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Travel Insurance Protections

When you travel, you can protect your travel investment from financial loss by buying travel insurance.

Travel insurance covers a wide range of situations, and whether you’re planning a trip for business or pleasure, it’s essential to focus on the details. For example, if you want to cancel due to a “fear of traveling,” that probably won’t be covered.

Chances are if you booked travel recently, your insurance policy won’t cover changes and cancellations related to the coronavirus now that it’s become a “foreseen event.”

All policies have limits on what they cover and how much they’ll reimburse you. Most travel insurance policies have to be purchased when you book your trip, or before you make your final payment. While your credit card may provide you with some coverage, travel insurance will typically be more extensive.

Here’s a rundown on different types of insurance policies that travelers can purchase for business or vacation.

Cancellation and interruption policies cover specific reasons that will keep you from traveling or cut short your trip. Those issues commonly include illness or injury, unforeseen weather delays or natural disasters, a family member’s medical emergency, or if you have to change plans for a business-related emergency. Under some policies, you’ll only be reimbursed for the portion of the trip that you didn’t complete.

Emergency medical and dental insurance can help cover costs associated with illnesses and injuries during your trip. But check on restrictions for preexisting conditions. Also, check with your regular health insurance company to see what kind of coverage you have while traveling. You may want to get a supplemental policy for deductibles and expenses your regular insurer doesn’t cover. Evacuation insurance will cover the cost of transporting you to a medical facility for treatment if there’s no adequate hospital locally. Some policies include the cost of transportation back to the United States as well.

For maximum flexibility, consider buying “cancel for any reason” coverage that will reimburse a portion of prepaid and nonrefundable costs. This is usually an add-on to a basic policy. The time frame to buy the coverage and cancel the trip, as well as the amount of the reimbursement, will vary by the insurance company and sometimes by state laws. For example, until recently, residents of New York were not able to purchase this type of insurance, known as CFAR, but state regulations have been changed to allow it.

Insurance that covers lost or delayed luggage can be especially important. For example, if your business suit or swimsuit is in checked baggage that doesn’t arrive, you may need coverage to buy new clothes.

For help planning a trip, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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The Value of a Travel Advisor When You’re Staying Home

Along with just about every other aspect of life, travel for business and pleasure across the country and around the world is being affected by the coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Travel has come to a crawl, and no one knows for sure when things will return to normal. Some people are optimistically booking plans for later in the year, while others are taking a wait-and-see attitude before planning a trip.

Amid all the uncertainty, local travel advisors are fielding questions from their clients about the impact on honeymoons, destination weddings, family reunions, summer vacations, tradeshows, conferences, and business trips.

The majority of travel agencies are small businesses, with owners and staff who work on commissions that are paid by suppliers—like airlines, cruise lines, hotels, and tour operators—after a trip is taken. Even though their business and livelihood are at stake, at this unprecedented time, travel advisors remain committed to responding to each client’s concerns and handling cancellations. The safety of their clients is the top priority for WorldVia advisors.

The value of using a travel advisor—having a person who cares on the other end of your email or phone call—is readily apparent at a time when travelers don’t know where else to turn.

If you’re wondering who to talk to as you work through canceling or rescheduling or planning an itinerary, consider these five reasons to use a travel advisor, even if you didn’t initially book your travel with one.

One point of contact for customer care. A travel advisor is your single point of contact for your trip, handling all arrangements with airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, hotels, and ground transportation companies.

Expert knowledge. Travel advisors work closely with industry groups and government agencies to ensure that you’re getting accurate and up-to-date information about anything that could affect international or domestic travel.

Good value for your money. Travel advisors have built up relationships with suppliers over many years, giving them in-depth knowledge of everything that goes into a trip. They work hard to provide the very best value in the market, with exclusive rates for the world’s top hotels, cruise lines, airports, and tour operators.

Greater trip protection. When it comes to travel insurance, it can be challenging to figure out what you need. Travel advisors can recommend options that will help you protect the financial investment you’ve made in your trip, as well as suggest policies that cover situations like an emergency medical evacuation.

Emergency contact while you’re traveling. The job of your travel advisor doesn’t end once you leave on your trip. No matter where you are in the world, travel advisors are available to answer your questions. Rest assured that you will always have the comfort of knowing that there’s someone who can offer you expert advice.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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The Great Outdoors: America’s National Parks

America’s national parks are one of the country’s greatest treasures, filled with wide-open spaces offering plenty of room to roam, cultural and recreational activities, and breathtaking vistas.

