Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue March 2015

THE CEO STORY

 

VIETNAM'S BEAUTIFUL ISLANDS AND BEACHES IN THE SUN

 

The first time I went to a beach in Vietnam was in 1996, almost 20 years ago, when my travels took me on a bumpy 200-km drive northeast from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Mui Ne. What attracted me to this sleepy village, without a hotel or resort in sight, was its long sandy beach that invited me to walk along it.

 

This scene doesn't' exist anymore as in the past two decades this part of Vietnam has undergone extraordinary developments. Mui Ne and the surrounding areas have become the most famous beach destination for Westerners in Vietnam. It now offers everything from small boutique hotels to huge resorts and luxury properties. There's something for everyone here and lots of activities for sports enthusiasts, particularly kite surfers and windsurfers. Restaurants and shops dot the road with ample choice for simple meals or more elaborate dining.

 

Even though the small road of 20 years ago has given way to a highway the drive from Ho Chi Minh City still takes about five hours, and is not everyone's cup of tea. For those who don't fancy the long road journey there's now a sea plane service from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, which started a few months back, that takes a shorter time to reach the beach resorts in the area.

 

Recently I visited the island of Con Dao, which is a 45-minute flight away from Ho Chi Minh City. For the Vietnamese this island is a grim reminder of the French colonial past, as it used to house a prison for political prisoners of the French regime. Known infamously as "tiger cages", the prison is now open to all visitors to the island, and is of special interest to local Vietnamese for obvious reasons.

 

What I really enjoyed on Con Dao Island is the nature and the treks through the National Park. The island boasts lush forests with walking tracks suitable for everyone, amazing panoramic views and beautiful beaches. I am told there are also snorkelling and diving sites, but I did not visit any during my visit. My friends also raved about the turtles which come to shore at night to lay their eggs during the (turtle) breeding season - an event not miss if you happen to be on the island during this time.

 

There is not much accommodation on Con Dao Island. For those who want a luxury stay there is the fabulous Six Senses Resort, one of my favourite resorts in Vietnam.

 

I highly recommend Con Dao for visitors who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger Vietnamese beaches.

 

Phu Quoc is another lovely island in the sun, which is also a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City to the southwest. I believe this island will be the site of the next wave of large-scale beach developments in southern Vietnam. The airport on Phu Quoc has been upgraded to accommodate international flights.

 

I always like Phu Quoc for its good vibes. The beaches are beautiful, the weather is warm all year round, and it's a place where you just want to sit back and relax.

 

Choices of hotels on Phu Quoc used to be limited to either simple bungalows or large government owned properties, but this has changed completely. Small properties have sprung up in various parts of the island, and some are managed by international hotel chains. There is much more to come in this part of Vietnam and I am convinced Phu Quoc will become a favourite beach destination for many visitors, both domestic and foreign.

 

The best time to visit all the places I wrote about in this post is during the European winter months, from October to April, which have the best weather. For beaches in Central Vietnam the ideal time is from May to October, as the winter months bring rain and cooler weather.

 

There are many more beaches in Vietnam, and I will write about them in future posts.

 

For visitors who wish to combine other Asean countries with islands and beaches in Vietnam, there are many ways to do so. For example, travellers who want to visit Phu Quoc from Cambodia can fly non-stop from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Phu Quoc, or via Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh (Cambodia). For the more adventurous, there are boats from Phu Quoc to the Vietnamese/Cambodian border town of Ha Tien from where you can continue to the Cambodian seaside town of Kep and onwards to Kampot.The options are endless.

 

Please contact your specialists at Asian Trails to assist you in your planning to visit Vietnam's beautiful islands and beaches.

 

Happy Trails! 

 

 

Laurent Kuenzle 

CEO 

Asian Trails 

 

 

   

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    THAILAND

     

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR CLAUDIO KELLENBERGER

     

    Dear friends and partners
     
    I took the opportunity during Christmas and New Year to escape to the countryside, to Khao Yai National Park that is about three hours' drive northwest from Bangkok. Lovely climate (at least 5-7 degrees cooler than Bangkok), very friendly people, hearty "country style" food and, last but not least, wine.  
     
    The region is famous for winemaking. While it cannot be compared to famous wine-making regions, such as Tuscany or France, some of the wines produced are surprisingly good - full-bodied red wines and fruity refreshing whites - mainly by blending Cabernet and Shiraz. One of the "country' style" accommodations I would like to recommend is the Village Farm & Winery.
     
    Khao Yai is mainly a weekend getaway for Bangkokians. I would recommend the Park to tourists who are on their second or third visit to Thailand. Spend two to three days in the region, and you will be amazed how different and unexpected Thailand can be!
     
    Claudio Kellenberger

     

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS WINS BELMOND AWARDS FOR "BEST PRODUCER 2014"

     

    Asian Trails Ltd. has been awarded for "Best Producer 2014 - for the Belmond La Residence D'angkor". The award ceremony was held on January 15, 2015 at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel. (Photo: Mr. Claudio Kellenber, Managing Director Asian Trails Thailand - standing right - at the award ceremony).

     

     

     

    EMQUARTIER, NEW SHOPPING CENTRE IN BANGKOK

     

    EmQuartier, a project by the Mall Group, is located opposite the Emporium Shopping Centre (also owned by the Mall Group) on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok. It comprises 250,000 square metres of space comprising a high-end shopping centre, office building, atriums for events and recreation, and a park. It is set to open in March.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    3-DAY KHAO YAI EXPLORER

     

    Asian Trails offers the 3-Day Khao Yai Explorer, which starts in Bangkok and ends in Khao Yai Nature Life Resort. The tour includes visits to the Buddhist cave temple, the local market (Pak Chong), as well as getting an insight into the life of the local people. The experience also includes the exploration of the sandstone labyrinth, which contains rock paintings that are about 2,000 years old.
     

     

     

     

    For more detail and booking, Please click here

     

     

    BANGKOK CANALS ROUTE


    This half-day tour takes you to the lesser-known parts of Bangkok. The tour includes:
    ? A visit to the Santa Cruz Church and a walk through the picturesque lanes of the adjacent "village", the largest Christian community in Thailand.
    ? Tour of two temples, Wat Anongkharam and Wat Rakhang, the latter decorated with beautiful wall paintings.
    ? A visit to the Chinese Gong Wu Shrine, and a walk through the narrow streets of the village to experience a different world.
    ? Tour of the Princess Mother Memorial Park & Museum, which was built by His Majesty King Bhumibol in 1993 as a tribute to his mother. The park contains a museum commemorating the Princess Mother, and a reconstruction of her childhood home. There are two exhibition halls showing memorabilia of the Princess Mother and the Royal family.
     

     

    For more detail and booking, Please click here

     

     

    ASIAN OASIS ENDS ELEPHANT RIDES IN ITS TOUR PROGRAMMES

     

    Asian Oasis has removed all elephant rides from its tour programmes. It has replaced elephant rides with an educational tour to the Araksa Tea Plantation, which is located on a hill three kilometres from the Lisu Lodge in Chiang Mai province. This plantation produces high quality Assam tea, a black tea named after India's largest tea growing region. Visitors on this tour learn about the tea growing process, as well as participate in tea processing.
     

     

     

    For more detail and booking, Please click here

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    BANGKOK

     

    NEWLY RENOVATED ROOMS AT THE LANDMARK BANGKOK


    The Landmark Bangkok 399 Premium rooms are newly renovated with state-of-the-art design, deluxe in-room amenities free WiFi, convenient media hub for multi-media connectivity and a 40-inch high definition TV.

