Posts Tagged ‘Laos’

Highlights of Myanmar with Laos

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Uncover Myanmar and Laos on our 15-day tour of the best highlights of both countries.

The beauty of Myanmar and Laos

The beauty of Myanmar and Laos

Yangon is our starting point to uncover the essential elements of Myanmar, followed by the ancient Burmese capital of Bagan, with over 4,000 stupas satisfying your temple desires amidst dramatic scenery. Mandalay and the dazzling floating gardens of Inle Lake await us before we return to Yangon. The beautiful World Heritage city of Luang Prabang has much to offer as we explore its myriad wats and museums, Pak Ou Caves and take a dip in the Kuang Si falls before heading south to Vientiane. The bizarre Buddha Park offers an alternative experience to the more mainstream temples in the city. Later, we fly to the southern region of Champasak to experience our second Mekong River cruise to discover the awe-inspiring ruins of the mountain temple of Vat Phu and the magical 4,000 islands of sleepy Si Phan Don. The tour ends in Southern Laos with the option to continue southwards into Cambodia by land, return to Pakse or travel overland into neighbouring Thailand.

Find out more details on this 15-day tour of Myanmar and Laos at http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Myanmar/Myanmar_Laos_Uncovered.html.

Nam Nern Night Safari

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Take a boat upstream in the afternoon, and after dinner, float downstream at night without engines to spot wildlife including sambar deer, dhole, sun bear, wild pig and macaques. This is the award-winning Nam Nern Night Safari in Laos.

The Nam Nern Night Safari

The Nam Nern Night Safari

An ecotourism project in a remote part of Laos has won the World Responsible Tourism Award for Best for Responsible Wildlife Experience. The Nam Nern Night Safari, an ecotour in Lao’s Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area in Houaphan Province, was recognized by the World Travel Mart for its innovative approach to generating benefits for local communities. “Nam Nern Night Safari has been designed to support the conservation of tigers and their prey, as well as other wildlife, by placing a monetary value on tigers and other wildlife for local people,” said the judges. “Each reported sighting of wildlife by a tourist results in a financial reward for the villagers, and this includes people who might otherwise poach… The initiative has been very successful in increasing the number of wildlife sightings per boat – they have doubled.”

Poaching in Nam Et-Phou Louey has been a major challenge for conservation efforts. But the ecotourism project now generates funds to support rangers who go on long patrols collecting snares, looking for signs of poachers, and monitoring wildlife. The project also discourages poaching by providing alternative livelihoods for villagers in the form of employment as guides, boatmen, cooks, and handicraft makers. A local community manages an overnight ecolodge as well. Since the project launched in 2010, some 370 tourists have visited, generating revenue amounting to $200 per village across 14 villages. While the amount of money is small, it is significant in an area where cash incomes are very low. It also has created a potentially replicable model that values wildlife alive instead of dead in a cooking pot, according to the judges. “This approach should be replicable and would contribute to creating a more positive relationship between local communities, wildlife and tourism.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which set up the project, welcomed the award. “This award is a result of the commitment and tireless work of our local staff and 14 partner communities who believe in the importance and value of wildlife,” said Paul Eshoo, WCS Ecotourism Advisor. “Laos is a country with very rich biodiversity and important ecosystems that hold enormous potential for ecotourism. We hope that our model inspires other projects and areas to develop wildlife tourism in a way that provides tangible conservation results and economic benefits through direct incentives for protection.”

Hanuman at ITB Asia, Singapore, 23-25 Oct 2013

Monday, October 21st, 2013
Hanuman will be exhibiting at the ITB Asia in Singapore from 23-25 October 2013 and we would like to extend an open invitation to friends, partners and travel professionals to drop by and see us at Booth M34, Hall 404.

Hanuman is the only Cambodian-owned, Cambodia-based destination management company exhibiting at this year’s ITB Asia so to learn more about our destination expertise, that elusive combination of knowledge and experience, we suggest you come over to have a chat. We hope you have heard of Hanuman already, as we are one of the most respected names in the business when it comes to arranging cultural journeys for discerning travellers. Hanuman is regularly cited in the international press and is proud to have been selected by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the World’s Top Travel Fixers”. These are “the best locally-run, well-established, reputable companies, the insiders with impeccable guides, and are masters of their region”.

