Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue January 2011

Luzi Matzig in the Oval Office

at Madame Tussauds Bangkok

Dear Friends,

 

Happy New Year !  A new year means new beginnings and new adventures. Asian Trails has an array of new and creative products lined up for you and your clients to plan your holidays in 2011. 

  • Amazing Thailand just saw the opening of Madame Tussauds Bangkok, one of the numerous new products within Bangkok and beyond offered by Asian Trails.

  • Discover Laos via a cruise on the Luang Prabang 3 boat plus an overnight stay at the Pakbeng Lodge – one of the many products of Asian Trails Laos.

  • Cambodia’s rich culture and history  - from its myriad festivals and its musical concerts  - are its greatest draw and are beautifully packaged by Asian Trail Cambodia.

  • Vietnam is becoming a “hot” destination for incentives and team-building events, and Asian Trails Vietnam has created some innovative activities for your team’s building programmes.

  • China draws millions of visitors yearly with its mesmerising products such as “Beijing’s Backyard Gems” (hutongs or alleys), recommended personally by Asian Trails China.

  • Myanmar is one of ASEAN’s most popular destinations as its products are unique, such as the Elephant Coach Tours to Twante, one of the many offerings by Asian Trails Myanmar.

  • Asian Trails Malaysia has a new Managing Director, Emir Cherif, who is more than happy to tell you what Malaysia Truly Asia has to offer.

  • Indonesia has many hidden gems such as discovering the world of perfumes, a new product by Asian Trails Indonesia, among others.

 

This issue of TRAILBLAZER will reveal all of Asia’s treasures in detail, so please read on.


HAPPY TRAILS!

Luzi A. Matzig

C E O

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 
 

 

 

THAILAND

 

A note from Managing Director ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

Dear Friends,

 

I am happy to share with you the news of several new hotel openings in Thailand. With many new hotels in the pipeline in Bangkok, the nation’s capital will continue to be among the most competitive cities in the world. In December last year we had a very exciting new attraction in Bangkok - Madame Tussauds Bangkok.  This new attraction is conveniently located on the 6th floor of the Siam Discovery shopping mall.

 

Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines have decided to extend their flights from Bangkok to Vietnam, which is ideal for our clients who wish to do a stopover in Bangkok before or after a visit to Indochina.

 

Bangkok Airways added a new route, Phuket-Samui-Trat, which offers new possibilities to combine the islands of Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a wonderful New Year and all the best for 2011! 

 

HAPPY TRAILS! 

 

Roger Haumueller

 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFERS: KRABI-PHI PHI-KRABI

 

A new transfer service by speedboat is in operation between Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi, cutting the journey time to 40 minutes. The service, operated by Ao Nang Orchid Travel, departs from Ao Nang at 11.30am with the return journey from Koh Phi Phi at 2.30pm.  Pick up and drop off for clients staying at the Zeavola, Phi Phi Island Village, Holiday Inn Resort and Phi Phi Natural area is at each hotel’s beach front.

 

 

CABINET APPROVES PHUKET BT2.6BIL CONVENTION CENTRE

 

Thailand’s Cabinet has approved plans for the construction of the long-awaited International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) in Mai Khao. Construction is likely to get under way in mid-2012. Under the current design the Bt2.6 billion centre on the 150-rai plot of state land would include a convention hall, exhibition hall, 200-room hotel and a 100-room accommodation facility for government officers and staff.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

ASIAN TRAILS’24/7  B2B WEBSITE  OPERATIONAL

 

Asian Trails’ B2B website at http://www.asiantrails.com is now fully operating 24/7 services for hotel online solution. This makes it easier and faster for our partners to make hotel bookings with just a few clicks of the mouse, and in real time for instant bookings, automated pricing and issuing of vouchers. Online instant bookings for transfers and excursions are also available.

 

When you visit www.asiantrails.com you will need to input on agent code, user name and password. If you do not have your login details please contact your personal Asian Trails Assistant. If you do not have an account with us yet please click on “join us”, fill in your company details and we will email the login details to you. Once you have entered your agent code, username and password and click on “sign in”, it will take you to the next page. 

 

For more details and bookings, please click here

Contact personal Asian Trails Assistant, please click here

 

MADAME TUSSAUDS BANGKOK OPENS

 

Madame Tussauds Bangkok, the world's favourite wax museum opens its 10th attraction in Bangkok in December 2010. With over 75 wax figures and brimming with interactive experiences, this is much more than just a wax museum. You can photograph every figure in the museum, mingle with the A-list on the red carpet, challenge your sport heroes as well as get on stage with your favourite pop stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

ANANTARA BOPHUT SAMUI RESORT & SPA

 

Journeys infused with island magic and truly Thai charm at Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa on stunning Koh Samui are now embellished by elite signature style with the launch of 20 new exclusive suites and pool villas. Complementing the resort's existing 106 rooms and suites guests become immersed in an ambient heritage of island life, with the iconic resort designed as a traditional southern Thai village, embraced by mature jungle landscaping.  Nestled on Bo Phut Bay, a short stroll from the authentic village charms of Fisherman’s Cove, Anantara Bophut is a convenient 15-minute journey from Koh Samui International Airport.

 

 

IBIS BANGKOK RIVERSIDE

 

Ibis Bangkok Riverside is a place where great value meets great views. Bright, modern and simple the hotel is strategically located on the Chao Praya River with ferry and sky train services just five minutes away, and a free shuttle to the BTS station. It offers 266 newly built rooms, one restaurant, one bar and a swimming pool alongside the river.

 

 

For more details and bookings, please click here

 

NOVOTEL BANGKOK FENIX SILOM

 

Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom is located in historic Silom near the Sathorn business district, and conveniently close to the Sirat (FES) Expressway, offering easy access to the airport. Featuring 216 stylish rooms with two modern premier floors, an excellent restaurant and a bar the hotel offers a comfortable stay for business and leisure guests. Positioned adjacent to the Silom Village, it is just a few minutes’ walk from the BTS station with the Patpong entertainment area nearby. 

 

For more details please click here

 

HILTON PATTAYA

 

The elegant Hilton Pattaya is situated above the new 250,000sqm Central Festival Pattaya Beach, which has over 300 international shops and restaurants, a 10-screen cinema and a bowling alley. The airport is only 90 minutes away. The rooms are spacious and equipped with balconies, HD LCD TVs and high-speed Internet access. The executive rooms offer panoramic views of the surrounding area from the Executive Lounge. Its restaurant, Flare, serves succulent seafood while Drift, the Lobby Lounge, is ideal for cocktails. Facilities include a landscaped outdoor Infinity Pool, 24-hour fitness centre and a spa that is due to open in March. Recreational activities are available near the hotel, including golf, water sports and horse riding.

 

Hilton Pattaya is also an ideal hotel for hosting conferences and events as its magnificent ballroom has an outdoor balcony and breath-taking beach views. Complementing this are contemporary audiovisual equipment, a business centre and professional catering and meeting staff.

 

For more details please click here

 

THE SHORE AT KATATHANI

 

The Shore at Katathani is a luxury beach front pool villa resort on Kata Noi Beach in Phuket. It is a natural fusion of indoor and outdoor living where time has no meaning beyond the pleasure of every moment. Feel stress melt away as you relax in nature’s arms and experience a seaside retreat of boundless splendour that will inhabit your memories forever.

 

For more details  please click here

 

BANYAN TREE KOH SAMUI

 

The beautiful 78 all-pool villa Banyan Tree Samui combines the best elements of a tropical getaway with pristine white beaches and sun, while just 19 km from Samui International Airport. Overlooking the sapphire waters of scenic Lamai Bay the resort is nestled in a series of cascading terraces on a private hill cove in the south-eastern coast of Koh Samui. 

 

The resort is an ideal retreat from the bustle of the outside world and is a secluded haven where days pass in a gentle flow of tranquillity, serenaded to sleep by the deep blue swells of the Gulf of Thailand and cool sea breezes. Pampering features abound including iconic dining venues, the island's largest individual infinity pools in the villas and The Rainforest, Koh Samui's only hydrotherapy wellness facility.

 

For more details please click here

 

W RETREAT SAMUI

 

W Retreat Koh Samui is an island within an island and an ultimate haven where day is spent relaxing and night for celebrating.  An epitome of a tropical retreat and resplendent with warm charm it awakens at night and ignites the nocturnal. Gastronomise at Namu on the island's most stunning setting, or savour delicious fare at Kitchen Table. The health-conscious buffs you can SWEAT® it out or get WET®, then unwind at W Lounge or laze AWAY® at the spa.

