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Travels (101)

Do you secretly long to immigrate to another country for a better livelihood?

We have great news for you, global citizen. With no man made boundaries to tie you down, get ready to live life to the fullest as an expat. Sounds too good to be true?

Well yes! The world today is a global village, interconnected by a huge electronic web, the internet. So, there ought to be no worries about catching up with family, transferring money or even meeting them in person, as you can head back home anytime at the drop of a hat. Now itÔÇÖs time for you to realise your dream for good life.

However exercise caution and do some research about the country you want to move to, so that you need not be sorry later on. WeÔÇÖll take the liberty of helping you out with the 3 best countries to migrate.

best countries to immigrate

Germany

Germany has been ranked as the best country to live in the world, according to new analysis unveiled at the World Economic Forum 2016 in Davos. Its strong economy, top quality public infrastructure, living space and its focus on key global issues such as the migrant crisis and Eurozone unity, has made this nation a preferred location for prospective migrants.

New Zealand

If you wish you to live in a peaceful beautiful country with low crime rate, then New Zealand is a spot you should have on your list. With optimal opportunities to work with great work-life balance, the Kiwis believe that life is for living. So they do not get stressed over excessive work. The native Kiwis are known to be very warm and welcoming to foreigners. In the 2015 Expat Insider survey, 94% of respondents said they found Kiwi people ÔÇÿfriendlyÔÇÖ or ÔÇÿvery friendlyÔÇÖ.

Canada

The Great White North, Canada has been voted as one of the best countries in the world for skilled migrants. Having one of the highest immigration rates in the world, Canada has admitted about 250,000 newcomers a year, close to 1% of the population for the past two decades. Its advanced economy, GDP, high standards of living, world class cities, quality of life and excellent infrastructure facilities are reasons why you could consider Canada for your next stop.

Now grab your backpack and get ready for the good life youÔÇÖve always dreamt of. Life is either a daring adventure or just nothing!

Filled with travellers experiencing the excitement of new beginnings, pain of good-byes, anticipation of arrivals and sad departures, airports are a gateway for a host of human emotions. They have evolved from being just places where flights take off and land, to become the windows with a view that lures flyers to get into town and explore.

Airports around the world are vying to be major tourist attractions by tempting the passengers with luxury spas, theatres, tropical gardens, golfing arenas and swimming pools apart from all the basic amenities. According to Skytrax World Airport Awards, the following airports offer the best fun and entertainment to its flyers.

airports that will delight you

Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN)

Ranked #1 for the last four years in a row, this is the 16th busiest airport in the world. The flyers attribute this rank to the beautiful architecture, efficient operation, movie theatres, a multimedia entertainment deck, spas, luxurious amenities, and a broad range of dining and shopping options.

Incheon International Airport (ICN)

This South Korean airport, ranked #2 is the 24th busiest airport in the world. Hosting the Korean cultural museum in its premises, the ICN airport offers rich cultural experiences in addition to an extensive shopping and dining options.

Munich Airport (MUC)

This German airport, ranked #3 is the 2nd busiest airport in Germany next to Frankfurt. Its display of glass architecture along with historic aircrafts and a mini golf course makes this airport an interesting one.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

Ranked #5, this airport is built on an artificial island off the Hong Kong coast. Apart from the regular amenities, the i-Sports center at the airport, offers play options such as soccer, basketball, golf, boxing, skiing, car racing, skiing and shooting.

Central Japan International Airport (NGO)

Ranked #7, this airport is the best regional airport in the world. Also known as Centrair, its 1,000-foot-long sky deck and its traditional Japanese bathhouse helps passengers have a relaxing soak while watching the sunset over the bay.

Now pack up your bags and fly via the above mentioned airports to experience world-class service!

Been saving money for your holiday for a long time now?

Perhaps you shouldnÔÇÖt! Travelling need not mean ÔÇ£a hole in your pocketÔÇØ if done the right way.

Here are secrets that seasoned travellers shared with us on how you can save money without compromising on your travel experience.

Saving money during travel

Plan and book in advance

Make sure you schedule your trip well in advance, find out if thereÔÇÖs an important occasion at home, and at work, inform your boss about your tentative holiday plans. DonÔÇÖt lose money on cancellation due to poor planning. Subscribe to sites viz., Skyscanner, SkipLagged and Airfarewatchdog for good deals in flight booking. Your chance of getting best deals increases when you book atleast 3 months prior to departure date.

