From barrel-aged cocktails in Singapore to a glimpse of unexplored Borneo to new coastal havens in Tasmania, here are our top reasons to hit the road (or skies) this month.
Published on Sep 27, 2018
Astro-tourism is the latest travel trend: here’s why your next trip should be to see the stars.
The Milky Way over Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island.
No, we don’t mean a ticket on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, “astro-tourism” is all about appreciating the solar system on solid ground. As light pollution spreads across Asia and blinds our night skies, travelers have been drawn to the region’s darkest pockets to get a glimpse of the most dazzling celestial shows.
GREAT BARRIER ISLAND
Also known as Aotea, this completely off-grid island a 30-minute flight from Auckland last year was crowned a Dark-Sky Sanctuary: remote land with exceptional quality of starry nights certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. Good Heavens (goodheavens.co.nz; group tours from NZ$90, private tours for 1–4 people from NZ$600) offer stargazing tours of Aotea’s clear skies with use of their nighttime binoculars and 8-inch Newtonian telescope. Guests have spotted Saturn’s rings, the moons of Jupiter and unique views of the Milky Way.
In April, Okinawa’s Iriomote- Ishigaki National Park, which covers the most southern islands in the Yaeyama archipelago, was declared a Dark-Sky Park, only the second in Asia after South Korea’s Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park. Coral Foundation (coralfoundation-hoshizora.com; from ¥4,000 per person; tours begin in March 2019) offers tours on Iriomote Island that includes being bathed in moonlight in the subtropical forest and visits to the habitats of the luminescent Yaeyama fireflies, who can only exist in the darkest regions of the island.
Many trek this East Java volcano for the golden views of sunrise, but nighttime also offers some sparkling sights. While the stars aren’t visible to the naked eye here, DSLR photography can capture the lit-up sky in ethereal ways. Mount Bromo Tour Guide (mtbromotourguide.com; twoday tour from Rp2,500,000; tours begin April 2019) offers two- and three-day photography tours that include locales where you can shoot the Milky Way against the mountain silhouettes or capture time-lapse footage of passing meteors.
While Iceland is known for the chartreuse Northern Lights, the less-hyped but equally stunning Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis, can be seen across Tasmania, including Mount Wellington, Eaglehawk Neck and South Arm Peninsula. Keep track of the skies on aurora-service.net, which monitors solar activity, solar winds and Earth’s magnetic field, and sends out alerts on optimal viewing times and locations. Usually forming a rippled green or magenta curtain, you’ll need a DSLR to capture this natural light show.— ELOISE BASUKI
Now you can become a world record setting flyer.
Business comforts on Singapore Airlines’ new long-haul.
This month, Singapore Airlines launches the longest commercial flight in the world, from Singapore to Newark, which clocks in at more than 18 hours. So how exactly do you survive three quarters of a day in the air? The short answer is that the new A350-900ULR is built precisely for such long hauls; here is why we’re excited to get on board.
+ Departing at 11:35 p.m. from Singapore, you’ll head non-stop to the U.S., landing in New Jersey at 6 a.m. the following day. Not bad, if you forget about time zones, and enjoy the diversions and comfort levels on board.
+ Singapore Airlines’ version of the aircraft offers only two cabins, business and premium economy, and that alone means much more space. Consider that this version has 67 business-class and 94 premium economy seats, compared with SIA’s standard A350-900, which offers 42 business, 24 premium economy and 187 economy seats, and you begin to get the idea.
+ The inflight entertainment system has more than 1,500 options, including more than 290 movies, 600-plus television programs and 800 audio CDs. Passengers can bookmark the content, saving preferences and playlists for future flights. If none of this appeals—unlikely—the aircraft also offers Wi-Fi.
+ As for food service, Singapore Airlines is centering their new menus on a wellness theme. That means a focus on nutrition and hydration—think bold flavors and textures in addition to the regular dishes on offer.
+ As for the things you don’t see, the cabin of the A350-900ULR is designed to provide better air pressure (read: more oxygen) and increased humidity, both of which mean you’ll feel better refreshed after any long-haul flight.
