Friday, November 22, 2013

"Price to Beat"

"Price to Beat"

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Special Package to Amsterdam

Special Economy Class Package to Amsterdam with Singapore Airlines + 5 nights Hotel stay at Omega Hotel Amsterdam 3* + Amsterdam Canal Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

The Vondelpark is as vital to Amsterdam as Rembrandt, canals and coffee shops. Lonely Planet takes a stroll to check it out. Visit to find out more about Amsterdam.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Price Alerts!

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We have a Solution: “Price Alerts”

Just sign up for Direct Flight’s Price Alerts, which will automatically keep you updated on the fares you care about.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Christmas Promotion !

Christmas Promotion ! AUD $35 off on Flight Bookings. Promo Code: XMAS35

Conditions Apply -


Thursday, November 14, 2013

24 hours in Mumbai

Flights to Mumbai and Dhaka with Malaysia Airlines




24 hours in Mumbai



Be prepared to be jostled, hurried and incessantly chatted to as you soak in the trendy yet traditional vibe of Mumbai.

24 hours isn't nearly enough time to explore all the highlights of this intoxicating city, but this whistlestop tour will help you catch the flavour of Mumbai: serene mornings by the sea, alternative cafes, crispy local snacks, the rush of great bargains and memorable nightlife. To make the most of a single day, it’s best to hire a cab and zoom between experiences.

Spend the morning in Bandra

The aroma of freshly baked bread starts wafting from the A One Bakery on Hill Rd well before daylight, helping you kick-start the day as early as you want. Get a goody bag of cinnamon rolls and blueberry muffins to accompany you into the narrow lanes of Ranwar, which sprawls behind the bakery and into graffitied Chapel Street.
Street art on Chapel Street in Mumbai's hip Bandra area. Image by Supriya Sehgal / Lonely Planet.
Mornings are the best time to explore. You'll see the area's 200-year history gradually unfolding as you pass balconies hanging from colonial homes and huge Christian crosses. Neck-stretching urban art in psychedelic colours drapes the walls of traditional dwellings in a charmingly incongruous way.
For a tea break, loop back onto the corner of Hill Rd to Yoga House where you can enjoy a mud pot chai on the low floor tables or relax on the outdoor benches. Alternatively, head towards Lilavati Hospital Junction to reach Salt Water Café for a plate loaded with bacon, omelettes, pancakes and more. If you haven’t worked up an appetite yet, walk further along Carter Rd by the sea, manoeuvring past morning joggers to reach the Bagel Shop for breakfast.

Delve into Bombay’s belly in the daytime

A mention of Dharavi usually conjures up the image of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and a colossal jumble of homes and businesses. Some travellers might be intrigued to see one of the largest slums in the world. An alternative is to explore Dharavi's workshops and tanneries - ask a cab to drop you at the Sion Bandra Link road for some leather shopping. Bags, jackets and belts are all produced inside Dharavi's narrow streets and one-roomed workshops. If you are interested to see the process, get in touch with Mr Fayaz Mir of High Design (tel 09322282721). This is also a way to experience the inside of the slums with a reliable guide.

Your late-morning snack should be none other than the quintessential vada pao at Dadar. Squirm through flailing arms at the shop outside Kirti College for a gigantic bun with potato cutlet filling. Vada pao is an essential rite of passage in Mumbai - but be warned, the topping here is extremely spicy.
Fiery vada pao are made fresh while you wait, at Dadar. Image by Supriya Sehgal / Lonely Planet.
Next on the list is the Washermen’s Colony along the Mahalakshmi train station. Ask the cab to drop you at the station and follow the swell of people taking a narrow staircase down the adjoining flyover. On your left is a world of white sheets, crispy dry shirts and the harsh smell of detergent. Saunter inside to see the voracity with which the clothes are thrashed on the washing stones, dried, packed and chartered off to hotels, hostels and others. You might spot your own hotel bedclothes right here. If you are hovering about in the area at about 11am, you may catch a glimpse of the famous ‘dabbawalas’ - the fleet of lunchbox men who deliver food to thousands of office workers in an astonishingly precise system of colour-coded boxes.

