November 29, 2023

Fiona McIntosh visits Sydney for The Sugar Palace

Here's Stevie Jacobs and myself walking through the streets of The Rocks
...with a film one does!

Well to tell the truth I thought this was a very quirky tale and I did have some moments of worry that it wouldn't hit the mark.  I had to trust the Penguin team which felt there was something magical about the story that packed plenty of fun and lightness into what turned into a gangster tale.  And the two lead characters, despite coming from such wildly different backgrounds and attitudes, were very easy to like and cheer for.  

November 11, 2023

The Copper Canyon train: World's Longest Day Trip?

It's 4am and the alarm clock is going ape.

We tumble out of bed, shower, dress, and with hardly a word spoken, head for the Lido Restaurant where strong coffee may, just may, make us feel human.

November 01, 2023

Eastern Grand Palace Hotel Pattaya: Full of surprises

Hotels are often full of surprises. Sometimes it's an unusual location, standout architecture, fascinating backstories or an outlandish art collection.

October 28, 2023

Fly Xiamen Air via China for a cheap ticket. But be prepared.

Attracted by the relatively low fares, I decided to test run an economy Xiaman Air (MF) flight from Bangkok to Sydney via Xiamen in mainland China.

In order to circumvent potential complications I have found with Asian airline sites, I chose to book via which did make the process a lot simpler with its familiar steps.

The matter that unfortunately left a gaping hole in the customer satisfaction score was the messy and inefficient transfer process at Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN).

October 25, 2023

Two nights at the new Dorsett Hotel in Melbourne

Have to say I quite enjoyed my two-night stay at the new Dorsett Hotel in Little Lonsdale Street, central Melbourne. Review by Ian McIntosh.

September 28, 2023

Prancing horses and preening: Ferrari Factory Museum

By Jim Mathers in Maranello

It was a fitting start. A bus pulled up and a bunch of young Italian men, most of them sporting a Mattia Binotto hairstyle, jumped out, casually flicked their hair back and posed for a group photo under the Ferrari sign. They then scampered towards us to join the short queue to enter the Maranello Ferrari Museum. A block away, a Ferrari engine roared to life as a visitor jumped into the passenger seat for a paid ‘test drive’.

September 19, 2023

Cooperative Swiss: Shopping and saving in the Alps

There’s a Coop not far from the statue of the late, great Freddie Mercury at Montreux
… an extra bonus is the free loo near the entrance!

In Switzerland, the Coop is your friend. Jim Mathers loves the way Swiss shop.

While Switzerland is amongst the most scenically beautiful destinations in the world, it is also amongst the most expensive to visit. Coop is a chain of generally very well-stocked supermarkets (Migros is another, but we found Coop to be a bit better). You’ll find these outlets everywhere and you’ll almost always find one near a train station. One of the great things about Coops is their range of pre-prepared foods. You can pick up a ham and cheese sandwich, salad roll, a vege wrap, dozens of types of cheese, a sausage roll, a full salad plate, some fresh pastries and all manner of drinks, including beer and wine. This is handy if you’re jumping on a long-distance train and don’t want to spend big bucks on an onboard meal. 

September 14, 2023

Flash Lithgow, Wallerawang and Portland

An easy day drive or ride from Sydney and a historical centrepiece of the NSW Central Tablelands, Lithgow is easily overlooked as riders head west out to Bathurst and beyond

So I stopped in for an extended stay and exploration of the former industrial town and its neighbouring villages of Wallerwang and Portland. 

September 08, 2023

Ten facts and myths about Cuba

Cuba has long been a favourite destination among travellers. World traveller, Robert Fletcher, shares some observations from this energetic, welcoming and endearing destination.

August 31, 2023

Perito Moreno Glacier: No such thing as too much ice

El Calafate pre or post-Antarctica is the perfect fit. This is all totally different to the Antarctic experience. This area of Patagonia is covered in forests, lakes and mountains which make the landscape entirely different.

July 22, 2023

Holland America brings you the world

“Oh oh, here they come again,” says Ty, our skipper and fishing guide, “you’ll need to get your fish in nice and quick.”

