Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue July 2011

Dear Friends,

 

Time flies and the first half of 2011 is already gone. The past six months have seen vast developments, especially in tourism products in the Asian region.

 

China leads the pack with hotels opening almost on a daily basis and the much-anticipated high-speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai now operational.

 

The other regions are growing just as fast– Cambodia with its rich cultural attractions; Indonesia unveiling more sun-kissed, charming islands; Malaysia adding to its wide array of the best of Asia in one country; Laos with its exciting tours on the powerful Mekong and charming Nam Ou rivers; Thailand’s new out-of-the-ordinary EXPLORE tours; Myanmar’s upcoming cultural festivals that are an insight into the local way of life; Vietnam recognition by US magazine, National Geographic, as having the “Best Tours in Asia”.

 

The region’s attractiveness is further enhanced by new and additional services offered by both international and regional airlines, bringing Asia practically to your doorsteps wherever you are. So come and explore Asia.

 


HAPPY TRAILS!

Luzi A. Matzig

C E O

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 
 

 

 

THAILAND

 

 

A note from Managing Director ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

Dear Friends,

 

In this edition you will find a special offer at the Le Bua for fans of the movie, The Hangover 2. Scenes of the movie were shot at their famous restaurant Sirocco.

 

The main focus of this edition is our resorts in the south with update of new hotels and new flight connections.

 

Happy reading!

 

Roger Haumueller

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS KOH SAMUI WELCOMES SARNELLI KIDS

 

Asian Trails has helped to make possible a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the beach in Samui for the orphans of the Sarnelli House in Nongkhai by sponsoring the transportation in Samui.

 

From the photos you can see the happy children during their visit to Samui.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

EXPLORE FOR THE DISCERNING TRAVELLERS

 

Asian Trails has launched the new concept “EXPLORE” – a series of “out-of-the-ordinary” tours, suitable for all categories of travellers. both individuals and small groups.

 

This is a programme for people who do not want to experience what everyone else is doing. It is for seekers of a truly authentic and sustainable travel experience in the great outdoors, of local customs and charming hospitality, flavourful traditional cooking, stimulating art and intriguing architecture.

 

We list below some examples of the EXPLORE programmes.

 

 

EXPLORE - EXPLORE PHUKET

 

Cycle by the sea through beautiful valleys and coconut groves. This tour takes you to visit many of Phuket's scenic views and natural attractions.

 

You have the opportunity to experience Phuket’s lifestyle, friendly local people and the clean air of the island’s countryside.

 

Enjoy Thai food at local restaurants. Visit Thalang National Museum where you enjoy learning about Phuket’s history, culture and the islander's way of life. Then stop at Phuket Butterfly Garden & Insect World to discover the wonders of these small creatures.

 

For more details and booking please click here

 

BELUGA SCHOOL FOR LIFE

 

Be a part of the Beluga School for Life project, which gives you a taste of Thailand’s real culture.

 

The Beluga School for Life invites visitors to become personally acquainted with this extraordinary project. You are given first hand information on the project onsite. Beautiful landscapes and villages, largely untouched by tourism, are found in the surroundings of the school. Additionally, you can join a basic culture course that illustrates the do's and don'ts in Thailand.

 

"Gin Khao", which means "let’s have lunch", is at the beautiful restaurant that

serves delicious local food. In the early afternoon you can either explore the village with a look at the children’s exciting projects or just relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

 

For more details and booking please click here

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

THE HANGOVER 2 FILMED AT LEBUA, BANGKOK

 

The movie Hangover 2, an American comedy and the follow-up to the blockbuster The Hangover, which made US$450 million at the box office, was filmed extensively at Lebua, the all-suite luxurious hotel in Bangkok. With its near 360-degree views of Bangkok Lebua was the setting for the scenes in the movie, which was released worldwide on May 26, 2011.

 

One of the chosen sites for many of the scenes was the Tower Club at Lebua, and in particular the entrance to Sirocco, the world’s highest open air rooftop restaurant on the 63rd floor. The backdrop for the scenes is the dramatic and amazing view of Bangkok’s skyline, which can be experienced from the renowned Sky Bar and Sirocco restaurant. Scenes also included Lebua’s famous golden Dome atop the recently relaunched Mezzaluna, the hotel’s modern and innovative haute eatery, where a helicopter appears in an all-action packed scene. The hotel was turned into a live film set and provided once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of their staff to be included as extras!

 

Now, Lebua brings the fans of The Hangover 2 an opportunity to relive the life of the characters from the movie with a special two-night The Hangover 2 package. Fans can stay in The Hangover Suite, a three-bedroom luxury suite that accommodates up to six and has a fully stocked mini bar and ample space to party like the guys from the movie. Guests can also sample the Hangovertini, a special signature cocktail made with green tea liquor, Martini Rosso, green apple juice, rosemary infused honey.

 

For more details and booking please click here

 

MAIKHAO DREAM HOTELS AND RESORTS

 

Maikhao Dream Hotel and Resort opened two luxury beachfront resorts in Phuket in the space of a week – one at Natai Beach on March 26 and the other at Mai Khao Beach on April 2.

 

Good demand from high-end consumers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, South Korea, United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia prompted the move by Mai Khao Dream Co. Ltd. to open the two new resorts. The company has also opened regional offices in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia to manage international reservations for the new Phuket resorts.

 

Thailand based Design Worldwide Partnership (DWP) was at the helm overseeing the interior design for both resorts. With a pricing frame, which includes a 56,800 baht (US$1, 900) per night for the two-bedroom ocean front villa, the two resorts’ target market is high-end clientele.

 

For more details please click here

 

INDIGO PEARL DECREASES ROOM INVENTORY TO TARGET LUXURY MARKET

 

The Bill Bensley designed Indigo Pearl Resort in Nai Yang, Phuket is decreasing its room inventory - from 260 to 177 to reposition itself to target the luxury market and high yield versus volume. The existing deluxe rooms is being renovated into larger suites and two-bedroom pool villas will be added. Renovation work started in mid-May and is expected to be complete by the end of August.

 

For more details please click here

 

THANYAMUNDRA ORGANIC RESORT

 

Thanyamundra is a sustainable 5 star boutique organic resort offering a sanctuary dedicated to the ultimate private rejuvenation of body, mind and soul in the most natural yet sophisticated personalised form.

 

The organic farm is ideal for individual travellers and small private or corporate groups who value privacy for either personalised meetings, or teambuilding. It offers distinctive venues for romance, weddings, special events or agricultural experiences, as well as rejuvenating leisure activities, creative art programmes and is a perfect training venue for athletes. The innovative organic home style dining and cooking make a stay at Thanyamundra Organice Resort an unforgettable experience.

 

For more details please click here

 

ANDAMAN EMBRACE - FIRST PATONG BEACH SINO-STYLED RESORT OPENS DECEMBER

 

The Andaman Embrace Resort & Spa is set to open in December 2011 as the first Sino-styled resort on Patong beachfront. It replaced the Club Andaman Beach Resort, which closed its doors on April 30 after more than 20 years of service. Major renovations are begin carried to the former resort transform it into a modern-day revival of Old Phuket Town’s historical Sino-Portuguese architecture. It will reopen as the Andaman Embrace Resort & Spa in time to accept guests during Phuket’s 2011/2012 peak seasons.

 

The hotel’s interior will be completely redesigned and the 200 guest rooms will be refurbished to give the resort an entirely new contemporary Sino-colonial look. The resort’s transformation from Club Andaman Beach Resort into the Andaman Embrace Resort & Spa includes the addition of a 570sqm swimming pool, an independently operated spa and a new restaurant.

 

Popular features, such as the resort’s tropical garden dotted with 18 “lotus cottages” surrounding an ornamental pond, remain. However, they will be completely revamped to fit the Sino-Portuguese architectural theme.

 

Located opposite Loma Park on Patong Beach, the newly branded resort will be operated by Phuket-based hoteliers, Limsup Grand Co. Ltd. The seven-storey hotel building and surrounding gardens are one of the largest resort properties on Patong beachfront.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

BLOOMING KRACHIAO FLOWER FESTIVAL -

THE SIAM TULIP FESTIVAL OF CHAIYAPHUM

JUNE 1 - AUGUST 31, 2011

 

The unique geographical landscape of Chaiyaphum Province in northeast hailand gives rise to a range of natural attractions of exceptional beauty. Of these, the fields of pinkish-purple Siam Tulip, or Dok Krachiao, comesto full bloom in the early part of the rainy season from June to August. Also commonly called patumma, bua sawan (heaven lotus), or bua bok (the land lotus) the flower is a member of the ginger genera — Curcuma or Zingiberaceae.

 

 

AMAZING THAILAND GRAND SALE 2011

JUNE 15 - AUGUST 15, 2011

VENUE: BANGKOK, CHIANG MAI, PHUKET, HAT YAI, PATTAYA, HUA HIN AND KOH SAMUI

 

The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Visa have joined hand to host the 2011 Amazing Thailand Grand Sale, Thailand's biggest annual shopping extravaganza.

 

The month-long sale offers world-class shopping and a diverse selection of quality products. There are special discounts of between 10% to 80% and promotional offers by leading department stores, shopping complexes, King Power Duty Free shops, airlines, hotels, spas, hospitals, jewellery shops and participating retail outlets along designated “shopping streets” in Bangkok. The offers also extend to golf courses and online travel agents, as well as at special events held in the popular tourist destinations of Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Koh Samui.

 

The shopping streets provide visitors opportunity to spot great buys for unique handicrafts and cottage industry products including exquisitely hand-crafted decorative items for home and living and fashion accessories. There are also local shopping streets in all the participating cities.

 

This year, along with the brand-name products that are traditionally the most popular purchased items, special attention is paid to promote the sale of locally-made products such as handicrafts, apparel, decorations, and home-use products made under the umbrella of the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) scheme.

 

The OTOP scheme allows villages all over Thailand to specialise in making local products, with the Royal Thai Government providing support for marketing, distribution and sales. The scheme contributes significantly towards job creation and poverty alleviation in the provinces.

 

 

BOON LUANG AND PHI TA KHON FESTIVAL

JULY 1 - 3, 2011

VENUE:  DAN SAI DISTRICT, LOEI DISTRICT AND PROVINCE

 

The Phi Ta Khon Festival is unique to the Dan Sai district in Loei Province and reflects the local Isan belief in ghosts and spirits. Held once a year, it is part of a grand merit-making festival known as the Boon Luang Festival.

 

The origins of the Phi Ta Khon Festival can be found in the tale of Lord Buddha's last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment. In Buddhist accounts it is said that when Prince Vessandara, the Buddha's penultimate incarnation, returned to his city it was such a joyous occasion that the village spirits came forth to join the welcoming parade. This very colourful and vibrant Phi Ta Khon procession is the central focus of the celebrations.

 

In a lively re-enactment of the tale young men of the community dress up as "spirits", wearing long trailing costumes made from colourful strips of cloth sewn together.

 

 

6th THAILAND INTERNATIONAL WAX SCULPTURE

UBON RATCHATHANI CANDLE PROCESSION FESTIVAL

JULY 1 - 31, 2011

 

As the seasonal monsoon rains descend over Thaland it also marks the beginning of the Buddhist "rain retreat" and the Buddhist Lent or Phansa, during which all Buddhist monks retreat to the temples. This is also an auspicious time for Buddhist ordinations as it marks a period of spiritual renewal.

 

Known as Khao Phansa, the Buddhist Lent is a time devoted to study and meditation. Buddhist monks remain within the temple grounds and do not venture out for three months, starting from the first day of the waning moon of the 8th lunar month (July) to the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 11th lunar month (October).

