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Singapore
Hong Kong
Bangkok, Thailand
Kualalumpur, Malaysia
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Manila,Philippines

The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intamuros in 1571, a "Walled City" comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations.

Filipinos are a fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes.

Shopping.
The Philippines is fast becoming a shopper's haven, yielding great bargains if you know what to look for and where. There are handicrafts stores all over the country, usually near the public market in small to medium sized cities and towns, and in sprawling shopping malls in such large urban areas as Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao. Rattan baskets and hand-woven fabrics from Northern Luzon, Panay Island and southern Mindanao; shell craft from Cebu and Zamboanga; wood and bamboo furniture from Cental Luzon; jewelry from Baguio City and Bulacan Province; and cigars from Ilocos region. Most Metro Manila malls carry international designer brands with prices comparable to those in Hong Kong or Singapore.

Night Life
Metropolitan Manila is considered a pleasure-seekers' paradise, consistently voted Asia's number one destination for entertainment and night life. You can listen to a wide variety of popular bands and singers, take advantage of Happy hour specials, dance up a storm at clubs and street parties, or cap an exhilarating night with a cappuccino at a corner cafe. Hotspots not to be missed are bohemian Malate in Manila, upscale Ayala Rockwell in Makati, and the trendy Libis and Timog Avenue in Quezon City.

Food.
Filipino food reflects the country's varied history. Over the centuries, Chinese traders brought their culinary culture, Spanish colonizers added healthy touches of Castillan cooking, and U.S. colonization contributed convenience and fast food. Eating in the Philippines can therefore be an outstanding experience regardless of the traveler's budget. In recent years, a profusion of restaurants has emerged, many catering to continental European or exotic Asian tastes. There are some good Japanese restaurants, plus a smattering of Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and other establishments


Kualalumpur, Malaysia

Founded in the mid-nineteenth century, KUALA LUMPUR , or KL as it's popularly known, is the youngest Southeast Asian capital and the most economically successful after Singapore - and it's still growing: building sites abound and the city is awash with stunning examples of modern architecture, not least the famous Petronas Towers and the recently opened Museum of Islamic Arts. It's not one of Malaysia's most charming cities perhaps: it doesn't have, for example, the narrow alleys, bicycles and mahjong games of Melaka or Kota Bharu or the atmospheric waterfront of Kuching. But it's safe and sociable, and with a population of nearly two million, it's usually exciting in the day and always buzzing with energy at night. From a cultural standpoint, it certainly has enough interesting monuments, galleries, markets and museums to keep visitors busy for at least a week.

KL began life as a swampy staging post for Chinese tin miners in 1857 - Kuala Lumpur means "muddy estuary" in Malay - and blossomed under the competitive rule of pioneering merchants. But as fights over tin concessions erupted across the country, the British used gunboat diplomacy to settle the Selangor Civil War and the British Resident, Frank Swettenham, took command of KL, making it the capital of the state and, in 1896, the capital of the Federated Malay States. Swettenham imported British architects from India to design suitably grand buildings, and thousands of Tamil labourers poured in to build them; development continued steadily through the first quarter of the twentieth century. The Japanese invaded in December 1941, but although they bombed the city, they missed their main targets. Following the Japanese surrender in September 1945, the British were once more in charge in the capital, but Nationalist demands had replaced the Malays' former acceptance of the colonizers, and Malaysian independence - Merdeka - finally came in 1957

The City.
Despite much modernization, much of Kuala Lumpur's appeal - markets, temples and historic mosques - remains untouched. The city centre is quite compact, with the Colonial District centred on Merdeka Square; close by, across the river and to the south, Chinatown and Little India are the two main traditional commercial districts. One of the most prominent (and busiest) of KL's central streets, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, or Jalan TAR , as it's often known, runs due north from Merdeka Square for 2km to Chow Kit Market; closer in, west of the square, are the Lake Gardens , while to the south lie the Masjid Negara (National Mosque), the new Islamic Arts Museum , the landmark Railway Station and the Muzium Negara (National Museum). From Merdeka Square, the congested Jalan Tun Perak leads southeast to the Pudu Raya bus station, a kilometre further east of which is the Golden Triangle . This fashionable consumer sector is delineated by three main roads - Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi and Jalan Sultan Ismail - and contains most of the city's expensive hotels, nightlife locations, modern malls, and the lofty Menara and Petronas Towers which, at just over 490m high, is currently the tallest building in the world.