Next, make a stop at the white marble Haji Ali Shrine. Venture through the passage to the left of the monumental Haji Ali Juice Centre, along rows of shops selling offerings (incense, a spread and flowers), and past fattened goats and beggars. Inside, women and men part to enter the shrine separately and are blessed by a stack of peacock feathers. High-tide days are special: the walkway gets completely submerged and the shrine looks like it’s floating mid-water.
Whet your bargaining skills (and keep your wallet safely tucked away) in the streets of Chor Bazaar (Thief’s Market) and Mutton Bazaar. Bargain-hunters arrive in droves to sift through old Bollywood posters, rusty sewing machines, spare vehicle parts, and even period furniture. Prices are reasonable, but bargain unapologetically. Stolen goods are thought to circulate early on Friday mornings from 4.30am, but the usual market opens from 10.30am and 7.30pm every day. Worthwhile stops include Oriental Arts and Crafts (tel 09819489585) for antiques and A 1 Corner (tel 09223439284) for Bollywood collectibles.
Bric-a-brac, antiques and collectibles for the right price (haggling included) at Chor Bazaar. Image by Supriya Sehgal / Lonely Planet.

Spend an afternoon in the Fort area

Pull yourself away from the enticing vintage curios at Chor Bazaar if you want to make it in time for some authentic Parsi and Iranian fare at Britannia (Sprott Road), almost a century old. On your way there, ask the cab to take you around the Azaad Maidan (sports grounds), where you can watch cricket whites get muddy brown as youngsters pursue the common dream of being ‘Sachin’ one day. At Britannia, let the four generations of the Kohinoor family make you feel at home while you sink into the imported Polish furniture. Wash down the sali boti (meat), berry pulao (rice dish), patra ni macchi (steamed fish) and dhansak (curry) with a fizzy pallonjis raspberry drink. Or opt for another atmospheric Parsi joint, Café Ideal.

The Fort area comprises colonial-style buildings that are now converted to office complexes. You can walk from Ideal, stopping at the bookshop Kitab Khana to replenish stock for your travels. Walk further along the Flora Fountain area to reach the Kala Ghoda enclave in time to visit the Jehangir Art Gallery and grab a home-brewed organic coffee at Kala Ghoda Café to put the zing back into your step.

See in evening by the sea

Zip away by cab to the chic Colaba area, starting at Theobroma Bakery for a bite of the sinful ‘chocolate overload’ brownie. Burn it up as you dodge hectic shoppers along the fashionable Colaba Shopping St. If you need a beer, march onwards to Leopold's Café or Café Mondegar. Being featured heavily in best-selling novel Shantaram isn't the only reason Leo’s is popular with Mumbaikars. This place is resilient – the 1871 cafe showcases bullet marks from a 2008 terrorist attack. At Café Mondegar (Mondy’s), the main hooks are beer towers, chili cheese toast, a jukebox and walls decorated by well-known cartoonist Mario Miranda. If you can tear yourself away, walk down to the Gateway of India, a monument built during the British rule that is now synonymous with Mumbai’s identity.
The crescent of Marine Drive seen from the heights of the rooftop restaurant Dome. Image by Supriya Sehgal / Lonely Planet.
Next, head to the moon-shaped Marine Drive. The breezy boardwalk is a favourite with gossiping friends, couples sneaking kisses, tea vendors - as well as packs of stray dogs. To get a glimpse of the entire stretch, catch a drink at Intercontinental Hotel’s rooftop restaurant Dome. No matter how late you descend from there, you can still catch the maalish walas (foot and head massagers) who click their palm-sized bottles of oils with a stone to lure weary travellers and regulars. Getting your head or feet kneaded silly may not be on your to-do list, but it’s a great way to listen to a labyrinth of stories from the masseurs. End the night with ice cream at Bachelorr’s. The unique ice creams have a confounding and irresistible blend of tastes and temperatures, much like Mumbai itself.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Top 10 experiences on Hawaii's Big Island



Flights to Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines @Direct Flights