 

As Ubon Ratchathani province prepares for the Buddhist Lent the men folks, both ordained and laymen, with artistic skills set about the task of moulding and sculpting Lenten candles. As these works of art are presented as Buddhist merit-making offerings the artisans pour their heart and soul into their craft. Many of these are fine examples of Buddhist art and sculpture.

 

The candle festival is unique to Ubon Ratchathani province, and the customs and traditions related to this Buddhist festival have been diligently preserved by local communities.

 

 

TAK BAT DOK MAI FESTIVAL

JULY 14 - 16, 2011

VENUE:  WAT PHRA PHUTTHABAT RATCHAWORAMAHAWIHAN, AMPHOE PHRA PHUTTHABAT, SARABURI

 

The Tak Bat Dok Mai floral offering merit-making ritual is unique to Saraburi province and stands out from the merit-making activities conducted in other parts of Thailand. Apart from offerings of cooked rice, food, incense, candles and other conventional sacred items the Tak Bat Dok Mai ritual includes offerings of Dok Khao Phansa flowers that only come into bloom during the Buddhist Lent, hence the origin of its name. Some villagers call the flower Dok Yung Thong (golden peacock) or Dok Hong Thong

(golden swan flower).

 

 

 

PATTAYA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON

JULY 17, 2011

 

The seaside resort of Pattaya is home to the Pattaya Marathon, an annual international event that features a full marathon, half-marathon and a 10.550 km quarter marathon. The event is along a

picturesque running route, and attracts participation from local world-class runners.

 

 

BHUMIBOL DAM INVITATION INTERNATIONAL

MOUNTAIN BIKE CHAMPIONSHIP 2011

AUGUST 27 - 28, 2011

VENUE:  BHUMIBOL DAM, TAK PROVINCE

 

Bhumibol Dam in Tak province will host the Bhumibol Dam Invitation International Mountain Bike Championships for the fourth consecutive year in August. Noted for its scenic landscape Bhumibol Dam provides an ideal setting for the mountain bike races.

 

The event is jointly organised by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) and Bhumibol Dam. It aims to promote ecotourism in tandem with outdoor sports at both a national and international level.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

SOLAR AIR FLIES TO CHUMPORN

 

Thai domestic airline, Solar Air, operates a new route between Bangkok and Chumphon, the southern of Thailand.

 

The flight on a 19-seat twin-engine propeller aircraft departs daily from Bangkok's Don Muang Airport at 0945hr and arrives in Chumhon at 1100hr.  The return flight from Chumporn is at 1400hr and arrives Bangkok at 1515hr. Chumphon is only about an hour 45 minutes from Kho Tao Island by high-speed ferry.

 

 

AIR BERLIN INCREASES SERVICES TO PHUKET AND BANGKOK

 

Air Berlin will add one flight to each of its three routes – Berlin-Phuket, Berlin-Bangkok and Dusseldorf-Bangkok from November 2011.

 

The airline will increase services between Berlin and Phuket to three times weekly, up from twice weekly. Its Munich-Phuket service will remain at twice weekly, the same as the previous winter schedule. The two routes will give the airline 1,515 seats per week per sector, up from 1,212 during the winter schedule.

 

Out of Bangkok, services increase from seven flights a week to nine from November.The Dusseldorf-Bangkok service will increase from four to five flights a week while the Berlin-Bangkok service will increase from three to four. Weekly capacity will increase from 2,121 to 2,727 seats.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

NEW TEAM MEMBER IN BANGKOK OFFICE

 

A warm welcome to Mr. Shivaji Patil, aged 28, who joined Asian Trails Thailand in May 2011 as our new Tour Administrator Indian Department. An Indian national, he possesses a profound knowledge of the tourism industry and has been working with an Indian tour operator in Bangkok for few years. We wish Mr. Patil a smooth start in his new job.

 

For competitive quotes on Indian Inbound market please contact: shivaji@asiantrails.org

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

OLD PHUKET TOWN GOES "WIRELESS" BY NOVEMBER

 

Municipal workers will start pulling down power poles along Thalang, Dibuk and Theprasattri roads in Old Phuket Town by this November if all goes according to plan, announced Phuket Town Mayor, Somjai Suwansupapana.

 

Speaking at a meeting in Provincial Hall recently Mayor Somjai said that stage two of the project to install power and telecommunication cables underground in the Old Town was ready to begin. The municipality has held two public hearings seeking feedback from local residents. So far, the feedback has been positive, with most people living in the area satisfied with the project.


Stage two is budgeted to cost 39,740,900 baht, comprising 26,476,600 baht from the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and 13,264,300 from Phuket City Municipality.

The project also requires involvement from the TOT, the CAT and TT&T as telecom cables belonging to these companies will also be installed underground. Work will start with the PEA burying cables along Dibuk Road in June, with Krabi Road, Phuket Road and part of Thepkrasattri Road next in line.

“The work to be done will be much like that already conducted along Thalang Road.

However, the project will be more complicated along Phuket Road and Thepkrasattri Road because high-voltage power cables are involved and need to go underground as well,” Mayor Somjai said.


“Before work on stage two begins we will hold another hearing to make sure all the people and agencies involved have a clear understanding of what is being done, and the effect the project will have on the area,” she added.

 

 

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LAOS

 

A note from Managing Director Philippe Conod

 

Dear Friends and Partners

 

Sabaidee

 

The Lao tourism industry has managed to go through the last years of financial, political and meteorological turbulences without too much damage. The country looks at the future with confidence and several important projects related to tourism have started or are in the air

 

The Luang Prabang airport will be equipped with a new and longer runway, making it accessible to medium size jet aircrafts, and using the latest air safety technologies

 

Lao Airlines is investing in new modern aircrafts (see below article)

 

Laos and China has launched a high-speed train, which will connect the Yunnan province to Thailand via Oudomxay-Luang Prabang and Vientiane on a 420km track

 

Last but not least, Lanith (Lao National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality) is materialising the construction of a tourism and hotel school in Vientiane, which will put an end to the permanent lack of qualified staff in the industry

 

We wish you an excellent summer and successful business for the next high season to come

 

Philippe Conod and Asian Trails Laos team

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

TIP OF THE MONTH

 

4 DAYS ON THE POWERFUL MEKONG AND CHARMING NAM OU RIVERS

 

This trip takes you from the beautiful Golden Triangle area to Luang Prabang by boat and car.

 

Day 1:  Embark on a traditional boat in Houeixay and cruise to Pakbeng, stopping to visit villages on the way.

 

Day 2:  Discover the Elephant Village and take a one-hour ride on the mighty beast. After lunch enjoy a short trekking trip to villages near Pakbeng.

 

Day 3:  Travel by road to Nong Khiaw, stopping to visit a few villages on the way.

 

Day 4:  Go for a boat cruise down the narrow and charming Nam Ou River, stopping enroute to visit fishermen’s villages and the sacred caves of Pak Ou, before reaching Luang Prabang in the afternoon

 

Contact us for more details.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

3 NAGAS LUANG PRABANG

 

The hotel's management contract with the former company has been terminated. 3 Nagas is now operating under its original name. The hotel’s manager and staff remain the same.

 

 

 

VILLA NAGARA - NEW BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

Villa Nagara, a new lovely boutique hotel in the city of Luang Prabang, has just opened its doors. Located on the bank of the Nam Khan River and in the heart of Luang Prabang, Villa Nagara offers four Classic Twin rooms and three Suites with spectacular views of the Nam Khan River.

 

 

 

SPECIAL PROMOTION - VILLA MALY LUANG PRABANG

 

Villa Malay Luang Prabang is having a special promotion: Stay three nights and pay for two; includes a Nava Mekong Dinner Cruise for two persons

 

Validity:  Until September 30, 2011

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

LAO AIRLINES UPGRADES TO JET OPERATIONS

 

Lao Airlines is upgrading its operations to jet aircraft services. It will lease one Airbus A320 later this year, and will introduce services to Singapore and Japan

 

The airline has also ordered a new A320 aircraft, which will be delivered in 2014

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

NEW RESTAURANT - LA BODEGA RESTAURANT, VIENTIANE

 

Located slightly off the city centre and housed in a lovely Lao style wooden house, La Bodega is decorated in a mixed Spanish and French style. Cuisine is mostly French inspired, but includes some Spanish dishes and a selection of tapas. Closed on Sundays

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

TRIPS TO COLLECT INFORMATION

 

A few of our reservations staff from the Vientiane office drove to the south of Laos and visited Pakze, Taldo, the Boloven Plateau, 4,000 Islands and Champasak, where they collected updated information on the local accommodation and tourist sites.

 

The rest of the staff drove north through Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, continuing to Oudomxay, Muang Khua and then cruised down the Nam Ou River.

 

They collected useful information from the trips for the benefit of our guests visiting Laos.

 

 

GUIDE TRAINING IN LUANG PRABANG

 

As part of our ongoing programme to improve the quality of our guide services in Luang Prabang, we conducted a two-day guide training course for our English- speaking guides and a one-day refresher course for our German-speaking guides.

 

Both courses were conducted indoors in classrooms, as well as in the field. The courses cover the most important aspects of tour guiding.

 

  

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CAMBODIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR JACQUES GUICHANDUT

 

Dear partners and friends,

 

Look out for the new Louis Vuitton ad! I am proud to inform you last May Asian Trails Cambodia was selected to organise Angelina Jolie's trip to Cambodia for the coming Louis Vuitton campaign. The photo shoot was done by famous New York based photographer, Annie Leibovitz, in the lush green surroundings of Siem Reap/Angkor area around the Tonlé Sap Lake and close to the Angkor temples.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

APSARA AUTHORITY ISSUES DRESS CODE FOR TEMPLE VISITS

 

The Apsara Authority has issued regulations on the dress code for visits to Angkor Wat and Banteay Srei temple. Visitors are to wear blouse covering the arms and shoulders. and long skirts covering legs (no miniskirt or short trousers). They must also observe the rules for photography and filming, as well rules of conduct in the temples as they are sacred places to the Cambodian people.  

 

Asian Trails will help guests who are wearing clothing that does not conform to the dress code, by proviidng fisher pants and a krama scarf to them on the spot.

 

 

CAMBODIA'S CENTRAL MARKET REOPENS AFTER MAKEOVER

 

Cambodia's iconic Central Market in Phnom Penh has reopened after seven years of renovations. This is the first time the market has been renovated since it was built in 1937, when the country was under French colonial rule. There are more than 3,000 merchants in the market.

 

The market is important as a business venue to stimulate Phnom Penh’s economy as well as to promote tourism, whiich is one of the four pillars of economic development in Cambodia.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

AN UPDATE ON ATC'S NEW HOTEL WEBSITE

 

Once again Asian Trails Cambodia is well ahead to meet your every need, this time with the development of our new “Hotels in Cambodia” search engine: http://www.asiantrailscambodia-hotels.com.  

 

The website has been designed to assist you in finding hotels in Cambodia, which best suit your needs. From quick search by hotel name or locations to advanced search by single or multiple criteria, you will be able to find hotels in Cambodia’s tourist areas based on categories, services (for FIT or MICE) and locations. Zooming in on the map of Cambodia will help you locate the categories of hotels you are searching for. You can also download the PDF hotel fact sheet, create your own favorite hotel list, search for hot deals and do much more well in advance of the promotion period.

 

Please don't forget to register at the site! It takes just a few minutes to create your own account and start searching. We welcome any suggestions and feedback to help us improve our services.

 

Happy friendly trails!

 

 

ROMEET GALLERY OPENS IN PHNOM PENH

 

Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), a local NGO and non-profit organisation based in Battambang province, has opened a permanent visual art gallery, Romeet’s Gallery, in Phnom Penh. It is located on the same street as the National Museum and the University of Fine Arts. With a large space of about 150sqm professional artists and students from the Visual Arts School will be able to  to exhibit their works for six days a week.

