New Thailand Tour: Insiders Phuket – Cultural Discovery

December 17, 2014 on 9:36 am | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam | Comments Off



Bangkok, Thailand– Backyard Travel have today released news of a unique new tour that discovers the lesser-known cultural side of the Thai island of Phuket.

Backyard Travel are an online boutique travel agency specializing in unique and insider tours to Asia and on this four-day, three-night tour, travellers will explore the often overlooked cultural side to Phuket, discovering the fascinating heritage of the island’s atmospheric Old Town and enjoying unique experiences throughout.

Staying in a Phuket’s oldest hotel in the heart of the characterful old town, travellers will discover the atmospheric streets and fascinating heritage and be guided around eclectic museums and temples. They will also learn about Phuket’s art scene, with the opportunity to meet local artists in their own galleries and homes.

The insiders tour also takes travellers on a culinary journey, as guided by an expert local chef, they’ll purchase fresh ingredients at a local market, then enjoy a private boat cruise through the turquoise waters of Phang Nga Bay, before being treated to a private cooking class on an idyllic Island.

The diverse vacation also gives travellers the unique opportunity to meet some of the island’s Gibbon population, learning how a rehabilitation project is caring for them in preparation for letting them back into the wild.

The fascinating tour finishes on a unique note as travellers will hop on an electronic bike to uncover the charming Sino-Portuguese shop houses and rich cultural heritage in Phuket’s Old town.

“The majority of travelers head to Phuket for its beautiful beaches, but few people veer off the well-trodden path and experience the other delights of the island,” said Backyard Travel’s General Manager Maeve Nolan. “We hope that travelers will appreciate the opportunity to learn about the fascinating cultural and artistic side to this historical island across the four days”.

This insider’s tour is priced from $689 per person, which is based on two people travelling, sharing a double/twin room, including daily breakfast, one lunch and one dinner. All excursions are private and fully guided, tours and transfers are by private air-conditioned vehicle (unless stated) and all entrance fees mentioned in the visits are included.

About Backyard Travel

Bangkok based Backyard Travel is an online travel company specializing in tailor-made tours to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan and China.

For more information about Backyard Travel visit the website: www.backyardtravel.com or social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BackyardTravel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Backyard_Travel

Google+: http://goo.gl/WpHXvB

Jetstreams for Travel Discounts

Cambodia: Islands, Waterfalls, Angkor Wat and the People

December 17, 2014 on 8:42 am | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Beachbooker, Cambodia | Comments Off



When travelers think about Cambodia, the cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are typically what come to mind. However, these historic cities only possess a fraction of the treasured sites this Kingdom of Wonder has to offer. Few visitors journey to the beautiful palm-fringed islands that dot the azure gulf off the southern coast of Cambodia, and even fewer venture into the Cardamom Jungle, a vast mosaic of biodiversity. Let Myths and Mountains take you on an unforgettable journey to discover the riches of Cambodia, its people and the natural wonders that that make this country so desirable for true adventurers.

Winding your way up along the Gulf of Thailand on the southern coast of Cambodia, you pass through the more recognized towns of Kep and Sihanoukville, on your way to visit some picturesque tropical islands. You get a chance to explore ancient canals, secluded temples and private communities beyond the mainland. Stop at Koh Tonsay to meet the fisherfolk and learn how to mend nets, care for boats and become a successful fisherman. Board a boat from the resort town of Kep and cross the waters to meet with the locals on Rabbit Island. Travel to Koh Rong where there is plenty of time to relax on the beach or stroll around the island. Then head north along the shore, passed the port of Sre Ambel, up to Koh Kong and the heart of the Cambodian Cardamom Jungle, a haven for wildlife and an ecological treasure. Here you travel by boat to Tatai Falls, looking for exotic birds and endemic wildlife, then paddle your kayak to a traditional Cambodian farm. Cruise deep into mangroves and experience life among fishing communities that live off natural bounty in this watery paradise.

Of course you cannot visit Cambodia without also taking a look at the Khmer world around Siem Reap and experiencing a shift to modern times in the capital city of Phom Penh. Get blessed by local monks at Angkor Wat, wander the walled city of Angkor Thom, boat the waters of Tonle Sap to floating villages, and meet with key organizations to learn about the valuable missions they serve to positively effect change in their country, including Yusothor and Pour Une Sourire d’Enfant.

