Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue September 2016

THE CEO STORY

 

ACTIVE TRAVEL IN NORTH VIETNAM

I knew a typhoon was heading towards north Vietnam, but having freed my schedule for a long weekend of treks and bike rides in the region I was praying for the storm to move into another direction. It didn’t, and my original booked flight to Hanoi was cancelled. The second (booked) flight was delayed, then cancelled, and finally the third flight got confirmed. I landed in Hanoi after a long delay, but was happy to make it there.

Most people reading the headline will think that I am going to write a story about Sapa, the famous northern mountain town near the border with China and home to ethnic minorities. That is not what this story is about. Instead I would like to introduce you to a new trekking and mountain option: Mai Chau in Hoa Binh province. The city of Mai Chau is not of much interest to visitors and the surrounding hills have seen tourists for many years, but most of you will probably not know the valleys leading to and from Mai Chau, and this is what my story will focus on.

The valley of Pu Luong is a 4-5 hour drive southwest from Hanoi on rural and mountain roads. Leaving the busy and bustling city, which is changing at lighting speed (but the old town is still charming and interesting as ever), the highway gives way to rural roads through small towns and then snakes its way over the Ma river into the Pu Luong valley. Historians will remember the French air base of Pu Luong that was located on top of Pu Luong Mountain, and served as a base during the Indochina war.

While the Pu Luong valley has some homestay accommodation, a Vietnamese entrepreneur has just opened the first lodge type resort overlooking the valley. He has secured the best location with a stunning view, and has built a small retreat he named “Pu Luong Retreat’. I loved it the moment I stepped in. A comfortable eco resort true to its name, Pu Luong Retreat is very small and offers only 9 bungalows with magnificent views, a large house with dormitory style accommodation with shared bathrooms, a small pool and a restaurant.

The Pu Luong valley is home to the Thai and Hmong minorities who have lived here for centuries, and built their villages up in the mountains and along the river banks. They are a friendly people who are eager to share their culture, and live off the land - planting rice and vegetables as well as rearing live stock. Many houses have fish farms, probably making them one of the only mountain ethnic minority groups in the world to breed fish.

Thankfully the valley is not Disneyland, and mass tourism has not “invaded” the region. The minority groups here don’t wear traditional costumes, but they follow a traditional lifestyle of farming with family values and village harmony - the core moral principles in their lives. However, a part of modernity that has made the way here is the mobile phone – most own this gadget!

The hikes from Pu Luong Retreat can either be short walks of 1-2 hours with moderate elevation or soft adventure hikes up to 5 or 6 hours duration. The views are breath-taking, the shades of green from the rice fields and other crops rival those in the South Pacific, and photo opportunities are abundant. For professional photographers looking for postcard fairy tale shots, this is the place to be.

After a good night’s sleep I left by car for an hour’s drive into the direction of Mai Chau. As I wanted to avoid the regular tourist walks and bike treks of Mai Chau I stopped mid-way in Mai Hich village. There are no hotels or lodges in this place, but there is a lovely homestay run by a family whom you would want to hug when you leave. If you can make do with a night of simple dormitory style accommodation in a traditional wooden house built on stilts complete with mattress, privacy curtains, clean linens, towels and spotless shared facilities, you should not miss this place.

I set off on a wonderful three-hour walk from the homestay over flat terrain, through rice fields with limestone rock formations and hills as the backdrop, and along rivers and canals. One idyllic village gives way to another with friendly locals and children waving at me from every second house.

The homestay also offers some biking options. The bikes are Chinese made of average quality without gears, but since the area is flat and there is no traffic it is a really nice and relaxing way to see the countryside.

Our homestay family cooked some of the best food I ever had in Vietnam. The entire family, as well as neighbours, joined in the meal with the evening ending late with lots of laughter and a bit too much rice wine.

The next day I travelled to Mai Chau, a 30-minute drive away, for some inspections. I worked with our team on new walks, as well as trekking and biking options that we want to offer for a more authentic experience in the Pu Luong and surrounding valleys.

Asian Trails has supported community-based tourism in Vietnam for many years, and we constantly try to find additional income for the homestay families. Even if their core activity is to offer dormitory style accommodation we support them in offering lunches during walks or treks, we rent their bikes, hire the family members as guides, and give them the opportunity to sell drinks and snacks. Nobody knows the area better than these local people, and they are as happy to interact with visitors as the visitors are in spending a few hours with them. For the more discerning visitors who prefer more luxurious accommodation we offer overnight in the lodges in the Mai Chau area, and then arrange for walking, village and biking experiences together with the homestay families in the Pu Luong and surrounding valleys.

To travel planners and product managers reading my story I would strongly recommend this part of Vietnam as an authentic mountain experience, and as an alternative to the more crowded Sappa region.

Plan for your clients to arrive in Hanoi for a night stay, then travel to Pu Luong/Mai Chau for 2-3 nights with activities suitable to their fitness level, with soft adventure options for those who are younger and fitter. Return to Hanoi or continue to Ninh Binh, which is only a 3½-hour drive from Mai Chau. Experience the limestone rocks and villages near Ninh Binh by bike and boat and, after one night in the lovely Tam Coc Garden Resort or the extravagant Emeralda Resort, continue to Halong Bay for an overnight cruise.

The Asian Trails Vietnam team will be happy to work with you on the ideal north Vietnam journey for an authentic ‘real Vietnam’ experience away from the large tourist crowds.

• Photo: Laurent with Mr. Binh, manager of Asian Trails Hanoi office

Happy Trails! 

Laurent Kuenzle 
CEO 
Asian Trails

   

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    THAILAND

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR CLAUDIO F. KELLENBERGER

     

    Dear colleagues and friends

    We had a very busy and good summer season here in Thailand, namely from Spain and Italy but also from lots of clients from the Middle East escaping their hot summer to our ‘green season’. Our teams are now already in full swing for the upcoming winter season – the contracting with hotels and new suppliers is finished, and we have obtained some very good deals from our key partner hotels.

    Please check out our relaunched ‘flash promotion’ – a 10-day Bangkok-Phuket combination with private transfers, excursions and accommodation in superior 4* hotels at an impressively competitive pricing. This promotion is valid from now until November 30, 2016. Contact your account manager for more details.

    We thank you for your continued support of Asian Trails and Thailand, and your kind words and wishes after the sad incidents of August. We are glad to confirm that the situation has returned 100% to normal, and we continue to operate all our tours as scheduled.
     

    With best regards

    Claudio F. Kellenberger
    Managing Director
    Asian Trails Thailand

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    NEW! 2-DAY CHEOW LAN LAKE DISCOVERY

     

    Asian Trails offers a new 2-day/1-night package to visit Cheow Lan Lake, which is located in Khao Sok National Park. This tour includes observing the daily life of elephants with their mahouts, canoeing along Khao Sok river and forest trekking. Accommodation is at the Khao Sok Boutique Camp, which is simple but fitted with comfortable facilities.
     

     

     

    KAAN SHOW - D’LUCK CINEMATIC THEATRE, PATTAYA

     

    Inspired by famous Thai literature, including Ramayana, Prince Apai Mani and Krai Thong, the KAAN show seamlessly combines these epic stories into one that is beyond imagination. Story telling is through the use of world-class technology and special effects, allowing audience to experience a never-before-seen adventure. All aspects of the KAAN show is controlled by state-of-the-art computer system, designed especially for the show.