    Hotel facilities include six dining restaurants, two bars, a pub, Fitness First, spa and swimming pool. It also offers 25 meeting rooms, which can accommodate from 10 to 1,000 paxs.

    The Landmark Bangkok is strategically located in central Bangkok on Sukhumvit Road, close to the BTS Nana station and wit easy access to the expressway leading to the airports.
     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    REBRANDED - ANANTARA SIAM BANGKOK HOTEL & SPA

     

    The Four Seasons Bangkok was rebranded as Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel & Spa on March 1, 2015. Facilities at the 354-key hotel, which has become a preferred destination for luxury travellers, include seven restaurants and bars, spa, gym and an outdoor swimming pool. For business guests, extensive meeting and event rooms offer flexibility for large and small events. The ballroom seats 400 for a dinner dance and 550 theatre style.
     

     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    CHIANG MAI

     

    137 PILLAR HOUSE

     

    The luxury all-suite 137 Pillars House, built in 1896 as part of the East Borneo Company headquarters, is a beautiful teak wood building that has been carefully restored to reflect its 19th-century origins. It is centrally located, just a few minutes' walking distance from the riverside.

    The size of its 30 beautiful suites ranges from 70sqm in the lowest category to 135sqm in the highest category. Each of the suites has a veranda or patio overlooking the gardens.

    Hotel facilities include a restaurant/lounge, bar, swimming pool, library and an array of spa treatments.
     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    PHUKET

     

    NEW - KEEMALA TO OPEN IN AUGUST

     

    Keemala, a boutique luxury hotel on Kamala Bay, is scheduled to open in August 2015. Its style blends the indigenous stories of the clans with the decadence of an upscale resort. It is set into the hillside and making use of slopes offering sea views, streams, waterfalls and indigenous trees. The beautiful cottages, tree houses and pool villas are designed around these unique topographical features.

    Keemala offers four avant-garde accommodation choices with sizes ranging from 116sqm to 175sqm. All the spacious dwellings come complete with private pools and offer both sea and mountain views.
     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    SAMUI

     

    PANACEA RETREAT

     

    Panacea Retreat is one of Southeast Asia's most exclusive active retreat, located just 15 minutes from Samui International Airport and the main tourism centre of Chaweng Beach. It offers spectacular 360-degree views towards the famous "Full Moon Island" of Koh Phangan, Plai Laem, the Big Buddha and beyond to Chaweng.

    Panacea Retreat comprises five individual private residences. Avasara and Atulya Residences each have five suites, Kalya and Purana with four suites, and the main residence of Praana with six suites. All the residence feature indoor and outdoor dining and living areas.
     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    NAKORN RATCHASIMA (KORAT)

     

    VILLAGE FARM & WINERY

     

    Village Farm & Winery offers a variety of accommodations in different sizes and setups where guests can enjoy the charms of country life. The resort's architecture is designed to strike a balance with nature and provide a genuine feel of life on a farm.
     

     

     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    SONGKRAN FESTIVAL / THAI NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS
    APRIL 13-14, 2015
    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

     

     

    AIRASIA INCREASES FLIGHTS BETWEEN BANGKOK AND PHNOM PENH


    Low cost carrier, AirAsia, has increased its service between Bangkok (Don Mueang) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) to twice daily flights.
     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    WATER LIBRARY THONGLOR - BANGKOK

     

    Water Library Thonglor, the second outlet of Water Library after Chamchuri, offers an entirely new concept in serving food, wine and cocktail in Bangkok. It serves only 10 guests per night in a very private setting. It has a cocktail bar manned by one of the world's most recognised mixologists from Italy, a beautiful outside lounge, walk-in wine cellar and a private room.
     

     

     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    PAINTBAR BANGKOK

     

    Paintbar Bangkok offers a new, self-improving way for Bangkokians to enjoy the night by combining art and nightlife through painting classes. It is the perfect place to show off your brush strokes while sipping on craft beer (Punk IPA, St. Bernardus WIT and Abt 12 at B240), cider (Brothers at B270), or wine (Robert Mondavi Private Selection B240/glass). The bar also serves reasonably priced tapas like meatballs and nachos (both at B120).

    The art sessions start at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays.
     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     
     

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    LAOS

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ANDREAS HOFMANN

     

    Dear Partners and Friends,

    Experiential travelling in Laos

    Laos is a country, which can best be discovered by the experiences you make on your journey. Temples and monuments, while significant, are not as impressive as in neighbouring countries but travelling in Laos rewards you with rich memories of the things you did do, think about and feel on the road or river. Seeing, doing, smelling, thinking and being in Laos makes it an experience. These are the experiences that you will treasure for years to come and talk about to your friends and family back home.

    For groups, instead of just having dinner why not make it a Light Festival event? Asian Trails Laos will privatise a restaurant and decorate it with beautiful lampions. After the dinner you release your lampion and while watching it fly across the Mekong, you make your wish. The experience can also be a simple one of playing Petanque with locals, or watching the sunset while enjoying a Lao beer. It is the little things we remember, which make a holiday memorable.

    Please contact us for more information about experiential travels for FIT and groups in Laos.

    I look forward to welcoming your guests to experience Laos!

    Andreas Hofmann
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    NEW ELEPHANT CAMP IN LUANG PRABANG

     

    The new Luang Prabang Elefant camp opened on January 25. The sanctuary is six kilometres from the famous Kuangsi Waterfalls, a main attraction of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang.

     

     

     

    EXPERIENCE THE MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF LAOS IN GARAVEK STORY TELLING

     

    Garavek is a small company based in Luang Prabang that promotes and preserves local traditional stories through the country's myths, legends, and folktales. It is currently presenting these stories in English in an evening show from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every evening. The stories range from Luang Prabang-specific ones to tales that are popular all over Laos. Through the stories the audience learn the origins, according to folklore, of local landmarks such as Mount Phusi, the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers. They also encounter legendary characters including Xieng Mieng, the archetypal trickster, and Fa Ngum, the first king of Lan Xang. The stories are accompanied by khene, a handmade bamboo mouth organ, which is the quintessential Lao folk instrument.

    This story-telling show is unique to the Lao people of Laos and Northeast Thailand, and is an important part of traditional Lao culture and identity for generations.

    For more information, please visit: http://www.garavek.com and https://www.facebook.com/garavek

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    A UNIQUE MICE EVENT IN LUANG PRABANG - BANQUET ON THE MEKONG

     

    Luang Prabang is an attractive MICE destination, and especially for incentive groups. Asian Trails Laos organises special events for this special sector with the Mekong River as the main setting.

    We have one such programme in cooperation with the 4 star Victoria Xiengthong Palace Luang Prabang. It is a culinary journey combined with a boat tour along the mighty Mekong. Preparing the food for the special event is Thierry Pannier, chef with Victoria Xiengthong Palace Luang Prabang, who combines Asian and European flavours in his cooking, the latter from his working stint in France and Switzerland. He combines Asian and European flavours in his cooking with fresh herbs and flowers giving the dishes a unique touch. We take his creations out of the restaurant to the sandy banks of the Mekong. The programme's highlight is a banquet on the banks of the Mekong. Swimming, fishing, and exploring the Mekong on small boats are all be part of the experience.

    Please contact us for more detailed programmes combining Luang Prabang with Cambodia and/or Vietnam!

