Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue September 2013

Dear Friends,

 

One word that comes to mind when describing this region is "endless" - endless attractions, endless experiences to savour in each destination, endless ways to package the region to your clients' requirements - the possibilities are just endless.

 

Additionally, every country has something unique to offer - from soaring on ziplines through the pristine jungles in Cambodia's Angkor Archaeological Park to shopping in Hanoi's new Vincom Mega Mall Royal City (Asia's biggest retail and entertainment underground mall), discovering paradise islands in Indonesia and Malaysia, going on unique adventures in Thailand and Laos, biking through hutongs in Beijing, and basking in the sun on the long sandy Ngapali and Ngwe Saung beaches in Myanmar.

 

Discover these and more in TRAILBLAZER September-October 2013 edition.   

 

Happy Trails!

Luzi A. Matzig

C E O

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ROGER HAUMUELLER

 

A total of 12.7 million foreign visitors arrived in the Kingdom of Thailand for the first six months of the year. The hotels at the main beach resorts of Samui and Phuket enjoyed very high occupancy rates throughout the summer. Samui's mid-year occupancy reached 75%.

 

Thanks to numerous new intra Asian flights to Phuket, the number of tourists to Thailand's biggest island increased by 32% for the first half year compared to last year. Currently, there are 24 new hotel projects in Phuket with a total of 4,337 rooms. 55% of the properties under development are midscale and 27% are designed for the high-end market.

 

We forecast a very positive booking trend for this winter. We recommend to book early for smaller boutique accommodation, which is very much in demand for this high season.     

 

Happy Reading!    

 

Roger Haumueller   

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS' MICE DEPARTMENT PLAYS MATCHMAKER

 

Last month Asian Trails' MICE Department played matchmaker, and helped a young Swiss man proposed to his Philippine girlfriend while they were on a private tour to the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. We arranged for him and his future fiancée to travel on an elephant to River Kwai. Enroute they met another elephant with a poster that said, "Will you marry me?" The lady accepted the proposal and the happy couple will be having their wedding soon. 

 

 

 

SAMPRAN RIVERSIDE HONOURED WITH HERITAGE AND CULTURE AWARD BY PATA

 

Sampran Riverside (former Rose Garden, Nakorn Pathom) has been honoured by PATA with the Heritage and Culture Award for its "Sampran Riverside - an eco-cultural destination".  

 

After 50 years of showcasing traditional aspects of Thai life to tourists Sampran Riverside has embarked on a new venture - organic agriculture.

 

It has enhanced the use of traditional Thai farming culture throughout its property and the local community, including the promotion of Thai food, herbs, and traditional medicine without artificial substances. The organic agriculture products harvested at the property by local farmers are available for tourists at the project's Sookjai Market and the Sookjai Organic Development Centre.

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

VOXTOURS THAILAND

 

Asian Trails presents the Voxtours service, an innovative audio system that has been established as the ultimate tour guiding tool, available now in Bangkok and other destinations on request. It supports communication at guided tours, as well as provides simultaneous translation service for groups or individuals at international meetings and conventions. Entire groups or small sub-sections of each group can benefit from having simultaneous translation into different languages provided by our assigned interpreters using this system.

 

 

For further details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

CHIANG MAI

 

MANDARIN ORIENTAL REBRANDS TO DHARA DHEVI CHIANG MAI

 

The former Mandarin Oriental has been rebranded to Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai. There is, however, no change in the arrival experience, food and beverage quality, cleanliness, safety, accommodation units or associated services that the hotel has provided in the past and will provide in future.

 
 

For more details please click here

 

 

"SPA 101" AT FOUR SEASONS RESORT CHIANG MAI

 

The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is offering a new "Spa 101" session for guests to learn the skills and techniques needed to recreate the spa experience at home. In the private session for two, a skilled therapist teach guests the art of simple Thai stretching, pressure point techniques and healing strokes.

 

The Spa features seven spacious treatment suites offering total privacy for individuals or couples. Each suite offers a variety of facilities, including outdoor showers, private herbal steam rooms and outdoor soaking tubs. Two of the suites have tropical rain shower massage tables. It also features a Lanna-style beauty salon. 

 

 

For more details and bookings, please contact us

 

 

PATTAYA

 

CENTARA GRAND PHRATAMNAK RESORT PATTAYA SOFT OPENS IN OCTOBER

 

Centara Grand Phratamnak Resort Pattaya, which will soft open in October 2013, is a 10-minute drive from the Central Festival Pattaya. All its 165 rooms and suites are designed in a quintessentially cosmopolitan style with wooden furnishings and touches of the Orient. The comfortable rooms offer a broad variety of in-room amenities and services such as individually controlled air-conditioning, mini-bar, in-room safe, flat screen TV with satellite TV channels, IDD telephone and complimentary Wifi Internet access.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

EASTIN HOTEL PATTAYA

 

Eastin Hotel Pattaya is a four star deluxe hotel ideally situated on Pattaya's Beach Road in the shopping and nightlife area. All its 268 rooms and suites are fully equipped with deluxe amenities for a perfect stay. The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi with children's pool, an all-day dining restaurant, pastry shop, fitness centre, a business centre and meeting rooms with complimentary Wifi Internet access.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PHUKET

 

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PATONG BEACH CENTRAL

 

Holiday Inn Express Phuket Patong Beach Central is the perfect venue for savvy leisure travellers as it provides a relaxed, affordable and hassle-free stay.  It is adjacent to Patong Beach and within walking distance to the shopping, dining and entertainment hub. The hotel features 277 brand new well-designed rooms with high-quality bedding, 32" LCD television, iPod docking station, shower and a balcony. Facilities include a swimming pool and self-service laundry. Wifi is available throughout the hotel.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

NOVOTEL PHUKET KAMALA BEACH

 

Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach is located at Kamala Beach and a three-minute drive from Phuket FantaSea, the island's cultural theme park. Its 166 modern air-conditioned rooms with a private balcony are fitted with a flat-screen cable TV, minibar safety deposit box, electric kettle and hairdryer. Facilities in the hotel include a spa, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. Free Wifi is available throughout the hotel. 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

OUTRIGGER LAGUNA PHUKET BEACH RESORT

 

Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is located at Bangtao Beach. It offers rooms with a private balcony and free Wifi. The resort enhances the guests' experience with its own spa, an outdoor pool and a fitness centre. A kid's club and babysitting service are available for the convenience of family holidays. Rooms feature a flat-screen cable TV, minibar, safety deposit box, coffee maker and hairdryer.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

KHAO LAK

 

SENTIDO GRACELAND KHAO LAK RESORT & SPA

 

SENTIDO Graceland Khao Lak Resort & Spa is set against the coastline of Phang Nga Bay and a 10-minute drive from Khaolak Centre. Its 268 well-appointed rooms, 48 exquisite suites and 22 stylish villas are decorated in contemporary Thai style and feature a private balcony with either pool or sea view. All are equipped with telephone, air conditioning, tea- and coffee-making facilities, 40" LED television, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, bathroom amenities, bathrobe, indoor slippers, sewing kit and safety box. The resort's facilities include a large swimming pool, three dining options, two swim up pool bars and free Wifi in public areas.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

MIDNIGHT RUN
OCTOBER 19, 2013
VENUE: BANGKOK

 

This is the only race in Bangkok, which is held at midnight. Competitors have a choice of two distances - 6 or 12 kilometres. The city streets will be closed for the race, and will be protected by a police and security contingent of about 400 officers. Giving support along the route are local residents, shop owners, as well as the management and staff of Amari Watergate Hotel Bangkok.

 

The race's atmosphere is electric as over 5,000 participants, both locals and foreigners, run through Bangkok's streets. The winners of the best record in the 12-kilometre category, both male and female, will receive the Royal Trophy of HRH Princess Sirintorn. The winners in each age category, including the family and fancy dress teams, will receive a trophy. Every participant who crosses the finishing line will receive a special commemorative medal.    

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

  

 

BANGKOK AIRWAYS CODESHARES WITH BRITISH AIRWAYS

 

In a code share agreement between Bangkok Airways and British Airways, effective June 11, guests of both airlines are able to fly to the popular Thai holiday hotspots of Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. They can book flights to these destinations, via Bangkok, in one seamless transaction on ba.com. There is also a codeshare service with Bangkok Airways from Singapore to Koh Samui.  

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

STEVE'S CAFÉ & CUISINE

 

Steve Café & Cuisine, situated along the Chao Praya River, is decorated in colourful retro style. The atmosphere of the original 60-year-old riverside house, where the restaurant is housed, is well preserved. Guests can choose to dine indoor in an air-conditioned room, or outdoor to enjoy the river view.

 

 

 

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LAOS

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJOERN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends,

 

As we are preparing for the next high season we noticed that some of the most popular hotels in the country are renovating or extending their properties. It shows the increased demand for Laos, as well as the awareness of hoteliers that the properties' quality and service have to be constantly improved in order to stay ahead of the competition - definitely a welcoming trend in Laos!

 

As always, we look forward to welcome you and your clients to beautiful Laos. 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

NEW AIRPORT IN LUANG PRABANG

 

The terminal at the new Luang Prabang airport, right next to the old airport, has been completed. An airplane hanger is currently being built in the second stage of the airport's construction.

 

The runway at the new airport, which enables bigger planes to land, was opened in October 2012.  

  

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

NEW SWIMMING POOL FOR SADA HOTEL - LUANG PRABANG

 

The new three star 33-room Sada Hotel in Luang Prabang is increasing its guest facilities with a new swimming pool, which is being built on a piece of adjourning land. As such the guests will not be affected during the construction period, which is estimated to be about six to nine months.  

 

 

 

EXTENSION TO VILLA MAYDOU - LUANG PRABANG

 

The three star Villa Maydou boutique hotel is adding an extension building with seven rooms. The boutique hotel currently has 17 rooms. The new rooms are expected to be ready by October 2013.
 

Villa Maydou is also constructing a new swimming pool!
 

 

 

NEW ROOMS AND SWIMMING POOL FOR ANSARA BOUTIQUE HOTEL - VIENTIANE

 

The 13-room four star Ansara Boutique Hotel in Vientiane is adding another 13 rooms and a swimming pool. The construction began in June, and scheduled to be completed in late 2013. The ongoing construction work is not affecting the peaceful experience provided by the hotel.

 

 

 

RENOVATIONS AT LAO PLAZA HOTEL - VIENTIANE

 

The four star 134-room Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane is undergoing renovations for all its superior rooms on the fourth floor. Work will take about three months, and is expected to finish by end October in time for the start of the high season in Laos. 

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

BOAT RACING FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 4, 2013 (SIX WEEKS)
VENUE: THROUGHOUT LAOS

 

The Boat Racing Festival will begin on September 4 in Luang Prabang, with the famous Nam Khan River race. For six weeks boat races will take place in villages all around the country. 

 

 

 

1ST CHARITY MARATHON
OCTOBER 5, 2013
VENUE: LUANG PRABANG

 

Luang Prabang will host the 1st Charity Half Marathon, which is divided into three distances - 7, 14 and 21 kilometres. The race is over a mostly flat seven-kilometre circuit, which starts at the National Museum and passes by many of Luang Prabang's famous attractions.

