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Books can take you to new and exciting places—completely new worlds, even. This World Book Day (23 April 2019), let Lifestyle+Travel and Agoda take you on a literary journey like no other. On your next holiday, trace the roots of some of your favorite authors by stopping by their hometowns—some of which have inspired their most seminal works. Here are some must-visit spots for book-lovers roaming around Asia… Kobe, Japan Literary Hero: Haruki Murakami Notable works: “Kafka on the Shore” and “1Q84” available from Shinchosha Must-see attractions: Ikuta Shrine, Arima Onsen, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge Murakami grew up in Kobe, where a few of his stories, such as his debut novel “Hear the Wind Sing”, are set. Murakami’s works have surrealist elements, often with melancholic themes which in some ways, is reflective of the quiet beauty to be found in the many serene shrines and breathtaking nature scenery in the small seaside city. Internalize the relaxing minimalist side of Kobe when you stay at Arimakoyado Hataya Ryokan. Camarines Norte, Philippines Literary Hero: Ricky Lee Notable works: “Para kay B” available from Philippine Writers' Studio Foundation Must-see attractions: Calaguas Islands, Apuao Grande Island, Bagasbas Beach More than his novel “Para kay B,” Ricky Lee’s body of work encompasses screenwriting and playwriting. He has worked with revered Filipino directors like Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal and has even published a screenplay manual called “Trip to Quiapo” which has since been a staple resource for communication colleges in the Philippines. Visit Lee’s hometown of Camarines Norte in the central Bicol region of the Philippines and enjoy its beautiful beaches like those on Apuao Grande Island and the Calaguas group of islands. Keep comfy by making One Platinum Hotel your home base while in the area.   If you’re in the Americas, head to… New York, USA Literary Hero: Jenny Han Notable works: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” available from Simon & Schuster Must-see attractions: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway Though Han originally came from Virginia, her time in New York shaped her career as a young adult fiction writer. Book the cozy Jun New York Midtown III apartment, and feel right at home when you take a break from all of that sight-seeing.   Aracataca, Colombia Literary Hero: Gabriel García Márquez Notable works: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” available from HarperCollins, “Love in the Time of Cholera” available from Penguin Classics Must-see attractions: Casa Museo, Casa del Telegrafista   The municipality of Aracataca is built along the river of the same name and boasts Nobel Prize winner for literature Gabriel García Márquez as one of its sons. The village of Macondo in García Márquez's celebrated novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is fashioned after Aracataca. Take a day trip out to explore García Márquez's reconstructed childhood home-turned-museum and the Casa del Telegrafista, then settle down at the charming Agoda Home in Parque Los Novios in the nearby city of Santa Marta, where you can also visit Colombia’s famous Tayrona National Natural Park. If you’re venturing to Europe, then consider visiting…  Edinburgh, Scotland Literary Hero: J.K. Rowling Notable works: The “Harry Potter” series available from Bloomsbury Must-see attractions: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Dynamic Earth, Underground Edinburgh, The Scotch Whisky Experience Potterheads, unite! While Rowling was born in Yates, England, it was during her time in Edinburgh that she

Long in history, rich in beauty – each part of Sri Lanka has unique experiences to captivate. One of the top picks is definitely the Southern Province, indeed the Southern paradise, with infinite elixirs to shower holidaymakers with bliss. All journeys in Sri Lanka, doubtlessly, start in Colombo. The Sri Lankan capital is observably a “growing” city, with modern skyscrapers infiltrating antiquated colonial buildings, and other new constructions on the way. It is more a business hub than a destination for recreation; however, spending a night in Colombo is a good idea to really get to know modern Sri Lanka, especially in culinary and architectural scenes. I spend my first night at Fairway Colombo, and I hold dear how I can explore remarkable parts of the city on foot from here. My first meal