Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue November 2016

THE CEO STORY

THE ART WORLD OF MODERN CHINA

While I was in Beijing recently I took some time off to visit some of my favorite artists and art galleries in China’s capital city.

Many of you may have heard of ‘Art798’ (also known as 798 Art Zone or Factory 798), an area surrounding a decommissioned military factory that was turned into a center of art and artists in 2000. Some people may tell you not to visit this art zone, saying the artists have left the area and so it is not an interesting place anymore.

My advice is: don’t listen to them. While it is true that only a few artists are living and working in Art798 as they cannot afford the rent, there are many galleries and museums worth visiting.

It cannot be denied that Art798 has changed to adapt to current times and has not strictly adhered to its exclusive art concept. However, it is a nice place to visit if you are in northern Beijing, with a really pleasant ambiance and showcases modern China with boutiques, libraries, coffeeshops and restaurants in addition to the art galleries and museums.

The place’s popularity is reflected in the visitors from all walks of life – from young Chinese couples walking around holding hands, people gazers sitting on terraces of quirky coffeeshops sipping espresso to the affluent wearing fancy Chanel shades carrying Louis Vuitton bags and folks from more modest background.

Most of the art galleries in the art zone do not charge entrance fees, and you get to see paintings, photographic exhibitions, sculptures, video art and much more – all for free!

There are also a few cultural centers in the area. One of the most interesting is the Minye Korea Culture Institute Official Art Museum, which exhibits art from North Korea. For most people this is as close as they will ever get to anything related to North Korea, apart from the North Korean restaurants in Beijing.

What draws me always back to Art798 is the contemporary art exhibitions where artists make subtle (or not so subtle) political statements through their paintings and sculptures. Most of it relates to the Mao times and his campaigns, the power of the Communist party and its implications in today’s modern China, policies of double standards, and changes in the political landscape. While written text on any of these topics would probably be censored most artists seem to get away with their work, which are not necessarily deemed ‘politically correct’.

A good example are the Gao Brothers who have a large studio and exhibition at Art798. If you have not heard of them and are interested in contemporary art and modern Chinese history, search for them on the Internet. Their creation of ‘Miss Mao’ - a figure similar to Minnie Mouse with a Pinocchio nose depicted in colorful sculptures - is known around the world. Their family history during the Cultural Revolution has influenced their art and the messages they want the outside world to understand. If you are at Art798 don’t miss a visit to their studio. (Photo above from left to right: Zhen Gao from the Gao Brothers with Laurent Kuenzle and Xiaolin Zhang, Asian Trails China’s Managing Director).

Huang Yin is another well-known artist. You may have seen some of her works in contemporary art museums and galleries around the world. Remember those small men and women wearing Mao-style blue pants with brown belts, red ties and waving Mao’s little red book, as well as her rendering of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ Communist-style under Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe? She moved her studio from Art798 many years ago, and now resides in one of the seven artist villages located around Beijing.

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Hou Quing, who is fascinated by traditional Chinese poems and Chinese opera. He combines beautiful traditionally dressed heroines of poems and stories with the scantily dressed modern woman of China in one modern painting. He also lives in an artist village outside of the city.

I had a cup of tea with Hou Quing and he told me that he wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to live and work in the artist village, as even there real estate prices are reaching levels that many artists can no longer afford.

While it is easy to visit Art798 on your own it is difficult to find the artist villages on the outskirts of Beijing, let alone meet one of the artists. We offer several art tours in and around Beijing with visits to art galleries, artist villages and artist studios. It’s not always easy to meet a specific artist as many live by their own schedules and often travel to exhibitions, but we are always able to arrange for interesting encounters in the Chinese art world. Most artists don’t speak English, but our guides or art experts are on hand to translate.

Experiencing a country through art and artist encounters gives a unique character to a journey. Our managers and dedicated specialists spend a lot of time researching the art world, meet artists, and fine tune excursions into the world of art. We will gladly share our expertise with clients interested in art, and Asian Trails China will be your primary contact to the art world of China.

Happy Trails! 

Laurent Kuenzle 
CEO 
Asian Trails

   

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    THAILAND

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It is with great sadness we learned about the passing of HM The King on Thursday October 13. Please join us and the people of Thailand in mourning this great loss. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was not only a great humanitarian during his 70 years on the throne, helping millions of Thai people through his Royal Projects, but also one of the longest reigning monarchs in the world.

    He was a real father figure to all Thai people, hence the sadness and grief among the population is immense.

    Immediately after his passing, the government declared a one-month mourning period for the general public during which various local festivities were cancelled. The list of cancelled festivals changes daily at this moment, and we therefore kindly ask you to get in touch with us for the latest updates.

    All tourist attractions throughout the Kingdom remained open as usual except for the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, which were closed for tourists until end of October. There were no limitations on the sale of alcohol and most bars and entertainment venues remained open as usual, albeit respectfully keeping a low profile without loud music and live music. Regular operations for these venues will resume during the month of November.

    There is no formal dress code in place for visitors and tourists but Asian Trails would like to encourage our clients to dress in muted colours during the coming weeks, as this will be greatly appreciated by local people.

    You will find this is really a unique opportunity to visit the country and witness for yourself the sense of unity and togetherness amongst Thai people mourning the sad passing of the beloved King.
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR CLAUDIO F. KELLENBERGER

     

    Dear friends

    As previously announced I will be leaving Asian Trails and Asia after eight years in different management positions. Together with my family we are moving to New Zealand in November to a small rural town on North Island where we will open a new, completely different chapter of our lives.

    My time with Asian Trails wouldn’t have been such a successful, fulfilling, satisfying and fun one without you – our loyal clients who continue to support Asian Trails Thailand in good as well as in difficult times. My thanks also go to my team of over 200 motivated professionals who have worked so very hard to make Asian Trails Thailand what it is today. Special big thanks also go to Luzi Matzig, our Chairman, and Laurent Kuenzle, our CEO, who have not only been the best mentors in my career but have also become good friends.

    I’m glad that Yves Van Kerrebroeck will be taking over the MD role and I’m sure he is the right person with the right skill set to continue the successful voyage of Asian Trails Thailand. I wish him and his team all the success they deserve. (Photo: Claudio on the right with Yves)

    If you wish to contact me privately you can do so at claudio@maoritrails.co.nz

    Sincerely yours
    Claudio F. Kellenberger
     

     

     

     

    Message from Yves Van Kerrebroeck


    Dear friends and colleagues,

    It is an honour and a privilege to follow Claudio's footsteps and take up the position as Managing Director of Asian Trails Thailand. Since Claudio and I first met in a Yangon hotel lobby five years ago it was clear he and I shared not only a similar business philosophy but also the same passion regarding Southeast Asia and its tourism industry.

    The many years under Claudio's guidance and mentorship have been fun, exciting and fulfilling, and they will surely help to make this transition a smooth one for our industry partners, our staff and our clients. I look forward to continuing Claudio's excellent efforts and lead the company through a challenging yet very interesting future with lots of new developments.

    I'm lucky to count on the support of our experienced staff, truly the company's greatest asset, and the already well-established reputation of Asian Trails as an industry innovator and front-runner. I also like to thank our CEO, Laurent Kuenzle, and our Chairman, Luzi Matzig, for their trust and direction

    I wish Claudio and his family nothing but the best on his new adventures in New Zealand's idyllic countryside. It will be an absolute pleasure to connect with you over the coming weeks and months, working closely together on expanding our business and improving our cooperation where possible.

    Warm regards
    Yves Van Kerrebroeck

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS WINS ‘BEST TRAVEL AGENCY 2016 – THAILAND’ AT TTG TRAVEL AWARDS


    Asian Trails has been awarded ‘Best Travel Agency 2016 – Thailand’ at the recent TTG Travel Award.

