Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue March 2014

THE CEO STORY

 

THAILAND'S ISLANDS IN THE SUN

 

In January, while sailing on my catamaran in the Andaman Sea near the Lipe group of islands I was struck by their sheer beauty and the serenity of the surroundings - a feeling I often have whenever I visit these "paradises" in the sun.

 

I then asked myself why some of these islands, with their long sandy white beaches and crystal waters, have been at the receiving end of negative press coverage. The only answer I could come up with is the people writing such reports certainly have never been to any of them and see what they have to offer.

 

I am privileged to have my own boat to live my passion and love for sailing, as well as to enjoy the island and sea life. But you don't need your own sailing vessel to experience such a lifestyle. As islands in Thailand are easily accessible once you are in the country and have accommodation to suit all budgets, you can easily find your own piece of heaven in any of them.

 

Here are some of my personal "Koh" recommendations for you to have the perfect escape from the hassle and bustle of daily life, as well as to recharge and rejuvenate. ("Koh" is Thai for "island").

 

Koh Lipe, a beautiful island close to the border with Malaysia, is a dream come true for lovers of white sand, turquoise blue water, water sports and diving. There is a good choice of simple bungalow and 3-star resort accommodation, restaurants and shops, little beach bars for sundowners and huts for Thai massage. If you want to escape from it all, rent a long tail boat for the day and go to one of the neighbouring islands with a packed basket lunch.

 

Wish to be completely cut off from the modern world, chill on a small island with a pristine beach, and stay in a simple hotel with a good Thai restaurant? I give you a real insider tip - Koh Boulon is the place to be. Nothing fancy here, just nature, beach, sand and blue waters. It may take more time to access this island than others, but then you're on holiday and time is on your hand to enjoy the journey.

 

For the young and the young at heart, Phi Phi is a good choice. There are numerous restaurants and bars for you to party the night away. For those who prefer some quiet time away from the noise and crowd there are also lovely resorts offering just that.

 

Travelling with your family and children? Then Koh Lanta is ideal as it has many kid-friendly hotels.

 

If you are looking for an island haven with nice small resorts on secluded beaches I recommend Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai, which are located half way between Phuket and Krabi. Don't expect any entertainment here, as there are no discos or karaoke, just nature, water beach and you.

 

Then there are charming Koh Samui, which gained fame as a backpacker heaven 30 years ago, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. They offer everything from bamboo huts to some of the most luxurious accommodation in Asia.  Choose between the more lively parts of the islands or retreat to another for (almost) total seclusion.

 

Phuket is perhaps Thailand's most well known island and very popular with travellers, as it has something for everyone. Busy Patong Beach is a favourite with Asian visitors, many of whom prefer to spend their days shopping, sightseeing and eating instead of basking in the sun, and their nights in fancy restaurants and bars. Home to award-winning luxury resorts you can even have a villa with your private pool, if that's what you like. It's all here in Phuket.

 

Not sure which Koh you want to go to? We can help you discover a few through our 6-day island hopping tour, which visits Koh Lanta, Koh Mook, Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai. If you find the programme too hectic we can tailor an island vacation to your requirements.

 

Unlike some countries that are not able to offer quality beach holidays year round due to climate constraints, Thailand is blessed with perennial sunshine to be able to do so. The Andaman See or the west coast, where Phuket is located, is a favorite during the European winter months. During the summer months Koh Samui and its neighbouring islands in the Gulf of Thailand see some of the best beach weather in Asia.

 

For boating lovers there are few places in the world, which offer the diversity of Thailand. At any time of the year you can charter a motorboat or sailing yacht to ply the waters of the Andaman Sea or Gulf of Thailand.

 

I hope my recommendations have tempted you to come to Thailand for an island or cruise holiday. Whatever sea journeys you wish to take, we at Asian Trails are on hand to help you plan them.

 

Laurent Kuenzle

CEO, Asian Trails

 

 

AN INVITATION TO BE PART OF ASIAN TRAILS SOCIAL MEDIA INITIATIVES

 

Over the years we at Asian Trials have been driven by the overwhelming passion for discovery, following our way towards becoming a central hub for both leisure and incentive travels in South East Asia. We believe that each trip taken is a story, which we will recount to our loved ones, closest friends or work colleagues on our return. We are continuing this journey of discovery into the new year by sharing the secrets, which will make each of your stories even more unique.

 

Along with "The CEO Story", a personal account of our CEO's travel experiences, you can discover new paths in Asia and its many hidden treasures through the Travel News blog section on the Asian Trails website, as well as regular updates on our official Facebook and Twitter pages. So follow us on these social media channels, and keep abreast of the latest products/services from our regional teams to help you plan your adventures in Asia.  

 

 

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

Dear Friends,

 

With more and more repeat clients to our Kingdom, we are seeing an increased demand in shorter tours away from the main tourist attractions. We have created three new Explore tours, which are ideal for clients who have been to Thailand before and who would like to visit some lesser-known areas. 

 

We are also approaching Songkran, which is a season of joy and water throwing for luck. Visitors to Thailand during this festival from April 13 to 15 should be aware that there is a high possibility they will get water thrown at them as part of the celebrations.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Roger Haumueller

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

KING POWER SRIVAREE COMPLEX

 

Opened in October last year, King Power Srivaree Complex is the third Duty Free Shop in Bangkok and the biggest one in Thailand. Spread over 39,000sqm on Bangna-Trad Road, 15 kilometres from Suvarnabhumi Airport, it is designed in modern Thai style and has more than 100 high brand shops.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

COLOSSEUM SHOW PATTAYA

 

Colosseum Show Pattaya is a spectacular cabaret show offering both locals and foreign visitors the rare treat of a vividly colourful, kaleidoscopic extravaganza of traditional and contemporary cabaret entertainment.

 

The Bt400-million theatre, located on a nine-acre piece of land on Thepprasit Road (South Pattaya), is designed in the style of ancient Rome's famed Colosseum. It is the largest entertainment outlet in Pattaya with over 1,000 seats.

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

3-DAY NATURE AND CULTURE UNFORGETTABLE

 

This programme has proven to be an unforgettable experience for those who have gone on the tour. The scenery of the two border towns in enchanting west Thailand with their distinctive natural and cultural charms is definitely one of the most attractive characteristics of Kanchanaburi. Riding on elephant back in the woodland, bamboo rafting on the mighty River Kwai, and exploring the area in a bullock-cart makes for a wonderful memorable adventure.

 
 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

3-DAY CHEOW LAN LAKE EXPEDITION

 

Khao Sok National Park is one of the largest national parks in southern Thailand and its landscape is one of the most spectacular. Within the park is the Cheow Lan Reservoir. Almost all the tours to this area cover only the entrance of the park with standard programmes such as elephant rides and canoeing on the river.

 

The 3-Day Cheow Lan Lake Expedition differs as it takes you beyond the entrance, with a trip in a traditional long-tail boat to the ranger station. Along the journey you pass mountain and rock formations covered with age-old rainforests. The expedition will leave you with overwhelming impressions of the beauty and diversity of the lake and the park.

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

5-DAY CHIANG MAI-MAE HONG SON-PAI SOFT ADVENTURE

 

Asian Trails offers an exciting and unforgettable experience to explore the hills and forests around the north of Chiang Mai with this 5-day adventure. Activities include visits to hill tribe villages, shooting the rapids of a scenic river on inflatable rafts, trekking through the forest on the backs of elephants, and biking along the countryside’s hilly roads.

 

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK

 

GLOW PRATUNAM

 

GLOW Pratunam is located on the 7th to 20th floors of the Shibuya 19 Fashion Mall in Pratunam, one of Bangkok's commercial hubs renowned for its affordable and trendy markets, bazaars and street vendors. It is mere steps away from the Central World Shopping Mall, Siam Paragon Mall, Gaysorn Shopping Centre, Siam Centre, Siam Square, Platinum Mall, Pantip Plaza and Erawan Shrine.

 

The hotel's 169-room are designed in modern style with rich colours and plush linens, and equipped with a 32' LCD TV and iPod docking station. Hotel facilities include free WiFi, outdoor pool and fitness centre. F&B outlets are the Luna Sky Garden Café, afterglow, and Wine Lounge that serves a wide selection of wines in the lounge or on the panoramic pool deck. There is also a stylish function room accommodating up to 200 people.

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

OCEAN BANGKOK

 

Ocean Bangkok is a unique hip urban boutique on Sukhumvit Soi 33, which brings a chic and stylish beach lifestyle concept to the bustling heart of the city. All the 18 stylish air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a 42" flat screen TV, free WiFi, private safe, mini bar and an iPod dock. Most of the rooms have jacuzzi, with some having special double jacuzzis and balconies.

 

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact

 

 

HUA CHANG HERITAGE HOTEL

 

Conveniently located near the Siam Paragon and MBK Shopping Centre, Hua Chang Heritage Hotel is inspired by the new Thai colonial style, which is an exquisite blend of Western-influenced architecture and contemporary Thai design. This seven-storey building deeply embodies the nostalgic charm of the architecture of King Rama V period. All the 80 beautifully appointed guestrooms provide a luxury sanctuary where guests can relax and unwind. Each room is stylishly designed with modern decoration in three different themes inspired by the colours of the Thai lotus - magenta, purple and cobalt blue - each creating a welcoming ambience. The Premiere Deluxe room is unique and offers a huge space of 40sqm. The hotel is now completely in full services after one year of operations

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

HUA HIN

 

SHERATON HUA HIN PRANBURI VILLAS

 

Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas, situated 22 kilometres south of Hua Hin, is the perfect getaway for a relaxing holiday. Spread over 10 acres, the beachfront resort overlooks the Gulf of Siatham and is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and waterways.

 

Experience familiar Sheraton comforts and service in each of our 53 luxurious private villas, each with its own inviting pool, sun lounge and walled garden. The Pool Villa Suites offer even more space and luxury, including butler service. The interconnecting pool villas are a good option for families or groups. All the villas are designed to offer modern comfort, the luxury of space and up-to-date connectivity.

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

PATTAYA

 

CENTARA GRAND MODUS RESORT PATTAYA

 

Set on the Wong Amat Beach in northern Pattaya, Centara Grand Modus Resort Pattaya is designed for couples and families with rooms offering direct pool access, as well as family suites with special sleeping areas for children and self-catering facilities. The striking decoration used throughout the resort combines industrial chic with elements from the old world, using vintage furnishings, antique art, and bold colours and concepts to create a dazzling and memorable visual environment that sets a new hospitality benchmark in the all-action city of Pattaya.

 

The 231 guestrooms and suite comes with a host of in-room amenities and services including individually controlled air-conditioning, minibar, in-room safe, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, IDD telephone line, docking station, complimentary wireless Internet access. All the rooms feature a large bathroom with double washbasin. Designated rooms and suites enjoy exclusive benefits including access to the rooftop Club Lounge, which offers great views of the surrounding area, five meals served daily and private check-in and check-out for guests.

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

PHUKET

 

THE AIM PATONG HOTEL

 

The AIM Patong Hotel is situated near the biggest shopping centre in Patong Beach - Jung Ceylon and Banzaan Market. The famous Patong Beach and the night entertainment area at Bangla Road are a 15-minute walk away. The hotel has 72 rooms with modern design, and are beautifully furnished and equipped for comfort. The swimming pool on the rooftop offers a good view of Patong Beach and is perfect for relaxing.

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

HYATT REGENCY PHUKET RESORT

 

Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort is nestled on a hillside overlooking Kamala Cove at the southern tip of Kamala Beach. Terraced up the verdant hill, this five star resort offers unobstructed panoramic views of the Andaman Sea and spectacular sunsets from each of the 199 guestrooms.

 

The rooms are large, from 48sqm, with hardwood floors and spacious bathroom with separate tub and shower. In-room amenities include a 40-inch flat screen TV, iPod docking station and complimentary wireless Internet. The luxurious Regency Club rooms, perched on the hillside, has an open-concept room and bathroom with a large balcony, with some having private dipping pool. All club guests have access to the Regency Club, which has a large infinity pool overlooking the resort and the Andaman Sea.

 

The Nahm Spa, tucked atop the resort, has eight private spa suites and offers Thai specialist massages and herbal and aromatic treatments.

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

INIALA BEACH HOUSE

 

Iniala Beach House is a very unique residence of 10 bedrooms spread over three beach-front villas and a spectacular penthouse. The residence is a blend of extraordinary design, ground-breaking gastronomy and unparalleled service.

 

The residence is situated on Natai Beach facing the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, and just a 20-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. All-inclusive packages include personal staff (driver, butler, chef, spa therapist, housekeeper), luxury transportation, spa treatment, and gastronomy (three meals per day with two meals per week by three star Michelin chef, Eneko Axta), complimentary WiFi, movies, television and music libraries and laundry. 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

KOH YAO

 

GLOW ELIXIR KOH YAO YAI

 

GLOW Elixir Koh Yao Yai is an ideal island resort situated on a peaceful and private beach on Koh Yao Yai in Phang Nga. The 35 midscale all-villa property sits on a 300-metre stretch of beach just steps away from the glistening Andaman Sea. The stylish air-conditioned villas are equipped with a satellite TV, DVD player, spa and open-air bathroom with hot water showers. Services available include babysitting, boat charter and motorbike rentals.

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

KOH SAMUI

 

OZO CHAWENG KOH SAMUI

 

OZO Chaweng Koh Samui is located on Chaweng Beach. Its 208 rooms are comfortably designed with modern amenities including a flat-screen cable TV, multimedia panels with free WiFi, small balcony, shower with Breeze Spa amenities, and coffee- and tea-making in room. Hotel facilities include a fitness room, Splash swimming pools and one restaurant.

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

SONGKRAN SPLENDOURS 2014/THAI NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS

APRIL 13-15, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT THAILAND

 

During Songkran Thais throughout the country celebrate time-honoured Buddhist customs and ancient Buddhist merit-making traditions. These include bathing rituals of Buddha images when lustral water is sprinkled over them, and the building of sand stupas decorated with colourful flags and flowers at the nine royal Buddhist temples on Rattanakosin Island.

 

The celebrations include a procession of the highly revered Phra Puttha Sihing Buddha image through the streets of Bangkok, with lustral water sprinkled over it as a mark of respect. Phra Puttha Sihing Buddha is revered as a spiritual guardian protecting the local community from harm. The procession presents an opportunity for local residents and visitors of Buddhist faith to make merit.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES LAUNCHES FLIGHTS TO KRABI, FIREFLY DEFERS BANGKOK SERVICE

 

Malaysia Airlines launched four times weekly service between Kuala Lumpur and Krabi on February 3, 2014. The flights, operated with a Boeing B737-800 aircraft, are on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Flights leave Kuala Lumpur at 14.55hrs and arrive in Krabi at 15.40hrs. The return service departs Krabi at 17.20hrs and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 20.05hrs.

 

Meanwhile, MAS subsidiary Firefly has pushed back the launch date of its newest route linking Kota Bharu in Kelantan and Bangkok to March 19.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

CLOUD 47

 

Cloud 47, a multi-sectioned pub and restaurant, is located on top of Silom's United Tower, offering panoramic view of the city's streets. An ideal venue to relax, it has live bands and  DJs to entertain the guests. It can accommodate up to 500 people in either the laidback beer garden or the more upscale wine zone.

 

 

 

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LAOS

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJöRN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends,

 

We are very pleased that Luang Prabang once again won a top spot at UK-based Wanderlust Awards. This precious town continues to maintain its charm even though we see continued strong (tourism) development in and around the city.

 

In 2013 Laos saw an increase in its total number of arrivals to a new all-time record - almost 3.8 million tourists visited the country. But rest assured Laos will continue to be far away from the mass tourism you may have experienced in other countries. It will also continue to be one of the best countries in Asia to explore for those interested in culture and nature!

 

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

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

LAOS AND LUANG PRABANG SHINE IN WANDERLUST TRAVEL AWARDS 2014

 

Laos and Luang Prabang are again recognised at Wanderlust Travel Awards 2014 as among the top 10 best destinations/cities the world. Results are:

 

TOP 10 destination for Laos

TOP 2 city for Luang Prabang

 

Luang Prabang held the top spot in 2011 and 2012 as the best city in the world to visit.

 

 

 

NEW BUS SERVICE LINKS Loei to Luang PrabANG

 

The new bus service linking Loei,Thailand, to Luang Prabang, Laos, is the shortest bus route between the two destination at a distance of 394 kilometres. The bus departs Loei at 08.00hrs and arrives in Luang Prabang at 17.00hrs. The return trip also departs in the morning.

 

Using first-class air con buses with 40 seats, the one-way fare from Loei to Xayaboury is Bt500 (125,000 Kip) and Loei to Luang Prabang Bt700 (175,000 Kip).

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

Luang prabang legend hotel

 

The new Luang Prabang Legend Hotel is located in the town centre, just two minutes' walk from Dara Market. This cosy well furnished hotel provides 18 rooms with Lao style decoration and western comfort and amenities. Its restaurant offers Lao, Thai and western food.

 

 

 

 

For more information please visit

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES CONNECTS VINH CITY TO VIENTIANE

 

Vietnam Airlines' first flight linking Vinh City in Vietnam and Vientiane in Laos landed at Vientiane Wattay International Airport on January 12. The airline operates four flights per week on the new route, using the ATR-72 aircraft. The services are on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

LAO NEW YEAR & WATER FESTIVAL

APRIL 13-15, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT LAOS

 

The Lao New Year, called Songkran or Pii Mai, is celebrated every year from April 13 to April 15. Celebrations can last longer than a week in towns like Luang Prabang. This is hottest time of the year in Laos, which is also the start of the monsoon season.