     

     

     
     

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    CAMBODIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

     

    Dear Business Partners,

    The high season in Cambodia is almost over, and it has been a very busy one. The World Heritage Angkor temples remain the most visited sites of the country, but we have more and more visitors willing to discover a different Cambodia through its beautiful countryside. The province of Kratie offers pleasant riverside scenery, while on the island of Koh Trong your clients can take a bicycle to discover traditional villagers life.

    The month of April will mark the beginning of the low season until September. During this period hotels in Siem Reap offer special promotions. Asian Trails has prepared very competitive packages for your clients who wish to visit Cambodia during this time.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    FLIGHT OF THE GIBBON IN ANGKOR PARK EXTENDS TO 21 PLATFORMS

     

    Flight of the Gibbon, Cambodia's only zipline canopy tour, is now providing more excitement with its extension to 21 platforms. The zipline is located inside Angkor Park, not far from the majestic temples including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Visitors can book the half-day tour either in the morning or in the afternoon.
     

     

     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    SPECIAL PROMOTIONS ON MEKONG PRESTIGE II CRUISE

     

    Mekong Prestige II Cruise is a state-of-the-art brand new ship designed in a combination of imposing elegance with regional Khmer touches. It has 32 elegantly decorated staterooms with private balconies. Excellent onboard services make for a pleasurable and enjoyable journey for all guests.

    The ship offers two itineraries on the Mekong - downstream from Siem Reap to Saigon, and upstream from Saigon to Siem Reap. The special promotions are on the following cruises:
    ? March 19-26, 2015
    ? March 26-April 2, 2015
    ? Aoril 2-9, 2015
    ? April 9-16, 2015
     

     

    For more information, Please click here

     

     

    TRADITIONAL APSARA PERFORMANCE AT HERITAGE SUITES HOTEL, SIEM REAP

     

    Heritage Suites Hotel in Siem Reap is hosting Apsara performances every Tuesday from February until April 30, 2015. The show is held at the area around the swimming pool where Cambodian BBQ is served. The dinner show is ideal for FITs and small groups who want to enjoy the entertaining Apsara performance in an elegant atmosphere.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    SIEM REAP

     

    SARAI RESORT AND SPA

     

    Sara Resort and Spa is a new 4 star hotel located in the centre of Siem Reap, which opened recently. It features 48 rooms spread over three floors. All the rooms are luxuriously furnished with traditional Khmer-style decor. Amenities include air conditioning, an iPod dock and a stylish bathroom equipped with plush bathrobes and a bathtub.

     

     

     

    TRESOR D'ANGKOR VILLA & RESORT

     

    Tresor D'angkor Villa & Resort is located on the outskirts of Siem Reap halfway between the temples of Angkor and the town centre with attractions just a short ride away. The resort consists of nine villas surrounding by a large fresh water pool. There are also 18 rooms of traditional Khmer style, which blends seamlessly with contemporary elements of modern architecture and interior design. We recommend this property to FITs.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    RIVER FESTIVAL
    MARCH 13-15, 2015
    VENUE: KRATIE PROVINCE

     

    Cambodia's first River Festival takes place in Kratie, a northeastern province that is home to freshwater dolphins. Its aim is to encourage the public to participate in preserving and developing river resources sustainably, as well as to achieve the tourism diversification strategy through the creation of new tourism events.

    The focus of the festival is to highlight the Mekong as a great source of sustainable life. There will also be a fun element that includes porting activities including traditional boat racing, which is the main attraction, and sports like volleyball and wrestling on Kratie's famed sandbars.

     

     

     

    KHMER NEW YEAR
    APRIL 14-16, 2015
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    After the Chinese New Year Cambodia will welcome its own Khmer New Year, a three-day holiday marked by colourful celebrations throughout the Kingdom. This time of the year also represents the end of the harvest season. People will visit family and friends, as well as offer alms and make donations to Buddhist pagodas. Please note that some local markets and business, and the Royal Palace will be partly closed during these dates.

    Our office will close on the first day (April 14), and open on the other two days with a limited staff.

    Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey!

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    BASSAKA AIRLINES' SCHEDULE BETWEEN PHNOM PENH AND SIEM REAP

     

    Bassaka Airlines, the new low cost carrier in Cambodia, operates two daily flights from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap with the following schedule:
    - 5B 901 departs at 11.00hrs, arrives at 11.45hrs
    - 5B 903 departs at 16.00hrs, arrives at 16.45hrs

    The schedule for the two daily Siem Reap-Phnom Penh flights is:
    - 5B 902 departs at 12.45hrs, arrives at 13.30hrs
    - 5B 904 departs at 17.45hrs, arrives at 18.30hrs

     

     

     

    NEW DOMESTIC CARRIER - CAMBODIA BAYON AIRLINES

     

    Cambodia Bayon Airlines is the name of the newest carrier to enter the Cambodian air transport scene. Scheduled domestic services between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap began at the end of last December using an MA60 turboprop aircraft. Flights currently operate thrice weekly on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    SOKKHAK RIVER RESTAURANT ? SIEM REAP

     

    Sokkhak River is a stunning and elegant restaurant with a mixed design of traditional Khmer and modern architecture. Surrounded by gardens and plantations with a waterfall, it serves French fusion cuisine. The restaurant is situated along the Siem Reap River and less than five minutes' walking distance to the old market and lively pub street.

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    NEW INDIAN MARKET MANAGER FOR ATC SIEM REAP OFFICE.

     

    We are pleased to introduce and welcome Mr Sanyal Swarup as Manager for Indian Market. An Indian national, he brings with him five years of experience in tourism. Based in our Siem Reap office he can be contacted at: swarup@asiantrails.com.kh or res@asiantrails.com.kh.

    We wish Sanyal good luck in his new challenge.

     

     

     
     

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    VIETNAM

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

     

    Dear Friends and Partners,

    We have just had a joyful Tết holiday, celebrating with family and friends at dinners and gatherings. It was a well-deserved break between the high season to recharge our energy, and welcome a new wave of travellers arriving during the Spring season.

    In Vietnamese folk songs the Tet spirit continues for several months, as it used to be an easy period in agricultural calendar. "Tháng giêng là tháng ăn chơi, Tháng hai cờ bạc, tháng ba rượu chè ?" ("The first Lunar month is the month for joy and for fun, the second month is for gambling, the third feasting ..."). This means that if you visit Vietnam during March and April you will still feel the festive atmosphere. Activities during this period include the pilgrimage to the Perfume Pagoda in the North and the Lady Xu Temple in the Mekong Delta, as well traditional ceremonies and festivities in the rural areas, especially among the hill tribes in Northwest Mountains and the Central highlands.

    We can also add some additional touches and colours to your programmes. It is also a good time for beach stay, as it gets warmer even in the Central coast. We can confidentially say that this is the best time to visit Vietnam.

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    SOUTHEAST ASIA'S LONGEST VOLCANIC CAVE SYSTEM DISCOVERED IN VIETNAM

     

    The longest volcanic cave system in Southeast Asia has been discovered after seven years of research by the Japanese Caving Association in close cooperation with the General Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam. The discovery was announced in late December 2014.

    The cave system is located in Krong No District of Dak Nong in the Central Highlands. It includes 12 caves, five of which are among the longest volcanic caves to be discovered in Southeast Asia. The longest of these vast caverns stretches for 1,055 metres, and is the region's longest volcanic cave.

     

     

     

    HANOI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT'S NEW TERMINAL OPENS

     

    The new terminal (T2) at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has officially started operations. All international arrivals and departures are now at the new terminal, and they are smoother with the new facilities available at T2.

    Noi Bai International Airport is connected to Hanoi city centre by Nhat Tan, the country's largest cable-stayed bridge, and the new Vo Nguyen Giap Highway that is named after the legendary general, Vo Nguyen Giap, who died in 2013. This route reduces the transfer time from the airport to downtown Hanoi by 20 minutes.

     

     

     

    SAIGON DINNER CRUISES WITH INDOCHINA JUNK

     

    An unfortunate accident on January 22 between the Japanese cruise liners Nippon Maru and Bonsai Cruise led to the two boats suffering serious damages. As a result they cannot cruise anymore. Bonsai Cruise will be out of service for an indefinite period.

    We recommend Indochina Junk as an alternative for Saigon dinner cruises. It offers three different boats of various capacities. The boats are very similar, but with a slightly different concept. No shows are available except for a traditional two-piece band playing Vietnamese music. They operate daily dinner cruises between 18.30hrs and 19.30hrs, with each cruise lasting for about one-and-a-half to two hours.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    PHU LUONG NATURE RESERVE

     

    Pu Luong Nature Reserve is located in Hill Village, a Thai ethnic village, about five hours from Hanoi. It is strategically located in an enclave between two beautiful waterfalls. You can reach the village by car and end the trip on the trail, which is inaccessible by car, either on foot (one to one-and-half hours) or by Xeom (motorbike-taxi)

    Within the Reserve are three private lodges and a stilt house, which can accommodate 12 persons. Recently a new house was added, and it is just a short distance from the main area. The new accommodation, which can accommodate 16 to 18 persons, combines a bigger stilt house and a private room and is equipped with a kitchen.

    This nature paradise can be combined in an active homestay and trekking package connected with other villages, or exclusively for an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

     

     

     

    PARK HYATT SAIGON CLOSES THREE MONTHS FOR MAJOR RENOVATIONS

     

    During the last nine years Park Hyatt Saigon has built a reputation as a premium hotel in Saigon, offering excellent services with great guest satisfaction. The hotel is now undergoing major renovations to enhance its offerings and services.

    Park Hyatt Saigon is closed completely for about three months while it undergoes renovations, which started on March 2, 2015 with scheduled date of completion in early June. It will reopen then with a limited inventory, as the refurbishment of the remaining guestrooms will continue until November. While still maintaining its French colonial style, guests will see an increased emphasis on Indochine decor. The guestrooms and suites will be redesigned to combine traditional comforts with contemporary decor. The entire project is scheduled to complete by November 2015.
     

     

     
     

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    CHINA

       

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

     

    The Year of the Goat has started, and we are gearing up for another busy season in China! We are looking forward to receiving guests from all over the world coming to experience the new vibes of this dynamic country, from high-speed train journeys across the Silk Road to adventures in Tibet, encounters with minorities in southwest China, idyllic mountain scenes south of the Yangtze, meetings and events in Beijing and Shanghai. Come and be surprised by China, and let Asian Trails be your host!

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    HEFEI-FUZHOU HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY STARTS OPERATIONS IN JUNE 2015

     

    The Hefei-Fuzhou High-Speed railway has finished laying its tracks, and expects to become operational by June 2015. It stretches 806 kilometres connecting Hefei in Anhui province with Fuzhou in Fujian province. Part of the Beijing-Fuzhou High-Speed Railway it will reduce travelling time between Hefei and Fuzhou from 14 hours to less than four hours, and from Beijing to Xiamen from 20 hours to 7 hours.

    The train will pass through two UNESCO World Heritage sites - Mount Huangshan and Mount Wuyi. It will also shorten travel time from Fuzhou to Mount Wuyi and Mount Huangshan to 50 minutes and 2.5 hours respectively.

     

     

     

    CHINA TO BUILD THE FIRST HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINKING BEIJING AND MOSCOW

     

    China is proposing to build a cross-border high-speed rail that will run for more than 7,000 kilometres, and span three countries namely China, Kazakhstan and Russia.

    The investment in the new line is estimated to cost 1.5 trillion Yuan (US$242 billion). It will cut train travel time between Beijing in China to Moscow in Russia from six days to two days. The proposed train's advantage over the nine-hour direct flight between the two cities is the beautiful scenery along the journey with primitive forests, lakes and wetlands.

     

     

     

    CHINA PLANS INNER MONGOLIA-HAINAN HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY

     

    China is planning to build the country's second major north-south high-speed railway line that will stretch from the northern region of Inner Mongolia to the southern island province of Hainan.

    The new line will be approximately 3,100 kilometres long, and will run from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Haikou, Hainan's capital city. It will pass through the regions and provinces of Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan with stops in key cities including Yan'an, Xi'an, Enshi, Zhangjiajie and Guilin.

    The line will also connect with the existing west high-speed routes including Xuzhou-Lanzhou, Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu, Shanghai-Kunming, and Guiyang-Guangzhou.

    Construction of the high-speed railway will start after 2016 on approval of the plan.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    BEIJING'S PALACE MUSEUM OPENS MORE SECTIONS

     

    The newly renovated Donghua Gate at the Palace Museum in Beijing, or historically known as The Forbidden City, is now an exhibition area for ancient architecture. It displays exclusively the spectacular ancient building complex and ancient cultural relics. Visitors can climb on to the Donghua Gate Tower for a panoramic view over the whole complex.

    The East and West Yanchi building exhibition hall, together with the Wumen exhibition hall, is the largest and most functional high-level modern exhibition area in the complex. It covers 2,800 square metres, and displays a wide range of ancient relics.

    The Palace Museum also plans to convert the Duan Gate into a digital exhibition hall, which will combine traditional architecture with digital technology.

    Visitors who are interested in the mysterious concubines of the Qing Dynasty can visit the western part of the Palace Museum, including the Cining Palace and Shoukang Palace that were the residences of the royal ladies. This section will open to the public later this year.

     

     

     

    SPECTACULAR HAN SHOW IN WUHAN

     

    The Han Show is a live performance inspired by stories from the Chu-Han culture that dates back to 200 B.C., and the city of Wuhan, capital of central Hubei Province. Directed by Franco Dragone, director of the world famous Cirque du Soleil and creator of the House of Dancing Water in Macau, it is an extravaganza of acrobatic and aquatic skills utilising state-of-the-art technology.

    The show takes place in the 86,000sqm Han Show Theatre, an iconic new building shaped like a red lantern. Specially designed for the 90-minute show, the theatre has 2,000 moving seats and a stage pool covering 12,000sqm enabling the audience to enjoy a 270-degree view of the performance.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    BANYAN TREE HUANGSHAN DUE FOR A JUNE 2015 OPENING

     

    Located in Anhui Province in Eastern China, Banyan Tree Huangshan nestles at the foot of the majestic Mount Huangshan. The picturesque retreat is 10 minutes away from the ancient villages of Xidi and Hongcun, treasured UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is about 90 minutes from Huangshan City to Huangshan Tunxi International Airport,

    Scheduled to open in June this year, Banyan Tree Huangshan will offer 76 suites, 17 one-bedroom villas and 17 two-bedrooms villas. Inspired by traditional Hui architecture and the Huangshan school of Chinese ink painting and calligraphy, the secluded resort exudes modern elegance. Other hotel facilities include the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa, Banyan Tree Gallery, an indoor swimming pool and a Kids' Club.

     

     

     

    INTERCONTINENTAL RESORT LHASA PARADISE

     

    Lhasa, renowned as the "sun city", is one of the highest cities in the world. As a coveted tourist destination the city has long been attracting visitors worldwide.

