Luxury #Cambodia getaways win worldwide deluxe resort awards

Cambodia used to have the unwanted reputation of a “land of conflict and sorrow”. But that has dramatically changed in recent years. The Kingdom is now known as the place where you can find dome of the best and most alluring luxury destinations in the world.Last week, that new reputation was strengthened with reports that Shinta Mani Wild and Song Saa Private Island bagged more than a few recognitions in the Destination Deluxe Awards 2019.

The Destination Luxury Awards are the brainchild of Destination Deluxe, a travel and wellness publication that picks and recognizes the top hotels, spas, treatment, skincare and wellness brands in the world. This is the inaugural edition for the awards.

There are 28 categories for the awards. The winners are chosen by a group of distinguished industry experts based on quality, transparency and originality. There are three ranked winners for each category.

Song Saa Private Island is the top awardee in the Eco-Hotel of the Year category. Soneva Fushi in Maldives and Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge in Nicaragua are also on the list.

The Khmer Tonic Spa in Shinta Mani Wild is number one in the Eco-Spa of the Year category. The others in the list are Fivelements Retreat Bali in Indonesia and FieldSpa GoldenEye in Jamaica.

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Shinta Mani Wild itself is the runner-up in the New Hotel of the Year and Hotel Design of the Year awards.

 
The other winners in the New Hotel of the Year category are Rosewood Hong Kong in Hong Kong and Amarla Boutique Hotel in Colombia.For the Hotel Design of the Year, the others on the list are Datai Langkawi in Malaysia and Joe Lalli Resort Hotel in China.

“It is both an honour and very humbling that Bensley Collection-Shinta Mani Wild has been the recipient of ten awards in its first year of operation and a tribute to the GM and his team for their dedication, commitment and hard work on a daily basis,” Bill Bensley, the world-renowned designer behind Shinta Mani Wild, said.

“Shinta Mani Wild has an important eco and sustainability message, especially with our Wildlife Alliance partnership and their daily patrols to protect the forest and its inhabitants. These awards also bring much-needed awareness to the work we do in this regard,” he added.

The two Cambodian luxury destinations have reaped numerous international awards between them in recent years.

Shinta Mani Wild, which sits on 160 hectares of land between the Cardamon, Bokor and Kirirom national parks, said that it “provides the highest level of luxury while also working to protect the environment around it”. It opened two years ago.

Last year, it was included in the National Geographic Traveller (UK) Big Sleep Awards 2019, Time magazine’s “100 Greatest Destinations on Earth”, Condé Nast Traveller (UK) Hot List 2019, Harper’s Bazaar Ultimate Travel Guide 2019 (UK) : 100 Greatest Experiences in The World, among other recognitions. Located in Preah Sihanouk province, Song Saa Private Island is an ultra-exclusive and luxury getaway said to be frequented by some of the richest and most famous people in the world.

Last month, Luxury Travel Intelligence named it as among the “top 10 best luxury hotels built this decade”.

Source – Khmer Times

 

 

Bali – The Island of the Gods (Travel Series Day 1)

I am Joan Rio.

My mom told me to travel, A LOT, and to see every corner of the world as much as I can. She said that it’ll help me discover some things about myself, and expand my perspective about the world. And so I crossed out one place off my bucket list. And since I am an island girl, the first thing I explored in Indonesia is Bali.

Bali is the most famous island in Indonesia which lies 3.2 km east of Java and approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. It is surrounded by coral reefs, with white sand beaches on the south and black sand beaches on the west and north. The island also offers everything: sandy beaches, countless waves for surfing, natural beauty of looming volcanoes, lush terraces of rice fields, exotic food, unique temples and palaces, lively bars, even yoga retreats, and resort towns. No wonder it was…

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Visa-Run to the Kingdom of a Million Elephants

I am Joan Rio.

“You should experience being foreign at least once…”

I’ve never really written about my life as an expat, like how I adjusted to the language I couldn’t understand, the food with strange smells, the pollution (lol), and many others. But being a foreigner, among many other things, one thing you should always be concerned about is your documents.

I was lucky to get employed right away when I arrived so I never had a problem but changing employers means going back to zero. Now, I need to count from 1.

Laos is the only landlocked nation in Southeast Asia, occupying the northwest portion of the Indochinese peninsula. This country is surrounded by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar.

