Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue January 2014

THE CEO STORY

 

AN OVERLAND JOURNEY: THAILAND-MYANMAR-THAILAND

 

On December 15 last year I travelled overland from Thailand to Myanmar and back to Thailand, a trip that revealed not only the beauty of the two countries but an adventure to remember.  

 

Here's the story of my overland adventure:  

 

There is no better way to travel than overland by car, bike and on foot, and even better if it involves crossing borders. Unthinkable just a few years ago, crossing the border from Myanmar to Thailand or vice-versa has become a mere formality. For those of us who have dreamed of following in the footsteps of great writers Somerset Maugham, George Orwell or Rudyard Kipling who discovered new lands through their stories this dream can now become reality.  

 

After a short domestic flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand I started driving to the border town of Mae Sai, which took just about an hour. Ideally I, like most visitors, would like to spend a few days in the Golden Triangle but I was a bit more pressed for time and decided to cross the Mai Sai-Tachilek border right away. Crossing the border was really fast, and about 15 minutes later I crossed the bridge to Myanmar.  

 

Border towns are always exciting places to visit, but I couldn't wait to explore Myanmar's countryside and off I went on a three-hour drive to Kyaing Tung, the capital of the eastern Shan States. While the larger cities in Myanmar are changing with the country's economic development, time in Kyaing Tung has stood still. This charming town still sees few tourists today and, with its location on a small mountain plateau, is the ideal starting point for treks to the surrounding ethnic minority villages. Visitors should not expect luxury accommodation in this part of Myanmar; instead simple and clean hotels are the norm here.  

 

Today, most visitors choose to fly from Kyaing Tung to Heho, gateway to the Inle Lake region and one of Myanmar's most beautiful attractions. I was privileged to receive a permit from the Myanmar government, which allowed me to drive from Kyaing Tung to Inle Lake. A magnificent journey through mountain and river scenery, ethnic villages and small mountain towns. It took 15 hours with an overnight stop at a simple guesthouse before reaching Inle Lake. With Myanmar's tourism development, I believe that this part of the country will soon open to foreign visitors.  

 

From the Inle Lake region most visitors usually continue travelling to some of the highlights of upper Myanmar including Mandalay and Bagan, but again my schedule did not allow me to do so this time as I had to fly to Yangon, Myanmar's busiest city, for a series of meetings.

 

With the aim of promoting our new Yangon to Saigon overland tours, I then started with the second part of my overland journey to the south-eastern part of Myanmar. Those of us who had travelled on the bumpy roads just outside Yangon would be surprised to see the improvements in Myanmar's road network. I had a smooth ride to the historical town of Bago. and further south to the base camp in Kyaiktiyo from where pilgrims and tourists visit Golden Rock, Myanmar's most treasured pilgrimage site.  

 

I travelled further to the south for an overnight stop in Hpa An. This is one place I have always loved, and I was happy to see that little has also changed here. Our busy modern lifestyle seems far removed from this place of peaceful river sceneries, limestone rock formations, and hills dotted with white and shiny golden pagodas. A good night's sleep at one of the new bungalow-style hotels got me ready for an early start the next day to tackle the last part of my journey back into Thailand.  

 

It took about five hours to drive from Hpa An to the border town of Myawaddy, and a large part of the road is still bumpy and unpaved. However, a new road is almost complete and is scheduled to open in April 2014 that will then cut the travelling time down to just over two hours. I nevertheless enjoyed the drive and drifted back to the "good old times" when bumpy roads were the norm in the entire country.  

 

The border crossing from Myawaddy to the Thai city of Mae Sot was again really easy. I met a few tourists who asked if it was possible to cross into Myanmar, and I told them that with the right tour company and a good car there was nothing in the way to do so.  

 

Mae Sot is only a two-hour drive from Sukhothai, one of Thailand's cultural highlights from where our overland tours to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in Vietnam will continue via Ayuthaya and Bangkok before crossing into Cambodia for a visit to the Angkor temples and Phnom Penh. From Phnom Penh visitors will travel by boat into the Mekong Delta to visit floating markets, and life along the river, as well as fruit and vegetable plantations before ending their four-country journey in Ho Chi Minh City.   There are endless choices and combinations for visitors who would like to extend their journey to the north of Vietnam, travel into Laos or just spend a few relaxing days at one the beaches.  

 

Thinking of travelling overland to India? Watch out for the next CEO story on an adventure to this fascinating destination later this year.  

 

Laurent Kuenzle

CEO, Asian Trails

 

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

Happy New Year from the Management and the entire team of Asian Trails in Thailand!  

 

Last year was a very good one for tourism to Thailand. Looking at the trend of the forward bookings, we are very positive for 2014. Chinese New Year is just at our doorsteps, and many hotels have already sent us the stop sales notice.  

 

In this edition, we have some exciting new leisure activities in Thailand including a flight in a Boeing licensed simulator (see ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE). For a great meal and a night out I can recommend KU DE TA in the heart of Bangkok (see RESTAURANTS & VENUES). We still get many requests for the Bed Supper Club that, unfortunately, is closed since last autumn, but KU DE TA is an excellent alternative.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NEW! MUAY THAI LIVE

 

Muay Thai Live show, the world's first Thai boxing super show in Thailand, will officially commence its first show on January 15, 2014, at Asiatique the Riverfront (port 4). The show starts daily at 8pm.  

 

 

 

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

NEW! FLIGHT EXPERIENCE BANGKOK

 

Flight Experience Bangkok is the latest store to open in addition to stores in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, and Paris. This is an "Official Licensed Product" of Boeing, and is the only entertainment simulator business to be licensed by the company. The unique and exciting aviation entertainment retailer, which features a new Slim Jet simulator (6-Axis hydraulic systems), has broad appeal that caters to both consumers who have never flown but enjoy the thrill of flying, as well as professional pilots.

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

 

NEW! 4-DAY CULINARY TOUR

 

This new tour will tickle all your senses by diving into the exciting flavours and smells of the best of Thai cuisine. As an introduction to the spices and herbs you will join the Loy Nava Dinner Cruise on the mighty Chao Phraya River, sailing through Bangkok against the background of the city's stunning evening skyline while enjoying a mouth-watering menu on board.   

 

Additionally, you will learn the history and versatility of Thai cuisine with excursions to local markets and Chinatown, which is the haven of "foodies" especially in the evening hours when countless food stalls open for business. A knowledgeable private guide will take you to hidden alleys and well-known places to make the experiences even more unique.  

 

To conclude your tour is a cooking class at the famous Baipai Thai Cooking School where you will learn to cook your favourite Thai dishes using the right techniques and the "secret" ingredients. There will be instructions in English to guide you through the class.

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

 

NEW! EXPLORE 3-DAY THAILAND'S WEST END

 

We offer a unique and delightful experience into the highland of enchanting west Thailand. Enjoy walking through a non-touristy stretch of the Death Railway, and a beautiful drive up to a magnificent highland of Pilok at the west end Thailand. Jungle trekking, hidden beautiful waterfall, scenic drive, Hin Dad Hot Spa, train ride along the historical Death Railway, and WWII related attractions are included in the tour.  

 

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

PANTAWAN COOKING SCHOOL IN CHIANG MAI

 

Try a new experience in an old Thai style house classroom, which allows you to feel the real ambiance of traditional Thai while you cook. The programme starts with a tour to the local market, where you learn the techniques of choosing the perfect ingredients for your Thai cooking lesson.

 

 

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

CHIANG MAI

 

CHEDI CHIANG MAI REBRANDS AS ANANTARA CHIANG MAI RESORT & SPA

 

Minor Hotel Group (MHG) recently took over the management of Chedi Chiang Mai, and rebranded it as Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa. This latest addition increased MHG's hotel portfolio is 100. The hotel is a strategic addition to the Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas brand, which was established in Thailand in 2001.

 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PATTAYA

 

SIAM@SIAM DESIGN HOTEL PATTAYA

 

This 25-floor hotel is located near Central Festival in North Pattaya. It offers 268 fashionably appointed rooms that feature high ceilings, large picture windows and modern amenities. All rooms are spacious and equipped with air conditioning, coffee- and tea-making facility, satellite/cable television, in-room safe and shower. The hotel's recreational facilities include a fitness centre, spa, and the signature rooftop infinity swimming pool offering panoramic views of Pattaya Bay.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PHUKET

 

EASTIN EASY PATONG PHUKET

 

Eastin Easy Patong Phuket is located within a 10-minute walk from Jung Ceylon Shopping Mall and the lively Bangla Road, and a 30-minute ride away from Phuket International Airport. It offers air-conditioned 55 rooms designed in a modern contemporary style equipped with sofa seating area, a flat-screen television, safety box, refrigerator and telephone. The ensuite bathroom comes with shower facilities and free toiletries. Hotel facilities include an outdoor pool and well-equipped fitness centre. Free Wifi is available throughout the hotel.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

SLEEP WITH ME HOTEL@PATONG

 

Sleep With Me Hotel@Patong is situated close to Patong Beach and Jung Ceylon Shopping Mall. Boasting an outdoor pool, it offers free Wifi and onsite dining options. The 258 modern and airy air-conditioned rooms have a private balcony each and are equipped with a refrigerator, flat-screen satellite television, safety deposit box, ensuite bathroom and shower facilities.

