The ever popular publisher of travel guidebooks has come out with their annual ‘Best of Travel’ guide which lists the best of the best for the next year of travel in all sorts of categories from best budget travel to best family travel experiences. If you’ve been planning ahead for next year’s vacations here is the list of the hottest new attractions set to open in 2016 to get your imagination running wild. This year’s list has something for everyone from Disney fans to football fanatics, outdoor explorers and adventurous foodies, no one will be disappointed and everyone will be scrambling to find their passport after one read through this list.
10. Shanghai Disney Resort, China
In Spring of 2916, Disney is set to open its newest resort and the first of its kind in mainland China. The park will include 6 themed areas placed around the largest constructed Enchanted Castle of any Disney park. In the center of the park, ‘The Garden of the Twelve Friends’ will depict the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac represented by Disney characters. There will also be a Disneytown entertainment district (perhaps similar to America’s Downtown Disney) located outside of the new Magic Kingdom which will feature restaurants, shopping, entertainment and two Disney hotel accommodations.
9. Mamma Mia! The Party, Stockholm, Sweden
Diehard ABBA fans will want to take note of this next opening in Stockholm next year; the city’s Gröna Lund amusement park will see the opening of a brand new Mamma Mia!–themed restaurant in January of 2016. The brains behind this new disco-dining experience is none other than ABBA’s own Björn Ulvaeus, the former Swedish music star also co-composed the famed Mamma Mia! musical so naturally he has some involvement here as well. Lonely Planet reports that diners will enter a Greek-style Taverna where diners will tuck into Greek specialties while the story unfolds around them.
8. Monnaie de Paris, France
For those who haven’t been to the city, the Monnaie de Paris is the Paris mint, and in mid-2016 it will see the completion of its ‘MetaLmorphoses’ project -a huge transformation of the mint’s 1.2-hectare site on the Seine. So far the transformation has already seen art exhibitions in the mint’s neoclassical building in 2014 and the opening of famous Michelin accredited chef Guy Savoy’s flagship restaurant in 2015. The fun will continue in 2016 with the unveiling of the mint’s previously unseen collections. In addition, there will be metalwork and foundry tours, Guy Savoy’s MetaLcafé brasserie and much more to see and do.
7. FIFA World Football Museum, Zurich, Switzerland
Ask any football fan if they would make a trip if there were a world football museum and chances are they would probably say yes. Well in spring of 2016, just such an attraction will be opening its doors in Zurich, Switzerland. The FIFA World Football Museum will be a 3,500 square meter facility located in the heart of the city and dedicated to the most widely played sport in the world. The museum will take visitors through the history of the game with a timeline and include a hall of fame, a cinema and a giant football pinball machine.
6. Bourdain Market, New York City, USA
Famous culinary adventurer Anthony Bourdain first announced his plans to open a food market in New York back in January 2014 and foodies have been listening for any little detail about the project ever since. While many details are still unknown (and likely will be until its opening) we do know that the theme will be crazy, loud and slightly obnoxious and it’s all set to open in early 2016. The 100,000 square foot space at Pier 57 will feature producers and carefully selected food vendors from around the world as well as a hawker-style food hall, rooftop beer garden, farmers market and oyster bar.
5. Surf Snowdonia, Wales
Snowdonia National Park in Wales is known for it’s vast natural beauty and spectacular scenery. While this piece of natural paradise is perfect for hikers and those with an appreciation for the great outdoors, there are an increasing number of adventure sports enthusiasts heading to Snowdonia for the man-made adrenaline attractions like Europe’s longest zip line and an underground trampolining center. In 2016 the park will see another new attraction to entice visitors, in the form of a 300 meter long artificial surf lagoon. The £12 million project is said to use rainwater to produce a consistent barreling 2 meter wave every minute, and is the first of its kind in the world.
4. National Gallery Singapore
Lonely Planet says that while Singapore is host to several world-class museums, if you only have time for one in 2016 make it the National Gallery. Located in the city’s former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the gallery not only offers Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to today, but the venue itself offers history and its own story. Visit the restored colonial courtrooms and council chambers but make sure you also check out the beautiful rooftop garden which offers spectacular views of Marina Bay.
3. BASK, Gili Meno, Indonesia
BASK is a brand-new luxury villa-resort development on the island of Gili Meno near Bali. The development which is set to open in 2016 has a very recognizable celebrity endorsement on its side; David Hasselhoff, aka The Hoff, is the face of BASK and is said to be looking at having his own vacation villa in the complex. The development is located on a private white sand beach and will feature a world class restaurant, beach club, luxury spa and even its own underwater sculpture park for diving enthusiasts.
2. Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Abu Dhabi arts scene is about to get a new star in 2016; the Louvre Abu Dhabi was first planned to be completed in 2012, but flash forward another 4 years and we will finally see this €100 million dollar project completed. The building itself is a sight to behold as the domed structure seems to almost be floating on the water as it sits on Saadiyat Island. The museum will have a permanent collection of art throughout the ages including Chinese Buddhist carvings and Italian oil paintings while works from famed artists like Van Gogh, Monet and da Vinci will be on loan from France.
1. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, USA
The number one opening in 2016 is an exciting first for America; the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC for short) will become the first national museum in America to focus exclusively on the lives, history and culture of African Americans. The 10-storey space Smithsonian Institution museum will open in Washington DC in 2016 and will boast artifacts from around the country that represent the history of African Americans. Everything from Harriet Tubman’s 1876 hymn book, to a Jim Crow-era segregated railcar, to banners and photographs from notable human rights demonstrations will be on display.
The world’s population is rapidly aging and this is having an impact on global business and tourism as companies are slowly starting to realize that accessibility is not just an issue that must be addressed for those with a disability. It’s a real issue that many grey nomads are putting some extra thought into before booking their next vacation. Lonely Planet agrees that with an aging baby boomer population that isn’t willing to slow down when it comes to travel, accessibility is becoming paramount. With this in mind they’ve put together this list of the most accessible vacation destinations for 2016:
10. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Snowbirds love to head south in the winter, and mexico is a popular winter destination for many including those over the age of 65. Playa del Carmen is only an hour away from Cancun airport but it’s a far cry from the lively Spring Break destination city. Accessible hotels are available and the beach is also easy to navigate with the help of special beach wheelchairs and even special equipment to help you snorkel, even if you can’t swim.
9. Barcelona, Spain
The tourism agencies of Spain and especially the Catalonia region have been pushing the importance of accessible tourism for quite some time now. As a result, 80 per cent of metro stations and 100 per cent of public buses are wheelchair accessible. And unlike many old historic cities, the old town of Barcelona is cobblestone free reducing the risks of trip and falls and making it easier for those with walkers and wheelchairs.
8. Galápagos and Amazonia, Ecuador
After watching these nature-centric destinations on programs like Planet Earth, they may not seem like an option for those with mobility issues, however they’re a lot closer in reach thanks to Lenín Moreno, a paraplegic who was the vice president of Ecuador from 2006-2013. Moreno’s work is responsible for the inroads in accessibility in this largely inaccessible continent.
7. Sicily, Italy
When one thinks of Italy, images of cobblestone streets and elevated countryside usually come to mind -not exactly the picture of accessibility. But Lonely Planet says Sicily is breaking new ground on this front and is home to a tactile museum and Europe’s only sensorial botanic garden. Two Guinness world records have also been set here by people with disabilities; the first paraplegic to dive to 59m and first blind woman to dive to 41m.
6. Manchester, England
Although Manchester is indeed an old city, much of the central business district was rebuilt in the late 1900s. The result is a city with wide, smooth pavements and many shopfronts, bars and restaurants that are completely step free. Perfect for those with reduced mobility. The city’s public transit is also wheelchair friendly and offers service to just about anywhere you’d want to get to in the city.
5. Melbourne, Australia
The city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia has been called the ‘best in the world’ for a lot of things, but it can now add ‘most accessible’ to that list as well. The city’s highly accessible public transit has received global praise and the compact central city core helps earn the city’s status as one of the most accessible cities in the world. Lonely Planet even has a guidebook dedicated to the subject titled ‘Accessible Melbourne.’
4. Ljubljana, Slovenia
The capital city of Slovenia is relatively flat, a fact that many aging travelers will appreciate. It’s also equipped with highly accessible public transit which features audio and video stop announcements on buses (because there’s nothing worse than missing your stop!) The main attraction of the city is the 16th century Ljubljana Castle, and while you wouldn’t expect anything built in the 16th century to be accessible, the castle is actually wheelchair accessible.
Singapore is arguably the most accessible city in Asia and one of the most overall accessible in the whole world. You’ll find stepless access to most buildings and an endless supply of curb cuts to make sure there are no barriers for those in wheelchairs. The city’s mass rail transit (MRT) and buses are also designed for the visually and motor impaired, making this city one were there are essentially no limitations.