    The 90-minute show will leave the audience breathless with its combination of advanced CGI (computer-generated imagery) motion picture quality animations with animatronics puppets, the biggest towering up to a staggering eight metres, together with more than 300 professional artists and performers.

    The show is held at the D’LUCK Cinematic Theatre, the newest landmark in Pattaya. Designed under the concept of levitation it is described as the “world’s first levitating theatre”. The 1,400-seat theatre is spread over1.6 hectares.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    PHUKET

     

    REBRANDED – PHUKET MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA, MERLIN BEACH (FORMERLY THE MERLIN BEACH RESORT)

     

    Merlin Beach Resort, after being in operations for over 15 years, will be rebranded as Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa from November 1, 2016. The hotel will undergo renovations to give it a new design and upgraded facilities. The renovations will cover most of the hotel’s prime area including the front façade, as well as the lobby and reception area to better accommodate guests. The coffee house, Phuket Coffee Co, the all-day restaurant and its patio will also be revamped. The terraces for the three swimming pools will be refreshed with appropriate refurbishment according to the new brand standard.

     

     

     

    NOVOTEL PHUKET PHOKEETHRA

     

    Novotel Phuket Phokeethra is a new 4 star hotel ideally located in the heart of the fascinating historic Phuket town. It is the perfect base to discover the island’s many beautiful beaches, cosmopolitan restaurants, tourist attractions and vibrant entertainment scene. The hotel offers 180 stylish suites and rooms.

     

     

     

    X10 SEAVIEW SUITES AT PANWA BEACH

     

    X10 Seaview Suites at Panwa Beach is a unique place to get away from it all, and a true gem among extended stay resorts in Phuket. Located on Panwa Beach, one of the most beautiful white sand beaches on Phuket west coast, the 10-room all-suite resort is set on the hillside right on the beach. It is designed to provide all the amenities you need for long stays with upscale spacious and sea view suites, full kitchens, dining rooms, and space to work and relax.

     

     

     

    KHAO LAK

     

    X10 KHAO LAK RESORT

     

    X10 Khao Lak Resort on Khao Lak’s Andaman coast is ideal as a tranquil family escape. It is located in Bang La On area of Khao bak (Aka Bang Lah Own) between Nang Thong beach and Bang Niang Beach. The resort offers a distinct Andaman feel with its modern decor and Thai hospitality. Its rooms and suites are decorated in modern style and equipped to the highest standard.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL
    OCTOBER 1, 2016
    VENUE: PHUKET

     

    The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. It is believed the festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune on devotees who religiously observe them.

    As part of the rituals local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for spiritual cleansing and merit making. Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples. Aesthetic displays, such as walking barefoot over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs, are performed by entranced devotees known as "Ma Song”.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    SWISS NEW FLAGSHIP – THE BOEING 777-300ER

     

    Bangkok is the first Southeast Asian destination in the SWISS network to receive its new flagship - the Boeing 777-300ER. The airline commences daily flights to Bangkok with this aircraft offering brand new cabin (inflight) products. The aircraft, which replaces the existing Airbus A340-300, will increase SWISS’s capacity on the Bangkok route by more than one third.

    The SWISS Boeing 777-300ER offers 340 seats: 8 in First Class, 62 in Business Class and 270 in Economy Class. The totally redesigned cabin interior of the new SWISS flagship provides comfort and aesthetics, including wireless Internet connectivity, to meet the most discerning of demands in all three seating classes.
     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    CE LA VI BANGKOK

     

    Ce La Vi Bangkok Club Lounge (formerly Ku De Ta) is a sophisticated nightclub and lounge where the glamorous come to play. Despite the name change the club’s concept remains largely the same.

     

     

     

    THE LARDER - KOH SAMUI

     

    The Larder, which opened in 2012, positions itself a restaurant-cum-bar verging on gastro pub and not quite a wine bar. Executive chef Martin Selby together with food and beverage aficionado Damian Ahern, with more than 10 year’s experience in Koh Samui, have garnered themselves a following on the island.

    The food offered at the restaurant is described as a “meshing of modern British and European cuisine with international influences, a mix of comfort food and classics that has been revived, remixed and reinvigorated by merging modern cooking methods and techniques.” It is served with a superb wine list alongside cocktails that have been reconstructed with a twist, giving patrons a little bit of magic with each dining experience.
     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    PRACTICAL INFORMATION: THAILAND TO INCREASE VISA-ON-ARRIVAL (VOA) FEE

     

    Thailand will increase the fee for Visa-on-Arrival (VOA) to 2,000 baht (US$57.60) from 1,000 baht one way from September 27, 2016. The new fee is applicable to visa application and to foreign visitors to Thailand. All immigration checkpoints will apply the new fee from the effective date.

     

     

     
     

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    LAOS

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ANDREAS HOFMANN

     

    Saibaidee!

    Responsible tourism is important for developing Laos as a sustainable tourism destination. The tourism industry, governments and local communities are working together to create tourism livelihoods. Asian Trails Laos supported the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and all the 18 provincial offices at a responsible and eco-tourism workshop held in July with the cooperation of the School of Business at Edinburgh Napier University.

    At the workshop the government officials discussed how Laos could be developed in a sustainable way to remain an eco-friendly destination with tourism benefitting both visitors and local communities alike. For instance, there are now the first ASEAN standard homestays available in Vang Vieng (pictured), while very simple is a good product for responsible backpackers. For more upscale tourists Vang Vieng has shed its rowdy image and is transforming into a responsible eco-tourism destination.

    Contact us for new ideas about eco- and responsible tourism.

    Happy Trails!

    Andreas Hofmann
    Managing Director, Asian Trails Laos
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    PHA TAD KE – LUANG PRABANG’S NEW BOTANICAL GARDEN TO OPEN IN NOVEMBER

     

    Pha Tad Ke is the first and only botanical garden in Laos, which will open to the public in November 2016.

    Situated just outside Luang Prabang on the Mekong River at the foot of the Pha Tad Ke Mountain, the garden shows the flora of Laos with a special emphasis on ethno-botany and local limestone habitats.

    The three main goals of Pha Tad Ke are to conserve biodiversity of over 1,500 different documented plant species presented, to promote sustainable organic farming and sustainable farm techniques, as well as making the beautiful gardens accessible to local and international visitors.

    Your garden excursion begins with a beautiful 15-minute boat ride from the downtown reception to the gardens where you can enjoy a leisurely walk through the gardens, visit the caves, join in any of the educational activities in the plant centre, or relax in a café and restaurant. The restaurant will have a unique menu developed in collaboration with Seng Luangrath from the famous Thip Kao restaurant in Washington DC.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    LUANGSAY CRUISE: OVERLAND AND RIVER EXPLORER

     

    Luangsay Cruise offers a new river and overland programme combing a relaxing river experience with an off-the-beaten track exploration of Sayabouli province’s villages in the hinterlands of the Mekong River. Stop by less-explored waterfalls and local villages on the way back to Luang Prabang via Pakbeng and Pak Ou.

    Contact us for more information about this exciting new product.
     

     

     
     

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    CAMBODIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

     

    It is time to get ready for the upcoming high season with the offer of new hotels, activities, restaurants and shopping.