    InterContinental Hotels Group has opened the first phase of the 5 star 472-room InterContinental Resort Lhasa Paradise. The rooms are designed in Tibetan style, and equipped with digital entertainment system, spacious bathroom and Internet access. In-room central oxygen and access to humidifiers are available for the comfort of the guests in the high altitude environment.

     

     

     

    FIRST RESORT IN MAINLAND CHINA FOR SHANGRI-LA HOTELS AND RESORTS

     

    Shangri-la's Sanya Resort & Spa is the first hotel for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. It offers 340 elegant and spacious guestrooms and eight villas. Each room features a private balcony with a view of the majestic mountains or beautiful Haitang Bay. Guests staying in the villas enjoy personalised butler service and a private pool surrounded by a landscaped garden, as well as other signature Shangri-La amenities. There are six food and beverage outlets including two specialty restaurants, S.E.A. and Kon Tiki, which are inspired by the flavours of Southeast Asia and Polynesia.

     

     

     

    SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, NANCHANG IS OPEN

     

    Shangri-La Hotel, Nanchang opened on February 8, 2015 in Honggutan, the new central business district of Nanchang city, the capital of Jiangxi Province in southeastern China. Located on the most sought-after location on the west bank of the Gan River, the hotel has direct views of the magnificent 1,300-year-old Tengwang Pavilion, one of the four famous towers in China. It is a five-minute walk from the popular Qiushui Square.

    Shangri-La Hotel, Nanchang has 473 luxurious and spacious rooms and suites, each with dramatic views of the city or the Gan River. Guests have exceptional dining experience with the hotel's wide selections of international cuisine at Café Hong, and the finest Cantonese cuisine and local favourites at Zi Yu Xuan.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    LANTERN FESTIVAL
    MARCH 5, 2015
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

     

    The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first Lunar month, and is a public holiday in China. It is also known locally as Yuan Xiao Festival, as the month is also called Yuan month, and in the ancient times people called the night "Xiao". The full moon appears on the first night of this Lunar month.

    According to Chinese tradition, at the beginning of a new year when there is a bright full moon in the sky thousands of colourful lanterns should be displayed for people to appreciate. To celebrate the festival people will try to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and eat yuan xiao (glutinous rice ball) and have joyful family gatherings.

     

     

     

    QINGMING FESTIVAL/TOMB SWEEPING DAY
    APRIL 5, 2015
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

     

    The Qingming Festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term named Qingming. This is a day to remember and honour ancestors at gravesites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors.

    The 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 the Chinese culture. Traditionally, the Chinese believe that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after the family even when they are gone. Hence the offering of food and spirit money will 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.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    XIAMEN AIRLINES TO LAUNCH FIRST FLIGHT TO EUROPE IN SUMMER

     

    Xiamen Airlines will commence its first direct flight to Europe with a new route to Amsterdam in summer. The airline recently received permission from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to launch the route.

    The new service will operate from Xiamen's Gaoqi International Airport in southeast China's Fujian province. Bookings will open as early as March once Europe's aviation authorities approve the route.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    YONG XING FANG - A BITE OF SHAANXI

     

    Yong Xing Fang in Shaanxi, a province in north-central China, was the mansion of a minister called Wei Zheng who lived during the Tang Dynasty, and was known for his honesty and integrity. This mansion is now a popular destination for both its local culture and diverse local delicacies.

    Yong Xing Fang boasts more than 40 restaurants, which serve a variety of local delicacies, many of which are an intangible heritage of Shaanxi Province. It also has the world's largest shadow play stage and Shaanxi's longest stone table. Visitors to the mansion can also try their hand at making handicraft and snacks, learn folk art, and watch theatre performances

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    A NEW BUNDLE OF JOY FOR JILL LI

     

    Congratulations to Jill Li, our accountant, on the birth of a healthy baby boy on January 6, a blessed day when he arrived with the three wise men from the east!

     

     

     
     

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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 continue to enjoy "full house" with increasing number of tourist arrivals. Hotels have been fully booked throughout the past months, with full flights on the main tourist circuits as well.

    As you can read from our news update below there are new hotels are opening, which means more rooms in the market. This will translate to easier and more availability, and the stabilisation of rates.

    I take this opportunity to thank you again for your support, and look forward to meeting you at ITB in Berlin this month.

    Best regards,
    Thomas Carnevale

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    HOTELS' SPECIAL SUMMER PROMOTIONS

     

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

    Please contact our office for more details and dedicated tour programmes.

     

     

     

    INCREASE IN BAGAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONE FEE

     

    The fee for the Bagan Archaeological Zone was increased from US$15 to US$20 per tourist from January 1, 2015. The validity of the ticket is now limited to five days.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    GREEN SEASON SPECIAL TOUR TO MYANMAR'S CLASSIC DESTINATIONS

     

    For the coming summer, during the Green Season, Asian Trails Myanmar will be offering a 12-day tour to the classic destinations in Myanmar at attractive prices with stay at 4 star accommodations.

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

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    CLOSURE OF BEACH HOTELS DURING THE RAINY SEASON

     

    We would like to remind our valued clients that May to September is the monsoon season in Myanmar when most of the hotels in Ngapali (pictured) and Ngwe Saung will be closed.

    This year, however, some hotels in Ngapali will remain open during the monsoon season. Domestic airlines are offering flights from/to Yangon to Ngapali.

    Please contact Asian Trails Myanmar for detailed information.

     

     

     

    BEST WESTERN CHINATOWN - YANGON

     

    Best Western Chinatown is a brand new 3 star hotel located in the heart of downtown Yangon, and only a five-minute drive to the central railway station. The modern multi-storey hotel offers 91 well-decorated rooms, from standard to executive deluxe categories. Other facilities include conference and meeting rooms, and a fitness centre.

     

     

     

    HOTEL RENO - YANGON

     

    Hotel Reno is a newly opened 3 star property in Yangon, located at a tranquil area near the Inya Lake. It is only a short distance from the famous Shwedagon Pagoda and Kabaraye Pagoda.

    This five-storey hotel offers 65 rooms, ranging from Deluxe to Junior Suite, which are furnished with modern amenities. There is also a meeting room. Visa/Master cards payment is also accessible.

     

     

     

    THE GRAND NYAUNG SHWE HOTEL ? INLE LAKE

     

    The 2 star Grand Nyaung Shwe Hotel - Inle Lake is a small comfortable property located in Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. It is only a short walking distance to the town, jetty, market and bus station.

    The hotel has 24 rooms, which are furnished with a TV, air conditioning, and minibar. There is also a small garden for guests to relax in.

     

     

     

    NEW - ANANTA HOTEL, BAGAN

     

    Ananta Hotel, a new two star property in Bagan, features 24 fully equipped deluxe rooms. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness area, spa, and a terrace for dining. It is only a 15-minute walk to the Shwezigon Pagoda and the restaurant area.

     

     

     

    NEW - ROYAL BAGAN HOTEL, BAGAN

     

    The new 2 star Royal Bagan Hotel is located in Nyaung U, only 800 metres from the market and 1.7 kilometres from the Nyaung U Golf Club. It offers 44 air-conditioned superior rooms. The hotel has a variety of recreational facilities including a garden, outdoor small pool and rooftop terrace. WiFi access is available in all areas of the hotel.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    WATER FESTIVAL 2015
    APRIL 13-16, 2015
    VENUE: TROUGHOUT MYANMAR

     

    The water festival, known as Thingyan, is held on the eve of the Myanmar New Year, which falls on April 17. The festival is 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 AIRWAYS REBRANDS AS MYANMAR NATIONAL AIRLINES

     

    State-owned Myanmar Airways rebranded as Myanmar National Airlines on December 15, 2014. The airline, which started operations in September 1948, currently operates domestic flights. It will lease 10 new Boeing aircraft to start regular international flights to foreign countries.

