Showing posts with label Hotels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hotels. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 September 2019 offers options for a ‘sneeze-free’ vacation, a global leader in connecting travellers to a wide choice of places to stay, is delving into its more than 29 million listings in over 153,000 destinations to come up with six destinations where people can have a “sneeze-free” vacation.

 Gran Canaria in Spain, which enjoys sunshine all year round, is a haven for travellers who suffer from hay fever as it has a very low pollen count. You can book a stay at B’SLOW San Agustin aparthotel, which offers picturesque views of the nearby Las Burras Beach.
 Or you can go for a cooler option and a breath of fresh air at Coronet Peak in New Zealand. Pollen cannot survive in snowy weather. One of the nicest places to stay is the Canyons B&B, which boasts sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, the Shotover River and Coronet Peak.
 If you plan to go to the US, you might consider Colorado Springs. In the summer and autumn months, especially July and October, the dry, desert-like surroundings contain few plants, allowing you to clear your head and give your itchy eyes a break. Breathe in crisp mountain air as you embark on a hike and take in popular sites and surroundings such as Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the Broadmoor Seven Falls.
Offering stunning views of the Cheyenne Mountain, Cheyenne Mountain Resort Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort boasts five swimming pools, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a 25-acre lake for sailing and a full-service spa.
 For fresh Alpine air, you can head north to Whistler, British Columbia – a paradise for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts and home to Whistler Blackcombe, one of the largest ski resorts in North America.

Whistler Mountain typically stays open for skiing and snowboarding until late May. If you’re looking to swap your snow boots for hiking boots, popular hiking trails include Lakeside Park, Cheakamus Lake and the Ancient Cedars Trail.

The place to stay is Whistler Lodge Hostel, which offers affordable accommodation in an ideal location.
 Meanwhile, the heavy rainfall, short pollen season and few trees in the Scottish Highlands can provide a retreat for travellers suffering from hay fever. The surrounding moorlands and mountain terrain also provide respite as the vegetation is relatively free of allergens.
  The place to stay is the Air an Oir – Skye Self Catering holiday home in Portree, which offers stunning sea views and a revitalising breeze of salty fresh air. During your stay visit the quaint Portree Harbour and marvel at the famed rugged landscapes with a hike across Lealt Falls.
Source - The Nation

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

#Cambodian resort among Time magazine’s greatest destinations

Shinta Mani Wild at Sre Ambel in Koh Kong province

 Shinta Mani Wild, an innovative luxury resort and conservation centre, has brought fame to Cambodia after Time magazine, one of the most influential international news publications, included it in its 2019 World’s Greatest Places list.
 Some 100 exceptional destinations around the globe are listed in the World’s Greatest Places. Time started the list last year.

Shinta Mani Wild was included in the ‘To Stay’ section together with iconic destinations from the United States, Kenya, Bhutan, Uruguay, China, and Israel, among other countries. Several cruise ships were also on the list.

 Shinta Mani Wild was the sole destination from Cambodia that made it to the list.
Chenda Clais, president of the Cambodia Hotel Association, said Shinta Mani Wild deserved the recognition.

“I think it is a well-deserved recognition for a beautiful hotel which is also contributing to preserving Cambodia’s environment as well as making it a tourism destination,” she stressed. “It is an honour for our country.”

Shinta Mani Wild, which sits on more than 160 hectares of forest, is located between Cardamon, Bokor, and Kirirom national parks. The brainchild of renowned designer Bill Bensley, it opened its doors to the public late last year.

Lonely Planet described it as a “radical new concept that combines first-class design with serious conservation goals”.
To come up with the list, Time, on its website, said that it solicited nominations from museums, parks, hotels, restaurants, industry experts, and from their editors and correspondents around the world. The nominees were evaluated based on key factors that included originality, sustainability, innovation, and influence.
Source - Khmer Times

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Thailand tightens the screws on TM30 reporting, petition ongoing

Nearly 5,000 Thai expats have now signed a petition pleading for modification or abolition of the TM30 immigration form. The well-organised petition calling for changes to the form is an unusual step for expats who, most of the time, keep their head down and out of the daily operations of the Land of Smiles.

For its part, Thai Immigration says it is simply robustly applying Sections 37 and 38 of the Thai immigration act to “strengthen security” and keep tabs on foreigners whilst in the country.

But the ‘robust application’ is causing headlines the Immigration Department would rather not see and is prompting panel discussions, YouTube interviews and online pleads from well-known bloggers and long-termers. There is one discussion planned for the Foreign Correspondents Club this Thursday.

The petition, whilst politely written, is not likely to succeed. The inconveniences to some locals needing to report their whereabouts when changing their reported address, will be outweighed by the need for national security.

