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The Hottest tourist destinations in Asia Pacific for 2009 : The Recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel on December 4, 2008 at 8:53 am
LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL 2009

LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL 2009

There are many travel tip articles have given suggestions that planning everything early is simply the smart way to make the best of their travel budget. How early it should be? Well…as we’re just now getting to the end of the year, some people were already talking about what would be favorite destinations for the next year.

LonelyPlanet.com has recently released “LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL 2009” in which, of course, as one of the most favorite regions for worldwide travelers, there were 4 spots from Asia and Asia Pacific region included in this top 10 suggested list. More highly recommended tourist destinations are emerging from many countries in different continent, including BASQUE COUNTRY from France & Spain (Europe), CHILOE from Chile (South America), LANGUEDOC from France (Europe), THE BIG ISLAND Hawaii from U.S. (North America), SAN ANDRES & PROVIDENCIA from Colombia (South America), and SVALBARD from Norway (Europe). But the spotlights on the Asia Pacific are;

1. BAY OF FIRES, Australia (No. 1)The rookie tourist’s famous from the east coast of Tasmania has surprisingly occupied the top of the list. Bay of Fires is a place of tranquil beauty, full of clean white beaches and rocky bays. This unique place provide remarkable site for wide range of activities including camping, beach activities, boating, bird watching, fishing, swimming, surfing and walking. But a four-day guided hike would be something you shouldn’t miss as it was considered as the best way to experience scenic views of the bay which captured tourist’s most impressions.


2. KO TAO, Thailand (No. 4) – Even they are facing some political problems domestically which already gave some worries to international tourists, but this list would not be completed without Thailand. First there was Ko Samui, then Ko Pha-Ngan; now, the cult of Ko Tao has emerged along Thailand’s crystalline Gulf Coast. Ko Tao, another amazing place from Surathani Province, is simply a paradise for divers. Diving enthusiasts can enjoy cavorting all day long with sharks and rays in a playground of tangled neon coral. As, each year, millions of tourists were already got in touch with great local Thai foods, festinating accommodations, welcoming Thai people and amazing tourist spots, these comprehensive factors leave Ko Tao to a real good place to explore during your trip to Thailand – the tourist’s paradise country.

3. NAM HA, Laos (No. 6) – Nam Ha will be the best favorite especially for adventurous travelers. It’s a place where the mountains, waterfalls and lofty plateaux, are coupled with the culture of some 30 ethnic groups. The ideal landscape for eco-trekking is there to enjoy. Die-hard adventurers can tackle leeches and thigh-destroying slopes on a true jungle trek; budding anthropologists can people-watch by ambling through ethnic villages. However, please beware that the Nam Ha National Protected Area has an eco-enlightened tourism policy: organized treks can only be in small groups which must be led by local villagers who know all about the fauna and folklore of the province.

4. YUNNAN, China (No. 10) – This Beautiful Clouds in the South from China is also recalled as the “Endlessly fascinating”. Yunnan is a place of diversities and natural wonders. Its landscape ranges from a snowy mountain to tropical rainforest. The itineraries can start from the capital, Kumming, by visiting Stone Forest (Shi Lin) – one of the world’s natural wonders, the Bamboo Temple – 500 life-size luohans that were sculpted in the 1800’s and the ancient town in Xiaguan (New Dali) where tourist can unwind in one of the bars on “Foreigner’s Street”. These might be only a short list but there are a lot more to explore on the site.

For more information, please grab the LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL 2009” guide book, and you’ll be assured not to miss the spotlights of the next year.

Give Yourself a Great Christmas Break with the Top 10 Beach Resorts in Southeast Asia: The Recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel on October 20, 2008 at 2:56 am

Asia beaches is always the best tourist option

Asia beaches is always the best tourist option

Well, it’s now October already. There are two more months to go until a big break at the end of the year. The year which rocked the world with worldwide economic crisis, unexpected natural disasters and unfinished war. The year which makes lots of people felt powerless, uncontrollable and stressful. As Christmas is now approaching, it’s time to leave all problems behind your back and give yourself some relax and quiet vacation…at least just for a moment.

 

However, with all economic concerns pressing from every perspective, an inexpensive and safe plus enjoyable destination would be a perfect option for this difficult period. Well, Southeast Asia would certainly remain as the best answer in this case. Besides harboring some of the world’s purist shores, the Southeast Asian region has also become more accessible to travelers in recent years with the development of international airports, health and sporting facilities.

So, how about staying in the some of the top beach resorts in Southeast Asia region? Here’re the recommendations for you;

1. Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas, Krabi, Thailand

Sitting majestically affront the private beach of Ao Nang in Pai Plong Bay against a backdrop of dramatic limestone cliffs, the Centara Grand Beach Resort offers luxury accommodation and a stunningly beautiful view. Guests can journey to the resort with relative ease now that the township of Krabi has a domestic airport, where they are picked up and whisked away by boat to the serene shores of Ao Nang. Drawing on contemporary tropical Thai architecture, the resort’s design complements the natural elements outside, bringing the spectacular vista inside. This is a heavenly combination of opulence and naturally striking surrounds.

2. Pandanus Hotel, Phan Thiet, Vietnam

Acknowledged as the most luxurious hotel in the Phan Thiet province, the Pandanus Hotel is also located on one of Vietnam’s most attractive coastal stretches. Built inside a 10 hectare tropical garden, with its own private beach, the resort is within close proximity to the area’s famed ‘red’ sand dunes and the canyon of Mui Ne. Friendly, service-oriented staffs ensure guests are in want for nothing – and with an oceanic view like this on offer, exotic cocktail in hand, what could be better?

