Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue July 2014

 

THE CEO STORY

 

A JOURNEY ON THE "CHINA EXPRESS" - BEIjING TO SHANGHAI AT LIGHTNING SPEED

 

I am sitting in a high speed train travelling at 300 kilometres an hour, eating a Haagen Dazs ice cream, looking out over green fields and passing cities with high rise buildings. My neighbours are well-groomed travellers with branded bags drinking Starbucks coffees and wearing fancy sunglasses. One would have thought that I was in Europe or Japan, but I am not! Instead I am in China, and I am on one of China's transportation marvels - its new, comfortable high-speed train travelling at breakneck speed from Beijing to Shanghai, completing the 1,400km journey in just 4 hours and 40 minutes!

 

Welcome to "Harmony", the new world of high speed trains in China.

 

Just a few years back there were no such fast trains in China. The word "train" then conjured up images of backpacker style arduous journeys in smoke-filled corridors with passengers packed like sardines, crowded stations and "hygienic" conditions, or rather the lack of, that I would not want to describe.

 

Fast forward to today, and how that image has changed. No more dingy railway stations with dirty floors, messy platforms and smelly toilets. In their place are modern stations with polished platforms resembling airports, with most designed by world-class architects. Built as part of the high-speed network these stations are filled with branded shops, coffee corners, fast food restaurants and the odd souvenir shop.  Add in speedy security lines and efficient boarding procedures, and you have ultra modern railway stations befitting a rapidly growing economy like China.

 

Fast speed trains in China have developed rapidly in the last few years. In 2012 there were about 10,000 kilometres of high-speed railway tracks in the country, increasing to 18, 000 kilometres in 2015, and an incredible 25,000 kilometres by 2020. China will boast the largest high-speed railway network in the world. "Only in China" springs to mind.

 

I will not be taking flights between Beijing and Shanghai anymore, as it is much more comfortable to travel by rail. It is punctual, clean, safe and fast. Even though the journey is slightly longer than a flight it is stress free, has virtually no risks of delays, and provides the opportunity to see China's countryside. The same applies to the journey from Beijing to Xian. which takes about 5 hours. For any journey that takes less than 6 hours in China, it is better to travel by high-speed train.

 

For the speed junkie who lives life in the fast and furious lane, I would highly recommend the Shanghai Maglev train to Pudong International Airport. It travels at an amazing speed of 431 kilometres per hour, and takes only 7 minutes from Longyang Station to Pudong Airport. The first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world, it has been in operations since 2004. It is rather surreal sitting in the train looking at planes approaching the runway, which are being overtaken by the Maglev train.

 

The speed and efficiency of high-speed trains is set to revolutionise domestic travel in China. More travellers, both local and foreign, will take to the rails from city to city as, like me, they will see no reason to fly as travelling time door-to-door takes about the same time as flying.

 

As the rail network expands and high-speed trains becoming even faster, there will soon be no major city in China not linked by them.

 

By 2015 most of the train network to the west along the Silk Road will be completed, bringing a new dimension in travel to this part of the country and cutting travel time from Beijing to Urumqi to a mere 12 hours. Not very romantic, you may say, to traverse the famed Silk Road on a vehicle and not on horseback. But think of the new itinerary possibilities this will create with its different modes of transport - an East meets West journey along the Silk Road with visits to historical sites will make for a unique experience

 

High-speed travel is also an ideal option for day excursions, as it cuts travel time considerably. If you are in Shanghai and wish to visit the UNESCO classified gardens and the old town along the canals in Suzhou, the train journey will take only 25 minutes.

 

But the most amazing train stretch will be the Guangzhou-Hong Kong link, when the high speed track between the two cities are completed in 2017. What is now a 2-hour journey will take only 30 minutes!

 

Travelling by train in China is not only a journey for train enthusiast or train specialist tour operators, it is for everyone. The downside? None, unless you consider carrying luggage through stations and the limited luggage space on the trains as one. But such "inconveniences" are also the same travelling high-speed trains in Europe or Japan.

 

Whatever minor shortcomings there may be in travelling on the fast speed train, they are made up by the excellent service on board. There is a dining car, food and drink trolleys pass the isles at least every half hour and, as is tradition in China, hot water is available in the corridor of every wagon.

 

If you are travelling in China, try out the high speed trains a ride - you won't regret it.

 

 

Laurent Kuenzle

CEO, Asian Trails

 

   

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 
 

 

 

THAILAND

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

Dear Friends,

 

Thailand was again in the headlines at the end of May when the military ended the six months of political crisis.  In the first days following the military takeover there was a nightly curfew for most part of our Kingdom. The curfew was lifted step by step, and now there is no more curfew. Tourists can enjoy their holidays without any restrictions. 

 

Repeat clients will have the opportunity for a new shopping experience at the Central Embassy mall. We have also adjusted some or our itineraries with new lifestyle elements, including the "7 days Around Thailand" tour. All changes will be effective from November 1, 2014.

 

Several hotels have come up with very special offers for this summer. Please let us know and we will be happy to send you our latest offers!

 

I wish you all a good summer time!

 

Roger Haumueller

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

CENTRAL EMBASSY OPENS

 

Opened on 9th May, 2014 Central Embassy redefines the new luxury shopping experience in Bangkok and represents an iconic canvas for inspired architecture.  The 37-floor building is a combination of cutting-edge design and flowing contours. This stunning project with its eight-storey retail podium, verdant sky terraces, and a six star hotel tower has changed the skyline of Bangkok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information please visit

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

AIR CHARTER SERVICE OFFERS GROUP CHARTERS

 

Air Charter Service (ACS) is offering its narrow and wide-bodied commercial jet aircraft for charters to the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry to regional and long haul destination

 

The charters are perfect for transporting large groups of delegates, set or stand builders, sales teams or technical staff. Services from the company include branded check-in desks, boarding announcements, airport lounges, ticket wallets, exterior aircraft decals, crew uniforms, headrest covers, in-flight entertainment and menus.

 

 

For more information, please contact us

 

 

NEW! 7 DAYS AROUND THAILAND, LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

 

From November 1, 2014, Asian Trails proudly presents its lifestyle package covering the northern part of Thailand. Explore Bangkok right up to Chiang Rai, visit magnificent temples and ruins, try local delicacies like deep fried edible insects, spend time with local artists to learn pottery-making and painting, or with rice farmers to test your skill at planting rice.

   

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

NEW! 5 DAYS GOLDEN TRIANGLE TOUR

 

From November 1, 2014, Asian Trails will make a small amendment to the meal plan of its 5-day Golden Triangle Tour to half-board basis. The tour's highlights include visits of hill-tribe villages, ancient temples, long-tail boat rides through remote jungle, elephant camps, orchid farms, handicraft villages, and the beautiful scenic view of the Golden Triangle located at the meeting point of the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK

 

LE MÉRIDIEN SUVARNABHUMI, BANGKOK GOLF RESORT & SPA OPENS IN AUGUST

 

Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa is scheduled to open in August 2014. Located outside Bangkok along the Bangna-Trad Road at km10.5, it is just a 30-minute drive from the city centre. The hotel offers 223 simple and elegant guestrooms and suites, which feature contemporary furnishings and a large balcony overlooking the shaded greens of an iconic 18-hole Nick Faldo golf course.

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

LIVOTEL BANGKOK

 

Livotel Bangkok is ideally located on Lat Phrao 130 (Ramkhamhaeng 81 Alley), providing easy access to some key Bangkok's landmarks and attractions such as Rajamangala National Stadium, Ramkhamhaeng University, and Museum of Buddhism Art. The hotel has a tranquil ambiance and offers 112 modern comfortable rooms categorised into three unit types - Standard, Deluxe and 1-Bedroom. All the guestrooms and units are decorated in modern contemporary style, and are fully equipped with modern amenities. The 1-Bedroom units are equipped with kitchen utensils.

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

NEW - BANGKOK MARRIOTT HOTEL SUKHUMVIT

 

Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit is a brand new 5 star luxury hotel in Sukhumvit situated closed to BTS Thonglor station. This modern hotel features 296 rooms and suites with fresh contemporary décor. There are six innovative meeting rooms designed to inspire productivity with WiFi and the latest in audio visual technology. For relaxation the rooftop Octave Bar and Lounge, offering sweeping views of the city, is ideal for light Asian-style tapas, classic cocktails.

