Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue January 2017

THE CEO STORY

TIMOR-LESTER: A NATION IN THE MAKING

Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital, is only 1½ hour by flight from Bali in Indonesia and an hour from Darwin in Australia. However, it is an entirely different world to Australia and has quite a different national character compared to Indonesia. This is not your usual tourist destination, this is a destination in the making.

Timor-Leste is Asia’s youngest nation and has lived through a troubled history, not only for the past four decades but since much longer. It has gone from a feudal state to a Portuguese colony more than 500 years ago, was a battleground of the Japanese imperial forces during World War II, and even gained nine days of independence from Portuguese rule in 1975. What has marked Timor-Leste’s recent history though is the 25 years of Indonesian occupation, which lasted until 1999 when the United Nations installed a temporary government to administer the country until its full independence in 2002.

Today, Timor-Leste feels like a new, young nation in search of its identity. Take languages as an example. Although the official languages are Tetun and Portuguese most of the young people speak Bahasa Indonesia. This is not due to the Indonesian language being spoken at home, where Tetun is prevalent, but because most television programmes and soap operas are broadcast from Indonesian West Timor.

What will shape the future of this country are the young. An estimated 50% of the population is under 17 years old and the average fertility rate is 5.2 children per woman – the youngest population and the fastest growing population of any country in Asia. Way to go since there are only 1.2 million inhabitants today.

The country’s government has been shaping the new nation for the past 15 years, but it will take much longer for laws, rules and regulations to take hold. Take the ministry of tourism for instance - there are no license regulations for guides, no tourism schools, few guidelines on tourism investments and little security for foreign investors. It is thus no surprise that only a handful of foreigners have invested in tourism in recent years. It is also sad to see that international advisors to the ministry have not achieved much more than writing lengthy papers on how to do things without any experience on how to implement their theories.

What made me decide to travel to Timor-Leste, apart from the novelty factor, were the stories from friends who had been to the country on how beautiful the underwater world is, how welcoming the local people are, and how beautiful the mountain scenery is. And I was not disappointed.

Timor-Leste and the nearby island of Atarau is a paradise for divers, and probably one of the best diving spots in the world. Snorkelers will equally enjoy the untouched reefs, the diversity of fish and marine life, and the incredible visibility. This alone is worth a visit to the country.

Driving up into the mountains is a bit of a challenge. Except for a few stretches roads are heavily potholed and partially unpaved, but road construction is omnipresent and in a few years they will mostly be rebuilt, courtesy of the Chinese government.

The mountains are magnificent especially in the Maubisse region, a three-hour drive from Dili, and a must for visitors who want to trek into the mountains and visit local villages. The traditional way of building conical houses, whose high roofs reach almost to the ground, is still practiced today. Despite the majority of Timorese being Christians, animist culture is still part of their daily life in the villages. The spirit houses are as much part of today’s culture as they probably were 1,000 years ago.

There is not much of Portuguese architecture left in the country. However, visitors can see some scattered colonial houses in the countryside and in Dili and particularly in Baucau, a three- hour coastal drive from Dili, where visitors can even stay in a refurbished Pousada (traditional Portuguese colonial style inn).

Of contemporary historical interest is the area around Balibo, about 10 kilometres from the border with Indonesia and a pleasant three-hour drive on a mountainous coastal road from Dili. Many of you may remember the movie ‘Balibo’, a 2009 Australian war film that recounted the story of five Australian journalists assassinated by the Indonesian army just days before the invasion in 1975. The Balibo Fort houses a small hotel with eight rooms, an ideal base for exploring the surroundings.

Most visitors will make Dili their base and travel back and forth from the capital city as it has the most quality hotels and infrastructure.

I was pleasantly surprised by Dili. It’s a small town with a clean beach, some nice restaurants, a couple of interesting sights and, contrary to its perceived image, it is safe. A visit to the Resistance Museum is a must as it showcases the history of the Indonesian occupation, freedom fighter’s resistance to the invaders, as well as gives an excellent insight of the struggles leading to an independent Timor-Leste in 2002.

Timor-Leste is not a destination for visitors seeking the sun and fun on the beach. It is also not a destination for in-depth cultural enthusiasts. Instead the country is for tourists who are interested in the novelty factor, mountain scenery and authentic villages, modern history and, in particular, diving/snorkelling.

If you have Timor-Leste on your bucket list go now if you want an adventurous holiday and do not mind limited infrastructure, as the country’s ‘rawness’ will provide an experience like no other. Or wait for a few years until new roads and better quality hotels will be built outside of Dili to make for more comfortable travel. In any case you will live through an authentic travel experience for many years to come.

Our office in Bali looks after Timor-Leste, and you may contact the Asian Trails Bali team for itinerary, products and information at any time.

P/S: Note the statue on the photo on top of the hill. Rio has its Corcovado, and also Dili has its statue of Jesus Christ. Want to know more? Check out the images on Google.

Happy Trails!


Laurent Kuenzle
CEO
Asian Trails

 

   

QUICK LINKS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR YVES VAN KERREBROECK

 

Dear friends and colleagues,

I'm writing this note to you all from sunny Phuket. We’re enjoying the cooler winter months in Thailand, which is actually perfect summer weather for most of us, and the high season is well and truly underway.

I would like to say welcome to all of our new clients and, at the same time, say thank you to all of you who have loyally supported and worked with Asian Trails over many, many years.

The island of Phuket really has so much to offer, apart from the many amazing beaches and tropical islands it is so renowned for. As highlighted in our latest Explore brochure, Phuket's Old Town is truly a hidden gem with its colourful Sino-Portuguese architecture, delicious Hokkien and Malay restaurants, and the many tea-houses, art galleries and local boutiques that have sprung up in recent years. I personally recommend you to take a short trip to the Laat Yai Sunday evening market in the centre of the historic town for a relaxed and diverse evening of shopping and eating in a beautiful setting.

Our Phuket team has come up with a great variety of interesting Explore excursions that showcase the diversity of Thailand's largest island, ranging from sea-canoeing with an American-Hawaiian geologist, heritage and street food walks with a local celebrity, and even visiting a quaint distillery where a young and creative Thai-French team are producing Asia-Pacific's best rum by using only local Phuket ingredients.

For more information on any of these experiences, please contact your Asian Trails representative. We are more than happy to provide you with all necessary details and background info.

Our international team of experienced customer service reps and enthusiastic local guides are ready and motivated to look after all of your clients, and provide them with an unforgettable Thailand experience.

This is my first high season in charge of Asian Trails Thailand, and I hope to share many more with you in the years to come.

Sunny regards,

Yves Van Kerrebroeck
Managing Director
Asian Trails Thailand
 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

REDUCTION IN TOURIST VISA FEES


Official announcements from the Ministry of Interior and embassies have confirmed the temporary waiving and reduction of tourist visa fees from December 1, 2016 until February 28, 2017.

Thailand has launched a temporary tourist visa fee exemption scheme and a temporary Visa on Arrival (VoA) fee reduction from 2,000 Thai Baht to 1,000 Thai Baht for nationalities, who are entitled to apply for VoA at the designated immigration checkpoints.
 

