48 Hours In …

Travel tips for the savvy traveller.

48 Hours in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Known as “the pulse of Vietnam,” Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis where just crossing the street can be an adventure. As hundreds of motorcycles zip by, just close your eyes and run–the Vietnamese are experts at dodging panic-stricken tourists.

Stay

Treat yourself to a luxury night at the Hotel Majestic Saigon, a stand-out example of the early 20th-century French-Colonial style. The Majestic’s view overlooking the Saigon River makes this splurge well worth it. Have breakfast on the rooftop bar. Rooms start at USD$148.
Visit the Hotel Majestic Saigon

Relax in the outdoor pool, sweat out some stress in the fitness centre, or catch a live band under the red paper lanterns of the Cheer Lounge. The Ramana Hotel Saigon is close to the international airport so you won’t miss your early-morning flight. Standard rooms start at USD$55.
Visit the Ramana Hotel Saigon.

Eat

Dive into a bowl of hot pho soup—a steaming concoction of rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro and Thai basil. Join the list of famous names, such as former president Bill Clinton, who have slurped noodles at Pho 2000.

If you’ve ever wanted to dine in an early 20th-century Chinese temple with high ceilings, brick walls and antique rugs, then the Temple Club is your place. Try the monkfish and green-bean cake, but come for the old-world charm rather than the service. Temple Club can be found at 29-31 Ton That Thiep Street, Ho Chi Minh City.

Play

Explore the cool basement tunnels and rooms of the Reunification Palace. Once a symbol of the South Vietnamese government, the palace is an amazing example of ’60s modernist architecture. One of its tunnels stretches all the way to the Revolutionary Museum.

Visit the French-Colonial-style Central Post Office built in the late 1890s by Gustave Eiffel. The vaulted ceilings, mosaic floor tiles, and intricate ironwork take you back to another time. It’s located opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral, at the famous Paris Commune Square.

Shop

Ho Chi Minh City is well known for handicrafts and lacquerware. Many interesting shops can be found around District 1. Be sure to peruse Dong Khai Street and Le Thanh Ton Street behind the Rex Hotel.

While not one of the cheapest shopping spots, Ben Than Market is definitely one of the liveliest, selling everything you can eat or wear. Weasel coffee is a popular souvenir, made of beans harvested from weasel droppings.

Facts for Exploring Ho Chi Minh City

Visa

Canadians can apply in person or by mail to the embassy in Ottawa. 30 days is granted.
Get a Visa.

Climate

November to February is dry and cool in the south. Typhoon season runs from July to November.

Currency

1 Canadian Dollar = 21,130 Vietnamese Dong

Getting Around

Book a taxi from the airport stand or hop on bus 152—it’s new, air-conditioned, and runs until 6 p.m.
Find out how to get around in Vietnam.

Health & Safety

Be aware of your belongings at all times, and watch out for motorcycle snatch thieves, who may try to grab your bag as they speed by.

Interesting Fact

Vietnamese Dong can’t be exchanged in other countries—an even better reason to spend all your money before you leave.

48 Hours in Perth, Australia

Stay

Escape to the seaside town of Sorrento and cozy up in a luxury guest room just steps from the beach. From Sorrento Beach Bed & Breakfast, it’s a quick walk to Hillarys Boat Harbour where you can enjoy a variety of restaurants and outdoor activities. Rates start at AUS$170.
Stay at Sorrento Beach Bed & Breakfast.

Stay at Seasons of Perth, which boasts the largest standard rooms in the central business district. In the warmer months, take advantage of Citro Restaurant’s al fresco dining, and enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool. Rates start at AUS$179.
Stay at Seasons of Perth.

Eat

Settle down with a cold stubbie (Aussie slang for beer) and grab some ocean-wise grub at Joe’s Fish Shack on the Fishing Boat Harbour in Fremantle. This funky joint has a sprawling outdoor patio overlooking the water to take in all the sights, smells and sounds of the seashore.

Enjoy the magnificent view of the Swan River and Perth city from Fraser’s Restaurant, set amongst 400 hectares of parkland in Kings Park. Try a Degustation Dinner: a six-course meal made to tantalize your senses and cater to your dietary needs.

