Singapore sling cocktail, Raffles hotel

Sling a song! Raffles cocktail celebrates 100 years

Singapore sling cocktail, Raffles hotel[media-credit name=”David Blackwell, Creative Commons” align=”aligncenter” width=”634″]

TripTips – Sling-pressions

By James Durston, TripTipping editor-in-chief

I had my first and only Singapore Sling roughly 13 years ago at Raffles. I arrived, in June, sweat itching its way down my face and neck, and made my way immediately to the air-conditioned comfort of Raffles bar. You can always spot the tourists in these types of places. In the Louvre they head straight for the Mona Lisa. In New Delhi they head straight for the bathroom. In Singapore, they head straight for Raffles bar. For a shoestring backpacker it was a flagrant extravagance. My hotel, the most expensive of the six-month trip, cost US$24 a night. I coughed up nearly the same for a single Sling, so fulsome were the Lonely Planet and co-traveler reviews. And I immediately wished I hadn’t. Bitter, bitty and very less-ish, it’s perhaps one of the most over-hyped cocktails on the planet. Save yourself the change.

The iconic Raffles Singapore hotel celebrates two milestones this year – 100 years of its signature Singapore Sling cocktail and the 50th anniversary of the country’s founding. It’s offering commemorative merchandise and food, discounts and experiences in honor of the occasions.

Fans of the Singapore Sling can participate in Singapore Sling Masterclasses taught by the hotel’s bartenders or enjoy the cocktail-inspired SlingaPore cake, pink in color with zesty and honey flavors.

Ah Teng’s Bakery is offering cakes to take home or get a taste of in Raffles Grill restaurant’s special 1950s Elizabethan Grill Degustation Dinner (S$250++) menu.

Throughout August, guests born in 1965 (Singapore’s 50th anniversary) can receive 25% off their bill for up to 10 people when they dine at Raffles Courtyard, Raffles Grill (excluding business set lunch), Long Bar Steakhouse and Tiffin Room (excluding afternoon tea).

Plus, you can find out which famous guests have stayed at the hotel and the filming locations of movies such as Pretty Polly and Hawaii Five-0 through 45-minute tours (S$20 per person) by volunteer guides from the Preservation of Sites and Monuments Division. The tours are available from June 1 to August 28.

During the same period, a 25-square-meter floral rendition of the Singapore flag will stand at the hotel driveway to commemorate the founding of the country.

Lake Mohicap

Things to do in San Pablo, Laguna by Mai Flores

The province of Laguna is known for its attractions. You can visit the hot spring resorts in Los Baños, the footwear market in Liliw, the historic town plaza in Pila and more. But if you’re a nature enthusiast, then you’ll definitely enjoy San Pablo Laguna’s “7 Lakes.” Visiting all seven lagoons can be done on your own. If you want a hassle-free trip, hire a local tour guide. You can hire a tricycle for the day ($16 for a day tour that’s good for five people), and request to be taken around all seven reservoirs.


Lola Esteling

Start your day by trying out the sumptuous pastry selections at Lola Esteling — a cozy restaurant that’s just beside the San Pablo City Library Hub. Buy a hefty slice of their delicious sylvana/s, and have it paired with a hot cup of coffee.

Morning Activity

Sampaloc Lake

Once you’re done with breakfast, make way to the nearest and most accessible lagoon in all of San Pablo City — Sampaloc Lake. You can either ride the tricycle to get there faster, or take a leisurely stroll towards the largest crater lake. The beautiful inland sea that holds a few houses on stilts and fish pens also offers a beautiful backdrop of Mt. Cristobal.

Lake Sampaloc

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The next lagoon that you can visit via tricycle is Lake Mohicap (covers an area of 14.5 hectares) — one of the city’s main water suppliers. Trekking towards the reservoir can give out a daunting descent due to its uneven manmade stairs. There aren’t any sturdy railings to hold on to, so caution is really needed when going down. But you’ll certainly feel mesmerized once as you get to the base. You can appreciate more of the lagoon’s beauty by renting out a floating raft ($0.45 with local guide).

Lake Mohicap

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Lake Palakpakin is another lagoon that will surely impress you. The reservoirs shoreline is even more striking to look at, given its beautiful layout of water lilies. But that’s not all! The lake, which covers an area of 43 hectares, is also used as a breeding ground for cultured Silver Carps and Tilapia.