 

For more details  please click here

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

JIM THOMPSON FARM

18 DECEMBER 2010 – 9 JANUARY 2011

VENUE: AMPHOE PAK THONG CHAI, NAKHON RATCHASIMA

 

The Jim Thompson Farm tour is a unique journey into a world of culture and eco-tourism, which will fascinate visitors with what it has to offer - from giant pumpkins to an expansive field of sunflowers and blossoming cold-climate flower gardens. Other key attractions are sericulture and silk-weaving demonstrations, as well as an insight into the traditional Isan way of life and its rarely seen cultural performances. To complete the tour sample Insan dishes with an impressive menu to choose from. A visit to the Jim Thomson Market is recommended to  shop for local merchandise and fresh farm produce.

 

 

THE ROYAL TROPHY 2010 - EUROPE VS ASIA GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

7-9 JANUARY 2011

VENUE:  AMATA SPRING COUNTRY CLUB BANGKOK, THAILAND

 

The Royal Trophy – Europe vs. Asia Golf Championship is a unique, emotionally charged and passionate competition between the continents of Europe and Asia in a team match-play format. The Royal Trophy features eight-player teams from Europe and Asia respectively, each led by a non-playing captain. The two Continental teams compete for stewardship over the Royal Trophy, which is graciously donated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The three-day competition features a total of 16 matches including foursomes, four-ball matches and singles.

 

 

PHUKET INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW

6-9 JANUARY 2011
VENUE: ROYAL PHUKET MARINA, PHUKET ISLAnd

 

The Phuket International Boat Show is the event to go to for all boating needs. On show is a large variety of international boat brands – from super yachts to powerboats, sail boats, speedboats and dinghies. Visitors are welcomed to inspect and buy any of the vessels, which take their fancy.

 

Boat brokers and dealerships will represent the best-known brands from around the world at the show. Among the brands are Azimut, Bavaria Yachts, Beneteau, Benetti, Boston Whaler, Chris Craft, Corsair Marine, Cranchi, Custom Line, De Birs, Fairline, Ferretti Yachts, Fontaine Pajot, Formula, Hanse, Horizon, Jeanneau, Lagoon, Majesty Yachts, Mustang, Nautor's Swan, Northrop & Johnson, Oryx, Pershing, Prestige Yachts, Princess, Riva, Riviera, Sea Ray, Seawind Catamarans, Silvercraft, Sunseeker and Windy Boats. Locally built boats from Cata Thai, Composite Catamarans, Sunnav and Seat Boat will also be on display.

 

 

KING MENGRAI FESTIVAL 2011

25-31 JANUARY 2011
VENUE: CHIANG RAI - THE MONUMENT OF THE KING MENGRAI

 

The festival is staged annually to pay homage to King Mengrai.

There is also a fun-filled aspect to the festival, which features a local product fair, stage shows and a variety of entertainment to create an air of festivity.

Exhibitions, organised by state and private sector organisations, reflect the enthusiastic participation of the local community to show their pride in local traditions.

 

 

BANGRAK’S CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL

3 FEBRUARY 2011

VENUE: YAOWARAT, BANGKOK

 

Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration in Asia and is celebrated by Chinese communities throughout the world. It is traditionally a time for family, friends and loved ones to visit one another and exchange gifts. it is also a time for families to get together and have the traditional reunion dinner on the eve of the New Year.

 

The Chinese New Year celebrations in Bangkok are among the biggest in Thailand. The main hub for the celebrations is in the city's bustling Chinatown area along Yaowarat Road. This is a great time of the year to visit this exciting city as the streets are filled with the sights, sounds and smells of local delicacies, with the incessant firing of firecrackers adding colour and vibrancy to the entire area. Other events include traditional lion and dragon dances, cultural exhibitions and a large fireworks display. Chinese New Year also celebrates the imminent arrival of spring and is the time for new beginnings. It is thus traditional to settle old debts and set children off to a good start to the year with gifts of “angpows” (money in small red envelopes).

 

 

CHiaNG MAI FLOWER FESTIVAL

4-5 FEBRUARY 2011
VENUE: BUAK HAAD PARK, CHIANG MAI

 

The annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival is the biggest flower festival in Thailand. It is a spectacular celebration set in Chiang Mai’s Buak Haad Park. This is a must attend event for all lovers of flowers. Be fascinated by beautiful flower-decorated floats and a magnificent tapestry of floral splendour that seems to blanket the landscape. There are also agricultural exhibitions, floral contests and sale of home-made products by local housewives.

 

One of the festival’s highlights is the grand floral parade. The floats, sponsored by companies and organisations, are beautifully decorated with elaborate flower arrangements, with some carrying an eco-tourism message. The parade culminates in the annual beauty competition to crown the city’s Flower Queen, who will represent the flower growers and exporters as an Ambassador of Goodwill. 

 

This annual show is also a showcase of exotic orchids and flowering plant, which thrive.

in Changi Mai’s temperate climate. During the cool season months from mid-November to February the flowers are in full bloom, thus earning this northern province the title of  “Rose of the North”. Whether you go to Chiang Mai for its flower festival in February or any other time there will always be beautiful flowers to greet you wherever you go.

 

 

BANGRAK’S VALENTINE DAY

14 FEBRUARY 14 2011

VENUE: BANGKOK

 

Bangrak means "District of Love", and on 14 February it is a magnet for amorous Thai couples, even though St. Valentine's Day is an imported Western concept. Thais embrace festivals whatever their origin as long as they are sanuk (fun). So countless hotels, restaurants and nightlife venues in Bangrak will be celebrating romance with promotions and parties. Even the local council gets in on the love theme. On this day the country's highest concentrations of couples register their marriages at the District Office. It is a good-natured scrum as hundreds of brides and grooms, many in elaborate costume, declare their betrothal in public. This informal spectacle is an amusing photo opportunity, never missed by the local Thai press and television.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

AIRASIA LAUNCHES PHUKET-BALI FLIGHTS

 

Thai AirAsia launched four times weekly Phuket-Bali flights on 17 December 2010. The new service, using the Airbus A320 aircraft with a seating capacity of 180 passengers, is the only direct connection between the two island resorts. The flights are on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The service may be increased to daily flights, depending on the load factor.

 

 

BANGKOK AIRWAYS STARTS PHUKET-SAMUI-TRAT SERVICE

 

Bangkok Airways launched its new Phuket-Samui-Trat flight service on 2 December 2010. With this extension to the carrier’s existing Phuket - Samui service. it is now easier for holiday-makers to travel from Phuket to the resort island of Koh Chang. The four times weekly round trip flights aboard a 70-seat twin-turboprop ATR 72 aircraft are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Outbound flights depart Phuket at 12.55pm and arrive in Trat at 3.40pm. Inbound flights depart Trat at 4.15pm and arrive in Phuket at 7.10pm.

 

 

AUSTRALIA’S STRATEGIC AIRLINES TO FLY TO PHUKET

 

Australian carrier Strategic Airlines will launch non-stop direct flights to Phuket from Melbourne and Brisbane in February. The full-service carrier will offer twice-weekly flights from Melbourne to Phuket starting from 22 February 2011.  The services, using an Airbus A330 aircraft with both business and economy classes, are on Tuesdays and Fridays. The decision by Strategic to fly to Phuket follows Virgin Australia’s decision to end its Phuket service. .

The airline will start twice-weekly flights to Phuket from Brisbane on 24 February, with the services on Thursdays and Sundays.

 

 

MAHAN AIR FLIES TO PHUKET

 

Mahan Air, a private Iranian airline, launched non-stop service from its hub in Tehran to Phuket on 6 December 2010. The once-a-week flight is on Mondays from Tehran and on Tuesdays from Phuket. Ex-Tehran the seven-hour plus flight departs at 9.30pm and arrive in Phuket 8am the following day. From Phuket the flight departs at 10.40pm and arrives in Tehran at 3.10am the following day. The service is on a 243-seat Airbus A300-600 aircraft in a two-class configuration

 

This is the second scheduled flight from the Middle East to the resort island, following Qatar Airways’ decision to serve Phuket as an extension of its Kuala Lumpur service al earlier in the same month. Mahan Air currently operates six weekly flights to Bangkok.

