The Clever Travel Companion Updates

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Macau April 26 2018, 0 Comments


One of the most unusual spots in Asia, Macau offers something a little different for those who happen to be travelling in the area. From its stunning architecture to its world-renowned cuisine and multitudes of casinos, Macau’s glitz and glamour prove to be an alluring combination, making Macau an increasingly-popular destination for tourists. Just an hour by ferry from the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong, Macau is a hot pot of diverse cultures, stunning views, and mouth-watering cuisines. This former Portuguese colony received a huge 30 million visitors in 2016. Considering that Macau is home to a relatively small population of 600,000, that’s a lot of tourists!

So, if you’re working out a budget for your next big trip, here is why you need to factor in a stop at this jewel of an island.

One of the first ports of call for any tourist should be the Senado Square, part of the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site. Covering an area of 3,700 meters, there is plenty to do and see in this historically-rich part of the city. Wander around the square basking in the beautiful architecture while eating egg tarts or pork chop buns from one of the many stores located in the area.

While you’re there, you might as well check out the neighbouring Mount Fortress, which is another world heritage site that used to be the city’s principal military defence structure. Built on Mount Hill, which rises 52 metres above sea level, the fortress is home to many original artefacts and watchtowers, which provide absolutely stunning views. Other stunning views can be enjoyed from Guia Fortress, which was heavily-influenced by Portuguese architecture and also constructed in the 1600s. The Guia Fortress is home to some of the most beautiful murals, which demonstrate the inextricable links between western and east-Asian cultures in Macau.

For another look at the rich history of Macau, head to the Casa Do Mandarin (Mandarin’s House). Formerly the home of the late Qing theoretician and reformist Zheng Guanying, the Casa Do Mandarin’ architecture reflects the fusion of Chinese and western influences and has been beautifully restored by the Chinese government.  

If there’s one thing that China is famous for, it’s cuddly and clumsy native pandas. In this regard, visiting Seac Pai Van Park to see the two resident pandas in the Giant Panda Pavilion should be high on any tourist’s list. Kept in large enclosures in the pavilion, visitors are sometimes fortunate enough to catch the pandas playing, although sometimes they prefer to simply laze around. Although a popular tourist attraction, Seac Pai Van Park is also an education and conservation facility where you can find information on conservation projects and archaeological discoveries in Macau, in addition to spending time spotting the other native animals residing in the park.

Whether you’ve arrived by boat or plane, it is likely that you would have caught at least a glimpse of the 338m-high Macau Tower. Not just any old skyscraper, the tower was built as a result of a visit to the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand by Hong Kong casino billionaire Stanley Ho Hung-Sun. He was so impressed by the Sky Tower that he immediately commissioned one for Macau. With its glass-fronted elevator that soars up 223 metres in under 60 seconds, you can watch as the city takes shape beneath your feet. Once you emerge from the elevator, enjoy the 360° panoramic views of the Macau skyline, or, if you’re feeling brave, fling yourself from the top of the tower on the world’s tallest bungee jump.

Finally, no trip to Macau would be complete without checking out some of its casinos. Once thought of as Asia’s answer to Las Vegas, the popularity of casinos here means that Macau now outshines Las Vegas as the world leader in holiday destinations for those who love to play cards or slots. The casinos here are on another level, with the most popular being the Grand Lisboa, the Venetian Casino, and the Galaxy Hotel. After a few rolls of the dice, check out one of the many dancing, water, magic or operatic shows that Macau has to offer.

Your guide to Australia for solo female travellers April 25 2018, 0 Comments

Life "down under" has proven exceptionally popular with single female travellers, due largely to Australia's travelling culture. Backpacking across Australia is guaranteed to offer memories that will last a lifetime, with a party-like atmosphere along the Gold Coast and friendly locals all around the country. If you’re a first-time solo traveller, it’s a great place to start given that everyone speaks English and the supply of hotels and hostels is unsurpassed by so many other travelling destinations around the world. So, whether you’re thinking of taking a gap year after university or a much needed sabbatical from work, here are some top tips for ladies upping sticks and backpacking solo to Australia.

Safe places to visit in Australia

The best place for female solo travellers to start in Australia is the Gold Coast. It’s full of like-minded solo travellers and surfer dudes and there’s a friendly, party atmosphere day in, day out. The Great Barrier Reef is situated close to Queensland’s Gold Coast too, and it is the largest living thing on Earth. Head further south to the state of Victoria and you’ll discover the city of Melbourne, with its fabulous fashion boutiques, sporting events and laid-back café culture ideal for dipping your toes into life in Australia. New South Wales has a great mix of culture and entertainment, with vibrant Sydney and the country’s understated capital, Canberra both located here. The state’s beaches are particularly popular too, with Bondi enjoying a great reputation among solo travellers and the surfing fraternity.

Transport around Australia

Ultimately, how you move from place to place in Australia depends on how long you’re planning on staying for. If you’re spending several months down under, the Greyhound bus network offers cost-effective connections by road. A great way to experience the variety of Australia’s landscape is to travel by train, with everything from contemporary tilt trains to The legendary Ghan covering much of the country by rail. There are sleeper trains you can take to move between cities overnight and enjoy your own privacy with a one-person cabin. Of course, there are plenty of internal flights between cities if your time here is rather more limited.

