The best craft beer


After a year of extensive research spanning the world's northernmost brewery — Mack in Tromso, Norway (also the world's northernmost brewer of Coca-Cola) — to the world's southernmost craft beerfest (Dunedin), it's obvious the most vital ingredient of handmade beer is a witty, often excruciating, name. Big ups, then, to the lads in the village of Maleny, in the mountains behind the Sunshine Coast, at Brouhaha. Said "brew-haha", it's French for "a noisy and overexcited reaction or response to something". Which is not uncommon with this bloody good beer.

— Ewan McDonald

Best costume party



There was Madonna (Vogue-era), there was Superman, there was a doctor. A scarecrow, a clown and a drag queen. All bar one had four legs. This was Portland, after all, where the catch cry is "keep it weird" and Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without a fancy dress party ... for dogs. I was fresh off the 16-hour journey to get there, jet-lagged and slightly disoriented to land in an unfamiliar city where the unfamiliar people were mostly wearing some kind of costume. I chose to spend the afternoon in brand new hotel The Hoxton, where local dog owners dressed up their pooches and paraded them in front of the judges — including the world's oldest drag queen, Darcelle. I drank potent rum cocktails and pondered if this was real life, or some kind of jet-lag hallucination. The scarecrow (a scrappy terrier) won. Madonna (a blond French bulldog; male) was robbed.

— Stephanie Holmes

Best green cause

The movement against single-use plastic

Will your decision not to use a plastic straw at a beachside bar in Thailand save a single polar bear's life? Probably not. But by getting the message across to hospitality providers around the world and our fellow travellers that single-use plastic must become a thing of the past we can all chip away at a seemingly insurmountable problem. There are no big steps without baby steps first. And, yes, feel free to develop your concern about plastic bags into fully fledged fretting about carbon emissions.

— Winston Aldworth

Best way to lose 100 Macau pataca

The Venetian, Cotai

The Venetian Macao has kilometres of indoor canals. Photo / Getty Images
The Venetian Macao has kilometres of indoor canals. Photo / Getty Images

Macau has been unfairly described as the Chinese Las Vegas. This description fails to do the region justice. It's far wilder, more ambitious and bamboozling than that. At the centre of this is the colossal Venetian Macao — at 980,000sq m it is the largest casino complex in the world. By the time you've finished wandering the kilometres of indoor canals and mock Italian shopfronts, you'll be ready to pay any amount for someone to help you find the exit. The games too are unfathomable. At a baccarat table — one of 800 in the property — it took three Cantonese croupiers and an itinerant waiter-cum-translator to explain the game before relieving me of 100 pataca (roughly $17). Bow, that's real value for money.

— Thomas Bywater

Best TSA experience


American airports are known for their strident security checks and on my first visit since 1995 I was a little nervous. But as I transited from Portland, Oregon to LAX before returning home, it was quite a pleasant experience. PDX has been named the best airport in America for six years running — an honour it's extremely proud of. The TSA agents were almost too nice — especially the guy checking ID in the line I was in. He made a personalised comment to every traveller based on their home town. Being from a more unusual location, I was excited — and wasn't let down.

Well-known Kiwi Brendon Hartley.
Well-known Kiwi Brendon Hartley.

"Tell your countryman Brendon Hartley to never go home," he said as he waved me through.

— Eli Orzessek

Best weird grooming experience

Thanh Barber Shave and Clean Ear, Hoi An, Vietnam

Daniel Simmonds gets his ears cleaned in Hoi An. Photo / Daniel Simmonds
Daniel Simmonds gets his ears cleaned in Hoi An. Photo / Daniel Simmonds

Being prodded by a spike by a 70-year-old, toothless man seems like an unsatisfactory way to spend your time in Hoi An, But it's the most satisfying $2 you'll ever spend. The traditional method of ear-picking is practised widely across Asia; all you need to do is sit back and let your barber have a good clean around using a selection of cotton and bamboo picks. Mr Thanh is the most revered barber in Hoi An, though his lazy eye, manic laugh and toothless smile will have you second-guessing, All doubts dissipate once you see him in action. All icky discoveries found inside your ear are placed on a paper towel in front of you "for your viewing pleasure". The next time you find yourself in Hoi An, be sure to add this one to your checklist.

— Daniel Simmonds

The best holiday job

Arctic Circle

The guy who poses for photos with his reindeer, beside his traditional tepee-style tent, dressed in traditional deerskin costume and wearing traditional Oakley sunglasses near Nordkapp, inside the Arctic Circle in Norway. Every summer he leaves his day job in Oslo for five weeks and goes north to give Mum and Dad a hand with the herd and their souvenir shop. His day job in Oslo? He's one of the country's most renowned — and rewarded — reconstructive dentists.

— Ewan McDonald