Visits to national parks exceeded 300 million in 2019, for the fifth year in a row, according to figures from the National Park Service. People genuinely love being outdoors at our National Parks and other natural areas, monuments, and historic sites administered by the Park Service that are found across the country.

The top five most-visited national parks in 2019 were the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Zion, and Yosemite. The National Park Service has modified its operations on a park-by-park basis following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities. While most facilities and events are closed or canceled, some of the outdoor spaces remain accessible to the public.

Here is a look at some of these parks.

Great Smoky Mountains. Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is renowned for its diverse plant and animal life, the beauty of its landscape, and the remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. Blooming wildflowers can be found in the park nearly year-round. Cades Cove, a broad green valley, offers some of the best opportunities for spotting wildlife. An 11-mile one-way loop circles the cove. Currently, the park is closed except for the Foothills Parkway and the Spur.

Grand Canyon. Carved by the Colorado River, the immense and colorful Grand Canyon, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, is truly one of the world’s most inspiring places. The canyon’s South Rim, about four hours from Phoenix, affords panoramic views. Scenic drives include Desert View, a 25-mile trip east along the canyon rim that’s studded with breathtaking overlooks and home to the Tusayan Museum, which highlights the stories of the region’s Native Americans.

Rocky Mountain National Park, in northern Colorado, has more than 300 miles of hiking trails for every age and ability level, wildflowers, and wildlife such as elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. Trail Ridge Road, the highest road in any national park, covers 48 miles. It crests at just over 12,000 feet, affording a sweeping view of the Rocky Mountains. Fishing is permitted in many of the lakes and streams, and the park’s waters are home to four species of trout.

Zion National Park, in southwestern Utah, has been used as a location for numerous films, including “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Noteworthy features include the expansive Zion Canyon and spectacular natural rock arches. Zion Canyon is the most visited part of the park, with hikes for all levels of ability. Some of the best views are along the 3½-mile round-trip Pa’rus Trail. It’s paved, handicapped accessible, and the park’s only trail that allows both bicycles and pets on leashes.

Yosemite National Park, in California, is known for its waterfalls, grand meadows, and massive sequoias. Yosemite Valley’s Tunnel View provides a picture-postcard vantage point, the spot where three of the park’s most famous natural features are visible together—the granite El Capitan and Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. Mariposa Grove, near the south entrance, is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and is home to more than 500 mature trees.

Before visiting any park, check with the individual parks regarding changes to their operations. If you choose to visit a national park, please ensure that you follow CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and practice.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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Celebrating 400 Years of the Mayflower

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Mayflower, which departed England in 1620 as Puritans sought religious freedom in the New World. Several events that were planned for May on both sides of the Atlantic, with participation from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans have been postponed due to travel concerns related to COVID-19. We still can acknowledge those early travelers and the impact it had on our country.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims settled, naming the town after the port city in England from which they sailed, has a strong connection to the Mayflower’s maiden voyage.

The residents of Plymouth, which is located about 45 minutes south of Boston, look forward to visitors flocking to see the Mayflower II. The full-scale replica, built in the 1950s, was a gift to the United States from the British people, in recognition of friendships forged during World War II. For the past several years, the ship, a popular tourist attraction, has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar restoration.

Other attractions to see in the area include the Pilgrim Hall Museum, which tells the story of the Plymouth Colony and displays items that Mayflower passengers brought with them, including William Bradford’s Bible and a sword that belonged to Myles Standish. The Jenney Museum holds programs like “Conversations with a Pilgrim” and walking tours that explore Plymouth’s history. And of course, Plymouth Rock marks the spot where the Pilgrims disembarked in December 1620. In Boston, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is planning four exhibits commemorating 400 years of Mayflower and Wampanoag history, on display through December.

When you’re able to travel to England, you can explore the port city of Plymouth, on England’s southwestern coast, about 4½ hours from London. Several buildings from that era remain, such as the Island House, where some of the Pilgrims are believed to have stayed before their voyage. The Mayflower Steps, flanked by British and American flags, mark the final English departure point of the ship and its 102 passengers.

Plymouth, England is also opening a cultural and heritage center, The Box, in honor of the anniversary. The first exhibit, “Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy,” will include artifacts that tell the story of the Mayflower’s passengers, including their relationship with Native Americans. Pictures and stories of about 1,200 living Mayflower descendants will be displayed on a wall of the gallery. Plymouth’s Mayflower Week, from September 14-20, includes a visit from a replica 15th-century tall ship and a ceremony on Sept. 16 marking the date the Mayflower set sail.

