Australian travellers can now discover the greater Mekong Delta’s rich cultures, colourful wildlife and ancient history on an eight-day Asian Trails river cruise between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Travelling aboard the Toum Tiou II, the voyage starts in Ho Chi Minh City and continues past the famous fruit orchards and vast rice fields of My Tho, the floating markets in Cai Be, and Vinh Long’s stilt house, which perch precariously on the river banks.
Crossing into Cambodia the cruise explores Phnom Penh, home of the Royal Palace, then on to Koh Chen and Kampong Chhnang before reaching Siem Reap, home of Angkor’s majestic temples.
Toum Tiou II is uniquely designed to explore the Mekong, with a steel hull and low draft enabling it to travel the entire journey between Saigon harbour and Siem Reap pier*, along the way visiting remote villages and hugging the river line in order to give passengers unmatched views.
The vessel offers 14 double cabins, each featuring a large panoramic window, private lounge area, entertainment system, air conditioning and en suite bathroom.
Prices for Asian Trails’ eight-day river cruise are available from the company’s Australian representative, Sydney-based Tourism Portfolio.
* Other craft require passengers to complete part of the trip on land.
Six Hot Asian Destinations for Winter Cycling
While winter closes in and outdoor sports fade out for the season, BikeToursDirect presents great tour choices to escape the cold for the most exciting—and warmest—Asia destinations for winter travel by bicycle.
From the beautiful and haunted ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the royal palaces of India and beautiful blue-green waters of the Philippines, there is an alluring destination travelers looking to escape the short, cold days of the winter season. Both short and long options are available, with prices starting at $715 for a one-week tour.
Lindsay Nash, Asia tours specialist at BTD, has put together a list of the hottest destinations this season for those looking to the Far East for warm climates and interesting locales.
“There is nothing better than digging out the summer clothes from the back of your closet in the middle of winter and hopping a flight to a warm destination,” Nash said. “Add into that a healthy dose of cycling, beautiful cultures, spicy food, and friendly people, and you just can’t choose make a wrong choice.”
1.CAMBODIA: Angkor Wat Explorer Cycle Tour (5-day)
Discover the Cambodian countryside and its many riches, from ancient temples to floating villages, by bike. Explore Siem Reap and the nearby temples of Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, on foot. Then spend three days exploring the area cycling.
Cycle tourism in Cambodia is still relatively new, so it is a great way to leave the tourists behind and experience the real Cambodia by interacting with the locals. Travelers will cycle through traditional wood and thatch villages that unchanged for centuries, witness locals tilling their vibrant rice fields, watch barefoot children herding the family cow, and exchange greetings while passing the many Khmers whose bicycle is their only form of transport.
Prices: $542 for parties of 4-6 ($874 for parties of 2)
Dates: Available daily on request
2. INDIA: Remote and Beautiful Rajasthan (http://www.biketours.com/India/remote -and-beautiful-rajasthan)
See rural Rajasthan up close with this cycling journey that takes travelers away from the busy tourist trail. Cyclists can explore remote villages and see rustic thatched huts, drooping camels, women in bright saris, and ever-smiling children.
This journey is ideal for cyclists looking to explore beyond the iconic monuments as they uncover the visual and spiritual majesty of Rajasthan.
Dates: Dec 14, 2013; Jan 31, Feb 28, March 24, 2014. Private departure available on any date for parties of 2 or more.
Prices: $2,107 (for parties of 2)
3. THAILAND: Thailand Heritage by Bicycle (http://www.biketours.com/Thailand/thailand-heritage)
The Thailand Heritage ride takes you back in time on a route paved by kingdom builders. Starting in Bangkok and finishing in Chiang Mai, this tour will take cyclists through the rice basket region up to the mountains in the north.
Northern Thailand’s mountainous landscape is a perfect biking destination, with stunning views, ancient temples and the culture of hill tribes.
Dates: December 16, 2013; January 20, February 10, March 17, 2014.
Price: $1,375 per person. Bike rental is $275.
4. VIETNAM: Dragon’s Tail Tour (http://www.biketours.com/Vietnam/dragons-tail)
This 7-night adventure takes travelers from the hill station of Dalat to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An. This unique journey is a fantastic way to see the country by bike in an ideal climate for cycling.
This tour, though hilly at times, is a great opportunity to ride along the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail. Riders will also take a boat to a remote village on the far side of Lak Lake where they can do some light trekking from the village. The trip also includes a visit to Sea Lake, a local minority village (Ba Na), a scenic suspension bridge, a traditional wooden church, Russian tanks and Charlie Hill.
Price: $714 (bike rental included)
Dates: Daily, on request, with parties of 2 or more.
