Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue March 2016

THE CEO STORY

 

STAY ANOTHER DAY IN SIEM REAP

Siem Reap is one of those places in the world that should have a ‘stay another day’ tourism campaign. And if you wonder why I am suggesting this, my reasons are in my story below.

Siem Reap is the site of the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex that is not only the city’s main and greatest tourist attraction but also of Cambodia’s, attracting travellers from all over the world to marvel at this spectacular architecture. It is so vast and with so much to explore that a day is not sufficient to discover its magic and unravel its rich historical secrets.

Located in north-western Cambodia Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dating back to the 9th century it was the capital city of the Khmer Empire and a major power in the region for five centuries. It is an amazing historical site with a diversity of temples and shrines that is unique to Asia. Most travellers spend two days exploring the temples either as an extension to a journey in Thailand, Vietnam or Laos, but few take the time to see anything else in the area. They honestly don’t know what they are missing.

Siem Reap is the city nearest to Angkor, as well as the entry and exit point for most travellers to Cambodia. A sleepy village 20 years ago it has since developed into a fun place to spend a few days in. I have no doubt that, in a few years, it will be on the ‘must visit’ list of most travellers to Asia.

I spent a few days recently exploring Siem Reap and the nearby countryside, and I simply loved it. On my first early morning I set off with Yann, the owner of the Green E-Bike shop, on a countryside tour. Riding his eco-friendly bike, which runs on batteries, is really easy. It’s like riding a bicycle with no prior skill required, and no need for a driver’s license either.

We left the town centre with its morning traffic and headed for a short ride along the main streets before taking a turn to the untarred country roads. It was quite unbelievable that, only after a short drive of about 15 minutes at 20 km/hr, we had the impression of being in the middle of the Cambodian countryside. Buildings gave way to forests and rice fields, rivers and lakes, wooden houses on stilts, and sugar palm trees. The sun was strong, and I was glad to have my sunglasses and protected my skin with sunscreen. However, the heat was not overwhelming as we were riding through forests and along the lake.

Yann showed me a few temple ruins that I would never have found on my own. We stopped at several villages for a chat with the locals, and to observe their simple way of life. We had a home-cooked lunch in one of the village house before heading back to Siem Reap. A truly rewarding Cambodian countryside experience.

In the afternoon I opted for the antidote of an E-Bike, and decided to go back to the countryside on a quad bike, also known as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). This is an activity for the more adventurous and daring. There are several quad bike tour options to choose from – easy countryside rides to off-the-road discovery experiences. Anybody reasonably fit and over 18 years of age can ride a quad, and it’s an exciting way to travel.

The quad team took me to a completely different area than what I had seen in the morning, confirming how diverse Siem Reap’s outlying areas are and dispelling the notion that it is a dull city.

As I always say, seeing is believing. We drove along countryside roads, went off road on sandy paths and through muddy fields, stopped at local farms and workshops, visited a temple lost in the middle of nowhere, and drove past buffalos, cows and pigs and making sure not to frighten them. Everywhere we went the children waved at us while their parents gave us friendly smiles. After two hours we were back in Siem Reap, dusty and muddy, but in excellent spirits.

On returning to my hotel in Siem Reap in the early evening and after a good shower, I embarked on a restaurant discovery evening. There is plenty of choice, from simple country restaurants to top 5-star dining that serve both Cambodian and international cuisines as well as meals that were previously unheard off in this part of Asia. With such fascinating food offerings, I am sure the city will soon become a culinary hotspot in the region. If you don’t believe me then you just have to head to Siem Reap and find out for yourself.

My own personal favourites serving Cambodian cuisine include Cuisine Wat Damnak, Chanrey Tree, Viroth’s and the brand new Malis Siem Reap. The most adventurous should not miss the Bugs Café for a taste of the unusual such as tarantula spider, spring rolls with ants, or cupcakes with cricket or scorpion salad – check it out on TripAdvisor.

There is also a vibrant bar scene in Siem Reap with its numerous bars and coffee shops, ranging from fancy ones to simple establishments serving cocktails, beers or wine. Check out Miss Wong, The Angkor What, Asana, Mezze, or the Wine Bar near the local market.

The next morning I decided to go on one of our Vespa Tours. The evening Vespa excursion with the dine-around option is a well-known tour, but I wanted to do the new tour that incorporates the countryside. Asian Trails’ Countryside Life Tour is a day tour exploring the authentic Cambodian countryside and experience what life is like in the shadow of Angkor Wat, all from the back of a Vespa scooter.

This was another great off-the-beaten track yet relaxing experience, just sitting on the back of a Vespa driven by a courteous and professional driver. We visited villages, a local market, a sugar palm juice producing family, a monastery complete with blessing from a monk, a fortune teller, as well as enjoying the hospitality of the local people. Our journey took us through rice paddies and the jungle, on dirt paths and countryside roads. Once again I was amazed that during the entire morning I did not see another tourist even though I was less than 10 kilometres from Angkor Wat.

The afternoon was devoted to exploring the new shopping areas that have mushroomed in the city, and a visit to the spa for a relaxing massage.

My recommendation to travel professionals is to add another day to the itinerary of your clients, and give them the chance to see the Cambodian countryside and to explore Siem Reap’s restaurants, bars, shops and spas. It’s really worth it as the experience is amazing. Asian Trails will be happy to discuss any new tour options with you.



Happy Trails! 

Laurent Kuenzle 
CEO 
Asian Trails

 

 

   

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    THAILAND

     

     

     


     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR CLAUDIO F. KELLENBERGER


    Dear friends & partners

    Happy Lunar New Year and welcome to the year of the Monkey! During Christmas and New Year I took the opportunity to realise a long held-back dream: an overland tour with my car from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and back. A journey of 1,500 kilometres through the vast plains of Central Thailand, visiting some of the most interesting cities and historical parks in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, the hilly and remote parts in Mae Ping National Park, and finishing in busy and bustling Chiang Mai.

     

    While I have travelled countless times to Chiang Mai by plane, which is fast and convenient, I was amazed during the road trip at how many things I haven’t seen in Thailand and how many experiences were new. The trip was also a great experience to see how the food changes with each region. Tasting the ‘real local’ specialties in small, basic and family-run restaurants was a delight for the taste buds.

    Travelling by car also gives the opportunity to meet people you would not have meet otherwise. You can also experience the authentic friendliness of the Thai people, be it the young boy at the gas station in Lamphun or the fluent English-speaking guard at the historical park in Sukhothai!