 

Here at Hanuman, we want to put the personality back into travel. Our travel collection is inspired by imagination, driven by our daydreams. We love Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and want to share our passion with you. A successful trip is down to service and we understand the importance of getting this right every step of the way, from hotels of distinction to guides with passion and personality. This is our commitment to travel with a personal touch.

Lots of other exciting things will be happening on the Hanuman booth at this year’s ITB Asia. Leading Cambodian circus performers Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) will be joining the Hanuman team at 4pm on Wednesday 23 October. PPS have been likened to the Cirque du Soleil of Cambodia, blending circus, performance art and powerful social commentary to their shows. PPS have toured the world with their cutting edge performances and we are very privileged to have them join the Hanuman booth at ITB Asia 2013. For more on PPS, see http://www.phareps.org/performing-art-schools#circus Hanuman (www.hanuman.travel) will have some cold Angkor beers on hand for those coming to watch the 15-minute performance so please drop by our booth to enjoy this unique Khmer circus performance. If you are travelling through Siem Reap after the ITB Asia, it is also possible to see their nightly show in a big top in town. Contact Hanuman for more details.
Also worth noting is that leading Lonely Planet author Nick Ray will be on hand to answer questions about Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam at the Hanuman booth. Nick has been writing Lonely Planet guides to the Mekong region for 15 years and is the author of, among others, the country guides to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as the regional bestseller Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. Nick has travelled far and wide in the Mekong region and is regarded as a regional authority on travel in Southeast Asia.

As well as Lonely Planet, he also works as a freelance writer for leading newspapers and magazines such as BBC Travel, The Times and Wanderlust. He also works as a Location Manager and Producer for television and films, including work as the Location Manager on Tomb Raider and Line Producer on the famous Top Gear Vietnam special. He has worked with numerous celebrities over the years, including Gordon Ramsay, Angeline Jolie, Charley Boorman and Samantha Brown.

Should you have any questions for Nick on any aspect of travel in the Mekong region, don’t hesitate to drop by the Hanuman booth on 23-25 October 2013 at the ITB Asia.

We look forward to seeing you in Singapore.

Indochina’s Heritage

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Immerse yourself in the trio of beautiful and varied World Heritage locations in Luang Prabang, Halong Bay and Angkor with our 15-day journey of discovery.

Monks at Angkor Wat

Monks at Angkor Wat

Indochina is home to several stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites and this signature trip takes in the most impressive of these in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Starting in lovely and languid Luang Prabang, we enjoy the combination of rich culture and lush nature in this charming town. Flying to elegant Hanoi, we pay our respects to Uncle Ho and explore the exotic Old Quarter. Halong Bay is the only natural World Heritage Site on this list, but it is undoubtedly one of the most memorable with a forest of karst peaks soaring skywards from the sea. Flying south, we stop in Hoi An to explore the compelling historic house, tailor shops, galleries and cafes of this atmospheric place. We leave some time to enjoy the beach before flying on to Siem Reap, our base to visit the simply sublime temples of Angkor. Our visit includes all the world famous temples such as Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building, as well as some of the floating communities of the Tonle Sap.

Contact our Sales Team at Hanuman for more information or visit our website at http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Indochina/World_Heritage_Indochina.html.

Laos Discovery

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Pushed for time but you really want to see the charms of Laos. Try our 8-day Laos Discovery tour.

Discover Laos with Hanuman

Discover Laos with Hanuman

The sleepy capital of Vientiane and its alluring riverside setting with historic temples and the eccentric Buddha Park begin our journey in this relaxed and laid-back country. We then head to the Plain of Jars, a mysterious mountainside dotted with ancient burial jars from a forgotten civilisation for a brief adventure before we arrive at the highlight of our tour, the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. Home to 32 stupa-studded wats, it remains one of the most atmospheric destinations in all Asia. We take in the Royal Palace Museum, classic Wat Xieng Thong, enjoy a boat upstream to the Buddahs of the Pak Ou Caves and a day of relaxation in the turquoise waters of the multi-tiered Kuang Si Falls.

Contact our Sales Team at Hanuman for more information or visit our website at http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Laos/Laos_Discovery.html to find out more about the delights that Laos has to offer visitors.

With Laos in mind, we love this article by Richard Waters for the Independent newspaper, as he takes to his motorcycle and explores this beautiful country. Read about his trip at http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/asia/on-your-bike-in-central-laos-8873871.html.

Boutique with a difference

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Three boutique hotels with a difference.

