Postcard From Our Traveler: Loving our trip to Laos

La Residence Phou Vao

 

Just wanted to let you know we are having a fabulous time so far in Laos. Our national guide is absolutely delightful, knowledgeable, and a real pleasure to travel with. Our local guide today was also outstanding. It was fascinating to walk through the different ethnic villages and talk with local people.

We loved La Residence Phou Vao.  It is spectacular. And we are enjoying Muang La Resort.

But I mostly wanted to thank you for arranging the command performance at the National Ballet Theater. Wow!!!  We so enjoyed the production which ran 90 minutes.  The main ballet was a representation of a Lao story that we happened to discuss at length the day before with Pon, as it was captured in a mural on a wall at Wat Xieng Thong.

Suffice to say that your careful attention to detail have been most
appreciated.

Thank you!
– Susan

Susan and Lawrence embarked on a custom Asia trip, discovering: Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos. Their custom itinerary was planned by Asia Travel Specialist, Eric Kareus. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Postcard From Our Traveler: Our Trip of a Lifetime

Travel to Asia

Our trip has been incredible!  We are in Hong Kong now until 3/3, but we are
done with the whole part you helped plan.  And I want to tell you that
everything you said was true.  :-)

Having you/your company take care of all the arrangements was a major plus
factor, and as you had said, if we could afford it, it was well worth the
money.  This type of travel, flying from point to point with passport
controls, hotels, languages, etc. is very wearying, and we feel that the
reason it was less so was because we were met in each country.  This took
some of the foreignness out of the experience.

For us, having the cruise to break up the being on the move format was
delightful.  Of course, the sightseeing was superficial being in each place
such a short time, but we mostly like the ship life of having everything
there and easy.  We would have done better to have had you arrange for land
tours for us from the ship, as you suggested.  Many of them were silly
stopping at different factories, etc.

Here is a little feedback, which I think you would want, but honestly you
are hearing from some EXTREMELY satisfied clients.

The guides were excellent; they were all such nice people, friendly, and
eager to please.  The one in Myanmar, her name is Toe Khin Khin, was far and
away the best.  And having her fly with us to Bagan (our favorite place)
made things so easy.    She had lots  of information,  laughing and so much
fun to be with, sensitive about what her clients like to do, and the most
rare quality she has is fitting in with the exact mood that is called for.
For example, when we were in a temple and feeling spiritually connected or
watching a sunset, she laid back and just enjoyed that feeling with us.  She
pointed out special opportunities that we just lucked into:  seeing the
children’s novitiate procession in Bagan and also attending her coworker’s
wedding reception.

Hotels were beautiful.  One thing that amazes me is that none of them had
more than 2 dresser drawers for clothing.  We sometimes had an additional
little cabinet brought to the room.  Of course a cruise ship spoils us all,
since every nook and cranny is outfitted with more drawers and closets than
you could use.  The pool in Siem Reap was fabulous – gorgeous, huge, warm –
although the room was quite tiny.  The pool in Laos was not heated, and with
the 30 degree drop in temperature at night, it was unusable.  The charming
manager Eddie said they have a plan to heat the pool in the future.

Tom, the choice of places to go, how much time to spend in each place, the
sequence of when to go where — was just about perfect.  We appreciated your
info book encouraging clients to speak up and tell their guides what they
like to do best.  When Toe told us that our second day in Bagan was going to
be spent on a 3-hour drive each way to Mt. Popa, we said NO WAY.  We could
not tear ourselves away from the spiritual other-worldly experience of just
being amidst these pagodas.  So we stayed in the area and found marvelous
things to do.

Thank you so much for the work you put into making this a trip of a lifetime
for us.  We will never forget it and hope we have a chance to recommend you
to others in the future.

Kind regards,
Lenore & Peter,
New York, NY

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Lenore and Peter embarked on a custom Asia trip, discovering: Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Singapore. Their custom itinerary was planned by Asia Travel Specialist, Tom Lastick. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Postcard from Our Traveler: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Laos
Honestly, the entire trip totally exceeded our expectations and was absolutely amazing. Wanted to thank you guys SO much for the best trip/experience I’ve ever had. We absolutely loved it and really appreciate all your hard work and patience :)

Just want to give a shout out to 3 of our guides that were really fantastic and went above and beyond the call of duty. They were absolutely amazing!

