5 Insta-worthy Airbnbs in Seoul to Enjoy

5 Insta-worthy Airbnbs in Seoul to Enjoy

There are many factors that come into play when searching for the perfect Airbnb. For some, price is primary driving force while others may want to stay in the best locations. Many want a nice comfortable stay out of theiAirbnbs, something that reminds them of home. Sometimes, however, the aesthetics of the place just wins us over and we just want to flex how beautiful our stays are all over social media. 

Well, if you happen to be travelling to Seoul, these 5 Insta-worthy Airbnbs will do just the trick.  

Image via Airbnb.

1. The Artist, The Writer, and The Architect 

This Airbnb has 4 signature rooms that have been thoughtfully designed and remodelled by owner and architect ByungYup

Take for example the Artist’s Room, which has traditional Korean paintings adorned on its wall, or the Writer’s Room with a neat little desk (presumably for you for do writing), and big glass windows that which offers more than adequate sunlight to light up the room. 

The rooms speak to the creatives in you and you’ll appreciate the thought that went into designing each of the rooms.  

This is a two-storey house and there’s a shared common space on the first floor where ByungYup and his family lives. There are extremely welcoming and friendly so don’t hesitate if you need any help around the house or around Seoul.  

When booking a stay with ByungYupdo note that the Architect’s Room and the Artist’s Room can accommodate 2 people while the Writer’s Room and the Designer’s Room have a max occupancy of 1! 

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

2. August Hill Hanok

For those wanting to know what it’s like living in a traditional Hanok like in your favourite Korean dramas, you now can at August Hill Hanok. This Hanok is relatively modern, being built in 1923 and was most recently given a remodel in 2018, looking to service the hospitality needs of today.  

August Hill is outfitted with all the modern amenities you’ll need in your stay from a fully-fitted kitchen, toilet system, and of course, who can forget WiFi for you to post all those #koreandramavibes photos. And trust me, you’ll spend half the time snapping photos with every corner of the house. The host is a professional photographer and there’s a welcome photo for guests as well! 

You’ll be renting the entire place, so if you’re looking for a nice traditional stay big enough for the family, August Hill Hanok may be the Airbnb for you.   

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

3. Sajikru Hanok Guesthouse 

You don’t see too many two-storey traditional hanoks around, and this one is a stunner.

The interiors are well appointed, getting that homely feel down pat. But it is the jaw-dropping façade of Sajikru Guesthouse that will have you feeling incredibly excited.

A rather massive two-story traditional hanok with tiled roofs and intricate wood carvings, Sajikru stands out amongst the rest in the neighbourhood. Situated near the Gyeongbok Palace and other famous landmarks, Sajikru boasts a convenient location as well.

Coming in at over $200 per night, the price tag is slightly on a steeper end, and comparable to most 4 and 5 star hotels in Seoul. But consider that it can house 5 people, with a living room, 2 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms, and the cost becomes much more manageable, and definitely much more worth it.

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

4. NUWA 

You don’t have to stay at NUWA to feel the zen vibes in the air with a calming presence that will soothe any traveller after a long flight or day out. A much smaller place compared to the previous hanoks, NUWA is perfect for a couple that wants a quiet and serene space to themselves, away from the buzzing activity of Seoul.

NUWA boasts a simple and minimalistic, but elegant design that speaks to the quiet side beauty and art, often found in the smallest in things. There are no bombastic splashes of colour which reflects owner and designer Benny’s mindset towards the arts and design.

Anyone who longs for a simple and quiet life will enjoy all that NUWA has to offer.

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

5. Itaewon Sunshine View 

Staying in traditional houses are nice and all but sometimes all we need is just a cool and cosy space that oozes good vibes — and that’s what you get at Ian’s Itaewon Sunshine View Airbnb.

The high white-walled space is filled with wooden accents and potted plants, coupled with the natural sunlight that just beams in, creates a positive and uplifting atmosphere throughout the entire space. There are two floors, both are separate listings but you can book them together, bringing up the total occupancy to 8 guests. Each floor has its own kitchen and bedrooms, so you can opt for just one level should you feel it’s enough.

The location of this Airbnb adds to its allure, being set in the trendy neighbourhood of Itaewon with shopping, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs around. When the sun sets, the night view of the surrounding Itaewon neighbourhood can be pretty magical as well.

Image via Airbnb.
Image via Airbnb.