 

 

NEW MODERN TRAINS IN SERVICE ON TWO ROUTES FROM BANGKOK


The State Railways of Thailand recently launched the new state-of-the-art trains for the Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani routes. Another two routes between Bangkok to Hat Yai and Bangkok to Nong Kai will operate soon. The compartments in the new trains offer facilities, which include seat-mounted screens for watching TV and movies and aircraft-type toilets. Free WiFi is available in the first class and dining cars.
 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NEW: ARAKSA TEA GARDEN


Araksa Tea Garden, located on a scenic green hill in the Mae Tang district of Chiang Mai, specialises in producing high quality Assam tea. This is a black tea named after India’s largest tea-growing region. Enjoy the beauty of the lush tea plantation and learn about the tea-growing process, from planting to harvesting. Get hands-on lessons from resident tea pluckers on how to pick tea leaves. Watch how the leaves are processed in the traditional way, and then enjoy a cup of tea with traditional Thai snacks.

For further details and bookings, please contact us at res@asiantrails.org
 

 

 

NEW: ANCIENT LANNA HISTORY

 

The tour starts with the drive to the south of Chiang Mai to visit Wat Ton Kwen or Wat Inthrawat, one of the finest examples of classic Lanna architecture in Northern Thailand. Then proceed to Hang Dong for an incredible gastronomic experience with the local Ruankaew-Yanon family, who welcomes you into their home to experience a typical day in the life of a Thai family in a real Thai neighbourhood. You also learn to cook food from traditional Thai recipes with authentic Northern Thai flavours, which are different from standard dishes offered in commercial cooking classes. Then enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal with the whole family.

For further details and bookings, please contact us at res@asiantrails.org

 

 

 

NEW: 3-DAY CHIANG MAI CULINARY ADVENTURE

 

The 700-year ancient capital of Chiang Mai, one of the oldest cities in Thailand, offers many local charms - from the characteristic taste of Northern Thai cuisine, the exceptional beauty of Lanna culture to the welcoming smiles of the local people.

Asian Trails is proud to present a new package, the 3-Day Chiang Mai Culinary Adventure, which showcases well-known local restaurants, a cooking lesson, visit to local markets and information on cultural preservation.

For further details and bookings, please contact us at res@asiantrails.org

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK

 

REBRANDED: BANGKOK MARRIOTT MARQUIS QUEEN’S PARK (FORMERLY IMPERIAL QUEEN’S PARK HOTEL)

 

Bangkok Marquis Queen’s Park, the former Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, is located along Sukhumvit Road in downtown Bangkok. Surrounded by the city’s vibrant shopping, business and entertainment districts, the iconic hotel boasts 1,360 rooms and suites with modern design and intuitive technology. Its state-of-the-art conference facilities and numerous F&B options make this property an ideal venue for hosting corporate events in Bangkok.
 

 

 

PHUKET

 

OUTRIGGER LAGUNA PHUKET RESORT BEACH RESORT


Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is located on Bang Tao Beach facing Bangtao Bay, making this beachfront setting one of the most coveted addresses in the distinctive Laguna Phuket resort community. It is also just 20 minutes by car from Phuket International Airport. The resort’s 65 villas are beautifully decorated with oversized windows.
 

 

 

HYATT PLACE PATONG


The Hyatt Place brand is rooted in extensive consumer insights that reveal guests seek stylish, comfortable, seamless experiences that accommodate their lifestyles and familiar routines.

Hyatt Place Patong, the first hotel in Southeast Asia under the Hyatt Place brand, reflects this philosophy. The 161-room beachside hotel features the Hyatt Place brand’s stylish design, casual atmosphere and practical amenities such as free WiFi and 24-hour food offerings.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
JANUARY 28, 2016
VENUE: CHINATOWN, BANGKOK


On January 28 the Chinese community in Thailand will celebrate ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’. The 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 where most of the Chinese residents live and ply their trade, selling a variety of Chinese goods and operating Chinese restaurants and eateries, most of which located along the bustling main road.

The Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year on a lavish scale, and stage Thai and Chinese cultural performances. The colourful event is a must-see for visitors.

We recommend that you send us your hotel bookings as early as possible as Thailand, in particular Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Phuket, experiences high demand from Chinese travellers during the Chinese New Year period.
 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS’ NEW FLIGHTS TO CHIANG MAI AND KRABI


Qatar Airways launched four times weekly flights from Doha to Krabi on December 6, 2016 and three flights per week from Doha to Chiang Mai in December.

Schedule as follows:
• DOHA TO CHIANG MAI
QR918: DOH-CNX from 02.30hrs to 14.55hrs, and QR919: CNX-DOH from 16.45hrs to 22.15hrs
• DOHA TO KRABI
QR824: DOH-KBV from 05.20hrs to 16.10hrs, and QR825 KBV-DOH from 17.10hrs to 20.35hrs
 

 

 

FLYDUBAI LAUNCHES DOUBLE DAILY FLIGHTS TO BANGKOK

 

Low cost carrier flydubai has commenced double daily services between Dubai and Bangkok.

Schedule as follows:
• FZ521: DXB-BKK from 16.20hrs to 01.25hrs
• FZ522: BKK-DXB from 02.35hrs to 06.55hrs
• FZ525: DXB-BKK from 01:40hrs to 10:50hrs
• FZ524: BKK-DXB from 12:10hrs to 16:30hrs

 

 

 

NOK AIR INTRODUCES NEW BOEING B737-800 ON DON MUANG-RANONG ROUTE

 

Nok Air introduces its new Boeing B737-800 aircraft for the daily domestic service from Bangkok Don Mueang to Ranong.

Schedule as follows:
• DD7312: DMK-UNN from 05.45hrs to 07.10hrs
• DD7313: UNN-DMK from 07.40hrs to 09.10hrs
• DD7318: DMK-UNN from 17.05hrs to 18:30hrs
• DD7319: UNN-DMK from 19.00hrs to 20.35hrs

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

ABOVE RIVA


An iconic rooftop restaurant, Above Riva offers delicious Thai cuisine that is a perfect infusion of local flavours, market fresh ingredients and a variety of creative influences handpicked from across the globe. Each plate is made for sharing and indulging together. The view from the restaurant looks out across the three stunning landmarks of Thai history and culture namely Wat Arun, the Chao Phraya River and Wat Pho.
 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 
 

LAOS

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ANDREAS HOFMANN

 

Happy New Year 2017, and Happy Chinese New Year.

2016 has been quite a tumultuous year. But here in Laos we had no time for ‘monkey business’! Laos has successfully chaired ASEAN and welcomed the world’s leaders including Barack Obama.

Laos is slowly but surely establishing itself as a MICE destination. It regularly organises the Luang Prabang Film Festival, the Lao Fashion Show, Miss Lao Pageant and an electronic music festival in Vang Vieng.

January 28 marks the start of the 'Year of the Fire Rooster', bringing fresh challenges and requiring quick wit and practical solutions. So follow the Chinese astrologer’s advice and place your ‘pineapple of wealth’ in the south sector of your house – and travel to Laos!

I wish you interesting travels and discoveries ahead for 2017!

Andreas Hofmann
Managing Director, Asian Trails Laos
 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

SOUTHERN LAOS: AN EMERGING DESTINATION


Southern Laos, which consists of Champassak, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phou Temple, 4000 Islands and Bolaven Coffee Plateau has won the PATA CEO Challenge Award as best
emerging destination.

Why don’t you combine Luang Prabang with southern Laos and then continue overland to Angkor Wat in Cambodia? Or just stay longer in Champassak for some self-guided bike tours that are now available.

Contact us for details at Nouane@asiantrailslaos.com
 

 

 

CAVES IN LAOS: SPELUNKING IN THE PDR

 

Laos’ geology features stunning karst mountains above ground, but karst stone also means that the country has many caves underground to be explored. There is the famous Viengxay Caves, home of the Lao revolution in Houaphane province in northern Laos. Combine this spectacular cave system with the Plain of Jars, and then cross into northern Vietnam’s Sapa region for a revolutionary trail.

