Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Van Don district

Mt.Phousi, Luang Prabang, Laos

The Phousi Mountain (Luang Prabang)

The Phousi Mountain is situated in the centre of Luang Prabangs. To climb up the mountain can be hard but it is definitely worth the trip. There is a formidable view from the top of the mountain where you can see "The Royal Palace", and the surrounding rivers and villages.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma

Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma

The Shwedagon Pagoda officially titled Shwedagon Zedi Daw, also known in English as the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda, is a 99 metres gilded pagoda and stupa located in Yangon, Burma.

Thien Mu pagoda

Thien Mu pagoda, Vietnam

Thien Mu Pagoda is a historic temple in the city of Huế in Vietnam. Its pagoda has seven storeys and is the tallest in Vietnam.

Jul 22, 2014

More International Flights from Phu Quoc by Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam Airlines will open two new routes connecting Phu Quoc International Airport in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang with Singapore and Cambodia’s Siem Reap effective 1 November.

The airline will operate two flights a week using an A321 aircraft on the Phu Quoc – Singapore route and three flights a week using an ATR72 on the Phu Quoc-Siem Reap route.

The new routes should boost Kien Giang province’s attractiveness for investors who are studying the potential of this up-coming destination.

In 2013, Phu Quoc airport served nearly 700,000 passengers, up 39% from the previous year.

For the first half of this year, the airport catered to around 450,000 passengers increasing 34.1%.

Vietnam Airlines, founded in 1956 under the name Vietnam Civil Aviation, became a state enterprise in April 1989. The airline is headquartered in Long Bien district, Hanoi, with hubs at Noi Bai International Airport and Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

It flies to 52 destinations in 17 countries, excluding codeshared services.

Jul 7, 2014

Trang An Awarded New World Heritage Site

The Trang An Tourism Complex in Vietnam’s northern Ninh Binh province has been declared a World Culture and Nature Heritage site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

It is the first heritage site in the country that combines both natural and cultural aspects required by UNESCO.

The recognition was announced at a meeting of the Heritage Committee of the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Doha, Qatar.

The Trang An Tourism Complex consists of three adjacent areas. These consist of the cultural area, the ancient capital of Hoa Lu (under three shortlived dynasties – Dinh, early Le and early Ly between 968 and 1009).

The natural aspects are the limestone peaks, streams and caves at Trang An, Tam Coc and Bich Dong and Hoa Lu.

Then there is the primeval forest. The whole complex covers 4,000 ha – and a buffer zone of beautiful green paddy fields.

Situated on the southern shore of the Red River Delta, Trang An is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, some of which are submerged, and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs.

Exploration of some of the highest altitude caves that are dotted across the landscape has revealed archaeological traces of human activity dating back almost 30,000 years. They illustrate the occupation of these mountains by hunter-gatherers and how they adapted to climatic and environmental changes.

Vietnam now has eight World Heritage sites: Halong Bay (Quang Ninh province); Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (Quang Binh province); Hue Complex of Monuments (Thua Thien Hue province); Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary (Quang Nam province); Thang Long Imperial Citadel (Hanoi) and Ho Citadel (Thanh Hoa province).

The newly recognised Trang An complex meets UNESCO’s three criteria for possessing cultural, aesthetic and geographical values.

8th Laos - Vietnam International Checkpoint Opened

Lalay International Checkpoint was officially opened in early July 2014 to boost trade and tourism between Laos and Vietnam.

It is the eighth checkpoint between Laos and Vietnam and is located between Saravane province in Laos and Quang Tri province in Vietnam.

Officials said it should help to develop “a border of peace, friendship, stability and cooperation,” but for local residents the emphasis will be on whether they can trade and improve their earnings.

Laos Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told local media that two countries will continue to expand common border checkpoints to help people in the areas enjoy prosperity and improvements in their livelihood.

The Lalay international checkpoint is the first linking Saravane province with Vietnam.

There are currently 25 international checkpoints across the country, of which eight are located along the border with Vietnam, two on the border with China, one with Cambodia, 10 with Thailand as well as four airports with international status.

The Lalay checkpoint links with highway 15 A at the Laos-Vietnam border. It connects with Road 15 B.
These two roads have potential to feed traffic to the border checkpoint in Lakhonpheng district that has been identified as a site for a Mekong River bridge connecting Saravane to Amnatcharoen in Thailand.

Lalay international checkpoint is also part of the East-West economic corridor that links Myanmar to Vietnam crossing Thailand and Laos.

Jun 26, 2014

New World Heritage comes to Myanmar

Myanmar welcomed the designation of its ancient Pyu kingdom cities as a UNESCO world heritage site, marking its first entry onto the UN cultural agency’s prized list.

An annual World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha on Sunday granted endangered status to the remains of the cities of Hanlin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra in the country’s Irrawaddy basin.

“We are happy. We all worked hard to make this happen for a long time,” Daw Me Me Khaing, director of the archaeology department at Myanmar’s culture ministry, told AFP.