    Siem Reap remains the highlight of a visit to Cambodia, and the most popular destination to visit in the Kingdom. However, one should not forget the beautiful countryside around Battambang that offers authenticity and a traditional way of life for the travellers. The city is a perfect combination with Siem Reap either by boat or by road.

    Another authentic experience is Kratie province along the Mekong coming down from Laos. The region has the most beautiful landscapes in the Kingdom.

    Cambodia offers a lot to offer visitors, but one has to go off the beaten track to discover the “hidden” attractions. Asian Trails can help you do that. Please contact us for your next travel to the Kingdom.
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    THE RESURRECTION OF CAMBODIA’S ONLY PASSENGER TRAIN

     

    The country’s sole passenger rail service has resumed services in April 2016 after a 14-year hiatus. The train’s 266-kilometre journey from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville (and vice versa) is on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Royal Railways-operated train travels at a speed of 33km/hr, and the trip between the two cities takes about eight hours compared to four to five hours by road.

     

     

     

    INCREASE IN ENTRANCE FEES TO ANGKOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK

     

    The Ministry of Tourism in Cambodia has officially announced that the Angkor Zone pass for foreign visitors in Siem Reap would increase from February 1, 2017.

    The prices of the Angkor Pass for the Angkor Archaeological Park are as follow:

    • One day admission pass: US$37 (formerly US$20$). Valid for one day only and to be used on the day of purchase.
    • 2-3 day admission pass: US$62 (formerly US$40). Valid for 10 consecutive days, and pass can be used any day during the 10-day validity.
    • 4-7 day admission pass: US$72 (formerly US$60). Valid for 30 consecutive days, and pass can be used any day during the validity period.

    Please contact us for more information at res@asiantrails.com.kh
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

     

     

     

     

    VESPA TOURS IN PHNOM PENH

     

    Two tours by Vespa are now available in Phnom Penh:


    The Insiders Phnom Penh (morning or afternoon): Drive around the city, Phnom Penh Post Office, Wat Phnom, Chinese temple, street art area, Royal Palace, local market, Independence Monument, King Statue and Buddhist pagoda for blessing.

    The Phnom Penh Nightlife Experience (evening): The highlights of this tour are rooftop cocktails, zoom around the city to visit famous sights, taste local street food, and live music restaurant and upscale alley bar for all-you-can-eat and free flow drinks.

    For more information please contact us at: res@asiantrails.com.kh
     

     

     

     

     

    FOODIE TOUR BY TUK TUK IN SIEM REAP

     

    The Foodie Tour by Tuk Tuk is a private tour with a guide. It is from 6pm to 9pm with pick up and drop off from/to your hotels.

    The tour starts with a ride to one of the most famous and unique eatery in Siem Reap - the Bugs Café. As the name suggests this is the place to try some deep-fried insects and a cocktail. Then it is back to the tuk tuk to Road 60 - the most popular place for locals to relax and spend their evenings after work and school.

    This is followed by a drive through the city’s lighted streets to the vibrant Old Market (Phsar Chas). The next and last stop is at Miss Wong, one of Siem Reap’s most trendy cocktail bars.

    The tour includes free flow of drinks and all you can eat. Join it on an empty stomach.
     

     

     

    SIEM REAP: SPIRITUAL TOUR WITH MONK BLESSING AND KRU KHMER

     

    Are you ready to immerse yourself into the spiritual world of Cambodia? Then this half-day spiritual tour is for you, as it offers the opportunity to experience Khmer spirituality.

    The tour is by car with a personal local guide. Your first stop is at a pagoda for a monk blessing ceremony. Then follows a reading by a Khmer fortune teller who will give you some insight into your future. A visit to a Kru Khmer, an indigenous healer, concludes the spiritual tour.
     

     

     

    NEW LUXURY TENTS FOR DISCOVERY OF BANTEY AMPEUL TEMPLE (FROM SIEM REAP)

     

    From mid-November until the end of February your clients can choose to stay in luxury tents for a different experience when visiting Bantey Ampeul Temple. The tents are set close to the temple in Oddar Meanchey, a three-hour drive from Siem Reap. After the visit to this remote temple head for a night of glamping in a private luxury tent. Each tent is furnished with plush mattresses, premium linens, and pillows. The ensuite bathrooms feature flush toilets, washbasins, and a selection of local bath amenities.

    When the sun sets the glamping site glows with the light of hundreds of oil lamps and candles. The professional staff mixes specialty cocktails and prepares a romantic dinner for you to enjoy under the stars.

    For more information please contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    KEP

     

    SUNSET VALLEY RESORT CLOSES FOR RENOVATIONS

     

    Sunset Valley Resort is closed for renovations until the end of October 2016.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    BOON PCHUM BEN
    SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 4, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    Boon Pchum Ben, celebrated mostly by Cambodian Buddhists, is a time to pay respect to deceased relatives or friends. It is one of the most important festivals in Cambodia. All government institutions and some companies, such as banks, will be closed during the days of the festival.

    Asian Trails Cambodia offices will have reduced teams on duty during the festival to handle urgent matters only.
     

     

     

    CORONATION OF HIS MAJESTY KING SIHANOMI
    OCTOBER 15, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    This is a public holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni. The Royal Palace will be closed to visitors on that day for ritual ceremonies.

     

     

     
     

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    VIETNAM

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

     

    Dear Friends,

    Vietnam has been attracting more and more tourists thanks to its cultural offerings and its rich history. There are also many hidden and timeless charms residing in the diversity of the country’s landscape and pristine nature.

    In the past year our team has been reaching further and deeper, searching for better accommodation and interesting activities to make “new” destinations more accessible and enjoyable. Phong Nha, for example, is famous for its magnificent cave system. It is usually a four-hour stopover for tourists on their way to Hue for a boat trip and cave visit. Thanks to the opening of a new farm stay adjacent to the National Park travellers can now stay here for two nights with many nature-based activities such as caving, kayaking, biking and zipline.

    Similarly, if Lak used to attract tourists on Central Highlands for a half-day discovery tour of ethnic villages, gong performance and dugout canoeing, it is now a destination place to explore for a minimum of two nights. The Lak Tented Camp, which has a beautiful setting on a hill overlooking the picturesque Lak Lake, is a unique experience for those searching for authenticity end exoticism. From this eco lodge travellers can take a soft trek to the hidden waterfall and enjoy a picnic lunch or cycle along the coffee trails.

    We will be happy to show you more natural attractions in Vietnam. Please contact us for details and bookings.
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    SPOTLIGHT ON HANOI

     

    Hanoi is the best value destination in the world for a city break according to TripIndex Cities, an annual TripAdvisor cost comparison study.

    TripIndex Cities, conducted by independent research firm TNS, compares the cost of a three-night break during the summer travel period of June to September in 20 key tourist cities around the world, taking into account typical in-destination costs for two people. These include a four-star hotel for three nights, a visit to three attractions, lunch each day, a taxi to and from dinner each day, plus the cost of dinner itself.

    The study found that the average price for a short break across the 20 cities is US$986, excluding flights, with prices varying significantly from the least to the most expensive. Hanoi is the lowest cost destination with a break costing less than US$497.
     