    The event has been organised by TTG Travel Trade Publishing, with the support of TTG publications in Asia, since 1989, to honour stellar organisations and individuals various categories that include Travel Supplier, Travel Agency, Outstanding Achievement and Travel Hall of Fame.

    Commenting on the win Asian Trails CEO, Laurent Kuenzle, said: “There is no doubt that awards, such as the TTG Travel Award, reconfirms Asian Trails’ continual efforts to set the bar higher in delivering ‘exceeding expectation’ service levels to our customers. Not only has this recognition for Thailand made me a proud CEO, but also set the bar for all our other Asian Trails’ destinations to continue working on exactly the same principle.

    “Since the creation of Asian Trails in 1999 we have carefully focused in integrating key service elements in our daily operations, and we have strictly maintained this. This award only confirms that our trade partners value our services in handling their customers as we wholeheartedly guarantee.”

     

     

     

    PHUKET INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT INAUGURATES NEW TERMINAL


    The new four-storey terminal at Phuket International Airport, with an area of 73,104 square metres, will expand the airport’s capacity from 6.5 million passengers per year to 12.5 million. It features 15 immigration points, eight customs counters, five baggage carousels, a 300-metre arrival curb, and 285-metre departure curb.

    According to the Airports of Thailand, the airport operator, from October 2015 through August 2016 the airport accommodated 13.66 million passengers, an increase by 17.01% from the same period last year.
     

     

     

    SCENIC ISLAND BAYS IN ANDAMAN SEA REOPEN


    Tachai Bay in Similan Island and Maya Bay in Phi Phi Island off Krabi reopened on October 15 after it was closed in May.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    EXECUTIVE LOUNGE AND FAST TRACK SERVICES AT PHUKET INTERNATONAL AIRPORT


    The Coral Executive Lounge at Phuket International Airport is located near Gate 4 at the international departure hall. This comfortable 140 square metre lounge seats 60 guests, and overlooks the panoramic view of Mai-Khao Beach. The new lounge enhances the airport’s superior ground services and a place for passengers a quiet tranquil place to relax while waiting for their flights.

    The airport also has Fast Track Immigration services.

    For further details and bookings, please contact us at res@asiantrails.org
     

     

     

    3-DAY PHUKET CULINARY ADVENTURE

     

    Asian Trails is proud to present a new package, ‘3- Day Phuket Culinary Adventure’, which showcases well-known local restaurants, cooking lesson, and a visit to the local market.

    Phuket is an amazing melting pot of cultures and cuisine, one of the most widely present cultural representations, immediately evident as you walk around the town. The Chinese influence here is positively reflected into the local Phuket food.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    BANGKOK

     

    NEW: PARK HYATT BANGKOK (OPENING FIRST QUARTER 2017)

     

    Park Hyatt Bangkok is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2017. Presenting internationally inspired architecture and interior design, the hotel will be housed in the top 24 floors of a soon-to-be-iconic, twisted-coil structure atop the Central Embassy fashion, dining and lifestyle destination.

    This luxury hotel will feature numerous outdoor terraces with lush gardens, 222 luxurious guestrooms including 32 premier suites, all complete with panoramic windows. Spanning the 34th to 36th floors the complex will also include a grill restaurant, cocktail bar, speakeasy bar, VIP mezzanine lounge, and sky bar with unobstructed views of the city.
     

     

     

    KRABI

     

    NEW: CENTARA PHU PANO RESORT KRABI (OPENING NOVEMBER 2016)

     

    Centara Phu Pano Resort Krabia is due to open in November 2016. Nestled near the soft sands at Nopparatthara Beach in Krabi, Centra by Centara Phu Pano Resort Krabi is a brand new refined yet affordable hotel with a bright and modern décor in low-rise architecture design.

    This 4 star resort offers 158 rooms. It is located in the Ao Nang area of Krabi Province, approximately 1.5 kilometres to Ao Nang Beach that is lined with numerous shops and restaurants. The resort is ideal for the modern holidaymakers.

     

     

     

    KOH SAMUI

     

    BO PHUT RESORT AND SPA

     

    Bo Phut Resort and Spa is a fine attribute of traditional and contemporary Thai design with an exotic and tranquil setting. All its 61 rooms, comprising 32 villas and 29 deluxe rooms, are designed in modern Thai style featuring modern amenities such as separate shower and bathtub.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

     

    Due to the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October 2016, certain official events and festivals are cancelled during the 30-day mourning period. Others such as the Loy Krathong festival, will go ahead as usual, possibly with scaled back celebrations. Please contact your Asian Trails representative for the latest information and updates.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    VIETJET AIR LAUNCHES THREE NEW ROUTES IN THAILAND


    New low cost airline, Vietjet Air, has launched three new domestic routes in Thailand – Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Bangkok to Phuket, and Phuket to Chiang Rai. It also has one international route, from Bangkok to Haiphong (Vietnam).
     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    PARADISE BEACH CLUB PHUKET


    Paradise Beach Club Phuket is a large and well-developed party spot located on Paradise Beach in an isolated bay, within short distance from Patong Beach. Featuring shops, restaurants, activities and fantastic Koh Phangan-style beach parties, it has an air of exclusivity without being prohibitively expensive.
     

     

     
     

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    LAOS

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ANDREAS HOFMANN

     

    Best wishes for the festive season and a good start to 2017!

    It is now high season in Laos – the weather has cooled down pleasantly. As usual in November hotels are fully booked, but there are still some availabilities for December and the Christmas holidays.

    As you can see in the picture above the alms-giving ceremony is still a daily constant, but the yearly religious and local festivals are more impressive. Take a look at our selection of winter and Christmas promotions in this report. We also have collected some ideas for planning ahead for 2017 – there are now more events worth joining such as the Luang Prabang Marathon and Film Festival.

    Andreas Hofmann
    Managing Director Asian Trails Laos
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    MORE EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES IN LAOS – PLAN AHEAD FOR 2017

     

    2016 has been an eventful year for Laos, which has chaired the regional ASEAN grouping. High-level visitors have enjoyed Lao hospitality – presidents and prime ministers of India, Japan and China. Even US president Barack Obama stopped by Luang Prabang for some fresh coconut juice!

    Travelling to Laos is becoming de rigueur, so plan ahead for next year. Join or participate in any of the increasing number of festivals and international event in the country. These include the Luang Prabang Half Marathon (mid-October yearly), Luang Prabang Film Festival (beginning of October) and, of course, the religious Lao festivals such as Boat Racing Festival and End of Buddhist Lent.

    During the Luang Prabang Half-Marathon hotels offer special cultural and culinary programmes. For example, the 5 star Sofitel Luang Prabang hosted a charity dinner on October 23 with music by the Kurcorder Quartet in collaboration with the Art Council Tokyo, and performance by the famous

    Lao art group KhaoNiaw.

     

     

     

    LUANG PRABANG TRADITIONAL ARTS AND ETHNOLOGY CENTRE (TAEC) – NEW ETHNO-BOTANICAL EXHIBITION


    Laos is a special place for anyone interested in culture, nature and anthropology. Curated by ethnobotanist Dr. Yukino Ochiai from Ryokyo University in Kyoto, the new exhibition “Seeds of Culture: From Living Plants to Handicrafts” explores the intriguing connections between nature and culture. For example, the Job’s-tears plant (lao: Mak Dueay, lat. Coix lacryma-jobi) has been used both as medicine and for fascinating costume decorations.

    Dr. Ochiai said: “By displaying the whole process from living plants, seeds and items in this exhibit I hope to share an idea with TAEC visitors; how material culture is based on plant diversity and the environment”.

    Other exhibitions show the life of the different ethnic minority tribes such as the Hmong, Akha or Lao Lue. A video installation introduces the role of women in Lao culture.

    Combine a visit to TAEC with a stop at the new botanical garden, which is currently being planted, or at Elefant Vert to sample the restaurant’s ethnobotanical cuisine.

