Penroads: Connecting Solo Travellers

It’s always fascinating to hear of tales of friendship sparked by solo journeys to faraway lands. But what if you aren’t a social butterfly and need a little extra help in making friends with other travellers? The Penroads application does just that.


We realised that we could start making friends before, or even while planning, a trip. Here’s how to do it: simply key in your travel destination, arrival and departure dates, and the app will show you a list of travellers whose travel plans coincide with yours. All it took us was a few seconds and we had a list of potential friends and travel buddies awaiting our trip.

Screen shot 2015-09-03 at PM 03.29.55

With this app, we embraced the concept of social travelling and could make plans with people we’ve never met in the flesh- yet. The app’s chat room function enabled us to make contact with our new found friend(s), where we can then discuss travel itineraries and plan for activities together.

So join the community with us to seek out adventures with other soloists travelling to your destination!

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All you need to know about Shine Festival 2015 in 2 minutes!

If you’re in Singapore, chances are, you’ve probably heard about Shine Festival happening tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know in just 2 minutes (or less)!

  1. Party away

Shine Festival a youth festival slash open street party and urban playground, hosted by the National Youth Council. This free 3-day event will feature both international and local celebrities, meet-and-greets, as well opportunities for participants to get involved in performances and competitions. More on these activities in a bit! But first, be prepared to…

  1. Ditch the car

Or at least, don’t expect to be able to drive along Orchard on Saturday (11 July)- it’ll be closed from 6 to 11pm. The area affected is the segment between Scotts Road and Bideford Road as well as the carriageway of Mount Elizabeth in the direction of Orchard Road.

For Friday and Sunday, it probably won’t be a good idea to drive either since there’ll be much competition for parking spaces as the festival will be ongoing.

Now, onto the highlights of the festival…

  1. Turn it up

A large part of this festival will be on music and dance. You’ll get to see the likes of Shigga Shay, Arden Cho, Charlie Lim and many more. Plus, you can sign up for the show choir competition too!

  1. Urban Sports

Marvel at freestyle football, slacklining, freerunning and more. Also, pick up a few tricks from Football Freestyle World Champion himself!

  1. Get Artsy

There’ll be a 3D art installation, an interactive tunnel, a graffiti competition with Shigga Shay, and more for the creative and artsy folks out there!

  1. Local Talent

Get to see 987 stars and djs, pick up a tip or two from them, and don’t forget to hang out with the Night Owl Cinematics crew!

Here’s an infographic of all of the activities and locations:

shine festival

For specific timings of competitions and activities, visit this link here:

Have fun!

Image courtesy of:

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4 Tokyo Shopping Districts for the Uninitiated

1. Shinjuku

img 7012 tokyo shinjuku sanchome kosaten - shopping dining business and entertainment district crossing

With lights, sounds, and throngs of people, the Shinjuku area looks perpetually busy- chaotic, even. A renowned shopping district that is among the country’s largest, this is perhaps the best place to start your exploration of Tokyo’s shopping and fashion culture. Department stores, electronic stores, book stores, etc.; you name it, Shinjuku probably has it.

2. Shibuya


This is THE place to be if you are young and trendy. With countless fashion stores, the youth of Japan head to Shibuya for their fashion buys. The most popular department store in the area? The Shibuya 109. This building is the place to visit when you’re visiting the area, especially for fashion-conscious females. With floor after floor of women’s boutiques, this is the place of every shopaholic’s dream.

3. Harajuku


This is the influential fashion district where trends are set by Japanese teens experimenting with cosplay or kawaii lolita dresses, especially along the well-known Harajuku Bridge. So give yourself a Japanese-style makeover with the many boutiques along Harajuku, offering a variety of apparels just as diverse as the fashion choices of teens along the street itself.

4. Ginza


A large upscale shopping district, this is probably the place for the hip and wealthy. But don’t let that throw you off- as much as haute couture reigns here with elaborate branded boutiques (think Prada and Dior), this area has equally many stationery and down-to-earth craft stores. This mix of stores makes Ginza unique; a district that allows you to experience both the high fashion flamboyance, as well as the dedication of local craftsman.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): photopassjapan, japlanning, Harajuku foursquare, Ginza foursquare.