This 14-day journey leads you off the beaten track to a mystifying world hidden from the public for centuries. This is your chance to learn about Cambodian civilizations of the past and understand how that history has shaped the Cambodian country, culture and people of today. The tour starts at $3,295 per person (based on 7-10 people), departing on Mar. 8, 2015 and Nov. 29, 2015 with custom dates available. To learn more about Cambodia: Islands, Waterfalls, Angkor Wat and the People tour, visit www.mythsandmountains.com

About Myths and Mountains:
Founded in 1988 by veteran adventurer Toni Neubauer, Myths and Mountains fosters intimate cross-cultural experiences. The company’s tours are designed to take travelers to the very heart of the places they are visiting, whether that means trekking the remote passes of Bhutan or learning traditional medicine from the shamans of the Amazon. These efforts have established a solid place for Myths and Mountains in the adventure travel industry; the company was chosen as one of National Geographic Adventure’s Best Adventure Travel Companies in 2009 and won Travel + Leisure’s 2010 Global Vision Award. Their innovative “Untamed Cambodia” tour was selected as a “Tour of a Lifetime” for 2013 by National Geographic Traveler. Dr. Neubauer herself has been chosen as a Top Travel Specialist by Condé Nast Traveler four times. Myths and Mountains is also a member of Trusted Adventures, a consortium of award-winning companies matching active travelers with over 350 unique trips walking, rafting, cycling and trekking in over 85 destinations worldwide.

Book Your Beach Resort at a Discount

Prices Slashed for Xmas Packages at Five AIC Boutique Hotels in Cambodia

November 18, 2014 on 3:06 pm | In Asia, Cambodia | Comments Off



Asia Initiative Corporation (AIC), Cambodia’s leading hotel management group, has discounted Xmas holiday packages by 15% across all five of its newly opened boutique hotels.

The discounts are strictly for on line bookings and are for stays from 20 October up to 7 January 2015. The discount is only available if booked at: central.booking@asiainitiativecorp.com

info@asiainitiativecorp.com

or by telephone +855 77 332 168 and quoting promotion code: 01102014-07012015.

Properties included in Siem Reap are the Angkor Heritage Boutique Hotel, a new hotel with 30 rooms, and the Hollywood Angkor Hotel with 21 rooms that opened in August 2014.

The Model Angkor Resort & Residence, which was converted into four large luxury villas – Luxury Model Angkor – and 22 resort style rooms – Model Angkor Resort & Residence– that opened last month and The Bong Thom Home Stay a unique community-based tourism site which captures the essence of village life in the heartland of Cambodia located at the edge of the Angkor Wat national park some 26 kms from Siem Reap.

The New Hill Resort & Spa in Sihanoukville has just opened its doors and stays at this superb property are also discounted by 15 per cent.

“The promotion discounts provide excellent value for travellers looking for quality accommodation in the busy December/New Year season,” said Mr Kelly Chan Dara. “It also provides opportunities for holiday makers to enjoy Cambodian hospitality at its best.”


50 Per Cent Discount on Magical Mekong Cruises

November 17, 2014 on 1:19 pm | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Cambodia, Cruise Boats, Laos, Vietnam | Comments Off



Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowThe magical Mekong river is going cruise crazy with leading cruise company CF Mekong River Cruises (CFM) offering sensational discounts of up to 50 percent on cruises booked for October, November and December 2014.

CFM, whose long-time and leading experience includes European river cruising, has been navigating the mighty Mekong river and waterways of Vietnam and Cambodia for more than 10 years.

But passengers wanting to take advantage of the special discounts on offer will need to hurry. The discounts are limited and are dependent on cabin availability.

Prices and tours are detailed on our website, www.cfmekong.com.

3D REP – SAIGON 16-Oct -14 23-Oct – 14 50% discount
8D REP-SGN 17-Oct-14 24-Oct-14 50% discount
8D REP-SGN 01-Nov-14 08-Nov-14 25% discount
3D REP- PP 24-Nov-14 26-Nov-14 50% discount
3D PP-REP 20-Dec-14 22-Dec-14 50% discount
8D REP-SGN 01-Dec-14 08-Dec-14 25% discount
8D REP-SGN 15-Dec-14 22-Dec-14 50% discount
8D SGN-REP 24-Oct-14 31-Oct-14 50% discount

CFM cruise ships are discovery ships that provide a real experience of Cambodia and Vietnam. They are comfortable, cosy and just right for fitting in with the Vietnamese and Cambodian cultures. Staff are friendly, helpful and speak English.

A Mekong river cruise is an unforgettable experience and a relaxing way to discover the ‘real’ Cambodia and Vietnam with opportunities to explore rustic villages, hidden cultures and be one with the people.

CFM offers authentic three-day discovery cruises from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the magnificent world heritage site, Angkor Wat. The schedule also includes a six-day cruise from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam; and eight days from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Siem Reap with a visit to Phnom Penh. No scheduled trips are ever cancelled.