    Please contact us at nouane@asiantrailslaos.com for our special interest tours for medical professionals or ethno-botanical, anthropological and spirituality tours.

    • Photo credit: Prodifact.com

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    VICTORIA XIENGTHONG PALACE: SPECIAL PACKAGE TO CELEBRATE FESTIVAL OF THE FIRE BOAT


    Luang Prabang celebrates the end of the Buddhist Lent with the Lai Heua Fai Festival or the Festival of the Fire Boat. The two-day event includes alms giving and the release of large elaborate boats into the river.

    Four star Victoria Xiengthong Palace offers a special package to celebrate this festival. It includes stay in a Palace room, and participation in the activities that take place right in front of the hotel. The hotel also offers classic and special interest tours around Luang Prabang during the festival.

    Contact us for more information and special rates for 2017.
     

     

     

    VILLA MALY: SPECIAL LAST MINUTE RATES FOR NEW BOOKINGS

     

    Villa Maly is offering special last minute rates of (minus) –40% on the contract rate you have with Asian Trails, valid from December 1 to 20, 2016.

    To check for availability and for more information on how to combine Villa Maly with exciting land services please contact nouane@asiantrailslaos.com. Book fast as this offer is selling out fast.

     

     
     

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    CAMBODIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

     

    Dear Business Partners and Friends,

    The high season has begun and looks very promising. Our professional and dedicated team is ready to welcome your clients in Cambodia.

    There are several exciting events taking place until the end of the year. First is our yearly Siem Reap Half Marathon on December 4.

    The second is for your clients who are in Siem Reap on December 29, as we are offering them the opportunity to attend a special gala dinner in the Temple of Thommanon on that evening. This dinner is open to all travellers who want to share a unique experience in magical surroundings.

    Some public holidays in Cambodia until the end of December 2016 are festivals and special events, namely Cambodia Independence Day (November 9), Water Festival (November 24 to 26) and Human Rights Day (December 10). Please note that during these days only part of the staff will be on duty to handle emergencies.

    As this is the last issue of 2016 Asian Trails Cambodia team joins me to wish you a happy and successful new year. We look forward to welcoming your clients in Cambodia in 2017.

    Happy Trails!
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    INCREASE IN PHNOM PENH SIGHTSEEING FEES FROM JANUARY 1


    We have received the announcement from the Ministry of Royal Palace and the Ministry of Economy and Finance that entrance fees for sightseeing in Phnom Penh will increase from the January 1, 2017.

    The prices of the main tourist sites will increase as follow:

    • Royal Palace entrance fee: USD10 (formerly USD6.50) = +USD3.50
    • National Museum: USD10 (formerly USD5) = +USD5
    • Compulsory audio guide for groups of 7 paxs and above at the National Museum: + USD2
    • Tuol Sleng Museum (S21 Museum): USD5 (formerly USD3) = +USD2

    If you need further information, please contact us at: res@asiantrails.com.kh.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    CRAFT YOUR OWN SOUVENIR WITH LES ARTISANS D’ANGKOR - SIEM REAP


    Spend half a day with experts from les Artisans d’Angkor to craft semi-finished products to take home as souvenirs. Choose any of these craft: soapstone carving, sandstone carving, wood carving, silk painting, jewellery or silk weaving. This tour includes a USD10 voucher to spend in Artisans d’Angkor shops.

    Contact us for more information.

     

     

     

    VESPA TOURS AROUND THE TEMPLES OF ANGKOR WAT

     

    Touring the temples of Angkor Wat on the back of a Vespa with its wide comfortable seat and solid backrest is a novel way to explore the amazing UNESCO World Heritage site. Your Vespa driver will relate fascinating stories about life in Angkor and the history of this ancient site during the tour.

    Contact us for more information.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    SIEM REAP

     

    SUORKEAR VILLA’S RENOVATIONS COMPLETED – AVAILABLE FOR BOOKING


    Suorkear Villa has completed a soft renovation, which involves the changing of air-conditioners, repainting of the hotel’s interiors and the addition of a private pool to the four family suites.

    The hotel features 15 spacious rooms, suites and villas, and is located close to downtown Siem Reap. We recommend this property for FITs.

     

     

     

    ANANTARA ANGKOR RESORT AND SPA UNDER RENOVATIONS


    Anantara Angkor Resort and Spa is currently undergoing renovations, which is scheduled to complete in January 2017. The upgrading works involve soft refurbishments of the resort’s 34 rooms, main restaurant, entrance and lobby.

    The resort will also unfold eight suite categories that include converting the ground and first floor Deluxe and Premier Rooms into Premier and Terrace Suites, increasing their overall square footage. The new suites will be available for bookings for this year’s peak season.

    Anantara Resort and Spa remains open during the renovation period. However, we recommend not making reservations for your clients during this time and do it from January 2017 instead.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    CAMBODIA INDEPENDENCE DAY
    NOVEMBER 9, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    November 9 marks the anniversary of the Independence of the Kingdom of Cambodia from France in 1953. The main celebrations are held in Phnom Penh, beginning with a formal ceremony at the Independence Monument, which is situated at the junction of Preah Norodom and Preah Sihanouk boulevards. This is followed by a gala parade featuring colourful floats and marching bands in front of the Royal Palace. In the evening, the Royal Palace and other buildings are illuminated, and a huge fireworks display takes place near the riverbanks of the Royal Palace.

     

     

     

    WATER AND FULL MOON FESTIVAL
    NOVEMBER 24-26, 2016
    VENUE: SIEM REAP & PHNOM PENH

     

    The Water and Full Moon Festival dates back to ancient times when boat races were a way for the strongest warriors and rowers to show their skills. Today the festival is a popular celebration with people coming from all the corners of Cambodia to take part in the three-day race in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

    Please note that Asian trails Cambodia offices will have a reduced team on duty during the festival days to handle only urgent matters.
     

     

     

    EXCLUSIVE GALA DINNER
    DECEMBER 29, 2016
    VENUE: THOMMANON TEMPLE, INSIDE ANGKOR PARK

     

    This unique and exclusive event will take place in front of Thommanon Temple on the December 29, 2016. The evening will start with a cocktail followed by a dinner (two menus available). Several traditional dance performances will be staged throughout the evening. The event will end at about 22.30hrs after the serving of dessert and a lucky draw.

    This is a unique occasion for your clients to enjoy a very special event in magnificent surroundings with a magical atmosphere. Children over 12 years old are welcome.

    Contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh to secure seats for the dinner.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    ANGKOR AIR INCREASES PASSENGER SURCHARGE FOR DOMESTIC FLIGHTS (K6)

     

    Cambodia Angkor Air has, without prior notice, announced a USD3.00 increase in passenger surcharge (YQ) per person per way for domestic flights effective from October 21, 2016. The surcharge applies to tickets issued on or after October 21, 2016.

    If you need further information, please contact: res@asiantrails.com.kh

     

     

     

     

    NEW ROUTE: AIRASIA LAUNCHES SIEM REAP-PHUKET DIRECT SERVICE

    AirAsia will commence a daily service between Phuket (Thailand) and Siem Reap from November 7, 2016. This makes the airline the first to link these two popular Southeast Asian destinations. The flight will depart Phuket at 06.20hrs and land in Siem Reap at 7.45hrs. The return flight will take off from Siem Reap at 08.40hrs and arrive in Phuket at 10.05hrs.

     

     

     

    NEW ROUTE: ANA’S DIRECT FLIGHTS BETWEEN TOKYO AND PHNOM PENH

     

    All Nippon Airlines (ANA) has launched direct daily flights from Tokyo (Japan) to Phnom Penh. The new route is both a response to rising bilateral trade and tourism, as well as a sign of the carrier’s confidence in expansion.