 

PPS, which also runs an art school and social centre, was founded in 1994 in Battambang by eight former Khmer refugees. Its mission is to restore the destroyed culture and identity of Cambodia that was lost during the Khmer genocide by raising the awareness of its artistic culture throughout Cambodia and the world. It also aims to improve the social and professional development of vulnerable children and local communities through education and the practice of arts. Vocational training is also provided in visual arts, music and circus.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PHNOM PENH

 

THE WILLOW BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

The Willow Boutique Hotel, a recently redecorated tradtional Cambodian villa in Phnpm Penh, is conveniently located within a short walk from Independence Monument and the city’s nightlife and restaurants.

 

The hotel's 16 guestrooms retain the villa’s authenticity and charm, while providing the latest in modern luxury and accommodations. It evokes an ambience of charm and sophistication to create a home away from home for its guests with its luxurious amenities and excellent service.

 

 

LE SAFRAN LA SUITE

 

La Safran La Suite is a boutique hotel located in a quiet street of the Norodom Boulevard, just a few steps from the Independence Monument and close to the trendy shopping streets and cosy restaurants.

 

Its design, conceptualised by a French space designer, is to join two quality services. On one side is the restaurant - Le Safran - where guests enjoy original and delicate Khmer food, as well as French dishes, both cooked by an experienced French-Khmer chef. On the other side is the hotel - La Suite – with 14 rooms, a charming suite, an artist gallery, a shop and a swimming pool where guests can chill with a glass of home-made fresh fruit juice.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

PHNOM PENH CAREER FORUM 2011

 

The 7th Cambodian Career Forum was held at the new convention centre on Diamond Island from June 25 to 26. The forum is a platform for university graduates to meet their future employees, and for companies to promote their activities. Organised by the French-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, this year’s event attracted more than 15,000 visitors.

 

Asian Trails Cambodia WAS one of the 50 exhibitors at the forum. We encourage young, talented people to seek a career and gain working experience in the promising tourism industry of Cambodia.

 

 

THEAM'S HOUSE, SIEM REAP

 

For more than 10 years Theam, the artistic director of Artisans d’Angkor, has launched a new project that includes training a team of artisans-apprentices, as he is now embarking on a new creative journey of his own paintings.

 

As an artist-designer Theam is one of the few overseas educated Cambodians involved in helping to revive the Cambodian craft sector since 1995. After receiving a sound artistic and technical education at the École Boulle, then at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, he returned to his native country to be reunited with those he had left behind.

 

Located on the main road to Angkor Temple, the Atelier and Art Studio with its lush tropical garden welcomed all visitors who are looking for unique and authentic designer-made products. Various savoir-faire and works-in-progress can be observed at the workshop, such as painting, fine sculpting and lacquering.

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

DRAGONAIR MAY EXPAND TO SIEM REAP

 

Dragonair, part of the Cathay Pacific group, uses Hong Kong as its hub and currently flies to Phnom Penh seven times per week. These flights are becoming increasingly popular.

 

The airline is considering the expansion of its services in Cambodia and may mount new services to the tourism centre of Siem Reap.

 

The Kingoom is open to new flights and additional frequencies by airlines as the Cambodian government wants to develop the tourism industry and increase tourist arrivals to the country.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

 

CUISINE WAT DAMNAK

 

Cuisine Wat Damnak offers a unique opportunity for visitors Siem Reap to sample Cambodian food at its best.

 

Chef Joannès Rivière, the former chef of Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap, offers the finest culinary experience to its guests as he changes the restaurant’s menus every week and features premium ingredients available in Cambodia.

 

Cuisine Wat Damnak's team of well trained staff is on hand to help guests customise menus to suit special occasions or events by suggesting dishes such as for a vegetarian meal.

 

Cuisine Wat Damnak is open six days a week. It is closed on Monday.

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

The rays of early morning sunlight, the blue sky and the pleasant breezes have signalled the advent of summer in Vietnam. It is the most appropriate time for professionals in the hospitality industry to reward themselves with a solo holiday or one with the family after an intensive yet rewarding season organising holidays for clients.

 

Summer is also the time to enhance staff’s knowledge and skills by conducting efficient training and in-depth fam trips, or to study potential products so as to deliver to clients the best quality services in the coming high season.

 

It is also the time to enjoy more added value from the summer promotions of our hotel partners. Bonus nights, special discounts or “kids stay and eat free” (offered by The Nam Hai for couple travelling with kids) are just a few of these special offers. Asian Trails is continuously striving to seize on all valuable opportunities and recommend them to you and your clients who deserve all the extra benefits of off-season holidays. Consult our regular hotel update to catch the hottest deals.

 

Summer is the time to go on holiday; it is the time to come to Viet Nam!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

VIETNAM IN TOP 13 "BEST TOURS IN ASIA"

 

US magazine National Geographic has listed Vietnam in the top 13 "Best Tours in Asia". The magazine introduced Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as a private family excursion, which is action-packed with quintessential Vietnamese experiences.

 

“Trek in bio-diverse Hoang Lien National Park, meet members of the Zay hill tribes in the Black Hmong villages, cruise through the limestone peaks of Halong Bay, and dine with descendants of the royal family in Hue”, is how National Geographic describes the excursion on its website.

 

In addition, Lonely Planet recently included Sapa, situated in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai, in its "Top 10 Places to Walk". We will feature Sapa in the next issue of TRAILBLAZER.

 

 

CO LOA SEEKS UNESCO CULTURAL HERITAGE STATUS

 

The Center for Preservation of Co Loa Relics - Thang Long Ancient Citadel - has asked for permission to conduct research and compile a dossier for the Co Loa Ancient Citadel to seek world cultural heritage status.

 

Co Loa is located in the suburbs of Hanoi, about 20 kilometres from the centre of the city. Covering nearly 500ha it is the place to worship King An Duong Vuong and Princess My Chau of the magic crossbow legend, which has been woven into the anti-foreign aggression history of the Vietnamese people.

 

The citadel and its remains are a significant cultural heritage of the Vietnamese people.

Many archaeological sites have been discovered there, reflecting the continuous development of the nation in many periods, especially the Dong Son culture of the Bronze Age.

 

 

SON DOONG, ONE OF WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CAVES

 

Son Doong Cave, the world's largest cave located in Vietnam's central province of Quang Binh, has been selected by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) as one of the most beautiful caves in the world.

 

Measuring at over 5km long, 200m high and 150m wide Son Doong Cave is five times larger than Phong Nha Cave, the biggest cave in Vietnam. Its size also far exceeds that of the huge Deer Cave in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, which measures 2km long, 100m high and 90m wide.

 

The cave was first discovered by a local man named Khanh in 2008. However, it was not explored and assessed until a group of explorers from the UK made a survey of it in Phong Nha-Ke Bang from April 10-14, 2009.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

VESPA TOURS - THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE

 

Unique, personalised, culturally immersive - these words best describe Saigon’s Vespa Tours.

 

The vintage Vespa scooters are the perfect combination of elegance, class and comfort. These 150cc classic bikes from the golden era of the 1960s and ‘70s have all been lovingly restored.

 

We offer three local tours. Guests ride pillion behind safety-conscious drivers. The tours are:

 

- Insider’s Tour of Saigon:  Offers an open-air, street-level view of the urban landscape, its iconic sites and its many hidden charms.

 

- Saigon After Dark Tour:  Part night excursion, part street food adventure, during which guests experience Saigon’s cuisine and nightlife the way locals do, all from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter.

 

- Saigon Wartime Memories Tour: Focuses on the sites, the landmarks and the stories surrounding the infamous 30-year struggle that unified modern day Vietnam. Leave the guidebooks behind and see a side of Vietnam, which few travellers have experienced. We also offer tailor-made tours according to your needs and requirements.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

ACCOR MAKES INROADS INTO VIETNAM

 

Accor, the global hotel management group, is expanding its portfolio of hotels in Vietnam, with three new hotels in Hue, Danang and Sam Son.

 

- Novotel Hue will be a newly built 230-room hotel located in the centre of Hue, Vietnam’s ancient capital. Its facilities include three F&B outlets, a ballroom, meeting facilities, swimming pool and spa.

 

- Novotel Danang Han River will be the second Accor property in Danang after Mercure Danang, which opens later this year. This 346-room hotel is located near the Han River in the city centre.

 

- Mercure Sam Son will be a new 200-room hotel in Sam Son, a coastal city in Thanh Hoa province, 170km south of Hanoi.

 

Accor currently has development commitments for a total of 15 properties and 3,700 rooms in Vietnam. The 279-room Mercure Danang is due to open in August. The 197-room Pullman Danang Olalani Resort, 350-room Pullman Vung Tau, 175-room Novotel Dalat, 234-room Novotel Phu Quoc Resort, 250-room Novotel Saigon Centre, and 222-room Mercure Hanoi Hado are scheduled to open in 2012.

 

Launching in 2013 are the Novotel Hue, 290-room Pullman Saigon Centre, 300-room Pullman Hai Phong Island Resort, 200-room Mercure Sam Son, 170-room Ibis Saigon South and 338-room Ibis Saigon Centre.

 

 

ACCOR PARTNERS SAVICO IN MERCURE HOTEL, DANANG

 

Accor has announced its partnership with Savico, local trade and real estate services firm, to manage and develop Mercure Son Tra Resort in the central coastal city of Danang.

 

Scheduled to open in 2013, the 120-room hotel is expected to help to attract more visitors to Danang and the Son Tra Peninsula. The latter is a pristine national park filled with wildlife and rich flora and fauna, which is located 12 kilometres from the heart of Danang City and a 20-minute drive from Danang International Airport.

 

 

MERCURE HUE GERBERA RENAMED GERBERA HOTEL HUE

 

Hoang Thanh Tourist Co. Ltd and AAPC Singapore Pte Ltd have announced the termination of the management contract by Accor for the Mercure Hue Gerbera, effective April 30, 2011.

 

The hotel has since been renamed Gerbera Hotel Hue. The name change does not affect existing and future bookings and the standard of service. Guests are assured of the same good service and comfort that the hotel is known for.

 

 

MORE THAI HOTEL CHAINS IN VIETNAM

 

Thailand-based hotel chains are expanding and reinforcing their presence in Vietnam.

 

Centara Hotels and Resorts bought the 36-villa Chen La Resort and Spa Phu Quocinto in March. It renamed the resort as Chen Sea Resort and Spa Phu Quoc as part of its Centara Boutique Collection.

 

Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas makes its foray into the country in July with the rebranding of L'Anmien Resort and Spa as Anantara Mui Ne Resort and Spa. The 90-key resort is located 200km north-east of Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Absolute Hotel Services, another Thai-based hotel management company, has lined up openings of four properties ― U GTC Hanoi, U Hang Choiu Hanoi, U Ho Chi Minh and Thuy Tu Hotel Danang ― within the next few years.

 

 

SIX SENSES AMONG WORLD’S 50 BEST HOTELS

 

The Six Senses Hideaway Resort on Con Dao Island is listed on the 19th position of the "50 Best Hotels" in the world by Travel & Leisure, a New York-based magazine. In 2010 the hotel also received a Property Award for the "Best Hotel Construction and Design for Small Hotels" in Asia Pacific.

 

The resort covers over 13ha of land with 50 wooden villas spread along the beach for about one kilometre. It is the ideal destination for visitors to Vietnam who want to explore the wild beauty of Con Dao. Here they can escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life with numerous activities - discover the region’s rich past, enjoy the ocean’s colourful coral reefs or explore the pristine forests with their abundant flora and fauna.

 

 

BEST WESTERN OPENS HOTEL IN DALAT

 

Best Western International recently opened the Best Western Dalat Plaza in Vietnam. The 91-room hotel enjoys a beautiful location in the heart of Dalat city, facing Xuan Huong Lake and the Lighting City Park.