CFM vessels blend into the local culture and environment through the use of local materials, ranging from exotic tropical hardwood, palm wood and woven straw giving an elegant decorative finish.

The ships are small enough to navigate otherwise inaccessible parts of the Mekong such as the magnificent Gao canal, an exotic gateway to the heart of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and no extended bus connections.

CF River Cruise Features:

Comfortable outside staterooms with river views
English-speaking staff
Sun deck
Private bathroom
Laundry service
Bottled water supplied
Restaurant separate bar
Air conditioning
Safe and hair dryer

About CF Mekong River Cruises (CFM)

CF Mekong River Cruises (Compagnie Fluvial du Mekong) is the longest operating luxury cruise line on the Mekong river and offer passengers outstanding value for money. Its fleet of four discover cruise ships are built to international standards with safety and comfort as priorities. Staff are genuinely friendly and English-speaking. From June to March every year CFM operates six cruise routes along the entire length of the Mekong river from Siem Reap (home of the legendary Angkor Wat temple complex) to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (formerly known as Saigon, pearl of the orient). Visit www.cfmekong.com

Further information

Contact: office@cfmekong.com

Telephone: +855 23 21 60 70

Reservations: www.cfmekong.com ; reservations@cfmekong.com;

Charter: hazel@cfmekong.com

Offices: Phnom Penh – 313 Preah Sisowath Quay, Office 20, Phnom Penh 12207, Cambodia

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – 45c Le Thanh Ton, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam


Secret Retreats Launch new Website and Complete the Label Collection

November 5, 2014 on 9:21 am | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Beachbooker, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam | Comments Off



Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowSingapore – At Secret Retreats we are very pleased to announce the launch of our new website and the official online debut of the full Secret Retreats Label Collection.

Known across Asia for creativity, style and innovation, Secret Retreats present a unique, five-label collection – Secret Retreats ~ Secret Villas ~ Secret Inns ~ Secret Cruises ~ Secret Tables.

Inspiring boutique hotels, intimate inns and camps, beautifully designed full service villas, exquisite Asian cuisine, and exotic cruises on board magnificent vessels. The Secret Retreats collection provides a new way of envisaging inspirational and experiential travel and accommodation.

Developed to be responsive across all platforms, the new website offers many unique features for online, commercial and personal engagement.

In addition, an exclusive feature for our Members Community allows for internal private exchanges between Secret Retreats properties. Opportunities such as swapping property rooms, short-term staff exchanges and sharing personal recipes.

To visit the new website and view the Secret Retreats collection visit www.secret-retreats.com

Latest members to join the Secret Collection:

Secret Retreats Label

- Governor’s House – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Colonial style mansion decorated with original antiques (12 rooms)

www.secret-retreats.com/governorhouse

- Samanea Beach Spa Resort – Kep, Cambodia

10 villas in a botanical park by the sea, facing the Gulf of Siam

www.secret-retreats.com/samanea

- Reverie Siam Resort – Pai, Thailand

Retro design inspired by the cultural fusion of the early part of the 20th century (18 rooms).

www.secret-retreats.com/reveriesiam

- Flower Island Resort – Palawan, Philippines

Remote, island bursting with marine life, this resort has 20 diverse rooms situated right on the beach.

www.secret-retreats.com/flowerisland

- Tandjung Sari – Bali, Indonesia

Built in the 1960s to become Bali’s first true boutique hotel, this 28-room legendary beach-side property has welcomed names like Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Yoko Ono.

www.secret-retreats.com/tandjungsari

Secret Inns label

- Le Passe-Temps – Krabi, Thailand

Set on one of Asia’s most beautiful and undiscovered bays, offering scenic sea views, the 8 bungalows are just a few metres above the beach.

www.secret-collections.com/passetemps

- The Village House – Sarawak, Malaysia

Surrounded by nature, this 12-room eco-friendly resort is filled with enchanting architectural features, original artworks and hand-woven Ikat textiles.

www.secret-collections.com/villagehouse

Secret Villas label

- YL Residence No. 17 – Koh Samui, Thailand

A unique villa situated on 12.5 acres of frangipani landscaped coastal gardens, ideal for wedding celebrations and corporate retreats.

www.secret-collections.com/YL17

- Villa Ayundra– Samui, Thailand

Serene beachfront location, this is an idyllic site captures Samui’s best sunset views and provides a private tropical island getaway.

www.secret-collections.com/ayundra

Secret Cruise label

- Vat Phou Cruise – Mekong River, Laos

Cruise along the Mekong River in this lovely teak boat to visit Southern Laos.