    The flight schedule is as follows:
    • Tokyo (Narita airport)– Phnom Penh: 10.50hrs-15.10hrs
    • Phnom Penh–Tokyo (Narita Airport): 22.50hrs- 06.45hrs (+1).
     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

     

     

     

    REORGANISATION IN PHNOM PENH OFFICE

     

    Our office in Phnom Penh has been reorganised with changes in staff and divisions:

    • Mr Thibault Vidal, former Luxury Market Officer has been promoted to Business Development Manager. Contact him at thibault@asiantrails.com.kh

    • The Inbound Department has been split into three sections, and is still under the supervision of Inbound Manager, Ms Rachana

    • Groups: Contact Mrs So Mala at mala@asiantrails.com.kh

    • FIT: Contact Mr. Seyha at chanseyha@asiantrails.com.kh

    • Luxury market: Mr Vutheara has been promoted Luxury Market Officer. Contact him at vutheara@asiantrails.com.kh

    Photo (top to bottom): Vutheara, Seyha, Mala and Thibault.
     

     

     

    GOODBYE SWARUP, WELCOME ANINDITA

     

    Asian Trails Cambodia bids farewell to its Indian market manager, Mr. Swarup, who has been with the company since January 2015. Ms. Anindita Mitra (photo) replaces him to look after the Indian market. We wish Anindita great success within the company.

    Contact Anindita at: anindita@asiantrails.com.kh

     

     

     
     

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    VIETNAM

     

    A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

     

    Dear Friends,

    I have just returned from a thrilling adventure through North East Vietnam and am excited to share my amazing experience with you. Many of you may be familiar with destinations like the Dong Van karst plateau in Ha Giang, the picturesque Ba Be Lake and the stunning Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang. We, however, decided to go deeper into and explore the more remote areas.

    For this trip a team of four who included Mr Binh, Hanoi office manager; Mr Phan, English-speaking and logistics guide; Mr Phuong Do, Product Manager; and myself used powerful Yamaha 125cc motorbikes to explore the region for eight days.

    We did not explore the region’s highlights but we decided to travel further afield to immerse into remote ethnic villages, taking many challenging off-road sections and, of course, enjoying the beautiful landscape. Compared to the North West region (Mai Chau, Dien Bien, Sapa) the topography of the North East is more diversified with plains of rice fields, limestone peaks, rivers and waterfalls. On some days we could not get to the planned place for an overnight stay or the day was longer than expected, but we were compensated with many happy encounters along the relatively unexplored parts.

    Whenever we arrived at a scenic spot, such as the Ma Pi Leng Pass overlooking the Nho Que River Gorge, we took a break for a picnic lunch or have a cup of tea/coffee and invited Hmong people passing by to join us for chat. Apart from the newly discovered areas we also saw developments like accommodation in Dong Van, Meo Vac and Cao Bang. There are also some eco-lodges and charming homestays in Bac Son and Tuyen Quang where we enjoyed a comfortable stay and get to sample the tasty local food.

    With our discovery of the new attractions, the comfortable accommodation and the region’s charm and beauty we highly recommend to your clients a ‘7-day North East off-road (self) driving’ experience, combined with two nights in Hanoi and Halong.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information. Our Product Manager, Mr Phuong (phuong.do@asiantrails.com.vn), will be happy to give you more details.
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    HANOI GETTING PEDESTRAINAISED

     

    Good news in Hanoi as the main tourist central Hoan Kiem Lake area is now pedestrainaised in the evenings from Friday until Sunday. Nine more streets in the Old Quarter area are also set to be pedestrianised starting from October 2016, leading to a much more pleasant experience especially for tourists exploring the city on foot.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    NEW: 7-DAY NORTH EAST OFF-ROAD (SELF) DRIVING

     

    This adventure is designed to offer you the best flexibility to explore and insight into the beautiful region with its unique perspectives. You travel through a diversified landscape made up of rice fields, rivers, waterfalls, limestone peaks and hidden ethnic villages nestled beneath towering mountains. The journey takes you to peaceful Bac Son Valley (Lang Son province) and Ban Gioc Waterfall, passing enroute Ma Pi Leng, the highest pass in north Vietnam, before moving down to Ha Giang following the Lo River until Hanoi with a ‘green’ break in Tuyen Quang.

    We offer you as much ‘off-the-beaten-track’ exploration as possible, with simple yet charming accommodation. Food is a mix of local restaurants, home meals and picnic lunches. The trip is full of surprises. We want you to be flexible with time, and enjoy every bit of the journey.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

     

     

     

    NEW: FARM TO TABLE — TAM GIANG LAGOON SURVIVAL

     

    The picturesque Tam Giang Lagoon is the largest in Southeast Asia with an area of 22,000 hectares and length of more than 60 kilometres, including many lagoons joining together such as Tam Giang, Thuy Tu, Cau Hai and Chuon Sam. Its waters are very shallow.

    Tam Giang Lagoon is a short drive from Hue city, which is about eight kilometres away. On arrival you meet up with a friendly fisherman family who shows you the art of making typical fishing tools before taking you on a leisurely boat ride across the picturesque lagoon.

    Get an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the boat dwellers who settled on the lagoon more than 600 years ago. Paddle alongside the unique system of aquaculture farm, and learn how to fish using traditional fishing techniques. Enjoy the fresh catch on the floating house with a cold drink or the famous village rice wine. Then try kayaking in local style, with a wooden paddle and bamboo sampan.

    The adventure continues with a visit to an organic farm where you can pick garden vegetables with the farmers, and then cook them for a healthy dinner. Stay as late as you wish to chat with the host family before transferring back to hotel.

    We recommend that you take the afternoon tour, from 14.00hrs to 20.00hrs, with dinner included. You then can combine it with a morning classic sightseeing tour of Hue, before spending a relaxing afternoon and evening in the countryside. (Tour to Tam Giang Lagoon is by car)

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    HOI AN – THE NAM HAI REBRANDS AS A FOUR SEASON


    The Nam Hai, one of the most famous 5 star resorts in Central Vietnam, will rebrand as a Four Seasons property on December 20, 2016. It will be renamed as Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, marking the luxury hotel group’s first venture in Vietnam.

     

     

     

    NHA TRANG - THE ANAM OPENS


    The Anam, with its luxurious Indochine concept, soft opened in September on the famed resort city Nha Trang in southern Vietnam. This independently operated luxurious all-villa five star resort sets a new benchmark in hospitality at the effusive resort destination, known for its beaches, diving sites and offshore islands.

    The Anam combines colonial era charm and service with 21st century design and convenience. It is located on northern Cam Ranh peninsula, just 15 minutes from Cam Ranh International Airport and 30 minutes from the city centre. Set on a private beach and staffed with Vietnam's finest butlers, valets and concierge staff The Anam harks back to a bygone era and offers natural sophistication with an emphasis on personalised services, culinary excellence and rejuvenating wellness.

    The resort will have its grand opening at the end of the year. To celebrate its four-month soft opening phase until December 21, 2016, The Anam is offering a special 40% soft opening promotion for its first guests to experience Nha Trang's world-class, all-villa beachfront resort.

     

     

     

    NEW: WYNDHAM SOLEIL DANANG


    Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, after successfully opening its first hotel in Vietnam, Wyndham Halong Bay, has unveiled plans to continue its expansion in Vietnam with another property in Danang - Wyndham Soleil Danang.

    Described as the tallest hotel in the city, the US$446 million project is currently under construction. Expected to open in September 2018, the new hotel will be managed by Wyndham Hotel Asia Pacific.

    The 779-room Wyndham Soleil Danang is set in a 57-storey hotel tower, located in the coastal city’s Son Tra district. At 199 metres high it will be the tallest building in Danang, and will form part of a major four-tower complex that will also feature 3,200 apartments, conference facilities, retail and dining precinct and parks.

