Archive for February, 2013

Raffles Hotels & Resorts Journey Through Khmer Culture

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Classical Cambodian Dance

Classical Cambodian Dance

London 2013:   Meet one of Cambodia’s eminent artists, discover the secrets behind shadow puppetry from an iconic Arts Master, learn to cook the original recipes from the Royal Palace of Cambodia and find out how charitable projects are teaching young people the skills they need for a brighter future through working at the Lotus Blanc restaurant in Phnom Penh or at the Artisans d’Angkor’s Silk Farm in Siem Reap. These are just some of the incredible experiences included in Raffles Hotels & Resorts inspirational new trip entitled A Journey Through Khmer Culture.

Khmer is the original culture of Cambodia and can be traced back to the 9th century AD and the rule of King Jayavaraman II. However, during the civil war, the Khmer Rouge, under Pol Pot’s leadership, destroyed not only the lives of the Cambodian people, but also obliterated all traces of  its  culinary,  artistic  and  musical  heritage.  Since  its  demise,  the  Cambodian  people  have strived to reignite the Khmer Arts and today there is an exciting new energy which surrounds the traditional arts scene. This six-day journey is based at Cambodia’s only two luxury hotels which date back to the Indochine era of the early 20th  century. It explores Khmer culture both past and present, through the eyes of the people who have lived through it all and are now writing the next chapter.

Meet Eric Raisina, one of Cambodia’s leading fashion designers, adored by Lulu de la Falaise and Christian Lacroix, who is taking Cambodian silk to the next level on the international fashion scene.  Witness Chhim Sothy at work, a painter whose intricate paintings of the Ramayana era have been exhibited around the world. Learn from iconic Arts Master, Mann Kosal who has breathed new life into the ancient tradition of shadow puppetry. These are just some of the extraordinary people who will be met along the journey.

Raffles Hotels & Resorts are supremely qualified to lead this experience as both Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Raffles Hotel Le Royal have played a part in this incredibly fascinating country’s history from the 1920’s when they opened, through the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge regime to the present day, when they too have been lovingly restored to contribute to a new chapter. They are the only hotels in Cambodia allowed to display the Royal crest above the door and serve original Khmer dishes, having been granted permission from the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk to use the Royal Palace of Cambodia’s recipes. Atmospheric and authentic, these hotels are the perfect backdrop to a journey through Khmer culture. Raffles is working with leading Cambodian destination management company Hanuman (www.hanuman.travel) to make these unique experiences possible.

A Journey Through Khmer Culture starts from USD 3,187 (GBP 2,073) per person based on two people sharing the tour. This includes 5 nights’ accommodation in Landmark Rooms with Raffles Hotels & Resorts on a bed and breakfast basis,  legendary Raffles Butler Service,  all activity options and additional meals stated in the itinerary, entrance fees, English speaking local guide and transfers. A 5 Night Suite option (Balcony Suite in Raffles Hotel Le Royal and Personality Suite in Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor) would start from USD 4,230 (GBP 2,752).  A Journey Through Khmer Culture can be booked through Raffles Hotels & Resorts at www.raffles.com.

Tour of the Week: Birding Cambodia

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Hanuman’s Tour of the Week highlights the opportunities for bird lovers to combine their twitching passions with seeing the amazing sights at Angkor in Cambodia, with a temple safari at Koh Ker to add that extra special spice to your adventures.

Birding Cambodia

Birding Cambodia

Birdwatching enthusiasts will find much to twitch about in Cambodia with a number of key sites to enjoy their passion. We begin our 10-day birding tour with an introduction to the temples of Angkor, followed by a visit to observe the colonies of large water birds at Prek Toal, an area unmatched throughout southeast Asia for the number of endangered water birds it supports. We then head north for a day on the wetlands of Ang Trapeang Thmor, the home of around 300 Sarus Crane at breeding season and more than 200 species of other birds. Another big-hitter is the award-winning community project at Tmatboey where two critically endangered Ibis species are to be seen. We then combine birdwatching with the forest temples of Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, where we enjoy a signature temple safari before completing our journey at the floating village of Kompong Khleang.

The birdwatching season in Cambodia is ideally from January through to April/May. At Prek Toal large flocks of cormorants, storks and pelicans are almost guaranteed along with herons, egrets and terns. Sarus Cranes are much in evidence at Ang Trapeang Thmor through the dry season months of March and April, whilst the same period is best for the Ibis at the Tmatboey project. For more details on this 10 day/9 night Birding Cambodia itinerary, visit the Hanuman website at: http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Cambodia/ET_Birding_Cambodia.html.

Tour of the Week: Remote Beaches in Vietnam

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Hanuman’s Tour of the Week showcases some of Vietnam’s most rewarding beach destinations, including the beautiful island of Phu Quoc off the Mekong Delta and the remote but stunning Con Dao Islands.

Remote beach in Vietnam

Remote beach in Vietnam

Vietnam is fast emerging as one of Southeast Asia’s new beach destinations. Some beaches are already quite heavily developed such as Nha Trang and China Beach, but this itinerary ventures off the trail to connect you with some more remote beach destinations. The journey begins in Saigon where we visit the War Remnants Museum and the haunting Requiem exhibition of war photography. Later we venture further afield to see the Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh, a unique religion that blends the world’s spiritual beliefs together. We also venture underground to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels. We fly to the remote Con Dao Islands. Once used as a political prison by the French authorities, they are emerging as Vietnam’s best kept secret. Try pristine snorkelling, scuba diving or just relax on the beach. It is also possible to spot rare green turtles at certain times of year or the shy dugong or manatee. We then continue south to Phu Quoc, destined to become the Phuket of Vietnam one day soon. Relax on the beaches or explore the nearby An Thoi Islands or inland forests. This is a beach holiday with a difference for those that want some adventure to accompany their relaxation.