     

     

     

    APEX AIRLINES TAKES FLIGHT

     

    New domestic carrier, APEX Airlines, will launch domestic services in mid-March 2015 from its hub at Nay Pyi Taw Airport to Southern Myanmar and Sitwe. It will start operations with its first ATR 72 aircraft.

    The airline will purchase a second aircraft in June/July 2015, and a third in September/October 2015. It also plans to mount international services within Asia in 2016.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    LE PLANTEUR MOVES TO NEW LOCATION

     

    Le Planteur, the most famous French fine dining restaurant in Yangon, has relocated to the side of the Inya Lake. It now offers more space for both indoor and outdoor dining. With a contemporary design, the restaurant has a cosy lounge and an innovative self-service wine dispenser. This is the perfect venue to start or end a holiday in Myanmar in style.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    ASEAN TOURISM FORUM IN MYANMAR

     

    The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) was held in Myanmar for the first time since its inauguration in 1981. The 34th edition of this annual event took place from January 22 to 29, 2015 in Nay Pyi Taw with the participation ASEAN tourism ministers and officials, exhibitors from the region, international buyers, international and local media, as well as tourism trade visitors.

    Asian Trails Myanmar hosted more than 50 representatives from the hospitality industry for the event.

     

     

     

    ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT AT INLE LAKE

     

    For the next rainy season Asian Trails Myanmar's local station office in Shan State will carry out its existing environmental project with the aid of local villagers. The project involves cleaning the precinct area of Inn Thein Pagoda and planting trees to make it greener. There will also be educational talks for the villagers and their children on the importance of environmental awareness

     

     

     
     

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    MALAYSIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

     

    Dear Business Partners,

    Malaysia has been celebrating many public holidays recently, including Chinese New Year and Thaipusam. 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

    Emir
    Malaysia, Truly Asia!

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    GOASEAN TV TO BEAM SPOTLIGHT ON TOURISM

     

    ASEAN tourism ministers at their meeting at the ASEAN Tourism Forum (January 22 to 29, 2015) held at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar welcomed Malaysia's initiative to establish GOASEAN, a home-grown English language ASEAN-focused TV travel channel.

    GOASEAN's services will be for all member countries of the regional body to promote the tourism industry collectively. It will showcase destinations and tourism products in different concepts and formats to suit a variety of interests. Subjects will range from tourism trivia, travel news and documentaries to travel reality shows, as well as incorporating social media.

    The service will be broadcast 24/7 on four-hour cycles of six loops. It will air first in Malaysia from June 2015. In 2016 it will be broadcast across the ASEAN region, and by 2017 to a global audience. The broadcasts will be available via platforms such as free-to-air, direct-to-home satellite TV service, and pay TV.

    ? Article reproduced courtesy of TTG Asia

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    TANJONG JARA RESORT REOPENS

     

    YTL Hotels' Tanjong Jara Resort in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, reopened on February 13 after nearly four months of annual closure during the monsoon season.

    This sanctuary of luxury steeped in age-old Malay traditions won the coveted Aga Khan Award for Architecture. It upholds a philosophy based on the Malay concept of Sucimurni, which emphasises on purity of spirit, health and well being.

    Guests have a choice of accommodation to choose from - the refurbished sea-facing Anjung rooms with their sunken outdoor baths and refreshed décor, a Bumbung or Serambi room, or the standalone Anjung Suite.

    Revamped resort facilities include a new dive centre, a boutique selling local handicrafts, souvenirs and toiletries; a meeting room that accommodates up to 90 persons; and new volleyball and badminton courts.

    The award-winning Spa Village Tanjong Jara is not to be missed. It has restorative Malay treatments handed down from generation to generation. The signature treatment is the Asam Roselle Experience that includes a relaxing massage and a rejuvenating scrub, concluding with Roselle tea. The red Roselle flower is known to have a plethora of benefits to the body and has long been used in traditional medicine and local delicacies.

    Tanjung Jara Resort is well known for its signature activities such as the Guided Bicycle Tour through a local fishing village, Sucimurni exercises, morning market visits, and snorkelling and diving in Tenggol Island. New additions this year include wau (traditional kite) flying on the beach, a pétanque court, and evening screenings of black and white Hollywood and P. Ramlee movies, the latter considered an icon of Malaysian entertainment.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    BMW MALAYSIA OPEN (WOMEN TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
    MARCH 2-8, 2015
    VENUE: ROYAL SELANGOR GOLF CLUB, SELANGOR

     

    This international women's tennis tournament event has been a big success, and is now a much-anticipated event in the Malaysian event calendar. It has been elevated to a Premier status level, which will attract higher ranked players to participate.

    Players from over 20 countries will be participating in this tournament including Venus Williams, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka and Angelique Kerber. In addition, the top 20 players will be ambassadors for Malaysia to promote Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 (MyFest 2015)

     

     

     

    CHAP GOH MEH CELEBRATION
    MARCH 5, 2015
    VENUE: ESPLANADE, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

     

    Chap Goh Meh, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, is also known as Chinese Valentine's Day. On this day, single people throw oranges into the sea with the hope of finding soul mates.

     

     

     

    MAH MERI SPIRITS DAY FESTIVAL
    MARCH 7, 2015
    VENUE: MAH MERI CULTURAL VILLAGE, PULAU CAREY, SELANGOR

     

    This is an annual festival of the aboriginal Mah Meri people, held to honour their ancestors. The festival showcases the community's unique cultural heritage such as ancestral legends and sculptured masks, which are fashioned out of local hardwood.
     

     

     

    RAPTOR WATCH WEEK
    MARCH 7-8, 2015
    VENUE: PNB ILHAM RESORT, TG. TUAN, MELAKA

     

    Raptor Watch is an exciting event for birdwatchers. Enthusiasts converge in Port Dickson to watch the annual migration of these birds of prey on their journey back to the northern hemisphere.

     

     

     

    LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI
    MARCH 8-15, 2015
    VENUE: KEDAH, PERAK, KUALA LUMPUR, SELANGOR, PAHANG, TERENGGANU, KELANTAN

     

    Asia's premier cycling event, Le Tour de Langkawi 2015 is back. The race will go through the of Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.

     

     

     

    PUTRAJAYA INTERNATIONAL HOT AIR BALLOON FIESTA
    MARCH 12-15, 2015
    VENUE: MONUMEN ALAF BARU, PRESINT 2 PUTRAJAYA

     

    The Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (HABF) is in its seventh edition this year. It will showcase 20 hot air balloons from around the world. The balloons are designed in various shapes, sizes and colours. HABF 2014 attracted some 200,000 visitors, 68% Malaysians and 32% foreigners.
     

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL DRUM FESTIVAL
    MARCH 14-15, 2015
    VENUE: STADIUM SULTAN MUHAMAD IV GROUNDS, KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN

     

    The International Drum Festival features various drum performances and drum-making workshops. This event promotes Malaysia's unique culture, as well as provides a platform to showcase drum making to the younger generation unfamiliar with this art. The traditional drums are one of the signature products in Malaysia.

     

     

     

    1MALAYSIA GP SALE 2015
    MARCH 14-APRIL 5, 2015
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

     

    Held in conjunction with the annual Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, the 1Malaysia GP Sale is held throughout the country where shopping malls and departmental stores hold great bargains. The highlight is in the Klang Valley, which attracts a lot of visitors coming for the race.