Outside Oudomxay Province, not too far away from the MuangLa Lodge and NamKay Yorla Pa Adventure Eco-Resort, there is Chom Ong Cave (‘Tham Chia’). It is one of the largest caves in Southeast Asia, and just recently opened to tourism. It is a very adventurous experience exploring this cave, but you will be rewarded with 35-metre high subterranean domes and an underground river.

If you are looking for a more established caving experience go kayaking in central Laos’ KhongLor Cave (pictured), rated as one of the most awe-inspiring caving experiences you can have in Southeast Asia.

All spelunkers of the world can contact us for more information and a custom-made itinerary including the above and other adventure tours at Nouane@asiantrailslaos.com

 

 

 

PLAYING GOLF IN LAOS

 

Laos is offering surprisingly well- maintained and professional golf courses. Why don’t you combine your visit to Luang Prabang with a round of golf?

Contact us for a sample programme with details and pricing at Nouane@asiantrailslaos.com

Image credit: https://www.golfsavers.com/assets/image/Laos-Country-2.jpg
 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

NEW BUDGET AIR FLIGHT CONNECTIONS


Low cost carriers (LCCs) are now connecting Luang Prabang to various part of the Asean region.

SilkAir, Singapore Airlines’ subsidiary, connects Singapore with Luang Prabang with a stopover in Vientiane. Hong Kong Express is starting to fly from Hong Kong to Luang Prabang.

Asia’s largest LCC, AirAsia (pictured), is connecting Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with Luang Prabang and Vientiane respectively.
 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 
 

CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

 

2016 has seen strong developments and improvement of tourism infrastructure in Cambodia. Luxury brand hotels are going to offer beautiful properties in 2017, either in Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville and the islands. Many new products have been created, offering genuine and original activities to your clients around Angkor temples.

New airline routes between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and major destinations in Southeast Asia have opened, facilitating connections with neighbouring countries. It is time to come and visit sunny and smiling Cambodia.

Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey! Happy New Year 2017!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPORARY FLOATING BRIDGE AT ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE


The Apsara Authority has announced it would renovate the walkway leading to the inner sanctum of Angkor Wat in mid-May 2017. This is to keep the walkway accessible in the years ahead. A temporary floating bridge is being built to give access to this famous UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

PHNOM PENH

 

QUEEN MARY BY KAKNIKA BOAT


Queen Mary is dedicated to all-inclusive day cruises, private functions and events. Measuring 17 by 6 metres the vessel can accommodate up to 20 passengers in comfort. It has two comfortable separate open-air decks and an intimate lounge bar.

Queen Mary’s all-inclusive Silk Cruises take passengers on a voyage of discovery to the ‘silk area’, a showcase of the ancient art of Cambodian silk production through the centuries. The silk industry thrived from the 13th century until the country came under the Khmer Rouge rule in the mid-70s when it disappeared. The industry has since resurfaced, and the know-how of craftsmen who survived the terrible Khmer Rouge regime is perpetuated in villages of silk-weavers along the banks of the Mekong.

Contact us for more information.
 

 

 

CORRECTION OF DESCRIPTION OF FOODIE TOUR IN BATTAMBANG

 

In a previous newsletter Asian Trails used text from the website of Siem Reap Food Tours to describe an unrelated tour in Battambang.

We apologise for this misuse. If you wish to go on a food tour in Siem Reap, please visit Siem Reap Food Tours at siemreapfoodtours.com

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PHNOM PENH

 

ROSEWOOD HOTEL PHNOM PENH TO OPEN IN MARCH 2017

 

Rosewood Phnom Penh is set to offer an ultra luxury hospitality experience in the exotic capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia when it opens in March this year.

The hotel occupies the top 14 floors of Vattanac Capital Tower, offering a panoramic view of the city and the fabled Mekong River. It features 175 rooms and suites, which will be among the largest hotel guestrooms in Phnom Penh, five restaurants and lounges, the Spa, indoor swimming pool and fitness studio.
 

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

NEW: HILLOCKS HOTEL & SPA

 

Hillocks Hotel & Spa is a new upscale luxury boutique hotel in Siem Reap. It is about five minutes from downtown Siem Reap and 15 minutes from Angkor Park.

The hotel offers 38 uniquely designed suites and villas including two residence suites. The property’s blend of refined interiors and graceful garden settings, beautiful landscapes and green hills give it a residential feel.

 

 

 

A MARCH 2017 OPENING FOR NEW MARRIOTT RESORT

 

The Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap is located on a 1.2-hectar site, approximately 10 minutes away from downtown Siem Reap downtown and 15 minutes away from Angkor Park.

The new resort will feature 218 rooms and 17 suites. It will be ideal for leisure travellers, and also for business travellers as it has several meeting room.

 

 

 

SIHANOUKVILLE

 

SOKHA BEACH RESORT UNDERGOES RENOVATIONS


Sokha Beach Resort in Sihanoukville is starting the following projects and upgrades:
• Construction of villa by the beach: scheduled date of completion date is by March 1, 2017
• Upgrading of tennis courts: scheduled date of completion is April 1, 2017.
• Construction of new villa at the garden: scheduled date of completion is April 1, 2017.

There is no noise disturbance from construction at all public areas. A few Superior rooms may be affected by the ongoing work, and the resort’s management will try its best not to assign those rooms to guests. Our reservation team will contact you directly for bookings affected by the renovations.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

VICTORY DAY OVER GENOCIDE REGIME
JANUARY 7, 2017
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 army. The event also honours those who died 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 28, 2017
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

The first day of Chinese New Year 2017 (Chun Jie/春节) falls on January 28. This will be the ‘Year of the Fire Rooster (yang)’. To the Chinese community Chinese New Year is the biggest annual event when families will gather for reunion dinners and with friends visiting one another.

Chinese New Year is widely celebrated in Cambodia, and attracts many tourists. Some places in Phnom Penh like markets will close for a few days.

 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Dear friends,

When Spring comes, Vietnamese people usually buy Đông Hồ woodblock paintings to decorate their house to celebrate the Tet holidays. One of the favourite motifs is a painting of the Rooster with words in Sino-Vietnamese “Đại Kê”, meaning “Great Rooster”, and pronounced similarly as “Đại Cát” meaning ‘Great fulfilment’. 2017 will be the ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’, so let’s see what he will inspire in us!

The Great Rooster is a symbol of the prosperity and success, representing five outstanding qualities –literature ability (represented by red hat), martial strength (sharp claws), courage, humanity (finding and enjoying the food collectively) and reliability (crowing on time). Therefore, decorating a painting of a Rooster or offering it as a gift is a way of expressing best wishes in our culture.

We at Asian Trails continue on the same concept, to add more intelligence in product innovation, reinforce our operations, be stronger in negotiation, engage more in social responsibility and be your most reliable DMC in Vietnam.

May the new ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’ bring you great fulfilment. ‘Chuc Mung Nam Moi’!
 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS OPENS OFFICE ON PHU QUOC ISLAND


Asian Trails has opened a new office in Phu Quoc, the first leading DMC to have a branch office on the island. This up-and-coming beach destination is set to rival Phuket in the coming years with its expected good growth in visitor numbers.