www.secret-collections.com/vatphou

To discover more visit Secret Retreats at www.secret-retreats.com


Angkor – The Lost City & Beyond

October 31, 2014 on 5:32 pm | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Cambodia, London, United Kingdom | Comments Off



Travel Indochina introduces special offers on Cambodia journeys to coincide with airing of BBC’s “Jungle Atlantis”

To celebrate the airing of BBC2 programme “Jungle Atlantis: Angkor Wat’s Hidden Megacity” last night at 8.00pm, leading Asia specialist, Travel Indochina, is offering its clients amazing discounts on a selection of its Cambodia Small Group Journeys for bookings made before the 31st October 2014. As experts in the region, Travel Indochina provides its customers with unique insider experiences of the Angkor area and avoids the crowds often associated with this popular tourist attraction. What’s more, the operator’s passionate local guides have extensive knowledge of Angkor history and travellers are given plenty of time to explore the temples at their own pace.

Travel Indochina’s customers can make enticing savings of up to £350 per couple on the operator’s 11 day “Cambodia Revealed” Small Group Journey, taking in the wonders of Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Tonle Sap Lake before closing the trip at the temples of Angkor and Siem Reap. Travelling in small groups with a maximum size of 16 like-minded people, guests will explore one of Asia’s greatest kingdoms, experiencing 600 years of Khmer civilisation with an entire day dedicated to the most magnificent of Angkor’s temples.

Unlike other operators, Travel Indochina accesses the mesmerising Angkor Wat away from the crowds with the Asia specialist’s expert local tour guide leading the group through the rare eastern entrance of Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. From there guests will creep down a jungle path lit by torchlight and past the longest stretch of bas-relief carvings in the world to soak up the atmosphere of dawn at Angkor from the edge of one of the ancient library pools. Other highlights include a home-stay with a local family in Takeo and a trip to a rural village specialising in the production of Palm Sugar. Prices start from just £1,590 per person departing 11th November 2014*.

On the 15 day Vietnam & Temples of Angkor tour, travellers will receive an extra two free nights in Siem Reap, gateway to the temples of Angkor, plus a saving of £120 per couple. This Small Group Journey takes guests from Hanoi to Halong Bay for an overnight cruise, then on to Hue, Hoi An, Saigon, the Mekong Delta, Saigon, Phnom Penh and culminates with the opportunity to explore Angkor. Other highlights include a visit to the eerie stone heads at the west gate of the walled city of Angkor Thom, a walk along the terraces of the Elephants and Leper King and a chance to marvel at the intricately-carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei Temple for a true insight into Cambodian culture. Prices start from just £2,755 per person departing 22nd May 2015**.

Other offers include 5% off the 7 day ‘Highlights of Cambodia’ and ‘Cambodia Revealed’ departures between October and December 2014, and early bird offers for Cambodia Small Group Journey departures between March and December 2015. Bookings should be made by 31st October 2014.

For more information or to make a booking visit www.travelindochina.co.uk  or call 01865 268 940

*Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, 9 nights’ hotel accommodation, 1 night’s home stay accommodation, breakfast daily, 1 lunch & 1 dinner, local English-speaking guides, Western tour leader (based on a minimum of 7 travellers) entrance fees, sightseeing and transfers.

**Price includes return flights from London Gatwick, 15 nights’ hotel accommodation, 1 night’s cruise accommodation, breakfast daily, 3 lunches & 1 dinner, 4 internal flights within Asia, local English speaking guides, Western tour leader (based on a minimum of 7 travellers) entrance fees, sightseeing and transfers.


Glamour Returns to the Mekong as Aqua Mekong Begins Vietnam-Cambodia Cruises‏

October 24, 2014 on 8:56 am | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Cambodia, Cruise Boats, Laos, Vietnam | Comments Off



Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowAqua Expeditions’ Aqua Mekong has begun its schedule of three-, four- and seven-day cruises on Indochina’s Mekong River, connecting Saigon with Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat).

The Aqua Mekong brings to the Mekong River a level of elegance and glamour not seen on the river since Catherine Deneuve starred in the 1992 movie, Indochine.

Brainchild of Italian-American entrepreneur, Francesco Galli Zugaro, the Aqua Mekong is the Asian launch vessel of the fleet that first debuted on the Peruvian Amazon in 2008. “The introduction of the Aqua Amazon (and later the Aria Amazon) was a game changer on the Amazon six years ago,” says Galli Zugaro, “bringing an unprecedented level of luxury, cuisine, service and experiential touring to the world’s longest river; and the Aqua Mekong will do the same thing for the Mekong.”

