Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue January 2013

Dear Friends,

 

Happy New Year! We are pleased to state that 2012 has been a good year for Asian Trails. For this we have to say a big "Thank You" for your strong support. We look forward to another fruitful year of working together in 2013.

 

The New Year will also see some new trends in travel. Instant and personalised service is one. With technology becoming such an intrinsic part of our daily life there is also growing popularity for "technology-free" and "digital detox" programmes, as travellers want to switch off while on holidays.

 

Our teams have also observed that tourists to their destinations are looking beyond the usual offerings. Example, Indonesia is gaining popularity as a round-trip destination with visitors wanting to discover this vast country instead of just spending their days on the beaches of Bali.

 

We are enhancing our products, as well as creating new innovative programmes to meet with these changing trends and demands so as to give your clients truly unique travel experiences.

 

On February 10, Chinese all over the world will usher in the Year of the Snake. To our Chinese friends and partners we wish you already now "Gong Xi Fa Cai". May the Snake bring you good health, wealth and happiness!  

 

Happy Trails!

 

Luzi A. Matzig

C E O

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

A NOTE FROM Managing Director ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

Dear Friends,
 

I hope you had an excellent start into the New Year, and I would like to extend my best wishes for a healthy and successful year! 

 

We had a very busy December. At the end of last year we did not only have full hotels at Thailand's beaches and in the north of the country, we also experienced a situation where most Bangkok hotels were fully booked over the New Year period. We have already received many sales stops for the upcoming Chinese New Year period. If you have any clients who wish to visit Thailand between February 8 and 14 and have not booked yet, I recommend to proceed with the booking as soon as possible. 

 

A New Year is also a time of reflection, new ideas and inspirations; we have some new excursion possibilities as well as new hotels' openings. I would like to highlight Sala Rattanakosin, Bangkok and Sala Ayutthaya, which are ideal for the start of a round trip with boutique hotels from Bangkok to the north of the county.  

 

Happy reading!  

Roger Haumueller 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS TEAM AT PATA 40TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER

 

Mr. Luzi Matzig, CEO OF Asian Trails (pictured centre in white shirt), and his team joined in the celebrations at PATA Thailand Chapter 40th Anniversary dinner, which was held at the British Club on November 15, 2012.

 

 

 

CELEBRATING A JOB WELL DONE!

 

Photo: Our Chinese Inbound team celebrating the successful handling of the 180-pax incentive group from an insurance company in China.

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

DINNER ON GONDOLA BOAT, KOH CHANG

 

Enjoy a memorable dinner in a traditional Thai boat called "Ruea Mat", also known as the Koh Chang gondola, around the mangrove forest.After the romantic dinner we take you to visit the rustic community at the Salak Khok Fisherman Village and to enjoy a Thai dancing show, performed by students, before returning to your hotel.    

 

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

DISCOVER KOH CHANG'S WAY OF LIFE

 

Exploration of the Koh Chang area would not be complete without a visit to Salak Khok. We start with sightseeing at the biggest lush tropical mangrove forest of Koh Chang, followed by a visit to Salak Khok's fisherman village to see how the local fishermen go about their daily life. This is a pint-sized fishing village, which screams authenticity, with houses built along a series of boardwalks that snake around the canals of a mangrove forest. Here you can go kayaking or explore the mangrove forests in a Thai row boat. The journey continues with a visit to a primary school and local Thai temple in Salak Phet Village. On the way back, we visit Baan Ruk Kala where you can shop for souvenirs made of coconut shells.

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

EXPLORE BANGKOK BY NIGHT

 

The tour starts with exploring bustling Chinatown, a popular tourist attraction and food haven. This 1km-strip is packed with market stalls, street-side restaurants and a dense concentration of gold shops. Continue the journey to Pakklong Talaad, the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok. Drive to Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing. From here we continue on foot, passing Bangkok Metropolitan Office and the Democracy Monument. Dinner is at a sidewalk café, Rajchadamnoen. Then travel by tram around the Ratanakosin area, which offers fantastic views of the "must see" attractions in Bangkok - Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Golden Mount, Wat Ratchanaddaram, Democracy Monument, City Pillar Shrine, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, National Theatre and Santi Chaiprakarn Park. The night ends with a visit to Khao San Road, which is famously described as "the centre of the backpacking universe".

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

THAI COOKING CLASS AT BAI PAI COOKING SCHOOL

 

There is no better place or way to learn Thai cooking in a cooking class when you are in Thailand than at the Bai Pai Cooking School. This is an ideal home-style learning environment that is different from most of those offered by hotels and restaurants. The class is conducted by qualified Thai personnel who give you a real hands-on experience on the fine art of Thai cooking. You will be amazed at what you can cook up.  

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK

 

SALA RATTANAKOSIN, BANGKOK

 

This boutique hotel is set to debut in January 2013. It is conveniently located in Bangkok's old city, within walking distance to numerous tourist attractions and historical sites. Sala Rattanakosin Bangkok features 17 stylish rooms and suites, most with spectacular views of the mighty Chao Phraya River, the inspiring Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho). The hotel also features The River, a romantic riverfront dining experience, and The Roof Lounge, an exciting rooftop bar with dramatic views of the Chao Phraya River and the Temple of Dawn.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

AYUTTHAYA

 

SALA AYUTTHAYA

 

Sala Ayutthaya, opening in March 2013, is located in the heart of Ayutthaya along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, opposite the famous Wat Phutthaisawa (Phutthaisawan Temple). It is about 90km or a 1-1½  hour drive from Bangkok.

 

This exciting new property is one of the new small, exclusive boutique brand hotels from Thailand based SALA Resorts and Spa. It consists of 27 stylish guestrooms and suites, including the luxurious two-level Riverfront Duplex Suite and the romantic one-bedroom Pool Suite. Adjacent to the lobby and reception area is the stunning Sala Ayutthaya art gallery, which features historical paintings and artwork from various artists.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

CHIANG MAI

 

IBIS STYLES CHIANG MAI

 

The former All Seasons Chiang Mai Hotel has been rebranded Ibis Styles Chang Mai, the first ibis Styles hotel in Thailand. This 70-room hotel fits with the brand's standard of personalised, trendy accommodation that is well designed with savvy and modern decor in lively colour tones. It offers a fantastic combination of comfort and design where guests can enjoy international standard services at affordable prices.  

 

The hotel is currently building an extension that will add another 100 rooms, a restaurant, a swimming pool and a meeting room. It is scheduled to be completed by May 2013.  

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PATTAYA

CAPE DARA RESORT PATTAYA

 

Cape Dara Resort is a five star beach resort in Pattaya, which dominates a cape overlooking the private Dara Beach north of Pattaya Bay. This green area is close to Pattaya's facilities and attractions, and yet well protected from the urban hustle and bustle.  

 

The luxury resort rises to 26 storeys and has an adjacent seafront five-storey building and a VIP integrated vacation house. All the guestrooms, suites and villas have open-sky views and commands panoramic ocean view of Pattaya. F&B facilities comprise all-day alfresco dining, a fine-dining Cantonese restaurant, a café and bakery, two beach and poolside bars and a chic sky lounge. It also has a spa, high-tech karaoke lounge and meeting facilities.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PHUKET

PULLMAN PHUKET ARCADIA NAITHON BEACH

 

The resort, about a 15-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, will officially open in February 2013. Perched on the headland overlooking the crystal water of the Andaman Sea, Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach Resort has 277 contemporary rooms, villas and pool villas. It has two restaurants (Italian and an all-day dining serving international cuisine), three bars and a bakery/deli. Facilities include eight state-of-the-art meeting rooms catering for up to 250, kids club, fitness centre, spa, connectivity lounge, main pool and kids pool. For the more active guests there are snorkelling, diving and beach walks.

 

For more details please click here

 

TUNE HOTEL PATONG

 

Malaysia based Tune Hotels opens its latest property, Tune Hotel Patong, in January 2013. Located in the heart of Patong beach the new hotel welcomes guest into the New Year with special rates. It has 144 rooms, comprising 96 doubles, 46 twin rooms and two wheel-chair-friendly rooms. With Patong Beach situated centrally on Phuket's coastline it is close to other beaches and attractions such as national parks, waterfalls, golf, water sports, adjacent beaches, shopping, bars and restaurants, Phuket Aquarium and Phuket Fantasea. It is about 30km from Phuket International Airport.

 

Tune Hotel Patong is the value branded hotel chain's fourth hotel in Thailand, after Tune Hotel Hat Yai, Tune Hotel Pattaya and Tune Hotel Asoke in Bangkok.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

RAYONG

RAYONG MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA

 

The well-appointed new 206 guestroom Rayong Marriott Resort & Spa is situated on Mae Pim Beach.All rooms have private balconies and offer panoramic ocean or hillside view, and are equipped with LCD televisions, separate bathtubs and showers, bathrobes and hair dryers. Wireless Internet access is available, and business amenities include a business centre and secretarial services. F&B outlets include three restaurants and a bar/lounge. Among the resort's facilities are a sauna, children's pool, concierge desk, gift shops/newsstands, barbecue grill, smoke-free area and kids wonderland. It is perfect for families.