Top 10 experiences on Hawaii's Big Island


Published in
Island fever may happen elsewhere, but it's almost unheard of on Hawai'i. The aptly named Big Island is fantastically diverse, with miles of highways and - better yet - byways to explore. From age-old fishing villages to modern mega resorts, from snow-capped peaks to sandy beaches, you'll experience tropical splendor backed by an epic history. Hawai'i is twice as big as the other Hawaiian islands combined, and its dramatic terrain will surprise you and take you to extremes.
Where to start? Try these 10 can't miss Big Island experiences:

1. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The eerie glow of a lava lake, secluded palm-fringed beaches, ancient petroglyphs pecked into hardened lava, and miles of hiking trails through smoking craters, rainforest and desert – what’s not to love about Hawai’i’s number one site? For a singular experience, try and snag one of the 12 coveted spots on the weekly Secret Lava Tube Tour. This is one of the island’s top places to experience Hawaiian culture including hula on the crater rim, annual festivals and lecture series. All this and more found in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

2. Mauna Kea star party

It is breathless and breath-taking in the rarefied air of Mauna Kea, Hawaiʻi’s most sacred location. Once the sun goes down, the stars come out, and with them telescopes for your viewing pleasure.  The world’s clearest stargazing is here – what you see through those telescopes, you won’t soon forget. For a real trophy experience, head here for both the sun- and moonrise.
Mauna Kea Star TrailMauna Kea star trail, by Justin McWilliams. Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license.

3. Snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay

It’s all true – from the teeming, Technicolor fish in knee-deep water, to the spinner dolphins lazily circling your kayak or catamaran. Tourist brochures hype Kealakekua Bay as the best snorkelling in the state and, in this case, you can believe it. Even new rules regulating kayak use can’t tarnish the luster of this must-see spot. If kayaking doesn’t float your boat, hike down to this historically significant and naturally brilliant bay. Hard-core environmentalists might consider other less-trafficked bays – this one is almost too popular for its own good.

4. Waipi'o Valley

Legends begin here, where the road ends overlooking this magical valley. You can linger at the scenic viewpoint however; the waterfalls, wild horses and wilder black-sand beach tend to beckon explorers. Choose from hiking, horseback or even a mule-drawn wagon to get you there. The very experienced can kayak in – when conditions are just right. The most spectacular views, of course, are from the most grueling switchbacks of the Muliwai Trail – head up, up and up some more for the money shot.
Waipio Valley, Big Island
Waipi'o Valley, Big Island by SF Brit. Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license.

5. Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Dotted with ancient temples, and hangouts watched by menacing teeth-baring idols, a visit to this Pu'uhonua O Honaunau known as the Place of Refuge, makes a memorable introduction to traditional Hawaiian culture. In fact, there’s no better place to gain an understanding of the kapu system that governed ancient Hawaii. Look for heads of honu (sea turtles) bobbing in the bay; foreshadowing the underwater wonders to come at the nearby snorkelling haven of Two-Step.

6. Lava chasing

If you’re lucky (lava is fickle, don’t you know?) you may get the chance to see live lava flowing over and under the land within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park; ending with a magnificent plunge into the sea, sending a steam plume over a mile skyward, as hot lava is mixed with roiling surf. Feel the heat, on a walking, or boat tour out of Puna. Kids love the latter – even willful teens will ooh and aah audibly during the volcano’s full sensory show. However you experience lava here, make a point of it.

7. Hapuna Beach

Rock up to this half-mile of powdery white-sand beach with a rented umbrella and boogie board, and one of Hawaii’s most iconic beaches becomes your playground. Whether you are armed with a surfboard, lounge chair or water wings – this beach has something for the whole family. While the basic A-frame cabins here are not for the finicky, the island’s best beach is your front yard – pretty hallucinatory.

Hapuna Beach, Kohala Coast. Photo by Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images.

8. Merrie Monarch Festival

What did you see at the luau? That’s to hula what Velveeta is to cheese. If you really want to see how a hula, halau (school) invokes the gods and legends through chant and dance you need to make time visit this state-wide hula competition. Book early; people fly in from all over the globe for this one. Unless you’re an intense hula fan, you are likely to enjoy the inaugural invitational more than the structured head-to-head competitions of subsequent days.

