Last week in travel: Lonely Planet reveals best in Asia Pacific for 2019

Pakistan hosts the world’s toughest cycle race, while Edinburgh airport allows luggage pre-check-in, and Ryanair raises green tax by 17%

Amazing nature, the world’s tastiest street food and the richest mixture of cultures. The Asia Pacific is one of the locations in the world which have managed to remain truly authentic. 

 

Margaret River and southern part of West Australia have topped this year’s ranking — Shutterstock Last week in travel: Lonely Planet reveals best in Asia Pacific for 2019
Margaret River and southern part of West Australia have topped this year’s ranking — Shutterstock

Being a large and rather diverse region, it could sometimes be hard to decide where exactly to head. That’s why the experts from Lonely Planet got together and came up with an annual ranking of the hottest places around the area for this year. 

With Margaret River and the southern part of Western Australia being the very best in the ranking, followed by Shikoku in Japan, and the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, the list offers a colourful range for anyone to choose from.  

“From primate-filled jungles to mirage-like lagoons, their recommendations reflect a part of the world increasingly determined to protect its most prized possessions at the same time as it charges whole-heartedly into the future,” Lonely Planet said in the official ranking.

Lonely Planet’s Best of Asia Pacific for 2019

  1. Margaret River & Southern WA, Australia
  2. Shikoku, Japan
  3. Bay of Islands & Northland, New Zealand
  4. Singapore
  5. The Cook Islands
  6. Central Vietnam
  7. Fiji
  8. Palawan, Philippines
  9. Beijing, China
  10. Cambodia

Edinburgh airport will allow passengers to check in their luggage the night before their flight

Passengers travelling from Edinburgh can soon have some extra free time. As a part of a month-long trial, the airport will allow passengers to check in their luggage the night before their flight.

The service will be available free of charge to Ryanair passengers who are staying at the Hampton by Hilton Edinburgh airport hotel.

 

Passengers travelling from Edinburgh can soon have some extra free time — jax10289 / Shutterstock. Last week in travel: Lonely Planet reveals best in Asia Pacific for 2019
Passengers travelling from Edinburgh can soon have some extra free time — jax10289 / Shutterstock.

Guests will be asked when checking in if they are flying with Ryanair before 9 am the next morning and be offered the chance to do onsite check-in. Their bags will then be collected by the Edinburgh airport staff.

“Making the journey through the airport as easy as possible is important to us and this trial will make the check-in and luggage part more accessible, meaning passengers can head straight to the departure lounge and start their trip that little bit quicker,” said Adrian Witherow, chief operating officer at Edinburgh airport.

“It’s great that Ryanair and Hampton by Hilton Edinburgh airport have bought into this trial and we’ll be working closely with each other to ensure the service is smooth and efficient. We’re keen to see how it works over the next month before evaluating and deciding on our next steps.”

Emirates launches direct service to Porto

Dubai-based carrier — Emirates — has added a second Portuguese destination to its network. On Friday, Emirates landed its inaugural flight to Porto launching a direct four-times-weekly service from Dubai.

 

Emirates have added a second destination in Portugal — Shutterstock Last week in travel: Lonely Planet reveals best in Asia Pacific for 2019
Emirates have added a second destination in Portugal — Shutterstock

The airline has selected Boeing 777-200L aircraft for the route with 38 lie-flat seats in business class in a 2-2-2 configuration and 264 spacious seats in economy class.

“Travellers in northern Portugal will now have a convenient and direct flight option to our Dubai hub, from where they can seamlessly access Emirates’ global network, particularly to destinations in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East,” said Emirates’ Thierry Aucoc. 

“This new service also opens up a new and exciting destination for travellers from across our network. 

“Our new service will therefore contribute further to the economic growth of Porto and the wider Northern Region,” he added.

Pakistan hosts world’s toughest cycle race

The stages of the Tour de Khunjerab might not be as long as the ones of Tour de France, but the cycle race in Pakistan is unique in its own way. With the finish line lying almost 5,000 metres above sea level, it is most likely the toughest in the world. 

In comparison to the famous French counterpart, there is one fundamental difference. The Pakistani Tour starts at 1,500 metres above sea level, and never stops climbing. With the oxygen levels decreasing during the race, it demands a special kind of athletes.

This year some 88 highly trained cyclists, including two teams from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as well as solo participants from Spain and Switzerland, took part in the race. Less than a half of them managed to complete it within the allotted time.

Named after the Karakoram mountain range, the route leads through an extraordinary landscape often nicknamed the Roof of the World. 

The last stage of the race emphasises its difficulty. It starts at 2,800 metres which is higher than the Iseran Pass, the summit of the Tour de France. The stage ends at 4,700 metres, just over 100 metres short of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain.

“No doubt it is the toughest cycle race in the world. We are aiming to make it our trademark,” said Haroon General, president of the Pakistan Cycling Federation.

“The most difficult part of the race is the final stage where cyclists face shortage of oxygen and there is risk of heart issues… At such an altitude a person falls down (faints) after running for 200 metres, but our cyclists travelled for almost 59 kilometres,” he said.

This year’s winner — Najeeb Ullah from Pakistan — told AFP that breathing was a “problem” for him in the final climb.

“I had to face a lot of difficulties while reaching the finishing line,” he said.  

General added that five ambulances were on standby in case of emergencies in the final stage.

 “A majority of the cyclists made it but the support staff needed ambulances,” General said. 

Ryanair raises tax burden by 17% 

Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier — Ryanair — has decided to reveal the percentage of the environmental tax for 2019.

 

Ryanair wants to  “dispel the myth that aviation does not pay environmental taxes” — Dmitry Birin / Shutterstock Last week in travel: Lonely Planet reveals best in Asia Pacific for 2019
Ryanair wants to “dispel the myth that aviation does not pay environmental taxes” — Dmitry Birin / Shutterstock

The airline will raise it by 17 per cent and claims that they make the information public to “dispel the myth that aviation does not pay environmental taxes.”

Ryanair claims that over €540m in environmental taxes were paid in 2018 and the carrier expects it to rise to €630m this year. This paid amount is expected to be €4.12 per passenger which is 11 per cent of Ryanair’s average ticket price.

“Ryanair is Europe’s greenest / cleanest major airline with the youngest fleet and highest load factors,” said Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs. 

“Our CO2 per passenger/km for June 2019 is 66g, almost half the rate of other flag carrier European airlines.”