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Rediscovered – Seven City Wonders of Asia Pacific

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The city is underrated.

While there is much to love about an outdoor adventure, some people may not recognize how exciting a city getaway can truly be. Not only do you get to bask in the electrifying atmosphere of a new environment, but cities also house innumerable delights to rival Mother Nature – from architectural gems to traditional and cultural experiences, there is so much to discover! These are the seven city wonders of Asia Pacific; much has been said about these urban hotspots, but not many have truly experienced their charm. Here’s how to appreciate them in their fullest glory.

The Bund, Shanghai
Travelers seeking a balance between the traditional and contemporary will find all they’re looking for at The Bund. Known as the “Museum of Buildings,” the Bund is iconic for its preservation of colonial buildings from the 1800s, in one of the world’s most metropolitan cities. One of the best places to capture panoramic views of the scenic area is the promenade – with an eco-friendly mobile charging station at the photography point, you won’t even worry about your phone running out of battery. You’ll be snapping all day!

Where to stay: Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund
What better way to experience this urban wonder than by indulging in a luxury stay on the Bund itself? Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund is a prime location for guests to enjoy convenient access to top attractions, as well as to catch a spectacular view of the Pudong skyline.

Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong
Head to one of Hong Kong’s most vibrant meeting points, Temple Street Night Market. An agglomeration of all things old and gold, you’ll find yourself surrounded by wares such as jade ornaments, tea paraphernalia and antique trinkets. Don’t miss the chance to seek authentic cultural experiences by enjoying a Cantonese opera performance or having your palm read by a fortune teller. Pro-tip: always haggle! Locals themselves tend to offer 30 to 40 percent of the original price, so that’s a good place to start.

Where to stay:  Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok
Located minutes away from Mong Kok MTR station, Hilton Garden Inn provides the perfect respite after a day’s adventure.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney
One cannot possibly visit Sydney without stopping by the Sydney Opera House, an architectural marvel. Did you know that there are 1.5 million tiles across the sails on the roof? Every five years, a team of six abseilers conduct a “tap test,” where they manually tap each tile to check if it is still secure. The whole process takes them six weeks! The next time you head to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll certainly have new-found appreciation for this modern beauty.

Where to stay: Hilton Sydney
Situated in the downtown area of Sydney, Hilton Sydney is on the doorstep to all of the city’s favourite attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour and Bondi Beach.

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
With more than 15,000 stalls, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest. If you are running short of time and cannot explore the entirety of this eclectic matrix, head directly to Zone #2. This area is a hipster paradise, which houses the trendiest fashion and handicrafts. Prices may be a bit more expensive, but the items are more unique and better quality. Don’t shop until you drop – keep hydrated. Coconut ice cream helps!

Where to stay: Hilton Sukhumvit
Surrounded by Bangkok’s business, shopping and entertainment facilities, Hilton Sukhumvit is located a mere 5-minute walk away from Phrom Phong BTS station.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s pride and joy, is a futuristic park home to more than 160 species of trees and plants. Set in the middle of the city, it transports visitors into a garden paradise like no other. Walk among giants at the SuperTree Grove, which is not only an aesthetic icon but also functional – some SuperTrees serve as solar cells, while others are air exhaust receptacles! Also, be sure to check out the seasonal exhibits at the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, two cooled conservatories that showcase flowers from all over the world.

Where to stay: Hilton Singapore
Hilton Singapore is only a stone’s throw away from Singapore’s iconic shopping district, where guests have easy access to a myriad of shopping and dining options.

National Museum of Natural History, Manila
Manila recently introduced a latest addition to its list of urban attractions – the National Museum of Natural History. Housed in a magnificent, neo-classical building, this six-story museum houses an array of fine art and works of cultural and national heritage, alongside life science exhibits that celebrate the country’s diverse flora and fauna. Take a ride in the DNA Tree of Life, a double-helix structure that rises into a canopy for the courtyard and doubles as an elevator! There aren’t any written handouts or location maps to refer to, so keep your smartphone handy to do some in-the-moment research.

Where to stay: Hilton Manila
Nestled in Manila’s biggest integrated resort, Hilton Manila offers guests with all-day entertainment; complete with a resort-style outdoor pool, fitness centre and various dining options.

Toyosu Fish Market
Move aside, Tsukiji, the Toyosu Fish Market is in town. Twice the size of its predecessor, the Toyusu Fish Market has expanded to include markets for seafood, fruits and vegetables. As part of this expansion, there are also dedicated observation decks to view the bustling live tuna auction! The lower observation deck is so coveted that you have to apply for a spot one month in advance, so be sure not to miss the deadline.

Where to stay: Hilton Tokyo
On top of being in the heart of Tokyo’s shopping and entertainment district, Hilton Tokyo is also ideal for guests to experience modern Japan – with attractions like Harajuku, Ginza, Akihabara and the Tokyo Skytree just around the bend.

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4 Transportation Tips to Get Around in Switzerland

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switzerland

When someone said, “getting there is half the fun,” they must have been talking about Switzerland. This European gem has such a vast availability of public transport throughout the country.