Qin from Guilin
John from Hanoi
Siphon from Luang Prabang

These guys were by far the best of the trip and made each destination so much more memorable.

Thank you so much again! It went by way too fast!

Lindsey P.

La Jolla, CA

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Lindsey explored China, Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam on a custom Asia trip arranged by Travel Specialist Jarrod Hobson. This was her first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys, but we look forward to working with her again on her next big journey.

Mekong River Trip

One of the most majestic waterways in the world is the Mekong River. It begins on the Tibetan Plateau in China and flows to the coast of Vietnam, where its estuaries, the “nine dragons,” fan out to form a fertile delta that meets the South China Sea. The Mekong River is over 2,600 miles long, and supports an expansive river basin comparable to the Amazon River in its biological diversity. The beauty of the basin’s mysterious jungles, soaring mountain peaks, and countless species of wildlife will captivate you as you visit the Mekong River delta for your next travel destination.

As you explore the Mekong River, evidence of the alluring Southeast Asian culture abounds in the form of floating villages and markets, thriving shoreline cities, and stunning coastal architecture, such as the royal Four Rivers Palace in Phnom Penh. Journey by longboat as the river winds through the Laotian jungle, take a river cruise on the Mekong Delta, or opt for a longer, leisurely cruise between coastal cities of your choice, including the bustling capital cities of Vientiane, Laos, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Your group and custom travel options are limitless, and our expertise is unmatched.

Travel along the Mekong River is most enjoyable between November and February, when the river is full and navigable, the weather is mostly dry, and the temperatures are moderate. The Mekong River is a worthy destination for part of your journey or for an entire getaway.

Laos: Asia’s New Cultural Hot Spot

Travel + Leisure magazine featured an article on Laos becoming Asia’s new hot spot, as reported by Guy Trebay.

…Luang Prabang is a rare place in Asia—a calm and somnolent city, a town of narrow lanes and polychrome temples and worn timber houses and scabbed colonial colonnades, all set along a peninsular thumb that juts toward a bend in the Mekong River and is surrounded by mountains that are like palisades shutting out the wider world.

There are other protections as well. Since 1995, when UNESCO inscribed Luang Prabang on its list of World Cultural Heritage sites, designating it “the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia,” teams of architects and planners, mostly French, have labored to hold back the inevitable tide of development, retarding if not altogether halting the changes that often spell doom when some lovely and untouched backwater becomes the next destination. And Luang Prabang is surely that place…

The city I found was dozy and small enough to cover on foot in a day or two but best experienced over the course of a week. Like the mandalas some Buddhists use as aids to meditation, Luang Prabang turns out to be a city of recurrent patterns, of images and motifs explored and repeated, refined across centuries and with the clear-cut goal of hastening enlightenment. It was for centuries a royal city, but just as important was its role as a monastic center. Even now the temple complexes are active centers of worship and learning. The saffron-robed monks you see everywhere are more than local color. They are the animating force of the city, the engine whose sound is the always-audible hum of their prayers.

To read the complete article, visit Travel and Leisure.com

Visit our site for information on group travel to Laos or creating a custom private trip to Laos for just you and your family or friends.

In Laos, It’s all About Weave

The New York Times featured an article on the silk-weaving tradition of Laos, as reported by Sandra Ballentine.

For many years the ancient silk-weaving tradition of Laos was stifled under the Communist regime that took over the country in 1975… Today, however, with the government amenable to entrepreneurship and tourism, affluent and educated Lao expats, as well as conservation-minded foreigners, have revived this once-endangered art.

The first stop on any silk route should be Vientiane, Laos’s capital, which is usually overlooked for the more picturesque town of Luang Prabang. But it is in Vientiane where you find couture-quality textiles rather than the cheaper fabrics aimed at the tourist trade.