9. Manta ray night dive

Diving at night is a thrill in itself, but once you turn on your lights and attract a corps de ballet of Pacific manta rays, with wing spans of 10ft or more and tails like javelins, your life becomes segmented: before diving with mantas and after. Snorkelling with them can be even better because you’re closer, but it’s so popular don’t be surprised when you get head-whacked by someone’s fins. Bring your own dive light and swim into center stage with these graceful animals.
'Akaka Falls
AAkaka Falls, by Yinghai. Creative Commons Attribution License.

10. 'Akaka Falls State Park

This 420ft waterfall crashing through the rainforest choked with fragrant ginger and giant philodendrons is no less spectacular for its easy access. Drive up, stroll a half mile through what feels like Hollywood Hawaii and there you are. Like all waterfalls on this part of the coast, 'Akaka Falls are most impressive during seasonal rains, when they spill violently over the verdant cliffs. Don’t miss poking around the little town of Honomu once you’re done ogling these towering falls.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flights to China with China Southern Airlines

Flights to China with China Southern Airlines

Visit World’s Largest Buddha Statues Carved in a Cliff

The Sichuan Province of China is filled with sacred areas of Buddhist worship. Two areas in the Sichuan Province will astound you with their tribute to Buddha. The first is the massive 71 meter high Buddha carved from a cliff in Lingyun Hill. The head alone is 14.7 meters high, with shoulders 34 meters across. On Mount Ermei, in the same region of Sichuan Province, you will find 14 story pagoda carved with 4,700 images of Buddha and the entire text of the Buddhist Sutra of the Huayan Sect. Your fascination with Buddhist history and beliefs can be fully explored with a journey to see these two incredible locations in the province.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

20 free attractions in London

20 free attractions in London



Published in

1. Borough Market

Around, more or less, since the 13th century, the Borough Market is stuffed with food-lovers and all you need for a memorable grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. One of the top attractions south of the river. Open Thursday to Saturday (go on Saturday to catch the market at its bustling best).

2. British Film Institute's Mediatheque

Hidden under Waterloo Bridge, the institute features four cinemas (not free) and the fun Mediatheque, where you can peruse DTV/film archives and watch for free.

3. British Museum

Unreal; one of London's top attractions, and absolutely free. When I was in London, I'd hop in for 20 minutes, peek at the Rosetta Stone, and move on, saving Aztec mosaic masks or the head-smashed 'Lindow Man' (a 1st-century unfortunate found in a peat bog in 1984) and seven million other items for another visit. Watch for worthwhile 20- and 50-minute eyeOpener tours offered for free too.

4. Houses of Parliament

The Palace of Westminster, home of 'Big Ben' (or Clock Tower), is a neo-Gothic wonder from the mid-19th century. And it's full of houses: namely the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Reserve ahead to watch antics during Parliament sessions.

5. Museum of London

Off the radar to most visitors, yet one of the city's great attractions, this museum offers a walk through London's various incarnations -- from Thames Valley geological history, to Anglo-Saxons and 21st-century bankers. Plus there's a nice cafe in its garden.

6. National Gallery

Its 2000 Western European classics by Van Gogh, Renoir, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo make the National Gallery a serious art stop, with over 5 million people popping into the building on Trafalgar Square each year. Miss the hordes by visiting on weekday mornings or Wednesday evenings (after 6pm). Any time, it's all free.

7. National Maritime Museum

Greenwich's best attraction, this neoclassical building museum gets more interesting and fun the deeper you go in. The focus is on Britain's seafaring past, including the bullet that felled Horatio Nelson, a replica of Ernest Shackleton's life boat and plenty of kid-friendly interactive exhibits in the Your Ocean exhibit.

8. National Portrait Gallery

Before Google or Wikipedia, the English came here to put a face to the name of a who's who list in history. Here, a block north of the National Gallery on St Martin's Pl, you'll see paintings and sculpture, including Andy Warhol's take on the Queen.

