Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue May 2014

THE CEO STORY

 

A VOLCANIC FEAT - MY CONQUEST OF MT. RINJANI

 

I have always been fascinated by volcanoes - the sheer beauty of nature, their power of destruction, their cycle of life and death. It's pure feng shui, the cycles of creation and destruction, the element of fire at its best.

 

It's exciting to climb volcanoes. You're mesmerised not just the beautiful scenery but also by the mountains and crater lakes, the fumes of the earth, the different shades of green, the smell of sulphur, the moon-like appearance and the lush greenery. The contrasts are just amazing.

 

There is no better place to climb volcanoes than Indonesia. In my backpacker days many many moons ago I walked to the top of Mt. Bromo on Java island, the first volcano I had ever hiked up in Asia. Mt. Agung on the island of Bali was next. I have fond memories of climbing in the dark of the night, sitting on top of the mountain and waiting for the sun to rise. Moments that are forever engraved in my memory.

 

When we decided to hold our Asian Trails board meetings on the island of Lombok in Indonesia I thought what a great opportunity this would be to hike up Mt. Rinjani. At 3,700 metres above sea level this is the second highest volcano in the Indonesian Archipelago, and it is still active.

 

I must admit that even though I am reasonably fit, having to climb from the starting point of 1,100 metres to the volcano's rim at 2,700 metres in an eight-hour uphill walk gave me second thoughts. It was my colleague Bjoern Schimanski, Asian Trails Managing Director in Laos, who encouraged me saying he had no doubt I could do it and that he would be happy to join me even though he had hiked up the volcano a few years back.

 

We left our hotel at Senggigi Beach at 6am and drove for about two hours to the village of Sembalun. There are two ways to climb to the crater rim - one from Senaru Village and the other from Sembalun Village. Each of the routes has its distinct advantages, and takes about the same time to reach the crater rim.

 

Arriving at the crater rim literally took my breath away. The scenery is stunning. It's everything one would expect of a volcano - a rocky crater rim, magnificent crater lake,  and a 360-degree panoramic view over the surrounding areas. Not to mention a great sense of pride of having made an eight-hour climb uphill, and still in a pretty good shape.

 

Our porters and guide set up tents for the night at the crater's rim. It was quite a comfortable way to spend the night with a mattress and sleeping bag, with a fantastic view as background that we could not get enough of. We knew that it would be cold at an altitude of 2,700 metres, but we did not expect temperatures to drop to 5 degrees centigrade. Warm clothes are an absolute necessity to pack for the trek. The great meal cooked by our porters and guide was a real treat, not to mention the hot tea with rum

 

We had an early night as we did not want to miss the sunrise the next morning, which was a spectacle on its own and one all climbers will forever cherish.

 

Most trekkers will climb to the top of Mt. Rinjani in the early morning with another night spent in a tent at the crater lake, but since we were pressed for time we had to make it back down to the village on the second day. This is not what I would recommend for travellers to do though, as a three-day/two night climb would be the better way to explore the volcano.

 

The Mt. Rinjani trek is not an adventure for regular tourists, but for trekkers who are fit, used to climbing mountains and no stranger to altitudes above 3,000 metres. You must also prepare for this adventure - good hiking shoes are a must (Bjoern recommends you check them before leaving home as he lost both of his shoes' soles), walking sticks are of great help for the steep climbs and descents, light clothing for the walk and warm clothes for the night, a torch light for the night, and high energy snacks.

 

For the less adventurous travellers who have an average level of fitness, there are many other volcanoes in Indonesia that you can explore. Highly recommended is Mt. Ijen, located on the most eastern part of Java, which is one of the most spectacular volcanoes I have ever seen. It is easily accessible from Bali and is ideal for a three- or four-day excursion. There is a fantastic documentary on this mountain made for the National Geographic channel. Try to watch it if you are planning to conquer this volcano.

 

For me, the next volcano on my wish list is Mt. Kelimutu, which I plan to climb in the near future. It is located in central Flores Island near the town of Moni, and is famous for its three crater lakes that change colours due to the chemical reaction of the minerals in the waters. These sacred lakes are believed to be the abode of the souls of the dead, and are simply spectacular.

 

Whatever volcanic experience you like to have or propose to your clients, Asian Trails and our offices in Indonesia will be most happy to answer your queries and recommend some volcanoes for a thrilling, unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.

 

Laurent Kuenzle

CEO, Asian Trails

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS BOARD OF DIRECTORS HELD ANNUAL MEETING IN LOMBOK/GILLI TRAWANGAN

 

Asian Trails held its annual Board of Directors meeting on the island of Lombok and Gilli Trawangan in Indonesia from April 3-7, with two nights in each destination.

 

Asian Trails CEO, Laurent Kuenzle, said each of the destinations in the company's network take turns to host the meet. It was Indonesia's turn this year, and Lombok was the chosen venue. Apart from him, the other board members in attendance were Asian Trails Chairman, Luzi Matzig, all the country managing directors and the finance directors.

 

The post-meeting tour was a two-night stay at Gilli Trawangan and a fabulous day boat trip around the islands on the newly renovated traditional schooner, Aliikai (photo shows the Asian Trails team on the schooner). This is a traditional Phinisi schooner from South Sulawesi with seven nicely appointed air-conditioned cabins with ensuite bathrooms. (For more information on the schooner visit: http://www.indonesianislandsail.com/

 

Describing the meeting as a success, Laurent said, "Our Asian Trails board meetings are an integral part of our yearly calendar. We discuss matters on hand at each destination, and take decisions on them.

 

 

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

We have just finished the Songkran (Thai New Year) celebrations. Looking at all the visitors who came to enjoy the Songkran festival it is becoming more and more like an international attraction for visitors looking for some "watery" fun amid a party atmosphere. To anyone who has never experienced Songkran in Thailand yet, I highly recommend it for next year!

 

Etihad Airways will start flying from Abu Dhabi to Phuket on October 26, 2014. After Qatar Airways and Emirates this is now the third Gulf carrier with daily flights out of the resort island. There are now more flights than ever before between Phuket and the Gulf countries with excellent connections to Europe, the Americas and Africa.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS THAILAND UNVEILS PARTNERSHIP WITH THAILAND HOLIDAY HOMES

 

Asian Trails Thailand has formed a new partnership with Thailand Holiday Homes, the leading provider of serviced luxury villas in Thailand. As a result of this cooperation over 300 luxury villas throughout the Kingdom can now be booked on www.asiantrails.travel with immediate effect.

 

Thailand Holiday Homes, founded by a British gentleman more than 11 years ago, has properties in Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and Pattaya. They range from cosy one-bedroom cottages to impressive seven-room mansions with swimming pools and tennis courts. The villas can be rented for a minimum stay of three days and come fully furnished and staffed.

 

Asian Trails Thailand has incorporated Thailand Holiday Homes' newly designed website in its website, together with instant confirmation of booking for most of the properties. The website features high quality pictures, descriptions and videos, as well as instant confirmation of most properties. Bookings and payments will be handled directly by Thailand Holiday Homes' reservation staff.

 

We invite you to browse through the vast selection of luxury villas at:

http://www.asiantrails.travel/thailand/LUXURYVILLAS.php

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK

 

Experience this full day trip, which combines Thai culture and fun-filled adventure. Visit a local morning market and ride on an ox cart through the paddy fields. Trek the trails of Khao Yai National Park, and enjoy an elephant ride in the jungle. Lunch is included in the package.

 

 

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

NEW TOUR - DISCOVERING KANCHANABURI'S RICH PAST

 

The new tour is a full day trip to the old town of Kanchanaburi, capital of Kanchanaburi province. Start your adventure by exploring the charming old streets in the town centre, some of which dated back 250 years. Marvel at the architecture of the aged old buildings, a stunning blend of East and West that are remnants of the town's glorious past in its golden days when the mining and logging industries were at their heights

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

2-DAY MEKHALA CRUISE AND COLORS OF AYUTHAYA

 

Mekhala Cruise is offering a new cruise programme, which combines a cycling trip in Ayuthaya. This is an ideal way to travel to the historic city of Ayuthaya, Thailand's ancient capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

The tour begins in Bangkok with a cruise on the Chao Phraya River. Explore the traditional and the cosmopolitan sides of Bangkok from the deck of the Mekhala, a converted rice barge. Visit a riverside market and a local village along the way. Cycle to Ayutthaya historical park through the back roads, passing small villages, temple ruins and rice paddies. Savour the taste of authentic Thai dishes on board the boat and in a local restaurant. It is an active, yet relaxing vacation away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

 

 

For more detail and booking, please contact us

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK

 

U SUKHUMVIT BANGKOK

 

U Sukhumvit is located on Sukhumvit Soi 15. The hotel's overall interior and architectural design concept are created with a modern living lifestyle in mind with unique touches. All its 82 rooms, ranging in size from 28 to 38 square metres, and other facilities are luxuriously appointed with the comfort of U brand's unique concept of service.