The new office focuses on operations, customer service and product development, ensuring Asian Trails is at the forefront of Phu Quoc’s tourism industry. We guarantee the same quality service for our clients, which we have been delivering for the past 15 years throughout Vietnam.
 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NEW PRODUCT: PHU QUOC HIDDEN NATURE – 8-HOUR TOUR, EXCUSIVE BY ASIAN TRAILS


Join us on this brand new tour designed and operated exclusively by Asian Trails Phu Quoc. Discover the hidden natural wonders of Phu Quoc National Park, walk under the green canopy, take a peaceful riverboat ride along the protected mangroves and fisherman village, and on to a hidden untouched beach. This secluded beach is your own paradise - swim in the turquoise water, and enjoy the freshly catch seafood for a picnic lunch.

Please contact us for more information.
 

 

 

 

NEW PRODUCT: PHU QUOC’S SPECIALTIES AND HOME COOKING —
5-HOUR TOUR, EXCLUSIVE BY ASIAN TRAILS

 

Join us on this brand new tour designed and operated exclusively by Asian Trails Phu Quoc. When we talk about Phu Quoc we cannot ignore its famous specialties such as pepper, fish sauce ‘Nuoc Mam’ and seafood. This ‘tasty’ excursion amazes you when exploring Phu Quoc fresh seafood market, pepper farm and fish sauce factory. You enjoy warm Vietnamese hospitality when you join a local family for a fun and hands-on cooking session with a selective seafood menu and in a friendly atmosphere.

 

 

 

VIETNAM’S NEW INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE AND TU PHU SHOW


Worshipping of Mother Goddess religion was recently recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. We offer you an easy access to this mysterious and centuries-old practice with an attendance at the colourful ‘Four Palaces To Phu show’ on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in Hanoi.

The show is about performances of Hát Văn or Chầu Văn (spiritual singing), an art form related to Hầu đồng (mediumship) rituals to honour Mother Goddesses and Saint Tran. The stage is backed by a huge screen that displays explanation and notes in both English and Vietnamese, showing pictures and clips relating to the performances. There is also live traditional Van singing by a band of six people against the mediumship performed by three artists.

 

 

 

NEW VESPA TOUR IN SAIGON

 

This is a new addition to the Vespa tour concept – a four-hour unique and authentic exploration of the French colonial past, Chinese influences and cuisine, and modern Vietnamese vibes.

Join us to cruise the streets of Saigon and Cho Lon (also known as Chinatown) on the back of a vintage Vespa to unveil the city’s secrets. Let us drive you through the back alleys and colourful local flower markets. Visit lesser known temples and cultural relics, stroll along merchant streets, and walk through typical Chinese community residences dating back to colonial times.
 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

NEW: LITTLE HOIAN BEACH HOTEL & SPA


Little Hoian Beach Hotel & Spa is a new addition to the hospitality scene of the ancient town of Hoi An. The hotel’s 106 guestrooms and suites are elegantly designed and fitted with modern amenities. Great emphasis has been placed on the quality of the guestrooms’ interiors and furnishings, with a harmonious fusion of antique elegance and modern style.

Little Hoian Beach Hotel & Spa is designed to provide guests with contemporary surroundings and style, as well as personalised service.
 

 

 

NEW: LAK TENTED CAMP


LAK Tented Camp, which sits on a prime hill overlooking the picturesque Lak Lake, offers creative and thrilling opportunities for both day-trippers and long stay travellers to explore this culturally rich and naturally beautiful region.

Spread over 4.8 hectares LAK Tented Camp features 15 Lakeview Tented Lodges, four Lakefront Wooden Bungalows and the Y LAK Restaurant – a tastefully restored M’Nong ethnic style longhouse with indoor dining hall, bar and two waterside terraces for alfresco dining.

LAK Tented Camp was conceived with the goals of cultural integrity preservation and environmental protection in harmony with local architecture and ecology, so as to offer guests an eco-friendly yet comfortable stay. The all-inclusive packages, with selective activities and excursions, will give a complete and enriching experience for all guests.

 

 

 

RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE COMPLETES RENOVATIONS

 

Saigon’s iconic Renaissance Riverside has completed its renovations. It now has a new cool, chic and trendy lifestyle look across the ground floor featuring the brand new Viet Kitchen restaurant, hotel lobby, and bar and lounge.

The aim of Renaissance hotels remains the creation of memorable experiences through exceptional services and emotional connections, as well as to cater to curious and adventurous travellers.
 

 

 

VIP TREATMENT AT THE CHEN SEA PHU QUOC


Join Asian Trails at The Chen Sea – the most refined and exclusive resort on Phu Quoc Island. All bookings through Asian Trails for travel in 2017 are automatically upgraded to VIP status with a bottle of wine on arrival and daily fruit basket.

Contact our sales team for more information.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS CODESHARES WITH VIETNAM AIRLINES


Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Vietnam Airlines have signed a codeshare agreement. This partnership follows ANA’s acquisition of an 8.8% stake in the Vietnamese airline last year.

The codeshare will initially cover 10 international routes linking Japan and Vietnam. In addition, it will link 25 principal domestic routes in both countries.

The partnership also allows members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes - ANA Mileage Club and Lotusmiles - to accumulate miles on codeshare flights operated by the two airlines. They will also be able to redeem points on all Vietnam Airlines and ANA marketed and operated flights.
 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

NEW OFFICE MANGER FOR PHU QUOC OFFICE


We warmly welcome Ms Cao Thị Mai Loan as the newest member of the Asian Trails Vietnam team. She joined us in December 2016 to open our new office on Phu Quoc Island, and now helms it as the new office manager. With 22 years’ experience in tourism Ms Mai Loan brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We are delighted to have such an experienced person to spearhead our operations on Phu Quoc.
 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

HALONG BAY: AU CO CRUISE NEW ITINERARY


Halong Bay cruise operator, Bhaya Group, has assigned a recently refurbished cruise boat for trips through Halong Bay in Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin.

The new itinerary option is for a two-night, three-day cruise. Guests on this cruise experience a new Halong Bay and Gulf of Tonkin Discovery package, the first and only continuous three-day cruise designed to discover a different side of the world-renowned Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. The trip takes guests to visit Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba Island where they can choose their own method of exploring the village and island such as cycling, trekking through the jungle or travelling on electric carts.
 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

CHINA

   

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ZHANG XIAOLIN


We will welcome the Lunar New Year on January 28. Celebrations of the ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’ will start at the end of January and last till early February. For most of us it means spending quality time with the family, feasting and two weeks of fireworks!

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.

We wish all our clients a prosperous and healthy Year of the Fire Rooster, and look forward to welcoming you to China! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

HARBIN ICE FESTIVAL


Every year the northern city of Harbin turns into a winter wonderland with an incredible display of ice sculptures. The city, also famed for its Russian heritage, hosts the annual Ice Festival from early January until mid- to end- February. Clients could make a visit to Shenyang, where they can visit the other Forbidden City of the Manchus and the tombs of the first Qing emperors.

Contact us for the special offer on the Ice Festival.
 

 

 

15-DAY VISA EXEMPTION FOR FOREIGN TOUR GROUPS ENTERING SHANGHAI BY CRUISE

 

A 15-day visa exemption was implemented for foreign tour groups entering China country by cruise from Shanghai (pictured) from October 1, 2016. Sanctioned by the State Council this policy is to support the construction of Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Hub.

Foreign passengers, who have queries and questions regarding the policy, are advised to check this link to get the answers:

http://www.sh-immigration.gov.cn/listPageEn.aspx?lx=40&id=4414

 

 

 

WUSONG INTERNATIONAL CRUISE PORT TO SEE HIGH TRAFFIC IN 2017

 

Cruise traffic to Shanghai Wusong International Cruise Port will increase significantly this year with an expected 960 luxury cruise ships sailing into and out of the port, according to a report from the Pujiang frontier inspection station. Ten of these ships may consider Wusong port as an international cruise homeport.