 

Guests enjoy well-appointed guestrooms combined with a range of services that include concierge, room service and a local shuttle. The hotel’s conference and meeting facilities can accommodate up to 200 delegates. The on-site City Park Restaurant serves a wide range of dining selections of Western, Asian and Vietnamese dishes.

 

 

FIRST RESORT IN LAKE TUYEN LAM TOURIST AREA

 

The Resort Dalat Eden recently opened in the Lake Tuyen Lam tourist area in Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province, after three years of construction and at a cost of US$20 million.

 

The resort, the first tourism product in the area, is located on 15ha of land close to Lake Tuyen Lam that is one of the most beautiful sites in Lam Dong. It has 28 villas (112 rooms) designed in Western style, restaurants, a convention hall for 2,000 people, sporting and entertainment services, and a spa centre with standards on par with other famous spas in Asia.

 

 

VINPEARL OPENS TOURISM COMPLEX AND GOLF COURSE

 

Vinpearl recently launched two new projects - Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang and the Vinpearl Golf Course.

 

Located on Hon Tre Island in Nha Trang City the Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang covers an area of 1.800sqm, the first tourism complex in Vietnam to offer a “five-start plus” service.

 

The Vinpearl Golf Course is the first 18-hole island golf course in Vietnam, covering an 182ha area in the Vinpearl Nha Trang complex.

 

In addition, Vinpearl announced a new strategy aimed at sustainably developing, investing in and managing luxury tourism projects with two trademarks called Vinpearl luxury and Vinpearl Resort.

 

 

LE SPA DU METROPOLE, ONE OF ASIA’S BEST SPAS

 

The Le Spa du Metropole in Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi has been listed as one of the 28 most relaxing spas in Asia by CNN International.

 

This is how CNN describes the spa: "Take a bow as the grand dame of Hanoi learns new tricks with the opening of its theatrical Le Spa du Metropole. Drape yourself in textiles and colours, the reds of the Hoa Dao (cherry blossom) room, the sleek greys of Exquis, the turquoise-beige combo in the Tonkin Suite. Mosaics, ceramics and artefacts, you’re in old, rich Vietnam. Traditional Dieu Cham facials and herbal poultices are the extra lime in the pho."

 

 

SYRENA CRUISES

 

The Syrena Cruises fleet of two boats provides a total of 34 luxury cabins and suites, which can accommodate 68 passengers. Built in accordance with traditional Vietnamese style and modern-day luxury the boats are used for Ha Long Bay cruises or hosted events such as weddings, corporate retreats, incentives, and meetings and conferences.

 

All the deluxe cabins and suites are well appointed, with traditional Vietnamese hardwood, creating lavish warmth. Light materials and clear windows ensure that each cabin is bright and airy. Hand-crafted furniture and delicate upholstery further enhance the warmth and light in each cabin.

 

 

 

MAINTENANCE WORK AT VICTORIA CAN THO RESORT

 

Victoria Can Tho Resort is carrying out maintenance work in its first and second floors’ guestrooms from June 5 and August 5, 2011. The public areas of the hotel are not affected and remain open throughout the maintenance period. The work is carried out from 8am to 5pm daily, with noise level kept to a minimum so as not to inconvenience the hotel’s guests.

 

 

REFURBISHMENT AT PARKROYAL SAIGON

 

Parkroyal Saigon is undergoing refurbishment from July 1 to September 30, 2011.

 

The refurbishment is carried out in phases covering 131 guestrooms, guestroom corridors, guest lifts, the Orchid Club Lounge, spa, fitness centre, lobby and reception areas, Lotus Bar, ballroom and some additional meeting rooms.

 

All efforts are made to ensure that any inconvenience or noise is kept to a minimum, which is largely limited to the demolition and removal phase. However, some light noise may be experienced during the day, from 9am-5pm daily, throughout the refurbishment period. Access for workers and deliveries are restricted to the back of house areas and should pose no inconvenience to the hotel’s guests.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

THUA THIEN-HUE PROVINCE TO HOST NATIONAL TOURISM YEAR 2012

 

Vietnam’s central Thua Thien-Hue Province will host the national Tourism Year 2012 to highlight the area’s rich cultural heritage.

 

The ancient city of Hue is among Vietnam's most valued national treasure in terms of history and heritage. It was the capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) and here is where the Nha nhac (royal court music), a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity, has been preserved. Its Complex of Monuments has been recognised as a World Culture Heritage by UNESCO

 

Hue is also well known for its cuisine, craft products and folk festivals, including the Cau Ngu (Fish Praying) festival, the boat race on the Huong (Perfume) River and the biannual Hue Festival.

 

 

VIETNAM'S FIRST INTERNATIONAL TEA FESTIVAL

NOVEMBER 11 -15, 2011

VENUE:  THAI NGUYEN PROVINCE

 

Vietnam, the world's fifth leading tea exporter, will host the nation’s first International Tea Festival in the northern province of Thai Nguyen from November 11 -15, 2011.

 

The event will feature various cultural activities including a tea seminar, a beauty contest for contestants from tea planting areas across the country, a street festival, a tea culture festival and an international trade and tourism expo.

 

Participants include enterprises and importers from 10 countries and territories including China, India, Russia, Japan, and the US, as well as 25 local companies and 50 traditional handicraft villages from 30 provinces and cities in Vietnam. The event expects to receive 400,000 visitors. ,

 

Vietnam has a strong tea culture dating back over 3,000 years, with green tea as the best and the most popular. Serving and drinking of tea also has a great social role in the local culture. It is a ritual preliminary to conducting business, scholarly meditation, getting acquainted and even to romance. Vietnamese tea is sold to 110 nations and territories worldwide.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

VIETNAM CONFIRMS NEW AIRPORT PROJECT

 

Vietnam's Prime Minister has given the go-ahead for the construction of a mega airport  - the Long Thanh airport - near the business hub of Ho Chi Minh City, about 50 kilometres (35 miles) from the town centre. The airport, estimated to cost US10 billion, will create a network to connect air transportation for the whole region. When completed it will be able to handle annually 52 million passengers and 1.5 million tonnes of cargo up to 2035.

 

 

AIR MEKONG FLIES NON-STOP FROM HANOI TO PHU QUOC AND QUY NHON

 

Since mid-April Air Mekong has been flying non-stop flights from Hanoi to the southern island of Phu Quoc. This is the longest domestic air service and cuts flying time between the two destinations by half, as it removes the transfer in Ho Chi Minh City. The flight is on the Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft with sitting capacity for 90 paxs.

 

On June 1 Air Mekong launched a new service between Ho Chi Minh City and Quy Nhon City in the central province. The seven times weekly flights are on the CRJ 900 aircraft.

 

The airline launched its first flight in October last year with 14 domestic routes. It plans to add 50 more aircraft to its fleet by 2014.

 

 

 

JETSTAR PACIFIC AIRLINES REINSTATES HANOI-NHA TRANG SERVICE

 

Jetstar Pacific Airlines reinstated its Hanoi-Nha Trang from May 24, with two daily flights. The airline

temporarily discontinued the flights on this route last September due to low passenger volume.

 

 

TURKISH UPS FLIGHTS TO HCMC

 

Turkish Airlines increased the Istanbul-Ho Chi Minh City service from four flights weekly to daily from July 3. The airline has been operating this route as an extension of its daily Istanbul-Bangkok flights since December 29, 2011.

 

TK068 departs Bangkok at 1505 and arrives at HCMC at 1635. The return flight, TK069, departs at HCMC at 2025 and arrives in Bangkok at 2150.

 

 

NEW CAN THO-CON DAO AIR LINK

 

Vietnam Air Services (VASCO) launched the four times weekly Can Tho-Con Dao flights on June 1. The flights on the 200km route are on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, using the 65-seater ATR72-500 aircraft.

 

VASCO is also operating the HCM City-Con Dao air service with 24 to 28 flights per week using the ATR72-500 aircraft.

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL KL-HCMC SERVICE

 

Malaysia Airlines will add one more flight to its Kuala Lumpur-Ho Chi Minh City service in its summer schedule, increasing the number of flights between the two cities to 21. The schedule is three daily flights from Monday to Saturday, and three flights on Sunday.

 

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES EXPANDS OPERATIONS AND FLEET

 

Vietnam Airlines is ramping up flight frequencies and expanding its fleet and route network in Asia-Pacific.

 

From April 28 the airline launched the new direct flights between Danang and Hai Phong with an initial five frequencies.

 

From June 14 Vietnam Airlines boosted its Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City-Melbourne service from five times weekly to seven times weekly, while its Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City-Sydney services increased from six weekly flights to seven weekly.

 

From June 16 the airline introduced a direct daily flight between Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur, bringing its services between Vietnam and Malaysia to three times daily.

 

From July 16 Vietnam Airlines will double its Hanoi-Bangkok service from one to two flights per day, and boost its Hanoi-Singapore service from four times weekly to a daily flight.

 

The carrier plans to launch flights to London’s Gatwick Airport from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi by the end of 2011. It will operate four flights per week with two flights from each city, increasing to daily flights by 2014.

 

The airline is also expanding its fleet, from 70 to 115 aircraft by 2015. It is scheduled to receive 34 Airbus A321-200s during this period.

 

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES USING FRANKFURT AIRPORT'S NEW TERMINAL

 

Vietnam Airlines has been using Terminal 2, the new terminal at Frankfurt Airport in Germany, one of the world’s largest airport, for its seven weekly flights between Vietnam and Germany since May 29. The switch from Terminal 1 to 2 is to enhance service for its passengers between the two countries, as well as on flights to European and American countries.

 

Vietnam Airlines has also switched to the new terminals at Changi Airport in Singapore, and Charles De Gaulle Airport in France.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

NEW KUONI MANAGER

 

Ms. Ngoc Anh joined Asian Trails in May as the new Kuoni Manager. She has been in the tourism business for more than five years and brings valuable experience to the company.

 

We warmly welcome Ngoc Anh to our team and are happy to have her onboard.

 

 

GOODBYE FABIEN, WELCOME RICCARDO

 

Riccardo Mereu (pictured right) has been appointed Inbound Manager of Asian Trails Vietnam from June 1, 2011. He succeeds Fabien Cuttelod (pictured left), who left the company after two years to pursue new career opportunities.

 

Riccardo has been working with Asian Trails since May 2009 as Customer and Relations Manager at our branch office in Hanoi. He looks forward to the new challenge with this appointment and to further develop his career in the tourism industry.

 

We wish Riccardo all the best, great success and fulfilment in his new role. We also thank Fabien for his excellent and professional work during his time with the company, and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

MEKONG DELTA ROAD OPENS

 

Vietnam has opened the 147km Nam Song Hua Road south of the Hau River to connect Can Tho City and the Mekong Delta provinces of Hau Giang, Soc Trang and Bac Lieu. The road will ease traffic flow along the Can Tho Bridge and the Ho Chi Min City-Trung Luong highway, and improve travelling times in the southwest region.

The construction of the road started in 2005 and was built at a cost of US$158 million. It is paved and has 39 bridges.

 

 

VIETNAM RECORDS BOOK CENTRE IS ASIA BOOK OF RECORDS' REPRESENTATIVE

 

The Vietnam Records Book Centre is the official representative of the Asia Book of Records, following an agreement signed in Faridabad, Haryana, India, on May 4. This cooperation is to promote proposals from Vietnam to the Asia Book of Records Centre and exchange information between them.

 

The Asia centre is now processing the first Asia Book of Records, and the Vietnam centre submitted 20 records in the fields of culture and life. The entries include the unique architecture of One-Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, the biggest bronze pagoda at Yen Tu Pagodas Complex in the northern province of Quang Ninh, the largest butterfly collection by Nguyen Viet Vui and sound imitator Quach Ho Ninh. These will be the foundation for selecting new records created by Vietnamese.

