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Established Sawarak Long House Damaged Beyond Repair

Asian Trails Malaysia regrets to inform you that one of the leading long house overnight addresses on Sawarak has been completely destroyed as a result of a large fire, engulfing all parts of this traditional accommodation. Fortunately, no injuries were reported at the time of the destructive force of the flames.

The Nanga Mgemah Long House, located in the Lemanak region nearby Taman Negara Batang Ai in Sarawak was part of various packages within the product line of Asian Trails Malaysia. At this stage, our teams on the ground are still assessing the situation and trying to find alternative long houses to accommodate already confirmed guests. Our 2 and 3 days packages at Lemanak as well as our 4 days Lemanak – Batang Ai packages will be put on stop sales until alternative accommodation has been found.

Asian Trails Malaysia will inform all customers individually about this matter, with offering alternative long houses or packages.

If you have any questions, please contact us anytime at res@asiantrails.com.my or at +60 (0)3 2141 5245 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +60 (0)19 354 0590.

Kindest regards

Asian Trails Malaysia

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Moung Agung alert levels officially downgraded

Dear friends and business partners

Over the weekend, local experts and authorities have given the official go-ahead to downgrade the alert levels at Bali’s Mount Agung from level 4 to level 3. The news came together with resetting the safety parameter to a 4-kilometer radius and giving some much-needed respite to local residents, living within the vicinity of the crater.

A few villages remain out of bounds, as well the ongoing suspension of hiking and climbing excursions to Mount Agung within the newly-set parameters. Until further notice, we continue to stay in touch with all concerned and remain on alert should the situation change.

Bali’s International Airport continues to operate according to it published schedules, as well all other services, excursions and tours, accommodation and transfer remain fully operational.

Asian Trails Indonesia will continue to monitor the situation. If you have any questions, please contact our reservation team at res@asiantrails.co.id

Best regards,
Asian Trails Indonesia

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Asian Trails well represented at upcoming ITB 2018 in Berlin

Asian Trails will once again be attending the ITB Berlin on 7 – 10 March 2018 at the Messe Berlin.

This is an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss the very latest in product innovation, getting an update on all our online projects and giving new and existing customers about our service developments taking place in Asia. In addition, you have the chance to get first-hand information from our country experts exactly how they can benefit your business in their respective country.

You can book an appointment via the ITB website or contact us personally to fit in your preferred timing

On the Asian Trails stand this year (Hall 26b/207) will be:

  • Laurent Kuenzle – CEO, Asian Trails Ltd
  • Xiaolin Zhang – Managing Director, Asian Trails China
  • Bjorn Schimanski – Managing Director, Asian Trails Indonesia
  • Emir Cherif – Managing Director, Asian Trails Malaysia
  • Thomas Carnevale – Managing Director, Asian Trails Myanmar
  • Yves van Kerrebroeck – Managing Director, Asian Trails Thailand
  • Bui Viet Thuy Tien – Managing Director, Asian Trails Vietnam
  • Thibault Vidal – Business Development Manager, Asian Trails Cambodia
  • Santixay Vongsanghane – Global Market Manager, Asian Trails Laos

About Asian Trails
Founded in 1999, the Asian Trails Group has grown to become Asia’s leading destination management company with operations in 9 countries across East and South East Asia, backed by representation offices across the globe that offer support to our clients in their respective location and time zone.

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The situation around Mount Agung | Frequently Asked Questions

Dear friends and business partners

The situation around Mount Agung on Bali has kept us occupied since September 2017. Although the activity of Gunung Agung has decreased over the last weeks the alert level remains on level IV. The radius which is not accessible has been reduced to a 6km radius (previously 10-12km).

We can reconfirm that Bali remains safe and it is very much business as usual on the island. Nevertheless we continuously monitor with local authorities, on-the-spot experts, and via various online channels and will inform you immediately should the situation change.

As we continue to receive numerous questions from partners about the situation we therefore have prepared the below FAQ in trying to answer all your questions in relation to Gunung Agung.

Kind regards

Björn Schimanski

Managing Director

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How can I monitor the situation?
Asian Trails Indonesia regularly informs all partners about the situation of Mount Agung via its monthly newsletter. In case of an eruption and/or any airport closure, Asian Trails Indonesia will inform all partners immediately and will contact all clients on spot.

Alternative sources to gain information about the latest are MAGMA Indonesia, the Facebook Community “Mount Agung Daily Report” or view the Live Stream of Mount Agung on YouTube. Furthermore, the Bali Tourism Board has prepared an explanatory video which is quite useful.

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Which area around Mount Agung is currently closed?
The local authorities have set a safety parameter around the crater rim depending on the direction. A map of the exact safety parameter is available here via Google Maps. (best viewed in Internet Explorer)

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How can I contact Asian Trails Indonesia?
During office hours (9AM | 09:00 hrs to 6PM | 18:00 hrs during weekdays), you can contact our reservation team via email (res@asiantrails.co.id), by phone +62 (361) 285 771 or WhatsApp service line +62 (0) 895 353 968 295 (during office hours). Outside of office hours and weekends/public holidays, please contact our emergency number at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.