The Aqua Mekong accommodates 40 passengers in 20 design suites each with panoramic floor-to-ceiling views. Cuisine is by Michelin-star Bangkok chef, David Thompson, and the observation deck is home to sunbeds, shaded salas, spa treatment rooms, a screening room and outdoor plunge pool with private cabanas. Daily excursions to temples, markets, villages and French colonial homes are escorted by the ship’s expert private guides aboard the Aqua Mekong’s four launch boats, and passengers have the use of the ship’s 10 on-board bicycles.

“I am proud to bring this entirely new level of sophistication and elegance to this legendary waterway,” says Galli Zugaro.

For more information on Aqua Expeditions’ Aqua Mekong, please visit: www.aquaexpeditions.com

ABOUT AQUA EXPEDITIONS

In just seven years, Aqua Expeditions has become a recognized leader in luxury small ship cruising on the world’s greatest rivers. The realization of founder Francesco Galli Zugaro’s dream, the architecturally designed, custom-built 12-suite Aqua Amazon and 16-suite Aria Amazon cruise ships brought luxury cruising to the Amazon River in Peru, offering travelers nature-based professionally guided adventures combined with sophisticated 5-star, boutique hotel accommodations and gourmet cuisine. Recently, building on the growing interest among travelers in small-ship cruising, Aqua Expeditions launched a third luxury vessel, the 20-suite Aqua Mekong, on the historic Mekong River between Cambodia and Vietnam.


New Tour: Remote Cambodia: Forest and Tribes

August 23, 2014 on 12:55 pm | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Cambodia | Comments Off



Backyard Travel have today released news of a unique new tour that discovers the lush forests, indigenous tribes and diverse wildlife of Mondulkiri, Cambodia’s most remote province.

Backyard Travel specialize in unique and insider tours to Asia, and this insightful four-day, three-night tour starts in Cambodia’s vibrant capital, Phnom Penh, where travellers will head eastwards to Mondulkiri Province; distinct from the rest of Cambodia with its rolling hills and relatively temperate climate.

Guided throughout by their own Backyard Travel Guide, travellers will explore this lesser-seen region, paying visit to the stunning Bou Sraa Waterfall and enjoying guided walks through the Mondulkiri Protected Forest, with the chance to see diverse wildlife such as peacocks, monkeys and hornbills.

The protected forest is home to the indigenous tribe the Phnong, who make up over half of the inhabitants of this sparsely populated region, and travellers will have the chance to meet some of the local hill tribe, learning about their unique customs close up.

On this fascinating tour travellers will also discover how an NGO is rescuing elephants from captivity, and rehabilitating them back into their natural environment, before having the opportunity to participate in a volunteering project, helping continue the development of the NGO’s center.

“We think the Mondulkiri Province is one of the unearthed gems of Southeast Asia,” said Backyard Travel’s General Manager Maeve Nolan. “At the moment it seems that not many have discovered its beauty, which makes now the perfect time to visit.”

This insider’s tour is priced from $869 per person which is based on two people travelling, sharing a double/twin room, including daily breakfast and four lunches. All excursions are private and fully guided, tours and transfers are by private air-conditioned vehicle (with drinking water and cold towels provided) and all entrance fees mentioned in the visits are included.

About Backyard Travel

Bangkok based Backyard Travel is an online travel company specializing in tailor-made tours to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan and China.

For more information about Backyard Travel visit the website: www.backyardtravel.com  or social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BackyardTravel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Backyard_Travel

Google+: http://goo.gl/WpHXvB


See the Sunrise With Bedouins, Trek Taal Volcano or Do Yoga Paddle Boarding in the Seychelles, With Raffles

August 22, 2014 on 8:10 am | In Adventure Travel, Africa, Asia, Cambodia, China, France, Middle East, Morocco, Paris, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Turkey | Comments Off



At Raffles, we know that a day that begins well for our guests, will end well too.

From a daybreak detox in Paris or sunrise yoga in the Seychelles, to Tai Chi in Singapore or a Bedouin breakfast in the Dubai desert, here are just a few recommendations for catching the magic moments of stillness in the early morning – as the world wakes up and the bustle of another day begins again.