Bangkok, Thailand

The headlong pace and flawed modernity of BANGKOK (called "Krung Thep" in Thai) match few people's visions of the capital of exotic Siam. Spiked with scores of high-rise buildings of concrete and glass, it's a vast flatness which holds a population of at least nine million, and feels even bigger. But under the shadow of the skyscrapers you'll find a heady mix of frenetic markets and hushed golden temples, of glossy cutting-edge clubs and early-morning almsgiving ceremonies. Most budget travellers head for the Banglamphu district, which is just a short walk from the dazzling Grand Place and Wat Phra Kaeo and the very worthwhile National Museum . For livelier scenes, explore the dark alleys of Chinatown's bazaars or head for the water: the great Chao Phraya River is the backbone of a network of canals and a useful way of crossing the city.

Bangkok is a relatively young capital, established in 1782 after the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya, the former capital. A temporary base was set up on the western bank of the Chao Phraya, in what is now Thonburi, before work started on the more defensible east bank. The first king of the new dynasty, Rama I, built his palace at Ratanakosin , within a defensive ring of two (later expanded to three) canals, and this remains the city's spiritual heart. Initially, the city was largely amphibious: only the temples and royal palaces were built on dry land, while ordinary residences floated on thick bamboo rafts on the river and canals, and even shops and warehouses were moored to the river bank. In the late nineteenth century, Rama IV and Rama V modernized their capital along European lines, building roads and constructing a new royal residence in Dusit, north of Ratanakosin.

Since World War II, and especially from the mid-1960s onwards, Bangkok has seen an explosion of modernization, leaving the city without an obvious centre. Most of the canals have been filled in, to be replaced by endless rows of concrete shophouses, sprawling over a built-up area of 330 square kilometres. The benefits of the economic boom of the 1980s and early 1990s were concentrated in Bangkok, which attracted mass migration from all over Thailand and made the capital ever more dominant: Bangkokians now own four-fifths of the nation's cars and the population is forty times that of the second city, Chiang Mai .

The City
Bangkok is sprawling, chaotic and exhausting: to do it justice and to keep your sanity, you need time, boundless patience and a bus map. The place to start is Ratanakosin , the royal island on the east bank of the Chao Phraya and location of the Grand Palace, Wat Po and the National Museum . The other main areas of interest are Chinatown for its markets, Thonburi for its traditional canalside life and boat rides; and several impressive historical residences in downtown Bangkok, including Jim Thompson's House and Suan Pakkad . If you're here at a weekend, you shouldn't miss the enormous Chatuchak Weekend Market .

Singapore

Conveniently linked by a kilometre-long causeway to the southern tip of Malaysia, the tiny city-state of Singapore (just 580 square kilometres) makes a gentle gateway for many first-time travellers to Asia, providing Western standards of comfort and hygiene alongside traditional Chinese, Malay and Indian enclaves. Its downtown areas are dense with towering skyscrapers and gleaming shopping malls, yet the island retains an abundance of nature reserves and lush, tropical greenery.

Singapore is a wealthy nation compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, with an average per capita income of over US$15,000. At the core of this success story is an unwritten bargain between Singapore's paternalistic government and acquiescent population, which stipulates the loss of a certain amount of personal freedom, in return for levels of affluence and comfort that would have seemed unimaginable thirty years ago. Outsiders often bridle at this, and it's true that some of the regulations can seem extreme: neglecting to flush a public toilet, jaywalking, chewing gum and eating on the subway all carry sizeable fines. Yet the upshot is that Singapore is a clean, safe place to visit, its amenities are second to none and its public places are smoke-free and hygienic.

Of more relevance to the millions of visitors Singapore receives each year is the fact that improvements in living conditions have been shadowed by a steady loss of the state's heritage , as historic buildings and streets are bulldozed to make way for shopping centres. Singapore undoubtedly lacks the personality of some southeast Asian cities, but its reputation for being sterile and sanitized is unfair. Much of the country's fascination springs from its multicultural population : of the 3.87 million inhabitants, 77 percent are Chinese (a figure reflected in the predominance of Chinese shops, restaurants and temples across the island), 14 percent are Malay, and 7 percent are Indian, the remainder being from other ethnic groups.

The entire state is compact enough to be explored exhaustively in just a few days. Forming the core of downtown Singapore is the Colonial District , around whose public buildings and lofty cathedral the island's British residents used to promenade. Each surrounding enclave has its own distinct flavour, from the aromatic spice stores of Little India to the tumbledown backstreets of Chinatown , where it's still possible to find calligraphers and fortune tellers, or the Arab Quarter , whose cluttered stores sell fine cloths and silks.