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

PAS CHER HOTEL DE BANGKOK

 

Pas Cher Hotel De Bangkok is located on Charoenkrung Road, about five minutes' walk to the BTS, station (Saphan Taksin). The city hotel provides a green accommodation concept based on a 10-storey building decorated in trendy-classic style for each room; blended with old and modern style and sits in one of the most historic community's of Bangkok. The hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travellers.

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

THE KEY BANGKOK

 

The Key Bangkok is located on Sukhumvit Soi 19. All the 43 mini suites, covering six floors, have a warm ambiance and facilities that make guests feel right at home. Among these facilities are a separate dining/sitting area, kitchen, refrigerator, washer/dryer, microwave, fully stocked mini bar, cookware/dishware, cutlery, complimentary toiletries and WiFi.

 

 

KOH SAMUI

 

BELMOND NAPASAI KOH SAMUI

 

The former Napasai by Orient-Express has been rebranded as the Belmond Napasai Koh Samui. The resort is on Baan Tai beach near the town of Maenam in the north of the island, and a 25-minute transfer from the airport. Its 69 villas have been fully renovated and feature modern Thai decor and large patios with views of the sea.

 

 

 

For more detail, please visit

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

SAMUI REGATTA
MAY 24-31, 2014
VENUE: CENTARA GRAND BEACH RESORT SAMUI

 

The 13th Samui Regatta is set to take place on the island's most popular beach, Chaweng Beach in Samui. Organised by Regattas Asia, the Regatta will see the participation of over 40 boats and more than 500 sailors from 30 countries worldwide. This annual event is a highlight of Samui's social and sporting scene. Also known as "Tropical Island Regatta", it is famous around the world for providing world class racing and some of the best beachside regatta parties anywhere. Tickets to the 5 star Gala Dinner at Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui on the final night are highly sought after.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

ETIHAD AIRWAYS TO LAUNCH DAILY DIRECT ABU DHABI-PHUKET FLIGHT IN OCTOBER

 

Phuket will become the second destination in Thailand to be served by Etihad Airways when it launches the Abu Dhabi-Phuket route on October 26, 2014. The service will be operated with the two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with 22 Pearl Business seats and 240 Coral Economy seats. The flights have been scheduled to provide optimal connectivity between Phuket and key markets across Europe and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

WATER LIBRARY CHAMCHURI

 

Water Library Chamchuri is a modern French restaurant situated in Chamchuri Square, which is centrally located in the heart of Bangkok's business district. The fine dining restaurant has a premium water bar, which offers premium bottled natural mineral waters from around the world. The restaurant is the perfect venue to have lunch and dinner, either set menu or ala carte, in a relaxing atmosphere. The dishes are cooked by German chef de cuisine, Micro Keller.

 

 

 

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LAOS

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJöRN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends

 

The low season has started, which means there are many special offers in the country. Especially popular is the "Stay 3 nights and pay for 2 nights" in Luang Prabang. We are happy to pass these special deals on to you and your guests.

 

Further, I would like to bring special attention to a new product - Nam Ou Riverside Hotel & Resort. Located just two hours from Luang Prabang it offers a nice possibility to discover the country side around Luang Prabang. Please read more on this under HOTEL INFORMATION"

 

As always, looking forward to welcome you in beautiful Laos!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

shadow-puppet theatRE NOW IN CHAMPASAK

 

After five years performing in local Lao villages, the shadow-puppet theatre is now based in Champasak in association with 14 musicians and the projection of Chang, the first movie made in Laos in 1920s. After three months of daily training, the show will open for the 2014-2015 high season with four performances per week.

 

 

 

Nam Ou Elephant Farm

 

Nam Ou Elephant Farm is close to the Nam Ou Riverside Hotel & Resort near Luang Prabang. Newly opened, the farm has eight adult and one baby elephants. Visitors get the opportunity to feed and bath the elephants, as well as enjoy elephant rides and take part in mahour classes.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

Nam Ou Riverside Hotel & Resort

 

Nam Ou Riverside Hotel & Resort is located on the bank of the Nam Ou River, about two hours from Luang Prabang by boat. The 3-4 star boutique hotel, which is close to an authentic Lao village, offers rooms and bungalows. Activities for guests include  boat trips, fishing class with local fishermen, bicycling and elephant rides. Or they can relax with a massage.

 

 

 

Lao Plaza, Vientiane, COMPLETES RENOVATIONS

 

Lao Plaza, Vientiane, has completed renovations of its fifth and sixth floors. Designed by a Japanese the rooms on these two floor are now more comfortable offering amenities, and exudes charm and simplicity with its soft colours. Located in the centre of Vientiane, the hotel is one of the biggest in the city.

 

 

 

 

promotionS for low season - Luang Prabang view

 

Luang Prabang View is located about three kilometres from the town centre atop a hill with spectacular views of the surrounding region. It offers two promotional packages during the green season (1/05-30/09/2015):
Pay 2 nights, stay 3 - includes 1 meal/person and 30 minutes massage
Pay 3 nights, stay 4 - includes room upgrade, 2 meals/person and 2 hours massage
 

 

 

promotionS for low season - LE BEL AIR, LUANG PRABANG

 

Le Bel Air is about a kilometre from the centre of Luang Prabang, and offers comfortable rooms and private bungalows in a lush garden on tha bank of the Nam Han River. It offers two promotional packages during the green season (1/05-30/09/2015) are:
Pay 2 nights, stay 3 - includes 1 meal/peron and 30 minutes massage
Pay 3 nights, stay 4, room upgrade, 2 meals/person and 2 hours massage

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

Na Dao Restaurant TO open in Vientiane

 

Na Dao Restaurant in Pakse, renowned for its French and Lao fusion cuisine, is opening another restaurant in Vientiane. It will be located in Mandala Boutique Hotel, a newly renovated 3 star hotel located in a classic colonial building. The restaurant will have a cosy modern dining room with a visible air-conditioned wine storage room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

 

Dear Partners and Friends,


Cambodia has a lot to offer beside the magnificent Angkor temples. Exploring the developing city of Phnom Penh, chilling by the coast in Kep, or discovering the wonders of nature in Mondulkiri Province would complete your experience in Cambodia.   

 

City lovers will fall in love with Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, with its minimalist urban-chic bistros to molecular gastronomy restaurants and a large choice of trendy boutique hotels.

 

Driving south for three hours from Phnom Penh is the very zen and charming city of Kep - the ideal getaway for a relaxing stay in a traditional Cambodian bungalow.

 

Nature lovers can head to Mondulkiri Province in the eastern part of Cambodia where they can spend days enjoying the waterfalls and national park or go elephant trekking.

 

Whatever your tastes in travel, Cambodia will always surprise you. We at Asian Trails Cambodia are on hand to help you plan your holidays.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

CHAMPEY ACADEMY OF ART

 

Champey Academy of Arts (CAA) is one of the local professional and non-profit schools in Phnom Penh working on Cambodian traditional performing arts training programme.

 

CAA's vision is to keep Cambodian traditional performing arts alive, aware, and popular throughout the country. Its mission is to preserve, protect and promote Cambodian traditional performing arts. The school provides FFP training classes of traditional dance, music and drawing/painting for free-of-charge.


Contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

TRAVEL IN STYLE WITH CITROEN VINTAGE CARS

 

The Citroen vintage cars were made in 1927, 1928 and 1930. They are available for full or half day rental in the Angkor zone for city tour and airport transfer.

 

Contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

VICTORIA ANGKOR RESORT AND SPA Closes in June 2014  FOR RENOVATIONS

 

Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa will commence renovations on June 1, 2014 and work is expected to finish by June 30. The renovation will involve interior and exterior works that include the repainting of all exterior surfaces, sprucing up of the bathrooms and some refurbishment in guestrooms.

