimate, wild, utterly cool and interesting. You get a real glimpse into the cultures, traditions and rituals of indigenous Indonesian tribes. Lorne and Lawrence may have been the last true ‘explorers’ like we had them in the old days, long before the digital age kicked in.

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