World Travel Diaries

Vietnam and Cambodia

Tuesday 18 May 2010 | By Ros Bulat |

No Longer just for the young

Vietnam and Cambodia are without a doubt the current hot spots for travelers and caters to all travel tastes and ideals. Many years ago the area was probably more suited to adventure travellers, the young and those prepared to give up the comforts of home but no longer…. It really does offer something for everyone.

One great example of this is cruising the mighty Mekong onboard the Mekong Pandaw. It is not only very comfortable, it is also inspirational. Wet season (June – October) is the best time to cruise and experience tapestry of river life.

These small ships can penetrate remote and otherwise inaccessible areas. Whilst you are offered a real adventure experience, travellers are cushioned with incredible comfort, fine dining, great cocktails and choice wines, not to mention extraordinary levels of service.

Cruising upstream between Saigon and Angkor is immensely practical for the traveller as it makes it possible to connect three important destinations on one trip, with easy plane connections at either end: Saigon the exotic Frenchified former capital of South Vietnam, Phnom Penh, the quaint Cambodian capital, and the stupendous World Heritage monuments at Angkor. One need no longer check in and out of hotels and endure bumpy roads to visit these magnificent places. 

A special 13 day Cruise and Tour is offered to perfectly combine the highlights of these magical countries. Starting in Saigon, you have the opportunity to see historic landmarks, such as the former Presidential Palace, Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War Museum and finishing in Siem Reap where you experience the famous, and one of the world’s most impressive ruins, Angkor Wat. 

Complete packages including airfares from Australia are available from $4499 per person twin share.
If you have some extra time, or the “Orient of the East” is more to your liking, Hanoi is a great contrast. The people and sights are very different in the North of Vietnam. From Hanoi you can easily visit such places as Halong Bay, where the rock islands and caves jut from the bay like a scene from a James Bond movie – it’s tranquil and majestic! 

Another unique experience is a visit to Sapa. The province is located in the very north, on the Chinese border. The 3 night tour to Sapa includes an overnight in each onboard a private train and a night in Sapa.

No visit to Vietnam is complete without a stopover in Hoi An. Located half way down the east coast, this World Heritage listed town is a step back in time. Don’t let this leave you thinking you cant stay in wonderful accommodation, because you can. In Hoi An you can have your tailoring done in no time at all and at a fraction of the costs of most Asian cities. Take along that favourite piece of clothing that you don’t want to let go of and have them duplicate it. 

An 8 day extension tour of Vietnam to cover Hanoi, Hoi An to Saigon is available before the Mekong cruise from just $1690 per person.

For more information on any of the areas featured in this blog, contact World Travel Professionals to speak with one of our consultants. We encourage and welcome all user comments and aim to use our blog to interact with our interested readers!    

A Unique Arabian Experience

Friday 14 May 2010 | By Ros Bulat |

A beautiful blend

Dubai is a city of contrasts, a land where the old and the new, traditional and modern, east and west blend seamlessly to produce a fascinating, mysterious, exciting place with a distinct personality all of its own. It’s a welcoming city with a charming ambience rooted in traditional Arabic hospitality, topped with an ultra modern flourish. A kaleidoscopic mixture of people and cultures brings to the city a unique and fascinating combination of influences. In Dubai people can enjoy one of the worlds highest standards of living. Hotels here rank amongst the worlds finest, and cuisine from national to international is superb. Shopping in Dubai features some of the best Worlds goods at competitive prices. Being a tax free port with low import duties, Dubai’s retail prices are extremely reasonable. Bargaining is a part of shopping in Dubai, while boutiques, some electronics shops, department stores and supermarkets operate on a fixed price basis, most other outlets consider friendly negotiation a way of life. It gets even better during the two shopping festivals – Dubai Summer surprises held every year from June to August and The Dubai shopping festival held in March or April.

Dubai is an extremely safe city, with almost no crime and travelers are sure to be charmed by its warmth and friendliness. Speaking of warmth – May to September is summer when daytime temps range between 40 and 48 degrees, the humidity level can vary from 30 to 100 percent. Although everything is air-conditioned, you may like to consider going in the winter months. Perhaps an ideal time of year to experience the worlds largest indoor snow skiing centre!

The desert in Dubai is the most captivating and breathtaking aspect of the place. Arabian history and mythology has revolved around it for centuries and for generations the Arabs have taken pride in the golden sands of the desert, where their caravan trails crossed and where stories of bravery and courage where told. Today you can experience the same mystique of the desert but in a slightly different way; dune driving, sand skiing, and camel riding.

The sundowner dune dinner is an absolute must. Start with an off road driving adventure through the desert dunes in 4wd vehicles, visit an oasis plantation and witness a beautiful desert sunset, followed by a delicious BBQ dinner in a Bedouin camp setting, with belly dancing.

Getting around Dubai is easy; taxis are inexpensive, safe and efficient with well trained and courteous drivers. The taximeter should read AED3 at the start of the trip. A fixed scale of charges is applicable to trips outside the city boundaries and the price should be agreed with the driver before commencing the journey. If you prefer to drive yourself Australian citizens do not require an international drivers license, although you will need to drive on the “wrong” (right) side of the road. Public transport buses also offer an extensive network that covers all areas within the city.

You will find Dubai an amazing destination in its own right or perhaps consider it as a stopover on your next trip to Europe.

For more information on any of the areas featured in this blog, contact World Travel Professionals to speak with one of our consultants. We encourage and welcome all user comments and aim to use our blog to interact with our interested readers!