 

   

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

PATTAYA

 

NEW - MERCURE PATTAYA OCEAN RESORT

 

Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort is a new 4 star stylish resort located in north Pattaya with direct access to the beach. The hotel, which offers warm personal service, has 210 rooms and suites with fresh contemporary décor and private balconies. Facilities include a restaurant and bar, two large tropical swimming pools, a mini water park, and meeting and event venues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

RENAMED - HERITAGE PATTAYA BEACH RESORT

 

Grand Heritage Beach Resort & Spa has been renamed Heritage Pattaya Beach Resort. Located in south Pattaya, this contemporary Thai style resort features 248 well-appointed rooms, a fitness centre. outdoor pools, beach front café, spa and Internet cafe, kids club. It is ideal for FITs, and business travellers, and families.

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

KOH SAMUI

 

REBRANDING - MANATHAI RESORT KOH SAMUI

 

Buddy Oriental Resort Samui has been rebranded as Manathai Resort Koh Samui. The resort is undergoing refurbishment, which started in mid-June and will complete in October 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

REBRANDING -MÖVENPICK RESORT LAEM YAI BEACH SAMUI

 

Passage Koh Samui Resort will be rebranded as Mövenpick Resort Laem Yai Beach Samui in November 2014. It will be repositioned as a boutique hotel, and will undergo renovations to add 23 Deluxe rooms to its existing 50, as well as expansive villas. Facilities in the resort include three swimming pools, a spa, and a kids' playground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

PHUKET

 

REBRANDING - NAP PATONG

 

Vasi Collections has announced the rebranding of The Sea Patong to Nap Patong. The rebranding has been designed to simplify the accommodations choice with the great value of hotel facilities and services by creating destination between The Sea Patong and Nap Patong.

 

The Superior Rooms have been renamed as Grand Superior rooms and are equipped with amenities for guests' comfort. There are also four newly built Deluxe One-Bedroom Suites and two Deluxe Two-Bedroom Suites, each with a living area and fully equipped kitchenette.

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

AMAZING THAILAND GRAND SALE 2014

JUNE 15-AUGUST 15, 2014

VENUE: BANGKOK

 

The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale offers visitors discounts of between 10% to 80%, and many other privileges at participating department stores, shopping malls, King Power Duty Free, jewellery shops, golf courses, Thai products, spa and massage, hospitals, as well as from leading airlines. There are also discounts from participating merchants at selected tourist attractions including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Koh Samui. The annual event attracts visitors from many countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

 

 

 

ROCK 'N' ROLL SUMMER CAMP

JUNE 30-JULY 4 & JULY 7-11, 2014

VENUE: PHUKET

 

Join the Rock 'N' Roll Summer Camp! Youths can enjoy five days of MEGA fun at the Phuket Academy of Performing Arts in one of two sessions. Activities include gleesome, bands, dance, visual arts and performing. Participants will perform live, do photo and video shoots and make rock T-shirts, posters and banners.  

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

FACE BANGKOK RESTAURANT

 

Face Restaurant, located on Sukhumvit Soi 38, fuses three of Asia's most popular dining experiences - Japanese, Indian and Thai. The restaurant provides five sections by day and night: Misaki-Japanese Sushi Bar, Face Cocktail Bar, Lanna Thai-Thai cuisine, Hazara-Indian cuisine, and Spa@Face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

 

ISSAYA RESTAURANT AND SIAMESE CLUB - BANGKOK

 

Issaya Restaurant (top picture) and Issaya Siamese Club (bottom picture) are located in a colonial building in Bangkok. The restaurant is on the ground floor, while the club occupies the upper floor and the front garden.

 

Issaya Restaurant has a dining room and large outdoor terrace. The menu features Chef Kittichai's unique signature Thai cuisine of traditional ingredients and flavors with international and progressive cooking methods.

 

The Siamese Club is inspired by an old-school members' club, with a lounge-bar concept throughout the upper floors of the house and front garden. The heritage and style of the house has been preserved and moulded by designer Hans Bogetoft Christensen. He is famous for his ability to use splashes of modern colours and patterns to bring the past back to life and into a contemporary style. The club serves classic and contemporary cocktails, all paired with Chef Kittichai's signature cuisine.

 

Iissaya Restaurant and Siamese Club is at 4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road, Sathorn, Bangkok. Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm, and 6pm to 1am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

VIRGINIE KURY - NEW MANAGER, FRENCH MARKETS

 

We welcome back Virginie to the Asian Trails Thailand team. A Swiss national, she rejoined us in May as Manager, French Markets for the French-speaking markets, a newly created position. We are committed to the future growth and potential of these markets, and we wish Virginie and her team great success.

   

 

 

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LAOS

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJÕRN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends,

 

It is low season now, but the office is as busy as usual. We are preparing the rates for next year, and renegotiating contracts with our suppliers. Please have a look at our current promotional rates under "HOTEL INFORMATION" in this country report.

 

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

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

TRADITIONAL DANCE CLASSES in Luang Prabang

 

The first traditional Lao dance classes just opened in Luang Prabang. It is held at a famous location, which is already providing cooking class, and has a restaurant with Lao dances and music.

 

From 9.30hrs to 12.00hrs listen to traditional music before experimenting with a few Lao dances. Take a CD and a certificate of achievement back home after your performance!

 

 

 

VIENTIANE'S VOCATIONAL CENTRE PROVIDES TRAINING, employment FOR LAO WOMEN

 

Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women, which is located seven kilometres from Vientiane's city centre, provides training and employment for Lao women from disadvantaged backgrounds. It conducts courses in natural dyeing, traditional Lao weaving, tailoring and small business administration. Visitors to the center can also try their hands at dyeing and weaving (from one hour to several days).  

 

   

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

HOTELS OFFERING SPECIAL RATES AND PACKAGES during the green season

 

 

Le Bel Air*** - Luang Prabang

 

Located very close to the town centre, Le Bel Air Resort is offering a special Green Season promotion from 1/05/2014 to 30/09/14. As the hotel is located on the bank of the Nam Khan River facing the sunset on Phousi Mountain, it can boast of having one of the biggest natural gardens in Luang Prabang.

   

 

 

Villa 2 Rivières*** - Luang Prabang

 

Located in the centre of the historic town of Luang Prabang, Villa 2 Rivières is a boutique hotel with 17 rooms in four old buildings, which were recently renovated. For the Green Season from 01/06/2014 to 30/09/2014, the hotel is offering pecial tariffs for individuals and groups.

 

 

 

Palais Juliana**** - Luang Prabang

 

Located five kilometres from the centre of Luang Praban, four star Palais Juliana has a swimming pool, spa, massage servce, gym, and a beautiful tropical landscaped garden. From 01/06/2014 to 30/09/2014 the hotel is offering special rates for individuals and groups.

   

 

 

Maison SouvannapHoum**** - Luang Prabang

 

Located in the centre of town and close by the night market, Maison Souvannaphoum is offering interesting and substantial promotional rates during the monsoon season from 01/05/2014 to 30/09/2014. The property has a swimming pool and an outstanding restaurant, as well as offering wellness services that include a spa and massage.

   

 

 

RENOVATIONS: Ansara -Vientiane

 

Located in the centre of Vientiane, Ansara has a new swimming pool in the middle of the property. With its 30 rooms decorated with Lao furniture, the hotel is one of the best places to stay in this capital city of Lao PDR.

   

 

 
 

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CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

 

Dear Friends and Partners,

 

For the coming months and until the end of September the monsoon winds will start to blow and will continue throughout this period. Rains will usually last for an hour or two, and the rest of the day there will be plenty of sunshine.  Since Cambodia is a country linked to water with the Mekong and the great Tonle Sap Lake it is, in many ways, very pleasant when the water levels are high and the countryside become green and luxuriant.

 

Asian Trails Cambodia wishes you a happy summer!

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

SAMAKI KHMER HELPS IMPROVE LIVELIHOOD OF CAMBODIANS

 

Samaki Khmer is an association, which fights against poverty in Cambodia and aims to improve housing conditions. Its initiative focuses on four main goals - improves hygiene conditions in the villages; brings more convenience to rural areas; expands its scope to other villages; empowers villages.

 

Asian Trails Cambodia is happy to support Samaki Khmer's initiatives. We would like to ask our clients interested in helping the association while travelling in Cambodia to contact us, as we can organise a visit to its various projects.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

VESPA ADVENTURE TOUR IN SIEM REAP

 

The Vespa Adventure Tour takes you to explore Siem Reap town by night on the back seat of this elegant motorbike. It introduces you to the Khmer way of life through this (literally) moving experience. Guests get to sample local cuisine, as well as the local lifestyle - essentially discovering the essence of Cambodia.