That a group of foreigners could possibly change Thai laws to make things more convenient and useful, is also inconceivable. Even if there was some minor adjustment to the laws it could take years.
Bottomline, don’t get your hopes up.

In the meantime, the inconvenience of Section 37 will remain a clear and present annoyance. There has been no shortage of people spraying the internet with their individual problems and examples and the 24 hour reporting will certainly affect some expats more than others, especially travelling business-people whose movement around Thailand is just part of their work.

Tourists are not affected as the onus of reporting locations whilst on holiday is the responsibility of hotels and landlords.

The issue is being presented in the international media as a nail in the coffin for long-term living in Thailand. The reality is that expat numbers continue to rise although the demographic is evolving to the chagrin of many European, Australian and American expats who seem particularly aggrieved by the enforcement and have made their voices heard – through signing the petition and sharing their strongly-held feelings on various forums online.
The other issue angering or confusing expats is that, like many other immigration laws, the enforcement of the clauses continues to be patchy around the Kingdom – they really don’t know how, or if, it’s going to be enforced in their case. For the short-term we would recommend you play by the rules to avoid any unpleasant fines or surprises. If you have any queries it is best to visit an Immigration Office and ask questions to find out how it applies to your visa and situation.

Don Ross from shares some thoughts on how the laws could be changed…
“The director-general (usually the chief of police) can make changes to clauses 3 and 4. The DG can also through the Immigration Commission recommend a new ministerial regulation that updates the two clauses to make them more in tune with today’s online realities.

One possible change would be to stipulate that clause 4 reporting only kicks in after 72 hours away from home, rather than 24 hours. It would allow thousands of expatriates who are long-stay or retirees to visit other provinces for up to three days without triggering a clause 4 reporting hassle.”

If you want to read and sign the petition click HERE.

Source - The Thaiger

Saturday, 10 August 2019

#Laos Saw More Chinese, Less Korean Tourists in Past Six Months

The number of tourists visiting Laos has increased 5 percent in the past six months thanks to a rise in the number of Chinese visitors.

More than 2.2 million people visited Laos between January and June, according to Laos’s Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

The number of Chinese visitors jumped by 13 percent while that of Vietnamese visitors increased by 11 percent. The number of visitors from Thailand also rose by 1 percent.

Vientiane Times quoted an unnamed government official as saying that he believed visitor numbers were up because of the ongoing Visit Laos-China Year campaign.

However, the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent while that of Japanese visitors sank by 13 percent.

The official told Vientiane Times that the decline in arrivals from some countries was due to circumstances beyond the authorities’ control.

“Some people stayed away because they were unsure of the quality of services here. And although Laos has many enticing tourism products there are several inconveniences, such as poor road access to tourist sites,” the official added.

Laos attracted more than 4.1 million foreign tourists last year, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year. Tourism generated revenue of more than USD 755 million in 2018.

Meanwhile, it is expected that at least 4.5 million people will visit Laos this year, generating revenue of more than USD 700 million.
More Chinese tourist expected

Officials believe that, out of 4.5 million expected tourists, 1 million would come from China.

To achieve such a goal, Laos is currently intensifying its efforts to improve services and create more facilities for visitors.

Vang Vieng, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Laos, for instance, has improved the quality of services and made changes to the price of food, accommodation, and the fees charged at tourist attractions.

In Luang Prabang, meanwhile, restaurants have added Chinese dishes to their menus and installed signs written in Chinese at popular tourist sites.

As for Luang Namtha Province, the authorities are encouraging officials to supply useful information to Chinese visitors.

There have also been some other positive developments that might boost the number of Chinese visitors to Laos.

Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) has recently teamed up with Chinese payment service provider UnionPay International (UPI) to roll out new QR code payment services in Laos.

The move will enable UnionPay app users to make payments by scanning QR codes at local stores in the country.

UnionPay currently operates one of the most popular mobile payment apps in China, and this means BCEL’s collaboration with UPI would help Laos’s local businesses to reach out to more Chinese visitors, who make up one of the largest sources of tourists.

Separately, Thailand is currently preparing to launch the country’s first bullet train that will run between Bangkok and Beijing, China, with Laos as one of the intermediate stations.

In particular, the first route, a Thai-Sino project linking Bangkok, Nong Khai, Laos and a Chinese city Mohan in the far Northeast, is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

Where are the Koreans?

Laos has been one of the most popular destinations for South Korean tourists thanks to the reality TV show, “Youth Over Flowers,” which aired in 2014.