 

Please contact us if you wish to participate in this charity event or to get more information.  

 

 

 

END OF BUDDHIST LENT -LAST BOAT RACES
OCTOBER 19, 2013
VENUE: VIENTIANE

 

The end of the rainy season and Buddhist Lent is celebrated with the release of decorated boats on the Mekong, which symbolises the carrying away of bad luck and troubles. This colourful celebration marks the last and final boat races in Vientiane. 

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

LE PIMENTON - VIENTIANE'S FIRST OPEN STEAKHOUSE

 

Le Pimenton, which opened in July 2013, is Vientiane's first open steakhouse and one of the trendiest restaurants in the city. The owner and executive chef of this Lao-Spanish restaurant, Serge Selbr, and his team have vast experience operating restaurants in Europe, America and Thailand. The open fire style of cooking is his personal favourite. 

 

 

 

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CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

 

For most of us all holidays and the beach now seem far away. as rituals at the office are back on track. For new and repeat visitors to Cambodia and staying with us, be it on business or for pleasure, why not extend your stay for a few more days? Escape the city's bustle and hustle with stays at brand new boutique hotels and "see the jungle through the eyes of a gibbon" in the midst of the Angkor Archaeological Park. Then indulge yourself in a fine dining fusion food, which is the talk of the town. Read more about this adventure experience in "Destination Information". 

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

GROWING POPULARITY OF GOLF IN CAMBODIA

 

Golf is a relatively new game in Cambodia, and until the mid-1990s it was unheard of in the country. However, this changed with the country's entry into ASEAN, which saw top Cambodian officials meeting on a regular basis with their contemporaries in the more developed golfing Asian nations such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Golf soon became popular in Cambodia, and it now has eight golf courses. The Kingdom's best golfing "ambassador" is none other than Prime Minister Mr. Hun Sen, who is an avid golf player with a handicap of 15.  

 

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

COMMUNITY TOUR AT BARAY REACH DAK - A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE IN ANGKOR PARK AMIDST NATURE

 

During the rainy season the man-made reservoir JayaTataka, also known as Baray Reach Dak, is filled with water. The great Angkor ruler, King Jayavarman VII, also known as the Great Builder King, would take a boat ride from Neak Poan Temple to Preah Khan Temple that served as the state temple before the Bayon temple was built. This tour is a unique experience to relive the boat ride. Proceeds will go to help the local communities around the baray.    

 

 

 

FLIGHT OF THE GIBBON'S ZIPLINE ECO-ADVENTURE TOUR IN ANGKOR

 

Flight of the Gibbon has built its famous zipline courses in the most remote and pristine rainforest locations in Thailand. The company now brings its famous Zipline Eco-Adventure tour to the World Heritage Site of Angkor Archaeological Park. Its team of experts, with over 20 years of experience, has constructed a safe and adventurous course that incorporates the jungle's natural features while protecting its towering trees, exotic flowers, fauna and native wildlife.  

 

The tour started operations on August 1. Get ready to soar on ziplines, traverse suspended sky bridges, abseil from towering trees and be amazed by the majesty and magic of the rainforest, not far from the majestic temples of Angkor. An Angkor Pass is required to participate in this eco adventure.  

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

KEP

 

SPRING VALLEY

 

Locally owned Spring Valley is nestled on the slopes of Kep National Park, just a short walk to the beach. The 33 rooms are scattered throughout vibrant green gardens, connected by walkways that wind through vines, trees and flowering plants. Tropical fruits including durian, mango, papaya, jackfruit, passion fruit, wild mangosteen and three kinds of bananas grow in every corner of the property and they are free for guests to taste.  

 

The resort offers five types of rooms - Standard, Deluxe, Pagoda Deluxe, Bungalow and the Khmer Wooden House. All are set within lush tranquil gardens, and most have sea views. The lovely free form pool is adjacent to the open-air restaurant and bar.  

 

 

 

BATTAMBANG

 

MAISONS WAT KOR

 

Maisons Wat Kor is a boutique hotel located in the heart of a cultural Khmer village, 1.5 kilometres from Battambang city centre. Built in traditional Khmer architectural style using local materials, the hotel offers 10 guestrooms spread across three Khmer wooden houses. Some of the rooms are designed especially for families. All rooms feature modern facilities and services including internet wifi access, working desk, cable TV, hot and cold water, private bathroom, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, mini bar and spacious balcony.

 

Hotel facilities include concierge service, swimming pool and a business centre. The hotel is animal friendly. It also offers bikes for rent for guests to explore the surrounding area. Psar Nat and buildings featuring French colonial architecture are a short drive away.

   

 

 

MONDULKIRI

 

MAYURA HILL HOTEL & RESORT

 

Mayura Hill Hotel & Resort is located in Sen Monorom city, Mondulkiri Province, about one kilometre from downtown. The four star eco tourism retreat offers 14 private and stylish-designed bungalow villas with beautiful hill view of the Mondulkiri Highlands. Hotel facilities include a restaurant, lobby lounge, swimming pool, business centre and free wifi access.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

CONSTITUTION DAY
SEPTEMBER 24, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

This public holiday celebrates the signing of the Cambodian constitution by King Sihanouk on September 24, 1993. It was adopted by a constitutional assembly elected under the auspices of the United Nations.

  

 

 

BONN PCHUM BEN:
OCTOBER 3-5, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

Boon Pchum Ben, celebrated mostly by Cambodian Buddhists, is a time for the paying of respects to deceased relatives. Buddhist tradition demands Cambodians visit many pagodas over two weeks. Food, flowers, rice and gifts are given to the monks to convey to the departed so they do not haunt the living.

 

Please note that all government institutions and some companies will be closed from Thursday October 3 to Sunday October 6.   

 

 

 

CORONATION DAY OF HIS MAJESTY KING NORODOM SIHAMONI
OCTOBER 29, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

This is a public holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni. The Royal Palace is lit at night, looking resplendent throughout the celebrations. The Royal Palace will be closed to visitors during that day for ritual ceremonies carried out by the Palace.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

THAI AIRASIA TO LAUNCH BANGKOK-SIEM REAP SERVICE IN OCTOBER

 

Thai AirAsia, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based low cost carrier AirAsia, will start direct flights between Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport and Siem Reap on October 1, as the airline sets to expand in the regional market. The daily service will be on the Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline forecasts the load factor on this route to be above 80%.

 

Siem Reap is a popular destination among foreign tourists to Cambodia, with Chinese, Japanese and Korean visitors forming the largest arrivals. The new Bangkok-Siem Reap service is expected to bring an additional 300,000 to 500,000 tourists to the city annually.  

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

SIEM REAP

 

PHARE CAFE OPENS

 

The Phare Cambodian Circus has opened Phare Café, which offers ease and convenience for booking a dinner with the show for your clients. It offers a three-course set dinner menus for dining before or after the show. Choices of vegetarian meals are also available with a wide range of drinks and snacks.   

 

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Dear Friends,

 

All too soon the summer holidays will be over, and thoughts will turn to the coming winter. For Europe this will mean long dark nights and cold temperatures. Here in Vietnam winter means beautiful sunny days, and endless opportunities to explore and discover this wonderful country.  Whatever your interests Vietnam has something for you - fantastic tours with amazing sites, wonderful beaches with award winning hotels, spas for pampering and relaxing, food to delight your taste buds, and lots of special interests such as trekking, bird watching, diving and homestays. However you imagine your perfect holiday you will find it here in Vietnam. So feel free to drop us a line, and let us turn your dreams into reality! 

 

 

   

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

PHONG NHA CAVES -  "HEAVEN ON EARTH"

 

The director of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang Tourism Centre announced recently that Phong Nha Caves, in the central province of Quang Binh's Bo Trach District, was named as "one of the best tourism destinations in the world" by TripAdvisor, one of the world's biggest travel websites.

 

To qualify for such a ranking, destinations must maintain an overall rating of four or higher out of a possible five as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews. With a rating of 4.5 Phong Nha Caves, located inside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, came out top.

 

To improve tourism services the Phong Nha-Ke Bang Tourism Centre completed upgrading the lighting system in June. The multi-coloured bulbs were replaced with white and light yellow bulbs. The advice of foreign experts has turned Phong Nha Caves into a "heaven on earth". Covering an area of 85,754ha, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was recognised as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.

 

 

 

THREE MUSEUMS ON LIST OF TRIPAVISOR'S TRAVELLERS' CHOICE ATTRACTIONS

 

War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and Vietnam Women's Museum - latter two in Hanoi - made it to the list of TripAdivsor's Travellers' Choice Attractions at fifth, sixth and 11th place respectively.

 

The inaugural awards were determined based on the quality and quantity of travellers' reviews of attractions featured on TripAdvisor in each of the categories. Winners are from 39 countries around the world including Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Central America, China, Europe, India, Mexico, the Middle East, South America, South Pacific and the United States.

 

Singapore's Botanic Gardens was ranked Top Park in Asia, while Universal Studios in Sentosa came in second in the list of Top 10 Amusement and Water Parks in the region. The Asian Civilisations Museum was named one of the top museums in Asia, taking the 12th spot.

Top Museums in Asia
1. The Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Xi'An
2. The Palace Museum, Beijing
3. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
4. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima, Japan
5. War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
6. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, Vietnam
7. Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong
8. National Palace Museum, Taipei
9. Shanghai Museum, Shanghai
10. Hellfire Pass Museum, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
11. Vietnam Women's Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam
12. Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore
13. Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
14. National Museum of Korea, Seoul, South Korea
15. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Nagasaki, Japan

 

 

 

CUA DAI NAMED AS ONE OF ASIA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES BY TRIPADVISOR

 

Cua Dai Beach in the central province of Quang Nam has been ranked 18th on TripAdvisor's list of the 25 most beautiful beaches in Asia by the travel website's readers.

 

Cua Dai Beach is located about five kilometres east of the ancient and beautiful town of Hoi An, once the busiest trading port in South Vietnam. It is famed for its historic port, as well as its long stretches of white sand, clear turquoise water and calm waves. Along the beach are a number of high-end resorts, which are influenced by classic French, Japanese and Vietnamese styles. Built with environmentally friendly materials, they also offer guests a chance to get close to nature

 

 

 

VIETNAM TAKES FOUR SPOTS ON LIST OF TOP ASIAN DESTINATIONS

 

Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, the ancient town of Hoi An, and the famous Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh are featured on the list of the top 25 destinations in Asia by readers of TripAdvisor. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City ranked 14th and 15th respectively, Hoi An was at the 17th spot and Ha Long Bay was 25th.

 

Robin Ingle, senior vice president of advertising for TripAdvisor, said it was impressive that Vietnam had four destinations on the list, adding that the country was highly attractive to many international tourists.

 

The fifth award of its kind, TripAdvisor's Top 25 Destinations for 2013 named Bangkok in Thailand as the top Asian destination, followed by Tokyo (Japan) and Beijing (China) through its readers' choices and reviews.

 

It has been estimated that every month the travel website records more than 60 million visits, receiving over 75 million reviews of destinations, including hotels and restaurants worldwide.