    Traffic on the roads leading to Chiang Mai is light when compared to Bangkok, and driving along them is quite relaxing. This makes an overland trip, like the one I had, ideal for new as well as repeat visitors to Thailand.

     

    Contact us for a selection of our self-drive programmes, which include car rental and pre-arranged hotels. We are happy to assist with further information and, of course, newly gained insider tips.
     

     

    With best regards

    Claudio F. Kellenberger
    Managing Director
    Asian Trails Thailand

     

     

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    TERMINAL 2 AT DON MUEANG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT REOPENS

     

    Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok’s hub for low cost airlines, has reopened its newly renovated Terminal 2 to domestic flights. It has bigger passenger capacity, from 18.5 million to 30 million passengers annually.

    Don Mueang’s Terminal 1 continues to serve international flights.

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

     

     

     

     

    NEW! 4-DAY NORTH THAILAND ADVENTURE

     

    The new 4-Day North Thailand Adventure starts with the pick up of guests from their hotels, the airport, railway station, or bus terminal in Chiang Mai. Depart to Mae Kam Pong village about 50 kilometres away, a journey that takes about one hour. On the way to the village there are stops at the Stone Garden, Teen Tok Royal Project, Pha Num Lord Cliff, and Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. The trip continues to Ban Pang Hai, which is a simple village situated 850 metres above sea level.

    Day 3 is for trekking – a three-hour trek from Hmong Hill tribe lodge to Ban Teen Doi into the villages, and then onwards to Ban Mae Pa and Ban Palan. Visit a small village reservoir and continue to Monchaem.

    For more detail and booking, please contact us res@asiantrails.org
     

     

     

    SCENICAL WORLD THEME PARK – KHAO YAI

     

    Scenical World Theme Park is nestled in the scenic hills surrounding Khao Yai. The huge park offers various kinds of activities for visitors to relax and have a good time in its three different zones - Splash World (water park with 15 types of rides), Life Park (amusement park with 20 types of adventurous rides and activities), and Greenery Park Mall (themed outdoor shopping mall).

    Scenical World is about two hours’ drive from Bangkok, and is ideal as a day trip from the city. Visitors also have the option to stay overnight at Botanica and The Greenery hotels, which are part of the same complex.

     

     

     

    LIFE PARK

     

    Life Park is Thailand's newest and most exciting adventure park, which spreads over 20 acres of open ground near the hills of Khao Yai. It offers more than 20 adrenalin pumping adventurous rides and activities. The park is ideal for families or friends to bond over a day of adventure and fun.

    Life Park places the highest priority on safety for all visitors, with each ride designed and operated using the industry’s best safety standards.

     

     

    SPLASH WORLD

     

    Splash World is Thailand's first world-class state-of-the-art waterpark located in the hills of Khao Yai. Visitors can enjoy 15 types of water rides including non-stop water play action on multi-level platforms. a wave pool, lazy pool, and aqua play, as well as waterslides in all types of designs to challenge even the most daring. The waterpark is open year round and is suitable for visitors of all ages.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    CHIANG MAI

     

    NEW – U NIMMAN CHIANG MAI

     

    U Nimman Chiang Mai is located on Nimmanhemin Road, just minutes away from the shopping and entertainment areas, which are very popular with tourists. The hotel has 150 rooms and suites that are equipped with deluxe amenities. The overall design of the hotel is industrial modern with a twist of Lanna influences throughout its interiors.

     

     

     

    HUA HIN

     

    REBRANDED – MANATHAI HUA HIN (FORMER HUA HIN COLONNADE)

     

    Manathai Hua Hin is a simple and stylish boutique hotel located in the heart of the charming seaside town of Hua Hin next to the iconic railway station, one of the most beautiful in Thailand. The 40-room all-suite hotel is ideal for visitors seeking privacy, space, and comfort. The hotel is a convenient base from which to explore the attractions in the region.
     

     

     

    PATTAYA

     

    NEW — VERANDA RESORT PATTAYA

     

    New Veranda Resort is located on Na Jomtien Beach, which is close to Pattaya city’s bustling neighbourhoods but yet secluded enough to ensure a peaceful and relaxing stay for guests. The hotel’s exclusive beachfront location ensures a perfect view over the ocean and nearby islands. Its trendy design is ideal for today's discerning traveller searching for a retreat to unwind and be inspired. It has just 145 rooms divided into six room types, from Seascape room to Sky Pool Villa.

     

     

     

    PHUKET

     

    REBRANDED – AMATARA RESORT & WELLNESS (FORMER REGENT PHUKET CAPE PANWA)

     

    Amatara Resort & Wellness is set to become the new benchmark for unsurpassed wellness experience in the tranquil surrounding of Cape Panwa Phuket, with integrative health retreats through luxury Thai hospitality accommodated in beautiful sea view pool villas and suites. Each featuring its own private balcony with sea views, the spacious and stunningly designed 22 pavilions and 48 suites set new standards in a destination long known to Hollywood A-listers such as Leonardo di Caprio, Elizabeth Taylor and Pierce Brosnan.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    SONGKRAN FESTIVAL/THAI NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS
    APRIL 13-15, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT THAILAND

     

    During Songkran Thais throughout the country celebrate time-honoured Buddhist customs and ancient Buddhist merit-making traditions. These include bathing rituals of Buddha images when lustral water is sprinkled over them, and the building of sand stupas decorated with colourful flags and flowers at the nine royal Buddhist temples on Rattanakosin Island.

    The celebrations also include a procession of the highly revered Phra Puttha Sihing Buddha image through the streets of Bangkok, with lustra water sprinkled over it as a mark of respect. The Buddha is revered as a spiritual guardian protecting the local community from harm. The procession presents an opportunity for local residents and visitors of Buddhist faith to make merit.

    Please note our offices in Thailand will be closed from April 13 to 17 April. We will have reduced stand-by staff on duty.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    SINGAPORE AIRLINES TO ADD SIXTH DAILY FLIGHT TO BANGKOK

     

    Singapore Airlines (SIA) will add a sixth daily flight to Bangkok from March 27, 2016, up from five daily flights. The added frequency is to meet growth in demand for travel to and from the Thai capital. The service will be operated with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, adding nearly 2,000 seats per week on the route that is popular with both business and leisure travellers.

    Flight SQ982 will depart Singapore at 17.35hrs, and arrive in Bangkok at 19.00hrs. The return flight SQ983 will depart Bangkok at 20.05hrs, and arrive in Singapore at 23.30hrs (all local time).

