Saturday 31 December 2011

11Days - CLASSIC OF VIETNAM


Classic of Vietnam is inspired by the many unique sights and flavors Vietnam has to offer. Your 11-days journey will take you from the North to the South of Vietnam visiting attractions across the country. Special features of this tour include an experience aboard to see one of the Eight Wonders of the World – Halong Bay; for those historically intrigued, this tour will take you to explore the ancient capital of Hue, ancient town of Hoi An and for the culturally inclined, and you will witness first hand life at the floating market in Mekong Delta.


Day 1: Singapore – Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi! You will be met at the airport for transfer to your hotel in Hanoi. The rest of the day is free. Renowned as the "Paris of the East", Hanoi is one of Asia's most fascinating cities. Rich in culture and history, this diverse city draws on its influences from both French and Chinese culture. Overnight in hotel, Hanoi.


Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (B)
In the morning, commence your exploration of Hanoi by visiting the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university dating to 1070. The excursion continues on to Ho Chi Minh's humble “stilt house” before visiting the French colonial Governor's Palace and the 11th century One-Pillar Pagoda. Then take a fascinating Cyclo ride to explore the bustling Old Quarter and the 36 “Guild streets”. The evening is free. Overnight in hotel, Hanoi.


Day 3: Hanoi — Halong Bay – Bhaya Cruise (B, L, D)
Depart Hanoi in the morning for the scenic three-hour drive through the countryside to Ha Long Bay, a natural wonder with thousands of islands rising out of the water, creating a unique and beautiful landscape. On arrival, embark on one of the Bhaya Classic vessels for an overnight cruise through the 3,000 limestone islands, many punctuated by caves and grottoes. Savor a delicious Vietnamese buffet lunch as Bhaya Classic heads to Bai Tu Long Bay passing the towns of Hon Gai and Cam Pha, Oan Lagoon, Mat Quy (Monster Head) and Am Tich (Teapot) Islets. Take a row boat to visit the Vung Vieng fishing village. Enjoy a range of fantastic recreation or relaxation activities onboard: a cooking demonstration, traditional massage, swimming, kayaking etc. Finish the day with a sumptuous set-menu dinner. Overnight onboard Bhaya Classic, Ha Long Bay.


Day 4: Halong Bay — Hanoi — Hue (Brunch)
Start the day with calming Tai Chi on the Sundeck while complimentary tea & coffee are served. Bhaya Classic weighs anchor to cruise through the Bay passing beautiful spots like Trong (Drum), Trinh Nu (Virgin) and Me Cung Caves, Coc Ngoi (Toad) Islet, etc. Explore the Surprise Cave (Sung Sot). A buffet brunch is served onboard. The vessel cruises leisurely back to Ha Long harbor. From Ha Long Bay, transfer to Hanoi airport for the short flight down to Hue. On arrival, you will be met at the airport for the transfer to your hotel. Overnight in hotel, Hue.


Day 5: Discover Hue, the Imperial City (B)

In the morning, take a boat ride along the romantic Perfume River. Stop off at the Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the river to see the 7-storey Stupa. The pagoda is also home to the old Austin car driven to Saigon by the Venerable Thich Quang Duc in 1963 for his self-immolation. Continue on to visit the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang (1791-1841), built between 1841 and 1843. The Emperor's mausoleum complex consists of 40 constructions (palaces, temples, pavilions etc.) designed on a symmetrical axis. In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel and Forbidden City, created in the 19th century for the Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Enjoy some “retail therapy” at Dong Ba Market before transferring back to the hotel. Overnight in hotel, Hue.


Day 6: Hue — Danang — Hoi An (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the mausoleum's of the Emperors Tu Duc (1829-1883) and Khai Dinh (1885-1925). On the way down to Danang, stop in for a refreshment break at Lang Co beach, one of the World‟s most beautiful bays. Afterwards, head to the World Cultural Heritage Site of Hoi An Ancient Town. Check-in to your hotel. Enjoy some free time on a walking tour through the narrow lanes of the town, lined with century-old buildings and illuminated at night by hundreds of colorful lanterns. Discover the traditional shop-houses and temples, and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge. Overnight in hotel, Hoi An.


