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

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Hiking in Asia: 10 Places With Stunning Trails

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Asia is home to breathtaking nature, lush vegetation, exotic cultures and delicious cuisines. One of the best ways to explore and discover the various destinations in Asia is on foot – by taking a hike. Some hikes in Asia offer hikers a chance to spot rare wildlife species and meet indigenous tribes living in charming villages along the way. In many of the trails listed below, the journey itself is the destination.

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1. Sapa, Vietnam

Travel the northern highland town of Sapa in Vietnam for breathtaking views of rice terraces and stunning mountain peaks with mists hovering over them. Sapa rests in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, close to the Tonkinese Alps at the Chinese borders. Sapa is an increasingly popular destination among hikers, all keen to experience the hillside treks which passes through lush landscapes and charming villages. The best time to visit is from March to May.

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2. Ladakh Range, India

India’s highest and largest district is the Ladakh Range. Comfortably nestled between two vast mountains (the Karakoram to the north and the Himalayas to the south), the Ladakh range has more sheep and yaks than monkeys and cows. In Ladakh Range, the culture of the people lean towards Tibetan rather than Indian. Travellers can take on trails in the Ladakh Range which ranges from easy (Ripchar Valley Trek and Lamayuru Alchi Trek) to difficult (Kang Yatse Trek, Hemis to Tsomoriri Trek). Some of the most gorgeous trails in the Ladakh Range are those that take hikers through the Zanskar range, such as the Lamayuru to Darcha Trek.

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3. Ratanakiri, Cambodia

Ratanakiri (Ban Lung), located in northeast Cambodia, is known for fantastic jungle trekking and hiking. It is also known as “dey krahorm” (red earth), as the area is covered in reddish dust during the dry season. Impressive hills, rivers and mountain ranges grace Ratanakiri, and the area is dotted with crater lakes and waterfalls.

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4. The Snowman Trek, Bhutan

Bhutan’s Snowman Trek covers over 200 miles, crossing 11 passes over 16,000 feet. To undertake the Snowman Trek, which takes about 25 days to complete, it is compulsory to be part of a guided tour. Each year, only a handful of people challenge themselves to take on this hike. The trail passes through Laya, home of the indigenous Layap people. Guides usually drop by the Thanza village to exchange horses for yaks, which are used to traverse difficult terrains. The highlights of this trail include the sceneries of remote valleys, visiting Buddhist monasteries, experiencing Bhutan’s authentic culture and spotting interesting wildlife such as the Himalayan blue sheep. Timing is essential for this trek, and it is best to go in April to avoid the snow and rain that closes the high passes. The Snowman Trek is ideal for the hardcore hikers.

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5. Maluan Mountain, China

The trail that leads up to Maluan Mountain is easy and safe, and it passes through clear streams, verdant woods, and captivating waterfalls. It is no surprise that this trail is popular among hiking enthusiasts. Mount Maulan is also known for its plum blossoms in red, white and sea blue, which can be seen in January from the Plum Blossom Pavilion.

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6. Gunung Tahan, Malaysia

To have a taste of the jungle, climb one of the most challenging mountains in Malaysia, Gunung Tahan. Tigers, elephants, leopards and the Sumatran rhino will greet hikers in this 130 million years old virgin rainforest, located in Taman Negara in the state of Pahang. The most scenic route is the Kuala Tahan classic train, which usually takes about seven days. Just be warned: this trek requires you to be mentally and physically fit.

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7. Mount Everest, Nepal

Climbing Everest is the dream of many mountaineers, but for those who are not capable of undertaking that intense, arduous and potentially-fatal journey, just hiking to the Everest Base Camp will do. Hikers heading to the Everest Base Camp can drop by museums and monasteries, enjoy amazing views and also experience the Sherpa culture. The warmth of Nepalese hospitality and breathtaking scenery makes the Everest Base Camp Trek an amazing trip, one that is possible even for those with average fitness.