 

 

For more details please contact us

 

 

KOH SAMUI

VANA BELLE, KOH SAMUI

 

Vana Belle, Koh Samui, a Luxury Collection Resort, opening in January 2013, offers a retreat to a space that is spacious, elegant and filled with opulence. Its 80 air-conditioned guestrooms offer full-service facilities, an outdoor private pool, complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access, iPod docking stations, LCD TV, DVD player and valet service. Facilities include exceptional dining venues, outdoor pool, spa, fitness centre, yoga classes and a concierge desk. The hotel is about 7 kilometres from Samui International Airport

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 9 - 10, 2013
VENUE: CHINATOWN, BANGKOK

 

Chinese New Year Festival on Yaowarat Road is the most important event for the Thai Chinese community in Bangkok. This area, also known as Chinatown, is also where most of them live and ply their trade selling a variety of Chinese good and operating Chinese restaurants and eateries, most of which are along the road. During Chinese New Year the Chinese here celebrate the festival on a lavish scale and stage Thai and Chinese cultural performances. The colourful festival is a must see for visitors.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

BERJAYA AIR FLIES TO HUA HIN

 

Malaysia's Berjaya Air commenced three times weekly service between Subang Airport (Kuala Lumpur) and Hua Hin on November 8, 2012. It is the first regional airline service to fly direct to Hua Hin. The flights are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, using the 70-seat ATR72 aircraft.

 

Berjaya Air currently flies to Tioman Island, Redang Island, Pangkor, Langkawi in Malaysia and Singapore from its base in Subang.  

 

JAPAN AIRLINES, BANGKOK AIRWAYS BEGIN CODESHARE SERVICE

 

Japan Airlines (JAL) and Bangkok Airways (PG) launched their codeshare service on November 15, 2012. It is applicable on selected flights between three airports in Japan and Bangkok operated by JAL, as well as between Bangkok and four destinations in Asia on PG.

 

Customers on both airlines travelling from Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports and Osaka's Kansai airport will see a smoother transit through Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport and onward to Mumbai, Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and vice versa. The two carriers have also linked their mileage programmes, enabling members on both sides to redeem award tickets on either airline for departures on or after November 15.   

 

 

 

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LAOS

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJöERN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends

 

A new year has begun and we guarantee that we will come up with new innovative products over the year, while doing our best to offer you the best value for money!

 

As in previous years we expect a stable environment in Laos with almost the same volume of long haul travellers. This will ensure that Laos maintains its uniqueness.

 

I especially would like to mention the new air connection with Bangkok Airways (Bangkok to Vientiane), which makes it much more convenient to connect to Laos with only very short waiting time at Bangkok airport.

 

Happy reading and we are looking forward to welcome you to beautiful Laos!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

ASEAN TOURISM FORUM IN VIENtiane, January 2013

   

The Asean Tourism Forum takes place in Vientiane from January 17-24, 2013. We look forward to meeting you at our booth and welcoming you to beautiful Laos! 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

MANDALA HOTEL, VIENTIANE

 

Mandala Hotel, Vientiane is a boutique hotel is located in a quiet street about a 15-minute walk to the city centre and a 15-minute drive from the airport. It has 17 rooms, including five suites, in an old colonial building that has been renovated. The hotel is ideal for FITs.

 

 

SPECIAL PROMOTION - PHOUVAO Orient express, Luang Prabang

 

Special promotion from Phouvao Orient Express:

• USS100 resort credit to be spent at the resort

• Applicable for new FIT bookings with 3 nights' minimum stay

• Valid until March 31, 2013  

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

LAO ELEPHANT FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 17-19, 2013
VENUE: SAYABOURY DISTRICT

 

Laos, also known as the "Land of a Million Elephants'", will host the 6th annual Lao Elephant Festival in the district of Sayaboury from 17 to 19 February. Set up by ElefantAsia, a non-profit organisation, it features 50 elephants as well as a variety of activities and performances.

 

VAT PHOU FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 23-25, 2013
VENUE: VAT PHOU

 

The annual Vat Phou Festival is held annually during the full-moon night of the third lunar month. This year it is falls on February 23 and the celebrations will continue till February 25. Activities include parades, traditional sports competitions such as boat racing, concerts, market fairs, and light and sound stage shows.

Vat Phou was designated a World Heritage site in 2001. The temple complex is about 8km from Champasak town, south of Pakse.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

Bangkok Airways relaunches BANGKOK-VIENTIANE SERVICE

 

Bangkok Airways resumed services on the Bangkok (BKK) to Vientiane (VTE) route, which it previously operated during the 2007/2008 winter season, on December 1, 2012. The daily flights on the 500km route to the Lao capital city are operated using the Airbus A319 aircraft.

 

The flight schedule is convenient for travellers as it connects with long haul flights arriving in early morning at Bangkok's international airport.  

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

Restaurant Ban Lakkham - Luang Prabang

 

Restaurant Ban Lakkham is located on the banks of the Nam Khan River, overlooking the beautiful landscape of the surrounding area and the mountains. There are more than 40 seats on the terrace, which is surrounded by big trees. The restaurant serves Lao and Western dishes and is ideal for lunch and dinner.

 

 

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CAMBODIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR JACQUES GUICHANDUT

 

Dear Partners and Friends,

 

The year 2012 has been an incredible one for all of us at Asian Trails Cambodia. We have seen a big increase in the number of visitors to the Kingdom of Cambodia, reaching almost 2.5 million. We hope 2013 will be even more successful.

 

My supportive Cambodian team and I wish all of you a healthy and peaceful New Year 2013!

 

Happy New Year - Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey! 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

FUNERAL CEREMONIES OF H.M. LATE KING FATHER NORODOM SIHANOUK: FEBRUARY 1-5, 2013

 

Millions of Cambodian people from all over the Kingdom and all walks of life will throng the streets and areas around the Royal Palace in the capital city of Phnom Penh to pay their last respect and homage to His Majesty Late King Father Norodom Sihanouk during the five consecutive day event.

 

 

DAILY BANGKOK- PHNOM PENH, SIEM REAP BUS SERVICES LAUNCHED


The Transport Company launched a daily bus service between Bangkok in Thailand and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia on December 29, 2012. Crossing the border from Aranyaprathet on the Thailand side to Poipet in Cambodia the bus operates twice-daily service to Siem Reap and daily to Phnom Penh. The service to Siem Reap, which is about a seven-hour journey, departs from the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal Chatuchak (Morchit). 

 

This is the first public bus service between Cambodia and Thailand, and the only alternative to airline services. A rail service has been proposed. The rail tracks, expected to be fully laid by end 2013, will be used for only cargo services. 

 

 

SINGLE VISA FOR THAILAND AND CAMBODIA

 

A single visa for Thailand and Cambodia was launched on December 27, 2012 at the countries' consulates and embassies. This is a test phase of a wider project called ACMECS (Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) Single Visa involving Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar that originated in 2005 under the concept, "Five Countries, One Destination".  

 

The Thailand-Cambodia single visa is initially valid for 35 countries as of December 27. Tourists can now apply for a visa at any consulate office of the two countries. However, the process will take longer than applying for a single-country visa as it will involve checking with the partner country and, possibly, cross checking for security purposes.  

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PHNOM PENH

 

FRANGIPANI ROYAL PALACE HOTEL

 

Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel is located in the heart of Phnom Penh on the edge of the city's art district, and a few minutes walk from the bustling river front area and the historic Royal Palace. With a roof top pool and restaurant, spa and spacious comfortable rooms the hotel is the perfect base from where to explore Cambodia's capital.

 

All the 80 guestrooms feature elegant contemporary Cambodian design. Each room has a writing desk, mini bar, room phone, 70+-channel cable TV, tea- and coffee-making facilities and complimentary drinking water provided daily. Internet access is available in all the rooms via Wifi and cable connection.   

 

 

 

THE SANGKUM

 

The Sangkum, a boutique hotel, is conveniently located in a residential area that used to be the old French colonial heart of Phnom Penh during the protectorate. The 12 spacious and comfortable rooms are equipped with telephone, plasma TV, speakers' dock for MP3 players, safe box, hairdryer and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Out of sight from the busy streets, the garden and swimming pool area is a haven of privacy and tranquillity. The restaurant is entirely outdoor al fresco and is directly linked to the garden, with the patio and bar creating a large and cool open space

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

ANGKOR VILLAGE HOTEL TO CLOSE FOR RENOVATION

 

In our continuous effort to improve our facilities and enhance your guests' experience, we would like to inform you that Angkor Village Hotel will be undergoing a renovation programme from April 23, 2013 until November 3, 2013. Angkor Village Resort will remain open to welcome your guests during the hotel's closure.

 

Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to welcome your guests at Angkor Village Hotel again during the next high season. 

 

 

 

KEP

 

LE FLAMBOYANT RESORT

 

Le Flamboyant Resort, located at the foot of Kep National Hill Park, re-opened on December 1, 2012 on completion of its renovations. The 10 existing bungalows have been upgraded, and an additional 18 news bungalows were built in the big garden. New facilities that include a second swimming pool, a new restaurant-bar and a conference centre, extends the resort's range of services for its guests.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

VICTORY DAY OVER GENOCIDE REGIME
JANUARY 7, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

This national holiday commemorates Vietnamese-backed troops taking over the capital city Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge in 1979. It marks the end of the Kampuchea Democratic regime after its defeat by the Vietnamese. The day also honours those who were killed in the genocide and who sacrificed their lives in restoring peace to the country. Colourful ceremonies are held at the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach) to celebrate Victory Day.

 

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR
FEBRUARY 10, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

The first day of Chinese New Year 2013 (Chun Jie/春节) will be celebrated on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Chinese New Year is the biggest annual event for the Chinese communities when families gather for reunion dinners and friends visit each other. The Chinese people also decorate their houses with paper-cuts and couplets displaying auspicious words such as "happiness", "wealth", "longevity" and "good fortune". The essence of Chinese New Year is to pacify, reconcile and forgive each other's mistakes and is welcomed with great joy.

 

 

 

ANGKOR WAT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 1-3, 2013
VENUE: SOFITEL ANGKOR PHOKEETHRA GOLF & SPA RESORT, SIEM REAP

 

The mission of the Angkor Wat International Film Festival is to showcase and celebrate feature films, documentaries and short subjects, both in live action and animated, created in digital or film media, whose subjects and themes deal with the preservation of culture and environment.