For more details on this 8 day/7 night Remote Beaches itinerary, visit the Hanuman website at: http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Vietnam/Remote_Beaches_Vietnam.html

The Legendary FCC is a Phnom Penh Institution

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Check out the latest Hanuman Travel TV video of the famous Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Cambodia, a Phnom Penh landmark better known as FCC or The F.

From the Hotel
Set in a French colonial-era villa, the FCC offers spacious, comfortable rooms overlooking the Mekong River and the National Museum. Each room is meticulously outfitted with high-speed Internet access and the latest modern conveniences.

From Hanuman
The FCC is a Phnom Penh landmark for wining and dining and offers a lively base for guests. We recommend the rooms at the front to take in the river views and the hustle and bustle of the streetlife below. Gorgeous building with comfortable rooms.

For more on the FCC in Phnom Penh, check out the Hanuman website: http://www.hanuman.travel/Hotels/Cambodia/Phnom_Penh/FCC_Phnom_Penh.html

To view the video directly on Hanuman Travel TV’s Youtube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8Wxj4JPRPg&list=UUDI-DcQbc0vl0yhI1y3eVSg&index=1

An Epic Mekong Journey

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Hanuman Tour of the Week – our 22-day Mekong Journey through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Mekong Journey with Hanuman

Mekong Journey with Hanuman

Go with the flow on this epic journey, exploring the roads (and rivers) less travelled in an older, more authentic Asia. Leave behind the Golden Triangle and travel down the Mekong River to Pak Beng with the Luang Say Cruise. Continue to Luang Prabang, the spiritual heart of Laos, with abundant temples. Fly south to Pakse, gateway to Champasak province and island life on the Mekong. Cross the border into Cambodia and continue to Kratie, a base to view the extremely rare freshwater dolphins. Cambodia’s capital beckons, Phnom Penh. Experience devotion to the gods at the National Museum or witness the destruction of the Khmer Rouge at Tuol Sleng Prison. Make a side-trip to the incredible temples of Angkor before continuing to Chau Doc by speedboat. Pass through the heart of the delta region, stopping off to visit the floating markets of Cantho. Winding up in Saigon, learn more about the war at the Remnants Museum or by digging up the past at the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Find out more @ http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Indochina/Mekong_Journey.html or contact the Hanuman sales team for detailed information and a quotation.

Qatar Airways (QR) opens new links for Cambodia

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

As Qatar Airways announces a new daily flight between Phnom Penh and Doha, Hanuman looks at the advantages for travellers to and from Cambodia.

Qatar Airways is an ambitious global carrier with one of the youngest fleets in the air. Billing itself the ‘world’s five-star airline’, it has quickly built up its reputation for service, as well as its global network, offering more than 100 destinations across five continents.

Qatar Airways new routing offers up entirely new 1-stop links to destinations that have previously not been available through existing carriers and routes. Here Hanuman highlights some of the most interesting to consider.

Europe: Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Manchester, Nice, Stuggart, Tblisi, Venice, Vienna

Middle East: Baku, Beirut, Dammam, Sanaa, Shiraz

Africa: Alexandria, Casablanca, Entebbe, Khartoum, Lagos, Luxor, Tripoli

Qatar Airways is ready to join the leading regional airlines here (Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines,  Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines) in offering 1-stop flights to a host of global destinations.

Call in to the Hanuman office for more details on these new routes or drop into your local travel agent wherever you are based.

Paying Respects to the late King Father

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
Paying respects to the late Cambodian King Father

Paying respects to the late Cambodian King Father

Hanuman’s Andy Brouwer joined thousands of mourners in paying their respects to the late King Father.

Cambodia is in mourning for their beloved King Father, Norodom Sihanouk. The outpouring of emotion is palpable. Hundreds of thousands lined the streets of the capital on Friday as the procession of floats carrying the King Father’s casket, his wife and son, the current King, together with members of the royal family, government and many more, made its way along a 6km route from the Royal Palace before coming to rest at the park directly in front of the National Museum. On Saturday and Sunday morning, thousands more got a final opportunity to say their personal goodbyes to their late King, who oversaw the country’s independence from France in the 1950s. With a cremation site specially-constructed for the occasion, the King Father’s coffin sat inside a memorial stupa and the authorities allowed as many people as they could to pay their final respects to their former monarch.

I joined the queue on Sunday morning, with everyone dressed in white shirt and black trousers, me included. The mood was sombre but orderly, even with scores of people joining the queue wherever they could squeeze in. The security cordon surrounding the site was tight but low key, as we quickly gained admittance to the inner sanctum of the cremation park and walked slowly, hands clasped together in a traditional sompeah, towards the central stupa. The King Father’s coffin, resplendent in gold, lay ahead as the two lines of mourners walked from the southern entrance and continued around to the northern gate where the devout went to their knees in a brief moment of silent prayer. Emotions ran high as many shed tears, happy to be able to offer their final farewell at close quarters but distraught to have lost their cherished sovereign. With thousands more waiting in line, we were quickly ushered out of the park as many mourners resumed their positions of prayer in the surrounding streets.

The cremation itself will take place at 6pm on Monday. Mourners will once again be allowed into the park until lunchtime. Then official functions will take over until the formal cremation and 100-gun salute in the early evening.

The final resting place of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk

The final resting place of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk