We take you to the Pearls of the Orient

CAMBODIA Siem Reap – Here you will find influences of French colonial and Chinese architecture. With the Tuk Tuk service to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, to visit Angkor Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Cambodia. In the afternoon with a Jeep to the Angkor Wat Temple. MYANMAR Mandalay – After arriving…

via Pearls of the Orient — NEWS & TRAVEL GURU MAGAZINE

Sunland Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Sunland Hotel 1

Sunland Hotel is situated just a minute’s walk from Saigon River and a 10-minute walk from Tay Ba Lo backpacker’s quarter. It features an outdoor pool and a restaurant.

Sunland Hotel 2

The hotel is a 5-minute walk from Russian Market and ACB Bank. A 7-minute drive takes guests to Reunification Palace, Saigon Opera House and the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Tan Son Nhat International Airport is a 45-minute drive away.

Sunland Hotel 3

Rooms are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a minibar. Each room has its own uniquely styled bathroom with shower facilities and toiletries. Room service is provided.

Sunland Hotel 4

Guests can head to the 24-hour front desk for assistance with luggage storage, laundry and currency exchange services. Safety deposit boxes are also available.

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District 1 is a great choice for travelers interested in nightlife, markets and shopping.

Sunland Hotel 8

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas, Vietnam

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 1

Featuring luxurious villas with private pools, An Lam Ninh Van Bay offers peaceful stays in rolling green landscapes overlooking Ninh Van Bay. It features an infinity pool, full spa facilities and fine dining.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 2

Opening out to stunning sea views, tastefully furnished villas feature a flat-screen cable TV, iPod dock and coffee machine. Other comforts include semi-outdoor bath areas and rain showers.

Guests can start the day with a lesson at the yoga platform before exercising at the gym. For convenience, the hotel provides free Wi-Fi, business and tour services.

Featuring an outdoor terrace, the restaurant serves seafood specialties and Vietnamese dishes. In-villa dining with a private chef can be arranged.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 5

An Lam Ninh Van Bay is 16.1 km from Nha Trang’s city center. The property offers airport shuttle service.

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Hotel Nikko Saigon, Vietnam

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Hotel Nikko, Saigon 1

This 5-star property features a full-service spa, an outdoor pool and fitness facilities. Situated beside Now Zone Shopping Mall, its modern rooms have a cable flat-screen TV and bathroom.

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 2

Offering city views from over-sized windows, the spacious rooms feature warm lighting and calming earth tones. They have a tea/coffee maker, a minibar and free Wi-Fi.

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 3

Guests can take a dip in the hot tub or relax with a soothing spa massage. Nikko Hotel Saigon also has a business centre, concierge services and a souvenir shop.

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Hotel Nikko, Saigon 6

Hotel Nikko Saigon is a 10-minute drive from Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace. It is a 20-minute drive from Tan Son Nhat International Airport and has free parking.

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 7

Outdoor Pool

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 8

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Essence Hoi An Hotel, Vietnam

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Essence Hoi An Hotel 1

This 4-star Essence Hoi An Hotel & Spa is only 500 m from the centre of Ancient Hoi An Town, and offers a swimming pool and fitness centre. All its modern rooms come with free Wi-Fi and a welcome fruit platter. Essence Cafe serves Vietnamese and international dishes and caters for 24-hour room service.

Essence Hoi An Hotel 2

Fitted with air conditioning, all the soundproof guestrooms come with a 32-inch flat-screen TV, a minibar and a personal safe. Some rooms have a private balcony. The en suite bathrooms come with either a bathtub or rainshower.

Essence Hoi An Hotel 3

Essence Hoi An Hotel & Spa is 6 km from Cua Dai Public Beach and 4 km from An Bang Public Beach. Da Nang International Airport is 30 km away. Parking is free.

Essence Hoi An Hotel 4

Essence Hoi An Hotel 5

Essence Hoi An Hotel 6

A daily breakfast is available from 06:30 – 10:00. Guests can request for breakfast to be served in the comfort of the guestrooms.

Essence Hoi An Hotel 7

Free bicycle rentals are available. Guests can also relax with a massage or visit the sauna. The hotel also provides laundry services and English newspapers.

This is our guests’ favourite part of Hoi An, according to independent reviews.