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6 Reasons to Visit Québec City (at Least Once in Your Lifetime)

6 Reasons to Visit Québec City (at Least Once in Your Lifetime)

Along the Eastern coast of Canada lies Québec City, a place rooted in its distinctly rich French-Canadian heritage. Founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, Québec City has retained much, if not all, of its French influence.

Walking around the city, surrounded by classical French architecture and people speaking in French, can be a surreal experience as you try to remind yourself you’re in Cananda, not France.   

Besides the beautiful French architecture, historical sites like the ramparts that were erected as a defense mechanism against potential external British incursions continue to stand tall today. These walls make Québec City the only North American city to still have such fortresses. 

Québec City embodies a rich European culture and heritage, one that is found outside the European continent. It’s hard-pressed not to feel the weight of history, when it is so distinctly imprinted in the cobblestone streets you walk, and in the walls around you.

Offering a completely different experience to the many cities in North America, Québec City  is sure to satisfy. Here are 6 highlights of the city to help you get the most out of your visit. 

1.  Enjoy Rich French Colonial History 

Owing to the significant French presence dating back to the 17th century, the province of Québec has been and is still currently a predominantly French-speaking community, as well with French being the provincial language of the capital city of Québec 

Le Château de Frontenac happens to be not only the poster child of the entire city of Québec, but also of the legacy of French colonial history. Inaugurated in 1893, Château Frontenac majestically sits over old Québec, or Vieux Québec, overlooking the beautiful Saint Lawrence River.  

Right in the vicinity of Château Frontenac is Quartier Petit Champlain, the small but oldest commercial zone in all of North America. Located in the charming Vieux Québec, Petit Champlain street is probably one of the most magical and beautiful streets. Come wintertime, when layers of snow sparsely coat the tile roofs and completely cover the streets, Vieux Québec transforms into a winter wonderland. 

2. Marvel at Amazing Architecture 

Architecture could very well be the most tangible manifestation of an extension of culture and history. Perhaps out of a desire to imprint their influence on society, or as a way to ground themselves in an otherwise foreign territory, the French were eager to export their architectural wonders to their colonies.

So, it isn’t surprising to see monumental French architecture in Québec City. A national historic site of Canada, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec was built in 1647 and is the most important Catholic church in the Québec province. The oldest church in all Canada, Québec City’s Notre-Dame features an iconic neo classical façade and stained-glass windows that have been signature of Catholic churches around the world.   

Located in a sector of historically uniform chain of buildings, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is the historical and religious heart of Québec City 

3. Bask in Breath-taking Natural Beauty 

While the main city centre offers a host of beautiful architecture (both old and new), the surrounding region of Québec City has some stunning natural landscape for those who get overwhelmed by the immensity of the city.  

Montmorency Falls is a stunning waterfall that plunges from even higher than the much more famous Niagara, and being only minutes from downtown Québec City, it’s a can’t-miss scenic spot for any traveller.   

The Falls is a historic site that can be experienced in a myriad of ways. Walk across the suspension bridge or go down the 478-step staircase that leads right to a viewing platform at the bottom of the waterfall for a splendid view of the rushing waters.

If you want a more exhilarating ride and a novel way to experience a waterfall, there’s a zipline that stretches right across it. Feel the rush of the wind and drizzle of the waterfall on your face as you zip across the cascade of water, landing near the La Baronne observation deck.  

4. Have Fun At The World Famous Carnaval de Québec 

As Québec City morphs into a winter wonderland, hype drums up with the city expecting the onset of the most important event of every year to Québecers. The Carnaval de Québec, a historic winter carnival with origins that began in 1894, is one of the world’s most famous winter carnivals.  

An annual event that takes place during the heart of winter usually from end January to early February, the Carnaval de Québec was created with a heartwarming intention: to warm the hearts of a population that faced the dastardly harsh winters. Spanning over 17 days, the Quebec Winter Carnival has a slew of activities that range from ice sculpture workshops, canoe racing, parades, and even winter wrestling.  

5. Stay in an Ice Hotel  

If the Québec Winter Carnival isn’t enough to convince you to visit during winter, this next one just might do the trick. Québec City’s Hôtel de Glace has got to be hands-down one of the coolest experiences you can ever have.  

The only ice hotel in North America, the Hôtel de Glace is open from the winter months of January to March and features an exclusive selection of 44 roomsBuilt using 500 tons of ice and 40,000 tons of snow, this hotel provides a truly Nordic accommodation experience. Rooms hover around -5°C but there are plenty of amenities to keep you warm and snuggly such as insulating sheets, hot tubs, and saunas under the stars.  