A Bedouin Breakfast with Raffles Dubai

Dubai lends itself perfectly to early mornings; before the heat of the midday sun comes into full force there are a few precious hours to be enjoyed. Guests of Raffles Dubai can rise early, escaping the city under the cover of darkness. The destination: the desert – all rolling sand dunes and striking silhouettes as dawn rises. Discover wildlife on a sand safari, before arriving at a local Bedouin retreat to learn breakfast recipes handed down from generation to generation. Take the opportunity to hop on board a camel, try your hand at falconry, experience traditional Yowalah dancing and enjoy a delicious breakfast at sunrise. This is a rare opportunity to glimpse the rich, authentic history of Dubai in pristine desert surroundings. Return to the bright lights, hustle and heat of the city safe in the knowledge of a stolen few hours of peace… www.raffles.com/dubai

Sunrise Yoga Paddle Boarding at Raffles Praslin, Seychelles

What better way to start the day than with some carefully guided sun salutations… on a paddleboard… in the Indian Ocean… at sunrise? Raffles Praslin, Seychelles’ yoga master Sajeesh Pazhayidath regularly guides guests through sunrise yoga classes to the sound of the sea. But instead of just listening to the sea, guests are now being encouraged to practice yoga on the sea itself. Paddle Board Yoga helps develop core strength and balance. The board provides the perfect platform to increase the intensity of the yoga workout by creating a continuous challenge to balance and adapt to the motion of the board. This challenge adds to core stability and creates greater strength, flexibility, and balance.

Guests can enjoy a private sunrise session, with the idyllic ocean backdrop and natural surroundings providing the perfect environment for total relaxation and rejuvenation. Raffles Praslin, Seychelles resort is perfectly positioned to catch the best sunrise on the island, as the sun creeps over the mountains to one side, slowly moving high into the sky as the day goes on. www.raffles.com/seychelles

Trek to Taal Volcano with Raffles Makati

Taal Volcano is the world’s smallest active volcano; just the right size for a challenging yet achievable start to the day. Taal Volcano sits a boat ride away at the centre of Taal Lake, just fifty kilometres from Raffles Makati. The ethereal lake was formed when a much larger volcano cooled and collapsed to leave an open caldera which, over several thousand years, filled with water. Leaving Manila in darkness, visitors will arrive at the lake as the day begins, taking a beautiful boat journey across the water to the shores of the volcano itself. From here, a trail leads to the rim of the main crater, a breezy 45 minute walk – with an astonishing view waiting at the top. At the centre of the island, visitors will be surprised to find another highly sulphuric lake at its centre, and within that another small island. The views from the top of the trail both inside the caldera, and outside across the Philippines are at their best in the early morning, as the hazy dawn light gives way to bright sunshine. www.raffles.com/makati

Tai Chi in the Botanical Gardens with Raffles Singapore

The martial art of Tai Chi has long be revered for its natural benefits to health; a calming, slow-moving art traditionally practiced outside to lifts stress and build core strength, all fostering a healthy mind and body. The tranquil greenery of Singapore’s Botanical Garden is the perfect sanctuary for starting the day gently; slip out of Raffles Singapore to match up to the expertise of the locals. The gardens are a cool retreat from the morning bustle; catch the scent of frangipani and fruit trees drifting on the breeze, and slowly sway your body and hands in accordance with the soft movements of the Tai Chi teacher. The Botanic Gardens were originally the brainchild of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1822 – not only the founder of modern Singapore, from whom Raffles Singapore takes its name, Sir Stamford was also a keen naturalist. The gardens were moved to their current site in 1859, and remain an incredibly important botanical institute for the city. This is a natural wonderland for setting a slow pace of life for the day; return to the haven of Raffles Singapore ready for breakfast in the iconic Tiffin Room. www.raffles.com/singapore

Modern Art ahead of the crowd with Raffles Istanbul

Offering a new perspective on a timeless city, Raffles Istanbul sits at the heart of the Zorlu Center, a new hub for fashion, food and the arts on the European shore in Beşiktaş – a next generation bazaar where fashion, performance and art converge. When it opens on 1 September, the hotel will let guests in to the best kept secrets of the cutting edge of the city. Start the day with a dose of exciting modern art: the concierge will arrange a trip to be first through the doors of some of Istanbul’s best galleries… the Istanbul Modern – Turkey’s first private museum to show modern and contemporary art exhibitions – on the shores of the Bosphorus as the sun rises over the city, or SALT, the contemporary art space, which opened in 2012. Return to Raffles, inspired, for coffee with a view from the private balcony of your bedroom as the world wakes up. www.raffles.com/istanbul

Morning Calm at Raffles Makkah Palace

As one of the world’s most holy cities, Makkah is at its most magical in the early morning as the call to prayer wakes the city. Visit the legendary Zamzam Well, a miracle rising from beneath the sand which has generated water for thousands of years or the Jabal Al-Nour (Mountain of the Light), a mountain lying east of Makkah from which Abraham built the Kaaba. Catch the Qasr As-Saqqaf at its most peaceful: one of the oldest buildings in Makkah, this is typical of the traditional architecture of the city, with unique Islamic motifs. Or visit the Qasr Khozam, the palace of King Abdul Aziz, built more than 80 years ago with stone bought from the west coast of the kingdom. Part of the palace has now been converted into a museum of archaeology and ethnology. Or within the hotel, slip into the Raffles Makkah Palace library – the only library of its kind – with a collection of more than 2,000 Hadith and classic Islamic texts on its shelves. www.raffles.com/makkah