 

 

 

FOOD STREETS IN HANOI'S OLD QUARTERS

 

Hanoi's Hoan Kiem District is carrying out a project to turn several streets in the Old Quarter, which include Hang Buom, Ma May, Hang Giay, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dao Duy Tu, into gastronomy streets to highlight the characteristics of the city's special cuisine.

 

Dong Xuan Joint Stock Company is encouraging owners of restaurants, which create traditional Hanoi dishes on these streets to join the project. It has also helped restaurants and food stands improve hygiene and food safety, and will conduct training courses to develop sellers' skills. The streets will be connected to the pedestrian area in the Old Quarter.

 

 

 

TRAIL TOURS OF SON DOONG CAVE, WORLD'S LARGEST CAVE

 

Quang Binh plans to launch experimental adventure tours of Son Doong Cave, which is considered the largest in the world, in early August this year. The tours were suggested by Howard Limbert, an expert of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA)

 

As scheduled, the trial tours will be held twice a month with the participation of a group of only seven tourists and 15 local guides. After the trial period the tours will operate officially from February to August every year.

 

Son Doong Cave was discovered in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in 1999 by a local man named Ho Khanh. It was made known publicly in 2009 by a group of British scientists from BCRA, led by Howard Limbert, following their surveying trip in Phong Nha-Ke Bang Park. Limbert said the cave was five times larger than the nearby Phong Nha Cave, previously considered to be the largest in Vietnam.

 

The cave is about 6.5 kilometres long, 200 metres wide and 150 metres high. Its largest chamber is judged to be 250 metres high. Scientists have also discovered a large number of stalactites in astonishingly extraordinary shapes, and primitive forests in the cave.

 

 

 

HUE COMPLETES RESTORATION OF MANDARIN'S HOUSE

 

The Hue Relics Preservation Centre and the German Conservation Restoration & Education Projects (GCREP) held a ceremony on July 17 to mark the completion of the project to preserve and restore interior decoration of Ta Vu-Dai Noi Hue (Mandarin's House).

 

The project has a total investment capital of more than EUR158,000, of which nearly EUR140,000 are sourced from Germany. It has contributed to preserving the beauty of the historical relics in the old Imperial Citadel.

 

The GCREP Project Manager, Andrea Teufel, said that the project had been implemented since October 2012, with the aim of restoring decorative patterns on the wall of Ta Vu and preventing the impact of severe weather on the whole building.

 

Under the project the GCREP's management granted certificates to nine students from Hue College of Arts.

 

 

 

NEW RAIL LINES LINK DALAT TO TOURIST SITES IN VIETNAM'S CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

 

Visitors to Dalat in Vietnam's Central Highlands will soon be able to access the area's tourist attractions more easily, following the development of several new rail lines.

 

According to the Vietnam News Service (VNS) authorities in Dalat have approved the creation of six new railway lines, expanding from city centre to several popular local tourism site, including Lang Bian Mountain, Tuyen Lam Lake, Love Valley and the Central Highland Biological Institute.

 

There will also be a connection to Lien Khuong Airport, which is the largest airport in the Central Highlands. A series of six-carriage electric trains will operate on the new tracks. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.

 

VNS also reported that another new rail project would link Dalat with the coastal town of Thap Cham, 84km away. To be completed by 2015, the new route will see Dalat reconnected to Thap Cham, which also sits on Vietnam's main north-south rail line. Construction of the original Dalat-Thap Cham Railway began in 1908, but the route was closed in 1975 after the Vietnam War and has since fallen into disrepair.

 

 

 

HUE AIRPORT REOPENS IN SEPTEMBER

 

Hue Airport will reopen on September 29, about two months ahead of schedule.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

CAT BA ISLAND AND LAN HA BAY

 

Cat Ba Archipelago is made up of 366 islands and is located 50km east of Hai Phong City. which is itself approximately 2.5 hours drive from Hanoi.  Cat Ba is the largest of the islands in the archipelago, and can be reached by fast boat. Cat Ba town, which is located on the southern tip of the island, is a typical small seaside town overlooking beautiful bays dotted with colourful fishing boats. From here you can explore the National Park, which was recognised by UNESCO in December 2004 as a Biosphere Reserve, or paddle through the untouched Lan Ha Bay. This island-filled bay is located south east of Cat Ba Island and close to the legendary Halong Bay. It is an excellent destination to cruise or kayak, hide away on a small beach, or to climb the spectacular limestone cliffs. It is possible to combine Cat Ba with the famous UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay.

 

Suggested Itineraries:

 

2 Days Relaxing Halong-Cat Ba Island-Lan Ha Bay

Day 1: Transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Cruise in Halong Bay, then disembark in Cat Ba Island. Transfer to Cat Ba town. Overnight on Cat Ba Island or at offshore islet resort.

Day 2: Go kayaking in the quiet Lan Ha Bay, explore the floating village, hidden lagoons and the tiny wild beach. Return to Hanoi via Hai Phong.

 

3 Days Active Escape To Cat Ba Island-Lan Ha Bay

Day 1: Drive from Hanoi to Hai Phong. Then take a hydrofoil to Cat Ba Island. Afternoon is reserved for sightseeing around Cat Ba island.

Day 2: Trekking through the National Park until Viet Hai Village. Take a boat trip to Lan Ha Bay passing the floating village, farms and enjoy swimming in Lan Ha Bay.

Day 3: Morning at leisure or reserved for optional activities (half day trekking/rock climbing/kayaking/cycling etc). Return to Hai Phong for transfer back to Hanoi.  

 

 

 

A O SHOW

 

The A O Show in Ho Chi Minh City offers something new and completely different, and is an interesting mix of old and new. It is a unique and immensely enjoyable experience fusing dance, acrobatics, theatre, Cirque du Soleil and musical forms in a vibrant and light-hearted series of scenes that track Vietnam's transition from rural life to urbanisation.

 

The show lasts just over an hour, but during that time the performers will amaze you with a variety of feats. You are never quite sure what is going to happen next. It will leave you in awe of what you are seeing. It is suitable for all ages and is great family entertainment.

 

You can book this show through Asian Trails with or without transportation. Please note that the day/date of the show may be changed in accordance with the theatre's schedule.  

 

 

 

DISCOVER THE LAND OF THAI HILL TRIBES - MAI HICH VILLAGE & MOC CHAU PLATEAU

 

Previously we have highlighted a hill tribe valley called Mai Chau inhabited mostly by Thai and Muong ethnic groups, which is easily reached from Hanoi (approx 3.5 hours). Due to its proximity to Hanoi the valley has become touristic, and for this reason we would like to recommend two new destinations - Mai Hich Village and Moc Chau Plateau.  

 

Mai Hich Village

NGOs and the private sector have joined hands to set up this community-based tourism project in Mai Hich, which provides comfortable lodging (homestay) and the opportunity to explore in the heart of this abode of the Thai ethnic hill tribe. The village is located 15kms from Mai Chau. Visitors can take part in numerous activities during a two- or three-day escape package, from Hanoi walking to a nearby cave, biking, rafting on the stream, joining in local farm work and fishing. There are currently three houses available for overnight stays, which can accommodate up to a maximum of 40 guests. Each house, built with eco-friendly materials, has two toilets and two bathrooms.

 

Suggested Itinerary: 2-Day Escape From Hanoi

Day 1: Drive from Hanoi to Mai Hich. Welcome and lunch. In the afternoon walking or cycling around the countryside. Dinner and enjoy traditional performance, rice wine tasting.

Day 2: Breakfast. Short walk then bamboo rafting on Xia stream. Return to Hanoi.  

 

Moc Chau Plateau

Moc Chau Plateau is approximately five hours from Hanoi or 1.5 hours from Mai Chau. This is a truly impressive place inhabited mainly by Thai people (White Thai and Black Thai) and H'Mong.  Ethnic lifestyle remains authentic and not commercially affected as in Mai Chau or Sapa. Moc Chau is known as the land of tea and other natural assets that include green rice terraced paddies, plum and peach gardens, endless flowers, mustard fields, corn farm, dairy grass fields, forests and waterfalls. This is the ideal location for active people who love to explore untouched nature and ethnic culture and stay in simple accommodation. The latter is a traditional wooden stilt house with a maximum capacity of 25 people, although it would be more comfortable with 18 people. Activities in the plateau include soft trekking around surrounding villages, biking, learning about the tea culture and harvesting and processing.

 

Suggested Itinerary: 3-Day Moc Chau Plateau

Day 1: Hanoi-Mai Chau. Lunch at Mai Chau. Continue to Moc Chau. Arrive at Ban Doi by 4pm. Check in, leisurely walk around the villages.

Day 2: Soft trekking (9km) passing fields of corn, rice and plum, streams and hills of tea. Visit a tea factory and learn about tea processing, and taste the famous Olong tea. Return to the village via a different route through the Black Thai ethnic village. Afternoon at leisure or visit some farms.

Day 3: Breakfast and leave the homestay. Along the way stop at Phien Canh (H'Mong Village) for a one-hour trek. Continue to Hanoi with lunch enroute.  Arrive in Hanoi at approximately 5pm.  

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

VICTORIA GROUP TAKES OVER CAI BE PRINCESS, SONG XANH SAMPAN BOATS, LE LONGANIER VILLA & RESTAURANT

 

As of 25th July 25, 2013, the Victoria Group tool over Cai Be Princess, Song Xanh Sampan Boats (12 units) and Le Longanier Villa & Restaurant under the trading name of Victoria Cruise.

 

Created and operated by Mekong Horizon for more than 10 years these very unique sampan boats and Longanier Villa offer, until today, some of the best Mekong delta cruises and hospitality experience for travellers.    

 

 

 

AMAN RESORTS OPENS AMANO'I VINH HY BAY

 

Aman Resorts makes its debut in Vietnam with the opening of  Amano'i Vinh Hy Bay, a contemporary beachside resort alongside a full-service Aman Spa. Named for the Sanskrit-derived word for "peace" Amanơi is a tranquil retreat situated on a beautiful white sand beach overlooking the spectacular Vinh Hy Bay.

 

Located 55 kilometres south of Cam Ranh Airport (Nha Trang), Vinh Hy is surrounded by unique rock formations. A marine reserve adjoins the National Park and is home to a large variety of sea corals, tropical fish species. and hawksbill and green sea turtles. Guest accommodation includes 31 Pavilions, a number with private swimming pools, and five Aman Villas. All are positioned on the hillside with spectacular views of Nui Chua National Park, the lake on the property, Vinh Hy Bay and the East Sea.  

 

 

 

GRAND HO TRAM STRIP - VIETNAM'S FIRST INTEGRATED RESORT

 

Grand Ho Tram Strip, the first luxury integrated resort in Vietnam, has opened its doors on the country's southeast coast, approximately 2.5 hours by road from Ho Chi Minh City. It features a 541-room hotel, a casino with 90 games table and more than 600 slot machines, meeting and convention space, 13 F&B outlets, a spa, three swimming pools and retail outlets. Work on a second tower is ongoing, and there will be another 559 hotel rooms along with additional entertainment facilities.