Play

Visit Australia’s largest aquarium and underwater tunnel at AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia). Discover the unusual leafy sea dragon and try a dive or snorkel with the sharks.
Visit the Aquarium of Western Australia.

Don’t miss the beautiful Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region. Rent a car and follow the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail: a 32-kilometre loop with over 150 attractions. Be sure to stop at Houghton Wines and sample a glass of chardonnay.

Shop

In Australia, a “mall” is usually an outdoor promenade lined with trees, restaurants and shops. These open-air mall streets are car-free, so feel free to slowly wander (or power shop) through the Hay St. and Murray St. malls while taking in the Aussie sunshine.

Pay a visit to Fremantle Markets for over 150 stalls selling fruits, veggies and handmade crafts. Open Friday through Monday. For local craft pieces by Australian artists try Form, located just around the corner from King Street.
Visit the Fremantle Markets.

Facts for Exploring Perth

Visa

Canadians can apply online and stay up to three months.
Apply for a visa.

Climate

To avoid temperatures of 40°C or higher, stick to the milder months of September through November, and February through May.

Currency

1 Canadian Dollar = 1 Australian Dollar

Getting Around

It takes approximately half an hour to get from the airport to downtown Perth. Taxis start at around AUS$20, shuttles range from AUS$15–$18, and public transit costs a mere AUS$3.

Health & Safety

Wear lots of SPF+30 broad spectrum sunscreen, as Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world.

Interesting Fact

There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia, and only 20 million people.

48 Hours in Hong Kong, China

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Whether you call it a city, a state, or China’s Special Administrative Region, one thing is for certain: Hong Kong is a mighty fine metropolis. After experiencing HK’s stunning architecture, efficient transportation, and attentive service, you may become addicted to the city’s ordered chaos.

Stay

Should you need to justify a night or two at one of the city’s top hotels, say that it’s for the infinity pool. From the Intercontinental’s pool terrace, you can soak in the view of what is arguably the world’s best skyline. Rates start at around HK$3,000.
Stay at Intercontinental Hong Kong.

A short tram ride away from the city hub, the Emperor Hotel (Happy Valley) is an affordable option on Hong Kong Island. In case you feel like investing the money you save by staying at the Emperor, the famous Happy Valley Racecourse is located nearby. Rates start at around HK$1,000.
Stay at Emperor Hotel (Happy Valley).

Eat

Perched on the 34th floor of the Mandarin Oriental’s Excelsior Hotel, Talk of the Town (ToTT) offers panoramic views of Victoria Harbour. Don’t miss the champagne brunch—an opportunity to suck back some oysters, break a few king crab legs, and bite into a piece of filet mignon. The food is just as heavenly as the view.
Eat at Talk of the Town at the Excelsior Hotel.

A visit to Hong Kong is not complete without steaming bamboo baskets of dim sum at Maxim’s Palace. Although the popular Maxim’s Group has restaurants throughout the city, its City Hall location in Central District is one of the few places that still uses traditional cart service.

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Get acquainted with the narrow streets and soaring towers of Hong Kong Island without the hustle and bustle found at ground level. Double-decker trams (locally referred to as “ding dings”) allow you to take in the city’s sights at a leisurely pace.

For a breathtaking view of Hong Kong’s spiritual side, climb the 200-plus steps to Tian Tan Buddha, also known as “Big Buddha.” Weighing in at over 200 tonnes and standing at 26 metres tall, the bronze statue sits peacefully amongst the green hills of Lantau Island. Entrance is free.

Shop

Set in a seaside village, the Stanley Market sells everything from kitsch Mao memorabilia to name-brand knock-offs (and good ones at that). Give yourself an hour or two to get lost in the maze of open-air market stalls. When your legs (or your wallet) can take no more, find a seat at one of the many restaurants lining the waterfront.
Visit the Hong Kong Stanley Market.

Conveniently located in the heart of Central District, Pacific Place Mall offers the world’s top luxury brands, such as Bulgari, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Pop down to the lower level for a White Spot burger—a favourite with Canadian ex-pats.

