Something To Declare: Shanghai bargan; Jamaica warning; Turin short break
Saturday 08 October 2005
Bargain of the week: low fares to and through Shanghai
Competition to the People's Republic is stepping up, with airlines such as Lufthansa, Finnair and Japan Airlines offering cut-price tickets through their hubs to a range of cities in China. But you can reach the country's biggest city for £340 return through China Eastern (020-7935 2676; www.chinaeastern.co.uk) on certain flights between now and early December.
The same airline is offering very low connecting fares from Heathrow via Shanghai to a range of Asian and Australian destinations. Before December, you could fly to Bangkok, Singapore, Phuket or Hong Kong for under £400 return. Sydney looks even more of a bargain at £440. This even includes a free night in a hotel in Shanghai because the flight connections are not ideal. But availability at this price is patchy.
Warning of the week: Jamaica
This week Jamaica launched a multi-million pound advertising campaign. But how safe is the largest island in the British Caribbean? The Foreign Office, which issued updated travel advice this week, warns of "high levels of crime and violence, including kidnapping". Even getting from the airport looks tricky: "The Mountain View route should generally be avoided. There have also been incidents (including temporary road blocks) on the alternative Humming Bird Route." Outside the capital, "There is a risk in walking alone in isolated areas even in daylight hours."
The new sixth edition of James Henderson's excellent Caribbean & The Bahamas (Cadogan Guides, £14.99) is more positive about Jamaica, though the author concedes that new arrivals are likely to be pestered "Until you get a tan or learn to 'give them the eye'".
"You will be accosted by taxi drivers, higglers (street vendors), hustlers and the occasional Rent-a-dread on the street in Kingston and around the beaches in the main tourist areas."
Henderson says that Jamaica's allure is "the strongest of all the former British Caribbean islands". But he points out that even though many foreign visitors go there for "the sun, sea and the ganja", "there are quite a few foreigners serving time in Jamaica for drug possession".
Destination of the week: Turin
The venue for the 2006 Winter Olympics is an excellent location for a short break this autumn.
Test bookings for later in October, flying on off-peak days on easyJet (0905 821 0905; www.easyjet.com), revealed fares of £31 return from Luton. Ryanair (0906 270 5656; www.ryanair.com) is charging even less, with a fare of £26 return from Stansted. The advantage of travelling with easyJet, though, is that any passengers flying to Turin with the airline before the end of the month can exchange their easyJet boarding pass for a free 48-hour Torino card. This normally costs €15 (£11).
The card gives free admission to more than 130 museums, monuments and castles in Turin and beyond, in the region of Piedmont. Holders also qualify for free public transport - not just on the ordinary buses, but also the TurismoBus Torino, the panoramic lift in the landmark Mole Antonelliana building and the tour boats on the River Po.
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