Warning of the week: Malaysia
"Violent acts against foreign tourists" are predicted by the Foreign Office for eastern Sabah, the north-eastern region of Borneo that is part of Malaysia. The latest warning, which appears to be based on intelligence reports, is highly specific, warning of "particular concern" about resorts located in isolated parts of eastern Sabah including Semporna and the islands of Mabul and Sipadan. "This includes transportation routes to and from island resorts." There is also a threat of kidnapping facing tourists heading for offshore dive sites. The travel advice points out that the "long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers".
Also in Malaysia, the Foreign Office warns bag-snatching is "common", especially by thieves on motorbikes. "Deaths have occurred where victims held on to their bags." Motorcyclists are also a threat because they do not always stop at traffic lights or pedestrian crossings. Finally, do not open your hotel room door to strangers, even those in hotel uniform, especially at night. "This applies particularly to women travelling alone," says the FCO.
Destination of the week: Fast track to Taiwan
Taipei, the capital of the "Republic of China" (the island of Taiwan) has long been connected with London. For political reasons, though, all flights from the UK have hitherto stopped somewhere en route. Eva Air refuels in Bangkok, while British Airways touched down in Hong Kong (British Airways maintained the fiction, until the route was abandoned, that a separate airline – "British Asia Airways" – actually operated the service).
All that is set to change on 28 March, when China Airlines (020-7436 9001; china-airlines.com/en) launches non-stop flights from Heathrow to Taipei. Note that it is a Taiwanese airline and nothing to do with the large carrier from the People's Republic, Air China.
The Airbus A340-300 is scheduled to take around 13 hours outbound, 15 hours 30 minutes inbound. Returns are available at £524 through the airline's website. Connections to Sydney are available on two days a week (returns in April for £755) and to Bali three days a week (£590).
Bargain of the week: Links to London's airports
Is this the cheapest-ever link to London's airports in real terms? Fifty pence one-way to Gatwick, Luton or Stansted on easyBus. Book at easyBus.co.uk by 8 February, and that is the fare you pay on off-peak services to or from London to these airports between March and October. The company says it has 450,000 seats available at this price. Note that easyBus serves Gatwick's North terminal, making it especially useful for passengers on British Airways, Thomson and some easyJet services.
Alternatively, snuggle up on the Heathrow Express. The UK's most expensive railway, connecting the airport with London Paddington, is marking Valentine's Day with a two-for-one deal on return trips from 11 to 16 February. You must book online at heathrowexpress.com and and use the code HXLOVE.
Tip of the week: Widest-bodied flight to South Africa
Air France is to deploy the Airbus A380 "superjumbo" on Paris-Johannesburg flights from 18 February. Initially these will operate three times a week, and go daily from 28 March. To fill the increased capacity on an African route where France has no colonial heritage, the airline will offer competitive fares from UK airports.Reuse content