 

 

 

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LAOS

 

A note from Managing Director Philippe Conod

 

Dear Friends and Partners

 

After some operational difficulties in the first quarter of this year, such as the temporary closure of Pakze airport, slash-and-burn smoke side effects in the Luang Prabang area, low water in the Mekong River and political troubles in Bangkok, tourism in Laos has recovered well and 2010 will show a good result

 

The infrastructure development in the hotel industry has reached an interesting speed and new properties, such as Alila Luang Prabang, The Luangsay Residence, Le Palais Juliana and Shinta Mani have opened or are on the verge of opening their doors in the Heritage city. There is now an interesting choice and capacity, mostly in the upper class range

 

The tourism industry looks with confidence towards the future, and the Lao population and tourism staff are eager to welcome new visitors and repeaters

 

Friendly regards, Sabaidee and Chokdee Pimai (Happy New Year)

 

Philippe Conod & Björn Schimanski

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

Pakbeng Lodge & Luang Prabang LPQ 3 boat

 

Starting from 10 January you can book a cruise on the Mekong as a joint tour on the comfortable Luang Prabang 3 boat. In combination with an overnight stay at the Pakbeng Lodge we have created three rewarding new tours, which offer a less costly alternative especially for FITs. Spend an extra day for some light trekking in the beautiful surroundings of Pakbeng and enjoy an exciting elephant ride.

 

Departures are every Monday from Luang Prabang and continue to Huay Xay every Wednesday or Thursday. In the opposite direction you can travel to Pakbeng on Thursday and Saturday. Continue to Luang Prabang every Sunday. Tours can also be booked in combination with a traditional boat.

 

 

 

  FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

ELEPHANT FESTIVAL - PAKLAY

 

The Paklay district will host the annual Lao Elephant Festival for the second time. This year the event will be held over three days - 18, 19 and 20 February.

 

Prettying up will be around 50 elephants, all competing for the prestigious title of ”Elephant of the Year”. Expect to see colourful elephant processions, elephant bathing, mahout demonstrations, ancient Baci ceremonies, traditional blessings by monks, live performances by Lao and foreign artistes, night markets, fun fair and much more.

 

 

CHAMPASSAK - VAT PHOU

 

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the listing of the Vat Phou temple complex as a World Heritage Site festivities will take place from 14 to 18 February. Performers from Cambodia, Thailand, India and Vietnam will celebrate the anniversary, followed by an alms-giving ceremony on the morning of 18 February. However, the real highlight will be on the same night when 40,000 oil lamps will light up the grounds of the ancient Khmer and Cham temple – an event that also coincides with the full moon.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

LUANG PRABANG –NEW HOTEL

 

Le Palais Juliana, which has the same owner as Juliana Phnom Penh Hotel, opened its doors last November. It is located on the outskirts of Luang Prabang, about 4 km from the city centre, in the middle of a large garden. It offers 44 Deluxe Rooms and 4 Executive Rooms, with most offering a nice view towards the swimming pool. All rooms have free WiFi, TV, air-conditioning and a safe deposit box. In the coming weeks nine villas      and two Grand Deluxe Suites will open. This is the perfect place for those looking for comfort and peace.

 

 

 

LUANG PRABANG – SPECIAL PROMOTION

 

TIP OF THE MONTH

 

Villa Maly, Luang Prabang

 

The successful Villa Maly offers a three-night stay, while paying for two nights. This offer includes a Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Nava Mekong.

 

The offer is valid every day from 16 April to 30 September 2011. Terms and conditions apply.

 

 

LUANG PRABANG – AWARD-WINNING HOTEL

 

La Residence Phou Vao

La Residence Phou Vao, an Orient-Express retreat hotel in Luang Prabang, was one of only seven hotels hand-picked by lifestyle magazine, Tatler, as one of its top hotels in the world for 2011, winning the prestigious award for “Enduring Excellence”. The annual Tatler Travel Awards are one of the most revered awards in the hospitality industry, with hoteliers, travel industry professionals, and high profile personalities all attending the event, hosted at the Hotel Ritz in London.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

Corporate Social Responsibility Project

 

Tourism is a major industry in Laos, which helps to boost income and infrastructure for local communities. However, too often the money made remains in tourism and benefits only those who are directly involved in the industry.

Laos is one of the least developed countries in the region and we, from Asian Trails Laos, would like to make a difference by assisting some projects, which, we feel will really help those who are either too poor or too far away to benefit from the current economic growth Laos is experiencing.  

 The mother and child hospital in Vientiane and the Swiss Laos Hospital Project have created a birth kit to ensure clean and hygenic birth instruments for rural areas. Each kit costs only USD2.00 and helps to significantly decrease diseases like typhus among infants and their mothers.

Please contact us if you would like to receive further information or if you like to participate in this project!

 

 

Happy Trails in Laos!

 

 

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CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR JACQUES GUICHANDUT

 

Happy New Year as we have just welcomed a new year. For Asian Trails Cambodia 2010 was much better then expected at the beginning. We do hope that 2011 will be more successful. I together with my Cambodian team wish all of you a joyful Merry Christmas and a healthy and peaceful New Year 2011.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

BORDER NEAR PREAH VIHEAR TEMPLE TO REOPEN

 

Thailand and Cambodia are set to reopen their border crossings near the disputed Preah Vihear temple after a lengthy closure, an army source said. The governor of Si Sa Ket and the Cambodian governor of Preah Vihear province have discussed the matter, and the crossings near the ancient Hindu temple and a nearby disputed 4.6sqkm area are expected to reopen. This would be the first time both the Thai and Cambodian crossings have been open simultaneously since July 2008, when the Preah Vihear temple was granted UNESCO world heritage status under Cambodian stewardship.

 

 

RESTORATION OF TA KEO TEMPLE BEGINS

 

Work to restore Ta Keo temple in Angkor Archaeological Park has begun.

 

“The restoration work will be taking approximately eight years to complete (2011-2018) under the financial support of 40 million Yuan (about USD 6 million) from the government of the People’s Republic of China," said Bun Narith, director general of Apsara Authority, which is in charge of the management, protection and conservation of Angkor Archaeological Park, at the opening ceremony of the restoration work.

 

Ta Keo temple was built by King Jayavarman V and Suryavarman I from the late 10th century to the early 11th century, and both kings have dedicated this temple to Hinduism. The monument of Ta Keo temple comprises of three level pyramids consisting of five rectangular terraces and five upper towers. The temple is located in the central zone of the Angkor archaeological site.

 

 

 

  FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

VICTORY DAY OVER GENOCIDE RÉGIME

7 JANUARY 2011

 

This holiday commemorates the fall of the Khmer Rouge régime on 7 January 1979. It honours the people who were killed in the genocide and those who sacrificed their lives in restoring peace to the country. Colourful ceremonies are held at the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach).

 

 

MEAK BOCHEA

19 JANUARY 2011

 

Meak Bochea Day is an important Buddhist celebration, which marks a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 monks to listen to Buddha’s sermons. The gathering is attributed to four miracles occurring nine months after Buddha’s enlightenment, on the day of the full moon during the third lunar month. At this miraculous gathering Buddha preached a seminal sermon outlining the principles upon which Buddhism philosophy is founded.

 

Today Meak Bochea is a colourful festival with monks gathering at the temples and praying from Buddhist scriptures. The wats (temples) are filled with Cambodians who come to pray and offer tributes of food to the monks. The pagodas are quite active and colourful on this day.

 

 

ASEAN TOURISM FORUM IN PHNOM PENH

15-21 JANUARY 2011

 

The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) is a cooperative regional effort to promote the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region as one tourist destination. This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member nations of ASEAN namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. As the annual convention of the ASEAN tourism industry ATF promotes the exchange of ideas, review of industry developments and joint formulation of recommendations to further accelerate the growth of ASEAN tourism. ATF also provides a platform for the selling and buying of regional and individual tourism products of ASEAN member countries.

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

3 FEBRUARY  2011

 

As this is first new moon in the Chinese Lunar Calendar it  is an important celebration for Cambodians of Chinese origin. Although Chinese New Year is not an official public holiday in Cambodia the people still celebrate this occasion with great joy. One of the busiest and most popular pagodas and venues on this auspicious day is Wat Phnom, especially at midnight on Chinese New Year’s eve.

 

This year we celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, considered to be a lucky sign.  The rabbit is a private animal and a bit introverted.  People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of good friends. They are good teachers, counsellors and communicators, but also need their own space.

 

 

BOSBA PANH’S CONCERT IN ANGKOR

25-26 FEBRUARY 2011

 

To promote Cambodia as a destination and showcase the Kingdom’s finest musical heritage, bosbaPANH, a 13-year-old young Khmer soprano and one of the country’s “Living National Treasures”, will stage unique concerts at Angkor Wat – Bayon Temple (Siem Reap) on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 February 2011: bosbaPANH @ Angkor, Tribute to the Masters. Special guests from Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, San Diego and San Jose (USA) will come to Cambodia for these performances. Part of the profits from this evening will be donated to the Foundation for Khmer Arts to support artists in need.