+ There are up to 24 customizable lighting scenarios on this aircraft that simulate different times of the day, mimicking natural sunrise and sunset, which helps passengers better acclimate to time changes. — CHRISTOPHER KUCWAY
These new coastal havens showcase Tasmania inside and out.
Freycinet Lodge’s forest-view Coastal Pavilion.
Eastern Tassie’s Freycinet Lodge has just unveiled its new Coastal Pavilions, nine private suites set among the tranquil scrub of Freycinet National Park. Devised by Hobart design studio Liminal, the sleek, architecturally focused rooms feature Tasmanian oak paneling, blackwood furnishings, outdoor tubs and curved floor-toceiling windows that fully immerse guests in the park’s natural landscape. Going bush just got better. freycinetlodge.com.au; doubles from A$549. — E.B.
Explore one last patch of untamed Borneo by boat.
Explore the Kapur River by longtail boat.
The less-trawled corner of Tabin Wildlife Reserve in southeast Sabah packs an adventurous punch of misty canals, mysterious thickets and exciting wildlife encounters. Lahad Datu–based operator Bike & Tours, a pioneer in boating and hiking packages up the bends of remote Kapur River, has launched a new three-day adventure tour to explore the creatures of the water. Based in the jungle-immersed rain forest rest house, guests will go on daily sunrise and sunset
river cruises: at dawn, glide on a long tail boat in search of kingfishers, storks, proboscis monkeys and rare hornbills as they forage the virgin mangroves and Nipah forest; at dusk, bask in the glorious pink sunset until hundreds of fireflies and a mantle of blazing stars light up the night. The fun doesn’t end on the water, hike through the hardwood forest in Pokok Kapur, and join the evening jungle safari by four wheel drive. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot the elusive slow loris. bikeandtours.com; three-day Sungai Kapur Expedition from RM2,500 per person, per double. — MARCO FERRARESE
In New Delhi, a pioneering luxury hotel has been reborn.
The iconic Oberoi in Delhi has a new look.
It’s hard to overstate the role of the Oberoi in the social fabric of Delhi. The hotel was heralded as the finest on the subcontinent when it opened in 1965 and has been a favorite ever since, so closing shop for a two-year renovation was a big deal. The new look, unveiled in January, ditches the paisley-print carpets and stuffy carved-wood dressers for a lighter, brighter aesthetic, with jewel-tone walls and elegant, clean lined furnishings. Designer Adam Tihany trimmed the room count from 283 to 220, and decked out the new spaces with enormous bathtubs and iPads that let you open the door for room service without leaving the couch. As for what will never change? The hotel’s enviable address, close to some of Delhi’s top attractions. oberoihotels.com; doubles from US$385. — SARAH KHAN
Barrel-aged cocktails are making an evening tipple even smoother.
A Coconut Negroni at 1864 – The Lobby Bar.
Aging cocktails in barrels creates a softer, mellowed-out tone, which is exactly the vibe of 1864 – The Lobby Bar, the brassy anchor at the heart of Sofitel Singapore City Centre, the brand’s new flagship in the Tanjong Pagar neighborhood. Most alcohol aficionados will have tasted a rounded-off barrel-aged negroni or two by now. But assistant bar manager Sam Uthra Paty Arasan takes the technique to a delicious new level. He’s got two walls of baby bourbon barrels gestating variations of negronis and all manner of other drinks such as boulvardiers and even margaritas, all aged for four weeks. Serious imbibers should swing by on Fridays for their all-you-can-drink of three select barrels happy hour. Sam says the best part of his job is “getting to know our guests and referring to them by name”—a handy habit for regulars, whose favorite drinks are recorded in a book so that you can sidle up, say no words and still get perfect service. Another Octomore negroni, please, Sam. Oh wait, you already knew that. sofitel.com; doubles from S$390; cocktails from S$18; French Fridays happy hour 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. S$48 per person. — JENINNE LEE-ST. JOHN