     

     

     

    NEW: MELIA HO TRAM


    Meliá Hotels International has revealed plans to launch a new luxury hotel in Ho Tram, the fast-developing beach resort in Southeast Vietnam. Scheduled to open in the second half of 2018, Melia Ho Tram will be located within the high-end residential development of The Hamptons Ho Tram.

    Melia Ho Tram is approximately 95 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, and along the same beach as the Grand Casino and the Bluffs Golf Course. It features 156 hotel suites and 98 villas.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    VIETNAM AIRLINES TO FLY DIRECT TO USA

     

    Vietnam Airlines will launch its first ever direct flights to the United States in 2018. The services are made possible with the arrival of the airline’s new fleet of long-haul aircraft, including the Boeing B787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 aircraft. These aircraft will make the trans-Pacific routes more efficient to operate.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    HALONG BAY - BHAYA CRUISE


    Following an intensive two-month renovation programme, leading Halong Bay cruise operator, Bhaya Group, has revealed an impressive new upscale design for its two luxury level vessels, collectively known as The Au Co. The complete redesign of the ships' combined 64 cabins is complemented by a host of revamped onboard facilities including an inviting new reception area, indulgent spa, stylish restaurant, cocktail bar, a classic library and a private onboard cinema for guests.

    The elegant boats are now also fully equipped to take travellers on continuous three-day, two-night cruises encompassing activities such as mountain biking on Cat Ba Island and luxury dinners in Virgin Cave. Previously The Au Co was only able to visit the more remote parts of Halong Bay for one-day excursions.

     

     

     
     

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    CHINA

       

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ZHANG XIAOLIN

     

    We are edging into the winter months, and it is still a wonderful season in a different view. We look forward to receiving your clients. Just ask for our winter promotions, New Year celebration specials, Harbin Ice Festival – these are just some of the exciting deals waiting for you.

    The China team also thank you for your wonderful support and patience throughout 2016!

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    SHANGHAI-KUNMING HIGH-SPEED RAIL MAKES YUNNAN MORE ACCESSIBLE


    The Shanghai-Kunming high-speed rail is scheduled to begin operations on November 30, 2016. It is part of the China Railway High-speed’s system of passenger dedicated lines, beginning in Shanghai and ending in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province.

    The new high-speed rail runs 2,066 kilometres with designed speed of 300 kilometres per hour, passing through the cities of Hangzhou, Nanchang, Changsha and Guiyang.

    The new rail will shorten the train journey from Shanghai to Kunming to about eight hours instead of 37 hours. It will help stimulate economic and social development of Yunnan province.

     

     

     

    SHANGHAI’S 144-HOUR VISA-FREE POLICY


    Since January 30, 2016 the visa-free transit time for staying in Shanghai (photo) has been extended from 72 hours to 144 hours. This is to enable visitors to arrange their travel with more flexibility.

    The new visa-free policy also covers Hangzhou and Nanjing. Visitors can enter and leave from any of the three cities during this period without applying for a visa to China. The transit points are not limited to Shanghai’s airports. Cruise ships passengers also enjoy this policy for up to 15 days visa-free stay.

     

     

     

    BAOSHAN – SHANGHAI’S MOST IMPORTANT OFFSHORE HUB


    The Asia Pacific Cruise Congress was held in Baoshan, Shanghai on October 13, 2016. The event brought together approximately 100 top executives from major cruise line brands, as well as government officials, industry experts and other key cruise industry stakeholders from more than 10 countries and regions around the world.

    Baoshan, in its role at the intersection connecting the 21st century Maritime Silk Road (the Chinese government initiative to redevelop the former maritime trade route) and the Yangtze River Economic Zone, has become Shanghai's most important offshore hub and international passenger terminal.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    WINTER PROMOTION: 3 NIGHTS IN BEIJING


    The special winter promotion of USD99 is for a 3-night stay in Beijing, the 1,000-year old ancient capital city of China. The price includes accommodation in a 4 star hotel and car transfer.

    While in Beijing clients can pay extra to enjoy the great package for Mutianyu Great Wall, Bird’s Nest photo stop, lunch/Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, Summer Palace, lunch/Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Hutong tour.

     

     

     

    FEIJIACUN ARTIST VILLAGE AND HOME STUDIOS VISIT


    Feijiacun is a village and arts area in the suburbs of Beijing. The influx of artists homes/studios and some high-profile galleries to Feijiacun and Caochangdi respectively since around 2006 are turning this quiet, birch-and pine-lined enclave into an artistic hotbed.

     

     

     

    SIMATAI GREAT WALL – BEIJING


    Simatai is a section of the Great Wall of China located in the north of Miyun County, 120 kilometres northeast of Beijing. It was closed in June 2010 but was reopened to tourists in 2014.

    Simatai Great Wall is 5.4 kilometres long with 35 beacon towers. This section of the Great Wall incorporated the different characteristics of each section of the Great Wall. UNESCO has designated Simatai Great Wall as one of the World Cultural Heritage Sites, and as part of the Great Wall World Heritage Site.

    Simatai Great Wall is separated by a valley into eastern and western parts. The western part appears gentle with 20 well-preserved watchtowers dotting along the wall. The eastern part is much steeper, following more rugged terrain that includes cliff edges and kilometre-high peaks. Known for its steepness, open-air gondolas provide a way to ascend partway up the wall. The 17 watchtowers are relatively closely spaced and provide spectacular views.

     

     

     

    GUBEI WATER TOWN – BEIJING


    Gubei Water Town, situated in in Gubeikou Town of Miyun County in Beijing, surrounds the beautiful Mandarin Duck Lake Reservoir and leans against the Simatai Great Wall, the most dangerous and majestic section of the entire Great Wall.

    This charming old town, with a history of thousand of years, has rows and rows of houses along old quartzite streets and long hutongs, with river channels scattered between streets.

    Tourists to the area get to enjoy the magnificence of the Simatai Great Wall, the beautiful scenery of the Water Town, and enjoy nature when taking a bath in the outdoor hot springs that the town is also known for.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    NEW: THE SANYA EDITION, HAINAN


    Inspired by the sea The Sanya EDITION on Hainan Island in southern China is an exceptional getaway designed for relaxation and rejuvenation. Water, a source of both vitality and serenity, defines the lush 50-acre property that features a spectacular private ‘ocean’. The sense of luxurious tranquillity is established at the reception area where a lotus pool and live bamboo grove serve as a counter point to a curated art gallery displaying the work of renowned artists. All the 500+ guestrooms have ocean views, as do the collection of villas perched on a terraced hillside.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    SPEND CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR IN CHINA

     

    There are no traditional Chinese festivals or events coming up in the last two months of the year. However, Christmas and New Year are gaining more and more popularity in China. We have prepared some amazing deals for you to visit China during the festive season, and look forward to welcoming you.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    BEIJING CAPITAL AIRLINES TO LAUNCH HANGZHOU/BEIJING - LISBON FLIGHTS


    Beijing Capital Airlines, a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, will commence Hangzhou/Beijing to Lisbon (Portugal) service in the summer of 2017. This will be the first direct route between China and Portugal.

    The new route highlights the two countries’ cooperation to promote bilateral political, economic and cultural ties, as well as business and tourism activities.
     

     

     

    BEIJING CAPITAL AIRLINES TO CONNECT CHENGDU WITH MADRID


    Beijing Capital Airlines has signed a cooperation agreement with the Chengdu Municipal Government and the Sichuan Province Airport Group to launch twice weekly direct flights between Chengdu and Madrid (Spain) on December 16, 2016.

    This will be Chengdu’s first direct link to Madrid and southern Europe. The new service will play a significant role in the construction of Chengdu City International Airport hub.

     

     

     

    AIR CANADA’S FIRST DIRECT FLIGHT FROM MONTRÉAL TO SHANGHAI


    In February 2017 Air Canada will open up a new non-stop trans-Pacific service connecting Montréal, the largest city in Canada's Québec province, with Shanghai. The route will be operated using a Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft, which features the airline's latest cabin products including flat-bed seats in business class and a premium economy cabin.