The number of visitors from South Korea to Laos grew in 2015 and 2016, finally beginning to plateau in 2017. The overall market share of South Korea rose to 4.4 percent in 2017, however, according to a report by Laos’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The number jumped from 96,085 in 2014 to 170,571 in 2017.

However, local tourism experts have repeatedly suggested that such a number is decreasing, but there had been no official number released by the Lao government until now.

Confirmation from the tourism ministry that the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent in the first six months is therefore highly significant.

One Vientiane-based tourism expert cited a lack of promotional efforts as one of the reasons to contribute to the drop in such number.

“The TV show that led to the surge came out five years ago. Out of sight, out of mind. No one made any more major Korean TV shows or films, to my knowledge,” the expert told The Laotian Times.

As he pointed out, several South Korean broadcasters released similar shows to repeat the success of “Youth Over Flowers,” but none of them was able to attract similar viewer numbers.

The expert also noted that not enough has been done to promote and encourage people to return to Laos.

According to the latest survey conducted by the tourism ministry, only 7.9 percent of respondents said it was their returning visit to Laos. In contrast, first-time visitors accounted for 75.2 percent.
Time for a Diversification?

The Lao government invited 12 representatives from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and South Korea to Bolikhamxay and Khammouane provinces, in a bid to promote other parts of the country.

The familiarization trip to the two provinces took place between July 12 and 17 and was designed to publicize some of Laos’ tourist attractions and encourage the tour operators to include some of these locations in their package tours.

It marked the Lao government’s latest effort to promote lesser-known tourist sites to foreigners, and this work is expected to continue in the coming years.

Source - The Laotian Times

Monday, 5 August 2019

Asia holds lion's share of #Vietnam's foreign arrivals

Vietnam’s tourism growth is driven mainly by Asian tourists who account for nearly 80 percent of total foreign arrivals in January-July. 

7.6 million Asians visited Vietnam in the first seven months of the year, up 8.8 percent year-on-year, accounting for 77.6 percent of total foreign arrivals.

The period saw the highest rise in Thai visitors at 227,400 arrivals, a 48.2 percent increase, followed by Taiwan (27.6 percent), South Korea (22.1 percent), Indonesia (21.2 percent), the Philippines (19.6 percent), Malaysia (13.9 percent and Japan (12.9 percent).

Vietnam welcomed 9.8 million foreigners in January-July, up 7.9 percent against the same period of last year, putting the country on track to meet its annual target of receiving 18 million foreigners this year, according to the General Statistics Office. Chinese and South Korean tourists accounted for over two-thirds of the total.

Despite a 2.8 percent decrease, mainland China remained the country’s biggest feeder market with 2.89 arrivals, followed by South Korea with 2.4 million.

Booking your Flight, Hotel or Resort now


 The launch of several domestic and international flight routes to connect Vietnam's popular tourist destinations like Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Nha Trang with other Asian destinations, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have contributed to push this growth, market observers said.

For instance, Jeju Air, a South Korean low-cost airline, last December began operating flights everyday between Daegu City and Da Nang. Korean Air, the oldest and largest air carrier in Asia, launched a direct air route between Busan and Da Nang last year. Malaysian budget airline AirAsia last April launched direct flights from Thailand's Chiang Mai to Da Nang.

Vietnam's private budget carrier Vietjet Air recently announced the launch of two new direct routes connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang with Tokyo this year. While the HCMC-Tokyo daily flight began operations on July 12, the Da Nang-Tokyo route is scheduled to take off on October 26.

Based on the average annual growth rate of foreign arrivals, Vietnam is forecast to become a leading travel destination in the next five years, according to the latest Asia Pacific Visitor Forecasts 2019 - 2023 report released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).


Thursday, 30 May 2019

#Vietnam continues to attract record numbers of foreign visitors

More than 7 million foreigners visited Vietnam in January-May, attesting to the country’s rising popularity as a tourism destination.

Vietnam welcomed 7.3 million arrivals during January-May, up 8.8 percent from a year ago, putting the country on track to meet its annual target of receiving 18 million foreigners this year, according to the General Statistics Office.

Most foreign visitors arrived by air, accounting for over 80 percent of the total.

Tourism officials have attributed the increase in numbers to international tourists spending their summer breaks during Vietnam's festival season, marked by many cultural events organized across the country.

Most of the foreign tourists were from Asia, with the numbers rising 10 percent year-on-year to 5.6 million, accounting for 76.8 percent of the total.

Despite a slight decrease of 0.8 percent, China remained the biggest source of visitors with nearly 2.1 million, followed by South Korea, the second biggest market, which recorded a 22.4 percent increase to nearly 1.7 million.
 Neighboring Thailand topped the growth of foreign tourist arrivals in the first five months of this year at a whopping 47.5 percent year-on-year, reaching 215,000.