     

     

    HANOI: EXTENDED OPENING HOURS

     

    Hanoi’s local government will extend the opening hours of businesses, as well as entertainment spots, in Hanoi beyond midnight to make the Vietnamese capital city a more enjoyable place after dark.

    According to local media reports the city chairman said: “The city currently has a rule that bans all recreational activities once the clock ticks past midnight, but for many foreign visitors life after midnight is something that makes the city stand out. That’s why we are going to relax the law.”

     

     

     

    HANOI WESTLAKE

     

    The increasingly popular Westlake area is becoming THE place to visit when in Hanoi, and it is less than a 10-minute drive from the city’s Old Quarter. With the spectacular sunsets over the lake and an exotic mix of local cafes, international bars and fine dining restaurants Hanoi Westlake is a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    CAVES AND NATURE OF PHONG NHA NATIONAL PARK

     

    Located about 40 kilometres west of Dong Hoi City in Quang Binh province, Phong Nha National Park offers not only great caves but also active nature-based experiences. This module offers both classic sightseeing in Phong Nha, and optional activities depending on the travellers’ interest.

    There are some comfortable accommodation options in Phong Nha and Chay Lap village to stay close to nature, as well as an ideal base for the exploration. Activities include kayaking and water sports, zipline, cave exploring - Dark Cave, Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave, relaxing in natural streams, and cycling along rustic villages.

    Please contact us for more information
     

     

     

    IMMERSION IN LAK — VIETNAM CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

     

    “Immersion in Lak 3 days” is a new thrilling experience we are promoting thanks to the opening of innovative and stylish Lak Tented Camp. This programme can either be an extension or an intergrated part of the journey through the Central Highlands. Highlights include an in depth discovery of the Mnong ethnic villages getting an insight into the locals’ typical lifestyle and their coffee culture.

    We also offer a relaxing stay at the Lak Tented Camp overlooking the picturesque Lak Lake with an easy jungle trek, a picnic by a hidden waterfall, and more surprises waiting in the area.

    Please contact us for more information
     

     

     

    CYCLING AND COOKING IN CAM KIM VILLAGE (HOI AN)

     

    Looking for a less touristy, safer and more authentic place to cycle, explore and interact with local people in Hoi An? Join our new cycling tour combined with cooking class at a newly eco restaurant in Cam Kim island.

    The tour starts at 8am with the first great photo stop of the day in the middle of a bridge, which offers spectacular panoramic views of the countryside. After a gentle downhill start cycle through small bridges it’s time to explore local markets, visit temples and marvel at the spectacular rice fields. Arrive at an eco-style countryside restaurant for a hands-on cooking class to prepare local delicacies. After lunch take a rest on the hammock to enjoy the rustic lifestyle or interact with the local families. For those who cannot cycle a boat ride is the alternative.

    Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE

     

    InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is located on the peaceful waters of the largest lake in Hanoi, West Lake, and is adjacent to the famous 800-year-old Golden Lotus (Kim Lien) Pagoda. Ideally situated just minutes from the Old Quarter, the hotel offers a welcome haven from the bustling city centre.

    With its spacious accommodation, luxurious facilities and attentive Vietnamese hospitality the hotel is the perfect place to stay for FIT, GIT and MICE. Indulge in the “Overwater” room for its ambience and spectacular sunset views.
     

     

     

    PAN PACIFIC HANOI (FORMERLY SOFITEL PLAZA HANOI)

     

    Sofitel Plaza Hanoi is being rebranded to Pan Pacific, and the exercise will be completed by October 1, 2016.

    Soaring 20 floors above the city Pan Pacific Hanoi offers panoramic views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and Red River. Just minutes from the city centre guests can visit the vibrant Old Quarter that is about three kilometres away, or enjoy a stroll by the lake. Hotel facilities include a full spa, indoor heated all-season swimming pool with retractable roof, and complimentary WiFi throughout the property.
     

     

     

    NEW: ÊMM HOTEL HOI AN

     

    ÊMM Hotel Hoi An, which opened on June 25, is an international standard 4 star property in Hoi An town and a short walk from the old quarter.

    Following the concept of ÊMM Hotels & Resorts, ÊMM Hotel Hoi An is designed with 92 rooms, a restaurant, a bar and an outdoor pool embedded with a sense of contemporary, freshness and creativity. The hotel is an ideal choice for travellers who are looking for convenience, comfort, and attentive service during their stay in Hoi An.

    To celebrate its grand opening ÊMM Hotel Hoi An is offering special promotional rates. Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

    NEW: CENTRAL PALACE SAIGON

     

    Central Palace Saigon, scheduled to open in October 2016, is located is in a central location in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City and about 200 metres from Reunification Palace.

    With just 86 Junior Suite rooms the hotel is suitable for FIT and small groups. Facilities include a restaurant, an outdoor pool, fitness centre and a terrace with views of the city.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    NEW AIRBUS AIRCRAFT FOR JETSTAR PACIFIC AIRLINES

     

    Vietnam’s Jetstar Pacific Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus for 10 A320ceo aircraft. The agreement was signed at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK, and marks the first direct purchase of aircraft by the airline with Airbus.

    Based in Ho Chi Minh City, Jetstar Pacific is a joint venture between Vietnam Airlines (70%) and the Qantas Group (30%). It currently operates a fleet of 12 leased A320 Family aircraft, flying to 28 domestic and regional destinations.
     

     

     

    AIR NEW ZEALAND’S NEW DIRECT AUCKLAND- HO CHI MINH CITY SERVICE

     

    Air New Zealand has expanded its Pacific Rim presence with the launch of its first direct service from Auckland to Ho Chi Minh City. The thrice-weekly flights between Auckland and Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport are on a seasonal basis until October in 2016. The airline may expand the season in subsequent years. The 11-hour flight is operated with a Boeing B767-300 aircraft.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    PRESS CLUB HANOI: LA TABLE DU CHEF, LA PLUME BAR AND LOUNGE, BANQUET ROOM

     

    Set in its original colonial décor from the 1920s the outlets in the Press Club Hanoi comprise La Table du Chef, La Plume Bar and Lounge, and the Banquet room. For diners it presents a subtle journey into fine crafts, paintings, culinary and winemaking arts of both Vietnam and France.

    In this artistic atmosphere gastronomes have the opportunity to discover an exceptional menu that highlights the best local and imported products delivered daily such as Foie Gras from Landes, Truffle from Perigord, Fleur de sel from Guerande, Duck from South Western France, Sapa’s honey, and Phu Quoc’s pepper. These exquisite dishes are carefully paired with the most refined selection of wines to create a memorable culinary experience in the heart of Hanoi’s French Quarter.
     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    NEW INBOUND EXECUTIVE

     

    We extend a very warm welcome to our new team member Ms Hoang An. With more than six years experience in the tourism industry in Vietnam, she is proficient in both German and English. We look forward to working with Ms An to strengthen the company’s position in German-speaking markets.

    For quotes in German please contact Ms An at: an.le@asiantrails.com.vn
     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    NEW ITINERARIES FOR PARADISE LUXURY CRUISE AND PARADISE PEAK CRUISE

     

    Paradise Cruises announces new itineraries on two of its key products -Paradise Luxury Cruise and Paradise Peak Cruise -  to avoid the crowds at Halong Bay.