 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

POINT YAMU BY COMO

 

Located at the tip of Cape Yamu overlooking the Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay, Point Yamu by COMO has 106 rooms with interiors designed by an Italian designer, Paola Navone. Fitted with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, each well-designed room features air conditioning, flat-screen television, refrigerator, and ensuite bathroom with shower and hairdryer. Most rooms have private terraces with sea or mountain views, while the suites boast a private pool. Hotel facilities include an outdoor pool, spa and wellness centre. Free Wifi is available throughout the property.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

BANGKOK

 

RADISSON BLU PLAZA BANGKOK

 

Located near Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok offers 290 upscale rooms with panoramic city view, including 20 Junior Suites, 3 Executive Suites and the Royal Deluxe Suite. The blend of clean lines, warm tone and splashes of colour create a relaxing ambiance of relaxation. In-room amenities include a spacious workstation, free high-speed wireless Internet access, and 24-hour concierge and room service and Vive bath products. Hotel facilities are a swimming pool, six on-site restaurants and bars, high-tech meeting facilities for up to 280 paxs in the pillarless ballroom.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

BURAPA PATTAYA BIKE WEEK
FEBRUARY 14-15, 2014
VENUE: SILVERLAKE VINEYARD/FESTIVAL ZONE

 

Pattaya Bike week is the biggest motorcycle gathering in South East Asia, and attracts bike enthusiasts from all over the region and the world. This event is part of Pattaya's efforts to shed its 60s' nightlife image and transform itself into a family and fun destination with special events, particularly those that are related to sports and entertainment.

 

 

 

TRANG UNDERWATER WEDDING CEREMONY

FEBRUARY 13-15, 2014

VENUE: TRANG BEACH, TRANG PROVINCE

 

Trang is well known to the world as charming town with blue skies and emerald-green sea. It is also a place associated with romance, and the Trang Underwater Wedding is testimony to this. The event is created for lovers to fulfil their dream of having a traditional Thai wedding ceremony with the formal signing of the wedding certificate under water. The ceremony is so famous and has gained so much worldwide recognition that it has gained an entry in the Guinness World of Records as the  "Largest Underwater Wedding Ceremony".

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK AIRWAYS LAUNCHES FLIGHTS TO NAY PYI TAW, MYANMAR

 

Bangkok Airways has introduced an international route connecting Bangkok to Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar. The thrice-weekly services are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using the airline's 70-seat ATR 72s.

 

 

 

AIRASIA OFFERS FLY-THRU SERVIC VIA BANGKOK

The new Fly Thru service offered by low cost carrier, AirAsia, makes it easy for its passengers to connect from one flight to another at Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport. Passengers using this service can now transfer between aircraft without having to check-in twice. Baggage is also checked through to the final destination, and passengers are exempted from paying the airport tax at Don Mueang. The service is currently available for 34 routes.

 

 

 

THAI SMILE FLIES BANGKOK TO LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

 

THAI Smile, Thai Airways' subsidiary, launched the Bangkok-Luang Prabang (Laos) service on December 15, 2013. The four times weekly service is operated with the Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline operates a fleet of two-class 174-seat A320 aircraft.    

 

Schedule is as follows:

TG2576 BKK0825 - 1000LPQ 32S x134

TG2577 LPQ1050 - 1225BKK 32S x134

 

 

 

THAI SMILE LAUNCHES A320 FLIGHTS FROM BANGKOK TO CHONGQING AND CHANGSHA, CHINA

 

THAI Smile has added two new Chinese destinations -Chongqing and Changsha - to its network, flying to Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. network. The thrice-weekly flights are operated with the Airbus A320 aircraft.  

 

Schedule is as follows:

BANGKOK to CHONGQING VV.

TG2600 (Daily 3.5.7) BKK at 11:10 TO CKG at 15:15

TG2601 (Daily 3.5.7) CKG at 16:10 TO BKK at 18:30  

 

BANGKOK to CHANGSHA VV.

TG2600 (Daily 3.5.7) BKK at 15:15 TO CSX at 19:10

TG2601 (Daily 3.5.7) CSX at 20:00 TO BKK at 22:10

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

LIFESTYLE BRAND KU DE TA OPENS IN  BANGKOK

 

Ku De Ta, one of the most iconic lifestyle brands in Asia, has opened a branch in Bangkok on 39th and 40th floors of the Sathorn Square Building. Offering unparalleled space for dinning and clubbing, it features three restaurants, seven distinct themed bars and two nightclubs, all characterised by innovative design with a high altitude terrace and a 360-degree view of the city.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 
 

LAOS

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJöRN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends,  

 

A new year has started and we can guarantee you that we will come up with new innovative products in 2014, while doing our best to offer you the best value for money.  

 

Like last year, we expect a stable environment in Laos with roughly the same number of long haul travellers. This will ensure that the destination maintains its unique flair.  

 

I especially would like to mention the new connection with Thai Airways to Luang Prabang, as well as the new Mandala Ou Resort in Nong Khiaw that we highlight in this report under "Hotel Information".

 

Happy reading. We look forward to welcome you to beautiful Laos!

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

FOURTH FRIENDSHIP BRIDGE OPENS

 

The fourth friendship bridge spanning the Mekong River and linking Laos and Thailand's far north opened on December 12, 2013. The bridge was completed earlier in the year, but support facilities caused delays in the opening date that was originally scheduled for August.

 

 

 

CHANGE IN NAVIGATION ON NAM OU RIVER

 

From November 26, 2013, without any notification, the Nam Ou River closed the navigation between Nong Khiaw and Luang Prabang. Boats have now to stop in Ban Houay Kheeb, north of Don Ngeun Village. Visitors then have to get around the dam, a 800-metre walk or two minutes by tuk tuk, to take another boat  

 

The cruise is still possible, but will now take six hours instead of five.

 

 

 

NAM NERN NIGHT SAFARI WINS AWARD FOR CONSERVATION

 

Nam Nern Night Safari has won the prestigious World Responsible Travel Award. An eco tour, it is developed by Wildlife Conservation Society in cooperation with the Government of Lao PDR and partner communities. The safari is designed to support the conservation of tigers and their prey, as well as other wildlife. Tourists can visit the night safari on a two-day or three-day trip.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

Mandala OU resort - Nong Khiaw, NORTHERN LAOS

 

The three star Mandala Ou Resort, a boutique hotel in Nong Khiaw, northern Laos, boasts 10 beautiful detached bungalows, each with private balconies overlooking pristine scenery which the area is famous for. It is modern with Lao influences, and is the best in Nong Khiaw. Facilities include a fully stocked bar, expansive kitchen, infinity pool, traditional herbal sauna, and yoga platform.

 

 

 

SALA XANG KEO - LUANG PRABANG

 

The new Sala Xang Keo is part of the Sala Prabang Hotels Group. It is located in the centre of the Luang Prabang peninsula in a quiet small blind alley, close to temples, shops and restaurants. It has 16 rooms, all of the same category. The hotel is ideal and affordable for GITs.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

VAT PHOU FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 12-14, 2014

VENUE: CHAMPASAK

 

The Vat Phou Festival in Champasak, which coincides with the Makha Busa Buddhist Festival, is one of the most important festivals in Laos. It is also the most religious festival together with Boun That Luang, which is held in Vientiane around October to November. Thousands of people from all over Laos gather at Champasak for this three-day festival.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

Thai SMile flies DIRECT FROM Bangkok to Luang Prabang

 

Bangkok based THAI Smile launched a direct service between Bangkok and Luang Prabang in Laos on December 15, 2013. The four times weekly roundtrip flights operates from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport to Luang Prabang on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays using an Airbus A320-200 aircraft. Promotional tickets for roundtrip travel in Smile Class starts from US$227.  

 

Schedule:

• BKK-LPQ: 9.25am - 11am

• LPQ-BKK: 11.50am - 13.25am.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

MEKONG VIEW RESTAURANT - LUANG PRABANG

 

Mekong View Restaurant is located exactly on the mouth of Nam Khan and Mekong rivers at the end of the Luang Prabang peninsula, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area. It has around 30 seats and serves delicious Lao food, complemented by good service. Recommended for lunch.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

 

CAMBODIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

 

Dear Partners and Friends,

 

2013 has come to an end, and we would like to thank you for your continued support.

 

It has been a year of changes at Asian Trails Cambodia with the departure of several management staff. Our team has been very supportive to continue delivering the best services and quality to your clients, and to keep the excellent reputation of Asian Trails Cambodia.  

 

In 2013 the country has seen an increase of international arrivals, and we hope this trend will continue in 2014 with your support.

 

We are continuously looking for new products, new hotels, restaurants and activities and we are bringing you the most updated information in this report.  

 

The Asian Trails team joins me to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!  