in Sri Lanka occurs at the food arcade of the hotel, being eager to try the Sri Lankan tastes as soon as possible. After going out exploring, I am back to Fairway Colombo again for the rooftop dining. Botanik Bar & Bistro comes with both an indoor bistro and jazzy outdoor area, with live music playing. The atmosphere alone is pleasant, and as soon as the food is served, my mouth is completely pleased. Specialising in contemporary bistro-style fares, the Botanik kitchen crew does it right. I learn later that the menu is co-created by Sri Lanka’s first Michelin Star chef, Rishi Naleendra, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. This is how dishes here are undoubtedly delectable. Actually, Colombo has a lot to offer to tourists as well – if only you know where to go. If you wish to delve into sacred architecture, then Colo mbo is the place, as beautiful Buddhist monasteries, Islamic mosques, Hindu temples, and Christian churches, all of them live together peacefully in the capital. You can also pay a visit to the “Number 11”, a residence in Colombo belonged to Geoffrey Bawa, the world famous architect, to witness his legacy. Please note that advance booking is required for visiting the house and an entrance fee applies. THE SOUTHERN PROVINCE’S MUSTS Unawatuna With in two hours from Colombo, I reach Cantaloupe Levels, my nigh t’s safe haven. Being a huge seafood fan, I unhesitantly order Parisian Jaffna Kool, a bowl of baby calamari, prawns, and baby crabs inside the broth filled with seafood bisque, followed by Prawn Linguine with pumpkin sauce. I am amazed by the tastiness of the soup, creaminess of the pumpkin, and the surprisingly huge prawn topped on the pasta. I later get a chance to learn the Sri Lankan culinary scene better, thanks to the hotel’s cooking class and special Ekamutu Platter (Sinhalese, Muslim, and Tamil cuisine in a nutshell!). Happily satiated, I look away from the table, only to see how cushy this place is. Unlike other hotels I’ve been to, the hotel is not vast and has no elevator, yet remains easefully fashionable. The lounging beds by the pool, overlooking the sun-dappled sea, are my favourite, as well as its being cosily mid-sized and the panoramic skyline

Thai travellers increasingly experiencing cherry blossom season in a unique way by exploring off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods in Tokyo and by immersing themselves in sakura-themed Experiences in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The upcoming Cherry Blossom season (March – May) is one of the year's highlights and has helped to make Japan a firm favourite and one of the most popular global outbound destinations for Thai travelers today. Hot on the lips of travelers-in-the-know is Tokyo's Yanaka neighborhood which offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture, where traditional ways of life are still part of the neighborhood’s daily routine. Through this, Thai travellers are also supporting local, healthy tourism, helping diversify their spendings to smaller, local businesses. The area is known for Japanese sweets, tea and artisanal shops where craftsmen and shop owners take pride in making accoutrements for Kabuki actors and geishas who used to wander the neighborhood’s narrow alleyways. Springtime sees Yanaka Cemetery bursting with expansive cherry blossom trees, an alternative yet beautiful way to see these blooms in full force. Explore Yanaka and Kuramae town, a.k.a. the “Brooklyn of Tokyo,” while riding on "tokyobike". Explore the old and new sides of Tokyo on a bike as you cycle past small artisan workshops still in operation and factories that now house coffee shops and a chocolate factory. See Yanaka from the eyes of a local  while you stroll through a shopping street, looking at kitchen knives and sampling sweets like karinto and manju from traditional Japanese shops. Get lost in narrow labyrinthian streets, arrive at an old wall made of tiles and make a final stop at Yanaka Cemetery for a prime cherry blossom viewing opportunity. Learn about the history of wagashi (Japanese sweets) from the owner of a renowned wagashi shop. Complete the Experience with organic Japanese tea. Increase your Instagram followers and get more likes and comments by making instagramable cherry blossom maki sushi rolls.  Impress your friends back home with culinary skills of making cherry blossom Japanese sweets. Enjoy a scenic view of cherry blossoms in your private kayak and watch the world go by with Cherry blossom kayaking.

