Thursday, October 15, 2009

After the war

Kambodscha/Cambodia, Serendipity Beach bei Sih...Image via Wikipedia

Tempting tourists back when the bombing stops is never easy, but war-weary Asian countries are planning new treats for travellers in a bid to cash in on a "peace dividend".

Sri Lanka

When government forces claimed victory against Tamil Tiger separatist rebels in May, Sri Lankan tourism chiefs set to work, launching a campaign called "Sri Lanka: Small Miracle", to polish its post-war image.

One of the new activities designed to sell the country on top of its beaches, tea plantations and religious sites is whale watching. The giant mammals frequent the island's shores between December and April.

Dileep Mudadeniya, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau's managing director, estimates the promotional campaign will help raise tourist arrivals by at least 20 per cent to 500,000 visitors in 2010.


The number of travellers to Nepal slumped during a 10-year civil war between the army and Maoist rebels which ended in 2006. But last year a record 550,000 people visited the Himalayan state after foreign governments relaxed their travel warnings.

Tourism authorities say they hope to attract a million visitors by 2011 and are focusing on some of the less developed areas of the country, where few foreigners have ventured.

One plan involves creating a "Himalayan Trail", taking trekkers to some of the remotest parts of the country. The trail would link paths already used by local people to transport goods and livestock, and would take three months to complete - with most visitors expected to walk it in stages.


Decades of civil strife under the Khmer Rouge ended in 1998, and tourism is now one of the few sources of foreign exchange for the impoverished South-east Asian nation.

Even though Cambodia now lures more than two million foreign visitors a year, most stay only briefly to see the ancient World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat temple complex.

"We need time to (change our image)," Ho Vandy, co-chair of Cambodia's tourism working group told AFP. The government last year launched an international "Kingdom of Wonder" campaign promoting the country's eco-tourism and culture.

More than 20 islands have been designated for development while a new airport in seaside Sihanoukville is expected to open later this year. Other plans include a game park for well-heeled hunters in the remote jungle-covered northern Ratanakiri province and several luxury golf courses around the country.

Indian kashmir

Tourists are returning to Indian Kashmir, once described by a 17th-century visiting emperor as a "paradise on earth", as militant violence in the Muslim-majority region subsides to its lowest level since 1989.

In 1988 more than 700,000 tourists visited Kashmir, but the number declined sharply as the insurgency intensified. Now the tide appears to be turning again, with more than 380,000 visiting in the first seven months of 2009. AFP

From TODAY, Traveller – Thursday, 17-Sep-2009

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Something for everyone

Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park, Weste...Image by iansand via Flickr

Breathtakingly gorgeous and filled with activities for both nature-lovers and city folks, Western Australia is a vacation spot full of possibilities for everyone.

Leaning Trees that lie parallel to the ground have become icons for the Shire of Greenough in Geraldton, Coral Coast.

Happy Family

Try a six-day tour to Perth and Fremantle which includes a farm stay - the kids will love the chance to participate in farm activities they've only seen on television. Also included is an overnight stay in the scenic Swan Valley along with a buffet dinner, plus a Captain Cook Cruise down the Swan River.

Romantic Duo

Savour fine wines, sample local cheeses, berries and chocolates; take a romantic stroll through blooming lavender gardens; and experience together the intriguing Tree Top Walk through a world-famous forest of gigantic proportions. If these catch your fancy, go for the seven-day tour to Southwest Perth and Swan Valley.

Walk amongst giant Tingle trees in Walpole.

Girly Trip

Gather your friends for a seven-day trip to Perth, Coral Coast and Monkey Mia. Eclectic markets, sprawling malls, beach bazaars and factory outlets in Perth offer plenty of shopping options before heading to the scenic Coral Coast where you'll find attractions such as stunning wildflower landscapes and endearing Leaning Trees.

Lone Ranger

A four-day Perth flexi holiday package is a great getaway option if you just want to be alone to catch your breath. It includes a day-trip to the awe-inspiring Pinnacles Desert, sandboarding opportunities and a chance to hang out with koalas. Spend the rest of your time shopping leisurely or indulging in café culture. He Peiwen

Book your 6D Perth, Fremantle & Farmstay or your 7D Perth, Southwest and Swan Valley tour package at Chan Brothers Great Travelholic Sale this weekend, Sept 19 and 20 at Suntec City Mall Level 1 Galleria Foyer from 10am to 8pm and enjoy up to $840 off per family.