 

Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

GIANT PUPPET PARADE - SIEM REAP

 

The annual Giant Puppet Parade on February 22, 2014 in Siem Reap, held in collaboration with the Giant Puppet Project, is a community-based arts project involving various community organisations. Children carry the puppets, which range in size from 10 to 30 metres and shaped like ancient Chinese dragons. Each puppet conveys strong cultural or environmental themes such as road safety, endangered species, hygiene, local cultural appreciation and environmental awareness.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

WIDE RANGE OF VEHICLES

 

We have a large range of vehicles, from the standard car to top luxury vehicles including 4 WD cars, which are essential to reach secluded provinces of Cambodia. We can also provide 4WD Lexus or Mercedes Benz for travellers looking for comfortable and luxurious vehicles for transfer or sightseeing.  

 

Contact us for more information.

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

ANGKOR ZEN GARDEN

 

Angkor Zen Garden, a new and unique property in Siem Reap, is located in a quiet and small village about three kilometres from the old market. It has seven simple, clean bungalows set in the middle of a beautiful tropical garden, with the bathrooms and toilets located in a separated house.

 

The hotel is also is a retreat centre where guests can practice yoga, tai chi and meditation. They can also enjoy healthy and organic food. This is the perfect place for visitors looking for a hotel to enjoy a spiritual experience and relaxation at the same time.

 

 

 

ARECA ANGKOR BOUTIQUE VILLA

 

This new boutique hotel is set in a quiet tropical garden, offering modern comfort and stylish relaxation. Its 11 rooms are decorated with unique wooden furniture, fabrics from Cambodia, Khmer art, Cambodian music instrument and fishery equipment, king size beds with pure cotton linens and modern fittings. All rooms have a private balcony facing the beautiful garden, with free Wifi. Facilities include a swimming pool and spa.

 

 

 

SIHANOUKVILLE

 

TAMU HOTEL

 

Tamu Hotel is a new first class hotel on Sinanoukville set directly on Otres Beach. It is only 15 minutes by tuk tuk from Sihanoukville downtown. It features chic and modern rooms with ocean views. The hotel's 17-metres long swimming pool faces the sea and is designed to fit the architectural harmony of the hotel with daybeds for guests to chill. Tamu Hotel's restaurant is located on Otres Beach.

 

 

 

THE SECRET GARDEN AT OTRES BEACH

 

The resort, located at the secluded end of the beautiful Otres Beach, features 10 comfortable bungalows with fan or air-conditioning, free Wifi and outdoor showers. It is the perfect getaway for visitors looking for peace and quiet as its location is away from the hustle and bustle of Sihanoukville.

 

 

 

PREAH VIHEAR

 

PREAH VIHEAR BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

The new Preah Vihear Boutique Hotel is situated in Cheom Ksan District, a short 10 minutes' walk from Saem Market. All its 32 rooms offer garden and pool view. Facilities include an outdoor pool, free Wifi and 24-hour front desk. This is the perfect place to stay for those planning to visit Preah Vihear Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

 

 

PRASAT PREAH VIHEAR SOPHAKMONGKUL

 

Prasat Preah Vihear Sophakmongkul is ideal for tourists who want to stay in a budget hotel while on a visit to Preah Vihear Temple. The hotel is located 25 kilometres from the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and features 20 standard and four VIP rooms

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

VICTORY DAY OVER GENOCIDE REGIME

JANUARY 7, 2014

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 to the Vietnamese Armies and honours those lost in the genocide and who sacrificed their lives in restoring peace to the country. Colourful ceremonies are held at the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach).

 

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

JANUARY 31, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

The first day of Chinese New Year 2014 (Chun Jie/春节) falls on January 31, 2013, which heralds in the Year of the Horse. This is the biggest annual event for the Chinese community. Families gather for reunion dinners and visit relatives and friends. The festival is widely celebrated in Siem Reap and around Cambodia. The colourful celebrations attract many tourists.

 

 

 

MEAK BOCHEA DAY

FEBRUARY 14, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

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. Priests observe Buddha's three primary principles - do excellently, avoid bad activities, and cleanse the brain. The wats (pagodas) are filled with Cambodians who come to pray and offer food to the monks.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

PENSIN SOTHEA IS NEW OPERATION MANAGER

 

Mr. Pensin Sothea has been appointed Asian Trails' new Operation Manager based in Phnom Penh, effective from January 1, 2014. He has vast experience with the company, having worked in the Phnom Penh office as Assistant Inbound Manager. We wish Mr. Sothea all the very best in his new role.

 

 

 

MALA SO TAKES OVER AS ASSISTANT INBOUND MANAGER

 

Inbound Supervisor, Mrs. Mala So, takes over the position of Assistant Inbound Manager from January 1, 2014. We wish Ms. Mala So a good start in her new position.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

 

VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Dear Friends,  

 

Welcome to 2014!  

 

The people of Vietnam will soon be celebrating TET, the common name for the Vietnamese New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán) from January 30 to February 4, which is the "Year of the Horse". This festival is, by far, the country's most important holiday, and is like combining Christmas, New Year and your birthday into one big celebration.  

 

TET is traditionally the busiest time for travel in Vietnam. The cities will be empty as businesses, companies, restaurants and shops will close as people return to their hometown to celebrate the New Year as TET is about reunion with families, relatives and friends. On the last night of the celebrations most cities put on fireworks displays to end the celebrations on an explosive note, and to signal to the nation that it is time to get back to work.  

 

Happy New Year everyone!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới  - Happy New Year

Cung Chúc Tân Xuân - Gracious wishes of the new Spring

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

HANOI'S ELECTRIC BUGGY SERVICE A SUCCESS

 

Over the past three years Hanoi's electric buggy service has carried more than one million tourists on tours around the capital's Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city. It has overtaken the traditional cyclo as the ride of choice for visitors. The seven-kiolmetre Old Quarter route takes visitors around 28 commercial and culinary streets, 121 historical sites and 859 valuable architectural structures.

 

 

 

HOI AN AMONG TOP SEVEN UNIQUE TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN VIETNAM

 

Hoi An City is ranked among the top seven of Vietnam's most unique and attractive tourist attractions in Vietnam by Huffington Post, the U.S. online magazine. The other six are Hanoi, Halong, Danang, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta area.  

 

The cuisine in this ancient town is amazing, thanks to talented chefs and nearby markets with abundant fresh and cheap food. Visitors to Hoi An can join in traditional cooking classes or travel around old streets by bicycles to feel its ancient beauty.

 

 

 

BEN THANH IS ONE OF WORLD'S BEST FOOD MARKETS

 

Saigon's Ben Thanh Market is ranked 15th in the list of "Best food markets around the world", which was recently published by U.S. newspaper, USA Today. The market's food zone offers numerous types of food from every corner of Vietnam - from Hanoi's pho to Hue's banh beo (rice cake), hu tieu (Vietnamese noodles) and spring rolls. There are also stores selling souvenirs, clothes and footwear.

 

 

 

NEW CABLE CAR TO CONNECT SAPA TO FANSIPAN MOUNTAIN

 

The construction of the Sapa-Fansipan cable car started on November 2, 2013 in Vietnam's northern province of Lao Cai. When operational it will stretch seven kilometres from the town of Sapa to the top of Fansipan Mountain. This will make it one of the longest cable car systems in the world. Each car will hold up to 35 passengers, carrying up to 2,000 people to the top of the mountain every hour. It will cut the current two-day trek to the peak down to a ride of just 15 minutes

 

 

 

SAPA TO OPEN PEDESTRIAN STREET FOR TOURISTS

 

The Sapa District Town People's Committee has decided to make Cau May Street into a pedestrian zone for tourists. Vehicles are banned on the street every Friday and Saturday. On these days residents are allowed to sell souvenirs, brocade and food along the street. The opening of the pedestrian street is expected to create a cultural space to promote local cultures from other regions in the country.

 

 

 

SAPA TOURIST ATTRACTIONS LISTED IN VIETNAM RECORDS BOOK

 

Two famous tourist attractions in Sapa northern mountainous province of Lao Cai-O Quy Ho Pas and the terraced field in Vu Lung Sung hamlet - have been listed in Vietnam Records Book. The 50-km long O Quy Ho Pass is the longest in Vietnam. It is on Highway 4D, along the way from Lao Cai to Lai Chau provinces, and runs through the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. The Vu Lung Sung terraced field in Trung Chai commune, which is the most beautiful in the country, has a record number of 121 steps.

 

 

 

HERITAGE SITES IN HANOI GIVEN A FACELIFT

 

Historical sites in Hanoi such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison, will be given a facelift. The focus will be on replacing damaged sections of Hoa Phong Tower, Ngoc Son Temple and other areas around Hoan Kiem Lake. The department will also add tourism products to the area, organise traditional art performances at Tran Ba Temple, as well as festivals built around historical legends related to the lake

 

 

 

HALONG BAY AMONG TOP 10 MOST DRAMATIC COASTLINES

 

U.S. online magazine, Huffington Post, has listed Halong Bay as one of the world's 10 most dramatic coastlines. "Vietnam's Halong Bay is a UNESCO-recognised wonderland of over 3,000 whimsically-shaped islands jutting sharply out of the tranquil green waters," is how the magazine described the destination

 

 

 

CENTRAL COAST GOLF COURSES WIN TOP AWARDS

 

Vietnam's Central Coast has been reaffirmed as the country's top golf tourism destination with its three world-class golf courses winning elite Asian awards. Danang Golf Club and Montgomerie Links were recognised at Vietnam Golf Association's biennial awards ceremony in Hanoi on October 31, 2013. Laguna Lang Co received the honour at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 6.