The recent launch of direct flights connecting Vietnam’s top tourist destinations like Da Nang, Nha Trang and Da Lat with Thailand’s tourism hubs has pushed this growth, market observers said.

The number of tourists from European market grew by six percent from a year ago.
While Vietnam is the midst of a tourism boom with a record high of 15.5 million foreign arrivals in 2018, a year-on-year rise of 20 percent, the numbers have remained lower than that of neighboring countries in the region.

Thailand (38 million), Malaysia (25 million) and Singapore (18.5 million) remain far ahead of Vietnam,

At a National Assembly session last year Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said the country needs to stop relying on crude oil and focus on tourism to sustain its economic growth.
"It's better to get one million tourists than try to find one million tons of crude oil because tourism is more eco-friendly and safe for the economy," Hue said.

Many travel agencies have said that Vietnam should further relax its visa policies and simplify procedures to attract high spending tourists from Japan, North America, Northern Europe, China and South Korea.

They have called for the current 15-day visa exemption extended to 30 days.


Thursday, 16 May 2019

Two #Vietnam waterfalls among world’s most beautiful

 Microsoft network MSN has included two waterfalls in Vietnam in its list of 15 most charming cascades in the world.

It describes Ban Gioc Waterfall in the northern province of Cao Bang, near the border with China, as ‘a paradise on earth’ while the Dambri Waterfall in Bao Loc Town in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is mentioned as place worth visiting.

Around 340 kilometers (225 miles) to the north of Hanoi, Ban Gioc is still a relatively uncrowded natural beauty in Vietnam.  
The waterfall can be visited at any time of year, but the best time is said to be September and October when the summer rains that feed the falls are less frequent and the rice harvest is in full swing.

"Forget a blue drop against grey rocks, this waterfall is surrounded by bamboo groves and splashes over limestone rocks into a jade-colored natural pool. You can even take a dip in the pool," the site writes.

Swimming is banned here but there are small bamboo rafts that take tourists to the very edge of the falls.

Around 130 kilometers from the popular highlands resort town of Da Lat, Dambri is one of the highest waterfalls in Vietnam, setting a majestic landscape that draws backpackers and adventurous trekkers in their thousands every year.
Other waterfalls on the MSN list include Victoria Falls on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Niagara Falls in Canada and the U.S., Yosemite Falls in the U.S., Dudhsagar Falls in India and Yumbilla Falls in Peru.

Source - VN Expess

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

#Agoda reveals six exotic holiday destinations in Asia

Online travel booking platform Agoda revealed six exotic holiday destinations in the wild in Asia that provide guests individual and personal contact with nature.

The following nature escapes represent incomparable wildlife adventures just a short flight away. 

Slumber under the Bali sky

The Island of the Gods is famous for its natural beauty, picturesque beaches and magical sunsets. Enjoy a unique night under the stars accompanied by night animals in one of the transparent domes at the unconventional and minimalist Bubble Hotel Ubud. 

Get to know Malaysia´s homegrown species

Belum Temenggor rainforest in Perak, Malaysia, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. Watch the wildlife or join activities such as jungle trekking, kayaking or camping in the wild. 

The area is home to some of the world´s most endangered animals, such as the Malayan tiger, Asiatic elephant or the white handed gibbon. The Belum Rainforest Resort offers the best view of the rainforest. 

Swim with Miniloc Island´s marine life

The El Nido Resort on Miniloc Island, Philippines, is located in the middle of beautiful coves and sheer limestone cliffs. Apart from enjoying the Philippines’´ crystal clear water and vibrant marine life, the resort offers special activities such as guided sunrise and sunset hike tours, boat trips to the nearby lagoons and caves, as well as snorkeling excursions with the local fish.

If you’re lucky, you might see the massive talakitok, which weighs around 80 kilograms and measures 170 centimeters.
Soar with Phuket's nature

Enjoy the natural view above the Phuket jungle of Thailand and spend your night in a Keemala Hotels villa, which was designed as a bird’s nest. 

The resort runs a strict “Anti Animal Exploitation Policy” and has rescued several animals onsite. It is home to goats, ducks, peacock and chickens, as well as a water buffalo rescued from Thai slaughterhouses.

Be a marine conservationist for a day

If you are interested in the marine ecosystem, pay a visit to the Marine Ecology Research Center at Gayana Marine Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

As a learning and educational organization, it raises awareness on the increasing threats of marine life. Rehabilitation activities include replanting coral in the reef or getting close to sea creatures from seahorses to bamboo sharks.

