Posts Tagged ‘Laos’

Pandaw to cruise Laos

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Luxury cruise company Pandaw breaking new ground in Laos.

Pandaw on the Mekong

Pandaw on the Mekong

Paul Strachan, founder of the expedition company Pandaw, said he is looking forward to the day when all the countries the river runs through – China, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia – can be seen in one trip. “You can’t do it on one ship due to waterfalls and other obstructions but within two years we hope to have boats on all these stretches,” he said. The 5,000-mile journey from Saigon, in Vietnam, to Harbin in China, would take around three weeks in total.

In the meantime, Pandaw is launching a new 10-night river cruise in Laos. Billed as a luxury cruise, the Laos Mekong sailing on the line’s newest ship, RV Laos Pandaw, will be available from November next year, with just ten suites onboard. The Mekong river flows through over 1,000 miles of the landlocked country, from north to south, and Pandaw is the first river operator to cross it. A stay in the Unesco World Heritage city of Luang Prabang with time to explore its Buddhist temples and Royal Palace, and the chance to travel into the mountainous north are among the highlights. The Laos Mekong is a three-country expedition as the itinerary touches Thailand and Myanmar as well. Excursions will see passengers traversing rapids and gorges, swimming in jungle pools and visiting tribal villages and Buddhist temples along the Mekong river to observe the morning alms.

Pandaw currently operates cruises in Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia and more recently the Brahmaputra in northeast India. “We are always looking for new cruising territory,” said Strachan. “We were the first on the Mekong (in Indochina) the Irrawaddy and Chindwin (in Burma), the Ganges (in India) and on Borneo’s Rajang river. Earlier this month Pandaw announced a new cruise to Halong Bay in Vietnam that takes in the Red River, a key tributary of the Mekong.

Hanuman at PATA Mart

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
The Hanuman booth at the PATA Travel Mart

The Hanuman booth at the PATA Travel Mart

The Asia Pacific region’s largest travel trade show, the  PATA Travel Mart 2014, kicked off in Phnom Penh at the Koh Pich Exhibition Center today. The 2-day PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Travel show brought together more than 1,000 delegates from over 60 countries and regions around the world. The Hanuman booth at the event was manned by Nick Ray, Patrick Chase, Andy Brouwer and Tugdual Paul on day 1, and they welcomed a succession of visitors, eager to find out more about Cambodia and the Mekong Region. It’s an excellent platform for buyers, sellers, travel agencies, hoteliers, restaurant owners, airline operators, and all tourism stakeholders from all over the world to meet and explore possibilities for business cooperation.

Yamashita Authentic in Laos and Cambodia

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Celebrated National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita will be running two photographic workshops in Laos and Cambodia later this year, with Lonely Planet author Nick Ray as Tour Leader.

The Mekong River at Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

The Mekong River at Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

Michael Yamashita is one of the great National Geographic photographers, spending more than 30 years traversing Asia on dozens of assignments, photographing the people, the lands, and unique cultures. His whole career has been spent portraying the authentic Asia, from Japan to Indonesia, and from Turkey to China.

Whether you are an emerging photographer or a professional, these workshops will give you the opportunity to work closely with Mike and other experts who know how to produce shots with impact, compose photo essays that tell a story; and show you how to raise your own level of image making.

From secrets of remote lighting to street photojournalism and landscape photography techniques, Yamashita Authentic is designed for small groups of 10 to 20 participants, ensuring that you get the maximum amount of guidance from Mike, while experiencing an authentic Asian experience.

The Enigmatic Faces of Bayon Temple, Michael Yamashita

The Enigmatic Faces of Bayon Temple, Michael Yamashita

Yamashita Authentic in Laos: 30 August – 7 September 2014

Join veteran National Geographic photographer Mike Yamashita on a workshop in Laos, the enigmatic Land of a Million Elephants. This handcrafted itinerary will take photographers to off-the-beaten-track locations and offer a unique insight into the life of a world-renowned professional photographer. Luang Prabang oozes class and old world charm, it’s a living, breathing museum with its gleaming temple roofs and crumbling French architecture and deserves its World Heritage status as one of the most atmospheric cities in the whole region. We delve into some of its 32 stupa-studded pagodas like Wat Xieng Tong and the Royal Palace Museum, we take a boat upriver to river to visit the massive collection of Buddhas in the Pak Ou Caves and enjoy a relaxing day in the turquoise waters of the Kuang Si Falls. Beyond Luang Prabang, we venture into the countryside around Nong Khiaw and Muong Ngoi Neua, an area of poetic landscapes and timeless traditions. Mike has teamed up with Lonely Planet author Nick Ray, location scout and manager for countless film and television shoots in the Mekong region to ensure an original experience in Laos.