With spring around the corner, it means cherry blossom season is coming. Take this chance to spend some quality time with your loved ones beneath the beautifulsakura trees. While Japan and Washington, D.C. are the most famous places to enjoy cherry blossoms, it is possible to see these trademark pink flowers in other locales around the globe. Lifestyle+Travel and Agoda.com share some of the best across Asia, America and Europe to enjoy the age-old tradition of hanami, or “flower viewing” in Japanese. Jinhae, Changwon, South Korea The Jinhae Gunhangie Festival attracts roughly two million visitors a year. Historically a memorial service to commemorate Admiral Yi Sun-sin, it is now South Korea’s biggest spring festival. Enjoy the festival by taking a stroll down the picturesque Romance Bridge, where cherry blossoms canopy the Yeojwacheon Stream, and along Gyeonghwa Station where the trees line the railway track. The best time to visit is late March to April. Conveniently located within reach of the city’s must-see destinations, M-Stay Hotel Changwon is the ideal accommodation for travelers looking to stay busy throughout their trip. Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam It’s a little-known fact that Vietnam’s Hoa Island, located east of Dien Bien Phu in the middle of Pa Khoang Lake, is a goldmine for those seeking cherry blossoms. Did you know that Vietnamese scientist Dr Tran Le wandered up and down the country for the perfect place to plant the seeds, a gift from a Japanese friend? Stay with the family at the Hoang Anh Villa which features an outdoor pool and sun terrace for some quality hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, time. Washington D.C., America The three-week-long National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the dawn of spring while honoring both American and Japanese cultures. The 3,000 trees that can be seen here are a symbol of friendship between the two countries and were gifted by Tokyo’s then Mayor, Yukio Ozaki in 1912. Take in the sights of a sea of stunning cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin, and stay at The Wink Hotel Washington D.C. Located at the heart of the city, this hotel is perfect for travelers who want to make the most of all that the lively city has to offer. Edinburgh, Scotland Pack a picnic and head to The Meadows in Edinburgh. Once you’ve laid claim to one of the benches along the tree-lined paths, you can take a breather and soak in the pink-hued scenery outdoors. Plan to spend the day outdoors by taking along a blanket and your favorite novel. Stay at the Radisson Blu Edinburgh on the historic Royal Mile in the heart of Edinburgh. Recently renovated in 2015, the hotel is within walking distance to top tourist attractions, shopping areas and The Meadows. Paris, France Few places on earth are as romantic and picturesque as the beloved City of Lights. Every spring, neighborhoods and parks in the French capital are dotted with mesmerizing cherry blossoms. For prime viewing, take a stroll through Parc du Champ de Mars, set in the shadows of the world-renowned Eiffel Tower. Stay in ultimate luxury at the Park Hyatt Vendome Hotel located in the heart of Paris on the prestigious Rue de

From learning to make your own Thai herbal ball to meditating with a shaman, Airbnb guests are finding one-of-a-kind ways to increasingly prioritise wellness while traveling In 2018, international tourist arrivals reached 2020 projections two years ahead of schedule, with growth being driven by global trends such as wellness tourism. Wellness travel is worth US$639 billion globally and Airbnb have seen wellness related Experiences spike more than 500% from 2017 to 2018, globally, with notably strong growth among seniors (ages 60+) and Gen Z and millennials (ages 18-24) with more than 800% growth in both age groups. In Asia, cities experiencing the most significant growth in wellness Experiences are Bali, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Bali tops the list for cities prospering with wellness Experience supply with more than 7,400% year-over-year growth*. Following closely after Bali, Thailand is one of the top 20 global destinations dedicated to providing a holistic and rejuvenating holiday and recently Thai authorities advocated that traditional Thai massage receive world cultural status. Thailand’s drive to become a ‘Wellness Hub’ were recognised in Travel Weekly UK’s Best Destinations in The World survey when Thailand was named number one for Best for Spa & Wellness in the world. As visitors to Thailand look for more authentic experiences and a healthier way of travel away from areas of over tourism, the popularity of wellness tourism is growing, evidenced by the growth of Thai massage