Go off-grid with India's majestic predators

As one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Northern India, Ranthambore National Park is a popular attraction for wildlife admirers. The park’s highlight includes Royal Bengal Tigers, Indian leopards, nilgai, wild boars, striped hyenas, sloth bears and chitals.

At Obero Vanyavilas Ranthambhore Hotel, you can spend your nights in glamping tents and enjoy the natural bird life, including magpie robins, purple sun birds and oriental white eyes.

Source - TheJakartaPost 

Digital trends through the lenses of tourist photographers

With the introduction of technology in developing countries, many professionals have had to change the way they cater to customers. In Phnom Penh (Cambodia), photographers express their woes regarding the introduction of smartphones. However, many tourist photographers remain hopeful that their profession will stand the test of time.

At around 1pm, under a sunny sky, street photographer Heng Leng prints out pictures he has taken of some tourists from his portable printer in front of the Royal Palace.

Local and international tourists usually visit the Royal Palace around this time to enjoy the scenery while the sun is shining and the air is cool. Some tourists tend to take their own photographs, while others enlist the services of photographers such as Mr Leng.

The 60-year-old Phnom Penh resident says demands for his services have plummeted after technology has made it easier for people to take photos.

“Due to the digital era and with people using their smartphones to take photographs, we face challenges such as the reduction of our income, but Royal Palace photographers will not be losing,” Mr Leng says.

With rising technological challenges, it is not clear whether tourist photographers are able to sustain their profession and their livelihoods, especially when young Cambodians are now able to take selfies.

Mr Leng says most of his customers are local tourists from the provinces.
“There are challenging issue now because it’s not like the time when people had no smartphones, like when people had Nokia phones without a camera. Back then we were able to earn a lot of income,” he says. “However, the trade itself will not be lost because we have side jobs as wedding and ceremony photographers.”

“Even if everyone owns a smartphone, they will not be able to take moving photos of couples and children,” he adds. “We are only worried about our reduced income. The job of a photographer will never disappear.”

Almost every day, Mr Leng stands in front of the Royal Palace on Sisowath Quay boulevard, along the riverside. Here he smiles upon incoming travellers, speaks to people who stop by and take their pictures.

He says a nice photo of tourists in front of the Royal Palace can earn him up to $2.50. Per month, Mr Leng says he can earn up to $500.

“Sometimes, if there’s a big event like the Water Festival, or a graduation ceremony, I can earn up to between $50 and $100 per day,” he says.

According to a report by Open Institution, an NGO that focuses on tech development, in 2016, 96 percent of Cambodians had their own phones, with more than 99 percent were able to be reached with a device. In its report, the NGO says the proportion of citizens using more than one phone was 13 percent, while one in four uses more than one service provider.

The data in the report also shows that Cambodians are becoming more and more tech-savvy when it comes to their smartphones.

In its 2015 report, 76 percent of Cambodians own phones with Khmer script features. The number jumped by 21 percent when compared to the previous year.

According to the 2016 report, 48 percent of Cambodians had access to the internet, and that five out of six people had Facebook accounts. It noted that only three percent of Cambodians accessed Facebook solely through their computers, while 80 percent accessed Facebook exclusively on their phones.

To 30 percent of responders, Facebook became the most important source of information, surpassing TV and almost doubling radio.

According to Open Institution’s 2016 report, smartphone penetration of the market began in 2013. Before long, smartphone users became a vast majority of people who accessed the internet. By 2015, a third of Cambodia’s population was accessing information on the internet mostly via their smartphones.

“Phones have also become an important communication and service-provision tool for civil society organisations and government agencies,” the report said.

Back at the Royal Palace, Mr Leng is taking a photo of a beautiful family hailing from Kandal province. The father, 30-year-old Sun Lyna, says there are now more photographers in offering their services, despite the high number of people who now own a smartphone.

“Even if there are a lot of smartphone owners, people still want to have their pictures taken by the experts,” Mr Lyna says. “I too am used to using a smartphone, but I still want pictures taken by photographers because it reminds me of the past.”

“If we took a photo with our smartphone, we would only be able to see it on a small screen,” he adds. “But if we had a photographer, then he would be able to immediately print and frame the photo so we can place it in our home.”

Soum Srey Muoy, a 24-year-old university student from Kampong Speu province, says photographers are invaluable to Cambodians because most people like to have their picture taken by experts.

“Photographers are skilled and have good cameras to take pictures. The results tend to be better than that of a smartphone, so the profession will not be lost,” Ms Srey Muoy says. “Some people want to take larger resolution photos in front of the Royal Palace so that it can be framed and displayed at home for all to see.”