This advice is not unusual for me. If we were fishing anywhere in the Kimberley or Top End back home, we’d be talking about ravenous reef sharks that would pounce on your hooked fish if you didn’t get it in the boat in 30 seconds. 

June 17, 2023

Sail and Bike in the Netherlands aboard Leafde fan Fryslan

Travel specialist, Martyn R Paterson takes us to the Wedder Sea and Friesland Islands

My week aboard the sailing ship Leafde fan Fryslan was thoroughly enjoyable. The trip was varied and interesting with everything going smoothly despite some wild, windy days.

June 13, 2023

Idiots Abroad: The stupid things we do when travelling!

Years ago when I was still at uni, my final assignment was on the risks of injury or death while travelling overseas. It turned out to be quite an eye-opener and revealed to me the various dangers travellers face while overseas for business or leisure.

June 12, 2023

Best-selling author, Fiona McIntosh, explores the Haunch of Venison

This photo shows the Haunch of Venison, which is one of southern England's oldest hostelries, tracing its first record around 1320 when the building was used to house craftsmen who were working on the now famous Salisbury Cathedral spire. Apparently, beneath the fireplace, there is an old bread oven that contains a smoke-preserved and mummified hand and - I love this - is believed to belong to a demented card player from the eighteenth century who supposedly lost his hand during a game of whist because he was found to be cheating!

June 03, 2023

Why Trains beat planes for travel in Europe

Travel writing doyen, Jeremy Bourke, ponders the many advantages of training versus planing through Europe. His considered verdict follows.

Ah, the irony. I'm gliding between the Austrian city of Villach and beautiful Salzburg, writing this ode to the joys of rail travel – on a train I shouldn't be on. I caught the right one, from Slovenia's capital Ljubljana to Frankfurt, and it departed 10 minutes late. Acceptable.

May 28, 2023

Buffet 101: Top 10 buffet blunders you should avoid

We’ve all seen it. The hotel guest with apparently no clue about the function of the breakfast or dinner buffet. COVID procedures have certainly retuned our awareness of sanitary matters - or should have - with many hotels and resorts closing their buffets for good.

A recent visit to a premium resort reminded me that money and wealth do not beget manners. So, this prompted me to compile a short list of common buffet faux pas.

April 10, 2023

Is this a tourist scam in Livorno?

from Ian McIntosh travelling in Italy

It seems the transport authorities in the Italian city of Livorno are not only targeting tourists - but ripping them off in the bargain. A group of Australian tourists were hijacked by transport authority thugs in Livorno Italy yesterday and ripped off for 40 euros each. 

April 08, 2023

Aboard Azamara in the Mediterranean

from Ian McIntosh aboard Azamara Journey with wife and author Fiona McIntosh

Boarding Azamara Journey in Barcelona was quick and easy - there were plenty of staff and with only a shade under 800 guests the terminal was never very crowded. It seems Covid fears have gone out of the window - we were asked if we were feeling ok - and that was it. When you finally make it on board the reception area is a bit ordinary but a glass of champagne made up for any disappointment. 

February 11, 2023

Scuba diving Vanuatu

While it may seem that Port Vila and Santo get all the attention with their many wrecks and reefs, in truth the whole island group of Vanuatu has an enormous variety of diving experiences to suit all levels and interests. Almost divers will arrive in Port Vila, but how can you extend your experience when you've ticked off the well-known operators in town?

February 10, 2023

New World War 2 museum for Luganville, Espiritu Santo

I’ve made several visits to Luganville over the last few years but one new addition to the main street caught my attention. A tiny building in Unity Park at the western end of Main Street, almost on the banks of the Sarakata River, is where Stage 1 of the South Pacific WWII Museum will be located

February 02, 2023

Visiting Seattle USA

Seattle, the capital of the US state of Washington, is fast becoming the choice jumping-off point for cruises departing to Alaska.  

February 01, 2023

North to Alaska: Cruising with Holland America

Holland America Line brings more people to Alaska than by any other means and have been doing it longer than any other cruise line.

Which US capital city can you not drive to? It’s a great trivia question and it's true: you cannot drive to the state capital of Alaska, Juneau. But you sure can cruise there.

January 30, 2023

The Suite Life: Why upgrade to a suite on your next cruise?