 

 

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA MUSEUM IN HANOI OPENS

 

Southeast Asia Museum in Hanoi opened on December 1, 2013 to the public. Visitors can enjoy dances from Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia, as well as enjoy the rich cuisine of Southeast Asia. There are also games and activities for visitors to take part in.

 

 

 

VIETNAM MULLS MOTORBIKE BAN

 

Vietnam's cities are famed for the thousands of motorcycles that swarm the streets. This scene, however, may soon be gone as the Vietnamese government is considering a ban on motorbikes in city centres. Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister is pushing for the imposition of the ban in major cities in a bid to combat the growing problems of traffic congestion and road safety.   

 

The country is home to more than 37 million motorbikes, making them the country's most common means of transport. The ban may come into force between 2020 and 2025 when public transport is improved. Major urban rail projects are currently underway in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

 

 

 

QUANG BIN OFFERS HELICOPTER TOURS

 

Central Quang Binh Province and the Vietnam Helicopter Company (VHC) have reached an agreement to introduce helicopter tours to utilise Dong Hoi Airport and its tourism potential. VHC will organise tours to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, En Cave and Son Doong Cave in Bo Trach district, Tu Lan Cave in Minh Hoa district, and Vung Chua-Dao Yen in Quang Trach district, which is the resting place of General Vo Nguyen Giap.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

PANHOU VILLAGE - IDEAL BASE TO DISCOVER SECLUDED HA GIANG!

 

Ha Giang is a nature lovers' paradise surrounded by mountains, highlands, limestone hills, wide valleys encircled by terraced rice fields and inhabited populated by 23 ethnic minorities. Pan Hou Village is the "base camp" to discover this culturally rich destination and its hidden ethnic villages before or after "conquering" Dong Van Karst Plateau.  

 

Pan Hou Village is hidden in Hoang Su Phi massif, linking Bac Ha and Ha Giang. It is an ecolodge featuring 30 rooms in traditional style stilt houses with bathrooms, garden, restaurant and bar lounge. An experience not to be missed here are the herbal baths prepared by the Man Ta Pan and Tay people in traditional fragrant wood tubs in the bathhouse. These baths are very relaxing, especially after a long trek, and help relieve stress, articular or rheumatic pains.  

 

TIP: Add a minimum of two nights at Panhou as part of an expedition combining remote Dong Van Geopark and ending in Sapa.

 

 

 

DONG VAN KARST PLATEAU - ENCHANTING LAND OF THE H'MONG

 

Let the twin-mounts at Quan Ba Heaven Gate tell you the love tale of a fairy lady and a H'Mong young man.  

 

Let the music, dance and corn-made alcohol at enchanting ethnic markets lift your spirits!  

 

Let the rammed earth walls, unique housing technique found in the area tell you how THE H'Mong people live comfortably in extreme weather, and the flower gardens justify their poetic way of living!  

 

Let the French, Chinese influenced Palace of the legendary H'Mong king tell you how he ruled his inner world, cooperating with all forces but none could invade his land through the decades!  

 

Let the winding "‘Happiness Road" through the spectacular Ma Pi Leng (highest pass in the northwest) show you how the modern local youth connected this once isolated blackstone plateau with the outside world during the fierce wartime!  

 

Unique landscape, heartfelt hill tribes, remote villages, colourful ethnic markets, breathtaking road, all are incorporated in a sensational expedition to the remote Dong Van Karst Plateau in the north of Vietnam.  

 

TIP: September is the best time to admire the golden rice terrace.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BEST WESTERN PREMIER DEBUTS IN NHA TRANG

 

Best Western International has launched the new Best Western Premier Havana Nha Trang Hotel on the coast of Vietnam, a few months after introducing the mid-range Best Western Sea & Sun Nha Trang in the same destination. Located on Tran Phu Street, the hotel offers 200 upscale rooms and suites with sweeping views of Nha Trang Bay. Guests can enjoy Vietnamese and international cuisine at the hotel's restaurant, or relax at the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the sea. For corporate guests, there is 1,500sqm of conference and banqueting space for events.

 

 

 

ANOTHER U RESORT IN HOI AN

 

Absolute Hotel Services Group has introduced an additional U resort in Hoi An with the rebranding of Hoi An Beach Resort. It features newly renovated rooms fitted with deluxe amenities, offering either river, garden or beach views. Facilities include a new lobby building, two restaurants, two bars, two swimming pools, gym, spa, conference facilities and a private beach area

 

 

 

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE WINS WORLD LUXURY HOTEL AWARD

 

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake received a top accolade at the 2013 World Luxury Hotel Awards under the category "Luxury Hotel - Best Scenic Environment". This is the highest award for a property in the global luxury hotel industry, recognising its unique overwater location, excellent facilities and unmatched experiences provided to guests.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

HUE FESTIVAL

APRIL 12-21, 2014

VENUE: HUE

 

The festival, which starts on April 12, will feature nine days of art performances, cultural exchange events and community activities, showcasing 26 art troupes. A total of 26 countries and territories have confirmed their participation.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIRBERLIN EXPANDS CODESHARE AGREEMENT WITH ETIHAD AIRWAYS

 

airberlin expands its codeshare agreement with its strategic partner, Etihad Airways, making codeshare flights to Vietnam available to its guests. Since the beginning of October Etihad Airways has operated a daily non-stop service between its Abu Dhabi hub and its first Vietnamese destination, Ho Chi Minh City. airberlin places its "AB" flight code on the new flight allowing its guests, for the very first time, to book flights from points in Germany and Europe to Ho Chi Minh City.

 

 

 

JETSTAR PACIFIC OPENS TWO ROUTES TO NHA TRANG AND PHU QUOC

 

Low cost carrier, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, launched two new domestic routes from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang and Phu Quoc on December 15, 2013 to meet growing demand. The daily services are on an Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline is purchasing an additional two Airbus A320s, one in early December and another in late January 2014 to cope with the increasing number of passengers.

 

 

 

SILKAIR UPS FREQUENCY ON DANANG-SINGAPORE ROUTE

 

Singapore-based SilkAir added four direct flights per week between Danang and Singapore from November 1, 2013. The new flights, with stopovers in Siem Reap, are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, upping frequency to one flight daily in each direction. The airline began service to Danang in 2005 with three flights each week. It also has four times weekly service between Hanoi and Singapore.

 

 

 

VIETJET AIR LAUNCHES HO CHI MINH CITY-QUY NHON AND VINH-DALAT SERVICES

 

Budget airline, VietJet Air, has launched two new services. On November 9, 2013 it started flying from Ho Chi Minh City to Quy Nhon, offering more than 2,500 seats on seven round-trips per week.

 

The second service, which starts on December 24, is from Vinh in northern Nghe An Province to Dalat in Lam Dong Province. The three times weekly flights are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with a total capacity of 1,080 seats. The flight departs from Vinh at 08.05hrs and arrives in Dalat at 09.35hrs. The return flights leaves Dalat at 10.10hrs and touches down in Vinh at 11,40hrs  

 

Currently, VietJet Air operates 500 flights per week with a route network across 14 cities and provinces in Vietnam, and international services to Thailand, Cambodia, and Korea. 

 

 

 

ASIANA AIRLINES FLIES DAILY TO HANOI

 

Asiana Airlines added four extra flights per week from Incheon, South Korea to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi from December 9, 2013. The airline now flies daily on this route. It uses an Airbus 321 aircraft (OZ728) with 171 seats for the additional services on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

 

Asiana Airlines plans an additional three weekly flights on the Incheon—Hanoi route starting early 2014. It may increase the aircraft to a larger model to meet anticipated travel demand.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

HANOI TO RELOCATE 6,500+ HOUSEHOLDS FROM TOURIST DISTRICT BY 2020

 

Hanoi's Old Quarter is becoming overcrowded and the authorities in Hanoi have announced plans to move thousands of residents out of the city's main tourist district. The project will move 1,530 families currently living in the Old Quarter to a new "residential area" across the Red River before 2016, and then a further 5,000 families by 2020. The Old Quarter is home to several ancient buildings and temples, and authorities said the project was intended to restore the area's cultural heritage.

 

 

 

VIETNAM OPENS TOURIST OFFICE IN JAPAN

 

A tourism representative office for Vietnam opened in the Japanese capital of Tokyo in December 2013. According to the Vietnam Tourism Association, over 450,000 Japanese tourists are expected to visit Vietnam, up 5.1% year-on-year.

 

 

 

ECOLOGICAL HOUSE LISTED IN VIETNAM BOOK OF RECORDS

 

The Vietnam Book of Records, Vietkings, recognised an ecological house that is shaped like a conical hat with a roof made from 2.4 million pieces of coconut. The house, 12.03 metres high with a diameter of 27.1 metres, is located in Vinahouse Space in central Quang Nam Province's Dien Ban district, about seven kilometres from the ancient town of Hoi An. It took 250 workers 55 days to build the house.