Visit for more places to go when in Tokyo!

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Phuket Photo Essays You Should See

For those planning to explore Phuket, here’s a compilation of photo essays that capture various sides of the Thai province that is well-loved by travelers.

From Fly See Stay:flyseestay

This photo essay mainly captures the beauty of nature in Phuket with shots of the clear waters and limestone cliffs, along with images of floating villages and the locals there. Oh, and the author sneaked in a picture of the notorious Patong area as well.

Full photo essay here: Fly See Stay

Best Beaches in Phuket >>>

From Bowdy Wanders:bowdywanders

With many pictures of the places of worship and the beautiful details in their architecture, this photo essay shows a side of Phuket that is different from the ‘sun, sand and sea’ stereotype, although some pictures of the latter is included as well.

Full photo essay here: Bowdy Wanders

Viewpoints in Phuket >>>

From Notes From A Big World:


Perhaps not the prettiest or most professional of pictures, but this photo essay that focuses on Phuket’s transportation system is worth viewing nonetheless, as it captures the vehicles that locals use, providing insight to their daily lives.

Full photo essay here: Notes From A Big World

5 Things To Do In Phuket >>>

From Monkey Abroad:


This photo essay is very ‘real’- compiled over a period of 6 months by a foreign teacher who lived and worked in Phuket. It shows everything from the beaches to the temples to the nightlife, and is probably the closest to how the locals would see the province.

Full photo essay here: Monkey Abroad

Explore Phuket Nightlife at Patong>>>

Ever been to Phuket? Which was your favorite photo essay? Share your travel stories in the comments below!

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): Fly See StayBowdy WandersNotes From A Big World & Monkey Abroad.

Visit for more places to go when in Phuket!

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Discover Beijing’s 798 Art Zone


The 798 Art Zone in Beijing wasn’t always this artsy. During the war times of decades past, this used to be a military factory district where weapons used to fight the Cold War were constructed.

Now, the complex has been re-purposed for constructions of a decidedly less lethal type- with cafes and galleries springing up to create a hip creative cluster that is perhaps the first of its kind in the Beijing art scene.

btap 3

Beijing Tokyo Art Projects (東京画廊), or B.T.A.P., was one of the original pioneering galleries that established itself in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone. Since its inception in 2002, more galleries have appeared in the district and gradually, the 798 Zone rose as a top spot for art-lovers to gather and to admire art.


B.T.A.P. was started by Yukihito Tabata, with the intention to bring together artists from China, Tokyo and Korea to introduce them to a wider audience, at a time when Chinese contemporary art rose to prominence in the East Asian art scene. Plan a visit while in Beijing and check out the B.T.A.P. website for their upcoming exhibitions and list of artists.

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The 798 district isn’t just about Asian art though; exploring the area will yield a diverse art scene with Western influences too. The Italian-founded Galleria Continua is one example.

galleria 4

With a mission to promote international contemporary art, Galleria Continua was one of the first non-Chinese galleries to establish itself in China in 2004. The gallery’s represented artists range from British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor to Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei to Kosovar Albanian contemporary artist Sislej Xhafa. For the full list of artists and exhibition shows, details are on Galleria Continua’s website.

at cafe

As much as the 798 Art Zone is known for its art, its cafe scene is not to be disregarded either. With cafes being prime hang-out spots for the young and trendy all around the region, the various cafes along the streets of the 798 district add to its hip and vibrant charm.


At Cafe (爱持咖啡) is one of the cosy coffee joints around the 798 area, providing cafe fare and a nice chill-out spot for tired travellers. Bricks, greenery and cushions decorate the interior, and there are magazines at the shelf below the counter for browsing as well.


If you’re hungry, grab a bite at Timezone 8, a popular cafe and restaurant in the 798 zone that serves well-loved Japanese food. Sushi, anyone?