    As part of SIA’s northern summer schedule (March 27, 2016-October 29, 2016) the airline will increase frequencies to Colombo in Sri Lanka and Milan in Italy.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    PLEARNWAN VINTAGE MARKET, HUA HIN

     

    Plearnwan Vintage Market is located in the popular seaside province of Hua Hin in western Thailand. This visually unique and eco-friendly market provides a boutique style shopping experience The outer part of the complex comprises wooden buildings that house mainly boutiques, shops, and restaurants. They are surrounded by an inner courtyard, which is covered in artificial turf.

    The market is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Fridays from noon until midnight). Admission is free.

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    WELCOME AND BEM VINDO PATRICA FRATTA

     

    Patricia Fratta De La Torre, a Brazilian national, has joined Asian Trails Thailand’s Latin team. Fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English, she is responsible for coordinating combined tours in Thailand with Indochina for our South American clients.

    Patricia has extensive travel experience in South East Asia with more than 10 years’ experience in the tourism industry, one and half of which is in Thailand. She will use her vast travel experience in her new role with Asian Trails Thailand.

    We are excited to have a Brazilian national in our team for the first time. We are sure our South American friends will see the appointment as another added value Asian Trails is offering them. We wish Patricia success in her new position.

     

     

     
     

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    LAOS

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ANDREAS HOFMANN

     

    We just welcomed the Chinese New Year of the Fire Monkey.

    In Laos we like all festivals, including Chinese New Year. The Fire Monkey, according to Chinese belief, is creative, inventive and anything can happen during his reign. We can see these trends with the tourism industry in Laos, which continues to diversify – both long term pre-booking and short-term last minute is becoming more pronounced. The expensive and well-tempered High Season and the more easy-going and adventurous Green Season are both attractive for travellers.

    The Monkey Year is one to look for both the unconventional and conventional – flash backing on bumpy roads and relaxing in 5 star hotels both go together! Lao New Year is fast approaching, too. Just another reason to come and visit the Mekong region. We are looking forward to welcome you in Laos!

    Andreas Hofmann
    Managing Director, Asian Trails Laos

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    SPECIAL TOURS – HEALTH CARE AND BELIEFS

     

    We recently pioneered several tailor-made thematic tours to Indochina on health care systems and health care beliefs for medical professionals from foreign countries that include the UK and Switzerland. Doctors from Europe have visited Lao hospitals and clinics to learn about how modern medicine is interpreted with Lao Buddhist and cultural beliefs - pills and spirits do go hand in hand.

    Asian Trails Laos has indepth local knowledge and combined with our personal relationships with local communities, the government, and development aid partners we have come up with special tours that you simply cannot find in another booking engine. Since the Monkey Year is about being creativity and inventiveness, why not try some new experiences based on cultural encounters and local knowledge?

    Contact me directly at andreas@asiantrailslaos.com to create green and high seasons tours that stand out.

     

     

     

    EXPLORING VIENTIANE IN A VINTAGE JEEP (1-DAY TOUR)

     

    Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, is turning from a village into a modern city. On this 1-day tour you will discover its two faces – both the modern and the old. You will visit landmarks such as That Luang Stupa, the temples, and the Patouxay Victory Gate, as well as discover hidden corners, the daily life of the locals, and the best mango sticky rice.

    The rough and edgy parts of city are part of a “secret trail” you can explore in the vintage jeep with your guide to show you all the interesting parts. After the exploration it is time to leave the city behind and speed on dusty roads less travelled along the Mekong River to a secret spot for a rustic picnic. Here you will enjoy great views and the slow pace of life that Laos is famous for.

    This excursion starts and ends at your hotel. Transport is either with a Willys Army Jeep or Vintage Land rover, which can accommodate up to four persons per vehicle.

     

     

     
     

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    CAMBODIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

     

    Dear Business Partners and Friends,

    World Heritage Angkor temples remain the most visited sites in Cambodia, but more and more visitors now want to discover a different side to the country especially its beautiful countryside. The province of Kratie, for example, offers serene rustic riverside scenery. On the island of Koh Trong your clients can go on a bicycle to discover traditional villagers life, or explore Battambang and its typical countryside.

    We also want to promote Cambodia’s Green Season, which is from June to October, when the ancient temples are bathed in bright sunshine amidst a lush landscape and the verdant rice fields look like green carpets.

    The Green Season is also a great time to visit Cambodia, as there are numerous promotions. Please contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh for further information.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    PHOTO TOUR WITH A PROFESSIONAL

     

    Our professional photographers will share their passion and knowledge with you to make sure you will bring back home amazing pictures of Cambodia. For half a day or a full day let them help you to capture your Cambodian memories. There are pre- tour meetings to create your perfect photo itinerary according to your skill and wishes – to capture beautiful temples, green countryside, friendly people, busy markets, or unique floating villages. The choice is yours.

    Contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh for further information.

     

     

     

    LUXURY CAMP AT BANTEY CHMAR

     

    Our exclusive Luxury Camp is a rare opportunity to discover the hidden wonders of the Khmer Empire. Navigate through the countryside to discover the authentic Cambodia and her people. Explore the impressive temple of Bantey Chmar, another architectural gem from King Jayavaraman VII, away from the crowds. Spend a magical evening under the stars in the comfort of our luxury tents with attentive service, and a personal chef and waiter to complete an unforgettable journey.

    Contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh for further information.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    KEP

     

    SUNSET VALLEY RESORT UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT

     

    The newly renovated Sunset Valley Resort is now under new management. Located in the quiet seaside town of Kep, which is famous for his blue crabs, it has a beautiful garden filled with flowers and colours. The spectacular view of the sunset from the resort will make guests understand why it is so named.
     

     

     

    SIEM REAP

     

    BELMOND LA RESIDENCE D'ANGKOR TO UNDERGO RENOVATIONS

     

    Belmond La Residence d'Angkor will be temporarily closed from May 25 until September 30, 2016 for renovations.
     

     

     

    RENOVATIONS AT NAVUTU DREAMS RESORT AND SPA

     

    Navutu Dreams Resort and Spa will embark on renovations and upgrade of its facilities and rooms from June 1 to June 14 (inclusive) 2016. During the renovation period the resort will not accommodate any guests. It will reopen to receive guests from June 15, 2016.

     

     

     

    SIHANOUKVILLE

     

    SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND RESORT TO CLOSE FOR RENOVATIONS

     

    After more than five years in operations the luxury Song Saa Private Island Resort will undergo full maintenance work. It will be closed from August 24 until September 18, 2016. The hotel will reopen on September 19, 2016.