 

To pay tribute to both known and unknown Khmer artists, the surviving master artists and international musicians are joining bosbaPANH for an exceptional performance. They will take the audience on a musical journey spanning 900 years from Queen Indradevi, spouse of King Jayavarman VII – the great builder of Angkor Thom – to Her Majesty Queen Sisowath Kossamak Nearyrath Sereivoddhana, late mother of His Majesty King Father Norodom Sihanouk. Both queens have fostered the arts of Angkor. During the two concert nights Bayon Temple comes to life with an elegant display of lights and sounds. Against this breathtaking backdrop, classical and contemporary performers will create a unique artistic experience. 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

  PHNOM PENH

DANCES BY “CHILDREN OF BASSAC” AT PHNOM PENH NATIONAL MUSEUM

 

The Children of Bassac is a company of 24 dancers aged 16 to 21, created in 2003 by Leng Sithul, a traditional theatre singer. All the company’s members live in the Bassac community. They perform traditional and folk dances representing Khmer life. In 2005 the dancers joined with the Cambodia Living Arts Association, an organisation specialising in the promotion of Cambodian arts and culture. The Association envisions Cambodia as a country known for its vibrant arts and culture in the year 2020. A sense of pace, creativity and energy on stage has made the Children of Bassac one of the Kingdom's upcoming major actors of the Cambodian art scene revival. Performances are on every Thursday at the Phnom Penh National Museum until April 2011.

 

 

 

Siem Reap

 

ANGKOR’S TETHERED BALLOON SUSPENDS OPERATIONS UNTIL MARCH

 

The company, which handles the Angkor Tethered Balloon, has decided at the end of October 2010 to temporarily close down the bookings and flights of the tethered balloon until March 2011 due to technical problems.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

  PHNOM PENH

SOFITEL PHNOM PENH PHOKEETHRA SOFT OPENS

 

The new Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, which soft opened in December last year, is situated on the Bassac riverside amidst landscaped gardens in the city’s old quarter. This stunning strategically located 12-storey colonial style hotel is close to key attractions, embassies and the central business district. Along with 201 luxurious rooms and suites, with Mekong or Bassac river views, this beautiful hotel offers an array of chic restaurants and bars, an upscale spa, two swimming pools, a sports club and the finest conferencing facilities in Cambodia.

 

 

CIRCA 51

 

The eight rooms in this new boutique hotel have all the modern facilities guests would expect from a hotel of this class. All the guestrooms are non-smoking. Each room has air-conditioning, bathrobes, in-house movies, desk, hair-dryer and wireless Internet access. Guests at Circa 1 also enjoy a wide range of facilities such as coffee shop, bar, laundry service, room service and safe deposit box. There are numerous leisure facilities to help the guest unwind and they include massage, outdoor activities, swimming pool and a garden. The hotel creates a balance of rich culture and modern conveniences to ensure a memorable stay right in the heart of Phnom Penh.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

AIR FRANCE TO LAUNCH PARIS-PHNOM PENH FLIGHTS

 

Air France will start operating commercial flights between Paris and Phnom Penh from 28 March 2011. The three times weekly flights will make a stopover in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Paris-Phnom Penh flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the Phnom Penh-Paris flights

will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Through the new service Air France demonstrates its confidence in Cambodia’s economic potential and its determination to further develop a strong regional presence. The airline’s return to Cambodia will enhance the country’s growing transport links with Europe. It is also a testament of Air France’s confidence in the traffic growth potential between France and Cambodia.

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

New team building activities in Vietnam

 

This month we would like to highlight our MICE department and the interesting, innovative activities we have created for your team’s building programmes.

 

Vietnam is becoming more and more popular, not only for incentives but also for events and, in particular, for team building activities. As most of us spend at least a third of our life at work it is important to create and maintain a healthy, conducive working environment especially when working as part of a team. We at Asian Trails in Vietnam have recently created a wide range of teaming building activities to help you and your clients to achieve this.

 

Imagine how much fun you and your co-workers will have on a boat race along the beautiful beaches of Danang and Hoi An, or playing volleyball at Titov Beach surrounded by the multi-form islets of Halong Bay. And what about a treasure hunt along the bustling streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter? Or a pillow fight among the team members in the middle of Saigon (called a “flash mob” by the experts), capturing the attention and stares of pedestrians – and believe us when we say there are always crowds of people on the streets of Saigon!

 

Our MICE and special tours team is happy to show you our ideas and creations for your next incentive or event in Vietnam. Please contact us for details.

 

Claudio Kellenberger to leave Asian Trails Vietnam

 

We wish to inform you with regrets that Claudio Kellenberger, General Manager of Asian Trails Vietnam, is leaving the company as of March 2011. After two-and-a-half years in Vietnam, Claudio will relocate to Myanmar to pursue a new challenge. We thank Claudio for his contributions to Asian Trails Vietnam and wish him success good luck in his new venture. We will inform you of his successor in a later issue of TRAILBLAZER.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

CON DAO ONE OF “WORLD BEST SECRET ISLANDS”

 

Renown travel magazine, Lonely Planet, has listed Con Dao, the small archipelago 180km southeast of Vietnam’s coast, among the “World’s Best Secret Islands”. Also on the list are exotic destinations including Socotra (Yemen), Torrest Strait Island (Australia) and Iles de Salut (French Guiana).

 

Con Dao is still an undiscovered pearl, attracting off-the-beaten track individual travellers. It now has a luxury boutique resort, Six Senses Con Dao, which opened two months ago.

 

 

 

CONDE NAST “TOP 25 RESORTS IN ASIA”

 

Vietnam has the honour of having a number of its hotels listed among Conde Nast’s “Top 25 Resorts in Asia”, all making it to the top 20. The hotels are Life Resort Hoi An, The Nam Hai (Hoi An) and Evason Ana Mandara (Nha Trang). Park Hyatt Saigon and Sofitel Metropole. The survey covered the 100 top hotels in Asia.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

XIN CHAO  SHOW IN HO CHI MINH CITY

 

Xin Chao (“welcome” in Vietnamese) is a new circus-style production with elements of traditional dance, martial arts and circus acrobatics with its origins in Vietnam. The 90-minutes is in three parts highlighting Vietnam’s history – the creation of Vietnam’s myth, the cultural epic of the Trung sisters and the “grand finale”, painting of a modern portrait of traditional characters in Vietnamese daily life and culture. Over 50 talented Vietnamese dancers, martial artistes and circus acrobats are performing in this exciting and dynamic show. A show not to be missed. Daily performances at 6pm at the “23 September Park” in District 1.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

LONG BEACH ANCIENT VILLAGE PHU QUOC

 

This resort is latest addition to the ongoing demand for 4 star+ accommodations on the island of Phu Quoc. It celebrated its soft opening in December 2010. Located on one of the finest stretches of beach in Phu Quoc, the resort is built along the design of a traditional Vietnamese village. It offers 72 rooms on two floors and restaurant/bar.

In conjunction with its soft opening Long Beac Ancient Village Phu Quoc is offering special promotional rates from now until March 2011. Please contact us for further information.

 

 

 

HILTON’S SECOND PROPERTY IN VIETNAM

 

The five-star Hilton Danang Hotel is the second property in Vietnam’s hospitality market under the Hilton brand, with the first property in Hanoi.  The 25-storey hotel, estimated to cost US$37 million, has 226 rooms and serviced apartments, a 17-storey tower building with 15,600 square metres of office space and 10,500 square metres for a trading centre. The hotel’s construction is expected to be finished by the last quarter of 2012.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

TET 2011 – VIETNAMESE NEW YEAR

 

The Vietnamese New Year (TET) will be celebrated on 3 February 2011. As usual, about five days before and after this date travelling around Vietnam will not be entirely hassle-free as millions of domestic travellers are heading home to their families, filling up planes and trains, congesting bus terminals and highways. All public services including banks, administration offices, immigration/visa services and related will be closed from 2 February to 7 February.

 

Please note that visa applications cannot be processed during this period. Kindly submit your applications to us no later than 15 January for them to be processed in time for your travel.

 

Our offices will be closed from 2 February (Wednesday) until 7 February (Monday), reopening on 8 February (Tuesday). We will have an emergency team on standby in all our offices. However, we will not be able to process any booking requests or related services during this period. Kindly send us all your inquiries well in advance.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

Vietnam Airlines: Daily Danang-Tokyo services

 

Vietnam Airlines has launched a new daily flight between Danang and Tokyo (Narita) via Ho Chi Minh City from 15 December, using its brand new Airbus A321 aircraft.