 

The first meeting of Asian record makers and others from other parts of the world will be held in November in Vietnam's southern coastal city of Vung Tau.

 

 

 

VIETNAM PROMOTES TOURISM ON BBC

 

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) is airing a commercial promoting Vietnam as a tourism destination from July 2011.

 

The 15-second commercial is broadcast three times daily for three months. It focuses on promoting coastal tourism and introduces various beach destinations from north to south, including Ha Long, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and other destinations in the central region.

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Veronique Ducassy

 

Frenetic China. When you read the number of hotels opening under the "Hotel Information" section of this report you will understand why we refer to China as such. The developments don't stop, and every day sees new properties opening all over the country - various brands with all hotel categories to offer a wide choice to your clients.

 

Not only hotels are opening. In Beijing the Soho Galaxy complex will become a landmark in the city when completed in 2011. Definitely a new venue to add to Beijing’s sightseeing list.

 

We are happy to keep you updated on these and future developments as much as we can, with more information in the next issue of TRAILBLAZER.

 

And last but not least, Hainan Airlines is launching a new flight between Istanbul (Turkey) and Urumqi, Xinjiang province  - opening the ancient Silk Road from Byzantium to China. Travellers who have always wanted to explore this famed region are now able to do so with this new service.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

FUTURISTIC BEIJING SOHO GALAXY

 

Beijing SOHO Galaxy is the latest project of Zaha Hadid, the queen of deconstructivist architecture. It is an undulating series of buildings and bridges complete with a garden and atrium, which flow into one another to create a retail and office development.

 

The structure in northeast Beijing, within the 2nd Ring Road, covers nearly 3.5 million square feet and is based on old Beijing’s traditional courtyards. When completed in 2012 SOHO Galaxy will transform Beijing’s Chaoyangmen neighbourhood, giving it an alien spacecraft look. It will also contrast sharply with its staid surroundings, including the nearby Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If the cutting-edge stadiums built for the Beijing Olympics are any indication of popularity, then SOLO Galaxy will be an instant hit with tourists.

 

This is Zaha Hadid's second project in China, her first is the new Opera House in Guangzhou.

 

 

 

BEIJING -SHANGHAI HIGH SPEED RAIL TRAIN BEGINS SERVICE

 

The high-speed railway linking Beijing to Shanghai opened on June 30. The 1,318 km railway line runs 90 pairs of high-speed trains daily, travelling at either 300 km/hr or 250km/hr. The travel time between the two cities is four hours and 48 minutes, about two hours shorter than the current high-speed trains.

 

Work on the high-speed US$33 billion railway started in April 2008.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

SHANGHAI

 

WALDORF ASTORIA SHANGHAI

 

The century-old No 2 building on the Bund, which has been left unused for about 10 years, has been restored to its former glory, and officially re-opened in April as the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund. This is the brand's first hotel in Asia.

 

The two-building hotel complex consists of the Waldorf Astoria Club, the century-old heritage building named after its original identity as the Shanghai Club, and the Waldorf Astoria Tower, a newly-built annex building. They are connected by an outdoor courtyard that parallels the renowned “meet-me-at-the-corridor’ walkway, which joins the two towers of the Waldorf Astoria New York, the brand's iconic property in the United States.

 

The Waldorf Astoria Club has been discreetly restored based on photographs, records and recommendations from the city's archives. The wooden and marble floors on the first and second floors, the pillars and the triangle-shaped old elevators boast a history of 100 years. It has 20 suites in neo-classical style, each with a private housekeeper to provide immaculate service, from packing to showing the guests around the city. The 252 rooms and suites in the Waldorf Astoria Tower are decorated in a style similar to the suites in the heritage building, but with a more modern touch. Half of the rooms offer panoramic views of the skyline along the Huangpu River.

 

The hotel has six restaurants and bars, each of which has its own character and attitude. The legendary Long Bar is definitely a must-visit. Its 34-metre bar top counter was the longest bar in Asia in the 1910s when it was an exclusive British club. The bar has since been restored exactly what it looked like a century ago.

 

With its rich history, prime location and luxurious offerings the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai is becoming a landmark in the city.

 

 

HOTEL INDIGO SHANGHAI ON THE BUND

 

The Intercontinental Hotel Group has opened the first Indigo hotel in the Asia Pacific region - Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund in Shanghai.

 

Indigo hotels are the industry's first branded boutique hotels that reflect the local culture and character of the environs, with the aim of making guests feel part of the neighbourhood. In the case of Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund this means feeling old Shanghai on the city's most famous stretch of real estate, and with jaw-dropping views of the Huangpu River and the skyscrapers of futuristic Pudong just across the water.

 

The 182 rooms, including 21 River View Suites and two Spacious Garden Terrace Suites, are an eclectic mix of heritage and contemporary, featuring hardwood floor panelling and the grey bricks that are typical of Shanghai's traditional Shikumen townhouses. Lantern-style lights, cushions and rugs provide vibrant splashes of colour, and with great attention to detail in the selection of artefacts.

 

Rooms offer Bose music sound system, a fully stocked mini-bar and an espresso machine. Guests can choose from a selection of pillows and enjoy 24/7 room service.

A short walk away is The Cool Docks, tipped to become the Bund's newest cultural hub with its many cafes, restaurants and boutiques.

 

The 29th-floor Char Grill is a fine-dining hot spot featuring char grills and international and local favourites. The Char Bar on the top floor is an alfresco haven for pre-dinner cocktails and relaxing soirees. Breakfast and all-day dining are available at the Quay.

 

 

JUMEIRAH HIMALAYS HOTEL

 

The first Jumeirah hotel in Asia Pacific, Jumeirah Himalays Hotel in Shanghai, soft opened on March 30.Designed by world-renowned architect, Arata Isozaki, who also created the Barcelona Olympic Stadium and Los Angeles MoMA, the 401-room hotel is a masterpiece infusing modern luxury with Chinese soul, and classic Chinese feng shui elements. Its impressive interiors are designed by KCA International whose iconic portfolio includes Burj al Arab in Dubai, another landmark Jumeirah property.

 

Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel is part of the landmark Himalayas Centre, a spacious new arts and cultural hub that includes the 1,100-seat DaGuan Theatre, Himalayas Art Museum, a shopping mall and the 5,000sqm Infinity Garden. It boasts direct underground access to both the Shanghai New International Expo Centre and the city-wide metro system. It is also a short walk to the Maglev train station, which takes commuters to Pudong International Airport in seven minutes. Featuring four eclectic restaurants and lounges, two ballrooms that can accommodate 1,330 persons and a 5,000sqm rooftop garden with 300sqm event stage, the hotel is the perfect venue for conference, exhibition, meetings and events in any style.

 

 

KERRY HOTEL, PUDONG

 

Located in the heart of Pudong in the Kerry Parkside integrated complex, the Kerry Hotel, Pudong in Shanghai is the first of a new luxury hotel brand of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

 

Within easy reach of the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, the expansive Century Park and the Kerry Parkside shopping mall and office tower, the hotel is a vibrant and happening place. It offers extensive business, meeting and recreation facilities, innovative dining and entertainment choices, and warm and spontaneous service.

 

Room size ranges from 42sqm to 63sqm. All rooms and suites have wide-view windows, and offer complimentary wired and wireless Internet access in a spacious and relaxing environment with fresh contemporary design and modern comforts to make guests feel at home.

 

Guests get to enjoy a variety of food experiences from the designer show kitchens and the gourmet merchandising shop at The COOK or taste, at The BREW, the speciality home-crafted beer from the hotel’s resident brew-master. For meat lovers there is the casual-yet-stylish steakhouse and grill at The MEET. Blossoms, with its exclusive collection of private dining rooms, is the place for authentic Cantonese and other Chinese specialties.

 

 

 

BEIJING

 

EAST, BEIJING TO OPEN IN 2012

 

EAST, Beijing is scheduled to open in Q1 2012, following the successful opening of EAST, Hong Kong in January 2010.

 

The hotel is located in Jiang Tai, Chaoyang district of Beijing, between the 4th and 5th Ring Road, and within INDIGO, a mixed use development by Swire Properties Limited. The location at one of the most attractive new business addresses in Beijing, home to some of the most prestigious local and multinational corporations, makes EAST, Beijing ideal for business travellers.

 

The hotel is only 15 minutes away from Beijing Capital International Airport and is conveniently close to the capital's infamous 798 and CaoChangDi Art Zones. It is less than a 15-minute drive to the CBD and embassy districts and 30 minutes by rail to the South Railway station that has frequent express train services to Tianjin. INDIGO will also be accessible via the Beijing Subway Line 14.

 

As a hotel designed for business traveller EAST, Beijing offers a wonderfully balanced approach to life. When it's time for work EAST is plugged into business. When it's time to unwind you'll find everything (and everyone) at EAST calm and very relaxed. EAST soothes and rejuvenates the tired and energises those in search of fun. Your stay at EAST is what you want, where you need it most.

 

 

 

TIBET - LHASA

 

SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, LHASA OPENS IN 2012

 

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will open the 350-room Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa in Tibet’s capital in 2012. The luxury urban resort nestles among the tallest peaks in the world, offering a striking mountain landscape of glaciers, valleys and lakes, considered sacred by many.

 

Located on Lingkor Road the hotel is just 1.5 kilometres from the Potala Palace, the famous 7th century complex at the centre of Lhasa. It is half a kilometre from other notable Lhasa landmarks including Chokpori, known as “Iron Mountain” and one of the four holy mountains of central Tibet; Norbu Lingka, the summer palace originally built in 1755; and the Tibet Museum.

 

Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa is beautifully decorated with modern interpretations of traditional Tibetan architectural motifs, while its interiors feature locally produced arts, crafts and fabrics. The guestrooms are designed for comfort, beginning at 36sqm, with many offering views of the Potala Palace. Service touches include Tibetan welcome rituals and the local hand churned butter tea. There is also a full service clinic with medical staff to attend to the guests.

 

The hotel's dining and entertainment options include an all-day dining restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a bar and a lobby lounge. Among the recreational facilities are an indoor swimming pool and health club. Meeting and banqueting facilities feature a 1,700sqm grand ballroom, complemented by several smaller function rooms.

 

 

 

XIan

 

HILTON XIAN OPENS IN AUGUST

 

Xi’an will see the opening a new hotel this August – Hilton Xi’an.

 

Set within the city's ancient wall the unique hotel combines contemporary design and Tang Dynasty artwork. It is just a few minutes' walk from major cultural and entertainment attractions. With its convenient downtown location and range of amenities Hilton Xi’an is perfect for both business and leisure travellers.

 

The hotel's spacious guestrooms and suites have generous work surfaces, luxurious Hilton Serenity Beds and wireless Internet access. More than 2,400sqm of flexible space is available for business and social events, including a stunning 1,200sqm ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 guests and features the very latest in audio/visual equipment. There are three innovative dining outlets  - an exquisite fine dining venue, an all-day dining area and a specialty Chinese restaurant. Other facilities include the complimentary Fitness Centre by Precor®, an indoor pool or and a luxury spa.

 

 

HYATT REGENCY XIAN IS NOW GRAND METROPARK HOTEL

 

The management of Hyatt Regency in Xian expired on June 30, 2011, and management has been handed back to Hong Kong CTS.

 

The hotel is now operating as Grand Metropark Hotel, starting from July 1, as part of Hong Kong CTS Hotels Co. Ltd.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

THE BIRDMEN OF BEIJING

 

The birdmen of Beijing are one of the capital's iconic cultural features. Walking the dog is a normal scene anywhere in the world, but when was the last time you took the bird for a stroll? In China men, both young and old (mostly old) are famous for walking their pet birds in the early morning. They walk while gently swinging the ornate bamboo bird cages, which are covered with white or black cloth.

