‘The Cultures of Buddhist Asia—Japan, Laos, and Bhutan’ Named One of National Geographic Travelers’ Tours of a Lifetime

Three Faces of Buddha
“From the raked rock gardens of Kyoto to the temple architecture of Laos to the traditional paintings of Bhutan, explore how Buddhism informs three different cultures in this ambitious journey inspired by a longstanding interest of the operator’s founder. Highlights include an overnight in a shukubo (traditional Japanese temple lodgings) and a hike to the cliffside Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan. The outfitter has knocked off $400 from last year’s rate. Asia Transpacific Journeys: “The Cultures of Buddhist Asia—Japan, Laos, and Bhutan,” 17 days; $9,995.”

View the National Geographic Traveler article or visit our site for The Cultures of Buddhist Asia—Japan, Laos, and Bhutan Small Group Trip details.

New UNESCO World Heritage Site Named in China

It’s not on everyone’s must see list yet—but it will be. Spectacular, remote Sanqingshan National Park in China was recently designated a natural heritage site of exceptional significance by UNESCO on July 8, 2008. This area hosts dozens of peaks and 90 fantastically shaped granite pillars, many of which resemble human or animal silhouettes. There is also a 1,600-year-old Taoist temple complex, containing hundreds of priceless cultural relics.

• Sanqingshan National Park is located in China’s Jiangxi Province, within driving distance of Nanchang city.
• Domestic air routing is through Shanghai, with daily flights to Nanchang.
• Accommodations range from local style, very basic hostels to 3 and 4 star properties in Jindezhen and Nanchang.

We can arrange a visit to Sanqingshan National Park on a custom, private basis, as well as include other classic sites and hidden jewels known to the few that seem destined for fame.

In Laos and Vietnam, Tracing the Path of a Colonial Ancestor

The New York Times showcases Laos and Vietnam in their ‘Personal Journeys’ feature, by Thomas Fuller.

“The spring water that drips from massive slabs of rock on a hillside in southern Laos, high above the flood plains of the Mekong River, is a rarity in Asia today, so pristine and welcoming that you don’t hesitate to cup your hands and gulp it down.”

To read the entire New York Times article, visit NYTimes.com

To learn more about travel to Laos and Vietnam, we’re happy to answer any questions. We can customize a trip for two or suggest small group trips to Indochina, including Laos and Vietnam.

Celebrate The World’s Most Pristine Forests on Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to share an excerpt from a recent article from Travel + Leisure, The World’s Most Pristine Forests, featuring the best preserved forests in the world. We were asked to provide tips on how to best experience travel to these amazing ecosystems.

Kayan Mentarang National Park, Indonesia
“Kayan Mentarang, on the verdant island of Borneo, is one of the last remaining homes to the rhinoceros hornbill and strange primates like proboscis and leaf monkeys. The big draws for tourists (and poachers) are the adorably petite Sumatran rhino and the Borneo pygmy elephant.

How to Go: Asia Transpacific Journeys suggests a six-day itinerary beginning at the village of Long Layu. Local Dayak tribes still live in communal dwellings and guests do, too, as there is no accommodation in the park.”

Daintree National Park, Australia
“At 160 million years old, this UNESCO World Heritage–listed spot in Oz’s far northeast region is one of the oldest undisturbed forest ecosystems on earth. It’s also a birder’s paradise—more than 430 avian species live in the forest, including 13 found nowhere else on Earth. And it’s home to the weird and wonderful peppermint stick insect: colored like candy, the creature creates a peppermint aroma to ward off predators. The Maardja Boardwalk (an easy stroll even for a lethargic walker) displays the transition from freshwater rainforest to saltwater mangroves.

How to Go: Asia Transpacific Journeys guests stay at Daintree Eco Lodge, a luxury treehouse set high in the canopy.”

Client’s Trip to Bhutan Marks Travel To 307 Countries

One of our most well traveled clients, Ray Woods, is nearing his goal of completing travel to all 319 countries as designated by the Travelers’ Century Club (TCC). Membership in this exclusive club is limited to those travelers who have visited 100 or more countries in the world. Well past that goal, Ray’s recent trip to Bhutan with us marked his 307th country.