 

Future developments in the Ho Tram Strip will include a second integrated resort, which will be operated by the Pinnacle Entertainment Group. There will also be another three five star resorts on the 2.2km stretch of beach front in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, which is about 2.5 hours' drive from Ho Chi Minh City. There is also a Greg Norman-designed golf course called The Bluffs.

 

Although gambling is illegal in Vietnam, the government allows international tourists to bet in casinos.

 

 

 

TWO VIETNAM HOTEL SPAS AMONG WORLD'S BEST

 

The spas in Nam Hai Hotel in Hoi An and Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi have been recognised as among the top 10 in the world by readers of Travel & Leisure, a leading US magazine cum travel guide, ranking fourth and fifth respectively. Toronto's Ritz-Carlton topped the list.

 

Nam Hai Hotel also ranks 12th among the Best Resorts in Asia. The Metropole is fifth among the Best City Hotels in Asia and 52nd in the Top 100 Hotels in the world. Also in the category of the Best City Hotels in Asia is the Park Hyatt Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City in 17th place.

 

The spa rankings are based on readers' ratings for ambiance, treatment packages, service, facilities and value for money. Hotel rankings are based on ratings for rooms/facilities, location, service, value for money and restaurants/food. The honours form part of the 2013 World's Best Awards, the 18th annual event by Travel & Leisure.

 

 

 

MOVENPICK HOTELS RECEIVE GREEN GLOBE CERTIFICATION

 

Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi and Mövenpick Hotel Saigon have become the first hotels in Vietnam to receive the Green Globe Certification for their environmental awareness. They were judged on 337 different criteria, including customer satisfaction, water and energy consumption, waste management, commitment to society and internal training.

 

General Manager of Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi, Phillip Jones, said the hotel has strived to minimise energy use by applying a number of measures such as installing a power-saving lighting system, reducing water consumption and paying attention to waste and chemical treatment. The hotel has also set detailed targets and observed its operation based on these targets to make sure Green Globe is implemented effectively.


Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, an international luxury hotel management company with over 16,000 staff members, is present in over 24 countries with 78 hotels and resorts. Committed to sustainable environment, the hotel group Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has become the highest Green Globe certified hotel chain in the world.


First introduced in 1994 the Green Globe brand represents the best in sustainable practices within the travel and tourism industry, and provides certification, training and marketing services in 83 countries.

 

 

 

SWISS-BELHOTEL EXPANDS IN VIETNAM WITH SECOND HOTEL

 

Hong Kong-based Swiss-Belhotel International opened its second hotel in Vietnam, Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai, in July 2013. Located in northern Vietnam close to the Chinese border, the deluxe hotel offers 186 rooms. Facilities include a business centre, fitness centre, restaurants and lobby lounge, as well as conference and banqueting facilities.

 

Swiss-Belhotel's first hotel in the country is Swiss-Belhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa.

 

 

 

MÖVENPICK SIGNS TWO NEW HOTELS IN ASIA

 

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts announced on June 27 it would manage new hotels in Vietnam and the Philippines from 2015.

 

Mövenpick Resort & Spa, Quy Nhon in Vietnam is scheduled to open in 2015, while Mövenpick Hotel Makati in Makati City, Manila (Philippines) will be unveiled the following year. The hotels bring the number of Asian properties under development by the Swiss hotelier to 18.

 

The 180-room cliff-top Mövenpick Resort & Spa, Quy Nhon overlooks the South China Sea in central Vietnam, and will be the company's third hotel in the country, the other two are in Saigon and Hanoi. The nine-floor central building will be fringed by 52 villas, which will derive some of their energy from a nearby wind power station.

 

 

 

SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY IMPLEMENTS CONSERVATION PROGRAMME TO PROTECT MARINE ECOSYSTEM

 

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, a luxury resort near the Vietnamese resort town of Nha Trang, are working in partnership with two marine biologists - Thomas Swierts and Selma Ubels from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands - on a five-year plan to conserve the marine ecosystem in the area.

 

The two Dutch marine biologists have set up a project, which will create a new swimming and snorkelling pathway through the reef, as well as take regular inventory of the area's marine life (fish and coral). They are also training the resort's staff to identify the aquatic flora and fauna, enabling the staff to take guests on snorkelling trips.

 

The resort is also developing an environmental awareness campaign among guests in an effort to preserve the natural surroundings. Guests are able to adopt their own coral patch where they re-attach broken shards of living coral, an exercise similar to tree planting schemes by some hotels.

 

 

 

FIRST MARRIOTT IN NHA TRANG

 

Marriott International signed an agreement with Sao Sang Nha Trang Co. Ltd, which will see the opening of the deluxe Nha Trang Marriott Hotel. This will be the hotel chain's first property in Nha Trang City and its fifth property in the country. 

 

Construction of the 250-room hotel is expected to start by year-end. It is located on Tran Phu Boulevard in the heart of Nha Trang City facing Nha Trang Bay, widely considered to be one the most beautiful bays in the world. Known for its pristine beaches and as the scuba diving center of Vietnam, Nha Trang is one of the most popular holiday destinations among residents and visitors to Vietnam. It is also a vibrant beach town, which offers a multitude of things to do and see.

 

 

 

SIX SENSES CON DAO AMONG WORLD'S BEST ECOLODGES

 

National Geographic Travelers (National Geographic Society), one of the world's best-known magazines, has listed Six Senses Con Dao (Ba Ria-Vung Tau) as one of the 25 best ecological resorts. The list was selected and recognised by prestigious geological and tourism experts and researchers of the magazine.

 

The resort dangles on a slice of world-class beach in Con Dao National Park - a 45-minute flight from frenetic Ho Chi Minh City. No shirt, no shoes, no problem could be the daily mantra at this haven constructed from reclaimed teak, including over a thousand recycled antique wooden panels. Sustainability takes centre stage, with initiatives including local and organic meals, no plastic water bottles, and non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products and amenities. Windsurfing, body boarding, and sailing start right outside the door. But for many guests the activity of choice is simply immersion in the unspoiled nature that surrounds the private villas.

 

 

 

US$1MIL REFIT FOR PANDAW SHIPS - RETURN TO SERVICE IN OCTOBER 2013

 

Pandaw River Cruises has announced its two ships - RV Mekong Pandaw and TV Tonle Pandaw - will undergo a US$1 million refit as they reach their 10th anniversary. The two colonial-style ships, which were launched in 2003, will have their passenger count reduced to a maximum of 52 (in 26 staterooms) to lower its passenger to crew ratio.

 

The refurbishment will see the two vessels having a larger spa, new gym, art gallery and library. Its rooms will have French windows to offer panoramic views, new bathrooms and air-conditioning. The refitting exercise will be completed by October 2013 when the ships will return to cruise the Mekong between Cambodia and Vietnam. 

 

"We have been pioneering the Mekong River since 2003, and with the full refit of our two colonial style ships we will not only continue to deliver but improve the Pandaw cruise experience, which we are famous for," said Paul Strachan, founder of Pandaw.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

FESTIVAL OF THE VIETNAM-UNESCO HERITAGE
DECEMBER 27-31, 2013
VENUE: DALAT

 

As part of the activities to celebrate the 2014 Central Highlands-Dalat National Tourism Year, Dalat will host the first Festival of the Vietnam-ASEAN UNESCO Heritage from December 27 to 31.

 

The festival will highlight Vietnam's role in boosting co-operation between ASEAN member countries, as well as honouring the country's cultural values and the region's heritages. Various cultural activities will take place that include an exhibition of the natural and cultural heritages in ASEAN countries recognised by UNESCO, an international workshop on preserving heritages and sustainable development, live cultural performances and a parade of model UNESCO heritages.  

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

TWO NEW ROUTES FOR VIETNAM AIRLINES

 

National flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, opened two new international routes - Danang to Seoul in Korea and Siem Reap in Cambodia on July 1.

 

The three times weekly Danang-Seoul service on the Airbus is on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Danang-Siem Reap flight is a daily service. The new routes bring the airline's total foreign destinations to 28.

 

Despite the room boom in Danang over recent months hotel managers and investors in the area have remained resolutely upbeat, believing that new flights will bring with them bigger demand. In January this year hoteliers, resort and golf course owners, and travel operators came together to set up the Central Coast Vietnam Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) to promote the region as a competitor against established beach destinations such as Bali (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 29, 2013).

 

The DMO's chairman, Louk Lennaerts, predicted more international flights would come on line in the coming months. "Vietnam Airlines is also considering direct flights from Japan to Danang, while Thai Airways is still looking at flights from Bangkok with its sister airline, THAI Smile," he said.
 

 

 

FINNAIR FLIES TO HANOI

 

Finnair is operating three times weekly service to Hanoi from Helsinki throughout its summer schedule season until October 27. The service to Hanoi enhances the airline's strategic focus on transfer traffic between Asia and Europe. From Helsinki Finnair's guests can have fast and efficient transfers to more than 60 European destinations.
 

 

 

EMIRATES FLIGHTS BOOST VIETNAM GOLF TOURISM

 

The growing attraction of Vietnam as Asia's most exciting new golf tourism destination has been enhanced by the launch of daily Emirates flights from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City. The new service, which started in early June, means golf travellers from the Middle East and Europe can now easily access Vietnam's world-class golf courses, especially the country's top two layouts - Montgomerie Links and Danang Golf Club - on the Central Coast near Vietnam's third major city of Danang.

 

While Vietnam has not been historically synonymous with great golf, the easy access from Ho Chi Minh through Danang's new international airport has made the region a "must play" golf experience in Asia. Combine this with the historic cultural experiences at Hue and Hoi An (both UNESCO World Heritage cities), the stunning coastline of Vietnam ensures visitors will take away a truly memorable experience.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

FURAMA RESORT DANANG OPENS NEW "STEAK HOUSE "

 

Furama Resort Danang has opened "Steak House", a new Western factory-style restaurant on the Ocean Terrace with a beautiful ocean front setting. It overlooks the white sands and cooled by cool breeze blowing from the East Sea. The restaurant specialises in traditional steaks, offering a wide range of dishes from the best quality imported meats served with a variety of signature sauces. Diners are treated to a gastronomic experience with many choices of "grillades".

 

Steak House is open daily from 6.30pm to 11pm.   

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

"PHO" - A MEAL YOU SHOULD EAT IN YOUR LIFE TIME, SAYS BUSINESS INSIDER

 

Business Insider, a New York-based business news site, has listed Hanoi's "Pho", a tangy beef noodle soup, as the first of "40 meals you should eat in your lifetime".

 

The list mentioned 40 dishes, which are "worth traversing the planet for". They include an epic seven-course meal at a Catalan Restaurant in Girona, Spain; a chewy, gooey slice of Neapolitan style pizza in Naples, Italy; soup dumplings in Shanghai and Hong Kong's dim sum (bite-sized morsels such as dumplings, pork buns, turnip cakes, noodles). Culinary enthusiasts will want to add to these foods to their list when travelling to these destinations.

 

 

 

ASIA'S BIGGEST UNDERGROUND RETAIL & ENTERTAINMENT MALL OPENS IN HANOI

 

On July 26 thousands of Vietnamese shoppers flooded Vincom Mega Mall Royal City, the giant underground shopping mall in Hanoi. The new attraction, touted as Asia's biggest underground retail and entertainment complex, covers a total area of 230,000sqm. It is 95% occupied with about 600 shops operating at the time of the grand opening. The mall also has a water park, a 3,000sqm ice rink for ice skating, game centres, movie theatres and a food street with about 200 restaurants.