 

 

 

MORE TOURIST SUPPORT CENTRES FOR POPULAR DESTINATIONS

 

Vietnam plans to set up tourists support centres nationwide in major tourist destinations that welcome a million tourists or more each year such as Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, support centres will have a hotline number and staff who can speak foreign languages to help tourists round the clock. The assigned hotline number is 119, but may be replaced in the future.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

 

CHINA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

 

Winter in China is the low season, but it is also the time of reflection on the year gone by and preparations for the coming season. The end of January and early February will see the Chinese New Year celebrations, which for most of us means quality time with the family, lots of eating and two weeks of fireworks!

 

2014 is a very promising year for business, and we wish all our readers a prosperous and healthy Year of the Horse!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

HIGH-SPEED RAILWAYS - SKY'S THE LIMIT

 

The new high-speed railway line to Urumqi climbs hundreds of metres onto the Tibetan plateau to oxygen-starved altitudes. It then descends to the edge of the Gobi Desert for a final sprint of several hundred wind-blown kilometres across a Martian landscape. The line will reach higher than any other bullet-train track in the world and extend, what is already by far the world's longest high-speed rail network, by nearly one-fifth compared with its current length.  

 

Record-breaking milestones have become routine in the breathtaking development of high-speed railways in China, known as gaotie. In just five years, since the first line connected Beijing with the nearby port of Tianjin in 2008, high-speed track in service has reached 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles), more than in all of Europe. The network has expanded to link more than 100 cities. In December 2012 the last section opened on the world's longest gaotie line, stretching 2,400km from Beijing to Shenzhen on the border with Hong Kong. The network has confounded some sceptics who believed there would not be enough demand.

 

High-speed trains carry almost two million people daily, which is about one third of the total number of rail passengers in China.

 

Please contact Asian Trails for rates of high-speed rail tickets in China.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

SKY TREE PARK - MENGLA COUNTY

 

Yes, China does have rainforests and are found in the Wangtianshu Scenic Attraction, which is located in Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture. It is located 130 kilometres away from Jinghong and 370 kilometres from Luang Prabang in Laos, which is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The park has been recognised internationally as China's unique tropical rainforest.  

 

The most impressive sight in the park is the towering Shorea Chinensis (Sky Trees), which are the rainforest iconic images in South and Southeast Asia. An Aerial Corridor (Kong Zhong Zou Lang), 100 metres long and 36 metres high, has been built on the high canopies. The well-protected tropical rainforests were discovered by the famous Chinese botanist, Mr. Cai Xitao (1911-1981). The unveiling of the rainforests to the outside world, which was attended by England's Prince Philip, surprised many people.

 

 

 

FIVE STAR RESORTS IN XISHUANGBANNA

 

For travellers who wish to enjoy the southwestern-most subtropical region of Xishuangbanna, please note there is a choice of two five star resorts. The Crowne Plaza Resort is located in Jinghong city. The luxurious Anantara Resort is in Mengla, on the banks of a tributary of the Mekong River and just 80km from the Laos border.

 

 

 

TAINING COUNTY - RED ROCK NATURAL WONDER

 

Taining, located at the juncture of Fujian and Jiangxi provinces, is a mountainous county with a population of 141,000. It received its name, which literally means prosperity and peace, from Emperor Zhezong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) in 1086.  

 

The county is best known for the Danxia landforms. Danxia, which means red rock, refers to the red colour sandstones and formations of the Cretaceous age, about 145 to 66 million years ago. It is a place of art created by Mother Nature over a long time. Visitors can take in the natural beauty by cruising along the river on a bamboo raft, or climbing the mountain to admire the ancient Ganlu Temple nestled inside a cave. Taining, however, remains unknown to many Chinese people.

 

 

 

XIAOQINGSHAN VILLAGE REVELS IN FORMER GLORIES

 

Xiaoqingshan Village in Lipu county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is located on the southwest of a 100-metre solitary peak that stands at the centre of a small basin surrounded by mountain ranges and semi-encircled by streams. It offers visitors views of old houses and karst scenery.  

 

The village has a long history of defending itself from invaders, leaving it with a fascinating architectural legacy. There is an old Chinese belief that families will prosper if they spend rainy days reading indoors, and the rest of the time ploughing the fields. Also, if family members master some form of martial arts or able to defend themselves then they will become role models for others. The village has been a community of such families since its establishment in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The elderly people in village tend to spend time retelling legendary stories and reliving the history of the old buildings.

 

 

 

SHIJIA HUTONG MUSEUM - BEIJING

 

The Shijia Hutong Museum is a museum within a museum, which opened in October 2013. An architectural artefact, its structure has dodged the wrecking ball of progress. It breaks new ground in the preservation of, and education about, old Beijing's buildings and the people who have long dwelled in them.

 

 

 

TIANSHUI - A CRADLE OF CHINA'S CIVILISATION

 

Many places in Gansu are named for their military purposes in history as, for centuries, the area bordered frontier territories. But Tianshui, which means "sky water", is an exception. Located in the southeast end of Gansu it has prospered for about 2,700 years as an agricultural centre, nestled in the fertile valley of the Weihe River, the largest branch of the Yellow River.  

 

More importantly, Tianshu is one of the cradles of the China's civilisation. It is the hometown of Fu Xi, one of the earliest and most important rulers in Chinese lore. The Fu Xi Temple, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is a must-see in Tianshui, which is also the gateway to the Buddhist rock art of Maijishan. The hometown of Fu Xi is well worth a visit to understand the country's history.

 

 

 

XIAMEN- ONE OF CHINA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES

 

Xiamen was one of the five treaty ports established in 1843 after the First Opium War making the city, especially the islet of Gulangyu, a place of colonial architecture. Today, Xiamen is a haven of tranquillity and a semi-tropical escape with special allure as winter's icy grip squeezes the northern half of China. "It's not too big and not too small," is how locals use these words from the fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bear, to describe Xiamen's allure. It is lauded as one of China's most beautiful cities, and is a magnet for tourists.

 

 

 

DANGXIANG - A LOST PEOPLE

 

Mongolian warrior and conqueror, Genghis Khan, obliterated most of the Dangxiang race for refusing to join his invasion of the Khwarezmian Empire in the early 13th century. Most imperial relatives and officials of the Western Xia dynasty, founded by a Dangxiang man named Li Yuanhao in AD 1038 were buried in the Western Xia Tombs, which include nine imperial mausoleums and 250 tombs.  

 

Acclaimed as the "Oriental Pyramids", the Western Xia Tombs occupy an area of 50sqkm east of Helan Mountains, about 30km west of Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, in northwestern China. Due to the large area it is difficult to visit all the tombs, which are the main attraction in Yinchian. Instead most tourists explore the No. 3 tomb as it is the best preserved. The museum and other facilities are also located next to this mausoleum. Today, archaeologists are trying to find out more about the Dangxiang race from examining the tombs.

 

 

 

HEBEI PROVINCE'S MANY ATTRACTIONS

 

Hebei Province has many attractions, and its most popular with both local and foreign tourists is the famous Zhaozhou Bridge. This is a large stone-arched bridge located on the Xiaohe River in Zhaozhou County (pictured). It is the oldest such bridge in the world, dating back AD 595 in the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618).  

 

Other attractions in the province include:

• Fuxi Temple, which is representative of lifestyle of the Neolithic period and features relics created more than 7,800 years ago.

• Zhengding, a county near Shijiazhuang, famed for its long and glorious history.

• Xibaipo, the fifth listed 5A resort in Hebei, is a popular destination among the travellers interested in so-called Red tourism.

• Shijiazhuang, home to a wealth of natural scenery with two national geological parks.

 

 

 

YANSHAN MANOR - PLACE OF INSPIRATION

 

Yanshan Manor in Guilin was built during the 19th century, and once served as a shelter for scholars during World War II. It remains a source of inspiration for philosophers, writers and artists. 

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

RAFFLES EXPANDS CHINA'S PORTFOLIO WITH SHENZHEN PROPERTY

 

Raffles Hotels & Resorts is opening a new property, Raffles Shenzhen, in Shenzhen in 2018. The hotel will occupy the top floors of an 80-storey tower in the new One Shenzhen Bay development. It is only 30 minutes' drive from Central in Hong Kong

 

 

 

SIX SENSES QING CHENG OPENS EARLY 2014

 

Six Senses Qing Cheng is scheduled to open in early 2014. Located at the picturesque gateway to the majestic Qing Cheng Mountains, the hotel has been created to complement the UNESCO World Heritage & Natural Cultural site nearby Dujiangyan. Drawing upon the renowned Six Senses perspective of responsible luxury, the resort has been designed to incorporate regional architecture and landscaping to offer guests an extraordinary cultural offering.  

 

 

 

PANDA HOTEL HONG KONG INTRODUCES WOMEN-ONLY ROOMS

 

Panda Hotel Hong Kong is pandering to its lady guests with two new accommodation categories introduced in mid-November last year. These special rooms meet the needs of a growing number of women travelling for work or leisure. Reserved exclusively for female guests they feature advanced access cards for entry and electronic door locks to ensure complete safety. The rooms are decorated in soft elegant tones, and feature female-oriented amenities such as curling tongs, eye masks and foot-bath buckets with complimentary bath salts.