3. Sokha Beach Hotel, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Poised on a peninsula that extends into the Gulf of Thailand, the Sihanoukville shore is a largely unknown treasure of Robinson Crusoe proportion. And Sokha Beach is its highlight. With such magnificent surrounds, a hotel need not go to too much effort, and yet the Sokha Beach Hotel embodies the warm hospitality of the Cambodian people and their rich culture. Its Khmer-styled, hand-crafted architecture comprises of mostly natural materials such as wood and stone, adding to the wonderful ambiance of the location.

4. Le Meridien Khao Lak Beach Resort & Spa, Khao Lak, Thailand

Overshadowed by nearby island neighbor and tourist giant, Phuket, the Khao Lak stretch of Thailand’s Southwest mainland has managed to maintain a tranquil atmosphere and an unspoiled, awe-inspiring landscape. The Le Meridien Khao Lak Beach Resort&Spa doesn’t disappoint in terms of location and service. Within an oar’s reach of the stunningly famous Phang Nga bay and accessible by car from Phuket International Airport, Khao Lak is an excellent choice for a tropical beach sojourn.

5. Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort, Cebu, Philippines

Located within the province of Cebu on Mactan Island, this Shangri-La resort certainly lives up to its name. Guests will have panoramic views of the azure Visayan Sea and its cluster of remote islands. With state-of-the-art facilities and luxurious interiors, the high standards of service further enhance this beach resort in the Philippines. The island airport also allows for easy access from many international destinations.

6. Sanur Beach Hotel, Bali, Indonesia

Sanur beach is Bali’s best-kept beach jewel. Quieter than the popular surfing beach of Kuta and other favorites such as Nusa Dua and Seminyak, this stretch of sand offers a glimpse into the Balinese fisher village lifestyle, as well as providing visitors with pristine bathing waters teeming with colorful fish. The hotel’s staff will go to extraordinary lengths to meet guest wishes and the hotels’ plush interiors and exotic Balinese design will ensure pure comfort and luxury.

7. The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

Built on a colossal 162-hectare landscape of tropical garden, the Empire Hotel takes the concept of luxury accommodation to an entire new level. It is impressive in every detail when it comes to service and facilities, but more importantly (well, for the purposes of this article at least), is located on a magnificent stretch of coastline. Guests can fully escape into this private utopia which also boasts its own golf course.

8. Zeavola Hotel, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Phi Phi is a long island favorite among Thailand’s frequent beach travelers. Its beaches are simply idyllic with their powdery sand shores and clear waters. The boutique Zeavola hotel offers Phi Phi paradise with luxury amenities disguised by a rural feel and charm. A unique accommodation option positioned in front of a prime, serene stretch of beach, couples can relish in the resort’s privacy and lush natural environment.

9. Berjaya Redang Beach Resort, Terangganu, Malaysia

Malaysia is often surpassed by the highly publicized tourist destinations of Indonesia and Thailand for its natural offerings, despite it being rich in beauty. Redang Island is one such example and the Berjaya Redang Beach Resort offers guests private access to one of the country’s finest beaches – one accentuated by vibrant corals and tropical fish. The comfortable villas and rooms have a tropical beach feel that encourages relaxation, while friendly staff and excellent water sports facilities make it a good choice for families and couples alike.

10. Furama Resort, Danang, Vietnam

The largely undeveloped coastal stretch which stretches 25km from Hoi An to Danang on Vietnam’s Central Coast, is one of the countries most magnificent. Known in English as China Beach, the Furama Resort was the first luxury hotel to be built along this unspoiled coast. The design blends Vietnamese style with tropical architecture and the staffs are friendly and helpful. Only 10 minutes drive from Danang International Airport, this hotel has become a preferred choice among Southeast Asian beach seekers.

 

 

Top 10 Bangkok Hotels with Amazing Views: The Recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel on October 2, 2008 at 7:02 am
Stays Top of Bangkok

Stays Top of Bangkok

Everyone knows that Thailand has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for years, and if you don’t know…its capital city “Bangkok” recently earned the award “Best City in Asia,” for the seventh year in a row in the recent Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. The city is well-known as the best place which has everything to offer to different types of visitors, from its modern infrastructure and world-renowned hospitality and service, to our rich culture and to-die-for cuisine. Moreover, three of the ten “Best Hotels in Asia” from the same institution awards are amazingly also located in Bangkok: The Oriental, The Peninsula and The Shangri-La.

Being a city so rich in sights and sounds, seemingly everywhere, Bangkok can feel overwhelming at times. Luckily Bangkok hotels have made enjoying the city’s wonderful madness a little easier, by creating outstanding viewpoints to enjoy this vast city. Today, Bangkok sprawls in every direction, extending beyond the horizon. Still a massive network of streets and sois, the city now bristles with skyscrapers, mega malls, elevated expressways and sky trains. The ubiquitous food stalls, markets, world class shopping and nightlife still attract tourists in droves, but it’s the elegance and modernity of the city that consistently surprises.