 

 

 

 

Vietnam Airlines: Non-stop HCMC-Yangon flights

 

After the successful launch of flights between the capital city Hanoi and Yangon on 1 March 2010 Vietnam Airlines started three-times weekly non-stop service between Ho Chi Minh City and Yangon, using an Airbus A320 aircraft with a capacity of 160 passengers

 

 

 

CHARTERS FROM RUSSIA TO NHA TRAng

 

Vladivostok Air is operating weekly charter flights between Vladivostok and Khabarov, Russia and Nha Trang, the first Russian airline to offer such services.  The charters are on the Airbus A330 aircraft, and will help boost the tourism potential of the two Vietnamese destinations.

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Veronique Ducassy

 

XIN NIAN KUAI LE! GONG XI FA CAI! Happy New Year from the Asian Trails China team!

 

2010 has been a busy year in China and we thank all of you for your continuous support. After three years of operation Asian Trails China now counts 40 staff in three offices, while a year ago we were only 20 strong. China is celebrating Chinese New Year next month and we are waiting for the 3 February to welcome the Year of the Rabbit, which will last until 22 January 2012 as per the Lunar Calendar. The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac within the 12 animals signs. 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

RAILWAY INFORMATION

 

BEIJING-SHANGHAI HIGH SPEED RAIL TRACK LAID: The final portion of tracks on the Beijing-Shanghai has been laid. At 1,318 kilometres in length the line is now the world’s longest high-speed railway. Work on the US$33.3 billion rail link began in April 2008 and is due to open in 2012. Travel time between the two cities will be reduced to approximately four hours from the current 10 when the railway is in operations. China’s first high-speed rail line was opened in 2008 connecting Tianjin with Beijing.

 

CHINA-LAOS RAIL PROJECT COMMENCES: China and Laos will start construction of the first high speed rail line between the two countries early this year, as part of a project to link China and South East Asia. According to reports, the link would be completed around 2014.

 

The railway is part of a broader plan to connect Kunming in south-eastern China with Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. China already has a high-speed rail network that stretches 7,531km across the country as of November. It is expected to supply much of the train technology for the project.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

BEIJING’S BACKYARD GEMS

 

Put on your walking shoes or get on a bike and discover for yourself the fast-disappearing hutong of the country's capital city.

 

The hutongs, or alleys, offer a glimpse of Chinese history, local life and ancient architecture. Because of rapid real estate development less than a thousand of Beijing's hutong remain, down from at least 3,000 in the early 1950s.

 

THE LONGEST HUTONG: Dongjiao Minxiang, Dongcheng District

The history of this hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when it served as an important passageway for rice bound for the north and south of the country. In the succeeding Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644- 1911) dynasties it hosted offices of the imperial ministries. In the early 20th century the hutong was designated as an embassy zone, which explains the foreign architecture of buildings here. They included the former US embassy complex (built in 1903 that now houses some impressive bars and restaurants in Qian Men 23), the former British Royal Chartered Bank (built in 1919 and now a hotel) and St Michael's Church built in 1901, still holding daily masses. 

 

THE OLDEST HUTONG: Zhuanta, Xicheng District

Zhuanta, off South Xisi Avenue, is more than 700 years old. Its defining landmark is a brick tower, built in honour of a Buddhist monk, and after which the hutong was named. Another notable site is Yard No 84, the former residence of Lu Xun, one of the greatest Chinese writers of the 20th century. However, there is not much to see in the dilapidated courtyard.

 

HUTONG WITH THE MOST ARCHWAYS: Chengxianjie, Dongcheng district

The hutong was renamed Guozijian in 1965 in honour of the Imperial College, China’s highest educational institution and one of its most important buildings dating from the Yuan and Qing dynasties. Beside it stands Confucius Temple, established in 1302, where academics and emperors paid their respects to eminent Chinese teachers and philosophers. The alley, facing Yonghegong Lama Temple and lined with cafes and souvenir shops, is a popular tourist destination. Despite the hustle and bustle in the hutong its residents seem oblivious as they concentrate on their card games, chit chat with neighbours and do their daily exercises.

 

NARROWEST HUTONG: Qianshi, Xicheng District

It is easy to miss the passage to this dead-end hutong, Beijing's narrowest at 70cm wide. Here, people coming from opposite directions need to turn sideways to pass each other. But at least they do not have to worry about cars blocking their path. The reason why the hutong builders scrimped on space lies in its name, Qianshi, meaning "money market". It was the official currency exchange centre during the Qing Dynasty and became home to banking firms during the period of the Republic of China (1911-1949). The alley, located west of Qianmen pedestrian street and north of Dashilan commercial street, was apparently made narrow to make it hard for thieves to escape. Few traces remain of Qianshi's former bustling, prosperous life apart from barely discernible bank names on the brick walls and couplets wishing for "profits as high as the mountains" painted on courtyard gates.

 

 

XINJIANG PROVINCE

 

ROAD TO PARADISE

The Xiate Ancient Trail, one of the most treacherous sections of the historic Northern Silk Road, is famous for its flower-filled prairies, snow-capped mountains and glacier-fed rivers. The best way to discover this nature’s paradise is on horseback.

The Xiate Ancient Trail is in Zhaosu county - Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture. East of the border with Kazakhstan, Zhaosu conjures up images of endless grasslands against a horizon of snow-capped mountains.

 

The trip starts in Sailimu Lake on an Ili horse, which is bred in this area and famous for its speed and stamina. This lake is Xinjiang's largest and highest alpine lake. The Xiate Ancient Trail, with its precipitous cliffs and deep valleys, offers the perfect terrain for bandits targeting merchant caravans and was one of the most treacherous sections of the Silk Road in the olden days. Now the trail has acquired a new label  - "Road to Paradise". Local members of the Kazak, Mongolian, Xibe and Hui ethnic groups attest to the trail's intoxicating beauty with tales handed down through generations.

 

Travellers to Xiate have first to spend a few days on the road, passing through Yining city as well as small towns dotting the fringe of Zhaosu's mountain ranges. The rest stops give visitors a chance to taste the local delicacies. The Xiate Ancient Trail is definitely an experience for those wishing to go "off of the beaten track".

 

 

TAOISM AND TAI CHI AT MOUNT WUDANG (Central Hubei Province)  

 

Mount Wudang is a Mecca for Taoists and martial arts pilgrims keen to learn the way of the fist and tai chi. Summer is the best season to have this experience.

 

The 21-year-old Wudang Kungfu Training Centre is the largest and best-preserved Taoist compound on the mountain, which is also the headquarters of the Wudang Taoist Association. Under its leadership the association has drawn increasing attention from kungfu enthusiasts seeking an alternative destination to the Shaolin Temple. Interested travellers can spend a month or more practicing kungfu, learning Taoist philosophy and meditation under the tutelage of famous kungfu masters. Daily routine may include a morning Taoist scripture chanting session at 5.30am in the temple, morning and afternoon training sessions in Wudang tai chi and Taoist lectures in the evening. Visitors can also learn traditional Chinese health care from Taoist doctors. It is said that practicing Wudang kungfu develops one's character and body.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

LANGHAM PLACE BEIJING CAPITAL AIRPORT

 

The hotel opened in October 2010. It has 372 spacious, stylish guest rooms and suites that take high tech to new heights, exciting dining options to satisfy both the globe-trotting gourmand and the hungry holiday-makers. With five unique dining experiences the hotel will not fail to stir the senses.

Langham Place is strategically located, just one minute from Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3. Guests to the hotel can thus avoid the stress of navigating the inner city and arrive without feeling like one has just trekked the Silk Road. The hotel’s enviable location gives easy access to key districts and must-see sights. It is:

  • one minute from Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport by complimentary shuttle bus, which also runs between the hotel and Terminals 1 and 2.

  • a mere 10 minutes to the New China International Exhibition Centre .

  • only 15 minutes from the City Centre by Express Train or a 30-minute drive.

  • about 45 minutes to famous historical sites, including Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City.

  • just an hour to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.

 

HILTON CAPITAL AIRPORT

 

The hotel opened October 2010

Situated just a minute by shuttle bus from the airport and the Beijing Airport Rail Link, Hilton Beijing Capital Airport Hotel is within 40 minutes of major tourist attractions including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

 

The hotel features some of the largest hotel rooms in Beijing. The

stylish and spacious rooms are sealed from the airport’s noise by a sound-proof floor-to-ceiling window and a humidifier, assuring comfort during Beijing's dry winters. For relaxation there is a comfortable sitting area with satellite channels on the 37-inch LCD TV, or use the work area to check emails with high-speed Internet access. It also offers 24-hour free hotel airport shuttle bus to all terminals. For dining there is a choice of four stylish restaurants with a total 32 private dining rooms.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

3 FEBRUARY 2011

 

The most important festival in China will take place on 3 February 2011, and will herald in the Year of the Rabbit.