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What kind of assistance will Asian Trails Indonesia provide to affected clients on spot in case the volcano erupts?
Clients should contact either their local representative (contact details mentioned in welcome kit), our service line +62 (0) 895 353 968 295 (during office hours) or the emergency number in case they need assistance. We have our customer service manager, local and airport representatives at Bali International Airport available for all our guests.

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What kind of assistance will Asian Trails Indonesia provide to clients with cancelled flights?
For departing clients, we will provide assistance in re-arranging booked transfers, help to get in contact with airline offices, the consulate and assist in finding accommodation, when needed. For arriving clients, we help to re-arrange itineraries and arrival transfers, cancel unused rooms if Asian Trails Indonesia is notified by agent. We will provide assistance to re-book flights in line with airline policies.

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How can I re-book services in case the original flight was cancelled due to airport closure?
Agents are requested to contact our reservation team during office hours or emergency phone outside office hours, in case services require to be re-arranged in line with arriving flights. Clients on spot should contact their local representative or emergency phone if services need to be re-arranged.

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Which cancellation fee/policies applies?
In general, normal cancellation policy applies if tours, flights and hotels operate according to schedule. However, certain Bali and Lombok hotels offer special cancellation policies or so-called ‘airport closure benefits’ (i.e. free nights or discounted rates). Kindly contact our reservation team if you would like to book a hotel who agreed to offer flexible cancellation policies and airport closure benefits.

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Clients would like to book a trip but are scared to travel. What can I offer them?
Only a small area around Mount Agung’s crater is affected. All main areas on Bali and other islands in Indonesia including Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Flores, Sumba and Papua are accessible without any restrictions. If customers still want to stay on Bali, we recommend offering hotels with either very flexible cancellation policies or/and airport closure free night or discounted rates for departing in-house guests. Please contact our reservation team for more information and recommendations.

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Who will pay for additional expenses caused by volcano eruption?
Volcanic eruptions fall under the force majeure clause. Therefore Asian Trails Indonesia cannot pay for additional expenses. Tour operators or travel agencies wishing to pay for their clients additional expenses should advise us and we will arrange and pay according to your instructions and invoice accordingly.

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Exquisite Experiences – An Asian Trails and AMAN culinary exploration

Through a fine blend of immaculate product design, superior service and the final ingredient of authentic local cuisine, Asian Trails and AMAN have combined forces to offer guests a melting pot of unique street food dining experiences, served up in some of Asia’s most exciting landmark settings.

With no compromises on authenticity, we ensure our guests will get a taste of genuine local food so they can truly eat like a native resident. Our team’s specialist home-grown knowledge has been put to the culinary test and they have found food with a difference that only locals know how to produce.

This exploration is all about exciting flavourful food served up by local people in a sociable environment, be it a hawker stall, an impromptu food space created on the sidewalk, or from the back of a mobile kitchen on the back of a motorbike-sidecar. We give our guests an enjoyable insight into a wealth of different regional cooking styles created al fresco – a unique experience they can take home and share with friends and family.

An experience that matches the demand of the most discerned traveller in search for that authentic, culinary experience is now available by clicking on this link. For a hard copy of Exquisite Experiences, meet our team at one of the leading trade shows across the globe.

Bon Appétit!

AMAN and Asian Trails

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The CEO Story: Road trip on Thailand’s iconic Route 1095 – from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

I haven’t been to this part of northern Thailand for a number of years, and recently took the opportunity to revisit the region as part of the launch of our new overland tour from Mae Hong Son to Hanoi (or Luang Prabang).

For the Thais, Route 1095 from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son is as iconic as America’s Route 66. The mountain route, on a well paved road, does not cross the entire country, but with 1,864 curves is the most winding road in Thailand. Driving along the route is a unique experience, and one may even be rewarded with a certificate upon completion.

This journey brought back beautiful memories of my backpacker year more than three decades ago when I travelled through the region for the first time. I must admit that I love my ‘back to the future’ trips.

It takes about three hours to travel from the city of Chiang Mai heading northwest to Pai on Route 1095. The road starts to wind into the mountains after leaving Chiang Mai. The scenery is still as stunning with intensive and different shades of green from rice fields and plantations, lush bamboo forests, dense jungles, waterfalls and moss-covered walkways.

What has changed compared to 30 years ago is the coffee shop culture that has invaded Thailand. In the past Thai people hardly drank coffee, but they do now. It is thus not surprising to find quaint little coffee shops along the road, offering not only the addictive beverage but also cakes and snacks.

Did you know that Thailand produces its own coffee? Coffee plantations in the region grow mostly Arabica coffee beans, and they provide livelihood to entire communities. Nicely packed coffee beans or ground coffee is a great gift to take home, or as a branded giveaway for incentive groups.

The lovely and pretty small town of Pai is not just a meeting point for backpackers, but offers something for everyone. It is a far cry from busy Khao San Road in Bangkok or any other backpacker haven in Thailand. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking possibilities, bicycling, motor biking, ATV, kayaking and river rafting, or swimming in creeks under waterfalls offered along the drive from Chiang Mai to Pai and Pai to Mae Hong Son.

