The Mirror, Vol. 15, No. 700
At the occasion of the ASEAN Tourism Forum, which was held in Phnom Penh from 15 to 21 January 2011, an ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan was adopted, covering the years 2011 to 2015. Thailand has been appointed to lead the working group for marketing and communication, and Vietnam will be deputy chairperson of this group.
Otres has long been my favorite Sihanoukville beach. Twin sister of Ochheuteal Beach (the next beach south, a 3 kilometer crescent of white sand facing southwest) but much more relaxed and far less touristed than Ochheuteal, largely because it is completely undeveloped and a bit difficult to get to. Comparatively close as the crow flies, it still something of a small project to get there. It was only recently (a few years ago) that the road over the headland from Ochheuteal was opened, and that only to motorcycles.
Ian Paynton looks for everything luxurious during a 24-hour pit-stop visit in Hoi An. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos
Just over an hour's drive from Yangon, a few more kilometers before Bago town, lies an interesting place called Hle Gu township. This is where I made an unforgettable trip, which included a number of outdoor activities and a lot of natural scenery to delight my eyes.
Hle Gu is a farm village teeming with crops like rice, peas, gourds, chillies and some sunflowers.
During the 160 kilometres from Ha Giang to Dong Van, you can experience the beautiful and dangerous mountain passes that snake between rocky mountains and an ocean of clouds. Ha Giang’s landscape is beautiful all year round.. In the spring, Ha Giang may be cold but it is good time to come in order to see peach, plum and mustard flowers blossom, and experience the ethnic minority peoples’ new year, offering the chance to take part in their traditional games.
2010 was a great year for Vietnam’s tourism industry, with an estimated 5 million visitors – the best ever. Here are my hopes for 2011…
1. Visa on arrival
I know I bang on about this incessantly but there is little point marketing Vietnam as a tourist destination and then making it difficult for people to actually get in. Introducing a genuine visa on arrival process, and scrapping visas for key markets altogether, would see a huge leap in numbers for both new and returning visitors.
How do I get from Bangkok to Angkor Wat?
That is the question most often asked in the Guest Houses of Kaosan Road and Travel Agencies throughout the city of Bangkok.
The answer is relatively easy for those who just want to get there as quickly as possible, but not as easy for the truly adventurous who like to take the route less traveled and avoid airlines whenever possible, or those who are traveling on a very tight budget.
When I travel, I am always looking for something special in my accommodation. I am not a backpacker, so guesthouses are not my game. My preferred hotel must have some basic features like internet, breakfast, restaurant, television and friendly staff. But even more important is that they MUST be special. In Phnom Penh, it is the Pavillion, in Bangkok it is Le Fenix and in Vientiane, it is Ansara Hotel.
Buddha Park, (the park is not a temple) also known as Xieng Khuan (meaning Spirit City), is a surreal and fanciful sculpture garden full of Hindu and Buddhist statues located about 24km (15 miles) out of town heading south along the river. The park contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues.
The park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu (Venerable Grandfather) Bunleua Sulilat. Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat was a priest-shaman who integrated Hinduism and Buddhism and later fled from Laos to Thailand after the revolution in 1975.
I spent almost three years of my life in the town of Battambang, which has a quiet provincial charm and laid-back ease. It also has its fair share of rumors and legends. I used to spend days driving around on my motorbike, following hearsay, happy in idle discovery. One time, I was in the Balcony Bar describing an adventure to Kompong Puoy Lake. My drinking partner looked at me, smiled, and said, "Bet you've never been to the Pepsi factory. That place gives me the creeps."