So far, only ten members have finished the list. However, the club is formed on more than the basis of checking countries off a list. It’s a social club uniting passionate travelers worldwide. In fact, back in 1960, the club officers selected the slogan “World Travel…the passport to peace through understanding.”

Congratulations Ray! Enjoy your final 12 destinations.

“Asia Transpacific Journeys has been outstandingly good….going to remote places in Asia. I have learned to trust them…also knowing that they deal with airline changes and other obstacles well.”
- Ray Woods

Giving Back – Myanmar

Many travelers like to include an activity whereby they can give back to the communities they visit. Some travelers find that this is a way to deepen their connection to the people and culture of the area. Following are some examples of philanthropic activities we have incorporated into our clients’ itineraries in Myanmar (Burma):

  • Sponsor the daily meal for young Buddhist monks at a temple. Buy the ingredients and help dish out the food to the hundred or so novice monks. A special blessing will be said on your behalf.
  • Visit Twante, a village near Yangon that was built with funds from Asia Transpacific Foundation, the non-profit charitable arm of Asia Transpacific Journeys. There they produce simple clay filters from affordable, indigenous materials. The filters are distributed and health rates soar, particularly among children.
  • Interact with the gifted musicians at Gitameit, a conservatory of music in Yangon that is devoted to teaching and nurturing young talent. The school supports many youngsters from remote villages, offering scholarships and the chance to study abroad.

Once in a Lifetime Trips

Asia Transpacific Journeys is featured in the new book Once in a Lifetime Trips: The World’s 50 Most Extraordinary and Memorable Travel Experiences by Chris Santella

In Once in a Lifetime Trips: The World’s 50 Most Extraordinary and Memorable Travel Experiences, Santella features fifty extraordinary vacations, each designed with a particular passionate pursuit in mind, from the most luxurious to incredible cultural trips.

Devising an off-the-beaten-path vacation can take tremendous research, since the most exciting trips are ones that few know about. Santella has done the detective work by canvassing experts (such as Town & Country‘s Pamela Fiore and Asia travel pioneer Marilyn Downing Staff of Asia Transpacific Journeys) to spark the reader’s imagination with some of their favorite trips—from visiting dinosaur excavation sites in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to an elephant-back safari in Botswana to a wildlife tour of Borneo.

About the Author: CHRIS SANTELLA writes regularly for the New York Times, Forbes Traveler, and has contributed to numerous other publications including The New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, and Golf.

The Travel Bug Has Bitten

Three of our staff depart this week for adventures abroad. We wish them safe travels and look forward to their return when they can share their experiences with us!

Company founder, Marilyn Downing Staff, leaves for Australia where she’ll explore the Great Ocean Road and other stunning sites while traveling from Sydney to Melbourne.

Donna Galland will be joining our guests on ‘Snorkeling Thailand and the Mergui Archipelago: the Undiscovered Waters of the Andaman Sea‘, a trip jointly ran with the World Wildlife Fund.

And Allison Shepley will do some research on expanding travel options in the Philippines for us.

Villagers in India Open Their Homes

The New York Times featured a great idea on travel in India, as reported by Jonathan Allen.

“I think visitors like going under and getting to know the people,” said Leena Nandan, joint secretary at the tourism ministry. “People are at the heart of this.”

“The jeep had disappeared around the bend, and all the villagers who had disembarked with me had shuffled off to their homes. Night was falling, the cicada buzz was rising, and I began to get that panicky feeling that the city-coddled might experience upon finding themselves suddenly alone on the roadside in a remote village in the lower Himalayas of West Bengal with no idea where to go.

Before my panic escalated, a young woman wearing a black jacket over a fluorescent-yellow salwar kameez appeared. She said her name was Pushpa, and told me to follow her…”

To read the entire article and view a slideshow, visit NYTimes.com

To learn more about travel to India, including options of homestays in India, visit our site.