Travel light

Always remember to travel light because heavy luggage will cost you more. Understand the weight limit and ensure you weigh and tag each baggage before reaching the airport. Also with fewer luggage you can take the public transport like the bus or metro and save on the exorbitant cab charges.

Stay Casual

Instead of staying in expensive hotels, go for alternative hospitality options. Opt for services from Mind my house and House carers or check out accommodations offered by members of websites such as Couchsurfing, Servas, Hospitality Club and Airbnb. With organisations such as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), you can work in their farms in exchange for accommodation.

Cool isnÔÇÖt it?

Secure important documents

Ensure you carry double or triple copies of passport, tickets, IDs and other crucial documents. If lost, youÔÇÖll have to pay through your nose to get duplicate copies in a foreign land.

Get insured

Medical emergencies could get really expensive in certain countries. Hence itÔÇÖs advisable to get a good insurance coverage policy before setting out.

Use a travel card

Opt for a prepaid, reloadable and multi-currency travel card to safely access and manage your cash in a foreign country. You can also save money by locking the foreign exchange rates while the rates are ideal. Check our travel card Gocash which offers online payments, POS purchases, 6 out of 16 world currency load facility and even free travel insurance!

Download useful apps

You can save a lot of money during travel by just organising, prioritising and managing resources, efforts and time wisely. There are several mobile apps that act as a personal assistant to you, managing your travel itineraries, flight schedules and expenses, in addition to providing food reviews and restaurant suggestions.

Below are some apps that you can consider for a hassle free travel.

  • TripCase(organising travel)
  • Gocash (manage travel money)
  • CityMapper(getting to know the city)
  • Duolingo (tips on foreign language)

Now that you are armed with tips on how to save money while traveling, pack your bags and begin exploring!

Kissing your eyes with the loveliest smile, the crisp and golden autumn season is a treat for travel connoisseurs. ItÔÇÖs the perfect time for you to bask in natureÔÇÖs dazzling display of beautiful colours. Visit the 5 countries below to be fascinated by the lovely fall, complimented with fewer crowds, shorter lines, lesser prices and fantastic weather.

places to visit this fall

China

ItÔÇÖs stunning to watch the colourful pine, maple and persimmon trees lining the Great Wall of China, the Fragrant Hills Park and the Yellow Mountains. Relish in the colourful ribbons of terraced golden paddy that gushes as the autumn breeze touches it, in the Guilin and Yunnan Province. DonÔÇÖt miss to feast your eyes at the Jiuzhaigou Valley, bejewelled by its multi-coloured lakes.

Japan

Vividly painted in the rich autumn hues, Koyo (the autumn leaves) is the most special tourist attraction in Japan. Endowed with lakes, hiking trails and hot springs, Hokkaido, Iwate and Fukushima offers rustic patchwork of autumnal reds, oranges, yellows and greens. Located in the volcanic landscape, the 400 year old Togakushi-jinja Shrine is a place you must visit for its beautiful mountain flowers and wild life. Get a splash of the surreal autumn colours at the Aomori waterfalls, boat rides and the breath-taking gorge.

USA

Its feels tranquil to picturise the rich yellowish orange leaves shimmer in the autumn breeze against the perfect contrast of the evergreens and craggy mountain peaks. ThatÔÇÖs Aspen, Colorado in the fall. DonÔÇÖt miss the 800 mile, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, for more than 100 species of jaw dropping native trees such as scarlet oaks, maples, sweet gums, and hickories. Get sandwiched between the three great lakes, Michigan in the dense forested area surrounded by the azure waters, a visual treat for visitors.

All of Europe

We all just love Europe donÔÇÖt we! This entire continent is filled with spectacular scenic beauty during the fall season. Countries such as England, Scotland, Belgium, Norway, Croatia, Switzerland, Spain, Czech, Hungary, Slovenia, Turkey, Italy, France, Austria, Portugal, Germany and Romania make you feel like you are in heaven. Be enchanted by the dream colour combinations of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, youÔÇÖll see throughout the land.

If you plan on visiting more than one country, then ensure your travel is hassle-free by carrying our multi-currency travel prepaid card Gocash. The card, lets you load 6 out of 16 world currencies and can use on all MasterCard enabled POS machines and ATMs.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags to experience the best of fall foliage!

Do adrenalin rushes excite you?

