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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

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Mount Agung situation remains unchanged on Bali

As of today, there have been no major changes reported in activity from Mount Agung since our last update from Thursday, 30 November.

Local authorities and experts keep the alert level of the volcano at 4 (out of 4) although there is currently no smoke or steam coming from the crater. The safety parameter of 10 – 12 kilometres around the crater rim is still in effect. All other areas are safe including Ubud, South-, North- and West Bali. We recommend avoiding the area North-East (Kubu, Tulamben) and East Bali (Candidasa, Sidemen) although there is no imminent danger.

The airports Bali and Lombok are both open and operate normally. Almost all airlines operate flights from and to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport as scheduled.

We’ll monitor the situation closely with all available trusted sources. Our representatives, airport representatives and customer service manager are available for your clients on spot at any time.

If you have any questions, please contact us anytime at res@asiantrails.co.id or at +62 (0) 361 285 771 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.

Kindest regards

Asian Trails Indonesia

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Heightened state of alertness as Agung continues to disrupt air traffic

Over the past days, we have continuously monitored the situation in regards to the increased activity around Mount Agung. According to the latest reports from yesterday, 29 November, the situation remains unchanged with ongoing ash clouds filling the skies over the region.

New developments and change of wind directions have resulted in the closing down of Lombok airport and the airspace around this island. Bali International Airport remains operating according to schedule and all major airlines have resumed flights from and to Ngurah Rai Airport. However, we expect the situation to change at any moment in line with forecasted weather conditions. We will keep you updated once new changes are taking effect.

It is highly recommended that you contact the airlines for the latest news to discuss alternative travel options from and to Indonesia.

It is strongly advised to forego and draw immediate conclusions via the socials and via various media sources. We have seen ample examples of misinformation spreading around and describe an inaccurate state of events. Asian Trails Indonesia is constantly monitoring the situations with our teams and contacts on the ground to gain an actual report on the situation.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us anytime at res@asiantrails.co.id or at +62 (0) 361 285 771 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.

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Mount Agung update: Bali remains disrupted after airport re-opens


As of today, there are currently no changes reported in activity from the Agung volcano since our last update from Tuesday, 28 November.

Due to the change of wind directions, Bali Airport has been re-opened since 3pmLombok airport remains open. However, we expect this situation to change at any moment. We kindly advise our business partners and customers to get in touch directly with your airline and discuss with them the options of your guests for their long haul flight.

We continue to operate our daily SIC for our guests from Bali to Surabaya Airport on the island of Java – the closest international airport available that is operational without any air traffic restrictions. Traveling time takes approximately 15 hours now due to increasing amount of traffic moving away from Bali to the mainland. From there onwards flight connections are available.

Asian Trails Indonesia will monitor the situation closely and will inform you immediately of any change. Please be careful about various (hoax) media reports which tend to dramatize the actual situation. 

If you have any questions, please contact us anytime at res@asiantrails.co.id or at +62 (0) 361 285 771 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.

Kindest regards

Asian Trails Indonesia

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Mount Agung: Bali volcano alert raised back to highest level

There have been some serious changes reported at Mt. Agung over the last 24 hours as it changed from a phreatic to a magmatic eruption. Activity in the mountain continues to build up as the crater is filling up with lava. It can be expected that it will flow over the sides of the crater once it has filled up. The eruption is accompanied by a continuous thick ash column reaching to the maximum height of 3400 metres from the peak.

Bali International Airport as well as Lombok Airport are now closed until further notice due to the accumulation of ash clouds at higher altitudes. A new update by airport authorities will be given at 7AM on 28 November at the earliest. All affected clients are informed on spot and we assist them as much as possible. Our reservation staff informs the respective partners directly of any amendments.

The status of the volcano has been increased back to level 4 (out of 4) at 6AM local time and safety parameter have been increased back to 10-12 kilometer around the crater rim. Life goes on as usual outside these areas, as there is little sign of volcanic ash in the southern and western parts of the island.

All activities operate normally with the exception tours/excursions/activities within the safety parameter (visits to the famous Besakih Temple and Mount Agung Trekking). Further, the area around Ahmed has been closed. We therefore re-arrange the itineraries accordingly. All affected guests and agents have been informed.

Asian Trails Indonesia will monitor the situation closely and will inform you immediately of any change. Please be careful about various (hoax) media reports which tend to dramatize the actual situation.

If you have any questions, please contact us anytime at res@asiantrails.co.id or at +62 (0) 361 285 771 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.

Kindest regards
Asian Trails Indonesia