Moving past the occasional traffic jams and road constructions, they know how to make traveling comfortable for everyone. Their public transit network is orderly, on time, pristinely clean, and much popular among the locals.

So, if you are in Switzerland and are planning to travel, the number of ways you can enjoy the serenity is endless. But the first step on this journey is to get travel from the airport to your desired destination.

Zurich airport transportation gives you three ways to enter the cities from the airport with much ease. You can either take the train for a view of nature or the tram if you want to enjoy the city’s sights or take a taxi, which is the most comfortable option but is also expensive.

Read on for some helpful tips that will make traveling easier for you in Switzerland. 

1. Utilize Free Public Transportation

If you are traveling to Geneva, Lucerne, Bern, Basel, or Lausanne, transportation will not be something you’ll have to worry about. Switzerland offers everyone free public transportation in their most traveled cities, including these. You can not only save taxi fares but also be able to explore the whole city for free. 

Most of the time, the hotel you’re staying at will provide you with a transport card which you can use to travel for free. So, if you are staying at a hotel, make sure to ask at the reception for potential freebies.

2. Don’t Purchase Travel Passes.

A travel pass should be your last option. It takes up a good amount of funds, and if you don’t end up using public transport a significant number of times, then the pass hasn’t been put to use well. 

Before you finally settle on buying a pass, you may ask yourself what all places you will travel to? Will you cover long distances at all, or will you stay around the same area? How frequently will you use the pass? These questions might help you understand if the pass is necessary or not.

3. Get a Free Bike

Geneva, Zug, Bern, Zurich, the Canton of Valais, and Neuchatel are some places that will offer you bikes for free. And if you are in one of these cities, you’re in for a treat. You can rent bikes for a few hours, a whole day, or for an even longer time. All you will need is your valid ID and a small deposit amount, which you get back after returning the bike. 

If you are not in one of these places, you can still rent out a bike. They may not be for free, but they are still cheaper than other public transports or taxis. 

4. Grab the Free Activities

You will be surprised to know that there are so many things that you can enjoy for free when you are in Switzerland. You have to pay attention and look in the right direction. 

Many free walking tours take place all across the country. You can visit the free wildlife parks in Winterthur, Interlaken, Zurich, St. Gallen, and other places. Museums, churches, hills for hiking, and Old towns are open and free to all.

Take a toll through parks, bridges, and botanical gardens. You can visit Europe’s largest waterfalls, that is, the Rhine falls in Schaffhausen.

Experience the cheese factories and enjoy all the free samples. Talk to people and explore, and you’ll find there’s always something left yet to explore. 

A few bonus tips to make your trip budget-friendly in Switzerland.

Avoid staying in major cities. No doubt staying in a major city has its perks, but it’s too expensive, and you also miss out on the scenic beauty of nature that Switzerland is all popular for. You can instead find a hotel or Airbnb far outside of the city and the postcard Switzerland you came for. 

Avoid high seasons. The high seasons are winter and summer when tourists flood this country. This is also the time when rates go very high because of the demand. If you want a good deal, then plan your visit during the spring or autumn when accommodations are cheaper, and there is a lesser crowd. 

Cook your meal. Carry mini gadgets that can help you cook your food, like a mini rice cooker. Stay in a place that has a kitchen, so you don’t have to buy your food.

Rent an apartment if you’re planning to stay for long. This way it is much cheaper, and you can cook your food. 

Take advantage of the Swiss Pass. If you do end up getting a Swiss Travel Pass, ensure you make full use of it. Visit the museums, castles, enjoy free rides as much as you can.

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Eight Hilton Hotels Located in Historic Buildings Around the World

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Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, China

For more than 100 years, Hilton has spread the light and warmth of hospitality across the world, creating a portfolio of hotels that not only excel at offering world-class services and amenities, but also purposefully adopt local cultures, lifestyle and a general sense of place reflected in the architecture and designs. This philosophy of adopting the feel of a hotel’s surroundings is especially evident in properties that have a significant historical value; making Hilton keen to preserve the property’s architecture and décor while combining the modernity of offerings and amenities to offer travelers an authentic, artisanal experience.

From a historic train station in St. Louis to a colonial fort in the Bahamas, and a one-time bank headquartered in Amsterdam to a chocolate factory in Croatia, here are just eight of the many Hilton hotels that allow guests to indulge in culture and comfort.

St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, United States

Built in 1894 in what was once the most ornate railway terminal in the United States, this National Historic Landmark in downtown St. Louis was converted to a hotel in 1985 and is well-known for its iconic Grand Hall, a lobby lounge area with 65-foot ornate vaulted ceilings on which a dazzling 3D light show is projected nightly.

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Mexico City – Centro Historico, Mexico

The hotel is located in “Casa San Agustin,” a registered historic building in Mexico that was built in the 1800s by Bienes Culturales de Mexico, the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Hisotria, and the Nacional de Bellas Artes. Considered an architectural jewel, the building has been used for accommodation purposes since its beginning. Various restorations have preserved much of the original exterior façade’s style, including ajarcas—moldings and ornaments that were combined with tezontle exteriors in that period.