 

Please note that our offices will be closed from April 14-16.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

THE Balcony - FRANCO-LAO FUSION RESTAURANT IN Luang Prabang

 

The Balcony, located a few minutes from downtown Luang Prabang, is a gastronomic restaurant managed by a Luxembourg couple (the chef and his wife). Sited on the grounds of LANITH (the tourism industry training programme sponsored by Luxembourg), the restaurant offers Franco-Lao fusion style cuisine, all made with local products. It is open only for dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

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CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

 

Dear Business Partners,

 

The number of travellers visiting Cambodia continues to increase, and Asian Trails is happy to bring you our latest update - more boutique hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, new restaurants and more yoga classes to relax.

 

By mid-April we will have one of the most important festivals in Cambodia, the Khmer New Year.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

SAMATOA LOTUS FARM - SIEM REAP

 

Samatoa Lotus Farm is part of the Samatoa project, which aims to develop and provide new skills and job opportunities to women living in poor areas of Cambodia. They are trained to make scarves from lotus flowers, which are collected four times a day.

 

You can visit the farm to witness the making of the scarves. A member of the project will guide you to the different parts of the workshop where you can see all the steps in the making of a scarf - from the raw material to the finished product. The farm is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Entry is free.

 

 

 

ROAD CONDITION BETWEEN PHNOM PENH AND SIEM REAP

 

Last October, during the floods, some parts of the road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap were badly damaged. Because of the road conditions the transfer between these two towns, which is normally five to six hours, now takes six to eight hours.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS CAMBODIA LAUNCHES WELLNESS PROGRAMMES

 

Wellness programmes are designed for people who need the time and place to step back from their life and recover balance, relax, renew their energy, replenish their spirit and decrease the stress level. The range of therapies is drawn from diverse healing traditions and a variety of holistic activities. Optional complementary and alternative medicine treatments, as well as private sessions, may be recommended depending on individual needs after the initial health diagnostic.

 

We are giving you the opportunity to rest, relax and destress with our newly launched 3-, 5-, and 7-day wellness packages, which combine therapeutic treatment with sightseeing.

 

Contact us for more details.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PHNOM PENH

 

ASIA TUNE HOTEL

 

Asia Tune Hotel is a new boutique hotel conveniently located in central Phnom Penh. It is ideal for sightseeing and shopping as the Royal Palace, the Riverside and the central market are five minutes' walk away. The hotel offers 84 unique rooms, which blend contemporary elegance with European traditions.

 

 

 

TEAV BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

TEAV Boutique Hotel is a contemporary property offering a garden, terrace and an outdoor pool. Featuring a modern décor, all the 12 rooms have bright interiors with white-coloured walls. The hotel is conveniently located near the Independence Monument in a quiet district of Phnom Penh.

 

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

ANGKOR HERITAGE BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

Located in the centre of Siem Reap, amidst tranquil surroundings and a lush tropical garden, Angkor Heritage Boutique Hotel features 30 well-appointed spacious rooms. Its design and decor nicely blends the finest Khmer and French colonial style. It is about 15 minutes' drive from Siem Reap International Airport and the Angkor Archeological Park, and within a short distance from the Old Market and Pub Street.

 

 

 

VICTORIA ANGKOR RESORT AND SPA TO CLOSE FOR RENOVATIONS

 

Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa will close for renovations from June 1-30 2014. The refurbishment will involve interior and exterior works, the repainting of all surfaces, sprucing up of the bathrooms, and some changes in the guestrooms. Due to the scope of the project there will be considerable disturbance during the month-long renovations. Therefore, the hotel will close during this period. We will keep you informed should the work finish earlier.

 

 

 

SOFT REFURBISHMENT AT LE MERIDIEN ANGKOR

 

Le Meridien Angkor is carrying out a refurbishment programme, which started on February 20 and is scheduled to be completed by October 31, 2014. The dates of the renovations and the areas being refurbished are as follows:

 

• Painting of the building's exteriors: From February 24 until June 30. Work is from 8am to 6pm.

• Work on the hotel's roof to prevent leakage during the rainy season: From February 24 to June 30.

• Room varnishing: From March 20 to October 31 October. The work will take place in stages with the closing of each hotel's wing accordingly.

 

The refurbishment work will not have any impact on the guests' experience at Le Meriden Angkor.

 

 

 

KOMPONG THOM

 

BRONZE LAKE RESORT

 

The new 33-room Bronze Lake Resort opened recently in Kampong Thom. It is an alternative for our clients who wish to stay near Sambor Prei Kuk Temple on their way to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Hotel facilities include restaurants, bars, a swimming pool, two zip line connected to the lake, bumper boats and canoes at disposal.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

KHMER NEW YEAR

APRIL 14-16, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

After welcoming the Chinese New Year of the Wooden Horse, Cambodia will usher in her very own Khmer New Year on April 14 to 16 with a three-day holiday and colourful celebrations. This also marks the end of the harvest season. People will spend time visiting family and friends, as well as offering alms and donations at Buddhist pagodas.

 

Please note that some local markets and businesses, and the Royal Palace will be partly closed during these dates.

 

Our office will remain open, but with limited staff.

 

Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey!

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

PALATE ANGKOR RESTAURANT AND BAR - SIEM REAP

 

Palate Angkor Restaurant and Bar is the newest addition to the Siem Reap culinary scene. Serving delectable Pan Asian cuisine, the restaurant is centrally located in the leafy French Quarter between The Royal Gardens and the Riverside, just 15 minutes from the Angkor temples. With its open design, the restaurant offers understated elegance with a magnificent view from the upstairs terrace and breezy downstairs dining area.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

PRESENTS AND CHEER FOR STEUNG PENH PRIMARY SCHOOL FROM SANTA CLAUS

 

Last December Santa Claus visited Steung Penh Primary School, located in a small village north of the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh, bringing presents and cheer to the children. This special occasion was made possible thanks to the heartwarming gift of one generous client, the management and staff of Asian Trails Cambodia and their relatives, as well as the Sipar Association.

 

 

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Dear Friends,

 

After the Tet holidays everything is back to normal in Vietnam. Visitors are arriving in large numbers to the country, and enjoying the natural attractions, cultural sites, and the absolutely delightful Vietnamese food.

 

With Halong Bay at its most beautiful in the coming months due to the fine weather conditions, a new beach destination at Tuy Hoa, a wide choice of tours and hotels throughout the country, Vietnam is the ideal destination for all your guests.

 

We wish you all a lovely spring and successful business year in 2014.

 

Thuy Tien and the Asian Trails Vietnam team

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

QUANG BINH LISTED IN 52 GLOBAL PLACES TO VISIT IN 2014 BY NEW YORK TIMES

 

The New York Times listed Quang Binh Province as the top eighth place in the world on its list of 52 global places to go to in 2014. It ranks behind destinations in Africa, America, Europe and New Zealand.

 

Quang Binh is selected for its cave system, specifically Son Doong Cave. This is the biggest cave in the world, which is able to accommodate 400 storey high skyscrapers and 100-feet high trees. It is believed to have been created two to five million years ago by river water eroding the limestone underneath a mountain. It was discovered in 2009 by British caver Howard Limbert and by a local man earlier.

 

There are limited small-scale departures per year to Son Duong Cave to avoid negative environmental impact. The tour requires guests to be of a certain level of fitness as it involves some walking and climbing. However, if Son Doong Cave is not available, we have other amazing options like Swallow Cave and Tu Lan Caves.

 

Please contact us for more information.

 

 

 

TOURISM BOOST FOR PHU QUOC ISLAND

 

The Ha Tien-Phu Quoc undersea cable system was connected to the national power network before Lunar New Year (Tet holiday). This benefits Phu Quoc Island in the southern Kien Giang Province as hoteliers there are able to cut operational costs and consequently can reduce room rates.

 

Another boost for the island's tourism is a new government directive that allows foreigners or Vietnamese holding foreign passports, who transit at any airport or seaport on their way to Phu Quoc Island, to enjoy exemption for visas up to 30 days. The new ruling takes effect from March 10, 2014.
 

The heart-shaped Phu Quoc Island is popular with tourists, as it is well known for its beautiful beaches, pristine landscape and delicious seafood. It is ranked third in the list of best winter trips 2014 by U.S. magazine, National Geographic Traveler.

 

 

 

TUY HOA, NEW BEACH DESTINATION IN THE MAKING

 

Tuy Hoa in Phu Yen Province is a small beach city located between Quy Nhon and Nha Trang along a scenic coastal road. Currently it is not well known as a beach destination, compared to its regional counterpart, Nha Trang. However, it has potential with its year-round warm climate, beautiful and untouched beaches, easy access and links with neighbouring cities, rich history and culture, and a large variety of fresh seafood.

 

There is also easy access. Vietnam Airlines operates a daily ATR-72 service from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Tuy Hoa Airport (except on Tuesday and Saturday), which is about five kilometres from the city centre.

 

Please contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

HISTORIC WALKING TOUR OF SAIGON AND CHO LON

 

Tourists who are interested in learning about the real history of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) or Cho Lon (Chinatown) can now register for a four-hour tour. It includes both walking and transportation (car or small minibus), passing through historic buildings, streets recalling the city's past, its vibrant present and projecting to new perspectives. Accompanied by a British historian, the tour unveils amazing stories of the former "The Pearl of the Orient". At the end of the tour guests receive a complimentary brochure of historic maps and photographs, which explains the development of the city.

