Best restaurants and places to eat in Patong and around Phuket

Phuket is not only a place to party, it’s a place to live the ultimate lifestyle – even if just for a week or weekend. This busy beach town is so heavy on tourism and you can’t ignore the abundance of restaurants – there’s everything from $2 meals to $200 meals. Some of the nicest ones I’ve come across so far are Joe’s Downstairs (Aussie/Western), Da Maurizio (Italian), White Box (International/Mediterranean), Acqua (seems sort of European), or Baan Rim Paa (Local Thai/Seafood). Here are my reviews on the best places to eat in Phuket, and some of the above-mentioned spots.

Quite honestly, I ate at Baan Rim Paa and felt it was rather over-rated and over-priced, but my tourist friends liked this restaurant most. Not sure who was handing out awards, but it is evidently award-winning and the rustic beachside ambience of this restaurant makes it a popular pick for clients, tourists, or dates.

Personally, if it were up to me, I would rather eat Thai food in the streets – if I wanted to eat local, I would go local.

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See if you can recognize the typical Thai dishes – mango salad, pineapple rice, green curry chicken, fresh fish with lime, sticky rice with mango, and more.

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All these dishes for 3 people. Gluttons, we are.

We had Italian at Da Maurizio, and the food was on an international standard but you definitely pay for what you get. I’m also very biased in favour of Italian food, so I was pretty happy with this meal.

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My favourite dinner in Phuket was at JOE’S DOWNSTAIRS – the lofty white furniture was a joy to sit on while dinner-watching the swirls of the waves. This restaurant is said to serve “new world cuisine” (what does that even mean?!), but I felt it akin to the fine dining that I used to have in Australian restaurants.

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If you’re hungry but don’t want to spend a fortune of food, there are plenty of restaurants in Patong that will fill you up with good things for much, much less. I’ve eaten at so many places around Phuket and in Patong that I can hardly remember, but if you find a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint, please try it out and send me the address. I had some of the best Mexican food ever in such a place in Phuket, but it was down some random back alleys and I wish I could find my way back there.

Generally, the seafood restaurants fronting the main strip of Patong is over-crowded with lazy tourists and over-priced, so walk down the parallel streets and you’re bound to find equally good seafood for much cheaper. Another area I like to eat at is Karon Beach – it’s only about 15 minutes from Patong and although there is less culinary selection compared to Patong, it can give you a much quieter, relaxing dinner. The Russian restaurant there is quite well-liked.

(Thumbs up if you’d like to see an upcoming post on fun things to do + best places to party in Phuket!)

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Oceanfront Villas for Living x Sleeping x Swimming x Dreaming at Indochine Resort

The world is screaming summertime but alas, in Asia, it is summertime everyday. Call the pestering sun a blessing or a curse, but most who come to visit have remained and – at least – the haze has mostly blown away.

Now, I know you have no lack of choices for places to play and stay around Asia, but there’s never a bad time to recommend something for your next holiday. like I said, it’s “summertime” right?

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When it comes to Phuket, I have a bit of pride. I’ve been here about 15 times, so you can also call me Miss Tour Guide!

On my last trip to Phuket, I arranged for me and my friends to stay at Indochine’s new resort, Indochine Phuket.

While being scenically perched on the Patong hillside, most of the resort faces open views of the gorgeous Andaman sea. Themes of water, earth and nature elements evidently inspire the resort and rooms, and I also picked up a distinct oriental feel – this is no stranger to the strong signature decor that has moulded Indochine’s restaurants around Asia.

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Depending on what your personality is, this decision could be as good for you as it was for me and my friends – We enjoyed the proximity to Patong without having to live within it, for it is a crazy town that never sleeps.

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A 5-10 min shuttle or taxi from Indochine Resort will get you into the heart of the Patong action, while a 20 min walk for us to Patong was nice and breezy whenever we weren’t too hungry.

If you don’t crave bar-hopping and clubbing, Indochine Resort is saliently self-sustainable. The restaurant is large enough for a royal function and multiple-meal worthy, while the public rooftop pool beckons from day to night. This hotel IS a holiday in itself, and I would have gladly given myself into house-arrest for there was no reason to leave pleasures of the premises.

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If you need a holiday by the sea, here are some rooms you can possibly choose from.

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THE OCEANFRONT STANDARD ROOM could quite possibly, set the standard. Don’t expect a hotel room for all the Oceanfront Rooms are in the format of a villa, and quite self-explanatorily, give you some sort of uninterrupted views of sky and sea.
You don’t get a private pool with this 55 sqm room, but you do get a lovely outdoor verandah to enjoy your holiday views, and a huge stone jacuzzi (great for couples, but I think you could try to squeeze 4 people in it). Plonk yourself into the generous sofa, and use as much of the free wifi room as you want.

Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT STANDARD HERE.

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THE OCEANFRONT SUPERIOR ROOM sits 109 sqm wide, on the ground floor of Indochine’s resort/community/empire. Enjoy the jumbo-sized jacuzzi (it’s so big I would unofficially presume this to be somewhat of a private pool), and plenty of space on your outdoor terrace for sunbeds and lazy daytime lounging. Or, you can watch all the sky-sun-sea action from the inside comfort of your air-conditioned room, as your gaze extends beyond massive glass floor-to-ceiling windows.

Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT SUPERIOR HERE.

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I’m not even halfway done, people! How about THE OCEANFRONT DELUXE ROOM? It’s 70 sqm big, and takes you up to the top floor of the resort. This one comes with both an outdoor jacuzzi and an outdoor shower, so I guess you can’t help being clean in a room like this. If you like multiple showers a day, this is the right room for you! Since you’re on the highest floor here, no one will be peeking down on you… Sea views will be majestic too.

Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT DELUXE HERE.

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THE OCEANFRONT PREMIUM DELUXE ROOM is where I spent most of my time in Indochine. Whoever said life is hard, certainly wasn’t me! A grand space of 160 sqm offers an outdoor jacuzzi along with a private plunge pool. Some people have all the luck, huh?

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Info and reservations for OCEANFRONT PREMIUM DELUXE HERE.

If you’re going to take your time in Phuket (and why not, I say!) and want something a bit more modern, you could very possibly find yourself quite comfortable in Indochine Phuket’s GAYA STUDIO. Feel at home with cooking amenities here when you’re not gorging yourself on the resort’s culinary treats, and I love the indoor to outdoor decor touches and sofas where I can let my hair down and put my feet up.

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Slide a bedroom panel open and you’ve fallen into your living room. Slide another panel to reveal a kitchenette, and the double rainshower in your bathroom is just around the opposite corner.

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Did we just fly through space and time, from Oriental to European living? Yes we did. This is the modern beach bum’s home, truly… Kick back among the clean whiteness, and give range to a lifestyle of ocean infinity.

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Info and reservations for GAYA STUDIO ROOM HERE.

Another easy option would be to ditch the city life for a OCEAN SUITE CONDOMINIUM room in Indochine, available in a 2 or 3 bedroom format. I trekked up some stairs to visit this duplex style sea-facing unit, and loved how the lower level is great for entertaining friends or clients. A wide living room area makes great DVD nights, and I know I wouldn’t resist turning down a dinner invitation at this dining table. Keep your private time to yourself with a separate space on the second level, for no one needs to see your mess – nor you in your bathtub where you obviously look your best.

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Info and reservations for OCEAN SUITE CONDO HERE.

I’ve saved the best for last, which is also most popular for groups of friends who can’t bear to be apart. Welcome to the extravagant selection of pool villas at Indochine. This one was so tranquil, you could close your eyes and almost hear the trillions of salty drops come together as one, magnificent, never-ending ocean.

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The roomy pool deck seemed to go to waste this afternoon with just one little person, reading one magazine.

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A slightly hidden turn down some stairs on the side brought me into a play area. Take your winning shot at the dartboard or the table soccer table – there’s no room in this room for losers in fooseball!

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A pretty grandiose guest bedroom to be in, I thought… Until I opened the doors to the master bedroom. A jet-filled personal spa awaits its master/mistress. Bubbles and candles seem to be in celebratory order.

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Missing something? Your best friends, maybe. Bring them along!

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(This is another pool villa where some of my friends were staying.)

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Keep to yourself in one of the multiple bedrooms, or commune with your best friends in the living area to get your daily dose of last night’s gossip. When you’re done laughing at that drunkard’s antics (there’s always that one drunk!), roll outside in the sunshine for a dip in the pool. Grab your sunscreen, iPad or earphones, or you could just climb onto the rooftop to watch.

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There’s just so much to do in Indochine’s pool villa, it would take you from daytime chilling to night star-gazing – my friends have personally made the breezy poolside area a drinks-dispensing dance floor.
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The food at Indochine’s Resort is really good as well, and we were addicted to their Viet beef noodles. Me and my friends ate this about 4-6 times over our stay! I could barely believe how we were eating our way through the hotel. The duck crispy noodles and starter platter are worth mentioning and tasting as well.