DoesnÔÇÖt matter whether you are a novice or a pro at adventure travel, Dubai is the destination you must visit to satiate the daredevil in you. As widely misunderstood, Dubai isnÔÇÖt just about shopping, world-class architecture and historical artifacts. Dubai is a treat for the dauntless spirit in you, with the best adventure spots in the world.

Fly in the sky

Realise your dream to fly, fall free and lose yourself in the awesome skyline of Dubai. Get off the plane at almost 4,000 metres above the ground, sky dive and feel the rush of the wind against your body. With tandem diving, most sky diving operators ensure youÔÇÖre in the safe hands of a professional whose done atleast 220,000 jumps. So, gear up to swoop right over the spectacular Palm Jumeirah or even over the sand dunes. 

Off beat adventurous

DonÔÇÖt desert it

Dune bashing in the deserts is certainly not for the faint hearted. Feel the thrill as your Land Rover twists and turns through the dynamic dunes and desert storms.

For an exotic overnight Bedouin inspired desert camping, tread well beyond the city limits and camp out to revel in the spread of delectable food and unlimited entertainment under the canopy of stars. During your desert safari, you might even encounter the endangered wild Arabian oryx, striped hyena, jackal, Persian lynx and honey badger. It would be a great opportunity for you to discover the heritage art of falconry and be awed at the prowess of these wild birds.

Yes, relish the best of what the desert has to offer.

Climb and hike

Get to see the rugged raw Emirate through the secret staircase at the Musandam Mountains near the Oman border. Hand built by Pakistani goat herders, this mountain patch is home to exotic Petroglyphs (rock carvings) and ancient grave stones. For a more pleasant scenic hike with natural pools, traditional villages, museums and irrigation systems, hike onto the Wadi Tayyibah and Hajar Mountain trails. However be cautious during the rainy months, as there could be flash floods.

Kayak your way

Splash through the various tide levels for an exhilarating experience in the Musandam coast from Dibba. Cruise through the shady mangroves along the wild coast to delight at the sight of flamingos, turtles, white-collared kingfishers, Socotra cormorants and other endangered aquatic species. You can check out the cosy coves and inlets or even be tempted to camp on the isolated beaches.

Apart from the above mentioned exploits, there are several activities such as the kitesurfing, wakeboarding, reef diving and mountain biking in Dubai. There is even the worldÔÇÖs largest indoor adventure theme park from IMG in Dubai, slated to open later this month which promises a mind blowing experience.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Tell us your favourite adventure sport!

Excited about losing sight of your shore?

Great, welcome to the world of adventure and dare that would give you a splendid opportunity to feed your wanderlust. Any trip, whether its perfectly planned or ruggedly vagabondish, certainly needs to be hassle-free. Only then will you be able to completely feast your senses and enjoy the travel experience.

Carry these 6 lifesavers to add to the exhilaration and make your vacation safer, easier and more enjoyable.

Travel Lifesavers

Bag it right

Invest in an utilitarian multi-wheeled carry-on gear for better organising and manoeuvring. DonÔÇÖt forget to carry a duffle bag for easy access to travel documents, wallet, cell phones and any other go-to accessory youÔÇÖll need. There are even smart bags available in the market with tracking, charging and other intuitive capabilities, controllable by your smartphone apps. Remember to tag your baggages to avoid the risk of getting them lost.

Carry an adapter

Electric and plug configurations differ from one country to another across the world. Irrespective of the country you are in, to avoid frustrating mishaps, always carry a multipurpose universal adapter cum charger to charge your electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, laptops, smart watches, mp3 players and any other devices.

Have a first-aid kit

ItÔÇÖs imperative to have a first-aid kit handy. Get your prescribed medicines, antibiotic ointments, anti-allergy creams, bug sprays, quick clot sponges, ice packs, adhesive tapes, gauzes, cotton pads, scissors and pain killers. Also stock up rehydration salts, water purification, cold relief and digestive tablets. DonÔÇÖt forget your moleskin, especially when you plan on trekking to protect your skin from friction and pressure.

Anti-bottle the water

Water is the true elixir for any traveller. It relieves one from all forms of discomfort such as jet lag, dehydration and constipation. The cloth textured anti-bottle is the best, efficient way to carry water while travelling. When empty, it can be folded like a napkin and kept inside any small space for later reuse. Invest in this dishwasher safe and BPA free water container to save on space and to travel light.

Get smart with your smart phone

With the advent of smart phones, the best travel life savers are available in the form of mobile apps. So make sure you install few important apps such as CityMapper (to find your way), FoodPanda (to order food or find restaurants) and Expensify (to manage expenses) to help you during your travel. Remember to carry portable power banks or solar powered chargers to charge your mobile phones and other gadgets when you are outdoors without access to any electricity.

