Archive for April, 2012

Roll Up, Roll Up

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Balancing , juggling, acrobatics, highwire are all part of the PPS show

The Battambang Circus comes to Siem Reap – next year.

The word is out that Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) are going to open a new circus performance venue in Siem Reap in the middle of next year (June 2013) under a Big Top where daily shows will be on the agenda. The reputation of PPS have risen considerably over the past few years and they now feel confident of offering their top quality product to a wider range of tourists in temple town, even though attendances in Battambang have exceeded expectations in the past twelve months. PPS will continue their regular diet of circus-performance entertainment in Battambang with shows most Monday and Thursday nights, and occasionally Saturdays, during the month of May and throughout the Green Season. Once they move part of the operation to Siem Reap, they will maintain their circus-training school in their current home. Their ultra modern shows mix different disciplines, live music, choreography, tremendous technique, poetry and burlesque. And they are on their travels very soon too. In May, June and July part of the circus troupe are off for a series of shows in France. Then they will take a different show,dealing with the Khmer Rouge period to a different set of venues in France before heading to Britain for the IF Festival in Milton Keynes on 20-23 July and the South Bank Theatre in London from 25-28 July.

HanumanAlaya, Angkor’s Boutique Residence, on ‘1000 Places to See Before You Die’

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

HanumanAlaya, Angkor’s Boutique Residence, was featured on ‘1000 Places to See Before You Die’ on the Discovery Channel and Travel Channel.

Watch the clip here and get in touch to book a room at some very special rates.

It’s a better-than-ever 50% discount from our published room rates for all new bookings. This is our most enticing offer to date and is in addition to two new extra family rooms, upgraded room amenities including new bathrooms, and an improvement in services and the Reahoo menu under our new General Manager Jan-Niklas Hoffmann.

The promotion will run through until 30 September 2012.

Go Behind the Scenes with Top Gear Vietnam

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Sister company Hanuman Films was the local production company for the BBC’s legendary Vietnam special in 2008.  Check out some behind-the-scenes footage of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May as they travelled north on their motorbikes.

Top Gear is one of the BBC’s best known programmes. The Vietnam special involved an epic bike journey from Saigon to Hanoi: Jeremy Clarkson on a Vespa, Richard Hammond on a Minsk and James May on a Honda Cub. The show ends with the conversion of the bikes into amphibious boats to explore Halong Bay, surely the first and last time anyone explores this magnificent world heritage site by motorbike! It was quite a James Bond experience filming with six speedboats and a helicopter to capture all the angles. Nick Ray worked as Line Producer on the shoot and coordinated everything from filming permissions to motorbikes and amphibious with a team of up to 15 in Vietnam. The shoot was a great success and the show received rave reviews in the UK press and around the world.

So if you have any interest from motorbikers or Top Gear enthusiasts wanting to follow in the biketreads of Clarkson and Co, be sure to contact Hanuman as we made it possible for the BBC and know all the right contacts along the way to recreate their epic adventure.

Phnom Penh’s The Exchange

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Introducing Phnom Penh’s latest gastronomic headliner – The Exchange

One of the most anticipated restaurant-bar openings of 2012, The Exchange is set in a beautifully restored French colonial villa near Wat Phnom on Rue de France. Established by Australian chef Tom O’Connor, the creative force behind Metro and Fish in earlier years, the restaurant boasts an international menu of fusion food and flavours. Menu highlights include tapas style sharing platters in Mediterranean and Ocean varieties, a variety of local and imported fish and some selected steaks from Australia and the US. Particularly recommended is the Mekong lobster linguini. Upstairs is the first private members club in Phnom Penh, accessible only by key card activated lift, known as The Vault.

Hanuman launches its Myanmar Collection

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

The Hanuman team is pleased to announce that Myanmar has been launched on the Hanuman website at

The Myanmar welcome page on

Hanuman plans to bring its own blend of innovation and originality to journeys in Myanmar now that the country is itself travelling the road to political reform. Many overseas tour operators are experiencing availability, booking and confirmation problems in Myanmar with the sudden surge in visitors in the past 12 months.  As a new operator in the destination, we have more flexibility on who we work with and can source rooms from a range of local DMCs rather than being tied to any one operator and we believe this may give us a competitive advantage in time.