The Guardian newspaper recently highlighted a series of hotels in Asia, Australia and New Zealand that offered budget deals with style and a touch of the unusual. The three that caught our eye were in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Here’s what they had to say:

Maison Polanka, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photograph: John W McDermott

Maison Polanka, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photograph: John W McDermott

Maison Polanka, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tucked behind Wat Polanka, near Siem Reap’s leafy riverbank, peaceful Maison Polanka boasts a palm-lined swimming pool, sprawling gardens, and personal service more befitting a luxury hotel. Spread across two traditional Khmer wooden houses, six light-filled rooms are decorated with retro-Cambodian furniture, locally-made crafts, and art and antiques the French-Cambodian owner has collected on her travels.
maisonpolanka.com. Orange room from £98, other rooms £113-£200.

The Sanctuary, Luang Prabang, Laos

A brief amble from the Mekong river in laid-back Luang Prabang, this 30-room boutique hotel is set around a palm-lined pond in colonial-inspired buildings with red roof tiles, wide verandas and wooden shutters, in keeping with the Unesco world heritage-listed town’s architecture. Only the Bauhaus-style handmade furniture gives things away. An on-site spa offers 40-minute Laotian massages for £6.
sanctuaryluangprabang.com. Doubles from £45.

The Alcove Library Hotel, Saigon, Vietnam

In a residential neighbourhood, 10 minute’s drive from downtown Saigon, this elegant hotel with its French-style facade and Parisian-like courtyard garden, offers respite from the chaotic centre. Once inside, you’ll find prettily-tiled floors, comfy padded armchairs, black and white prints, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves crammed with reading material, and more books in the 38 classical rooms. Surprisingly, the rooftop restaurant-bar serves American, rather than French, food.
alcovehotel.com.vn. Doubles from £58.

Hanuman’s new General Manager

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Hanuman’s newest arrival has the travel touch.

Patrick Chase - Hanuman's new GM

Patrick Chase – Hanuman’s new GM

A big welcome to Patrick Chase who has been installed as Hanuman’s new General Manager in Phnom Penh. Born in London but having spent most of his childhood in Kenya and Hong Kong, Patrick was raised on travel. A 2‐year odyssey in Australia and the South Pacific teaching diving led to more than 10 years in the UK travel industry, allowing him to explore New Zealand, Australia, Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Discovering Cambodia has led to many return trips and now the chance to live and work in Phnom Penh with Hanuman.

Tiger Treks in Laos

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

On the trail of tigers and big cats in north-eastern Laos.

Leopard caught on camera trap in Nam Et-Phou Louey

Leopard caught on camera trap in Nam Et-Phou Louey

In the vast Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, rare civets, Asian Golden Cats, river otters, white-cheeked crested gibbons and the utterly unique Laotian warty newt share 4200 sq km of relatively pristine forests with around a dozen tigers. Approximately half is an inaccessible core zone. The remainder includes 98 ethnic minority hamlets. Two-day wildlife-watching excursions have been pioneered to the park’s remote Nam Nern field station, a road-less former village site where a campsite and surrounding walking trails have been professionally cleared of UXO. Highlights of the trip include a night-time boat ride ‘spotlighting’ for animals and day-time guided hikes learning about wildlife tracking. Actually seeing a live tiger or leopard is unlikely but there’s more hope of spotting Sambar and Barking Deer and for each significant sighting, nearby villages receive a small payment. This is a cleverly thought-out scheme that encourages the local population to work actively against poachers. Find out more at http://www.namet.org/.

Green Season Travel in Indochina

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
Rain clouds over Angkor Wat... and not a tourist in sight.

Rain clouds over Angkor Wat… and not a tourist in sight.

The majority of visitors to Indochina prefer to travel during the high season which runs from November through March. Here are some insightful reasons to buck the trend and travel during low season which we prefer to call the ‘green’ season.

Angkor is certainly more crowded than it used to be. That is why Hanuman has carved a niche for itself as the company that approaches the temples differently, striving to avoid the crowds and to make the experience more personal, more intimate, more spiritual. Visitor numbers have risen tenfold in a decade from around 250,000 to around 2.5 million. However, the vast majority of these visitors are travelling during high season and the five months from November to March. Why not consider promoting Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam during green season? Here are a few highlights about the green season that could make the difference.