Every reservation of the rooms at the ice hotel will come with a reservation at Hôtel Valcartier where you can leave your luggage and take showers. From sipping cocktails in ice glasses to staying in a room crafted entirely by ice and snow, Hôtel de Glace is an accommodation like no other.  

6. Explore World-class Museums and Galleries  

Québec City is entrenched with such a rich culture and history spanning over thousands of years that it is only natural the city has excellent and world-class museums and art galleries 

ThMusée de la Civilisation is one of Canada’s most visited museums, garnering close to 14 million visitors every year. Stepping inside, it’s easy to see why with its visually impactful interior that will wow you before you even view any of the exhibits. The museum’s permanent exhibitions of “People of Quebec: Then and Now” and “This Is Our Story” focuses on telling an enriching, educational, and sensitively curated story on the Aboriginals. With content and exhibits that discuss contemporary issues, there’s always something fresh to see at thMusée de la Civilisation 

If art is more your style, the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is the institution you’ll find spending most of your day in. The only art institution that is dedicated to Québec art, it houses over 38,000 works on the history of Québec art ranging from the 17th century to present day. There are four main pavilions that showcase various forms of art like contemporary to modern, and even historical. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is a great way to put your cultural hat on and immerse yourself in the beauty that surrounds you.  

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Top 8 Insta-famous Architecture in Singapore to See (and Shoot)

Top 8 Insta-famous Architecture in Singapore to See (and Shoot)

We are often captivated by architecture that are grand and imposing, if not ones that simply confound the mind. M.C. Escher’s mind-boggling artwork has bamboozled people all over the world and even served as the inspiration for the main lobby of the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing, China.  

The Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic, best elucidates the idea that monumental architectures were not built to blend in, they were made to stand out. 

Likewise on our sunny little island, you can find some truly unique buildings that have garnered somewhat of a following on Instagram. Here’s our pick of the top 8 most interesting and Insta-genic architecture in Singapore. 

1. The Interlace  

The Interlace looks like a massive real-life manifestation of a younger kid’s imagination while playing with Lego.  

Designed by German Architect, Ole Scheeren and OMAthe Interlace is an upmarket condominium that features rectangular blocks irregularly stacked upon one another, creating a web of crisscrossing blocks that make up a whole.  

The Interlace truly pushes the boundaries and challenges the idea that communal living spaces should merely consist of single towering blocks, as we have so commonly seen as the typical configuration in the neighbourhoods of Singapore.  

Though it’s a private condominiumthe Interlace is an intriguing example of what residential projects could look like, private or otherwise. 

Address

180 Depot Road, Singapore 109684

2. DUO Tower 

The youngest on this list, Duo Tower is yet another brainchild of Ole ScheerenA twin-tower concept along Beach Road in the heart of Bugis, the Duo Tower adds to the rich architectural landscape in the area.  

Featuring a concave-curved, all glass façade, the DUO Tower eschews the rigidity that so many skyscrapers that grace the skyline of Singapore adoptsUsing a honeycomb pattern made of metal brise-soleil that blankets the entire surface of the towers, it aids the building reduce heat gain inside by deflecting the sunlight.  

It’s not all concept and design for the DUO Tower, as it is a highly functional, multipurpose space that consists of offices, a hotel, retail galleries, and residential accommodations. The DUO Tower is the latest in a line of futuristic buildings that are popping up in Singapore.   

Address

3 Fraser St, DUO Tower, Singapore 189352

3. Golden Mile Complex  

The Golden Mile Complex is embroiled in the same tricky debate that surrounds the Pearl Bank Apartment  to conserve or tear down? It is no doubt part of Singapore’s architectural history, and with that also comes along a façade that is so old that it may not (some say)conform to the futuristic skyline of Singapore today 

To many local architects and heritage specialists, however, both these iconic structures represent visionary architecture of their time, leaving an indelible impact on Singapore’s built-up landscape in the 20th century. 

Completed in 1973, the Golden Mile Complex looks like a giant typewriter that dropped from the sky, a “stepped-back terrace” form that was a first of its kind in SingaporeConsisting of 16 floors, the Complex is a mix of some 400 shops, 200 offices, and 70 apartments. In August of 2018, the building was announced to be en bloc, which means Singapore will soon lose one of its iconic and historic architecture.  