5. BURMA/MYANMAR: Burma Heritage by Bicycle (http://www.biketours.com/Burma/burma-heritage-by-bicycle)
Bicycling through Burma, or Myanmar as it is now known, showcases the immense legacy of a proud and powerful former kingdom that dates back 1,000 years or more.
As travelers cycle among the ancient temples on the route from Mandalay to Bagan, they will also see the diversity of its modern people, culture, and topography that make Burma one of the region’s most fascinating and beautiful countries.
Dates: December 9, 2013; January 13, February 10, March 10, 2014
6. MALAYSIA: Untamed Borneo
Dense jungles, wild animals and exotic flora are the introduction to Borneo on this cycling holiday. Rivers, mountains, and beaches follow as cyclists bike on dirt and tarmac roads across northern Borneo.
From wildlife reserves to majestic mountains, travelers will get to experience the unique flora and fauna, spectacular mountain scenery, beautiful beaches, and, of course, great cycling.
Dates: February 9, April 6, 2014
Prices: $2,395; bike hire is $150.
BikeToursDirect serves as a central resource for bicycle tours worldwide, representing nearly 100 local bicycle tour companies that offer 400 tours in 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. BikeToursDirect offers a variety of resources to help travelers search for and choose tours and handles the entire booking and payment process. Learn more at www.biketoursdirect.com
TransIndus are delighted to introduce our first brochure exclusively dedicated to group tours. The brochure features 27 group tours to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia Borneo and Thailand.
We’ve combined our expert knowledge and design knowhow to develop some highly specialised group tours. These carefully designed itineraries are ideal for the first or second time visitor and showcase the highlights of each country. They venture just that little bit further off the beaten track to add an extra element of adventure and excitement to your experience.
Extremely competitively priced, all our group tour include international flights yet maintain the very high standard of a TransIndus holiday.
Glimpse of India | 9 days from £1,195
A true introduction to India; this tour takes in three of the country’s most popular sights, known as the Golden Triangle.
Essential Burma | 11 days from £2,365
Our Essential Burma group tour introduces you to the culture and sights of a beautiful land that, until recently, was one of the least visited countries in Asia.
Vietnam Experience | 13 days from £1,599
On this introductory tour of Vietnam, one Southeast Asia’s most diverse and enjoyable countries, you start in Hanoi, the capital city, and explore buildings and shaded boulevards that echo its French colonial past.
Glimpse of China | 8 days from £1,359
A vast and immensely varied land, China defies simple definition. It is a world of remarkable contrasts and a rich and endless diversity of spectacular scenery and ancient cultures that belie belief. Our nine day introductory tour takes you to some of the most famous and awe-inspiring sights of China.
Wonder of Borneo | 12 days from £2,185
On our tour of Malaysian Borneo venture into some of the world’s oldest rainforests, teeming with a wild array of exotic flora and fauna as well as canopy walkways and mysterious cave systems. One of the largest islands in the world, Borneo offers a fantastic combination of nature, culture and beaches.
The 39-room Anantara Angkor Resort and Spa, the 25th Anantara Hotel in Siem Reap, reflects the historic Khmer culture in its design. Siem Reap is growing exponentially, adding an airport and several hotels. As the gateway to Angkor Wat, which takes in 7,000 visitors a day, Siem Reap has gone from a sleepy village to a thriving tourism junction. The Anantara Angkor employs design motifs from the same Khmer culture that built Angkor Wat. Designers used gently flowing water throughout the resort to create a serene atmosphere.
All rooms and suites use Cambodian style, with handcrafted teak wood furniture, textiles and local artwork. All include a private balcony overlooking the central courtyard pool, as well as a lounge space and a luxury bathroom with a separate bathtub and rain shower.
The Anantara Spa has three spa suites with outdoor Jacuzzis and rain showers, two Khmer massage rooms and feet massage room for four people. Traditional Khmer massage techniques are used by therapists who work from a menu of rejuvenating scrubs, wraps, facials and more. Khmer cooking classes will be offered at Anantara’s Spice Spoons Cooking School.
Scenic Tours is excited to announce the introduction of luxury private charter cruising in South East Asia. For the first time, Scenic Tours has launched a brochure exclusive to the rivers of South East Asia, which features these luxurious new charters for 2014/2015.
The privately chartered luxury cruises will sail on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers, exclusively taking Scenic Tours guests into the heart and soul of South East Asia. The all-suite boutique Mekong Navigator and Irrawaddy Explorer accommodate 68 and 56 guests, respectively, in absolute luxury and comfort. This allows for an unrivalled intimate experience enabling guests to appreciate firsthand the culture, incredible sights and hidden treasures of this fascinating region.