Saving Money

In these difficult economic times, price matters. Until recently, there was little difference between high season and low season prices, so there was no real economic incentive to promote the region during green season. This has all changed with the advent of the global crisis and green season rates are now substantially lower than high season, particularly for some mid-range to high-end hotels and long-haul flights. A number of hotels in places such as Siem Reap, Luang Prabang and Hoi An are offering great discounted rates off their high season prices. This particularly applies to Myanmar, where high season rates at hotels are spiraling out of control along with tourist numbers, and the green season offers an attractive alternative.

Avoiding crowds
Peak season is a busy time and it means the leading destinations (and by default the leading hotels) are very busy. Travel off-season and the numbers plummet. This means the sights are less crowded and the hotels less busy, adding up to a more relaxed and serene experience. In the recent past, our team has been in both Luang Prabang and Siem Reap and it is very tranquil compared to the high season. It almost feels like a flashback to bygone days when Cambodia and Laos were truly off-the-beaten-path and only for the most adventurous travellers. This can be particularly important for the more wealthy and discerning traveller who really wants a different experience. It is that much harder to create with ten times the number of tourists in town. The best rooms are available, the best places calm and peaceful and the best restaurants not overcrowded. Coupled with price, this is quite an incentive.

The Weather
This is the big fear when it comes to green season travel. What will the weather be like? Well the honest answer is that we don’t know anymore. Global warming, unexpected typhoons and many elements have combined to ensure the weather is not as predictable as it once was. The monsoon no longer arrives and departs to schedule.  Even when it rains, the showers are usually short and sharp, falling at the end of the day, some time between 5pm and 8pm. Yes, there may be some instant floods here and there, but this can be quite a spectacle in itself. So the weather should no longer be an obstacle for a low season visit, as it is too unpredictable these days. If we are choosing our favourite green season months, then June to August are probably the best. May is very hot in many areas and still arid, while September is traditionally the wettest, although in recent years Siem Reap has experienced major flooding in October. There’s never been a perfect season to travel to Vietnam, as there are microclimates up and down the country, so make that the perfect excuse to travel to Indochina when you want and not when everyone else does.

Spectacular Clouds
Well it’s linked to the weather, but the incredible clouds that appear during the wet season are something to behold. Like post-nuclear mushroom clouds, they tower in the sky and make for some spectacular sunsets. These are clouds the like of which you may never have seen. Similarly the storms are a force of nature and witnessing one roll in across the Mekong River from Luang Prabang to Can Tho is something visitors will never forget.

The Landscape
Travel in many parts of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar from December to April and it will be dry and arid in the countryside as the rice has already been harvested. Travel in the green season and the landscape is a rich tapestry of emerald greens glistening in the sun. Not only are the paddy fields more alive, but the lakes, rivers and streams are flowing with water, making for faster and safer boat trips across the region. The moats and ponds at the temples of Angkor fill up, making for spectacular reflections for photographs. The moss and lichen that clings to many temples comes alive, adding a dramatic carpet of green or orange to many of the ancient stones.

So whether you are looking for better value, a more intimate experience without the crowds or a more spectacular landscape, the low season can deliver. Add these together and it might just be a better time to travel to the countries of the Mekong region.

HanumanAlaya is playing its part in promoting the green season with a Stay Longer, Save More promotion through til 30 September 2013. For more details, visit http://www.hanumanalaya.com/.

Saving Elephants from Extinction

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Hanuman recommends the Elephant Conservation Center as an authentic Laos experience.

A female elephant at ECC named Mae Kham Ohn

A female elephant at ECC named Mae Kham Ohn

Elephants are on the brink of extinction in Laos, so the Elephant Conservation Center of Laos at Sayaboury is the only place to meet elephants in their natural environment. Set at the tip of a naturally forested peninsula of over 100 hectares and bordering the Nam Tien lake, the Center boasts a stunning view over the Elephant Mountain range to the north east. It’s a good 3 hours drive from Luang Prabang.

The Center offers an experience of watching the elephants feeding and bathing, trekking through the forest to the ‘Buddha’s Footprint’, exploring the lake by boat or learning with mahouts, as well as finding out more at their living museum. ElefantAsia, a French-based non-profit organization, runs the country’s elephant conservation program from the facility. You can enjoy a day visit at ECC though perhaps the most ideal way is to spend a couple of nights at the Center with briefings from the vets and mahouts to better understand the elephants with whom you will interact freely for the next two days. Accommodation at ECC in bungalows and dorms is pretty rustic. There is better accommodation in Sayaboury town, a few kilometers away. If you are seeking an experience to tell your friends and family about, look no further than the Elephant Conservation Center at Sayaboury.