Address

5001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199588

4. ArtScience Museum 

The ArtScience Museum lies at the tip of the Bayfront boulevard, looking like a lotus flower blooming by the bay. The museum may look like it cannot hold much of any works, let alone an entire gallery, but it hides an entire labyrinth of galleries and exhibits below the surface.  

The first museum of its kind in Singapore, the ArtScience Museum dedicates its galleries to the exploration of the contact zone between art and science, two seemingly opposing concepts and ideas. Since it’s opening in 2011, the museum has housed major exhibitions featuring the likes of illustrious painters and scientists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and M.C. Escher.  

The white lotus façade is one that many will recognise, but the interior of the museum is no slouch. The stunning visual galleries within the museum make for a great Instagram photo-op as you get awed by the myriad of lights and creative displays.  

Address

6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974

5. The Esplanade

Affectionally dubbed “the Durian” by many Singaporeans, the Esplanade is to Singapore what the Sydney Opera House is to Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Opera House was built back in 1973 in a bid to turn Sydney into the cultural capital of Australia. Much in the same way, the Esplanade was built with the intention to propel Singapore as the cultural capital of Asia. 

The design of the Esplanade was controversial, to say the least, with people insisting the building looked like a “marshmallow blob” amongst other monikers. The 7,000 triangular aluminium “spikes” that give the appearance of a durian are more than just mere façade or form.  

While the Esplanade is well-known for its design, the facilities within is what makes the Esplanade truly shine. Both the 2000-seat Theatre and the 1600-seaConcert Hall were designed and built to cater to the demands of Asian arts performance, and especially those of the traditional arts. The Concert Hall, in particular, was designed by late respected acoustician Russell Johnson to be able to adjust and tune for a wide range of performances from Western rock music to classical recitals, making it one of the best concert halls in the world.  

Address

1 Esplanade Dr, Singapore 038981

6. Parkview Square

Many know it as the “Gotham Square” for its resemblance to Gotham City from the DC Comics. Parkview Square is the art deco skyscraper of Singapore that stands tall along Beach Road, just in front of the DUO Tower.  

The courtyard of Parkview Square is reminiscent of the open piazzas of Italy that are adorned with numerous ornate statues. At Parkview Square, you can find the statues of world-renowned philosophers and figures from Plato to Sun Yat Sen.  

Behind its quiet but sturdy façade are tenants that includes the Honorary Consulate of Oman, and the embassies of the United Arab Emirates, Austria, and Mongolia. Enter the building and you’ll find a majestic lobby that houses ATLAS Bar. A three-storey wine chiller will most likely be the first thing that captures your attention. Waitresses can be seen every now and then “flying” up to retrieve wine bottles and delivering them as if plucked from the sanctuary of heaven. 

 Address

600 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188778

7. The Fullerton Hotel 

The oldest of all buildings on this list, the Fullerton Hotel is as historic as they come. Before it was the Fullerton Hotel, it was the General Post Office Building, and even before that it was Fort Fullerton.  

The history of this site and building cannot be understated, it was once the Fullerton Building, named after Robert Fullerton, the first governor of the Straits Settlements. Conceived as part of the centennial celebrations in 1919this massive classical-styled architecture reflected the belief and confidence of the colonialists when it was constructed in 1928. 

Since then, the Fullerton site has seen the fall of the British Empire and the heated rallies of Post-World War II as Singapore marched to full self-governance. Its historic significance is nearly unmatched and was gazetted as a national monument in 2015.  

Address

1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178

8. Marina Bay Sands 

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel is fast becoming the number 1 architectural silhouette of Singapore, plastered on postcards everywhere and photographed by almost everyone 

Part of the ambitious waterfront and casino resort project, Marina Bay Sands was designed by world-renowned Israeli born architect Moshe Safdie who has also since designed Jewel Changi. With three, 55-storey towers propping up an elongated SkyPark that features an infinity pool, it is a façade that has drawn raves amongst many locals and tourists alike.  

Whether is it snapping a photo from the ground up, or taking a selfie right up at the infinity pool, any photo at the Marina Bay Sands will be sure to add something to your Instagram feed.  

Address

10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956

Top image by Zac Ong on Unsplash.

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4 Unusual Staycations to Experience

4 Unusual Staycations to Experience

What does silence sounds like? Living in the city means we are constantly exposed to environmental noises. Normal conversations at 60 decibels (dB), moving trains at 95dB, electronic dance music concert go as high as 140dB. Over time, our urban lifestyle, in spite of the conveniences, are causing us to feel stress out and mentally overload.