 

Contact us for more information.

 

 

 

DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF SIEM REAP ON A PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

 

Come and discover the stunning landscape of Angkor temples and see what your camera can do with a professional photographer. Take home the beauty of Angkor! Several tours are available in Siem Reap province.

 

Contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PHNOM PENH

 

ARTHUR AND PAUL, FIRST GAY HOTEL IN PHNOM PENH

 

Arthur and Paul is the first gay boutique hotel in the Cambodian capital exclusively designed for men. Located in a renovated 1930s building in the refined and chic Boeung Keng Kang district of Phnom Penh, the hotel offers customised service. The "men-only" hotel features 10 well-appointed rooms, a spa that is open to everyone from 5pm until midnight, and an outdoor swimming pool.

 

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

CYCLO D'ANGKOR BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

Cyclo d'Angkor is a centrally located, stylish boutique hotel in Siem Reap. There are 28 rooms and suites, all mixing traditional Khmer decoration with modern furniture. The hotel features a swimming pool, a beautiful garden, bar, and restaurant where guests can enjoy traditional Khmer cuisine.

 

 

 

RENOVATIONS AT VILLA KIARA BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

Villa Boutique Hotel is undertaking a big renovation project, which will last for four months - from May 6, 2014 to September 15. On completion the hotel will be renamed as Suorkear Villa. The hotel's services and facilities are being upgraded to high standards. The rooms are redesigned and new amenities will be added.

 

All the reservations at Villa Kiara Boutique Hotel made during the renovation period will be transferred to its sister property, Suorkear Boutique & Spa.

 

 

 

LOTUS BLANC RESORT CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS

 

Lotus Blanc Resort is closed for renovations, which started on June 16, 2014 and will be completed on September 30. Guests who have booked their stay at the hotel during the closure period will be upgraded to Borei Angkor Resort and Spa.  

 

 

 

SIHANOUKVILLE

 

NEW HILL RESORT AND SPA, OPENS AUGUST 8

 

New Hill Resort and Spa, which will open on August 8, 2014, is located in the historic heart of Sihanoukville. It overlooks a tranquil deep-sea harbour and is on the site of the former residence of the Governor of the Cambodian port town that was inaugurated in 1959.

 

The hotel features 120 rooms comprising Superior and Deluxe rooms, Cabana, and Suites. it also has a full-service spa with two spa tubs, an outdoor pool and a steam room.

   

   

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

ANGKOR empire full and HALF MARATHON

AUGUST 17, 2014

VENUE: SIEM REAP

 

Siem Reap, renowned for its annual Angkor Wat International Half Marathon race run in December, will host to a full marathon to be held on August 17 - the Angkor Empire Full and Half Marathon. There will be four categories -full marathon, half marathon, 10 kilometres road race and 3 kilometres family run. Disabled people will also be able to compete. Whether you are a professional marathon runner or just enjoy running as a hobby, this event will be a great opportunity to discover or re-discover Angkor temples while participating for a worthy cause. 

 

Contact us for more information.

 

 

 

ROYAL CEREMONY

JULY 9-12, 2014 (ROYAL PALACE CLOSES DURING THIS PERIOD)

VENUE: PHNOM PENH

 

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh will be closed to the public from July 9-12 for the Royal Ceremony. The ceremony is to transfer the ashes of his Majesty, the Father King Norodom Sihanouk, to Kuntha Bopha Stupa within the Royal Palace.  

 

   

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

GOODBYE ROTHA,  CONGRATS SOPHEAK

 

We are sad to announce that Mr Rotha HUN, Kuoni Supervisor who has worked eight years at Asian Trails Cambodia, will leave us for new challenges. Mr Sopheak PHALLY (pictured) has been promoted as Kuoni Senior Supervisor to replace him starting July 1.

 

We wish them both good luck in their new positions.

   

 

 
 

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VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

"Time is money" is a cliché that we all understand, but when embarking on a holiday we may wonder if the real art of travel can be an excuse for not applying this mentality. Instead of rushing from one place to another to tick off more "must-see", we should go slower and enjoy the sights along the way. One way of doing just that is to hop on to a bike and cycle to tourist spots, taking in the sounds and beauty of the land in a slow, leisurely way.

 

There are many places in Vietnam where the local lifestyle, and cultural and natural landscape make for a perfect cycling holiday. Biking to the villages around Hue will reveal there are many other wonders in this Imperial City than just the Citadel and Royal Mausoleums. For example, the traditional garden houses in Kim Long village open up a unique cultural space to learn the secret principles of feng shui, local etiquette and beliefs. The peaceful ancient village of Thanh Toan offers a enriching working and enjoyable day, getting to know the local farmers and soaking in its rustic atmosphere.

 

If you like long biking trips, then we highly recommend cycling through the Mekong Delta. You can cycle from 30 to 100 kilometres along shady country lanes, under the green canopy of orchards and coconut plantations, visit local villages to have a meal with its inhabitants, or cross the mighty Mekong on a ferry to explore more of the land.

 

These leisure bike tours can also be integrated into the classic programmes to create more exclusivity and local flavour.

 

"You have hour, we have time!" is a popular saying in Africa. If you have an extra hour(s) in Vietnam we have the time to show you the country from the seat of a bicycle. So come join us as we introduce this new travel concept in discovering the country through our cycling tours, which we highlight in this report.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

VIETNAM IS SAFE AND PEACEFUL FOR ALL VISITORS

 

We wish to inform our clients that Vietnam remains a peaceful and stable country despite the recent anti-Chinese protests in May in certain parts of the country.

 

The protests were held in response to China's installation of an oil rig in the Exclusive Economy Zone of Vietnam. This led to violent protests directed at perceived Chinese owned factories in Binh Huong and Ha Tinh provinces. These incidents occurred mainly in industrialised areas, far away from any tourist areas, and there was no danger to tourists then and now.

 

The Vietnamese government has taken all measures to ensure that such incidents would not happen again, and ensure that the country remains stable and safe for all visitors. There have been no further incidents since May, and overall the situation is very peaceful and it is business as usual throughout the country.

 

We are monitoring the situation, and will update if there are any untoward incidents.

 

 

 

ONE PILLAR PAGODA UNDER RENOVATIONS - HANOI

 

One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, whose name literally means "long lasting happiness and good luck", is undergoing renovations until October 2014. This historic Buddhist temple is regularly included in the Hanoi sightseeing tour. Its unique and original architecture reflects Vietnam's rich cultural splendour and heritage.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

CYCLING IN THE MEKONG DELTA - TOUCHING THE REGION'S SOUL

 

The Mekong Delta is a beautiful region of green fields, quaint villages and home to a charming, hospitable people. The best way to touch the soul of this region and its people is by travelling at a leisure pace on a bicycle. If you wish to go on a cycling adventure through the Mekong Delta please let us know where you want to go and for how long, and we will find the best routes for you through this diversified area. We also have a supporting vehicle to escort you on your trip, which takes three to five days from Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Please contact us for the detailed programme.

 

 

 

CYCLING IN KIM LONG VILLAGE (HUE) - A TRIP BACK IN TIME

 

A journey around the Kim Long village by bicycle is a journey back in time to retrace the glory of the "Great City" (1636-1687) with its cluster of important cultural relics and the nostalgic architecture of the beautiful garden traditional houses. Visit one of the families, soak in the family atmosphere as you dine to a typical Hue meal cooked by your hosts, and enjoy an afternoon tea party that harks back to the days when aristocrats entertained in style. This unique experience will open the doors to the way of life in Hue in the olden days, and introduce you to the city's art of living.

 

Please contact us for the detailed programme.

 

 

 

CYCLING IN THANH TOAN VILLAGE (HUE) - AN IMMERSION IN RURAL LIFE

 

The cycling tour to the beautiful rural Thanh Toan village in Hue is designed as a journey of discovery into the deep-rooted history of Vietnam's wet rice culture. Spend the day learning the art of rice planting with a local farmer, as well as in other activities like vegetable picking, fishing and making local handicraft. Prepare and cook a home meal with local ingredients. To totally immerse in the rural life combine your bike trip with rowing a sampan on a tranquil river or walks through the rural countryside.