Day 7: Hoi An — Free Time On The Beach (B)
Breakfast at hotel. Free day in Hoi An Ancient town. For something different, you can join in a fun cooking class, head to the nearby Cua Dai beach or observe local life on a sunset cruise on the peaceful Thu Bon River. Overnight in hotel, Hoi An.


Day 8: Hoi An — Danang — Saigon (B, D)
In the morning, transfer to Danang airport for the flight to Saigon, Vietnam's vibrant southern metropolis. In the afternoon, discover the city's most attractive sites, taking in the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office before ending the day with a visit to Chinatown. In the evening, enjoy our Highlight Dinner. Overnight in hotel, Saigon. 


Day 9: Saigon — Mekong Delta — Can Tho (B)

In the morning, travel overland into the beautiful countryside of the northeastern Mekong Delta and Vinh Long province. On arrival, take a boat ride to visit a local orchard and the famous Cai Be floating market. Approximately 400-500 boats loaded to the gunnels with fruit, vegetables and other local produce anchor or moor along the banks of the river every day waiting to offload their goods to wholesale traders or local customers. Everybody here buys, sells and barters their goods only from their boats. Leaving Cai Be, visit a local family producing coconut candy, a regional delicacy. Drive on to Can Tho, the hub of the Mekong Delta and its largest city. Overnight in hotel, Can Tho.


Day 10: Can Tho — Saigon (B)
After breakfast, cruise some of the narrow and picturesque canals and waterways by small boat. Visit the Cai Rang–Phong Dien floating market with its hordes of small vendor boats. Take in the sultry scenery and witness the daily activities of the locals who live along these Mekong canals. After lunch, drive back to Saigon. The rest of the day is free. Overnight in hotel, Saigon.


Day 11: Saigon – Singapore (B)
Breakfast at the hotel, leisure time until the airport transfer for the flight to Singapore.





Wednesday 28 December 2011

10D GERMANY, AUSTRIA & CZECH REP

(Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Dresden, Munich)


TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Salzburg: Mozart’s House, Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Fortress
Vienna: Schonbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna Opera House
Chesky Krumlov: Orientation tour
Prague: Old & New Town, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the famous Golden Lane and the Astronomical Clock.
Plzen: Plzen Brewery tour
Munich: Chic Village Outlet, Munich Stadium, Marienplatz, Triumphal Arch and Konigsplatz.



DAY 1: ASSEMBLE SINGAPORE CHANGI AIRPORT - MUNICH

DAY 2: ARRIVE MUNICH - SALZBURG
Upon arrival in Munich, capital city of Bavaria, proceed to Salzburg (UNESCO World Heritage Site) tour Mozart’s House, Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Fortress. In the evening, enjoy a Mozart Dinner Concert. (Lunch / Mozart Dinner Concert )

DAY 3: SALZBURG – VIENNA
Depart to Vienna for a sightseeing tour of the Schonbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral and Vienna Opera House. ( Breakfast / Dinner )

DAY 4: VIENNA – CESKY KRUMLOV - PRAGUE
Journey to the medieval town of Chesky Krumlov for an orientation tour admiring its architectural buildings. Proceed to Prague, the capital and largest city of Czech Republic. Enjoy a Folklore show with dinner for your night entertainment. (Breakfast / Dinner with Folklore show)

DAY 5: PRAGUE
Prague sightseeing includes the Old & New Town, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the famous Golden Lane and the Astronomical Clock. ( Breakfast )