2. San Diego, USA
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (which just celebrated its 25th anniversary) most of the United States is very accessible, but Lonely Planet picked San Diego, California as a standout in its class. The city is easy to get around with a fairly flat grid system and public transit is easy with a fully accessible tram system. The most notable feature is the miles long beachfront promenade which offers beach wheelchairs to those who need them.
1. Vienna, Austria
Like Manchester but perhaps even richer in history, Vienna is a historic city that’s been refurbished to meet modern day demands. Unlike many old European cities, its cobblestones have been removed as have many curbs and central shops, cafes and restaurants are wheelchair friendly. One of the city’s most notable attractions, the Schloss Schönbrunn is fully accessible making it a must-see for everyone, no matter your age.
We assume some cities to be de facto tourist meccas; we’re told over and over again that places like Paris, London and Rome are places that every traveler must visit in their lifetime. But have you ever wondered just how many people visit some of these cities each year—or, indeed, which cities attract the largest share of international tourists? While some of the tried-and-true destinations have made the cut for 2015, other entries on the list of the top 15 most visited cities might surprise you.
15. Milan, Italy
Perhaps most famous as Italy’s fashion powerhouse, the city of Milan is much more than that. Located in northern Italy, it is also home to Italy’s largest stock exchange, two major soccer teams and numerous theaters, museums and monuments. Milan has something to offer each one of its seven plus million visitors each year. Notable sites around the city include the Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage site decorated by Leonardo da Vinci paintings. Although the city itself is entirely flat terrain, the nearby Alps form part of its cityscape, and the city’s proximity to Alpine tourist destinations have positioned it as a gateway community. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the world’s oldest shopping mall and is located on the Piazza Duomo, near the fifth-largest church in the world, Milan Cathedral.
14. Rome, Italy
Given Rome’s ubiquitous position as the cradle of Western civilization and European civilization in particular, as well as its unique reputation as a tourist destination, it’s perhaps surprising that Rome didn’t rank higher on this list. Still, with a projected 7.4 million tourists in 2015, tourism to Rome is nothing to sneeze at. Rome is home to some of Europe’s most famous historical monuments, such as the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. Religious tourism to Rome is still an important factor; although the Vatican is a separate state, it is located inside Rome and many visitors tour through Rome’s churches as well. Under the influence of numerous popes, Rome has undergone a program of patronage since the Renaissance that aimed to make it the cultural and artistic center of the world—a lofty goal and one that has resulted in Rome long being a mecca for people around the world.
13. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
When The Netherlands first legalized the sale of cannabis in coffee shops, a running joke became that most young North American tourists would hit Amsterdam for one reason and one reason alone. While some of the city’s 7.44 million international tourists might visit for that reason, there are many other things to do and see in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam is, of course, famous for its cannabis cafes and red light district, which attracts many visitors, but other aspects of its nightlife, including numerous discotheques and world-renowned jazz clubs, are equally attractive to tourists. The city’s architecture, historical buildings and many museums are also incentive for visitors. Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh Museum are just two of the many historic sites frequented by tourists. The city is also well-known for its system of canals, which add to its picturesque appeal.
12. Barcelona, Spain
Capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, in Spain, Barcelona has a long history of tourism: in medieval times, it was an important site for Christian pilgrims. Today, the tourism industry is still an important and growing part of Barcelona’s economy, with more than 7.5 million people expected to visit the city in 2015. Barcelona rivals Madrid, the country’s capital, in terms of major attractions and historic sites; the city boasts no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and many museums. As the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean, Barcelona has also become internationally renowned for its many beaches; many Spaniards vacation in Barcelona for the beaches and the practice is catching on with foreign visitors. Notable sites include the fortress at Montjuic and the Basilica of La Merce, as well as the stunning, yet incomplete, Sagrada Familia Basilica.
11. Tokyo, Japan
Whether you’re looking for exciting subculture fashion, interested in experiencing the Japanese tradition of kabuki theater, or just want to eat the freshest sushi in the world, Tokyo has you covered. Japan’s capital city is a sprawling urban metropolis littered with skyscrapers, excellent restaurants and renowned museums, and interspersed with parks and greenspace. Various districts of the city are dedicated to nightlife (Roppongi and Shibuya), fashion subcultures (Harajuku) and electronics (Akihabara). Ancient Shinto shrines and historic castles are a testament to Tokyo’s long history as the center of Japanese culture, and now you can mingle with ultra-modern architecture like Tokyo Skytree and the iconic Tokyo Tower. With slightly over eight million foreign tourists expected in 2015, Tokyo continues to be one of the most visited cities in the world, although it remains outside of the top 10.
10. Hong Kong, China
In 1997, Hong Kong became an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Beginning in the 1970s, the city developed into a global metropolis, functioning as a center for trade and finance. Hong Kong also developed an entertainment industry, producing many popular kung-fu action films. Today, more than 8.5 million people visit the city each year, some for business and others for pleasure. The cityscape is decidedly modern, with the number of skyscrapers outnumbering any other city in the world; architecture has blended between Eastern and Western styles, and elements of traditional culture, like feng shui and dim sum, mingle easily with Western influences. Despite this, Hong Kong is also renowned for its geographical features: its deep harbor has made it an important port, nearby Mount Kowloon offers steep terrain and the rugged coastline has many excellent beaches.
9. Seoul, South Korea
More than 10 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Seoul in 2015. The financial, cultural and political heart of South Korea, Seoul was first designed as a capital city in the 14th century. The city’s lengthy list of historic buildings and UNESCO World Heritages sites includes palaces and temples, as well as the remains of neolithic settlements unearthed nearby. Two old residential districts are now preserved as museums to showcase traditional Korean culture and lifeways, including hanok houses. Seoul has many more museums, such as the Kimchi Field Museum. But Seoul isn’t all about the past; the city boasts some of the world’s most design-forward modern architecture and was named a World Design Capital in 2010. Ultra-modern buildings mingle with numerous parks, creating a unique and attractive cityscape near Mount Namsan.
8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The capital of Malaysia will attract more than 11 million international visitors in 2015, making it the 8th most visited city in the world. Tourism and shopping are major drivers of the Malaysian economy and nowhere is that more evident than Kuala Lumpur, which functions as the largest retail center in the country with 66 shopping malls. Major attractions include the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, the National Palace and the Jamek Mosque. Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, is another notable destination for tourists, and the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam and its procession to Batu Caves is a major cultural festival that attracts visitors from many different locales. The city also functions as a hub for entertainment, art and events, including sports and music festivals. Kuala Lumpur is also noted for its multiethnic blend of cuisines and architectures.
7. Singapore City, Singapore
Nearly 12 million people will visit the city-state of Singapore during the course of 2015. Over the last decade, the country has garnered a reputation for being a “luxury” destination, with many high-end hotel chains setting up shop, and the legalization of gambling heralding casino tourism. The island country’s biggest draw, however, is said to be its cuisine: Singapore’s multiethnic mix has led to a unique fusion of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines—like the Peranakan style of cooking, a hybridization of Chinese and Malay culinary traditions. There are many restaurants and, in fact, dining is said to be one of Singapore’s national pastimes. Architecture in the city-state similarly reflects the fusion of various cultural influences. Water sports such as sailing, scuba diving and water skiing are popular recreational pastimes, while soccer is a popular sport to watch.
6. New York City, United States
The only American entry on this list, New York City remains the U.S. destination of choice for international tourists, with over almost 12.3 million people expected to visit in 2015. Attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building continue to draw visitors, while major events like New York Fashion Week pulls in crowds from around the world. Times Square and Broadway also remain popular attractions for international visitors, while shopping, cuisine and nightlife are alluring for many others who choose to take a bite out of the Big Apple. Other notable sites include Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. For many, New York remains the premier American destination, ranking well ahead of other U.S. cities like Los Angeles. As America’s largest city, NYC is likely to remain the country’s biggest tourist draw as well.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
With over 12.5 million foreign tourists projected to visit in 2015, Istanbul is both the fastest growing destination in Europe and the 5th most visited city in the world. Located along the Bosphorus, the city has been an important center of European civilization since the time of the ancient Greeks. Situated at the heart of two historically important empires, Istanbul has a long and illustrious heritage. It’s easily one of Europe’s most multicultural cities, thanks to its unique positioning on the edge of both Europe and Asia. It was named a European Capital of Culture in 2012. The city boasts mosques and churches, bazaars and malls and a treasure trove of other attractions. Traditional Turkish cuisine, such as kebabs, are popular and the city is also well-known for a vibrant entertainment industry and nightlife. Its historic center, a partial UNESCO World Heritage site, remains the most popular tourist attraction.