 

Please contact us for the detailed programme.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

EL DORADO - NEW BOUTIQUE HOTEL IN HUE

 

El Dorado is a new boutique hotel in Hue, which opened its doors in April 2014. It located in the heart of the city within walking distance to many tourist attractions and the Pham Ngu Lao shopping street. It has an indoor heated pool, perfect for winter in Hue. The moment you enter El Dorado you will be attracted by its attention to details with beautiful decorations and amenities. The guestrooms are spacious and well furnished, especially the bathroom. This the ideal hotel for FITs and groups.  

 

 

 

U HOTEL  - YOUR ALPINE RETREAT IN SAPA

 

This beautiful boutique hotel, located right in the heart of Sapa opposite the City Center Park, will start operations by August 1, 2014. U Hotel's architecture, as well as its interiors, is designed in charming French colonial style with indigenous twists combined with international services. It will open with 57 rooms and suites, with 18 more rooms coming on line later in the year. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, café, gym and library.  

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

COYEN RESTAURANT  -- HANOI

 

The newly opened Coyen Restaurant is located in the central part of Hanoi, and is under the same management as Maison d'Hanoi Hotel. The nicely decorated, cosy restaurant serves fine Vietnamese food with prices starting from US$10 to US$55. On the ground floor are 30 seats, which are mainly for walk-in guests, while the first floor is for groups of up to 90 persons.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

AQUA MEKONG - A NEW STAR ON THE MEKONG RIVER

 

Aqua Expeditions is expanding to new frontiers in Vietnam and Cambodia with its new 62.4-metre Aqua Mekong. The luxury vessel will start operations in September 2014. Designed by Saigon-based architect Noor Design, the ship is very spacious and elegant and has refined lounging and dining areas. It can accommodate 40 guests in 20 air-conditioned luxurious Design Suites, each measuring 30sqm, eight of which have private balconies. It is equipped with the latest navigation technologies and the highest cruise ship standard.

 

Aqua Mekong will offer luxury 7-, 4-, and 3-night cruises from Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. All cruise departures throughout the year will be guaranteed.

 

 

 
 

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CHINA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

 

The spring peak season is just over, and we are already in full preparation for a busy summer when we will receive many groups, families and individual travellers to China.

 

We have seen a very positive surge of business in the first half of the year, and feel there is a positive vibe about the destination from guests all around the world. We welcome your enthusiasm. and look forward to the second half of this exciting Year of the Horse!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

48 NEW RAIL PROJECTS FOR CHINA

 

China Railway Corp is launching 48 new projects this year based on the demands from social and economic development and rail transport. More than 7,000km new lines will be put into operation, and the majority of the new tracks will be located in the central and western regions of the country.  

 

 

 

XI'AN OFFERS THREE-DAY VISA-FREE STAY  

 

Xi'an, home to the world famous Terracotta Warriors, is offering visitors transiting through Xi'an Xianyang International Airport three days' stay without obtaining a visa prior to arrival. Visitors must have an onward ticket for a flight to a third destination, departing within 72 hours of their arrival.  

 

 

 

A NEW HIGH-SPEED RAIL FROM DATONG TO XI'AN

 

The new Datong-Xi'an railway line will run from Datong in Shaanxi Province, through Shuozhou, Xinzhou, the provincial capital Taiyuan, Jinzhong, Linfen and Yuncheng. It will cross the Yellow River at Yongji, enter Shaanxi and reach Xian via Weinan and Linton. The length of the route is 859km. The train runs at 250km per hour and the travel time will be reduced from 16 hours to four hours at the most.

 

The route from Taiyuan to Xi'an will be opened in July 2014, and the route starts from Datong in June 2015.

 

 

 

FIRST BULLET TRAIN FOR XINJIANG BY END 2014

 

A trial run for the first high-speed railway in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on June 3 marked a countdown to formal operations by the end of the year. The line is part of the Lanxin Railway, which links Lanzhou City in northwestern Gansu Province and Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. The 1,776km line, which crosses a vast expanse of the Gobi Desert, will cut the travel time between Lanzhou and Urumqi from the current 21 hours to eight hours or less. Lanxin Railway is the longest railway in northwestern China, and it is the Xinjiang's only link with the rest of China.  

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

JIN KINGDOM UNVEILED IN SHANXI PROVINCE

 

Jin Kingdom, a museum for historical relics in Shanxi province, opened its doors to the public on Chinese Cultural Heritage Day. It is located in Qu'wo country in Linfen, and is the first museum in Shanxi to showcase the history of the Jin Kingdom during the spring and autumn period (770-476BC). It covers an area of 4.66 hectares and is divided into three exhibition halls that feature the history of the Jin State, a chronology of the unearthing of the relics, and details on how the relics are preserved.

 

The Jin Kingdom dates back about 3,000 years, but questions remain about the kingdom's emergence. It was not until the late 20th century, when Qucun village relics were discovered, that it was designated as the birthplace of the Jin Kingdom.

 

 

 

MOUNT TAISHAN - A TREASURE HOUSE OF HISTORY AND CULTURE

 

Of all the mountains in China, Mount Taishan is the most intertwined with Chinese history, with cultural interests and natural landscapes well integrated into it. The artistic masterpieces found throughout the mountain are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. UNESCO describes the mountain as "a world-renowned treasure house of history and culture". It added that its dense forests and ancient temples made it the site for imperial pilgrimages for about 2,000 years. Mount Taishan is ideal for people who want to learn about Chinese history, while enjoying beautiful landscapes. 

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

SHANGRI-LA LHASA OPENS IN THE HEART OF THE HIMALAYAS

 

The debut of Shangri-La Lhasa marks a sort of homecoming for the hotel group as the legendary Shangri-La, the mythical paradise on earth set in the Himalayas, was the inspiration for the Hong Kong-based luxury hotel brand.

 

Guests entering the hotel through an impressive Tibetan gate will get a spectacular view of the imposing Potala Palace. Warmly lit corridors and colourful carpets, embedded with the cloud motif, lead the way to the hotel's 262 luxurious guestrooms and 17 expansive suites. Each room category highlights the bold colours and delicate details found in Tibetan culture, dress and art.

 

 

 

ROSEWOOD BEIJING TO RECEIVE GUESTS IN AUGUST

 

Rosewood Beijing, the first China property for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, will open in August 2014. The hotel will exquisitely express the group's "A Sense of Place" philosophy by reflecting the history, culture, architecture and sensibilities of its location.

 

Located in the central business district, opposite the iconic CCTV Tower, the hotel offers 231 guestrooms, 51 suites and one presidential suite. It has six restaurants and lounges focusing on traditional Chinese cuisine, Asian flavours, and European-inspired dishes. Meeting and function space totalling 3,350sqm, includes a 730sqm pillarless ballroom accommodating up to 500 guests, with adjacent 301sqm courtyard. Each venue offers the latest technology and state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment, along with a team of certified hotel meeting associates to ensure flawless meetings.

 

 

 

FAIRMONT NANJING DEBUTS IN NANJING

 

Located in the Hexi new town area of Nanjing, the 359-room Fairmont Nanjing is set on the upper floors of a 62-storey tower, offering views of the city and the Yangtze River from all guestrooms. Facilities include seven restaurants and bars, including a venue on the 60th floor with 360⁰ views of the area, Fairmont's Willow Stream Spa, and 2,500sqm function space with a ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,100 guests.  

 

 

 

SOFITEL LEGEND LAUNCHES IN XI'AN

 

Originally opened in 1953, Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel Xi'an was the state guesthouse for visiting Chinese leaders and foreign dignitaries. Guests have included former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, French President François Mitterrand and US diplomat Henry Kissinger.

 

The 71-room luxury hotel is part of Renmin Square, an extensive hotel complex within a 40,000sqm-landscaped garden. Ideally located inside the Ming Dynasty city walls at the heart of historic Xi'an, the hotel is only 15 minutes walk to the world's first museum, the Forest of Stone Steles, and the colourful Moslem quarter where traders have flourished the spice-laden air for many centuries. It offers a range of luxury facilities including a private health club, swimming pool, spa, an Italian restaurant, top-floor bar and a private museum.

 

 

 

FIRST HYATT PLACE HOTEL IN CHINA OPENS

 

The 144-room Hyatt Place Shenzhen Dongmen is the first hotel under the Hyatt Place brand to open in China.  Located near Shenzhen's Dongmen shopping district, it offers 144 rooms, all of which feature 42-inch HDTVs, sofa beds and free WiFi. Guests also get complimentary hot breakfast, while a 24-7 market-style F&B outlet serves made-to-order salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts. There is also a bar, 24-hour gym and more than 110sqm of meeting space.  