From the terrace to the brick interior and artwork-adorned walls, this establishment not only offers good food but plenty of Instagram-worthy backgrounds too, making it a great place to end your exploring with a delicious meal and a few photos in memory of your artsy travels.

P.S. Want to discover more artsy hipster districts? If the 798 zone is Beijing’s hipster hotspot, then Sheung Wan is Hong Kong’s. Read about it here: Explore Sheung Wan, HK’s Hipster Hang-out.

Visit for more places to go when in Beijing!

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): Davidmcb@devianartMask9, Tokyo Gallery,, slash-parisvisitbeijing, bendibao, tripadvisor, and lumdimsum.

Have insider information or travel stories to share? Contribute to the Travelog blog & engage with travel-lovers like yourself (credits will be given). Email us at to find out more!


Be Wowed by these Shanghai Hotels!

Park Hyatt

hyatt shanghai   


The tallest hotel in Shanghai and one of the tallest in the world, you can be experience being literally on top of the world when you stay at Park Hyatt! The skyscraper hotel also boasts quality service and a luxurious interior design that looks like it could double as an art gallery.

Read more about Park Hyatt here >>

PEI Mansion Hotel

mansion shanghai


Located at the heart of the former French Concession area, Mansion Hotel is China’s first deluxe City Heritage Boutique Hotel. Upon entering, expect to find classical design along with a host of antiques decorating the lobby and corridors. This is one hotel that combines luxury rooms and service with historical flair.

Read more about PEI Mansion Hotel here >>

Astor House

astor shanghai


Book a night at Astor House and you’ll have a chance to stay at rooms once occupied by the likes of Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell and Charlie Chaplin! This hotel was Shanghai’s first, being built more than 160 years ago during the Qing Dynasty in 1846. The interior is elegant and reminiscent of the building’s past, complete with impeccable wooden floors and chandeliers!

Read more about Astor House here >>

Which one of these amazing hotels would you like to stay at?

Visit for more information on places to visit when next in Shanghai.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom):,,,,,

5 Hidden Cafes in Hong Kong with Great Coffee!

Common Ground

common ground


common grounds coffee

Tucked away amidst the busy roads of Shing Wong Street, this rustic cafe is a quiet spot to chill out while escaping the hustle and bustle outside. Once you’re at Shing Wong Street, find the stairway that runs from Caine Road to Hollywood Road and you’ll be able to spot this hidden gem.

Read more on Common Ground here >>


Mansons Lot

mansons lot

mansons lot coffee

Named after Sir Mansons, the first to import cattle to Hong Kong to provide fresh milk whom he felt was key to a good cup of coffee, you can expect fresh and delicious coffee concoctions at Mansons Lot. If you’re in Wan Chai, keep an eye out for this unassuming coffee shop along Swatow Street and hop in for a drink.

Read more on Mansons Lot here >>


Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard



opendoor coffee

Next to a high-capacity traffic route opposite Sun Yet Sen Memorial Park, you’ll discover this peaceful haven of a cafe where you can escape the busy roads. Plus, they have a book sharing concept where you can donate or borrow books while you’re there. What better way to spend a lazy afternoon than with a book and a cup of coffee, right?

Read more on Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard here >>


The Cupping Room

the cupping room


cupping room coffee

When there’s a two-time Hong Kong Barista Championship winner at the helm, you can be sure the coffee at this cafe will be exceptional, from their house blends to single origin espressos. The cosy wooden setting makes this a great spot to relax and hang out with friends as well.

Read more on The Cupping Room here >>





amical coffee

This is perhaps the most ‘hidden’ of all these coffee spots. Located above street level along the trendy Star Street Precinct, the only thing you can spot this cafe by is a small overhanging street sign. Other than great coffee, they also boast a variety of latte art (think cute animals and mustache faces) and a beautiful al-fresco balcony to chill out at.

Read more on Amical here >>


Visit for more information on places to visit when next in Hong Kong.

Images courtesy of (from top to bottom):,,,,,,,,

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