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8. Annapurna Mountain Range, Nepal

The lofty peaks of the Annapurna are only for the trained and determined, and one of the best trails in the Annapurna Mountain Range is the famous Annapurna Circuit. This horseshoe-shaped route that runs for more than 200 kilometre is considered one of the best hikes in the world. Completing this rather challenging trek will take between 15 to 20 days. Rugged trails, sacred pilgrimage sites, exotic wildlife and awesome views of nature’s bounty will make your trip a memorable one.

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9. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage, Tibet

Mount Kailash stands out as a holy site to Buddhists, Jains, the Ayyavazhi branch of Hinduism, and the ancient Bon religion of Tibet. However, it is not often visited due to the mountain’s remote location in far western Tibet. Some religions regarded Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru – the center and birthplace of the entire world. Myths and legends surround Mount Kailash, such as the Hindu belief that the place is the abode of god Shiva. Transportation to Mount Kailash via rugged over-land vehicles can be booked through various tour companies. Once you get there, hiking the 50 kilometres around it alongside pilgrims is the ritual to complete. Do note that the weather there can be always harsh and trekkers and pilgrims must carry all the supplies and provisions they need for the entire trip. April through September is the best months for this trek.

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10. Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal

The Great Himalaya Trail covers over 4500 kilometres and it connects the highest routes across the Himalaya with existing trekking trails and pilgrimage paths. The trail can be completed in a whopping four to six months if the weather permits. The challenging part of the Great Himalaya Trail is during the ascents and descents of the high passes, including Sherpani Pass (20,128 feet), West Col (20,154 feet), and Amphu Laptsa Pass (19,193 feet) sandwiched between Everest and Makalu. Wildlife such as the endangered snow leopard, yaks, red pandas and herds of blue sheep can be spotted along the trails, and there are also monasteries, tea houses and guest huts along the way.

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Source: Tripzilla Magazine
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Lombok Island – Surf, sand, sun, sea and solitude

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Lombok Island is gradually joining its more prosperous neighbour Bali in the global spotlight.

For decades overshadowed by its neighbour to the West, the Indonesian island of Lombok is today gaining favour with holidaymakers wanting something a little less commercial than Bali.

The four bikini-clad Americans taking in the sun at Kuta beach are among them. Jessica, a lithe blonde, says she wants to see the sunset.

In the world’s largest archipelago, Bali was the only Indonesian island included on a list of the top 30 islands in the world by US-based Conde Nast Traveler magazine in October 2015. It ranked 17th, far behind Palawan Island of the Philippines, which earned first place.

“Lombok deserves to be included on the list. Now it is heading that way,” says Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) Culture and Tourism Agency head Lalu Faozal.

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Surrounded by 35 smaller islands, the 4,514-square-kilometre Lombok is flanked by Bali to the west and Sumbawa Island, NTB, to the east.

Like Bali, Lombok provides hospitality, serenity, rich culture and beautiful natural features.

Unlike Bali though, it never feels overcrowded.

Kuta is among the many breathtaking spots for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, snorkelling and diving on Lombok and its smaller islands, or gili as they are called in the local Sasak language.

Off the northwest coast of Lombok, the Gili Islands comprise three exotic islets: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. All have crystal-clear waters, rich biodiversity, enchanting coral reefs and beautiful sea creatures.

Visitors can reach the Gili islets by using the services provided by one of the 370 travel agencies in NTB.

The Komodo Dragon Backpacker Cruise, for example, offers a four-day boat trip for 2.5 million rupiah (Bt6,500) to visit the Gili islets and other tourist attractions. The boat, 25 metres in length and 4.5 metres wide, can accommodate up to 35 people.

Other agencies not only offer trips, but also provide surfing, snorkelling and diving courses.

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Faozal advises tourists to climb the 3,726-metre Rinjani Mountain, the highest of the seven mountains on Lombok, to admire the astonishing views.

“The mountaintop is home to the beautiful Lake Segara Anak,” he says.

Besides natural tourist attractions, Lombok is also rich with cultural events, such as the annual celebration of Bau Nyale, adds Central Lombok Tourism and Culture Agency head Lalu Putria.