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and has recently emerged onto the global stage through its innovative architecture, such as the world’s tallest skyscraper and its history of hosting major sporting events. A center of world banking, Dubai has earned a reputation for being both pricey and luxurious—as a vacation destination, it’s often lauded as a sort of playground for the rich and famous. Its skyline is dominated by the Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building at 828 meters. The Burj al Arab is another iconic structure. Dubai’s attitude is clearly go big or go home: the Dubai Miracle Garden, opened in 2013, is the world’s largest flower garden and the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world. More than 14 million people are expected to visit Dubai from other countries in 2015 as tourism continues to grow.
3. Paris, France
Oh Paris, the iconic city of love with its grandiose Eiffel Tower ranked 3rd on this list. Being the 3rd most visited city in the world says something about how many people travel here each year. Paris will attract over 16 million foreign tourists in 2015, and it is well behind the first and second-place cities. Nonetheless, Paris remains a top-tier destination for many travelers, often considered a must-take trip or a bucket-list destination. The capital of France is noted for its cuisine, including its many bistros and cafes, along with many 3-star restaurants. The Arc de Triomphe, the Palace of Versailles, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre are all popular tourist attractions. Paris is also known as a center of fashion, hosting the twice annual Paris Fashion Week. The city is also the host of several important sporting events, including the finish of the Tour de France and the Paris Grand Slam tennis tournament.
2. Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s capital city is on-track to receive more than 18 million foreign tourists in 2015, making it the second most visited city in the world. With world-class shopping and dining and a dynamic nightlife, Bangkok offers something for everyone to see and do. Another major driver of travel to Bangkok is sex tourism; Bangkok has actually earned the nickname “Sin City of Asia” as a result of how many visitors it receives on account of the industry. Other visitors are attracted by the city’s mix of historical buildings, showcasing a variety of influences and cultures. Notable sites are Wat Phra Kaew, a Buddhist temple in the Grand Palace, and Jim Thompson House, considered an outstanding example of Thai architecture. As the seat of the Thai government and the royal family, Bangkok is also a hub for major cultural events, such as religious celebrations and festivals.
1. London, United Kingdom
London is projected to receive almost 19 million foreign tourists in 2015, making it the most visited city in the world. The U.K.’s capital ranks among its European counterparts, like Paris and Rome, boasting numerous landmarks, iconic monuments and a host of other tourist attractions. The city has numerous museums and a strong arts scene, as well as a world-renowned shopping district (High Street) and fashion industry, which includes the twice-annual London Fashion Show. Notable sites include Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the Shard, Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. The city also has a large theater district in the West End, with more than 40 theaters. The British Museum, the Tate Museum and the National Gallery were the top three attractions in 2010. Even the transit system is iconic: the London Underground is the oldest underground railway in the world.
Tourism to the Asia/Pacific region has been on the rise for a while now, as travel becomes increasingly affordable to more people, businesses expand into new countries and cities and as young people become increasingly infatuated with exploring. And why not? With a host of colorful cities, storied history and amazing sightseeing, Asia/Pacific destinations deserve to be on your travel itinerary. Not sure which city to visit first (or next)? Take a look at 2015’s most popular destination cities in the region to help get you started on your next trip.
10. Osaka, Japan
Although less frequented than Tokyo on the travel circuit, Osaka is Japan’s second-largest city, with nearly 19 million inhabitants, and has long been an important center in the country. In fact, Osaka was even declared the capital city during the 8th and 9th centuries. In the Edo years, Osaka maintained its economic importance as a major center of the rice trade. A booming economy led to a burgeoning cultural scene, something that continued to develop during the 19th century as Osaka modernized. Today, Osaka has many attractions that can give Tokyo a run for its money—from amusement parks to kabuki theater, from cuisine to historical monuments, Osaka is a destination that offers a little something for everyone, so it’s little wonder more than 4.5 million people will have visited in 2015. Stop by Shitenno-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, or the landmark Osaka Castle.
9. Mumbai, India
Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is the most populous city in India. It’s also the most popular city for travelers to visit—nearly five million of them in 2015—which is little surprise as Mumbai is the economic and entertainment capital of India. Mumbai’s cityscape is also impressive, with an eclectic mix of architectural styles documenting the city’s long history. Mumbai has the second-largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world, and skyscrapers now form a major portion of the city’s panorama. Mumbai is the birthplace of Indian cinema and hosts a large number of film festivals; Bollywood and Marathi films can be seen at many cinemas. Mumbai is also home to a well-funded contemporary art movement and has several art museums and galleries. The city functions as a major cultural center and hosts plenty of festivals throughout the year, with Christian, Hindu and Muslim traditions all represented.
8. Shanghai, China
Perhaps more iconic than even the capital city of Beijing, Shanghai is, for many people, the representative city of China, which is how it attracts nearly six million visitors every year. The largest Chinese city and, in fact, the largest city in the world by some counts, Shanghai originally developed as a major center thanks to its strategic position at the mouth of the Yangtze River. It became an important hub during the colonial period, which helped bolster its international reputation. Today, Shanghai is the economic center of China, with major industrial, commercial and financial sectors operating there. Shanghai has long been multicultural, which is demonstrated by its mix of architectural styles, its religious heritage and even in the history of its most famous garment, the cheongsam. Shanghai is also an important hub for sports, being home to several professional soccer teams and the annual Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix.
7. Taipei, Taiwan
As the center of Taiwan, Taipei is an important hub for economic, political and cultural activity, which is probably why more than 6.5 million people will visit the city in 2015. Taipei boasts many architectural and cultural landmarks, including museums, temples and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Taipei is also remarked for its geography, as it lies on an ancient lakebed between 2 small rivers; the nearby natural hot springs are world-renowned. Taipei also hosts many major festivals, such as the New Year’s Lantern Festival, a Dragon Boat Festival and the mid-autumn Moon Festival. The city is home to Taipei 101, a supertall skyscraper that was the tallest building in the world until 2010. Ximending has become famous for its shopping and entertainment. The city is also famed for its many night markets, street markets that operate during the evening, which are popular with citizens and tourists alike.
6. Tokyo, Japan
Japan’s capital city is one of those destinations that “has it all”. Whether you’re looking for new and exciting fashion, interested in taking in traditional kabuki and noh plays, want to go shopping or just want to eat the freshest sushi in the world, Tokyo is your one-stop shopping destination. Tokyo is a sprawling city with many museums, temples, historic buildings and, yes, districts dedicated to nightlife, fashion subcultures and electronics. Climb Tokyo Skytree to get a new perspective on the urban sprawl or head out of town to climb Mount Fuji. Visit the castle, where the emperor and his family reside, or take a trip to Akihabara to check out the latest in electronics. After a long day, hit up Shibuya and Roppongi for a taste of trendy Tokyo nightlife. No wonder more than eight million people will stop off in this city in 2015.
5. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong’s deep natural harbor and turbulent history saw it remain a British colony until near the end of the 20th century. In 1997, the city became an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Before that, however, Hong Kong had developed into a global metropolis, functioning as a center for trade and finance from the 1970s on. Today, more than 8.5 million people visit the city each year. Hong Kong has been described as the point where East meets West, with modernization and Western influences blending easily with traditions like feng shui and dim sum. The city is also a hub for the entertainment industry, producing many popular kung-fu action films. It’s renowned for beaches along its rugged coastline and with Mount Kowloon nearby with its extensive network of trails and steep terrain, which is popular among hikers. The city’s skyline contains the most skyscrapers in the world.
4. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul will have received more than 10 million visitors in 2015, which make the city the world’s 10th most visited destination. As South Korea’s most populous and capital city, Seoul is the financial, cultural and political heart of the country. Seoul has been a capital city since the 14th century, and so it has a lengthy roster of historically important buildings and UNESCO World Heritages sites, including palaces and temples, as well as the remains of neolithic settlements. Seoul also has many museums and parks which form an important part of the cityscape. Two old residential districts are now preserved as museums to showcase traditional Korean culture and lifeways, including hanok houses. The Kimchi Field Museum is dedicated to traditional Korean cuisine. Seoul is also renowned for its modern architecture and was named World Design Capital in 2010.
3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The capital of Malaysia will attract more than 11 million international visitors in 2015; in fact, the city has received at least that many visitors since 2012 and tourism growth shows no signs of slowing down. Tourism and shopping are major drivers of the Malaysian economy and nowhere is that more evident than Kuala Lumpur. Major attractions include the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, the National Palace and the Jamek Mosque. Petaling Street and Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown is another notable destination for tourists, as well as the annual Thaipusam procession to Batu Caves, a major cultural festival that attracts many visitors each year. The city is a hub for entertainment, art and events, including sports and music festivals. Greenspace is also important in the city, with many parks offering recreational opportunities. The Cultural Crafts Complex demonstrates the traditional processes for textile, ceramic and metal crafting.