 

The festival is sponsored by and will be held at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort in Siem Reap. The organisers will give all proceeds, funds and donations to children's charities in Cambodia.  

 

 

 

MEAK BOCHEA DAY
FEBRUARY 25, 2013
VENUE: WATS (PAGODAS) THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

Meak Bochea is celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month. It is an important Buddhist celebration, which marks the spontaneous gathering of 1,250 monks to listen to Buddha's sermons. The gathering was attributed to four miracles occurring nine months after Buddha's enlightenment on the day of the full moon during the third lunar month. The priests observed Buddha's three primary principles - do excellently, avoid bad activities, and cleanse the brain. Cambodians from all over the country go to wats (pagodas) on this day to pray and make offerings of food to the monks.

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS TO FLY DAILY BETWEEN DOHA AND PHNOM PENH

 

Qatar Airways will operate a daily flight between Doha and Phnom Penh from February 20, 2013. The new flights will enable passengers from both cities to connect with destinations worldwide served by Qatar and its partner airlines. 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

SIEM REAP

MARUM RESTAURANT

 

Feeling adventurous? Then red ant fritters are on the menu at Marum, a new training restaurant and sister restaurant of Romdeng, the successful Friends International eatery in Phnom Penh.

Friends International-run Marum aims to train 35 students while serving a mix of "creative Cambodian cuisine" in its leafy garden setting in Wat Polanka area. As for the food, Marum combines the traditional Khmer food of Romdeng with its tapas-style menu. It is open from 5pm to 10pm, Mondays to Saturdays. 

 

 

 

MIE CAFE RESTAURANT

 

Mie Café Restaurant is one of Siem Reap's best-kept secret with its array of innovative and tasty dishes cooked by a young, talented Cambodian chef who puts his heart in his menus and in the kitchen. A seasoned chef, he has worked in Dubai, Cayman Islands and in a famous three star Michelin restaurant in Switzerland.

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

GOODBYE VICHANA

 

We would like to say a big thank to our dedicated Product Manager, Mr. Vichana Huot (pictured), who is leaving Asian Trails Cambodia to take up a new position in the hotel industry. He has contributed a lot to the company and did a very good job during his tenure with us. We wish him good luck and success in his future professional and personal life.

 

Mr. Pao Putsereyroth takes over the position of Product Manager effective January 1, 2013.  

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Chúc mừng năm mới - Happy New Year! We will say farewell to the Dragon soon and welcome the Snake on February 10, 2013 when Chinese worldwide celebrate Chinese New Year. 2013 is the Year of the Black Snake, or Year of the Snake sleeping in winter. Some astrologers warn that there may be some hard times ahead. However, according to popular beliefs a snake in the house could mean luck. There is also a saying, "go ahead if you see a snake, step back if you see a turtle".  We are thus convinced we would overcome any crisis in the new year.

 

The snake also inspires us to move fast and be smart. Our team will be enlarging the travel horizon, snaking into the spectacular mountains, evergreen forest, through immense caves or along the rivers, countryside to bring you fresh insights of new destinations, beautiful places to discover and enchanting people to meet.

 

Like the snake we want to be smarter and more flexible in accommodating individual needs and surprising our guests. We are working hard to be innovative and offer exclusive travel experience. The new art of travel will help you and us gain confidence and revitalise the thirst of travelling for our clients. Together we will forge ahead successfully as we set to welcome the Year of the Snake. 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

INCREASE IN FEES FOR VISA ON ARRIVAL

 

Vietnam Ministry of Finance has issued a new regulation that requires all foreigners applying for Visa on Arrival (VoA) to enter Vietnam to pay higher fees from January 1, 2013. The new fee for a single-entry visa has been increased from USD25 to USD45, applicable to foreigners and Vietnamese holding foreign passports. The rate for multi-entry visa is also increased to USD65 for a period of less than one month.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need further information. 

 

 

HUE IMPERIAL CITY UNDERGOES RESTORATION

 

The People Committee of Hue City and Hue Monuments Conservation Center will star intensive restoration projects on some key monuments this year. Ngo Mon Gate and Dien Tho Pavillon (King's Mother Pavilion), built inside Imperial City, are on the list for restoration. During the renovation period the whole site remains open and visitors to the Imperial City will not be affected much by the ongoing work.

 

The Hue Monuments Conservation Centre will undertake work to preserve the brick foundations of the former Quoc Tu Giam (Royal College) following its excavation last September. The excavation could help archaeologist better preserve the vestiges of the former Hue Imperial City. 

 

 

 

HUE AIRPORT EXPECTED TO CLOSE FOR EIGHT MONTHS

 

Hue Airport is expected to close for eight months from March to November 2013 for runway repair. However, there is no official announcement from Vietnam Airlines on the closure yet. We are working on a back-up plan and some itineraries might have to be re-arranged, as clients have to fly to and from the central region through the Danang hub.

 

For existing confirmed bookings our travel consultants will contact you in due course once there is confirmation of Hue Airport's closure. 

 

 

CAO BANG: NEW RESORT TO BOOST DESTINATION

 

Cao Bang is a province in north eastern Vietnam. It shares borders with Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Bac Kan and Lan Son provinces within Vietnam.  The province is home to many people belonging to Vietnam's ethnic minority groups, the most notable being Tay, Nung, Dao and Hmong. Tourist attractions are handicraft villages, the spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfall, Nguom Ngao Cave and other historic sights. So far, it has been frequented by domestic tourists and the more adventurous travellers in search of natural beauty, trekking and willing to stay in local accommodation.

 

Recently, Saigon Tourist has started the construction of a four star resort at Ban Gioc waterfalls in Trung Khanh district to attract more tourists to the province. Covering 31 hectares Saigon-Ban Gioc Resort will have 60 rooms, 24 villas, a 200-seat conference hall and a recreation area. The first phase of the project is expected to be operational by late 2013. The resort is the first of its kind in Cao Bang province, and is expected to play an important role in provincial tourism development. 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

Health AND WELLNESS SERVICE IN HOI AN

 

Tourists to Hoi An looking to rejuvenate and destress will find the Wellness & Healing Center the ideal venue. This health retreat is located in a peaceful area by the river, about five minutes from the ancient town. Owned by a French couple it is a simple but relaxing place with a beautiful garden that is arranged according to the spirit of the proposed activities and feng shui rules.

 

The owners practise traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture and massage) and teach qigong, tai chi, meditation and yoga. There are several health packages ranging from half or full day, as well as for groups (from two to 10 people). The packages comprise the following: practice of qigong and/or tai chi, yoga, meditation; lectures on basic principles of Chinese medicine; individual treatments or massages; healthy drinks made of local products & herbs; tasty lunch made with the best seasonal and local products cooked by a Vietnamese chef.

 

Please contact us for consultation on the right option.  

 
 

UNIQUE SALTED RICE FEAST REVIVED BY HUE'S CULINARY ARTISAN

 

In the olden days salted rice was prepared and offered in honour of special guests. The salted rice feast is the best-kept secret of Hue royal cuisine, which has been preserved for generations. It is an art to prepare this special meal. Rice is pounded and cooked in a small earthenware pot in a special way that it remains dry when cooked. The salt used has been kept for more than 10 years, and then roasted before it is added to the rice.

 

The salted rice feast is not much known, but one of Vietnam's living treasures has revived this unique gastronomical delight and presents it to visitors. For this the talented lady has been granted the title, "Culinary Artisan of Hue", which is certified by the prestigious French and Vietnamese Gastronomy Institutes. This legendary Hue lady offers salted rice feast, street food tour, cooking class, home hosted meals are just a few that the legendary Hue lady devoted to amaze you, in her typical traditional ancient garden-house.

 

 

BHAYA CRUISES UPDATE: BRAND NEW FOUR-CABIN BHAYA LEGEND LAUNCHED

 

The elegantly designed new four-cabin Bhaya Legend is the largest boat of the Legend private fleet, It is perfect for individuals, couples, families and friends wishing to experience an exclusive, private, customized charter cruise in Halong Bay and The Gulf of Tonkin.

 

With emphasis on comfort, space and light, all four ensuite cabins feature a private balcony, a wide floor-to-ceiling glass door and a large bathroom with a bathtub and a separate rain shower. The private butler in service during the entire cruise and an amazing open kitchen complete the feeling of exclusivity.

 

 

 

BHAYA CRUISES UPDATE: AU CO LAUNCHES SECOND SHIP

 

Au Co has launched its second vessel in Halong, Au Co 2, which continues on the success of its sister ship that has been cruising since April 2012. The first-class twin vessels offer state-of-the-art-design, each offering 32 spacious and luxurious cabins, all with private balconies. 

 

Au Co is the first and only cruise operator offering continuous 3 days/2 nights voyages with daily departure to explore the beauty of Halong Bay and the less frequented destinations of the Gulf of Tonkin.

 

 

 

BHAYA CRUISES UPDATE: EMERAUDE's NEW CABINS

 

The Emeraude's annual rite of passage through northern Vietnam's dry docks concluded recently and the cruising vessel emerged with deluxe bathrooms and completely refreshed cabins. The new bathrooms feature rain showerheads, new sinks and repositioned toilets. The makeover also trades in the old school nautical feel for softer mosaics new wallpaper that adorns the cabin walls, new mattresses, and new bed linens.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

UPDATE ON FUSION ALYA HOI AN

 

We would like to update you on the progress of construction works at Fusion Alya Hoi An. Although most of the construction has been completed a change in investors for the project has unexpectedly delayed its opening, mainly due to legal matters. Its scheduled opening is now in May 2013. Bookings for stays from May 15 2013 onwards will be accepted.

 

 

 

OPENING OF EDEN SAIGON HOTEL

 

The four star Eden Saigon Hotel will open in late January 2013. Located right in downtown Saigon, just five minutes' walk to the famous Ben Thanh market, it offers 129 comfortable well furnished guestrooms with simple designs. Facilities include a massage area. fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool, bar with view of the city, and 600sqm of conference space to accommodate more than 400 people. The hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travellers.