As you know, Hanuman prides itself on its approach to popular sights like the temples of Angkor and its ability to ensure an enriched experience by avoiding the crowds. Thanks to a combination of carefully crafted itineraries and well-trained tour guides, we are able to avoid the major crowds at the most important temples and help make a more memorable experience. We have taken this same approach to our itineraries in Myanmar and, in particular, to the temples of Bagan and the old capitals around Mandalay. Bagan is one of the most breathtaking sights in Southeast Asia, but it is also getting rather crowded with the sudden boom in tourist numbers. Many of the Bagan guides do not always consider careful timings for the temples and this can mean sharing the most popular payas with busloads of other visitors. We prefer to customize an itinerary that goes to the right temples at the right time and avoids the crowds, particularly at popular times such as sunset. Similarly around Mandalay, all too many groups travel from ancient capital to ancient capital in sequence like a merry-go-round. We do not favour this one-size-fits-all  and try and ensure a creative approach to avoid the crowds.

Back to the Hanuman website, the new Myanmar section includes the same features as our other existing destinations of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The drop down menu includes the same combination of Journeys, Destinations, Hotels, Experiences and Responsible Tourism. It is possible to search via the drop down menu or to visit the Myanmar landing page and browse from there. Here is what we currently have on the Myanmar section of the site:

Journeys ( Top 10 Journeys for Myanmar and Myanmar/Cambodia or Myanmar/Laos combinations.

Destinations ( Destination Guides to Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Around Myanmar and Country Info.

Hotels ( Recommended Hotels in Myanmar, to be expanded in the coming weeks.

Experiences ( Top 10 Myanmar Experiences

Responsible Tourism ( Top 10 Responsible Tourism initiatives in Myanmar

Hnit Thit Ku Mingalabar or Happy Burmese New Year 2555.

Charley Boorman in Cambodia with Hanuman

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Charley Boorman, one half of the Long Way Round and Long Way Down team with actor Ewan McGregor, explored Cambodia by rocket boat, dirt bike, buffalo cart and bamboo train in the company of Hanuman.

Popular motorbike adventurer Charley Boorman went solo for ‘By Any Means’ which sees him travel from London to Sydney. He used local transport of every shape, size and speed to travel overland through Europe and Asia. Company Adviser Nick Ray travelled with Charley and the crew from the Lao border via the Mekong River and the temples of Angkor to the Thai border at Poipet. Transport included a rocket boat to Stung Treng, dirt bikes over to Angkor, a signature Hanuman Temple Safari at Beng Mealea, an ox cart and a trip on the bamboo train. Cambodia was the highlight of the whole trip for Charley and the rocket boat one his favourite forms of transport. Hanuman provided all film production services for Charley and the crew, including hotels, transport and filming permissions.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal on Hanuman Travel TV

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Hanuman Films team recently spent an afternoon at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh and you can watch the promotional film on the Hanuman Travel TV Youtube Channel.

From the Hotel
Raffles Hotel Le Royal is the premier hotel in Phnom Penh, a hotel with rare attributes of history and style. It was first established in 1929, and in its early days, had a diverse international clientele. This grand historic hotel exudes an old-world charm through its distinctive style with a classic yet casual feel.

From Hanuman
Combining comfort and class with history and heritage, there is simply no finer place to stay in the Cambodia capital. Rooms are lavishly equipped for your every whim, the restaurants offer indulgent cuisine and facilities include a lush garden pool and an internationally renowned spa. Don’t miss Happy Hours from 4pm to 8pm at the Elephant Bar, once the favoured haunt of war correspondents.

Travel Channel Host Samantha Brown Cooks With Luu Meng

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Hanuman looked after popular Travel Channel host Samantha Brown on her journey through Cambodia for the Passport to Asia series. See the highlights of her trip on the Hanuman Travel TV Youtube Channel.