     

     

     

    LIMA '15 TOURISM CARNIVAL
    MARCH 17-21, 2015
    VENUE: PULAU LANGKAWI, KEDAH

     

    The Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) is a biennial event organised by Malaysia's Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The carnival is held in conjunction with LIMA ?15. There will also be a dedicated exhibition for defence, civil and commercial applications.

     

     

     

    THRILLER LIVE
    MARCH 19 -25, 2015
    VENUE: PUTRA INDOOR STADIUM, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    THRILLER LIVE comes to Malaysia direct form London's West End, where it is now in its record breaking sixth year. The show has entered West End record books as the longest running show in the Lyric Theatre's 125-year history.

    The spectacular concert celebrates the career of Michael Jackson, the world's greatest entertainer and undisputed King of Pop. The two-and-a-half hour show features the music of The Jackson 5 and the solo work of Michael Jackson including "Thriller", "I want You Back", "ABC", "Can You Feel It", "Off The Wall", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Smooth Criminal", "Beat It", "Billie Jean", "Dirty Diana", "Dangerous" and "Bad".

    Six actors will play Michael Jackson, tracing the various stages of his career. A cast of 21 including dancers and singers will perform in the concert.

    There will be six performances, with four evening shows and two matinees.

     

     

     

    FORMULA 1 FESTIVAL
    MARCH 27-29, 2015
    VENUE: KLCC, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The Formula 1 Festival is held in conjunction with the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix. It showcases Kuala Lumpur's sights and sounds, and the attractions it offers to visitors.

     

     

     

    FORMULA 1 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX
    MARCH 27-29, 2015
    VENUE: SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, SELANGOR

     

    Watch adrenaline pumping action at the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, one of the most challenging tracks in the world. With its extreme hot and wet conditions, the circuit is a challenge even for the finest drivers in the world.

     

     

     

    NASI AMBENG FESTIVAL
    APRIL 1, 2015
    VENUE: HOMESTAY BANGHURIS, SEPANG, SELANGOR

     

    The Nasi Ambeng Festival provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the food icon of the Javanese community food icon, as well as its rich culture. The traditional way of eating rice ambeng with trays is a highlight at the festival.
     

     

     

    MUZIKAL REJANG
    APRIL 1-12, 2015
    VENUE: ISTANA BUDAYA, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The show is a musical journey that celebrates the heroes living on the banks of the Rejang River, the longest river in Sarawak. The musical showcases the rich legacy of the Sea Dayaks.

     

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL ART MARKET FAIR
    APRIL 1-MAY 1, 2015
    VENUE: BALAI SENI VISUAL NEGARA (NATIONAL VISUAL ARTS GALLERY) , KUALA LUMPUR

     

    This event is inspired by the popular art markets in the UK, Australia and across Asia. At the art market fair artists and the creative community have the opportunity to mingle with each another, as well as with visitors to promote their work. The fair has a bazaar concept with interactive art in the gallery's gardens.

     

     

     

    MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL SHOE FESTIVAL
    APRIL 3-5, 2015
    VENUE: PUTRA WORLD TRADE CENTRE (PWTC), KUALA LUMPUR

     

    From glamorous stilettos to stylish sandals, classic pumps and trendy boots, Malaysia Internatonal Shoe Festival takes visitors on a fascinating journey into the world of designer footwear. Experience shoe shopping with Jimmy Choo, and enjoy great discounts for shoes crafted by local and international designers. This 56h festival will also feature fashion shows, shoe-making demonstrations and shoe-designing competitions.

     

     

     

    IRONMAN 70.3 PUTRAJAYA
    APRIL 5, 2015
    VENUE: MONUMEN ALAF BARU, PRESINT 2 PUTRAJAYA, SELANGOR

     

    Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya was launched in Malaysia in 2014 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014. It will be held in the country for three year. Last year the event attracted 964 international athletes from around the world and 496 local athletes. The event this year targets 1,500 international athletes.

     

     

     

    SILAT NUSANTARA CARNIVAL
    APRIL 6-7, 2015
    VENUE: MPKB-BRI HALL, KELANTAN

     

    Held for the second year in Kelantan, the Silat Nusantara Carnival features 400 exponents of the silat, a Malay martial arts. This year the organisers are targeting greater participation from ASEAN countries. Events include performances by various silat centres, exhibitions, self defence seminars and martial arts demonstrations.

     

     

     

    ASEAN INTERNATIONAL FILMS FESTIVAL AND AWARDS
    APRIL 9-11, 2015
    VENUE: KUCHING, SARAWAK

     

    The ASEAN International Films Festival and Awards aims to promote films and film locations in ASEAN. Industry players will promote their films to ASEAN buyers. There will be seminars, and the festival culminates with a gala dinner when the awards will be presented to the winners.

     

     

     

    PENANG WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL 2015
    APRIL 11- 12, 2015
    VENUE: QUARRY PARK, PENANG BOTANIC GARDENS

     

    Celebrating the diversity of world music, the Penang World Music Festival features a repertoire of performances ranging from traditional to fusion. Expect great performances from Brazil, Ecuador, Bulgaria, South Africa, Poland and Uzbekistan. This outdoor festival also includes music workshops by the artistes.

     

     

     

    SONGKRAN FESTIVAL
    APRIL 12-14, 2015
    VENUE: KEDAH

     

    Songkran Festival is a cultural event celebrated by the Siamese every year. The festival symbolises the diversity of people living in Malaysia. It attracts both domestic and foreign tourists,s and helps them to better understand the Siamese culture in Malaysia.
     

     

     

    TWIN CITIES CELEBRATION
    APRIL 15, 2015
    VENUE: MELAKA

     

    Catch the official celebration of Melaka's Historic City. Part of the celebrations include a drum music festival with participants from all over the world.

     

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL SHADOW PUPPET FESTIVAL
    APRIL 15-MAY 15, 2015
    VENUE: KELANTAN, TERENGGANU, KEDAH AND PERLIS

     

    This carnival makes it debut in Malaysia this year. A regional event, it will also see the festival held in Indonesia and Thailand. Each country will showcase its homegrown shadow puppet shows. In Malaysia the shadow puppets will be shown in the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis.

    Objectives:

    ? To recall the glorious art of Malaysian shadow puppet primarily from Malaysia in general and Kelantan Wayang Kulit, to showcase to the rest of the world.
    ? Promoting the art of shadow puppet show in the industry. Conservation of the arts and treasures of the state and the country which is gradually disappearing in modern times.
    ? Encourage the younger generation to continue to love its heritage.
    ? The current generation will be able to see various types of puppets from various countries, especially puppets from Kelantan.
    ? Encourage people to visit the museum and, indirectly, understand the concepts and functions of museology.

     

     

     

    GREASE THE MUSICAL
    APRIL 18-30 ,2015
    VENUE: ISTANA BUDAYA, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    Grease the Musical is the world famous show, which has also been elevated to the silver screen. It features evergreen hit songs from various genres of music.
     

     

     

    NATIONAL CHOIR CONCERT TRIBUTE TO P.RAMLEE
    APRIL 22-27, 2015
    VENUE: PUSAT PELANCONGAN MALAYSIA (MATIC), KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The National Choir of Malaysia was established in 1991 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. From 2004 till today it was managed by the Department of Culture and the Arts (JKKN).