 

 

 

THE RITZ-CARLTON, CHENGDU - A COSMOPOLTIAN HOTEL

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu, which overlooks Tianfu Square, offers a superlative cosmopolitan experience at the heart of this iconic Chinese city. Featuring 353 rooms, including 55 suites, the contemporary-styled hotel in China's emerging southwest offers a modern hospitality experience with traditional Chinese flourishes. The bar and Club Flair, which offers commanding views of the city in a funky surrounding, is the place to be for the local jet set.

 

 

 

MANDARIN ORIENTAL TO MANAGE CHONGQING PROPERTY

 

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has inked an agreement to manage the Mandarin Oriental, Chongqing, slated to open in 2016.

 

 

 

MORE LUXURY HOTELS FOR BEIJING IN 2014

This year will see the arrival of more top brands and sophisticated luxury hotels in Beijing. Among them are Waldorf Astoria, Rosewood, W and Nuo. We will keep you updated on the hotels' opening in later issues of Trailblazer.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR - YEAR OF THE HORSE

JANUARY 31, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

 

Chinese New Year falls on January 31, which will be the first day of the Year of the Horse. Celebrations of the most important event on the Chinese calendar will continue until February 14, the Lantern Festival, which coincides with Valentine's Day. This means double fireworks! It is auspicious to wear something red during the new year to ward off evil spirits and attract the good elements.  

 

If you are born in the Year of the Horse (e.g. 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942 or 1930) you are sharp-minded, fashionable, energetic and gifted with a silver tongue.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS EXPANDS SERVICES TO CHINA

 

On December 20, 2013 Qatar Airways began non-stop flights from Doha to Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province. The four times weekly service is on an Airbus A330 aircraft. This is the airline's seventh route to China, just two months after the launch of its Doha-Chengdu service.

 

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS AND ASIAN TRAILS COOPERATE TO HOST EDUCATIONAL GROUPS

 

Asian Trails was the proud destination management company to receive two educational groups from Poland and Romania to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. The trip was an initiative by Qatar Airways to introduce its new Doha-Chengdu route.

 

 

 

TIGERAIR MAKES LEAP INTO NINGBO

 

Singapore based budget airline, Tigerair, launched direct flights between Singapore and Ningbo, a port city in east China's Zhejiang province, on December 26, 2013. The airline operates the service three times every fortnight, on every alternate Thursday, Tuesday and Saturday. It is the only airline to offer direct services between the two cities.  

 

Ningbo is Tigerair's eighth Greater China destination after Guangzhou, Haikou, Hong Kong, Lijiang, Macau, Shenzhen and Taipei.

 

 

 

QANTAS CODESHARES WITH CHINA SOUTHERN

 

Qantas has signed a codeshare agreement with China Southern Airlines. Under the terms of the deal Qantas customers can book China Southern services from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to Guangzhou. This is in addition to the four additional onward destinations of Xiamen, Kunming, Fuzhou and Urumqi. The airline is exploring other possible areas of cooperation with the China-based carrier.    

 

Earlier in October last year China Southern commenced a daily Airbus A380 service between Sydney and Guangzhou.

 

 

 

AIR CHINA CONNECTS BEIJING WITH HAWAII

 

In an agreement between Air China and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Chinese carrier will launch direct flights from Beijing to Hawaii on January 21, 2014. The thrice-weekly service will depart Beijing at 01.30hrs and land in Hawaii at 18.25hrs one day earlier. Return flights will leave Hawaii at 21.55hrs and touch down in Beijing at 05.20hrs on the third day.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

ENDING 2013 ON A HIGH NOTE

 

To end 2013 in style the Asian Trails China team had an enjoyable Christmas lunch at the China World Hotel.

 

We wish our friends and partners worldwide a happy and prosperous 2014!

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

 

MYANMAR

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,  

 

The months of November and December 2013 were very busy here in Myanmar. There was a hug increase in the number of arrivals, and we are confident this trend will continue into the New Year.  

 

We would like to thank you all for your strong support despite the many challenges we are facing. Please rest assured that in 2014 we will continue to give you 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

 

 

NEW DAY CRUISE ON AURA BOAT

 

Aura Boat has added a new day river cruise on the Ayeyarwaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan. The vessel, which is equipped with two Mitsubishi 350 BHP engines, has a maximum capacity for 70 passengers. It has a bar and restaurant, as well as a sundeck for a comfortable cruise.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

HOTEL BUSINESS ALLIANCE

 

Hotel Business Alliance is a new four star hotel, which is just a short drive from the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda and Kandawgyi Lake. It features 30 well-equipped rooms, with categories from Superior to Studio Suite. The hotel also has a business centre with conference rooms.

 

 

 

GOLD YADANAR HOTEL - MANDALAY

 

The six storey Gold Yadanar Hotel is in a modern building located in the centre of Mandalay. It is a 10-minute walk from the main market and the railway station. The three star hotel features 40 rooms equipped with television and air-conditioning.

 

 

 

SANDOWAY RESORT ADDS A NEW JEWEL ON NGAPALI BEACH

 

The Residence by Sandoway is a new exclusive hotel for visitors to Ngapali Beach. Scheduled to open in February 2014, it has a bed and breakfast concept. The hotel features 14 tastefully decorated rooms - six located at the beach front and eight with garden view, including all the beach facilities. Guests also get to enjoy access to all the facilities of its sister property, the five star Sandoway Resort, which is just 100 metres away.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

 

 

KAKKU PAGODA FESTIVAL

MARCH 15, 2014

VENUE: KAKKU NEAR TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

 

On March 15 the full moon day of Tabaung (the last month of the Myanmar lunar calendar) the annual Kakku Pagoda Festival takes place. This is not only a religious festival, but also an occasion for the Paoh people (one of the Myanmar ethnic groups) to trade, have fun and socialise for four says.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

NEW DOMESTIC DESTINATION FOR GOLDEN MYANMAR AIRLINES

 

Golden Myanmar Airlines (GMA) has added a new destination, Nyapidaw, to its domestic network. In November 2013 it mounted a daily Yangon-Nyapidaw return service. Following its low cost policy, the one-way fare starts from USD46.  

 

The airline is also flying Yangon-Mandalay, and has plans to add other domestic destinations.

 

 

 

 

MYANMAR AIRWAYS TO EXPAND ROUTE NETWORK WITH NEW AIRCRAFT

 

Myanmar Airways International (MAI) has bought two new Airbus A319 aircraft as a part of its fleet expansion plan. The new Airbus was delivered last November, increasing MAI's fleet size to nine aircraft. The airline plans to expand its international services using the new aircraft. It launched a flight to Incheon, Korea, last November.

 

 

 

BIMAN BANGLADESH AIRLINES LAUNCHES DHAKA-YANGON SERVICE

 

Biman Bangladesh Airlines launched the Dhaka-Yangon service in December 2013. The two times weekly flights are on Mondays and Thursdays, using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a two-class cabin configuration (business/economy).

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

GREEN ELEPHANT RESTAURANT II - YANGON

 

Following the success of the first Green Elephant Restaurant, a second one - Green Elephant Restaurant II - has opened in Yangon to meet the increasing number of customers. Located on University Road, the restaurant offers a mix of Myanmar and Asian dishes.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

EASI TRAVEL - MYANMAR'S FIRST NATIONAL DEBIT CARD

CB Bank, as first lender, is offering a prepaid master debit card from December 1, 2013. EASI Travel allows withdrawal of money from ATM machines, and can be used for online shopping. The card can also be used for transactions in Myanmar and abroad. This is a step forward for Myanmar's antiquated financial system.

 

 

 

LIMITED ACCEPTANCE OF CREDIT CARDS

 

We would like to remind all visitors that the acceptance of credit cards in Myanmar is still limited to a few point-of-sale. Cash withdrawal from ATM machines with VISA and MasterCard Is more widely accepted

 

 

 

MYANMAR TOURISM PROMOTION'S ANNUAL GRAND BALL 2013

 

Myanmar Tourism Promotion organised its annual grand ball on November 22, 2013 with the theme, "White Masquerade". Representatives of the tourism industry, as well as members of embassies and business corporations, enjoyed an evening of entertainment, good food, great music and lots of laugher at the impressive Strand ballroom.

 

 

 

CONCERT RAISES FUNDS FOR A NOBLE CAUSE

 

A beneficial concert organised by Shangri-La in collaboration with Link For Aid, an Italian NGO, took place at Traders Hotel on November 28, 2013. The money raised goes to support various projects in Myanmar, such as the Mary's Cooking Class dedicated to the students of Mary Chapman School for the Deaf. The class helps the students to become tomorrow's chefs and find their place in society.

 

Asian Trails, as part of its corporate social responsibility commitment, co-sponsored this unique event.