     

     

     

    MONDOLKIRI

     

    MAYURA HILL RESORT

     

    Nested in the secluded region of Mondolkiri, Mayura Hill Resort offers 14 villas set within a beautiful tropical garden. Its convenient location offers guests easy access to the city's must-see attractions. It also offers superior services and a broad range of amenities.

     

     

     

    PHNOM PENH

     

    SUN & MOON HOTEL

     

    Sun & Moon Hotel is strategically located close to Phnom Penh’s main attractions and places of interest. It offers 80 guestrooms including 12 suites and one apartment. Creativity is behind every detail of the hotel, an original arty property where guests can admire Phnom Penh skylines from the rooftop infinity pool.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

     

     

     

    KHMER NEW YEAR
    APRIL 13-15, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    After Chinese New Year Cambodia will welcome the Khmer New Year, a three-day holiday marked by colourful celebrations throughout the Kingdom. People visit family and friends, as well as offer alms and make donations to Buddhist pagodas. Please note that some local markets, businesses, and the Royal Palace will be partly closed during these dates.

    Asian Trails Cambodia offices will be closed on April 15.

    Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey!

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    CAMBODIA ANGKOR AIR’S PROMOTION

     

    Cambodia Angkor Air is offering promotional fares between Bangkok (Thailand) and Siem Reap until the end of March 2016.

    Contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh for further information.

     

     

     

    THAI SMILE AIRWAYS LAUNCHES BANGKOK-SIEM REAP SERVICE

     

    Thai Smile Airways, the wholly owned subsidiary of Thai Airways, has launched a new service between Bangkok and Siem Reap. The 10 weekly flights commenced on February 1, 2016 from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

    Contact us at res@asiantrails.com.kh for further information.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    SIEM REAP

     

    BAYON PASTRY SCHOOL

     

    Indulge yourself with a sweet break when in Siem Reap by visiting the Bayon Pastry School. It provides free training to disadvantaged Cambodian women to make cakes and drinks so they could have better future. Participate in a pastry lesson, buy a delicious cake, or host a private event there, and contribute to a good cause at the same time.
     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

     

    GOODBYE PISET, CONGRATULATIONS NICOLAS

     

    After 15 years with Asian Trails Mr Piset Chea (top photo), Branch Manager of Asian Trails Siem Reap office, has decided to move on to new challenges and has left the company. He had been with Asian Trails since its beginning in 2000. During his tenure with the company he had shown strong dedication to the company, and had contributed immensely to its development. We wish Mr Piset good luck with his new projects.

    Mr Nicolas Humbert (bottom photo), former Guest Relation Manager of Asian Trails Cambodia, is taking over the management of the Siem Reap office. Together with the team he will continue to ensure the delivery of the best quality services. We also wish him good luck in his new position.
     

     

     
     

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    VIETNAM

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

     

    Dear friends,

    We have enjoyed an exciting Tết holidays and, along with the Vietnamese, we have now entered the new year with new resolutions and motivations. We have a good feeling that 2016 will be a brighter year, and that more people will travel to Vietnam. We are also confident that tourist infrastructures, as well as policies, will be more established and improved to cater to the expected influx of tourists.

    All of us at Asian Trails Vietnam have set high objectives to improve our service, build more creative travel experiences while remaining competitive in pricing in the market.

    We will be reviewing our brochures and creating new programmes. Our team is also ready to cater all your requests – from changing a dish on the menu, exploring new destinations, to sending more photos to a product training webinar. Please let us know how to support you better.

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    VIETNAM PLAYS HOST TO “KING KONG”

     

    Vietnam is very proud to welcome movie director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and his crew who are in the country to film the new King Kong movie, “Kong: Skull Island”. Filming started on location on February 22, 2016.

    With an all-star cast of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and Brie Larson, the film is scheduled for release in March 2017. North Vietnam’s spectacular scenery will be a big feature in the movie. We hope this will help generate renewed interest in Vietnam, and attract a new generation of travellers to the country.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    “CHEZ ARTIST” STAY

     

    Ngoc Thuy, a rare quiet village by the Red River that is just a short distance outside of Hanoi, is a chosen haven for artists to show off their creativity. Gradually they have opened their homes to welcome guests and offer them a warm hospitality experience within their artistic enclave. There is a wide choice of accommodation – from ancient wooden houses, ethnic stilt houses to tree top rooms.

    During the day take a guided cycling tour to immerse into the rural life, learn how traditional villages have been transformed through times and how the villagers are handling developments and the advance of modernity. In the evening enjoy moments of conviviality, enjoy a delightful home-hosted dinner with an artist and a discussion of Vietnam’s art scenes.

    Staying in Ngoc Thuy amidst an artistic community is an out-of-the-ordinary experience that tourists to Vietnam should try.

    Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

    NEW L'AZALÉE CRUISES

     

    L'Azalée Cruises has announced details of their three different cruises: L'Azalée Premium Cruise, L'Azalée Deluxe Cruise, and L'Azalée Classic Cruise. Managed by TMG Hospitality these are newest premier cruise experiences on the beautiful Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    The cruises offer a combination of heritage and cultural experience. The newly designed modern fleet is of international resort standard. The vessels are fully certified, operated by professional staff and serviced by attentive and trained personnel.

    Please contact us for more information.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    HANOI: THANG LOI HOTEL REBRANDs AS HILTON HANOI WESTLAKE

     

    The Thang Loi Hotel Joint Stock Company and Hilton Worldwide have inked an agreement to transform the 4 star Thang Loi Hotel into the 5 star Hilton Hanoi Westlake.


    Hilton Worldwide will operate the new 250-room Hilton Westlake, which is expected to open in 2018.

    Hilton Hanoi Westlake is the Hilton brand's third hotel in the capital city, following Hilton Hanoi Opera and Hilton Garden Inn.
     

     

     

    HOI AN: NAME CHANGE FOR SUNRISE HOI AN RESORT

    Sunrise Hoi An Resort has been renamed as Sunrise Premium Resort.

     

     

    HUE: NEW OFFERINGS FROM PILGRIMAGE VILLAGE BOUTIQUE RESORT & SPA

     

    Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa has revised its terms and conditions, and is now offering extra complimentary value-adds.

    Guests can now enjoy a daily Yoga class as a complimentary wellness activity from the hotel. There are also special packages for the Green Season for 2016 that has various inclusions, such as meals as well as wellness and spa packages. The hotel has also included a Winter 2016 early bird offer with up to 15% off the standard rates.

    Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa has closed the movie room, and will replace it with a new Kid’s corner and an art gallery.