 

On arrival at a park or a scenic street garden they stop to remove the cloth from the cages and hang them on the lower branches of a tree. The birds hop and chirp inside their cages, while their owners sit below the trees. They spark up conversation with friends, perform tai chi, play cards or take on a friend in Chinese chess. This is a typical daily scene, not only in Beijing but also in other cities across the country.

 

The hobby of walking pet birds has been popular in China since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The tradition has continued till today, with many people still taking pleasure from this simple outdoor activity.

 

  

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

ALITALIA FLIES NON-STOP ROME TO BEIJING

 

Starting from June 10 Alitalia offers non-stop flights from Rome (Italy) to Beijing, using the new Airbus A330 aircraft. The four times weekly services are on every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Flight AZ 790 leaves Rome at 3.40pm to arrive in Beijing the next day at 8.00am.

 

 

AIR CHINA'S NEW MILAN-BEIJING FLIGHT

 

Air China launched its new Milan-Beijing service on June 15, making it the only Chinese airline to fly direct between the two cities. As part of its network expansion in Europe the new Milan-Beijng service also gave Air China the most European routes among China's domestic airlines.

 

The flights on an Airbus A330 aircraft are on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. The journey is 11 hours and 30 minutes each way.

 

 

 

HAINAN AIRLINES' DIRECT ISTANBUL-URUMQI/SHANGHAI SERVICE

 

Hainan Airlines will commence direct Istanbul-Urumqi/Shanghai service from July 11, 2011. The twice-weekly flights are on Tuesdays and Fridays. Flight HU 7922 will leave Istanbul (Turkey) at 1.30am to arrive in Urumqi the same day at 12.40pm and in Shanghai at 6.50pm. This flight opens new way to travel along the Silk Road from Istanbul, "the Gate to Orient", to China.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

AGUA MOVES TO NEW LOCATION

 

Aqua Restaurant, formerly located in the Legation Quarter at Qianmen, 23, has moved to Sanlitun’s Nali Patio, a mecca for lovers of all things Spanish.

 

The restaurant lives and breathes Spain and captures the country’s soul. Intimate and chic, its stylish interiors are inspired by the warm browns and textures of natural Spanish woods. It specialises in contemporary Spanish cuisine with Mediterranean influences, beautifully prepared by award-winning chef, Jordi Valles. The food is full of robust natural flavours featuring aromatic herbs and rich olive oils, which when married with the freshest produce, conjure up the essence of Spain.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

LUNCH AT THE OLYMPIC STADIUM

 

Asian Trails China invited its team for lunch at the Bird's Nest, which is located within the Olympic Stadium. The restaurant, situated in the Bird's Nest, offers a stunning view of the stadium. The venue is ideal for groups, both large and small.

 

  

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

ASIAN TRAILS CHINA'S NEW OFFICE

 

A reminder

 

Since March 2, 2011 Asian Trails China has moved to its new office. Listed below are out new address and contacts.

 

ASIANTRAILS CHINA

Suite 1401, Scitech Tower

22, Jianguomenwai Avenue

Beijing 100004 - China

Tel:   + (86) 10 6515 9259

Fax : + (86) 10 6515 9293

Email : res@asiantrailschina.com

 

  

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MYANMAR

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

The past two months in Myanmar have been quite quiet as May and June are the lowest season. We are now busy preparing prices and offers for the upcoming high season, and also getting ready to welcome our guests arriving in July and August.

 

We would like to highlight in this newsletter the upcoming festivals in the country for the next few months (See “Festivals and Events”). As you know festivals are great opportunities to indulge in the local traditions and culture, especially in Myanmar as they give an in-depth insight into the local way of life.

 

As always, we remain at your disposal for any clarification and information you may need and look forward to welcoming your clients to Myanmar.

 

Best regards,

Thomas Carnevale

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

PASSENGER SERVICE TAX FOR DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

 

Please note that as of June 1, 2011 every domestic air passenger, both local and foreign, has to pay a passenger service tax. The clients have to pay this tax themselves directly at the airport.

 

 

YANGON- NGWE SAUNG SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE: NOVEMBER 1, 2011 - APRIL 30, 2012

 

A return regular shuttle bus service will operate between Yangon (Kandawgyi Hotel) and Ngwe Saung from November 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012.

 

The service from Yangon is on every Tuesday and Thursday, leaving at 11am and arrives in Ngwe Saung about five hours later. The service from Ngwe Saung leaves from Areum Hotel every Wednesday and Friday at 9.00am and will arrive in Yangon about five hours later.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

OCEAN PARADISE - NGWE SAUNG

 

Ocean Paradise is a newly opened hotel under the same management as Sunny Paradise and Dream Paradise. The objective is to offer a more affordable alternative to the Sunny Paradise and Dream Paradise hotels.

 

Situated a bit further away from the beach Ocean Paradise is open year round. It has 48 superior rooms. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, TV, air-conditioning and minibar. There are three suites, which are bigger in size than the superior rooms and are equipped with a DVD player, refrigerator (instead of a minibar) and a safety box.

 

Guests at Ocean Paradise are free to use the facilities provided at Sunny Paradise and Dream Paradise such as the massage parlour, beauty spa, karaoke room, swimming pool and restaurants. As all the three properties are interconnected guests can also enjoy the beautiful landscaped gardens.

 

 

VIEWPOINT ECO-LODGE - NYAUNG SHWE

 

ViewPoint Eco-Lodge sits on the edge of the canal leading the magnificent Inle Lake in the colourful village of Nyaung Shwe in the southern Shan state.

 

The lodge consists of 20 luxurious Cottage Suites. They are built on pilings on Viewpoint Lake using traditional eco-friendly construction techniques of the Shan people. Every suite has modern bathroom, wireless Internet access, telephone, plasma TV, and unlimited movies and music. Pricing is affordable without compromising on comfort and the unique ambience of the lodge.

 

 

 

HOTEL LOIKAW - LOIKAW

 

Hotel Loikaw is located near the Htee Ngar Yar Lake, just a few minutes’ drive from the city centre. It has 10 superior rooms and six deluxe rooms. All rooms have ensuite bathroom, individually controlled air-conditioning and minibar.

 

 

 

AYARWADDY RIVER VIEW HOTEL - MANDALAY

 

The Ayarwaddy River View Hotel is located on the bank of the Ayarwaddy River, just five minutes from the city centre of Mandalay. It has eight superior rooms, 44 deluxe rooms and four suite rooms. Each room consists of ensuite bathroom, individually controlled air-conditioning, minibar, TV and IDD telephone. The hotel’s best feature is its terrace overlooking the Ayarwaddy River.

 

 

 

AMATA BOUTIQUE HOUSE - BAGAN

 

The latest tourist attraction in Bagan is the Amata Boutique House. Within its compound are three houses – one is a fine dining restaurant and coffee shop, another is a gift shop, and the third is a spa.

 

 

 

HILL TOP VILLAS HOTEL UNDERGOES RENOVATION - KALAW

 

The Hill Top Villas Hotel in Kalaw will undergo renovation during the coming rainy season, and will be completely closed during this period. The hotel is scheduled to reopen on August 1, 2011

 

 

CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED AT THESE HOTELS

 

Please note the following hotels accept Visa and Mastercard. This service is only available for in-house guests. The hotels charge 4% to 7% service charge for each transaction.

 

Yangon

  • Chatrium Hotel

  • Governor’s Residence

  • Inya Lake Hotel

  • Kandawgyi Palace

  • Strand Hotel

  • Sedona Hotel

  • Parkroyal Hotel

  • Thamada Hotel

  • Traders Hotel

Mandalay

  • Mandalay Hill Resort

  • Mandalay View Inn

  • Red Canal

Bagan

  • Thiriphyitsaya Sanctuary Resort

We would like to highlight that clients should not only rely on credit cards, but should bring enough cash to meet all their travel needs. Credit cards can only be processed when the Internet speed is decent. In cases of slow connection or if the internet is completely down credit cards could not be processed.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

TAUNG-BYONE CEREMONY

AUGUST 8 - AUGUST 13, 2011

VENUE:  TAUNGBYONE, MANDALAY DIVISION

 

Six-day ceremony ending August 13, held to worship two Taungbyone spiritual figures. The area during the celebrations is a major gathering place for spirit mediums.

 

 

PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA FESTIVAL

SEPTEMBER 28  - OCTOBER 15, 2011:  1ST WANING DAY OF THIDINGYUT

VENUE:  INLE LAKE, SHAN STATE

 

19-day festival ending October 15. As part of the festival four Buddha statues are ceremoniously transported clockwise around Inle Lake on the royal barge. One leg-rowed boat races are also held throughout the celebrations.

 

 

THADINGYUT FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 10 - OCTOBER 12,, 2011:  14TH WAXING DAY OF THADINGYUT

VENUE:  THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

 

3-day festival ending October 12. The festival is to commemorate the day when Lord Buddha descends from heaven to earth after observing three months of the Buddhist lent.

 

People throughout Myanmar welcome Lord Buddha's return to earth with colourful illumination offerings to the deities. They also hoist balloons up to the sky as part of the celebrations.

 

 

BALLOON-FLYING FESTIVAL

NOVEMBER 5 - 10, 2011:  WAXING DAY OF TAZAUNGMON

VENUE: TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

 

5-day festival ending November 10.

During this typical “Pa-O” festival hot air balloons are released in the sky day and night.

 

Note: Please feel free to contact us for any offers connected with these special events highlighted.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIR BAGAN's NEW DOMESTIC ROUTES

 

From June 8 Air Bagan flies from Yangon to Bhamo in southern Kachin State (via Mandalay) every Wednesday and Saturday.

 

Since May the airline also flies from Yangon to Kyauk Phyu (via Sittwe) in western Rakhine State every Tuesday and Thursday.

 

 

 

AIR BAGAN SUSPENDS FLIGHTS TO PHUKET

 

After only a few months in service Air Bagan has suspended its twice-weekly flights to Phuket, Thailand until further notice.

 

AIR MANDALAY'S NEW DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

 

Since May 2011 Air Mandalay has launched new domestic flights.

  • Daily flights from Yangon to Tachileik (via Heho and Mandalay) in eastern Shan State.

  • Daily Yangon to Kawthoung flights (via Dawei) in the most southern tip of Tanintharyi Division.

  • Thrice weekly Yangon to Myeik (via Dawei) services in the Taninitharyi Division on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

BIGGER VENUE FOR GREEN ELEPHANT RESTAURANT

 

The popular Green Elephant Restaurant has relocated, and is now in a bigger more modern environment.

 

  

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

MRS. NANG NANG LEAVES ATM

 

After nearly five years with Asian Trails Myanmar Mrs. Nang Nang, one of our reservation supervisors, leaves the company to take up a new venture outside the tourism industry.

 

We thank Mrs. Nang Nang for her hard work during her years with us, and wish her all the best for the future. We will announce her replacement once we find a suitable person to fill the post.

 

  

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

EDUCATIONal PROGRAMME ON ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS

 

On May 29 Asian Trails' branch office in Taunggyi (Inle Lake) started its educational programme on waste management and environmental awareness at Inn Dein Pagoda Treasures.   The programme is conducted in cooperation with the temple and students from a school in the region. The aim is to make the young students be aware of the importance of a clean and proper environment, basic hygiene rules as well as to generally raise environmental awareness.

 

  

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MALAYSIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Warm Greetings from Malaysia!