 

 

HERITAGE LINE CRUISES' ANNUAL MAINTENANCE

 

We would like to inform you that Heritage Line Cruises will undergo its annual maintenance during Summer 2013. Below is the schedule for your update. Please contact us for more information.

 

HALONG Cruises:
Ginger: May 1-31, 2013
Jasmine: June 1-30, 2013
Violet: September 1-30, 2013
 

MEKONG Cruises:
Jayavarman: April 20, 2013-August 2, 2013
Jahan: April 27, 2013-May 31, 2013

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

5TH HUE TRADITIONAL CRAFT FESTIVAL 2013
APRIL 27-May 1, 2013
VENUE: HUE

 

The festival promotes the achievement of traditional craft and is held once every two years. Themed "Craft villages in tourism development", it will take place at the centre of Hue City.

 

Participating in the festival are the traditional craft villages in Thua Thien Hue and other provinces that will introduce products like palm-leaf conical hats, paper flowers, lanterns, kites, silver and gold jewellery, and embroidery to visitors. Main activities include exhibition and introduction of handicrafts, as well as shopping service for visitors. There will also be a craft village fair, art photo exhibition on craft villages, instruction of making traditional handicrafts; artisans meeting and art performance. Visitors will get to sample selective culinary specialty food such as spring rolls (nem), grilled chopped meat (cha), and sour shrimp (tom chua). 

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OPENS IN PHU QUOC

 

Phu Quoc International Airport became operational on December 2, 2012. The new airport replaces the old Phu Quoc Airport in Duong Dong Town, which has been shut down. It is located a bit further from the main resort stretch.

 

The 900-ha terminal, with a 3,000 metre-long and 45 meter-wide runway, is capable of receiving Boeing 777s, Boeing 747- 400s, and similar aircraft, and some 2.6 million passengers a year.

 

Since December 12, 2012 Vietnam Airlines has added five flights per week from Hanoi to Phu Quoc, the longest domestic flight (2 hours, 25 minutes) in the country. Private budget carrier, VietJet Air, operates a daily flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc.  

 

 

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES LAUNCHES DIRECT ROUTE TO INDONESIA

 

Vietnam Airlines, has launched a direct route linking Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta in Indonesia. The flights are on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

 

This new connection not only serves the growing demand for transport between Vietnam and Indonesia, but also contributes to strengthening bilateral relations and boosting ASEAN connectivity and integration towards an ASEAN Community aviation market by 2015. 

 

 

FINNAIR TO OPEN A DIRECT ROUTE TO HANOI IN SUMMER 2013

 

Starting on June 14, 2013 Finnair will begin three times weekly service to Hanoi from its hub in Helsinki in its summer schedule until October 27. The flights, using the Airbus A330 aircraft, will be 10 hours 10 minutes from Helsinki to Hanoi and 10 hours 55 minutes on the return leg. The airline does not add capacity with this route, but will make small adjustments to its summer schedules. Hanoi will be the airline's 12th destination in Asia.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

BAMBOO BUDDHA RESTAURANT IN HOI AN

 

We would like to introduce Bamboo Buddha, a new gourmet restaurant and lounge in Hoi An. It is located on An Hoi islet, a 2-minute walk from Bach Dang and the Japanese bridge in the city's ancient quarter. With spacious seating in the restaurant, bar and the lounges on the first floor and in the courtyard. Bamboo Buddha is the newest and coolest venue in Ho An to meet for a meal or drink, chill and unwind. 

 

 

 

HILL STATION SIGNATURE RESTAURANT OPENS IN SAPA

 

Hill Station Signature Restaurant is a newly opened restaurant from Hill Station Delicatessen & Boutique, a European style delicatessen. Located in a traditional house with contemporary interiors it has a capacity for up to 80 paxs. and offers spectacular view of the valley. This is the first restaurant in Sapa to serve traditional ethnic cuisine from different villages around Sapa. The chefs cook the food live on an open fire inside the restaurant so customers can see and experience how the food is traditionally prepared.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

A NEW WORLD RAMSAR SITE FOR VIETNAM 

 

This southernmost province's Mui Ca Mau (Ca Mau Cape) National Park has been recognised as a new world Ramsar site, the fifth in Vietnam. The World Environment Organisation announced the official recognition of the park on December 13, 2012. Of the other four Ramsar sites, two are in the north and two in the south.

 

The national park is one of the three main parts of the Ca Mau Cape global biosphere reserve, which was recognised by UNESCO on May 26 2009. The 41,862-hectare site, including 15,262 hectares of land and 26,600 hectares of coastal areas, is mainly saline wetlands. It is home to 93 species of birds, 26 species of animals, 43 species of reptiles, nine species of amphibians, 233 fish species, including many rare ones. With this new title Ca Mau hopes to attract more tourists to discover its diversified wildlife and ecosystem.  

 

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Veronique Ducassy

 

China will celebrate New Year twice - 2013 New Year with a three-day public holiday from January 1 to 3, and Chinese New Year on February 10.

 

Asian Trails China office will be closed from January 1 to 3. Asian Trails China would like to say thank you for your continuous support and look forward to welcoming you in China. 

 

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

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

ETERNAL KASHGAR - XINJIANG PROVINCE

 

In ancient times Kashgar was a crossroads for traders and gathering place for tribal people across the region. Today, it reflects all the cultural flavour of many ethnic groups who live in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The atmosphere of the city is more like Central Asia's neighbouring countries - the colours of the women's clothes, the smell of the food and the bustling crowd.

 

A unique sight is the Tower houses, which stand on a 40-metre high and 800-metre long cliff at the north-eastern end of Kashgar old town alongside the new city areas.

 

Another attraction is Karakul Lake (pictured), which is about 191km away from Kashgar City and accessible through the Gobi Desert and past snow capped mountains. Situated 3,600 metres above sea level the lake is said to be the dressing mirror of the nearby mountains. The gleaming snow and marshmallow clouds set off the extraordinary blue plateau lake, adding a poetic element to the scene. Only a short drive away is the Pamir Plateau, with the 5,100-metre high China-Pakistan border nearby.  

 

 

CLIMB, PLAY AND PRAY: MOUNT WUTAI - SHANXI PROVINCE

 

Mount Wutai is one of the numerous holiday destinations to recharge from the hustle and bustle of the cities (the rest are in articles following this).

 

Located in the north-eastern part of Shanxi Province Mount Wutai is about half way between Taiyuan, the provincial capital, and Datong. It has five peaks, as in its name, and all are accessible. It is home to many of China's most important monasteries and temples. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wutai boasts 53 sacred venues. It is also believed to be the ashram or spiritual hermitage of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri. 

 

 

NEDONG COUNTY - TIBET

 

Located in Shannan prefecture in Tibet autonomous region, Nedong County is an oasis of tranquillity. It is home to the region's first palace, as well as Tibet's first formal Buddhist monastery. The place is known as the cradle of Tibetan history and culture.

 

The Samye Monastery is Tibet's oldest monastery, and was the site of "The Great Debate" (AD 792-974) between the Indian Mahayanists and Chinese Zen Buddhists. It is widely believed to be Tibet's first formal Buddhist monastery.

 

Another must-see is the Yambulakang, the first Tibetan Palace that was built over 2,000 years ago by Nyatri Tsenp, the first Tibetan King. It is perched precariously on the top of the Mount Tashitseri overlooking the Yarlung Zangbo River valley, which is considered the place of origin of Tibetan civilisation. 

 

 

SHAOLIN TEMPLE - HENAN PROVINCE

 

Shaolin Temple, as the birthplace of Chinese martial arts and Zen Buddhism, boasts a wealth of cultural relics that makes it popular among tourists and Buddhists alike. Nestled on Mount Songshan it is believed to be at the centre of the world, and therefore a repository of energy or qi.

 

The Pagoda Forest is a cemetery containing the ashes of monks stored in more than 200 pagodas and steles donated by foreign martial arts schools.

 

The hills west of the temple are also worth exploring. The 750-metre high Wuru Peak is marked by a three-storey-tall white coloured statue of Damo, the patriarch who first taught Shaolin monks martial arts and positioned the temple as the birthplace of Zen Buddhism in China. 

 

 

MOUNT WUDANG - HUBEI PROVINCE

 

Located in Shiyan, Mount Wudang is the Mecca for Taoists and kung fu lovers. The site in Hubei Province is known for its Taoist monasteries, as well as the birthplace of a martial arts style popular the world over.

 

You don't have to be a Taoist to appreciate Wudang's beauty. Embraced by nature and its misty vicissitudes the structures, mostly built in during Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), have an imperial grandeur but are toned down by simplicity and restraint. The scenic spots in Wudang are almost all associated with one mythological figure, the great Emperor Zhenwu. The Prince Slope and the Yellow River Wall of Nine Curves are also must-sees. 

 

 

 

MOUNT TAISHAN - SHANDONG PROVINCE

 

Mount Taishan rises 150 metres above sea level in the city of Tai'an to 1,545 metres at the Jade Emperor Peak. According to many ancient Chinese creation myths, Taishan was the point from where the world originated. Traditional belief also maintains that each day begins with the sun rising in Taishan before it starts its westward journey across the world.

 

While trekking up the mountain you will come across a few historically significant spots including the Longetivity Bride, which spans a small waterfall feeding the Black Dragon Pool. Here you can catch the spectacular sunset, and the best vantage point is on the western side of the Jade Emperor Peak. 

 

 

EUNUCH CULTURE MUSEUM - BEIJING

 

The Eunuch Culture Museum in Beijing is the only such museums in the world. It is located in the premises of the tomb of Tian Yi, a famous eunuch of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who lived from 1534 to 1605. It is the best preserved eunuch mausoleum in China as most other eunuch mausoleums were destroyed, and thus deserved to be better known among the 130 museums of China's capital city.