Facts for Exploring Hong Kong

Visa

Canadian passport holders may visit Hong Kong without a visa or an entry permit for up to 90 days.Hong Kong Immigration Department.

Climate

Temperatures range from 26°C to 34°C from July to October, and 10°C to 18°C from November to March. Tropical cyclones usually affect Hong Kong between June and October.

Currency

1 Canadian Dollar = 7.9 Hong Kong Dollars

Getting Around

The easiest way to get to the city centre is by catching the Airport Express railway, which gets you there in 24 minutes. A single-journey ticket costs HK$100. Taxis start at HK$300.

Health & Safety

To prevent diarrhea, avoid tap water unless it has been boiled or filtered. Hepatitis A immunization is recommended. Pollution can be an irritant for people with asthma.

Interesting Fact

Chopsticks should be returned to the chopstick rest when they are not used. Do not place your chopsticks across the top of your bowl.

48 Hours in Mumbai, India

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Lying on the west coast of India, Mumbai–known as Bombay until 1995ˆderives its name from a local goddess Parvati. Bollywood glamour and multi-ethnic make-up give this city a unique and unforgettable character.

Stay

Located in the heart of the Colaba district and overlooking the famous India Gate stands the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, founded in 1903. Offering private flights, yachting, and even personalized astrological services, the Taj can meet your every need. Rooms start at CDN$226.
Visit the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

Located 500 metres from Powai Lake is the Beatle Hotel, featuring colourful suites with LCD TVs in the bathroom and Jacuzzi tubs for two. Work up a sweat at the fitness centre where yoga classes and personal trainers are available 24 hours a day. Rooms start at CDN$160.
Visit the Beatle Hotel.

Eat

Leopold Café & Bar is one of the oldest cafés in the city, conveniently located in Colaba Causeway next to the famed Causeway Market. Enjoy a cold refreshing beer after a long day of shopping.

To experience rural Indian flavours, check out Village, The Soul Of India. Found in Raghuleela Mall, this massive restaurant excels in re-creating a village-like ambience for nostalgic locals and curious travellers alike. An entrance fee of CDN$15 gives you hours of traditional music and unlimited food.

Play

Get to know south Mumbai’s vibrant street life—bustling traffic, rickshaws and occasional cattle—with a walking tour of the fashion and food markets. Take in the sights with Reality Tours, a local and socially responsible travel company. Tours start at CDN$15.

In the midst of Mumbai’s urban madness, the 104-square-kilometre Sanjay Gandhi National Park is an oasis. View exotic bird and butterfly species, join a daily lion and tiger safari, or visit the Kanheri Caves, dating back to the first century B.C.E.

Shop

India is a jewellery fiend’s dream. The most competitive prices for a regionally diverse selection of gems and precious metals can be found in the Zaveri Bazaar, located in the Bhuleshwar neighbourhood of South Mumbai.

Fashion Street Market is a popular destination for global bargain hunters, with over 100 shops featuring western and traditional clothing, as well as designer brands and knock-offs. This local shopping favourite is situated on M.G. Road across from Azad Maidan in South Mumbai. Don’t be shy—bargaining is expected.

Facts for Exploring Mumbai

Visa

Canadians must apply for a tourist visa at Indian Visa and Consular Services Centre in Vancouver for $62 plus consular fees.

Climate

The best time to visit Mumbai is from November to March, which are the cooler months. Avoid monsoon season, which lasts from June to September.

Currency

1 Canadian Dollar = 46 Indian Rupees

Getting Around

It can take up to two hours for the 30-kilometre journey to and from the city centre. Pre-paid taxi is your best option. The airport’s two terminals are located 20 minutes apart by shuttle bus.
Book your ticket to India.

Health & Safety

Don’t drink the tap water in India, or you’ll likely suffer from a bad case of traveller’s diarrhea. Always carry bottled water, but make sure you check the seal to ensure you’re not buying a tampered product.

Interesting Fact

Foreigners hanging out in the popular Colaba district could be cast in a Bollywood film as an extra.

 

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