 

The Rabbit is a lucky sign. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are private individuals and a bit introverted. They are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of good friends. According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is a time for negotiations. Don't try to force issues because, if you do, you will ultimately fail. To gain the greatest benefits from this animal sign, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy and your relationships with women and children.  Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

 

The Chinese people consider it a duty to return home during this festival and have family reunions. Millions of Chinese people will travel back to their hometowns or home villages to spend the new year holidays with their families and loved ones. The official holiday dates for this festival are from 2 to 8 February (inclusive).

 

Asian Trails China will close its offices from 2 to 4 February (inclusive) and will resume work on 7 February.

 

 

DOOR GODS

 

Placing of the Door Gods is an age-old tradition practised in conjunction with Chinese New Year. In the days leading to this auspicious day Door Gods are placed on the external doors of houses.

 

This tradition dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD). The Emperor was said to have fallen ill and had a dream in which ghosts came to the palace in search of him. He recounted this tale to his officials the next day and the story quickly spread through the Imperial Court. To protect the Emperor his two top generals stood guard outside his bedroom door. The Emperor slept soundly in the knowledge that he was protected by the two generals and had no further dreams of the ghosts. However, after a few nights the Emperor became concerned for the generals. He ordered that two paintings be made, one of each general. Once completed the Emperor had these hung on the door to his room and relieved the generals of their nightly duties.

 

This tale soon became widely known and, in their eagerness to have the protection of these "Door Gods" the common people made their own paintings and placed them on their doors. This tradition has continued until today.

 

 

LANTERN FESTIVAL

15TH DAY OF NEW LUNAR YEAR

 

The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the new Lunar Year when lanterns of all sizes, shapes and hues adorn streets and houses. The festival had its origins during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) when Buddhism flourished in China. One of the Han emperors heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, (remains from the cremation of Buddha's body) and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st Lunar Month. He then ordered the lighting of lanterns in the Imperial Palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. This Buddhist rite then developed into a grand festival among the common people, and its practice spread from the Central Plains to the whole of China.

 

The tradition continues until today.  \Excited children carry lanterns, both self-made and purchased, on the streets. People eat yuanxiao (rice dumplings) on this day, and the festival is thus also known as the Yuanxiao Festival. During the day there are performance such as lantern dance and lion dance. When night falls the brilliance of the lanterns is accompanied by the sounds of fireworks, which are set off to mark the end of the New Year festivities. The colourful festival attracts a lot of visitors.

 

 

 

  STAFF UPDATE

 

 

Asian Trails China welcomes two new members to the team in the new year - Michelle Hao, Administrative and HR Supervisor who came on board on 4 January and Vivi Huang, Accounting Supervisor who will join us on 17 January. We wish both of them good luck in their new postings.

 

 

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MYANMAR

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

The months of November and December were very busy here in Myanmar. The number of arrivals is steadily increasing and we are confident this trend will continue into the New Year. We would like to thank all of you for your tremendous efforts in supporting us and tourism in Myanmar in general. Please rest assured that in 2011 we would continue to provide you with outstanding services at the most competitive prices available.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

 

Best regards,

 

Thomas Carnevale

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

ELEPHANT COACH TOURS TO TWANTE

 

Following the huge success of the half-day and full day city tours in Yangon, Elephant coach has extended its range of tours to Twante. This small town is noted for its pottery, cotton-weaving and old Mon Paya complex. Twante, situated 24km from Yangon, makes for a nice half-day or full day trip.

 

You can also hire the Elephant coach for transfers, as well as half day and full day sightseeing in Yangon and Bagan. Longer journeys will take travellers to the less visited south Myanmar, namely Hpa-an and Mawlamyine. One of the most exclusive trips on the Elephant coach is from Mandalay to the Chinese border on the so-called “old Burma road”.

 

 

ELEPHANT CAMP NEAR NGWE SAUNG

 

We are pleased to announce that we are now offering visits to an elephant camp on the way to Ngwe Saung. You will be able to observe the elephants while they are carrying out small tasks, bathing and getting fed. Short rides into the nearby jungle are also available.

 

Please note that the elephants rest from noon onwards, so the visit is only possible on the drive back from Ngwe Saung to Yangon.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

BAGAN PRINCESS HOTEL

 

The hotel is located in Old Bagan near the archaeological zone. It consists of 21 rooms, of which eight are deluxe rooms and 13 are superior rooms. All rooms have ensuite bathroom with hot and cold water, TV with multi-channels, air-conditioning, IDD telephone, in-room safe, mini bar and coffee/tea making facilities. The hotel’s facilities include a poolside bar, restaurant serving traditional Myanmar, Chinese and European food, a beauty saloon offering different treatments and a spa with massage at the guest’s discretion.

 

 

NEW OWNER FOR KANDAWGYI HOTEL

 

Kandawgyi Hotel has been sold to the Htoo group of companies. The group operates a chain of hotels under the brands, Myanmar Treasure and Aureum, as well as an airline, Air Bagan.

 

As at press time it is not known which of the group’s two hotel brands Kandawgyi Hotel will operate under or when the ownership change will take place. Until further notice the hotel continues to operate under its current name and with the existing management.

 

 

PRISTINE LOTUS RESORT INLE’S NEW PADOMMA LOTUS SPA

 

We are happy to announce a new spa at the Pristine Lotus Resort in Inle, the Padomma Lotus Spa, which is managed by Jiivala Spa from Bali. The latter is a well-recognised international spa company from Bali, operating mainly in Asia and only in 5-star hotels and resorts. A spa treatment at the resort is not just a massage, but is also a great way to rejuvenate and destress both mind and body.

 

Pristine Inle Resort has also upgraded its bar and terrace overlooking the natural hot spring jacuzzi, which complements the spa making it one-of-its-kind spa experience in Myanmar.

 

 

Spa with view of the sea

 

Spa’s swimming pool

 

NEW SPA AND SWIMMING POOL FOR THANDE BEACH HOTEL

 

Thande Beach Hotel in Ngapali has recently upgraded its facilities to include a lovely spa - an additional service for the hotel’s guests to enjoy a wide range of relaxing and soothing massages.

 

The hotel also boasts a new pool, located opposite the lobby and behind the dining room. The pool is for guests’ use at their discretion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

KAKKU FESTIVAL

Date : 17-20 March 2011

Location :  Taunggyi, Shan State

4-day ceremony ending 20 March

 

The Kakku Pagoda complex is a unique and extraordinary structure as it is built of thousands of Shan-style thin and slender pagodas in a compact and geometrical pattern. During the four days of celebrations thousands of local tribal people from the surrounding regions of Shan, Pa O, Palaung, Lishaw and Dano flock to Taunggyi to enjoy and take part in the annual festival.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

YANGON AIRWAYS SUSPENDS OPERATIONS

 

Yangon Airways (pictured left) has stopped operations on 3 December 2010 as its Airline Operation Certificate (AOC) has been temporarily suspended. We currently do not know when the airline will resume its flights. Due to this development we will book our clients either on Air Mandalay or Air Bagan.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

NEW MANAGEMENT AT LE PLANTEUR

 

Starting 1 January 2011 Le Planteur, the well-known restaurant in Yangon, comes under a new management headed by Lucia and Felix Eppisser (pictured left), who bring a wealth of culinary experience with them. For the past seven years Lucia and Felix have managed Rigiblick, the gourmet restaurant, in the heart of Zurich, Switzerland. Prior to their departure in June 2010 the restaurant was awarded 18 Gault Millau points.

 

Commenting on the new team in a recent press statement Boris Granges, proprietor of Le Planteur and Viewpoint in Nyaung Shwe, said: “The appointment of Lucia and Felix Eppisser and the service for which Le Planteur is renowned will make sure that it remains the top fine dining venue in Myanmar and one of the best restaurants in Asia”.

 

Felix is in charge of the kitchen, while Lucia is the restaurant’s host. They offer a mix of European/Asian fusion cuisine, which made them famous at the Rigiblick. Boris remains the owner, but he will focus on new projects. We will report on these projects as and when they are ready to be announced.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

STAFF OUTING

 

After a busy month in November the staff of Asian Trails Myanmar enjoyed an afternoon of bowling and other leisure activities.

 

Asian Trails Myanmar’s management organises staff outings on a regular basis to motivate its employees, as well as for cross-cultural exchange between the different departments.