Maybe you are just bored of the sound of the city. And when a 2D1N luxurious staycation with a rooftop infinity pool or a swift getaway to the nearest beach resort doesn’t help, then the only cure is to venture into the unknown, a brand-new set of playlist awaits you to reclaim your inner bliss and a sense of wonder.

So… where to? 

We picked out 4 unique places ranging from rustic to exotic, above the ground and on the sea, that are totally worth all the hyperbole in this digital-default world. These accommodations are more than just a place to lay your head, they prove to be a destination in its own right.

1. Junk Cruise, Halong Bay, Vietnam

There is no denying that Halong Bay is Vietnam’s top sight. In the day, there are boatloads of tourists cruising in the emerald waters to marvel at the spectacular karst formations that make up the UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. Legend has it that the thousands of limestone islets rising from the sea are actually dragons, no wonder there is a lingering air of mystery and otherworldliness surrounding the dramatic landscape.

In fact, Halong Bay literally means bay of descending dragons, and interestingly, the geographical shape of Vietnam is like the letter ‘S’, which reinforces the myth of dragons, which are symbolic creatures in Vietnamese folklore.

Can’t get enough of the staggeringly beautiful Halong Bay in the day? Consider spending a night there on a luxury boat with top tier amenities and cuisine. Climb aboard Junk Cruise by Indochina (it’s a beautiful boat by the way). There is never a dull moment on Junk Cruise when the deck is your land and the sky is an ever changing art. After the sun has set, star-lit skies await you.

2. Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, Canada

Ever heard of this adage ‘it’s about the journey not the destination’, well, that just doesn’t apply here. Sleeping in a gigantic floating sphere among the treetops is the strangest yet peaceful experience of a lifetime. Yes, you will be gently swaying in time with the trees. 

We guarantee this makes for an unforgettable “glamping” experience in Vancouver Island, the biggest island on the west coast of North America. You get the best of both worlds – close to nature and in the thick of it, and steps from sandy beaches, but still given the comforts of home. Not to worry, you won’t be living like Tarzan, there is WiFi on site and each sphere is equipped with basic amenities like room heater, fresh water, couches and beds. You simply only need to bring along your toiletries and precooked meals. There is a shared cookhouse equipped with a microwave and a barbeque pit.  

3. Kumbuk River Resort, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Ever thought of sleeping in a guesthouse that looks like a giant elephant? We know this probably sounds crazy, but it is possible in Sri Lanka. Meet the 40-foot elephant made of wood and straw in the midst of the Sri Lankan jungle created by the award-winning eco-lodge, Kumbuk River Resort.

We know tourism can have a significant impact on developing countries, but what if we thought about tourism as more than just taking a vacation? What if it is a way to support the local community, and at the same time, we can minimise our environmental impact. We’ve seen eco-tourism’s increasing popularity, and even more so when there is also “instagrammability” in the destination.

The elephant villa is an architectural feat. It has successfully place Yala National Park on the map and inspires positive aspects of eco-tourism like environmental conservation efforts by both guests and locals. 

 

Kumbuk River Resort is located on the banks of a lively river that separates Yala National Park from civilisation. There are four types of accommodations ranging from rustic to luxurious. But do not come here expecting a modern, 21st century way of living. There isn’t any swimming pool nor spa salon. But you’re welcome to swim in the Kumbuk River, traverse the treetops, or simply just sit under a tree and get some headspace in this peaceful and verdurous location.

With rooms for only ten guests at any one time, privacy and serenity are guaranteed. Apart from the elephant villa, you can choose to stay in a treehouse or a converted truck. 

It is truly innovative of Kumbuk River Resort to combine sustainability and recreational activities in Sri Lanka’s premier wildlife reserve, Yala National Park. Save this for your next trip when you are looking for a different experience in Sri Lanka. 

4. EcoCamp Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

There is no place like this. A dream destination for all outdoor enthusiasts. Even if you’ve climbed the Alps before, this Chilean national park will take you to new heights. Nestled at the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, sits the award-winning EcoCamp Patagonia – world’s first sustainable geodesic dome hotel. Inspired by the indigenous dwellings of Alacalufe nomads, the domes are sustainably built off the ground for ease of relocation and operate on renewable energy. They do remind us of the Finnish Lapland’s igloo and instead of witnessing the aurora borealis, the lack of light pollution here means that it is ideal for astrophotography at night. Each dome has ceiling windows that are perfect for stargazing. We can guarantee that waking up to towering glaciers, sunsets on the lagoon, snow-capped mountains will be one of the best moments in life, go ahead and caption #adventureofalifetime.