and wellness Experiences on Airbnb, especially in urban centres such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai where travellers are looking for a more wellness-oriented travel experience. Airbnb Experiences also provide an opportunity for wellness entrepreneurs who are finding innovative ways to be part of the tourism economy, and sharing their knowledge of the cultural traditions behind Thai wellness with guests from around the world. “We are excited to support a new wave of entrepreneurs in the local community and as the travel industry continues to grow, Airbnb promotes local tourism that is authentic, diverse, inclusive, and sustainable. Our Airbnb hosts are creative entrepreneurs passionate about their local culture, and Airbnb Experiences are a great way to unleash economic opportunity for people to monetise their passions and talents. Our greatest assets are time and potential, and Experiences is a way to unlock that,” says Mike Orgill, General Manager of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. For Kanokwan, she took over her mother’s massage centre after taking a business degree and wanted to find innovative ways to engage her customers and help them understand the Thai culture better. Her Airbnb Experience, Make your Own Thai Herbal Ball, lets her impart her knowledge around various infused oils and their properties as you learn to make your own Thai herbal ball. Guests will end the session with a herbal hot compress massage. “This type of hospitality is unique and can support the local people by providing another stream of income. I enjoy sharing about the ingredients and raw material we bring from local and made by local people,” she quips. In addition to Thailand’s popularity as a wellness destination, Airbnb

Whether you're a fan of butt-kicking blockbusters, love a good thriller or you're obsessed with romantic flicks, these 6 ‘reel’ travel locations will make you a superstar in a movie. Lifestyle+Travel, together with Agoda share the list of holiday ideas inspired by the past year’s blockbuster hits and award winners.   Mission Impossible: Fallout Queenstown, New Zealand   If you fancy playing action hero for a day or two, head to Queenstown, New Zealand, where Mission Impossible: Fallout filmed its helicopter action sequence. Take your own helicopter ride and indulge in New Zealand’s other extreme sports, from bungee jumping to heli-skiing.   Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom Oahu, Hawaii   If Sci Fi and the chance to run into dinosaurs in the modern world is more your thing, head to Oahu, Hawaii, the setting for Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom. Not only is it an excellent backdrop for extinct creatures, but also for travelers looking for a holiday full of sea, volcanoes, outdoor sports and lush nature.   Crazy Rich Asians Singapore   Crazy Rich Asians, the rom-com of the year, has travelers going crazy for Singapore. The film captured multiple locations across Singapore, from the famous Gardens by the Bay to the food hawker stalls at Newton Food Centre, which lends itself to a pretty full itinerary for travelers keen to explore the Lion City.   Black Panther Busan, Korea   Black Panther had its epic casino fight and car-chase scenes take place in Busan, Korea, a city that’s arguably more beautiful at night than during the day. Though the glamourous underground casino doesn’t exist in real life, you can pretend otherwise at one of Busan’s swanky cocktail lounges or nightclubs. During the day, check out Busan’s beaches, hot springs, temples, and shrines – local gems that didn’t make the cut for the film.   A Star is Born Los Angeles, California   The City of Angels was the backdrop for many of the scenes in this year’s remake of A Star is Born, the romantic drama about a seasoned country musician eclipsed by his rising star of a partner. Throughout the movie, many of its noteworthy concert scenes were shot across a number of Los Angeles venues, including the 5,870-seat music venue Greek Theatre, the cozy Regent Theatre, and the Shrine Auditorium, a landmark venue where multiple film and music award events have been held.   Bohemian Rhapsody London, UK   If your taste in music is more classic rock than country, this award-winning biographical film about one of the greatest rock bands of all time should be on your must-watch list. Bohemian Rhapsody is framed around the band’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium. Home to England’s football, Wembley is also still one of the most popular venues for major artists to perform.   Source: Agoda

