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Enjoy a wizarding holiday in the world’s best airport

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Image credit: Changi Airport

Calling all Potterheads! The magical world of Harry Potter has landed in Singapore’s Changi Airport. The world’s best airport is spreading some holiday cheer by bringing in magical wonders from Hogsmeade to Whomping Willow.

According to CNN Travel, Changi Airport is teaming up with Warner Bros. to install exhibits of the iconic locations mentioned in both the Harry Potter books and movies, allowing travellers to explore as they wait for their flights. The full-sized installation is called ‘A Wizarding World Holiday at Changi Airport’ and will be open to public everyday all through mid-February, from 10am-10pm.

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Image credit: Changi Airport

The installation is spread all throughout the other terminals, visitors in Terminal 3 can explore Hogsmeade village and wander through Honeydukes, Zonko’s, Madam Puddifoot’s tea shop and many more. Just right beside, roam around Diagon Alley and purchase your brooms, books, robes and other items for your next semester in Hogwarts.

In Terminal 1, step inside the world of Newt Scamander’s Menagerie and marvel at the magical creatures. Be sure to take a picture with the tub of shiny coins with the Niffler and the other creatures and treasures.

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Image credit: Changi Airport

The Whomping Willow has planted itself in Terminal 2 with Ron Weasley’s flying car stuck to its branches. Though unlike the tree planted in Hogwarts grounds, you can take a photo with the whomping willow without getting chased by its branches!

Apart from the installations, visitors are free to dress up as their favourite Harry Potter character or wear their respective house robes or uniforms. In addition to the many photo opportunities throughout the displays, visitors can also take part in activities such as Quidditch challenges and other wizarding-themed games.

Go on a holiday getaway in these European cities

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas and the inevitable crowds of the holiday season is upon us. Before you start making the holiday roast and fruit cake, why not go on a pre-holiday getaway? Shop for last-minute gifts in Christmas markets and walk under romantic streets lit by fairy lights.

Malaga, Spain

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Walk through the Avenue of Lights to get into the holiday spirit and make your way to Atarazanas food market for a gastronomical holiday. With edible gifts for sale such as goat’s cheese and Andalucian cane honey for you and your food-loving friends and family.

Other than a food crawl, Malaga has several museums to feed anyone’s artistic soul. Jump from the Picasso Museum, Malaga Museum to the Russian Museum.

Ghent, Belgium

A Ferris wheel, an ice-skating rink and a fabulous Christmas market, Ghent is a breath of Christmas spirit. Just at the beginning of December, Ghent is already making a beeline for both Christmas and New Years. The streets of the historical city transform into a magical Christmas landscape, topped with winter festivities.

Stepping out of the winter wonderland, there are other places you can drop by to such as the Bij Sint-Jacobs flea market and the Holy Food Market, a food hall and cocktail bar situated in the 17th century, Baudelo Chapel.

Helsinki, Finland

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Probably the only city in the world to have a sauna part of a Christmas market, Helsinki is a lovely place to get you into the festive spirit. When the lights in Aleksanterinkatu, the official Christmas street, is finally switched on, it is a sure sign that the holiday season has arrived. With the rows of shops decorating their front windows with Christmas ornaments and decorations to attract the many passers-by and gift seekers.

Right in the heart of town sits the Helsinki Christmas Market. Consisting of Christmas decorations and handicraft to food and hot beverages, the market is a great place to purchase some unique gifts.

Aarhus, Denmark

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The city of Aarhus is overflowing with Christmas cheer, with its rich culture and history mixed together with the numerous festivities and markets, the holidays in Aarhus is definitely a full swing. The Tivoli Friheden transforms into an enchanting Christmas amusement park, with decorations and lights lining the park.

Catch the entire Christmas action on the Salling Rooftop. The terrace provides a wonderful panorama of the city and its twinkling lights. There is also a café on the roof of the Salling department store, so you can cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate and dine in some Danish christmas treats.

Visit the crystal clear lake in Oregon

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Hidden inside Willamette National Forest in Oregon, is a crystal clear lake that has its own secrets for everyone to explore and discover.