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS CAROLLING AT OLD FOLKS HOME

 

On 23 December some members of the Asian Trails Myanmar team went Christmas carolling at the old folks home that is run by the Catholic nuns, Little Sisters of the Poor. They sang carols such as Feliz Navidad, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, as well as songs in their native language. They also distributed cookies and wished all the inmates “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year". This is part of the company’s regular social activities.

 

 

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MALAYSIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Salam Sejahtera or Warm Greetings from Malaysia!

 

I am proud to introduce myself to you. My name is Emir Cherif and I am the new Managing Director of Asian Trails Malaysia. I took over this position from Serge Huber who    had been the company’s Managing Director for the last 10 years. I wish him all the best   going forward and thank him for the well-organised and smooth hand  over.


At the same time I take over a well-established team with great experience and from different backgrounds, whom I believe are our company’s biggest asset. They definitely reflect the diversity and richness of Malaysia. It is a real honour to be part of the team.

 

Last year was a good recovery year after the crisis and we now look forward to welcoming 2011, which will be a year of opportunities for our company.

 

We recently launched our specialised Asian department, which will be fully operational in the coming weeks with a highly skilled and experienced team. As we look forward to dealing with more intra-Asian travellers we have created special packages to meet their needs and expectations.

 

Last but not least, I would like to wish you a happy and successful new year. I also look forward to my first Chinese New Year in Malaysia.

 

Best regards,

 

Emir

Malaysia Truly Asia!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

ANNUAL TRIP TO KUANTAN

 

The annual trip was to Kuantan this year and Swiss Garden Resort hosted the team. The party’s theme was “Stars Heroes and Legends” and had the team members dressed as their favourite movie or TV characters, making the event extra colourful. There were also games galore and lucky draws for hotel stays. It was a fun and wonderful trip as it provided an opportunity for the team to bond even better.

 

 

NAJIB AND MANMOHAN LAUNCH LITTLE INDIA

 

Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, launched “Little India” in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur on 27 October 2010, strengthening the deep ties between the two countries.

 

The sprucing up of Brickfields was part of an urban project for greater Kuala Lumpur and an initiative to create a dynamic, vibrant, progressive and cosmopolitan city. This is now a new Brickfields, which showcases to the world the “Little India” in Malaysia

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

NIKKO REBRANDS AS INTER-CONTINENTAL KUALA LUMPUR

 

Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts (IHG) will debut in Malaysia in February this year with the rebranding of the Nikko Kuala Lumpur into Inter-Continental Kuala Lumpur. The 473-room hotel is located at Jalan Ampang in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s business, shopping and entertainment district.
 

Together with the recent signing of the Holiday Inn Express in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah IHG will have all its key brands operating in Malaysia when this hotel is operational

 

 

 

UPDATE ON HYATT REGENCY KINABALU’S RENOVATIONS         

 

Hyatt Regency Kinabalu in Sabah has completed its multi-million-ringgit guestroom renovation. All the renovated rooms are fitted with modern conveniences and feature a contemporary interior design, which complements the tropics. All guests to the hotel are now accommodated in the new rooms.

 

CITITEL PENANG COMPLETES REFURBISHMENT

 

Cititel Penang has completed its refurbishment exercise. The newly renovated Superior, Deluxe, Pinnacle and Executive Suite rooms pamper guests with well-appointed amenities and exclusive privileges.

 

The 4-star hotel is strategically located in Upper Penang Road, best known as the city’s hip dining and entertainment enclave. It offers 451 comfortably furnished rooms of various categories with panoramic views of the island’s north and south channels, including the iconic Penang Bridge. Its convenient accessibility to cultural and historical sites, quaint shops, bazaars, shopping malls, local eateries and pubs and its proximity to the city’s commercial, government and financial hub make Cititel Penang the perfect choice for a valued stay.                                                             

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

INTERNATIONAL SURFING COMPETITION
7-9 JANUARY 2011

VENUE: CHERATING, PAHANG

 

Sun, sea and surf! Cherating Beach beckons surfers with its fabulous wind, waves and views. The monsoon season is a fantastic time for action and adventure.

 

 

 

ROYAL LANGKAWI INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
11-15 JANUARY 2011

Venue: Langkawi Island

 

Catch the live action as yachts from various countries challenge each other on the high seas! This prestigious event draws yachtsmen and sailors from across the region to try and outrace one another.

 

 

 

LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI 2011

23 JANUARY- 1 FEBRUARY 2011

 

 

Asia’s premier cycling event, Le Tour de Langkawi 2011, is back! The race will go through seven states in Malaysia - Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and two Federal Territories namely Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

THAIPUSAM
29 JANUARY 2011


A truly spectacular event, Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival where devotees perform various rituals as acts of devotion and penance.


This day of penance and thanksgiving for Hindu devotees is held in honour of Lord Muruga or Lord Subramaniam. The festival is best experienced in Kuala Lumpur where the deity's jewelled chariot is led in a mass procession through the city’s streets, culminating at Batu Caves. An unforgettable sight is the thousands of devotees in a trance-like state carrying body-piercing kavadis (ornate frames). Thaipusam is celebrated on a big scale in Selangor, Penang, Melaka, Johor and Perak.

 

Main venue: Batu Caves temple, Kuala Lumpur

 

 

FEDERAL TERRITORY DAY
1 FEBRUARY 2011
 

VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR, LABUAN & PUTRAJAYA

 

The federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya celebrate Federal Territory Day with exciting parades, fireworks display, exhibitions and cultural shows. Most events are open to the public and do not require entrance fees.

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

3-4 FEBRUARY 2011

 

Chinese New Year marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and is celebrated over a 15-day period. Mandarin oranges and plum blossom stalks are popular as decorations in Chinese homes and shopping complexes for prosperity and good luck. Animated lion and dragon dance performances accompanied by energetic drums, gongs and cymbals add to the festive air. On Chinese New Year's eve family members hold reunion dinners followed by “open house” for relatives and friends.

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR OPEN HOUSE
13-14 FEBRUARY 2011

 

The “Open House” is a national level celebration, which showcases the culture and traditions of the Chinese community in Malaysia. The event is open to all, both locals and foreign visitors. This is an enjoyable event with lion and dragon dance performances as well as a wide spread of Chinese New Year goodies.

 

 

 

PROPHET MUHAMMED’S BIRTHDAY

15 FEBRUARY 2011

 

Muslims celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday or Maulud Nabi, on the 12th day of the third moon in the Muslim Calendar. Prophet Muhammad was born on 12 Rabiulawal in 570 AD. It was after his death that Muslims started celebrating his birthday.

 

 

 

PASIR GUDANG INTERNATIONAL KITES FESTIVAL
15-20 FEBRUARY 2011

 

Watch colourful kites soar across the sky! The town of Pasir Gudang in Johor will be in the limelight once again as participants from over 25 countries showcase their kite-flying skills.

 

 

NATIONAL CRAFT DAY 2010

23 FEBRUARY -7 MARCH 2011

VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR CRAFT COMPLEX

 

This event aims to promote and market handicraft and products directly to domestic and international consumers. Activities include sale of handicraft, exhibitions, sales missions, fashion shows and cooking demonstrations.

Craftsmen from all over Malaysia will show off their skill during this period.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MAS LAUNCHES DIRECT KL-RIYADH FLIGHT

 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) launched a thrice-weekly direct service from Kuala Lumpur to Riyadh on 17 December 2010, its second new destination in Saudi Arabia in the same year. The first is the twice-weekly service to Dammam via Dubai, which commenced on 5 May. The new service to Riyadh will boost travel between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. MAS also has six weekly direct flights to Jeddah.

 

 

MAS UPS PHNOM PENH FREQUENCY

 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has added two weekly flights to its daily Kuala Lumpur-Phnom Penh service. The flights operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays, arriving in Phnom Penh at 16.10 and departing at 17.10. The additional flights are to meet the growing market demand for the route. MAS was the first airline to operate at Phnom Penh International Airport when Cambodia re-opened to the world in 1992.

 

 

FIREFLY TO COMPETE FOR REGION’S BUDGET TRAVELLERS

 

Firefly, wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia’s only community airline, is set compete head-on with low-cost carrier, AirAsia, for budget travellers on domestic and regional routes. It has acquired six Boeing 737-800 aircraft, able to fly up to six hours without refuelling, to fly to capital and secondary cities within ASEAN, with plans to grow the fleet to 30 aircraft by 2015. Operating from the main terminal building of Kuala Lumpur International Airport the B737-800 aircraft will have the "lowest operating cost in Malaysia", which will translate into competitive airfares. Firefly has, to date, confirmed only domestic routes from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) and Kuching (Sarawak).

