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.

Aug 27, 2014

New Flights Between Vietnam and India

A reciprocal agreement between Vietnam Airlines and India’s Jet Airways will help to boost tourism and business travel between the two countries.

India’s Jet Airways codeshares on the Bangkok and Singapore to Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi sectors. Flights operated by Vietnam Airlines.

Vietnam Airlines codeshares on the Bangkok to Mumbai, Delhi, Singapore to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai routes,  all operated by Jet Airways.

Vietnam Airlines deputy director, Duong Tri Thanh, said the codeshare flights allow Indian passengers to fly through to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi via Singapore and Bangkok with seamless connections on the double designator flights.

The codeshare flights are the first connections between the two countries offering through travel.

Jet Airways senior vice president (commercial) Gaurang Shetty added: “We are delighted to announce a codeshare partnership with Vietnam Airlines as it will further strengthen the international reach of both airlines and provide increased benefits to all our guests.”

Vietnam Airlines operates 95 routes to 21 domestic and 29 international destinations with more than 300 daily flights.

It has a fleet of 82 modern aircraft mainly Boeing 777, Airbus A330, A321. It expects to expand its fleet with new Airbus A350XWB and Boeing 787-9.

Aug 25, 2014

Visa fees to Cambodia to be increased this October

Foreigners will pay more to enter Cambodia following a government decision to raise visa fees by USD10 starting in October.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, international tourists will have to pay USD30 for a one-month entry visa and business visitors USD35, up from the USD20 and USD25, respectively.

The new one-month e-visa fee will be USD37 (USD30 (plus USD7 on precessing fee) up from the current fee of USD27 (USD20 visa fee and USD7 procession fee).

The announcement was posted at http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/default.aspx.

Ministry of Tourism general director, Ith Chantha, told local media that the government believed the increase was small and not enough to cause a problem for tourism.

“The fees are still reasonable compared to most other countries where the fees are USD70, USD80, USD100…like Australia and the US,” he said.

However, Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said the move would put pressure on Cambodia’s tourism sector at a time when competition to attract visitors is heating up.

“The government should think more about promotion and creating attractive policies. Increasing the cost of a visa could be viewed as a negative.”

Tourism is one of the four major pillars supporting the Cambodian economy, accounting for an estimated 16% of the GDP.

For January to June this year, the country welcomed 2,201,368 international travellers improving 5.2% from 2,092,599 visits during the same period in 2013.

Cambodia is projected to receive 4.6 million international visitors this year, an expected rise of 10% from 4.2 million last year.

Aug 22, 2014

Official E-visa for Tourists by Myanmar from September

From September 1st, Myanmar will propose e-visa for tourists landing at Yangon International Airport. A welcome simplification as the rise in tourism could not be matched by consular agencies...

After a first short attempt in 2010 and the possibility to obtain a visa on arrival for people officially invited by the Government, Myanmar will offer from September 1st the possibility to get an online visa for tourists arriving exclusively at Yangon International Airport. The information was confirmed mid-August by Myanmar Ministry of Immigration and Population. Once the e-visa procedures for tourists start to run smoothly, authorities expect to extend the facility to business visas.

Tourists will need to file their application on the Ministry of Immigration and Population’s website. It will take approximately five open weekdays for the ministry to check out the visa application. Once it has been approved, the ministry will send an official confirmation that the traveler will have to proceed with their travel arrangement to the country.

Once at Yangon International Airport, the visitor will show the print letter of confirmation and have his visa issued. The cost of the e-visa is fixed at US$ 50. However, authorities will still have the right to refuse the entry despite the e-visa approval. The visa will have to be used within three months of approval and will be valid for 28 days. It will be available to all nationalities.

The simplification of visa procedure is likely to further boost total arrivals to the country. Myanmar expects to reach three million foreign arrivals this year and targets seven million of arrivals in 2020. Tourism revenues could reach this year over a billion dollars for the first time of the country's tourism history.

Aug 18, 2014

Myanmar To Build New Airport

Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation says it will choose either the South Korean Incheon Airport Consortium, or the Singapore-based Yongnam, CAPE, JGC Consortium to build the new Hanthawady International Airport.

According to aviation sources, other international tenders such as Japan-based TAI SAE Corporation and Franch VINCI Airport failed to revise their financing plans a condition for the final selection round.