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS SPREADS XMAS JOY IN YANGON

 

Every year staff of Asian Trails Myanmar holds a carol singing session at the Home for the Old Age in Yangon. This year was not exception. It was a very special occasion as we shared the joys of the season with the Home's inmates. We, the "Santa Clauses", were so filled with warmth and goodwill that we have already marked the 2014 date in our busy calendar to bring similar Xmas cheer.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

 

MALAYSIA

 

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Warm Greetings from Asian Trails Malaysia!  

 

Malaysia has a lot to celebrate in the new year as 2014 is Visit Malaysia Year. The country will also host the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2014) in Kuching, Sarawak. We hope you will come and discover the charms and delights of Malaysia, as they will all be on show during this special year.  

 

My team and I at Asian Trails Malaysia wish you a very Happy New Year and may 2014 bring you great success.  

 

Emir

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

PENANG PROPOSES TAX ON HOTEL ROOMS

 

The Penang state government plans to impose a proposed RM2 (US$0.60) levy (tax) for each night's stay in one star to three-star accommodation, with RM5 to be charged for each night's stay in four star and above hotels.  

 

According to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, as the state government was planning to organise Visit Penang Year from 2015 to 2017 it needed huge investments to develop new products events and experiences for tourists. Money from the proposed levy will go towards these tourism developments.  

 

The tax, which was to be have been imposed in March 2014, has been deferred to June or July. The state government is fine-tuning the mechanism of the tax collection with the hotels through the Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang Chapter. The levy, when implemented, will be imposed on 14,700 hotel rooms in 72 star-rated hotels and about 100 non-rated hotels in Penang.

 

 

 

TOURISM MALAYSIA HARNESSES SOCIAL MEDIA FOR VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR 2014 PROMOTIONS

 

Tourism Malaysia is leveraging on social media to intended to complement existing marketing efforts for Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014) with the launch of its integrated digital marketing programme.

 

The programme was designed to support VMY 2014 promotions and includes video content on YouTube and TrulyAsia TV, and the ShareMy initiative to encourage tourists to explore Malaysia virtually in the online social realm. Other promotional mediums include Facebook, Twitter, Tourism Malaysia website, and the Malaysia Trip Planner mobile travel app.

 

The Malaysian government has allocated a budget of RM1.2 billion (US$374.2 million) over a two-year period for the implementation of VMY 2014 programmes, as well as advertising and promotional expenditure.

 

VMY2014 features over 200 tourism events. The country is targeting 28 million tourist arrivals and RM76 million in tourism receipts for the special year

 

 

 

MALAYSIA REINSTATES VISA-ON-ARRIVAL FOR INDIA AND CHINA NATIONALS

 

The Malaysian government has relaxed visa restrictions for tourists from India and China in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Indian and Chinese tourists will be granted the Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) facility if they enter Malaysia through a third country. Currently, India and China passport holders are required to apply for a visa for travel to Malaysia.  

 

The VoA facility was introduced in 2006 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007. In 2010 Malaysia scrapped the facility for visitors from eight countries, including China and India, due to abuse that included overstaying.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NAGA PELANGI (RAINBOW DRAGON) OFFERS "SAILING THE RAINFOREST" CRUISES

 

Naga Pelangi (Rainbow Dragon) is offering "sailing the rainforest" cruises in Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. Most of these islands are untouched and still covered with tropical virgin jungles.  

 

Naga Pelangi, a traditional junk schooner and part of Malaysia's maritime cultural heritage, is meticulously handcrafted from tropical hardwood by the famous boat builders of Pulau Duyong in Terengganu, a state on the east coast of Malaysia. It is the first and only traditional Malay sailing boat for charter in Malaysia.  

 

The cruise, billed as an unforgettable holiday experience, is both an opportunity to learn about the rich local culture and be at one with nature. Lie back on pristine beaches in secluded bays of remote islands, and have your sundowner and barbecue against the background of a breath-taking sunset.  

 

Accommodation

One master stateroom with one double and one single berth, and two double cabins - all with private bathroom/shower. Acommodate up to seven persons on board in style.  

 

Activities

Hands-on sailing an authentic junk rigged schooner. Hop from bay to bay and from island to island; anchor off secluded beaches or in narrow passages "in the middle" of the rainforest; stroll the beaches and spot the amazing sea eagles from which the archipelago derives its name; exxplore extensive mangrove forests by kayak or dinghy;  visit geolocical wonders with caves and stunning rock formations that gained Langkawi the UNESCO title of "Geopark", the only one in South East Asia; swim and snorkel in the coral gardens of the Butang islands (optional); try fishing for your supper!  

 

What to bring

T-shirts, shorts, headwear, swimwear, sarongs, personal hygiene items and medication. Though the cabins on board the Naga Pelangi are spacious, everything must be stowed away, so a flexible bag is preferable to a case with a rigid shell. More importantly, bring with you an adventurous spirit, a desire for the simple things in life, a joy of living life in the fresh air at one with the elements, and the flexibility to adapt to the changes in the tour programme that the wind and weather conditions may necessitate.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

M BOUTIQUE HOTEL IPOH OPENS

 

Ariva Hotels & Serviced Apartments has opened the doors of its latest property, the colonial-inspired M Boutique Hotel by Ariva in Ipoh, the capital of Perak.  

 

The 93-room boutique property blends classic shophouse architecture with contemporary art and furniture design. Facilities include a gym with the latest fitness equipment, the Signature Old Town White Coffee Café, meeting and event spaces for up to 70 paxs. The soon-to-open Myth Eatery & Bar will serve contemporary fare prepared with ingredients from local sustainable sources.  

 

Ariva Hotels & Serviced Apartments is a management company set up in Singapore in 2009. It currently has 5,000 units in its portfolio across cities including Bali, Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuching, Medan, Penang, Qingdao, Semarang, Singapore, Tianjin and Yangon.

 

 

 

EQUATORIAL CAMERON HIGHLANDS REBRANDS AS COPTHORNE HOTEL CAMERON HIGHLANDS"

 

From January 1, 2014 Equatorial Cameron Highlands has been rebranded as Copthorne Hotel Cameron Highlands. Copthorne Hotels is part of the Millennium & Copthorne Hotel based in the UK with over 120 hotels comprising 45,000 rooms in 22 countries.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

ROYAL LANGKAWI INTERNATIONAL REGATTA

JANUARY 13-18, 2014

VENUE: LANGKAWI

     

The Royal Langkawi International Regatta, which has become one of the most popular events in South East Asia, will see more than 50 yachts competing in nine highly-charged racing classes. Do not miss the drama and excitement on the high seas. 

 

 

 

PONGGAL

JANUARY 14, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Ponggal, a four-day thanksgiving event, is one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. A highlight of the festival, which takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil", is the cooking ceremony of boiling rice till it overflows, symbolising wealth and harvest.

 

 

 

THAIPUSAM

JANUARY 17, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

A truly spectacular event, Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival where devotees perform various rituals as acts of devotion and penance. The main venue is the world-renowned Batu Caves Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city.

 

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

JANUARY 31-FEBRUARY 1, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

January 31 will usher in the Year of the Horse, a time for celebrations and merrymaking for the Chinese community throughout Malaysia. Family reunion dinners, open houses, and giving of ang pows (red packets containing money) from elders to the young are common features of this most important Chinese festival. Don't miss the exciting lion and dragon dance performances at shopping malls and homes.

 

 

 

FESTIVAL LAYANG-LAYANG SEDUNIA (WORLD KITE FESTIVAL)

FEBRUARY 10-16, 2014

VENUE: PASIR GUDANG, JOHOR

 

This annual World Kite Festival, which is held in Pasir Gudang, Johor, showcases colourful and creatively designed kites from over 30 countries, as well as the flying skills of the participants.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

NON-STOP DIRECT KUALA LUMPUR-FRANKFURT FLIGHTS FROM LUFTHANSA

 

German airline, Lufthansa, will launch five times weekly non-stop direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to it's hub in Frankfurt by the first quarter of 2014   

 

The direct service will features conveniently scheduled evening flights, especially for business passengers, offering them a time saving and efficient connection to Europe.  

 

Lufthansa's launching of the new services is attributed to Malaysia's country's positive economic growth and development, as well as the draw of Malaysia as a top tourist destination for European travellers.

 

 

 

AIRASIA X TO LAUNCH KUALA LUMPUR-NAGOYA ROUTE IN MARCH

 

Malaysia's longhaul low cost carrier will commence four times weekly service into Chubu Centrair International Airport in Japan on March 17, 2014.  

 

The flights will leave Kuala Lumpur on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 00.45hrs to arrive in Nagoya at 08.20hrs. Return flights on the same days depart Nagoya at 09.35hrs, to arrive in the Malaysian capital at 15.45hrs.  

 

Alternatively, flights take off from Kuala Lumpur on Mondays and Fridays at 08.45hrs to arrive in Nagoya at 16.20hrs. Kuala Lumpur-bound flights on these days depart Nagoya at 17.35hrs to land at 23.45hr.  