 

The tour is recommended for visitors who want to get deeper into Saigon's history and architecture. Suitable for FITs or small groups of about six.

 

Please contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE FOR A LUXURIOUS STAY

 

The new five star Pullman Saigon Centre offers guests a centrally located stay in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, and a contemporary design standard evocative of the Accor Group. It stands 31 floors tall close to Ben Thanh market, and offers an appeal of its own to visitors, including a new sky bar.

 

The hotel's 306 rooms start from a spacious 35 square metres and features signature Pullman bedding, 40-inch LED IPTVs, and offer vibrant city views. It also boasts the city's highest hotel dining venue, Cobalt Restaurant, perched 30 floors above the city's bustling streets.

 

 

 

JW MARRIOTT HOTEL HANOI OPENS

 

With a striking inverted design poised upon a hilltop, JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi is a new icon in the city's skyline. Located in Hanoi's central business district adjacent to the National Convention Centre the hotel's modern half moon shape and glass-and-steel façade, designed by Carlos Zapata Studio, are inspired by the country's coastline and the figure of a dragon. It offers 394 guestrooms and 56 suites, with rooms starting from 48 square metres in size. This is JW Marriott's first foray into Vietnam, with future expansion on the drawing board.

 

 

 

BANYAN TREE LANG CO'S NEW SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE

 

Banyan Tree Lang Co has started new shuttle bus services for its guests to Hoi An and Hue. Details below:

 

Hoi An shuttles

• Departs hotel at 08.00hrs & 15.00hrs; arrives in Hoi An at 10.00hrs & 17.00hrs respectively.

• Departs Hoi An at 13.00hrs & 21.00hrs; arrives at hotel at 17.00hrs & 19.00hrs respectively

 

Hue shuttles

• Departs hotel at 10.00hrs; arrives in Hue at 11:30hrs  

• Departs Hue at17.00hrs; arrives at hotel at 19.00hrs

 

Guests are requested to book the service at the resort's front desk by 18.00hrs on the day before travel.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

HUE FESTIVAL 2014

APRIL 12-20, 2014

VENUE: HUE

 

The Hue Festival 2014, themed "Cultural Heritage with Integration and Development", forms part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' East Asian Latin American cultural exchange. Taking part are 45 international art troupes from 35 countries. This will be the first time Vietnam welcomes world famous art troupes including Brazil's Sururu na Roda music band, Japan's Bati-Holic and the Pales Tinian folk dance troupe. Asayel. Domestic and foreign organisations have defied economic difficulties to ensure the festival receives the required VND20 billion funding.

 

 

 

VIETNAM INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL MART 2014

APRIL 3-6, 2014

VENUE: VIETNAM EXHIBITION FAIR CENTRE, HANOI

 

The Vietnam International Travel Mart is jointly organised by the Vietnam Tourism Association, the General Department of Tourism, and the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Into its second year, the mart will see the participation of 450 domestic and international tourism companies, with an expected 50,000 delegates.

 

The theme of the mart is "Tourism Promotion-New Destination, New Opportunity, and Travelling for Sustainable Development". It will highlight domestic, as well as inbound and outbound international tourism. There will also be art performances and tourism seminars.

 

 

 

10TH ANNIVERSARY OF TOURISM TRADE

APRIL 4-7, 2014

VENUE: HO CHI MINH CITY

 

Ho Chi Minh City's department of tourism celebrates its 10th anniversary of Tourism Trade with a trade show and tourism promotional activities held in the central 23rd September Park.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES LINKS VINH CITY TO VIENTIANE

 

Vietnam Airlines' first international route in 2014 connected Vinh City in Vietnam's north central province to Vientiane, Laos' capital city. It landed at Vientiane Wattay International Airport on January 12, 2014. The four times weekly service operates using the ATR 72 aircraft on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The Vinh City-Vientiane service follows five international routes launched last year.

 

 

 

NOI BAI (HANOI) INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT INTRODUCES ELECTRIC CAR SERVICE

 

No Bai (Hanoi) International Airport will provide electric cars to transport airline passengers and airport staff between Terminal T1 and Terminal T2 when it is operational by the end of this year. It is also a move to curb illegal taxis and motorbike taxis, which cheat and overcharge passengers, as well as provide security. The use of electric vehicles will help protect the environment.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

WARM WELCOME TO MANFRED SCHWEIZER AS ATV'S NEW GENERAL MANAGER

 

We are delighted to introduce Mr. Manfred Schweizer  to all of our business partners and colleagues. He joins us as the new General Manager of Asian Trails Vietnam on February 10, 2014.

 

A German national, Mr Schweizer has decades of experience in tourism in different roles, including executive management positions. He will use his vast experience to support our team. His main responsibility is to ensure smooth operations of ATV's three offices, and keeping our commitment to provide excellent ground services to all clients travelling with Asian Trails in Vietnam.

 

You can reach Mr Schweizer via email at gm@asiantrails.com.vn and mobile at (+84) 9 83 70 88 90.

 

 

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

 

The Year of the Horse has taken off very well. We are preparing for the high season, which starts early this year. It will be a busy time with trade fairs in March, F1 in Shanghai in April, Auto Show in Beijing, and the Guangzhou Spring Canton Fair also in April. The country's infrastructure continues to expand, with opening of new hotels and resorts, more high-speed railway lines and more international flights. The Asian Trails China team is ready for a promising year of business.

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

QINGDAO OPENS NEW RAILWAY STATION FOR HIGH-SPEED NETWORK

 

Qingdao North Railway Station, the largest railway station in Shandong Province, opened before the start of the Spring Festival travel. Its opening marks an important step in the country's construction of high-speed railways in the eastern coastal region. The high-speed railway system links the Shandong Peninsula with the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.

 

 

 

SICHUAN THEME PARK RECREATES SINKING OF THE TITANIC

 

A theme park in Sichuan will build a life-size replica of the Titanic, as well a shipwreck simulator to recreate the experience of being on board the sinking ship. Due to open in 2016, the project is funded by the Seven Star Energy Investment Group and will also include a museum.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

MOUNT EMEI - SACRED MOUNTAIN OF CHANGING HUES

 

Emei is a poetic term for "beautiful woman" in Chinese. Mount Emei is also beautiful, spreading over 154 square kilometres offering a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape throughout the year. In spring, its azaleas are brilliantly red. In summer, the lush green trees and grass give the mountain a verdant look. In autumn, the mountain is a riot of colours with the green, yellow, orange and red of the trees mingling with the blue of the sky. And in winter the mountain becomes a white wonderland, with the ancient temples, trees and mountain slopes covered in snow.

 

Mount Emei was included in the UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage list in 1996.

 

 

 

SHAOYANG - CITY OF NATURAL WONDERS AND RICH CULTURE

 

Shaoyang, a city in south western Hunan Province, has beautiful scenery and rich culture. Its recent listing as a World Natural Heritage site has made it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Two rivers - Zijiang and Yuanjiang - cross Shaoyang, making it an attractive water city in the province, which boasts more than 1.2 million hectares of forests and some 470,000 hectares of grassland.

 

Liangshan Mountains, which geologists have praised as the best of the Danxia landforms, were included in UNESCO's World Natural Heritage list on August 2, 2010.

 

 

 

INNER MONGOLIA MUSEUM

 

If Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is the gateway for people from all over the world to explore the region's grasslands and ethnic culture, then Inner Mongolia Museum in the east of the city is the best guidebook for first-time visitors preparing to travel deeper into the area. Covering an area of 15,000 square metres, the museum has more than 100,000 exhibits, and boasts the country's most complete collection of artefacts of the history and culture of the Mongolian ethnic group.

 

 

 

HOUSE OF LITERATURE (DA YA TANG) REBUILT

 

The House of Literature is a collection of buildings constructed in 1100 in traditional Chinese architectural style in Danling county, Sichuan Province. It was then known as the Great Hall of Elegance, and was built to house some 300 tablets with the poems of Du Fu (AD 712-770), one of the greatest poets in the history of Chinese literature. The calligraphy of Huang Tingjian (1045-1105), a great poet and calligrapher in the Northern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127), was also kept there. Over the ensuing dynasties many famous poems, essays, calligraphy works and paintings were stored in the hall. However, it was destroyed during a war in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The hall is now rebuilt to house Du's poems, and was opened on January 25, 2014.

 

 

 

WEIWU - UNIQUE HAKKA WAY OF LIFE

 

Weiwu (self-encircling houses) found scattered in Meizhou, Guangdong Province, is one of the most visible examples of the Hakka way of life. The arrangement can be square, rectangular or curved on one side. The size of a weiwu is identified by the number of encirclements. There are three circles of buildings, with only the middle one in a crescent shape. The outermost has four corners, which are reinforced like a fortress, complete with embrasures.