 

Items on display consist of articles left behind by Sun Yaoting, the last of the imperial palace eunuchs, who died aged 93 in 1996 at his home in Beijing. It includes a yellow jacket given to him by the last emperor of China, Puyi. The museum also has a range of records and historical evidence on the lives and times of the eunuchs.

 

Eunuchs mainly served the emperors of China and were castrated so they could not have children and thus would not be tempted to seize power from their masters. They also acted as intermediaries and power brokers and helped in palace administration. Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty there were some 70,000 eunuchs in China.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

LANGHAM PLACE HOTEL, DATONG  - SHANXI PROVINCE

 

Langham has announced the signing of an agreement to manage a new luxury hotel in Datong, Shanxi Province, which is scheduled to open in 2014. Located in Yudong New Area, Datong's future commercial centre, the five star Langham Place will feature 293 guestrooms including 37 suites. Guests will enjoy an array of innovative dining options including Ming Court Chinese restaurant, the group's Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong.

 

 

LANGHAM PLACE HOTEL, SHANGHAI

 

Langham Place Hotel, Shanghai will open in late 2014. The 400-room hotel is located in a 380,000sqm landmark development within walking distance of the Shanghai's Hong Qiao Airport.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR - YEAR OF THE SNAKE
FEBRUARY 10, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

 

On February 10, 2013 Chinese throughout the world will welcome the Year of the Snake. It will herald the start of the guĭ-sì 癸巳 year (Water Snake) and will last until January 30, 2014 according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

 

The Snake occupies the sixth position out of the 12 signs in the Chinese Zodiac, which symbolises intelligence, gracefulness and materialism. People born under this sign possess these traits. They are extremely analytical and do not rush into making rash decisions. They are also effective at getting the things they want, even if it means they have to scheme and plot along the way.

 

Snakes are very materialistic creatures, preferring to surround themselves with the finest that life has to offer. This is especially evident in the homes where luxurious furnishings and surroundings help Snakes seek the peace they need in order to thrive. 

 

Asian Trails China office will be closed from February 11 to 13 (inclusive) to celebrate the New Year.    

 

DOOR GODS - A CHINESE NEW YEAR TRADITION :

 

During the build-up to Chinese New Year many Chinese homes have Door Gods on their external doors. This is an age-old tradition dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD). It was said the Emperor, who had fallen ill, had a dream in which ghosts came to the palace searching for him. He recounted this dream to his officials the next day, and the story quickly spread through the Imperial Court.

 

The Emperor's top two generals then decided to stand guard outside his bedroom door to protect him. He slept soundly knowing he was protected by his generals, and had no more dreams of the ghosts. However, after a few nights he became concerned for the generals who had to guard him every night. He ordered two paintings to be made, one of each general. He then had them hung on his room door to take the generals' place. This tale soon spread throughout the country. The common people too made paintings of these Door Gods and hung them on their houses' doors. This tradition has continued until today  

 

 

LANTERN FESTIVAL
15TH DAY OF CHINESE NEW YEAR
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

 

The Lantern Festival dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) when Buddhism flourished in China. One of the Han emperor heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha's body, and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. He issued an order to light lanterns in the Imperial Palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day.

 

This Buddhist rite later developed into a grand festival among common people, and its influence expanded from the central plains to the whole of China. The festival is celebrated until today when it is held yearly throughout the country. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung in the streets, attracting countless visitors. Children walk around the streets of their towns or villages holding home-made lanterns or those bought from shops. People eat yuanxiao or rice dumplings to celebrate and that is why it is also known as the Yuanxiao Festival.

 

During the day performances such as dragon lantern and lion dances staged, while at night fireworks light the sky. The festival marks the end of the New Year festivities.  

 

 

LISTING OF PUBLIC HOLIDAYS, SHOWS AND EVENTS IN CHINA

 

To keep you updated on the annual events/shows and public holidays in China, Asian Trails China will publish this list (see below) in every newsletter. Asian Trails will provide, on request. more detailed information for your clients.

 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN CHINA - 2013: 

• NEW YEAR: December 30, 2012-January 1 (January 1 included) 

• SPRING FESTIVAL/CHINESE NEW YEAR: February 9-15 (1st day of Chinese New Year on February 10)

• QING MING FESTIVAL (Tomb Sweeping Day): April 4-6 (festival on April 4)

• LABOUR DAY, MAY 1: April 29-May 1  

• DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL: June 10-12 (festival on June 12)

• MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL: September 19-21 (festival is September 19)

• NATIONAL DAY: October 1-7 (China National Day on October 1)

 

SHOWS & EVENTS IN CHINA - 2013

GUANGZHOU:

• Guangzhou Furniture Show: March 18-21

• Guangzhou Spring Canton Fair: April 15-May 4

• Guangzhou Autumn Canton Fair: October 15-November 4

SHANGHAI:

• F1 in Shanghai: April 12-14

• Auto Show:  April 17 -20

CHENGDU:

• National Sugar & Wine Trading Fair: March 15 -20

• International Auto Show: September 15-22

• Western Expo:  October 15-22 

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

CHINA TO BUILD NEW AIRFIELDS FOR CORPORATE JETS

 

China plans to build dedicated airfields for corporate jets around major cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, to support the development of the corporate aviation sector. Corporate aviation in China has witnessed strong growth in recent years on the back of a rapid boom in executive jet travel.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

MERCATO - SHANGHAI

 

Italian restaurant Mercato, located on Three on the Bund, offers a stunning view over the Bund avenue and Pudong Financial district on the other side of the Huangpu River. A must-visit restaurant in Shanghai, it is gorgeous space that bridges the organic and natural with elegance and emotive modernity. Reclaimed wood and warm leather tones serve as a gentle complement to the exposed steel, iron and glass to create an atmosphere that is polished yet warm and inviting. The inspired design imparts a sensual feeling of comfort and lightness that redefines the idea of "farm chic".

 

The Pizza Lounge is illuminated by the glow of an Italian wood burning oven from which chef Jean-Georges unveils his new "light as air" pizzas, which are perfectly charred, soft and tenderly crackling below the brightest and most savoury toppings. Mercato Bar features an original selection of cocktails made with the finest Italian spirits, freshly muddled fruits and aromatics, as well as a diverse and fascinating array of Italian wines.  

 

 

CHAR AT HOTEL INDIGO SHANGHAI ON THE BUND

 

CHAR is the new contemporary bar and grill on the top floor of Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund, offering spectacular views of this 21st century straight-out-of-Bladerunner city.

 

The restaurant's focus is on simplicity of flavour and playfulness in presentation of its cuisine. Executive chef, Julie Donohoe, prides herself on only using the freshest of both local and international ingredients sourced from Shanghai's finest providers. The menu is changed constantly according to the season.

 

CHAR prides itself of being the only place in town serving Wagyu eye-fillet beef from David Blackmore's award-winning, environmentally sustainable ranch in Australia. The beef is served with grilled lobster, seared foie gras, black truffles and wild mushrooms. Beef-lovers can choose from among six different hand-crafted steak knives imported from around the world, as well as five varieties of mustards and flavoured sea salts - all presented to them at their tables. Another item not to be missed is the banana cheesecake, which is served in a traditional Brie cheese box from France.  

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

GOODBYE SOCHEATA

 

Ms Socheata Sun, Asian Trails China's MICE Manager, is leaving after three years with the company to join Asian Trails in Vietnam. We thank Socheata for her commitment and dedication to the company. and wish her good luck in Vietnam.

 

 

 

XIAOLIN TAKES OVER INCENTIVES

Ms Xiaolin Zhang, Asian Trails China's Manager for French, South European and Latin American markets, will take over the management of incentive groups. We congratulate Xiaolin on her promotion and wish her good luck.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

HIGH-SPEED TRAIN LINKS HABIN AND DALIAN

 

A new high-speed railway linking China's major north-eastern cities of Harbin and Dalian will begin operations soon. Experts predicted this USD15.7 billion infrastructural investment could accelerate social and economic cooperation right across northeast Asia.

 

 

WORLD'S LONGEST HIGH-SPEED TRAIN LINE BEGINS SERVICE BETWEEN BEIJING & GUANGZHOU

 

The high-speed rail route from Beijing to Guangzhou in southern China commenced service on December 26, 2012. This is the world's longest high-speed train line with a distance of 2,298 kilometres. The new service cuts the journey between the two cities from 22 hours to around eight. The designated speed of this route is 350km per hour.As one of the most important parts of China's high-speed railway network, the Beijing-Guangzhou railway will enhance transportation capacity between different regions.  

 

 

72-HOUR VISA FREE STAY FOR VISITORS TO BEIJING AND SHANGHAI

 

Beijing and Shanghai started a 72-hour visa free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries on January 1, 2013. Tourists holding third country visas and plane tickets can apply for transit without visa at Beijing Capital International Airport and Pudong/Hong Qiao International airports.

 

Foreign visitors have to register at a police station or hotel during check-in within 24 hours of their arrival, as they are doing now. They are not permitted to leave Beijing or Shanghai to go to another Chinese city during the 72-hour period.

 

This new policy benefits transit passengers and business people and make both cities more accessible.

 

For more details please contact Asian Trails China office.  

 

 

 

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MYANMAR

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

 

The past months of November and December were very busy here in Myanmar. The number of arrivals is increasing at a high rate, 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 despite the many challenges we are facing. Please rest assured that in 2013 we will 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

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA VISITS MYANMAR

 

President Barack Obama came to Myanmar last November, the first serving US president to visit the country. His historic visit included a meeting with Nobel Peace Prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. 

