Tag Archives: china

Free! Travel Information Delivered To Your Door!

The internet is an incredible free source of destination information, but it can’t quite match the thrill of receiving a whole envelope full of free glossy brochures of beautiful people streched out before vistas of azure oceans. Here are two great sources of free travel information delivered to your door; one defintely useful, the perhaps somewhat other less so.

Travel BrochuresLet’s start with the best. Tourism authorities are a fantastic and often-overlooked source of travel information – particularly for decent free maps and basic info with lots of glossy pictures. ANTOR’s* represents 48 official tourism authorities (including the Australian State authorities) and the destination info page provides (along side some basic travel info) the URL, email address and contact details for all of them. If you’re interested in any major destination for Australian travellers it will be listed. Simply email the relevant authority with your address, rough dates of travel and as far as possible the specific regions or cities you’re interested in and wait for the postie everyday for a week or so! No substitute for a good guidebook or your own research but generally there will be at least a couple of genuinely useful items in the material sent.

TravelBrochures.com.au and TravelBrochures.SMH.com.au are another clearing house for free travel information, although arguably of a must less useful nature. These sites allow to order free tour company brochures, some of which are available in digital (tree-saving) format. All the majors are available as well as a few smaller operators – useful if you wish to compare tours from a number of companies or can’t get to a travel agent. Of course some major operators now send out (often unintenionally comical) DVDs as as a bonus! Be warned, however, apart from ending up on a tour (which may or may not be a bad thing in itself…), you are likely to end up on a mailing list of the tour companies from which it may be difficult to extract yourself!

*(Association of National Tourist Office Representatives in Australasia)

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[Image by Classroom III]

European cheap sleeps

ClinkIn my round-up of tips and hints earlier today I left out this article from The Age Nights of Cheap Splendor. In hindsight I’m glad because it deserves to be highlighted, it really is a belter if you’re looking for a place to stay in Europe. Highlights include the Clink Hostel in London, a restored London courthouse, that starts at $25 a night, converted first class rail carriages in the Scottish highlands, a treehouse in Norway and Colditz castle which was (without intending to reinforce any unfair negative stereotypes of hostels) a prisoner of war camp.

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You may have missed… Travel news from around the place (22nd April)

Given the recent turbulence amongst low cost carriers Tiger Airways released some reassuring financials yesterday, although no trading figures were announced. The most promising sign is that they are reportedly giving Airbus the ol’ hurry up for fifty new planes on order, thirty of which are scheduled to operate in Australia.

Who's wrapping themselves in the flag?V Blue, an airline founded by an eccentric Brit, has offended patriotic sensitivities by awarding Singapore Airlines the tender to service its fleet of 777’s just because they, you know, have the tools and experience to service these aircraft. A talking head from the Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Association decried the move claiming the ‘Virgin group should have considered the need to develop a skill base in Australia’, in between choruses of Waltzing Matilda and screaming Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie!!!

China is reportedly imposing more ever more stringent visa requirements.

Tourists taking a day trip from Siem Reap to the floating village of Chong Kneas are being mobbed by beggars taking to the water in plastic buckets.

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Loose Change – A round-up of recent travel tips from around the web (19th of April)

Travel Tips of the Week

Tony Robinson’s Ten best train trips in BritainWestern Highlands Railway

Tony Robinson – Baldrick in Blackadder, host of Time Team, History’s Worst Jobs amongst many other great TV gigs – is a man in whom I live in awe. A train-nut, he shared his 10 favorite rail journeys in Britain with the Telegraph. A welcome reminder that Britain, despite it’s frequently disparaged rail services, has some of the most evocative (and most overlooked) rail journeys in the world. Is there anything this man cannot do?


‘Don’t hesitate, vaccinate’! Stress less about malaria and worry more about dehydration. Give those anti-malarials a run before you leave to roadtest side-effects. All this and more in MSNBC’s10 health pitfalls to avoid while travelling.

Vertigo Bar, Bangkok

Forbes Traveller counts down its list of the world’s sexiest rooftop bars. Because alcohol and great heights really do mix.

Luxury trains – who needs em? The Man in Seat 61 explains how the journeys on five luxury trains can be replicated on regular services for a fraction of the price.

MSNBC’s 5 common ticket screw-ups travellers make’ could be summed up in one: ‘don’t be stupid’. Read these tips and be stupid in your own original ways.

Get all zen with Bravenewtraveler which reckons travelling solo can teach you ten things about yourself. One thing it can occaisionally teach is how much you miss home, but Vaggabonding has five tips for dealing with homesickness. When you do head home, whether out of choice or necessity, bravenewtraveler has some tips for reconnecting with friends when you get home.

Luxury biking tours? I remain unconvinced by MSNBC claims to have tracked down ten of the best.Vespa

Betta getta Vespa – Rome by Vespa is one of the Guardian’s five best quirky city tours.

Free stuff always catches my eye and The Broke Vacationer has no less than 100 ways to get free stuff while travelling.