    Please contact us for more information.

     

     

     

    HO CHI MINH CITY: SILVERLAND JOLIE HOTEL & SPA COMPLETES UPGRADING

     

    The 4 star Silverland Jolie Hotel & Spa, located in a quiet downtown area, has completed its upgrading exercise and is ready to welcome guests. All rooms offer panoramic views of the city and river.

    Please contact us for more information on this excellent new addition to Ho Chi Minh City’s hotel scene.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    MALINDO AIR CONNECTS KUALA LUMPUR WITH HO CHI MINH CITY AND COLOMBO

     

    There is good news for the growing Indian and Sri Lankan market to Vietnam and the rest of South East Asia, as there are increasing connections between Vietnam and Malaysia. This is due to Malaysia based hybrid carrier, Malindo Air, flying to Colombo in Sri Lanka and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

    The Kuala Lumpur-based airline launched services to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city, on December 18, 2015. The flights to Ho Chi Minh City commenced on January 29, 2016. The daily flights on both routes are operated using the 162-seat two-class Boeing B737 aircraft.

    The Kuala Lumpur-Colombo flight departs KLIA2, Malaysia’s budget terminal in Kuala Lumpur, at 22.00hrs and arrives in the Sri Lankan capital at 22.55hrs. The return service leaves at 23.55hrs and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 06.15hrs (the next day).

    On the Kuala Lumpur-Ho Chi Minh City service, the flight departs Kuala Lumpur at 12.05hrs and arrives in Vietnam’s largest city at 13.00hrs. The return flight departs Ho Chi Minh City at 13.55hrs and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 17.00hrs.

    Malindo Air currently operates flights to destinations in Malaysia, Australia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand and Singapore, and Hong Kong.

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    A WARM WELCOME TO JASON, ATV’S NEW GENERAL MANAGER

     

    We are delighted to welcome Mr Jason Blackwell as the new General Manager of Asian Trails Vietnam. He first came to Vietnam about nine years ago. The vibrancy of this region has made him return to the country many times, staying longer each time.

    For the past few years Jason has worked in several managerial positions with different tour operators in Cambodia and Laos. He joined Asian Trails Vietnam on February 1 this year. His experience, understanding of the local conditions, and product knowledge of both Vietnam and Indochina will contribute greatly to our local team and our overseas partners.

    We wish Jason a great start and success in his new role.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    GOLFING IN VIETNAM

     

    Vietnam is becoming one of Asia’s premier golf destinations with championship golf courses, luxury hotels and integrated resorts in various parts of the country.

    The Dalat Palace Golf Club has a colourful history that can be seen and felt throughout each of its 18 inventive holes. It was built as a 9-hole layout in 1922, and took support from the country's most prominent golfer, Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. It was constructed to a full 18-holes in the later years. The club closed for the next 70 years due to political events. In 1994 it underwent a multi-million dollar restoration project, and emerged as Vietnam’s leading course and as one of South East Asia’s up-and-coming golf destinations.

    On Danang’s central coast is the Montgomerie Links, designed by Colin Montgomerie, which opened in 2009. It is rated as the seventh best golf course in South East Asia.

    Greg Norman designed the Danang Golf Club, which opened in 2010. He is currently developing two projects in Ho Chi Minh City and Ho Tram.

     

    The newly opened Banyan Tree Laguna Course by Sir Nick Faldo is another masterpiece incorporating sand dunes, rice-paddy fields, trees and scrub, exposed rock formations as well as a section of dramatic coastline.

    In addition to the greens and tropical setting are the local female caddies, who with their smiles and grace, bring extra charm to the game and act as a reminder to golfers they are playing in hospitable Vietnam and not just in any ordinary golf course.

     

     

     

     
     

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    CHINA

       

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

     

    The Year of the Monkey has started, and it looks to be a very promising year for business. We had a great start to the year at the Harbin Ice Festival in January. We hope next year your guests will be there too.

    We are now in full preparation for the high season, which will stretch all the way to November. Our teams are working very hard to keep up with all the quotes and reservations. Thanks you for your continued support and patience.

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON HIGH-SPEED LINE’S ‘MOST BEAUTIFUL ROUTE’

     

    This high-speed line is considered the 'most beautiful route' in Central China's Hubei province. It is planned to pass through several cultural and natural scenic spots including Danjiangkou Reservoir Water-source Conservation Areas, Wudang Mountain World Cultural Heritage (ancient architectural complex), Longzhong National Scenic Spot, and Xian Mountain National Forest Park.

    The 399-kilometre line, which has a planned top speed of 350 km/hr, runs from Xiaogan city heading northwest to Shiyan city and has 13 stops along the route. It will connect with another inter-urban railway to the southeast and complete a high-speed line from Wuhan to Shiyan. By connecting with Wuhan the Yellow Crane Tower (Huanghe Lou) will also be included among the tourist attractions.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

     

    WORLD HERITAGE - ANCIENT BUILDING COMPLEX IN WUDANG MOUNTAINS

     

    Situated in the scenic valleys and on the slopes of the Wudang Mountains in Hubei province this ancient site was built as an organised complex during the Ming dynasty (14th–17th centuries). It contains Taoist buildings from as early as the 7th century. It also represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years.

    The palaces and temples, which form the nucleus of the group of secular and religious buildings in the complex, exemplify the architectural and artistic achievements of China's Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

     

     

     

    SHANGHAI DISNEY RESORT OPENS ON JUNE 16

     

    Shanghai Disney Resort is set to open on June 16, 2016. To mark the occasion the resort will host a multi-day grand opening celebration, which will culminate in a spectacular welcoming ceremony for the first official guests.

    Shanghai Disneyland, which celebrates China’s rich heritage and cultural elements, will also be opened. The complex comprises a theme park with six themed lands, two themed hotels, Disneytown, a huge shopping, dining and entertainment district, and Wishing Star Park.

    Pre-ticketing for Shanghai Disneyland starts on March 28.
     

     

     

    CHANGSHA OFFERS 72-HOUR VISA-FREE ENTRY

     

    Changsha, capital city of Hunan province, is offering 72-hour visa-free entry for international transit passengers. The policy covers travellers from 51 countries.

    One of the most popular tourist destinations in Hunan is Zhangjiajie, known for its scenic mountains. A new glass bridge, the world's longest and highest across the 400-metre deep Grand Canyon at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, will open to the public on May 1, 2016.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    NEWLY OPENED - SOFITEL SANYA LEEMAN RESORT

     

    The new beachfront Sofitel Sanya Leeman Resort is located in Haitang Bay, and is only a 30-minute's drive from Yalong Bay, and an hour's drive from Sanya city and Sanya Phoenix International Airport.