Royal Suite Class RCCL

Firstly, the comment that “walking around the decks must be like attending the New Year store sales - an absolute bun fight – and the restaurants must be packed as well.”  Not true. Some passengers get their daily exercise walking around the deck - others love the pools.

January 26, 2023

From On Board: Ovation of the Seas

I have to say from the outset that I am no big fan of monster ship cruising - yet here I am on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas along with 4000 other passengers heading for New Zealand. So how did that happen? 

January 24, 2023

Now is the time to visit Australia’s North West #WesternAustralia

Picnic in the Bungle Bungles (R Eime)

As with so many popular travel destinations, Australia’s North West suffered under the COVID restrictions, then took another punch to the body with catastrophic floods.

January 17, 2023

Groote Eylandt: Is this the best fishing in Australia?

I still have fond memories of fishing with my grandmother on the Murray River back in the 1960s, before the invasion of European carp. We would sit on a massive river gum root coaxing tiny translucent shrimps onto little hooks in our quest for callop, cod or catfish.

January 07, 2023

Cafe Culture in Oslo

Karl Johnas Gate Creator: Sigurd Rage  Copyright: (c) Sigurd Rage

Thick Blankets of Fog and Fur

My flight arrived into Oslo from Bangkok at about 7.30am on September 13th. The middle of September is the very beginning of autumn, but the city was waking up to a thick blanket of fog.

January 06, 2023

Thailand's giant ICONSIAM is the world's most expensive shopping mall - but the food is cheap

#hugthailand # amazingthailand

Should we include Bangkok among the world’s greatest shopping cities? Does Thailand's frenetic capital rate against the traditional Asian retail meccas of Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai? Travel journalist, Roderick Eime explores the mighty megamall of ICONSIAM.

If we were to ask veteran ABC journalist and presenter, Jonathan Green, then the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’. In his Radio National podcast series, ‘Return Ticket’, Green examines Bangkok’s fascination with the glittering megamall and declares “there is no better placed on Earth than Bangkok to study the proliferation of the mall.”

Green draws particular attention to the opulent shopping metropolis that is Bangkok’s newest megamall, ICONSIAM. Opened in 2019 to great fanfare on the eve of the global pandemic, the US$1.5 billion complex must have had investors in a cold sweat as cities and travellers came to a grinding halt for two years.

Read the full story at Amazing Thailand.


ICONSIAM is a massive shopping and entertainment complex located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. It opened in November 2018 and has quickly become one of the city's most iconic and luxurious malls. Here are some key features and highlights of ICONSIAM:

Size: ICONSIAM is one of the largest malls in Southeast Asia, spanning over 750,000 square meters (approximately 8 million square feet). It consists of two main buildings connected by a skywalk, and it features both indoor and outdoor shopping areas.

Luxury Shopping: The mall is known for its high-end and luxury brands, making it a popular destination for luxury shopping. You can find a wide range of international and Thai designer boutiques, including many flagship stores.

Dining: ICONSIAM offers a vast array of dining options, from fine dining restaurants to casual eateries and international cuisine to traditional Thai food. The mall's riverside promenade features numerous dining establishments with stunning views of the Chao Phraya River.

Entertainment: The complex includes a dedicated entertainment area known as ICON CINECONIC, which offers a premium cinema experience. Additionally, there is an indoor floating market where you can explore and shop for traditional Thai products and street food.

Art and Culture: ICONSIAM places a strong emphasis on art and culture. The mall features various art installations, exhibitions, and cultural events throughout the year. There is also an art gallery called "Art Icon," showcasing contemporary Thai and international art.

Observation Deck: ICONSIAM boasts the "ICONIC Multimedia Water Features," which includes a stunning multimedia water fountain and a daily light and sound show. You can enjoy this show from the mall's riverside promenade.

Transportation: The mall is conveniently accessible via boat, as it has its own pier, allowing visitors to arrive by boat along the Chao Phraya River. It's also connected to the BTS Gold Line's Charoen Nakhon Station.

Overall, ICONSIAM is not just a shopping mall but a destination in itself, offering a mix of shopping, dining, entertainment, art, and cultural experiences in a luxurious and scenic setting along the river. It's a must-visit for anyone looking for a high-end shopping and leisure experience in Bangkok.

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