    “Cruising on the Paradise Luxury Classic couples a dignified wooden design with the best of what the Bay has to offer, as our itineraries have been carefully crafted to ensure that you see the highlights of Halong Bay away from the busy crowds,” said Paradise Cruises.
     

     

     
     

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    CHINA

       

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ZHANG XIAOLIN

     

    Autumn starts in mid-September according to the Chinese lunar calendar, and the best time of the year to travel to China is ahead of us! Watch out for amazing Sichuan with its virgin forests, and its travertine scenery of colourful ponds, beaches, lakes, springs, waterfalls and caves – the best in China. The extreme north (Xi'an and Beijing) shows history at its best with its centuries old building, the Great Wall and the mighty terracotta warriors.

    We are going full steam into planning for the future, with creativity and proactivity as our driving forces for the next five months. Ahead of us is the busy autumn season filled with high-speed trains, cruises, and mooncakes. So welcome to China! It is the best choice for a holiday for your clients.

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

     

     

     

     

    SANXINGDUI RUINS


    The renowned Sanxingdui Ruins is located west of Guanghang city in Sichuan province. The first Sanxingdui relics were discovered in 1929 by a farmer living near Chengdu, who uncovered a cache of about 400 jade pieces. Chinese archaeologists searched the area without success until 1986 when factory workers at a brick factory accidentally discovered two sacrificial pits that were filled with thousands of gold masks, bronze wares, jade tablets, elephant tusks and sacred trees. The most unique and grotesque of these relics are the bronze masks with protruding eyes (top photo) and the bronze sacred trees (2nd photo from the top). Historians believe the pits were sites for the ancient Shu people to offer sacrifice to Heaven, Earth, mountains, rivers and other natural gods.

    The Sanxingdui ruins represent one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. It is believed they dated back about 2,800 to 4,800 years ago, equivalent to the late Neolithic Age.

    The archaeological project at the Sanxingdui ruins is ongoing. As none of the artefacts are marked with characters, no texts have been unearthed and no historical records of the Sanxingdui culture have been found in the annals of nearby areas the discovery opened a world of mystery attracting widespread academic attention.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    JIUZHAIGOU – UNESCO WORLD HERIGAGE SITE

     

    Jiuzhaigou is a nature reserve in the north of Sichuan province, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It is known as the habitat of pandas (although it is extremely rare to see them) and for its many multi-level waterfalls and colourful lakes.

    The colours of Jiuzhaigou lakes, trees and mountains are breath-taking, and defy adequate description. The altitude changes within the valley to create continual variations of flora, which give each lake and waterfall a unique quality.

    Jiuzhaigou’s fresh air and lack of humidity make it a great breakaway from other cities in Sichuan province. It is ideal to visit the reserve throughout the year with spring and autumn as the best time to be there, as it often rains in July and August. In late September through to October and early November the area is filled with contrasting colours of red and gold leaves against the greys of the bamboo forest and the dark greens of the conifers. They provide the perfect backdrop to the blue, cyan and vivid greens lakes. That is the reason for autumn being the peak season for visitors. Be warned of extremely large crowds and very high prices during this season.

     

     

     

    CHINA PANDA PROTECTION RESEARCH CENTER

     

    The China Panda Protection Research Center in Dujiangyan Prefecture, about 65 kilometres northwest of central Chengdu in Sichuan province, occupies an area of 308 hectares. It comprises six regions according to the division of functions: pandas rescue and quarantine area, panda disease prevention and control in the study area, panda rehabilitation and training feeding district, public reception and education area, natural vegetation area, and the office and logistics service area.

    The center offers volunteer programmes that give visitors an opportunity to get closer to the giant pandas, and understand the panda wilderness training programme. Participants work with Chinese panda staff to take care of the pandas. Activities include cleaning panda enclosures, preparing panda food, watching films about pandas, visiting the Panda Center of Science and Education, attending panda classes, and planting bamboo and trees. These activities are flexible, and the programme can be redesigned according to the pandas' needs, participants' requirements and interests.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    HYATT REGENCY XI'AN

     

    Hyatt Regency Xi'an is located in the southern part of the city near Nanhu Park, and a 45-minute drive from Xi'an Xianyang International Airport.

    Nestled in a Chinese garden-style landscape the hotel houses 298 rooms and suites, a fitness centre with a gym and indoor heated swimming pool, and the Yan Spa. It offers three different food and beverage outlets - Market Café, Hu Pan and the lounge. The meeting facilities totalled more than 4,000 square metres that can accommodate all types of functions and events.
     

     

     

    INTERCONTINENTAL BEIJING SANLITUN

     

    InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun is conveniently located in the stylish entertainment district of the city, with easy access to famous leisure and scenic spots, embassies and the central business district.

    The hotel has the latest fashion design, boasts the most contemporary rooms and suites, cosmopolitan dining options, and 1,500 square meters of meeting facility.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    G20 SUMMIT
    SEPTEMBER 4-5, 2016
    VENUE: HANGZHOU

     

    Hangzhou (pictured) is the first China city to host the G20 meeting, which will see 20 finance ministers and Central Bank governors gathering in a city that embraces both history and modernity.

    Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang Province on China’s southeastern coast, and boasts two World Heritage sites - the beautiful West Lake and the Grand Canal. The city is famed for its spectacular scenery with lush green hills, ancient temples, and beautiful tea fields.

    G20 was initiated in 1999 and consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States along with the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
     

     

     

    MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL/ MOON FESTIVAL
    SEPTEMBER 15–17, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

     

    The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, is one of the most important festivities in China.

    The festival’s celebrations date back to more than 2,000 years. During feudal times the Chinese emperors prayed to Heaven for a prosperous year, and they chose the night of the 15th day of the eighth lunar month to hold a ceremony in praise of the moon. This ancient custom became prevalent in the Tang Dynasty when people enjoyed and worshipped the full moon. In the Southern Song Dynasty people sent round mooncakes to their relatives as gifts for family reunions.

    Today, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an evening celebration when families gather together to light lanterns, eat mooncakes and appreciate the round moon. On that night the moon appears to be at its roundest and brightest, a symbol for family reunions. This is also the reason why the festival is also known as the Festival of Reunion.

    The Mid-Autumn Festival is a public holiday in China.

    Another big holiday in October is National Holiday from October 1-7.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES CODESHARES WITH US AIRLINES

     

    In late July and early August, China Southern Airlines expanded its code sharing agreements with American airlines including Delta Airline and Virgin America (CZ code). The code sharing deals expand the airline’s coverage of North America, giving its customers more choices when travelling to the region from China.
     

     

     

    EMIRATES ADDS GUANGZHOU TO ITS LIST OF A380 DESTINATIONS

     

    Emirates, voted the World’s Best Airline 2016 at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, will operate its flagship A380 on services between Dubai and Guangzhou from October 1, 2016, which is the 67th National Day of People’s Republic of China.

    Since the route’s inauguration in 2008 Emirates has been flying a two-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on its daily flights between Guangzhou and Dubai. When the A380 service commences it will increase capacity by 15% to meet the growing travel and trade demand from Southern China to Dubai and beyond.

    Emirates will deploy its three-class A380 on the Guangzhou route, offering a total of 491 seats with 14 private suites in First Class, 76 mini pods with lie-flat seats in Business Class and 401 spacious seats in Economy Class.