     

     

     
     

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    MYANMAR

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

     

    Dear Friends and Colleagues,

    Welcome to the winter season of Myanmar.

    Myanmar is changing very fast, and recently the country has implemented the extended the E-Visa system.

    Our products for 2016/2017 season are ready, and we look forward to welcome our high season guests. Please have a look at new product ideas in our DVD rom, which we will send to you shortly. You can also pick it up at the Asian Trails booth at World Travel Mart 2016 in London (booth AS202).

    I remain as always at your complete disposal for any information and advice you may need.

    We would like to wish you and your families the very best for 2017. Thank you for the enormous support for Asian Trails Myanmar over the past years.

    Best regards,
    Thomas Carnevale

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

     

    E-VISA AVAILABLE FOR ENTRY TO MYANMAR


    We are pleased to announce that eVisa can be used to enter Myanmar at the following three land border checkpoints between Myanmar and Thailand:
    • Tachileik
    • Myawaddy
    • Kawthaung

    The application process remains the same, and it is applicable for both tourist and business eVisas.

    Please note that the official government website to apply the eVisa is the following: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    BIKE TOURS AROUND YANGON


    We are pleased to announce that we can now arrange a number of half and full day biking tours in the lush and green areas of Yangon. Ranging from easy (28 kilometres) to more strenuous (95 kilometres) the tours cover both the better-known areas such as Dala, Twantay and Thanlyin, and lesser-known corners of the city. The tours can be booked as ‘book on’ or as ‘private tours’.

    Please contact us for further details.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    THIRIPYITSAYA SANCUARY RESORT RENOVATES RECEPTION AREA


    Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort in Bagan is renovating its reception area. During the renovation period the temporary reception area is relocated to the souvenir shop.
     

     

     

    LOIKAW LODGE - LOIKAW, KAYAH STATE


    Loikaw Lodge, founded and managed by a German-Myanmar family, welcomes travellers from around the world to experience authentic Myanmar hospitality. Located at the edge of a small lake in a quiet residential area in Loikaw, it is just 10 minutes from the town centre with its buzzling market and shops. It has 12 beautifully crafted rooms comprising six superior rooms and four deluxe rooms. There is one suite – the Kayaw Suite.

    This upscale guesthouse is a gateway to the authentic way of life of ethnic minorities such as the Kayah, Kayin and Kayaw, people who live in this unspoilt region of Myanmar.

     

     

     

    FLORAL BREEZE HOTEL – KANPETLET


    Floral Breeze Hotel in Kanpetlet has opened to receive guests. It offers four standard, six superior and 18 deluxe rooms. The hotel has the same owners as Floral Breeze Hotel in Bagan.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    ANANDA TEMPLE FESTIVAL
    JANUARY 12-FEBRUARY 1, 2017
    VENUE: BAGAN


    The Ananda Festival is named after Bagan's most important temple - Ananda Temple (photo). It is celebrated throughout Bagan. Pilgrims from all over the region come to Bagan in caravans of covered ox cart to join in the celebrations. Monks are offered alm bowls, while foreign visitors also participate. Throughout the festival a fairground with market stalls and street restaurants operate in front of Ananda Temple.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    PASSION GOES LIVE


    On September 29 Asian Trails Myanmar became the sixth unit in the Asian Trails group to go live with our new cutting edge and state-of-the-art software, PASSION. In the coming months we will introduce many new features, which will benefit our long time partners.

    Photo: Asian Trials Myanmar team

     

     

     

    BLESSING CEREMONY FOR NEW OFFICE PREMISES


    October 21 was an auspicious day for Asian Trails Myanmar as it held a blessing ceremony for its new office. Joining in the celebrations were officials, suppliers and other partners who came to look at the new premises and to meet with our team.

     

     

     
     

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    MALAYSIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

     

    Dear Friends and Partners,

    Warmest Greetings from Asian Trails Malaysia

    Once again the time has come – another year is coming to its close. For us at ATMA the year 2016 can be summarised as diverse, dynamic, and inspirational; we met new challenges and laid foundations for many things to look forward to in 2017.

    I am aware that we at ATMA play the diversity card a lot when talking about Malaysia. Diversity is our benchmark, our unique selling proposition; diversity is what makes Malaysia as a destination exceptional and unrivalled.

    Be it our diverse ethnicities, manifold cuisines, harmoniously co-existing religions. Be it Malaysia’s diverse seasons, sceneries, or the variety of cultural festivals we are all celebrating together.

    And as diverse as our country is, so is our team - Malay, Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, German and Swiss. Each of them comes from different background, bringing in individual talents and experiences; adapting to the multicultural corporate culture but still remaining varying points of views which provide a large pool of creative ideas and visions; always striving to give their best, to create the diverse experiences for our guests.

    However, not only is our team diverse. The same goes for our valued business partners from Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East, India, Australia and North Africa. It was and is a pleasure to work with all of you. Thank you for your support and trust in us. We look forward to strengthen our relationships even more in the coming year.

    In this sense, ATMA wishes all of you a pleasant end of the year, reflective days of Christmas and all the best for the New Year 2017.

    On a different note: I will be attending the IBTM World in Barcelona from November 29 to December 1. I look forward to meet you personally at the booth of MyCEB.

    Emir
    Malaysia, Truly Asia!

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    KL SKY TOURS TITIWANGSA


    The new KL Sky Tours Titiwangsa offers helicopter tours, from six to 45 minutes, to tourist who wants to experience a bird’s eye view of Kuala Lumpur and do something different when visiting the city.

    The tour operates from the Titiwangsa Helipad in Titiwangsa Lake (Taman Tasik Titiwangsa), which is a short drive from anywhere in the city. The helicopters used for the tours are Robinson R44 that seats three passengers and one pilot, and Robinson R66 Turbine that seats four persons and one pilot. Both choppers offer panoramic views from all seating position too.

    Kindly contact Asian Trails Malaysia at res@asiantrails.com.my for further info.

    Article: Courtesy of http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2016/08/kl-sky-tours-titiwangsa.html
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    NEW: IBIS MALACCA TO OPEN EARLY 2017


    Ibis Malacca in the historical city of Malacca is scheduled to open at end of January 2017 or early February. Centrally located within the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is only 10 minutes on foot from attractions and the commercial areas. It is ideal for both business and leisure travellers.

    The hotel has 247 contemporary rooms (including one physically challenged room). All the rooms are furnished with the new ibis bedding, and are generously sized with practical amenities. They provide either queen beds, twin beds (standard rooms) with queen and single beds in the family rooms. Suites come with a living area. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, gym, web corner and three function rooms.

     

     

     

    NEW: MID-2017 OPENING FOR RITZ CARLTON LANGKAWI


    Ritz Carlton Langkawi is due to open in July 2017, with the official date to be confirmed.

    The ocean-front resort is fringed by lush rainforests with panoramic views of the Andaman Sea. It was designed in the style of a traditional kampong village with 90 guestrooms and 30 villas, three swimming pools, a locally inspired spa, international restaurants and three meeting and wedding venues. A private cove and beach offer direct access to the Langkawi’s diving sites.

     

     

     

    THE TAARAS BEACH RESORT & SPA CLOSES FOR RENOVATIONS


    The Taaras Beach Resort & Spa on Redang Island, off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, will close from November 7, 2016 to February 28, 2017 for upgrading and maintenance works. It is scheduled to reopen on March 1, 2017.

     

     

     

    UPGRADING FOR COFFEE HOUSE IN BAYVIEW BEACH RESORT, PENANG


    Bayview Beach Resort in Batu Ferringhi, Penang will complete the upgrading of La Veranda Coffee House on November 15, 2016. In the interim guests are being served their meals at an alternate venue. All other resort facilities are fully operational. There is minimum disturbance to the guests as any works, which may cause noise, are restricted to between 10am and 6pm on weekdays, and 11am to 5pm on weekends.