Laos’ history and culture can be traced back to the Kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao (Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol) which existed for four centuries…

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‘They told people not to come’: #Australia’s bushfires ravage tourism industry

Pillars of fire and smoke from bushfires are tarnishing Australia’s reputation for pristine vistas abounding in wildlife and wreaking havoc on tourism, operators say, as authorities are forced to cancel concerts, close parks and evacuate towns.The smoke has shrouded entire cities and driven air quality to unhealthy levels, with at least 10 people dying in the fires in the past week, while colonies of animals such as koalas and flying foxes have been destroyed.

“Seeing all the images of fires on television and social media is not going to help, it puts a dent in Australia’s reputation as a safe tourist destination,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital.

“It’s come at a time when the economy was already fragile,” he added, ranking tourism as Australia’s fourth biggest export whose strength officials had been counting on to help offset a domestic reluctance to spend.

Bushfires burning for weeks near the world heritage site of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in the southeastern state of New South Wales have driven away tourists.

As visitors take to social media to warn others to steer clear, the number of busloads of tourists each day has fallen to about four from 15 or 20, said Stacey Reynolds, a receptionist at the Blue Mountains Backpacker Hostel in Katoomba.

“They told people not to come in and it’s affected everything, from restaurants to motels to backpackers to cafes,” she added. “The streets are empty.”

Although there is no published nationwide data on tourism since the fires took hold in late spring, Australia attracted 2.71 million holiday makers last summer, up 3.2% from the previous year, as many fled the northern hemisphere winter.

Hotels in the largest city of Sydney saw a fall of 10% in guest numbers in December, the Accommodation Association of Australia said.

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“The fires and the smoke have had a real brand and reputational damage in Sydney,” added its chief executive, Dean Long.The train and cable network of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains had 50,000 fewer visitors in December, down 50% from last year, Chief Experience Officer Amanda Byrne said.

Scenic World was open, but the hotels around the area are having more cancellations than bookings, she said.

Government agency Tourism Australia, which released a new advertisement last month to lure Britons to beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The scorching temperatures and bushfires, which have also burnt vineyards in South Australia and warmed the usually cool island state of Tasmania, will hit the sector hard, said Judith Mair, who studies tourism, environment and consumer behavior.

“It will be in stages – immediately with evacuations, dislocations and cancellations, but also in the longer term, because tourists buy holidays based on the image of a destination and Australia’s is being badly affected,” said Mair, a professor at the University of Queensland Business School.

Hundreds of national parks in the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, thronged by 100 million visitors a year, have closed.

With fires burning nearby, Christopher Warren, co-proprietor of a bed and breakfast in Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales, said he had to evacuate his guests.

“The worst-case scenario is that we would be hit by a fire and our business would be destroyed,” said Warren, who saw the best case as a loss of income exceeding A$80,000 ($56,048), through the disruption of three of his busiest months.

Paul Mackie, who uses AirBnB to rent out an apartment on Sydney’s Bondi Beach to British and European tourists in the peak summer holiday period was hit by last-minute cancellations.

“I had bookings for the whole of this period going for the next couple of months, but a lot have cancelled because they said they saw the news of the fires,” Mackie added.

AirBnB declined to comment.

A Sydney airport spokesman said it did not have recent statistics on whether the fires were hitting arrival. A Qantas spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the wildfires had hurt bookings.

The fires have spotlighted Australia’s environment policies, criticized most recently at a U.N. summit in Madrid, said Susanne Becken, a professor of sustainable tourism at Griffith University in Queensland.

“The government’s response to the climate crisis does not bode well…and this is not good for tourism,” 

Source – TheJakartaPost

 

LK The Empress Hotel, Pattaya, Chonburi

PATTAYA BEST HOTELS

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Empress Hotel 1

This Hotel is 1 minute walk from the beach. Classical European design meets Thai hospitality at The Empress Hotel, an elegant serviced residence with free Wi-Fi and kitchenettes. It also boasts a sauna and an outdoor garden spa pool.

Empress Hotel 2

Exceptionally spacious, rooms at The Empress Hotel seem to glow with the blend of warm lighting and gold-trimmed furnishings. Each is equipped with a flat-screen cable/satellite TV, DVD player and comfortable seating area.

Empress Hotel 5

Guests may exercise at the fitness centre or arrange day trips at the tour desk. The hotel also provides a business centre and laundry services.

Empress Hotel 3

Authentic Thai dishes and international food are served at The Circle Restaurant. In-room dining is also possible with room service.