 

The hotel will close for the month of June for the renovations to be carried out. We will keep you informed should the renovation work finish earlier.

 

 

 

 

TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF ANGKOR VILLAGE HOTEL FOR UPGRADING WORK

 

Angkor Village Hotel will close from May 13 to July 3, 2014 for renovations. The temporary closure is to avoid any inconvenience to guests due to the noise during the work period.

Please note that Angkor Village Resort & Spa is open to welcome guests during the closure of Angkor Village Hotel.

 

 

 

STEUNG SIEM REAP HOTEL TO RENOVATE ONE BUILDING

 

Steung Siem Reap Hotel has scheduled to close one building with its pool for three months, from June 1, 2014 to August 31, for renovations. The hotel will reopen on September 1.

 

 

 

KEP

 

LE PONTON HOTEL - A TRANQUIL GETAWAY

 

Surrounded by a lush tropical garden, the nine bungalows of the Le Ponton Hotel offers travellers a quiet and charming accommodation to rest and relax. The Large Bungalow comes with either king size or twin beds. The Family Bungalow has two bedrooms with king-size and twin beds.

Hotel facilities include a swimming pool with a terrace and jacuzzi. It also has a pool bar; a restaurant offering tapas, and traditional and international cuisine; and Paillote Lounge Bar with a fine wine collection.

 

 

 

MONDULKIRI

 

NEW - CHUNCHEAT ECO LODGE

 

A new hotel, Chuncheat Eco Lodge, recently opened in the secluded province of Mondulkiri. The rooms at the lodge are designed and decorated along the lines of an authentic Minority House. An ideal property for visitors who want to experience the ambiance of a Minority House.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

ROYAL PLOUGHING DAY
MAY 5, 2014
VENUE: VEAL MEN, PHNOM PENH (NEAR THE ROYAL PALACE)

 

A good place to take part in the colour celebrations of the Royal Ploughing Day is in Veal Mèn, which is near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Here a series of activities take place in connection with the festival.

After the field is ceremoniously ploughed three times the royal oxen. or sacred cows. are offered a choice of seven crops and drinks (rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water and wine). Predictions are forecast for the coming harvest season based upon the choice of food and drinks made by the royal oxen. The royal soothsayers interpret what the oxen have eaten and predict a series of events including epidemics, floods, good harvests, and/or excessive rainfall.

 

 

 

BIRTHDAY OF HIS MAJESTY KING NORODOM SIHAMONI
MAY 13-15, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

The Kingdom of Cambodia celebrates the 59th birthday of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni with a three-day public holiday. Various posters with images of the monarch's image are hung on the country's main boulevards as part of the celebrations.

His Majesty is the third monarch to rule in the Kingdom of Cambodia in its 60 years' history.

 

 

 

VISAKHA BOCHEA DAY
MAY 13- 15, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

Bonn Pisakh Bochea on the full moon day of May marks the birth, enlightenment and entry into Nirvana (death) of Lord Buddha. Cambodian people celebrate the day with colourful ceremonies held in the Angkor Archeological Park and in all pagodas throughout the country. Thousands of monks and faithfuls pay their respect to Buddha.

 

 

 

QUEEN MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY
JUNE 18, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

Queen Mother's Birthday is a public holiday in Cambodia to celebrate the birthday of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk who was born on June 18, 1936.

 

 

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Dear Friends,

Tourism in Vietnam is developing rapidly, and we are very pleased to be able to offer new products on a consistent basis to our friends and partners. New hotels are opening up on the peaceful tropical paradise island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand, which is well known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, untouched nature, friendly people, great scuba diving and snorkelling. Another exciting experience is the introduction of seaplanes in Vietnam for exciting scenic flights to Halong Bay flying past the spectacular coastline of Vietnam. All these attractions are worth coming to Vietnam for.

We wish you a wonderful summer, and continuous success for your business in 2014.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

NEW - THE SHELLS RESORT & SPA PHU QUOC

 

The Shells Resort & Spa, formerly Fusion Maia, opened its door on April 26, 2014. The new 5 star resort on Phu Quoc Island is the first all-spa inclusive resort, offering 40 stunning ocean view rooms. The hotel combines unparalleled luxury, and provides a sense of relaxation, indulgence and island feeling with its beautiful coastal surroundings.

 

 

 

SALINDA PREMIUM RESORT AND SPA TO OPEN IN AUGUST -PHU QUOC

 

Salinda Premium Resort and Spa, a new 5 star beach resort on Phu Quoc Island, is due to open in August this year. Set on a beautiful white sand beach, it features 121 deluxe rooms, villas and suites.

The resort offers numerous facilities that include an all-day dining restaurant serving contemporary cuisine infused with Vietnamese fare, a lobby lounge, pool bar, full-service spa, an outdoor pool, business centre, boutique, and complimentary wireless Internet access in public areas. There is also a full range of professional meeting, conference and function facilities for up to 500 guests.

 

 

 

ALMA COURTYARD HOI AN SET FOR A JUNE/JULY OPENING

 

Alma Courtyard Hoi An is scheduled to open in June/July this year and will be the sister of Fusion Maia Danang, both owned by Vietnam-based Serenity Holding.

The 4 star resort is located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage ancient port town of Hoi An, which reflects the rich Vietnamese culture of its location in its architecture and design. It offers 144 rooms with five different room types set in tropical courtyard gardens. It also features a restaurant with interactive show kitchens, terrace café, bar, spa, terraced swimming pool and fitness centre.

Alma Courtyard Hoi An's main focus will be its spa services, which includes a steam room, sauna, massage services, tai chi and meditation sessions to offer guests an "inclusive wellness journey". This is reflected in the "Self Discovery at Alma" concept, which sees various spa activities included in the room rate - 15 minutes steam/sauna, 45 minutes massage, 10 minutes movement, and 5 minutes meditation.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

DISCOVERING VIETNAM ON A SEAPLANE

 

A new exciting way to discover the charms of Vietnam is on a seaplane. From August 1, 2014, tourists will be able to do that when Hai Au Aviation starts operating three Cessna Grand Caravan 208B-EX Amphibians seaplanes for transfers and sightseeing tours between Hanoi and Halong Bay. One of the planes will be based in Saigon for flights to Mui Ne and Na Trang. Each aircraft is operated by two pilots, is equipped with comfortable leather seats, and can take up to 12 passengers.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

THE FIELD, HOI AN

 

The Field is a unique restaurant in Hoi An, which is located off the beaten tourist path and close to the nature. Apart from its delicious Vietnamese food, The Field offers amazing view of the rice paddles and the river. To get more insight into Vietnamese culture, you can try your hand at playing traditional folk games or catch fish.

The restaurant is the perfect place for groups, families or couples to have a relaxing meal. It is also ideal for hosting events like gala dinners, banquets or outdoor barbeque parties. Don't miss a meal at The Field when you are next in Ho An.

 

 

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

 

Summer is in the air. May is arguably the busiest month of the year with many leisure and MICE groups, VIPs and individual explorers flocking to the Middle Kingdom. China is open for business, and our team is ready to take it on!

The month of May usually has excellent weather conditions, both in the north and south. In June we will move into the hotter part of the year, and we will be welcoming more family travel in the busy summer months.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

CHINA TO BUILD ITS LONGEST UNDERSEA TUNNEL

 

China is planning to build a 123km tunnel under the Bohai Sea, connecting Yantai in Shandong province with Dalian in Liaoning province. The blueprints for the project have been drawn up. and will be submitted to the central government for approval. When completed it will surpass the combined length of the two longest underwater transport tunnels currently in use - Japan's Seikan Tunnel and the Channel Tunnel between the UK and France. The new tunnel will reduce significantly the current 1,400km drive or an eight-hour ferry ride, and will provide a major new gateway to China's northeast.

 

 

 

MAGLEV TRAINS FOR A GREENER BEIJING

 

In a move to tackle environmental problems caused by heavy car use, coal-burning industries and the fast pace of urbanisation, Beijing is building a maglev urban rail route - the Daitai line, also known as the S1. The 11-kilometre line will start at North Beijing's Haidian district, pass through Shijingshan district and end in Mentougou district in the city's western outskirts. It is expected to be operational between September and December 2015. China CNR Corp Ltd, one of the country's biggest train makers, will deliver 10 six-coach maglev trains to serve this new rail route by the end of the year.