    JKKN will hold the National Choir Concert, Tribute To P. Ramlee, in recognition of the choir's founding 23 years ago. The National Symphony Orchestra will provide the muscial backing for the choir who will showcase the musical works of Tan Sri P. Ramlee, the Malaysia's iconic performing artist. The cpmcert will combine singing, music, and acting as a tribute to the golden era of the film industry.

     

     

     

    MUKAH KAUL FESTIVAL
    APRIL 23-25, 2015
    VENUE: MUKAH, SARAWAK

     

    Kaul is a traditional festival celebrated by the Melanau, an indigenous people living along the coast of Sarawak. In the past, Kaul is celebrated as a religious ceremony to appease the gods of the sea, land and forests. It is still the most important festival in the Melanau calendar.

    The festival also showcases the arts and culture of the Melanau through various activities such as the sale and exhibition of traditional foods like umai, sago and tebaloi. Other featured activities include traditional games such as Tibau Melanau and watersports.
     

     

     

    REGATTA LEPA
    APRIL 24-26, 2015
    VENUE: SEMPORNA, SABAH

     

    Regatta Lepa is a colourful festival that pays homage to the lepa, the traditional single-mast sailing boat of the Bajau people of Semporna in Sabah. Witness the crowning of the most beautiful lepa along with activities such as the Lepa Beauty Pageant, cultural performances, and fireworks displays.

     

     

     

    LABUAN INTERNATIONAL SEA CHALLENGE
    APRIL 24-26, 2015
    VENUE: LABUAN INTERNATIONAL SEA SPORT COMPLEX, LABUAN

     

    Labuan International Sea Challenge is one of the biggest annual sporting event in Labuan. It also features activities and watersports such as inter-island swimming competitions, round the island kayak paddling, and tug-of-war.
     

     

     

    LABUAN NATIONAL WATER FESTIVAL
    APRIL 24- 26, 2015
    VENUE: LABUAN

     

    The Labuan National Water Festival 2015 celebrates the gift of Mother Nature. Several water activities and events will also be held. The annual festival attracts both domestic and international water sports enthusiasts.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS TO CONNECT TOKYO WITH KUALA LUMPUR IN SEPTEMBER

     

    ALL Nippon Airways (ANA) will launch the daily Tokyo-Kuala Lumpur service on September 1, 2015. The new service will enable travellers departing Kuala Lumpur to make a more seamless connection for onward travel to North America.

    The flights will depart from Tokyo-Narita International Airport at 17.20hrs and arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 23.53hrs. The return journey will leave Kuala Lumpur at 07.00hrs and arrive in Narita at 15.00hrs. The service will be on Boeing B787-8 aircraft.

    ANA will also increase frequencies on several routes out of Tokyo-Narita International - Singapore from seven to 14 weekly flights starting June 11; to Bangkok (Thailand) from seven to 14 weekly flights starting August 1; to Honolulu (Hawaii) from seven to 14 weekly flights starting July 17; and to Chengdu (China) from four to seven flights a week starting March 29.
     

     

     

    MALAYSIA AIRLINES' NEW RULING ON E-CIGARETTE

     

    Passengers flying with Malaysia Airlines will now be required to carry their electronic cigarettes (e-cigarette) in their carry-on baggage. This ruling, however, does not alter the no-smoking rule in the cabin.

    MAS implements this regulation in accordance with a safety alert issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following recent fire incidents involving e-cigarettes. The FAA recommends all airline operators to ensure e-cigarettes (also called personal vaporisers or electronic nicotine delivery) be carried by passengers exclusively in the cabin of the aircraft, and not in checked baggage. Carriage of e-cigarettes in the cabin addresses this safety risk by ensuring that if an incident does occur, it can be immediately identified and mitigated.

     

     

     
     

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    INDONESIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJÖRN SCHIMANSKI

     

    The beginning of the year has started very promising for Asian Trails Indonesia, as we see a continuing increase in demand. This time of the year is also the period when numerous cruising ship visit the archipelago, and we have been very busy and successful in arranging land arrangements to different islands like Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Flores and, of course, Bali.

    I, as well, took the opportunity to see some of our great products that we have the pleasure to offer. I would like to mention especially Flores and the Komodo National Park (photo left - I guess I am too old for these dragons, giving me the opportunity to write this newsletter). The nearest port, Labuan Bajo, is developing fast mainly because of the influx of tourists but still retains its charm. I strongly recommend you to explore the surrounding islands with a traditional boat - great snorkelling/diving, beautiful unspoiled scenery, and the Komodo Dragons await you!

    On the other side of the country, in Java, I would like to recommend the wellness retreat, Mesasastila. Located between Semerang and Yogjakarta, it sits on an old coffee plantation established by the Dutch. The early morning panoramic views with volcanoes on all sides reaching a height of 800 metres are breathtaking. The next time when recommending Java why not suggest flying to Semerang from Singapore (with SilkAir/Singapore Airlines), stop over in Measastila for a two-night stay, and then continue south to Borobudur and Yogjakarta? Please do not hesitate to contact us for more details.

    Best wishes from Indonesia,
    Björn
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    AMANDIRA BY AMAN

     

    Amandira, which will launch in April 2015, is Aman's new luxurious wooden cruiser. The 52-metre two-masted sailing vessel is fitted with excellent diving equipment, and can travel under sail, as well as with motor. The vessel features three spacious cabins, and has on board a dive master and his team.

    Amandira is the perfect vessel for an adventure in the Indonesian archipelago to see the Komodo Dragon in its natural habitat, and dive or snorkel in the pristine waters of the Flores Sea.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    THE RITZ-CARLTON BALI SOFT OPENS

     

    The Ritz-Carlton Bali, which soft opened recently, is located on the southern tip of Nusa Dua on a dramatic cliff setting with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and the white sandy beach below. The hotel offers spacious luxury with cliff-top villas, each with private pools and exclusive butler services. A glass elevator descends to the beach level, offering guests beautiful views of the surroundings on their ride.

     

     

     

    FAIRMONT JAKARTA, LUXURY IN INDONESIA'S CAPITAL CITY

     

    Fairmont Jakarta, located in the heart of the city, has opened its doors. The 32-storey hotel, one of the city's landmark buildings, provides luxury, privacy and convenience at its finest. It has 380 guestrooms, all with magnificent views of Jakarta's skyline, and 108 Sky Suites with premium services. For events and meetings the hotel offers 3,500 square metres of function space, including a 1,200 square metre ballroom.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    JETSTAR TO MOUNT THRICE WEEKLY BALI-CAIRNS SERVICE

     

    Jetstar will launch non-stop Bali-Cairns (Australia) flights at the end of March 2015. The three times weekly services will use an Airbus A320 aircraft. This new route will make Jetstar the first low cost carrier to offer direct services between Bali and Cairns.

    The airline also plans to fly between Melbourne and Wellington in New Zealand to meet the growing traffic demand between Bali and New Zealand.

     

     

     

    GARUDA INDONESIA OPENS BALI-MANADO ROUTE

     

    Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia's national carrier, launched direct flights between Bali and Manado in February 2015 to cater to the increasing number of passenger demand between these two destinations. Both Bali and Manado are expected to benefit in terms of tourist arrivals from this new service.

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    A WARM WELCOME TO PERRINE PHILIPPE


    Asian Trails Indonesia welcomes Perrine Philippe to the team as the new French Market Manager. Perrine holds a Bachelor Degree in Tourism Management specialising in Lodging and Environmental Tourism. She has been working in the tourism industry for 10 years, the last two years in Myanmar as French Inbound Manager.

    We wish Perrine success and all the best in her new position.
     

     

     
     

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