Manage your foreign currency

Ensure you have enough US Dollars, British Pounds or Euros, as they are the easiest currencies to get exchange for. Always get foreign exchange at reputed foreign exchange service providers such as UAE Exchange, or youÔÇÖll have to risk getting ripped off by the local roadside peddlers. You can also use international travel cards such as Gocash prepaid card from UAE Exchange that would offer you 6 out of 16 currency reload, exchange rate lock, ATM withdrawal, and POS and online payment facilities.

Now pack your bags and travel around the world while the 6 lifesavers mentioned above does the trick!

Rescue the Big Cat!

Friday, 14 September 2018

Emitting a sublime aura, the gorgeous tiger mesmerises us while strolling around with its bold golden coat, black stripes, amber eyes and strong physique. These glorious creatures are sadly on the verge of extinction now.

On this International Tiger Day, letÔÇÖs take these three practical steps to help save the magnificent tigers.

  1. Be a responsible tourist. Experience wildlife without polluting or disturbing the ecosystem.
  2. DonÔÇÖt buy products made from poached tiger parts. Report poaching activities to the concerned authorities. This will help prevent wildlife trade.
  3. Lend voice to the tigers. Reach out to the public and policy makers about the benefits and importance of habitat conservation for tigers.

What steps have you taken to rescue this big cat?

Tigerday

How about having a sprawling metropolis, lush rain forest, magnificent wildlife, lavish tea plantations and exotic beaches, all served on a single platter?

ThatÔÇÖs Malaysia in a nutshell! This tourist paradise concocts an aromatic blend of diverse cultures, ethnicities, cuisines, flavours with the truest essence of Asia. After completing your immigration formalities, get enough foreign exchange from a reputed provider of currency exchange services in Malaysia. Then get ready to explore the following locales in AsiaÔÇÖs Green Capital, Malaysia.

Malaysia Currency Exchange Rate

In the City

Enjoy the panoramic view of the Kuala Lumpur (KL) city from the worldÔÇÖs tallest twin structure, the Petronas Tower (452 metres) and the iconic Menara KL Tower (421 metres). DonÔÇÖt miss out Tugu Negara, world's tallest freestanding bronze sculpture (15 meters tall) built to honour the service of Malaysian soldiers. Appreciate the history, art and culture of Malaysia by visiting the National Museum, Art Gallery and the Islamic Arts Museum. Travel to the north of KL to explore the Batu Caves, the 400 million years old limestone hill that houses the world famous Hindu shrines and artifacts. The key attraction is the large statue of Lord Muruga, the Hindu deity at its entrance, besides a steep 272 climb up that leads to a stunning skyline view of KL city centre.

Into the Wild

The largest island in Asia, Borneo rainforest is a treat for wildlife lovers. As you explore the breath-taking beauty, youÔÇÖre sure to spot a Borneo Elephant, Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros, Bornean Clouded Leopard, Hose's Palm Civet or a Dayak Fruit Bat. DonÔÇÖt forget to check out the worldÔÇÖs longest underground river at the Clearwater Cave and Mount Kinabalu ( 4,095 meters), the highest mountain in Borneo.

By the Sea

Relax by the azure turquoise waters that caresses the white beaches lined with jungle covered hills and craggy mountain peaks at Langkawi, the archipelago of 99 islands. Enjoy those intimate moments with nature by trekking through the lush jungles and going on an adventurous boat ride into the mangroves. Basking in the laid-back vibe of these duty-free islands, would for sure rejuvenate your soul and body.

For the Gluttony in you

Malaysia is a paradise for street food and fine dining lovers. Remember to try Rendang (spicy meat dish), Nasi Lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and served with spicy anchovies), Satay (chunks of marinated, grilled meat), Asam Peda (sour spicy fish), Bak Kut Teh (bone soup), Roti Pisang (flat bread stuffed with sweet bananas), and Cendol (rice flour jelly with shaved ice, palm sugar and red beans).

So, which is your favourite place to see in Malaysia?

Did you know that, according to a HSBC Group survey, Malaysia ranks among top 3 countries in the world where expatriates felt at home?

Malaysia is an ideal expat destination in South-East Asia that provides a fantastic melange of landscapes, cultures, ethnicity and cuisines. Endowed with bustling business centres, skyscrapers and world-class entertainment on one side and exotic beaches, tranquil tea plantations and lush jungles on the other side, Malaysia offers the best of both worlds.