Nuth Narong, a 54-year-old photographer, stands beneath the statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk near the Independence Monument. Mr Narong says despite the popularity of smartphones, a lot of people still demand his service.

“Yes, it might disappear in the future because people like using smartphones to take selfies instead of hiring a photographer,” Mr Narong says. “But those who want physical photos still demand the services of a professional.”

Mr Narong, who has been taking photos since he was a four-year-old boy in Oddar Meanchey province, says photography is a passion of his that could never be obsolete.

“I love this photography job because it’s easy to earn money,” he says. “I can earn $30 by just taking a single photo.”
Street photographer
Mr Leng says he acknowledges the fact that the digital era is here and that changes are needed to be made to the way he conducts business.

He says that even at his age, he has embraced technology by equipping himself with the recent DSLR and mirrorless cameras. He also has a portable printer that can be used on short demand.

“Now every photographer has their own printer for their pictures,” Mr Leng says. “We can print photos on demand, where as in the past, we had to find a print shop – and that took a long time.”

He says that what attract customers the most are beautiful landscapes and fitting backgrounds. He says it is easy for customers to enlist his service.

“When they look to us, it usually means that they want a picture taken,” Mr Leng says. “Or we come to them asking if they wanted a picture taken.”

He adds that with a $1,000 smartphone, quality pictures can be taken, but it doesn’t mean that his profession will be lost.

Mr Leng says photography is an art and that it takes years to develop and eye for the capturing the right moments.

He even says there are some disadvantages to using a smartphone.

“Pictures stored in a phone’s memory card can be lost sometimes if they’re not printed,” Mr Leng says. “People would need to physically show photos on their phones.”

“And now, with the celebration of the King’s birthday, many customers demand a photographer,” he adds. “There are some 50 photographers who can take your next Royal Palace photos.”

Source - KhmerPost

Friday, 26 April 2019

#Cambodia - An explorer's guide for a one-day tour of Phnom Penh.

For Westerners, Cambodia is included by default on their must-visit list for touring Southeast Asia. This might not be the case among Asian travelers, who tend to visit more renowned and modern countries such as Japan and South Korea, or even Hong Kong – at least at the time of writing.

Over the past few years I've been traveling widely, I never thought about setting foot in Cambodia – let alone exploring it on my own. Now that I have visited the country, I can say with confidence that it is an experience I will always cherish.

Cambodia is truly one of a kind. The country seems to scream uniqueness in its every aspect, from its unusual currency system that combines US dollars and Cambodian riel, to prehistoric temples standing in the middle of the French-influenced metropolis of Phnom Penh, and to the amusing sound of its language. Experiencing this was a little overwhelming at first, even for an Asian guy like me.

The top cities to visit in Cambodia are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. For starters, I recommend visiting Phnom Penh first, before making your way through the rest of the country, since it is a perfect gateway for adjusting to Cambodia's ambiance.

However, Phnom Penh is said to have fewer tourist destinations compared to other Southeast Asian capitals like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh. This is why I decided to take a one-day tour around Phnom Penh in an attempt to visit some of its most famous sites.

If you're interested in a day trip exploring the Cambodian capital, here are some things you might need to know before setting out, based on the experiences I had during my visit to the city.
Best transportation modes

I researched the cheapest way to get around Phnom Penh and came across some great recommendations for taking the city bus. In reality, though, I had a hard time finding the right buses and bus stations.

Taking the tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) might also be somewhat difficult for foreigners, since the fare is habitually determined by relationship and tuk-tuk drivers tend to set a higher baseline fare for foreigners – not to mention the greater risk of snatching on public transportation.

In the end, I decided to order through Grab instead. Grab is a widely popular ride-hailing app in Cambodia, and my experience showed it's relatively easy to make a booking and get a driver in Phnom Penh. Even better, you can still experience the joy of riding a tuk-tuk by ordering Grab Tuk-Tuk, which I tried once with excitement during my one day in Phnom Penh.
Places worth visiting

Despite the limited options, taking a one-day tour in Phnom Penh can be hectic if you don't sort out the places you want to visit beforehand. Most destinations are temples and landmarks, and most are very pretty so choosing between them could be harder than you might think. I suggest taking into account the travel time between destinations and plan a relatively linear route to avoid going back and forth to save valuable time.

Wat Phnom is a beautiful temple in the center of the city and a perfect choice. Getting there isn't hard, since it is practically the focal point of Phnom Penh.

The first pagoda in Wat Phnom was built in 1372. Enter the temple to experience the mesmerizing golden statue – something you won't find anywhere else.

Another place worth visiting is Royal Palace Park. Here, you will see the rare temple-shaped palace that stands in a modern, Western-like area. Lay down on the lawn and have a moment of relaxation while enjoying the chirping birds and the stunning view.