Balsa Raft

You can have lunch on top of a floating raft (also called ‘Balsa’ in our local language) while admiring the view of Pandin Lake. If you opt to do a DIY day tour, then it would be convenient to bring your own food. But you can also try the packages that are offered by the locals who dwell by the lake. Most of them offer a raft tour with lunch for around $9 per person.

Afternoon Activity

Yambo Lake

Lake Pandin

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Lake Pandin would probably be one of the hardest to get to, especially if you’re not into scorching hot, half-hour treks. The uneven path towards the lagoon was a long one. But let the lake fascinate you with its picturesque attraction once you reach its shores. It’s one of my favorite lakes from all the 7, which covers an area of about 20.5 hectares.

Yambo Lake is just a short hike from its twin lagoon, Pandin. But you’ll still have to prepare yourself for an intense climb up on its hard slopes. But you’ll surely be enthralled by its expanse and magnificence right after your ascent.

Lake Kalibato (covers an area of 42 hectares with a maximum depth of 135 meters) is another lagoon that’s worth traversing. But before you reach the reservoir, you’ll have to get through a rocky stream and some uneven landscape.

Lake Kalibato

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Lake Bunot, on the other hand is the last lagoon on the list. It covers an area of 30.5 hectares, and is used as a breeding ground for Tilapia.



You’ll probably be tired by the time you finish all of San Pablo City’s 7 Lakes. So indulge yourself with some local fast food meals by heading out to Jollibee Plaza (near the San Pablo City Plaza). There are plenty of tasty rice meals in Jollibee for just under $3.

Evening Activity

San Pablo City Plaza

After dinner, do a leisurely stroll by the San Pablo City Plaza. You can also say a prayer by the San Pablo Cathedral, or take pictures of old houses nearby. And if the library hub is still open, visit that as well.

Prague Castle

Things to do in Prague by Krisette Capati

Prague Castle[media-credit name=”Peyton Guan” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″]

It’s the place where fairy tale meets reality, where well-loved literary characters — Tomas, Tereza, Sabina, Franz, and a dog named Karenin in Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” — come to life as you step foot in the city.

At the heartland of Czech Republic, Prague, the obvious quaintness of surroundings invites you to experience an unforgettable one-day itinerary. There are many cultural attractions to see and to immerse yourself, with gothic and renaissance scenery.

Spring and Fall are the best times to travel, yet the former is more tolerable and encapsulates my definition of ‘beauty,’ with flowers in effloresce.


Café Colore

If your hotel is just around the Old Town, you can’t miss Café Colore along Jungmannova Street. It’s one of the best spots to eat breakfast. It opens at 8 a.m. and serves great food at reasonable prices compared to other tourist spots cafés.

The relaxing Parisian and Venetian-inspired ambience and excellent customer service of the smiling staff is warm and inviting. It feels wonderful to sip a hot cup of coffee and munch tasty cinnamon twist and butter patties, or indulge in a heavy meal of spaghetti carbonara. The latter, by the way, is a must-try.

Palackeho 740/1, Prague, Czech Republic +420 222 518 816

Morning Activity

Old Town Square

Stroll and shop at the Old Town Square and if you can, wake up early and stroll along the streets and climb the famous Astronomical Clock Tower to see the top view of the city before breakfast.

After breakfast, you can check out the shops for some luxury brands or open market stalls along the way, where they sell different kinds of items – from clothing to bags, handcrafted art and souvenir and many more. The Charles Bridge and its museums are must-see sites. Just walk to the roundabout by Karluv and enjoy the sights.



School Restaurant and Lounge

To keep you energized for the long walks and adventure for this one-day itinerary, you don’t have to go beyond the Charles Bridge for lunch. School Restaurant and Lounge is just a few metres away. Go back and head east on Karluv most toward Křižovnická, turn right onto Smetanovo nábřeží, and you’ll find it on your left side.

It’s a non-smoking restaurant on the riverside with good food, great service and ambience. The virgin mojitos, tomato and mussel soup are a must-try.