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN CHINA 2014

 

MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL: September 8

NATIONAL DAY: October 1-7 (National Day is on October 1).

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES FLIES TO NEW YORK IN AUGUST

 

China Southern will commence four times weekly flights to New York's JFK Airport from August 6, 2014. The new service is an extension of the airline's "Canton Route", which aims to connect Australia with Europe and the US, via Guangzhou. The new route will be operated using China Southern's new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, offering 309 seats in four cabin classes - first, business, premium economy and economy.  

 

 

 

MORE DIRECT FLIGHTS TO MOSCOW FROM CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES

 

China Eastern Airlines launches Xi'an to Moscow service on July 1, 2014. The two times weekly flights are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The flight departs Xi'an Xianyang International Airport at 13.30hrs, and arrives at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport at 18.00hrs. The estimated flying time is eight hours. The service is operated using the Boeing B767 aircraft.

 

Sichuan Airlines will launch the Chengdu-Moscow service in July/August-2014 at the earliest.

   

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

STAFF OUTING TO PINGYAO

 

The Asian Trails China team went on the annual staff outing in June to discover the ancient town of Pingyao. We took the high-speed train to Taiyuan and explored the key cities of the area, visiting the "First Bank of China", city wall, governor's office, the magnificent Shuanglin Temple, and the Chang Family Courtyard cluster that was once the centre of the lucrative tea business. We stayed in a beautiful courtyard hotel, which has a history going back to the 17th century. We feasted on many types of noodles, the local speciality, while at night we tasted the local Shanxi rice wine. It was a memorable weekend filled with fun and great team spirit!  

 

 

 
 

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MYANMAR

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

Green Season Greetings from Myanmar!

 

After summer it is the turn of the rains, which is making the country fresh and green again. During the past few weeks we too have taken the opportunity to inspect all major upcountry tourist destinations - Bagan, Inle, Nyaung Shwe, Mandalay and Maymyo. No tourist crowd, definitely no issue with availability, prices are more attractive and the entire Myanmar has a more relaxed atmosphere.

 

It was really good to see a number of new locally owned small and cosy hotels, restaurants, and cruises offering very reasonable prices in all the destinations we visited. Many of the existing hotels are upgrading their facilities, so as to be ready to serve future clients better.

 

It is indeed a good time to explore Myanmar during the Green Season, so take advantage of this and visit the country now!

 

Happy Trails!

 

Thomas Carnevale  

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

12-DAY "GOING GREEN IN MYANMAR" SIC JOINT TOUR

 

The 12-Day "Going Green in Myanmar" tour covers Myanmar's premier attractions, including the famous Mount Popa and Pindaya. The tour is operated on fixed departure dates during the Green Season from May to September 2014 with English-speaking stationed guides.

 

The touring days are from Sunday to Wednesday, and Monday to Thursday. If you arrive on Sunday, the tour ends on Wednesday to and from Yangon. For those who arrive on Monday they can join the tour from Mandalay. This tour gives you the opportunity to enjoy some value added benefits like free upgrade (upon availability), some discounts on food and beverage, spa, and also have some free days for yourself. There is half-board with lunch on the touring days.

 

Please contact Asian Trails Myanmar for details.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

 

VINTAGE LUXURY - FIRST YACHT HOTEL

 

The first yacht hotel, VINTAGE LURURY, will welcome guests from July 2014. Decorated in the style of the late Victorian 1920s' vessel, the ship was made in Finland and brought to Yangon last year.

 

The ship has 104 rooms including two suites on three floors, a cinema theatre on the third floor, and two restaurants, bar, spa on the top floor. It is berthed just in front of the Botahtaung Jetty.

 

 

 

HILTON ENTERS MYANMAR WITH FOUR HOTELS

 

International hotel chain, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, has signed a joint venture with Eden Group Company Limited on June 11, 2014 to open five hotels in the next four years. The two hotels under the Eden Group in Nay Pyi Taw and Ngapali beach resort will be upgraded to 5 star hotels, and rebranded as Hilton Nay Pyi Taw and Hilton Ngapali, to be ready by November 2014. The plan for the future is to also manage hotels in Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake, the country's main tourist destinations.  

 

 

 

NOVOTEL YANGON MAX - YANGON

 

Novotel Yangon Max will soft open in December 2014 under phase 1 of the development, with phase 2 scheduled to follow in January 2015.

 

The hotel is located on Pyay Road, close to most of the foreign embassies and only five to ten minutes' drive from Shwedagon Pagoda and Yangon's downtown. It will have over 300 rooms, and features a lounge and premier floors, free WiFi, three restaurants, three bars including two rooftop bars, a fitness centre, spa, swimming pool, rooftop tennis court, main ballroom and a junior ballroom. It will have two separate entrances for guests check-in, FIT and small groups and big groups.

 

 

 

TAW WIN GARDEN HOTEL - YANGON

 

Taw Win Garden Hotel, which opened recently, is located on Pyay Road with direct access to Taw Win Center Shopping Mall. A typical eight-storey Myanmar city hotel with a garden in the middle on the top floor, it offers a total of 513 spacious guestrooms and suites, furnished with contemporary design, modern facilities and amenities, Some rooms offer either a city view or of the Shwedagon Pagoda, with the top floor rooms with garden view. However, most rooms have no view. Hotel facilities include three restaurants, lounge and bar, executive lounge, business centre, meeting rooms, fitness centre, sauna and jacuzzi.

 

 

 

MILLENNIUM HOTEL - YANGON

 

Millennium Hotel is a two-minute walk from Botahtaung Pagoda, and 20 minutes from Sule Pagoda. It is a simple and basic nine-storey hotel with 78 rooms, all with WiFi, telephone, hot and cold shower. The restaurant, which serves Chinese and Asian food, is located on top (9th) floor of the building and offers a nice view of the river and Botahtaung Pagoda. There is free Internet in the lobby. It accepts Master and Visa credit cards. The hotel is suitable for budget travellers.

 

 

 

KH HOTEL - YANGON

 

KH Hotel is located at 7th mile on Pyay Road and a 15-minute drive away from the airport. It has 48 rooms equipped with TV, air-conditioning, minibar and with city view. The private bathroom comes with a bath or shower and hairdryer.

 

 

 

HOTEL AMAZING MANDALAY - MANDALAY

 

Hotel Amazing Mandalay, which opened on May 18, 2014, is within three to five minutes walking distance to Central Railway Station and Royal Palace. The small cosy hotel in a two-story building has 16 tastefully decorated rooms. All the rooms have wooden parquet floors, air-conditioning, IDD telephone, free Wifi, television, safety box and complete bathroom amenities. The hotel has indoor and outdoor dining facilities.

 

 

 

YADANARPON DYNASTY - MANDALAY

 

Yadanarpon Dynasty is located in the heart of the Mandalay's downtown, within a few minutes' drive to the Royal Palace. The hotel has 58 rooms - 20 Superiors and 22 Deluxe room in the three-storey building, and eight Bungalows at each side of the building. The Bungalows are made with a mixture of brick, fine wood, and has a small garden in-front. The rooms are nicely decorated and have complete amenities including free WiFi. There is a restaurant serving Myanmar, Chinese, Thai and Western food, as well as room and laundry service.

 

 

 

HOTEL GRAND OWAY - MANDALAY

 

Hotel Grand Oway is a typical six-story Myanmar city hotel with easy access to Mandalay downtown, just opposite to Mandalay Railway Station and within walking distance to the Royal Palace. It has 49 Deluxe rooms equipped with full standard amenities and WiFi. The Oway Cafe is open for all-day dining, and serves Myanmar, Chinese, Thai and European cuisine.

 

 

 

ESKALA RESORT - NGWE SAUNG

 

The new Eskala Resort on Ngwe Saung Beach has 60 rooms comprising 12 villas and 48 Deluxe rooms, all equipped with modern amenities. It is nested in a large garden facing the Bay of Bengal. Facilities include outdoor pools, kid's pool, poolside bar, two restaurants, family room, meeting room, concierge and WiFi in public area.

 

 

 

ZFREETI HOTEL - BAGAN

 

A new good value for money option, Zfreeti Hotel is located near Shwe Zi Gon Pagoda and only 15 minutes away from the airport. It has 102 rooms with satellite LCD television, mini bar, safe box, hot and cold shower, hair dryer and air-conditioning. The roof top restaurant serves European, Chinese, Thai and Myanmar cuisine. The hotel also has a swimming pool, pool bar, doctor on call, 24-hour room service, laundry and free WiFi at the lobby.