The show includes a cooking class with Cambodia’s leading chef Luu Meng at Malis Restaurant. You can follow in her footsteps and join Luu Meng for a celebrity cooking class as one of Hanuman’s original range of unique experiences. See them prepare the food in the state of the art Malis kitchen before enjoying the fruits of their labour in the leafy garden. Malis remains one of the definitive dining destinations in the Cambodian capital for authentic Khmer recipes. The show ends with Samantha enjoying an original Hanuman Beach Safari, another of the video clips that you can find on Hanuman Travel TV.

Luxury Cruising on Halong Bay

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Today there are some exceptional vessels plying the waters of the unique world heritage site that is Halong Bay, but it can be difficult to keep up with the various new boats with so many launches each year. The Hanuman team looks at the leading cruise operators and the best of their boats.

Bhaya Classic in Halong Bay

Hanuman prefers to promote 3-day, 2-night stays on the bay and many of the leading luxury cruises now offer this option. This is a great way to get off the cruise tourist trail and explore some beautiful and less-visited areas within this vast world heritage site. Some cruises now venture into beautiful Bai Tu Long Bay, every bit the equal of Halong Bay, only without all the other boats. And some boats are now heading southeast to Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island, another stunning area of karsts with some sandy bays. While the majority of people still opt for 2-day, 1-night cruises, the drawback is that most of the cruise companies follow the same itineraries to the same places at the same time. This can really ruin the atmosphere of such a magical place and ensures you are queuing to climb Titop Mountain or to explore Hang Sung Sot during busy times of year.

Au Co Cruise

Part of the Bhaya Cruise family, the Au Co Cruise, launched in April 2012, is a modern cruise boat that plies the waters of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay, near Cat Ba Island.  Larger than the average boat around Halong Bay, this allows for a greater sense of space. The deluxe cabins are all 20 sq metres and the suites offer a generous 40 sq m. We have yet to experience the luxury of this new boat, but we are drawn to the idea of 3-day, 2-night cruises on the water to avoid the crowds and see more of the outstanding beauty of this incredible area. The chance to include less-visited Lan Ha Bay and the stunning karst formations of Bai Tu Long Bay fits perfectly with the Hanuman philosophy of avoiding the crowds and spending more time in such a signature spot.

The newest luxury boat on the bay, the Au Co Cruise

Bhaya Cruise

Launched in 2007, Bhaya Cruise has quickly established a name for itself as a pioneer in luxury vessels. Hanuman Travel chartered the original Bhaya Classic for the Top Gear Vietnam Special, filmed in October 2008, so we have long been familiar with the stylish service on these boats. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May had an enjoyable night onboard. There are four Bhaya Classic boats offering 15 or 20 cabin configurations and these work well for groups. The Bhaya Legend range includes smaller vessels for a more intimate and tailor-made exploration of Halong Bay or nearby Bai Tu Long Bay. There are four boats with a range of cabins from one to four. These are perfect for honeymoons, family groups or close friends.

Cruise Halong

The Halong Ginger was the one of the first of the more luxurious junks to explore the bay. It has since been joined by sister boats the Halong Jasmine and the Halong Violet. All are attractive vessels offering distinctive configurations. The original Ginger has 10 cabins, the Jasmine is the largest boat with 24 cabins and the more intimate Violet has just 6 cabins. The Hanuman team would recommend the Jasmine for larger groups or events and the Violet for smaller groups seeking a higher level of comfort, as the majority of cabins are suites. No longer the smartest cruises on the water, they still offer a very impressive product. 3-day, 2-night cruises are available for those seeking to escape the crowds.

Halong Jasmine amid the karsts

Emeraude Classic Cruise

The first and only replica paddle steamer to cruise the waters of Halong Bay, Emeraude Classic Cruise remains a popular choice for European tourists. The impressive vessel includes 34 superior and deluxe cabins, plus three signature suites. In keeping with the large boat, there is lots of deck space for passengers where activities such as Tai Chi are offered. The main drawback to the Emeraude experience is the size of the superior and deluxe cabins, which are fairly small and standard when compared with some of the newer luxury junks cruising the bay.