Smetanovo nábřeží 205/22, 110 00 Praha 1


Afternoon Activity

TRAP Prague

TRAP Prague at Senovazna 8 is a real-life escape game you can play with your friends. It’s best to tag along two to three friends to make this adventure more fun and exciting. It’ll take you more than 30 minutes if you walk from Café Colore, which means you have to go back via Karlova and Centena, or take a public transit to get there in about seven to eight minutes.

The TRAP adventure gives you clues and brainteasers to crack the puzzles when you play inside the room. If you still have time for the rest of the afternoon, you can have a Prague underground tour at Male Namesti to see the hidden treasures and get a taste of medieval history underneath the city.


Dinner and Evening Activity

Prague Castle

Evening is the best time to visit the Prague Castle after the hustle and bustle of the crowd in the Old Town. The castle is rich with history and legends to marvel. You may have dinner at Restaurace Nostalgie for authentic native Czech cuisine before heading the streets for late night beer drinking at the Repete Bar, which is open until 3 a.m. for tourists, locals and expats.

Fusion Maia spa pool

Fusion Maia Danang Review

Fusion Maia spa pool[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Fusion Maia Danang” align=”aligncenter” width=”634″]

I’d been excited for weeks about staying at Fusion Maia Da Nang. Having never been to Vietnam before, it was an excellent opportunity for me to see a bit more of the world, but my main anticipation was for experiencing the concept that the resort lives by. I had heard good things about the place from a couple of people I know who had the pleasure of staying there, so expectations were certainly high.

What becomes clear straight away upon arrival is that there’s a heavy focus on the guest. We were greeted straight away by friendly Stars – Fusion Maia refers to its staff as Stars – and taken through the reception lobby into the Tonic bar. Here, we were also introduced to both the site manager and our assigned Fusionista, and then given a thorough explanation of what activities we could partake in as part of Fusion Maia’s Natural Living programme. Whilst the formalities were in process, a quick look around the Tonic bar gave the impression that we’d be able to really relax and wind down here. The bar and the adjacent Five restaurant sit on an open central structure, meaning that you can see the rest of the resort from the comfy sofas, elevated above a beautiful garden with manmade ponds and streams running underneath.

Our Fusionista, Hong, took us from the bar to our villa, via the spa and the gardens. Living in Hong Kong, it’s always good to spend a bit more time in green surroundings, particularly when they are as immaculately taken care of as this. The designs of the buildings that house the restaurant, lobby, bar and spa are simple but have a modern feel to it. The relaxed atmosphere is further enhanced by the casual and comfortable uniform that the staff are dressed in. The resulting warmth and smiles exuding from them are nothing but genuine, and I’m sure that the fact they are not constrained by their clothing plays a part in this.

Fusion Maia Fusionistas[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Fusion Maia Danang” align=”aligncenter” width=”400″]

Our home for the next couple of days is a gorgeous pool villa. There are 80 of these types of rooms, and each one comes with its own private pool in the garden. These rooms have a minimalistic feeling to them, but not in a futuristic or cold way. Earthy, natural tones are used along with plenty of wooden furniture, making the mix a combination of comfort and modernity. In the villa, there’s a rotatable flat screen TV, an iPod dock and a coffee machine to make it feel like home. His and hers bathroom toiletries were set in the bathroom area, that included a stone bathtub and a ceiling to floor rainforest shower.

The L-shaped room design meant that there were three sets of sliding doors that could take us out into the private garden. Our swimming pool was accompanied by a couple of loungers and a more secluded outdoor sofa area. The privacy of the garden provides opportunities for sweet reflection, and as long as the weather is compliant, it’s likely you’ll spend much of your time out here.

On the other side of the bar and restaurant, you can take the walk down to the beach. Along the way, you’ll pass by the long water feature that runs in between the Feast poolside restaurant and the gym facilities. This is a lovely long stretch of water that is usually illuminated at night time to add a bit more special feeling to the place; we were even encouraged to light floating candles here, making it much more than just a visual spectacle. This is a place where wishes and memories are made.

Fusion Maia Spa building[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”400″]

As the resort is still reasonably new, all the facilities still retain their initial glow and gloss. That’s not unexpected, so the real winner with Fusion Maia Da Nang is the hospitality. They make you feel so special, even as just regular guests, there’s something that they do to give you the impression that you’re singled out.