 

Photo shows President Obama at Shwedagon Pagoda 

 

 

 

MASTERCARD ENTERS MYANMAR

 

Mastercard holders visiting Myanmar can now use their debit and credit cards to withdraw cash from Co-operative Bank automatic tellers (pictured). ATMs accept MasterCard=, Maestro- and Cirrus-branded cards. Initially services are limited to debit cards.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

CRUISE TO THE IRRAWADDY DELTA

 

Enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the Irrawaddy Delta on a two-day exciting river cruise from Yangon to Maubin. Relax in complete comfort and style on Dora Ship while enjoying nature as well as life on the river and the countryside. This exclusively chartered ship offers three cabins, which can accommodate up to six passengers.

 
 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

MYANMAR ANDAMAN RESORT

 

Myanmar Andaman Resort is the only lodge on Macleod Island in the Mergui Archipelago fronting the Andaman Sea in southern Myanmar. Its new general manager, Adrian Zdrada, aims to transform the resort into an eco-lodge.  

 

The hotel caters to visitors who want to enjoy their holidays in a secluded island with a pristine beach, proximity to spectacular dive sites and direct access to the treasures of unspoiled nature.  

 

 

 

ALPHA HOTEL YANGON

 

The recently renovated three star Alpha Hotel is located close to downtown Yangon. The 10-storey hotel features 90 rooms, which are furnished to provide comfort such as air-conditioning, desk, in-house movies, bathtub and mini bar.

 
 

 

 

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

 

KAKKU FESTIVAL
MARCH 24-27, 2013
VENUE: TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

 

Four-day ceremony ending March 27. Thousands of Shan-style thin and slender pagodas are compactly built in geometrically pattern, which turns the pagodas complex into something extraordinary and unique. Thousands of local tribal people from the surrounding regions like Shan, Pa O, Palaung, Lishaw and Dano flock to Taunggyi to enjoy and take part in this annual pagoda festival.

 
 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

NEW AIRLINE FOR MYANMAR

 

A new airline, Golden Myanmar Airlines, will start its operation from early 2013. It will operate from Mandalay International and Yangon international airports on domestic and regional routes using the Airbus A320 aircraft.

 
 

 

QATAR INCREASES SERVICE TO YANGON

 

Qatar Airways has increased its operation between Yangon to/from Doha, offering a daily flight on the Airbus A319 aircraft with a two-class cabin configuration.

 
 

 

DRAGON AIR LAUNCHES FLIGHTS TO YANGON

 

Dragon Air is launching four times weekly flights from Yangon to/from Hong Kong starting from January 10. The new service is operated using the Airbus A321 aircraft.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

AEGEAN ODYSSEY MAKES MAIDEN CALL TO YANGON

 

Voyages to Antiquity's cruise ship. Aegean Odyssey, made its inaugural call to Myanmar on December 1, 2012. The organised land arrangements included either an excursion to Bago or a one-day trip to Bagan/Mandalay by plane. A half-day city tour in Yangon ended the programme the following day before the ship left Yangon.

 

 

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MALAYSIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Dear Friends and Business Partners, 

 

Warm greetings from Asian Trails Malaysia! 

 

I wish you again a Happy and Successful 2013. By the time this newsletter is published we are approaching Chinese New Year, and I take this opportunity to wish you as well a Happy Snake Year and "Gong Xi Fa Cai". 

 

If you are reading this newsletter it means that the world has survived the Maya Doomsday Prophecy, and our beautiful world did not come to an end. Therefore, I recommend you to take this opportunity to visit Malaysia, our beautiful destination, by indulging yourself and celebrating our survival. Whether it is hot springs, excellent hotels and spas, warm climate or amazing landscapes, Malaysia has it all.  

 

For any requests, please do not hesitate to contact us at res@asiantrails.com.my or emir@asiantraisl.com.my, and we will be honoured to serve you and fulfil your wishes. 

 

Thank you and best regards 

 

Emir

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

ERL'S EXTENSION TO KLIA2 READY BY MARCH 2013

 

High-speed train service operator, Express Rail Link (ERL), expects the 2.14km line extension from the KL International Airport (KLIA) to KLIA2, the new Low Cost Carrier Terimal, to be completed by end March 2013. ERL forecasts the line extension to increase its passenger load  by 40%, translating into 60% additional revenue yearly. It currently handles over 5.3 million passengers annually.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

MANAGEMENT CHANGE AT RENAISSANCE MALACCA

 

Please note that the Renaissance Hotel Malacca is no longer under the Renaissance brand. It is now managed by Wyndham International and renamed  Ramada Plaza Melaka with effect from January 1, 2013.

 

 

 

CHANGE OF ROOM CATEGORY AT FAVE HOTEL, LANGKAWI

 

Kindly be informed that Fave Hotel at Cenang Beach on Langkawi Island has reclassified its room category to the following:

• Superior to Standard  

• Deluxe to Superior 

 
 

RENOVATION UPDATE AT MERITUS PELANGI BEACH RESORT & SPA

 

Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, Langkawi is currently undergoing a comprehensive multi-million refurbishment programme, which will reposition it as the "Jewel of Langkawi".

 

To date, the resort has completed the initial phase of its refurbishment programme that covered the frontage landscape, driveway, lobby, lounge, reception areas, Spice Market Restaurant, New Meritus Club Lounge, Phase 1 of the guest chalets, beachfront fitness centre and the C BA Restaurant (formerly known as The Boat House). The renovation is expected to be completed in June 2013.

 

Renovation works are carried out in phases to ensure minimal disturbance to the guests and their comfort and hospitality experience are not compromised. 

 

 

RENOVATION UPDATE AT PAN PACIFIC KLIA

 

As part of the vision to create memorable experiences Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport started the renovation of all its guestrooms from mid-June 2012. The renovation is expected to be completed by end March 2013.

 

Apart from changing of beds, furniture, carpets, wall paper and bathroom the renovations also include a number of other enhancements including flexible lighting solutions and more efficient work spaces to complement the new and improved technology infrastructure.  Guests can look forward to a modern contemporary look and feel in the newly renovated rooms, which will include an enriching blend of cultures reflective of Malaysia and the Pacific Rim.

 

To ensure that the comfort and convenience of the guests are not interrupted the hotel is carrying out the renovation in phases. Work is scheduled to take place between 9am and 6pm daily. During this period there may be some intermittent noise, but steps are taken to ensure the disruption is minimised. 

 

 

TANJUNG RHU RESORT, LANGKAWI UPGRADES TO ENHANCE GUESTS' EXPERIENCE

 

Upgrading work commenced in November 2012 on 36 rooms in the resort's western wing. This involves refitting the rooms' interior with an improved layout, new furniture and fittings, new wall and ceiling panel, as well as electrical and plumbing improvement. On completion of these rooms by end April 2013 a progressive programme will see all guestrooms upgraded year end. (Work ceased during the 2012 Christmas/New Year peak period and will recommence in late February 2013.)

 

Work on restyling the restaurant will begin in March 1, 2013. It is scheduled to reopen by October 1, 2013 with a new interior look, new furnishings and an upgraded kitchen.

 

The resort has taken the initiative to offer its guests daily recreational activities on a complimentary basis during days of heavy upgrading work to ensure they have a restful sojourn. The daily recreational programme ncludes island tours, mangrove tours, nature walks, fish and eagle spotting, and cooking classes. 

 

 

 

RENOVATION UPDATE AT WESTIN LANGKAWI RESORT & SPA, LANGKAWI

 

The room transformation project at Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa is going on as scheduled. All 71 refreshed rooms, which is part of phase 1 of the renovation proeject, are completed in December 2012.

 

 

RECLASSIFICATION OF ROOM CATEGORIES AT HATTEN HOTEL MALACCA

 

Please be informed that the room category at Hatten Hotel, Malacca has been reclassified as below with immediate effect:

• Standard reclassified to Studio Suite

• Superior reclassified to Junior Suite.

• Deluxe reclassified to Deluxe Suite.

All other catégories remain unchanged. 

 

 

 

TRADERS HOTEL, PUTERI HARBOUR TO OPEN IN APRIL 2013

 
Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour in Johor is scheduled to open in the first week of April 2013. It will be the only prominent international brand in Nusajaya to provide a relaxing and inviting oasis for both business and leisure travellers. It has an ideal location that makes it a perfect getaway - 20 minutes from Senai International Airport, 30minutes from Johor Bahru, and just minutes away from Singapore and acclaimed theme parks.

 

 

 

SABAH HOTEL, SANDAKAN UNDERGOES EXTENSIVE RENOVATION

 

Sabah Hotel, Sandakan in Sabah is getting a total makeover through  a series of comprehensive renovations. Phase 1 of the renovation is from October 31, 2012 to  February 3, 2013 involving Ming Restaurant, Amadeus and the construction of two "mock up rooms".

 

The hotel's management is taking all measures to ensure guests' comfort during the renovation period, but some noise may be expected.  

 
 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

INTERNATIONAL SURFING COMPETITION
JANUARY 4-6, 2013
VENUE: CHERATING, PAHANG

 

This is the time of the year when the sea is rough and fishermen are not able to go to the sea, but is ideal weather for surfers to show off their skills. The event is jointly organised by Pahang State Tourism and Malaysia Ministry of Tourism.

 

 

ROYAL LANGKAWI INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
JANUARY 7-12, 2013
VENUE: LANGKAWI ISLAND

 

See famous yachtsmen from various countries competing in this event on Langkawi Island. The event's underlying aim is to provide competitive and enjoyable racing for all crews, irrespective of the design or vintage of their yachts. The Regatta is organised by the committee of the Royal Langkawi International Regatta 2013 in conjunction with the Malaysian Yachting Association (MYA-National Authority) under the patronage of the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club.