 

 

 

WANGGEZHUANG VILLAGE - A PLACE OF TRANQUILLITY AND BEAUTY

 

Surrounded by five mountain peaks, Wanggezhuang Village is located in a valley that lies at the foot of Laoshan Mountain. It is home to five centenarians and many residents who are in their 70s or 80s. A retreat from urban life, the village is surrounded by beautiful scenery that has inspired many poets and painters over the ages. The district's proportion of people enjoying a long life ranks the first in China, which shows that Laoshan is a place ideal to live in and also to visit.

 

 

 

XINXIAN - A RURAL PARADISE

 

Xinxian county is located in the southern end of Henan Province, neighbouring Hubei and Anhui provinces. Its name literally means "a new county", and is one of four national bases for growing ginkgo. It has been listed as China's best leisure town and a national ecological demonstration zone, and was granted the national habitat environmental model prize. Many villages in the mountainous regions are renowned for their vast plantations and diverse populations of rare birds, making them attractive to photographers and painters alike.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BEAUTIFUL SETTING FOR SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, LHASA

 

Few places in the world are as magical as Lhasa, the administrative capital of Tibet. Set on a plateau soaring 3,650 metres above sea level, the city is encircled by the fabled Himalayan mountains, glaciers and desert-like landscapes. This intriguing destination will become home to Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts' newest property, the 289-room Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa, which will open on April 17, 2014.

 

 

 

WALDORF ASTORIA BEIJING FOR A LUXURIOUS STAY

 

Standing as a dramatic copper building, Waldorf Astoria Beijing is a striking landmark in the heart of the Wangfujing district in Beijing. Opened in March, it is an icon where time transcends through the rich Chinese tradition to today's sophisticated affluent lifestyle. With its signature True Waldorf Service, the hotel exemplifies discreet personalised attention, creating unforgettable moments that add up to an extraordinary experience for the guests.

 

 

 

BEIJING MARRIOTT HOTEL CENTRAL SET TO OPEN IN APRIL

 

Filled with beautiful gardens, temples and palaces, Beijing's treasures are a visual story of its 3,000-year history. Today, the city is a hub for culture, education and politics, attracting visitors from around the globe. Beijing Marriott Hotel Central, slated to open in April this year, is located in Xicheng District and just a short walk to the bus and Metro stations. Guests find a five star hotel, which puts both modern amenities and the area's rich history within easy reach. Accommodations are simple and elegant, with WiFi, an LCD TV, 24-hour room service and sumptuous bedding. It is easily accessible from Beijing Nanyuan and Beijing Capital International airports. Nearby are iconic attractions including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

 

 

 

RADISSON BLU KASHGAR, FIRST FIVE STAR HOTEL FOR THE CITY

 

Kashgar, "The Pearl of the Silk Road", has been an important trade centre between east and west for thousands of years. Today, China's westernmost city is flourishing more than ever. Radisson Blu Hotel has become a distinguished landmark as the first international five star hotel in this city. Scheduled to open in April 2014, it is conveniently located 15 kilometres from Kashgar Airport and adjacent to Asia's largest traditional marketplace.

 

 

 

SPRING OPENING FOR CROWNE PLAZA BEIJING LIDO

 

Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido is the place to meet for work or holiday on your next visit to Beijing. The hotel is conveniently located at Chaoyang district in the centre of the Lido area, famous for its up-market residents, international medical centres, restaurants and bars. Due for a Spring opening, it is located close to the Wangjing area and only 17km from Beijing International Airport. There is easy access to other parts of the city via the nearby Metro or by taxis. All the guestrooms feature flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a large workspace and high-speed Internet access. The hotel boasts 1600sqm of flexible event space in seven meeting rooms, including a grand ballroom that can seat up to 800 guests.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

UPCOMING FESTIVALS AND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN CHINA 2014

 

QING MING FESTIVAL - APRIL 5

Qing Ming Festival, also called "Tomb Sweeping Day" or "All Souls Day", falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming. It is a day to remember and honour one's ancestors by visiting their graves. Both the young and the old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to them. These rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers.

 

The concept of filial piety or obedience to one's elderly or ancestors is a very important concept in Chinese culture. Traditionally, the Chinese believe the spirits of their deceased ancestors will look after the family even when they are gone. Hence, the offering of food and spirit money could keep them happy in the spiritual world and, in turn, the living family will continue to prosper through good harvests and more children from the ancestors' blessing.

 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 

• QING MING FESTIVAL (Tomb Sweeping Day): April 5-7 (Festival Day on April 5).  

• LABOUR DAY: May 1-3

• DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL: June 2.

• MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL: September 8

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

 

SHOWS & EVENTS  

GUANGZHOU  

• Guangzhou Furniture Show: March 18-22

• Guangzhou Spring Canton Fair: April 15-May 5

SHANGHAI:

• F1 in Shanghai: April 18-20

BEIJING

• Auto Show: April 21-29

CHENGDU:

• National Sugar & Wine Trading Fai: March 28-31

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES' SUV SERVICE FROM SHENZHEN TO HONG KONG

 

China Southern Airlines is providing a special SUV service to Hong Kong for its passengers on any flight to Shenzhen. The vehicle sends the passengers to any destination in Hong Kong, whether they want to shop, dine or just sightsee. The special service ends on June 16.

 

 

 

HAINAN AIRLINES FLIES TO BALI

 

Hainan Airlines has launched direct round-trip flights from Beijing to Bali, the popular Indonesian resort island. The flights leave Beijing at 3.50pm (Beijing time) and land in Bali at 11.05pm (Bali time) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The return flights from Bali are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

 

 

 

 

AMERICAN AIRLINES' NON-STOP SERVICE TO HONG KONG

 

American Airlines will launch a new non-stop service between Hong Kong and Dallas/Fort Worth on June 13, 2014. The new flight will connect to about 200 onward flights within the U.S. and to Latin America.

 

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS' SEVENTH ROUTE TO CHINA

 

Qatar Airways launched its seventh new destination to China with the launch of its direct service from Doha to Hangzhou, Zhejiang's capital city in early December 2013. The four times weekly flights offer more than 800 in-flight entertainment options. Flight time between the two cities is about eight hours.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

CHEF DADONG BEIJING DUCK

 

The Chef Dadong restaurants in Beijing are very popular with both locals and foreign visitors. After opening a branch of the restaurant in Wangfujing, the group has opened another at the East Gate of the Workers Stadium. The restaurants are ideal for incentive groups.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

XIAOLIN IS ATC'S INBOUND MANAGER

 

Miss Xiaolin Zhang has been appointed as Inbound Manager of Asian Trails China, effective January 2014. She oversees the inbound leisure and MICE business, and reports directly to the Managing Director. Xiaolin has been with Asian Trails for five years. We wish her all the very best in this new position.

 

 

 

 

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MYANMAR

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

The past season has been quite an exceptional time here in Myanmar. The tourism industry is prospering as never before, and we're enjoying a tourism boom with the increasing number of tourist arrivals. Hotels and flights have been fully booked throughout the past months on the main tourist circuits.

 

The upswing also brings its challenges, especially for hotel rooms that will be difficult to obtain in the future. We advise clients to travel during the low season from May to September.

 

I take the opportunity once more to thank you all for the support, and look forward to meet you at ITB in Berlin.

 

Best regards,

 

Thomas Carnevale

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

HOTELS' SPECIAL SUMMER PROMOTION

 

Some hotels are offering promotion rates for the coming summer season. This Green Season is the best time to visit Myanmar. as tourist spots are less crowded and the prices are more attractive.

 

Contact our office for more details and dedicated tour programmes.

 

 

 

 

SUCCESSFUL SEA GAMES IN MYANMAR

 

The 27th South East Asian Games (SEA Games) took place in Myanmar from December 11 to 22, 2013 with the participation of 11 countries from South East Asia. It was the biggest and most successful sport event since the country's opening in 2010. Myanmar last hosted the Games in 1969.

 

 

 

BEACH HOTELS CLOSE FOR RAINY SEASON

 

We would like to remind that May to September is the monsoon season in Myanmar, and hotels in Ngapali and Ngwe Saung (pictured) are closed. During this period strong rains occur along the country's coastline, and travelling to the beach and other areas along the coast is not recommended. All other major tourist attractions such as Bagan, Mandalay and the Inle Lake region are suitable for visits as usual. Guests will find a mild climate with only scattered showers in these places.

 

 

 

ORIENTAL BALLOONING STARTS OPERATIONS IN BAGAN

 

Oriental Ballooning, a 100% Myanmar owned company and managed by Amata Hotel Group, launched its first balloon operation in Bagan on January 1, 2014. It is operating six balloons daily with a total capacity of 40 passengers, until March 31, 2014. There is a daily sunrise flight, which lasts for 45 minutes to one hour depending on the wind. The company also plans to operate flights around the Inle Lake area. Charter service is also available.

 

Please contact Asian Trails Myanmar for more information

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

CHARTER TRAIN  - NEW TRAVEL SERVICE

 

A new exclusive way to travel between Yangon and Bagan/Mandalay v.v. is by a charter train, a service offered by Myanmar Railways MR. This special train, which can transport up to 200 passengers, has seat/berth air-conditioned carriages including a dining and a meeting compartment. Rental charges vary according to the travel distance.