 

The mega mall is part of a bigger real estate development in the centre of Hanoi, called Royal City, by Vingroup.   

 

 

 

TWO-YEAR PROJECT TO RESTORE ROYAL MAUSOLEUM IN HUE

 

On the June 13 the Hue Monuments Complex Centre began restoring the mausoleum of the third king of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945).  The mausoleum, which is located 5km to the west of Hue, has deteriorated over time. The two-year project will cost US$1 million. It will focus on building replicas of the two structures to the right and left side of the main building of the mausoleum, using the same foundations. 

 

 

 

PRESERVATION OF VIETNAM'S ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE AND RESTORATION OF DUONG LAM VILLAGE

 

Vietnam's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has approved a proposal to preserve and restore the ancient architecture in the hamlets of Mong Phu, Dong Sang, Cam Lam, Doai Giap and Can Thinh. Temples and pagodas in Mong Phu will be the first to receive restoration work to preserve the old environment. Two-storey buildings will not be permitted, and any existing two-storey structures will either be pulled down, or reduced to one level. Two-storey tiled houses will be allowed in the other hamlets, provided they are not painted in bright colours, and residents will be encouraged to cultivate gardens. 

 

In January a US$500,000 project was carried out to restore 10 houses in the ancient village of Doung Lam. Built more than 300 years ago, the dilapidated houses were in desperate need of repair. After the restoration is complete, the local residents and relevant authorities hope to make the village a tourist attraction. Doung Lam was recognised as a national relic in 2005, and has many houses dating back hundreds of years.   

 

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

 

Autumn is a very busy time in China, people often call it the Golden Autumn. A great time for cruising on the Yangtze River after the summer rains, biking through the hutongs in Beijing, the foreign concessions in Shanghai or the countryside around Yangshuo. And why not ascend one of the sacred mountains as the mild temperatures make it more comfortable to do so? China also attracts a lot of meetings and incentive groups during this season. We look forward to these exciting months! 

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

WORLD'S HIGHEST AIRPORT TO OPEN IN TIBET

 

The Chinese government is currently building the Daocheng Yading Airport, which at 14,469 feet (4,410 metres) above sea level will be the world's highest airport. Built at an estimated cost of about US$238 million, the airport is expected to open later this year. It will surpass in height the Bangda Airport in Qamdo Prefecture, Tibet, which currently holds the record as the world's highest-altitude airport at 14,219 feet above sea level.

 

The construction of the Daocheng Yading Airport is a move by the Chinese government to increase tourist arrivals to remote Daocheng County in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, which is an area known for its sacred mountain peaks and alpine valleys. The airport will offer routes through to the western cities of Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming in the south, Guiyang and Xi'an.   

 

 

 

CHINA CLINCHES HOSTING RIGHTS TO THE ROYAL TROPHY

 

China has won the rights to host the seventh and eighth editions of the Royal Trophy, a men's professional team golf tournament, following an extensive and competitive host venue application process.

 

This year's continental golf competition will take place on the greens of the Dragon Lake Golf Club, Guangzhou, from December 20-22, 2013. Dragon Lake Golf Club is situated within the Dragon Lake International Village, a national tourist attraction designed and built in the style of a European town. The village also encompasses the Princess Hotel and King's Hotel.

 

The Royal Trophy was played for the first time in January 2006 at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. The competing teams represent Europe and Asia.   

 

 

 

KUNMING HOPS ON 72-HOUR VISA-FREE TRANSIT BANDWAGON

 

Kunming in Yunnan is the next Chinese city on track to implement the 72-hour visa waiver for transit passengers. It follows three other major Chinese cities, which have launched the scheme. Yunnan's provincial tourism development commission and Yunnan Airport Group, which manages Kunming Changshui International Airport, will apply for permission to waive visa requirements later in the year.   

 

 

NEW TERMINAL AT HAIKOU AIRPORT OPENS

 

Haikou Meilan International Airport commenced operations at its new international terminal on August 15, following more than two years of construction work. Located on the east side of the original terminal, the new facility offers a lounge area decorated with coconut trees, in line with the airport's reputed ecological garden design. The apron now accommodates 10 international flights, up from three previously. 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

CHENGDE - IMPERIAL PLAYGROUND

 

Picturesque Chengde was a summer escape for emperors for centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts breathtaking terrain, a vast imperial summer resort and a plethora of picturesque temples. And perhaps best of all its air is not merely cooler, but much cleaner than in the urban centres.

 

Chengde Mountain Resort (pictured), a large complex of imperial palaces, temples and gardens, took most of the 18th century to build and spans the reigns of the Qing Dynasty emperors - Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong. Dwarfing Beijing's Summer Palace, it is China's finest existing example of an imperial complex.

 

Visitors should go to Chengde soon because change is in the air. In 2015 the high-speed train will transform everything forever. The train journey from Beijing will be only 45 minutes. The year after, a new airport will further speed development. It is certain that the city will be vastly different, so it is worth seeing it now in its present state of development.

 

 

 

FORTIFIED HAKKA VILLAGES OF FUJIAN

 

Tulou is a type of Chinese rural dwelling of the Hakka people living in the mountainous areas in southeastern Fujian. The Hakka living in the tolou are a hospitable people descended from a common ancestor.

 

The Fujian tolou consists of different-sized circular and rectangular buildings, which comprise an axis line, a gate, a central section, a courtyard and the main building. With dark brown wooden roofs and surrounded by enchanting mountains and streams, they look magnificent at sunset. The best-known examples are Zhencheng Lou, the area's oldest earth building that has a history of 580 years, and Chengqi Lou, the largest tulou on the site. With their unique appearance, architectural techniques and group lifestyle, UNESCO has listed 46 tolou on its World Heritage List in 2008.

 

Hu Jintao, former President of China, visited Zhencheng Lou during the 2010 Spring Festival and commented that the Fujian tulou was not only a World Heritage Site, but also a treasure of traditional Chinese culture.    

 

 

 

QIKOU - ANCIENT TRADE TOWN TURNS TO TOURISM

 

Qikou is a quaint town along the Yellow River, about three hours' drive from Taiyuan. The word "qi" in Chinese literally means rip current of the Yellow River, which is formed by fluctuations in the river. It dates back to the Neolithic period, and the town flourished during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) as most goods transported then used the waterway.

 

Unlike many travel destinations, Qikou in Shanxi province is not a place full of colour. An interesting sight in the town is the "Yellow River Fresco", which are trails left by the river current on the river bank. These dimensional trails were formed naturally, but some resemble images such as Buddha and the ancient Chinese scripts. Most local people live in yaodong, or cave houses, one of the most dominant features of the Loess Plateau along the Yellow River. The most popular tourist accommodation is Qikou Lodge, a two-storey compound with 66 caves converted into guestrooms. It also serves wantu, which is a bowl of buckwheat jelly and one of the most popular local snacks.  

 

 

 

JIANGTOU - THE VILLAGE OF KNOWLEDGE

   

Jiangtou Village was once famous for producing many top academics. Located in Liangchuan County in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the village is 32 kilometres north of Guilin and surrounded by mountains on three sides. To the east runs the Hulong River, which literally translates as "Defending the Dragons". There are 200 stone horse posts of various shapes and sizes surrounding the village along the river. Each represents an outstanding scholar or official from the village with his name and title inscribed on it. There is also The Zhou family temple, which has a lot of treasures for careful visitors to find.

 

Jiangtou has no restaurants or motels. It takes about two hours to tour the village on foot. A visit to the village is like a pilgrimage to experience Chinese traditions, which have long been forgotten in many parts of the country.  

 

 

 

CULTURAL TREASURES OF HEXI CORRIDOR

 

Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province, northwest China, is a string of oases stretching for some 1,000 kilometres from the Wushaoling hillside near Lanzhou to the Jade Gate at the border of Gansu and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. An import route linking China and the West more than 2,000 years ago, the corridor is a treasure land of cultural heritage.

 

Toughened by winds and sands of the Gobi Desert after thousands of years, the temples, grottoes, fortresses and relics along the Hexi Corridor are like pearls on a ribbon, shining with lasting elegance. Major cities in Hexi Corridor include Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan, Jiayuguan and Dunhuang. The Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang are well known as a cultural wonder, but the other lesser famous cities boast splendid cultural heritage too. The Tiantishan Grottoes in Wuwei; Matisi in Sunan, a prefecture of Zhangye; the giant reclining Buddha statue in Zhangye; the ancient tombs of Jiuquan and the magnificent military fortresses in Jiayu Pass, have survived social turbulences and natural disasters, waiting for those lucky enough to discover and appreciate their seasoned beauty.  

 

 

 

MAGIC OF ANCIENT XANADU STILL FASCINATES

 

Xanadu (Shangdu in Chinese), built in 1259, was the summer capital of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Inner Mongolia. It shaped Westerners' perception of a wealthy Oriental land after Marco Polo described the town in flamboyant language in his work, "Book of the Marvels of the World", commonly called "The Travels of Marco Polo", which described this remarkable place.

 

Many historians described Xanadu as the heart of the world in the Yuan Dynasty. The city's three-layer homocentric outline is almost intact, but it is not as symmetrical as other ancient capitals in China. Its architectural style is a combination of Han aesthetics and Mongolian habits. Remains of the beacon towers are still erect on the mountains by the city.

 

Please note the site will be closed in winter, from November to April, as the temperatures during this period are well below zero.  

 

 

 

ZHENGDING - ANCIENT AND ETHEREAL

 

Visitors to the Longxing Temple in the ancient town of Zhengding will be amazed and fascinated by its Big Buddha, China's largest bronze Buddha. It is also known as the "Thousand Hands", "Thousand Eyes Buddha" - a misnomer by virtue of exaggeration, but a namesake that nonetheless hails its uniqueness. Built in the Song Dynasty (AD 971) the statue's bronze arms were destroyed in 1780, but later restored by believers.

 

Longxing, one of China's best preserved temples that served as a stopover for emperors undertaking pilgrimages to Wutai Mountain, is also known as the "First Temple South of Beijing." One of its oldest surviving artefacts is the Longcang Temple Stele, hailed as "the First Stele of the Sui Dynasty" and China's oldest. Four stupas dating back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) still tower above the ancient town, and are equated to the legendary Four Beauties.  

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PENTAHOTEL HONG KONG, KOWLOON OPENS

 

Pentahotels marked its debut in Hong Kong in August with the opening of Pentahotel Hong Kong, Kowloon. Located a few minutes' walk from the Diamond Hill MTR station, the hotel features 695 New York loft-style inspired guestrooms. The unique Pentalounge combines the lobby, reception area, bar and café into a single venue. Two games rooms, Internet corners and music stations within the Pentalounge provide recreation options to both guests and neighbourhood residents.