Monk at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

Monk at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Michael Yamashita

Yamashita Authentic in Cambodia: 7 – 14 September 2014

This unique photographic workshop brings veteran National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita back to the majestic temples of Angkor to share his skills and knowledge. This is no ordinary Angkor experience as Michael takes photographers deep into the Cambodian countryside to discover traditional villages, floating communities on the Tonle Sap Lake and some of the more remote temples around Angkor. The itinerary has been carefully crafted to avoid the crowds that now flock to Angkor, but the iconic monuments are all here, including: Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building; the surreal and strange faces of the Bayon; and the jungle ruin of Ta Prohm. Starting early, we concentrate on temple photography for sunrise and early morning light. During the day photographers will enjoy feedback on their photographs and one-on-one sessions with Michael and tips and techniques around the temples. In the afternoons, we switch to lifestyle and capturing some of Cambodia’s incredible countryside and lifestyle. Michael has teamed up with Lonely Planet author Nick Ray, location scout and manager for countless film and television shoots around the temples to ensure that we have a unique encounter with Angkor.

For more details on these unique trips, visit http://yamashitaauthentic.asia/

Tonle Sap Lake, near Siem Reap, Michael Yamashita

Tonle Sap Lake, near Siem Reap, Michael Yamashita

Our Top Ten Experiences

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Try Hanuman’s Top Ten Authentic Experiences in Indochina.

Elephants in Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Elephants in Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Enjoy a helicopter ride over remote temples or the islands of Halong Bay, enjoy a nostalgic city tour by vintage car, meet leading artists and sculptors in the regional art scene, learn the secrets of local recipes with a celebrity chef and learn the art of travel photography with a professional. All these authentic experiences are possible in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam through Hanuman.

Helicopter Flights : Take to the skies to see the region from a different view. Fly to remote jungle temples in the far north of Cambodia, the endless array of temples in Bagan or discover the dramatic scale of Halong Bay from the air.

The Art of Travel Photography : Learn the tricks of the photographic trade from one of the professional photographers living in the region, including diverse destinations such as the temples of Angkor, lovely Luang Prabang, balloons over Bagan and the Mekong Delta.

Living History in Selected Cities : Understand the complicated history of the war years in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam with a history tour of the leading cities. Experience an intimate tour of iconic locations in Phnom Penh, Saigon and Vientiane.

Wine and Dine in Memorable Places : Enjoy an exclusive private champagne dinner in a unique location. Imagine dinner at one of Angkor’s ancient temples or a romantic picnic on a deserted tropical island.

Encounter Wildlife in Remote Places : Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have an extensive network of national parks. Sleep in a treehouse with the Gibbon Experience in Laos, visit Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary near Siem Reap or see rare langurs in Vietnam.

Cooking with a Celebrity Chef : Experience a cookery demonstration with one of the region’s finest chefs to learn more about the delights of Cambodian, Laotian or Vietnamese cuisine. This can be arranged in most popular visitor destinations.

Meet the Movers and Shakers : Enjoy a private meal with one of the leading lights of the Mekong region, from royal family members in Cambodia to respected international figures who live in Laos and Vietnam.

Hidden Treasures of Indochina : Enjoy exclusive access to leading museums and conservation departments of the region with leading art experts and archaeologists. Go behind the scenes to see forgotten treasures not on display.

City Tour by Vintage Car or Motorcycle : Explore the bustling streets of cities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam by vintage car. For the more adventurous, it is possible to experience a city tour on the back of an old motorbike.

Yoga Class in Unique Locations : Relax and unwind with your own private yoga session somewhere to remember. Try one of the more remote and secluded beaches of Vietnam or one of the lesser known temples around Angkor.

Laos’ Top Five Destinations

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

From a quiet backwater to today’s incarnation, Laos is one of the most beguiling destinations in all of Asia.

1. Luang Prabang

Languid and lovely Luang Prabang is one of the most alluring places in Southeast Asia. Nowhere else can lay claim to the city’s old-world romance of 33 gilded wats, saffron-clad monks, faded Indochinese villas and exquisite Gallic cuisine. It’s a unique place where time seems to stand still amid the breakneck pace of the surrounding region. This UNESCO-protected gem has rightfully gained mythical status as a travellers’ Shangri La, and since its airport opened a decade ago the town has seen a flood of investment, with once-leprous French villas being revived as fabulous – though affordable – boutique hotels.

2. Si Phan Don

Si Phan Don is where Laos becomes the land of the lotus eaters, an archipelago of islands where the pendulum of time swings more slowly and life is more laid-back – yes, even by Laos standards. The name literally means ‘Four Thousand Islands’, and they are so tranquil that you can imagine them just drifting downriver into Cambodia with barely anyone blinking an eyelid. Many a traveller has washed ashore here, succumbed to its charms and stayed longer than expected.