Empress Hotel 4

This property is also rated for the best value in Pattaya Central! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to…

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#Laos – Pakxong – a fine place to chill out

 
People who are lucky enough to spend a few days on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos always want to return because of the pleasant climate – it never gets really hot, either in the dry or wet seasons.
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The Bolaven Plateau, which is often referred to simply as Pakxong, is located in the hills of Champassak province. I feel I know the area pretty well.
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A long time ago I made many visits there when my wife was working for a coffee project in Pakxong. I have never forgotten it and liked this place very much as it was always cool throughout the year, both day and night.
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The town of Pakxong is about 50 kilometres from the provincial capital Pakxe. I once went there in April when it’s usually extremely hot in Laos, especially in the south. 
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I stayed at km 35 and always felt comfortable but as soon as I ventured beyond Pakxong, the temperate spiked and it was really hot.
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At that time of the year, many people can’t sleep because of the hot weather. Residents of large towns such as Vientiane and Pakxe have to use air conditioning to help them sleep.
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But in Pakxong there is no need to use an artificial cooling device and Mother Nature will ensure you remain comfortable. The fresh air that surrounds you throughout the night will keep you refreshed so you don’t wake up feeling exhausted.
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Some Thai visitors have been known to say they don’t need to go to Europe to enjoy a cool climate but can come to Pakxong district instead.
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VISIT OUR TRAVEL BLOG – WHIT A LOT OF BOOKING OPTIONS

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I don’t know if things are still the same in Pakxong because I haven’t been there for 15 years. But some people who have spent time in this beautiful area recently tell me that it’s as pleasing as ever.
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The Bolaven Plateau runs through Champassak province’s Pakxong district, Saravan province’s Lao-ngam, and Xekong province’s Thataeng district, and boasts a wealth of scenic beauty.
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Some of the most dramatic waterfalls in Champassak are Nheuang, Fan, Phasuam, Nong Luang and Champee Nang Sida.
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There are also three more waterfalls of note in Saravan province, namely Lo, Hang and Xeset, and then there is the Sinouk Resort in Xekong province, which are all very popular with both local and foreign visitors.
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The Bolaven Plateau is set to be developed as the country’s top agri-business and agri-tourism destination thanks to its year round temperate climate and picturesque landscape.
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When visiting Champassak province over the past few years, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has advised officials to seek more investment from domestic and overseas sources so that the coffee industry can be further developed and other crops can be cultivated on the Bolaven Plateau and nearby.
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From Vientiane, tourists can reach Champassak by either road or air transport. And thanks to shared borders with Thailand and Cambodia, there are close tourist links with both those countries.

The local food is another attraction, with a wide variety of dishes on offer that will satisfy all palates. Set a date for a visit soon!

Source – Vientiane Times

 

#Vietnam – Once a barrier against invaders, now a beautiful valley

Chi Lang Passage in Lang Son Province used to be a strategic bulwark for Vietnam and now boasts tourist attractions.
 
Chi Lang Passage is a narrow valley between the Bao Dai mountain range in the east and the Cai Kinh range in the west in the northern province. The mountains form two natural barriers. 
 
Running zigzag along the valley is the Thuong River. Historical accounts show the valley was once regarded as an impenetrable barrier that keep out invaders from the north. King Le Dai Hanh (941-1005) once said the area helped destroy enemies no matter how large and powerful their armies were.
 
From Hanoi, you can follow National Highway 1A to get to the place. It stretches for around 20 km, with the main sights being Chi Lang and Quang Lang communes in Chi Lang District, Lang Son Province.
 Bai Hao Lake, one of the sights in Chi Lang, is surrounded by undulating mountains.
 

The Chi Lang Temple is currently being built by the lake as a spiritual
and cultural complex to cherish the historical values of Chi Lang.
 
 The train runs through Bac Thuy Bridge in Chi Lang District on the Hanoi – Dong Dang (Lang Son Province) route. 
 
The train also connects with Dong Mo and Ban Thi stations in Chi Lang District.
 
 About 30 km from the center of Chi Lang District is Khau Sao hill (Khau Slao), a popular destination for visitors. Situated in Suoi Ma A Village, Huu Kien Commune, it is dubbed the ‘Green steppe of Lang Son’.
 
The hill is 760 meters high and its terrain makes it a strenuous climb. Locals allow their horses and cattle to graze there. There are more than 1,700 horses being raised here, of which nearly 700 are pure white.
 
 The Tay and Nung ethnic minorities here mainly make a living by raising horses. The abundant grass, clean water and salubrious climate help the horses breed rapidly.
 
The animals are left completely free. In the morning people bring their horses to the hill and leave them there until afternoon when they are taken to each family’s private area to drink water.
 
 
Custard apples are another Chi Lang specialty. They are grown throughout Chi Lang and the trees are ubiquitous along National Highway 1A.
 