Before leaving for the New World, the Pilgrims sought refuge in the Dutch city of Leiden, 40 minutes from Amsterdam, where they lived for 12 years. The city’s American Pilgrim Museum, in a beautifully preserved 14th-century house, tells their story. A walking tour explores the city’s Mayflower heritage and here you can learn about Native American culture.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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REAL ID Deadline Extended to October 2021

While non-essential travel is hold, for the most part, we have all experienced presenting a driver’s license or other identification at airport security checkpoints. And frequent fliers know that REAL ID approved identification will eventually be needed to fly domestically. To allow travelers and states a chance to comply, the deadline for implementing the new REAL ID policy has been extended one year, to Oct. 1, 2021, due to the coronavirus crisis.

But eventually, every air traveler age 18 or older must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another acceptable form of identification to fly within the United States. Even if you have TSA PreCheck, you’ll still need a REAL ID or other acceptable identification to board a domestic flight.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, is designed to improve security and prevent identity fraud. It establishes minimum standards for the design and issuance of driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards. Federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, are prohibited from accepting identification that does not meet those standards.

Obtaining a REAL-ID compliant license is a more involved process than simply getting your current driver’s license renewed. While each state is handling things a little differently, there are a few basics to have covered when the time comes for you to obtain your REAL ID:

You’ll need to present documents proving your age and identity, Social Security number and address. That usually means a valid passport or original birth certificate, a Social Security card or tax form, such as a W-2, with the entire number visible. You’ll also need two proofs of address, such a utility or cellphone bill, a bank statement or mortgage bill. If you’ve changed your name, a legal name-change document might be required.

The best, most up-to-date source of information is your state’s department of motor vehicles. To avoid a rush when travelers once again on the move, check with the DMV and start collecting the paperwork.

If you don’t want to get a REAL ID-compliant license, alternate forms of identification are still acceptable to the TSA for domestic flights. They include a passport, passport card, trusted traveler card issued by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense ID, including those issued to military dependents, or a permanent resident card.

Some states, including Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota and New York, offer REAL-ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which will be acceptable to airport security when enforcement goes into effect. Washington state only issues enhanced licenses. Enhanced driver’s licenses are marked with a flag. REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked with a star at the top of the card. States are allowed to issue compliant and non-compliant licenses. So even if you renewed your driver’s license recently, check to make sure that it complies.

Remember that any child under age 18 isn’t required to provide identification to board a domestic flight if they’re with an adult, although the companion will need an acceptable form of identification. That provision doesn’t change under the REAL ID Act.

If you want to apply for or renew a passport to use as your REAL ID, know that most passports are not being processed right now due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. passport agency announced that currently it is only offering service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g. parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours, or three days. You must provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be translated or in English.
  • Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary)

Even if one qualified for essential international travel, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions.

For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through WorldVia at worldvia.com.

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How to Rebook My Cruise Using a Future Cruise Credit

With so many cruises canceled due to COVID19, many people are wanting to know how to rebook their cruise using the Future Cruise Credit (FCC) offered by the cruise lines. Don’t worry. It is effortless to apply the credit to another cruise.

You want to contact your travel agent as soon as you know when and where you want to go. They can handle everything necessary to use your credit, as well as let you know about some of the fantastic deals currently available.

Unfortunately, some agencies have gone out of business. If that is the case, don’t worry. You can transfer your booking to another agency. Please contact one of our WorldVia travel experts, and we will help you plan your next cruise and use that credit.

Give us a call (888) 709-6753 or click here to reach out online.

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The Diary of a Karate Kid

Shaolin Students

My interest in martial arts was always radiant. I remember when I was a kid, I always looked up to idols like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. I used to love their movies and aspired to be as good as they were. I began my martial arts studies when I was four years old, but I was never serious about the sport. Karate classes became more like playtime with my friends instead of learning. It wasn’t until I was in the seventh grade when I became more serious about training to become like my idols. I would stay at my local dojos for extra classes because I was eager to learn more. I even received a black belt from the local schools, but it wasn’t enough. I still wanted to learn more.
So, the summer after my freshman year of high school, my parents sent me to China.

