Warning of the week: Thailand
The present strife in Bangkok, which has seen the closure of both of the city's airports, has caused the Foreign Office to rush out this warning: "The political situation in Thailand is very uncertain. If you plan to visit Thailand you should consider the present situation when making your decision. You should exercise caution, avoiding any demonstrations or large gatherings of people."
However, the current conflict in the capital should not obscure longer-term issues about the overall risks in Thailand. For several years, the Foreign Office has issued strident warnings about the dangers of terrorism in the south of the country: "Since January 2004, there have been almost daily attacks in the far south. These include arson, bombings and shootings. Targets have included civilians and members of the security forces, government office, tourist hotels, discotheques and bars, shops, marketplaces, supermarkets, schools, transport infrastructure and trains. Over 3,000 people have been killed and several thousand more injured."
Destination of the week: Kuala Lumpur
The news that Air Asia (airasia.com) is going ahead with its long-promised flight from Stansted to the Malaysian capital (above) is great news for travellers – even if you fly on a rival airline.
The closest parallel is the effect that Oasis Hong Kong Airlines had on the London-Hong Kong market. Fares on the new airline's rivals fell, to the point where there was very little difference between the traditional carriers and the upstart. Partly because of fierce competition, Oasis went bust earlier this year.
A test booking for just after Easter 2009 yielded a fare of £463 return. This is below fare levels on Malaysia Airlines (0870 607 9090; malaysia-airlines.com), which may, in response, cut fares on its frequent services from Heathrow and Manchester to Kuala Lumpur.
Download of the week: City breaks in vision
When planning your next weekend break, bear in mind that The Independent offers the widest range of high-quality, free-to-view video films of any UK national newspaper. Video versions of our 48 Hours series are available for San Diego in California; Fez in Morocco (above); Léon and Zaragoza in Spain; and Singapore. In addition, you can see our series Twin Tracks: a Tale of Two Travellers, in which Ben Ross and Simon Calder make the same journey by very different means. In the first, they travel across the dramatic and historic landscapes of northern Spain; in the second, they seek out the best that the cities and coast of Flanders have to offer. See independent.co.uk/travel.
Bargain of the week: maps and guides for less
If you're in London or Bristol on a Thursday evening before Christmas, save a fifth on the price of maps and guides at Stanfords (020-7836 1321; stanfords.co.uk) in Long Acre, London WC2, and Corn Street, Bristol. The now-traditional free wine and 20 per cent discount is available from 6pm on 4, 11 and 18 December (London store to 9pm, Bristol to 8pm).