Clear Lake was formed around 3,000 years ago as a result of the lava flows from Sand Mountain, creating a natural dam at the south end of the lake that slowly filled with water over the years. The lake is primarily fed by snow from the nearby Mount Washington but is filtered through the underground springs that flow all year round.

Part of the surroundings of the lake, which were part forests, are now submerged into the water overtime. With the lakes cold temperatures, it has preserved majority of the trees, revealing what seems like a magical underwater world. Some of the trees submerged extend as far as 120 feet into the lake.

Due to the volcanic activity that has occurred in the past, the ground’s of the lake is also covered in volcanic silt. Which is so thick, it looks very closely like white sand. The lake also hides a collection of shipwrecks of wooden boats, some of which dates back to the 1920’s. These shipwrecks and the volcanic silt is what attracts many for an otherworldly diving experience.

While the lake is perfect for diving expeditions, it does present itself as a challenge. The temperatures of Clear Lake get as cold as 37 degree Fahrenheit (2.8 degree Celsius). For those who aren’t up for the chilly temperature, the lake also provides rowboat rentals and kayaks. The lake is so clear you can just row over the sights and not worry about murky.

Apart from diving and rowing boats in Clear Lake, there are also trails open for you to hike at. Clear Loop Trail and Mackenzie River National Recreational Trail are both nearby the area, the trails would lead you through areas that had lava flows and volcanic glass. From May to June, the forests is filled with wildflowers and throughout October, Vine maples and a wave of other colours blanket the forest.

Five Places to Visit in Pakistan

Often overlooked as a travel destination, Pakistan is a thrilling destination packed with culture, history and beautiful nature that is waiting to be explored. Here are some places that is worth the visit and might even place Pakistan on your bucket list!

 Gilgit-Baltistan

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A geological beauty that shows off an unforgettable landscape, Gilgit-Baltistan is adored by many, including mountaineers and trekkers. One of the more popular destination is the Hunza Valley, also nicknamed as the Shangri-La of Pakistan.

The landscape consists of layers and layers of stunning sceneries of mountainous peaks, forts, and vibrant patches of flora that has made it popular among many travellers, all of which have claimed that the area is safe.

Another known destination in Gilgit-Baltistan is the Skardu District. Home to crystal clear lakes, picturesque deserts and villages is what makes Skardu a unique and fascinating beauty. Mountaineers would be pleased to learn that Skardu is where the base camp for some of the world’s highest mountains such as K2 and Gasherbrum.

Lahore

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A harmonious mix of culture, art and heritage, Lahore is boasts the legacies of Mughal Empire and the British Raj. Lahore is also filled with enchanting attractions such as gardens and parks, grand mosques and splendid cuisines.

From the Lahore Fort, the glorious scenery of Shalimar Gardens to the historical Minar-e-Pakistan, staying in Lahore for less than a couple of days may not be enough for you to discover its full beauty.

The enchanting and elegant mosques of Lahore is definitely worth the visit. Its charming architecture will leave anyone in awe. Lets not forget the plethora of restaurants on M M Alam Road and Food Street to fill your stomach to your heart’s content.

Azad Kashmir

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If you thought Gilgit-Baltistan was stunning enough, make your way to Azad Kashmir and bask in natural beauty of the area. In the capital city, Muzaffarabad, you can trek up Pir Chinasi that has a peak of 2,900 meters and has one of the best panoramic views of the city.

Get enticed by the lush green forests and the cool waters of Neelum Valley, Jhelum Valley, Leepa Valley and Sharda Valley. These valleys also hide serene lakes such as the Ratti Gali lake and the Shounter Lake.

For foreigners travelling t Azad Kashmir, do take note that you must acquire a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad. This may take a while to be processed so do plan accordingly.

Karachi

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Formerly the capital of Pakistan before losing the title to Islamabad, Karachi remains to be the largest and most populated city in the country and is also economic hub. Karachi has become one of the cosmopolitan cities in Pakistan, and is called home by many nationalities such as Punjabs and Sindhis.