2. Singapore, Malaysia
With nearly 12 million international visitors set to touch down in 2015, there’s definitely more to Singapore than the infamous Singapore Sling. Singapore is not only a city, it’s a city-state—meaning it’s also its own sovereign nation. Singapore is a global city, with an important financial sector and a busy shipping port. Cuisine is one of the country’s major attractions, with dining said to be a national pastime. Singapore’s multiethnic mix has led to a unique fusion of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines—like the Peranakan style of cooking, which blends Chinese and Malay gourmets. Of course, the multicultural tendencies of the country have also led to mixed styles of architecture and religious celebrations in the city-state. Singapore has also earned a reputation for luxury, with gambling and casinos becoming an increasing part of the tourist economy in the last decade.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s capital city is on-track to receive over 18 million foreign tourists in 2015, and it’s not hard to see what makes Bangkok so popular. With a mix of historical sites and buildings, shopping and dining and a dynamic nightlife, Bangkok offers something for everyone to see and do. Another major driver of Bangkok tourism is sex tourism—so much so that Bangkok has been nicknamed the “Sin City of Asia”. Among the notable sites in the city are Wat Phra Kaew, a Buddhist temple in the Grand Palace, and Jim Thompson House, an exemplar of Thai architecture. The city’s National Gallery showcases the development of Thai art. As the seat of the Thai government and the royal family, Bangkok is also a hub for the celebration of major festivals and holidays, such as the annual Songkran celebrations every April.
There are so many ingenious ways to measure the cost of living in places around the world. So if you’re thinking of heading off to a treasured locale in some far off land, you absolutely want to check this list. Six of the top ten culprits on The Domestic Budget from Hell list are from either China or Switzerland. The cost of living can rise or fall on the arcane machinations of currency values, population growth or plain old corruption. Some cultures have never got the hang of retail and their screwed-up distribution systems lead to classic horror stories like the legendary $40 cantaloupe of Tokyo. Here’s where it gets really interesting. Most of the insanely expensive cities that have dominated these lists in recent years have fallen off, Tokyo among them along with New York, London and Moscow making way for a whole new batch of prohibitively expensive destinations. So hold on to your wallet and take the tour, free of charge.
10. N’Djamena, Chad
Simply put Chad is a basket case sitting atop an ocean of recently discovered oil and N’Djamena is the capital. Mercer sums up the problems this way: “The main driver behind this is the difficulty finding good, secure accommodation for expatriates. “So the limited supply of acceptable accommodation is very expensive. The cost of imported international goods is also high.” Plain English translation:Chad is one of the world’s most corrupt countries. At least half the estimated $10 USD billion in earnings has been skimmed off for military hardware and embezzlement. The country also borders on war-stricken Syria and Sudan and the U.S. State Department counsels Americans to avoid border zones where the dreaded Boko Haram are a real threat. The average annual wage is $750. Average life expectancy is 51. Chronic drought devastates crops and there’s no real infrastructure to cut through the corruption. So with a full plate like that, Chad hasn’t got around to building condos, heath clubs and sushi bars for the oil workers that have flocked there. Cheap it is not. But it dropped from the number two slot last year, so maybe there’s progress.
9. Bern, Switzerland
When thinking about expensive cities mammoth urban monster is the image that comes to mind. Bern is a lovely city, a bucolic town of maybe 150,000 people. It is the capital with an Old Town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. But, pricier than Tokyo and London? Well start with a tight housing market. Then add the Capitol Factor with civil servants making very decent money. The biggest culprit has nothing to do with Bern at all. In fact it has more to do with Greece and the panic its long running death spiral in the European Union has caused. When it looked like Greece might default on EU loans, nervous investors dumped their Euros and bought Swiss Francs as a safe haven for their money bags causing it to zoom in value. Suddenly expats had to spend way more of their own currency to buy the francs they needed. As a result everything in Switzerland got more expensive without prices in stores actually being marked up.
8. Seoul, South Korea
Now this is more like it. A city of ten million at the head of the massive industrial juggernaut that is South Korea. Seoul begins the Asian onslaught. A nice apartment costs about two grand, not way out of line. But groceries and clothing are the silent killers, twice the level in the U.S. A decade ago Seoul was barely making the Top 50, now it’s Top 10 again largely because of international currency turbulence. The Korean Won has jumped 36% against the Japanese yen and 15% against the weakening Euro. Here’s how currency changes become price increases. That $2000 USD apartment to a Canadian with a weaker currency costs $2527 CAD. Ouch, eh?
7. Beijing, China
The expense of living in Beijing is giving whole new meaning to the expression “Forbidden City.” A three-bedroom apartment downtown can be north of US$4000. Office space is pricier than Manhattan. Eating Western food even at home is prohibitive. Tuition for schools starts at $25000 USD. Coffee has broken the $6 barrier. The rise in value of the Chinese yuan is propelling several growing Chinese cities up the expensive charts with bullets. Shenyang, a city of 8 million, 700 km northeast of Beijing jumped 33 rungs to 21st. Qingdao, home of the famous beer, jumped 24 to 25th.On the other hand cigarettes are 3 bucks a pack, making it hard on would be quitters.
6. Shanghai, China
Two hints this place will cost you. 1) There are more than 17 million people. 2) Even after the sell off the Shanghai stock market is up 89% over last year. So the place is sloshing around in people and money as incomes rise and a middle class emerges to compete with expats for scarcer and scarcer housing. Even now, a real estate website offers a tiny 2-bedroom apartment in what they “The Other Areas” for $2200 USD a month. Anything imported is hideously expensive. Levi 501’s are $116.50, a package of diapers is $32.00, and breakfast cereal is eight bucks a box. All this on top of the inflation from the rising value of the currency and it will be a pretty penny to live in the shadow of the iconic skyline. Except for Canadians who don’t have pennies anymore.
5. Geneva, Switzerland
The Swiss sticker shock continues in the Club Sandwich Index champ. Geneva is home to a number of United Nations organizations so there are a lot of professionals with commensurate salaries. There is an economic axiom that cities with high incomes tend to have higher prices. Hence the $7 toothpaste of Geneva. For some reason the cost of appliances in Genève is notorious. Expats scratch their heads at the basic microwaves costing $60 at Walmart while in Geneva they cost $300. The population is less than 200,000, but since the Swiss prefer to rent rather than own due to prohibitive ownership costs, there is a dire shortage of places to live. A three bedroom in the city is around $4000 USD. Chicken is $14 a pound, those Levis are $140, and the Big Mac is $15. It all adds up. At least it ranks lowest for wine with an average bottle costing $8.69. You’ll need it.
4. Singapore City, Singapore
In most western jurisdictions drinking and driving is criminal offense with serious consequences. Singapore follows the-time honored economic principal that if you want to discourage certain behaviors, tax the hell out of them. As for the drinking part a delightful website called Living in Sin says drinkable wine starts at $18 USD. A loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, a pack of cigarettes together costs $39.11 and that’s not even counting restaurant markups. Sometimes you can get cheaper at a 7/11. Another city with a strong currency and financial center. A 900 square foot apartment runs $4900 a month. The BBC rates it the most expensive place to buy clothes and basic groceries are 11% higher than New York. But the pain really kicks in when it comes to cars. More for traffic than environmental reasons, Singapore discourages the use of them by making their use crazy pricey. That BMW that cost $34,000 back home in Minneapolis needs a Certificate of Entitlement which after fees, taxes and plates costs an estimated $238,000. And honestly, how can you be a self-respecting financial mover and shaker without one?
3. Zurich, Switzerland
Being more expensive than Singapore is no easy task, but Zurich has done it. It’s become one of those places where price tags just bring tears to your eyes. Yet there are less than 400,000 people. The average movie ticket is priced at being over $21 while haircuts are $50. That ubiquitous pair of Levis a staggering $156. A two bedroom apartment is $4100 plus. Even the wine is almost triple the price in Geneva. Food in Switzerland is said to be 45% more expensive than the rest of Western Europe. Wait there’s more. As in Geneva a microwave sets you back $329. There are people in the Ozarks who can manage to source appliances and get them on retail shelves for less than $100. It would be classified as insane in any of Switzerland’s official languages if it weren’t for the fact it still has a ways to go to catch #2 on the list.
2. Hong Kong, China
The Mong Kok neighborhood on Hong Kong’s Kowloon Peninsula is by many measurements the most crowded place on earth with a population density of around 300,000 people per square mile. Manhattan’s corresponding figure is a mere 66,771. Though now repatriated to China it remains a huge global financial hub. Add a currency that’s pegged to the surging U.S. greenback. Put the three together and affordable housing becomes a distant memory while a cup of coffee has reached $11. An unfurnished two bedroom flat is about $6400 a month. As the Wall Street Journal headline said “In Hong Kong, the Apartments Are Fit for a Mosquito.” The Savills Live-Work Index puts the per employee cost to companies for home and office space to $123,000. That’s not counting paying them. Everything has to be imported pushing costs higher. The question is how do non-bankers get by?