3. The Gibbon Experience

Adrenalin meets conservation in this ecofriendly adventure in the 106,000 hectares of the Bokeo Nature Reserve wilderness. The Gibbon Experienceis essentially a series of navigable ‘ziplines’ criss-crossing the canopy of some of Laos’ most pristine forest, home to tigers, clouded leopards, black bears and the black-crested gibbon. Seven years ago poaching was threatening the existence of the black-crested gibbon, but thanks to Animo, a conservation-based tour group, the hunters of Bokeo were convinced to become the forest’s guardians. The benchmark for sustainable monkey business, this three-day experience is one of Laos’ most unforgettable adventures.

4. Vang Vieng

Like a rural scene from an Oriental silk painting, Vang Vieng crouches low over the Nam Song (Song River) with a backdrop of serene cliffs and a tapestry of vivid green paddy fields. Thanks to the iron fist of the Lao government finally making its presence felt in 2012 (when the river rave bars were finally closed down), the increasingly toxic party scene has been banished and the community is recalibrating itself as an outdoor paradise home with some achingly lovely boutique hotels and a raft of adrenalin-inducing and nature-based activities.

5. River Trips

Until the 1990s, riverboats were an essential form of inter-city passenger transport in Laos. Today villagers in roadless hamlets still travel by river, while several longer distance water routes remain possible thanks in significant part to tourist interest. River trips also offer a wonderful way to discover the bucolic scenery as well as a practical alternative to tortuous bus rides. In each case the journey is an attraction in itself.

This is an edited extract from Lonely Planet Laos (8th Edition) by Nick Ray, et al. © Lonely Planet 2014.  Published this month.

Hotel Inspections in Laos with Lonely Planet

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Nick Ray was recently working in Laos on a new edition of the best-selling Lonely Planet guidebook, out this month. This video takes readers behind the scenes to show them how LP goes about selecting the best places to stay.

The video starts with Nick inspecting the memorable Luang Say Lodge in Pak Beng. His cameraman colleague Andy Richardson then takes a look at the Xayana Guesthouse, also known as the X3 Capsule Hotel to see the dormitory options on offer in Luang Prabang. At the other extreme, Nick checks out the stunning La Residence Phou Vao, one of the most luxurious properties in all of Laos. Andy then gets to sample some style with a visit to Le Sen Boutique Hotel, one of the best all-rounders in Luang Prabang. They finish up at Villa Suan Mark, a family-run flashpacker pad with a great atmosphere.

Warning: these videos were made by toilet-humour obsessed Brits and several uncensored toilets appear throughout the video.

Uncover the Majesty of Luang Prabang

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Continuing the Laos theme of recent days, discover Luang Prabang with our 4-day Explorer tour.

Giving alms in Luang Prabang

Giving alms in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang oozes class and old world charm, it’s a living, breathing museum with its gleaming temple roofs and crumbling French architecture and deserves its World Heritage status as one of the most atmospheric cities in the whole region. In our 4-day Luang Prabang Explorer tour, we delve into some of its 32 stupa-studded pagodas like Wat Xieng Tong and the Royal Palace Museum, we take a boat upriver to river to visit the massive collection of Buddhas in the Pak Ou Caves and enjoy a relaxing day in the turquoise waters of the Kuang Si Falls. To complete our immersion into this lovely city, we also enjoy a cooking class of authentic Lao food at the classy Tamarind restaurant by making a classic dish such as mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaves). Recommended hotels in Luang Prabang include La Residence Phou Vao, Auberge les 3 Nagas, Apsara and Le Sen Boutique Hotel. Eat at Tamarind but also try the fare at Le Banneton, Coconut Garden, Rosella Fusion, Le Patio and Dyen Sabai. You are spoilt for choice.

Adrenaline Activities around Luang Prabang

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Lovely Luang Prabang is not all about saffron-clad monks and timeless temples. Beyond the historic heart of town lie action-packed adventures on land and water, as this video showcases.

One of Hanuman’s long-term partners in Laos, Tiger Trail pioneered the Fair Trek concept in Laos, ensuring money from overnight treks is ploughed directly back into local host communities. Tiger Trail also offer multi-activity adventures including mountain biking, kayaking and even the odd elephant encounter. If you thought Luang Prabang was all culture, think again, as there are plenty of activities to keep adrenaline junkies riding high.

 

The Elephant Conservation Center in Laos

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Check out this video put together by together by Nick Ray and Andy Richardson during his recent Lonely Planet research trip through Northern Laos for the new Laos Lonely Planet guidebook, out in bookshops now.

Nick was covering Luang Prabang and Northern Laos for new 8th edition of the Laos guidebook. The Elephant Conservation Center was one of the standout new additions for the latest book, located in Sayaboury Province in the far west of the country. A new bridge and road link means it is just two hours from Luang Prabang.

Nick Ray and Andy Richardson studied at the University of Warwick together back in the 1990s and have since had the opportunity to work together on several filming assignments for Lonely Planet and other leading global brands.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013