    The hotel has 477 rooms including 35 suites. Facilities include three restaurants, two bars, three outdoor swimming pools, and a spa centre. The conference facilities include a 1200sqmS banquet hall and eight boardrooms.

     

     

     

    WALDORF ASTORIA CHENGDU TO OPEN IN Q2 2016

     

    The 300-room Waldorf Astoria Chengdu is due to open in the second quarter of this year. It is located right at the heart of the Chengdu Tianfu New Area, opposite Chengdu Tianfu International Financial Center. The area has been earmarked to become a second city centre and is also home to the South Chengdu Hi-Tech Development Zone.

    Towering at a height of 220 metres the hotel will form part of a mixed-used development occupying the top 15 floors, with service apartments in the lower part of the building.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    QING MING FESTIVAL/TOMB SWEEPING DAY
    APRIL 5, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

     

    The Qingming Festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming, which is on April 5 this year. On this day Chinese throughout the country remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs, and offer food, tea, wine, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors.

    The rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers. The concept of filial piety or obedience to one's elderly or ancestors is a very important in the Chinese culture. Traditionally, the Chinese believe that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after the family even when they are gone. Hence, offerings of food and spirit money will keep them happy in the spiritual world and, in turn, the living family will continue to prosper through good harvests and more children from the ancestors’ blessing.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    HAINAN AIRLINES LAUNCHES DIRECT XI'AN—ROME SERVICE

     

    China's Hainan Airlines inaugurated direct flights from Xi'an (pictured) to Rome in Italy. The twice-weekly service operates every Wednesday and Saturday with an Airbus A330 aircraft.
     

     

     

    AIR CHINA LINKS CHENGDU WITH PARIS

     

    Air China has launched direct flight between Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle in France. The four times weekly flight takes 11 hours, and operates every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    HARBIN ICE FESTIVAL

     

    Asian Trails is setting new standards at the Harbin Ice Festival. Start planning now for your VIP group for next year's winter fairy tale story. We only work with the best partners to give your clients the once-in-a-lifetime experience in Harbin.
     

     

     
     

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    MYANMAR

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

     

    The tourism industry continues to flourish, and it has been a busy season. We have many exciting news for you, and many will be happy that low season rates are now significantly lower. We hope this is good news for you and your clients, and will help to boost the Green Season business.

    As you can read in the ‘Hotel Information’ section of this report, new hotels are opening and choices are becoming even broader. With additional flights from Hong Kong and Vietnam we also get a further boost in air connectivity. With more flights to Mandalay the city has become a viable alternative to Yangon as the entry point to Myanmar.

    I take the opportunity once more to thank you all for the support and look forward to meet you at ITB in Berlin this month.

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    HOTELS' SPECIAL SUMMER PROMOTIONS

     

    This year some hotels are again offering promotional rates for the coming summer season. The Green Season is the best time to visit Myanmar, as tourist spots are less crowded and prices are more attractive.

    Please contact our office for more details and dedicated tour programs.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    ORIENTAL BALLOONING’S SUNRISE RIDE IN NGAPALI

     

    Experience the beauty of the unspoiled coastline of the Bay of Bengal with its fishermen and sandy beaches from a bird's eye view with Oriental Ballooning. A great opportunity for bird watchers to spot rare exotic birds flying over pristine jungle.

    Oriental Ballooning, which has operating since last November, will stop flights at the end of March and will resume from the next season.
     

     

     

    HIGH TRAIN EXPERIENCE IN MYANMAR

     

    The largest railway trestle, the Gokteik Viaduct, was completed in 1901 and is the highest bridge in Myanmar. Located in the centre of the country, northeast of the largest city of Mandalay, the rail line was constructed during the British Empire to expand British influence in the region up to Lashio.

    The 102-metre high bridge was designed and fabricated by the Pennsylvania Steel Company and shipped to Burma, as the country was then known. Sir Arthur Rendel, an engineer with the Burma Railroad Company, oversaw the bridge’s construction. Although larger concrete viaducts and steel cantilever bridges were built before and after the Gokteik Viaduct no other conventional box tower and girder type steel trestle has ever exceeded it in size, except for the Lethbridge Viaduct in Alberta, Canada.

     

     

     

    FINE DINING ON BELMOND ROAD TO MANDALAY

     

    The luxury river cruiser, Belmond Road to Mandalay, opens its doors to a limited number of outside guests on Friday and Saturday evenings for an exclusive dining experience mid-river near Bagan. The Road to Mandalay Grill is the perfect venue for an unforgettable meal in one of the country’s most incredible cultural destinations.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    HOTEL PUTAO – PUTAO

     

    Hotel Putao in Putao is the perfect starting point for trekking and hiking tours through local villages, and to the forest covered mountain range named Shangaung Range, and Hkakabo Razi (5,881 metres), the highest mountain in both Myanmar and South East Asia.

    Built in local style the hotel features 33 rooms, ranging from superior to bungalow categories. It is only a 15-minute drive from the airport.

     

     

     

    SKY VIEW HOTEL – BAGAN

     

    Sky View Hotel is a two-star hotel located in Bagan, about 1.5 kilometres from Nyaung U Market. It features 38 air-conditioned rooms, which are equipped with modern facilities. Guests can enjoy spectacular views of the beautiful temples from the roof terrace.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    WATER FESTIVAL/MYANMAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS
    APRIL 13-17, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT MYANMAR

     

    The Water Festival, known as Thingyan, is held the end of the dry season from April with delight if they manage to splash water on a foreigner.

    Yangon and Mandalay are the two main cities where the festival is widely celebrated. The streets are packed with thousands of residents and visitors dousing each other with water, and enjoying dance and music performances on roadside stages built specially for the festival period.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    VIETJET AIR LAUNCHES HCMC-YANGON FLIGHTS

     

    VietJet Air has launched a non-stop flight from Ho Chi Minh to Yangon v.v. The five times weekly services are operated with an Airbus A320 aircraft. This new route makes VietJet Air the first low cost carrier to offer services between Vietnam and Myanmar.

     

     

     

    HK EXPRESS TO CONNECT HONG KONG TO YANGON & MANDALAY

     

    HK Express, Hong Kong-based low-cost airline, will launch new services to Yangon and Mandalay in September 2016. The airline will operate four weekly flights to Yangon, and two weekly flights to Mandalay with an Airbus A320 aircraft.

