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Hong Kong Debuts Sightseeing Smartcard

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Anyone who visits the world's great cities as a tourist knows it gets expensive making the rounds to all the must-hit sights and spots. Hong Kong is no exception, which is why we were happy to hear that its first smart sightseeing card launches there this month—also the first in China.

Created by iVenture, the company behind similar cards in Australia and Singapore, the "See Hong Kong Pass" ranges from $59-$115, and offers deep discounts at 15 top sights, hop-on hop-off bus access, and even dim sum lunches and a side trip to Maccau.

TODAY Show: T+L 2011 World's Best Winners!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What are the best hotels in the world? Travel + Leisure's features director, Nilou Motamed, shares the winners of this year's annual World's Best survey. Plus, our readers also weigh in on the best cities, cruises, famiy travel, and more. Find a complete list of award-winners here, and start planning your next vacation today!

Qantas, JAL to Launch Low-Cost Domestic Carrier in Japan

eTurbo News |  The Qantas Group and Japan Airlines are believed to be in advanced talks about starting a low-cost domestic carrier in Japan.

A decision is expected this year, although both sides say the proposal has yet to be finalised. JAL says its investigations have been wider than a tie-up with Qantas subsidiary Jetstar.

The talks were put under the spotlight yesterday after the Japanese business paper Nikkei said the venture would be capitalised at between Y=10 billion ($116 million) and Y=20bn and would start next year.

JAL and Jetstar would each hold a 30 per cent stake.

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Virgin America Passengers To Test Google Chromebooks In-Flight

TechCrunch |  Google just announced that it is teaming up with Virgin America to allow passengers to “test-fly” the search giant’s new Chromebook computers for free. Virgin passengers will be able to use the computers onboard their flight and at select airport gates from July 1 through September 30, 2011.

As an incentive, flyers who check out a Chromebook will receive a free WiFi session onboard Virgin America.

Virgin says that at airport gates in San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Boston and in Dallas-Fort Worth will include Google “Chrome Zone” lounges starting this week, where passengers can learn more about the Chromebook and check one out for their flight. Google is also partnering with the Ace Hotel in New York to offer Chromebooks in hotel guests’ rooms.

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New TV Show Helps Travelers Pass as Locals

Some say the mark of a true traveler is being able to pass for a local. But what does it take to become a global chameleon, truly? "Local Currency," a new series on the Plum TV hosted by Mark Ellwood (also a Travel + Leisure contributor) asks that very question—and takes viewers on a hilarious romp around Europe in search of the answer. Mark meets all kinds of opinionated natives, from rock stars to fashion designers, who riotously coach him on how to blend in. First stop: Antwerp, where we learn, among other things, that French fries go best with tartar sauce. Douse them in ketchup, and bingo—you’re branded a foreigner. For more local tips, tricks, and zany encounters, be sure to tune in to Plum this summer.

What’s Your Travel Score?

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Ladies and gentleman, pack your suitcases. Travel is now officially competitive—and that’s a good thing. This week marks the launch of Traxo Travel Score, a new feature from mileage and travel points tracker (and all-around travel organizer) Traxo.com that uses a specialized algorithm to calculate all of your trip information and generate a unique number to crow about.

What does this mean, really? Well, for one, the scene in Up in the Air where George Clooney and Vera Farmiga’s characters one-up each other with who has the most air miles, best hotel benefits, and fattest wallet stuffed with upgrade cards would have been a lot shorter. With TTS, a single number says it all.

But here’s where TTS gets interesting: depending on your score, top travel companies will offer you special perks. The higher your score, the more upgrades, freebies, and extras you’ll rack up from companies like Avis, Briggs & Riley, Virgin America, and South African Airways. Hello, two roundtrip tickets to Cape Town?!

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Should You Pay for Wi-Fi? Airports Explore Tiered Service

USA Today |  For years, one of the top if not the top amenity on many road warriors' wish lists has been free Wi-Fi at the airport. Slowly but surely, it's happening.

Take a look at the USATODAY.com Airport Guides, airport websites, and various commercial and user-generated Wi-Fi directories. You'll see there are now hundreds of U.S. airports offering travelers complimentary wireless Internet access.

San Francisco? Free. Orlando? Free. Seattle, St. Louis and San Jose? Free, free, free. Washington's Dulles and National airports? As of April, 2011, free as well.

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Tweeting My Way Through San Francisco


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Whenever I head out of town, I turn to my small but trusty band of Twitter followers for recommendations in my destination, but I really discovered the power of social media during my visit to San Francisco last month. As has become the norm for me now before any of my trips, in the days leading up to my departure I hashtagged away to glory and beseeched strangers and friends alike for tips.

Soon an itinerary was taking shape (many thanks, @PaperDaydream, @JasleenK, @streetno8, @BeautyNDFeast, @LettuceVeg, and @chiratsu!), incorporating classic landmarks like Lombard Street with restaurants and neighborhoods I never would have found in my guidebook.

 One place that kept making its way onto my Twitter timeline was a sandwich shop called Ike’s Place (3489 16th St.) on the fringes of the colorful, mural-bedecked Mission District. It generated so much buzz in response to my queries that the first thing I did was plug the address into my GPS to make it my starting point.

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Tech Review: T-Mobile G2x Smartphone

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With the advent of the smartphone, finding a cell phone that has access to travel-friendly apps is easy. Nowadays, the real trick is finding one that not only can run all those apps, but also do it seamlessly.

So when I tested out the new T-Mobile G2x, powered by Android 2.2, I was happy to see that it was top notch. The phone, released just a few weeks ago, is a great addition to the slew of new Android-based smartphones. I found the touchscreen to be extremely responsive and on point when making selections and even typing texts. (Though I should admit, I don't think it's quite up to par with iPhone's responsiveness, but that's a feat that seems to be among the biggest challenges for all creators of touchscreens.) Still, the mistakes made while firing off texts were few and far between.

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TODAY Show: Don't Get Hit With Hidden Travel Fees

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Travel + Leisure's features director, Nilou Motamed, breaks down taxes, fees, and surcharges some airlines are burying in the cost of plane tickets purchased through rewards programs.

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