From March 7 to June 26, 2019, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL) is welcoming the return of “Carnivale of Stars” with a rich line-up of spectacular offerings, including an all-new Springtime celebration moment, the popular Disney Character Egg Hunt, and a host of beloved Disney friends fills every day and night with Disney magic! To make the season even more special, HKDL’s newest Marvel attraction, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! opens on March 31, 2019, welcoming guests on a high-tech, high-energy interactive adventure fighting alongside Ant-Man and The Wasp. Along with exceptional dining, shopping and accommodation experiences at the park and three resort hotels, this year’s Springtime celebration at HKDL promises to be the most spectacular yet for Thai guests! Shrink to ant size and fight alongside Ant-Man and The Wasp Calling heroes of all sizes! Set to open on March 31, the long-anticipated Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! expands the epic adventure of Iron Man Experience, and further affirms HKDL as Asia’s epicenter of Marvel action. It will be the world’s first attraction featuring Ant-Man and The Wasp, as well as the first Marvel-themed attraction featuring a female Super Hero as a lead character. The new attraction will send guests on a critical mission with Ant-Man and The Wasp to defend Hong Kong against Hydra’s attack. The adventure begins with a visit to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Science and Technology Pavilion, a newly opened facility at Stark Expo in Tomorrowland. The visit is soon interrupted by Hydra, who has initiated a two-pronged Swarmbot attack in Hong Kong to steal the Arc Reactor atop Stark Tower in Kowloon and a Data Core at S.H.I.E.L.D. pavilion. As he battles Swarmbots in Kowloon, Iron Man calls in Ant-Man and The Wasp to defend the pavilion. But with thousands of bots and only two of them, Ant-Man and The Wasp will need help – and guests at the pavilion are called into action! Aboard one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest combat vehicles, guests will be shrunk to ant size in a heroic battle alongside Ant-Man and The Wasp to defeat Zola and his Swarmbots. Created with classic Disney storytelling and close collaboration with Marvel, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! is a highly authentic and engaging Marvel experience. Director of “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” Peyton Reed and the movie production team were on board to film the media for the attraction; Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, the stars of “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” joined the action by reprising their roles; and Christophe Beck, composer of the Ant-Man movies, also created the score for the attraction. The immersive, media-rich storytelling is enhanced by cutting-edge scenic illusion technology and a state-of-the-art gaming system used to create an exhilarating, interactive experience. Disney friends invite guests to join the refreshing Springtime carnival “Carnivale of Stars” Springtime celebration returns this year from March 7 to June 26 with new magical experiences featuring your favorite Disney friends! Start the springtime adventure with a rejuvenated performance starring Mickey and friends in a fun-filled musical extravaganza at the Castle

No matter how many times you have been in Singapore, there is still a lot more to explore. This time with Grand Copthrone Waterfront Hotel, I went on a half-day “Live Like A Local” excursion, designed for international tourists and local staycationers, happening every Saturday. There I found a magnetic neighbourhood, which is not frequently heard among international tourists – Tiong Bahru. Located a few minutes away from the hotel, cosy Tiong Bahru is a magnificent heritage of Singapore, which has flourished with artsy coolness while keeping its admirable traditional appeal. From authentically local dishes, to Peranakan cuisine and chic cafés, a day strolling around colourful lowrise houses of Tiong Bahru is joyously slow-paced. Make sure that your stomach is ready to roll!   LOCAL DISHES AT THE MARKET At Tiong Bahru Market, there is no fancy food, but only what the locals actually have on a daily basis. Besides, those are the heritage foods at feasible prices. Must-tries are coffee with raw egg that makes the coffee surprisingly creamier; Jian Bo Shui Kueh with a long queuing line, guaranteeing the yumminess of chewy dough with special pickled topping; local dish Lor Mee; and Fried Kway Teow.     QI TIAN GONG TEMPLE Located just around the corner, this temple has been established since 1920, before being rebuilt in the present-time location. It is known as the temple of well-respected monkey god “Sun Wu Kong” who is invincible, brave, intelligent, agile, and helps the poor and needy. Most people, especially businessmen, come to pray for booming business and gaining wealth.   