This video made by Birk Poßecker and Diana Weschke is a collection of scenes from a trip to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia this past October. It takes viewers across these countries via motorcycle, zipline, plane, bus, van and even the back of an elephant. From scenes shot deep underwater to time-lapse shots from the tops of skyscrapers, it showcases many of the quintessential experiences travelers seek out in Southeast Asia.
I just had the privilege of watching this beautiful video of Laos. I came across this film on vimeo. Created by Vincent Urban for a series titled “In Asia,” this video on Laos is the third out of five films from his trip to Asia in the fall of 2010. The song playing throughout the video just might become one of your new favorites and the footage is beautiful and captivating. The video starts in a native village in Laos and from there, the scenes change. Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Don Khong and Khone Phapheng are all explored and captured thereafter. Enjoy.
Cruise lines continue to bust into new territory, shaking off their booze cruise, buffet bonanza reputation with a keen focus on the destinations they visit. Off the ship, cruise travelers want more than a packaged shore excursion. They want more time in port with active experiences rather than passive viewing. Cruise lines are beginning to deliver too. Spending some of the clout they earn by bringing millions in tourism revenue to ports around the world, cruise lines are tapping local sources and setting up unique off-ship adventures.
Crystal Cruises has Overland Adventures that take Crystal guests to unique, immersive events ashore. Typical of the intensity level of their Overland Adventures is a three-night Laos Overland Discovery during a March 7, 2013, Southeast Asia cruise, offering an intimate look into the rich history, culture and scenery of the former French colony and UNESCO World Heritage site, Luang Prabang, considered the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia.Those participating will get off their cruise ship, Crystal Symphony, in the port of Laem Chabang, Thailand where they will spend the first night. From there, they fly to Laos for two nights, to see a Laotian Buddhist alms-giving ceremony, visit sacred temples and other attractions then sail across the Mekong River to the Buddha-filled Pak Ou Caves. Travelers then rejoin Crystal Symphony in Ho Chi Minh City.
While in the area, Crystal offers other off-ship adventures with titles like “The Wonders of Angkor Wat,” “Phong Nha Caves & Vietnam Heritage” and “A Portrait of Vietnam: Hue, Hoi An & Hanoi.”
The whole destination immersion focus has become so popular that Azamara Club Cruises is adding a complimentary immersive destination event ashore featured on every voyage.
Azamara guests sailing a Baltic cruise voyage, for example, might enjoy a private ballet performance in St. Petersburg, Russia, while walking the red carpet and sipping champagne. Travelers on a Mediterranean cruise may find themselves sampling Jerez, Spain’s famous sherry wine at Gonzalez Byass and later enjoying a private equestrian ballet at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.
These are not your typical cruise line “load everybody up in a tour bus and drive around” excursions.
Mainstream cruise lines, still mostly limited to day trips, are testing the waters for immersive off-ship adventures. In Alaska, Princess Cruises continues to explore the land of the midnight sun with experiences like a Back Country Zodiac Expedition, a Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour or a Heli-Hike & Rail Adventure.
For now, we’re finding these experiential off-ship adventures on high-end luxury lines. But look for mainstream cruise lines to offer intense lifetime event experiences in the near future.
[Flickr photos by *christopher*]
Vang Vieng is a popular tourist destination in Laos, especially for backpackers who want to drink beer while floating down the river in an inner tube. Unfortunately, this risky excursion has led to an increase in tourist deaths in the past few years. Now, authorities are cracking down by closing certain bars along the Xong River and setting stricter policies for establishments staying open.
According to news.com.au, officials are trying to promote the area as a safe, environmentally friendly destination. To do this, they have had to close seven bars down that were found to be serving alcoholic drinks laced with opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms to tourists.
The death toll for tourists in 2011 is said to have been 20, a majority of which had to do with alcohol, and several relating to dangerous water activities.
There are about 100 restaurants, bars and resorts lining the Xong River in Vang Vieng. To help make the area more secure, these establishments are being taught to inform tourists what they should and shouldn’t do to stay safe.
[Image via sweet_redbird]
It’s only April, but many of us have already switched to iced coffee and put away our sweaters. Now’s the time to start thinking about summer vacation, whether you plan to explore a national park or soak up the culture in a city like Havana. When you’re a kid, summer is all about playing outside and staying cool, preferably with lots of ice cream and water projectiles. Today’s Photo of the Day by Flickr user ahalvoresen is from Luang Prabang, Laos, where some local children are beating the heat with every water source available. Makes me nostalgic for pool parties and Super Soakers, before summer became a time to complain about high electricity bills and humidity. Enjoy it while it lasts, we’ll soon be back to complaining about the cold.