9. Natural History Museum

Those Victorians sure liked to 'c & c' (collect and catalogue). This is the result, an outrageous collection of things nature in a lovely Gothic Revival building from 1880. A diplodocus dinosaur skeleton watches the entrance. Farther in comes a T-Rex and the Darwin Centre, with 450,000 jars of pickled specimens. A wildlife garden is open April to September only.

10. Photographers' Gallery

Wonderful contemporary photo collection in the West End benefits from its new two-floor space - where the gallery's been since 2008. Plus there's a great cafe.

11. Science Museum

Highly informative and entertaining Science Museum fills seven floors with interactive exhibits. The Energy Hall highlights the first steam locomotives of the early 19th century; big with kids are the third floor exhibits, including old gliders, hot-air balloons and flight simulators.

12. Serpentine Gallery

Looking like a 1930s-style tearoom in leafy Kensington Gardens, this gallery is a lovely spot to take in one of London's most important contemporary art collections, with works by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and the like. Loads of natural light pour through huge windows. Each year a new 'Summer Pavilion' (May to October) is opened nearby, to host open-air cinema and readings.

13. Sir John Soane's Museum

Son of a bricklayer - OK, I just wanted to say bricklayer, it's true - Soane's West End home is filled with the early 19th-century architect's personal effects and curiosities, making up one of London's most atmospheric and fascinating sights that few know exists. The house is largely as Soane left it upon his death in 1837, from Christopher Wren drawings, a lantern room and slaves' chains. Aim to go on the first Tuesday of the month, when the home is lit by candles.

14. St Paul's Church

Not to be confused with St Paul's Cathedral (a big attraction that comes with a ticket price), this church on the western flank of Covent Garden Piazza is known as the 'actor's church'. The first Punch and Judy show took place in 1662, and there are memorials for Charlie Chaplin and Vivien Leigh, the most famous faux British Confederate of all time.

15. Tate Britain

The older half of the Tate duo (the modern bits moved downriver in 2000) is no stodgy sister. Here, permanent works focus on British masterpieces from the 16th to late-20th centuries. Look for one-hour thematic tours and 15-minute talks on painters and paintings, all part of the admission price: nothing.

16. Tate Modern

Speaking of which, this mod half of the Tate, hiply set in the Bankside Power Station on the Thames, is one of the city's most beloved attractions. Special exhibits cost £8-10, but you can spend much time enjoying its permanent (free) collection of 60,000 works (Pollock, Warhol, Rodin, Matisse), wrapped in uniquely themed exhibits such as 'Poetry & Dream' for the surreal. The upstairs cafe has wonderful Thames views, and the building's amazing.

17. Temple Church

Da Vinci Code fans, and you know you kinda are one, make this church – with origins dating to the 12th century – a must-see in London, for its role in a key scene. It's a distinctive place, built by crusading monks, with a traffic-free oasis of green spaces amidst the buildings in the City.

18. Victoria & Albert Museum

Open since 1852, its 4.5 million objects – like the stunner entry chandelier by Dale Chihuly – make it, very simply, the world's best decorative arts museum. Make sure you have plenty of time. The first floor focuses on Asian (Japanese swords, ancient Chinese ceramics) and some European art, including plaster casts Michelangelo used for his David. Then there's a photography collection of half a million images, picked up over the museum's 160 years. The Ardabil Carpet in the Middle East-focused Jameel Gallery is one of the world's oldest, dating from Iran in the 1500s.

19. Wallace Collection

Arguably London's finest small gallery, and way off the normal map, the collection is an enthralling glimpse into 18th-century aristocratic life, set up in a sumptuous restored Italianate mansion stuffed with 17th- and 18th-century art works. Superb, unless of course you live in such a place already.

20. Whitechapel Gallery

Home to ten galleries in an art nouveau building first opened in 1899, the Whitechapel mixes up is themed exhibits between established and emerging artists. Picasso's Guernica was first displayed here in 1939. Watch for music, readings and films on Thursdays and some Fridays, or pop into the uber-designed cafe for a break.
This article was first published in February 2011. It was refreshed in November 2012.

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