So, if Bangkok is one of your top favorites or there will be your first-time visit to this great city in the near future, here’re recommendations for the top 10 hotels showcasing Bangkok’s amazing views:

1. Lebua at State Tower, Sirocco-Located on the 63rd floor of The Dome at the Lebua at State Tower, Sirocco is the world’s highest al fresco restaurant. Also one of Bangkok’s most coveted dining choices, the experience never fails to leave one mesmerized. This award-winning restaurant offers breathtaking views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River.

2. The Banyan Tree, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar – Located on the 61stfloor, Vertigo is one of the landmarks of fine dining in Bangkok. The top floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel offers spectacular panoramic views of Bangkok. Even without trying the decadent menu, just witnessing the sunset at Vertigo is an unforgettable experience. The slow melt of the sun into darkness, ultimately revealing the sparkling lights of the Bangkok night, leaves guests awestruck.

3. Centara Grand at CentralWorld, A gourmet dining & grill restaurant, Fifty Five is dramatically perched on the 54th and 55th floors, with amazing views of Bangkok, set to serve the very best Thailand has to offer. Red Sky a chic, urban bistro and lounge with breathtaking, al fresco vistas of Bangkok, located on the 55th floor. Both scheduled to open in September 2008.

4. The Dusit Thani, D’Sens – A graceful French restaurant, D’Sens is located on the top floor of the hotel. The large windows allow guests to gaze out onto all the early evening activity of historical Lumpini Park and the hustle and bustle of Silom, Bangkok’s city center.

5. The Landmark Hotel, RR & B Bar- A roof-top steakhouse and bar, RR & B is located on the 31 stfloor, offering breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and one of Bangkok’s best grills.

6. The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Hotel, Horizon Sky Lounge and Karaoke- Follow dinner with drinks, music and questionable karaoke at the Horizons Sky Lounge and Karaoke with its panoramic views of Bangkok’s sparkling lights.

7. The Baiyoke Sky, Thailand’s tallest hotel with 3 fantastic restaurants located at its peak. The Bangkok Sky Restaurant on the 76th and 78th floors, the Crystal Grill on the 82nd floor and the rocking Roof Top Bar & Music on the 83rd floor, Thailand’s highest entertainment venue.

8. The Oriental Hotel, The Verandah – With a massive patio extending out onto the Chao Phraya River, the elegant Verandah is the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Renovated in 2005 the Verandah serves delectable Asian and Western cuisines in subtle Thai surroundings. The majestic Oriental Hotel was just ranked number 14 in Travel and Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels.

9. The Millennium Hilton Bangkok – Three Sixty Lounge- Sitting 32 floors up and chilling out to a little jazz, the Three Sixty Lounge provides the perfect setting to take Bangkok all in. A relaxed, romantic setting with an extensive cocktail list, this jazz bar is quickly becoming a city favorite.

10. The Peninsula Hotel, Thiptara Restaurant – Thiptara literally translates to ‘heaven on water’ and the Thiptara Restaurant is just that, set on the picturesque banks of the Chao Phraya River nestled under a huge Banyan tree. The Peninsula’s new Thiptara Thai restaurant offers authentic, Thai home-style food served outdoors, in teakwood, Thai-style pavilions. Bangkok’s outstanding Peninsula Hotel was just ranked number 17 in Travel and Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels.

Asia’s Top 10 Family Resorts: The recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel, Travel Tips on August 22, 2008 at 4:03 am

Travel with Babies is enjoyable

Travel with Babies is enjoyable

In the past, the concept of having an adult break was seen as mutually exclusive to going on holiday with the kids. Whilst family holidays provide a great opportunity to bond and build on parent-child relationships, they can also be extra taxing on an adult’s energy. Finding time to relax can be difficult when the children’s daily routine is altered and activities such as swimming at the beach or pool are added into the equation.

 

But options have changed and broadened in recent years. For a start, Southeast Asian destinations have opened up to families, providing international standards of service, accommodation and leisure activities at incomparable prices to the West. Not only can Mom and Dad arrange babysitting services, but many hotels now have kid’s clubs or daily activities to keep the brood happy and entertained. Parents can take the time to have that massage, earn that tan or enjoy a romantic meal at sunset.

 

So, here’s list of recommendations for the best child-friendly, family-focused resorts in the Southeast Asian region, which you’re welcome to bring your babies; 

 

1. Ramada Karon Beach Resort Phuket, Thailand
This family resort opened last year and literally is, as the website claims, a “wonderland for kids”. First of all, there are themed rooms for budding princesses (designed like a castle turret and draped in pink and purple) astronauts (pod-like furniture and spacey images of the galaxy create the semblance of being in a spaceship) and marine biologists (underwater rooms have built-in aquariums in the shape of portholes). Then there are the general hotel facilities which are even more child-friendly: the colorful children’s swimming pool which includes the biggest hotel waterslide in Thailand and the “kids paradise” zone which has a free and bottomless day-long ice cream machine, X box video game room and daily program of activities which includes everything from arts and crafts to cooking, sports and science. Meanwhile, Karon beach is a 5 minute walk away. The Ramada Resort Karon Beach is not only a child’s wonderland but the perfect parent fantasyland!