 

 

 

REIGNWOOD GROUP VENTURES INTO PRIVATE AVIATION BUSINESS

 

Reignwood Group has expanded its investment portfolio to venture into the private aviation industry in China. It has established Reignwood Star as a pioneering by-membership private aircraft service provider in China, offering helicopter and business jet services for corporate use and specialized tourism. Headquartered at Miyun airport, the company has a fleet of fixed-wing aircrafts and luxury helicopters, and is staffed by a professional team.

Asian Trails plans to offer helicopter flights over the Great Wall in the near future.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

MORE SITES IN CHINA JOIN UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST

 

China has the second highest number of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) heritage sites. Topping the list, which has a total of 981 sites, is Italy with 49 to China's 45. In June 2013, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee added Xinjiang Tianshan ("heavenly mountain" in Chinese), one of the world's largest mountain ranges, and Honghe Hani Rice Terraces to the list.

 

 

 

DESIGNATED AREA FOR GRAFFITI AT THE GREAT WALL

 

Mutianyu, one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall in Beijing, now has a designated area for tourists to leave graffiti in a move to reduce scrawlings elsewhere on the Wall. This section has frequently been the target of graffiti in English and other languages, more then in Chinese. With the popularity of the graffiti wall, Mutianyu is now the tourists' first choice when visiting the Great Wall.

 

 

 

SECRETS OF ANCIENT JIAOHE UNRAVELLED

 

UNESCO launched a conservation project for the ancient city of Jiaohe in the 1990s, with more than 100 archaeologists conducting a mass excavation of the site. The city has now re-emerged from dust and sand, and is open to tourists.

Dating back 2,500 years Jiaohe was a key city on the ancient Silk Road trading route. Located in the Yaernaizi Valley, 10 kilometres west of Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region it is a silent witness to the cultural, economic and political exchanges between East and West. It sits atop a large leaf-shaped peninsula, 1650 metre long and 300 metre wide, in the middle of a river. The steep cliffs, more than 30 metres high on all sides, acted as natural walls. The ruins of the busting bazaars, streets, shops on the side of the streets, homes, government offices and Buddha temples can still be clearly seen, giving a rare exemplar of an earthen castle.

 

 

 

GULANGYU ISLAND, "GARDEN UPON THE SEA" - XIAMEN

 

Gulangyu Island, or the "garden upon the sea", is one ferry stop away from downtown Xiamen and is the jewel of the city. It was a leased territory in the early 20th century, and still has many predominantly Victorian-era style architecture with combinations of sea, greenbelts, rocks, statues, gardens and mansions. Sunlight Rock is the highest point on the island with panoramic views of these treasures. Gulangyu has also been nicknamed the "island of music' as a disproportionately large number of pianists, violinists and music lovers used to reside here. Its two most famous museums are the Organ Museum and the Piano Museum, each housing historical instruments.

 

 

 

QUANZHOU, THE MARITIME SILK ROAD - XIAMEN

 

Escape from the crowds in Xiamen for the quieter pleasures of Quanzhou, which is famous as the start of the Maritime Silk Road. It was also the largest port in Asia during the Song and Yuan Dynasties, and was once visited by legendary travellers including Marco Polo and Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta, who compared Quanzhou to the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

The Quanzhou Maritime Museum is the best place to learn about the city's history. It boasts a number of replicas of ancient boats, ranging from brigs and schooners to battleships from different dynasties. Entry to the museum is free and there is also a free tour guide. Not far from the museum is the majestic Qingjing Mosque. Also known as the Ashab Mosque, it was built to resemble a mosque in Damascus, Syria, in 1009. It is one of the oldest Arab style mosques in China.

 

 

 

HARBIN ATTRACTS VISITORS WITH ITS RUSSIAN LINKS

 

The north-eastern metropolis of Harbin is the second in the country's rankings of the top 10 summer resorts. The city is banking on its rich history, particularly its links to Russia, to draw in the visitors.

St. Sophia Cathedral, a place of worship for Russian Orthodox Christians built in 1907, stands as a physical reminder of Harbin's colourful past. Just down the road from the cathedral stands he New Jewish Synagogue another classic structure that has become a star attraction. Harbin was once home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Far East, although today the temple is more of a museum housing artefacts from early as the 1910s.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

RENAISSANCE CHENGDU, A LUXURY CITY HOTEL

 

Renaissance Chengdu opened in early April. Located north of the Tianfu Interchange Bridge, the hotel is close to Chengdu's main commercial, entertainment and shopping area, and offers easy access to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.

The hotel comprises 348 guestrooms including 29 suites and the luxurious Presidential and Chief Executive Officer suites. It offers wide F&B options including BLD Café that serves buffet and a la carte culinary delights; and Wan Li, an upscale Chinese restaurant, featuring a menu of authentic Cantonese and Sichuanese cuisine. The R Bar is the centrepiece of the lobby where guests can enjoy an energising cup of coffee, Chinese afternoon tea, fine wines or a specialty "R" cocktail in the evenings.

 

 

 

ST. REGIS CHENGDU OPENS IN JULY

 

Chengdu is known as "the city of abundance", with a long history dating back to the 4th century BC. St. Regis Chengdu, due to open on July 1, 2014, is for the most discerning business and leisure travellers.

With an iconic address in this ancient city and strategically located, St. Regis Chengdu has many cultural and natural scenic spots in its proximity. It has 279 meticulously decorated guestrooms and suites, fitted with custom furnishings and modern amenities creating a sense of inimitable grace and style.

 

 

 

ANANTARA'S NEW RESORT IN EMEI MOUNTAIN

 

Anantara Emei Resort & Spa is the first international hotel to open at the foot of Emei Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is in a breathtaking corner of south-west China.

The resort features 150 modern oriental style guestrooms, 90 rooms with balconies, 40 pavilions and 20 villas with jacuzzi baths or swimming pool. An inspirational diversity of cuisine is offered at the elaborately decorated dining places including two restaurants, two bars/lounges and a swim-up bar. Additional facilities include an outdoor pool and jacuzzi, spa club, fitness centre, outdoor tennis courts, children's pool and children's club.

 

 

 

LE MÉRIDIEN'S NEW FLAGSHIP HOTEL IN ZHENGZHOU

 

Zhengzhou goes down in hospitality history as the place Méridien has chosen to launch its global branding and for its flagship property in Central China, Le Méridien Zhengzhou.

The hotel comprises 350 spacious guestrooms and suites, which feature contemporary art elements with a local touch. Chinese, Japanese and European specialties are served in modern restaurants with private rooms, complemented by a wine room, cocktail bar, and a coffee hub. It also has a full-service spa, an indoor pool and a fitness centre.

 

 

 

A BANYAN TREE HOTEL FOR TIANJIN

 

Located in a destination of cultural and historical significance, Banyan Tree Tianjin Riverside is within walking distance of Tianjin's ancient culture street and it is less than 30 minutes from the city's railway stations and airport. The 159 guestrooms draw design inspiration from the muted tones and refined aesthetic of traditional Chinese ink painting. Five F&B outlets offer a wide range of exhilarating dining experiences, The hotel uses assorted seasonal home-grown produce from its "Happy Farm" to provide guests with the freshest food.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

UPCOMING FESTIVALS AND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN CHINA 2014

 

DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL - JUNE 2
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth Lunar month. This year it falls on June 2.

The festival has a history dating back to more than 2,000 years. According to beliefs, it was held to commemorate Qu Yuan, a minister of the State of Chu and one of China's earliest poets. He was loyal and wise, but was framed by some jealous court officials and exiled by the king. Seeing the corruption in the country he was filled with wrath and, at the same time, felt hopeless. He then drowned himself in the Miluo River by attaching a heavy stone to his chest on the fifth day of the fifth Lunar month. As the legend goes, fishermen tried to save Qu, but failed to find him.
People mourned his death by throwing zongzi, a glutinous rice pudding wrapped in bamboo leaves, into the river every year on the day of his death, to feed his spirit. An old doctor poured a jug of reaglar wine into the water, hoping to make the aquatic life drunk so none of them would take the food from Qu.

Today, the Chinese still follow the tradition of honouring Qu Yuan with dragon boat racing, which symbolises the fishermen's rush to save the minister, eating zongzi and drinking realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
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).

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIR CHINA TO LAUNCH SHANGHAI-MUNICH DIRECT ROUTE

 

Starting June 6, 2014, Air China will launch a new direct flight between Shanghai and Munich, Germany. The service will operate four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. All flights will be operated using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft with flatbed seats in business class.