 

It has been a busy and interesting period for us as we prepare ourselves for the summer season. I recently visited the islands of Redang, Lang Tengah and Perhentian in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and was fascinated by the pristine white sandy beaches and the crystal clear water. The beauty and the tranquil ambience of these islands located in the South China Sea makes it a unique and beautiful product, and the summer months is the perfect time to visit these islands. I had the opportunity to inspect many resorts and must say that I was particularly impressed by the location, quality and level of service at the Berjaya Redang Resort.

 

On another front, Asian Trails Malaysia recently handled three MICE groups from France, Norway and India with a combination of Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo in the itinerary.  I am pleased to say that the trips were very successful and the feedback was excellent.

 

We're now looking forward to the Middle East season. I must stress that visitors will be amazed by the transformation of Bukit Bintang (a major shopping area) that has an Arabic “feel” with the many Middle Eastern restaurants, as well as the many signages in Arabic.

 

Best regards

 

Emir

Malaysia Truly Asia!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

WHALE OF A TALE FOR TOURISTS

 

Tourists, tour operators and villagers on Pulau Mabul, close to Sabah’s famed Sipadan Island, literally had a whale of a tale on June 15 when they rescued a rare pygmy sperm whale that was beached on shallow waters. Quick thinking and ingenuity by the rescuers helped float the stranded 3.5m whale back into the Celebes Sea. The mammal resurfaced twice as if to say “thanks” before disappearing into the blue ocean as tears of joy flowed freely among the rescuers.

 

Chalet staff of Borneo Divers first spotted the stranded whale at about 8am. They then informed staff of Scuba Junkie Mabul Beach Resort, who had available boats. A rescue operation was immediately launched with many of the tourists joining in. The group placed life jackets under the whale to create buoyancy and gave rescuers a chance to lift and guide the mammal towards deeper waters.

 

Based on visual identification through videos and photographs four different experts had identified the rescued mammal as a pygmy sperm whale, which has been classified as endangered and near extinction. The waters of Semporna off Sabah's east coast are believed to be a breeding ground for this rare whale.

 

 

FUNICULAR TRAIN TO PENANG HILL REOPENS

 

The new Penang Hill funicular train service reopened to the public on April 25 after upgrading works, which started in February 2010. The journey up the hill before the upgrading took about 30 minutes, with passengers changing cars at the mid-point station. The train also stopped at other intermediate stations upon request. The new train does not require passengers to change trains as it runs non-stop.

 

The Penang Hill Railway has been operating since 1923, providing 87 years of service until it stopped operations for the recent upgrading. The modern train now has air-conditioned Swiss-made coaches capable of carrying up to 100 passengers each way. It runs every half hour from 6.30am to 9pm daily.

 

 

BUNGA RAYA ISLAND RESORT WINS AWARD

 

Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah was the winner in the resort development category at the Fiabci International Prix d' Excellence Award 2011.

 

This resort is a luxurious jewel set on a coral reef island just off the coast of Borneo. A secluded island hideaway of 47 timbered villas, it is tucked away on a tranquil and hidden bay framed by crescent shaped white sand beach on one side and the centuries old virgin jungle on the other.

 

Each private villa is rough hewn and hand-crafted by local tradesmen, terraced into the hillside reflecting the traditional simplicity of the Borneo architectural style, blending seamlessly with the comforts and needs of the most sophisticated and discerning luxury traveller.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

SHANGRI-LA'S TANJUNG ARU RESORT AND SPA COMPLETES RENOVATIONS

 

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah has completed its six-month renovations. Guests are now able to enjoy the new facilities, which include the mesmerising azure blue 2,000sqm swimming pool complete with a disappearing infinity edge. Or luxuriate in the charming custom-built jacuzzi beds around the pool

 

 

BEST WESTERN SANDAKAN OPENS IN JULY

 

Best Western International is opening its newest hotel in Malaysia, Best Western Sandakan Hotel and Residence in Sabah, in early July. it is the second property to have joined the chain’s expanding presence in East Malaysia. Its convenient location makes it ideal for both leisure and business guests.

 

Designed in a contemporary style the hotel’s 110 well-appointed guestrooms, ranging from Superior rooms to three bedroom apartments, feature Select TV - an Interactive Progressive Television (IPTV) system that enables guests to work online, send and receive messages, order room service, access cable TV/radio channels plus view their bill at any time.

 

Each room has a comfortable working area, refrigerator, coffee/tea making facility and hairdryer. Hotel guests are able to surf the web with complimentary Wifi access in all rooms and public areas of the hotel – a service that is standard throughout all Best Western hotels worldwide. It also has of three dining and entertainment outlets.

 

 

CASA DEL MAR REFURBISHING ALL ROOMS

 

Casa del Mar in Langkawi Island is undergoing a room refurbishment project from June to October 2011.

The new rooms will feature additional storage space, timber flooring, new lighting, new "heavenly" beds, new furniture and curtains. Timber decking will be laid at the porch and terrace area. Existing glass panels and entrance door will be replaced with glass sliding door enabling guests to enjoy the sea breeze.

 

Other new room amenities include power socket panel with universal adaptor next to the working desk, wall mounted flat screen TV and iPod docking station. A dedicated area at the lounge will feature a separate shower, for checked out guests who are on late flight.

 

During the renovation period some noise is inevitable. The hotel is working with the contractors to keep the noise level and the inconvenience to guests to a minimal.

 

 

HILTON EXPANDS DOUBLETREE IN MALAYSIA

 

Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with the Hatten Group to operate the DoubleTree by Hilton in Melaka. The deal will see the second DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Malaysia and Hilton’s entry into Melaka.

 

Scheduled to open in 2014 the 265-room DoubleTree by Hilton, Melaka will form part of a mixed-use development. Located in downtown Melaka the development features the hotel, extensive retail offerings and residential apartments.

Hilton currently operates five hotels in Malaysia - Hilton Kuala Lumpur, DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Hilton Petaling Jaya, Hilton Kuching and the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort.

 

 

NEW ROOMS AT PACIFIC SUTERA

 

The Pacific Sutera Hotel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, has embarked on a refurbishment programme for all its 500 guestrooms and suites. This is part of its ongoing initiative to ensure guests enjoy the best in services and facilities.

 

The refurbished rooms exude an effortless contemporary elegance combining dark wood and fittings in warm overtones of crème and brown. The spaciousness of the room is accentuated with the elegant textured carpet in appealing shades of lime green. Large windows allow streams of natural light to flood the room during the day, creating a bright open environment. The spacious ensuite bathroom, which offers a view into the bedroom, is fitted with a separate bathtub and cubicle. Other room facilities include complimentary Internet connectivity and a 32-inch LCD TV.

 

The programme, being carried out in different phases, is expected to be fully completed by end December 2011, with 50 rooms coming online in the middle of this year.

 

 

MAJOR RENOVATIONS AT PAN PACIFIC KUALA LUMPUR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

 

Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport has embarked on major renovation of its guestrooms, Pacific Lounge, guest lifts and guest room corridors. This is part of the hotel’s ongoing exercise to enhance its facilities for guests’ comfort and enjoyment.

 

The hotel enhancements, scheduled to begin in July, will be completed by end March 2012. To ensure the comfort and convenience of its guests are not compromised the hotel will carry out the renovations in phases, blocking off 90 guestrooms at a time. As most of the guests’ arrivals are in the evening the renovation work is scheduled to take place between 9am and 6pm daily. There may be intermittent noise during the renovation period, but the hotel management will ensure disruption is minimised.

 

 

REONOVATION FOR GENTING HOTEL'S ROOMS

 

Genting Hotel in Genting Highlands has permanently taken out 174 rooms, located between 7th to 9th floors, out of its room inventory for renovations and refurbishment. These rooms will be converted to Maxims when refurnished.

 

The renovation is expected to be completed by end August 2011. During this period there may be intermittent noise, but everything is being done to ensure disruption is minimised. The 6th and 10th floor are the buffer floors.

 

 

PELANGI BEACH RESORT UNDERGOES RENOVATION

 

The Pelangi Beach Resort on Langkawi Island is undergoing a series of exciting new enhancements. The renovation covers the frontage landscape, driveway (already completed), lobby, lounge, lobby restrooms and reception areas. When completed guests will get an inspiring experience of comfort and luxury, which is expected to set new benchmarks for hospitality in Langkawi.

 

Renovation works are being carried out in phases to ensure that inconvenience to guests is kept to a minimum. There may be some occasional noise disturbance from drilling and hacking works and the management is making every effort to ensure guest comfort during this period.

 

The hotel’s management will give regular update of the renovation’s progress. It will provide available visuals of each area, which has been completed, for guests and clients to preview the facilities’ new look.

 

The resort also plans to refurbish the guestrooms and F&B facilities in the next phase of its renovation programme.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

KUALA LUMPUR FESTIVAL 

JULY 1 - 31, 2011

VENUE:  THROUGHOUT KUALA LUMPUR

 

An exciting event, the month-long Kuala Lumpur Festival features a colourful line up of activities and performances. Launched in 2006, the festival has united Malaysians from all walks of life through the spirit of creativity and solidarity.

 

 

6TH MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL DIVE EXPO 2011

JULY 1 - 3, 2011

VENUE:  PUTRA WORLD TRADE CENTRE, KUALA LUMPUR

 

The Malaysia International Dive Expo (MIDE) was initiated in 2006 and since then has been held yearly. The expo’s objective is to promote Malaysia’s waters as Asia’s best diving sites and one of the world’s best dive destinations.

 

 

CHARITY JAM 2011

JULY 2, 2011

VENUE:  RP ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, THE SAUJANA.

 

Every year the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) organises this event together with the Chefs Association of Malaysia (CAM), the Malaysian Food & Beverage Executives Association (MFBEA) and Malaysian Association of Housekeepers (MAHIR). This is in line with the associations' Corporate Social Responsibility programme to raise funds for needy children in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of the University Malaya Medical Centre.

 

 

 

MALAYSIA CONTEMPORARY ARTS TOURISM FESTIVAL

JULY 2  - SEPTEMBER 30, 2011

VENUE:  THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA.

 

This prestigious event gives an insight into Malaysia’s fascinating contemporary art scene. The unique platform showcases both the established and up-and-coming names in the art scene.

 

 

 

ANNIVERSARY OF UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE CITY CELEBRATION

JULY 7, 2011

VENUE: MALACCA & PENANG

 

On July 7, 2008 UNESCO declared Melaka and Penang World Heritage cities. The annual celebrations are to commemorate this historic occasion. The cities’ heritage buildings, cultural enclaves and places of worship are popular with history buffs and tourists who come from all over the world to admire them.

 

 

 

RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL

JULY 8 - 10, 2011

VENUE: SARAWAK CULTURAL VILLAGE.

 

Dance to the rhythm of diverse ethnic music amidst the magnificent rainforest of Sarawak. One of the largest musical events in Malaysia, the Rainforest World Music Festival aims to celebrate world music with performances by ethnic musicians from around the world.

 

 

 

PUTRAJAYA FLORIA

JULY 9 - 17, 2011

VENUE: PUTRAJAYA

 

Don't miss the chance to watch floral exhibitions and ornately decorated floats in various hues at the flora festival. Putrajaya is transformed into an enclave of beautiful flowers during the floria.

 

BON ODORI FESTIVAL

JULY 16, 2011

VENUE: SHAH ALAM & PENANG.

 

The 35th Bon Odori Festival 2011 will be held in both Shah Alam and Penang. Bon Odori (meaning simply Bon dance) is an event held during Obon to remind people to be grateful to one's ancestors. It is also a showcase of Japanese culture, art, dances and food.

 

The Shah Alam event is jointly organised by the Selangor State Office, the Ministry of Tourism and The Japan Club of Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

IPOH INTERNATIONAL RUN

JULY 18, 2011

VENUE:  IPOH

 

Catch the action as nearly 1,200 participants race across Ipoh city! Participants are both local and foreign, the latter from various countries that include Thailand, Nigeria, United States, Singapore and Indonesia.