Indochine is renown for its F&B group after all, and they take such pride in their food and where it comes from. No endangered species like Yellowfin and Bluefin tuna are served, and Chef Stuart Hickman is no stranger to the resort and fine dining world of French, Mediterranean and Modern Australian cuisine – in fact, my taste tests assure that he’s got the plate pat down.

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Whether you’re looking for peace or a party, you could probably find it all in Indochine Resorts.

Thank you Indochine Phuket for a splendid stay while you were hosting me. If anyone wants me to recommend or book the best oceanfront room for you, feel free to get in touch with me.

*Every room is unique – Please confirm all above-mentioned amenities with resort management when booking your desired room.

This is an advertorial for Indochine Resorts, Phuket. Create your own oceanfront experience by choosing one of the rooms above!

Spending a week in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia is heartbreaking, but will make you a better person

I love my country, but Singapore is getting too glitzy and I know I need to shake myself out of this spoilt bubble that I’ve created around me. Singaporeans like me spend hundreds of dollars on taxis every month, and it has become so normal to watch my friends or overseas visitors spend anywhere from $2,000-$30,000 a night at my favourite nightspot haunts. Having my own business now means that I need to better appreciate the value of money, so I am taking a break with my parents to visit their friends in Cambodia. I need to escape this unhealthy perspective that I sometimes create for myself in my comfort zone at home.


Phnom Penh is much cleaner and has a surprisingly slightly westernized landscape. My days here are easily filled with $3-5 meals in beautiful restaurants, $1-2 coffees and drinks at spacious alfresco settings and conversations with a substantial number of expatriates – mostly sent here to work with the government, business projects and NGOs.


With the strength of my US dollar or Singapore dollar, it is simply impossible to be disappointed with $2 clothes at The Russian Market or Central Market, sleeping in $40 boutique hotels, or enjoying $9 per-hour massages at fine spas.


(Cambodia… #likeaboss)


In the rural countryside, the clouds are much nicer and there is lots of space. Locals tread under the searing sun and atop raw sandy land, going about their day to day.

It’s common to see motorcycles carrying trays of heavy and bulky items, or 3 adults clutching each other as scarfs and hats shade most of their face. Skinny cows or cats roam the land, and young children beg me everyday for food or money. Some are commonly run by begging syndicates and by giving in to one person, you are usually just disappointing 100 others. I want to give them all the dollars I have, but I know that’s not the way to help get them off the streets. The Cambodians need more than just money to break their poverty – they need a lot of support, jobs, education, love and probably a miracle.


Sure, people see that the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Cambodia and Laos) is dirty and backward, but when I look at Cambodia with my heart instead of my eyes, I see so much more.


(Challenge your compassion – go back in time and witness the horrors of humanity at the Genocide museum and The Killing Fields.)

The Cambodians are lovely people, albeit shy and fearful – oppressed by the unfortunate circumstances that toppled their once glorious kingdom. They were the second richest empire next to the Roman empire! How could so many problems happen to one country in such a short period of time? I am deep in sad thought as I sit in my wonderful air conditioned first class bus and eat my Twisties.

It’s one thing to see pictures or read books, but being present here will fill you with genuine understanding and clear impact of the change that the nation needs.
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(Still in Cambodia on the way to Siem Reap… More stories and pictures to come soon.)

Wondering and wandering… Guatemala

Just found a beautiful homemade video my cousin created of his trip to Guatemala, and I’m living vicariously through his lens.

Mexico has always been one of the top travel destinations in my wishlist! I’m totally jelly. Have YOU been? Did you like it?

From Asia to Africa: Finally! Updates from my little brother on his environmental science research trip in Inyonga, Tanzania

Travel blogging on behalf of my brother, a young Singaporean scientist, from Asia to Africa

It’s been more than a week since my little brother left for Africa, where he will be living and working for the next 2 months. I finally heard from him since he called last night… He’s alive!

Things are good, he says. He is in a really remote place, so obscure that I would not even be able to imagine what it looks like. “Even more remote than the kampong Mom and Dad used to live in back in the old days.” The electricity is powered by generators, and these generators are usually something that only the rich can afford. So in order for the office (that I report to) to have electricity, someone has to have the money to afford the generator, and someone else has to most importantly – turn it on. They only turn the power on in the evenings on some days – I hope they turn it on tomorrow so I can charge my phone. The battery is running out and I can probably only talk to you for 30 minutes more.”

I cradle the phone beside my ear listening to him and slouch back on the couch I am on, looking around my room. I pick up my iPhone, it is at 5% power, and I plug it into the electric outlet in front of me and turn on my ceiling fan. Almost as lazy as the whirr of my fan, I mumble back to my brother, “Yeah, totally can’t imagine”. We are so lucky in Singapore to have everything we could ever need at our fingertips.