The city has numerous landmarks and monuments that reflects the love and admiration of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Such building including the Wazir Mansion, Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum and the Bagh-e-jinnah, also known as the Frere Hall Garden.

Karachi is a city of charming architecture with splendid interiors. Such marvels is the Mohatta Palace located in the wealthy district of Clifton. The palace was constructed during the roaring 20s by a wealthy businessman who wanted to save his wife from suffering a serious illness. The palace used to receive a lot of wind from the sea, but now because of the numerous high-rise buildings, the winds barely reach the palace.

Despite being renamed, Qasr-e-Fatima, and being handed over to the Pakistani government, the history behind the palace remains together with its name, Mohatta Palace.

Islamabad

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Pakistan’s capital city, Islamabad is a peaceful city surrounded by calming nature. Despite it being the capital city, Islamabad is a traveller’s favourite right after Lahore. One of the most visited places is the Faisal Mosque. Built with a white exterior and is guarded by four towering minarets.

The mosque is the largest in Pakistan and sits on top of the foothills of Margalla Hills, which itself is a favourite among hikers.

Around the mosque, you can make your way to Saidpur Village where you can see the old and new blend together despite being an informal heritage site. If you walk up to Daman-e-Koh, you will be able to see a panoramic view of the capital city. A five minute drive from the Lok Virsa Museum, there is a blooming-flower structure that signifies the country’s provinces.

The four large petals are for Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khuber-Pakhtunkhwa while the three smaller petals are for Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

 

 

Stay in One of the Most Remote Airbnbs

You can now spend time and learn the ways of nomadic tribes and families in Mongolia in the world’s most remote Airbnb.

The valleys in Mongolia is home to a large number of nomadic people, who relocate throughout the seasons to feed and take care of their livestock. Though the tribes are open to welcoming tourists, locating them and pinpointing their locations makes it hard for both the visitors and the tribes to convey their messages.

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Teaming up with Airbnb, what3words is making it possible and easier to locate these remote areas. What3words, started back in 2013 in London, created a service that takes away the complexity of GPS coordinates by making 10-foot-by-10-foot squares from anywhere in the world into a three-word address.

Without the complexity of GPS Coordinates, what3words allows nomadic tribes from remote locations without a specific address can be put on the map of one of their guests.

Guests who wish to stay in the most remote Airbnb in the world will get to stay in a traditional Dukha tepee that is located deep in the forest and is furnished with two wooden beds, sleeping bags, and an open-fire stove. Guests will get to spend their days with reindeer herders in the Taiga forest in northern Mongolia.

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Arriving on the site, visitors will be greeted by a local family and will be served fresh reindeer milk tea. Guests will also learn how the tribes spend their days, may it be milking and herding reindeers to preparing traditional crafts and local dishes.

An alternative, travellers can also stay in a yurt within the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park for $25 a night. You will get to stay with a Kazakh family, explore the surrounding terrains and waterfalls, learn the art of wood crafting and eat dishes that include freshly baked bread by the fire with some meat and noodle soup.

Airbnb has been working with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Mongolia to provide hospitality trainings to the hosts and other potential hosts from other rural areas

Familiarise Yourselves With These New Rules If You’re Travelling to Rome

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In order to help protect the quality of life in Rome, the city’s mayor has announced that new rules will be enforced. Some examples include the restriction of drinking on the streets, pub crawls and climbing historic fountains. Although some of these rules have been implemented temporarily, they will now become permanent and is in the final stages of approval.

Both the sale and consumption of alcohol is certain areas of the city will be restricted. Travellers who would like to join organised drinking tours will also be affected by the new prohibition placed upon pub crawls. Alcohol will no longer be sold from shops and vending machines between the hours of 10pm and 7am. You will no longer be able to drink out of glass containers on public streets, public transit and non-enclosed spaces after 10pm. Drinking out of any container after 11pm will be banned, and clubs will not be able to serve past 2am.

