the hieno travel

Moikka~Welcome to The Hieno!

the hieno your asian insiders guide to finland

Hi! This is Wan Wei, the founder of The Hieno. The Hieno! wasn’t always a niche blog about Finland. It started as a personal blog in 2013 where I ramble about everything under the sun.

Because I also did blog about my experiences from Singapore to Finland, I started getting regular emails from random Asian tourists. I also started getting lengthy emails from ladies who have fallen in love with Finnish guys, seeking advice on long-distance relationships. In 2016 alone, albeit spending 6 months outside of Finland, I actually hosted many Asian friends on ten separate occasions in Finland!

There is indeed a trend of increasing Asian tourists coming to visit Finland. When I first arrived in Finland in 2014 to study at Aalto University, 99% of locals thought I was either from Japan or China, or that Singapore is in China. This is because there are so few Singaporeans in Finland. We as a nationality are almost a rare commodity! I didn’t even know we have a Singaporean ambassador to Finland until mid-2016. In addition, it is only in 2016 and 2017 that saw a trend of increasing Asian tourists to Finland, especially from East-Asia, Southeast Asia and North Asia.

Which led to an Eureka moment one day in May 2017:

Why don’t I pivot The Hieno! brand such that it becomes an insider’s guide to Finland, specially written for an Asian audience? 

To be honest I NEVER realised the unique problems faced by Asian tourists as opposed to for instance, African, Middle-East or Western travellers. I only found out that Asian tourists faced rather special challenges when I listen to my friends’ experiences in Finland over meals. Then it struck me HOW MUCH they are missing out on as tourists.

Asia of course is a big region. However, some cultures are closer than “the West’s”.

Let me give you just three examples of the pains my Asian friends face when they visit Helsinki:

  1. Cannot read road signs and names because Finnish road names are too long. They can’t even find road signs to begin with because the signs are too small;
  2. Unfamiliarity with random drunk people they meet on public transport;
  3. Unfamiliarity with silence, for certain Asian cultures; etc.

So well, I went ahead to niche down The Hieno! to make it more of a guide to Finland for my Asian friends. You can still find posts related to Singapore though, under “Misc“.

Externally, here are some Finland-related posts I wrote for The Helsinki Times and Good News Finland. I’d been invited for an interview on Expat Focus too, lol!

Enjoy! Would love to hear from you 🙂


  • Reply
    paula parviainen
    March 7, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Hi, we at the Embassy of Finland in Singapore are following your Hieno blog, and see that you have returned back to Singapore, welcome! I am the new ambassador from Finland to Singapore, I moved here from Beijing last September, but I lived here already in the 90’s (that’s being old!) .We are planning to gather together the Singaporean alumnis who have studied in Finland and have some sort of a gettogether maybe in May or June, when this sprin’s lot is back. Would you like to join? and would you like to come visit us at the United Square for a cup of coffee (and korvapuusti!). Would be nice to know more about your experience in Finland, we would like to see more students from Singapore to go to Finland. Hope to hear from you, moi moi, Paula Parviainen, ambassador

    • Reply
      March 7, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Moikka Paula!

      Thank you for the message. 🙂
      I’d be very happy to go for the outing or the cuppa coffee =) I miss Juhla Mokka even though a lot of people don’t like it 😀

      For the May-June outing, let me know if you would like me to invite some of the Singaporeans I know in Finland too. it’d be cool to catch up and do positive PR for Finland. ^^

      Wan Wei

  • Reply
    Karri Kivela
    March 22, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Hello WW! It is refreshing to read your blogs! I am working as Executive Director of Thai-Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok. I am coming to Singapore in the end of April for a meeting with the Team Finland players in SEA. You are right about the Finnish Shyness problem. LOL! You find more about TFCC from http://www.thaifin.org

    Take care!


    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 8:22 am

      Hello Karri,

      Great to hear from you! =) HAHA let me know when you are in SG, we could have black coffee and talk more!

      –Wan Wei

  • Reply
    Karri Kivela
    March 22, 2016 at 8:41 am

    I will come to Singapore April 28-29


    Maybe a beer and not coffee! LOL!

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Wow, I love the interview you did with Scandasia! I agree very much with the angle of story-telling and making Finnish inventions more relatable to locals. Let’s do our bests for FI100 ^^

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      LOL let’s go to a bar that serves coffee!! ^^

  • Reply
    March 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I love the idea.

  • Reply
    Carlos A Gomez
    September 3, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Hi, Wan Wei. Greetings from Rochester, New York. Kiitos paljon for your pioneering work bringing the world together. I like your wonderfully informative blog. I will keep on reading! 🙂 Nähdään myöhemmin! 🙂

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