 

 

 

PONGGAL
JANUARY 14, 2013
VENUE: MOST HINDU TEMPLES & HINDU HOMES THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Ponggal is a thanksgiving occasion. Its highlight is the Ponggal cooking ceremony of boiling rice till it overflows, symbolising wealth and harvest. The festival is celebrated over a four-day period.

 

 

 

PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S BIRTHDAY
JANUARY 24, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Prophet Muhammad's birthday, also known as Maulud Nabi, is celebrated by Muslims during the month of Rabiulawal, the third month of the Muslim calendar. The day is commonly marked by religious lectures and readings of the Quran.

 

 

THAIPUSAM
JANUARY 27, 2013
VENUE: BATU CAVES, SELANGOR

 

Thaipusam is a key Hindu ceremony, which is held each year during the 10th month of the Hindu calendar. The most spectacular, colourful and dramatic part of the event, and much photographed by tourists, is the carrying of kavadi (ornamental structures) by devotees. The kavadi is attached to the devotees' bodies by hooks and steel spikes, with some inserting metal skewers through their cheeks and tongues. The kavadi also contains two small pots of milk, which are used to bathe the statue of Lord Subramaniam. The kavadi-carrying devotees have made vows in the past year and are repaying for the fulfilled vows through this display of faith, which is also an act of thanksgiving.

 

 

FEDERAL TERRITORY DAY
FEBRUARY 1, 2013
VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR, LABUAN & PUTRAJAYA

 

The Federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya celebrate Federal Territory Day, or Hari Wilayah Persekutuan, on February 1 every year. The date marks the anniversary of formation of Kuala Lumpur as a Federal Territory in 1974. Ten years later, in 1984, Labuan became the second Federal Territory, with Putrajaya becoming the third in 2001. The day is celebrated with colourful parades, fireworks display, exhibitions and cultural shows. Most events are open to the public free of charge.

 

 

PASIR GUDANG INTERNATIONAL KITES FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 1-28, 2013
VENUE: PASIR GUDANG, JOHOR

 

This internationally acclaimed event has been held yearly since 1995 and is renowned worldwide, attracting many visitors and kiting enthusiasts from all over the world. Last year over 180 international kite flyers from 25 countries came to Pasis Gudang to participate in this well organised festival. The year's festival celebrates the event's 18th anniversary. During the month there will be domestic and international contests, demonstrations, spectacular ground displays and some of the most amazing kites you will ever see.

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR
FEBRUARY 10, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Chinese New Year is a festival celebrated for 15 days, and is the most important annual festival for the Chinese community. Each year is designated to one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. This year it is the Year of the Snake. 

 

Houses are cleaned and decorated to prepare for the big day. Debts are settled, prayers and offerings are made. New clothes are bought and different kinds of auspicious food are cooked. Family members from far and near return home for the traditional reunion dinner. Open houses are held to welcome family members and friends. Ang pows (red packets containing money) are given out to children by the elders. Lion and dragon dance performances are also staged to commemorate the festival.

 

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATION
FEBRUARY 16, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

This is a Malaysia event held throughout the country to celebrate Chinese New Year. People of all races join in the celebration at the open houses, where everyone enjoy the delicious Malaysian cuisine, and entertained with lion dances. Ang pows are also given out at the open houses.

 

 

 

NATIONAL CRAFT DAY
FEBRUARY 20-MARCH 4, 2013
VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR CRAFT COMPLEX

 

See the arts and crafts at the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex. You may be able to find some souvenir here. Fashion shows and cooking demonstrations are also held in conjunction with this event.

 

 

 

LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI
FEBRUARY 21-MARCH 2, 2013
VENUE: DATARAN HELANG, KUAH, LANGKAWI

 

Le Tour de Langkawi 2013, Asia's premier cycling event, is back! The race will go through seven states namely Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and two Federal Territories of Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.  

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES RESUMES PERTH-KOTA KINABALU SERVICE

 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reintroduced direct services between Perth and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah from December 10, 2012 complementing the current 10 non-stop weekly flights between the Australian city and Kuala Lumpur. 

 

The new non-stop service operates once a week with the flight from Perth departing every Monday at 12.40am and arriving in Kota Kinabalu at 6.25am. The flight from Kota Kinabalu departs at 6pm every Sunday and arrives in Perth at 11.25pm the same day. The service is operated using a two-class configured 160-seater Boeing B737-800 aircraft with 16 seats in business class and 144 in economy. 

 

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES UPGRADES FLIGHTS BETWEEN KOTA KINABALU AND TAIPEI

 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) upgraded its daily flights between Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Taipei, Taiwan from the present 144-seater Boeing B737-400 aircraft to the 160-seater B737-800 aircraft beginning November 15, 2012. The upgrade adds 112 seats weekly in each direction.  

 

Effective February 19, 2013 MAS will also introduce an additional four weekly B737-800 flights to the existing daily B737-800 services between Kuala Lumpur and Taipei. The new flights will depart Kuala Lumpur at 1.35am and arrive in Taipei at 6.20am every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The inbound flights depart Taipei at 7.55am and arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 12.45pm on the same day.

 

 

 

AIRASIA FLIES TO KUNMING FROM KUALA LUMPUR

 

AirAsia launched direct flights linking Kunming in Yunnan, China and Kuala Lumpur on December 10, 2012. The route operates with the Airbus A320 aircraft, which has a seating capacity of 180. The four times weekly flights depart from Kunming Changshui International Airport on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

 

 

 

AIRASIA ENHANCES CONNECTIVITY FROM EAST MALAYSIA TO SOUTHERN CHINA

 

AirAsia enhanced its east Malaysian connectivity with southern China with the launch of the Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) to Guangzhou (China) service on December 25, 2012. This is the airline's 25th route from Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

 

 

AIRASIA X ADDS SHANGHAI TO ITS NETWORK

 

AirAsia X will expand its network in China in February 2013 with the launch of flights to Shanghai from its base in Kuala Lumpur, making the city its 14th Chinese destination. It will operate six weekly flights to Shanghai Pudong International Airport from February 19, with the service increased to daily from May 1. 

 

The Kuala Lumpur-Shanghai flights from February 19 will depart Kuala Lumpur every day, from Tuesday to Sunday, at 19.35hrs to reach Shanghai at 00.45hrs. Flights on the Shanghai-Kuala Lumpur leg depart every day, from Wednesday to Monday, at 01.45hrs touching down in Malaysia at 06.55hrs.   

 

The service will be retimed from May 1, with daily Kuala Lumpur-Shanghai flights to take off from Kuala Lumpur at 18.35hrs and arrive in Shanghai at 23.45hrs. Return flights will also operate every day, departing Shanghai at 01.05hrs and 06.15hrs. The route will be served by the Airbus A330-300 with a configuration of 12 premium flatbed seats and 365 economy seats. 

 

 

AIRASIA INCREASES KUALA LUMPUR-HANOI FLIGHTS

 

Connections between Malaysia and north Vietnam is set to receive a boost in January 2013 when AirAsia raises its Kuala Lumpur-Hanoi flight frequency from daily to 10 times weekly. 

 

The new frequency, to start from January 22, 2013, will see the AK1440 depart Kuala Lumpur at 18.30hrs and arrive in Hanoi at 20.30hrs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on top of the current daily flights. Return flights leave the Vietnamese capital at 21.00hrs and touch down in Kuala Lumpur at 23.15hrs on the same day.  

 

 

MALINDO AIR TO COMMENCE OPERATIONS IN MARCH 2013

 

The Malaysian-based Malindo Air has brought forward its commencement date to mid-March 2013, two months earlier than its original scheduled date of May. It will start operations with two Boeing B737-900ER aircraft in a two-class configuration comprising 2 business seats and 168 economy seats. It offers Wifi on board and in-flight entertainment.  

 

Malindo Air is operated by Malindo Airways, a joint venture between Indonesian's Lion Group and Malaysia's National Aerospace and Defence Industries (NADI). 

 

 

 

AIR FRANCE TO FLY TO KUALA LUMPUR

 

Air France will operate three weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport starting April 22, 2013. The service will be operated using the Boeing B777-200 aircraft with a seating capacity of 247. This new service is in addition to the 205 weekly flights operated between Paris, Amsterdam and Asia by Air France and KLM.  

 

 

 

ROYAL BRUNEI UPS FREQUENCY TO KUALA LUMPUR

 

Royal Brunei Airlines added three additional flights a week on its Bandar Seri Begawan-Kuala Lumpur route from December 13, 2012, bringing the total number of weekly flights from seven to 10. The three extra flights depart on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, doubling the number of flights to the Malaysian capital on these days. The flights leave Kuala Lumpur at 12.20hrs, arriving in Bandar Seri Begawan at 14.40hrs.  

 

 

 

ZEST AIRWAYS LAUNCHES MANILA-KUALA LUMPUR SERVICE

 

Zest Airways launched the Manila-Kuala Lumpur service on October 22, 2012, its fourth international route from the Philippines capital.  The four weekly flights are operated with the 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft

 

 

 

DRAGONAIR EXPANDS HONG KONG-KOTA KINABALU FLIGHTS

 

Dragonair will increase the frequency of its Hong Kong-Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) service to daily for the summer schedule beginning end-March 2013 to meet growing demand both ways. The carrier currently operates six flights weekly between the two destinations. An Airbus A320 aircraft will be deployed for the additional flights, the same aircraft used for current operations.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

STAFF ANNUAL OUTING TO TAMAN NEGARA

 

The team took a well-deserved break with a trip to Taman Negara in Pahang from November 30 to December 1, 2012. The themed dinner, "Going Back to School", saw everyone dressed in colourful school uniforms. The night was filled with laughter as they played games, which emphasised on teamwork, and lucky draws. There was also adventure on the trip as the next day the team went jungle trekking, canopy walk and rapid shooting in one of the world's oldest rainforest.