EcoCamp Patagonia also offers guided excursions around the wild Patagonian plains, but if you wish to relax, you can also join fellow campers for yoga and massage. What about meals? There is a large community dome which is a lively dining hall that serves delicious meals. It is also a place where you’ll find fellow campers exchanging adventure stories. 

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5 Hiking Trails in Osaka Perfect for Escaping the City Bustle

5 Hiking Trails in Osaka Perfect for Escaping the City Bustle

Known as the “nation’s kitchen”, Osaka is a beautiful port city in Japan, and is home to some of the most iconic food the country has exported.

Osaka’s vibrant urban cityscape naturally draws in travellers from all over the world, looking to experience some of the best culinary and cultural experiences Japan has to offer. 

Whether it is the foremost eating street of Dotonburi or the shopping district of Shinsaibashi, the central area of Osaka is vibrant and happening, and one that never seems to dull down. 

It can all get quite a bit overwhelming, so we wouldn’t blame you for wanting some peace and quiet in between. If you need a respite from the incredible bustle that goes on in Osaka’s city centre, here are five hiking trails that could prove to be the perfect tonic. 

1. Mt. Koya

Mount Koya is one of Japan’s most sacred mountains, and has been a pilgrimage destination for generations since serving as the center of Shingon Buddhism, or Esoteric Buddhism, which was founded by Kobo Daishi in 805. 

Through the many pilgrimage trails that link Koyasan with the outside world, the mountain has become the central hub of spirituality, peace, and refuge. Of course, with advancements in technology, it is now possible to ascend the Koyasan with relatively ease by way of cable car but we urge you to hike up through the traditional trails as many have done before. 

Soak in the historic and ethereal atmosphere as you walk the grounds of the Konpon Daito Pagoda and the Okunoin Cemetery whilst immersing yourself in Koyasan’s forest with towering, centuries-old cedar trees.

You can even stay overnight at the top in a Buddhist temple where you’ll get to experience firsthand the life of a Buddhist monk, from practices to food, truly a unique travel experience. 

2. Mt. Yoshino

Mount Yoshino lays claim to one of the most beautiful spots to catch the cherry blossoms in all of Japan. When the sakura flowers bloom throughout the forest, it creates a magical pink canopy that is nothing short of mesmerising. 

The Sakura trees are said to have been first planted some 1300 years ago, and there are over 30,000 cherry trees today. Late March and early April would be the best time to ascend Mount Yoshino as you can take in the cherry blossoms which are in full bloom. 

Mount Yoshino is split into four tiers — Shimo Senbon (lower 1000 trees) at the base of the mountain, Naka Senbon (middle 1000 trees), Kami Senbon (upper 1000 trees), and Oku Senbon (inner 1000 trees). No matter which area of Yoshinosan, its natural beauty that surrounds you is reason enough to take a hike up Mount Yoshino. 

3. Fukuchiyama Abandoned Railway Hike

Here’s one that is for the more adventurous. The Fukuchiyama Railway is an abandoned train network that was once formed as part of the JR Fukuchiyama line. With trains being diverted to new routes and stops, the original railway tracks has since been decommissioned and not in use. 

What is left are gorges and tracks that have been overtaken by tenacious moss. The hike isn’t demanding per se, as it’s mostly flat ground although we do recommend having a handy torchlight with you as the tunnels can get close to pitch black. 

Persist through the many tunnels however, and you’ll be greeted with a tranquil scenery of mountains and rivers, it’s a beautiful hike indeed. Remember to snap photos with the iconic red steel tracks!

4. Nunobiki Hiking Trail

One of the less visited trails on the list, the Nunobiki Falls hiking trail is conveniently found near the Shin-Kobe Station. From the station, there is a cable car that ascends up a ropeway bringing you up to the Southern slope of Mount Rokko, itself another popular hiking spot.

But we’re here for Nunobiki Falls and the Nunobiki Herb Garden, so give the cable car a miss. Instead, hike your way on foot to get to the Falls and the Garden. (Incidentally, if you take the cable car up to Mount Rokko, you’ll see both Nunobiki Falls and Nunobiki Gardens passing by below you.)