The Shaolin Temple

I landed in a small city in the Henan province named DengFeng. It is home to the famous Shaolin Temple, where monks train in the traditional martial arts, Gong Fu. Not familiar with the term? You are probably more familiar with the term Kung Fu, which is the westernized form of the Chinese pronunciation Gong Fu.
diary-shaolinThe Shaolin Temple is a monastery located in the mountains of Dengfeng. It is a place where traditional Buddhist monks would go and practice martial arts. The temple is rich in history as it has been through many wars and has been rebuilt numerous times. There is a story behind almost everything there. Some of my personal favorites include the room where monks would stomp the ground to create dents as they trained, the tree where monks would train finger strength by punching the trunk with one finger, and the bathrooms just because they were mere buckets.
On tour, we had the chance to walk on a prestigious path where only the grandmaster—or ShiFu—would walk. It was a great experience to see the strict disciplines that monks in training would follow. The Shaolin Temple has also been featured in several Chinese films; several martial arts celebrities have crossed its paths. Most notably, Jet Li filmed a movie here that increased the temple’s popularity. It was really cool to walk in a movie set! In addition to the temple itself, there were several other attractions. One of the most interesting attractions was the Pagoda Forest. It is a collection of tombs for the different monks that have passed and is structured to exhibit a monk’s status before passing. The higher the tower, the higher a monk’s ranking was.
After the tour, we went to watch a Gong Fu performance. The purpose of the performance was to showcase an introduction of Shaolin Gong Fu. It introduced the various “Quan” or forms that are native Shaolin Gong Fu, the weapons used, and the applications of the movements in combat. The fun thing about the performance was that they picked audience members at random to come on stage to learn some of the movements. I remember sitting there practically jumping out of my seat because I really wanted to try! Sadly, they didn’t pick me.

Tagou School of WuShu

After the tour, we went to tour the most notorious martial arts school in China. The Tagou School of WuShu is a boarding school for martial arts as well as an educational institution. This school has produced many of China’s most well-known fighters and performers. They have students attend national competitions and even students who competed in the Olympics. Fun fact, Jackie Chan performed with one of the performance teams from this school. How cool is that? At first glance, I got ridiculously excited because I saw my favorite movie scene in real life—hundreds of students practicing martial arts in sync. It was the highlight of my life to find out that it was not just a scene in a movie. My mom told me that this is where I would be staying for the summer, and I couldn’t have been happier.
diary-tagou-school-viewThe school is gigantic. It’s so big that they had to split the school into two separate campuses. They have the old campus located next to the Shaolin Temple and the new campus at the foot of the mountain near the city of DengFeng. I chose to stay at the old school near the Shaolin because I loved the mountains, and it sounded way cooler to train in the mountains versus the city.
Students of Tagou School of WuShu come from all over the world to study there. Some native Chinese students even use the school for their primary education as well. The school offers intense training sessions and education levels from kindergarten to high school. It was completely different than what I was used to in the states. The students have a crazy training schedule. The students started the day at 5 a.m. and were not done training until almost 10 p.m., six nights a week. I thought that was insane coming from the U.S. where I take an hour-long class three days a week.

Lifestyle as a student of Tagou

Before I agreed to start summer school at Tagou, I honestly did not know what to expect. I thought it was going to be a summer camp-like experience, but it was more of a culture shock and a humbling experience. Before becoming a student, I never realized how privileged I was to be living in the states where we have access to machines that help accomplish chores or technology for entertainment. There was a lot that I had to get used to as a student. My body had to get used to a new diet; my brain had to learn how to cope with limited to no internet. I also had to become less lazy and actually do chores by hand.
diary-canteen-foodI remember my first year going; my diet consisted of eggs and bananas for the first few weeks because I was not used to the food in the cafeteria for the students. I don’t remember what about it made me so sick, but my body eventually adjusted to it, and I was fine by the end of the summer. I was not used to the way you had to grab food. There was not an orderly line to the different chefs. It was a fight to who can swipe their card first to get their canteen full of food. Yes, you read that correctly: a canteen. We did not have bowls or plates to gather our food; we had to stuff a canteen full to carry food. Of course, you could go back and get seconds, but that costed more money, and you would probably have to shove your way back to the front of the food line.
As a millennial, I live on the internet. I love surfing the web to see what the latest trends are, watching YouTube videos, and seeing what my friends are up to on social media. Having limited to no internet killed me. It was already annoying that China blocked a lot of sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Google, but you are able to get around that with a VPN. The thing that was troublesome was that, since we were in the mountains, internet from the town was not that great. Often, the internet would go out in my room and I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do. Honestly, though, it was the best thing that happened to me. It forced me to get out of my room to explore the campus, talk to some of the locals, and hang out with my classmates. I learned so much about the diary-laundrydifferent cultures in my international group and I learned fun games that the locals play to entertain themselves! My favorite game that I learned was called “Duel the Landlord” and it was a very competitive game once you got the hang of it.
After my first couple of weeks there, I remember struggling to find clothes since I burned through most of my clothes. I was asking around trying to find the closest washing machine or laundry mat just to find out that there wasn’t one. I was challenged to actually wash my clothes by hand. I was not happy about this. I am so used to throwing everything in a washing machine and calling it a day. Additionally, there were no dryers either, so I had to wring the clothes out and let them air dry. It was not a fun thing to do, but it became a part of my daily routine that I got used to.
The one thing that I got used to quickly was the training regiment. I was sore for the first couple of weeks. The workouts were really intense, but I learned a lot from the coaches. The coaches are very strict and everything we did had to be perfect.
Honestly, it was tough. It is not made for everyone, but I’m more than grateful that I had this experience. After the first year, I went back four more times to relive the experience. It’s something that I hope I get the chance to do every summer.