2. Sheraton Grande Laguna Resort , Phuket, Thailand
Located within the Laguna complex, this Sheraton Grande was one of the first hotels in Thailand to truly cater for children. Kids receive goody backpacks on arrival which include perks like refillable ‘tippy cups’ and there are a myriad of activities planned by the Very Important Kids Club (VIKC). Resident baby elephants Yum Yum and Lilly make daily appearances to interact with kids and parents. Besides the many water sports and outdoor activities available, there is also a cyber room for the techno, video-game inclined. Most impressive, however, is that the hotel has special VIKC ambassadors, whose role it is to exclusively cater to child requests. Other highlights include a children’s menu and express meal service, free unlimited ice cream and very reasonable babysitting rates. For older children (age 9-14) there is also Camp Laguna which has year-long programs including rock climbing, abseiling, beach volleyball and more.

3. Plantation Bay Resort, Cebu, Philippines
Designed in colonial-plantation style, this mammoth resort is also build around one of the largest privately-owned waterways in the world. It is a perfect resort for aquanauts of any age, but children will especially delight in the water slides, aqua rides and beach activities. Parents can take advantage of the children’s center where staff will keep the little ones enthralled with making sandcastles, feeding fish and face painting, among many other things.

4. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort,  Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Located in Borneo and overlooking the South China Sea, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort offers a premiere setting and possibly the largest Kids Club facility in Malaysia. The club is sectioned according to age group, with padded areas and soft toys for toddlers, creative areas for arts and crafts as well as a coffee area for parents to mingle. There are many activities planned for the kids on the beach and in the playground as well as safe children pools. Trips to the sister Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort can be organized where there is an orangutan rehabilitation reserve, giving kids the chance to communicate with one of their closest ape relatives.

5. Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, Bali, Indonesia
Secluded on almost 6.8 hectares of lush, beachfront terrain in Southern Bali – near to the Nusa Dua area – the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa provides exceptional opportunities to families. Beyond the usual provisions of crib and children’s menus, the Conrad also has special babyrobes and baby bath and potty. There are a plethora of activities for kids at the Kura Kura Club including Balinese traditional dancing, island storytelling around the lagoon pool and arts and crafts. There are indoor and outdoor play areas, a video Games Zone, a babysitting service and child care centre. Tennis enthusiasts can arrange for child tennis lessons at reasonable rates and there are plenty of water sports to choose from for the family.

6. Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, Langkawi, Malaysia
This beautifully-located resort  in Langkawi is a great option for families who love to be active. There are water sports galore including boating, water skiing, diving, snorkeling and para-sailing. Catering especially for the kids, the resort also has a mini golf course and animal farm. The Kiki Club is open from 9am-9pm with free daily activities involving cultural, arts and nature-loving activities so parents can go pamper themselves in the hours between.

7. The Ritz-Carlton Bali, Indonesia
Set on its own private cove at Kuba, the luxurious Ritz Carlton in Bali also has an impressive children’s program and facilities. There is a separate children’s pool that has two water slides and a daily activities club which covers everything from kite-making to Balinese traditional arts courses to sea shell collecting. There is a special children’s dining menu and baby sitting is available (English, Bahasa and Japanese speaking).

8. Holiday Inn Phuket, Thailand
Recently revamped, the Kids Club at the Holiday Inn Phuket has video games, DVDs, internet, toys and board games all within cozy lounge settings for juniors. But the main attractions are found outdoors with the toddler and play pools which include water spouts, slides and other features to keep the kids entertained. Babysitting is available and the resort is well-located on Patong Beach, Phuket’s foremost beach town.

9. The Nusa Dua Hotel Resort & Spa,  Bali, Indonesia
This luxury resort is primly located on Nusa Dua beach and has beautifully landscaped tropical gardens and swimming areas that are suitable for children. The affordable rates make it a good choice for family holidaymakers and they have special family rooms with King-sized bed and bunk bed as well as attractive children furnishings. The Gecko Kids Club is open daily, offering supervised games and activities in the playground, pools, beach or children’s center.

10. Coco Beach Resort, Phan Thiet, Vietnam
The quaint huts of Coco Beach Resort depict a charming tropical image of relaxation and comfort. First impressions don’t disappoint. Located on one of the more beautiful beach spots of Vietnam, this resort has plenty of activities to amuse the kids with paddle boats, boogie boards and other beach activities as well as a special children’s playground, pool with waterslide and toddler wading pool.

 

 

 

Top 10 Ecotourism Hotels in Asia: The Recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel on August 5, 2008 at 6:36 am

The beauty of natural resources in Asia

The beauty of natural resources in Asia

Many people will always delight if they had a chance to look at the trendy statistic number which shows the impressive growth of tourist businesses in Asia in every recent year. Without realizing, tourism has brought a lot of good and bad things, the rich of natural resources and traditional cultures might already be sacrificed with the construction of 5 star hotels, luxury resorts, world class golf courses and tourist entertainment communities. The concept of “Ecotourism” is now spreading out widely in Asia, especially South East Asia, to provoke the prevention of these losses and urging to preserve the beauty of their natural and cultural heritage.

Despite its attractive and good-meaning philosophy, Ecotourism seems to be appropriated much in the same way as the word “Environmentally-friendly” travel during which tourists try their best to minimize environmental impact and ensure their spending and presence benefits the local community. This also implies that, ‘going green’ is not only related to the environment, but involves all areas of sustainability and social responsibility.

According to the International Tourism Partnership, achieving a green standard must include six key areas: environmental management, policy and framework, staff training and awareness, purchasing, people and communities and destination protection. 

