Southeast Asia Travel Notebook, Art & Summer Edition

All That Fall, a theater performance at this year's George Town Festival

 George Town Festival

There's no point in traveling to Southeast Asia if you don't imbibe the local culture – and not just the thousand-year-old bits, we mean the parts that take both old and new to make something both grounded in tradition and surprisingly relevant to hip visitors.

You'll find such experiences in many different ways: in colonial-era hotels that mix heritage and modern amenities; in festivals that convert a historic district into a 360-degree arts stage; and in boutique accommodations on the cutting edge of both design and service.

We've rounded up three time-sensitive updates that fit the bill, relevant between July to October 2016. Proceed to the next few pages to find out more.

01 of 03

Hanoi, Vietnam: Historic Metropole Hotel Entices Summer Travelers.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi swimming pool
Image courtesy of Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, used with permission

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is one of a short list of hotels that actually lives up to its grandiose name. First opened in 1901 by French hoteliers, the Metropole has since welcomed a glittering sequence of guests that includes Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Joan Baez, Jane Fonda, and Francois Mitterrand.

Restored to the French colonial style, the Metropole offers a retro Euro-Vietnamese experience within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. While the Metropole ranks as one of the Vietnam capital's more pricey accommodations, the management has seen fit to bring rates down for the summer, with a new promotional package.

From July 5 to September 15, the Metropole's “Midsummer Night’s Dream” promotion brings rates down to US$ 225++ per room per night (for a minimum two-night stay), inclusive of a one-way airport transfer in the hotel's classic limousine; daily breakfast for two; 60-minute spa treatments for each of two adults sharing a room; and a reduced rate for a second room for kids under 16 years of age.

The Metropole isn't just a springboard to Hanoi's attractions, it's an attraction unto itself: if beating the summer heat at the hotel's pool garden (pictured here) doesn't cut it, travelers can explore the recently-unearthed Vietnam War-era bomb shelter.

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02 of 03

Penang, Malaysia: George Town Festival Turns Historic District into Art Stage.

Snuff Puppets from Australia
Image courtesy of George Town Festival, used with permission

The George Town Festival kicks off this 29th of July, marking its seventh straight year of staging Malaysia's most anticipated arts event with community-centric initiatives, intriguing talks, and (naturally) performances that will blow your socks off.

Over a hundred arts showcases will make an appearance in this year's Festival line-up, among them Triptyque by Canadian group Les 7 doigts de la main; the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's George Town debut, showcasing Australia's top comedic talent; Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s “Strandbeests” walking installations; hand-crafted Australian Snuff Puppets; and the two-day A+SEAN showcase that shines a spotlight on some of the best art talents from Australia and Southeast Asia.

Academics will enjoy a series of discussions by practitioners like award-winning Cambodian film director Rithy Panh and Burning Man Festival co-founder Larry Harvey.

The George Town Festival begins on July 29 and ends on August 28, encompassing the entire George Town historical quarter in the Malaysian state of Penang. For the full festival lineup, visit their website

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03 of 03

Singapore: An “Ultimate” Experience You can Share.

Interior of klapsons Boutique Hotel
Image courtesy of klapsons Boutique Hotel, used with permission

klapsons (lowercase k intended) is a Singapore boutique hotel that combines luxury hospitality services with cutting-edge contemporary design. Located at Singapore's central business district and within walking distance to the historic Chinatown district, klapsons The Boutique Hotel offers 17 rooms with individualized designs, ensuring no two guests share the same cookie-cutter experience of the property.

From July 11 to October 31, klapsons' “The Ultimate klapsons’ Experience” (UKE) offers a choice of two tailor-made packages, with a 30 percent discount on the best available daily room rate. Both packages offer extended stays between 11 to 17 nights, with a choice of staying in one room or experiencing each of klapsons' unique rooms per night.

Best of all, the UKE is transferable – you can arrange to share the experience with fellow travelers.

“The Executive Experience” starts at SGD 1800++ for 11 nights, while the “Ultimate klapsons’ Experience” starts at SGD 3600++ for 17 nights.

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