 

 

 

AIR CHINA'S NEW BEIJING-LONDON SERVICE

 

Air China's new Beijing-London service will depart from Beijing every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 01:35hr, arriving in London at 05:50hr. The new route will be operated using Air China's Airbus A330 aircraft. It will complement the airline's existing daily flight between Beijing and London Heathrow Airport.

 

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

FIRST HAKKASAN IN SHANGHAI

 

The prestigious Hakkasan has opened its first restaurant in China in Shanghai. Keeping in line with London's contemporary culinary culture, the restaurant presents a unique and original interpretation of traditional Cantonese cuisine.

Hakkasan Shanghai is located directly on the Bund, and offers three different dining spaces and five luxurious private dining rooms set around the periphery of the restaurant. The Ling Ling Lounge, offers diners a relaxed setting for cocktails or dinner. The main dining area, known as the "Cage", is beautifully defined by latticed woodwork that creates an intimate inner dining space.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

FOUR SPANISH-SPEAKING STAFF FOR ATC

 

Asian Trails China is proud to announce it has reinforced its Spanish-speaking team with four new staff. Marina Li is the new manager for Spanish-speaking markets. Under the leadership of our Inbound Manager, Miss Xiaolin Zhang, and supported by her sales and operations staff, Miss Li will build up an even stronger partnership with our clients from Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

 

 

 

 

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MYANMAR

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I had the pleasure of meeting many of you at ITB in Berlin last March. I was glad to see that interest in Myanmar is constantly increasing.

Last month Yangon and the whole of Myanmar were in festive mood for the Thingyan Festival, also known as water festival, followed by the Myanmar New Year. This is an experience that I would recommend to visitors to take part in at least once, as it is a unique event.

The rainy season will soon be upon us, and the first scattered rains have already started. Tourists can still visit the various destinations during the "Green Season", which is from mid May to the end of September.

The interior "dry zone" of the country, roughly corresponding to the Mandalay-Bagan Pyay triangle, receives much less precipitation then the coast. There is no problem for tourists to visit this area during this period. Inle Lake in Shan State, which is surrounded by mountains, also receives less rainfall.

Yangon, located not far from the sea, feels the impact of the monsoon but nevertheless all visits are possible as normal as it does not rain for the whole day most of the time. Beaches, however, remain closed during the monsoon months.

 

Best regards,

 

Thomas Carnevale

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

MYANMAR WELCOMES THE ROTEL BUS

 

Last February the first Rotel Bus made its inaugural tour in Myanmar, entering from the Indian-Myanmar border in Tamu. Apart from the exciting drive through remote areas, the journey's highlights included Bagan and Mandalay with a short visit to the new capital, Naypyidaw.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

RV ROYAL GREEN RIVER OFFERS NEW CRUISING EXPERIENCE ON THE IRRAWADDY

 

Starting from next July RV Royal Green River, a newly built vessel equipped with eight luxury cabins, will offer overnight cruises from Mandalay to Bagan and v.v. A teak wood sundeck and a sky bar make passengers' stay on board more relaxing.

 

 

 

SUNSET CRUISE ON THE YANGON RIVER

 

A sunset cruise is now available on the Yangon River for up to a maximum 12 passengers on a modern private small boat. The cruise is between one to two hours. The boat can also be chartered hourly for tours to riverside attractions such as the pottery village or Twante.

 

 

 

PLANTATIONS DISCOVERY TOUR

 

The Plantations Discovery Tour is a good way to combine a trekking trip with a first-hand lifestyle experience. Visit a tea or orange plantation and meet the farmers to learn about their cultivation methods and their daily lives. Pick green tea leaves and your own oranges. The day tour starts from Pindaya in Shan State.

Please contact us for more information.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PRISTINE LOTUS SPA RESORT INLE

 

For the next season, Pristine Lotus Spa Resort Inle will extend 70 well furnished boat-shaped cottages on Inle Lake side. The cottages are attached to the main part of the resort, but will have its own separate reception and dining room.

 

 

 

ANN HERITAGE LODGE

 

Located in Maye Ni Gone Village on the west side of Inle Lake, Ann Heritage Lodge features 15 tastefully decorated floating bungalows built on stilts. The hotel's ideal location makes it easily accessible to the main attractions on Inle Lake and a short walk to the nearby village.

 

 

 

NGWE SAUNG YACHT CLUB & MARINA

 

The first Yacht Club on Myanmar's Bay of Bengal has a new resort - Ngwe Saung Yacht Club & Marina - in Ngwe Saung Beach. It features 100 deluxe garden/sea view rooms, 18 villa rooms and 16 suites. All the units are equipped with standard amenities, are spacious and have either a balcony or terrace.

 

 

 

ROYAL INLE HOTEL

 

Royal Inle Hotel is a four-storey new building located in downtown Nyaung Shwe. It is only a five-minute walk to the jetty, the main gateway to Inle Lake, and the local market. The hotel features 34 superior/deluxe rooms and 12 suites that offer panoramic views of the surroundings from the roof terrace.

 

 

 

INLE APEX HOTEL

 

The newly opened Inle Apex Hotel is a three-storey building with 40 rooms in both standard and deluxe categories. It is located in downtown Nyaung Shweand, not far from the market and jetty.
It is a good choice for budget conscious travellers.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS and EVENTS

 

 

TAUNG-BYONE CEREMONY
AUGUST 5-9, 2014 - STARTS 10TH WAXING DAY OF WAGAUNG
VENUE: TAUNGBYONE, MANDALAY DIVISION

 

The Taung-Byone ceremony is held to worship two Taungbyone spiritual figures. It is an occasion for a major gathering of spirit mediums.

 

 

 

PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 24-OCTOBER 11, 2014 - STARTS 1ST WAXING DAY OF THIDINGYUT
VENUE: INLE LAKE, SHAN STATE

 

This 18-day festival starts on September 24. Four Buddha statues are ceremoniously transported clockwise around Inle Lake on the royal barge. One leg-rowed boat races are held throughout the festival.

 

 

 

THIDINGYUT FESTIVAL (FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS)
OCTOBER 27-30, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MYANMAR

 

A three-day festival that starts on October 27 to mark the day Lord Buddha came down from heaven after spending three months of the Buddhist lent there. Buddha's return from heaven is welcomed throughout the country with colourful illumination offerings to the deities. People also enjoy displays and release balloons into the sky.

 

 

 

BALLOON-FLYING FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 1-6, 2014 - STARTS 10TH WAXING DAY OF TAZAUNGMON
VENUE: TAUNGGYI/SHAN STATE

 

A six-day festival, which starts on November 1. During this typical "Pa-O" festival, hot air balloons are released into the sky during the day and at night.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MORE AIRCRAFT FOR MYANMAR AIRWAYS

 

Myanmar Airways is upgrading its fleet with the leasing of 10 aircraft, which will also be used to expand routes into key markets in the region The state-owned airline has two leased Embraer E190 aircraft in its fleet.

Myanmar Airways, formerly called the Union of Burma Airways, was established in 1948. The airline serves all major domestic destinations from its main base at Yangon International Airport. It does not fly any international routes.

 

 

 

ASIAN WINGS FLIES TO PUTAO FROM YANGON

 

Asian Wings will introduce a new twice-weekly service from Yangon to Putao during next summer until September 30. The flights, on Monday and Saturday, is operated via Mandalay and Mytchina both ways. Putao is the gateway to the Myanmar Himalayas.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

WATER LIBRARY YANGON FOR A FINE DINING EXPERIENCE

 

Water Library Yangon, a fine dining restaurant in Yangon, is housed in a 100-year old British colonial house located in the Embassy area. The elegant restaurant, with a modern bar, has a terrace surrounded by beautiful landscaping. It offers different intimate dining rooms with wooden floors and soft coloured interior.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

 

PROMOTION FOR MR SAW WIN

 

Congratulations to Mr Saw Win for his promotion to Operation Manager, starting from April 1. He has been working with our company for more than seven years, and brings with him good knowledge of the industry and his wide experience.

 

 

 

NEW INBOUND MANAGER

 

Miss Su Nanda Tun has been promoted as Inbound Manager of Asian Trails Myanmar, effective April 1. She has been working with us for more than seven years, and is ready for this new challenge in the fast growing tourism industry.