Beyond the city, you'll find Bukit Timah Nature Reserve , the splendid Singapore Zoological Gardens , complete with night safari tours, and the oriental Disneyworld attractions of Haw Par Villas . Offshore, you'll find Sentosa , the island amusement arcade which is linked to the south coast by a short causeway (and cable car), and Pulau Ubin , off the east coast, where the inhabitants continue to live a traditional kampung (village) life.

Singapore is just 136km north of the equator, which means that you should be prepared for a hot and sticky time whenever you go; temperatures hover around 30°C throughout the year. November, December and January are usually the coolest and the wettest months, but rain can fall all year round. July usually records the lowest annual rainfall.

The diamond-shaped island of Singapore is 42km from east to west at its widest points, and 23km from north to south. The downtown city areas huddle at the southern tip of the diamond, radiating out from the mouth of the Singapore River . Two northeast-southwest roads form a dual spine to the central area, both of them traversing the river. One starts out as North Bridge Road , crosses the river and becomes South Bridge Road ; the other begins as Victoria Street , becomes Hill Street and skirts Chinatown as New Bridge Road.

At the very heart of the city, on the north bank, the Colonial District is home to a cluster of buildings that recall the days of early British rule - Parliament House, the cathedral, the Supreme Court, the Cricket Club and, most famously, Raffles Hotel. Moving west, the fringes of Fort Canning Park has several attractions, including Singapore's National Museum. From here, it's a five-minute stroll to the eastern end of Orchard Road , the main shopping area in the city. North from Fort Canning Park you soon enter Little India , whose main drag - Serangoon Road - is around fifteen minutes' walk from Raffles Hotel. Ten minutes southeast from Little India, Singapore's traditional Arab Quarter squats at the intersection of North Bridge Road and Arab Street.

South, across the river, the monolithic towers of the Financial District cast long shadows over Chinatown , whose row of shop-houses stretches for around one kilometre, as far as Cantonment Road. Singapore's World Trade Centre is a fifteen-minute walk southwest of the outskirts of Chinatown, and from there cable cars run across to Sentosa.

The rest of the island is crossed by expressways, of which the main ones are the east-west Pan Island Expressway and the East Coast Parkway/Ayer Rajah Expressway , both of which run from Changi to Jurong, and the Bukit Timah Expressway , which branches off north from the Pan Island Expressway at Bukit Timah new town, running north to Woodlands. At Woodlands, a causeway links Singapore with Malaysia.





Rates

  NOTES:
  Rates are subject to change with our prior notice.
  Rates in USDollar per adult
  TAXES NOT INCLUDED


  MANILA TO:

Philippine Airlines Type Important Remarks Rates
Taxes not included
Hong Kong Roundtrip
T-class
Min-2days/max-8days, required ticketing must be completed at least 30 days before departure 154
Roundtrip
U-class
Min-2days/max-5days, valid on Sun-Wed outbound dep. must be ticketed within 48hours. 145
Oneway
E-class
For SC only, attach SC application & letter of guarantee fares rules apply 134
Singapore Roundtrip
T-class
Min-2days/max-8days, required ticketing must be completed at least 30 days before departure 154
Roundtrip
U-class
Min-2days/max-5days, valid on Sun-Wed outbound dep. must be ticketed within 48hours. 145
Jakarta Roundtrip
T-class
Min-2days/max-8days, required ticketing must be completed at least 30 days before departure 154
Roundtrip
B-class
8days max. closed confirmed rsvn. 305
Roundtrip
E-class
min-2days/max-8days, 183
Roundtrip
U-class
Min-2days/max-5days, valid on Sun-Wed outbound dep. must be ticketed within 48hours. 145
Bangkok Roundtrip
T-class
Min-2days/max-8days, required ticketing must be completed at least 30 days before departure 154
Roundtrip
U-class
Min-2days/max-5days, valid on Sun-Wed outbound dep. must be ticketed within 48hours. 145
Seoul, Korea Roundtrip
Y-class
Valid on 4digit flight only, min 3days-6months max 474
Oneway
Y-class
- 299
Taipei Roundtrip
T-class
Min-2days/max-8days, required ticketing must be completed at least 30 days before departure 154
Roundtrip
B-class
1month max. 206
Roundtrip
U-class
Min-2days/max-5days, valid on Sun-Wed outbound dep. must be ticketed within 48hours. 145
Oneway
T-class
Attach OEC 134
Narita, Japan Roundtrip
B-class
4days min/6months maximum 423
Oneway
K-class
Attach OEC/Trainee's Visa 268
Xiamen, China Roundtrip
X-class
2days min/3months maximum 215
Shanghai, China Roundtrip
E-class
2days min/14days maximum 250
Beijing, China Roundtrip
X-class
14days maximum 369




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