 

 

 

AREIDMAR'S EXTENSION - BAGAN

 

Areindmar Hotel has added 10 new Deluxe rooms, increasing its room inventory to 48. The new Deluxe rooms, like the existing rooms in the same category, also open to a landscaped courtyard and are equipped with the same amenities but are more spacious.

   

 

 

NOVOTEL INLE LAKE MYAT MIN - INLE LAKE

 

Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min, located on the eastern shore of the Inle Lake, is scheduled to open at end September 2014. There will be 78 separate brick villas on the front, facing the lake, and a three-storey building with 57 Deluxe rooms behind. Designed to serve both business and leisure travellers the hotel will have two restaurants, two bars, a ballroom, two meeting rooms, a business centre, swimming pool, fitness centre and spa.

 

 

 

PARADISE NYAUNG SHWE RENOVATED - NYAUNG SHWE

 

Paradise Nyaung Shwe recently underwent renovations, which saw its 28 bungalows receiving a complete makeover that gave them a fresher and nicer look. The new three-storey building at the back has also been improved, and with its 27 rooms the hotel now has a total of 55 rooms.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS and EVENTS

 

 

TAUNG-BYONE CEREMONY

AUGUST 5-9, 2014

VENUE: TAUNGBYONE

 

This unique festival is held once a year in Taungbyone, which is about 45 minutes or 32 kilometres from Mandalay. The five-day festival starts August 5 and ends on August 9. People from all over Myanmar flock to the festival to worship at the two Taungbyone spiritual figures for prosperity and greatness. The festival is also the venue for a large gathering spot of spirit mediums from all over Myanmar.  

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

SILKAIR CONNECTS SINGAPORE WITH MANDALAY

 

SilkAir launched its inaugural flight from Singapore to Mandalay on June 10, 2014, its second destination after Yangon. The three times weekly flights are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through a circular routing with Yangon.

 

SilkAir is the fourth international airline to fly to and from Mandalay after Thai Smile, AirAsia and Bangkok Airways

   

 

 

NEW ROUTES FROM GOLDEN MYANMAR AIRLINES

 

Golden Myanmar Airline, Myanmar's first domestic and international low cost carrier, has introduced its services to several domestic routes starting from June 3, 2014. It operates with the new ATR72-600 aircraft based in Mandalay to Nyaung Oo, Myitkyina, Heho, Putao, Bamaw, Khaing Tong, Tachileik and Lashio. Its normal schedule from Yangon to Bangkok and Singapore remains unchanged.  

 

 

 

ASIAN WINGS AIRWAYS STARTS SELLING TICKET VIA ITS WEBSITE

 

Asian Wings Airways starts selling tickets via its website, accepting bookings and issuing e-tickets, in June 2014. The flight schedule is in real time with live seat availability for all flights. Currently three domestic airlines - Air Bagan, Air KBZ and Yangon Airways - are selling on their websites. The other domestic airlines in the country are also planning to do the same so in the coming high season.

 

Asian Wings Airways plans to operate more point-to-point destinations between Yangon and other major tourist destinations in the coming high season.

   

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

THE LAB OPENS IN YANGON

 

The Lab is a new restaurant, which recently opened in Yangon. Located under the flyover at the intersection of Kaba Aye Road and Shwe Gone Dain Road, the restaurant serves tapas in Mediterranean style, as well as a wide selection of wine and cocktails at reasonable prices

 

 

 

GEKKO, YANGON'S FIRST OPEN KITCHEN

 

Gekko is Yangon's first open kitchen with a charcoal fired grill and cosy cocktail lounge. Located in down town Yangon, the restaurant is located on the ground floor of the beautiful historical Sofaer & Co. building on Merchant Road. It is set over two floors with an open lounge and two private rooms, seating up to 12 people. The menu focuses on charcoal fired Yakitori, but also includes Korean and Vietnamese dishes. This is the perfect place to pop in for a beer and some Japanese tapas after work, relax and catch up with friends, and taste a collection of unusual sake, shochu or Japanese whisky.

 

 

 

THE MANHATTAN FISH MARKET TO OPEN IN YANGON

 

The Manhattan FISH MARKET, the famous American style seafood restaurant chain, will open soon in Yangon. It is located on Strand Road, facing Yangon River, and accommodates around 60 people.

 

The restaurant is also in Asia and Middle East including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Oman. The Manhattan FISH MARKET has achieved several best product branding awards in the food and beverage industry. 

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

HOUSE WARMING PARTY FOR ASIAN TRAILS' NEW OFFICE IN BAGAN

 

We celebrated the moving into a new office in Bagan with a house warming party on June 3, 2014. The two-storey office is nicely constructed with a mix of bricks, wood and bamboo, with parking space in front. The guest lobby and office are in the middle of the building, with a separate room for filing, and a back room as a staff meeting room and kitchen. Upstairs is a shrine and ample storage space to keep water bottles, cold towels and life jackets. The office is located in Nyaung Oo, within five to eight minutes' drive from the airport and easily accessible for staff, guests and suppliers.

 

 

 

MR. MYINT KO KO IS  SHAN STATE STATION MANAGER

 

Mr. Myint Ko Ko has been appointed as Station Manager for Asian Trails Shan State Region effective May 15, 2014.  He has 20 years' working experience as a hotelier in several areas in Shan State including Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe, Taunggyi and Kying Tone and Tachileik Golden Triangle. He was most recently the Resident Manager of Pristine Lotus Resort. His wide knowledge of the region, managing the office and the staff, good relationship with regional suppliers, and a good understanding of customers' expectations provide a good base for developing our strength and innovating our products catered to different markets. We welcome him to our team.

 

 

 

MS. NATHALIE CHANQUOI JOINS ATM AS INBOUND MANAGER

 

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ms. Nathalie ChanquoI, a French national, as Asian Trails Myanmar's new Inbound Manager. She has vast experience in many areas including finance and accounts, marketing, media, and as a projects consultant since 1993, and in tour operations in Myanmar from 2012 until now. Her wide knowledge in tourism products and strong understanding of tourists' expectations provide a good base for developing our strength and innovating our products catered to different markets. We warmly welcome Nathalie to our team, and wish her all the best and great success in her new role.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

A LITTLE SUPPORT MEANS A LOT TO ZEE O VILLAGE'S COMMUNITY

 

Asian Trails recently visited Zee O village on the outskirts of Bagan where we are supporting medical care for its community since last season. It has about 1,100 villagers. Currently a young doctor visits the village clinic every Sunday, and treats around 20 to 30 villagers. They have to pay a small fee of 500 Kyats (US$0.50), while we pay for the doctor's monthly salary. The medicine is bought with donations from tourists visiting the village and the Sacred Forest. Our efforts to help provide care has made an impact, and the villagers are happy for our help.

 

 

 
 

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MALAYSIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Dear friends,

 

I consider my experience in discovering the durian in Malaysia as one of my strongest tests in matters of flexibility towards new tastes. Malaysians say the fruit smells like hell but tastes like heaven. I say that it smells and tastes the same. Our clients who stop by Penang in the coming two months may consider participating in the yearly Durian Fair, and discover this "king of fruits".

 

We are now at the beginning of the high season, and we are already facing some challenges in availabilities for new request for the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. We will try our best to send to all our agents the most suitable and best alternatives and, in the worst-case scenario, we will recommend to our clients to remain in the western part of the Peninsular with a beach extension in Langkawi island.

 

We will also be celebrating the holy month of Ramadan (fasting month) from the end of June until end July. We wish our Muslim friends "Happy Ramadan" and may your fasting be accepted.

 

I also would like to remind everybody that our Malaysia office is taking care of the bookings for Singapore. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries.

 

Warm regards,

 

Emir Cherif

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

MARINE CONSERVATION FEES FOR TOURISTS TO   TIOMAN ISLAND

 

Tourists going to Tioman Island from the Mersing Jetty have to pay Marine Conservation fees with immediate effect. The fees are as follows: 

* Pahang Marine Conservation fee - RM5 per person

* Iskandar Marine National Park fee - RM30 per person 

 

Tourists have to pay the fees at the Mersing Jetty before departing for Tioman Island by boat

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BRAND NEW PREMIER SUITES ON WATER AT BERJAYA LANGKAWI RESORT

 

Berjaya Langkawi Resort's brand new Premier Suites on Water are the only individual private water chalets found on the magical island of Langkawi. The 65sqm suites come with a complete new concept, increased space and comfort with nature-themed colours, style and lighting. They also have a semi-outdoor lounge and jacuzzi and a sea-fronting balcony. Add in personalised service, the suites set a new benchmark in luxury and exclusivity.