As travelers the world over realize that the responsibility to protect the environment is a shared one, they are adopting greener lifestyles and scrutinizing the hotels and destinations they choose to stay in.  Here are the top recommendations for the “go green” hotels in Asia;

1. Banyan Tree Resort Phuket, Thailand

Transforming the site of an abandoned tin mine which was once described by the UN as a ‘toxic wasteland’ into the environmental showcase it is today proves just how powerful responsible tourism can be. Such is the legacy of the Banyan Tree group. Now as much of a wildlife sanctuary as it is a resort complex, the Banyan Tree Phuket is an inspiration to everyone. True champions of the principles of corporate social responsibility, guests are assured when they stay at Banyan Tree that part of their fees will be directed into conserving the environment and local community.

2. La Residence d’Angkor, Siem Reap,Cambodia

Designed to blend harmoniously with the environment, La Residence also possesses a strong commitment to sustainable tourism. Beyond their environmentally sound practices (which include treating water so that it can be released back into the river and keeping used oil for biofuel production) the hotel also donates regularly to local charities and invites guests to do the same. In particular, they support the Angkor Hospital for Children through the weekly screening of a video where guests have the opportunity to ask the hospital staff questions and can contribute either second-hand items or donate money to the cause.

3. Evason Hua Hin Resort & Six Senses Spa, Thailand

The iconic thatched huts of the Evason Hua Hin Resort are not misleading in terms of their eco-friendly nature. Drawing on biodegradable products and adopting practices that conserve energy and minimize waste, the resort also supports several local initiatives such as the Mangrove Forest Conservation, the Kervorkian Foundation (dedicated to assisting HIV+ babies and children) as well as providing employment opportunities to disabled individuals and hosting its own organic vegetable farm.

4. Nihiwatu, Sumba Island, Indonesia

There is no place on earth like Sumba Island. Here, the indigenous traditions and animist culture of the Sumbanese people remain completely in tact. And the resort has no intention of changing that. Located on 438 acres of tropical forest and rice terraces and surrounded by some of the world’s most pristine beaches, Nihiwatu is a place to go and immerse yourself in nature. The resort is strongly committed to conserving its native surrounds and improving the quality of life of the Sumbanese people.

5. Anantara Resort & Spa Golden Triangle, Thailand

Nestled in the tropical jungle of Thailand’s most Northern province, Anantara’s Golden Triangle resort also plays a significant role in elephant conservation. As part of The Royal Thai Government’s Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC), this project is aimed at protecting elephants and keeping them in an environment similar to the traditional mahout camps which supported the once-thriving logging industry. With unique programs for guests that involve mahout training as well as elephant trekking and forest living skills, the conservation experience is a truly interactive one.

6. Amar Vilas Agra, India

As part of the esteemed Oberoi Resorts and Hotels, this beautifully designed luxury resort is within 600 metres of the majestic Taj Mahal. But besides its unique architectural and landscape design, the Amar Vilas also upholds a commitment to philanthropic activities (including education and support for the mentally and physically challenged) in addition to conserving the local environment and cultural heritage.

7. Popa Mountain Resort, Bagan, Myanmar

Located in the forest woodlands on the side of Popa mountain, this resort has been sensitively designed to suit its surroundings. Guests are enclosed in the vibrant, yet peaceful terrain and there is ample opportunity to hike and visit the breathtaking Mt. Popa shrine. Using biodegradable products and adopting their own recycling practices to avoid environmental damage, this small resort can bring you back to nature in its purest form.

8. Suneva Fushi Resort & Six Senses Spa, Maldives

Just as all the Six Senses properties do, this resort has a comprehensive policy on its environmental and social responsibilities. Suneva Fushi in particular supports a myriad of Maldivian community initiatives including tree planting on Eydafushi Island, hosting eye camps where locals get free treatment from ophthalmologists, sponsoring the Maldivian Cultural Centre and many more.

9. Tanjung Sanctuary Hotel, Langkawi, Malaysia

True to its name and slogan, this resort literally is a sanctuary for those who “don’t like big hotels” but have a passion for nature. The Tanjung Sanctuary Hotel does not list its specific policies on the environment, the resort’s design and practices uphold the ideals of sustainable tourism. Importantly, they provide a unique insight into the local flora and fauna with specially designed educational tours for guests.

10. Alila Ubud and Manggis Resorts, Bali, Indonesia

These two resorts are in close proximity to each other and both recently achieved Green Globe certified status. Alila Ubud was awarded best practice results in waste recycling, managing to recycle 80% of its water consumption. Alila Manggis excelled in the reduction of water and electricity consumption as well as community contribution by employing 85% of its staff from within 20km of the resort site.

Remember that it is all our responsibilities to preserve the world’s natural resources as much as we want to preserve fresh air for our pure breathing. Travel responsibly under the concept of “Ecotourism” or alike must always come together with or even before the casual joys and entertainments we leave behind on the course of our vacation trips.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Golf Resorts in Southeast Asia: The Recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel, Travel Tips on July 10, 2008 at 10:30 am

Asia is a Paradise for Golfers

Asia is a Paradise for Golfers

Greg Norman once said that “happiness is a long walk with a putter”, and for many a golf enthusiast that phrase drives true. Beyond the game itself, playing golf provides the opportunity for its participants to be in the great outdoors. Often set against striking natural scenery, golfers can breathe in the fresh air and embrace nature’s wonders whilst getting both exercise and sun.