Stay safe

Phnom Penh in particular is known for being occasionally unsafe for foreigners, which is unfortunate. The most common street crimes are snatching bags  and stealing bicycles. It is always advisable to take only one small bag and keep it on your body at all times.

When taking public transportation like tuk-tuk, sit in the middle of the vehicle. Another thing I found useful was to look alert and like you know where you're going. Walk straight and fast, even when you're not entirely sure of your direction, and avoid looking at Google Maps for too long. That way, you'll avoid looking like a lost tourist and avoid becoming a target.

If you are Caucasian, take extra safety measures and avoid talking to suspicious people that might try and scam you.

What to wear

Planning your journey is good, but be sure to go the extra mile and plan ahead on what you'll wear during your trip.

As it sits near the equator, Cambodia has its own share of direct sunlight, and sunburn can spoil your entire day. So, wear lightweight and sweat-absorbing clothes that will keep you cool while protecting your skin.

Also, do note that most Asian cultures prefer more proper attire, which means it's best to stay away from tank tops and shorts. Heading out in a pair of loose jeans and a light-colored T-shirt is advisable, as this will help you to blend in well yet is still practical to keep your body from retaining excessive heat.

What to eat

Finally, treat yourself to some great dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The streets of Phnom Penh has a lot to offer, both day and night. Treat your taste buds to the myriad street food you will find easily in the city, and be sure to give traditional dishes a try.

I personally loved Fish Amok, one of Cambodia's national dishes. The full-bodied dish's creamy coconut texture stole my heart. I remember coming across a recommendations online to try red tree ants, which literally has red ants in it. Lots of ants. If you enjoy the Fear Factor, go ahead and try it. Don’t forget to let us know how it tastes.

All in all, Phnom Penh is a must-visit when exploring Cambodia. While the country is famous for its many temples and ancient structures, including the glorious Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh is more than the usual fare. Coming here will give you a sense of what it feels like to live in a country rich in history and tradition, yet also contemporary in its own way. 

Source - TheJakartaPost

Harya Danniswara is an avid traveler and writer for Life For Experts, a website for travelers to share their experiences, insights and tips on travel, food and life values. Find him on Instagram and Twitter.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

New luxury river cruise ships set to sail Nile and Mekong rivers next year

The Golden Buddha at Phu Salao Temple overlooking the Mekong river and the city of Pakse, Laos

Some of the world’s most famous river bodies including the Nile in Egypt and the Mekong in Vietnam will become the playground for new luxury river cruises set to launch next year. 

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is expanding its fleet with the addition of three new luxury ships that will set sail along the Nile, Mekong and Douro rivers beginning in 2020.  

Its ship anchored in Italy is also slated to undergo major renovations and re-emerge as the SS La Venezia early next spring. 

Unlike behemoth cruise ships that are built to carry thousands of passengers, river cruise ships are designed as smaller, more intimate alternatives. Uniworld’s fleet has an average capacity of 130 guests.
 Here’s a look at the new ships and the 2020 itineraries: 

SS Sphinx 

Set to lift anchor January 6, 2020 as the only luxury river cruise line in Egypt, the SS Sphinx will feature three gourmet dining destinations, swimming pool, massage room and 42 suites. The 12-day itineraries include some of Egypt’s top sites, ending in Cairo. 

SS Sao Gabriel, Portugal

Food and wine will be major themes aboard the newest ship destined for the Portugal Douro river which launches March 26, 2020. Expect an itinerary that highlights the best of Portuguese cuisine and the country’s premiere wine-growing region. 

Mekong Jewel, Vietnam and Cambodia 

The newest luxury river cruise on the Mekong has been designed with the environment in mind, with features like a special paint which claims to create less drag; more efficient, high-performance propellers; energy-efficient LED light fixtures; and an energy-efficient air conditioning system. The 13-day itinerary is set to launch January 3, 2020, taking guests from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and more. 

SS La Venezia, Venice 

The River Countess is slated to undergo major renovations and resurface as the SS La Venezia. Itineraries include a stop in Milan to visit Da Vinci’s renowned “The Last Supper” and sailings around Venetian islands Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello. The launch date is set for March 27, 2020.
Source - TheJakartaPost

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

#Bangkok a top Tet holiday choice for Vietnamese travelers

The Thai capital is the hottest destination this year for Vietnamese choosing to travel during the Tet holiday.

Agoda, a leading global online accommodation reservations provider, has used new bookings data to assess 10 most popular Tet, Lunar New Year, holiday destinations for Vietnamese this year.