 

 

 

PANDAW RIVER EXPEDITIONS

 

Two additional exclusive river journeys experience on the Chindwin River and beyond Bahmo are now possible with the recently built ultra-shallow draft passenger vessels, Kalay and Kindat. Cruises to non-touristic areas are operated in weekly schedule from Mandalay.

 

 

 

SANCTUARY RETREATS OFFERS NEW CRUISE EXPERIENCE WITH ANANDA

 

Sanctuary Retreats is offering a pure luxury cruising experience on the Irrawaddy with its newly built cruise ship, ANANDA, starting from December 2014. This newly built cruise ship offers 20 spacious suites allocated on three decks, a sundeck, an outdoor pool and the Kansit panoramic lounge. Apart from the classic river journeys along the Irrawaddy, ANANDA will also offer longer cruise journeys and trips on the Chindwin River.

 

 

 

GREEN SEASON SIC TOUR

 

For the coming summer, during the Green Season, we will be offering a new 12-day tour to the classic destinations in Myanmar with more attractive price at four star accommodations.

 

This English-speaking guided tour starts from Yangon or Mandalay, with minimum of two paxs for each departure.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

OASIS HOTEL - OUR RECOMMENDATION IN BAGAN

 

Oasis Hotel, a small charming property with 19 rooms, is surrounded by greenery and offers service with a personal touch. It is located a few minutes' walk from Restaurant Street. Hotel facilities include a restaurant and a pool. Bike rental service is available for an easy access to the nearby archeological sites.

 

 

 

CHERRY HILLS HOTEL - YANGON

 

The three star Cherry Hills Hotel in Yangon is located just a short distance from downtown and the Shwedagon Pagoda. Its 45 modern air-conditioned rooms are fitted with a flat-screen cable TV, minibar safety deposit box, coffee/tea maker and hairdryer. Facilities in the hotel include a Japanese restaurant, bar, fitness centre and massage service. Free Wifi is available.

 

 

 

HOTEL ROSE GARDEN - YANGON

 

Hotel Rose Garden, a new four star hotel in Yangon, soft opened in February. It is a nine storey modern building located within walking distance to the Kandawgyi Lake. When fully operational the property will feature 296 rooms divided in five categories, and equipped with all standard facilities.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

 

 

WATER FESTIVAL 2014

APRIL 13-16, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MYANMAR

 

The Water Festival, known as Thingyan, is held on the eve of the Myanmar New Year, which falls on April 17, to cleanse the evil deeds of the previous year by spraying water.

 

Young people go out to enjoy themselves, while the elders retreat to monasteries and pagodas to pray and make offerings. The streets of Yangon and throughout Myanmar's cities and towns are thronged with people dancing, throwing water at each other and having a good time. The atmosphere is electric and people behave in a different way than they usually do during other times of the year. Tourists please be aware that you will not be spared from having water thrown at you.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MYANMAR'S NEW DOMESTIC AIRLINE COMMENCES SERVICE IN APRIL

 

Mann Yadanar Pone Airlines, Myanmar's new domestic airline, will launch services in April 2014 with a weekly flight from Mandalay to Monywar and Homalin v.v. The additional connections will provide easier and more convenient access to surrounding tourist areas.

 

 

 

SILKAIR FLIES TO MANDALAY AND YANGON IN JUNE

 

SilkAir will offer thrice-weekly circular flights between Singapore and Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city, and Yangon from June 10, 2014. The service will be operated with the two-class Airbus A319 aircraft.

 

 

 

ASIAN WINGS AIRWAYS LAUNCHES MANDALAY-CHIANG MAI SERVICE

 

Asian Wings Airways has launched direct flights between Chiang Mai, Thailand's second biggest city, and Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city. The twice weekly flights are on every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the airline's first international flight.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

A DAY AT THE ZOO FOR RURAL CHILDREN

 

In February Asian Trails in collaboration with My Red Elephant-go social, a community organisation, took over 60 children from a rural village outside Yangon and 10 children from Mary Chapman School for the Deaf on an excursion to the Yangon Zoo. For most of these children it was their first trip outside of their village, and it was an exciting and unforgettable day for them.

 

 

 

SOLAR LAMPS FOR VILLAGES IN MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO

 

In the first week of February the Asian Trails staff travelled to the far south east of the country to donate solar lamps to poor villages on two islands on the Mergui Archipelago. The solar lamps will allow the school children to study beyond daylight hours, as these villages are not connected to any government electricity grid.

 

 

 

 

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MALAYSIA

 

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Dear Partners and friends,

 

Malaysia has been celebrating many public holidays recently, including Chinese New Year and Prophet's Birthday. These festivities beautify the country as streets, shopping malls, temples and hotels were brightly decorated. During Chinese New Year amazing lion dances were performed in hotels, shopping malls and in New Year open houses. Mandarin oranges were distributed to all those present at these events as symbols of prosperity. It is definitely the period of the year where you can build up your intake of Vitamin C.

 

I like to invite travel agents who want to add a touch of culture to their travel itineraries to contact us, so we could help them include their clients as part of the many celebrations we have in Malaysia.

 

I will be attending ITB in Berlin as I do every year. I would like to invite you to visit us at our booth no. 207 in Hall 26b. 

 

See you soon and best regards

 

Emir

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

PENANG DEFERS TAX ON HOTEL ROOMS TO JUNE 2014

 

The levy on hotel rooms in Penang has been deferred to June this year pending confirmation of the rate and collection mechanism.

 

 

 

CAR-FREE MORNING IN KUALA LUMPUR

 

Kuala Lumpur City Hall has implemented the "Go Green Car-Free Morning" on several major roads in Kuala Lumpur on every first Sunday of the month starting from January 5, 2014. The 5km stretch of vehicle free roads includes Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Pinang, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Imbi and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

 

These roads are vehicle-free from 7.30am until 9.30am to give walkers, joggers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists, among others, a chance to enjoy their activities.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS MALAYSIA'S SELECTED PACKAGES FOR VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR 2014

 

In conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY2014), Asian Trails Malaysia has selected three extraordinary packages to be promoted together with the Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) through a specially designed VMY 2014 website at:  www.discovermalaysia.com.my, which was  launched by the Minister of Tourism & Culture.

 

The three special packages are highlighted in the following three articles.

 

 

 

(A) A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE MAH MERI

 

Three thousand years ago, along the western coast of the Malay peninsula, there lived small groups of people known to archaeologists as the sea nomads. They stayed in boats and lived off the marine life and mangrove flora and fauna. Some may regard their way of life as harsh, but the sea nomads' ability to live as one with nature gave them a spiritual outlook on life that few have ever experienced. Although these people have now completely settled on land, they still hold on to their traditional ways.

 

The Mah Meri Cultural Village is set right in the middle of their community, so they can relive and recapture the way of life of their forebears, in both their cultural beliefs and their simple way of life. The practice of organising their lives through their spirits is central to the traditional Mah Meri culture. Within these kampongs or villages is a kinship system, which has a batin or headman who doubles as a bomoh or shaman. His task is to nurture the moyangs or spirits whom they believe provide guidance and protection. 

 

Please contact us for more details.

 

 

 

(B) 3-DAY HOUSEBOAT CRUISE IN THE BELUM RAINFOREST

 

The Belum Rainforest was virtually untouched until the curfew in Malaysia was lifted in 1991. Now its well-kept secrets lie exposed, waiting for us to explore and appreciate.   

 

Located in the most northerly region in the state of Perak covering an area of 134,000 hectares, Belum is one of the least known and probably the last unexplored jungle of Malaysia. It shares a common boundary with Thailand bordering the lattter's Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, with migration of wildlife between these two areas quite common. To the east it shares the border with the Malaysian state of Kelantan, and the tributaries of the Perak River to the south, and the Temenggor Lake to the west.

 

The word "Belum" literally means "not yet", denoting the vast areas in the rainforest yet to be discovered, especially in the northern region. The massive Temenggor Lake, which spans the Belum-Temenggor Forest, was the result of the construction of the Temenggor Dam that was completed in 1978 (more than 150 square kilometers of forest and grassland were submerged). The lake's depth is 100 metres at its deepest spot, and its open waters and secluded inlets host an incredible variety of freshwater fishes. The Rainforest is also rich in wildlife and home to elephants, tigers, Sumatran rhinoceros, seladang, deer, honey bears, tapirs, hornbills and many species of birds. Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world, is also found here.

 

Please contact us for more details.

 

 

 

(C) 7-DAY CULINARY TOUR

 

Experience the best of Malaysian cuisine in this special programme, which takes you on a culinary journey that includes visiting local markets, lavish meals at local eateries, and a cooking class when you make your very own Malaysian lunch.

 

Please contact us for more details.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

RENOVATIONS AT HYATT REGENCY KUANTAN RESORT

 

Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort in Pahang has commenced refurbishment of its 69 and 105 guestrooms and facilities located in Village 1 and Village 2 respectively. Phase one of the renovation works started in January 2014 and will take about three months. Renovation works for phase two is expected to begin in April, and is scheduled to be completed towards the end of June 2014.