     

     

     
     

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    MALAYSIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

     

    Dear Friends and Partners,

    Last month we ushered into the Year of the Monkey. In Chinese astrology each year is associated with an animal sign and one of the five elements, which is said to affect your personality as well as destiny. The element sign combination for 2016 is the Fire Monkey, which is characterised as ambitious and adventurous.

    We at Asian Trails Malaysia have our ambitions to set a stronger focus on steady reinventing ourselves as a company, as well as the products we offer in order to provide our guests the best travel experience. Malaysia as a destination gives us great opportunities in doing so since the country consists of lot of hidden gems off the beaten track. Is not gaining a unique insight away from the tourism mainstream into an unknown culture the real adventurous magic of travelling?

    Hence, I would like to take the chance to introduce an overlooked gem at the north coast of Borneo’s Sabah. Our itinerary leads to Kota Belud from where you can visit the surrounding islands, such as Pulau Mantanani, to meet the Bajau Laut. The boat-dwelling, sea-orientated ethnical group lives traditionally in villages built on stilts and earn their living with fishing. Together with us you get the chance to meet the local fisherman and throw a line together to catch a fish, which is later enjoyed together with the local community.

    This intercultural exchange is an exceptional experience, which introduces you to a culture and way of living so different from yours and yet so fascinating and inspiring.

    So yes – the Year of the Monkey starts with an adventurous note on trails less travelled to provide our guests an expression of Malaysia as unique as possible.

    In this sense –Happy (adventurous) Trails!

    Kind regards,

    Emir Cherif
    Malaysia Truly Asia!

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    FLYING START TO 2016

     

    Have a flying start to the new year – literally. Hit the Subang Airport runway and learn to fly a plane, probably the most powerful and exhilarating way to kick start 2016.

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

     

     

     

    A TIME CAPSULE RETREAT

     

    For a unique and Instagram-worthy experience check into a time capsule located in Sungai Lembing, Pahang. Ideal for a digital detox (in comfort, of course) while being immersed in nature. A hiking option to Panorama Hill is also available.

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

     

     

    PARAGLIDING IN THE HILLS OF SELANGOR

     

    Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to the Jugra Hills in Banting, Selangor, for a three-five day paragliding course. You can opt to stay in a container home throughout the course to fully immerse in the experience. This is a great hobby to add to your 2016 to-do list – one that allows you to take flight at almost any time.

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

     

     

    SLEEP UNDER THE STARS AT THE PLANTATION

     

    If you wish to sleep under a million stars The Plantation is the place to be. Located in Bentong in the east Malaysian state of Pahang, about 85 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, it is the perfect getaway for nature lovers. The Plantation runs on solar power and boasts organic farms and chemical-free water purifying system.

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

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    ST. REGIS KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA’S FIRST 6 STAR HOTEL

     

    St Regis Kuala Lumpur, the first 6 star hotel in Malaysia, is set to complete in April this year if there are no further delays. It was initially projected to open in December 2015.

    The deluxe hotel will offer a few dining options including Taka by Sushi Saito, the first restaurant outside of Tokyo by Chef Takashi Saito, who holds three Michelin stars, as well as The Crystal Lounge and a rooftop bar.
     

     

     

    MANAGEMENT CHANGE AT BATANG AI RESORT

     

    Hilton Worldwide has ceased its management of Batang Ai Resort in Sarawak. The new owner of the resort is Aiman Agro Park Sdn Bhd, and it has renamed it Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat (ABARR).

    The resort is undergoing renovations on both its exterior and interior, which will be carried in phases. There is minor disruption to the guests during the upgrading work period.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    WORLD TABLE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP (WTTC)
    FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 6, 2016
    VENUE: PENANG

     

    Watch your favourite tennis stars in action during this exciting event.
     

     

     

    BMW MALAYSIA OPEN (WOMEN TENNIS ASSOCIATION) 2016
    MARCH 1–31, 2016
    VENUE: ROYAL SELANGOR GOLF CLUB, SELANGOR

     

    This successful international women’s tennis tournament is a much-anticipated event in the Malaysian event calendar.

     

     

     

    RAPTOR WATCH WEEK 2016
    MARCH 12, 2016
    VENUE: TANJUNG TUAN, MALACCA

     

    A must-watch event for bird lovers to witness the annual migration of the birds of prey, better known as raptors, as they fly across the Straits of Malacca on their journey back to the northern hemisphere.
     

     

     

    IRONMAN 70.3
    APRIL 1–30, 2016
    VENUE: PUTRAJAYA

     

    Ironman 70.3, also known as a Half Ironman, is one of a series of middle-distance triathlon races organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).
     

     

     

    SONGKRAN/THAI WATER FESTIVAL
    APRIL 13–15, 2016
    VENUE: WAT CHAYAMANGKALARAM THAI BUDDHIST TEMPLE, DHAMMIKARAMA BURMESE BUDDHIST TEMPLE & WAT RAJAPHOHONG BUDDHIST TEMPLE, PENANG

     

    Songkran is a traditional Thai water festival, which is celebrated in various “wats” (Siamese temples) in Penang. Devotees wash away bad luck by splashing water on each other.
     

     

     

    NASI AMBENG CARNIVAL (AMBENG RICE FESTIVAL)
    APRIL 15–17, 2016
    VENUE: HOMESTAY BANGHURIS, SEPANG SELANGOR

     

    The aroma of Ambeng rice is guaranteed to beckon visitors, both local and foreign, to enjoy the uniqueness of this dish.
     

     

     

    REGATTA LEPA
    APRIL 22–24, 2016
    VENUE: SEMPORNA, SABAH

     

    A colourful festival, which pays homage to the lepa, a traditional single-mast sailing boat of the Bajaus of Semporna. Watch the crowning of the most beautiful lepa, the Lepa Beauty Pageant, cultural performances, fireworks displays and many other festive activities.
     

     

     

    PESTA AIR LABUAN
    APRIL 29–MAY 1, 2016
    VENUE: LABUAN INTERNATIONAL SEA SPORT COMPLEX, LABUAN

     

    Pesta Air Labuan is the biggest annual event on this duty-free island. The various competitions include the Labuan International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament, Cross Channel Swimming Challenge, and Round Island Kayak Challenge.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    MALAYSIA AIRLINES TO LAUNCH FLIGHT OPERATIONS IN PAKISTAN

     

    Malaysia Airlines will start flight operations in Pakistan from March this year, as part of is mission to increase people-to-people contact between the two countries.