1. Luanda, Angola
The seemingly unlikely heavyweight wallet muncher is this African seaport and oil hub. Angola has become the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa so foreign workers are flocking in. Most of the city’s population of five million lives in destitution on about five dollars a day, but big oil attracts expats with lots of money and expensive tastes. After a lengthy civil war, decent housing is scarce and a decent place costs almost $7000 a month. Anything imported is ridiculous. Think those jeans were expensive in Zurich? They’re $250 here. Food is double the New York price. Transparency International ranks Angola as the 14th most corrupt country in the world. Seems officials have lost track of five billion in oil money over the last decade down their pants somewhere. But hey, Marlboro are a buck ninety a pack.
For some of us, our pets are our best friends and we often want to share experiences with them. Pet-owners who travel also worry about the quality of care Fido’s receiving when they’re out of town—and the costs associated with that care. No wonder so many of us would rather just bring our furry companions along for the ride. One of the biggest barriers, though, can be finding pet-friendly accommodations that are up to snuff for both you and your pet. Here are 10 of the best hotel brands with pet-friendly policies to keep in mind for your next trip.
One of the better-known hotel brands in the world, the Ritz-Carlton is synonymous with swanky. Today, the iconic chain is part of the Marriott hotel group, although it differs significantly from other brands in the Marriott portfolio. One of the biggest differences is pet policy. While not every Ritz-Carlton is a pet-friendly hotel, those that are offer toys and treats, beds and bowls, as well as special services, such as a canine spa and loaner Burberry raincoats for your pooch. Some properties offer special pet packages, which include canine room service and special hikes. All of this has a price, of course: expect to pay between $125 to $250 in non-refundable fees if you want to share a luxury experience with Fido. Policies vary from hotel to hotel, so be sure to call ahead and check the details.
9. Choice Hotels
The Choice Hotels group encompasses many, many brands, most of them names we’d recognize from roadside travel throughout Canada and the U.S. And, for many of us, brands like Comfort Inn and Econolodge, while maybe not the ritziest of destinations, are synonymous with reasonable pricing and good service. These chains are popular with budget travelers and people traveling for any number of reasons, whether it be business or pleasure. Choice Hotels knows we can’t always we leave our pets behind—nor do we want to; in fact, 80 percent of people see their pets as family members. The Choice Hotels brands have made the decision to bring your pet along easy; there’s no need to choose between comfort, value or keeping your pet by your side as long as you’re booking with a member property of the Choice Hotels group. For some, that means more comfort away from home.
Novotel is a relative newcomer brand in a lot of places, but they’re definitely becoming major players on the business travel circuit. Most of their properties offer generous business amenities, from large, catered meeting spaces to free internet connections and print-and-copy centers. They’re also known for their pet-friendly policies, which allow guests to bring up to 3 dogs with them for their stay at a Novotel property. With operations around the globe, in cities like London, Amsterdam, Beijing and Bangkok, Novotel offers options both close to home and in more far-flung places, which means you don’t need to compromise your travel plans just because you want to share the experience with your pet. In an environment where finding a place to put up your (literal) dogs can be challenging, Novotel provides one of the best pet-friendly atmospheres for travelers.
7. Four Seasons
Welcoming dogs up to 60 pounds and cats, Four Seasons’ website specifically states that “everyone deserves a vacation!” That includes your furry traveling companions, who are welcome at most of the Canadian-based luxury chain’s properties around the world. Four Seasons has long been lauded for its focus on people—not just their customers, but their staff as well. With a focus on providing exceptional customer service through knowledgeable staff, it’s little wonder that Four Seasons has a comprehensive pet policy that’s focused on giving their guests—even the four-legged ones—the best possible hotel experience while they’re on the road. To that end, traveling pets receive a bed and dishes during their stay. Check the individual hotel’s policy—Four Seasons Singapore has no additional fee for 1 pet, but Four Seasons Chicago charges a $40 fee per pet, so ensure you’re not in for a surprise before you head out.
6. Delta Hotels
This decidedly Canadian hotel chain recently joined the Marriott umbrella, but for now they’ve kept many of their own policies. Unlike some Marriott brands, which tend to have a bad rap for pet policies, Delta has a comprehensive pet-friendly policy that allows guests to travel to their destination with 2 pets (per room). Cats and dogs (up to 50 pounds) are both welcome on almost all Delta properties, which are to be found across Canada. Although there are some restrictions on where in the hotel your pet can accompany you and there is a $35 fee for accommodating your furry friend, the hotels get bonus points for having a single policy applied to all of their properties, which means you don’t need to double-check the fine print when you book with a Delta hotel.
5. InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)
Whether you’re looking for the luxury experience of the Crowne Plaza brand or the economic sensibilities of a Holiday Inn, IHG has you covered. Understanding that many of their guests travel for business or are often away for long periods of time, IHG realizes how important it is for many travelers to bring their pets with them. Pets are allowed to stay at most of their properties, although the policies can and do vary by locality, so always be sure to check the fine print when you book your stay. Some properties may charge additional fees for furry guests, and not all of them will roll out the welcome wagon for your cat, dog or other furry companion. But with numerous properties around the world, and different brands in every economic bracket, you’re bound to find a place where you and Fido can kick up your heels, from Andorra to Ecuador and every stop in between.
4. Radisson Hotels
Search “Radisson hotels pet policy” and you’ll find, among the usual corporate links, a number of customer reviews on sites like Tripadvisor, and almost all of them agree: Radisson hotels are not just pet-friendly, they’re super pet-friendly. If you want somewhere to bring your four-legged friend while you’re traveling, a Radisson hotel is a good choice. Although a fee applies—anywhere between $10 and $50, depending on the duration of your stay and the location—the hotels accept 2 pets per room. Although there’s an official corporate policy and most of the websites for individual properties have their pet policies posted, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and inquire about the policy of the hotel where you plan to stay, since not all hotels maintain accurate and up-to-date policies on their websites.
3. Hilton Hotels
You knew the Hilton Hotel group’s variously branded properties would be pet-friendly, especially if heiress Paris Hilton had anything to say about it. The eldest Hilton’s love of animals is clearly a family trait, one that’s reflected in the pet-friendly policies in place at most Doubletree, Hilton, International Plaza, Embassy Suites, Garden Inn and Hampton Inn hotels. That means there are a lot of places to choose from if you want to bring your pet along with you, whether on vacation or on business. Hilton is also international, so your choice of destination shouldn’t limit your options either. Hilton also goes the extra mile for your furry family member—not only do they get their own bed, they get their own room in some hotels. Equipped with beds, bowls, toys and other goodies, these rooms ensure dogs are treated as guests in their own right.
2. Best Western
Not all Best Western hotels are pet friendly, but a growing number of them—1,900 and counting, in fact—do welcome pets on premise. Their site even offers a pet travel blog, planning tools for traveling with your pet and tips from the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. Although policies vary from property to property, often in accordance with local by-laws and legislation, Best Western as a company recognizes that people love their pets and want to travel with them, which is why they provide the resources they do. Since they’re one of the most extensive and trusted chains in the world, you don’t need to limit your travel options either; whether you’re staying on this continent or traveling across oceans to reach your destination, chances are there will be a pet-friendly Best Western nearby, no matter what shore you turn up on.
1. Starwood Hotels
The Starwood umbrella includes recognizable names like Sheraton and Westin and unites them together under one management group. That means that many Starwood properties function under the same pet policy, although there may be some properties that have different provisions, often because of different local health codes or by-laws. Sheraton properties are particularly pet-friendly, extending guest status to dogs 40 pounds or under and offering visiting pooches a Sweet Sleeper bed. Westin properties are mostly pet-friendly, for both cats and dogs, although some hotels have only a few designated pet-friendly rooms—so be sure to double-check the fine print before you book. The W property in New York offers a pet welcome kit, including a toy and a treat. Starwood was also one of the first hotel chains to create a pet-friendly policy, and they’ve been welcoming furry companions for over 10 years now.
Passengers who fly a lot often or even just once in a while dread having a layover in a strange airport within a strange city. But flyers need not worry if they are flying through one of these remarkable airports. Some of these airports are futuristic, others are friendly and many of them offer extraordinary amenities and close access to visit cities. What they all offer is a unique and easy way to enjoy a short or long layover, with free showers, movie theaters and even a full 9-hole golf course. Discover the best of the best in airports around the world for layovers.
15. Keflavík International Airport, Iceland
This airport is modern, compact and recently went through a renovation that makes it easier to navigate and has added many shops and dining options that please passengers who are stuck here. Like most places in Iceland the airport offers free WiFi, a welcome amenity to those travelers from many of the US airports that charge. But perhaps the best part about having a layover here is the location. Located just half an hour from the famous Blue Lagoon, passengers on a layover here will have the chance to leave the airport and soak their troubles away in the warm, geothermal waters. Spread across the landscape of black lava mounds, visitors can soak in the 100-degree water for a few hours before returning back via shuttle, taxi or bus. This is one airport you will want to seek out for a long layover and take advantage of this awesome experience.