 

 

 

DOUBLE TREE BY HILTON JOHOR BAHRU OPENS

 

The contemporary Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru, Johor, is centrally located in the heart of Johor Bahru city and minutes from the Singapore Causeway. It overlooks the Straits of Johor, and is minutes away from the city's business and shopping precincts. The hotel offers a range of room styles suitable for both long- and short-stay guests. It offers both western and local dining options, as well as a dedicated events floor and recreational facilities including a pool, gym, steam rooms and jacuzzi.

 

 

 

HYDRO HOTEL PENANG - CESSATION OF OPERATIONS

 

Please be advised that Hydro Hotel Penang has been sold and will be taken over by a new management.  It ceases operations from July 1, 2014 and will be undergoing extensive renovation works.  

 

 

 

RENOVATION UPDATE: SHANGRI-LA'S RASA SAYANG RESORT & SPA, PENANG

 

The Garden Wing guestroom refurbishment programme at Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa Penang, which started in April 2014, is progressing well ahead of schedule. The first phase of refurbished rooms will be ready by August 15, 2014. By mid-September 2014 there will be no more works involving heavy machinery. 

 

Total completion of the Garden Wing rooms and corridors is anticipated by early December 2014. The newly refurbished rooms and suites decor will reflect a modern, functional style accentuated by distinctive Malaysian accents. The refreshed interiors will spot an inviting convergence of contemporary comforts with an ambience, which evokes nature and tranquillity.

 

The resort continues to operate as usual with uninterrupted services. The management has taken all the necessary measures to minimise any inconveniences to its guests.

 

 

 

PARKROYAL LANGKAWI RESORT TO OPEN IN 2017

 

PARKROYAL Langkawi Resort on the resort island of Langkawi, scheduled to open in 2017, will be the fourth PARKROYAL in Malaysia. It features 253 rooms and nine villas. The hotel enjoys a prime beachfront location at Pantai Tengah Beach, Langkawi's longest and most popular beach, and lies adjacent to a retail and dining complex.

 

Within the resort, guests will be able to indulge in its extensive range of facilities including an all-day dining restaurant, a specialty restaurant, beach bar, spa, gymnasium, family lounge, ballroom, meeting rooms and outdoor swimming pools

   

 

 

NEW: PACIFIC EXPRESS HOTEL KUALA LUMPUR

 

The recently opened Pacific Express Hotel Kuala Lumpur is located in Kuala Lumpur's downtown district along Jalan Leboh Pasar and Jalan Hang Kasturi. Its 207 rooms are designed to offer guests comfort with its distinctive services and amenities. All are equipped with 32-inch LED TV with an extensive international channels, coffee-making facility, rain showers and high speed Internet access. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, business centre and a cafe. It also offers express check-in and check-out options.  

 

 

 

RENOVATIONS AT HOLIDAY INN RESORT PENANG

 

Holiday Inn Resort Penang is upgrading some of the public areas over the coming months, starting from June 23, 2014. The following areas are currently undergoing renovations:

 

Ferringhi Tower

First Floor

 

* New resort centre: A central meeting point for families and couples to enjoy console and table games, as well as a quiet area for relaxing.

* New gym: It will be surrounded by glass to provide natural light and view over the surrounding hills.

Lobby

  * Deli and Convenience Store: Serves coffee, sandwiches and cakes combined with a store selling all the things needed for an enjoyable holiday.

 

Beach Wing

Terrace Café (all-day restaurant)

  * Transformation of the restaurant to provide a fresh resort feeling for all diners with a modern look, addition of both hot and cold buffet counters, and new look bread stations.

 

The Terrace Café is the first area to be upgraded with the majority of the work conducted during the current holy fasting month of Ramadhan. The commencement dates for works on the Ferringhi Tower are being finalised, and we will update on the confirmed dates as soon as they are available.

 

All resort facilities are available during the renovation period. Work is being carried out between 10am-4pm, and all the areas under renovations are sectioned off to minimise noise and disruption to guests' activities.

 

   

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

PENANG DURIAN FAIR

JUNE 1-JULY 31, 2014

VENUE: ANJUNG INDAH, BALIK PULAU & PENANG TIMES SQUARE

 

Durian lovers should not miss the Penang Durian Fair when the "King of Fruits" is featured as the main item. Savour fresh durians categorised according to grades, as well as sumptuous delicacies made from the fruit. Although it is an acquired taste the fruit for the uninitiated, this controversial fruit will win the hearts of those who are brave enough to try it.  

  

 

 

1MALAYSIA MEGA SALE CARNIVAL

JUNE 28-SEPTEMBER 1, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Shopaholic alert! Shop and eat to your heart's content during this yearly sale carnival that not only come with discounts for goods in shopping complexes and shops, but also features dining events and fun-filled activities.  

 

 

 

KUALA LUMPUR FESTIVAL

JULY 1- 31, 2014

VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR

 

The Kuala Lumpur Festival is an exciting annual event, which 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.

 

 

 

MELAKA WORLD HERITAGE CITY CELEBRATION BY UNESCO

JULY 7, 2014

VENUE: MELAKA CITY, MELAKA

 

Melaka was declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in July 2008. The anniversary of this historic occasion is celebrated with a host of cultural activities and an array of delectable traditional cuisine, which is unique to the state. The celebrations attract tourists from all over the world to explore the city's well-preserved heritage buildings, cultural enclaves and local attraction spots.

 

 

 

HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI

JULY 28-29, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

After fasting from dawn to dusk for a month Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a day, which signifies victory for Muslims throughout the country. On this special day Muslims attend special morning prayers in mosques and visit the cemeteries of their loved ones. Decked in their traditional finery, friends and family from near and far come together to celebrate this joyous occasion. There will be lots of tasty delicacies to make the celebration more memorable!

 

 

 

HARI RAYA OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATIONS

AUGUST 16, 2014

VENUE: KUANTAN, PAHANG

 

The Open House brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri and foster unity and harmony in the 1Malaysia spirit. The event includes cultural performances with traditional delicacies served to guests.

  

 

 

PORT DICKSON INTERNATIONAL TRIATHLON

AUGUST 16-17, 2014

VENUE: PORT DICKSON, NEGERI SEMBILAN

 

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

 

 

 

HARI MERDEKA (INDEPENDENCE DAY)

AUGUST 31, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957. It is celebrated on August 31 each year throughout the country with colourful parades.  

  

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIRASIA X LAUNCHES KUALA LUMPUR-XI'AN SERVICE IN JULY

 

Longhaul budget carrier, AirAsia X, will add Xi'an as its fifth destination in China from July 2014 with four times weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur. With the launch of this new route, AirAsia X will be the only airline with direct flights between the two cities.

 

 

 

AIRASIA CONNECTS SINGAPORE TO KUALA TERENGGANU

 

Low cost carrier, AirAsia, has launched three times weekly service from Singapore to Kuala Terengganu, capital of Peninsular Malaysia's east coast state of Terengganu. The flights are on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This is the airline's first international destination from the Peninsular's east coast.

 

Kuala Terengganu is the gateway to the island destinations of Pulau Redang and Pulau Lang Tengah.

 

 

 

AIRASIA FLIES TO CEBU FROM KUALA LUMPUR

 

AirAsia will connect Kuala Lumpur to Cebu in the Philippines from July 24, 2014. Previously operated by its sister airline, AirAsia Zest, this will be the low cost carrier's third destination in the country after Manila and Kalibo.

 

The thrice-weekly flights are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Flights depart Kuala Lumpur at 10.40hrs to arrive in Cebu at 14.40hrs. The return flights leave Cebu at 15.05hrs and touch down in Kuala Lumpur at 18.55hrs.

   

 

 
 

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INDONESIA

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

With Garuda's route expansion to Eastern Indonesia, I took the opportunity to visit Flores recently. Garuda operates a daily service to Ende with its brand new ATR72 aircraft via Labuan Bajo, gateway to the Komodo National Park. My aim was to climb Mt. Kelimutu, a volcano with three crater lakes famed for their changing colours. The National Park is becoming more and more popular as the place to watch the spectacular sunrise during Flores overland tours.