The department’s director general, Tin Naing Tun, said Incheon Airport and Yongnam submitted renewed financial proposals.

“We are now reviewing their financial proposals. One of them will be choosen to build the new Hanthawady International Airport.”

After initial negotiations with the Incheon consortium failed in March, the DCA said the project could not be completed by 2016 as earlier anticipated. It reviewed tender conditions and called on short-listed companies to present revised financial proposals. It could result in the airport opening as late as 2020.

Myanmar has three international airports; Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. Yangon International Airport is regarded as the country’s main gateway, but is fast reaching its capacity ceiling.

The proposed new airport is located on a 9,000-acre (3,642-hectare) site about 48 miles (77 km) northeast of Yangon in Bago. Preliminary work on the Hanthawaddy airport began in March 1994 when land was cleared, but work stopped in early 2003 without any construction firm being appointed.

Hanthawaddy will be able to handle 10 million passengers a year once completed, but could grow to triple that size over  20 years.

With the new airport nowhere in sight, Yangon International Airport, will need to expand capacity from 2.7 million passengers a year to 3.5 million in 2015, and 6 million a year by 2019.

Aug 15, 2014

New Heritages Promoted in Myanmar

Hotels and Tourism Minister U Htay Aung has urged tour operators to sell trips to three ancient Pyu cities that were recently awarded World Heritage site status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The three ancient Pyu sites are: Sri Ksetra in Bago Region’s Pyay township; Hanlin in Sagaing Region’s Shwebo township; and Beikthano in Magwe Region’s Taungdwingyi township.

Those were recognised by UNESCO for their unique historical and cultural status on 22 June.

The cities, which date back to the period 200 BC to 900 AD, are the first sites in Myanmar to be inscribed on the UNESCO list.

Hotels and Tourism Minister U Htay Aung told local press that the new sites could help to boost tourism.
“I would appeal to travel agents, worldwide, to add them in to their trip plans for the coming season.”

Remains of the palace citadels, brick Buddhist stupas and burial grounds at the sites currently draw around 60,000 local and foreign visitors every year.

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.

Bagan’s 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.

However, the Pyu sites identified by UNESCO are far from ready to cater to international visitors. Some tour operators raised concerns about transportation and said there was not enough detailed information on what tourist-friendly infrastructures exists to allow them to make intelligent decisions on when and how to package the attractions in tour programmes.

Shan Yoma Travel and Tours managing director, U Hla Aye, said: “At the moment, I don’t know what road conditions are like on the route to Beikthano and Hanlin. We can’t just prepare the trips without knowing the situation in detail.”

He also suggested that the tourism ministry and industry bodies should assist tour operators to gain information on transport, itineraries and hotels, do’s and don’t’s in the region before the agents can prepare the trip plan.

Aug 7, 2014

Vietnam Visa Exemptions For More International Visitors

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism will propose more visa exemptions to the authorities for visitors from certain markets in North America, Europe, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia, while extending the visa-free duration for other markets to attract more foreign travelers to Vietnam.

The proposal was forwarded to VNAT after a meeting between representatives of local tourism and trade agencies, tour operators, transport companies, big hotels and the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) in Hanoi, 10 July.
At the meeting, experts said visa exemptions were limited and needed to be widened to include more countries to boost tourism.
The meeting noted that even the visa-on-arrival facility was complicated and required travelers to complete some advance paperwork to ensure it worked properly.
It is also likely that Vietnam will increase the visa-free stay from 15 to 30 days for citizens from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
VNAT has also urged the government to streamline visa-on-arrival procedures and introduce electronic visas.
Similar changes were also suggested by the Tourism Working Group under the Vietnam Business Forum at a mid-term dialogue between the government and the business community in Hanoi last month.
Vietnam already allows nationals of 17 countries to enter the country without a visa. The length of stay differs.
Citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan get a visa-free stay of up to 30 days. Citizens of the Philippines get 21 days. Citizens of Brunei and Myanmar get 14 days.
Citizens of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Japan, and South Korea get 15 days.
All travelers can visit Phu Quoc for 30 days without a visa, but they must, either enter through the island’s seaport, or through its airport after transiting through Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City’s international airports.

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.