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Feast your way through Singapore’s Hawker Centers!

Feast Through Singapore

If you are a dedicated foodie, Hawker Centers are the go-to place for you. Hawker Centers are one of Singapore’s most famous dining styles. At these bustline food courts, dozens of stalls serve a variety of tasty, inexpensive foods, ranging from the well known Nasi Padang, originally imported from Indonesia, to Singaporean fish head curry. No matter what you are craving, you can probably find it at one of the following Singapore Hawker Centers:

The Chinatown Complex Food Centre

The biggest, busiest, and (arguably) most famous hawker center in Singapore just might be the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. As the name suggests, this hawker center focuses on all things Chinese, from chili crab and chicken wings to Hokkien mee and bak kut teh. A variety of well-known food stalls are ready and waiting to fulfill your foodie dreams, including the China La Mian Xiao Long Bao, which specializes in steamed dumplings (which is what xiao long bao means in Chinese), Hai Sing Ah Balling (which serves Teochew style dumplings), and Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice (which is known for, of course, its various clay pot rice dishes).

The Hong Lim Market Food Centre

This 100-stall-large hawker center was first built in 1978 in the Chinatown area. Some of the more famous stalls include the Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa, which was featured in a Michelin Guide, and Ah Heng Curry, which serves curry bowls with optional toppings such as taupok, fishcake, or boneless Hainanese chicken fillet. If you’re craving bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) or bak kut teh (pork bone soup), this is a great place to get your fix.

The Old Airport Road Hawker Centre

According to a 2010 survey, thousands of food lovers voted the Old Airport Road Food Center as their favorite Singaporean hawker center. And it’s no wonder why: this hawker center, which once served as the site of Singapore’s first civil airport (Kallang Airport) and only transformed into a food center in 1973 after Singapore’s International Airport opened in Paya Lebar.
The Old Airport Road Hawker Centre boasts over 150 food stalls many of which have their loyal fans. Some recommended hawker stalls include:

  • Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow, a stall so popular that lunchtime usually features long lines of people waiting for their plate of fried char kway teow. These spicy eggy noodles are certainly a huge hit!
  • Toast Hut: Don’t forget to try Singapore’s signature kaya toast. The owner of this stall, Melvin Soh, started working in the kaya toast business when he was only 17 years old, and Toast Hut has been around now for over a decade. For breakfast, order some kaya toast and home-brewed coffee. For lunch, fresh sandwiches made with kaya toast and blended ice coffee will hit the spot.
  • Unkai Japanese Cuisine: Singapore is known for culture blending, so is it any surprise that you can find some of the best classic Japanese udon, soba, and tempura seafood at one of the best hawker centers in the city?

The Tiong Bahru Food Centre

The Tiong Bahru hawker center is one of Singapore’s oldest markets. Located in a neighborhood that meshes old and new, the Tiong Bahru Food Centre is well known for its cafes and delicious hawker foods, from the thin and savory Min Nan Prawn Noodles (great for breakfast or lunch!) to Lee Hong Kee Roast Meat, featuring fatty char siew rice and crispy roast meat for the meat lover in your life.
Some of the newer additions to this beloved hawker centre include the Tiong Bahru Bakery, known for their flaky croissants and artisanal baked goods; Plain Villa, which features fluffy cupcakes, monthly specials, and even children’s workshops; and Forty Hands, a hipster coffee business that uses green coffee beans sourced internationally and roasted locally, paired with a variety of foods including falafel–yes, falafel.