Traditionally, Tet is a time when Vietnamese people return home all over the country and the world to join their family for important Lunar New Year rituals, and to visit relatives and friends as part of the festival tradition.

However, the long holiday is tempting increasing numbers of Vietnamese citizens to travel within and outside the country.

This year, Bangkok has overtaken many of famous Vietnamese tourist hotspots like Da Lat, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. Singapore came sixth on the list, while Kuala Lumpur took the ninth position.
 Around one million Vietnamese tourists touched down in Thailand in 2018, putting Vietnam among the kingdom's top 10 tourism markets, according to a recent report by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Citizens of ASEAN member nations can travel within the region without applying for visa and stay as a tourist for a maximum of 30 days.

Bangkok’s high popularity among Vietnamese holiday goers is reflected in the fact that 30 airlines have direct routes connecting Hanoi and Saigon with the capital of Thailand.

The Year of the Pig begins on February 5 and the Vietnamese government has approved a nine-day (February 2-10) break for the holiday.

Rising overseas travel is a result of economic development and an expanding middle class, said Nguyen Cong Hoan, vice general director of Hanoi Redtour.

"A more affluent younger generation now wants to see the world. They are willing to spend more money on experiencing new destinations," he said.

According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021.

Mastercard has forecast that some 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will venture outside the country in 2021.

Source - VN Express

Thursday, 24 January 2019

International tourist arrivals up 6% to 1.4 billion in 2018: UN

The number of international tourist arrivals rose by 6 percent last year to 1.4 billion, according to an estimate published Monday by the World Tourism Organization.

The increase was driven by travel to southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the Madrid-based UN body, citing economic growth and cheaper air travel as key factors.

Although arrivals to the Americas grew by a modest three percent -- four for North America -- Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific performed better, with rises of six, seven and six percent respectively.

In 2010, the WTO had forecast that international tourist arrivals would only hit the 1.4 billion mark in 2020 -- but it now said that stronger economic growth, more affordable air travel and an easier visa regime around the world had helped boost the market.

"The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the sector is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development," WTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement.

Total arrivals to Europe were 713 million but the WTO noted that arrivals in northern Europe were flat last year, citing uncertainty over Britain's impending exit from the European Union.

Closer focus on data for Africa, which welcomed 67 million visitors in total, saw the north of the continent register 10 per cent growth in arrivals staying at least overnight. Sub-Saharan arrivals were up six percent.

Middle Eastern arrivals rose 10 percent to 64 million.
 The Caribbean suffered a drop of 2.0 percent in arrivals as it continued to feel the effects of the September 2017 hurricanes Maria and Irma. The storms caused catastrophic damage in tourist hotspots such as Barbuda, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 
 The WTO predicted a global overall increase of between three and four percent for the current year, broadly in line with historical trends. Stable fuel prices would "translate into affordable air travel while air connectivity continues to improve in many destinations", it predicted.

Outbound tourism from emerging markets, "especially India and Russia", but also from smaller Asian and Arab markets is expected to continue to grow strongly, it added.

But at the same time the WTO warned that uncertainty related to Brexit "as well as geopolitical and trade tensions may prompt a 'wait and see' attitude among investors and travelers".

Source - TheJakartaPost

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Bali's beaches are the top attraction on the resort island

Indonesia remains an attractive destination for Chinese tourists to visit during the year-end holiday season, according to a survey, despite the series of disasters hitting the archipelago throughout the year. 

As reported by news agency Antara, a survey conducted by Chinese travel portal reveals that the most attractive countries for tourists from mainland China during the current year-end holidays are Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Indonesia and Germany.

Countries in Europe are the preferred destinations for Christmas, but those who want the warmth of the sun and pristine beaches choose Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Thailand, especially since these countries allow visa-free entry.
 Indonesia remains an attractive destination for Chinese tourists, according to the survey, which shows that a series of natural disasters and a fatal airplane accident in 2018 did not deter tourists.

The Tourism Ministry, however, has fallen short of its targeted 2.6 million tourist visits from China during the period of January to October, with only 1.87 million having visited.

According to Tuniu’s survey, conducted among respondents between 19 and 35 years of age, young Chinese travelers mostly opt for holidays in the northern hemisphere, such as Finland, Norway, Iceland or Denmark. Yet some prefer to fly to the southern hemisphere for some warmth, including to Australia, New Zealand or Mauritius.

The survey also shows that 70 percent of the respondents spend only three days on their year-end vacation, typically from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1. About 64 percent of the respondents were women, most of whom said they would go on vacation with their friends or parents.

Ticket sales for the holiday season rose 30 percent in China, according to the survey, with fast trains still the main choice for domestic tourists.
Source - TheJakartaPost