“You sound tired,” I was a bit worried. “Everything alright?” He admits he is tired, he is sleeping in the game reserve and walks 20KM almost every day to set camera traps and collect data. He and some other local Africans are doing this together and the huge plus point is that he gets to see many animals roaming around. “I saw a wild giraffe the other day. It was unbelievable. It was just chilling out.”

They can only cook their food when they set up a fire, which they do at night. Most days he doesn’t get to have any lunch, breakfast is if anything is left over and dinner is made out of wild vegetables and anything else he and the Africans can gather along the way. “I don’t think anyone we know will ever eat what I am eating here everyday.”

The weather is very nice in the day, and gets a bit cold at night. “I’m looking forward to fishing in Zanzibar, before going to Uganda. Then it’s back to London for Uni.”

My brother interrupts our phone conversation as an African man wants to talk to him. I hear him speak some Swahili – very cool! I heard some basic things like habari (hello), samahani (sorry), la asante my friend (no thanks). “What was that about?” I was curious. “Dude, I hope I’m not making them angry. Water is so precious to them and apparently when I do my laundry, I use too much (water). I think they want to help me wash my clothes.”

My brother hates going into the local town, where he sticks out like a sore thumb – All the locals stop to stare at him and he feels like a complete outsider. “I am positive they have never, ever, seen an Asian in their life”. He is much more comfortable when he is in the bush, far away from people, among the animals.

I told him I always knew he was born to be wild.

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If you’d like to see more stuff about my wonderful little brother you can check out some of my other blog posts about him –
My brother the braveheart in Man VS Fish, Australia.
From Asia to the Amazon

Questioning Villas: Crimson Resort and Spa, Mactan via Cebu Pacific Air

Villas. There isn’t as many words in the world that I love as much as this – not only as the second syllable rolls off my tongue, but for it’s underlying significance to ‘relaxing’, ‘having a holiday’, or ‘being by a beach’.


(The iconic Filipino boat with extra side wings for stability in the rough seas.)

Hello, Villa.

Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan does offer villas of sorts, and although I did not stay in one, the introductory accommodation (Deluxe Room) I was in already felt like it. I was officially on a relaxing holiday by the beach.







(Soap on seashells, woody interiors with earthy orange tones, Island-inspired decor and handicrafts as lighted lamps, all in a vicinity of newly trimmed lush gardens – the fresh air and little touches remind me that I’m not in the city anymore. The resort was all very romantic and also made me wish I was in love.)


I sat cross-legged and fully relaxed in my Verandah, squinting at the shiny sun and lush gardens that traced the edges of the evenly-stoned walkway in front of me. I rubbed my eyes – wait – how did I even get here?

I left work at 11pm, and Cebu Pacific Air got me directly from Singapore to Cebu in less than 4 hours via a daily midnight flight – almost as quick as it takes to say… “Mabuhay”!


Facebook page at Cebu Pacific Air SG
Tweet @CebuPacificAir

I was ready to take on a day of seeing Cebu. Although… My hair… It was a mess; and my head was still in a slight daze from waking up an hour too early (Damn you iPhone auto-correct timezones… You are not correct!). Some people say they wake up on the wrong side of bed – but as mine was soft, queen sized, full of plush pillows and in total, too comfortable, I guess I woke up in the wrong timezone instead.

(I love it when a hotel provides a full set of 2×2 pillows, and another 2 for good measure/decor. The blanket wasn’t the fluffy-thick sort with feather down that I love, but it was enough to shield me from bad dreams.)

My Deluxe Room is selling on the official Crimson website for 1,100 PHP/$230 SGD based on 1 room/2 person occupancy (max 5 pax), incl breakfasts, but not incl service charge and taxes.

Munching in my pyjamas and on my nutty banana bread that I squirreled off my Cebu Pacific flight, I must have looked like one as I grasped the bread with both my hands, cheeks completely chock-full, and eyes wide open. I barely managed a reciprocal smile as every single hotel staff who strolled past in front of me greeted me cheerily.

“Good morning/afternoon/evening ma’am!”

I heard not once, but always with resounding enthusiasm throughout my stay, even when we checked in at 5am. Clear internal training or pure friendly Filipino hospitality? This was a close tie.


I also tested the housekeeping and guest services for 3 bottles of water, one vanity kit consisting of cotton wool + buds and one towel – the delivery (driven via a golf buggy) was accurate and within 10 minutes. Being the klutz that I am, I also got locked out of my room – twice – and had to wait for and wave down the next staff who passed by. This always took seconds and help always came within minutes. Since my day job works me around the clock in a Singaporean 5-star hotel, I know the endless efforts that go behind excellent service, and I definitely appreciated every bit of it.