14. Helsinki International Airport, Finland
Despite this being a relatively small airport, the Helsinki airport offers up plenty of uncrowded space, amenities and a calming presence. It is one of the most relaxing airports on this list and travelers can experience the Finnish culture through the cinema area that features Finish films and large sculptures that adorn the terminal. For avid readers there is a book exchange that features a cozy nook where you can get lost for hours reading and swapping titles. A scenic terrace lets visitors watch the incoming and outgoing planes during the summer months. The best part about this airport may be the free relaxation area that features foldable beds, comfy chairs and plugs for all of your electronics. Plenty of shopping and authentic dining options, as well as the option to leave the airport and tour the city makes this airport an excellent layover destination.
13. Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan
There is lots to do if you are stuck in the Tokyo airport on a layover and being only 9 miles from the downtown area gives passengers plenty of options. Free WiFi, a barber, hair salon, oxygen bar, health clinic and duty free shops are all scattered throughout the terminals for passenger convenience. Sleeping here on a layover can also be quite pleasant. The seats and benches are comfortable, the lights are dimmed and there are no loud announcements over the speakers. The huge panoramic terrace on the roof offers amazing views of the planes landing and taking off. Lounges can be assessed for as little as $8 US and offer comfortable seats, electrical outlets, refreshments and showers. Many layover passengers enjoy these amenities without having to shell out big bucks.
12. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia
This airport may not be the most modern on the list but the rain forest-like feel coupled with free WiFi, plenty of dining options and the friendliness of the Malaysian people makes it one of the best airports to have a layover. The upper level of the airport boasts four different areas where passengers can curl up and watch TV. In the middle of the terminal is a small tropical garden and on the 5th level is an area just for children, complete with activities and slides. If you are looking to leave the airport and experience the city you will need about a six to seven hour layover. The KLIA express train takes you right into the capitol in just thirty minutes. Whether you want to sit and enjoy the tropical feel of the airport with its free WiFi and showers or venture out into the city; this is a great airport to have a layover.
11. San Francisco International Airport, California, USA
It is the only airport located in the United States to make this list and travelers who spend a layover here will be pleasantly surprised by the amenities offered throughout. Standard amenities range from free WiFi, rapid charging stations, XpressSpas offering massages, facials, manicures/pedicures, etc and art exhibits spread throughout. The Aviation Museum and Library is open to the public and free admission makes this a great place to kill some time. For those with little ones, hanging out at the airport has never been easier with different kids play areas and a scavenger hunt with prizes. Free yoga rooms, relaxation rooms and hydration stations are offered throughout. Eating and drinking at the airport is truly a culinary experience with an emphasis on locally crafted food, beer and wine. If you do want to leave the airport during your layover, the city center is a quick 25 minute ride away on the train.
10. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan
For those passengers who face a layover at the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, there is an abundance of free activities and entertaining things to do while you wait, beginning with free hot showers. Large couches and comfortable seating areas allow for passengers to relax and even catch a sleep while they wait for their next flight. Exploring the terminals is a great way to pass the time here as this airport offers 30 plus themed lounges ranging from Hello Kitty to a sports themed lounge. Cultural art galleries are scattered throughout as well as numerous kids’ areas that feature gaming stations. The free library offers books, tablets, computers and e-books, as well as mobile charging stations and comfortable seating. There are free massage chairs, numerous prayer rooms and cloud-based reading areas where comfortable chairs and computers are provided. One thing for sure, you won’t need a reason to leave this airport on your layover.
9. Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada
This International airport is home to First Nations art, 5,000 marine animals and a nature inspired creek that runs through it; amongst many more things. If you are going to have a layover in Canada, this would be the place to do it. One of the most impressive ways to spend time in this airport is to head to the international terminal where an 114,000 liter aquarium sits as a permanent exhibit. A jellyfish aquarium also sits up on the fourth floor. There is no shortage of comfortable seating at this airport, rows of chairs complete with headrests and footrests are at each gate as well as removable cushioned chairs with no armrests, letting passengers create mini sleeping areas. Mini TV watching stations are available, complete with three different channels, comfortable theater style chairs and a kid’s play area nearby. Although the city is just a short train trip away, you may find yourself wanting to stay here and explore this awesome airport.
8. London Heathrow
It’s one of the busiest airports in the world and provides a ton of dining, shopping and entertainment venues to keep passengers occupied during a layover. It’s one of the only airports in the world that offers personal shoppers to the passengers to help pick out gifts, travel wardrobes, etc. Shoppers will delight in duty free stores and high end retail like Burberry. There’s also something for foodies who will delight in over 100 restaurants throughout the terminals. Passengers can wander through the cultural exhibition showcasing British sculptors, painters, and photographers. Sleeping isn’t great at this airport as it is busy, but there is so many nooks and crannies to discover throughout the huge terminals so patience in finding a place to snooze is a must. If you feel like leaving the airport, the city is only about 15 miles away and can easily be accessed through underground, train or taxi.
7. Dubai International Airport, Dubai
Like everything else in Dubai, this airport is over the top, extravagant and truly unforgettable. This is one airport where having a layover is actually an incredible experience. Shopaholics will go crazy for the world’s largest duty-free shop at 58,000 square feet and other high-end shops. Passengers can walk through open-air gardens complete with mist machines or choose to use the G-Force gym; open 24/7, with a pool and showers. The immaculate inside of the airport offers such things as shopping stands where you can purchase actual gold bars. If you are looking to sleep, the Dubai airport offers Snoozecubes; soundproof units with a bed, touch screen TV and music for a minimal price available by the hour. This airport is expanding at a rapid rate and expects to be able to handle 90 million passengers by 2018, which means even more amazing amenities coming here.
6. Munich International Airport, Germany
You won’t have any problems finding a beer in this airport, which is often the perfect way to pass some time during a layover. Everyone heads to Airbräu, a Bavarian-style tavern complete with its own beer garden, live music and on-site brewery, where beer enthusiasts can watch the brewmaster in action. Passengers will find free showers, a beautiful courtyard that connects the terminals and plenty of relaxation centers with reclining seats and electrical outlets. The visitor’s park is truly an amazing feature of this airport and offers free showings of aviation movies, mini-golf, a viewing platform and historical aircrafts. Passengers on a layover should head to terminal two which features ultra-modern touches such as nap pods complete with iPhone and USB ports. There is free coffee, tea and hot chocolate throughout, a skating rink in the winter months and access to free WiFi makes Munich the perfect layover airport.
5. Zurich Airport, Switzerland
An extensive renovation to this airport back in 2011 improved this already well-liked airport with the likes of two rooftop terraces with observation points and an awesome kids area complete with a mini-plane and tower to explore. There are plenty of ways to rest and freshen up in this airport. Free showers are available along with plenty of communal rest areas with comfy reclining chairs. If you are looking for a little more privacy, simple furnished rooms are available to rent that come complete with beds, TV and an individual wash basin. Plenty of duty-free shops and restaurants line this airport, including ones with the famous Swiss chocolate. For those looking to get a little exercise between flights, in-line skates and bikes are available to rent right from the airport.
4. Amsterdam Schiphol, The Netherlands
This one terminal airport has been in the same location for 100 years and pleasing passengers from the get go. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum is housed here and offers free admission, letting passengers take in the permanent and temporary art exhibits by Dutch artists. The world’s first airport library also provides a great way for passengers to pass the time and offers e-books and print books in 29 different languages. Having a layover here means access to over 75 shops and many dining options such as the Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar where you can dine around a saltwater aquarium with a glass of champagne and fresh seafood. For those travelers looking to relax there is free WiFi, numerous spas and showers. Massage chairs, casinos and numerous lounges round out this airport experience.
3. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong
This futuristic airport offers endless entertainment for passengers stuck on layovers here. The endless charging stations, business centers and beautiful lounges will suit the business travelers, but the guests who really benefit from having a layover here are those looking to have some fun between flights. The outdoor nine-hole golf course is open 24/7 to passengers looking to squeeze in a round or two. The world’s first airport IMAX Theater shows both 2D and 3D films and sports lover can head up to the iSports simulator for car racing, basketball and soccer. High end shops and Michelin star restaurants are located throughout the airport. The Aviation Discovery Centre which tracks aviation history in Hong Kong through themed exhibits and attractions including the SkyDeck, and Cockpit Simulator keep passengers occupied throughout flight times.
2. Incheon International Airport, South Korea
This airport is a favorite among travelers, especially among the ones who get stuck here for a few hours. There are a ton of free amenities that will make weary travelers happy including WiFi, use of laptops and free showers. More importantly though this airport offers lots of fun for layover passengers including two movie theaters playing Korean and Hollywood Hits, an ice skating rink and an 18-hole putting course. The culture center offers experiences such as learning traditional Korean paper handicraft and taking in harp performances. There are seven gardens throughout the airport that are perfect for the ultimate relaxation, or hit up the spa and sauna. If passengers want to leave the airport there are many tours that leave directly from it and take visitors to temples, historic sites and newer attractions. Did we mention that this airport offers over 90 different duty free shops and looks more like a sparkling clean mall, rather than an airport?