Essence Hoi An Hotel 8

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Asean set for tourism push

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As grouping turns 50 next year, campaign will promote 600 destinations in the region.

IN ORDER to build a real sense of community, Asean will for the first time launch a regional tourism campaign to promote 600 destinations to boost arrivals and income when the regional grouping turns 50 next year.

Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said officials of national tourism organisations from the 10 nations had agreed at a meeting in the Philippines to introduce “Asean at 50” as the new regional tourism campaign.

The campaign will be announced tomorrow at the Asean Tourism Forum in Manila and there will be a grand opening at the International Tourism Berse (ITB) in Germany in the first quarter of this year.

“Asean promotes itself as a single-market tourist destination as all members were integrated into an economic community at the end of last year. The campaign will be part of Asean’s 50th anniversary celebrations,” Pongpanu said.

Asean will be promoting 600 attractions located across the region, which will be divided into 12 different categories under the theme of “50 Best…”.

The dozen categories will be the 50 best of cities, hotels, restaurants, food, festivals and celebrations, beaches, shopping, historical sites, adventure tourism, small towns and villages, markets, as well as unforgettable experiences.

Pongpanu said each Asean member would propose their attractions and products to a central committee, which should complete the selection procedure before the grand opening in Germany.

Phill+

Thailand is assigned to lead the selection of two categories: festivals and celebrations, as well as unforgettable experiences, he said.

“The new campaign should boost tourism income and total arrivals in the region by 15 per cent from 100 million to 115 million,” he added.

Officials from national tourism organisations also approved another 10-year Asean Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) set for 2016-25, while Asean tourism ministers adopted the ATSP 2011-15 that focused on 19 measures.

Plan for tourism professIonals

The 10-year plan is also expected to boost tourism earnings for the entire region from 10 to 15 per cent in 2025, while employment in the sector should rise from 3 to 7 per cent, travellers’ length of stay will climb from 6.3 days to eight days and average spending per trip per visitor will rise from $900 to $1,500 or Bt 27,000 to Bt45,000.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the total number of international arrivals in Asean is expected to rise to 123 million by 2020, 152 million by 2025 and 187 million by 2030.

Pongpanu said Asean will be also focusing on other developments such as improving infrastructure, enhancing competency, labour transfer, a single visa for all nations in the grouping as well as maintaining major tourism markets such as China, India and Russia.

Myan Mar

On January 19, all 10 Asean tourism ministers signed an agreement on the establishment of the Regional Secretariat to support the implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professional (MRA-TP.) The secretariat will be based in Jakarta and will commence operations this year.

Signed by Asean Tourism Ministers in November 2012, MRA-TP was developed to facilitate mobility of tourism professionals in the region.

Dr Ong Hong Peng, secretary-general of Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Ministry, said the MRA-TP marked a significant milestone for tourism development in Asean.

“Moving forward, Malaysia, as chairman of the Asean Tourism Professional Monitoring Committee, will fully support and contribute towards the realisation of the objectives and targets of the Asean MRA-TP,” he said.

Source: The Nation

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The beauty of Vietman

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Vietnam 1

Astonishingly exotic and utterly compelling, Vietnam is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with an incredible heritage that quickly becomes addictive.

Sensory Overload

Unforgettable experiences are everywhere in Vietnam. There’s the sublime: gazing over a surreal seascape of limestone islands from the deck of a Chinese junk in Halong Bay. The ridiculous: taking 10 minutes just to cross the street through a tsunami of motorbikes in Hanoi. The inspirational: exploring the world’s most spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The comical: watching a moped loaded with honking pigs weave a wobbly route along a country lane. And the contemplative: witnessing a solitary grave in a cemetery of tens of thousands of war victims.

Vietnam 3

A Culinary Superpower

The Thais may grumble, but in Southeast Asia nothing really comes close: Vietnamese food is that good. Incredibly subtle in its flavors and outstanding in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is a fascinating draw for travelers – the dozens of cooking schools in Hoi An are testament to this. Geography plays a crucial role, with Chinese flavours influencing the soups of northern Vietnam, spices sparking up southern cuisine and myriad herbs and complex techniques typifying the central region, rightly renowned as Vietnam’s epicurean epicentre.