 

Not surprisingly golf is the fastest growing and most popular sport in the world, a fact most evident in Asia, where the game has developed rapidly in the last decade. For golfing buffs, Asian courses are paradise, especially since many have been designed by stalwarts such as the “Shark” and Jack Nicklaus, are situated in the balmy and breathtaking tropics and are – by European and American standards – very easy on the pocket.

What is further complementary about choosing a golf holiday in Asia is the quality spa options available across the continent, especially in Southeast Asia where quality and cost are not mutually exclusive concepts. For golfers themselves, spa treatments such as massage can provide that perfect balance to sport with further relaxation. But more importantly, for wives and girlfriends who wish to holiday but don’t par–take in the fairways, spa pampering is a welcome alternative.

To cater for golf and spa holidaymakers, many courses and golfing resorts have been built across Asia. Let’s highlighted some of the best courses in the region, along with accommodation options, just to pique your interest!

Here are the suggested top 10 golfing resorts in the SEA region:

1. Laguna Phuket Golf Club, Phuket (Thailand)

Lauded already in numerous publications as one of Asia’s premier golf resort destinations, the Laguna Phuket Golf Club is set among the Laguna Resort Complex which features five luxury hotels (Sheraton, Dusit Thani, Banyan Tree, Laguna Beach Resort and Allamande). It boasts an 18–hole, par–71 course designed by Max Wexler and David Abell and caters to players of all levels of expertise. But the course certainly is challenging as 13 of the 18 holes are in close proximity to the actual lagoon. Golfers can enjoy taking the watery gamble with their shots. Afterwards, pampering is essential at the world famous Banyan Tree Spa.

2. Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort, Bali (Indonesia)

The five–star Le Meridien Golf & Spa Resort is a luxury resort overlooking the Indian Ocean with world–class golf and spa facilities. The Nirvana Bali Golf Club boasts an 18–hole course designed by the legendary Greg Norman, and has been featured in several publications. The course is made challenging by the elaborate network of streams, ponds and terraces plus its ocean lapping location. After playing, relax at the fusion Nirwana Spa which uses Western products while keeping the Balinese Hindu philosophy in mind.

3. Novotel Ocean Dunes and Golf Resort, Phan Thiet (Vietnam)

Located three hours from Ho Chi Minh City, the four–star Novotel Ocean Dunes and Golf Resort is located on a private beach and was the first international resort to be built in Vietnam. The Par–72 Ocean Dunes Golf Club located on–site has been designed by Nick Faldo and been identified it as one of the top 10 resort courses in Asia. The course will appeal to both experienced as well as casual golfers, and the coastal winds will bring challenge to each hole. The on–site Spa has private saunas and Jacuzzis for customers use after a round of golf. Or you can go in for a massage before you take to the course, helping to relax the muscles and improve that swing.

4. Kirimaya Golf Resort & Spa, Khao Yai (Thailand)

The three star Kirimaya Golf Resort & Spa provides 60 contemporary living options and is the perfect retreat for those looking for a golf holiday. The 18–hole golf course has been designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus and is set among the mountains and greenery of Khao Yai. Guests can indulge in a range of massages and wellness rituals at the Maya Spa or in the comfort of them own rooms after a day spent on the course or exploring the surroundings.

5. The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei Darussalam)

The five star Empire Hotel & Country Club and beach resort overlooking the South China Sea boasts of lavish accommodations, eight swimming pools and a championship golf course. Designed by the celebrated Jack Nicklaus, the golf course includes cliffs, ravines, tight fairways, large bunkers, and is floodlit for night–time games. Also not be missed is the Spa, with its therapies from around the world designed to calm the body and revitalize the skin.

6. Hornbill Golf & Jungle Club, Sarawak (Malaysia)

The five star Hornbill Golf & Jungle Club is nestled amongst the oldest and second largest rainforest in the world, 1,000 meters above sea level. As the name suggests, the main attraction of the hotel is its golf course designed by Neil Crater, while keeping in mind the features of its unique highland location. The course is the ultimate test of golfing skills, and is suited for those who love a fresh physical challenge as well as a mental one. With the number of guests kept to just 60 a day, it provides ample exclusivity and privacy to indulge at a calm pace. The Jungle Club continues to keep up the promise of relaxation and rejuvenation with its pampering sessions of spa, exotic traditional massages and a range of natural treatments.

7. Bintan Lagoon Resort, Bintan Island (Indonesia)

The four–star Bintan lagoon Resort is set among 300 hectares of beachfront gardens and offers a world of choice. This golfing resort can easily be reached by a short high–speed ferry ride from Singapore. Both the Jack Nicklaus 18–hole Sea View Golf course and Ian Baker–Finch 18–hole Woodlands Golf course at the resort are known for their spectacular design and signature holes. The stay is incomplete without a visit to the Bintan Spa, where traditional methods are used in conjunction with organic ingredients for the ultimate relaxation experience. Choose from a range of treatments, scrubs, and spa packages.

8. Springfield Village Golf & Spa, Hua Hin/Cha–am (Thailand)

The 3.5 star Springfield Village Golf & Spa provides luxurious rooms and suites, designed to blend with their surroundings and each providing an open view of the golf course. The golf course (another design by Jack Nicklaus) challenges golf enthusiasts with 27 meticulously manicured holes. The championship course has five sets of tees to play from, and offers varying levels of difficulty. For those looking to improve their game, step there is an excellent Learning Center which offers private lesson. Be sure to head over to the Springfield Spa to pamper and rejuvenate yourself with a wide variety of top notch massages and treatments on offer.