British Colonial Hilton Nassau, Bahamas

Sitting on the Old Fort of Nassau site dating back to 1695, British Colonial Hilton Nassau is the island’s oldest resort operating in a historic building. Demolished in 1873, the Old Fort was built to protect the Nassau Harbour’s western entrance, specifically from pirates. The original hotel was built by American industrialist Henry Flagler in 1900. The existing concrete building, known as the New Colonial, was constructed in 1923, after the original wooden building was destroyed by fire. The hotel’s western wing was built on these ruins.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, Netherlands

The hotel’s 93 rooms and suites are housed inside six 17th– and 18th-century buildings facing the historic Herengracht canal. As the former headquarters of a bank, the hotel is still home to the original, thick-steel vault door, which stands in front of the aptly named Vault Bar. Behind the bar itself, a wall of safety deposit boxes is propped open, with some serving as bottle shelves.

DoubleTree by Hilton Lisbon Fontana Park, Portugal

Once the site of an ironworks factory dating back to 1908, DoubleTree by Hilton Fontana Park pays homage to the building’s former life, fusing modern design with original character. Complete with an open-air courtyard and beautiful waterfall, the hotel provides a calm oasis for travelers after a busy day of sight-seeing in the Portuguese capital.

Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Centre, Croatia

Once home to the Union chocolate factory, the first chocolate maker in South Eastern Europe, the hotel is one of the Croatian capital’s newest lifestyle hotels, where guests are presented welcome gifts of handmade chocolates upon check-in. Finding themselves located in the heart of the city, travelers are encouraged to grab a Canopy Bike and follow the brown tourism signs throughout downtown toward the Croatian National Theatre, historic Upper Town, museums and the stunning Zagreb Cathedral.

Hilton Sydney, Australia

Housing the renowned Marble Bar—a 127-year-old underground bar—Hilton Sydney is built on the ruins of the Tattersalls Hotel. Marble Bar features authentic sheets of plate-glass mirrors, marble walls, pilasters and mosaic floors. Originally built in 1893, the Victorian structure was painstakingly dismantled, transported and reassembled in Hilton Sydney in 1973—where the restored mahogany bar and marble archways still awe guests to this day.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, China

Once the renowned Shanghai Club, the hotel retains much of its original design, offering guests a unique taste of Shanghai’s heritage and culture, all while enjoying unparalleled service, award-winning cuisine and views of the majestic Huangpu River. The historic building was built in 1864 and used to be the principal men’s club for British residents in Shanghai. The hotel is suitably located near the iconic Bund, featuring waterside strolls and shopping.

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What can I do if I lied about my criminal history to travel to Australia?

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You’d be surprised to hear how many people actually lie when they apply for a visa to get to Australia. This is because Australia has very strict laws concerning visas and immigration authorities want to know about any type of offences the applicants might have committed in their country of origin or indeed in any other country where they have resided for a longer period, 12 months or more typically.

What sort of offences do you need to declare when applying for an Australian visa?

Short answer: Any offence on your record.

This is the part that baffles most foreign nationals applying for an Australian visa. Why would a minor traffic offence committed 10 years ago matter to Australian authorities? Well, it matters to them so deal with it.

Can you get away with it? Yes, if you apply for a tourist visa or a Working Holiday visa you can get away with it. You will be asked for a statement concerning existing convictions and if you say you don’t have any, they’ll most probably take your word for it.

What foreigners don’t understand is that having minor convictions doesn’t necessarily mean your visa application will be denied.

If you state that you have some offences on your record, you will be required to present a national criminal history record certificate. If your convictions total less than 12 months in prison you have no reason to worry your application will be rejected. In most cases, it is only people with lengthy prison terms on their record that have to worry and even then the immigration officer in charge of your case may grant you a visa after reviewing your circumstances.

So, why would you lie if you only have some minor offence on your criminal record?

What can you do if you lied on your visa application?

Many young people coming to Australia on a Working Holiday visa (417 visa) decide they want to stay longer if they’ve found a good employment. For that, your employer needs to sponsor you for a Temporary Skills Shortage visa (428 visa) and this is when that little white lie comes back to haunt you.

When you apply for a 428 visa you will need to submit a national police check from your country of origin which will include the offence you have lied about in your original visa application.

The only thing you can do is tell the truth this time and hope for the best. If you’re lucky, the officer in charge of your application might not notice you omitted to mention your past convictions when you first came to Australia and granted you the 428 visa no questions asked.

However, there’s a strong possibility your lie will be discovered and that’s pretty serious. Even if it was a stupid traffic offence, the Department of Home Affairs might deny your request simply because you lied in the first place.

If you really want to stay and work in Australia it’s best to seek professional migration assistance. There are various organisations that deal with such problems and they can guide you through the process.

It’s not a guarantee, but in many cases the lie in your first visa application can be forgiven provided you can offer solid character references, which are an essential part of the character assessment.

Bottom line – If you want to travel to Australia, better don’t lie to the immigration authorities, saving yourself a lot of headache!

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