Meet the Locals

Vietnamese people are energetic, direct, sharp in commerce and resilient by nature. The locals love a laugh and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to socialize with them and hear their tales. Generally the rule is the more uncomfortable the (always tiny) seats in the bar or cafe, the more fun you’ll have. Poor in parts but never squalid, Vietnam is developing at an astonishing pace and inevitably there are some issues to consider (including some minor scams). However, on the whole this is an extremely safe (apart from the traffic!) and wonderfully rewarding country to explore.

Vietnam 2

Why I Love Vietnam

I know of few more driven, purposeful people on earth than the Vietnamese. Back in 1991 when I first arrived, the country was broke – one of the poorest on earth – but not broken. The streets were swept, the cuisine was outstanding and visitors (yes, even Americans) were welcomed. Over the years I’ve returned to enjoy the same simple pleasures: chatting with friends over a glass of bia hoi, soaking up the street scenes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, biking lonely mountain roads, and marveling at the locals’ sheer lust for life. And then I start planning a return trip.

Thrills & Chills

If you’ve got the bills, Vietnam’s got the thrills and chills. Some require a little physical effort, like motorbiking switchback after switchback up the jaw-dropping Hai Van Pass in central Vietnam. Others require even more sweat: kitesurfing the tropical oceanic waters off Mui Ne or hiking the evergreen hills around Bac Ha or Sapa. And when you’re done with all that adrenaline stuff, there’s plenty of horizontal ‘me’ time to relish. Vietnam has outstanding spas – from marble temples of treatments, to simple family run massage salons with backpacker-friendly rates.

Vietnam tour

Sourse: Lonelyplanet
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Vietnam tocht

How to make the most out of a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City, #Vietnam

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How to make the most out of a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon NotreDame Basilica

WHILE HANOI in the north is very proud of being Vietnam’s Capital, Ho Chi Minh City in the South is more than happy to be recognized as the unofficial capital of hedonism.

Nestled along Saigon River, the city that was once known as Prey Nokor, an important Khmer sea port before becoming Saigon, was renamed Ho Chi Minh after the revolution hero in 1976.

As full of energy as of contradictions, Ho Chi Minh City is a heady blend of French colonialism, American engagement and local orientations. Here you can slurp a bowl of pho noodles at a street stall before rubbing shoulders with beautiful Vietnamese party-animals at a rooftop bar or drink in the timeless beauty of the French colonial buildings before exploring Saigon’s coffee culture.

The independence war with the French and the Vietnam War have given birth to many well-known characters – both fictional and real. You can slip into the shoes of Nick Ut, the legendary AP photojournalist, and hit the streets with a camera or be Thomas Fowler, the British journalist in Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American” and plot your romance at the Hotel Continental. You can even become an undercover CIA agent and uncloak the city’s suspicious barbershop scene, where sexy ladies entice male customers with promises of a haircut.

In short, Ho Chi Minh City promises the visitor a sensational weekend. It has something for everyone. Here are our suggestions for a great break.

Ho Chi Minh City 3

FRIDAY

WRAP AND ROLL: NOON

Hidden along a small path off Mac Buoi Street, Quan An doesn’t look like the sort of place you’d want to spend your lunchtime assuming you can even find it behind the cluster of motorbikes, shoe-shine stalls and street hawkers. But once you’ve passed through the wooden gate, you will fall in love with its traditional beauty. The restaurant is noted for its exquisite presentation of traditional Vietnamese food, most of it served “wrap and roll” style. Try the roasted pork roll up with sticky rice, steamed snail stuffed with meat, clam soup, grilled shrimp on sugarcane and the spring rolls. The food is fresh and delicious.

FOUR WHEELS BAD, TWO WHEELS GOOD: 2PM

Billed as the capital of motorcycles, Ho Chi Minh City has more than four million bikes and another 1,500 are added each year. The Vietnamese believe they can carry everything and go everywhere on their mopeds. The bike is of course the fastest mode of travel around traffic-clogged Ho Chi Minh City and ideal for visitors wanting to get a sense of the place. Buffalo Tours can arrange both short and long rides around the city on a vintage scooter, allowing you to visit the sights and stop off for street food in between. Visit http://www.BuffaloTours.com.

INTO THE MADDING CROWD: 5PM

Nguyen Hue Street in District 1 is a pedestrian strip and a pleasant respite from Ho Chi Minh’s traffic. Off limits to both motorbikes and hawkers, it’s popular with kids on skateboards and Vietnamese of every age who enjoy the “dancing” fountains that perform a mini show every hour. At one end is the elegant colonial building of Ho Chi Minh City Hall and at the other, the river.