 

 

 

MANAGEMENT CHANGE AT BAGAN OFFICE

 

Starting from May 1, Mrs Myint Myint Yee, former Operation Manager in Yangon (pictured top), is assigned as Station Manager at our branch office in Bagan. She replaces Mr Yan (pictured bottom) who is leaving the company after almost 14 successful years with us.

We sincerely thank Mr Yan for his commitment and years of service with the Asian Trails Myanmar. All the best to Mrs Myint Myint Yee in her new challenge. 

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

CVT GRADUATION

 

We would like to congratulate our three CVT vocational trainees - Mr Toe Hlaing, Ms Nang Honey and Ms Po Po Swe - who have recently graduated as Commercial Assistants. Special praise to Mr Toe Hlaing, who was awarded as "the most outstanding student" among 42 apprentices. We wish all of them a bright future in their professional career.

 

 

 

TRAINED AND READY FOR EMPLOYMENT

 

In March, eight trainees successfully completed the second Cooking Class course dedicated to students of Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in Yangon. They will continue their training in various renowned hotels and restaurants in Yangon to prepare them for permanent employment.

Asian Trails has been participating and supporting this unique social project as co-sponsor from the start of this programme. We wish the successful trainees all the best in their career.

 

 

 

 

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MALAYSIA

 

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Dear Friends,

Malaysia is classified by many different studies as one of the top health tourism destinations in the world with its excellent and high tech infrastructure, attractive pricing and qualified Medical staff. We have, therefore, decided to develop a few packages for clients who would like to combine a health screening and some wellness holidays in Malaysia. Please contact us should you have any interest to explore further these packages.

The next two months are full of events, festivals and celebrations throughout the country. We would like to suggest for your clients coming to Malaysia during this period to combine their holiday with any for these festivities, and get a local touch during their trip. Please do not hesitate to request us to include such experience for your clients.

See you soon and best regards,

 

Emir

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

PENANG SECOND BRIDGE OPENS

 

The Penang second bridge was officially opened on March 1, 2014. It is named after Malaysia's 14th king - Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah of Kedah.

The bridge is a dual carriageway toll bridge, and connects Batu Kawan on the peninsular with Seberang Perai and Batu Maung on Penang Island. It is the second bridge to link the island to the mainland after the first Penang Bridge. The total length of the bridge is 24 kilometres (15 miles), making it both the longest bridge in Malaysia and in Southeast Asia.

 

 

 

HOTELS IN PENANG TO IMPOSE LOCAL GOVERNMENT FEE FROM JUNE 1

 

The Penang State Government will impose a "Local Government Fee" on all hotels on the island from June 1, 2014. Proceeds of the fees will be used for development and promotion of tourism infrastructures in Penang.

The following are the rates for the Local Government Fee based on the type of hotel:
RM3.00 per room per night for 4 star and 5 star hotels
RM2.00 per room per night for 3 star hotels and below, including dormitories, budget hotels, hostels and guest houses.

The fee will be imposed on all hotel guests from June 1, regardless of whether the bookings and payments are made and received prior to the implementation date of the said fee. The fee will be collected locally by the hotel upon check-in.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

HEALTH SCREENING AND SPA WELLNESS PROGRAMME

 

Asian Trails Malaysia is working with the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council to introduce the "7 Days Health Screening and Spa Wellness Programme". The partners for the programme are Prince Court Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital, Sunway Medical Centre and The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat.

Please contact us for more details.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

IBIS STYLES IPOH OPENS

 

Ibis Styles Ipoh in Perak is situated off Jalan Sultan Iskandar and within close vicinity to shops, businesses and entertainment centres. It is just a 10-minute by car from the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport and four minutes' drive from the Railway Station. The hotel has 113 rooms, which are spacious, modern and with a calm, rejuvenating ambience. Facilities include a restaurant, barista, rooftop bar and four modern function rooms, making it perfect for both leisure and business travellers.

 

 

 

GOLDEN PALM TREE ICONIC RESORT & SPA REBRANDS AS AVANI SEPANG GOLDCOAST RESORT

 

Golden Palm Tree Iconic Resort & Spa in Selangor will be rebranded as Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort. The resort has undergone total refurbishment of its lobby and main clubhouse prior to its rebranding. The new features in the lobby include a water fountain and a grand entrance. The Lobby Lounge has been given a fresh look overlooking the sea serving coffee and snacks. The new clubhouse will be brighter with its modern and contemporary designs. All the restaurants - Bila-Bila, Buloh Bar, Hai Sang Lou Chinese Restaurant - and Avani Spa will receive similar facelifts.

 

 

 

RENOVATIONS AT GARDEN WING ROOMS OF SHANGRI-LA'S RASA SAYANG RESORT & SPA, PENANG

 

Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang, is renovating the Garden Wing Rooms from April 1 to - December 17, 2014 (both dates inclusive). The work is being carried out in stages and block by block. The hotel's management is taking all measures to minimise disruption to the guests, with all renovations confined at the Garden Wing and work restricted within normal business hours. During the renovation period the following facilities in the Garden Wing remain operational and open to all guests - restaurant outlets, Rasa Wing, Health Club, beauty salon, CHI The Spa, main swimming pool, grounds and gardens, and meeting rooms.

 

 

 

RELAUNCH OF VISTANA HOTELS

 

YTL Hotels has relaunched the Vistana brand after a complete renovation, refurbishment and rebranding of all its properties that include Vistana Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Vistana Hotel Penang and Vistana Hotel Kuantan. The renovations also saw changes in the room configurations - the Deluxe Room category has ceased to exist, and the rooms are now categorised as Executive Deluxe Room and Executive Suite. The rebranding will see the hotels giving guests a completely new experience and offerings. The hotel group is embarking on an extensive campaign to promote these properties to an expanded market.

 

 

 

NEW - HOTEL PUDU PLAZA KUALA LUMPUR

 

The new 3 star Hotel Pudu Plaza Kuala Lumpur is located in the heart of the city with 348 contemporary-designed rooms. It is just a stone's throw away from Kuala Lumpur's finest shopping malls, food and beverage outlets, iconic tourist attractions and popular entertainment spots in the city's Golden Triangle.

 

 

 

GRAND RIVERVIEW HOTEL, KOTA BHARU CLOSES FOR RENOVATIONS

 

The Grand Riverview Hotel, Kota Bharu in Kelantan is closed till June 2014 for major renovations.

 

 

 

REBAK ISLAND LANGKAWI RENAMED

 

Please be informed that Rebak Island Resort Langkawi, a Taj hotel, has been renamed to Vivanta By Taj - Rebak Island Langkawi.

 

 

 

UPDATE: RENOVATIONS AT ROYAL MULU RESORT, SARAWAK

 

As of April 7, 2014, Royal Mulu Resort in Sarawak started to operate a portion of its newly renovated guestrooms. The resort is putting the final touches to public areas that include the bar, restaurant and kitchen which, together with the new pool, are expected to open soon.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

BORNEO JAZZ
MAY 9-11, 2014
VENUE: PARKCITY EVERLY HOTEL, MIRI, SARAWAK

 

The inaugural Borneo Jazz was held in 2006 with the vision of being the leading music festival in the region, while promoting tourism to Miri and Sarawak's northern regions. Not only would visitors have a fun-filled and entertaining experience, the annual event also showcases Miri as a truly cosmopolitan city with fascinating cultural attractions.

 

 

 

WESAK DAY
MAY 13, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Wesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha. Buddhists all over the country celebrate the festival with religious offerings and rituals, at Buddhist temples. There also grand processions at night.

 

 

 

COLOURS OF 1MALAYSIA
MAY 22-24, 2014
VENUE: DATARAN MERDEKA, KUALA LUMPUR

 

Delight your senses with Malaysia's diverse cultures and natural attractions through an array of colourful performances. Have fun and be part of the flashmob at main tourist spots, Jam with fusion rock and traditional music, and enjoy the taste of fabulous food while you shop to your heart's content.

 

 

 

MELAKA RIVER FIESTA
MAY 24-JUNE 23, 2014
VENUE: MELAKA

 

Inspired by the San Antonio River Festival in USA, Melaka River Fiesta is back for the whole month of June. The festival aims to promote Melaka in general, particularly the Melaka River and monorail that travels from Spice Garden to Dataran Hang Tuah. The highlights include water sports fiesta, dragon boat race and decorative floats parade. With more than 100 events this well-known state tourism event is expected to attract 800,000 tourists to the state this year.