 

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

After a very busy year the Asian Trails Indonesia team took a well-deserved break to discover the beauty of Mt. Ijen in East Java during our staff outing. Most of us managed to reach the crater rim to enjoy the views over the turquoise lake and the continuous smoking caldera. The small path to the top, built by sulphur porters, is becoming more and more popular with locals and international tourists alike, and the hike only takes around 90 minutes per way.  

 

While we are now entering the low season for the coming months we look forward to another successful year of cooperation with our partners. We would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for your excellent support for our organisation.  

 

The trend for travel to Indonesia in the coming year clearly shows the country is gaining popularity as a round-trip destination, and demand is not just for beach hotels in Bali. Our aim in 2013 is to develop more tours in lesser-known areas of Indonesia to attract more repeat clients who fell in love with our archipelago during their visits. With the large number of new hotels in Bali we also expect the booking situation not to be as tight during the high season in previous years, which allows us to confirm more last minute bookings.  

 

We wish you all the best for the coming year 2013! 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

DAY CRUISE TO RINCA ISLAND IN FLORES

 

The day cruise to Rinca Island in Flores is a new product idea for travellers interested in seeing the gigantic Komodo Dragons, but with limited time to spend.  

 

Plataran Cruises offers the daily cruise, starting at 8am, from Labuan Bajo to neighbouring Rinca Island on one of their traditional wooden Phinisis Schooners. Included in the tour is a snorkelling excursion in one of the splendid reefs of Komodo National Park. After the trek to spot the Komodo Dragons a lunch is served onboard while sailing to a smaller island for snorkelling. The excursion ends with the return cruise to Labuan Bajo, arriving at 3pm latest. The programme is offered on a joint basis with other passengers.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

NEW VILLAS AT ALILA UBUD

 

Alila Ubud opened four new Terrace Tree Villas at Alila Ubud in November 2012. The villas' interiors combine the warmth of wood and recycled teak with the comfort of elegant furnishings inspired by the local setting.

 

Each one-bedroom villa has flat screen 40' TV offering movies as well as a selection of documentaries of "old Bali", Wifi, safe deposit box, illy coffee and TWG tea selection, bathroom with shower and bathtub, and an outside terrace as living room. The bathroom features His and Her vanities with complete range of superior quality locally sourced organic Alila bathroom amenities. Services and facilities include a private host (butler), private bar and outdoor dining. 

 

 

KURA KURA RESORT OFFERS OVERNIGHT STAY ON KRAKAL

 

Kura Kura Resort, located on one of the islands in the Karimunjawa Archipelago, is offering a unique tropical experience on Krakal, a pristine desert Island with crystal clear waters located 30 minutes away from the resort. It was used solely for day-trip excursions, but now the resort's management has extended to its guests an exclusive overnight stay on it.  

 

The resort has added accommodation on Krakal, which includes a Bedroom (with separate toilet and shower) and Living Room so guests can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of having a beautiful desert Island at their disposal. As Krakal has no electricity or kitchen facilities guests are provided with petrol lamps (torches and candles etc), a picnic hamper, a mobile phone to contact Kura Kura Resort, and transfers (from/to the resort). Guests can also choose if they wish the local caretaker to remain on the island during their overnight stay. 

 

 

THE LOVINA, BALI OPENS

 

The Lovina is located on the northern shores of Bali away from the tourist hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak. It features 68 ocean-facing suites and villas, villas with garden view and rooms with mountain view.    

 

All Mountain View rooms in this new boutique resort look out to the imposing Kalibukbuk Mountain Range and surrounding rice paddies.  

 

The Beach Suites have an open plan accommodation that combines kitchen, dining and living area - all opening up to a balcony overlooking the ocean. The stylishly furnished suites are available in one or two bedrooms, each with ensuite bathroom.

 

The Garden Villas have been individually designed to provide a calm and luxurious environment encircled by the rich greenery of tropical gardens. Each has a private pool resting in the middle, an airy open plan kitchen and living spaces. 

 

 

 

L HOTEL SEMINYAK

 

L Hotel Seminyak, located in the heart of Seminyak, offers comfortable guestrooms with views of paddy fields or the ocean. This boutique property boasts a modern stylish interior with 24-hour butler service. Every room has in room safe, hair dryer and Internet Wifi access. Recreation and leisure facilities include an outdoor pool and massage service.

 

 

JEEVA BELOAM BEACH CAMP, LOMBOK

 

Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp is located near the far north east tip of East Lombok's Tanjung Ringgit peninsula, and is some 58 kilometres from the new Lombok International Airport. Also known as "The Soul of Beloam" it is one of the few untouched places in the world where you can truly return to the rhythm of life.  

 

Jeeva Beloam's five "off the grid" recycled wood and alang alang beach front berugas combine the elements of Robinson Crusoe with East Indonesia aesthetics to create a comfortable and unique beach-front camping experience. The berugas are exceptionally large with 60 square metres of covered living space providing unexpected comfort within a rugged camping environment. The sleeping area is air-conditioned and boasts a king size mosquito netted bed. They are also equipped with a personal safe and sarongs. A mix of coffees and teas are provided in the room with hot water provided daily. The bathroom and terrace areas are covered but are not fully enclosed. As electric power is limited air-conditioning is only available in the evenings.

 

A small library shares the reception area, while a spa offering basic local massage treatments is located on a small knoll behind the dining tent.

 

 

THE GIRI SET TO BECOME BALI'S FIRST TENTED RESORT

 

The Giri, Bali's first deluxe tented-rainforest-resort, will be opening soon. This tented rainforest resort nestled peacefully in the cool mountains of Jatiluwih, a world heritage site, surrounded by evergreen dense rainforest.


The Giri consists of only eight deluxe tents with ensuite bathroom and large private terrace. Enjoy beautiful panoramic view of the dense mountain rainforest and spectacular sunrise from each terrace. Activities include nature walks through the rainforest or Bali's beautiful terraced rice paddy fields, or relax at waterfalls, rivers and natural hot springs. Bird watching, mountain biking and mountain hiking are popular activities too.

 

The Giri restaurant prepares Western BBQ menu and specialises in authentic Balinese food using edible wild grown rainforest vegetables, leaves and roots. 

 

 

 

PREMIER INN TO OPEN FIRST INDONESIAN PROPERTY IN BALI

 

Premier Inn is making its Indonesian debut with Premier Inn Bali Jimbaran, expected to open in the second half of 2013. The hotel will be built in partnership with Alda Bali Indotel and features a swimming pool, restaurant and bar.

 

 

PAPAU PARADISE ECO RESORT, RAJA AMPAT

 

Papua Paradise Eco Resort is located on Birie Island in Raja Ampat, East Indonesia, and is managed by Lotus Hotels Indonesia. The resort offers unforgettable diving holidays on the island, which is surrounded by peaceful white sandy beach and stunning coral reefs.  

 

The island is divided into two main parts - guest side and service side. On the north west guest side are 10 bungalows built over the coral reef with natural materials by traditional construction method. The service side and the workers' bungalows are on the south east side of the island  

 

Each spacious 60sqm bungalow on the guest side has its own 20sqm massive terrace on which guests can enjoy the slight breeze and the beautiful sunset. It also has a 6sqm indoor bathroom with eco warm water. Fresh water on Birie Island runs in the bathrooms and drinking water for guests is provided from gallons. The slight ocean breeze delivers air-conditioning naturally, and the sun heats up the water at daytime for a nice hot-water shower after a long diving day.


Facilities in the resort include a sea-view restaurant serving Indonesian meals European dishes, library, bar and dive centre. Non-divers can go on boat trips to nearby islands for  

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES CONNECTS HO CHI MINH CITY TO JAKARTA

 

Vietnam Airlines has launched four times weekly direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Jakarta, using the Airbus A321 aircraft. The flight departs Ho Chi Minh at 10.40hrs to arrive in Jakarta at 13.40hrs. The return flight leaves Jakarta at 14.40hrs, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City at 17.40hrs. This new route increases Vietnam Airlines' network in the region. and helps promote bilateral trade and cultural exchange between Vietnam and Indonesia.

 

 

AIRASIA INDONESIA EXPANDS

 

AirAsia Indonesia is adding several new domestic and international routes to put it on a competitive footing with Lion Air. The additional services start from December 1, 2012 to January 13, 2013.

 

Schedules are as follow:

 

DOMESTIC

Jakarta - Surabaya 3x daily
Medan - Banda Aceh Daily
Medan - Pekanbaru 3x daily
Surabaya - Semarang Daily
Makassar - Jakarta 14x weekly
Makassar - Balikpapan 4x weekly

 

INTERNATIONAL

Penang - Medan 24x weekly
Kuala Lumpur - Solo 3x weekly
Kuala Lumpur - Lombok 4x daily (Starting Jan 28)

  

 

GARUDA UPS JAKARTA-BANGKOK FREQUENCY

 

Garuda Indonesia increased its Jakarta-Bangkok services from two to three times daily from December 1, 2012. The new GA864 flight leaves Jakarta at 16.20hrs to arrive in Bangkok at 20.10hrs, while the return GA865 flight leaves Bangkok at 06.35hrs, arriving in Jakarta at 10.10hrs.

 

The airline currently serves the Jakarta-Bangkok route with the Boeing B737-800 aircraft with 162 seats in a two-class configuration.  

 

 

 

NEW ROUTES FOR GARUDA IN 2013

 

Garuda Indonesia is launching new services to London, Brisbane and Auckland in 3Q2013 with the delivery of 24 new aircraft. The aircraft comprises four B777-300ER, 10 B737-800 NG, two Airbus A330-200, one A330-300 and seven Bombardier CRJ-1000 NG.The B777 aircraft is to be used for the Jakarta-London route due to take off later this year. The airline also plans to fly to Brisbane and Auckland using the A330 aircraft within 2013.  

 

 

 

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