DAY 6: PRAGUE – PLZEN – DRESDEN
Travel to Plzen for a tour of the Plzen Brewery and witness how beer is processed. Enjoy your lunch at the brewery restaurant before proceeding to Dresden for an orientation tour of the Cathedral, Semper Opera House and Zwinger Palace. ( Breakfast / Lunch at the Brewery )

DAY 7: DRESDEN – INGOLSTADT – MUNICH
Depart for Munich, enroute stop at Chic Village Outlet for shopping. In Munich tour the Munich Stadium, Marienplatz, Triumphal Arch and Konigsplatz. ( Breakfast / Dinner )

DAY 8: MUNICH
Day is free at leisure. Consider an optional tour to the Neuschwanstein Castle. ( Breakfast )

DAY 9: DEPART MUNICH
Bid farewell to Munich with fond memories of your holiday. ( Breakfast)

DAY 10: ARRIVE SINGAPORE

Tuesday 20 December 2011

South Korea - Fun, Ski & Snow Festival


Korea Tourism Organization

21 December 2011

In the recent years, the number of Southeast Asian tourists for the winter season has increased because of the snow covered mountains and the fun and thrills that are offered at the ski resorts in Korea. Hence there has also been an increase in packages and tours featuring ski resorts and winter activities.

The annual winter sports travel package sales events, "Fun, Ski & Snow Festival" and "GoGo Ski Festival," are here again this year, and are set to run from December 15th, 2011 to March 4th, 2012. The events, jointly held by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), Gangwon-do Provincial Government, Yongpyong Resort Ski & Snowboard and High1 Ski Resort, will be offering three-night, four-day travel packages filled with excitement and enjoyment in the snow. 


The main programs on the travel itinerary are skiing and snowboarding lessons from professional instructors as well as an amateur ski and snowboard competition. In addition, the Festivals will be presenting various performances and hands-on experience programs involving hanbok (traditional clothes) and Hallyu Star Photo Zone. 

The "Fun, Ski & Snow Festival" and "GoGo Ski Festival" have been hugely popular especially with international visitors from warmer regions. The Festivals are a great way to experience winter in Korea for both winter sports enthusiasts and first-timers.



For more information, contact:
Adeline Goh
Korea Tourism Organization
Email: singapore@knto.or.kr
Tel: 6533 0441/2

Sunday 18 December 2011

Gipsy On The Roads

Marie-France


"Born in Normandy, I am French and spent my childhood in a village with one dream: to discover the world. With the time my dream came true as I had the opportunity to travel in the near countries to learn languages. I must confess that it was more useful in this context than for anything else!!! From that moment, all my free time and all my money were kept to live my passion!" 
-  Marie-France Grenouillet  (Wildlife Photographer)

Monday 12 December 2011

Ho Chi Minh City - Where The Past Meets The New




The memories of conflict live on even while the city is flourishing

In the Vietnamese metropolis that was once known as Saigon but is now called Ho Chi Minh City, it is hard to ignore the motorcycles that occupy the streets. They clearly outnumber all other forms of vehicles and it is common for motorcycles to take two of three lanes on the road. All the same, there are seldom accidents or traffic jams as vehicles make way for each other. 


Similarly, Ho Chi Minh City has a mix of cultures. The eastern vitality of a rising city co-exists with the legacy of a former French colony. This can be seen in the wide streets, old buildings and the fact that baguettes are served during breakfast. Some of the buildings such as the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office retain the essence of the French colonial past.

The Notre Dame Cathedral with its ornate design and twin towers is an iconic spot and a popular backdrop for tourists posing for memorable snap shots. It is difficult to imagine a post office as a tourist attraction but the scenic exterior and attractive interior make the Central Post Office a draw for visitors. 

The Ben Thanh Market near the city centre is the place to look for all kinds of souvenirs and local products ranging from t-shirts, handicrafts, shoes, bags and costume jewellery. It is a shopping magnet for those in search of a good buy and the place is alive with the sound of people bargaining for a good deal. 

Not surprisingly, a number of attractions in Ho Chi Minh City are based on relics of the war that dominated the country’s recent history. 