Luxury cruise ships expected to arrive at Wusong port this year include the Arcadia, Queen Marie 2, Queen Elizabeth, Sea of Dreams, Twilight Princess, Golden Princess and Millennium. They will bring a large number of foreign tourists to Shanghai.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

 

TAIJI (TAICHI) TOUR OF WUDANG SHAN (WUDANG MOUNTAINS)


Wudang Shan is home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries associated with the god Xuan. The monasteries, such as the Wudang Garden, were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Wudang Shan is also famous for the practice of Taiji (Taichi), an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defence training and its health benefits. The tour also includes lessons in this ancient art from a Taoist master (pictures).

Clients on the tour visit some of the scenic spots in Wudang Shan. One is Zixiao Gong (Purple Heaven Palace), a grand and well preserved building of Taoist architecture and now houses is where Wudang Shan Taoism Association.

Another famous site is the South Cliff Palace, which is built against perpendicular cliffs and acclaimed as a superb combination of human wisdom and natural beauty. It is famous or infamous (depending on how you look at it) for incense-burning at the Dragon Head, a piece of foot-wide stone sticking out of the cliff and pointing to the mountain summit. At the end of the Dragon Head stands an incense burner, and pilgrims risk their lives to burn incense on it. Reports said many pilgrims fell to their death while attempting to burn the incense, while a few survived doing it.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

GRAND MERCURE SHANGHAI CENTRAL REBRANDS AS PULLMAN SHANGHAI JING AI


Grand Mercure Shanghai Central has been rebranded as Pullman Shanghai Jing An. It features 288 rooms and suites, all with floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering views of the city. Facilities include Chinese and international restaurants with private dining rooms, a club lounge on the 27th floor and extensive function space with two ballroom and five meeting rooms. Leisure facilities include a gym, swimming pool, yoga studio and a spa, which will open in 2017.

The hotel is the 28th Pullman in mainland China, and the brand’s third location in Shanghai.
 

 

 

SECOND PROPERTY FOR NUO HOTELS IN CHINA

 

Luxury hotel brand, NUO Hotels, will add a second property to its portfolio – Beijing Hotel NUO (formerly Raffles Beijing Hotel), managed under Key International Hotels Management Co. Ltd. This landmark hotel, which opened in 1917, is one of the oldest luxury hotels in China and has witnessed many historic events over the last 100 years.

In pioneering Chinese luxury hospitality as one of China’s first homegrown five-star hotel brands, NUO Hotels is drawing inspiration from the country's 5,000 years of history and cultural heritage, and its commitment to serving as a custodian of traditional Chinese culture.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR/SPRING FESTIVAL
JANUARY 28, 2017
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA


The Lunar New Year, which falls on January 28, is a very auspicious event in China. This year it will be the 'Year of the Fire Rooster'. The Chinese people prepare for the New Year with shopping for delicacies and auspicious items to decorate the house. On New Year's Eve there is the reunion dinner with family members from far and near returning home for this, and to celebrate this big day together. Everyone stay up late to welcome the New Year. Celebrants put on new clothes to visit relatives and friends, as well as to exchange ‘ang pows’ (red packets containing money) and gifts.
 

 

 

DOOR GODS: A CHINESE NEW YEAR TRADITION

 

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

The emperor’s top two generals then stood guard outside his bedroom door. He slept soundly in the knowledge that he was protected, and had no more dreams of the ghosts. However, after a few nights the emperor became concerned for the generals. He ordered that two paintings be made, one of each of the general. Once completed the emperor had these hung on the door to his room, and relieved the generals of their guard duties.

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

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

HAINAN AIRLINES LAUNCHES BEIJING TO LAS VEGAS NON-STOP SERVICE


The first ever non-stop scheduled flight between Beijing and Las Vegas took off on December 2, 2016, marking it Hainan Airlines’ sixth new US route in the last eight years.

The 12.5-hour flight is on the airline’s new Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft with flatbed seats in business class. The three times weekly flights depart Beijing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 14.55hrs and arrive in Las Vegas at 11.10hrs the same day (all local time). The return services leave Las Vegas at 13.10hrs and arrives in Beijing at 18.05hrs the next day (all local time).
 

 

 

CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES’ GUANGZHOU-TORONTO DIRECT FLIGHTS TAKE OFF

 

China Southern Airlines’ direct service from Guangzhou to Toronto in Canada commenced on December 8, 2016. This is the airline’s second connection from Guangzhou, the first to Vancouver.

The services - CZ311 and CZ312 - are operated with the Boeing B777-300ER. The flights leave Guangzhou every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 14.30hrs to arrive in Toronto at 16.30hrs the same day (all local time). The return flights are on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, leaving Toronto at 00.30hrs and arriving in Guangzhou 05.10hrs the next day (all local time). The flight time between the two cities is about 15 hours.
 

 

 

AIR CHINA COMMENCES CHENGDU TO SYDNEY NON-STOP SERVICE

 

Air China launched the direct Chengdu-Sydney (Australia) flight on November 11, 2016. This is the first non-stop service between the two cities, and provides more flexible travel options for tourists from China’s southwest region to Australia. The new service will also promote trade and tourism between the Chinese region and Australia.

The services - CA429 and CA430 – operate three times a week with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The flights leave Chengdu every Tuesday, Friday, Sunday at 22.55hrs and arrive in Sydney at 12.35hrs the next day (all local time). The return flights are on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, leaving Sydney at 14.35hrs and arriving in Chengdu at 22.35hrs (all local time).
 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

ANDY LIU IS NEW SALES MANAGER


Andy Liu is the new sale manager for Asian Trails China, and is on the company’s Spanish team for China’s inbound market. With 10 years’ experience in the tourism industry Liu is well placed to serve clients from the Spanish and Portuguese markets. A bike enthusiast, Liu loves to explore the cities on two wheels.

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

MYANMAR

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

The past months of November and December were very busy here in Myanmar. The number of arrivals has steadily increased, and we are confident this trend will continue into the New Year.

We would like to thank you all for your tremendous efforts in supporting us, and the tourism industry in Myanmar. Please rest assured that in 2017 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.
 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

NEW TERMINAL AT YANGON AIRPORT


A new domestic terminal, T3, has been inaugurated at Mingaladon Airport in Yangon following the opening of the new international terminal T1 last March.

There are 38 check-in counters to service 10 domestic airlines operating to 26 local destinations in Myanmar.
 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

COMMUNITY BASED TOURISM AT MA GYI KAN VILLAGE


The community-bases community project at Ma Gyi Kan Village has the aim to support the local economy by offering tourists the opportunity to overnight at a village house and experience the daily life.

The farmer village is located near Salay, about one hour drive from Bagan. Different activities can be arranged in and around the village including interaction with the local community.

For more information please contact our Asian Trails office.
 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PAN PACIFIC HOTEL YANGON TO OPEN IN Q3, 2017


Pan Pacific Hotel Yangon, located downtown near Scott Market, is scheduled to open in the third quarter of this year. Its 348 well-furnished guestrooms will offer stunning views of the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda.

The hotel will have a variety of dining options, including a Chinese restaurant and a lobby bar. A swimming pool, fitness centre and wellness spa are among the recreational facilities.
 

 

 

THE STRAND YANGON REOPENS

 

The Strand, one of the most prestigious hotels in Myanmar, reopened its doors last November after six months of renovation of its interiors and 31 rooms.