 

Throughout the work period, from 9am to 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays, medium to high noise level is expected (no work is carried out on Sundays). The noise level is expected to decrease to low and medium towards the end of each phase.

 

Safety netting and covers are erected on Village 1 and Village 2 during the respective renovation phases. During this work period both swimming pools and other resort facilities remain open to hotel guests.

 

 

 

THE MAGELLAN SUTERA RESORT, KOTA KINABALU - JUGS CLOSES AND ROOM REFURBISHMENT

 

JUGs' closure

After two years and 11 months in operations, JUGs Sports Bar at The Pacific Sutera is closed from January 1, 2014.

 

Room refurbishment

The first phase of the room refurbishment at The Magellan Sutra Resort's Harbour Wing has been completed, and all the rooms are re-opened.

 

The second phase, which will be carried out at the Marina Wing, started in February and is expected to be completed by May 2014. At the Magellan Club, refurbishment work will begin in June and continue until July 2014.

 

All refurbished rooms will have a modern and elegant appearance, creating a warm and relaxed ambience for all guests. There will be brand new lush carpeting and a new Wing chair. Other new amenities are 30cm-thick mattress, 42" flat screen TV, ceiling fans, wicker balcony chairs, new mini bar and safe. The bathroom will also get a new look with coloured linen baths, adjustable shower head with handle for the bath area, toilet with bidet, and additional drawer storage.

 

 

 

MAJOR RENOVATIONS AT PANGKOR ISLAND BEACH RESORT

 

Pangkor Island Beach Resort is expected to start major renovations in July 2014. It will not take any bookings from July 1. We will advise of the re-opening date later. If you have bookings at the resort we would suggest that they be shifted to earlier arrivals, or you may wish to make alternative plans.

 

 

 

MAINTENANCE  WORK AT SPA VILLAGE, PANGKOR LAUT RESORT

 

The Spa Villa rooms at Pangkor Laut Resort, the Spa pool, and Jamu Bar are closed from February 24 to April 24, 2014 for maintenance. The regularly scheduled maintenance work is carried out to upkeep the structural supports for the Spa Villas. Reinforcements will also be carried out on the sea wall, which protects the Spa pool. The maintenance works will not cause noise or disturbances to guests in the resort's vicinity.

 

The Spa Village Pangkor Laut will remain open during the work period for guests to enjoy the spa experiences.

 

 

 

THEME PARK HOTEL, GENTING HIGHLANDS CLOSES FOR RENOVATIONS

 

Theme Park Hotel in Genting Highlands, Pahang, is closed for renovation from February 17, 2014.

 

 

 

SWISS GARDEN RESORT & SPA, KUANTAN COMPLETES REFURBISHMENT

 

Swiss Garden Resort & Spa, Kuantan in Pahang has completed the renovation of its 142 Garden View rooms. A harmonious blend of contemporary design, the resort's elegantly refurbished guestrooms are in subtle tones combined with exclusively designed soft furnishings, creating a unique atmosphere and perfect balance between luxury and homely familiarity. Each room has a private balcony, offering a panoramic view of the lush gardens.

 

The resort has also completed the installation of the rubble wall at the beachfront to give additional privacy to guests. The beach, with its idyllic and tranquil environment, stretches for seven kilometres.

 

 

 

FLAMINGO BY THE BEACH, PENANG UPGRADES LOBBY

 

The hotel will be upgrading its hotel lobby beginning early March 2014. The work is expected to be completed in two months.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI

FEBRUARY 27-MARCH 8, 2014

VENUE: KEDAH, PERAK, KUALA LUMPUR, SELANGOR, MELAKA, JOHOR, PAHANG, TERENGGANU

 

Asia's premier cycling event, Le Tour de Langkawi 2014 is back! The race goes through numerous states that include Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.

 

 

 

1MALAYSIA GP SALE 2014

MARCH 1-APRIL 30, 2014

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

The 1Malaysia GP Sale is held in conjunction with the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix in shopping malls and departmental stores throughout the country. The sale is not to be missed by both visitors and locals alike looking for great bargains.

 

 

 

PORT DICKSON 4X4 INTERNATIONAL SAND CHALLENGE

MARCH 8-9, 2014

VENUE: PORT DICKSON, NEGERI SEMBILAN

 

This is a competition between big and mean machines, which is launched under the patronage of Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus. The first of its kind event in the ASEAN region, it is opened to participants from Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore. The race is a test of winching, handling and overcoming obstacles along the route.

 

 

 

RAPTOR WATCH 2014

MARCH 8-9, 2014

VENUE: PORT DICKSON, NEGERI SEMBILAN

 

Witness one of nature's most fascinating event at Raptor Watch 2014 as migratory birds of prey, such as Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black Baza, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Chinese Goshawk and Grey faced Buzzard, fly over Tanjung Tuan in Port Dickson before continuing their perilous journey to the Northern Hemisphere. Organised by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), this event also aims to educate the public on the effects of climate change on raptor migration and their habitats.

 

 

 

2ND FAI ASIAN PARAGLIDING ACCURANCY CHAMPIONSHIP (FAPAC)

MARCH 12-19, 2014

VENUE: RANAU PARAGLIDING PARK, RANAU, SABAH

 

Glide in the sky and enjoy the beautiful view of valleys, villages and the majestic Mount Kinabalu at the 2nd FAI Paragliding Accuracy Championship (FAPAC) 2014, which is part of a world tour organised by the Fédération Aéronautique  Internationale (FAI). Top pilots from many countries including Hungary, Japan and Slovenia will gather to compete for the champion title.

 

 

 

PUTRAJAYA INTERNATIONAL HOT AIR BALLOON FIESTA

MARCH 27-30 MARCH, 2014

VENUE: MONUMEN ALAF BARU, PRECINCT 2, PUTRAJAYA

 

Watch colourful hot air balloons float up the skies of Putrajaya. Themed "1 World, 1 Malaysia, 1 Fiesta", this event features 23 balloonists from Belgium, USA, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Malaysia and Japan.

 

 

 

MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL SHOE FESTIVAL

MARCH 27--30, 2014

VENUE: PUTRA WORLD TRADE CENTRE (PWTC), KUALA LUMPUR

 

From glamorous stilettos to stylish sandals, classic pumps and trendy boots, the festival takes visitors on a fascinating journey into the world of designer footwear.

 

 

 

FORMULA 1 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX

MARCH 28-30, 2014

VENUE: SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, SELANGOR

 

Watch adrenaline-pumping action at one of the most awesome tracks in the world - the Sepang International Circuit (SIC). With its extreme hot and wet conditions SIC is a challenge even for some of the best drivers in the world. Don't miss this hot race.

 

 

 

IRONMAN 70.3 PUTRAJAYA

APRIL 13, 2014

VENUE: PUTRAJAYA MARITIME CENTRE

 

Ironman 70.3, also known as a Half Ironman, is one of a series of middle-distance triathlon races organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).

 

 

 

PESTA AIR MALAYSIA LABUAN (MALAYSIA WATER FESTIVAL LABUAN)

APRIL 26-28, 2014

VENUE: LABUAN INTERNATIONAL SEA SPORT COMPLEX

 

This is the biggest annual event in Labuan, entering its 17th year. Competitions include the International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament, Cross Channel Swimming Challenge, Round Island Kayak and Kayak Sprint. It is a definite crowd puller for domestic and international water sports enthusiasts.

 

 

 

REGATTA LEPA

APRIL 25-27, 2014

VENUE: SEMPORNA, SABAH

 

Regatta Lepa is a colourful festival that pays homage to the lepa, the traditional single-mast sailing boat of the Bajaus of Semporna. Enjoy the crowning of the most beautiful lepa, as well Lepa Beauty Pageant, cultural performances and fireworks.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES CODE SHARES WITH ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES

 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Ethiopian Airlines have signed a code share agreement, which took effect on January 1, 2014. The deal provides MAS access to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

 

MAS flight, MH9489, departs Kuala Lumpur at 11.25pm every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and arrives in Addis Ababa at 6.45am the following day. MH9488 departs Addis Ababa at 12.40 am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 6 pm. The Ethiopian Airlines code for this service is ET619 and ET618, respectively.

 

 

 

BERJAYA AIR RESTRUCTURES BUSINESS MODEL

 

Berjaya Air is in the midst of an internal business review, which may see the 24-year-old airline shift from turboprop operations to business jets. The restructuring is an effort by the airline to capture the ever expanding business aviation market.

 

Berjaya Air currently has a fleet of two ATR 72-500s (pictured) and three Dash 7s. One of the aircraft type it is considering is from the CRJ family of regional airliners manufactured by Bombardier. The airline is looking to operate the business jets out of the Fixed Base Operation (FBO) terminal of Subang Skypark, Selangor, subject to regulatory approval.

 

In a related development, Berjaya Air will suspend flights between Subang Skypark and Pangkor Island (Perak), Penang, Langkawi (Kedah) and Hua Hin (Thailand) in stages at a time yet to be decided.

 

 

 

MAS FLIES TO KRABI

 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) launched four weekly services between Kuala Lumpur and Krabi, Thailand on February 3, 2014.