 

 

 

GRAND HYATT SHENYANG DEBUTS IN NORTHEAST CHINA

 

Grand Hyatt Shenyang opened its doors on July 30, the first Hyatt-branded hotel in northeast China. Located in a new 29-storey tower on Qingnian Avenue, the hotel is near corporate headquarters and premier residential buildings. It also offers convenient access to Shenyang Taoxian International Airport.

 

 

 

DUSIT FUDU HOTELS & RESORTS SOFT OPENS FIRST CHINA PROPERTY IN JIANGSU

 

Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts has soft opened its first property and first Dusit brand hotel in China - Dusit Fudu Binhu Hotel Changzhou. The hotel is managed by a joint venture hotel management company formed by Thailand-based Dusit International and China-based Changzhou Qiao Yu Group.

 

Located within the Wujin Hi-Tech Industrial Zone, Dusit Fudu Binhu Hotel Changzhou is 30 minutes from Changzhou Benniu Airport and railway station, and 15 minutes from downtown Wujin. Its rooms range in size from 35sqm to 105sqm, and feature floor-to-ceiling windows offering views over West Taihu Lake.

 

 

 

ANGSANA TENGCHONG : HOT SPRING VILLAGE

 

Angsana Tengchong : Hot Spring Village, one of China's leading world-class hot spring retreats, opened this summer. It nestles in a picturesque valley near the western edge of Yunnan province and is Tengchong County's premier resort. The scenic resort is a 30-minute scenic car ride from Tengchong Airport and a 15 minutes away from renowned natural attractions such as Beihai marshlands.

 

Blessed with mineral rich waters and a perfect tropical highland climate, this intimate boutique hotel is also famed for its geothermal pools. It is an ideal getaway for couples and holiday-makers. All 37 of the resort's retreats and villas have private hot tubs. There are also an extensive Angsana Spa, and 43 outdoor and indoor hot spring pools in six different themes to create the perfect setting for fun, hydrotherapy and relaxation.

 

 

 

FOUR SEASONS ADDS SHENZHEN TO CHINA'S PORTFOLIO

 

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is continuing to permeate the China market with its latest property, Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen, which opened on September 1. It appeals especially to business travellers with its prime downtown location in Futian, directly opposite the city's convention and exhibition centre.

 

The hotel offers a total of 1,800sqm of event space, including a 360-pax pillarless ballroom. Guests also have the option of hosting receptions amid nature or in-room with floor-to-window ceilings offering city views at the hotel's seventh-floor terraces. Either option is capable of holding up to 80 paxs. The hotel also features two swimming pools - one indoor, one outdoor - a 24-hour gym, business centre with full secretariat services, and three dining outlets.

 

Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen is the hotel group's eighth property in China, aside from hotels in key cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou.

 

 

 

RAFFLES OPENS PROPERTY ON HAINAN ISLAND

 

In September 2013 Raffles Hotels & Resorts will arrive at a new milestone as it expands its collection to 10 hotels with the opening of Raffles Hainan - its second property in China. The luxury resort is located in Clearwater Bay, the new hotspot on the southeast coast of Hainan Island that is China's answer to the French Riviera and a rising star in the luxury tourism market.

 

Clearwater Bay is a 500-square-kilometre development that encompasses the Raffles Hainan, two championship golf courses designed by US-based Schmidt-Curley Design located directly adjacent to the resort, private residences, luxury retail, a cinema complex, yacht clubs and a 780-berth marina for sailing and water sports. Boasting 12 kilometres of beautiful coastline, the bay is regarded as one of only three "singing beaches" in the world.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

UPCOMING FESTIVALS, PUBLIC HOLIDAYS, SHOWS & EVENTS IN CHINA - 2013

 

FESTIVALS & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

* MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL: September 19 - Office closes for one day.

* NATIONAL DAY: October 1-7  (National Day is on October 1) - Office closes from October 1-3

 

SHOWS & EVENTS

 

GUANGZHOU:

* Guangzhou Autumn Canton Fair: October 15-November 4

 

CHENGDU:

* PATA Mart September 15-17

* International Auto Show: September 15-22

* Western Expo: October 15-22 

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

AIR CHINA CONNECTS BEIJING WITH STOCKHOLM AND WUHAI

 

Air China recently launched a daily flight between Beijing and Stockholm, Norway (CA911 and CA912). The flight leaves Beijing at 1:50pm and from Stockholm at 7:40pm (local times).

 

The airline also launched daily round trip flights from Beijing to Wuhai, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on July 1. The Boeing B737-900 aircraft takes off from Beijing at 6.25am and arrives at Wuhai at 8.05am. The return flight leaves Wuhai at 9.05am and lands in Beijing at 10.45am.  

 

 

 

QATAR AIRWAYS LAUNCHES THRICE WEEKLY SERVICE TO CHENGDU

 

Qatar Airways starts flying the Doha-Chengdu route three times a week from September 3. The new service is operated using the Airbus A330 aircraft from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU), China's fifth busiest international airport.

 

The Doha-Chengdu route serves business and tourism demand from France, Germany, Italy, UK and the Middle East. Chengdu is Qatar Airways' sixth destination in China, alongside Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai

 

Chengu is a city of 14 million people and capital of Sichuan Province in western China. Through its offering of 72-hour visa-free transit for travellers from 45 counties, the city is set to become a modern "Silk Road" linking western China to global destinations via Doha.    

 

 

 

BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIES TO CHENGDU FROM HEATHROW

 

British Airways will start thrice weekly direct flights from Heathrow to Chengdu from September 23. The airline will be the only UK carrier to offer a direct service between the two cities.  

 

 

 

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MYANMAR

 

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

We have are very busy welcoming our summer guests, preparing programmes and prices for our DVD ROM 2014. We have added many new programmes, especially new Explore products, to the DVD.

 

New hotel projects keep coming up and more new airlines are also entering Myanmar, connecting the country to the world. You will be reading some of these latest developments in articles in this report, others we will release when we have confirmation. As usual we will keep you updated on any new developments in Myanmar.

 

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

 

Best regards,

 

Thomas Carnevale  

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

MYANMAR TOURISM MARKETING

 

Myanmar Marketing Committee known, as MMC, has recently been reformed as Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM). With new positive changes MTM is aiming for sustainable progress of the tourism industry of Myanmar.  

 

 

 

NEW BORDER REGULATION

 

Residents of Thailand and third world countries, who hold valid passports with tourist entry visa stamp from overseas Myanmar embassies, will soon be allowed to enter the country from Tachileik border without the need for a border pass. They can also exit from a different border. It is important to check that the visitor's visa does not have this remark "LAND ROUTE NO PERMISSION". 

 

The Tachileik entry point has already installed the check machine for passport and Myanmar visa. Information on this new regulation will soon be available at www.mip.gov.mm

 

 

 

ENTRANCE FEES IN KYATS FOR NATIONAL MUSEUM & BAGAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

 

From July 14, 2013 the entrance fees to the National Museum in Yangon and Bagan Archaeological Museum are to be paid in Kyats instead of US dollars. The new entrance fee is 5,000.00 Kyats per person.  

 

 

 

BEACH SEASON BEGINS

 

Every year at this same time we would like to remind that starting from the middle of October all hotels on Myanmar's beach destinations will reopen for the high season.

 

Myanmar has two main beach areas, both located along the Gulf of Bengal Coast, in the west of the country. Ngapali Beach in Rakhine (Arakan) State (pictured left) is easily accessible by short flights from Yangon, Bagan and Heho. This is an unspoiled beach, which is excellent for swimming. Snorkelling trips to nearby islands can also be arranged.

 

Ngwe Saung Beach in the Irrawaddy Division is accessible by a five-hour trip by car from Yangon. It has a long beach, which is excellent for swimming. Snorkelling trips to the surrounding areas can be arranged.    

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

OPENING OF THE LOFT HOTEL FOR WINTER SEASON  - YANGON

 

The Loft Hotel, a boutique hotel in Yangon, will open in time for coming winter season. It is located in the heart of Yangon on Yaw Min Gyi Street, formally known as York Street. It is close to the Bogyoke Market, and within walking distance to Sule Pagoda and the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. The hotel has 32 tastefully decorated rooms - 21 Deluxe, 1 Suite and 10 Duplex Suites. Hotel facilities include an Executive Lounge and a Bistro cafe to cater the most discerning visitors. More details to follow.

  

 

 

GREAT GLORY HOTEL OPENS - YANGON

 

Great Glory Hotel, which is housed in a simple four-storey brick building, had its grand opening on July 26, 2013. It is located in a newly built residential township in Yangon and about a 45-minute drive from Yangon International Airport. It offers 18 Deluxe rooms and three Glory Deluxe Rooms. Facilities include a rooftop restaurant and bar, and a Lobby Lounge. The hotel is ideal for tourists who want to get away from the crowded big city.
 

 

 

SEDONA HOTEL RENOVATES - YANGON

 

As we have announced to our partners, Sedona Hotel Yangon is undertaking renovation work in all rooms including electricity, plumbing and interior decoration. Work starts from end August until January 2014. The hotel also plans to renovate the public areas after the peak season. It will have a completely new look when all the renovations are completed.  

 

 

 

KALAW HOTEL UPGRADES - KALAW

 

Kalaw Hotel, which was formerly government owned, has recently been taken over by a local hotel chain - Mount Pleasant Hotels Group. The hotel has 12 Suites and 13 Deluxe rooms. Its landscape and the rooms have been upgraded with new amenities and facilities.

 

Kalaw is a hill station located to the west of Inle Lake. The area is ideal for walks and treks, as well as visits to villages of hill minority tribes, which are off the frequented tourist trails.

 

 

 

FIVE NEW CRUISES FROM MYANMAR GOLDEN RIVER GROUP

 

The Myanmar Golden River Group  (MGRG) has launched five cruises on Ayeyarwaddy River. The day cruises, for both locals and foreign tourists, are between Bagan, Mandalay and Mingun. The vessels are available for charters on request.  

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

 

 

PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA FESTIVAL: 1ST WANING DAY OF THIDINGYUT
OCTOBER 5-22, 2013
VENUE: INLE LAKE, SHAN STATE

 

The 18-day festival is one of the holiest festivals in the Shan State, Myanmar's largest administrative unit. As part of the celebrations four of the five sacred Buddha images, which are usually guarded inside the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, are carried around the lake by a ceremonial barge to bless the various village monasteries. The barge is pushed forward by the unique leg-rowers of the Inle Lake. The sight of the barge travelling around the lake is one of Myanmar's most magnificent sights. Some rooms at the hotels around the Lake are still available for the festival period.  

 

 

 

THIDINGYUT FESTIVAL: 14TH WAXING DAY OF THIDINGYUT
OCTOBER 18-20, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MYANMAR

 

The three-day festival marks 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. As part of the celebrations people also hoist balloons up to the sky.
 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MYANMAR TO HAVE FOUR NEW DOMESTIC AIRLINES

 

Four new domestic airlines are in preparation to begin service in Myanmar. According to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) the four companies, all owned by Myanmar nationals, are Yadanabon, Saga, Apex and First Myanmar Investment (FMI). Yadanabon and Saga will have their company bases in Mandalay, while the other two companies will be based in Nay Pyi Taw as authorities have limited the number of airlines to be based at Yangon International Airport. Currently there are seven local airlines operating in Myanmar. 