 

From Ende it takes only two hours to the small village of Moni, which lies on the foothills of Mt. Kelimutu. The Kelimutu Eco Lodge provides quality accommodation with its nicely appointed bungalows. From Moni a well-paved road leads up to the volcano, with the last 30 minutes to the peak done on foot. From the sunrise point you can see the ocean along the south coast.

 

The local villagers in the area believe that their souls will enter the lakes after death, depending on the colour of each lake. It takes another three hours by car to reach Maumere.

 

For visitors with more time we can offer complete overland trips to the pristine island of Flores. Please contact us at: res@asiantrails.co.id for more information on Flores.

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

NEW SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE IN BALI

 

Kura-Kura Bus has launched a new shuttle service connecting Bali's main touristic areas such as Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Jimbaran, Sanur, Nusa Dua and Ubud. The company has a fleet of 22 buses comprising 12-, 15- and 29-seaters. The air-conditioned buses are equipped with WiFi and LCD screens. It operates seven lines daily from 9am to 10pm. Stops are made at strategic locations such as major hotels and shopping centres.  

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

NEW LUXURY YACHT FOR BALI TO LOMBOK CRUISING

 

Pulau Luxury Charters launched a new luxury Flybridge motor yacht called Burjuman. The 56-foot Italian-designed vessel has two 810HP CAT diesel engines. It is fully air-conditioned and features two staterooms, a double kid's room, four bathrooms, a lounge and dining area as well as a galley.

 

Burjuman operates locally, from Bali to Lombok, and provides flexible services including day cruising, fishing or diving. With its range of facilities, the vessel is suitable for special events for corporate or individual groups, private parties, honeymoons or weddings.

 

 

 

RAHAI'I PANGUN 2 - NEW RIVERBOAT IN CENTRAL KALIMANTAN

 

Rahai'i Pangun 2 is a new traditional Kalimantan riverboat operating in Central Kalimantan. Measuring 22 metres long, it offers six cabins - one superior large double cabin with private terrace, ensuite and optional air-conditioning, two double cabins with ensuite and optional air-conditioning, and three twin cabins fitted with fans and a shared bathroom. The large upper deck is comfortably fitted with sofas and deck chairs for guests to have their meals. enjoy the passing scenery and have close encounters with orangutans.

 

The vessel's three- and five-day itineraries start in the city of Palangkaraya, where Garuda Indonesia operates flights to and from Jakarta.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

REDUCED MINIMUM STAY AT NIHIWATU RESORT ON SUMBA

 

Nihiwatu Resort On Sumba, an exclusive eco resort on the remote and unknown island of Sumba, south of Flores, has amended its minimum stay period. For this year it has shortened the minimum stay from seven nights to between three and five days, except for July and August when the seven nights still apply. The room rates include full board and most activities.

 

Garuda Indonesia flies daily to Tambolaka, which is only 90 minutes away from the hotel.

 

 

 

COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT SEMINYAK OPENS

 

The new 5 star Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak in Bali, which soft-opened recently, is strategically located in the heart of the popular dining, shopping and entertainment scenes in Seminyak. It is just five minutes away from Seminyak Beach.

 

Each of the hotel's 266 designer guestrooms, 24 suites and extravagant two bedroom apartments, boasts complete room amenities, rain shower and an outdoor balcony overlooking bustling Seminyak or the hotel's lagoon swimming pool. The hotel offers complimentary WiFi, access to its 24-hour gym/ fitness centre, yoga studio and Zanti Retreat & Spa. It has over 308sqm of modern meeting space with three function rooms and breakout space with natural light nearby the pool.

 

 

 

ASTON SUNSET BEACH RESORT - THE PERFECT HOLIDAY RETREAT

 

With its beachfront location on the popular remote island of Gili Trawangan and easily accessible from Bali, Aston Sunset Beach Resort is the perfect place for a short holiday retreat.

 

The resort features 114 rooms, 10 one-bedroom Pool Villas and one Royal Pool Suite, each with its own terrace and access to their private beach for a stunning and exclusive sunset experience. Facilities include a signature restaurant, lounge and bar, club lounge, pool bar, a meeting room, diving centre and spa.

 

 

 

INNSIDE BY MELIA FOR MAKASSAR AND YOGYAKARTA

 

Meliá Hotels Indonesia will open a new Innside by Meliá in Yogyakarta in early 2015 with 258 rooms, the largest property under this brand.

 

The hotel group will also open another new-build Innside by Meliá in Makassar in December 2015. Located in the city centre it will feature 130 rooms.

 

Both hotels are tailored for business travellers, combining elegance with modern design and efficient services such as meeting place using the latest technology.

   

 

 

NIKKI BEACH CLUB, NUSA DUA, OPENS IN SUMMER

 

The first Nikki Beach Club in Indonesia, located inside Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Hotel & Resort, will open this summer. The Club's concept is a combination of luxury lifestyle and hospitality providing entertainment, dining, music, fashion, film and art. It is exclusive for members only, and offers group membership.

 

 

 

VILLA CINTA - A HAVEN OF TRANQUILLITY

 

Villa Cinta is a haven for holidaymakers looking for an exclusive and private journey in Bali. Its six luxurious beachfront villas are a reflection of the perfect combination of Balinese's traditions and contemporary architecture, and offer a wide range of services and facilities. For those who want to have an exclusive, private holiday with family and friends, they can rent the entire estate.

 

 

 

THE OPEN HOUSE BALI OFFERS A TOUCH OF LOCAL LIFE

 

The Open House Bali, which has soft-opened, is a new concept in hotel accommodation with 17 suites. Located in Bali's southern coast close to Jimbaran Beach, it is located right inside a fishermen's village. It offers travellers the opportunity to experience true interaction with the vibrant local life. Designed along eco-friendly lines and built using organic materials, its modern and bohemian style gives the hotel a homely atmosphere. It features a restaurant offering homemade Balinese cuisine.  

 

 

 

BULGARI RESORT REOPENS BEACH CLUB AND LA SPIAGGIA

 

Bulgari Resort reopened the Bulgari Beach Club and La Spiaggia on May 16, 2014. The beach is accessible daily from 9am to 5pm, and is exclusive to the resort's guests. La Spiaggia offers an exceptional dining experience with a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean.

 

Bulgari Resort is one Bali's leading luxurious resort. Located in the far south of the island and on top of a cliff, it offers fabulous views over the Indian Ocean.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIRPORT SPECIAL ASSISTANCE (ASA) SERVICE AT YOGYAKARTA AIRPORT.

 

JAS Airport Services is offering a new Airport Special Assistance service (ASA) at Yogyakarta Airport. There are three types of integrated services:

 

* ASA Premium: Assistance to obtain visa, check-in, boarding gate and immigration fast track

* ASA Premium Plus: Includes service in ASA Premium plus baggage porter, executive lounge facilities and luggage waiting room on arrival

* ASA Supreme: Transfers from/to airport, personal assistant, luxury cars plus in-ride entertainment, porter, lounge, immigration fast track

 

 

 

ROYAL BRUNEI RESUMES SERVICE TO BALI

 

Royal Brunei Airlines will resume flights to Bali with a new four times weekly service from July 26, 2014. The services operated with an Airbus A319 narrow body aircraft, will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Flights depart Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei at 20.55hrs, arriving in Bali at 23.20hrs. Departure from Bali is at 07.00hrs and arrives in Bandar Seri Begawan 09:40hrs.

 

 

 

GARUDA INDONESIA RETURNS TO HANEDA, JAPAN

 

Indonesia's flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, reinstated its Jakarta-Haneda service on June 15, 2014. The daily flight departs from Jakarta at 13.05hrs (local time) and arrives in Haneda at 22.35hrs. The return flight departs from Haneda at 00.30hrs and arrives in Jakarta at 06.00hrs. The service is operated with Garuda's new Airbus A330-300 aircraft with a two-class configuration - business class with 36 seats and economy class with 215 seats. The airline joined Skyteam in March this year.

 

 

 

GARUDA INDONESIA LAUNCHES NEW DOMESTIC ROUTE

 

Garuda Indonesia launched a new Manado-Sorong-Jayapura route on June 20, 2014. The four times weekly flights are operated with the airline's new 96-seater Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft. The airline has also connected Jakarta and Timika in Papua via Makassar in South Sulawesi with daily departures since May 6.  

 

 

 
 

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