Geylang Serai Food Centre

To get your fix of authentic Malay food, check out Geylang Serai, one of the biggest Malay enclaves in Singapore. Looking for Nasi Biryani? Look no more. The Haji Mohd Yussof Warong Nasi is here for you. Craving putu piring? The famous 24-hour Haig Road Putu Piring stall sells five pieces for $2. If you want nasi padang, the Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang stall is ready to serve, and don’t forget to get your satay at Alhambra satay. Everything is sedap! (That’s “delicious” in Malay)
If you want to better understand the local Malay culture, check out also the Geylang Serai market with its Malay style Minangkabau roof design which is frequented mostly by Malay and Indian Muslims living in Singapore.

Chomp Chomp Food Centre

Although smaller in size than some of the other hawker centers, the Chomp Chomp Food Centre is packed night after night and ready to serve up a feast. If you’re interested in chowing down on some oyster omelets, fried carrot cakes, chicken satay, or Hokkien mee, this is a fantastic place to satisfy your hungry tummy. Ah, Hock Fried Hokkien Mee is one of the more popular stalls, with lines that last up to 45 minutes long. And no wonder, as the owner fries the noodles in prawn-and-pork-bone broth until the aromatic dish is placed before you–perfect with a dab of chili sauce! And don’t forget Stay Bee Hoon which sells both satay bee hoon noodles with satay peanut gravy and Hainanese beef noodles.
Hawker centres are the heart of Singaporean food culture, and since Singaporeans love food so much, one could argue that they are the heart of Singapore itself. Certainly, you can’t visit Singapore without visiting a handful of them for yourself. Visit one, two, or all of the hawker centres listed above to create delicious memories that will last a lifetime!

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The Foodie’s Guide to the 5 Best Bangkok Restaurants

Feast Through Bangkok

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is particularly well known for a diversity of foods and restaurants that are sure to satisfy any food-loving nomad. From soft shell crab curry to giant crab omelets, home-cooked Thai curry to halal street food rotis, you can eat just about anything your heart desires in this capital of the Land of Smiles.
But of course, you are wondering: what are the best restaurants in Bangkok that you should plan to visit when you arrive? Whether you are looking for Why not give these ten eateries a try?
Let’s dive right in!

1) Paste Restaurant at Gaysorn

Looking for Michelin Starred Thai cuisine? You can’t go wrong with Paste Bangkok, located in the heart of Sayam, in Bangkok.
Situated adjacent to the Intercontinental Hotel, Paste has won a Michelin Star for two years in a row, and specializes in heirloom Thai cuisine and was rated one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants in 2018. Chefs and owners Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun (who was awarded best female chef in Asia in 2018) and her husband Jason Bailey has studied Thai cuisine for years, rediscovering old recipes and techniques to present to their diners.
What kind of mouthwatering dishes can you discover at Paste Bangkok? How about a live lobster salad with buzz button flowers and crispy local seaweed, drizzled with kaffir lime juice and mandarin juice for starters?
For the main dish, perhaps consider trying the shallow fried rainbow trout with an herbal chili dressing garnished with snake fruit and finely shredded white turmeric and crispy shoestring pork skin. Or try their Southern Thai curry with salt brined chicken, with lemongrass, coconut milk-based curry sauce, and crispy shallots. Either way, you will probably leave this restaurant a few belt buckles looser and a lot happier!

2) Sorn

Interested in a 22-course luxury Southern Thai feast? Sorn is a Michelin award winner dreamt up by chefs Khun Ice and Yod, focusing on long lost recipes and local cuisine and located in a reconstructed old house. Sorn sources its ingredients sustainably from local farmers and fisherman and revels in slow-cooked dishes, including double-boiled soup and rice cooked in clay pots and smoked over a charcoal fire.
What kind of food experiences can you expect at this high-end Thai restaurant? Try their 22-course meal including small bites like cashew nut relish, sand mole crabs, raw lobster, and lobster claw curry on a grilled cracker. Further along, you will be treated to a colorful rice salad, grilled beef (served on your personal portable grill), yellow curry (from turmeric and chili), and squid with stink beans.