VIETNAMESE FUSION: 7PM

Easy walking distance from Nguyen Hue Street, Quan Bui restaurant is where local hipsters and expats dine. This stylish restaurant, with black and white prints on the walls and an impressive collection of pottery, serves delicious Vietnamese contemporary and fusion food prepared with organic and MSG-free ingredients. We particularly liked the seafood salad with pomelo and the fish dishes. Quan Bui also has a vegetarian menu. Visit http://Quan-Bui.com.

SATURDAY

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM: 9AM

Get up early and explore Ho Chi Minh’s food market, especially if it’s within walking distance of your hotel. Like most Southeast Asian markets, it’s bustling, atmospheric and noisy. Do be careful who and what you photograph though – I narrowly avoided getting whacked on the head while trying capture a lady fish vendor smacking a bloody snakefish. After admiring the fare, head to Nhu Lan – the roadside restaurant opposite Bitexco Financial Tower – and tuck into a breakfast of bhan mi – a Vietnamese baguette – washed down with sweet local coffee.

FRENCH CONNECTION: 10AM

When the French seized control of Saigon in the 19th century, they built the Rue Catinat and named it after a French warship. The two-kilometre-strip, now known as Dong Khoi Street, is home to a number of French colonial buildings, among them Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Gia Long Palace, the Municipal Theatre and the Hotel Continental. The street is also well known to Americans of a certain age as it was here, on April 29, 1975, one day before the fall of Saigon, that Dutch photographer Hubert van Es captured the very last scenes of the Vietnam War when the Americans ran to the rooftop of 22 Ly Tu Trong Street for the final evacuation. Forty years later, the building is still standing though it’s off limits to tourists.

COFFEE: 2PM

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 19th Century and the former tea drinkers took to it like ducks to water. So much so that the city is now famous for its coffee culture. Among the places to enjoy your java juice is The Workshop on Ngo Duc Ke Street. Located in an old building with a beautiful staircase, the café offers a view of the French colonial buildings through its glass wall.

WATER PUPPETS: 5PM

The water puppet is unique to Vietnamese show business, and this cute performance tells how the Vietnamese deal with water issues. Originating in the sodden rice paddies of the Red River Delta in North Vietnam, the most popular place to see a water puppet show in Ho Chi Minh is at The Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre. The show depicts the culture, traditions and folklore of Vietnamese life.

CLASSIC FRENCH ONION SOUP: 7PM

Opium, money and onion soup are interwoven on the corner of Hai Ba Trung street, home to an opium refinery back in colonial days. The colonial building is still here but the opium has long given way to hearty French cuisine at The Refinery restaurant. This fashionable bistro & wine bar is a favourite hangout with expats and its onion soup and free-range duck confit with rosemary apples and potato mash are the most popular dishes. The restaurant is opposite Park Hyatt Saigon.

TOP IT UP: 9PM UNTIL LATE

Ho Chi Minh City is more beautiful from the top when night falls. Journalists and CIA agents used to hang out on the rooftop of Rex Hotel during the Vietnam War and the Rex bar is still there, though probably more for the war junkie than the average tourist. Today Ho Chi Minh’s hipsters go Chill Sky Bar on top of AB Tower to flash their cash. The view is breathtaking. The city glows in the dark, as you repaint Ho Chi Minh’s skyline with vodka.

Ho Chi Minh City 2

SUNDAY

HO CHI MINH’S ART SCENE: 10AM

A number of heritage building have been converted into museums and it is here that you can learn about the city in times of war and peace. The Fine Arts Museum, on Pho Duc Chinh Street, has an impressive collection of art works – old and new – varying from Funan-era sculptures of Vishnu to modern paintings. Galerie Quynh Contemporary Art on Dong Khoi Street has a small collection of modern art that helps you explore the landscape of Vietnam’s art scene.

GAME OF BARGAINS: 2PM

Established in 1912 in true French colonial style, Ben Thanh Market is the “mother” of the city’s trading places. Slippers, iconic straw hats, meat, clothing, coffee beans and scorpion cocktails are among the goodies for sale. The vendors are energetic and the prices are higher than elsewhere so bargain vigorously.

Source: The Nation

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