Not far from Luang Prabang is the tiny weaving village of Phonesay. You have to cross a rickety, suspended wooden bridge and then dodge chickens on a dirt road to reach it, but here you can see weaving at its most traditional. As they have for hundreds of years, the women mind the children and weave in their bamboo-and-thatch houses all day while the men fish the Mekong River.

To read the complete article, visit NYTimes.com

Visit our site for information on group travel to Indochina or creating a custom private trip to Laos for just you and your family or friends.

Special Introductory Rates at the New Aman Hotel in Laos

We just visited the newly opened Amantaka in Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos. It is destined to count among Southeast Asia’s premier properties.
Now through September 30, 2009 the Amantaka is offering special rates. Contact us (800-642-2742) to learn how you can take advantage of special introductory pricing and experience the world-renowned Aman hospitality.
The new Amantaka in Luang Prabang, Laos

The new Amantaka in Luang Prabang, Laos

The intimate resort houses 24 suites featuring gracefully renovated French-colonial architecture. Amantaka derives its name from the word aman (“peace” in Sanskrit) and taka (from Tipitaka, or “the teaching of the Buddha” in Theravada literature). Centrally located just south of Mount Phousi, the centerpiece of Luang Prabang, the resort rests on a peninsula framed by the Mekong and Khan rivers. From the Amantaka an easy stroll accesses the town’s cultural treasures, including Buddhist temples, the Night Market, riverside cafés and the town’s many historic sites such as the former Royal Palace, a fusion of Beaux-Arts and traditional Lao architecture.

The Amantaka offers several dining options including authentic Lao and French-influenced cuisine. Private dining can be arranged in a choice of secluded locations around the property as well as en-suite.

A Staff Postcard from the Field: Laos Travel

Laos travel notes from Eric Kareus, Asia Transpacific Journeys’ Travel Specialist

River trip from Muang Khuam to Nong Khiow | Jonathan Whelan

River trip from Muang Khuam to Nong Khiow | Jonathan Whelan

Greetings from Laos. Traveling overland from Northern Thailand to Luang Prabang has afforded some amazing cultural experiences, including visits to many minority villages including Lantean, Khamu, Hmong, Akha and Tai Dam. It’s much more traditional and unvisited than anything I have seen in Northern Thailand and very similar to remote areas of Shan State in Burma, but with much better access.

From Thailand we crossed to Ban Huoy Sai and then drove to Luang Namtha to spend the night. From here, we drove to the Muang La Resort which was our base for the next 3 days. There are numerous villages to visit via 4WD or hiking and biking excursions. The resort is phenomenal. With only 6 rooms, it’s very intimate in an area not frequented by many travelers. It has a riverside hot springs, ‘hot tub’, that they fill up each evening. From here you can observe children play and fish, while families come down from the hillside after working to bath and swim. If you were to take a picture in black and white you could pass it off as a scene from a century ago. The food is interesting and for the most part extremely tasty, except on the occasion that they attempt to introduce you to some traditional Laos specialties like frog, fish heads and snails.

From Muang La you can drive directly to Luang Prabang, however, we drove Northeast to Muang Khua. From here we enjoyed a 3-hour private boat trip down the Nam Ou River to Nong Khiow. The scenery is absolutely stunning with limestone mountains and primary growth jungle for a good portion of the journey. We also stopped in a couple of villages (Khamu and Tai Lu) that have no road access and were very pristine. One in particular wove beautiful textiles that were available at a fraction of the cost that you’d find them for once reaching Luang Prabang.

After spending a night in Nong Kiow, we drove to Luang Prabang where I am now heading off for lunch at L’Elephant and a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais.

Eric


Contact us at 1-800-642-2742 or travel@asiatransapcific.com for information on creating custom travel to Laos to visit this amazing area.

 

Southeast Asia, Off the Beaten Path

An article in Forbes Traveler by Don Willmott.

“Where can you experience authentic Southeast Asia without sharing it with busloads of other travelers?

The answer is simple: Find the places that fewer people know about. Throughout Southeast Asia, it’s easy to find viable alternatives to the wonderful but overcrowded destinations to which throngs of travelers typically flock.”

To read the entire Forbes Traveler article, visit ForbesTraveler.com


To learn more about travel to Southeast Asia, visit our site.

‘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.