3) Soei Restaurant

For a more casual dining experience, try the Soei Restaurant located near the Sam Sen railroad station in the Dusit district of Bangkok. Chef and owner P’Soei, a former ballplayer and coach, decorates his restaurant with trophies and framed pictures of sports teams. His life in the food industry began when teammates would come over to his place after games and practices, and he would cook for them.
Chef P’Soei personally oversees every single dish served at the restaurant, from the Yam woon sen noodle dish (sour and spicy glass noodles, meat, and Thai vegetables) to the Kaem pla too tod (deep fried Indian mackerel cheeks garnished with crispy garlic and chili sauce). And don’t forget the tom yum soup! The flavorful version of this popular Thai herbal soup served at Soei includes kra pao holy basil, chilies, and fish.
Best of all, after having a delicious meal at Soei, feel free to enjoy the local sights, including the Victory Monument, Ratchawat Market, and Sriyan Market nearby.

4) The Dining Room at the House on Sathorn

Want to try some innovative Turkish cuisine while you are enjoying your stay in Bangkok? Well, you can do exactly that at The Dining Room. One of the most prestigious restaurants in Bangkok, The Dining Room is located in a building with a fascinating history as rich as the food served there. The House on Sathorn was originally built in 1889 by a Chinese businessman, and later became an embassy for Russia, and is now part of a hotel.
Chef Fatih Tutak has international experience as a chef working in China, Japan, Denmark, Hongkong, and, of course, Thailand. He aims to feed the mind and soul of each diner first, before the stomach, and the food served at The Dining Room is not just delicious to taste but beautiful visually as well.
Some of the possible recipes you may have the honor of trying at The Dining Room include torched beef tenderloin with fried mussels on an edible shell, white asparagus with a fava bean sauce, vegetarian Turkish pasta with brown butter and tomato sauce, mushroom-stuffed baby squid and charcoal-grilled dry-aged quail with bone and grape juice. And for dessert, you might get to sample the strawberry snow in an ice bowl and creamy cheese helva with pistachios. And of course, you can’t leave without a cup of rich Turkish coffee!
You will probably never see Turkish cuisine the same way after your experience at The Dining Room.

5) Restaurant Sühring

Another fierce contender on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Restaurant Sühring is the brainchild of twin brothers and chefs, Thomas and Mathias, with the goal of showcasing the best of modern German food combined with contemporary Central European influences, inspired by the twins’ childhood memories, family recipes, and traveling experience.
Some of the dishes you’ll want to try at Restaurant Sühring include appetizers such as the cured salmon with salmon roe and dill, pork sausage with curry and beer, and foie gras mousse. Follow that up with mashed potatoes and eel, sourdough bread with pork lard pate, crayfish with herbs, edible flowers, and crayfish butter, roasted aged Hungarian duck, Spatzle pasta, and of course their signature roast pork knuckle, which is served on a wooden platter with a knife to be carved right in front of you.
If you’ve ever wanted to try German food in Bangkok, this is the place to go.
Bangkok is a dream come true for the foodie and restaurant lover. Only in this capital city are visitors able to try casual and high-end Thai cuisine, as well as European and Middle Eastern cuisine upgraded and given a distinctly Thai touch. Are you ready to plan your trip to Thailand now?

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The Foodie’s Guide to Taiwan’s Can’t-Miss Night Markets

Feast Through Taiwan

This unique little island, given the nickname “Ilha Formosa” (the Beautiful Island) by 16th-century Portuguese settlers, abounds with delicious traditional dishes brought over by mainland Chinese immigrants in the 20th century, influenced by native aboriginal culture, as well as Japanese and other international cuisines.
The best way to sample the cuisine, of course, is to visit Taiwan’s ubiquitous night markets. When the sun goes down, the streets of most major cities light up with the hustle and bustle of vendors hawking their wares and food stands to spill fragrant scents onto crowds of locals and tourists looking for a good deal or a bite to eat.
Whether you are looking for local specialties like chewy oyster pancakes and the infamous stinky tofu, or the Taiwanese version of crunchy large fried chicken or ice cream wrapped in a crepe, you can find all of this and more at any of the following night markets below.

Northern Taiwan

Shilin Night Market, Taipei

Arguably the largest and most famous night market in the entire island, Shilin Night Market is located conveniently next to the MRT Jiantan Station and attracts hundreds of tourists and locals every night. The market features general merchandise and local cuisine, with a Night Market Food Court located along the western edge.  Feast on the reasonably priced fried chicken stake, bubble tea (which was originally invented in Taiwan!), and, of course, don’t forget to give the famous stinky tofu a try!
If you come early to the night market, feel free to take a look at the Martyrs’ Shrine nearby, built to honor fallen Kuomingtang soldiers after the Chinese Civil War.

