Thursday 23 August 2012

Keeping Cosy in a Winter Wonderland

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s that time of the year where Singaporeans are eager to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of their lives as well as escape the sweltering heat. Be it jetting off to the Alps for a skiing adventure or Germany’s Winter Markets, it is paramount to be prepared for the sudden change in climate. Insight Vacations’ travel gurus offer 6 tips to stay warm this holiday season.

1. Cover up.

Did you know that three quarters of our body heat is lost through the top of our heads? Coats, scarves and gloves can only do so much. Stay especially toasty by throwing on a winter hat or a jacket with a hood. Keep your ears warm with some cute ear muffs too.

2. Layer it.

When it comes to winter coats, most Singaporeans think, “The thicker, the better”. Rather than piling up in bulky feather-downed jackets, try wearing multiple layers of thin clothing instead. Choose natural fabrics such as wool, silk, cotton, and cashmere which are just as warm. Layering helps keep the heat sealed in, and is definitely much easier to move around in.

3. Moisturise.
Being in a cold country takes away the luxury of humidity that we experience back home. Increased exposure to the cold air without proper care can lead to dry skin and chapped lips. Bring along an oil-based lotion or moisturiser to hydrate your skin during the trip. They can also be used as a remedy for dry hands or feet. Lip balm or medicated chapsticks which are easily available at pharmacies are good for soothing chapped lips. You will definitely feel the difference!

Hydrating yourself with plenty of water during the day is essential, but what better way to wind down after a long day out than with a hot beverage? Cafédirect’s São Tomé Luxury Hot Chocolate makes a satisfying drink to warm you up and relax your stiff limbs, and is perfect for diehard chocoholics who are watching their waistlines.

5. Socialise.
According to Researchers at The University of Toronto, social exclusion can make you feel colder than if you are spending time with people. Opt for packaged tours that offer a guided winter journey. Make a few new friends and the holiday of your dreams at the same time. Visit to explore their variety of tour packages and maybe even meet new people who are interested in the same destinations (

Book a winter tour with Insight Vacations at the NATAS Travel Fair from 24 August to 26 August and enjoy up to 32% off summer prices, and an additional 5% if you book in groups of 5 to 8. You will also receive a complimentary tin of Cafédirect’s São Tomé Luxury Hot Chocolate and a neck scarf. For more information, please contact 6338 7338, email: , or their website at

Feast Your Eyes in Eastern Europe

Article by Insight Vacations
Article written for

You can never truly appreciate the beauty of Europe until you actually go on a trip there yourself and soak in the sights. I remember one of the most magical trips I had was when I went on a tour with Insight Vacations, to visit the Christmas Markets in Vienna, Prague, and Budapest.

My friend Fiona first enticed me to head to Europe when she showed me photos of the Christmas Markets on her trip there. To quote her vivid description, “the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional market in a winter setting are part of an intangible experience that we cannot find here.” Before I knew it, I found myself booked and ready for a flight bound for Vienna.

Firstly, I have to say that Vienna was truly a feast for the eyes. From our hotel, the Hilton Vienna, we hopped down to neighbouring Stadtpark for a refreshing walk. Gilded statues of musicians, the most famous of which was composer Johann Strauss, were scattered against a picturesque backdrop of flora and fauna.

I could almost imagine the rum-pum-pum of his famous waltzes filling the air as I admired the bronze statue.

Top of the line international designer boutiques, some former purveyors to the Imperial and Royal Court, were just across the park in Kohlmarkt 6 and Kaerntnerstrass, where we enjoyed tax-refundable purchases.

There were several local cafes and gift shops within a stone’s throw of our accommodations as well, and for those who wanted their good ol’ frappe, there was always Starbucks. I could always pop out of my room for some shopping or a drink and be back in a jiffy.

After lunch, we took a short stroll to see fairyland Stefansplatz, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The sheer size of the square and its breathtakingly Baroque buildings were overwhelming. I was enveloped by majestic architectural monuments, a reminder of the monarchical past of Vienna. This was juxtaposed with the liveliness of a modern city as muted laughter punctuated the air. The sources of the revelry were beer gardens and wine taverns on the square, also known as 'Biergartens' and 'Heurigens'.

Juxtaposition of the old and the new in Vienna.

Just looking at this photo makes me feel tiny. Towering at 137m, the Stefansdom Gothic Spire is sure to dwarf even the world’s tallest person.
And of course one cannot forget to stop and capture a few shots of the magnificent statues along the square.

 The impressive view is completely transformed by nightfall.

Doesn't it transport you back to ancient times?

We thought we had seen everything until we walked right into a Christmas scene at Rathausplatz. The centrepiece at this traditional Christmas Market was the towering Christmas tree dazzlingly decorated with fairy lights.

The cornucopia of local crafts and traditional fare, traditional goodies like Bohemian Crystal and classic wooden toys were a feast for the eyes. I shopped to my heart’s content as I gladly gathered goodies to fill the Christmas stockings of my family and friends.

Europe is most definitely a recommended destination for those who love to soak up the awe-inspiring sights of Europe. A special feeling lingers long after you leave these huge bazaars in medieval European towns. This surreal old-world charm is a whole new experience for those of us used to commercialised festive celebrations in Singapore. I had a wonderful time with Insight Vacations, and next Christmas I am definitely joining them again to experience a new kind of magic.