One of the most famous places where the fruit is grown in Chi Lang is Dong Banh rock mountain, which is about 200 m tall. The harvest is transported in baskets by pulley from the top to the foot of the hill.
 
he custard apples are then delivered over a bamboo bridge by farmers to Dong Banh Market next to National Highway 1A. A lot of them are also sent to markets elsewhere including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
 
On Sunday the third Chi Lang custard apple festival took place with many promotional activities and tips on growing the fruit. There were competitions between farmers to see who grew the best custard apples.
 
Source – VN Express
 

 

Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park, the ‘new’ Maya Bay

With Thailand’s Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi Ley remains closed
indefinitely to allow the tourist-magnet some much-needed time to
recover, it’s time to look for another natural wonder.
 
One of Thailand’s astonishing natural wonders, not as well known as Maya Bay,
is the Ang Thong National Marine Park, located about 40 kilometers north
west of the coast of Koh Samui. Some would argue it’s even more
spectacular and worthy of at least a full day visit. 
 
There are manytours available to the National Park.
 
The Ang Thong National
Marine Park is made up of 42 islands spread over 102 square kilometers. Travelers will find beautiful beaches, limestone cliffs, caves, rock
formations and countless photo opportunities. Enjoy some views from the
air…
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It will take you about an hour to travel there from either the Surat
Thani mainland or from Koh Samui by speedboat. There are slower
ferry-style boat trips as well but you’ll lose a lot of time travelling
there (usually for day trips) and the speedboats can get into much
shallower waters.
 
Tours usually also squeeze in a visit to Koh
Phaluai, the park’s biggest island, where there’s a popular  stilted
restaurant in the island’s fishing village, serving a delicious seafood
lunch.
 
Another popular island worth visiting is Koh Wua Talap,
famed for wildlife spotting and what might just be the most beautiful
viewpoint in the entire park.
 
FUN FACT: Though
the 2000 movie “The Beach,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed in
Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay in the Andaman Sea, the book by Alex Garland upon
which the film was based was actually set in Ang Thong in the Gulf of
Thailand.
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Source – The Thaiger
 
 

 

#Cambodia – Beating the heat at mango plantation waterfall in Battambang

The relaxation begins as soon as you see the blossoming yellow flowers lining the road leading up to the mango plantation.
 
Passing through a large entrance with a sign saying “Welcome to Mango Plantation Waterfall Resort”, visitors drive down a wide road that dissects rows of thousands of mango trees dominating the landscape of Battambang province’s Samlot district.
 
The main attraction at Chamkar Svay Waterfall Resort, as it is known in Khmer, is the river running through it, where visitors sit in gazebos eating and relaxing along its banks.
 
“This resort attracts people since it is not developed. They love swimming and eating on mats, as well as relaxing until dusk before they go home,” Monn Mika, 52, the resort’s owner, told The Post.
 
“I initially began planting mango trees without thinking about creating a resort. But with the mountainous water flow I thought it could be a tourism attraction. So I began developing it step-by-step until it started attracting many people.
 
Situated next to 87ha of land that after two years is entirely cultivated with mango trees, Chamkar Svay Waterfall Resort now welcomes hundreds of visitors daily who bathe in the river that flows from Chambang Mountain.
 
Sok Theary, a visitor with two friends from Samlot town on a recent Sunday, praised the resorts “beautiful and cold water”. 
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Visitors can also order fresh food at the riverside, including roast chicken, roast fish, stir-fry or soup, as well as many appetisers and snacks, with prices ranging from 10,000 riel to 50,000 riel ($2.50 to $12.50).
 
Visitors are also welcome to camp in the mango plantation.
 
“Guests who come here do not only just swim in the natural river and explore the mango plantation, they can also go camping. We serve food and there is a cleanliness charge of $1.00 or $2.00 per person,” said Mika.
 
Mika said that in the dry season, the stream’s flow is lower and exposes many of the rocks on the riverbed for people to sit on. But in the rainy season, the river’s flow increases and people can enjoy bathing. 
 
“I pay much attention to cleanliness. I tell all staff to clean the rubbish daily so it doesn’t impact visitors and keeps the environment clean.
 
“My current main job is to take care of the plantation and resort, so I keep making the place more attractive, and me and my wife plan to buy boats for visitors,” he said.
 
Chamkar Svay Waterfall Resort is located in Sambout district’s Prey Sdao village, some 80km from Battambang town or 7km from Sek Sak Tourism Resort. Visitors pay 10,000 riel to bring their car into the resort.
Source – PhnomPhenPost
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