9. Sentosa Resort & Spa, Singapore (Singapore)

The five–star Sentosa Resort & Spa is perched atop a cliff gazing out across the South China Sea. The resort’s 21 rooms and suites are spread across 27 acres of tropical woodlands. For a round of golf, tee–off one of the 2 resort courses, including the exceptional Sentosa Golf Club, home to the Barclay’s Singapore Open and the course of choice for politicians, dignitaries and celebrities alike. The resort also boasts the Spa Botanica, housing mud pools, flotation pools, a meditation labyrinth and Turkish-styled steam baths and a wide choice of indoor treatment rooms or outdoor pavilions.

10. Sofitel Zhongshan Golf Resort, Nanjing (China)

The five–star colonial-styled, Sofitel Zhongshan Golf Resort Nanjing is located on the slopes of the famous Purple Mountain, and features 140 luxurious accommodations. This resort is the perfect choice for leisure as well as business travelers to Nanjing. It is also the first deluxe, five–star golf resort in Nanjing, and the exclusive 27–hole golf course was designed by Gary Player. Guests can also enjoy the Spa, with its various massages and treatments, guaranteed to relax and ease the muscles.

Best Layover Airport List

In Travel, Travel Tips on April 28, 2008 at 5:35 am

Suvarnabhumi International Airport

Suvarnabhumi International Airport

We’ve all been there. Lodged in some fluorescent-lit transit room where the only place to sleep is on a conjoined, plastic seating arrangement that the airport sign mockingly refers to as a “lounge”. Well, thankfully as the world has become more travel-savvy and service-minded, our airport layover options have evolved. Here are some top best Airport lists:

1. The ultra busy London Heathrow Airport may be hard to navigate but it does have shower facilities in all its four terminals with the most basic packages starting at £15. In terminals 1 and 3, the diamond air lounge offers plush spa and beauty facilities in addition to bathroom suites for those in transit. Check this out when you have a chance to visit London.

2. Charles de Gaulle in Paris prides itself in its boutique shopping and repertoire of restaurants (would you expect anything less from the French?) but also offers sore in-transit travelers with a “Be-Relax” spa service. As far as showers or independent lounges go, however, there doesn’t seem to be any.

3. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Even though it is one of the busiest flight hubs in the world, there isn’t much at this airport for budding transit tourists. Unless, that is, you’re happy to while the hours (and cash) away at the airport casino or one of the many bars and restaurants.

4. Hong Kong International Airport is globally recognized as one of the world’s best airports due to its user-friendly planning and design. It also has very decent transit amenities including a 24 hour lounge with napping, massage and showering services and is linked to Hong Kong’s uber-efficient city train network.

5. Changi Airport, in our eyes, has no peer. The designer airport is one of those anomalies where the phrase “I spent all my time in the airport” is likely to be a positive. From two different lounges with top-class 24 hour napping areas, showers and spa facilities, to hotel and pool amenities, this airport further excels itself with innovative activities such as its Singapore Tours (created for those in transit for up to 5 hours who are granted a special pass to leave the airport on one of four city tour options), Nature Trail (with six themed garden reserves) and comprehensive dining and entertainment options. It’s little wonder this airport has its own fan club!

6. The recently completed Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok may have opened to a shaky start (quite literally as some of the runways developed cracks) but the Thai reputation for unrivalled service and hospitality will surely redeem this facility as the many massage services, karaoke and games rooms, day rooms and spa and fitness centre make it an attractive transit point for travelers.

7. With its reputation for harboring some of the most glitzy and superlative hotels in the world, Dubai International Airport doesn’t disappoint when it comes to airport transit services. With a variety of lounges ranging from independent VIP and business class facilities to simple, quiet napping areas, those on layover can rest with ease here. There is also a health club with gym, Jacuzzi and massage services.

8. The Incheon International Airport in Seoul is another Asian gem of an airport. It has a selection of shower and massage options, in addition to a napping lounge and exclusive transit hotel. Special layover Seoul tours are also available to those in transit.

Want to explore, instead of snore? Choose layovers with easy day trips.

 

 

Asia is a great destination for female travellers

In Asia Travel, Travel on March 20, 2008 at 10:40 am

Full moon party is one of the favorite

Full moon party is one of the favorites

It’s not only a group of men love to travel to Asia for exciting entertainment night lifes. Supporting international findings that girlfriend getaways have become an increasingly popular trend, which has noted a marked increase in the number of reservations made by Western women to Asian destinations in the past year. Many statistic data from researchers such as a recent Mastercard report ‘Women Travelers of Asia Pacific’ which suggests that around 4 in every 10 Asian trips are made by women travelers – a big jump up from the 1970s estimate of 1 in 10.

According to Australian national Maryanne Jaques, a holiday with the girls is always fun and relaxing as there is no pressure to appease the opposite sex and its safe when traveling with a group. “Going somewhere exotic with a tropical climate that’s accessible and has great hotel options at great rates makes places like Bali and Thailand favorites among my friends,” said the radio DJ.

Marion Walsh, an expat living in Thailand and Brand Manager for the boutique Anantara Resort Group, agrees with Jaques, “Without fail, Thailand is always a favorite for a relaxation holiday, whilst Hong Kong and Shanghai are high energy, high octane weekends. It goes without saying that Asia provides a well priced option in comparison to Europe or the US .Also the diverse cultures, beautiful scenery and the friendly smiles that you find here in Asia are second to none!”