I spy with my little eye five games to pass the time while travelling at Vagabondish.


Reading Body in Motion’s 10 Things You Should Know Before Coming to Africa will guarantee you suffer no culture shock when arriving at Lagos airport. Okay, it may help. A little bit.

The Americas

Discover your inner Mickey – Fodor’s has 15 Tips for enjoying Disney at any age and Smartertravel will help you get around Disney World. The Telegraph has some budget (well sub £140 a night) hotel advice, while you’re there here are some New York recommendations from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel.

Canada means Hockey and World Hum has some interesting and useful cultural background for neophytes (like me) interested in checking out a game.


The Crancky Flier gives the run-down on Heathrow’s new T5: would you be surprised if phrases such as ‘poor customer service’, ‘Someone tried to get way too clever’. ‘stupid’ and ‘Indifferent’ featured prominently? If not the conclusion ‘adequate but nothing more’ might even come as a pleasent surprise.

‘For a low-cost airline, AirBerlin’s service was very pleasant and efficient’ – Europestring.com enjoys a trip on German cheapie Air Berlin.

Even more free stuff to do in London from National Geographic and Europcheapo, while two contributors to The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget suggest Prague and Naples for Euro cheap eats and Belgrade for the best value nightlife in an interview with Budget Travel

Ian Walsh from the New York Times, recommends walking Rome by night. The article is accompanied with a map of a suggested route from Piazza Venezia to Lago Argentia with embedded audio commentry. HighCultureLowBudget’s regular ‘Ask A Local’ feature is off to Firenze this week with Florentine Katie who can make 10 euro go a long way.

The Guardian has posted an audio guide tracing the May 1968 Paris student protests, while the Flyaway Weblog suggests twenty ways to explore Paris like a local.

The Times has an extensive guide to Vilinus and The Chicago Tribune has some tips for Athens.


BoracayLet’s Go Phillipines lists some budget hotel options in Boracay.

Budget Travel will get you started if you’re planning a trip to China, and The Telegraph has a feature on Beijing; ‘it’s grim to look at and as grey as a Mao suit, its climate is generally awful, it’s built on the most inhuman scale imaginable…’. Arthur Frommer writes that Ctrip is the only place to purchase tickets to or in China.

Flaway has some brief recommendations for eating cheaply and well in Phuket and Khao Lak. Shopping in Bangkok? I didn’t know such a thing existed. Travelling Blogger set me right. Mike Smith meets mummified monk of Khao Samui.

VietnaminFocus tackles when to visit Vietnam. August to March comes a close second to anytime, while Vietnam Travel Focus suggests beating the heat in Hanoi at The Army Hotel where you can hang out at around a rather nice looking pool for USD$4 for the day.

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BBC Radio 4’s Excess Baggage – A great radio travel show

How did I not know about this radio show? Every week Radio 4’s Excess Baggage discusses a travel topic, this week it’s an interesting discussion about the Great Wall of China, while a in quick scan of previous shows I found a number of topics as diverse as Luang Prabang, toilets around the world, train travel, adventure travel with children and the usefulness of phrase books. A podcast and audio on demand are available.

Excess Baggage

Although not travel related I can’t let the opportunity to slip past to mention my absolute favorite show In Our Time with Melvin Bragg. If you’re a history buff like me it’s an absolute must, but some of the most interesting topics in science are often the subject matter of the show.

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You may have missed…

An Australian historian has suggested limiting the number of tourists travelling to Gallipoli. I disagree with some of his comments but I do feel that we can’t have it both ways – if we are to allow unfettered access, and Australians wish to visit in increasing numbers, then infastructure improvements (which are considerate of the heritage of the area) are inevitable.

NPR report on the FAA’s systemic failures to ensue routine maintenance was undertaken and compliance with airworthiness directives. http://media.pbs.org/ramgen/newshour/expansion/2008/04/03/20080403_faa28.rm?altplay=20080403_faa28.rm

This report from MSNBC is also worth reading, as is Joe Sharkey’s article in the New York Times.

Via Get the Flick the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations estimate there is a shortage of 3,000 air traffic controllers worldwide.

Seth Stevenson over at Slate penned a fantastic series of articles about Disney World after spending five days passing a critical eye over the magic of the Mouse.

National Geographic’s Calvin Trillin on the passing of the rickshaw in Kolkata.

Boeing has flown the first plane powered by a hydrogen battery.

Learn some Aztec math.

The Lourve has cool new electronic guides available for €6 in seven languages.

China is seeking to enter into the commercial aviation aircraft manufacturing business.

T5 has cost BA ‘£16m in re-booked flights, baggage sorting costs, hotel bookings and lost revenues from air travellers who have chosen to fly with rival carriers because of the chaos at the new terminal’.

Charlie is Colombia’s newest tourist attraction.


Flights delayed at Sydney again today (topically given the article above) due to lack of air traffic controllers

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