    Flight EK362 will depart Dubai at 10.20hrs and arrive in Guangzhou at 22.05hrs. The return flight EK363 will depart Guangzhou at 12.15hrs and arrive in Dubai at 03.50hrs.

    Guangzhou will be the third destination in Mainland China for Emirates to deploy its flagship aircraft, after Beijing and Shanghai.
     

     

     

    AIR CHINA MOUNTS DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM SHENZHEN TO THE UNITED STATES

     

    On September 26, 2016 Air China will launch the new Shenzhen-Xiamen-Seattle route. This will be the first direct service connecting Shenzhen to North America.

    In October, Air China’s Shenzhen-Beijing-Los Angeles route will be changed to Shenzhen direct flights to the United States. This will save two hours turnaround time at Beijing. Due to thus convenience booking ticket is expected to be high, so book early to avoid disappointment.
     

     

     
     

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    MYANMAR

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

     

    We are slowly but surely approaching the end of the rainy season, which marks the start of the festival period in Myanmar. We feature some of the festivals in the coming weeks and months under the section “Festivals and Events”.

    We also like to highlight Emirates’ launch of direct flights between Dubai and Yangon. The Yangon International Airport has undergone major upgrading over the past year, and the new Terminal 1 is now operational. Many airlines are now using the new terminal that disperses incoming and outgoing travellers better and reduces queues, as well as resolves parking issues.
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    EARTHQUAKE IN BAGAN

     

    Many of you would have heard that Bagan was struck by an earthquake on Wednesday, August 24. Unfortunately, a number of temples were affected by the quake. We would like to highlight that these temples were only damaged and are in no way destroyed. We expect them to be open to the public soon as most of the damage is minor. The damage is mostly to parts of the temples that have recently been renovated or added, while the actual main structures are all intact.

    Bagan thus absolutely retains its charm and beauty. We would like to encourage our clients to come and visit this most magical place in Myanmar.
     

     

     

    NEW TERMINAL AT YANGON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT NOW OPERATIONAL

     

    The official inauguration of the new Terminal 1 at Yangon International Airport took place a few months ago, but it has been left vacant till now. Today a few airlines are operating from the new terminal and they include AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Emirates, Lion Air, Myanmar National Airlines, Myanmar Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    BIKE TOURS IN HPA-AN

     

    We are pleased to announce we are now able to offer half- and full-day bike tours around Hpa-an. The tour includes rides along limestone mountains and green fields, as well as visits to the different caves around the area. We provide the bikes and helmets, and an experienced bike guide accompanies guests during the tour.

    Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    MELIA YANGON OPENS

     

    Melia Yangon, which opened in July, is located close to Inya Lake on Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, between the city centre and the airport. It is directly connected to Myanmar Plaza, the country’s largest shopping mall.

    The hotel offers 430 rooms and suites with a minimum size of 48sqm. The club rooms provide access to a top floor lounge that offers 360 degrees views of the city and Inya Lake. Other hotel facilities include three restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, and a soon-to-open 1,800sqm spa. For the MICE market there is more than 2,000sqm of convention space, including a ballroom.
     

     

     

    NEW - SANCTUM INLE RESORT

     

    Opened in July the 94-room Sanctum Inle Resort is on the banks of the scenic Inle Lake in Shan State, which is home to the famous “one-legged” Intha d.

    The hotel features an Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool overlooking the lake, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, a 170sqm spa with five treatment rooms, and a gym.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA FESTIVAL
    OCTOBER 2–19, 2016: 1ST WANING DAY OF THIDINGYUT
    VENUE: INLE LAKE, SHAN STATE

     

    This is one of the holiest festivals in the whole of Shan State, Myanmar’s largest administrative unit. During the festival 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 traveling around the Inle Lake is one of Myanmar’s most magnificent.

    For this year some rooms at the hotels around the Lake are still available
     

     

     

    THIDINGYUT FESTIVAL
    OCTOBER 15–16, 2016: 14TH WAXING DAY OF THIDINGYUT
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

     

    Thidingyut Festival is a two-day event that ends on October 16. It 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. People also enjoy displays and hoisting balloons up to the sky.
     

     

     

    BALLOON-FLYING FESTIVAL

    NOVEMBER 20-26, 2016: 28TH WAXING DAY OF TAZAUNGMON
    VENUE: TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

     

    This is a seven-day festival that ends on November 26. During this typical ‘Pa-O’ festival hot air balloons are released in the sky day and night.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

     

    EMIRATES’ DIRECT DUBAI-YANGON SERVICE

     

    Emirates launched a new service connecting Dubai to Yangon in August. The flight arrives in Yangon at 11.40am from Dubai, and departs Yangon for Dubai at 1.50am (+1).

     

     

     

     
     

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    MALAYSIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

     

    Dear Friends and Partners,

    Warmest greetings from Asian Trails Malaysia

    Allow me to start this month’s management note with a quote from former dean of Harvard’s Business School, Robert Kent: “In business, communication is everything.”

    A good communication is essential in managing and working as productive and efficient as possible. A good communication is essential to build new and strengthen existing relationships. Be it internally in order to train and motivate our team. Be it with you – our valued business partners - in order to maintain and improve great cooperation based on trust, quality and mutual respect. And be it – foremost – for our mutual guests in order to create outstanding experiences while traveling through beautiful Malaysia.

    In order to achieve the above Asian Trails spares no efforts and expenses. Thus, with no further ado I would like to announce that the new in-house software PASSION would be implemented in Malaysia within the fourth quarter of this year.

    The PASSION project was especially established by our group in order to take communication to a new level. On the back-end PASSION is developed as a management system for all our DMCs, while on the front-end it is an online B2B platform that will enhance communication with you – our valued business partners.

    Though our world gets more and more digitalised, strong relationships are still pending on interpersonal communication as well. Hence, I am happy to announce that I will personally attend the Tourism Fair Top Resa in Paris. You can find me at the Thailand booth No HO25 in Pavilion 7.2 from September 20 to 23, 2016.

    Our General Manager, Mrs. Sara Salsini, will be present at the TGG in Rimini from October 13 to 15, 2016. You can find her in the booth of the Tourism Malaysia pavilion.

    We are looking forward to meet you and to share our extensive knowledge about Malaysia. Let us inspire you with the vast diversity and opportunities beautiful Malaysia has to offer.

    We look forward to take our relationships to a new (digital) level.

    Emir
    Malaysia Truly Asia!
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

     

    NEW TRAIN SCHEDULE FOR KERETAPI TANAH MELAYU

     

    Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB), Malaysia's national railway service, has terminated the Express Rakyat train service from May 9, 2016, and Express Peninsular and Express Senandung Sutera train services from May 18. The ETS (Electric Train Service) and Intercity train services took over the suspended services from May 19.

    Kindly contact our reservation personnel at res@asiantrails.com.my for more information on the new/updated schedules.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    V E HOTEL & RESIDENCE, BANGSAR SOUTH CITY

     

    This four-star hotel brand recently debuted in Kuala Lumpur’s Bangsar South City. It features 337 deluxe and corner suite rooms, along with 90 fully furnished one - and two-bedroom serviced residence with separate check-in and lift facilities. For the convenience of guests a lifestyle podium has been created on the fifth floor where are located the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant “The Straits Estate”, three private dining rooms, an alfresco bar and lounge, an infinity pool and a fully-equipped 24-hour gym.
     

