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Travellers’ Good Buys Compiled By John Rozentals

March 18, 2017 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

Information technology is certainly a high priority at the newly opened Mercure Singapore Bugis.

Besides free wifi in every room, the hotel also offers guests complimentary access to over 2000 online publications via the PressReader App.

And topping the list of conveniences is the availability of a smartphone with unlimited free mobile internet access.

Free local and IDD calls can be made to 10 key destinations worldwide, including Ausralia.

The mobile device also offers an up-to-date city guide for guests while they are on the go.

The 15-storey hotel is set in the heart of the heritage enclave of Bugis and Bras Basah and offers travellers and guests the advantage of being surrounded by a myriad historical and cultural sites, and trendy shopping malls with hip and diverse eateries.

Until September 30, the hotel is offering an introductory rate starting at $168 plus GST and service charge per room night.


 Saint Basil’s cathedral … a great start to a Russian itinerary.

Discover the wonders of Russia in luxury with Scenic on its 15-day ‘Imperial Russia’ itinerary along the Volga River between Moscow and Stalingrad (Volgograd) on board the boutique vessel Scenic Tsar.

Highlights include visits to Moscow’s 450-year-old Saint Basil’s cathedral, Nizhny Novgorod which was founded in 1221, Vladimir Lenin’s memorial complex and house in Ulyanovsk, the unique historic treasures of Saratov, and the Mamayev Hill WWII memorial in Stalingrad.

There is just one departure for this itinerary — September 30 next year — and prices start at $13,440 per person twin-share.

Scenic is offering a fly-for-$995 deal, representing a saving of up to $2410 per couple.

Phone 138 128 or visit

 Geckos provides an opportunity to participate in a mass kimchi-making class.

There is a decided emphasis on the country’s increasingly popular cuisine on Geckos Adventures’ ‘South Korea Kimchi Festival Tour’.

Korea’s most iconic food and something eaten at every meal is kimchi (fiery fermented cabbage) which is reported to carry significant health benefits.

The new Geckos nine-day tour has the Seoul Kimchi Festival as the highlight of the trip.

The tour includes an opportunity to participate in a mass kimchi-making class in the heart of Seoul and enjoy dishes such as Korean BBQ and the famous KFC (Korean fried chicken).

The itinerary includes Seoul, DMZ, Jeonju, Busan and Gyeongju.

Departure is from Seoul on November 2 and prices begin at $2495 per person twin-share.


 Will and Steve … joining Pacific Explorer’s September 21 departure.

P&O Cruises has responded to Australians’ growing appetite for food experiences by offering 21 food-themed cruises this year, a four-fold increase from 2014.

On every itinerary guests can learn from expert culinary talent, including top Australian chefs such as Luke Mangan, and TV personalities such as Will and Steve from My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef 2016 winner Elena Duggan.

In addition to the inclusive multi-option dining available on each ship, guests can dine at a celebrity-chef restaurant often for a fraction of the price it costs on land. Dinner at Luke Mangan’s five-star eatery Salt grill costs just $49 per person.

A three-night food-and-wine cruise is priced from $299 per person quad-share and includes meals and culinary demonstrations.

Will and Steve, who took out the 2016 series of My Kitchen Rules, will join the September 21 departure from Sydney on Pacific Explorer.

Phone 132 494 or visit

Africa; Uganda; Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp … offers an opportunity to encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to just over half the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas.

Dotted by forests and lakes and dominated by the dramatic Virunga mountain range, just under 350 mountain gorillas live and play among the mossy undergrowth of the forest floor.

Tucked away on a on a flat ridge deep within the forest, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is an ideal base for your encounter with Bwindi’s mountain gorillas.

The camp is frequently visited by gorilla families on account of its unique location, and guests are permitted a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with these mountain giants in their natural habitat.

Prices start from start from about $350 per person twin-share per night based on a three-night stay, including meals and drinks.



The Sydney Opera House … always a centrepiece of Vivid but far from being the festival’s only attraction.

The world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, Vivid Sydney, will return bigger, bolder and brighter over 23 nights from Friday May 26 to Saturday June 17, with a new precinct at Barangaroo, an expanded light walk through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and imaginary creatures on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Vivid Light will transform the cityscape into a creative canvas, Vivid Music’s biggest program to date will take over Sydney stages with, and Vivid Ideas will provide a global forum for creative conversations.

Vivid Sydney’s vibrant kaleidoscope will stream into a new precinct at Barangaroo, with a trail of installations winding through intimate laneways, past waterfront vistas and into a foodie paradise.

Visitors will be immersed in ‘A Day in the Light’, an outdoor theatre of light and sound that lets them become part of the artwork, and be treated to optical illusions at Trapdoor, which tells the stories of Barangaroo’s past.


 The Larapinta Trail … set for stunning wildflower displays.

Unseasonably high summer rainfall has paved the way for stunning wildflower displays during the April-September trekking season along Central Australia’s Larapinta Trail.

World Expeditions has launched five niche trips for the season, comprising a challenging itinerary for hard-core walkers, an inspirational ‘awakenings’ journey, an arts expedition, and two female-only ventures — a yoga-and-meditation-based ‘goddess’ walk and an in-comfort itinerary.

The six-day ‘Larapinta Challenger Trek’, for instance, takes in some of the toughest sections along the Larapinta, with participants walking up to 30 kilometres each day, passing over remote ridges and canyons while winding along the West Macdonnell Ranges.

The price is from $2495 per person twin-share.


 Sierra Escape … the Mudgee region’s first ‘glamping’ experience.

Sierra Escape has introduced what it reckons is the Mudgee region’s first ‘glamping’ experience, providing a unique and luxurious way for visitors to skip town and become truly immersed in Mudgee country.

Located a 20-minute drive from Mudgee’s town centre, the glamping accommodation is set on a 280-acre property, well insulated for warmth in winter and features floor-to-ceiling windows for the cooling summer breeze.

Rates are from $250 per night.


 The ‘Tin Hares’ … built in the 1920s and part of Cruise Express’s six-day rail-and-sale tour this June.

A cruise from Brisbane to Sydney, two nights in the harbour city and a two-day rail trip back to Brisbane constitute a new rail-and-sail tour this June from Cruise Express.

The six-day itinerary features three privately chartered and restored CPH rail motors built in the 1920s and affectionately known as ‘Tin Hares’.

The tour departs Brisbane on June 3 and includes a two-night cruise to Sydney aboard the 2000-passenger Sun Princess, two nights with daily breakfast at the historic Grace Hotel in the heart of the city, with a three-course gourmet dinner in the O Bar & Dining revolving restaurant on the 47th floor of the Australia Square building.

The rail trip back to Brisbane includes stops at the Rail Motor Society’s home at Paterson in the Hunter Valley for morning tea, Taree for lunch and Grafton for dinner at the riverside Crown Hotel, with overnight accommodation at the nearby Quality Inn.

Prices are from $1890 per person twin-share.


 Afternoon tea at the Windsor … a Melbourne Mother’s Day institution.

Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor has been a favourite for Mother’s Day for more than a century and the hotel goes out of its way to provide the best possible experience for the occasion.

The Mother’s Day afternoon tea on May 14 is priced at $129 per adult ($85 per child 7-12 years, and $65 per child 3-6 years) in either the One Eleven Spring St Dining Room or the heritage-listed Grand Ballroom.

Included is a special gift for Mum — a delicious and delicate Paris-Brest, a sweet choux pastry filled with praline cream — and a complimentary glass of French sparkling wine for all adults.

The afternoon tea is presented on three-tiered stands and complemented by an indulgent dessert buffet.

Phone (03) 9633 6004 or visit

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