Cheap eats on the move

There is no longer any stigma attached to solo dining. Dining options for one are extremely commonplace now throughout the country. From Tasmania to Adelaide, there are plenty of restaurants that offer single-seat dining and concepts such as half serves, allowing you to enjoy more than one plate of food on your own. Of course, whether you want delicious fresh seafood, barbecued Aussie favourites, a wholesome plate of paella or a spicy offering of Mexican cuisine that’s currently growing in popularity throughout Australia, it’s possible to get orders delivered from restaurants to your accommodation, without having to leave the confines of your bedroom, by placing orders on your smartphone or tablet with specialised apps like Deliveroo.

Unique and reviewed accommodation

Speaking of accommodation, Australia boasts an unrivalled choice of places for solo female travellers to stay. is a good starting point for bog-standard hotels and bed-and-breakfasts that are importantly safe and reputable. However, Airbnb and Homestay gives solo travellers a unique opportunity to sample family life with reviewed and rated hosts in places such as beautiful beachfront townhouses to revamped tour buses in Byron Bay that you simply can’t put a price on.

On the whole, Australia is a fun, vibrant, safe and multi-faceted place to explore. Its comparatively low crime rate means it is no less safe than many other popular traveller pit-stops. With a little common sense and a bucketload of get-up-and-go, you’ll enjoy everything Australia has to throw at you.

First Time in The Maldives? 5 Tips to make the most our of your stay April 20 2018, 0 Comments

Who wouldn’t want to spend a holiday in a stunning island paradise? With white-washed sands, crystal clear waters and luxury resorts, it’s hard to say “no” to the beauty of the Maldives. And once you set foot in this tropical haven, it becomes so much harder to say goodbye.

While the islands of the Maldives are a dream destination, you still need the know-how to make your stay a good one. So before you go ahead and start splurging, you have to ensure you book accommodation and do meticulous planning to enjoy the best holiday deals in the Maldives.

Below are some useful tips to ensure your first trip to the island paradise called the Maldives will simply be delightful.

1. Splurge for the experience

A trip to Maldives is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and fretting over prices will only ruin your visit. A dash of indulgence is a part of the experience in this area of the world.

Proper planning allows you to make the most of the various attractions and activities Maldives can offer. Prepare your budget way ahead of planning your trip so that you don’t have to be anxious about the expenses.

  • Go local

    To truly experience Maldivian culture, you need to get an insight into the local life. Visit one of the inhabited islands through local transportation and wander off villages to interact with the natives.

2. Be respectful of customs, tradition and religion

Most people in the Maldives are Muslims. This means that there are strict rules you should follow to avoid any untoward incidents, and to ensure you have a delightful vacation.

  • Alcohol Consumption

    Tourists are not allowed to bring alcohol into the country and consume it on an inhabited island. Don’t worry, though, liveaboard boats and resorts have licenses to serve alcohol, so you can still indulge in your favorite drinks.
  • Dress Modestly

    On an inhabited island, especially in the capital Malé, women and men should not wear shorts above their knees. For women, it’s advisable to bring a scarf or any cover-up because you aren’t allowed to show your elbows and shoulders. Furthermore, refrain from wearing form-fitting clothes.

    You are free to dress as you wish inside your accommodation, but remember that sunbathing nude or topless is not allowed.
  • Public Display of Affection

    It may be okay in your home country but in the Maldives, it’s indecent for couples to publicly display their affection. Refrain from kissing or showing any kind of affection towards your partner while outside of your hotel.

3. Choose your resort wisely

Staying in an overwater villa is not a requirement. Most resorts may seem expensive but you’ll soon realize it’s all worth it because of the guaranteed luxury service they provide.

The JA Manafaru Hotel offers a variety of room options for their guests. Whether it is water living or a beachfront you seek, each suite and villa complements the natural setting of the Maldives. When looking for your perfect accommodation, be extra thorough and make sure to book early.

4. Don’t forget to bring a quality underwater camera

The Maldives offers the best diving and snorkeling spots in the world. If you plan to witness the island’s underwater paradise, bring along a decent camera to capture all the beauty under the sea. You'll find the most unforgettable underwater experience here, and keeping your memories through photos will be well worth the expense and effort.

5. Be mindful of weather conditions

It’s not all the time that Maldives has pristine white sand and crystal clear water. The best weather in this country is between the months of November and April so make sure to book your stay within those times. It’s worth paying more to travel during the dry season since there are more things you can do when the rain isn’t falling.

If you plan to stay longer in the Maldives, make sure that you have a secure self-storage unit for your belongings so that there’s nothing to worry about back home.

A trip to the Maldives is a good chance for you to unwind and escape from all the stress. Since it’s your first time, the tips above will help you have a worthwhile stay in this island paradise. Remember, a perfect vacation always starts with efficient planning and thorough research.


Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of "Heartfelt Hospitality" and "Casual Luxury."