     

     

    MERITUS PELANGI BEACH, LANGKAWI – KIDS POOL MAINTENANCE

     

    Phase two of the maintenance and upgrading works at the play area by the Horizon Kids Pool will start on September 10. The upgrading work will last until October 10, 2016. During this period the kids play area will be closed, but the kids pool and surrounding areas will be opened.
     

     

     

    UPGRADING WORK AT HOLIDAY INN RESORT, PENANG

     

    Holiday Inn Resort in Penang is continuing its upgrading projects at the Ferringhi Tower and Beach Wing from August until the first week of December 2016. The hotel management apologies for any inconvenience caused to the guests.
     

     

     

    CHANGES IN ROOM CATEGORY AT IMPIANA HOTEL IPOH

     

    Impiana Hotel Ipoh in Perak has remodelled the room classification system to enhance guests’ satisfaction.

    The new room categories are listed in the chart below:

     

    Current Room Type New Room Type
    Deluxe Room Deluxe Room
    Club Room
    Premier Room
    Suite Room Premier Room

     

     

     

    AIMAN BATANG AI RESORT & RETREAT REOPENS CANOPY WALK

     

    Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat in Sarawak reopened the new Canopy Walk on August 1, 2016 on completion of the building work. The resort has readjusted the fee for the Canopy Walk effective from the same date. Only new bookings made on or after August 1 are charged the new rate.

    Kindly contact our reservation personnel at res@asiantrails.com.my for more information.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    NATIONAL DAY EXHIBITION 2016
    AUGUST 1–SEPTEMBER 30, 2016
    VENUE: NATIONAL MUSEUM, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The exhibition is held in conjunction with the National Day celebrations. It recalls the journey and fight to free the country from colonialism, as well as the many challenges faced to achieve independence.
     

     

     

    PD INTERNATIONAL BIKE FEST 2016
    SEPTEMBER 6-7, 2016
    VENUE: PD WATERFRONT, NEGERI SEMBILAN

     

    The PD International Bike Fest is into its 14th edition. This year's event will also incorporate sports cars and other vehicle such as 4x4 and 2x2 wheel drive

     

     

     

    SIBU INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL
    SEPTEMBER 9-13, 2016
    VENUE: SIBU CIVIC CENTRE, SARAWAK

     

    This festival is a showcase of different kinds of dances - traditional and modern. It is an event for everyone, both young and old.
     

     

     

    ASEAN SONGKET WEAVING EXHIBITION
    SEPTEMBER 15–DECEMBER 31, 2016
    VENUE: NATIONAL TEXTILE MUSEUM, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The exhibition showcases the artistry, intricacy, traditional production methods and exclusive value of songket.
     

     

     

    RHYTHM OF KINABALU
    SEPTEMBER 17-18, 2016
    VENUE: KOMPLEKS JKKN, SABAH

     

    Rhythm of Kinabalu profiles Sabah's traditional music performed by musicians from various local ethnic groups.
     

     

     

    MELAKA GOVERNOR'S CUP 2016
    SEPTEMBER 23-25, 2016
    VENUE: MELAKA

     

    This one-day race is registered with UCI. Participating are five to six international teams, as well as local racers.
     

     

     

    ROYAL PAHANG BILLFISH INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE
    SEPTEMBER 24-25, 2016
    VENUE: ROMPIN, PAHANG

     

    This event, which features the 'catch and release” method of fishing, attracts anglers from China, Singapore, United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.
     

     

     

    MALAYSIA OPEN KUALA LUMPUR 2016 ATP 250
    SEPTEMBER 24-OCTOBER 2, 2016
    VENUE: PANASONIC NATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The ATP World Tour 250 is the newest series for tennis tournaments of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) from the 2009 ATP World Tour.

     

     

     

    F1 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX
    SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 2, 2016
    VENUE: SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, SELANGOR

     

    The Sepang International Circuit, which features a double frontage grandstand, provides an awesome view of one of the best races in the world.

     

     

     

    KL TOWER INTERNATIONAL JUMP MALAYSIA
    SEPTEMBER 30–OCTOBER 3, 2016
    VENUE: KL TOWER, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    KL Tower is a magnet for extreme sports enthusiasts especially BASE (building, antennas, span, earth) jumpers. Every year more than 100 daredevils jump from the tower and make three-second free falls before opening their chutes, leaving spectators breathless.

     

     

     

    MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL GASTRONOMY FESTIVAL
    OCTOBER 1–31, 2016
    VENUE: BERJAYA TIMES SQUARE HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    The world-renowned Malaysia International Gastronomy Festival (MIGF) has established itself as the pinnacle of gastronomic excellence in the region. Into its 16th successive year the festival never fails to excite and surprise, with both local and international diners eagerly looking forward to see what it has in store for them

    For more information about MIGF visit: www.migf.com
     

     

    CIMB CLASSIC 2016
    OCTOBER 1, 2016
    VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

     

    First played in 2010, the CIMB Classic in the only official PGA TOUR FedExCup event in Southeast Asia. It features a limited 78-player field, with a prize purse of US$7 million and no cut, making it one the richest professional golf tournaments in the region.

     

     

     

    NINE EMPEROR GODS FESTIVAL
    OCTOBER 1-9, 2016
    VENUE: PENANG

     

    The festival is celebrated by the Taoist community in Penang and features vegetarian food bazaars, floating processions and other activities.

     

     

     

    30TH MT KINABALU INTERNATIONAL CLIMBATHON
    OCTOBER 15-16, 2016
    VENUE: KOTA KINABALU, SABAH

     

    Set on Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia's highest mountain, the Climbathon takes runners to the mountain’s summit in just a few hours when the average climbing time is two days.

     

     

     

    JOGET@MELAKA
    OCTOBER 15-16, 2016
    VENUE: BANDAR HILIR, MELAKA

     

    The joget, which originated in the historical city of Melaka, owes its ancestry to the Portuguese ‘Branyo’. The dance flourished during the spice trade. Enjoy performances of the joget by different groups from Melaka and neighbouring states.

     

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL ABORIGINES & INDIGENOUS ARTS FESTIVAL
    OCTOBER 21–23, 2016
    VENUE: TITIWANGSA LAKE GARDENS, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    This festival highlights the unique art of aboriginal and indigenous people from within and outside the country. Various activities and stage performances, exhibitions, demonstrations, sales, contests and interactive programmes are staged during the festival.
     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

     

    MARBLE 8: BEST STEAK HOUSE & FINE DINING RESTAURANT IN KUALA LUMPUR

     

    Fine dining restaurant Marble 8 is located at Jalan Kuda in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. With its trio venues of premium steakhouse, modern m8 bar and elegant privé, it is famed for its dry aged steaks and sunset cocktails

    Start your culinary journey at the bar, then move to the steakhouse to feast on the restaurant’s own signature Marble 8 Cuts. Conclude your evening with finest selection of whiskey and cigars amidst the trappings of old world charms in the privé.

    This dining experience is made more unforgettable with the majestic Petronas Twin Towers, one of Malaysia’s most famous icons, as your backdrop.
     