It’s also not an uncommon sight to see people dressed up as “centurions” for photography opportunities and also harassing visitors around the city. With the implementation of the new laws, they could be fined £400 should they receive money for photos or other activities such as selling of food or drinks while in the costume.

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Tourists often face trouble with touts who overcharge them for tours by assuring them that they will skip queues. The new laws will now ban the selling of any unauthorised tours moving forward.

When it comes to food and drinks, new rules will take after those that have been implemented in Venice, stopping people from eating and drinking at famous sites such as the Spanish Steps. Tourists will also be stopped from jumping into fountains, damaging them or climbing on them.

These rules have been designed and put in place to protect the rights of the city, its residents as well as its rich artistic and cultural heritage.

Netflix Celebrates New Show by Serving Incredible Eats!

Netflix will be making your Thanksgiving travels extra special by giving out snacks from different parts of the world!

An exciting way to advertise its new global cooking show, ‘The Final Table’, Netflix will be serving free snacks to the hungry travellers at JFK Airport in New York and O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

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The snacks isn’t your everyday trail mix and popcorn, the free grub will be snacks that represent global meals from nine countries—United States, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, India and Japan—all of which will be featured on ‘The Final Table’.

‘The Final Table’ is a global cooking competition that will have 12 pairs of the greatest chefs from all over the world, to celebrate togetherness and inspire through food by serving up iconic dishes and impressing some of the toughest palates in the world.

Snacks to be given out in the two airports will include full English breakfast pork scratchings, nori-crusted nuts, sun dried tomato fusilli, spiced black bean Brazil nuts, paella, and to complete your Thanksgiving travels, Thanksgiving leftover bread pudding.

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Image credit: Netflix

Apart from the free gourmet eats, customized screens will also be around. Travellers can interact with the screens where they can select countries they with to travel to for their food journeys. The screen will show more information about the country, its local dishes and the chefs that will be part of the show with a short teaser clip that features the chef.

After the viewing the contents of the screen, the travellers will receive the box with the international snack with information about the ingredients used to make it from the chosen country.

After passing through the seemingly endless security lines with the other thanksgiving travellers, you most definitely deserve a little treat before your flight. The popup will be available in O’Hare and JFK airport from November 21, Wednesday all through November 25, Sunday.

Stay in the Castle in the Sky

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Why stay in hotels when you can stay in a beautiful castle that sits perfectly on a cliff? Yes, fulfilling your dreams of fairy tales, and possibly nightmares, may sound like it would create a huge dent in your wallet. But in Roccascalegna, a village in the Abruzzo region in Italy, you can stay in a castle on a budget.

The village is open for people to stay in its recently renovated medieval fortress, the Castle in the Sky. A stay in the castle would only cost of €100 per night! Domenico Giangiordano, mayor of Roccascalegna, hopes that the new initiative would drive more tourism into the area and raise local economy.

The castle is a massive fortress of 7,500sq ft, complete with a chapel, tower, gardens, countless rooms and even a dungeon. The location of the castle is also rather interesting, sitting off a cliff looking as if it was hanging from the sky, hence earning the name Castle in the Sky. So if you want to feel like a medieval royal or Renaissance legend, this can be your chance.

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Despite it being a dreamy location oozing with royal feel and fairy tales, it is also a hot spot for ghost hunters. Legend has it that the castle is haunted by the headless ghost of Baron Corvo de Corvis. The man is said have had a habit of sleeping with newlywed women in the village up until he was murdered. After all, what’s a castle without their very own ghost haunting the premises?

If you do stay in this castle of dreams and nightmares, you can easily go to the picturesque town right below. A village full of fruit trees, restaurants, stone cottages and a few bed and breakfasts, perfect for a quiet getaway with a touch of enchantment.

Explore Pakistan’s Outdoors

Pakistan happens to be the sixth-most populous country in the world, home to over 200 million people. Pakistan’s territory is also the site of several ancient cultures and the country’s history is intertwined with that of India. From the ancient city of Lahore to the snow-capped peaks of the Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan is a diverse nation that boasts its natural beauty and architectural wonders alongside friendly locals, exciting wildlife and rich culinary traditions.