The exclusive private charters on board the Mekong Navigator will sail from bustling Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Cambodia’s Siem Reap, home to the World Heritage-listed temples of Angkor Wat and will set new standards in high-end intimate boutique cruising with indulgent suites, butler service and world class cuisine. The Irrawaddy Explorer will cruise between the last royal capital, Mandalay and Prome, north of Yangon. She will offer an exclusive Burmese experience and is pure floating luxury, providing indulgent suites with floor to ceiling glass doors and elegantly appointed public and dining areas where sumptuous meals are designed to complement this mystical land.
The Scenic Tours signature experiences of the Scenic Enrich and Scenic FreeChoice programs allow guests to enjoy unique events and select activities that really interest them. With meticulously planned itineraries, professional Cruise and Tour Directors with English-speaking Local Guides this is true Scenic Tours all-inclusive luxury, where absolutely everything is included.
China Links Travel, the escorted group and tailor-made tour specialists to Asia, has positioned itself as the boutique China specialists through the launch of a new brochure offering tours to China and Indochina during 2013-2014.
The 2014 brochure offers a selection of new tours to destinations including Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan, as well as an updated selection of beach stays in Thailand and Myanmar. The new brochure also features a range of additional touring options with customers able to choose from escorted group tours, private tours, backpacking tours as well as a wide selection of short stay add-ons perfect for combining with any tour.
In addition to the new brochure, China Links Travel has also launched a new website offering detailed information on the destinations. In order to ensure clients are able to choose the most suitable destination for their travel needs, the Destination Guides offer customers in-depth travel information about the ‘must-see’ sites, visa requirements, top tips for handling money while on holiday, local customs, weather and climate.
Further enhancements to the website include the introduction of Google Maps which allow customers to enjoy a 3D view of the proposed tour, therefore providing the client with an interactive view of the route. With a newly-improved online booking form, the new website also makes the process of booking a tour even simpler and quicker.
Customers can choose from a selection of new tours including a 16-Day Yangtze River Cruise which combines a visit to Tibet, a 12-day tour of Thailand & Cambodia and an 11-Day tour of Myanmar’s Treasures. Examples of these packages available in the new 2014 brochure include:
12-Day Tour of Thailand and Cambodia – from £1,789 per person
China Links Travel is offering a 12-day tour of Thailand and Cambodia from £1,789 per person. Package includes 11-nights’ accommodation in four star hotels, meals, transport, transfers, entry fees, English-speaking guide, airport taxes and Cambodia visa fees. Highlights include Thailand’s capital city Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Angkor Tom in Siem Reap, the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh and a luxury eco lodge retreat on the river in Koh Kong. Price does not include international flights and is subject to availability. To book, visit http://chinalinkstravel.co.uk/tour/thailand-and-cambodia.
11-Day Tour of Myanmar Treasures – from only £2,499 per person
Explore Yangon, cruise from Mandalay along the Irrawaddy River to the ancient temples in Baganand enjoy the countryside charms of Inle Lake on this 11-day tour of Myanmar Treasures. Priced from £2,499 per person, package includes internal flights, transfers and transport, 10-nights’ accommodation in four star hotels, meals as stated in the itinerary, entrance fees, English-speaking guides, airport taxes and visa fees. Highlights include Yangon, Golden Palace Monastery in Mandalay, Ayeyarwaddy River cruise, Bagan and Inle Lake. Price does not include international flights and is subject to availability. To book, visit http://chinalinkstravel.co.uk/tour/myanmar-treasures
For further information on China Links Travel or to download the China and Indochina 2014 brochure visit www.chinalinkstravel.co.uk or call 0843 506 4028.
Siem Reap’s Sothea Boutique Resort later this year will become the Anantara Angkor Resort and Spa, the first time the brand has appeared in Cambodia. Minor Hotel Group has assumed majority ownership of the 39-suite boutique resort, located outside of Angkor Wat.
The hotel is housed within an estate inspired by Khmer architecture. Facilities include a spa with five spa and massage suites, a pool with Jacuzzi and a restaurant serving Khmer inspired cuisine. Positioned next to the Cambodia Cultural Village, Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa is 15 minutes from the Angkor Archaeological Park and 10 minutes from the town center.
General Tours World Traveler is expanding its presence in Asia with the addition of three new tour programs that feature Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The new trips include a 14-day “Adventures in Thailand, Laos and Angkor Wat,” with a visit to a master elephant trainer near Chiang Mai and an encounter with a remote hill tribe village. “Treasures of Korea,” an eight-day program, includes a hands-on cooking class and an experience learning about ancient healing at an herbal and ginseng market. “Undiscovered Taiwan,” a nine-day trip across the island, visits the Taroko Gorge and features a cruise on Sun Moon Lake.
