Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's Special About These Tours...

Each time I travel, I will try to check out "NEW" ATTRACTIONS and "NEW" EXPERIENCES as much as possible. Once I'm back in office (, it will be time to sift through them to see which ones are suitable to be incorporated into a tour package. I also ensure an itinerary with tourist class hotels, meals, tour coaches, tour guides, etc.; so that you can enjoy a comfortable and enriching travel experience.

So the tours below may be a surprise for you as they include many "NEW" ATTRACTIONS and "NEW" EXPERIENCES which are not found in most tour packages offered by the majority of travel agents in Malaysia.


I have been to Angkor Heritage Zone 3 times and each time, I never missed a sunrise experience at Angkor Wat temple. There's something 'magical' as you witness the sun rising from behind to uncloak the world's largest temple, from darkness into light, into full view...

Then there's is Kbal Spean, the carved rock riverbed, situated in a shady forest with a stream flowing through it. Building majestic temples was not the only creative and spiritual output of the ancient Khmer people.

Therefore, our tour package to Cambodia always include sunrise experience at Angkor Wat and a visit to Kbal Spean. We use a 3 day pass for Angkor Heritage Zone, more expensive than 1 day pass, but this UNESCO World Heritage site deserves more than 1 day's casual glance, don't you think so ??

Angkor 3D2N tour:
Angkor & Phnom Penh 5D4N tour:

More photos here:

Sunrise over Angkor Wat

Kbal Spean, carved rock riverbed

GUANGXI: Guilin, Yangshuo & Longji Rice Terraces

Guangxi's official name is Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, meaning it has a significant number of Zhuang ethnic people. Hence during this tour, you will stay a night at a Zhuang village (Pingan Village), located on top of Longji Rice Terraces. Here you can interact with the Zhuang people and soak up the atmosphere of being up in the cool mountains surrounded by dazzling scenery of rice terraces. Most other tours will be a quick stop at Longji Rice Terraces (I have also heard complaints some tours don't even take you into Pingan village... so beware)

For Guilin city, the evening 4 lakes cruise with scenes of Guilin's bridges and buildings colourfully lighted up, is highly recommended. In Yangshuo, don't miss the 'Impressions of Liu San Jie' show, an outdoor show (with the mountains and the Li River as backdrop) blending captivating choreography, colourful traditional costumes with impressive light & sound techniques.

Guilin, Yangshuo & Longji Rice Terraces 5D4N tour:

More photos here:

Guilin viewed atop Folded Brocade Hill.

Guilin's Elephant Trunk hill

Guilin's Camel Hill

Inside Guilin's Reed Flute Cave

Silver & Gold Pagodas during Guilin 4 Lakes Cruise

Snapshot from Impressions of Liu San Jie show

Scenery nearby Yangshou

Black Zhuang musicians, Shangri-La Cultural Theme Park

Pingan Village, Longji Rice Terraces

White Zhuang cultural show, Pingan Village

LAOS: Vang Vieng

I simply LOVE this place (been there 3 times already!)... a quiet scenic getaway in the middle of nowhere (in between Vientiane and Luang Prabang), yet fun and adventure easily available if you don't want to laze around. Most tour packages to Vientiane don't include Vang Vieng, opting instead for the uninspiring Ngam Ngum dam visit. But Vang Vieng is THE PLACE to be... so don't miss it!

Vientiane & Vang Vieng 4D3N tour & Vientiane, Vang Vieng & Luang Prabang 5D4N tour:

Slow & easy tubing down the river...

Tubing through a cave stream...

Kayaking on the river...

Daredevil swinging yourself off into the river!

PHILIPPINES: Manila, Pagsanjan Falls, Tagaytay & Taal Volcano

Philippines is such a wonderful destination that I would like to kick myself for not visiting it much earlier. My first trip was to Manila in 1994 on a job assignment (as a computer programmer), so I basically stayed within Manila (to be specific within area surrounding Nikko hotel in Makati) and did not tour around much. I didn't return until in 2008. After 2 trips, I'm all fired up to explore more of this country of 7,107 islands!! If you are interested to join me, I'm going to Cebu & Bohol next year...

The Manila, Pagsanjan Falls, Tagaytay and Taal Volcano tour is what I recommend for first timers to the Philippines. You get to see the main attractions of Manila and 2 of popular attractions outside of Manila: Pagsanjan Falls and Taal Volcano. How this tour is different is you get to take the boat and horse ride right up to the edge of Taal Volcano (most tour packages just take you to view Taal Volcano from a distance at Tagaytay.... that's no fun!).