 

The Kuala Lumpur-Krabi service, operated with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, is on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Flights leave Kuala Lumpur at 2.55pm and arrive in Krabi at 3.40pm (local time). The return flight departs Krabi at 5.20pm. and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 8.05pm.

 

 

 

AIRASIA CONNECTS SARAWAK WITH PENINSULAR MALAYSIA'S EAST COAST

 

AirAsia will add more services to Sarawak with three weekly direct flights from Kuching to Kota Bharu, Kelantan, from March 22, 2014. This will be AirAsia's eighth domestic route from Kuching. The low cost carrier will be the pnly airline to connect Kuching directly with the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

 

The service will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights depart Kuching at 7am to arrive in Kota Bharu at 8.55am. Flights from Kota Bharu will depart at 9.20am. and arrive in Kuching at 11.20am

 

 

 

TURKISH AIRLINES FLIES DAILY TO KUALA LUMPUR IN MAY

 

Turkish Airlines, which currently flies four times a week to Kuala Lumpur, will increase its frequency to daily flights effective this May.

 

 

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

NUSA LEMBONGAN - CHARMING ISLAND IN THE SUN

 

Just across the Badung Strait is Nusa Lembongan, facing Bali's Southeast coast. Previously visited mainly by day tourists from Bali, the small island now has a good number of quality accommodations. Besides the pristine white beaches, it is also known for world-class diving spots and seaweed farms. There are two small villages on the island with a mainly Balinese population, and they are linked by the island's only road. The east side is covered with mangrove forests, and the west has cliffs offering great views over the Indian Ocean.

 

The newly renovated Bali Hai Tide Huts, the recently opened Lembongan Beach Resort, the Bayshore Huts, and the luxurious villa properties of Indiana Kenanga and Batu Karang are our picks for accommodation during your stay in Nusa Lembongan. While some resorts have their own speedboats linking the island with Bali, there are also a few public speedboat companies operating on the 30-minute journey from Sanur, Bali.

 

Please contact us at res@asiantrails.co.id for more information about Nusa Lembongan.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

JAKARTA'S SECOND AIRPORT OPENS FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS

 

In January 2014 commercial flights took off from Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, which is located 30 kilometres away from Soekarno-Hatte Airport, Indonesia's main international airport. Garuda Airlines has moved the operations of four domestic routes of its budget subsidiary, Citilink, (Yogyakarta, Semarang, Malang, Palembang) to Halim airport. More routes will follow. AirAsia and Lion Air have also moved some routes to this airport.

 

Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, which opened for commercial flights to ease the congestion at Soekarno-Hatte Airport, will continue to serve military, presidential and private airlines.

 

 

 

BUFFALO RACE IN WEST BALI

 

The Buffalo Race is a tradition and a widely enjoyed event in the western part of Bali, especially in the regency of Negara. Hundreds of pairs of buffaloes are teamed up together with their jockeys riding traditional wood ploughs. The racer buffaloes compete in various open race circuits against each other.

 

The race takes place every Sunday from July to October (except during full moon and new moon). Combine this unique experience with a stay at Puri Dajuma Cottages, which offers special one-night and two-night packages, and you will get an experience to remember. The packages include accommodation in a deluxe cottage, welcome drink and cold towel upon arrival, breakfast, buffalo race tour, and one time dinner (this only for the two-night package).

 

 

 

CRUISE EASTERN INDONESIA WITH KATHARINA

 

Katharina is a traditional Indonesian phinsi schooner built in 1995. Originally planned for commercial sailing it was instead fitted as a cruising vessel, and now offers an excellent standard of safety and comfort for cruising the Indonesian archipelago. Cruises primarily focus on eastern Indonesia, mainly to the islands of Flores and Komodo.

 

The vessel has a length of 40 metres and provides six comfortable cabins for up to 14 guests. All the cabins offer a private bathroom, individually controlled sir conditioning, storage space and a safe. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are included in the cruise price.

 

 

 

ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE EXPERIENCE AT POD CHOCOLATE FACTORY & CAFÉ IN BALI

 

Pod Chocolate Factory & Café in Bali makes high quality handmade chocolate from locally grown cocoa pods. The owner's vision is to combine a social mission with traditional chocolate making techniques to create chocolate, which is healthy and delicious while supporting local cocoa farmers to improve their quality of life.

 

The factory/café, located between verdant rice fields and lush jungles on the grounds of Bali Elephant camp, is just over an hour from Sanur/Seminyak/ Kuta and about 1.5 hours from Jimbaran/Nusa Dua.

 

Pod is one of the few places in the world where chocolate is made only minutes away from where it is grown. It is perfect for adults and children too. As it is located at Bali Elephant Camp you can see elephants roaming in beautiful surroundings (free entry to the camp).

 

There is also a farm and factory tour where you get to see how see the beautiful cocoa flower and how the cocoa is grown, sample the fruit directly from the tree, and taste cocoa nibs. At the factory Pod chocolatiers will give you a basic introduction on making chocolate and pralines, and you can even make your very own chocolate elephants.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BALI TO HAVE FIRST HOTEL INDIGO

 

Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) will debut the Hotel Indigo brand in Bali with the opening of Hotel Indigo Seminyak in 2015, located close to the popular Seminyak beach. It will feature 280 rooms including villas, as well as spa facilities. Every Hotel Indigo is designed to reflect the individual style and culture of its surrounding, which will be present in the Seminyak resort. It will focus on local Balinese culture combined with the uniqueness of trendy Seminyak.

 

 

 

WEDDING CHAPEL FOR BULGARI RESORT BALI

 

Bulgari Resort Bali is adding a wedding chapel to its list of facilities. The project started in February 2014 and will be completed at the end of the year. In the first few months of construction there will be some noise due to the building of the foundation. However, the resort's management assures guests it will keep the noise level to a minimum so as not to disturb them.

 

 

 

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS OPENS IN JAKARTA

 

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched Jakarta's first Holiday Inn Express hotel, which has 101 rooms. The hotel is strategically located in the central business district of Jakarta Thamrin. It is only minutes away from major companies, banks and embassies. as well as within walking distance of famous shopping malls. Facilities and amenities include free WiFi, free Express breakfast, a business centre and a laundry room.

 

 

 

A HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS FOR BALI

 

The 115-room Holiday Inn Express recently opened its doors in Bali in the heart of Kuta, the island's shopping and entertainment hub. It is also close to Ngurah Rai International Airport, which makes it a convenient option for both leisure and business travelers. Facilities and amenities include a rooftop bar and swimming pool with views of Kuta beach, fitness room, self-service laundry room, free WiFi and free Express breakfast.

 

 

 

ROYAL SURAKARTA HERITAGE HOTEL - SOLO

 

Royal Surakarta Heritage Hotel is a five star hotel managed by Accor. It offers a luxurious stay in 150 modern Javanese-styled rooms. The hotel is located in the heart of Solo city, only minutes away from banking and government buildings, and near two famous royal palaces and the shopping areas. Its restaurant serves an international buffet breakfast, as well as a variety of Western and local dishes for lunch and dinner.

 

 

 

IHG'S NEW PROPERTY IN BANDUNG

 

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) will open a new property, InterContinental Bandung Dago Pakar, later this year. Located in the prestigious neighbourhood of Dago in northeast Bandung city, the hotel will have 204 rooms and 19 villas, two restaurants, spa facilities and one of the largest ballrooms in the city for events and meetings. Nearby the hotel are a golf course, botanical garden, as well as commercial, retail and residential areas.

 

 

 

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA AT REGENT BALI

 

Regent Bali has opened its new signature villa - the Regent Beachfront Pool Villa. It is an expansive two-bedroom villa with a private swimming pool, private jacuzzi, spa treatment room including a steam room, separate dining and living areas, and two luxurious bathrooms. Surrounded by lush gardens, the villa offers a fantastic view over the island of Nusa Lembongan and the Indian Ocean.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

LUFTHANSA RETURNS TO JAKARTA

 

Lufthansa will reopen its Jakarta route on March 30, 2014 with five weekly flights from Frankfurt. It will use an Airbus A340-600 aircraft for this route, which can accommodate eight passengers in first class, 48 in business and 270 in economy. The service will connect the two cities via Kuala Lumpur in a direct flight.

 

Lufthansa's resumption of the Frankfurt-Jakarta service, which was suspended in 2012, is part of the airline's restructuring of its South East Asian network.

 

 

 

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS CONNECTS JAKARTA WITH TOKYO

 

All Nippon Airways' (ANA) 2014 summer international schedules, which start from March 30, will see the airline flying to Jakarta from Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The service will use a Boeing B787 Dreamliner. Flights will leave Jakarta at 21.25hrs and arrive in Tokyo-Haneda at 07.10hrs the next morning (NH856). The return flight leaves Tokyo-Haneda at 10.05hrs and arrives in Jakarta at 15.40hrs (NH855).

 

ANA will still serve the Jakarta-Tokyo-Narita-Jakarta route using a Boeing B767 aircraft, but with a different timetable (06:25hrs-15.55hrs | 17.40hrs-23.30hrs).

 

 

 

 

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