Let go of your initial jitters and follow our 3 practical tips that will help you with your relocation in Malaysia.

Expats in Malaysia

Explore the Neighbourhood

It’s natural to feel lost, in a new country. To gain ground you’ll have to first familiarise yourself with your area of residence and work. Make it a point to go around and explore the neighbourhood. Acquaint yourself with the grocery store, pharmacy, hospital, school, park, worship places and entertainment spots in the vicinity.

Traveling around would not be a hassle as Malaysia is well connected with buses, trains, monorails and light rail transport systems. Even cabs are aplenty and relatively less expensive when compared to most other countries. You can also use mobile apps such as Grab and Easytaxi for cabs.

Be Empowered

According to Expat Explorer survey, 53% of expats felt that socialising and making friends helped them settle faster.

Get out of your shell and socialise with the locals to gain insights about regular life in Malaysia. Learning the local culture and language would give you the much needed edge in getting things done, thus helping you settle down quickly. Signup with associations/ clubs that provide networking support to expats.

Understand the Remittance & Forex scenario

In 2015, expats in Malaysia remitted over RM (Malaysian Ringgit) 34.75 billion, which was a whopping 23.2% increase from remittance value in 2014. In order to provide better standards of living for their dear ones, expats send money back home on a regular basis. However, with the increase in the number of financial scams, it’s imperative to ensure you safeguard your hard earned money from scam artists.

Be cautious and send money only through ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified providers of money transfer service in Malaysia. Several remittance and forex companies such as UAE Exchange provide safe, secure and instantaneous remittance services. With over three decades experience in forex services, UAE Exchange offers you best deals in currency exchange rates in Malaysia.

So, what are your tips to live expat life in Malaysia to the fullest?

Are you hoping to catch a glimpse of Qatar during your transit at the luxurious Hamad International Airport?

Welcome to the Arabian fairy-tale then!

Be fascinated by the evocative art and culture, colourful souqs, falconry, dhow ferries, desert camel rides, splendid skyscrapers, stunning coastline with opulent palms and the spectacular sunset over the sand dunes in Qatar.

24 hours in Qatar

After your immigration and customs formalities, make sure you get sufficient foreign exchange at the airport. Jump into the turquoise taxi outside the airport and explore Doha on your own, like a local. Here are the list of places you could visit based on your time availability.

Lose yourself at the colourful Souqs

Souq Waqif (20 minutes from the airport) is the historical heart of Doha and the only traditional souq thatÔÇÖs left in the Gulf. At the Bird Souq, it is indeed an awesome sight to find exotic falcons perched magnificently with sentry hoods, where falcons, accessories, GPS guidance systems and landing pads are sold. As you explore the alleys, youÔÇÖll find spices, honey, dates, jewels, carpets, bags, clothing and souvenir shops.

Check out cafes and restaurants in this souq area to gorge down scrumptious Shawarma (meat rolls with with Tahini and Hummus sauce), Fatayer (meat pie) and the best of Qatari nibbles and refreshments.

Relish the Qatari Art & Culture

The Museum of Islamic Art (10 minutes from Souq Waqif) is one of the most iconic architectures in Qatar, located in the Corniche area. It houses art collections such as Arabic calligraphy, early Islamic literature, ceramics, glass, ivory, jewellery, metalwork, miniatures, textiles, and woodwork some of which are as old as 1,300 years!

Dine at the Corniche

The Corniche area houses multi-cuisine restaurants that cater to your gluttony. If you are a fan of Lebanese, Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern food, try the Al Mourjan restaurant that has an amazing view of the city. For mouth-watering South East Asian food, try the Spice Market restaurant for a delectable dining experience. Italian food connoisseurs can check out La Spiga by Paper Moon, known for its authentic taste. Ipanema restaurant offers the best of South American cuisine.

Explore Villagio

After a brief 25-minute drive from the Corniche area, get ready for exciting gondola rides, go-karting, bowling, ice-skating, movie and luxury shopping experience at the Venetian styled Villagio mall.

However donÔÇÖt forget to keep your flight timing in mind. It would take around 30 minutes by taxi to reach the Hamad International Airport. Hence set a timer to atleast 4 hours before your scheduled flight time. This will enable you to get back to your connecting flight with no hassle or delay.

Now pack your bags and enjoy the best of Qatar in just few hours!

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