From TODAY, Traveller – Thursday, 17-Sep-2009

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Playground for all ages

Giraffes at the world famous Taronga ZooImage via Wikipedia


Stimulating, scintillating activities to inspire and excite the young

Mei Lin

BESIDES the urbane sophisticates it draws, Sydney, the glam cosmopolitan city in Australia, is also a gigantic playground for school-going travellers. Festooned with attractions, it has become a magnet for families with children and even children on school excursions.

Settle in

A good place to get them in the right mood for play is the Swissotel Kids Room, which is specially set up for children below the age of 10.

Connected to the parents' room, the kids' universe is dolled up with colourful bed linen, cuddly toys, wall posters and drawing tables. It also has kiddie confectionery in the mini bar fridge, special menus and a mini play area. The bathroom comes with footstools, toiletries and bath toys.

Swissotel is situated above Myers Department Store adjacent to the Pitt Street Mall, so sightseeing is easy on foot or via public transport.

Start your engines

Oz Jetboating

Introducing young children to this bustling city is best done on a Sydney Harbour cruise. A boat ride around the harbour with its landmark attractions never fails to thrill them.

Older children will probably prefer a wind-whipping trip on a powerful jetboat. Get off at Luna Park, a retro amusement park featuring old-fashioned rides such as the Ferris Wheel and exhilarating rides such as the Ranger, Flying Saucer and Spider.

Wake up to a safari

Alternatively, stop at Taronga Zoo, whose latest resident, Luk Chai, made headlines for being the first Australian-born elephant in July this year.

Darling Harbour

For a nocturnal adventure, the zoo's Roar and Snore Programme lets you sleep over in purpose-built safari tents overlooking the Harbour. Imagine waking up to the roar of a lion or the trumpet of an elephant - all from a safe distance, of course! You will also be the first to greet the animals before the rest of the crowd is admitted.

For close encounters with local creatures in a natural bush garden and red earth setting right in the heart of the city, the Sydney Wildlife World at Darling Harbour is a convenient stop.

Capture more than 100 species of animals in some 65 different habitats. If you are lucky, you might even get to caress a newly-hatched emu or pat a koala.

Then saunter over to the Sydney Aquarium next door, home to more than 11,000 Australian marine creatures spanning 650 species. Check out the Dugongs in the Mermaid Lagoon - legend has it that the graceful mermaid descended from these gigantic sea mammals.

Next, hop aboard the Shark Explorer glass-bottom boat on Australia's largest Great Barrier Reef Oceanarium and join in the feeding of reef sharks. You can also communicate with divers in the Oceanarium through the latest technology.

Sydney Aquarium Reef Theatre

Science for fun

While still in the Darling Harbour vicinity, pop into the IMAX Theatre, which houses the world's largest cinema screen (29.42 metres high, 35.73 metres wide) for a screening.

Getting to Darling Harbour aboard a Metro Light Rail or Monorail from various points in the city is a delightful family activity. While at the harbour, the People Mover Train is another fun scenic ride for families to get around the large precinct. Shopping options are plentiful with clothing, games and toys from W.A Jacobs Toymaker to titillate little ones.

On the edge of Chinatown lies the Powerhouse Museum, which explores history, science and design. With over 385,000 objects displayed in 22 exhibitions and 250 interactives, there is never a dull moment. From steam engine and horse drawn carriages to ancient archaeological finds and modern scientific discoveries, the Powerhouse has just the right amount of stimuli to arouse young minds.

Step on clouds

Swissotel Sydney Kids Room

Take in a 360-degree bird's eye view of the city from 250m high in the air at the Observation Deck of Sydney Tower, just a few metres higher than Singapore' Swissotel.

For a totally enlivening experience, go for a "Sky Walk" over Sydney. In this breathtaking 45-minute activity, participants step on a glass platform while clad in safety suits to catch awesome views of the famous Sydney beaches to as far as the rustic Blue Mountains. For those 10 years old and above only.

Not brave enough? Embark on a no less mind-blowing adventure but in the confines of a theatre. The brilliantly-designed simulated ride "OzTrek" takes you on an intense virtual adventure across dynamic landscapes where Australian history, culture and geography come to life with special 3D holographic technology - "experience" white water rafting or be "swallowed" by a crocodile!

Boasting inspiring views of the Harbour, the 30-hectare Royal Botanic Gardens is a bountiful showcase of diverse flora spanning aboriginal, begonias, bush, ferns, roses, rare plants, pines, herbs, desert, native plants and more.

Chance upon flying foxes, native birds, ducks, possums, lizards and other animals and insects. If not for anything, the Gardens is simply a very relaxing and pleasant vista for families with young children to roam and be in tune with botanical nature - a perfect opportunity for bonding.

From TODAY, Traveller – Thursday, 17-Sep-2009

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