     

     

     

    MALINDO AIR CONNECTS KUALA LUMPUR TO HO CHI MINH CITY

     

    Malaysia’s hybrid airline, Malindo Air, has launched its service to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The seven times weekly flights are operated with a Boeing B737-800 aircraft.

     

     

     

    RAYANI AIR’S KUALA LUMPUR-KOTA KINABALU SERVICE

     

    Rayani Air, Malaysia’s only Shariah-compliant airline, launched flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in early February. This is the airline’s third route after Kuala Lumpur-Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur-Kota Baru (Kelantan).

     

     

     
     

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    INDONESIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJÖRN SCHIMANSKI

     

    We are busy preparing for the upcoming high season, and are working hard to implement our new fully integrated booking and reservation software. It will certainly offer you great opportunities to better book our services in the future – more on this at a later stage.

    I am especially proud to offer you another great new Explore Tour – this time on the island of Bali. It shows that it is still possible to create innovative itineraries on the popular “Island of the Gods”.

    Best wishes from Indonesia,
    Björn

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    BAGGAGE FEE FOR TRAIN JOURNEYS TO JAVA

     

    The state-owned railway company, Kereta Api Indonesia, started charging for baggage weighing more than 20 kilogrammes per passenger from February 2016. The fee depends on the class of travel, and is charged per kilogramme.

    The maximum size of each bag is also set at 70 centimetres in length, 48 centimetres in width, and 30 centimetres in height. If the bag exceeds this size the passenger has to pay a fee. The reason for this charge is due to limited space on the trains.

    All Asian Trails Indonesia’s roundtrips to Java with a train ride are accompanied by a car for luggage transfers. Only a very few tailor-made tours do not use a car for transporting the luggage, and for these journeys Asian Trails Indonesia will absorb the cost for 2016 bookings.
     

     

     

    NYEPI DAY

     

    Nyepi is a day of silence and contemplation. Local custom requires that everyone in Bali observe a day of silence from 6 a.m. on March 9 until 6 a.m. on March 10, 2016. They have to stay indoors, make no noise, and switch off all lights for the duration of this period.

    Major hotels generally permit their guests full use of the various outlets with the understanding that they do not venture outside the property. Bali's only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, will also shut down during the entire Nyepi period. Since there are no flights arriving and departing Bali on that day and no transfers and excursions are allowed, we kindly ask you to inform your customers accordingly.

     

     

     

    TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE

     

    A total solar eclipse will take place on March 9, 2016. This phenomenon happens when the moon passes between the earth and the sun and, at the same time, the moon’s diametre appears to be larger than the sun’s. All direct sunlight will be blocked, turning the day into darkness.

    Please note that the solar eclipse can only be seen in parts of Sumatra, Sulawesi, and the Moluccas and NOT in and around Bali or Java.

    This spectacular event will be a great experience for your next holiday in Indonesia.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

     

     

    4 DAYS BALI EXPLORE

     

    Our new 4 days Explore programme is designed for your clients who want to experience real nature and rural life. It starts with a purification bath, which helps to eliminate the negative influence of your mind. We then drive up to Kintamani with breathtaking views over the caldera of Lake Batur and Batur Volcano.

    Overnight in a Balinese house, the ideal place to experience first-hand the Balinese traditional way of life and their cultural activities. Take off your shoes and wear a chaping (traditional farmer’s hat) to take part in rice planting. The farmers will show you the various stages of rice cultivation and joint them in the rice planting and harvesting process.

    After this experience, your next hotel is ready to pamper you with an outdoor massage “under the stars”.

    The next day you hike to Muntigunung, a relatively untouched part of Bali. An NGO, “Future for Children”, aims to help improve the livelihood of the villagers by teaching them skills so they could earn some income and stay with their families in the region

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    FOUR SEASON JIMBARAN’S REFURBISHMENT

     

    Four Season Jimbaran have refurbished and renamed 41 villas out of its 147. The other 106 villas are currently being upgraded. The new categories are the Garden Villa, Jimbaran Bay Villa, Deluxe Villa, Premier Ocean Villa, and Family Premier Villa. Currently the Deluxe Ocean View one-bedroom villas are under renovation, and are not available. The whole refurbishment project is scheduled to complete by mid-2017.

     

     

     

     

    KATAMARAN RESORT, LOMBOK TO OPEN IN SUMMER

     

    Katamaran Resort, a new resort in Lombok, will open its doors this summer. It is located right on the exquisite Mangsit Beach in Senggigi, about one hour’s drive from Lombok International Airport, and 20 minutes’ drive from the boat pier to the Gilis and Bali.

    The resort has 32 units of Ocean View Suites (54-69sqm) and 20 units of Tropical Pool Villas (75-85sqm). Facilities and services include two-level infinity pools, the Soul Bliss Spa, The Peak Signature Restaurant, and yoga by the beach. The resort has its own organic herbs garden.


     

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    GARUDA INDONESIA’S NEW JAKARTA- LONDON SERVICE

     

    Garuda Indonesia, which has been named as having the “Best Airline Cabin Staff” by Skytrax in 2015, will launch its new service from Jakarta to London on March 31, 2016. The five times weekly service (except Mondays and Fridays) will be operated with a Boeing B777-300ER aircraft in a three-cabin class configuration. On the return flight from London the aircraft will have an intermediate stop in Singapore.

    Garuda Indonesia said the new routing was due to the strong increase of arrivals from the UK to Indonesia.

     

     

     

    GARUDA INDONESIA FLIES TO PANGKALAN BUN IN KALIMANTAN

     

    Garuda Indonesia has commenced daily flights to Pangkalan in Central Kalimantan from Semarang in Central Java. With this new service our clients can avoid flying with blacklisted airlines to this remote part of Borneo to see the endangered orangutans.
     

     

     

    UNITED AIRLINES’ NEW ULTRA-LONG SERVICE TO ASIA

     

    United Airlines has launched a new ultra-long flight service giving American travellers a better connection to Asia and also Indonesia. This new 15 hours non-stop flight from San Francisco to Singapore, operated with the new Boeing Dreamliner, will start in June 2016. With Singapore as an Asian hub it is easier to reach any Indonesian holiday destination within a couple of hours.
     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    UPDATE: MOUNT BROMO’S ACTIVITY

     

    Mount Bromo is currently still active. Therefore, the area around the crater is still closed. This means that the crater and the Sea of Sand cannot be entered.  However, the sunrise points are still open for all visitors.The national park authority is keeping a close watch on the volcano’s activities. We will keep you informed on the situation.
     

     

     
     

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