A Champagne Breakfast at Angkor Thom with Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angko

The temples of Angkor Wat are undoubtedly Cambodia’s most majestic of experiences: ancient monuments telling stories of hundreds of years. Angkor is at its most magical as the day begins, as the sun rises and the jungle around the temples wakes up. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor guides its guests away from the main tourist sunrise spots to a hidden spot of Angkor Thom. Breakfast is served… tropical fruits, fresh pastries, and a glass of champagne as the cool dawn light lifts to reveal the 54 faces carved into the rocks at Bayon, and the charming figures on the Terrace of Elephants. Spot monkeys beginning their day, and make the most of the early start to discover the secrets of an ancient world before the sun rises too high in the sky and the cool of the pool at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor calls. www.raffles.com/siemreap

Cambodian cooking with Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh

The cooking class at Raffles Hotel Le Royal has been described as “one of the most bespoke cooking classes South East Asia has to offer.” Early birds catch the best of Phnom Penh here, travelling to the local market with Chef to collect the freshest produce and finest ingredients of the day before the rest of the city wakes up. Returning to the hotel, guests will learn the secrets of Royal Khmer Cuisine: Raffles Hotel Le Royal was gifted exclusive rights to recipes from the Palace kitchen by King Father Norodom Sihanouk during his reign. Six dishes will be created in total using rice – a sacred component of Khmer Culture – and fish and shellfish fresh from the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. Herbs and spices come fresh from the market, and the lesson ends with guests tasting their own culinary creations. www.raffles.com/phnompenh

A Morning Detox at Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris

Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris has the perfect recipe for a healthy, energizing start to the busy Parisian day; a morning mini-detox. Runners can take a turn around the Parc Monceau, just a short hop along the Avenue Hoche, while water babies can enjoy some peaceful lengths in the hotel’s pool – longer than any other hotel swimming pool in the city – for starters. On, to the stylish surroundings of La Cuisine breakfast, which marries gourmet food and wellbeing in a tempting spread. Begin with a cleansing ‘Royal Booster’ smoothie, packed with vitamin C rich Chia seeds, fresh fruit and spices. Next, choose organic eggs cooked any way – perhaps an egg white omelette – or seafood, rich in Omega-3. There is also seasonal fruit platters, an ‘Alternative Milk Bar’ (soya, almond milk, coconut water) and gluten-free cakes and bread, dried fruits, organic cereals and grains. Don’t miss the delicious Granola Ispahan by Pierre Hermé – a reinterpretation of a classic with oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, puffed rice, grated coconut, pistachios, pecan and almonds, flavoured with honey and rose, dried raspberries and lychees. www.raffles.com/paris

China’s most glamorous beach at its best: Raffles Hainan, Clearwater Bay

Every day marks a new beginning on Hainan as birdsong fills the gold coast of Clearwater Bay, and the world wakes up to a refreshing breeze off the sea. Make the most of the restorative early morning light with a range of outdoor activities. Take a yoga class on the beach, or jog along the water’s edge leaving footprints in the sand. Borrow a bicycle and be carried along the coast in no time, or head for the gentle pick-pock of tennis balls on court for starting the day à deux. Or simply take a wonder along the beach, collecting shells, and spotting crabs and small fish starting their day in Hainan style. This is China’s most glamorous beach at its best; all to yourself. www.raffles.com/hainan

Dawn flag raising ceremony with Raffles Beijing

While most tourists are still sleeping, guests of Raffles Beijing can join Raffles Ambassador John Spooner to witness the traditional and atmospheric Flag Raising Ceremony at Tian An Men Square, the largest city square in the world. The raising of the national flag is accompanied by a marching military band as the day begins in Beijing and the sun appears over Tian An Men. John will share his knowledge of the history of the ceremony, as well as taking guests on a journey through Beijing’s past. Opened in 1917 as the Grand Hotel de Pékin, Raffles Beijing Hotel’s graceful French-Orient façade has long stood as an icon of the city’s historical heritage. Just over six years ago, a new chapter began when it was fully renovated in 2006 by Raffles Hotels & Resorts. www.raffles.com/beijing

About Raffles Hotels & Resorts: Raffles Hotels & Resorts is an award-winning, luxury international hotel company with a history dating back to 1887 with the opening of Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The portfolio currently comprises ten luxurious properties, from secluded resorts to city hotels in key locations around the world: in Singapore, Cambodia, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, the Philippines and Paris, each one is an oasis of calm and charm. The company is embarking on a new phase of expansion, with openings in key destinations scheduled over the next two years. With a compelling mix of cultures and styles, every hotel in the Raffles family has its own individual personality, with its own story to tell and its own sense of place. However, each one is proud to draw on the timeless essence of Raffles – to deliver thoughtful, personal and discreet service to well-travelled guests.