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL WAU FESTIVAL
MAY 28 -31, 2014
VENUE: GETING BEACH, TUMPAT, KELANTAN

 

The sky's the limit at the annual five-day Kelantan International Wau Festival. Colourful wau (giant kites) of various shapes and sizes will paint the sky, while delicious food will whet your appetite. There will be an assortment of crafts for souvenir hunters. Visitors can also enjoy cultural shows and dikir barat competitions that will spice up the festival. With over 120 local and 47 international participants from 18 countries this will be a great festival! Be wowed by the wau.

 

 

 

TADAU KAAMATAN
MAY 30-31, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT SABAH AND LABUAN

 

The month-long Harvest Festival celebrates the cultural lifestyle of the Kadazandusun community of Sabah. It is held to welcome the new harvest season, and to offer thanks for the good harvest. The grand finale will be held in Hongkod Koisaan at the KDCA Hall in Penampang, with the final round of Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Beauty Pageant). About 5,000 people are expected to attend this event to enjoy folk song, dances and traditional games.

 

 

 

GAWAI DAYAK FESTIVAL
JUNE 1-2, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT SARAWAK

 

Gawai Dayak is a harvest festival celebrated by Sarawak's indigenous people, particularly the Ibans and Bidayuhs. Dressed in their traditional costumes they make ceremonial offerings of local traditional delicacies and tuak (home-made rice wine) to the gods of rice and prosperity. This unique festival is a "must-see" for both locals and foreign tourists alike.

 

 

 

FESTIVAL RAMADHAN
JUNE 1-30, 2014
VENUE: VARIOUS STATES IN MALAYSIA

 

Celebrated in honour of the Muslim fasting month, Festival Ramadhan features a variety of religious programmes such as Terawih Perdana (Terawih prayers) at Kuala Lumpur's Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square); festive shopping; Tilawah & Khatam Al-Quran (Quran Recital) in Kelantan; Islamic tourism (ITC), bazaar Ramadhan, and Forum Perdana Ramadhan.

 

 

 

PENANG DURIAN FAIR
JUNE 1-JULY 31, 2014
VENUE: ANJUNG INDAH, BALIK PULAU & PENANG TIMES SQUARE

 

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

 

 

 

SABAH DRAGON BOAT RACE
JUNE 7-8, 2014
VENUE: LIKAS BAY, KOTA KINABALU, SABAH

 

Organised in conjunction with the Duan Wu festival, this exciting race has attracted many local and international teams from Hong Kong, China and Japan. Look out for the most popular delicacy served at this event - rice dumplings filled with water chestnuts and minced meat.

 

 

 

GEORGE TOWN WORLD HERITAGE CITY CELEBRATION
JUNE 7-JULY 7, 2014
VENUE: ESPLANADE, PENANG

 

Journey down memory lane and discover Penang's rich heritage at the George Town World Heritage City Celebration. Named after Britain's King George III, George Town has a unique living heritage, which is revealed through the array of cultural performances, traditions, arts, dances and delicious food.

 

 

 

1MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL TOURISM NIGHT FLORAL PARADE - "MAGIC OF THE NIGHT"
JUNE 12-15, 2014
VENUE: PUTRAJAYA LAKE, PRESINT 2, PUTRAJAYA, KUALA LUMPUR

 

Enjoy a dazzling evening with the glittering lights of decorated floats brought in from every state in Malaysia. This event highlights Malaysia as one of the world's top tourist destinations. Enjoy a grand showcase of the country's flora and fauna, as well as the attractions of the different states in Malaysia.

 

 

 

KK JAZZ FESTIVAL
JUNE 13-14, 2014
VENUE: SUTERA HARBOUR MARINA, GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB'S TENNIS ARENA, SABAH

 

The jazz musical extravaganza in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, is back with a line-up of local and international artists. The KK Jazz Festival is now a signature event in the state, and represents many different facets of jazz music. As a key component of Kota Kinabalu Arts Festival, the event aims to promote jazz as a popular genre and gives local talents the opportunity to gain international exposure.

 

 

 

IPOH INTERNATIONAL RUN
JUNE 15, 2014
VENUE: IPOH, PERAK

 

The Ipoh International Run has attracted over 17,000 participants from all over the world including Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Kenya. Divided into 12 categories from Junior Men and Women to the Open Category, this event celebrates the spirit of sportsmanship, world peace and friendship.

 

 

 

FRASER'S HILL INTERNATIONAL BIRD RACE
JUNE 21-22, 2014
VENUE: FRASER'S HILL, RAUB, PAHANG

 

Fraser's Hill in Pahang is renowned as a haven for more than 250 species of birds. The Fraser's Hill International Bird Race attracts birders from numerous countries including the United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa. Participants can enjoy seminars, workshops, and exhibitions on nature, wildlife and photography.

 

 

 

SUNSET MUSIC FESTIVAL
JUNE 20-21, 2014
VENUE: TIP OF BORNEO, TANJUNG SIMPANG MENGAYAU, KUDAT, SABAH

 

Embark on a musical journey at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, popularly known as "The Tip of Borneo", in Kudat. Be serenaded by classical favourites and contemporary tunes while watching the sunset. Visitors should not miss this enriching experience at one of Sabah's most breathtaking locations.

 

 

 

RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
JUNE 20-22, 2014
VENUE: SARAWAK CULTURAL VILLAGE, SARAWAK

 

The Rainforest World Music Festival is a unique event, which brings renowned musicians from around the world together with indigenous musicians from the interiors of Borneo. Now in its 16th edition, the event showcases Sarawak's conservation efforts in preserving its rainforests through world music. The event attracts tourists from Australia, US, UK, Singapore, India, Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Norway, France and Japan.

 

 

 

SABAH INTERNATIONAL FOLKLORE FESTIVAL
JUNE 23-28, 2014
VENUE: NATIONAL DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE AND ARTS, KOTA KINABALU, SABAH

 

Enjoy a bit of culture in Sabah as dance troupes from around the world gather as cultural ambassadors for the annual Sabah International Folklore Festival. The event's objectives are to promote cultural tourism, and to provide a platform for participating countries to share their unique cultures through folk song and dance performances. Do not miss this east-meets-west musical extravaganza.

 

 

 

PESTA SAN PEDRO
JUNE 23-29, 2014
VENUE: PORTUGUESE SETTLEMENT, UJONG PASIR, MELAKA

 

Since the 1930s, Fiesta San Pedro has been celebrated by descendants of Portuguese fisher folk who have settled in Malaysia. The fiesta showcases Portuguese music and dances, and Portuguese cuisine including the Famous Devil's Curry

 

 

 

1MALAYSIA MEGA SALE CARNIVAL
JUNE 28-SEPTEMBER 1, 2014
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

One of the three major shopping seasons in Malaysia is back with mega shopping excitement, dining options, endless entertainment and fun-filled activities. A shopping event not to be missed.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIRASIA X SUSPENDS SERVICES TO MALDIVES

 

Long haul budget carrier, AirAsia X, suspended its services to Male in the Maldives from March 1, 2014. The airline is offering guests who hold bookings an option of a full refund, a reroute to another AirAsia X destination or a rebook on a return flight.

 

 

 

LUFTHANSA INCREASES DIRECT KUALA LUMPUR-FRANKFURT FLIGHTS

 

Lufthansa has launched five times weekly flights from Frankfurt, Germany, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and onward to Jakarta, Indonesia, from March 30, 2014. Currently, the airline flies to Kuala Lumpur four times a week via Bangkok, sharing seat allocation with Bangkok-bound passengers.

 

 

 

DRAGONAIR ROARS INTO PENANG

 

Hong Kong-based Dragonair has launched its second route to Malaysia beginning March 30, 2014 with the commencement of 10 weekly Penang flights. The service is operated with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a two-class configuration.

The daily services leave Penang at 07:45hr, and arrive in Hong Kong at 11:35hr. The return flights leave Hong Kong at 15:10hr and land in Penang at 18:50hr.

The flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays depart Penang at 12:55hr and arrive in Hong Kong at 16:45hr. Return services leave Hong Kong at 08:15hr and arrives in Penang at 11:55hr.

