How to have a wild time on a Far East trip
Plus: Agriturismi in Sardinia; lessons in Portuguese cuisine; let down by price guarantee
Q We are travelling to Bali for a wedding next July. We are keen to break up the journey and do a stopover for a few days. We have two children, aged 12 and 9, and want to incorporate something they would enjoy, such as a safari.
Leigh Crawford, via email
A If you want to keep costs down and travelling time to a minimum, it would make sense to spend a few days in one of the cities in which you would have to change planes: Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore. From Bangkok, for example, you could take a short flight to Surat Thani and then head for Khao Sok national park (khaosok.com), one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Here you could join a three-day jungle/lake safari, which includes canoeing, trekking, washing elephants at the Elephant Hills sanctuary, visiting a local market and learning to cook Thai specialities. It costs £407 for adults and £204 for children under 15, full board. Or you could spend a few days in Singapore. The night safari (nightsafari.com.sg), a tram ride through nearly 90 acres spotting nocturnal animals as they roam, is one of its most popular attractions. You could also take the cable car to Sentosa island, home to a waterpark, Universal Studios Singapore and a branch of KidZania. For a treat, stay at the beachfront, family-friendly Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa (shangri-la.com) where double rooms start at £291 in July.
Q We are looking for a holiday in Sardinia in late September and need a package that includes flights, accommodation and transfers or car hire. Good agriturismi (farm holidays) are our cup of tea but booking them invariably involves organising all the travel, which we would rather avoid.
John Northover, via email
A The southern Italy specialist Long Travel (01694 722193, long-travel.co.uk) has a selection of agriturismi on working farms. Its prices include car rental and it can book flights. Try Il Frutteto, a collection of five apartments on a farm near Alghero. Its swimming pools will still be open in late September (weather permitting), there’s a well-stocked shop, a restaurant and a shared barbecue. An apartment sleeping two would cost about £1,070 a week in September, including car hire. Or you could stay at Borgo Sixeri, a development of small villas and apartments on a farm on the hillside above Monte Sixeri, with cracking views over the countryside and Alghero town and bay. There are two freshwater swimming pools, a sun terrace and the farm restaurant is at the bottom of the hill, past the pigs and wild boar grazing in the fields. Farm tours are also available. A week in July would cost £1,296 in a one-bedroom apartment through Just Sardinia (01202 484858, justsardinia.co.uk), which can arrange car hire from £270 for the week, as well as flights.
Q My wife and I love Portuguese food and she would like to learn how to cook it. Having visited the Algarve several times, we’re thinking of spending up to a week in northern Portugal next summer, based in Porto perhaps, so that she can spend several days in a hotel, restaurant or cookery school kitchen. Our budget is up to £3,000, excluding flights.
Aidan Elliott, via email
A The Dutch company Paladares Travel (paladarestravel.nl) can arrange bespoke gastronomic tours of Porto. A four-day private cooking itinerary with three days in the kitchen of one of the city’s best restaurants, and three nights’ B&B at a boutique four-star hotel, plus one lunch and a dinner, would cost £622pp, based on two people travelling. While you’re there don’t miss a meal at The Yeatman hotel (the-yeatman-hotel.com), whose restaurant is now the only one in Porto with two Michelin stars.
Julia Brookes is the Travel Doctor
Don’t put up with this
My husband and I booked an easyJet flight and a hotel through Expedia. Within an hour of booking we found the same flight for £19.91 less and the hotel for £91.55 less. I contacted Expedia, which advertises a lowest price guarantee, and was told that this guarantee did not apply because we had booked a package deal. At the very least Expedia should clarify the terms of its guarantees before the booking is finalised; had it done so we would have checked prices elsewhere. This will be the first holiday I have been able to go on for some while due to illness. I feel let down and rather unlucky to say the least.
Heather James, via email
You were unlucky because this was, according to an Expedia spokesman, a simple case of human error. “We are sorry that Ms James was not initially refunded in line with Expedia’s best price guarantee. This was down to a customer service error. We have been in contact with Ms James to issue the refund due and to offer a goodwill voucher. We will also be reviewing our agent training process to ensure that this does not happen again.”