Raffles Hotels & Resorts is part of FRHI Hotels & Resorts, a leading global hotel company with more than 110 hotels and resorts worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands. The company also manages Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel branded luxury private residence clubs, whole-ownership residences and serviced residences properties.
www.raffles.com


Travel Indochina’s 2014-16 Asia River Cruise Portfolio Sets Sail

August 8, 2014 on 10:36 am | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Cambodia, Cruise Boats, Laos, Vietnam | Comments Off



Travel Indochina has launched its 2014-16 Luxury Asia River Cruise Portfolio contained in its expanded 84 page guide amid extremely strong growth in the sector and with a partnership announcement that it will be handling all Australian Travel Trade bookings for the newest small ship luxury cruise in Asia, Aqua Expeditions’ Aqua Mekong.

In the three years since establishing the product suite, boutique small ship Asian River Cruising has become Travel Indochina’s second most important market segment following the company’s core Small Group Journeys, registering 130% growth in the last year alone.

Managing Director, Paul Hole is buoyed by the growth in the sector which offers travellers a unique opportunity to gain greater access and deeper insights into a traditional way of life along Asia’s most iconic waterways.
“Having personally shared the experience of sailing on small boats along the Mekong, I’m more resolute than ever to bring this style of travel to travellers who prefer this style of exploration,” explains Hole.

“We’ve been sourcing more exclusive experiences as we develop an increasingly extensive product suite of quality cruise experiences and carefully crafted itineraries to meet our travellers’ demand, and importantly with a flexibility of offerings between tailor made and scheduled departures and itineraries.”

“We’re especially excited to announce our partnership with Aqua Expeditions for Aqua Mekong, which will set a new standard of small boat luxury on the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia. Aqua Mekong has the aesthetics and facilities equal to the most sophisticated five-star hotel, features world class cuisine designed by Asia’s top ranked chef, David Thompson and offers its own deck mounted tenders to provide on shore excursions into the heart of Mekong life, culture and nature. Luxury of the likes of this ship has never been seen by Australian river cruise aficionados unless they have been lucky enough to travel on Aqua’s Amazon based vessel.”

Travel Indochina’s newest guide to Luxury Asia River Cruising, which incorporates Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, India and China, includes cruise itineraries and details for boutique small ship river cruising along the Mekong, Yangtze, Ganges, Irrawaddy and Chindwin. The only dedicated brochure in the market with such a large range of boutique river cruising options across Asia, the 84 page ‘Guide’ to cruising provides detailed ship information covering cabin selections, cuisine, on shore excursions, itinerary highlights with pre and post touring options, deck & cabin plans and dates and prices for a range of departures to help travel agents and travellers identify the most appropriate cruise.

In addition to Aqua Mekong, Travel Indochina’s cruise portfolio also includes the addition of two other cruise ships due to launch in late 2014 and early 2015; Haimark Luxury Expeditions’ Irrawaddy Explorer and Ganges Voyager I. Plying Burma’s Irrawaddy River and India’s Ganges River respectively, these two new cruise ships exude comfort and elegance while offering British-colonial era inspired luxury with quality service delivered by exceptionally high crew to passenger ratios.

Travel Indochina offers exclusive charters and preferred partnership sailings on the following Cruise Ships:

- Aqua Mekong (Aqua Expeditions), Mekong River (set to launch September 2014)

- The Jahan (Heritage Line), Mekong River

- Jayavarman (Heritage Line), Mekong River

- The Luang Say Lodge & Cruise, Northern Mekong

- The Vat Phou Cruises, Southern Mekong

- Mekong Sun, Upper Mekong

- Irrawaddy Explorer (Haimark), Irrawaddy River (set to launch September 2014)

- RV Paukan 2007, Irrawaddy River

- Sanctuary Ananda, Irrawaddy River

- Belmond Road to Mandalay (Belmond), Irrawaddy River

- Belmond Orcaella (Belmond), Irrawaddy River and Chindwin River

- Ganges Voyager I (Haimark), Ganges River (set to launch January 2015)

- Victoria Cruises fleet, including Victoria Jenna, Victoria Anna, Victoria Katarina, Victoria Sophia, Victoria Selina and Victoria Lianna, Yangtze River

- Yangzi Explorer, Yangtze River


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