     

     
     

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    INDONESIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJÖRN SCHIMANSKI

     

    As the peak season is in full swing here in Indonesia we would like to get your attention for other parts of the archipelago where the high season has yet to begin. Raja Ampat is so far east that its seasonality is opposite to the main tourist hubs of Bali and Java. For this reason we created a special focus on this water paradise in our product update of this newsletter.

    I am especially proud to announce a dedicated WhatsApp service for all your guests who may face issues or would like to book an additional tour with us. They just need to send us a message using their existing WhatsApp account and a wireless connection. I believe this service will help us to react faster to the ever-increasing needs of our guests.

    Best wishes from beautiful Indonesia,
    Björn
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    RAJA AMPAT, WEST PAPUA

     

    This fascinating marine paradise in West Papua hosts the most of the world’s species of marine life, and makes it the coral reef and underwater playground of most divers. This is the reason why Raja Ampat (top photo) in the middle of the Coral Triangle has become one of the best diving spots in the world.

    The best way to explore the incredible beauty of the underwater world and the stunning landscape of crystal clear waters and small green islands is either by joining a cruise or staying in one of the few dive lodges. The best season for travellers and divers is between November and March.

    In addition to the wide range of dive spots one of the must-see attractions is Wayag Island (bottom photo). It is well known for its typical Kart Island that looks like a mushroom sprouting out of the sea. The island is easier to reach then Wayag Island as it is only a two- to three-hour boat ride from Sorong, which is the main entrance gate to Raja Ampat. Attractions on Waigeo are underwater explorations and jungle trekking where you can find many species of animals flying, running or creeping through the lush green jungle.
     

     

     

    RAJA AMPAT DIVE LODGE

     

    Raja Ampat has only a few hotels and lodges. One of these is Raja Ampat Dive Lodge located on the island of Mansuar at the southern tip of Waigeo directly on the fine sandy beach of Yenpapier. The resort offers 27 units that are individually cooled with fan and ensuite bathrooms. Different packages for divers or non-divers are available, which include accommodations, meals and activities and tours.

     

     

     

    LIVE ABOARD THE ALILA PURNAMA

     

    The easiest and most comfortable way to explore Raja Ampat is by boat. One luxury option is Alila Purnama. Handcrafted in the traditional style of a Phinisi, which was used by the Bugis seafarers from South Sulawesi, the 46-metre-long vessel consists of three decks. It has five suites including a master suite, its own fully licensed PADI dive centre, spa therapist, and lots of space for wining, dining and relaxing while enjoying the sea breeze.

    You can join a scheduled cruise of 7 days/6 nights from/to Sorong or charter the whole boat.
     

     

     

    NEW TERMINAL 3 AT SOEKARNO HATTA AIRPORT, JAKARTA

     

    In mid August Soekarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta opened the newly-build Terminal 3 with a capacity of 25 million passengers per year. All international and Garuda domestic departures have moved from Terminal 2 to the new Terminal 3. The aim is to intensify Garuda’s hub business, and increase transit passengers in Jakarta. Terminal 2 will become a domestic terminal for all other local carriers.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    PICNIC LUNCH AT PLAOSAN KIDUL TEMPLE

     

    Yogyakarta is a popular, must-visit destination for tourist travelling to Indonesia. We are offering off-the beaten track excursions to Prambanan especially for small groups. Ride on bicycles through the narrow streets to Prambanan Temple, then continue to a small pavilion where the chef serves you a delicious meal of Indonesian cuisine just next to Plaosan Kidul Temple.

     

     

     

    CYCLING TOUR AT BATUR CALDERA

     

    Ever try a cycling tour inside the caldera of a volcano? If you have not, then this moderate four-hour cycling tour through the black sand caldera of Mount Batur, an active volcano, is for you. The tour starts from the village of Toya Bungkah, cycling along a narrow unpaved road, and passing local villages where the inhabitants are busy planting vegetables in the fields before reaching Batur Caldera.

    There are also many other interesting single trails for bike lovers in Bali to discover.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    KATAMAMA HOTEL, SEMINYAK

     

    This boutique-style property, located next to Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, was created by artisans. It offers 58 spacious one- or two-bedroom suites facing the pool or the garden. With the hotel’s tropical garden are a130sqm swimming pool and a pool bar.

    All guests at Katamama Hotel get exclusive access to and privileges at Potato Head Beach Club. Apart from the usual facilities the hotel acts as a creative cultural hub featuring “Akademi, centre of mixology”, small boutique “Escalier” representing some Europe and Japan’s finest progressive designer, “Alchemy” billed as Bali’s first 100% raw food restaurant, and a few other facilities.
     

     

     

    KARMA REEF, GILI MENO

     

    Enjoy your holidays on one of the small Gili Islands just off the northwest coast of Lombok island. In contrast to the known party island of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno is still a quiet and tiny island ideal for families and couples.

    Karma Reef is an authentic traditional build bungalow resort, which offers the ultimate barefoot luxury in the middle of crystal clear water. Guests can choose between two storey bungalows, or one- or two-bedroom tented villas that are fully air-conditioned with ocean view. Facilities at the resort include a beachfront restaurant, a sea spa, beach club and water sport activities.
     

     

     

    THE MENJANGAN DYNASTY RESORT, BEACH CAMP & DIVE CENTER

     

    Situated on the north coast of Bali just next to the Bali National Park, the Beach Camp and Dive Centre is the ultimate glamping experience in the midst of nature. It offers 28 tent lodges divided in 24 tented suites, two two-bedroom tented villas, and two one-bedroom tented villas. Other facilities in the resort include a beach club and bar offering all-day dining with breath-taking view, an infinity pool, a 5 star PADI Dive Centre, and non-motorised water sports.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    BALINALE - BALI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
    SEPTEMBER 24-30, 2016
    VENUE: LIPPO MALL KUTA, BALI

     

    The 10th BALINALE will be held from September 24-30 at the state-of-the-art CINEMAXX Cinemas at Lippo Mall Kuta, South Kuta Beach. This established international platform for short, feature and documentary films has received more than 300 submissions from over 50 countries. There will also be a traditional Indonesian open-air cinema with free viewing for the public.

    For more information visit: http://www.balinale.com/

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    GARUDA INDONESIA’S CABIN CREW RECOGNISED AS WORLD’S BEST

     

    Indonesia flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has received the Skytrax Award for “The World’s Best Cabin Crew 2016” – making it three consecutive years the airline’s crew has been recognised.

    Every year around 19 million passengers evaluate the performance of airlines worldwide in different categories such as entertainment, cabin, service, and food and beverage.

    Garuda Indonesia is a member of the airline alliance, Skyteam, and serves international and domestic routes.
     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    MOUNT BROMO UPDATE

     

    As previously announced, Mount Bromo is still under close surveillance. The area of one kilometre around the crater remains closed. However, guests are permitted to visit the sea of sand and the sunrise viewpoints but not the caldera. Our guides will inform guests about the restriction.
     

     

     

    WHATSAPP SERVICE FOR CLIENTS

     

    Having direct contact with guests is extremely important in the travel industry. We are taking this a step further, and are offering a new WhatsApp service so our clients can text our office from their phone during normal working hours (9am until 6pm, Mondays to Fridays). This new service enables our clients to get in touch with us directly in case they cannot reach our representatives or guides. The internet-based communication service helps travellers to avoid high roaming fees when they use it in restaurants, shops or hotels with WiFi hotspots.

     

     

     
     

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