 

 

 

TIGERAIR CONNECTS SINGAPORE WITH YANGON FROM OCTOBER

 

Tigerair will launch direct services between Singapore and Yangon from October 1, 2013. We will update you with more details as soon as they are available.  

 

 

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES UPS FREQUENCY ON KUALA LUMPUR-YANGON ROUTE

 

Malaysia Airlines has increased its frequency from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon from 10 times weekly to 14 times weekly or twice daily. 

 

 

 

NEW ATR 72-500 FOR YANGON AIRWAYS

 

Yangon Airways took delivery of its new ATR 72-500 aircraft on July 13. With an additional aircraft, the airline is planning to offer additional flight routes to Myitkyina and Bamaw, starting this coming winter season.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

 

WATER LIBRARY - YANGON

 

Water Library is a premier fine dining restaurant in Yangon, located on the corner of Pyay Road and Manawharri Road. Housed in a renovated 100-year-one will, the restaurant has 13 ground floor tables, expertly placed for privacy. The space upstairs is ideal for business for VIP dinners as it has four private rooms, which can seat groups of between two to 15 people. In a villa setting, Water Library maintains an intimate yet upscale feeling.

 

 

 

RESTRO YANGON RESTAURANT OPENS - YANGON

 

Restro Yangon Restaurant in Yangon recently opened, and is now a popular dining venue for both the locals and foreign visitors. The restaurant is located in front of Yangon international Airport's compound, and is few minutes' walking distance from the airport.  It serves Burmese, European, Chinese and Thai cuisine. 

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

STAFF PROMOTION

  

The management of Asian Trails Myanmar is happy to announce the promotion of three of its team members - Ms. Thu Tu Tin (pictured left), Ms. Aye Sandar Kyaw (centre) and Ms. Kyawt Thu Thu San (right) as Tour Consultant Supervisors starting from August 1, 2013. They have been working for the company for the past six years. Each will supervise four to five staff

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

INSPECTION TRIP TO MANDALAY

  

A group of staff members from Asian Trails Myanmar recently went on an inspection trip to Mandalay. They took the overland bus from Yangon to Mandalay. The journey took about 15 hours, arriving in Mandalay in the morning. After a big breakfast the staff visited the ancient capitals of Sagaing, Ava and Amapura around Mandalay.

 

The second day was dedicated to hotel inspection and visits to local attractions. The group had the chance to join in the Chinlone (Cane Ball) competition, which was into its last days, and had dinner with the local station guides.

 

On the third day the group boarded one of the new boats of the Myanmar Golden River Group (MGRG) to Mingun, and ended the day with hotel inspection. The fourth day started with hotel inspection, followed by the trip home on the overland bus.

 

 

 

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MALAYSIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Warm Greetings from Asian Trails Malaysia!

 

Malaysia is a year-round destination and, therefore, we do not face strong seasonality.

 

We have had very busy months behind us and are looking forward to continue with the high demand over the coming months.

 

During the European summer season the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, with its sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, was at the top of the list of the most requested destinations in Malaysia. During the coming winter season, the demand will switch to the west Coast with its cultural sites and festivals.

 

We have many new itineraries combining the must-see spots and the experience of a local festival spread throughout the year. Please contact us, and we will be more than happy to share our ideas with you.

 

Emir

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

 

   

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

PROMOTING LABUAN AS A TOURISM HUB

 

The island of Labuan boasts several tourist spots, which are as popular as its free shops. For starters, the War Cemetery is a must-visit with its war graves and memorials to the soldiers who died fighting the Japanese occupiers during World War II. Among the fallen were British, Australian, Indian, Sarawakian, Bruneian and North Borneo troops. There are more than 3,000 graves at the cemetery and the fallen are commemorated on Warriors Day each year.

 

Another place of interest is the Surrender Point on the beach where Lieutenant-General Masao Baba, commander of the 37th Japanese Southern Army, surrendered to Major General George F. Wootten of the 9th Australian Division on September 9, 1945, marking the end of Japanese occupation in Sarawak and the then British North Borneo. 

 

At the Memorial Park, which faces the sea, visitors can picnic at a quiet spot with a seafront view. The lovely beach and duty-free shopping for chocolates, liquor and cigarettes are also crowd pullers.  

 

 

 

MALAYSIA'S LONGEST MAN-MADE RIVER IS IN LOST WORLD OF TAMBUN

 

The Lost World of Tambun's "adventure river" has been certified as "The Longest Man-Made River in Malaysia" by The Malaysia Book of Records (MBR). The 660m-long river was built when the theme park was constructed in 2004.

 

MBR research and development communication manager, Helilia Juana, said the river was the first one certified as "The Longest Man-Made River in Malaysia", adding that it is a favourite among visitors to the theme park in Perak.

 

On the ride along the river you will encounter rumbling waves and giant sprouting toads, mysterious temple ruins and getting drenched by tipping buckets before being greeted by the awesome sight of the spectacular limestone hills.  

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

RENOVATION/UPGRADING UPDATE: RAMADA PLAZA MELAKA (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RENAISSANCE MELAKA)

 

Ramada Plaza Melaka started its renovation programme on June 25. The first phase of the work is on the higher floors, and is scheduled to complete by end of September this year. The second and third phases of the renovation will follow after this, with work on the hotel's mid and lower floors. The whole project is expected to be completed by first quarter of 2014.  

 

 

 

RENOVATION/UPGRADING UPDATE: CHEONG FATT TZE MANSION, PENANG

 

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang is undergoing upgrading/renovation works. From the first week of August 2013 it is shutting down one wing (eight rooms) to start the renovation. With the closure of this wing on one side, the house is left with only eight rooms on its other side. Work on the first wing is scheduled to complete by end of November 2013.

 

Work will then start on the other side of the house. The entire project is expected to be completed in February or March 2014. New facilities that will be added to the house include a swimming pool, spa, extra rooms and a restaurant. 

 

 

 

RENOVATION/UPGRADING UPDATE: TANJUNG RHU RESORT, LANGKAWI

 

Guestrooms

As at July 25 2013, 16 guestrooms comprising 8 Damai and 8 Cahaya Suites have been refurbished. Works are currently being carried out on 55 Suites in the resort's West Wing. These are planned to be completed and released progressively during October and November 2013.

 

Works have commenced on another 22 Sea View rooms in the Eastern Wing and they are expected to be released early in the new year. During 2014, at dates yet to be confirmed, work will commence on the remaining rooms in this wing.

 

The upgrading works involve refitting the rooms' interior with an improved layout, new furniture and fittings, new wall and ceiling panels as well as electrical and plumbing improvement.

 

Restaurants

Works on restyling Saffron Restaurant are in progress. it is scheduled to reopen in November 2013. The restaurant will have a new interior look, new furnishings and an upgraded kitchen. During this period Saffron's menu is available in an alternative dining venue.

 

Works on the Rhu Restaurant are also in progress, and are targeted for completion by October/November 2013. A new restaurant has also been built at the area adjacent to the Sands Restaurant and across from the Sands pool. This will service the Rhu menu until the renovation work is completed.

 

The all-day dining Sands Restaurant is operating as usual.  

 

Pools

All the three pools are operational during the upgrading works. However, from August 1 to December 15 some works are underway in the areas adjacent to the Sunset Family Pool. The affected areas are:

* Room blocks adjacent to the Sunset Family Pool (Blocks 7 to 9).

* Sunset Pool Bar, which is being rebuilt  

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

 

ASIA HARLEY DAYS
SEPTEMBER 14-21, 2013
VENUE: KLCC ESPLANADE, KUALA LUMPUR

 

The year 2012/2013 marks Harley Davidson's 110th anniversary. For this very special occasion, the Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary Experience will tour around the world. This event includes custom bike shows, multiple stages for music and live bands, motorcycle display area and motorcycle parade.  

  

 

 

MALAYSIA DAY
SEPTEMBER 16, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Malaysia Day is held on September 16 yearly to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. Celebrations are held throughout the country.  

 

 

 

1MALAYSIA LANTERN TOURISM FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 19, 2013
VENUE: CENTRAL MARKET, KUALA LUMPUR

 

The Lantern Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn or Mooncake Festival, traditionally signifies the end of the harvest season. Malaysian Chinese celebrate with family get-togethers, prayers and mooncakes, while children show off their latest lantern designs. Malls and landmarks in the city, such as Petaling Street, will be gaily decorated with thousands of lanterns while various other activities add to the festive atmosphere. 

 

 

 

TEXTILE CRAFT PROMOTION
SEPTEMBER 26-OCTOBER 7, 2013
VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR CRAFT COMPLEX

 

This promotion showcases the beautiful textiles of Malaysia, such as batik and other materials. Browse through the outlets selling a variety of textiles, and visit the exhibitions and demonstrations.

  

 

 

FABULOUS FOOD 1MALAYSIA - MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL GOURMET FESTIVAL
OCTOBER 1-31, 2013
VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR

 

Get ready for a delectable feast as gourmet restaurants and top chefs whip up a variety of special dishes and delicacies using fine, quality ingredients. Travel around the country and savour delicious culinary creations.  

 

 

 

MALAYSIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX
OCTOBER 11-13, 2013
VENUE: SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, SELANGOR

 

Catch the world's best riders and bikes in action at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, held over three days at the Sepang International Circuit.  

 

 

 

HARI RAYA AIDILADHA
OCTOBER 15, 2013
VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Hari Raya Aidiladha, also known as Hari Raya Haji or Hari Raya Quarban, marks the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca that is performed by millions of Muslims annually. Muslims in the country celebrate the festival with prayers and the sacrifice of cattle. 

 

 

 

MT. KINABALU INTERNATIONAL CLIMBATHON 2013

OCTOBER 19-20, 2013

VENUE: KUNDASANG, RANAU, SABAH

 

Dubbed as "The World's Toughest Mountain Race", the climbathon is a true challenge to the spirit of human endurance. The average climber takes two days to climb the mountain, but participants of the race can make it in less than three hours up and down Mt. Kinabalu (4,095.2m). The total distance is 21 kilometres for men, women and men's veteran categories.

 

The climbathon is part of the Sky Runner World Series for the 9th consecutive year, and is the only race that is in the circuit held outside Europe. The series is regulated and coordinated by the Europe-based Federation for Sport at Altitude (FSA).   

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

MASWINGS TO EXPAND OPS IN SABAH WITH DELIVERY OF NEW AIRCRAFT

 

Maswings is set to expand its operations in Sabah with the arrival of its new aircraft, the ATR72-600, on August 4. The upgraded 600 version is equipped with the widest cabin in the turbo-prop market, and the most advanced glass cockpit in the regional aircraft market.

 

MASwings will receive another eight ATR72-600 until 2017 in accordance with the  agreement bewteen ATR and Malaysia Airlines, its parent company. The next ATR72-600 will be delivered to in February 2014.   

 

 

 

AIRASIA CONNECTS KOTA KINABALU TO HANGZHOU

 

AirAsia has launched a direct flight connecting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to Hangzhou, China. The new service will boost the number of tourist arrivals from China and Hong Kong to Sabah.

