Japan tax free items now include cosmetics, food and beverages

japan

As of 1 October 2014, tourists in Japan can get a tax refund for cosmetics, skin care, food and beverage (e.g. sake) purchases in department stores and other shops offering tax-free shopping. This is big news for tourists who come to Japan to buy high-end Japanese cosmetics brands such as Shiseido, Cle de Peau, Lunasol, […]

Norwegian Air Shuttle 787 Dreamliner: Oakland, California to Oslo

norwegian air shuttle

This is a review of a Norwegian Air Shuttle flight in August 2014 from Oakland, California to Oslo, Norway, specifically the Premium Economy cabin and services. Norwegian began flying from Oakland airport in California to Oslo and Stockholm this year. Although it is a “discount” airline, Norwegian flies the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner, unlike traditional […]

Top 10 travel tips 2014 edition

travel tips

Here are Mapplr’s updated top 10 travel tips. (1) In Italy (and other countries with a rich history, food culture and tradition of hospitality, like Japan) go off the beaten track. You will avoid the crowds, pay much less for hotels and restaurants and still see unique sites. (2) Don’t waste your money on renting […]

Etihad, Turkish Airlines to start flying to SFO

Turkish Airlines B777

San Francisco, the tech capital of the world, has sub-par international connections, especially for passengers traveling to Latin America, Southern Europe, India and the Middle East. Of the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), non-stop flights from SFO are offered only to China. Tech entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Helsinki or Santiago de […]

Pros and cons of flying Air China from Europe to Japan via Beijing

view over japan from air china flight

This article lists the pros and cons of flying Air China to Asia via Beijing airport. Air China is one of the major airlines of the People’s Republic of China. It flies to many cities around the world. Advantages of flying Air China with stopover in Beijing (1) Inexpensive business class compared to other airlines: […]

Oman Air: the ultimate in business class?

Oman Air logo

Is Oman Air the best business class airline out there? According to World Airline awards, Oman Air has the best business class for 2012 followed by Cathay Pacific and Qatar Air.  I recently flew from Paris to Bangkok on Oman Air via Muscat, Oman, and it was the best business class flight that I can remember […]

India’s air pollution worse than China’s

India traffic

In the previous post, we warned you about the foul air in China’s cities where levels of air pollution are so high that breathing is extremely hazardous to your health. People who have respiratory illnesses and chronic asthma are advised not to spend a lot of time in Beijing. What I did not know is […]

Travel health warning: smog in Beijing is way off the charts

smog in beijing grounds flights

If you thinking of visiting Beijing and you have respiratory problems (like asthma), bring an inhaler or stay indoors. Yesterday, more than 150 flights to Beijing were cancelled because of fog (official explanation), but in addition to the fog was an excessively high level of pollution, so high it was “off the charts”. The US […]

Travel advisory Argentina: Volcanic ash cloud in Villa La Angostura, Bariloche

villa la angostura covered in ashes

I have just returned from a trip to the beautiful Seven Lakes region of southern Argentina which encompasses the popular ski resort of Bariloche. Unfortunately, Villa La Angostura, one of the loveliest little towns nestled between the lakes and the mountains, is buried under ash. I could barely see the sky, let alone the blue […]

Redesigning hotel rooms for the 21st century

glasgow boutique hôtel

This Financial Times article about Accor (the European hotel chain) upgrading 40,000 hotel rooms around the world to speed up the cleaning of budget hotel rooms and lower the cost of cleaning, is the trend of the future for all hotel chains: “Global hotel chain Accor wanted to improve the ease and speed of cleaning […]

French tourists murdered in Salta, Argentina

salta_argentina.jpg

The bodies of two young female French hikers were discovered on a hiking trail in Salta, Argentina last week. The women were shot to death at close range, one in the head, and the other in the back. One of the women appears to have been sexually assaulted. News reports say that the victims may […]

Belgium to the south of France on the TGV for only 50 EUR

thalys

Here’s an amazing deal from Thalys (the French high-speed rail service from Brussels and Antwerp to France). Each Saturday from June 25 until August 27, 2011, Thalys has a super low rate starting at 50 EUR (Comfort 2 class) which will take you from Brussels or Antwerp-Central to: Valence (3 hours 30 minutes) Avignon (4 hours) […]