1. Changi International Airport, Singapore
This airport is truly the best in the world and there is nowhere else in the world that you should want to have a layover than here. The Changi Airport in Singapore has won over 400 awards and continues to add to its impressive list of features. For passengers who are stuck here on a layover, there are hundreds of things to discover. Take a walk through one of five gardens, including the live butterfly garden boasting more than a 1000 butterflies. Take a ride down the 40-foot swirling slide, refresh in the rooftop Balinese-themed swimming or catch a free flick at the movie theater. Entertainment areas featuring Xbox, Playstations and other electronics are scattered throughout as well as art sculptures and waterfalls. Business travelers will be happy with the 200 iPad-wielding agents, hundreds of free Internet terminals, plus airport-wide free WiFi and hundreds of USB ports and power sockets.
What’s one of the first things you check out while visiting a new city? If your answer isn’t ‘a local museum’ then you definitely need to read this list! We’re exaggerating a bit, but while a museum might not be your first stop, it’s long been a favorite activity of travelers and tourists alike. It’s a great way to explore the history and culture of any city or country and help get a better understanding of its people. Many museums also feature beautiful architecture making them a must visit for those photography enthusiasts. With so many amazing establishments all around the world, choosing a museum can be difficult (although you can always visit more than one) so here’s a quick look at some of our favorites from major cities around the globe:
Museum of Anthropology –Vancouver
Located on the University of British Colombia (UBC) campus, the MOA is home to more than 40,000 ethnographic objects from around the world including the South Pacific, Asia. Europe, Africa and the Americas. The museum offers educational school programs, facility rentals for special events, a Native Youth program, and serves as a research facility for UBC students. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, the museum is easy to get to by car or public transit. Admission is $16.75 CAD for adults and children under 6 are free.
Royal Ontario Museum –Toronto
The Royal Ontario Museum or ‘The ROM’ as it’s affectionately known, is located near downtown Toronto and is among the world’s leading museums of natural history and world cultures. With constantly changing exhibits and galleries, one visit to the ROM is never enough as this facility strives for dynamic education and entertainment. Adult admission is $16 CAD, $13 for children age 4-14, or visit on Friday’s after 4:30pm for special discount rates.
The Guggenheim –New York
With so many amazing institutions to choose from in this city, it’s hard to pick just one to visit; but The Guggenheim Museum located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side is a real stand-out. Most notable for its unique architecture, the ‘teacup’ design was created by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Opened in 1959, visitors to this art institution can experience special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, film screenings, performances, lectures and tours. Admission is $25 USD for adults and children under 12 get in for free.
Field Museum of Natural History –Chicago
Where can you meet a scientist to learn about nature and history, or sleep over among creatures from prehistoric times? Chicago’s Field Museum has all this and much more. This museum inspires curiosity about life on Earth while exploring how it came to be and how we can work to make it a better place. With traveling exhibits on subjects from Indigenous peoples, to prehistoric mammals, even the history of chocolate…there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Basic admission to the Field museum is $18 USD for adults and $13 for children.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art –Los Angeles
Also known by its acronym; ‘LACMA’ is the largest art museum in the western United States today. The museum boasts a collection of over 120,000 objects ranging from antique artifacts to modern objects of today, which represent the entire geographic world and nearly the entire history of art. It’s clear that this museum strives to be best in class. Located in the heart of LA, it’s situated on 20 acres known as Hancock Park. General admission to LACMA is $15 USD for adults and children under the age of 18 are free.
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum –Rio
Another museum that may be most famous for its recognizable architecture, the MAC Niterói is located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and serves as one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the 16 meter high structure includes 3 floors and is surrounded by a beautiful reflection pool. Inside you will find many works of contemporary art from influential Latin artists as well as those from around the world. Adult admission is $10 Brazilian Real or about $3.20 USD, with children under 7 in for free.
The British Museum –London
Founded in 1753, the British Museum located in London brings history and art to life in England. This was the first national public museum in the world and offered free admission to guests since its beginning; a tradition that continues even now. Nearly 6 million people a year come to visit this museum and explore the interesting architecture and fascinating exhibitions which range from ancient mummies, to works of aboriginal art, to ancient Greek statues.
The Louvre –Paris
One of the most recognizable museums in the world, no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre. This French landmark is the largest and most visited museum in the world drawing nearly 10 million visitors each year. Museum exhibits are grouped into 8 categories including Egyptian Antiques, Islamic Art, Sculptures, and Prints and Drawings. All-access admission is €16 or about $17.50 USD.
Vatican Museums –Rome
What world-wide list of museums would be complete without including the famous museums of the Vatican in Rome, Italy. The collection is made up of 54 galleries with the world famous Sistine Chapel being the very last gallery in the museum. The galleries display works of art built up by the Popes through many centuries including some of the most renowned sculptures and pieces of Renaissance art in the world. Admission to the Vatican Museums is €16 or about $17.50 USD for adults and €4 or about $4.50 USD for students.
State Historical Museum –Moscow
Many people know Moscow’s Red Square as the home of the world famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral, but this colorful landmark isn’t the only sight worth seeing in the square. The State Historical Museum is also a most recognizable structure with its grand size and deep red color. The museum is an homage to all things Russian history and the total number of objects in the collection is said to be in the millions. Admission is 300 Russian Rubles for adults which is about $5.30 USD.
ArtScience Museum –Singapore
What first might look like some sort of lotus flower structure is actually Singapore’s ArtScience Museum, located at the Marina Bay Sands Resort. This newer attraction opened in 2011 and is the world’s first ArtScience museum; featuring 21 gallery spaces in over 50,000 square feet. Inside you’ll find permanent galleries as well as intriguing temporary exhibitions that change throughout the year. All access admission to the ArtScience Museum is $25 Singapore Dollars or roughly $18 USD for adults and $12.50 USD for children.
Hong Kong Museum of Art –Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Museum of Art seeks to preserve the cultural heritage of China while promoting locally produced works of art. Established in 1962, the museum’s collection contains over 16,000 pieces including paintings, calligraphy works, and antique treasures. Located in historic Victoria Harbour, a trip to the Hong Kong Museum of Art is a great way to learn more about the history and future of Chinese art. Standard admission is $10 Hong Kong Dollars or about $1.30 USD.
Tokyo National Museum –Tokyo
Located in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, the Tokyo National Museum is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Established in 1872, this is the oldest national museum in Japan as well as the country’s largest art museum. The museum collection focuses primarily on Japanese art and antiques but also includes art from other Asian countries and along the Silk Road. Adult admission is 620 Japanese Yen or around $5.20 USD while those under the age of 18 get in for free.
Museum of Contemporary Art –Sydney
Located in The Rocks district on the edge of Sydney’s famous Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art first opened its doors in 1991. The MCA operates with the goal of exhibiting, interpreting and collecting contemporary art from all over Australia as well as around the world. The permanent collection includes over 4,000 works by Australian artists, while the museum also features ever changing temporary exhibits. Regular admission to the MCA is free of charge, though special temporary exhibitions may require a small charge.
National Gallery of Victoria –Melbourne
Located in Melbourne’s CBD, the National Gallery of Victoria -or more commonly known as the NGV, is the oldest public art museum in Australia. The organization operates 2 distinct sites: On the South side of the Yarra River you’ll find the NGV International where you’ll find an extensive collection of art from all over the world including Asia, Europe and America. North of the river in Federation Square is the NGV Australia, also known as The Ian Potter Centre where you find both aboriginal and non-aboriginal art from all over Australia from the colonial period to present day. General admission to either site is free of charge.
Singapore, a city-state in Southeast Asia is a mix of old and new. Modern skyscrapers, a sophisticated travel system, mouth-watering food, world class shopping, a diverse and colorful blend of Chinese, Malay, and Indian culture, a tropical climate, safe, clean streets, low crime, and a happening nightlife scene makes Singapore a place to add to your bucket list. Often overlooked on a traveler’s trip to Asia thanks to its squeaky clean reputation, Singapore, although on the rise had been highly underrated as a top travel destination, and here is why:
A small island country with a sizeable population of almost 6 million, Singapore is very densely populated. Although crowded on paper, Singapore boasts lots of green space – more than 50% of the country is greenery – giving it the nickname the Garden City. The island nation is warm year-round so tourism is pretty steady. To avoid paying through the roof, skip Singapore during national holidays and big events like the Singapore Grand Prix in September (unless that’s your jam), and avoid the rainy season from November to January. July through October offers the lowest tourist traffic but also comes with hazy weather and low air quality. The city has very strict drug laws, so make sure you bring prescriptions for any medicine you have with you.