General Tours also has added new departures to coincide with major festivals. Guests on the January departures of Visions of Vietnam will experience the Vietnamese New Year. The Nov. 1, 2014, departure of Hill Tribes of Thailand includes Loy Krathong, the Lantern Festival, in Chiang Mai.
The countries of Indochina—Vietnam and Cambodia—are of special interest to Americans of a “certain age.” But their exotic culture, tropical landscape, fascinating history and exquisite cuisine make them an appealing destination for everyone…especially with a discounted price.
World Spree, sister company of the wildly popular China Spree, has designed a 15-day Best of Vietnam and Cambodia tour that takes in all the highlights and starts at only $3,699. Book and pay by October 31 and you’ll get a $400 discount to $3,299. The $3,299 price includes round-trip on Korean Air from San Francisco; all flights, ground transportation and transfers; deluxe hotel accommodations; daily American buffet breakfast; 10 lunches and 6 dinners; comprehensive sightseeing and entrance fees; professional tour escort and guides; taxes and fuel surcharge.
This eye-opening, memorable journey starts in Vietnam’s north, with the historic charms of Hanoi, known for its French colonial elegance and photogenic Old Quarter; takes an overnight cruise on the beautiful Halong Bay with its spectacular limestone outcrops and islets; visits the picturesque town of Hoi An, celebrated for its traditional architecture and lovely nearby beach; and continues to the former imperial capital of Hue for a cyclo-tour history lesson and splendid royal cuisine banquet..
In the south, the tour explores Vietnam’s flourishing commercial heart, Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon, full of reminders of the Vietnam War and the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Saigon is followed by another cruise that takes in the tropical beauties and villages of the Mekong Delta, known as Vietnam’s “rice basket.”
The tour finishes in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, where the big attraction is the magical temples of Angkor—and the renowned Angkor Wat—built when Angkor was the capital of a Khmer kingdom that stretched across much of Southeast Asia. On the way home, Korean Air stops in Seoul and provides a complimentary tour of the Korean capital.
The hotels World Spree has chosen include the famed 5-star Majestic in Saigon, the colonial-style Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, the luxurious Sheraton Hanoi, the historic and charming Saigon Morin in Hue, and the beachfront Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa.
The starting price is available in November, December, February and March. The price rises in the spring and summer and then goes down again in the fall. All prices are cash-only, are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. For more detailed information about the Best of Vietnam and Cambodia tour, log onto www.worldspree.com and click “Tour Packages,” then “Vietnam.” World Spree’s toll-free telephone number is 1-866-652-5656.
Asia travel specialist Travel Indochina has released its 2014-15 Small Group Journey program and brochure, with more than 1000 guaranteed tour departures.
The company is offering 70 itineraries across 11 different countries, including many cross border trips. The most popular journeys depart as frequently as weekly, while most others are available at a minimum monthly.
Managing director of Travel Indochina, Paul Hole, says the company made the move to guarantee all departures to provide agents and travellers with the peace of mind that the tour they’d like to book will go ahead.
“We know that in the past, the lack of certainty could be a challenge, sometimes impacting the ability to secure competitive airfare deals,” according to Paul.
“By moving to guaranteed departures for all our Small Group Journeys, we’re imparting confidence amongst our passengers that they can complete their bookings as far in advance as they’d like to secure the best airfares possible and to make all other necessary arrangements. The sheer range of departure dates has been designed to ensure there’s something on offer for everyone at any time of year to best fit their holiday plans.”
“Another major move is that we’re guaranteeing all tour groups which have a minimum of seven passengers will be escorted by a Western tour leader, including to Japan, which had previously required a minimum of ten. We know from surveys conducted with our passengers that the calibre and knowledge of our Western Tour Leaders is one of our key points of difference, so it was important for us to be able to extend their involvement to as many departures as possible.”
Another highlight from the new Travel Indochina’s 2014-15 Small Group Journeys is the range of new ‘Insider Experiences’ that have been introduced, such as the addition of a day trip by speedboat to the Mekong Delta on the Vietnam Insight tour, a visit to a local salt field to see how salt is farmed and produced on the Cambodia Revealed itinerary, the opportunity to venture to more remote areas along the ancient trade route within Chinese The Silk Road journey, and the discoveries of samurai quarters in Kanazawa and a special Maiko performance and traditional Kaiseki dinner in Kyoto with the rare opportunity to meet the famed apprentice geishas on the Secrets of Japan journey.
Special Small Group Journey departures are also available to coincide with some of the most spectacular and colourful festivals held in Asia, including the 15 day Naadam Festival in Mongolia in July, Bhutan’s Paro or Thimpu Festivals and the Jambhay Lakhang celebrations, the Pushkar Festival in India in October and Japan’s Gion Festival in July and Takayama Festival in October.
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