    Photo: Artist impression of the new La Veranda Coffee House

     

     

     

    RENOVATIONS AT PARKROYAL PENANG RESORT


    PARKROYAL Penang Resort at Batu Ferringhi is refurbishing all its guestrooms and public areas from October 2016 to July 2017.

    To ensure minimal disturbance to the guests no works are carried out before 9am and after 5pm. Work is also carried out one wing at a time, across the three accommodation wings. The resort remains fully operational during this period.

    The hotel management said the transformation was to ensure PARKROYAL’s commitment to providing modern comfort to its guests and making their stay more memorable.

     

     

     

    SUNWAY PYRAMID HOTEL WEST RENAMED SUNWAY CLIO HOTEL


    Sunway Pyramid Hotel West has been renamed Sunway Clio Hotel from October 1, 2016. The renaming is applied to all communications and booking channels, external signage, operation items and related collateral.

    The 4 star Sunway Clio Hotel complements the existing cluster of hotels in Sunway City namely the 5 star flagship Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa and the 4.5 star Sunway Pyramid Hotel (formerly known as Sunway Pyramid Hotel East), which is scheduled to reopen on November 3, 2016 after an extensive renovation.

    The renaming of the hotel to Sunway Clio Hotel allows each hotel within the integrated development of Sunway City to further differentiate and scale up its distinct individual identities and offerings. At the same time it retains the iconic architectural elements and characteristics of the 800 acre integrated destination.

     

     

     

    SHANGRI-LA HOTEL KUALA LUMPUR’S LEMON GARDEN CAFÉ CLOSES FOR RENOVATIONS



    Lemon Garden Café, the all-day-dining restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, is closed for upgrading work from October 30, 2016 to February 2017.

    The alternative venues for breakfast during the renovation period are at Zipangu and Shang Palace on the hotel’s first floor - Mondays to Saturdays from 6am to 10.30am, and Sundays 6am to 11am.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    1MALAYSIA YEAR END SALE
    NOVEMBER 1-DECEMBER 31, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA


    Enjoy great bargains and discount of your favourite items and branded products during the two-month long shopping extravaganza.

     

     

     

    A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME X BY STARHILL GALLERY
    NOVEMBER 4-13, 2016
    VENUE: STARHILL GALLERY, KUALA LUMPUR


    This annual event will once again be a focal point for watch and jewellery enthusiasts to come together in celebration of beauty, luxury and excellence.

     

     

     

    MALAYSIA DEEPAVALI OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATION
    NOVEMBER 5, 2016
    VENUE: KLUANG, JOHOR


    Experience the Deepavali festivities at the Open House celebration, a programme that brings people together to celebrate the country’s various festivals.

     

     

     

    SARAWAK INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT REGATTA
    NOVEMBER 11–13, 2016
    VENUE: KUCHING WATERFRONT, KUCHING, SARAWAK


    The Dragon Boat Race is an important event in Sarawak’s tourism calendar. It attracts participants from all over the world as well as from within Malaysia.

     

     

     

    ASIA PACIFIC IRONMAN LANGKAWI
    NOVEMBER 12, 2016
    VENUE: PANTAI KOK, LANGKAWI


    Ironman is triathlon’s marquee challenge and the world’s most captivating and testing single day endurance test consisting of a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run.

    In 2012, more than 124,000 athletes from across the globe competed for slots at the prestigious Ironman World Championships held every October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. In that year there were 31 Ironman Triathlon races throughout the world that enable qualification for the Ironman World Championships. These included nine races in Europe, 14 in North America, one in South America, five in Oceania and two in Africa.
     

     

     

    SARAWAK REGATTA
    NOVEMBER 18-20, 2016
    VENUE: KUCHING WATERFRONT, KUCHING, SARAWAK


    Held since 1872, Sarawak Regatta is the oldest water sports event in the state. Various activities such as boat races, cultural shows, and food and trade fairs are held alongside the regatta

     

     

     

    RAJA MUDA SELANGOR INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
    NOVEMBER 18-26, 2016
    VENUE: ROYAL SELANGOR YACHT CLUB, TANJUNG HARAPAN, SELANGOR


    The Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta is a challenging offshore and inshore sailing race organised every year by the Royal Selangor Yacht Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. It consists of three overnight passage races (260 miles in total), plus three days of harbour racing in Penang and Langkawi. The event attracts a large variety of yachts, from top class IRC1 racers to slow classic cruisers dating back over 100 years. All have to cope with unpredictable weather and changing tactics during the nine days of mix of races past tropical islands.

     

     

     

    SARAWAK MALAY DRUMS
    NOVEMBER 19-20, 2016
    VENUE: KUCHING WATERFRONT, SARAWAK


    The convivial nature of the Sarawakians is reflected in this festival featuring the traditional Sarawak Malay Drums.

     

     

     

     

    RFC RAINFOREST CHALLENGE 2016
    NOVEMBER 25-DECEMBER 5, 2016
    VENUE: PERAK, PAHANG, JOHOR


    Rated among the top 10 toughest motor races in the world, the grand final of the RFC Rainforest Challenge in Malaysia is the 4x4 off-road racing event not to be missed. Participants are from over 30 nations. This year’s event is the special 20th edition pitting brave men and women and their mean machines against the odds.

     

     

     

    GEORGE TOWN LITERARY FESTIVAL
    NOVEMBER 25-27, 2016
    VENUE: GEORGE TOWN, PENANG


    An event that will see literature lovers mixing with celebrated writers, poets, thinkers and critics where their stories are told through prose, poetry, spoken word and films.

     

     

     

    PENANG BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL MARATHON 2016
    NOVEMBER 27, 2016
    VENUE: PENANG BRIDGE, PENANG

     

    An international marathon that takes place at the iconic landmark, the Penang Bridge. Every year it attracts thousands of entries from both local and international runners.

     

     

     

    IN-BETWEEN ARTS FESTIVAL
    NOVEMBER 28-30, 2016
    VENUE: PENANG


    Wedged between the George Town Literary Festival and the Penang Island Jazz Festival, the In-between Arts Festival (IBAF) aims to showcase words, music, culture and everything in between.

     

     

     

    PUTRAJAYA INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC ARTS AND CULTURE FESTIVAL
    DECEMBER 1-11, 2016
    VENUE: PUTRAJAYA INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE (PICC)


    Putrajaya International Islamic Arts and Culture Festival is a platform to showcase Islamic arts, culture and civilisation with thinkers and scholars from around the world.

     

     

     

    PENANG ISLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL

    DECEMBER 1-3, 2016
    VENUE: BATU FERRINGHI, PENANG


    Held since 2004, this independent music festival highlights the best of local and international jazz musicians from all over the world.

     

     

     

    CHERATING INTERNATIONAL SURFING COMPETITION
    DECEMBER 3-4, 2016
    VENUE: CHERATING BEACH, KUANTAN, PAHANG


    Watch the experts take on the waves at the beautiful Cherating Beach. The event attracts surfers from Singapore, Australia, Maldives and France.

     

     

     

    KL GENTA FESTIVAL
    DECEMBER 3-5, 2016
    VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR


    Enjoy a variety of cultural shows and performances featuring the gendang, a traditional percussion instrument.

     

     

     

    2ND KIULU ADVENTURE CHALLENGE
    DECEMBER 4, 2016
    VENUE: KIULU, SABAH


    This challenge gives adventure enthusiasts the experience of running, mountain biking, rafting and practicing in outdoor activities in Kiulu.