The Nunobiki Falls actually consists of four different waterfalls with each being further in than the last. The second of the four, Tsusumigadaki, proves to be the most popular as the way the water rushes down makes it the most aesthetically pleasing. Push on further up and you’ll reach the Nunobiki Herb Garden which boasts one of Japan’s largest herb gardens with hundreds of herb species and seasonal flowers. 

5. Minoo Park

If Autumn foliage is what you’re chasing, then Minoo Park during the Fall is one of the best places you can escape to. 

While many know of Minoo Park as the go-to place to catch the Autumn leaves, not many are aware that it was established back in 1967 (along with Takao Park in Tokyo) as part of the centennial celebration to commemorate Emperor Meiji’s ascension to the throne. 

It’s truly a breathtaking sight when the Autumn colours bloom at Minoo Park. The forest turns into a bright red and yellow hue, with vibrant colours popping all around you. Hike through the park and you’ll soon arrive at Minoo Waterfall, the park’s famous natural attraction. Sit down on one of the many benches at the viewing platform and immerse yourself in the serenity that washes over you. 

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The Mix Place Shanghai – for Fashionistas, Book Lovers and Culture Buffs

The Mix Place Shanghai – for Fashionistas, Book Lovers and Culture Buffs

In China’s long, and quite frankly, convoluted history, there’s one thing that has remained constant — an assertive regulation on any knowledge, culture, and influence that originates from the West. 

Whether it’s the early 20th century regulation on Science Fiction materials or the ban on Facebook and WhatsApp today, China has long held a propensity of aversion and control over the broadcast or dissemination of international materials that has the power to westernise society. 

However, what was once a vice grip is loosening, allowing for more exposure of English titles to the Chinese public. Pockets of small establishments are slowly injecting a more diverse range of international titles into the mainstream market. 

Enter The Mix Place, a contemporary creative enclave that caters to the fashionista, the book lover, and the culture buff. 

“Mix” refers to the shop’s ideology of converging of culture and art into a lifestyle, while “Place” serves as an abbreviation for Philosophy, Lifestyle, Art, Culture, Edition. 

However you slice it, The Mix Place sounds like it’ll stick out like a sore thumb in China. But when you consider that The Mix Place houses an eclectic collection of international visual editions of art and design, along with European award-winning magazines from Cereal to Plethora, it’s location along Hengshan Lu, the former French Concession area in Shanghai appears to be right at home. 

Since opening in late 2015, the three-storey shop has seen a regular crowd of budding designers, photographers, and artists mingling and exchanging ideas.

The First Floor: Cafe

You’ll be greeted with the smell of espresso as you enter the doors of The Mix Place. Just above the coffee machine are blackboards filled with the menu for the day, all hand-written in chalk calligraphy. The entire place screams hipster and full of character with the occasional motivational quote scribbled across the black panel.

It is also on this floor where you can find fiction novels and other books, available in English and Chinese with comfortable chairs and spots perfect for an afternoon of books and coffee.  

The Second Floor: Experimental Art and Design

Head on up and here’s where things get a little more experimental. 

The second floor of The Mix Place is dedicated to visual design, showcasing a mix of art, architecture, photography, illustration, fashion, and interior design. With a pop-up exhibition space that features a curated set of projects, you’ll be sure to find something fresh and new at The Mix Place. 

Continue on up and you’ll start to get a glimpse of the magazine haven that many have claimed The Mix Place to be. On your way to the third floor, there are many shelves stocked full of magazines and publications. Feel free to pick up any one of them and plop yourself down in one of their comfortable sofa chairs.

The Third Floor: Museum of Magazines

The third floor is where the true magic happens. Boasting a 12 metre-long wall full of magazines, the third floor of The Mix Place is also known as the “Museum of Magazine”. 

The continuous magazine shelf offers the widest range of The Mix Place’s collection, highlighting internationally renowned titles such as Monocle and Garage. Aside from the wall there are numerous shelf cabinets with each focusing on a specific topic that ranges from Food and Travel to Art and Culture. 

Level 3 is where magazine enthusiasts can browse the latest trends in the fashion world, delve deep into art and culture movements happening all over the world, and get inspired for your next travel vacation.  

The Mix Place

Address: 880 Hengshan Road, Shanghai

Opening Hours: Daily 10:30 AM to 10 PM

Header image by the_mix_place via Instagram.

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