Travel: Something to Declare

THE COLUMN THAT SAVES YOU MONEY
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Warning of the week

Places where you should be careful with that camera

Vietnam: "Don't photograph something that could be militarily sensitive (airports, seaports, military bases, border checkpoints etc). Photography from aircraft is not permitted. Don't even think of trying to get a snapshot of Ho Chi Minh in his glass sarcophagus" - from the new edition of Vietnam (Lonely Planet, pounds 11.99).

Morocco: "Always ask if you want to take photographs of people. Women will usually turn away, and men or children may ask you for money. Keep small coins in your pocket. In Marrakesh you will be asked to pay (3 to 5 dirhams) for photographs of the performers in the main square" - from the new edition of Wanderlust magazine (subscriptions: 01753 620426).

Lebanon: "Various factions can still get a bit overwrought at the thought of Western spies. Do not, for example, try to photograph the Hezbollah HQ at Baalbek, or anywhere that looks like a military training camp" - from the new edition of Travellers Survival Kit: Lebanon (Vacation Work, pounds 10.99).

Currency of the Week

The Malaysian ringgit

Money in Malaysia is versatile, not just a medium of exchange. It also functions as travel advertising. The national carrier, Malaysia Airlines, gets a puff on the 10- ringgit note. You will not need too many of these notes to buy a flight, either: a one-way trip from Kuala Lumpur works out at around 200 ringgits (pounds 35), though you will not be flying on the sleek Airbus A330 pictured on the note.

That fares are so low is due to the Asian economic downturn experienced two years ago. Malaysia was not as badly hit as neighbouring Thailand, and introduced stringent exchange control regulations aimed at protecting the currency. Travellers must fill out declaration forms upon entering or leaving Malaysia. The government hopes tourism will boost earnings and is doing its bit by promoting attractions.

Accordingly, the two-ringgit note carries a picture not of the "World's Highest Building" (the twin Petronas towers) but of the smaller Kuala Lumpur Tower, which has a viewing platform more than 1,000 feet above the city.

Travellers may be confused by the apparent existence of two different currencies: prices may be marked RM5, in the style preferred by the government, or M$5 - hinting at the common name for the ringgit, the dollar. They are the same entity, but it seems Malaysia wishes to differentiate its currency from that of neighbouring Singapore, where the dollar is king.

Destination of the week The Falkland Islands

After a long suspension because of the Pinochet affair, the Chilean national airline LanChile resumes flights from Santiago to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands at 9am, local time, today. The Boeing 737 flights operate via Punta Arenas in southern Chile, avoiding Argentine airspace. The resumption means travellers to the islands no longer have to settle for RAF Tristars and can save considerably compared with RAF fares.

On a trip combining the Colombian airline, Avianca, from Heathrow to Santiago and the flight from there to Mount Pleasant, South American Experience (0171-976 5511) is offering a fare of pounds 805 return.

For a complete package, The Travel Collection (part of Kuoni, 01306 744300), is selling a 10-night holiday for pounds 1,499, including flights, accommodation and full board in the Falklands. The resumption of flights means the islands will hope to attract holidaymakers seeking a millennium break with a difference.

Bargain of the week

August is the time to trade up to business class

Airlines find it hard to fill seats, and come up with some absurdly good deals. Travellers to New York on the Continental Airlines service from Gatwick to Newark on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, can get an outbound BusinessFirst fare for pounds 717 plus tax - less than half the official price - through discount agents such as Quest Worldwide (0181-546 6000).

The inbound fare is higher, but the return trip costing a total of pounds 2,090 is still less than two-thirds of the normal fare.

Comments