Getting around Singapore is easy. The extensive public transit system and cheap taxis mean that you can easily get to and from wherever you need to go. Use online tools to help you figure out your route or estimate your taxi fare. If you’re planning to be in Singapore for an extended period of time, check out the EZ-link or Nets Flash Pay card to get yourself discounted fare. If you plan on checking out the main tourist attractions of Singapore, consider getting the Singapore Tourist Pass to get some discounts! The MRT and LRT are the main components of the public transit system – the buses are slower and harder to use. Singapore is pretty pedestrian friendly, but avoid jaywalking since it’s illegal!
Arts and Culture
Singapore is taking huge leaps to move beyond its boring reputation by branching out in the world of art and culture. Check out the Esplanade theater in Marina Bay to see what’s happening when you’re in town and catch the Singapore Arts Festival if you are visiting in the summer. As far as museums go, you must stop by the Asian Civilizations Museum, The Arts House, Red Dot Design Museum, The Changi Chapel and Museum, the ArtScience Museum, 8Q SAM, and the Peranakan Museum. When the sun sets, walk down to the water and enjoy the Wonder Full Light and Water Show with lights choreographed to music for an unforgettable experience.
While you may not have guess this, Singapore actually has a great music scene. Hit The Esplanade, the beautiful venue for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, for a one of a kind show at the high tech concert hall. Check the concert listings at the National Stadium to see if you can catch a show when you are in town. For live music, check out top bands at Timbre at The Substation, rock ‘n’ roll at Crazy Elephant Bar, local music at the Hood Bar and Café, and jazz bands at Blu Jaz Café (if you’re there on the second Wednesday night of the month, you can also try out your best jokes and try to get some laughs as a stand-up comic).
Sports and Recreation
Head to the Night Safari for a unique zoo adventure – this night zoo uses special lighting to give you a glimpse into the world of nocturnal animals. After spending a day on your feet exploring the city, grab a fish pedicure to leave your feet refreshed. If you are inspired by all the food you are eating, take a cooking class so you can replicate your favorite dishes at home and impress your friends and family! As far as sports goes, nothing beats the annual Grand Prix Season in Singapore which takes place each September if cars are your thing. Otherwise, you can try to catch a soccer game at the brand new National Stadium.
Food and Drink
Singapore is a food lover’s heaven and draws upon its Indian, Chinese, and Malay heritage to produce complex, delectable dishes. Head to one of Singapore’s many hawker centers (huge congregations of food stalls) for some cheap (around 2 – 5$) and clean eats (each stall must have a health certificate). Try Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown, Bukit Timah Market, Tiong Bahru Market, and Makansutra Glottons to name a few. Definitely try Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, char kway teow and chilli crab. For fancier dining, visit Restaurant André (among the top 50 restaurants in the world) then grab dessert at 2am:dessertbar. Make sure you swing by Raffles Hotel to try the original Singapore Sling cocktail, and grab some local Tiger beer or try a new local microbrew.
With so much to see and do, Singapore can be overwhelming – get your bearings with a 200 meter bird’s eye view of the city at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark. To further get a feel for the city, join a walking tour, and then make sure you visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Waterfront Promenade, and the Kranji War Memorial. Take advantage of the coastline and head to the beach or the nearby Sentosa Island where you can relax in the sun or try your hand at water sports. If you can’t beat the heat, go to Wild Wild Wet Water Park for a day of refreshing excitement. If you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at gambling at Marina Bay Sands or Resorts World Sentosa casinos.
Alcohol is widely available but very expensive thanks to taxes upon non-scrupulous pastimes, so check prices before you buy and try to catch happy hour for deals. Friday and Saturday are the biggest nights out, Sunday is typically gay night, Wednesday or Thursday is ladies’ night, and Monday and Tuesday are quiet. If you want to get a taste of the local nightlife scene, grab your new travel buds and hit the nearest karaoke spot (big chains are K-Box and Party World) and rent a room. For clubs, head to Zouk, Attica, the Butter Factory, Club Kyo, or Home Club. For a more relaxed night, visit the British pub The Yard, the microbrewery LeVel33, and The Good Beer Company – a beer stall in Chinatown hawker center.
Whatever your budget, you can find a great place to stay in this city. For high end luxury hotels, consider Raffles, Conrad Centennial Singapore, or The Ritz-Carlton for a deluxe experience. For mid-level, try The Forest by Wangz, AMOY, or The Quincy Hotel for a little more bang for your buck. If you’re saving money or looking for a way to meet other travelers, there are many hostels to fit your needs, mostly found in Little India, Chinatown and Clarke Quay. Best bets are Quarters Hostel, River City Inn, Travellers Inn, Wink Hostel, and extra cheap (but still great!) options are Happy Snail, Rucksack Inn @ Lavender Street, and Tresor Tavern.
Shopping is a national pastime with a huge array of competitive options and deals galore. Try to visit during the Great Singapore Sale (usually held in June or July) where shopping centers offer crazy deals and promotions. Swing by Chinatown to grab some souvenirs at the Little Drom Store, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch MAAD Pyjamas – the monthly art and design flea market. Visit Millennia Walk to see new Singapore fashion designers, stop by the boutiques in Orchard Central, and experience shopping the way the locals do it at a TANGS store. Tiong Bahru has some great bookstores, Funan DigitaLife Mall or Sim Lim Square have all your tech needs covered, and ION Orchard mall carries all the fancy brands you could hope for.
Called the Garden City for a reason, you must explore the beautiful green spaces in the city when you visit Singapore. Visit Merlion Park, National Orchid Garden, the Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay, take a walk on the MacRitchie Nature Trail or in the Southern Ridges, and visit the Flower Dome to see flowers from all over the world. If you’re feeling adventurous, swing from tree to tree at Forest Adventure, visit the local beaches, or take it one step further and go island hopping and explore the seas for an afternoon (or a week!) to take in the beautiful marine scenery and soak up the sun.
Travelers looking to travel oftentimes look beyond their own country’s borders when planning their trips. According to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index for 2013, there are 15 cities that stand out for travelers. Seven cities on the list are located in Asia, six are European cities, and one is North American. Istanbul, Turkey, the No. 6 city on the list, strides the Europe-Asia border.
15. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is the capital of and the largest city in the Netherlands. It is known to cater to all tastes as those who want to relax in an old European city are just as fulfilled as those who want to embark on a night of serious partying.
14. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is the largest city in the world at 18 million people. Its status as a tourist destination has taken off the past 20 years. Visitors will be able to get around easily on its subway system, the longest in the world at 260 miles.
13. Rome, Italy
Rome is one of the most historic cities of the world as it was the center of the Roman Empire. Travelers enjoy coming to the City of Seven Hills to visit the Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum.
12. Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy’s second-largest city, is located in the north of the country. It is a destination for those looking to enjoy some football, shopping, the performing arts and nightlife. Fashion aficionados will especially enjoy visiting Milan.
11. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is one of East Asia’s cultural highlights. The city’s Five Grand Palaces are impressive. Hikers enjoy trips to the mountains around Seoul. Fans of the hit song, “Gangnam Style,” can visit the Gangnam District.
10. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is the center of Catalonia, a nationality in Spain’s northeast corner. The city still feels the effects of having hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics, including an influx in tourism. The Picasso Museum is a strong attraction for art enthusiasts.
9. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong is a city of dualities with its history as a British colony and its current status as a Special Administration Region of China. It is highly dense as 7 million people live within its 426 square miles. Victoria Peak is a pleasant scenic escape, however.
8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia’s capital city offers travelers some of the best bang for their buck of any city on this list. The city has 66 shopping malls, allowing visitors plenty of options to buy items to bring home. The night life is quite vibrant here as well.
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. It is conveniently located just five hours flying time from much of Europe. It is known as one of the most liberal cities in the Middle East.
6. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a city of two continents as the city’s bridges connect the European and Asian sections of the city. It is one of just four transcontinental cities in the world. The historic and religious sights of the city are numerous and impressive.
5. New York, United States
New York is the largest city in the United States, and it is a multi-cultural melting pot. Some of its sights include the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. The offerings in the Theatre District are world class.
Singapore is an island city-state located just south of Malaysia. Visitors enjoy a multi-cultural atmosphere as influences exist from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. It is the second most densely populated country in the world behind Monaco.
3. Paris, France
The sights of Paris are known throughout the world. The most iconic one has to be the Eiffel Tower. The City of Light is also home to the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame cathedral. The Louvre is one of the world’s most renowned museums.
2. London, England
London is the capital of England and of the United Kingdom, and its core dates to medieval times. Its sights include Hyde Park, the British Museum and Buckingham Palace. Some of the world’s best soccer is played within its city limits.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is a destination for travelers from throughout the world. Some of the most popular attractions in this cosmopolitan city include the Grand Palace and the Bangkok National Museum. Muay Thai is the popular local sport.