Perhaps it was the fact that almost every time that we came back to our villa, it seemed as though there was a new surprise waiting for us. For example, after spending the day out in Hoi An, we came back to find that our bathtub had been lined with candles and partially filled with flowers. We were also treated to a surprise cake during our stay. Gestures such as this really made a difference, definitely helping to make us fall in love with the place.

Fusion Maia pool villa[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Fusion Maia Danang” align=”aligncenter” width=”400″]

Breakfast is served at both anytime and anywhere here. Whilst we weren’t able to experience ours on the beach front due to the weather, we did get close enough at the Feast restaurant. Although it was a shame we didn’t get to eat on the beach, it’s great having the flexibility of choosing where to have that first meal, and this offer also extends to Fusion Cafe in Hoi an. In the evenings, we dined at their main restaurant Five. The food was as good as what we expected and the menu had plenty of choice. It’s generally split into western, local and fusion cuisines, and we made a point of varying our options whenever we could. Again, it was the service that stood out for us here, with Stars only too happy to answer questions about the local cuisines and providing a bit more detail.

The emphasis on guest welfare is evident throughout. Part of Fusion Maia’s philosophy is built around their Natural Living programme, a week-long schedule that is designed to help you improve your health and spiritual being through activities and quality nourishment. Each day, there is a schedule led by specialist Stars. For someone such as myself, who had never really paid much attention to this perspective, it was an eye-opening experience. With discipline, I can easily integrate some of the advice into my daily life. The benefits are hard to explain, but having taken on board as much as I could, I sincerely feel as though I have improved many aspects of my being through a better diet and calmer demeanour.

My stay at Fusion Maia was one of my most enjoyable experiences. The physical quality of the resort is outstanding, partially due to the fact that it’s still quite new. You’ll get all of your standard modern amenities as expected, but what really sets it apart is far more subtle. An emotional feeling is hard to quantify, but once there, you will undoubtedly feel welcomed and very well taken care of. The Stars that roam around all stop and say hi, and ensure that your needs are fully met. Even though its been weeks since my stay, I’m still conscious of the Fusion Feeling that I arrived back home with, and it’s something that I have decided to prolong.

Hoi An River

Things to do in Hoi An by Mun Yin Liu

Hoi An River[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”634″]

Located in central Vietnam, Hoi An is a sleepy little city, probably best known for being a UNESCO Heritage Site. Its Old Town is an incredibly relaxed and laid back place, making life look incredibly easy, allowing you to while away the time watching everything going on around you. Going beyond its old centre, to the south you’ll find a number of small islands connected together by a series of bridges, making it much larger than you’d think.


I’d suggest taking it really easy in the morning. A lot of visitors to Hoi An will probably be up early to have a relaxing session of yoga, but seeing as I’m not any sort of yogi, I’ll be sleeping in late and waking up to wander onto the beach. There will be plenty of resorts to pick from along Cua Dai beach that stretches along for 3km. Although most tourists will end up flocking here, you can pick from a number of activities to partake in, including jet skiing, kayaking and wind surfing.


Fusion Cafe

Fusion Cafe[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”400″]

About 5km away near the Old Town, grab your lunch at the Fusion Cafe. This cafe doubles up as Fusion Maia Da Nang’s anchor in Hoi An, with regular shuttle buses from its main resort here. As a result, you can dine and relax here safe in the knowledge that everything available to you will be high quality, and the service from headquarters also extends out to here. They serve Lavazza coffee here, so down a quality brew along with your meal, and you’ll be ready for a full afternoon of exploring.

Fusion Cafe, 35 Nguyen Phuc Chu, Hoi An


Hoi An Street[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”400″]

Meander outside from Fusion Cafe and you’ll be right opposite the old town. Skip past the fruit sellers and other vendors and you’ll cross the bridge. Take a moment right here to look around, you’ll do well to get better views of the Thu Bon River. It’s a prime selfie spot, so snap away, but do be careful of the bicycles and mopeds flying around.

Prepare to be asked about purchasing everything within earshot. During my own afternoon around town, I lost count of the number of rickshaw rides I was offered. A smile and “no, thank you” will normally sort you out, but it can get tiring after a while.

From crossing the bridge, you’ll come straight to a fork on your right. Take the left hand option, and soon enough, you will come up across Saigon Kitsch. There’s plenty to keep you entertained in here, including propaganda art and parodies of well known entertainment brands such as Mr. Bean (Mr. Binh) and the Mr. Men and Little Miss series. Inside, you’ll also be offered the opportunity to make your own monster doll! Indulge and you’ll be rewarded with plenty of giggles.