Raohe Night Market, Taipei

Another major hot spot, particularly for tourists and visitors, is the Raohe Night Market, one of the oldest night markets in the capital city. This 600-meter single pedestrian path in the Songshan District is lined with cozy shops and stalls, carnival games, and fascinating late-night foods and snacks.
Easily accessible from the MRT, the entrance of the night market is located right next to the Songshan temple and is conveniently situated beside a clothing outlet in Wufenpu and the Taipei New Horizon Shopping Complex. For an unforgettable night, shop to your heart’s content at the clothing outlet or shopping center, and then fill your belly with the well-known pork pepper buns, giant grilled squid, mochi, and of course Taiwan’s signature beef noodle soup!

Miaokou Night Market, Keelung

Located seven minutes away (on foot) from the Keelung train station, the Keelung (pronounced “Jeelong”) night market is one of the most famous night markets in the country. Known for its seafood, visitors to the Keelung night market will be able to enjoy the fresh sea breeze as they stroll along the boardwalk beside the water and enjoy the sight of large ships docked at the harbor.
The night market wraps around a local temple in the center of the city and is particularly well known for its lush seafood. From milk crab and stir-fried king crab legs to its barbecue squid and cuttlefish, Keelung night market is a definite must-visit for the seafoodie visitor!

Central Taiwan

Feng Chia Night Market, Taichung

This night market/shopping town located within walking distance of Feng Chia University offers not only delicious foods and fashionable clothing for sale, but Taichung is also known for selling the cheapest, most fashionable mobile phones.
Comprised of one street, Feng Chia night market offers cheap and delicious and unforgettable foods and a friendly atmosphere–a true sensory feast for both eyes and tongue. Moreover, visitors are encouraged to rent an iBike (an iBike station is located at the main intersection of the Feng Chia road) and travel green through the area.
If you’re looking for churros, scallion pancakes, sweet potato balls or pork-stuffed rice-sausages, this is the night market for you!

Zhongxiao Night Market, Taichung

The Zhongxiao night market was historically the late-night snack center of choice during the Japanese colonial period. It was here that locals feasted on grilled duck, oyster vermicelli, and all sorts of seafood. It was also here where the Ding Wang Spicy Hot Pot originated.
Zhongxiao is well known for its delicious food. Located next to the Third Market, Zhongxiao opens as the Third Market closes (around 4 pm). Some of its must-try dishes include bamboo rice, sugarcane juice, and, of course, Zhongxiao BBQ.

Tunghai Night Market, Taichung

This upscale commercial district located in Taichung, Taiwan features not only a university (Tunghai University) but also a fixed store night market. Different from traditional open-air street markets, Tunghai night market is hugely popular with students, staff, and professors from nearby Tunghai U, and also features a melting pot of fusion cuisines and brand-name clothing.
Perfect for the foodie-shopper, Tunghai Night Market offers an array of irresistible snacks, from chicken steak burgers and steamed meatballs to braised dishes and chicken feet gelatin!

Southern Taiwan

Rui Feng Night Market, Kaohsiung

This grid-shaped market is considered one of the busiest and most popular night markets in Kaohsiung. Located in the Zuoying district, Rui Feng is open Tuesday nights and Thursday through Sunday nights from 6:30. With a two-decade-long history, this L-shaped market offers late-night snacks, entertainment, and shopping. Due to its location, most Ruifeng local visitors are students and office workers, and it sports a variety of low-cost dishes to appeal to guests.
Some of Ruifeng’s most famous dishes include Wanguo steak teppanyaki, brown sugar bubble tea, papaya milk tea, and Mongolian barbecue.

Ling Ya Night Market, Kaohsiung

Located in Taiwan’s largest southern city, the Ling Ya night market is a favorite among the locals. Designed for the focused , the Ling Ya night market solely features food stalls, including such delectable options as squid and eel noodles, Taiwanese salt and pepper (deep fried) chicken, braised pork rice, and white sugar cake.
This market is easy to navigate because the stalls are arranged neatly in two rows, so you will never have to fear getting turned around in large crowds or maze-like winding streets.
As a bonus: because more folks in the southern part of Taiwan speak Taiwanese (in addition to Mandarin), you can take the opportunity to practice sharpening your Taiwanese skills as you order food from the local vendors. (“Ji Koh?” means “How much?”)
No matter where you go in Taiwan, you are sure to have an unlimited number of choices of delicious foods to try. But to soak in the excitement and flavor of Taiwan, unfiltered, make sure you spend some time wandering through its iconic night markets. Wishing you an unforgettable food-lover’s adventure in the Beautiful Island!