Local people celebrate Bau Nyale on the 20th day of the 10th month of Sasak calendar. They go to sea to search for the colourful nyale (sea worms) that they believe to be the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika.

According to legend, Mandalika was a pretty princess of the Tanjung Bitu Kingdom that existed on Lombok a long time ago. Due to her good behaviour, many princes from other kingdoms were in love with her. Mandalika thought that if she chose one of the princes, wars would break out because the others would feel jealous and disappointed and they would fight against each other.

She then asked the princes and people to meet her at the Kuta Beach. She stood on a reef, telling them that she chose no one. Afterwards, she threw herself into the sea, The princes and local people tried to save her, but they found thousands of colourful sea worms floating on the sea instead of the princess’ body. They believed that the worms were her reincarnation.

“She jumped because she did not want people to become victims due to her choice. She showed us heroic values as she sacrificed herself for the interest of the people,” Putria says, adding that the locals consume nyale because they believe they would make women look ageless and boost the sexual vitality of men.

NTB hosts different festivals to bring in tourists. Last August to September, it hosted the first Lombok Sumbawa Cultural Month to boost tourism on Lombok and Sumbawa islands by exploring and developing the potential of arts and culture through various exhibitions and cultural events. The Pearl Festival, involving the producers of pearls with international standard quality, was among the highlights.

Faozal is optimistic that the number of tourists will reach two million in 2016, up by about 25 per cent from last year’s 1.6 million. Out of those 1.6 million, 752,306 were from overseas.

Besides the three airports, hotels and restaurants in the province are ready to welcome the tourists, he said.

The province has 925 hotels, consisting of 50 five-star hotels and 875 jasmine-class hotels along with 1,378 restaurants.

Faozal believes that the target of 2 million tourists could be realised because Bali, which was visited by 3.4 million tourists last year, has committed to encourage its tourists to visit NTB.

“The beauty of Lombok is complete. It ranges from the tops of the mountains to the bottom of the sea. Our rich culture will also attract tourists,” he says confidently.

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Prayers across Asean borders to welcome new year

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Prayer 1

CROSS-BORDER prayer ceremonies

Dubbed “Asean prayers”, the campaign aims to boost Thailand’s ties with neighbouring countries through friendly exchanges via the religious dimension, Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanarat said yesterday. This is the first time the Religious Affairs Department has extended this New Year activity to the border provinces of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Tak, Loei, Nong Khai, Bung Kan, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Sa Kaew, Surin, Ranong and Songkhla, he said.

In Central Thailand, traditional prayers will be held on New Year’s Eve at several renowned temples, including Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangalaram (Wat Pho), Wat Sraket Rajavaramahavihara (Golden Mount) and Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, he added.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Pol General Dechnarong Suticharnbancha yesterday inspected police and related officials’ preparedness at four key New Year countdown venues in Bangkok.

He said some 4,000 policemen would be deployed to provide security at the most popular countdown site in Bangkok, the CentralWorld Plaza, where some 200,000 partygoers are expected to show up. Early on New Year’s Eve, the area will be cleared of roadside stalls, and before midnight a bomb squad will be on hand to provide security.

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About 10,000 city law enforcers and police will be patrolling 11 sites across Bangkok and manning 18 metal-detector entrance points, he added.

Eye on road accidents

The beginning of the so-called “seven dangerous days” of road accidents yesterday saw Interior Ministry permanent secretary Krissada Boonrat preside over the opening of a Road Safety Centre at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. The centre will monitor road accidents and provide daily updates until January 5.

Public opinion is being sought over the policy of police and the Peace and Order Maintaining Command to temporarily seize cars and motorcycles from drunk drivers, which has been operating since Christmas Day.

A Suan Dusit Poll said yesterday that 80.47 per cent of 1,280 people surveyed from December 24 to 28 agreed with the measure on grounds that it would prevent road accidents, serve as a punishment and as a warning to motorists to abide by traffic laws. About 13 per cent disagreed with the policy, and suggested that fines and prison sentences be imposed, and alcohol-beverage selling outlets be dealt with as the root of the problem.