     

     

     

    FIM ASIA SUPERMOTO CHAMPIONSHIP 2016
    DECEMBER 16-18, 2016
    VENUE: DATARAN MERDEKA, KUALA LUMPUR


    This is the second year FIM Asia Supermoto Championship is held in Kuala Lumpur. There are four rounds in the Asian series, starting in Newcastle (Australia) in September, Malang (Indonesia) in October, Manila (Philippines) in November and the finale in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur in December. This year's championship will feature up to 20 Asia Supermoto riders from Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Britain and Thailand.

     

     

     

    FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL SPORT EXTREME (FISE)
    DECEMBER 17-19, 2016
    VENUE: DATARAN LANG, LANGKAWI


    Festival International Sport Extreme is the biggest action sport festival for professionals and amateurs.

     

     

     

    PENANG PESTA CHINGAY PARADE
    DECEMBER 18, 2016
    VENUE: PADANG BROWN TO ESPLANADE PENANG


    Held since 1919, the Chingay Parade celebrates the birthday of the Goddess of Mercy. Highlights include an impressive balancing act by the Chingay and Lion Dance troupe members using a 40 feet tall still pole.

     

     

     

    MALAYSIA CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATION
    DECEMBER 25, 2016
    VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR


    Experience the Christmas festivities in at the Open House celebration, a programme that brings people together to celebrate the country’s various festivals.

     

     

     

    LIGHT AND MOTION PUTRAJAYA (LAMPU)
    DATE: DECEMBER 30, 2016-JANUARY 1, 2017
    VENUE: KIBLAT WALK, PRECINT 3, PUTRAJAYA

     

    Light and Motion Putrajaya showcases light shows on to selected buildings and structures in Putrajaya using the latest lighting technologies

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    AIRASIA'S FIRST AIRPORT LOUNGE OPENS AT KLIA2


    AirAsia has opened its first airport transit lounge, AirAsia Premium Red Lounge, at budget terminal klia2. It occupies 302sqm at the mezzanine level of the airport’s international departure hall.

    The low cost carrier’s Premium Flatbed and Premium Flex passengers get complimentary access to the 24-hour lounge. Other passengers with a valid boarding pass pay RM79 (US$19) to access the lounge.
     

     

     
     

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    INDONESIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJÖRN SCHIMANSKI

     

    It has been an extremely busy year for us due to the introduction of our new booking and reservation system. As it is basically low season for most parts of Indonesia now, we take the opportunity to fine tune our processes in order for you to enjoy flawless operations in 2017.

    On another note, we have introduced some new tours in Sumatra and I am excited to see new flight connections to Maumere with Garuda Indonesia. The Flores overland tour will get even more exciting, and we are currently adding some nice beach stays around Maumere to our itineraries.

    We are also preparing some new exciting tours much further east, which most of you do not yet have on your radar. Stay tuned for the issue of Trailblazer in the new year for more news on that! In the meantime, I wish all of you a happy Christmas and a great new year!

    Best wishes from wonderful Indonesia,

    Björn

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

     

    WEST SUMATRA – THE HIGHLANDS AND THE SEA


    As the roads in West Sumatra are narrow and travelling time between the different areas in the region is long, we have designed a tour for you to enjoy the region at a leisurely pace without having to spend all days in the car.

    Starting in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, you drive through the beautiful Anai valley to Bukittingi that is located 900 metres above sea level. Blessed with a mild climate it is the home of Minangkabau, the dominant ethnic group of West Sumatra that is also famous for its spicy Padang food.

    The next day is dedicated to the Harau Valley where you can cycle through the rice paddies, get to know the local villagers and swim next to a waterfall. This region is also famous for its 100-metre vertical cliffs.

    On the way back to the coast visit Lake Maninjau, a big caldera lake that was formed after a large volcanic eruption. On arrival at a small village a speedboat takes you to Cubadak Island where you will stay and relax for the next three days. Surrounded by coral reefs the island is ideal for snorkelling or diving to spot the innumerable varieties of coloured reef fishes. Other activities include kayaking, trekking in the nearby forest to search for monkeys, or just relax with a book while sipping a cocktail.

    The Cubadak Paradise Resort on the island offers simple, clean accommodation without air-conditioning or television. Enjoy your lunch with the resort owners or other guests. West Sumatra beaches are famous for its big surf, but as the resort is located on the east side of the island it is totally covered from the waves.

    You can add this tour while on the trans-Sumatra trip or combine it with Peninsular Malaysia, made possible by AirAsia’s two daily short flights between Kuala Lumpur and Padang. There are also daily flights to Medan (to see the Orangutans and Danau Toba, the biggest volcanic lake), Batam (next to Singapore), and Bali and onwards with Garuda Indonesia via a short stop in Jakarta.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    MAISON AURELIA SANUR – BALI


    Maison Aurelia Sanur is the first upscale boutique hotel by Préférence in Bali. The hotel has classic colonial style blended with high-end modern amenities and is situated on the main shopping street, Tamblingan in Sanur.

    The resort features 54 guestrooms divided into two categories: 42 Camelia Rooms of 36sqm and 12 Magnolia Rooms of 54sqm. Other facilities include an outdoor jacuzzi, swimming pool, beach club access and boardroom facility. Guests can have a captivating dining experience at Spice by Chris Salans, the founder and chef of the world famous Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique in Ubud.

     

     

     

    JIMBARAN BAY BEACH HOTEL, JIMBARAN – BALI


    This is a new middle class hotel located in Jimbaran that opened earlier this year. It has a stylish modern concept and is located within walking distance from local BBQ fish restaurants.

    The resort offers 118 rooms starting from 22sqm in the lowest category to suites with a size of 120sqm. Facilities include a restaurant, spa and swimming pool with a bar. A unique outlet is the rooftop terrace with BARUNA Sky Lounge Restaurant and Bar, offering a stunning view over Jimbaran bay. Guests can access the beach by crossing a small street in front of the hotel, and use the facilities of a local beach club within walking distance from the hotel.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    GARUDA’S NEW FLIGHTS TO MAUMERE, FLORES


    National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has launched new flights to Maumere to meet the demand of European tourists who want to visit and explore eastern Flores. The four times weekly flights are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. It leaves Bali at 7am and arrives in Maumere at 10am. The return flight leaves Maumere at 10.55am, arriving in Bali at 12.55pm. The service uses an ATR aircraft with a capacity for 70 passengers.

     

     

     

    NEW RULING MAY SEE GARUDA FLYING TO UNITED STATE BY 2017


    The United States Federal Aviation Administration has levelled Indonesia civil aviation authorities to Category 1. This means that local carriers, such as Garuda Indonesia, can fly to the U.S. and enter code share agreements with other American airlines. There are several rumours that a new connection between Jakarta to Los Angeles via Tokyo will open by 2017. We will keep you updated on this development.

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    NEW FRENCH MARKET AND MICE MANAGERS


    Ms. Zoe Cirou (photo) joined Asian Trails Indonesia in early October as its new French Market Manager. She takes care of all French-speaking agencies from France, Belgium, Switzerland and North Africa with her team.

    Zoe hails from Normandy in the north of France. She completed her studies in Paris and had wanted to be become a publisher. However, after obtaining her first degree she decided to travel and work for a year in Australia and spend some time in Southeast Asia, mainly in Vietnam and Cambodia. She then moved to Kuala Lumpur where she worked at Asian Trails Malaysia as Supervisor of the French-speaking market for two-and-a-half years.

    Estelle Vergnes, the previous French Market Manager, also started in early October in her new position as MICE Manager at Asian Trails Indonesia.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    YOGA CLUB CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY


    ”Stay healthy and keep practicing” - these are the words of our yoga teacher ‘G’Day’. About 10 Asian Trails Indonesia staff have been taking yoga classes with the club for a year, with twice a week lessons after office hours. On October 8 the club celebrated its first year anniversary at Sanur beach with an early morning yoga session, lots of selfies and wefies, hundreds of yoga pose pictures and, of course, a healthy breakfast.
     

     

     
     

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