Posts Tagged ‘Laos’

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.

The Sights and Sounds of Vientiane in Laos

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Lao capital Vientiane may not have the headline attractions of languid Luang Prabang, the former royal capital. However, it is a bustling riverside city with a number of important temples, countless classy restaurants and some interesting shops and galleries. Take a look at Vientiane in this short video produced for our Youtube channel Hanuman Travel TV, including the golden stupa of That Luang and the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane, Patuxai Monument.

 

Take a look at Indochina

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Take a trip through Indochina with Hanuman Travel TV to see the sights and experiences you can all enjoy in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. We are waiting to welcome you.

 

Tour of the Week: Grand Laos Journey

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Following on from our visit to the incredible Vieng Xay Caves, we feature this Grand Laos Journey, which covers the major highlights of the country from north to south.

Monks at Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang

Monks at Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang

An in-depth journey throughout the old kingdom of Laos that will take you beyond the highlights and under the skin of this beguiling country, beginning with the the Luang Say cruise along the Mekong River, via the Pak Ou Caves to the World Heritage recognized 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 and enjoy a trek to the turquoise waters of the multi-tiered Kuang Si Falls. 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 continue to the capital city of Vientiane. Then we head south where no trip would be complete without a visit to the incredible Wat Phu and the 4,000 islands and waterfalls on the border with Cambodia.

For more details on this tour, visit the Hanuman website: http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Laos/Grand_Laos_Journey.html