Political instability and violence have deterred Pakistan from becoming a top travel destination as most tourists would steer clear of the country. That being said, adventurers who are willing to take a chance of Pakistan would be well rewarded, especially outdoor enthusiasts who venture to some of the world’s most famous mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush.

Read on to discover some of Pakistan’s best attractions and sights!

The Silk Road

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Take a step back into history and tread on the iconic route that Marco Polo once took. An ancient trade route that linked the Roman Empire to the Imperial Dynasties of China, Marco Polo was one of the first European explorers to tackle the Silk Road. Karakoram lies in the heart of the trade route and it serves as a pivotal crossroad between The Indian Subcontinent, The Middle East as well as Central Asia, providing cultural interaction between the regions for many centuries. In modern times, the impressive Karakoram Highway which runs along Pakistan provides stunning views for drivers and motorists alike.

Impressive Panoramic Vistas

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Pakistan is well known for its natural landforms such as mountains, valleys, rivers and glaciers, just to name a few. Did you know that 5 of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including the infamous K2, are found in Pakistan? Outdoor enthusiasts who are into climbing, rafting or trekking will find that Pakistan checks all the boxes and is the perfect country to be in. Regardless of which activity you choose, you’ll be blown away by the impressive panoramic vistas the country has to offer.

Mubarak Village

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Approximately a 1.5 hours drive from the city center lies Mubarak Village, a fishing village near Karachi in Kiamari Township. Mubarak Village is situated on a picturesque beach and surrounded by rocky hills. As the place is a natural harbour, its calm waters serve as the perfect spot for fishermen to anchor their boats. Be amazed by the glistening blue waters and golden sands while you are there. Plus, don’t miss out on having some fresh seafood by the beach!

Churna Island

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Churna Island is an hour away from Mubarak Village and is an amazing snorkelling spot. A small uninhabited rock-reef situated in the Arabian Sea, Churna Island is home to a variety of marine creatures and corals. You can sign up for excursions to Churna Island and have a go at water sports such as scuba diving, free diving, jet skiing, banana boating, wake tubing as well as cliff jumping. With a close proximity to the city, it is an ideal destination for day trips.

Amazing Treks

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Forget about Nepal for a moment as we redirect our attention to trekking in Pakistan. There are numerous stunning treks that you can embark on in Pakistan, regardless of simple day treks or week-long expeditions. For example, take a hike up to the legendary Fairy Meadows and be blown away by the incredible views of Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest mountain in the world. Located in the Diamer District of Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan region, Nanga Parbat also happens to be the western anchor of the Himalayas.

Retire In One of the Most Scenic Places in the World

Retiring comfortably overseas doesn’t have to cost a fortune, you can be living in an exotic city while still being able to stretch your dollars. Choosing the right spots to retire is key to stretching your retirement fund.

Living life to the fullest while still being able to maintain a budget doesn’t have to come with a headache. Some retirees opt to settle down in the Caribbean or even Italy, but one destination stands above the rest when it comes to quality and affordability—Cusco, Peru.

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The city of Cusco, compared to the capital city of Lima, is much smaller but is packed with grand perks. The city is lined with domed churches and cobblestone streets, perfect for a permanent getaway for anyone who would love a quieter life that’s surrounded by historical beauty.

The city is a mix of old and new. Cusco has its fair-share of a lively lifestyle fit for everyone, the city centre has been flipped into a modern destination that still shows off its historical flare. With hip and luxurious eateries, shopping and even residential areas. With Peru being recognised as a culinary destination recently, dining in the many restaurants of the city will be an adventure itself.

Other than the modern amenities of the city grounds, Peru is also home to some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. Nature lovers can easily go camping or hiking in the nearby trails and grounds while taking in the local views. From trips to Machu Picchu to the Rainbow Mountain, both destinations can be easily reached as it is all in the Cusco region.

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Retiring in Cusco, Peru is surprisingly affordable, allowing couples to retire on $1,700 a month and still live a comfortable and high quality life. International retirees can apply for a retirement visa to be able to live there.