 

AirAsia X currently flies daily to Tokyo (Haneda) and four times a week to Osaka out of Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

 

AIRASIA FLIES TO BANDUNG FROM JOHOR BAHRU

 

Malaysia's budget airline, AirAsia, has strengthened its position in its southern hub with the launch of flights between Bandung, Indonesia and Johor Bahru, in the southern Malaysia state of Johor. This is the airline's third destination to Indonesia from the city after Jakarta and Surabaya. The four times weekly flights are on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.

 

 

 

MALINDO AIR CONNECTS KUALA LUMPUR WITH TRICHY, INDIA

 

Kuala Lumpur based hybrid airline, Malindo Air, flies daily from Kuala Lumpur to Trichy, India from January 2, 2014. This is the airline's second Indian destination, after New Delhi. It will fly to a third Indian city, Mumbai, from February 15.

 

 

 

MALINDO AIR FLIES TO CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH

 

As part of its expansion plans, Malindo Air will fly to Chittagong, Bangladesh from Kuala Lumpur in January 2014. The one-way all-inclusive fare for the thrice weekly flight is from RM455, while the all-in return fare is from RM955.  

 

The new route, the airline's second destination in Bangladesh after Dhaka, will be operated using a brand new Boeing 737-900ER aircraft.  

 

Chittagong, an important industrial, financial, and commercial hub, is also a transit hub for many neighbouring countries including India and China.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

 

INDONESIA

 

 

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

ASIAN TRAILS INDONESIA'S TEAM CONQUERS MT BROMO

 

After exploring the Ijen massive last year we aimed for another peak in Java - Mt Bromo - during our staff outing this year. After a very early start from our office by bus we reached Bromo Tengger National Park 14 hours later. Exhausted from the long trip and having an early start the next day, we had dinner soon after our arrival, as well as the lucky draw when the staff won prizes that included meal vouchers and smartphones.  

 

The following day an armada of 4WD vehicles took us on a 20-minute ride to the peak of Mt. Penanjakan to watch the sunrise. We were very lucky as the weather was good, and we enjoyed the beautiful view over Mt. Bromo and Mt. Semeru, Java's highest volcano. After entering the crater our Hindu staff took the opportunity to hold a prayer session at one of Indonesia's highest temples before climbing up to the crater rim of Mt. Bromo. It was a memorable trip for the whole team, and we are already discussing possible destinations for next year's trip.    

 

Although we are now entering the low season in 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.    

 

We wish you all the best for 2014. Selamat Tahun Baru!

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NEW SIC TOUR:  JAVA-BALI OVERLAND

 

Come and explore with us the island of Java, also known as "the heartland of the Indonesian archipelago", in the new SIC tour. Starting from April 1, 2014 until October 31 the tour is on every two weeks. It takes you to all the major cultural highlights Java has to offer such as the ancient temples of Borobodur and Prambanan, as well as famous natural wonders like the inspiring Mount Bromo. The tour ends with a relaxing stay at one of the famous beaches of South Bali. Departures are guaranteed with a minimum of two paxs.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

QUNCI VILLAS, LOMBOK HOSTS SPECIAL EVENTS IN FEBRUARY

 

February is the month of love, and Qunci Villas, Lombok is celebrating this special month with numerous special events that focuses on food, the arts, and music to enhance the resort's romantic ambiance, The schedule is as follows:

 

Jan 29/Feb 4

Art classes from in-resident artist, Diah Yulianti

Feb 1 & 2

Chef Andrew Walsh from Esquina, Singapore

Feb 1 & 2

Classical guitarist with Manuel Cabrera  

Feb 14

Special aphrodisiac Valentine's Dinner by Chef Frederic Pougault

Feb 19/Mar 2

Art classes from in-resident artist, Teguh Ostenrik

March 1/2

Chef Hadleigh Troy from Amuse, Perth, Australia

 

Please contact us for more details or bookings.

 

 

 

PLATARAN UBUD RESORT & SPA OPENS

 

Plataran Ubud Resort & Spa, which opened in September 2013, is located in the beautiful valley of Pengosekan, Central Ubud, only steps away from famous Monkey Forest. The resort is surrounded by lush and scenic rice paddies, interspersed with small rivers and ancient temples. It offers three different types of luxurious accommodation for travellers looking for the true Balinese experience. Facilities include a first-class restaurant serving international and Balinese cuisine, indoor and outdoor coffee lounges, yoga/meditation decks, free form pool, outdoor bar and luxurious spa.

 

 

 

PLATARAN KOMODO RESORT - LUXURY ON KOMODO ISLAND

 

Located on a secluded beach east of Flores, Plataran Komodo Resort is the only luxurious resort on the nature reserve of Komodo Island. It offers accommodation in luxury villas, each with its own private tropical garden and personalised service. The resort's open-air restaurant and bar offer traditional Indonesian dishes combined with fresh seafood and international cuisine.  

 

Komodo Island is a protected marine park, which offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling in Indonesia.

 

 

 

VILLA MANTRA - LUXURY NATURE RETREAT IN TABANAN

 

Surrounded by lush jungles and rice fields, Villa Mantra is a certified environmentally friendly retreat of true luxury situated near Tabanan, Bali. With rainwater harvesting, a closed system water management, solar water heaters and smart lighting, the resort not only takes care of their guests but also of nature. It offers three different swimming pools, yoga roof top deck, private fitness room, media room, and space to indulge and relax in the midst of tropical landscapes. There are also five private rooms with their own spacious bathrooms. Two chefs cater to the guests' culinary needs.

 

 

 

RITZ-CARLTON RETURNS TO BALI

 

Ritz-Carlton Bali returns to the island this year with a property located in the southern area of Nusa Dua. With a combination of white sandy beach and an elevated cliff top setting, the new resort will feature 313 rooms including 90 suites and 14 villas. There will also be a wedding chapel, ballroom, three function rooms and outdoor terraces. Other facilities include the Ritz-Carlton Spa, water sports pavilion, and six restaurants.

 

 

 

UBUD HANGING GARDENS ENDS MANAGEMENT CONTRACT WITH ORIENT-EXPRESS

 

Ubud Hanging Gardens, one of Bali's leading boutique hotels, is no longer managed by Orient-Express. It is now operating independently, and has been renamed Hanging Gardens Ubud. According to the resort's owners, being independent would allow them to implement a new luxury service concept for travellers who are seeking a unique experience. The hotel features 38 suites and villas located in the middle of the Balinese rainforest.

 

 

 

NEW RENOVATED ROOMS IN MAYA UBUD RESORT & SPA

 

Maya Ubud Resort & Spa has completed the renovation of all the rooms in the West Wing. The floors have been replaced with marble, new bedside tables have been installed, room lighting upgraded and soft furnishings and upholstery added.  

 

The resort will upgrade the rooms of the East Wing. Renovation work will be from January 10 until March 10, 2014. The hotel's management assures guests there will be little to no disturbance during the work period.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

JAKARTA TO OPEN SECOND AIRPORT FOR FLIGHTS

 

The Indonesian government will open Jakarta's second airport, Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, to scheduled passenger flights in early 2014. Garuda Indonesia, Citilink, Mandala, Lion Air, Batik Air and Indonesia AirAsia have requested to operate from the second airport, which is located in East Jakarta. The airport currently serves military, presidential and private airlines. The move will help to ease congestion at the city's main airport. The shift also simplifies the run up to the development of Soekarno-Hatta's Airport Terminal 3.

 

 

 

TIGERAIR LAUNCHES NEW FLIGHT TO LOMBOK

 

Tigerair launched a Singapore-Lombok service on November 22, 2013. The three times weekly flight takes about two and a half hour, using the Airbus A320 aircraft.  

 

The flight schedules are as follows:

Singapore   - Lombok TR2266 Lombok      - Singapore TR2267
Monday 08:55 - 11:35h Monday 12:15 - 15:00h
Wednesday 15:30 - 18:15h Wednesday 18:55 - 21:45h
Friday 10:50 - 13:35h Friday 14:15 - 16:40h

 

 

 

MORE SUKHOI SUPERJET FOR SKY AVIATION

 

Sky Aviation recently ordered 12 Sukhoi Superjet 100, which will be delivered until 2015. Sky Aviation is the first airline in Indonesia to operate with this aircraft. It currently has two of these aircraft in its fleet.

 

The airline uses one of the Sukhoi Superjet on these routes: Batam-Natuna-Batam, Batam-Pontianak-Batam, Batam- Lampung-Batam, and Natuna-Pontiana-Natuna.  

 

The second aircraft serves Surabaya-Denpasar-Labuan Bajo-Denpasar-Kupang-Denpasar-Surabaya.

 

 

 

GARUDA EXPANDS NETWORK TO LESSER SUNDA ISLANDS

 

In line with Garuda Indonesia's efforts to strengthen its domestic network, the airline has extended its routes to the eastern part of Indonesia. The airline now connects Denpasar with Bima (Sumbawa), Labuan Bajo (Flores), Ende (Flores) and Tambolaka (Sumba). These are the first non-blacklisted flights from Bali (EU countries) to the Lesser Sunda Islands. The network extension is possible due to the introduction of 35 new ATR72-600 aircraft, which will be delivered until 2017.

 

Garuda also flies daily on the Denpasar-Semarang-Denpasar route.

 

 

 

Go back to top, please click here