And you get to spend a night at Tagaytay (which is about 2,500 feet above sea level) in a hotel overlooking the lake and volcano. Most ordinary tour packages make 2 separate day trips out to Pagsanjan and Tagaytay, meaning traveling out of Manila through traffic jams twice .... our tour you get out of Manila only once, visit Pagsanjan, stay a night in Tagaytay complete with lakeside views and as bonus visit Taal Volcano too.

Manila, Pagsanjan Falls & Taal Volcano (1 night Tagaytay) 4D3N tour:

More photos here:
Pagsanjan Falls & Taal Volcano Lake:

Manila Cathedral

Gate at Fort Santiago, Manila

Paddling to Pagsanjan Falls

At Pagsanjan Falls - for the daring, a raft to go near the waterfall

A motorised 'bangka' boat to Taal Volcano

On horseback to the edge of Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano lake


This tour is organized for Oct 31-Nov 3, 2009 in conjunction with the Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai and Sukhothai. Below are 'retro' photos of my wonderful time at Loy Krathong festival in Sukhothai in 2002 ('retro' because it was taken back in 2002 with an already outdated non-digital camera i.e. film... my apologies for the blurry photos).

The TIME TABLE for this year's Loy Krathong celebration is here:

Oct 31-Nov 3, 2009 Loy Krathong Festival Tour (Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok & Sukhothai):

At entrance of UNESCO World Heritage Sukhothai Historical Park

Thai girls in traditional costumes welcome you to the dinner & show event

Dinner is open air in traditional Khantoke style format, on the lawn in front of the Wat Mahathat temple where the show will be staged.

The traditional orchestra providing music as you dine

The Loy Krathong show complete with a fireworks grand finale!

I'm floating my Krathong away !

UNESCO World Heritage Sukhothai Historical Park

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Phitsanulok

This is our 3rd time organizing this annual special tour which takes you to view Bua Tong flowers (Mexican Sunflowers) in full bloom during mid Nov to mid Dec season. Included are of course the many attractions of Mae Hong Son province like Tham Lod cave, Fish Cave, Long Neck Karen ethnic people, elephant rides, a Chinese Kuomintang descendants village and an overnight stay in Pai. Includes 1 night in Chiang Mai.


Mae Hong Son SUNFLOWER SEASON 5D4N tour:

More photos here:

Tham Lod cave

Mae Hong Son town lake and temples: daytime (above) and at night (below)

THAILAND & MYANMAR: Ranong, Kawthoung & St. Luke Island
I have crossed over into Myanmar at the 4 official border points between these 2 countries; 1) Mae Sai/Tachilek, 2) Mae Sot/Myawadi, 3) Sangkhlaburi/Payathonzu and 4) Ranong/Kawthoung. Of these, I find the last the most interesting because Kawthoung is a port town located at the southern most tip of Myanmar and relatively busy due to trade with neighbouring Ranong town in Thailand. Offshore are islands of the Mergui Archipelago, pristine and excellent snorkeling / diving spots. So I devised this tour to take in the best of both countries starting from Phuket to cover Ranong, Kawthoung and St. Luke island.


Ranong, Kawthoung & St. Luke Island 3D2N Tour:

Ranong's famous hotspring

Ranong's market which is filled with Myanmar workers

Kawthoung's seafront

Statue of Burmese King Bayinnaung who had invaded Thailand in the past.

A pagoda in a temple, Kawthoung

Photos of islands of Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar


Firstly, the word 'UNSEEN' is relates to most Malaysian tourists because the majority only visit Hanoi & Halong Bay as far as North Vietnam is concerned. This tour is recommended for those who have already visited Hanoi & Halong Bay but wish to return to see more of North Vietnam. First timers to Hanoi can always add this tour as extension after they complete Halong Bay.
Vietnam has many ethnic peoples and here you get to visit the Muong, Dzao and White Thai peoples. In fact, we have a wonderful home-stay experience arranged for you with a White Thai family in Mai Chau. Then we take you to Perfume Pagoda, an important pilgrimage site for the Vietnamese. While you get to experience the similar boat ride throught karst & rice fields scenery as in Tam Coc, at Perfume Pagoda, you get to take cable car over scenic hills, explore the many temple complexes located in the hills and most importantly, visit the cave shrine that is the center of pilgrimage. Lastly, visit the architectural wonders like Phat Diem Cathedral, Keo Pagoda and Dong Xam temple.

UNSEEN North Vietnam 4D3N tour:

More photos here:
Mai Chau:
Perfume Pagoda:

Hire a bike and cycle around scenic Mai Chau

Mai Chau Valley

Home stay with White Thai family

Home cooked meals by your White Thai host family

Paddling to Perfume Pagoda

Cable car to Perfume Pagoda

Main temple at Perfume Pagoda

Descend to the cave shrine of Perfume Pagoda, the center of religious pilgrimage

Phat Diem Cathedral, a Catholic church with Vietnamese influenced design

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