Something To Declare: New Year, new flight; Irish savings

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: New Year, new flight

Southern China gets better connected from Britain next month, when Air France (0845 0845 111, opens up the first link from Europe to Guangzhou (Canton) on 5 January. This city will provide a much-needed alternative to Hong Kong. If you want to travel out for Chinese New Year on 22 January, the airline is promising fares as low as £613 return from UK departure points.

Warning of the week: smoking stubbed out aboard all trains in Benelux First, the good news. Anyone who wants to see in the New Year in Brussels - or anywhere else in Belgium - can benefit from some festive generosity from Eurostar (08705 186 186; The usual advance-booking and minimum-stay rules are suspended for the last two trains from London Waterloo on New Year's Eve. As long as you return on 1 January, the fixed price is £59 return (which applies also to the final pair of departures to Paris on 31 December). Also, from 5 January, the Channel Tunnel train operator is to introduce a daily non-stop service between London Waterloo and Brussels Midi. Previously, all trains stopped at Lille.

Plenty of people will use the new services to reach other destinations in Belgium, at no extra charge (your Brussels ticket is valid to any Belgian station). Smoking travellers who enjoyed cigarettes aboard Eurostar until two years ago may well be relishing the opportunity to light up once aboard a connecting train. But, from 1 January, Belgian Railways - and its counterpart in Holland - are to become smoke-free.

Bargain of the week: Irish savings

Ferry companies on the Irish Sea are keen to get your cash in advance for next year's sailings. Book within the next four days, and you can get a 30 per cent discount on a wide range of normal fares aboard Stena Line (08705 42 11 63; from Fishguard to Rosslare, and from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and Dublin. A family of four plus car travelling Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire on the HSS in peak season (out 1 August, back 15 August) will pay £288 return.