The renovation of The Strand is part of a strategy by the hospitality company to refresh and revive the brand. It follows the launching of the company’s 28-cabin The Strand Cruise ship on the Ayeyarwady River 10 months ago.

The Strand Yangon was one of the first luxury colonial outposts hotel to open in Southeast Asia in 1901.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

KAKKU PAGODA FESTIVAL
MARCH 12, 2017
VENUE: KAKKU NEAR TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE


The pagoda festival takes place in Kakku near Taunggyi, Shan State from 10 to 12 March, which is the full moon day of Tabaung (the last month of the Myanmar lunar calendar). This is not only a religious event, but also an occasion for the Pao people (one of many Myanmar’s ethnic groups) to trade, have fun, and socialise with one another.
 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MYANMAR NATIONAL AIRLINES ADDS FREQUENCIES TO BANGKOK AND SINGAPORE


Myanmar National Airlines is offering additional flights to Bangkok and Singapore as part of its international route expansion.

The frequencies to Bangkok increase to 14 weekly from 11, and services to Singapore increase from seven to 12 weekly.

Myanmar National Airlines is the flag carrier of Myanmar, and was founded in 1948.
 

 

 

AIR KBZ’S FIRST INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT

 

Myanmar’s Air KBZ has started its first international service from Yangon to Chiang Mai service (return). The airline operates this route three times a week with an ATR72.

 

 

 

FMI AIR LAUNCHES NEW DOMESTIC ROUTES

 

FMI Air started operations in 2012 as a charter airline. In 2015 the airline offered scheduled service with an all jet CRJ 200 fleet. It has added new domestic destinations including Bagan, Heho, Thandwe and Mandalay to its winter schedule.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

CHRISTMAS – A TIME FOR GIVING


In the true spirit of Christmas young deaf students of Mary’s Cooking Class project baked Xmas cookies, and then delivered them to the Home for the Aged Poor in Yangon.

This was a good way to combine two social projects, which Asian Trails has been supporting for many years.

(Belated) Season's Greetings to all of you!
 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 
 

MALAYSIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Dear Friends and Partners,

Warmest Greetings from Asian Trails Malaysia

Welcome to the festive season! The first two months of 2017 have a lot in store for us.

One of the many benefits of Malaysia is that each culture’s festivals are celebrated countrywide together.

We start the marathon on January 1 when the Western New Year was ringed in by hundreds of fireworks lightening up the sky around the Petronas Twin Towers – best venue to enjoy from one of the many rooftop bars around KLCC.

Only four weeks later we continue with the Chinese New Year celebrations on January 28 and 29. We enter the ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’ accompanied by wild traditional dragon dances and exploding firecrackers around the streets of Kuala Lumpur or Penang.

And it goes on – three days later Kuala Lumpur celebrates Federal Territory Day with parades, cultural exhibitions and performances, fireworks displays, and various games and contests. Many of the activities take place out in the streets and locals, as well as visitors are warmly welcomed to attend.

The triumphant finale of the festive season is Thaipusam - one of the most exotic festivals to witness. The Hindu festival is colourful, intensive, and, from a Western point of view, a little unconventional. Watch devotees carry sacrificial offerings walking long distance to Batu Caves, the world-renowned temple on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, which is the festival’s focal point. Many devotees are in a trance with their cheeks or parts of their bodies pierced with huge metal spikes (‘kavadis’). Nowhere else in the world is Thaipusam celebrated to that extent as in Malaysia. The festival reaches its climax on February 9 with the grand procession at Batu Caves.

Celebrate with us the beginning of a new promising year.

Wishing all of you a great 2017 and a prosperous ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’.

Emir
Malaysia, Truly Asia!
 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

THE DATAI LANGKAWI TO UNDERGO RENOVATIONS


The Datai Langkawi on Langkawi Island will embark on an extensive renovation project from September 4, 2017, starting the most substantial beautification project since its inception over 23 years ago.

The resort was created by the visionary Australian architect, Kerry Hill, with renowned interior designer and architect, Didier Lefort of DL2A. To maintain the Datai DNA the resort has again appointed Lefort to be involved in this project.

The renovation project will include the complete redesign of the resort’s guestrooms, suites and villas, construction of a Nature Centre and additional spa pavilions, refreshed retail space, a fitness centre by the beach, as well as an overall enhancement of the landscaping.

The Datai Langkawi will be closed for approximately 10 months from September 4 for the renovations. It will reopen in mid-2018.

For more information, please contact us at res@asiantrails.com.my
 

 

 

HOTEL COSMO KUALA LUMPUR

 

A mid-scale contemporary hotel, Hotel Cosmo Kuala Lumpur features 347 guestrooms and suites, five meeting rooms, state-of-the-art gymnasium, deli counter and all-day dining outlet, and Starbucks Coffee.

The hotel is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, about a two-minute walk to the Masjid Jamek LRT interchange station. Apart from the financial institutions surrounding the hotel other nearby places of interest include the historical landmarks of Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Daratan Merdeka (Independence Square), as well as shopping enclaves such as Central Market, Chinatown (Petaling Street) and Little India.

Hotel Cosmo Kuala Lumpur is ideal for both business and leisure travellers.

 

 

 

 

PARKROYAL PENANG RESORT: RENOVATIONS UPDATE

 

Renovations under phase one at the east wing of Parkroyal Penang Resort, which is currently in progress under renovations until February 2017, involves the refurbishment of 77 guestrooms and Cool Bananas. In addition to new furniture and paint work, the terrace flooring of Cool Bananas will be upgraded and the walkway extended. The timber decks at Uncle Zack by the Beach will also undergo an extension as part of a new concept designed to bring hotel guests closer to the shorelines of Batu Ferringhi.

Work under phase two, involving the hotel’s middle wing, commences in January 2017 and will last for three to four months. The refurbishment for this phase includes 94 rooms and the reception area.

All affected areas will be partitioned, guestrooms will be allocated far from the affected area, and there will be an additional buffer zone to avoid any noise and visual disturbances. Preventive measures have also been implemented for utmost safety. The two swimming pools, garden, children’s club, tennis court, spa and gymnasium are not affected by the transformation and remain fully operational.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

KL CAR FREE MORNING
EVERY MONTH: FIRST & THIRD SUNDAY
VENUE: DATARAN MERDEKA, KUALA LUMPUR


Jump start the first and third Sunday of each month with cycling, jogging, walking or skating on major streets of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle.
 

 

 

15TH ROYAL LANGKAWI INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
JANUARY 9-14, 2017
VENUE: ROYAL LANGKAWI YACHT CLUB, LANGKAWI


An international-level sailing competition featuring 50 sailing boats from around the world and top teams from Asia Pacific.
 

 

 

SEDILI KITE BOARDING
JANUARY 9-10, 2017
VENUE: PANTAI SEDILI, JOHOR


Held for the first time in Johor, the surf boarding championship draws participants from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
 

 

 

CAFÉ MALAYSIA
JANUARY 12-14, 2017
VENUE: MATRADE EXHIBITION & CONVENTION CENTRE, KUALA LUMPUR


Café Malaysia 2017 serves as the key platform for industry professionals to source for supplies, discover business opportunities and stay up-to-date with the developments in the industry.
 

 

 

PONGGAL
JANUARY 14, 2017
VENUE: PENANG HINDU ENDOWMENT BOARD


A Hindu 'thanksgiving' festival traditionally dedicated to the Sun God Surya for a bountiful harvest.

 

 

 

FALLEN HEROES OF PETAGAS
JANUARY 21, 2017
VENUE: KOTA KINABALU CITY HALL, SABAH


A memorial service held to commemorate those who fought and fell during World War II.