PERANAKAN CULTURE Singapore has long had a close relationship with Peranakan culture that is inherited from Straits-born ancestors. The term “Peranakan” derives from the unique culture emerging from marriages between foreign traders and local women, mostly Chinese and Malaysian. Even though Tiong Bahru is not the main district of such culture, you can also try their unique combination at Galicier Pastry, especially Kueh Dah Dah (pandan pancakes with coconut fillings) and Putu Ayu (sponge cake topped with coconut and palm sugar), as well as one-off Peranakan cuisine at House of Peranakan Petit.   PAINTINGS ON THE WALLS Along the narrow streets, you can find some elaborate murals by local artist Yip Yiew Chong, illustrating the easeful lives back then. Apart from perking up the whole district, the beauty of them is how they can trigger the memories of good old days to the locals, and narrate the bygone stories to the visitors. Try to spend time speculating their details, and you will understand more about life in Singapore.   EXPLORE THE CAFÉS A chic scene wouldn’t be complete without a bit of café hopping, and the neighbourhood is undoubtedly ideal for doing so. From shiny tarts at Drips, creative cakes at Cream & Custard, famous Tiong Bahru Bakery, to everything French in bohemian chic atmosphere at Merci Marcel – too many places are worth visiting around here! Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel arranges the complimentary “Live Like A Local” programme every Saturday, as well as monthly in-house hotel activities in accordance with festivals celebrated in Singapore. For more

Much tourism these days often seems to eventually destroy much of what it set out to preserve, but here in this paradisiacal valley, they seem to be doing a great job of keeping old traditions alive, along with bringing visitors in for Kyrgyzstan’s most alluring adventure travel. So here are 6 things you cannot miss while visiting Jyrgalan Valley, Kyrgyzstan and some helpful information. 1. The spectacular wildflower meadows found throughout the summer everywhere in the Jyrgalan Valley. 2. Doing some sort of horse trekking, whether it be riding your own, using it as a pack animal, or getting real adventuresome and riding up and skiing down during the snow months. 3. Sleeping at least one night in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt. 4. Buying a souvenir kalpak, the Kyrgyz traditional hat and Asia’s coolest and most unique head-wear. 5. Try the fermented mare’s milk kumuz if you dare. Then again, you will be offered it so many times, it may be impossible to continually refuse. 6. Spend a day (or several) in a jailoo, the high summer pastures where herders graze their ani-mals, enjoying the astounding natural beauty that the region has to offer.   WHEN TO GO Kyrgyzstan has a continental climate with warm summers, freezing winters, and full spring and fall seasons. June-August bring the warmest temperatures although snow stays above 4,000 metres into July or August, sometimes making passes inaccessible to trekkers. Afternoon rain showers and mountain thunderstorms are also frequent. September and October are excellent months to come, with autumn colours being the big draw. For those who want to experience free-ride skiing, come in the early spring, when there is still plenty of mountain snow but the temperatures have warmed up to something bearable. WHERE TO STAY Bishkek and the resort town of Karakol have hotels, B&Bs, hostels, and plenty of accommodation options to fit all budgets. In Jyrgalan, simple homestays are the norm, but for a bit more comfort and a hearty welcome, the Alakol-Jyrgalan Guesthouse, run by Emil and Gulmira is the best choice. The guesthouse features double or triple rooms with en-suite or shared bathrooms, and there is also the option to spend the night in a comfortable yurt. Guests can also enjoy a terrace, bar, and a shared lounge along with free WiFi. Other perks include a Finnish sauna, trekking and ski equipment for rent, and car hire, plus the hosts can set up any type of horse trek. GETTING AROUND From Bishkek, the capital, you can reach Karakol by private or shared taxis in around five to six hours. From here, buses run three times a day to Jyrgalan, taking up to two hours to cover the 60 kilometres, or else you can hire a taxi and arrive in an hour.   ENTRY REQUIREMENTS To enter Kyrgyzstan, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. For North Americans, most Europeans, Japanese, South Koreans, Australians, and New Zealanders, no visas are required and you can stay for 60 days. Thai and other visitors need a visa, but this can be obtained from a Kyrgyz Embassy, on