 

 

 

6TH SABAH INTERNATIONAL FOLKLORE FESTIVAL

JULY 22 - 24, 2011

VENUE: SABAH CULTURAL VILLAGE

 

Dance troupes from around the world gather in the "Land Below the Wind" for this festival. Its objective is to promote cultural tourism among participating countries and to introduce the state’s rich and unique cultures to the world.

 

 

 

PORT DICKSON INTERNATIONAL TRIATHLON

JULY 22 - 24, 2011

VENUE: PORT DICKSON

 

Catch the live action as athletes compete in a test of endurance and stamina that include swimming, cycling and running. Don’t miss the chance to be in Port Dickson, the most popular beach on Peninsular Malaysia’s west coast.

 

 

 

BAZAAR RAMADHAN
AUGUST 1 - 30, 2011
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA.

 

As Ramadhan, the Muslim fasting month begins stalls and bazaars are set up throughout the country offering an array of delicious fare for Muslims to break their fast. Sample the authentic delights on sale for the entire month of August.

 

 

HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI
AUGUST 30 - 31, 2011
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA.


At the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan Muslims throughout Malaysia celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri. On this auspicious day Muslims attend special morning prayers in mosques and visit the graves of their loved ones. Decked in traditional finery, families and friends from near and far come together to celebrate this joyous occasion. There will be a large variety of tasty delicacies to make the celebration more memorable!

 

 

 

MALAYSIA NATIONAL DAY
AUGUST 31, 2011
VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR.

 

Be enthralled by the parades, fireworks displays and concerts as Malaysia celebrates its National Day. Join in the festivities and share the joy as people from all walks of life come together as one to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s independence.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

AIRASIA EXPANDS BANDUNG SERVICE

 

Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) recently expanded its Bandung-Kuala Lumpur and Bandung-Singapore services, using an Airbus A320 aircraft.

 

The Kuala Lumpur route has an additional two daily flights and the Singapore route one extra daily flight. With the ramped-up services AirAsia now has five daily services between Bandung and Kuala Lumpur, and three between Singapore and Bandung. Capacity ha also increased from 149 to 180 seats. The increased frequency and capacity will strengthen the airline’s business out of Bandung, one of the most popular Indonesian destinations among travellers fro Malaysia and Singapore.

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

A NOTE FROM GENERAL MANAGER RATNASARI HARJONO

 

DERAWAN ISLANDS - KALIMANTAN'S DIVERS' PARADISE

 

The Derawan Islands is a group of 31 islands located off the coast of East Kalimantan in the Sulawesi Sea, which is still a white spot on the map of international tourists.

 

I made a short afternoon visit to Sangalaki Island, an island with few inhabitants, but which is the nestling place for the Green Sea Turtles to lay their eggs. I then went back to Derawan Island, the biggest island in the island group where I stayed for a fortnight. Derawan has one hotel of local three stars standard. Better accommodation is available on the other islands, such as Maratua Island that is located an hour away from Derawan Island by speedboat.

 

Another island worth a visit is Kakaban Island where a rare species of jellyfish dwell in the pristine fresh water of Kakaban Lake. The species is only found in this lake and in Palau Island in the Philippines. There are many other islands in the Derawan group, all of which have one common attraction to offer visitors - its natural underwater beauty.

 

The Derawan Islands are well known to the world as one of the best diving spots in the region where you can easily spot manta ray, stingray, sea turtles and many other species of marine life. Sea turtles can be seen just steps away from the jetty, and you can feed them by throwing fresh banana leaves into the water.


How to get there: Derawan Island is a 1.5-hour speedboat ride from Berau, which is a 30-minute flight from Balikpapan. A few international airlines fly to Balikpapan such as Singapore Airlines from Singapore and Garuda International from Jakarta.

 

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DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

BALI TO HOST ASEAN SUMMIT

 

Bali will host the ASEAN Summit from November 16-20, 2011. During this period hotels in the Nusa Dua area will be under very tight security as more than 20 heads of state from the ASEAN countries will be staying in hotels in the area.

 

Due to the high level of security guests staying around Nusa Dua may experience some inconvenience. We strongly recommend that you advise your clients to amend their dates of stay or reconsider their arrival at any of the hotel/resort in the Nusa Dua area before, during or after the ASEAN Summit.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

OASIS LAGOON SANUR'S READY FOR BUSINESS

 

The new Oasis Lagoon Sanur is ready to open its doors. The four star resort is located in the heart of Sanur opposite the Batur Jimbaran Restaurant. it has 126 rooms comprising deluxe and duplex rooms, and family and honeymoon suites. It also features a lagoon pool that runs through the centre of the resort, and visible from the rooms’ furnished balcony. The Café de Dapoer offers a variety of international, local and Asian cuisine, and is the perfect venue for both dining and entertaining.

 

 

SEMINYAK'S NEWEST RESORT OPENS

 

The Semara Resort and Spa, in the heart of Seminyak, has opened its doors. It is conveniently located 150 metres from the beach, between W Resort and Ku De Ta. With 10 Poolside Rooms, 44 Superior Suite Rooms and 4 Deluxe Suites, the resort is a perfect fit for families who wish to blend a holiday in chic Seminyak with numerous activities for children.

 

The luxury boutique resort is set amongst superbly landscaped tropical gardens where guests can take in the ambience from their own private balcony, or enjoy a cocktail or sumptuous tasty treat by the pool. Two restaurants provide guests with dining experiences of the quality expected in the Seminyak region.

 

 

MACA VILLAS OF SEMINYAK

 

The Maca Villas & Spa Seminyak comprises 25 one- and two-bedroom villas, united not only by a carefully considered sense of place and inspirational design, but also by an unwavering commitment to answer the core needs of every guest.

 

The fully furnished one-bedroom villa is enveloped by lush tropical landscaping and has an abundance of natural light. It includes a beautifully designed bedroom and luxurious ensuite bathroom with LCD flat screen televisions in both. The living room opens on to a spacious wood deck, which is ideal for relaxing before dipping into the shimmering waters of the private lap pool.

 

The two-bedroom villa offers spacious stretched living room that flows seamlessly into the swimming pool, pool deck and covered day bed (bale) with lush tropical landscaping beyond. Natural light floods the living areas from the pool and inner courtyard garden. Two beautifully designed bedrooms with luxurious ensuite bathrooms surround the pool and pool deck. All bedrooms and bathrooms have LCD flat screen televisions.

 

 

A CHIC LEGIAN

 

The 101 Legian emphasises the smart, stylish experience for design, service, destination and living, the first and only one in the Legian area. It is a fresh concept and a new atmosphere. It is minimalist but stylish, totally a new Legian providing a total escape from the stresses of life.

 

The resort offers 198 rooms in four stylish categories - Superior, Deluxe Balcony, Deluxe pool access, Deluxe Family and the 101 Suite.

 

The innovative gastronomic team at 101 Legian conceives each meal as an experience of culinary discovery, where guests dine on chic, healthy and mouth-watering dishes that are a result of a fabulous cooking art process.

 

 

LUXURY AT GILI TRAWANGAN

 

Ombak Sunset, the first large luxury resort on the island of Gili Trawangan, is set to receive its first guests this summer. Situated on the secluded eastern side of the island the resort is a haven for visitors seeking the tranquillity of an untouched tropical isle. Located in a position, which puts in front of the magnificent sun setting over Bali’s Mount Agung, the view from the resort is breath-taking.

 

Ombak Sunset offers four exclusive room types with luxury amenities that include fresh and hot water in all rooms, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, LCD TV with satellite channels, DVD player and a fresh fruit plate upon arrival.

 

 

TAUZIA OPENS 7TH HARRIS HOTEL IN JAKARTA

 

Hotel management company, Tauzia, on behalf of Harris Hotels and Resorts, opened its newest property - the 88-room Harris Suites at Sudirman in Jakarta. This is the group’s seventh Harris-branded property and the third in the Indonesian capital.

 

The hotel group has another four Harris-branded properties scheduled to open this year in Bandung, Batam, Sentul and Bali. Its property in Kuta - Harris Kuta - will be undergoing renovations to become part of the new Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort complex.

 

 

H2O - BALI DYNASTY RESORT'S NEW CHIC RESTAURANT/BAR

 

Bali Dynasty Resort has launched H2O, a new chic semi-open-air poolside restaurant and bar, complete with a rooftop sunset deck. With its central poolside location and chic design it has become one of Bali's social hubs and the resort’s “in place” for poolside cocktails, hearty international fare and fun!

 

H20 is suitable for private dinners and events. it is also open for breakfast, lunch, and nightly themed buffets with entertainment. The restaurant presents a different themed buffet dinner daily - Pizza & Pasta On Mondays, Dine Around the World on Tuesdays, Wild West Wednesdays, Sate Night on Thursdays, Malam Bali on Fridays, Aussie BBQ on Saturdays, and Roast Nights on Sundays.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

BALI KITE FESTIVAL

JULY 28-31, 2011

VENUE:  PADANG GALAK FIELD, SANUR BEACH, BALI

 

The annual Bali Kite Festival is set to return for the 33rd time, at the Padang Galak field on Sanur Beach. The three-day festival starts on July 28 and ends with the finals on July 31.

 

Participants are from all over the world including Germany, France and South Africa. The contestants can take part in a few categories, but all the teams are required to wear traditional Balinese attire.

 

The festival is held daily from 9am to 5pm. It expects to attract thousands of local and foreign visitors. We expect to see a lot of high flying during these three days.

 

  

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

GARUDA INDONESIA LAUNCHES SINGAPORE - MAKASSAR SERVICE, ADDS NEW ROUTES & FREQUENCIES

 

Garuda Indonesia has started operating its newest routes, Makassar to Singapore. The daily seven times weekly direct service is operated with a Boeing B737-800 aircraft, which has a seating capacity of 96 seats comprising 12 seats in business class and 84 seats in economy.

 

Garuda Indonesia also launched new return flights from Makassar to Balikpapan (Kalimantan), Makassar-Ternate, and Surabaya-Ambon effective June 1. All flights are on the B737-800 aircraft.

 

To meet an anticipated increase in passengers Garuda Indonesia has increased frequencies on several of its routes in both the domestic and international sectors.

 

Domestic sector:

Jakarta - Palembang from 8 to 9 flights per day
Jakarta - Batam from 2 to 4 flights per day
Jakarta - Padang from 3 to 4 flights per day
Jakarta - Surabaya from 15 to 17 flights per day
Jakarta - Balikpapan from 7 to 8 flights per day
Yogyakarta - Denpasar from 2 to 3 flights per day
Surabaya - Denpasar from 3 to 4 flights per day
Surabaya - Makassar from 1 to 2 flights per day

                  
International sector:

Jakarta - Singapore from 7 flights to 8 flights per day
Jakarta - Bangkok from 1 flight to 2 flights per day
Jakarta - Beijing from 3 flights to 5 flights per week
Denpasar - Seoul from 3 flights to 5 flights per week

 

 

LUFTHANSA ADDS MORE FLIGHTS TO JAKARTA


On October 30, 2011 Lufthansa will increase its flights to Indonesia by adding a new Munich-Jakarta service via Singapore. The route will be operated with an Airbus A340-300. This new flight is in addition to its existing Frankfurt-Jakarta service. .

Flight Schedule:


Munich - Singapore - Jakarta

LH 790 Munich 21:30 hrs - Singapore 16:50 hrs (following day)
  Singapore 18.00 hrs - Jakarta 18:50 hrs
   
LH 791 Jakarta 20:05 hrs - Singapore 22:45 hrs
  Singapore 23:59 hrs - Munich 06:10 hrs

 

 

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