In light of this trend, hotels are fast realizing the profitability of girlfriends going East. From indulgent spa treatments and shopping marathons to beach getaways and fine wining and dining options, hotels are catering, promoting and pandering to the sisters and their traveling pants.

Hotels in Thailand, such as the Banyan Tree, JW Marriott Hotel, Marriott Resort & Spa Millennium Hilton and Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok have all hosted exclusive women-only packages, often incorporating shopping and spa into itineraries with temple visits and river tours. Meanwhile, Phuket has strong female appeal with its mixture of nightlife, beaches and national parks.

In Indonesia, women traveling with women might stop for a sojourn in the bustling city of Jakarta for its shopping, followed by the beautiful beaches and hillside environs of Bali. The Alila Hotel in Jakarta has a women’s only executive level floor to afford women a safe and comfortable atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the stunning environment, friendly people and entertainment options of Bali also make it a favorite choice among female travelers. Luxury resorts are heavily promoting their spa services to women too including the exclusive Oberoi Resort, the Melia Bali Villas and Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.

For avid shoppers looking for an Asian cultural experience where everything is clean, convenient and organized, the metropolises of Hong Kong and Singapore are a girl’s best bet. Hong Kong’s plush Fleming Hotel has a dedicated ladies floor aptly called “Her Space” which involves all sorts of female-friendly touches from a health-conscious mini-bar and yoga mat to L’Occitane toiletries and aromatherapy. Meanwhile centrally-located, shopper-friendly hotels in Singapore include the Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Pan Pacific and the charming colonial-styled hotels Fullerton and Raffles.

 

Bottled baggage: Advice on how to lug liquids

In Travel, Travel Tips on March 12, 2008 at 4:43 am

With more best airports adopting stricter regulations on carrying liquids, it was time to look at the whys and what’s of hand luggage security.Ferrying liquid-based items abroad these days has become a complicated and confusing business. Especially as there have been discrepancies in airport regulations. But most countries prefer to err on the safer rather than sorrier side of precaution these days and are complying with global security standards. 

The banning of certain liquidized items onboard airplanes began in 2006 when a major transatlantic aircraft plot involving the detonation of liquid explosives was foiled in Britain. Immediately after the incident, strict regulations were imposed on bringing liquids and aerosol products on board. Most of these regulations are still effective today, with the majority of airports adopting American Transport Security Administration (TAS) protocols.

According to TAS regulations, the basic rules are these: All liquids in containers exceeding 100ml are prohibited on board planes with the only exception being liquid baby food (including milk) and prescription medications. Popular banned items are everyday things such as drinking water, butane lighters, hair gel, hand lotion, perfume, toothpaste, moisturizing lotions and any other liquid-based products. To bring liquids on board, all items must come in containers less than 100ml and fit into quart-size re-sealable, transparent plastic bags.   

Most major airports in Asia implemented the US security standards on liquids this year including Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi, the world’s newest airport. For many travelers in Southeast Asia – particularly Bangkok – the newly implemented regulations came as a surprise.

So, in order to avoid losing valuable goods, Here’s a series of tips to prepare you for take-off:

  • Create a checklist before you pack which highlights items that you are prohibited from packing in your hand luggage (check the travelinsider.info for useful tips on packing or go to the TSA website for an easy-to-read brochure);
  • Pack all toiletries into your check-in luggage rather than hand luggage;
  • When purchasing duty-free items, check with the sales staff about how the products have been sealed and what regulations will apply after you have opened them;

When bringing ‘essentials’ in your hand luggage make sure they are under 100ml and packed in a ziplock bag. It may be handy to purchase travel-friendly toiletries to avoid the hassle of packing individual items. To travel in style, try Khiels travel packs for guys or beauty packs by Ren or Crème De Lamer for women.

Lost In Transit?

In Asia Travel, Travel, Travel Tips on March 7, 2008 at 7:39 am

Looking for some navigations

Looking for some navigations

We’ve all been there. Lodged in some fluorescent-lit transit room where the only place to sleep is on a conjoined, plastic seat arrangement that the airport sign mockingly refers to as a “lounge”. Well, thankfully as the world has become more travel-savvy and service-minded, our transit options have evolved. Here are some tips on how to survive layovers, and maybe even savor them.

Know your airports – Before booking your ticket why not research a little on the airports you’re passing through? Prefer a bit of shut eye or a back rub while in transit? Not every airport provides these services, or if they do, they may come at an extortionist price. Increasingly, Asian airports are becoming favored stopovers due to their friendly hospitality, quality services and inexpensive hotel prices. The below list includes the most frequented international passenger airports in the world and a quick description of their services.

Day tripping – There can definitely be more to layovers than sleeping and showering. Why not pick an airport that has high speed train access into the city and leave your luggage (either checked-in or in a locker) and go explore? Other airports that make for easy day trips downtown and have been acclaimed for their modern, friendly services and unique design include: Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Munich Airport and Sydney Airport.

Explore and Snore – Another option that can alleviate painful transits or the jetlagged conclusion of a lengthy non-stop is to plan a layover mini-break. For many flying across the globe, a layover can provide further opportunity to enhance a travel experience – especially somewhere exotic. Asian destinations are ever-popular for this reason with their colorful culture, piquant foods and wonderfully eclectic shopping opportunities. Not to forget, their affordability. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are proving to be hotspot stopovers for those wanting to spice up their itineraries.