In the Northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, a provincial transport office added another 100 bus trips to its 300-strong daily service yesterday and today, to serve an expected 20,000 holidaymakers. It also conducted alcohol breathalyser tests on bus drivers and checked their buses. Traffic volume on Mitraparp Highway heading towards Nakhon Ratchasima also rose yesterday, but cars were moving at an average speed of 70 to 80 kilometres per hour.

Source: The Nation.com

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Cheapest hotels can be found in Southeast Asia

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Would you like to save up money for fun activities during your journey? Consider Southeast Asian cities as your holiday destination. In the big cities of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam namely European travelers paid the least for an overnight stay.

For example, the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh (€ 41) at number one, followed by the Thai mountain village Chiang Mai (€ 43) and the popular Thai beach town of Pattaya (€ 45). In the top 10 are the first seven places occupied by the usually bustling Southeast Asian hotel city’s.

A third of the Amsterdam hotel prices

In Amsterdam paid European travelers in the first half of 2015. € 151 for a hotel stay. This is more than three times as much as in Phnom Penh.

Top 10 cities where European travelers in the first half of 2015 paid on average the least * for a hotel stay.

1/ Phnom Penh, Cambodia € 41
2/ Chiang Mai, Thailand € 43
3/ Pattaya, Thailand € 45
4/ Siem Reap, Cambodia € 47
5/ Hanoi, Vietnam € 47 / € 40
6/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam € 57
7/ Bangkok, Thailand € 63
8/ Goa, India € 65
9/ Krabi, Thailand € 67
10/ Kiev, Oekraïne € 70

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Four Seasons Resort, Koh Samui

Experience World-class Service at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui 

Four Seasons Resort 1

Surrounded by tropical grounds, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is situated on the island’s northwest tip, a quiet oasis on Laem Yai Bay. Windsurfing, golf and a spa are featured.

Four Seasons Resort 2

Each room is equipped with a private infinity pool, private bar and iPod dock. Guests can enjoy views of the grounds or Gulf of Siam on the outdoor day bed. The bathroom’s glass doors open onto the private deck for an open-air bathing experience.

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Chilled towels are offered at Koh Samui Four Seasons’ beachside infinity pool. Guests can recharge with a game of tennis, a variety of beach sports or a workout at the fitness center. A large book and DVD library is provided.

Four Seasons Resort 4

The hotel’s SIAMSEAS cruising boat offers access to Marine National Park and a variety of other locations. The resort is about a 30-minute drive from both Big Buddha and Koh Samui International Airport.

Four Seasons Resort 5

The Four Seasons’ restaurant serves fresh local seafood seasoned with exotic herbs from nearby grounds. Both Thai and international cuisine are offered. The Beach Bar serves a variety of tropical cocktails.

Four Seasons Resort 6

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The Philippines best Beaches and Islands

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Life is a beach! So I can’t miss making a page about the best and top 10 most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. With over 7,107 islands, our country is rich in gem and natural resources and every isle stretches not only thousands of gems but also a magnificent feeling of tranquility, beauty, pride and treasure. It’s not only more fun in the Philippines. This is the place closest to heaven and paradise. See our blue and pristine beaches with white powdery sand as white and gorgeous as the clouds.

I came up with ten on my list although there are thousands of beautiful beaches here and islands too. I also added ‘how to get there’ as a bonus because we love bonuses here. Please leave your list by simply commenting. Here we go, the best beaches in the Philippines to visit.

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The ‘blessed island’ as a local claimed it to be. I have proven that myself because the moment I visited the island, more blessings have come my way. Just visit the beautiful groto where Mama Mary hails above the rocks in the blue pristine waters along Station 1. Boracay Island has been awarded by Yahoo and TripAdvisor as one of the Best Beach in the World so many times already. It is also ranked in the top of different beach and most beautiful hot spots in the world online and offline. It is so famous around the world. Peak season is everyday now. Tourists like Americans, Germans, Europeans, Italians, Koreans, Australians and many more come back here again and again.

Philippines beaches 6

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