 

The Kota Kinabalu-Hangzhou service is AirAsia's 26th route into China, and the fifth from Kota Kinabalu. The other Chinese cities the airline is flying direct to from Kota Kinabalu are Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Taipei.   

 

 

 

AIRASIA X SETS ITS SIGHT ON NORTH ASIA

 

AirAsia X, the long-haul low cost affiliate of the AirAsia Group, has plans to grow the North Asia market specifically Japan and South Korea.

 

According to it chief executive officer, Azran Osman-Rani, the airline sees high growth potential in these two markets and the opportunity for it to become a market leader.

 

AirAsia X is looking at significant growth in its Japan network with the increase in the number of flights to the country by end of the year. Since its inception the airline has carried over nine million passengers, with  an average passenger load of 85% to Tokyo and 81% to Osaka. It currently operates daily flights to Tokyo and Seoul and four weekly flights to Osaka and Busan.

 

 

 

MALAYSIA AIRLINES INCREASES FREQUENCY ON PERTH-KOTA KINABALU ROUTE

 

Malaysia Airlines will increase its Perth to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) frequency from weekly to two times weekly from October 27, 2013. The airline reinstated this route on December 10, 2012.

 

The Perth-Kota Kinabalu-Perth service is operated with the new Boeing B738 aircraft featuring 16 Business Class and 144 Economy Class seats. The additional flight will be on the same aircraft type, which also features enhanced interiors, more comfortable seats and inflight entertainment.  

 

 

 

MALINDO AIR GROWS DOMESTIC NETWORK

 

Malindo Air, Malaysia's first hybrid airline, is strengthening its domestic with additional flights and new routes. It now operates daily flights to Penang and Langkawi from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), in addition to those from Subang.

 

The airline, which started its jet operations in March 2013, has carried more than 120,000 passengers up to July. Kuching (Sarawak) and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) are the most popular routes with average load factors of above 80% per flight. It also started turboprop operations in June, flying out of Subang Skypark Terminal in Kuala Lumpur with its fleet of ATR 72-600 aircraft.

 

Malindo Air currently has five aircraft comprising four Boeing 737s and one ATR 72-600. By October this year it will have a total of 10 aircraft comprising six B737s and four ATRs. It is the first airline to use the brand new B737-900ER in Malaysia. It aims to have 100 aircraft over the next decade, while offering customers' competitive low fares, on-time flights and excellent customer service.  

 

 

 

MALINDO AIR LAUNCHES FIRST INTERNATIONAL SERVICE TO DHAKA

 

Just over seven months into operations Malaysia based Malindo Air has launched its first international route - Kuala Lumpur to Dhaka, Bangladesh - on 28 August from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

 

According to the airline's chief executive officer, Chandran Rama Muthy, there is a good market for the Kuala Lumpur-Dhaka route due to Bangladesh's booming economy and the large number of Bangladeshis working in Malaysia.

 

The Dhaka flight will be followed by New Delhi, India in either September or October this year. The airline, which has obtained the green light from Malaysian authorities to fly the new route, is waiting for the approval from India's director general of civil aviation.  

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

 

PHILIPPINES EXTENDS VISA-FREE STAY ENTRY FOR MALAYSIANS TO 30 DAYS

 

In a move to attract more Malaysians to visit the country, the Philippine Government has extended visa-free entry for Malaysians from 21 days to 30 days, effective last July,

 

According to Philippines ambassador to Malaysia, J. Eduardo Malaya, the ruling applies to Malaysians holding passports that are valid for six months beyond their contemplated stay, and a return ticket to the country of origin or onward ticket to the next country of destination.

 

Malaysia is one of the 151 countries given the extension of the visa-free entry by the Philippine Government. 

 

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

AMED - NORTH BALI'S UNDISCOVERED BEACH DESTINATION

 

Amed, the former small fisherman village on Bali's north east coast, while still relatively hidden and off the main tourist route, is gaining more and more popularity. This is because of its quiet village life with a handful of charming small restaurants, a few boutique resorts and guesthouses, nice beaches and stunning scenery with views over North Bali's volcanoes to as far away as Lombok. It is also popular for diving, and there are a few good international diving schools here. The road leading through Amed does not have many cars, and most tourists move around by bicycle.

 

This tranquil beach destination is attracting more and more holidaymakers escaping from South Bali's large hotels. The only deluxe hotel in Amed is the newly opened The Griya, which offers luxurious pool villas overlooking the Bali Sea. All the other hotels, built along traditional styled architecture with some on the beach, are in the middle class level with less than 20 rooms. They are often fully booked in the high season.

 

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

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

 

DENPASAR AIRPORT TO CLOSE FOR APEC SUMMIT IN OCTOBER

 

Bali will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit from October 5-9, 2013. Due to the important nature of the event and the participation of many country leaders we expect increased security measures, as well as full occupancy of hotels in Nusa Dua and the surrounding areas.

 

Ngurah Rai Airport, being the only airport of Bali, will be affected by the event including a temporary closure of airport from October 5-9 at these scheduled times:

 

* October 5, 10.00hrs-16.00hrs  (local time)

* October 6, 10.00hrs-20.00hrs

* October 8, 10.00hrs-20.00hrs

* October 9, 10.00hrs-16.00hrs

 

During these times commercial flights may get diverted, be on hold, delayed or cancelled. 

 

 

 

 

MEDAN'S NEW AIRPORT NOW OPEN

 

Kuala Namu International Airport, Medan's new airport, started operations on July 25, 2013. It replaces Polonia Airport, the former international airport, which was built 70 years ago and is over-congested. With the opening of Kuala Namu Airport, Polonia ceases to stop serving commercial flights. The new airport is the first in Indonesia to have a publicly accessible check-in area (current Indonesian airports restrict access to ticket holders with security at the gate).

 

Travellers are advised to allow for extra travel time when going to the new Kuala Namu International Airport to ensure stress-free departures. 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

 

AIR BALI STARTS DAILY GILI TRAWANGAN TRANSFER SERVICE

 

Air Bali, Bali's only helicopter company, has launched a daily Gili Trawangan shuttle transfer service. This is the fastest way to reach the small island in North Lombok after the daily speedboats services. The helicopter can take up till four passengers at a time, with limited amount of luggage.

 

The journey in the Bell 206 Long Ranger Helicopter takes you along Bali's northeast, over Mount Agung to your left and Lembongan Island to your right. As the helicopter approaches Gili Trawangan you can see Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second highest volcano, on neighbouring Lombok dominating the views towards the east. 

 

 

 

BLUE WATER SAFARI LAUNCHES 5TH BOAT

 

BlueWater Express V launches its fifth boat, which runs from Bali to the Gili Islands and Lombok. It has daily Bali-Gili Trawangan-Lombok transfers from Padang Bai and Serangan.

 

The new vessel, at over 16 metre in length and powered by five 250hp outboard engines, can comfortably and efficiently cruise at around 30 knots. It has a licensed capacity of 55 seated, making it the largest boat in the BlueWater fleet. The spacious design and additional power translate into increased safety, comfort and reliability for passengers.  

 

 

 

TAMAN NUSA - BALI'S NEW CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTRE

 

Taman Nusa is a cultural centre, which aims to offer an insight into the cultures of Indonesia's various ethnic groups in an interesting way. It is a place where you can see the whole of Indonesia in one afternoon

 

Visitors can explore the different ages and cultures of Indonesia while enjoying the natural beauty of the Balinese jungle around it. The walk through the park starts in the prehistoric area and moves on to the Bronze Age, kingdom age and cultural village. The journey then continues to early Indonesia, the independence era to the present day. A library and a museum give a preview of the future of Indonesia. As Indonesian architecture is very different from island to island the park offers a great overview of all kinds of traditional Indonesian houses in different parts of the country.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

GILI ECO VILLAS OPENS NEW VILLAS

 

Gili Eco Villas on Gili Trawangan recently opened new three-room villas, which are ideal for large familes. Each of the two-storey villa features two adjacent bedrooms on the second floor, with a connecting toilet in between. There is one bedroom on the ground floor, fitted with twin bedding and an open air shower bathroom. Next to this is a fully equipped kitchen unit, which is a separate room. The living area is set on the balcony of the second-floor, while the dining and sitting area are on a spacious terrace on the ground floor.  

 

 

 

WAKA GANGGA RESORT REOPENS IN OCTOBER 2013

 

Waka Gangga Resort, located on the southwest coast of Bali and surrounded by amazing rice fields, will reopen on October 7, 2013, after complete redevelopment and reconstruction.

 

The 21 villas of this luxury boutique resort offer a panoramic view over the Indian Ocean, and are designed in the classical Waka style that combines traditional and rustic elements with modern features. 15 villas, including one two-bedroom Villa and a Deluxe Villa have a private swimming pool. Facilities include a restaurant that offers a wide range of western and traditional dishes, and a modern luxury spa.

 

To celebrate its reopening all bookings until December 20, 2013 will receive a special promotional offer of complimentary lunch or dinner for two persons (excluding beverage).

 

 

 

NAMOS KANDARA REBRANDS AS KARMA BEACH BALI

 

Nammos Kandara, the famous beach-front restaurant and entertainment venue of Karma Kandara, is now officially rebranded as Karma Beach Bali. Situated on an untouched white and intimate beach, it is designed to offer a hip location where guests can dine and relax in a laidback and extravagant atmosphere to the sound of seductive jazz and the latest music. The restaurant offers exquisite Mediterranean, Asian and Indonesian cuisine, as well as Karma's legendary Hot Babi Guling BBQ. Cocktails are served by the in-house bartender.  

 

 

 

NIKKO BALI BECOMES GRAND NIKKO BALI

 

Nikko Bali has been rebranded as Grand Nikko Bali, after opening new sea facing cliff villas, a multi-purpose function room and an open-air wedding gazebo. The five star resort, the world's first Grand Nikko hotel, is located in the far south of Nusa Dua with direct access to a white sand beach.

 

Nikko Hotels International will upgrade more of their properties and will rebrand them in the coming months.

  

 

 

NEW LOUNGE AND VILLAS IN UBUD

 

Not far from the Royal Palace is a new addition to Ubud's bar scene, the Rouge Lounge & Bar. Stylishly decorated with a touch of red, as befitting its name, guests are served small bites including sushi and international cocktails. A small centre stage features international performers, including a piano player.

 

Right behind the lounge are six spacious villas with a sharing pool and a spa, which is open to non-residents. The villas are comfortably equipped with amenities that include TV, iPod docking station, separate toilet and wardrobe.  

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

 

GARUDA STARTS DAILY BALI-BANDUNG FLIGHTS

 

Garuda Indonesia has begun operation of its latest service connecting Bali to Bandung in West Java. This route has seen increasing number of passengers since the two cities were connected by Lion Air in 2009. The new route is operated with the 156-seater Boeing B737-800 aircraft comprising 12 executive and 144 economy class seats. The flight leaves Bandung at 12.25hrs, arriving in Bali at 15.05hrs, while the return flight departs Bali at 11.00hrs to land in Bandung at 11.40hrs.

 

With Garuda's new service the Bali-Bandung route is now served by three airlines. The other two are Lion Air with thrice daily flights and AirAsia Indonesia with twice daily services.  

 

 

 

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