 

 

 

AIRASIA X LAUNCHES PARIS SERVICE

 

AirAsia X, the region’s only longhaul budget carrier, will launch four times weekly services from Kuala Lumpur to Paris, France on 14 February 2011 using the 327-seat Airbus A340 aircraft. The French capital city will be AirAsia X’s second European destination after London. The route will open up affordable access between Malaysia and Europe for both ASEAN and European communities.


 

 

 

AIRASIA X FLIES TO CHRISTCHURCH 

 

AirAsia X will launch direct four times weekly service from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch, New Zealand from 1 April 2011. The flights will open up routes and connectivity to New Zealand from Malaysia, as well as from India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, China and London via AirAsia X's Kuala Lumpur hub at the KL International Airport in Sepang.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

RAVI IS NEW INBOUND MANAGER

 

Ravi Gopal came on board last November as Inbound Manager for the Asian market. He brings with him a wealth of experience, as he has been involved with the tourism industry for over 25 years. His experience covers sales, marketing, management and product development in the international travel market.

 

 

 

SYAMIMI STRENGTHENS ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT

 

Syamimi binte Rossaidi, fondly called “Mimi” joined us in October as Accounts Assistant. She has two years of working experiences in a similar capacity.

We welcome Ravi and Mimi to Asian Trails Malaysia, and wish them all the best in their new jobs.

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

Yet another successful year comes to an end for Indonesia’s tourism with arriving numbers topping even the record year of 2009. But it was not necessarily a good year if it comes with tectonic and volcanic activities. First, was the closure of most airports in Europe due to volcanic ashes coming from Iceland, forcing many travellers to involuntarily extend their stays (even though some of them did not mind at all). Then at the end of October disaster struck twice at the same time in Indonesia - a tsunami bringing destruction and misery to the remote Mentawai island and the eruption of Mount Merapi, Indonesia’s most active volcano. Both natural disasters did not put international travellers in danger, but unfortunately many Indonesians were heavily affected by the loss of their livelihood and, in some cases, even their lives.

 

Following an appeal by the government to help the victims, Asian Trails allocated a sum of money to buy food and other necessities. Additionally, we collected old clothes within the company and send them to Yogjakarta. Our dear representatives in Java, Mr. Happy and Mr. Tono, visited the victims in their temporary homes near Yogjakarta and distributed the purchased and collected items to those in need. As of now there is a decrease in Mount Merapi’s activities, and life around the volcano is getting slowly back to normal. We fervently hope that Merapi will remain quiet for many years to come.

 

On behalf of the Asian Trails Indonesia team I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year. Many thanks for your great support to us in 2010. 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

TOP SPA DESTINATION IN ASIA

 

At the annual Asia Spa Magazine award ceremony in Hong Kong, Bali has once again emerged at the top position in the spa world. The awards honour the Asian spa industry's top spa personalities, destinations and products. This year’s event with the theme, "Emerald Green", saw more than 400 of the spa industry's top professionals attending the gala award ceremony in Hong Kong.
 

Bali garnered the largest block of awards, with each of the spas listed below bringing back to the island a coveted award trophy.

 

• Eco-Spa of the Year: Spa Alila, Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia 

• Asian Spa Capital of the Year: Bali, Indonesia 

• Spa Personality of the Year: Susan Stein, Jari Menari, Bali Indonesia 

• Spa Design of the Year: Oazia Spa, Oazia Spa Villas, Bali, Indonesia 

• Spa's Therapist Team of the Year: Jari Menari, Bali, Indonesia 

• Most Innovative Spa of the Year: The Spa at The Edge, Bali, Indonesia

 

 

DOMESTIC DEPARTURE AIRPORT TAX

 

Please be advised that the Indonesian government has raised the departure airport tax for domestic flights. The increase does not apply to all airports in Indonesia, but it affects airports such as Bali and Yogyakarta. The new tax is effective from 1 December 2010.

 

Domestic connections ex DPS:

Domestic connections ex AMI:

Domestic connections ex YOG:

Domestic connections ex UPG:

International connections ex DPS:

International connections ex AMI:

Rp 40.000 per person or USD 5.00 (current)

Rp 25.000 per person or USD 3.00 (current)

Rp 35.000 per person or USD 4.50 (current)

Rp 40.000 per person or USD 5.00 (current)

Rp 150.000 per person or USD 17.00 (current)

Rp 100.000 per person or USD 11.50 (current)

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

BALI JUNIOR GOLF TOURNAMENT

30 JANUARY 2011

 

The Indonesian Golf Association (PGI) will host the Bali Junior Golf Tournament at the new Kuta Golf Pecatu course on 30 January 2011. With the aim to stimulate interest in the game of golf among young people the tournament is open to all amateur golfers under the age of 18 years. Bali has many young golfers ready to take to the international stage once they entered the “adult league”. The tournament also showcases Bali to the international market as a destination, which has the courses and services to meet the requirements of golfers in all grades and leagues.

 

Venue: Kuta Golf Pecatu course, Bali

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

AWARDS FOR TWO BALI RESTAURANTS

 

The prestigious Miele Guide has recognised two Bali restaurants among its list of the top 20 Asian Restaurants. In the award ceremony held in Macau Ubud's Mozaic was ranked 6th best, while Kuta's KuDeTa came in at the 18th slot. The Miele Guide was created in 2008 to recognise Asia's best chefs and restaurants. This annual publication evaluates restaurants across the region and releases an annual ranking and profiling of Asia's Top 20 restaurants.

 

Asian Trails Indonesia, together with Mozaic Restaurant, offers weekly cooking classes that are hosted by master chefs Chris or James.

 

 

 

A JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF PERFUMES

 

Discover the “sweet smelling” side of Indonesia by taking a unique journey into the world of perfumes. Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest producers of raw ingredients used by the perfume industry and is thus the perfect place to explore the making of perfumes. Brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Jean-Paul Gautier use the finest Indonesian essences in their perfumes. This is the very reason "L'Atelier Parfums et Créations" designs a truly unique new experience in Bali – a Perfumery Studio - where you can create your own perfumes and discover the finest essences Indonesia has to offer.

Please contact us at  for more details on this new programme.

 

 

 

For more details  please click here

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

OASIS SANUR TO OPEN IN APRIL

 

The new Oasis Sanur is beginning to take shape and is set for a soft opening on 1 April 2011. Below are some fast facts about the new property, which will be the third Oasis hotel in Bali.

 

Rating:

4 star boutique

Rooms:

120 rooms comprising 66 deluxe rooms  (28sqm + 5sqm daybed balcony) 24 Lagoon access room (size 28sqm + own  bed pool direct to pool)o pool)  8 Rooms with private pool (size 28sqm +  28sqm private pool and deck  22 Duplex Suites (42sqm 2-storey room for 4  persons)

Facility:

SPA, meeting room (150sqm)

Restaurant:

AMBROSIA Restaurant & Wine Bar

 

 

SECOND HOTEL IN BALI FOR SANTIKA GROUP

 

Santika Kuta is the latest addition to the portfolio of hotels in the Santika Group. It is located in bustling Kuta and ideally located within walking distance of the famous beach and shopping and entertainment centres. The 101 well-appointed rooms are designed to give the guests an unbeatable experience in this elegant hotel. Complete with lavish bathrooms and entertainment equipment, a stay at the Santika is highly recommendable.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

GARUDA FLIES TO NEW HEIGHTS

 

Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier of Indonesia, has been ranked as the best airline, for service among all Southeast Asian airlines. The ranking, conducted by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), gave Garuda the highest service score of 8.48, followed by Bangkok Airways (8.4), Singapore Airlines (7.68), Thai Airways (7.32) and Malaysia Airlines (7.0).
 

The prestigious reward is a milestone for the three-year turnaround of Garuda. Not only has the airline gain honours for its excellent service, it is also planning new routes to USA and adds more routes to Europe, apart from the existing service to Amsterdam.

 

 

STRATEGIC FLYING TO BALI

 

Australian carrier, Strategic Airlines, has informed of its intention to fly between Brisbane and Bali beginning March 2011. The airline will service the sector two times a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, using an Airbus A330 aircraft that can accommodate 243 economy and 30 business class passengers. Strategic will not be the only airline flying the Brisbane-Bali route as Virgin Blue and Jetstar (via Darwin) are already operating seven times weekly flights on the same sector.

 

 

 

AIRASIA CONNECTS PHUKET WITH BALI

 

Thai AirAsia launched a new direct flight connecting Bali to Phuket (Thailand) on 17 December 2010. The new service, using the Airbus A320 aircraft with a seating capacity of 180 passengers, offers the only direct connection between the two destinations. The four times weekly flights are on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

 

 

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