Indochina Junk

One of our favourite companies operating around Halong Bay, Indochina Junk provide a boutique boat experience. Their diverse fleet of junks include four romantic Princess boats with just one cabin for honeymooners or those seeking seclusion. The Prince line of boats offers slightly more space for family or close friends with a mix of two to four cabins. The original Indochina Junk boats were the Lagoon Explorers and these were the first craft to explore the bay with real sails. These four-cabin boats are still pushing the boundaries of exploration around Bai Tu Long Bay with a strong wind behind them and have four cabins. Finishing off the fleet are the Dragon boats. The five-cabin Red Dragon boats are ideal for a small group of 8-10 people, while the larger Dragon’s Pearl boats offer 11 cabins and can be chartered for larger groups. Many of the Indochina Junk itineraries are 3-day, 2-night adventures which allows guests to see that much more of the bay. Indochina Junk also come highly recommended thanks to their environmentally-friendly credentials and their affordable tariffs.

Indochina Sails

One of the longest running luxury operators on Halong Bay, the Indochina Sails fleet now comprises of six boats with overnight cabins. The original fleet of Indochina Sails I, II and III, all with 14 or 15 cabins, have now been supplemented by the smaller Valentine boats and more luxurious Indochina Premium. The original Valentine has just five cabins and is an intimate option for small groups or extended families. The newer Valentine Premium has just two cabins so offers exclusivity for two couples or a small family. The newest Indochina Premium is one of the most impressive boats on the water, with spacious cabins, private balconies and bathrooms that are almost the same size as three-star cabins. Our Hanuman team stayed on it as recently as Spring 2012 and it was an extremely comfortable experience. The only negative from the trip was that all the Indochina Sails boats follow each other around the bay in convoy and that means large crowds at every stop along the way.

Indochina Sails

Paradise Cruises

One of the newer cruise companies operating on Halong Bay, Paradise also offers some of the smarter boats currently available. The Luxury range includes four boats with 17 cabins, which work well for high-end groups wishing to explore the bay or for larger MICE groups that need a uniformity of boats and cabin configurations. The Privilege brand of boats are much smaller with just three cabins for a maximum of six guests. These are good option for larger families or small groups of friends or relatives travelling together. The newest Peak boat is an all suite craft and offers possibly the most luxurious option for smaller groups, with a total of eight cabins.

The Hanuman Overview

So how to navigate these complicated waters and choose the right boat for the right client? Our solution is not to recommend any one company but to recommend specific boats if they are available. Here are some of our main recommendations below:

Honeymooners and Anniversaries: Bhaya Legend I, Indochina Junk Princess and Prince

Families or Friends seeking privacy: Indochina Junk Prince or Lagoon Explorer, Paradise Privilege, Bhaya Legend

Couples or small groups joining a larger cruise: Indochina Sails Premium, Bhaya Classic, Au Co Cruise, Paradise Cruise Luxury, Cruise Halong Jasmine

Small Groups: Indochina Junk Lagoon Explorer and Red Dragon, Bhaya Legend IV, Indochina Sails Valentine Premium, Cruise Halong Violet

Medium Groups: Indochina Sails I, II and III, Indochina Junk Dragon’s Pearl, Cruise Halong Ginger

Big Groups: Indochina Sails Premium, Bhaya Classic, Au Co Cruise, Paradise Cruise Luxury, Emeraude Classic Cruise, Cruise Halong Jasmine

MICE Events: Indochina Sails Premium, Bhaya Classic, Au Co Cruise, Paradise Cruise Luxury, Emeraude Classic Cruise, Cruise Halong Jasmine

A look at Laos

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Today we’ll take you on a brief tour of Laos with some of our video highlights from a recent trip to this beguiling country. Included in our look at Laos are the early morning ritual of offering alms to monks in Luang Prabang, the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls, a peek at the celebrated pagoda of Wat Xieng Thong, fun with elephants and the incredible Phakpeng waterfalls on the border with Cambodia. You can thumb through our tour programmes in Laos, as well as our unique experiences to savour in this enigmatic country at