 

 

 

AIRASIA INTRODUCES FOUR NEW ROUTES FROM SARAWAK TO PENINSULAR Malaysia

 

Low cost carrier, AirAsia, has introduced four new routes from Sarawak to Penang, Langkawi (Kedah), Terengganu and Kota Bharu (Kelantan) in a move to reinforce its connectivity between the state and the Peninsular.

Two new routes are from Miri (Sarawak) to Terengganu and Penang, and from Kuching (Sarawak) to Kota Bharu and Langkawi.

AirAsia is also the sole airline to connect Kuching directly to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The airline commenced the three times weekly Kuching-Kota Bharu route and the four times weekly Kuching-Langkawi service from March.

 

 

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

Indonesia is voting for a new president this year, and the first round of elections took place recently. The process went smoothly and the situation remained peaceful, as expected. Our staff was pleased to receive an additional public holiday, which the government announced prior to election day. The final vote will take place in July this year.

Also in July will be the Idul Fitri public holiday, marking the end of the fasting month Ramadhan. This year Idul Fitri falls on July 28 and 29. Similar to the previous years, we expect traffic congestion prior to the holidays when thousands of Indonesians return to their native provinces from the big cities to celebrate the festival.

The resort island of Bali is very popular with Indonesians from the capital during Idul Fitri, leading to high occupancies in most hotels of South Bali for a couple of days. But with additional rooms available following the opening of new hotels, we are still able to find accommodation for new bookings.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

NEW OPENING HOURS AT TAMARIND RESTAURANT

 

Banyan Tree Ungasan has announced new opening hours for the Tamarind Restaurant. It is now open daily for lunch (except Fridayss, Saturday and Sundays) from 12:00hr until 14:30hr. The restaurant is set in the tranquil surroundings of Banyan Tree Spa overlooking the relaxation pool. It serves a holistic, healthy cuisine with ayurvedic influences.

 

 

 

JAKARTA INTRODUCES DOUBLE-DECKER TOURIST BUSES

 

Tourists visiting Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, have the opportunity to explore the city in a new way - on a double-decker bus. Jakarta recently introduced five double-decker buses that offer free rides through the city, stopping at 10 main sites along the route. Passengers can hop off, explore the area and hop on the next bus. The buses are air-conditioned and can accommodate up to 60 passengers.

Jakarta hopes to improve its image with this service, and double the number of foreign tourists to five million per year. The government plans to increase the number of buses in the near future.

 

 

 

INCREASE IN AIRPORT TAXES

 

From April 1, 2014 the domestic and International passenger service charges are increased in five main airports in Indonesia. The new tax for Denpasar's Ngurah Rai Airport, Surabaya's Juanda Airport, and Balikpapan's Sepinggan Airport is IDR200,000. For Ujung Padang's Sultan Hasanudin Airport and Lombok Airport the new tax is IDR150,000.

 

 

 

NEW VESSEL FOR BLUE WATER SAFARIS, LAUNCH OF DIRECT ROUTE TO GILI AIR

 

Speedboat company, Blue Water Safaris, has a new vessel in its fleet, the 65-seater Blue Water Express VI. It is the company's largest and most powerful vessel to operate transfers from the Gili islands to South Bali and vice versa. In May 2014 the company will launch a new direct route from Serangan and Padangbai to Gili Air, the second largest and most easterly of the three Gili islands off Lombok.

 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

HATTEN WINES OPENS VISITORS CENTRE IN NORTH BALI

 

Hatten Wines, one of Bali's biggest winery, recently opened a visitors centre and observation deck in north Bali. Guests can visit the vineyards, explore the different stages of the vine growth, enjoy breathtaking views from the observation deck, and taste Bali's "own grown" wine. The tour lasts for about 1.5 hours.

 

 

 

RIVER TUBING IN BALI

 

Bali International Outdoor, a pioneer in river boarding on the island resort, is offering a new experience - river tubing on the Penet River. The thrilling ride takes about two hours. Following this fun drift on the river, the adventure continues to the natural caves nearby, before having lunch in a local restaurant with a breathtaking view.

 

 

 

SUNRISE ON MOUNT MERAPI

 

Yogyakarta, apart from being a cultural city, also offers incredible opportunities to experience Indonesia's great nature, one of which is Mount Merapi. The trek up the volcano starts in the evening on its northern side so as to reach the top at sunrise. The trek uphill takes about five hours, and the trip down is about two hours, passing verdant nature and with amazing view of the Indian Ocean. Breakfast/lunch is served on the summit of he volcano.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANYAN TREE UNGASAN TO UNVEIL CLIFF TOP WEDDING VENUE

 

Banyan Tree Ungasan offers breathtaking views and a magnificent setting for a dream wedding, whether in a private villa or at the cliff's edge with the Indian Ocean as a backdrop. In summer 2014, the resort will unveil its new cliff top wedding venue featuring a modern and sophisticated design in a very romantic setting.

 

 

 

SANDAT GLAMPING TENTS & LUMBUNG VILLAS, UBUD

 

A stay at Sandat Glamping Luxury Tents and Lumbung Villas in Ubud is the perfect way to enjoy nature in an eco-friendly environment. Surrounded by paddies fields and with a high level of personalised service, guests can enjoy the best of Ubud in serene pristine surroundings.

 

 

 

VILLA BATUJIMBAR, SANUR

 

Villa Batujimbar is located in the heart of Sanur, on the south-eastern coast of Bali. Its five suites with ensuite bathrooms are cocooned in the Batujimbar Estate. Apart from personalised private service, the villa's facilities include a large swimming pool, air-conditioned gym, tennis court, spa, and its own museum housing an outstanding art collection. It offers unlimited direct access to the golden sand and azure waters that form a natural border to the estate.

 

 

 

PEARL BEACH RESORT LOMBOK

 

Pearl Beach Resort Lombok is a newly opened boutique hotel on Gili Asahan in Sekotong, south west Lombok. The only hotel on the island, it offers guests the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Built along traditional architecture with western comfort, it has spacious well-equipped beach bungalows with queen-size beds, and tropical style bamboo cottages with single and double beds. The bar and restaurant are set right at the beachfront and offers Indonesian and European cuisine, as well as a superb view over the beautiful bay of Sekotong. Guests can take part in water or sport activities, land excursions, or relax to a traditional Sasak massage in the open-air beruga.

 

 

 

FIRST WALDORF ASTORIA HOTELS & RESORTS IN INDONESIA OPENS IN 2017

 

Hilton Worldwide has signed a new management agreement with PT. Bali Ragawisata for the first Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts property in Indonesia.

The all-villa Waldorf Astoria Bali, located in the exclusive Bukit Pandawa precinct in south Bali, is scheduled to open in 2017. The property will offer 96 luxurious guestrooms ranging from one-bedroom villas to six-bedroom suite villas. Hotel facilities will include a beach club and bar, two fine dining restaurants, health club and spa, business centre and a wedding chapel.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

GARUDA INDONESIA FLIES DIRECT FROM JAKARTA TO AMSTERDAM

 

Garuda Indonesia has upgraded its Jakarta-Abu Dhabi-Amsterdam service to a non-stop direct Jakarta to Amsterdam service. The Dutch capital will also be Garuda's hub for Europe to fly to other destinations through its partner airlines in the SkyTeam alliance.

 

 

 

GARUDA INDONESIA LAUNCHES NEW ROUTES

 

Garuda Indonesia is launching three times weekly service between Medan in Sumatra and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in May 2014, using a Boeing B777-300ER aircraft.

Together with Sriwijaya Air, Garuda also linked Makassar in South Sulawesi and Merauke in Papua. The three times weekly service was launched in April 2014, operating with a Boeing B737-300 aircraft.

 

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS' NEW NON-STOP DOHA-BALI SERVICE

 

Qatar Airways will launch a new route connecting Doha to Bali on July 21, 2014. The non-stop service will initially be operated with an Airbus A330 aircraft, and will be upgraded to the airline's new Boeing B787 Dreamliner in October with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy.

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

GALA CHARITY OF "I'M AN ANGEL"

 

Non-profit organisation, "I'm An Angel", will hold its annual Gala Charity in June at Seminyak's Ku De Ta Restaurant. It will be a night of culinary delights cooked by famous chefs and entertainment provided by famous musical bands.

The annual charity event raises funds for "I'm An Angel", which offers sustainable programmes to help Balinese communities through health care and education. It also empowers the people with skills and training to improve their standard of living, as well as be self-sustaining.

 

 

 

 

 

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