The Reunification Palace, also known as the Independence Palace, has many rooms located over several floors with displays of art and furniture from the 1960s. There is a replica of a tank that crashed through the gates in 1975 which signalled the end of the war and brought about reunification of the south and north parts of Vietnam. 


Not far away is the War Remnants Museum, a building which houses memorabilia from the war such as tanks, planes, bombs and photographs of the conflict from the past.

Another landmark associated with the war is the Rex Hotel. It was the site where foreign journalists would gather for media updates. From the rooftop, there is a spectacular view of the city. 

Outside of the main city, one of the popular sites for visitors is the Cu Chi Tunnel, which is a network of underground chambers spanning about 250 kilometres toward the Cambodian border. The tunnels functioned as command centres, hospitals and storage for supplies during the war.

On the way back to Ho Chi Minh City, one can stop by the Tay Ninh Holy See, also known as Cao Dai Temple. There are nine levels to the temple, which characterize the nine steps to heaven. The altar has a globe with an eye signifying the all-seeing third eye. It is the spiritual centre of the Cao Dai religion that has many followers in the Indochina region.


Practical information:

Ho Chi Minh City is sunny from December to April and rainy from May to November but the year round temperatures range from 21 degrees to 34 degrees making it a suitable destination to visit all through the year. 

Friday 9 December 2011

Welcome to Bhutan – the Land of the Thunder Dragon – one of the most sought after travel destinations today.

Bhutan is a Unique Blend of the Old & New

The land of the thunder dragon kingdom is a trekker’s paradise and an environmentalist’s dream. With 72 percent of the country under forest cover, Bhutan’s pristine ecology is home to rare and endangered flora and fauna.

This spiritual land is the last bastion of the Vajrayana school of Mahayana Buddhism which provides the essence of a unique identity for the 750,000 people.


Bhutan is a unique blend of the old and new. Here is a country that is slowly opening up to the modern world in a fine balance with its ancient traditions. Those fortunate enough to visit Bhutan describe it as a unique, deeply spiritual and mystical experience. This kingdom is an adventure like no other.




PRACTICAL INFORMATION: 


Facts & Figures
Land area: 38,394 square kilometres
Forest area: 72.5 %
Altitude: between 240metres and 7541metres above sea level
Inhabitants: 634,982
Language: official language “Dzongkha”, English widely spoken
Religion: Vajrayana stream of Mahayana Buddhism (Also known as Tantric Buddhism)
Currency: Ngultrum (equal to Indian Rupee)
Capital: Thimphu
National Tree: Cypress
National Bird: Raven

National Flower: Blue Poppy


Check-list
Before coming to Bhutan, make sure that you attend to the following:
Travel/Medical Insurance? It is important that you get detailed information about the insurance scheme from your travel agents.

Money
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) that is at par with the Indian rupee. It is however recommended that you carry travelers’ cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollar instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including the capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.

Electricity
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. Our energy is clean and green energy generated by hydro power.

Communications
The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on to and send messages home and to your loved ones.  Also most hotels in Thimphu and Paro have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.

Gratuities
Tipping is a purely personal matter. We do not have any tradition of giving tips  and we clearly leave it up to you as to whether you want to give tips to your guides and drivers.

Customs
The following articles are exempt from duty:
(a) Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
(b) 1 litre of alcohol (spirits or wine)
(c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
(d) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
(e) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use

* You have to complete the passenger declaration form on your arrival before checking out. The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration form. If any such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities.

Import/export restrictions of the following goods is strictly prohibited:
(a) Arms, ammunitions and explosives
(b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
(c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
(d) Antiques
Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.

(Details provided by Tourism Council of Bhutan @ 2011)

Vivid memories of Vientiane

Colonial Relics, Temples, Markets & Museums Make A Trip To Vientiane Memorable

Article by www.natastravel.com (c) 2011