Inclusion on the list has significant economic implications as a World Heritage Site is eligible for financial assistance toward preservation, while the status is a powerful draw for tourists.

Remains of the palace citadels, brick Buddhist stupas and burial grounds at the site currently draw around 60,000 local and foreign visitors every year, according to Daw Me Me Khaing, who hopes the new status will bring many more.

“We will have a better situation for our heritage sites as we gain experience from this,” she said.

Officials are now campaigning for Myanmar’s better-known ancient city of Bagan, home to a sprawling complex of Buddhist temples, to join the Pyu cities on the UNESCO list, she added.

The temples, some of which are around 1,000 years old, are one of the country’s most treasured religious sites and a top attraction for foreign tourists flocking to Myanmar as it emerges from decades of military rule.
But experts have previously warned that haphazard renovation work on some of the temples has irreversibly damaged the landscape, which could threaten Bagan’s chances of winning World Heritage status.

The brick, walled and moated cities at Pyu reflect the Pyu kingdoms that flourished for over 1,000 years between 200 B.C. and 900 A.D., according to UNESCO.

“These ancient cities built along the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) Valley belong to the Pyu, a people speaking a language closely related to Myanmar and now extinct,” UNESCO said in a statement.

The Paris-based Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) oversees the system of granting coveted World Heritage Site status to important cultural and natural sites.

Obtaining the status for sites is a point of pride for many nations and can boost tourism, but it comes with strict conservation rules.

Other sites given the status this year include a French cave that is home to the world’s earliest known figurative drawings, and ancient terraces in the West Bank that are under threat from the Israeli separation barrier.

Jun 6, 2014

New bus services to Laos by Nok Air

Nok Air will launch a twice daily fly/ride service from Bangkok to Chiang Khong, via Chiang Rai, effective 29 May.

Adding a bus service from Chiang Rai airport to Chiang Khong will help travellers who need to get to the border with Laos as quickly as possible. The distance is about 100 km from the airport to the friendship bridge at Chiang Khong that connects to Huay Xai in Lao PDR.

Most travellers stay overnight in Chiang Khong and then board a boat, early morning,  for the downstream trip to Pak Beng and Luang Prabang. The boats leave from Huay Xai on the Lao side of the Mekong River. Foreigners cross the river at the international checkpoint on the friendship bridge.

The Fly ‘n’ Ride service combines a flight ex- Bangkok (Don Mueang) to Chiang Rai Airport that connects with a bus service to Chiang Khong. Based on the cheapest Nok Air fares to Chiang Rai the bus fare component is around Bt200.

There are regular buses between Chiang Rai bus station in the town centre and Chiang Khong. The non air-conditioned ride costs about Bt80 and take around two hours. It is important to board the right bus as there are two different routes to Chiang Khong. The shortest is via Phaya Mengrai. The longer one via Thoen.

Fly/ride schedule

*Operates from 29 May 2014 onwards
*Coach Service operated by ChiangKhong Teak Garden Hotel
ChiangKhong Teak Garden Hotel
666 Saiklang rd. Moo 8 Wiang Chiang Khong, Chang Rai, Chiang Rai, Thailand 57140. Tel 053 7920 089.

The fly/ride service costs Bt1,462.15 one-way.

May 27, 2014

Domestic Terminal of Yangon International Airport to be upgrade

Myanmar has approved the plan to upgrade the domestic terminal at Yangon International Airport, to boost capacity from 2.7 million passengers to 6 million a year.

According to the Department for Civil Aviation, the government’s economic committee, chaired by President Thein Sein, recently approved the upgrade of Yangon International Airport. The economic committee has representatives from 15 ministries. Department for Civil Aviation general director, Tin Naing Tun, said the department has received the economic committee’s approval for the upgrade. 

According to the upgrade plan, the domestic terminal will be demolished and replaced by a new terminal in 18 months. Meanwhile, the airport’s VIP hall will be used as a domestic terminal during the construction period. The international terminal will remain unchanged. Pioneer Aerodrome Services, a subsidiary of Myanmar’s conglomerate Asia World, was selected for the upgrade. 

Yangon International Airport is the main international gateway, although Mandalay has seen a big increase in airline traffic. International arrivals increased from 1.6 million tourists in 2009 to 3.08 million tourists in 2012, according Yangon airport data. The international terminal opened in May 2007 and handles 1.4 million passengers, while the domestic terminal handled 1.3 million passengers last year. To help ease the congestion at this airport, Myanmar is also planning to build a new international airport in Hantharwady, which is expected to start operations in 2017. The Hantharwady International Airport will be located at Bago is 80 km from Yangon.

This will provide an easier access for tourists to travel within Myanmar and avoid the overloading situation in the high travel season.

May 13, 2014

Myanmar to upgrade domestic airports

Department of Civil Aviation says it will issue a tender in the last quarter of this year to invite local and foreign companies to invest in 39 underdeveloped domestic airports.