 

 

 

MELAKA INTERNATIONAL KITES FESTIVAL
JANUARY 23-28, 2017
VENUE: DATARAN 1 MALAYSIA, KELEBANG, MELAKA


A showcase of kite flying by the world’s best professional kite-makers. Watch kites in various shapes, colours and sizes take to the skies.

 

 

 

MONSOON CUP
JANUARY 25-30, 2017
VENUE: PUTERI HARBOUR, JOHOR


An international yacht competition with attractive prizes for winners.
 

 

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR
JANUARY 28, 2017
VENUE: THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY


Chinese New Year, the ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’, falls on January 28 and is a time for celebration and merry-making. Family reunion feasts and open houses are common features, and children receive 'ang pows' (red packets containing money) from the elders. Do not miss the exciting lion and dragon dance performances at shopping malls and homes.

 

 

 

TIOMAN SURFESTIVAL
JANUARY 29-31, 2017
VENUE: KAMPUNG JUARA, PULAU TIOMAN, PAHANG


This surfing competition was first held in 2010. and introduces surfing as a fun form of activity for tourists on Tioman Island.
 

 

 

PASIR GUDANG WORLD KITE FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 1-28, 2017
VENUE: BUKIT LAYANG-LAYANG, PASIR GUDANG, JOHOR


The World Kite Festival is an annual event held at Bukit Layang-Layang, Pasir Gudang in Johor. About 230 international kite flyers from 40 countries will participate in the festival.

 

 

 

PENANG HOT AIR BALLOON FIESTA
FEBRUARY 1, 2017
VENUE: PADANG POLO, PENANG


The only hot air balloon festival in Penang, it features more than 15 hot air balloons flown by international and local balloonists.

 

 

 

KEK LOK SI DISPLAY OF LIGHTS
FEBRUARY 7-22, 2017
VENUE: KEK LOK SI TEMPLE, PENANG


Enjoy the amazing sights in this annual lighting display featuring 10,000 lights at the iconic Kek Lok Si Temple.

 

 

 

THAIPUSAM
FEBRUARY 9, 2017
VENUE: BATU CAVES, KUALA LUMPUR


An important Hindu festival featuring devotees carrying sacrificial offerings. Many of the devotees have their cheeks or parts of their bodies pierced with huge metal spikes (‘kavadis’) and they walk in a procession to Batu Caves, the world-renowned Hindu temple on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. The festival attracts over a million devotees and thousands of tourists to Batu Caves.

 

 

 

BALOK WIND CHALLENGE
FEBRUARY 17-19, 2017
VENUE: PANTAI BALOK, KUANTAN, PAHANG


Held at Balok Beach this event features wind surfing and kite surfing competitions. It attracts competitors and supporters from within Malaysia, as well from overseas.

 

 

 

CHINGAY FESTIVAL
FEBRUARY 17, 2017
VENUE: JOHOR BAHRU, JOHOR – ALONG JALAN ULU AIR MOLEK AND AROUND THE CITY


This is a special Chinese New Year celebration when devotees take the five deities from Johor Bahru old temple on their annual ‘tour’ round the city.

 

 

 

BORNEO ULTRA TRAIL MARATHON 2017 (BUTM)
FEBRUARY 18-19, 2017
VENUE: KIULU VILLAGE TUARAN, SABAH


A serious introduction to the world of trail running BUTM is a challenging ultra-trail marathon with 100-kilometre, 50-kilometre, 30-kilometre and 12-kilometre categories.

 

 

 

CITY DAY OPEN REGATTA
FEBRUARY 25-26, 2017
VENUE: KINABALU YACHT CLUB, TANJUNG ARU, SABAH


The event is held annually at the Kinabalu Yacht Club with the objective of promoting sports tourism in Sabah.

 

 

 

FRASER'S HILL INTERNATIONAL BIRD RACE
FEBRUARY 25-26, 2017
VENUE: BUKIT FRASER, RAUB, PAHANG


A fun event for participants and nature lovers to sight, identify and record the most number of bird species.
 

 

 

MIRI COUNTRY MUSIC FEST
FEBRUARY 25-26, 2017
VENUE: PARKCITY EVERLY HOTEL MIRI, SARAWAK


The first country music festival in Malaysia, it showcases both local and international bands. Introduced in 2014 this annual event has grown in popularity in Malaysia and the region.

 

 

 

INFLATABLE AMAZING RUN
FEBRUARY 26, 2017
VENUE: KEPONG METROPOLITAN PARK, KUALA LUMPUR


The Inflatable Amazing Run is a five-kilometre fun run with more than eight dry and wet inflatable obstacles. There is no time limit, and is more of a fun event with family and friends while doing something active and challenging.

The event has entered the Malaysia Book Of Records with the longest inflatables used. Completing the course to overcome different inflatable obstacles can earn you the Malaysia Book of Record certificate.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES’ MASSIVE EXPANSION IN CHINA


National carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) plans to fly to eight new destinations in China beginning early 2017. It will introduce 11 new routes and add 35 frequencies from its hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) and Penang.

In addition to new services from Kuala Lumpur to Haikou, Nanjing, Fuzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu and Chongqing, the airline will also launch routes from Penang to Shenzhen and Shanghai and from Kota Kinabalu to Tianjin.

Malaysia Airlines’ expansion in China comes in the wake of the Malaysian government’s decision to extend visa exemption to Chinese tourists until December 2017 due to the increasing tourist arrivals from China into Malaysia.

Source & credit for the article: ttgasia.com
 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here

 

 

INDONESIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJÖRN SCHIMANSKI

 

We are very pleased to announce that we will be expanding our services further to the east, and offer our services to Timor Leste after our inspection trip to the youngest country of Asia. As our CEO wrote in the introduction of his ‘CEO Story’ this is a very challenging destination to visit, but certainly a rewarding experience for those who like the unexpected.

It also must be said that Timor Leste is not a cheap destination to visit as most products are imported and the infrastructure is only slowly improving. However, for those guests who are interested in ethnicity, culture, history and politics, as well as incredible diving or snorkelling experiences it will make up a very rewarding and interesting trip. Especially tempting is the access with Dili, the slow-paced capital, only a short flight away from Bali or Darwin in Australia.

Then to the far west of Indonesia we have noted some heightened interest for our ‘Highlands and the Sea’ programme, which was published in our latest Asian Trails Explore brochure. We are probably the first DMC to create a single West Sumatra itinerary. In order to close the gap to East Sumatra we have added some updated information on the Gunung Leuser National Park, which is famous for its wild Orang Utans and much more.

Happy and safe travels from Indonesia!
Björn
 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

 

 

GUNUNG LEUSER NATIONAL PARK


Gunung Leuser National Park, spread over almost 8,000 square kilometres, is one of the largest wilderness areas in Southeast Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. The gateway to the Park is Bukit Lawang, a small village situated along the Bohorok River with many small guesthouses, lodges, shops and restaurants. Here you can find jungle equipment such as raincoats, mosquito repellent, torches in case you forgot to bring one along, as well as tasty local food like the famous rendang curry.

Most of the accommodations are just next to the river with basic facilities. There are a few run by German-Indonesian couples with higher standards following ecological and responsible tourism standards and with excellent activity programmes.