The food was good too, with buffet breakfast dished out with everything from muesli, cheeses, and cooked-to-order eggs, to local selections like fried danggit.

There was staff on hand, ready to cater to requests of dietary requirements and coffee tea. Amidst our activities that day, we also squeezed in their newly launched beachfront BBQ buffet dinner, complete with cultural show-fire twirling-dancing.

I couldn’t keep my comments to myself. Halfway through the fire-twirling session and a second glass of Chardonnay, I plagued the Area Manager – James – with questions, suggestions and feedback, sometimes touching on how he could improve the place. He looked at and listened to me, nodding with a smile as I went down another round of constructive criticism.

“You have such a lovely place! You already have a little beachfront bar with mood lighting, why not bring in some sofas or daybeds and create a Balinese Kudeta-style vibe? Fill up the cocktail menu and turn the music up… I’m sure your guests will love a late-night option.” I gushed and pushed, sparkling with gusto.

“I think so too – guests tell me they want more fun but when I start a party, they complain that the music is too loud.” The Area Manager explained. “What should I do?”

I was indignant about my beach lounge party. “They have a villa! Ask the boring sleepy couples to go back to their villas for some something-something. Isn’t that what villas are for?”

This was definitely a resort fit for falling in love.

*****END OF TRAVELOGUE*****

The Crimson Resort and Spa, Mactan is also TripAdvisor’s 2012 Winner of the Certificate of Excellence. Thank you to the staff at Crimson Mactan for an easy stay.

Thank you to the lovely team from Cebu Pacific Air for getting me there. Cebu Pacific Air is one of the national carriers in Philippines, offering some pretty great year-round fares for all flights. They not only fly from Singapore to Cebu, but to Manila, Clark and very soon – Iloilo (a new route opening November 2012)!

Cebu Pacific Air – click here for a uniquely upbeat flying experience

What to do in Cebu? Subscribe here for more blog posts and pictures from my trip.

Lufthansa economy class airfare promotion – SG to New York, for a Delicatessen Bliss

I still vividly remember my weekend in New York last year as I stopped over on the way back from North Carolina – it was a lucky break from a business trip with my previous job. First on my American travel menu – FOOD.

I remember wondering about the place as I wandered around the place – elevating myself to The Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center (apparently a much better view than the Empire State building?), eating as much yummy streetside snacks as I could stomach, and the late night catch ups for cheeky drinks with new friends and old… when I wasn’t being stuck in endless yellow taxi traffic jams..!!

(With Ben at SKY ROOM – was a lot like Singapore’s Lantern/One Altitude/Overeasy – great views and good after-office crowds.)

Heavenly meals could be found in Hell’s Kitchen, and late night supper at K-Town was everyone’s plan after partying.

One weekend in the Big Apple was barely enough, yet enough to win my heart! (I won’t list them out but) I fell in love with all the things that I did, and felt a fiery desire to return one day and try everything that I didn’t before.

For firsts, NYC had the best brunches and this big city was all about the finest food galore.

(My cousin brought me for a swank Soho brekkie at Sanctuary T. I adored the brie cheese toast and a green tea magarita helped to kickstart my morning motor.)

But then, there was time for theatre, shopping strolls, walks in Central Park…
I relished the grandest church I had ever seen, right within the lighted delights of Times Square.

The city didn’t sleep, and neither did we!


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Why am I abruptly re-living my love for New York?

Just found that there is a special promotion to try New York’s wide delicatessen selection by flying on the Lufthansa A380 from Singapore to New York via Frankfurt – for an all-inclusive fare of S$2053.

The economy class ticket purchase includes a free business lounge pass* so wonderers/wanderers/food seekers can enjoy fresh snacks, beverages and WIFI before their flight back to Singapore. THIS OFFER ENDS 15 JUNE 2012 – you should grab it while you can, though I can’t. Really really wish I could go and get lost in The Big Apple again! ;-(

Lufthansa’s SG-NYC promotion conditions: Travellers must depart between 17 June 2012 and 30 September 2012, and return between 17 June 2012 and 30 December 2012. Flights must originate from Singapore and only one transfer in either Frankfurt or Munich is allowed in each direction. Turnaround open-jaw is permitted. Please note that an advanced purchase period of seven days is required. Terms and conditions apply.

This does not even begin to describe my wonderlust of a wandering weekend in New York.

New York, I love you. Maybe one day you’ll love me too ❤

Above airfare promotion ending 15 JUNE can be booked online at Lufthansa's link here.