The Irrawaddy oneline newspaper first reported on the proposed tenders,  in November, last year, saying the DCA had called on companies to register their interest and proposals to rebuild and improve 30 of Myanmar’s 69 domestic airports.

The process, which was completed last January, was not a formal bidding process, but served to inform the government agency of the interest and plans of potential airport developers.

DCA general director Tin Naing Tun, was quoted as saying that many companies had registered their interest, but they were mostly local companies.

“Some companies are proposing that they can upgrade all domestic airports… but they should only indicate the specific airports that they will actually upgrade,” he said.

DCA confirmed, Wednesday, it will now issue a formal tender inviting companies to bid for contracts to develop the 39 airports some time “after the rainy season,” in October.

“We will hold more discussions and allow companies to make bids on the tender later this year,” he said.
Earlier, the DCA hoped to attract international corporations as partners to fast track improvements and give the country a top quality network of airports.

At that level, the response has not been promising. Very few international companies will make a commitment to take on an entire network when only a few airports are considered profitable.

According to the department, the government currently spends about US$12 million annually to maintain 69 domestic airports.

The government hopes the plan to outsource airports will help develop the country’s aviation industry and airport capacity. Air safety has become a particular concern after a number of accidents occurred at local airports in 2012 and 2013.

The country’s aviation industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, as estimates suggest foreign tourist arrivals will rise dramatically from 4.2 million in 2013 to 30 million in 2030. (Tourism master plan forecasts).
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May 8, 2014

Aviation expansion in Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently approved a civil aviation strategy that indicates the country will need to increase commercial aircraft registered in the country to 250 by 2030.

According to the plan, it calls for airlines to substantially increase air transport to traditional markets in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and China.

The strategy identifies other key areas for expansion such as South Asia, East Europe and the former Soviet Union.

To succeed it will have to convince local airlines to invest in more aircraft, while the government will need to put in place incentives for airport developers and ensure airport fees are competitive to encourage foreign airlines to add more services to give better connectivity to support economic growth.

The first step is to raise the number of aircraft serving the country to 210 by 2020, almost double the aircraft count today. By 2030 the fleet should reach 250.

To fulfill the set targets, the aviation sector will continue to invest heavily and upgrade infrastructure such as terminals and parking lots to improve the efficiency and enlarge aviation ports.

Priorities will be given to expanding and upgrading international airports such as Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai, Cat Bi, Phu Bai, Danang and Cam Ranh and completion of the first phase of Long Thanh international airport.

Moreover, there are plans to turn Chu Lai International airport into a cargo transit centre to serve Southeast Asia and China’s southern region.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast that by 2014 Vietnam would become the world’s third-fastest growing market for international passengers and freight after China and Brazil.

It predicts passenger traffic through the country will reach 34 to 36 million by 2015.
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Apr 23, 2014

Mekong Delta supports increasing tourism

Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sports will set up a Tourism Coordinating Office to support Mekong Delta tourism cooperation and increase tourism to the region.

Vice Minister Ho Anh Tuan told local media that the administration will implement the programme to create specific tourism products for the region.

“Tourism has not been managed professionally in the region. There is a severe shortage of employees and no agencies to coordinate activities.”

Communities in the Mekong Delta need to forge closer links among themselves to develop regional tourism products and services.

Critics suggested that communities should focus on promoting ecotourism in Cham Chim National Park, Lang Sen Wetland Reserve, Ca Mau mangrove swamp and Phu Quoc island district.

In addition, village tourism should be developed in Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Vinh Long and Hau Giang provinces and CanTho city, while spiritual and cultural tourism should be the focus in An Giang, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s Hotel Department deputy head, Vu Van Thanh, said there was a need to develop home stay tourism, but communities would need to take the lead.

In 2013, the region welcomed 1.5 million international tourists.
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Apr 21, 2014

New air service to Singapore by Vietjetair

VietJet Air will launch a daily service from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore starting 23 May.

According to the airline, it will offer 2,520 seats a week to meet a steady increase in travel demand.

The flight from the Tan Son Nhat International airport will depart at 0850 and arrive in Singapore at 1140. 

The arrival time in Changi Airport will allow passengers to connect with services to other ASEAN countries particularly Indonesia.

The return flight from the Changi International airport will depart at 1240 and arrive HCMC at 1330. All are local times.

Vietjet Air business development director, Desmond Lin, said the upcoming route will be its second international service after the airline introduced flights to Bangkok last year.

The airline currently operates more than 600 flights a week on 23 domestic and international routes, using a fleet of 11 leased A320s.

The airline has ambitions to fly to more domestic destinations and expand its operations to several regional countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Launched in 2011, the budget carrier recently finalised an order with Airbus to purchase and lease 100 aircraft with a total contract value of US$9.1 billion.

In 2013, it transported more than 4.3 million passengers, accounting for about 26% of the domestic market share.

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