Saigon Kitsch, 85 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An Ancient Town

On the next parallel street, there’s another shop that I enjoyed browsing. Artbook is a very funky store. In here, there are plenty of coasters and posters of well known movies and anime films, but all with slight twists. Going through shelf by shelf, you’ll find books, tea bags and other household goods, keeping you busy for a good while.

Artbook, 166 Tran Phu Str., Hoi An Ancient Town


Mango Rooms

Your lunch should have been walked off by now, so find your way to a restaurant called Mango Rooms. Don’t confuse it with its sister restaurant, confusingly called Mango Mango. At Mango Rooms, you’ll get modern dishes served in a casual environment with plenty of colours to lighten the mood. The daily specials here often use ingredients fresh from the local market, so it’s definitely worth paying a visit if you want to try Hoi An’s genuine products.

Mango Rooms, 111 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An Ancient Town


After dining, it is worth hanging around Hoi An for a bit longer. Right now, you can savour the Old Town at night, including the fabulous lanterns that light up the place. Get yourself down to the market, which ought to still be buzzing with activity, before taking your pick from the bars overlooking the river to finish off your day.


Things to do in Hanoi by Krisette Capati

Hanoi[media-credit name=”Deposit Photos” align=”aligncenter” width=”431″]

Have you seen your friends post the status “I’m travelling to…”? My social media feed is full of travel updates that show where they’ve travelled. Maybe you see the same set of updates, too (or maybe not).

Anyway, I can suggest just the perfect place to visit this April and May (weather-wise, these are the best months to visit). Before I forget, you’ll also have to update your wall to say: I’m travelling to Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you’re coming this March, you’re lucky to see the scented grapefruit flower baskets along the streets.

Here’s an itinerary for a day at the Vietnamese capital.


Café 129

French legacy still penetrates the scenery and architecture of Hanoi, from buildings, art and to food. If you’re in the city, you can’t miss what Café 129 at Hai Ba Trung offers.

Whilst the cafe may not have the fastest service, the extensive breakfast menu and servings are worth the wait. From sumptuous omelettes and English breakfasts to succulent strips of bacons and burritos to Canadian breakfasts, the meals prepare you for the upcoming hours of adventure and outdoor activities.

Wait, savor, and delight each serving. Promise! It’s worth the wait.

129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung,

Morning Activity

Hoan Kiem Lake

I recommend outdoor activities in the morning (early morning would be great, and as early as five a.m.) at the parks or the lakeside to enjoy the breeze and freshness of morning dew.

Wake up early for walkathons and a few miles of running along Hoan Kiem Lake, which is located in the heart of the city. Sightseeing is the best during this time because locals practice Tai Chi at the park, and you can experience the oriental landscape and culture along the streets. Rent a bike to explore the streets of the Old Quarter until you reach the Dong Xuan market.


Don Xuan Market

Eat like the locals at the Dong Xuan market, where you’ll find food stalls selling Vietnamese cuisine to noodles and famous ban mhi sandwiches and rice noodles. You’ll see how they prepare the food.

Afternoon Activity

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and local museums

Siesta time is after lunch. Whilst you can rest for a while at the hotel or stay at the Dong Xuan market to see other items, I recommend the shopping activity later tonight. For the afternoon, it’s time to learn more of the culture and history through museum hopping and sightseeing, from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to Vietnam Museum of Ethnology to the Temple of Literature.


Quan Oc Vi Sai Gon

You’ll find local cuisine specialties as well at the food stalls, bars and restaurants along the streets of the Old Quarter. Try Quan Oc Vi Sai Gon seafood restaurant for a change before you go to the night market. From an adventurous street food and wet market experience at lunch to Oc Vi Sai Gon’s place of comfort, spacious seating and ambience—tasty snail dishes await you.

19 Gia Ngu, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem


Night Market Near Xuan Market

Shop ‘til you drop at the night market near Xuan market. Stalls are set up during Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, I suggest you visit the place for cheap prices offered from merchants of jewelry, silk, dry goods and a variety of clothing. You can still explore the places and items from Hang Dao Street to Hang Giay Street.