In our itineraries we include nature walks of up to 1½ hours in the mountain national parks. We can adapt these activities to multi-hour adventure treks for fit travellers, or short walks along rivers for those who prefer to take it easy.

Pai’s night market has retained its quirky and delightful charm, and is a must visit for everyone. It has a unique atmosphere of the past with wooden houses, lovely shops, food stalls selling everything from socks to grilled chicken with papaya salad, and small coffee shops and bars to chill in.

There are good quality hotels in Pai that fit any budget for individual travellers and groups. Located in or near the town or overlooking rice fields with mountain scenery, many of these accommodations have swimming pools, and some with natural springs and spas – cool places to relax for a few days.

From Pai I continued on Route 1095 to Mae Hong Son, which took about 2½ hours. On the way I visited Tham Lod Cave, a tunnel system of natural caves with a river running through it. The cave is massive and spectacular, and even though it is touristy I recommend visitors to make a stop here. I love that the authorities have not installed artificial lighting in the cave. As in the days of old one is accompanied through the cave by local villagers holding oil lamps, giving the visit an adventurous and explorative feel. Don’t forget to bring good shoes as parts of the cave floors are slippery; flip-flops are a no-go here.

I usually don’t promote individual hotels or restaurants in my stories, but I have to mention Baan Keawmdra Restaurant housed in an old wooden house at the junction of Route 1095 to Tham Lod. Don’t miss eating here for it serves some of the best Thai food found in the country.

The city of Mae Hong Son, near the border with Myanmar, is a modern city and has a distinctly different character to Pai. It was my first glimpse of the Myanmar culture when I was backpacking through the region 30 years ago, as there are many Myanmar Buddhist temples here and in the surrounding region. Today, I still characterise the experience here as seeing ‘a little piece of Burma’.

Myanmar temples are in abundance here, and they are not museums but active places of worship for Buddhists. All visitors are welcome to the temples, but they must respect the local customs of taking off shoes when entering any building of worship.

At 6 a.m. daily the traditional alms-giving takes place in some of Mae Hong Son streets. Visitors are most welcome to participate in this activity when devotees place food into the monks’ bowls, and receive blessings from the monks in return.

6 a.m. is also the best time to visit Mae Hong Son’s morning market to catch all the interesting activities there. The market is really authentic with numerous sections displaying all types of goods, from fruits and vegetable to tofu and flowers. There is also a meat section, but is not for the faint hearted.

I also wish to mention the Mae Hong Son’s night market. It is worth the time to make your way down to the lake in the evening where the market takes place every night. Apart from exploring the market with local products on sale you also get to see the golden temples in the spotlight, offering yet another small glimpse of Myanmar.

My personal preferred way of getting around Mae Hong Son and the region is by bicycle. However, one has to be fit to bike up and down the mountain roads.

I have not mentioned villages and ethnic communities in my story. This was not the focus of my visit, but as many of you will know there are ethnic communities and villages not far off Route 1095 that welcome visitors.

If you are interested in our new Mae Hong Son to Hanoi (or Luang Prabang) overland tours please contact your Asian Trails specialist.

I believe the border between Myanmar and Thailand near Mae Hong Son will open in the near future, which will then enable visitors to travel overland from Inle Lake to Mae Hong Son and onwards to their preferred destinations.

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Asian Trails’ delegation at the 2018 ATF in Chiang Mai, Thailand

For many years, the Asian Tourism Forum (ATF) has established itself as one of the leading regional trade shows for the travel industry from around the globe. This year again, Asian Trails is able to meet passionate professionals from 25 until 26 January 2018 at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) in Thailand.

A delegation from Asian Trails Myanmar and Thailand will showcase the latest in exceptional travel operations with an innovative approach at booth B03. Opportunities aplenty to discuss the very latest in product innovation, getting an update on leisure destinations around the region and giving new and existing partners about our leisure service developments taking place in Asia. In addition, you have the chance to get first-hand information from our experts exactly how your business can benefit with our extensive network through East and South East Asia.

You can book an appointment by contacting us via marketing@asiantrails.org to fit in your preferred timing

Our colleagues attending the ATF 2018 will be
•    Stefan Bruns – Deputy Managing Director, Asian Trails Thailand
•    Aye Sandar Kyaw – Reservation Supervisor, Asian Trails Myanmar

We are looking forward meeting you to the Rose of the North!

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Vietnam adds six more countries eligble for e-Visa application

In a bid to alleviate complex visa procedures for travelers going to Vietnam, the government has officially confirmed that its successful e-Visa platform now includes six more countries, bringing the total amount of eligble nationalities to 46.

The Vietnamese authorities have added Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates to the existing 40 countries that were given the right to apply for their visa online earlier this year. According to a statement, these countries were added to boost tourism to the country and have seen growths in arrivals in the past years.

Visitors can apply online for a 30-day, single-entry visa by paying a non-refundable application fee. The process for verifying the visa request will take a maximum of 3 working days. Travelers with approved visa applications can enter the country at 8 international airports, 13 international overland border crossings or seven sea ports. For more information about e-Visa applications, check out https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/ or contact us via vietnam@asiantrails.com.vn

Kind regards

Asian Trails Vietnam