The top seller is, of course, jungle trekking that varies from one to five days or longer. Always take an experienced guide, as there are many different trails for each fitness level and duration. Meals and drinking water are provided, but you have to help carrying them. If you join a two day tour, you overnight in simple huts just next to the Bohorok River where you are provided with mattresses, mosquito nets and a sleeping bag (in most cases this is not necessary). If you opt for a longer trek, you usually sleep the other nights in tents. All tours usually end at the main campground next to the river where you prepare your bags for the traditional tube white water rafting.

The main attractions are, of course, the Orang Utans, but this region also hosts other wildlife such as elephants, rhinos, tiger, leopard cats, siamangs, Thomas leaf monkeys, macaques, gibbons and many more.

Important note: The Orang Utan rehabilitation centre and feeding platforms are not operating anymore. Despite that you still have a very high chance to see the animals, as all experienced guides know them and their territory.
 

 

 

 

LAKE TOBA/SAMOSIR ISLAND


Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world, is the site of a massive super volcanic eruption that occurred approximately 75,000 years ago. For the four hours’ drive from Medan you can take the scenic route via Berastagi over the Karo Highlands with a beautiful fertile landscape and cold alpine climate.

If you drive from Bukit Lawang directly to Lake Toba, be prepared for a long drive. Otherwise you can add a night in Berastagi. The area is dominated by two active volcanoes Mt. Sinabung and Mt. Sibayak and, of course, by the Batak culture with their unique traditional houses and dresses. Try to catch the last ferry at 6pm from Parapat to Samosir Island to avoid being stranded in this small but not so spectacular city. Most guesthouses, lodges, hotels, shops and restaurants on Samosir Island are located in Tuk Tuk. Just tell the boat crews where you stay, and they drop you at the right place, as some hotels have their own jetty.

The main attraction on Samosir Island is the spectacular scenery especially if you climb up the hill. The best way to explore the island is by motorbike or a car, but be aware of the small curvy and bumpy roads. In the village of Simanindo, on the north edge of the Island, a group of locals performs regularly (around 10.30am) typical Batak dances and perform ceremony along with some musicians. A few kilometres further on is the beach where local fishermen try their luck with their nets.

The only overland access to the island via a small bridge is in Panguruan. By driving to the south you pass by a small city called Tombok with a busy main road and a local market. From there the road climbs up the hill and follows the outlines of the mountains until the southern edge of the island. You find a lot of nice viewpoints especially on higher levels.

After your Lake Toba experience you can either continue your overland tour via Bukittinggi to Padang, drive back to Medan via main roads, or take a flight from Silangit Airport to Medan.
 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NEW PRODUCT: BIG KANU


We are pleased to introduce a new charter boat product, Big Kanu, which is 23.9 metres long and 12 metres wide. The boat offers short live-aboard holidays for groups who charter the whole boat, and also for individuals who join the fixed departures.

Big Kanu offers offer regular short trips between Bali, Gili Trawangan/Air/Meno, Lembongan/Penida and the beautiful southern Gilis (Gede), as well as special interest trips like YogaKanu.
 

 

 

 

DIVE EXPERIENCE WITH COCOTINOS IN BUNAKEN MARINE PARK/LEMBEH STRAIT, NORTH SULAWESI


Cocotinos Manado in Wori Bay, North Sulawesi, is a boutique dive resort with homely and fancy rooms. With close range of the resort are many fabulous diving sites such as the Bunaken Marine Park. Guests can also explore the village and the way of life of the villages, and see the endemic animals in Tangkoko National Park.

To show another underwater world in Sulawesi the resort owners built another boutique dive resort in Lembeh Strait named Cocotinos Lembeh, which is only a two-hour drive away from Manado. There are over 30 dive sites to choose from in Lembeh Strait, which is the place for critter hunting or muck dive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIMOR LESTE


We have created a couple of packages to make the best out of your time in East Timor. The best access to East Timor is probably via Denpasar in Bali with two daily flights. Visa on Arrival (VoA) can be purchased for most nationals. There is also the possibility to cross into Timor Leste overland via West Timor, which is part of Indonesia. However, a prior arranged visa is required here.

A two-night stay in Dili, the capital of Timor Leste, can be a rewarding experience as you will start to get a feel of the place. We will take you on a city tour and to the outskirts of Dili with its nice beaches. You can also make Dili your (comfortable) base while doing day trips to the mountains inland (a must visit is Maubisse and its surroundings) or to the west and east of the country.

However, in order to really appreciate East Timor we recommend longer trips with overnight stays in Balibo, Baucau and further east.

Timor Leste is a challenging destination, but together with our local partners we will try to add the best possible options and accommodation to ensure a rewarding experience!

 

 

 

NATURE & MYSTICAL VOLCANOES TOUR BY BALI JEEP TOUR


Start the tour by driving to Batur Volcano in the morning. On the way you will make a few stops to a traditional market, villages and plantation. There will be a chance to see the process of making coconut palm wine (Tuwak) and even tasting it. The drive continues directly to the Bamboo Forest, with its mystic and natural environment. Enjoy your lunch with a scenic view of the amazing Batur Geopark and lake surrounded by hills. The excursion’s highlight is the Temple of Bubung Renteng on top of the Kintamani Hill, which has an interesting geological history.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

WYNDHAM TAMANSARI JIVVA RESORT, KLUNGKUNG – BALI


Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort, the first Wyndham hotel in Bali, is a spectacular beachfront resort on a dramatic black sand beach. This newly built resort features 214 rooms and eight pool villas. Standard facilities are available including a restaurant, two swimming pools, beach club, spa and daily shuttle to local surf break.

The resort is about 45 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport. It is an ideal place on the quiet east coast of Bali for escaping the routine of daily life, have a romantic getaway or enjoy a family holiday.
 

 

 

FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON, KUTA – BALI

 

Set in a great shopping and nightlife area Four Points by Sheraton Kuta, which opened 2015, is a comfortable hotel for a pleasant stay. All its 185 rooms and suites are in modern design with contemporary furniture. The rooms face the lagoon/pool, with some having direct access to the lagoon. The hotel has three pools – lagoon pool with jacuzzi, junior pool and vertigo rooftop pool. It also offers three restaurants and a unique rooftop bar. For children, there are the kids club, game room and entertainment area.

 

 

 

GRAND NIKKO RESORT BALI REBRANDS AS HILTON BALI RESORT, NUSA DUA – BALI

 

The Grand Nikko Resort Bali in Nusa Dua was rebranded as the Hilton Bali Resort on December 1, 2016, and is now managed by Hilton Hotels & Resorts. There are no changes in the rates. All the 389 rooms remain the same with no refurbishment or redesigning, but a few room categories have been adjusted to reflect the Hilton standard.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS TO LAUNCH NEW FLIGHTS TO MEDAN, NORTH SUMATRA


Qatar Airways will add Medan in North Sumatra to its global network either this year or 2018 as part of its expansion plans. The service to Medan will improve access to Sumatra, and allow travellers to combine the island’s highlights like Gunung Leuser National Park or Lake Toba with other destination in Indonesia. We will keep you updated on the flight development.
 

 

 

 

 

GARUDA INDONESIA CONNECTS JAKARTA WITH MUMBAI

 

National carrier Garuda Indonesia launched thrice weekly service between Jakarta and Mumbai in India on December 12, 2016. The services are operated with the Boeing B737-800 NG aircraft with a two-class configuration.

GA 862 depart from Soekarno-Hatta Airport 12:55 pm, and arrives in Mumbai at 8.30pm, with a stopover in Bangkok, Thailand.

In a report on Indonesian news portal, Tempo.co, Garuda Indonesia president director Arif Wibowo described the new service as “a trial operation”, and could be made into direct flights if “the results are good”.

 

 

 
 

Go back to top, please click here