One of my favorite things is discovering new destinations, hotels and tour options to offer to visitors to Southeast Asia. Just after the first of the year you’ll be able to view a variety of new activities and adventures, by accessing Southeast Asia Tours’ individual country pages. Just to give you a taste of what’s coming, here are several new offerings for 2017:

  • Set to open at the end of December, 2016, is a new glamping (glamour camping) experience in Koh Samui, Thailand.
    Khwan Beach Resort is a short stroll from Maenam Beach. In addition to their luxury pool villas, Khwan Beach will soon be providing luxury tented villas. There are 10 one-bedroom luxury tents with king beds, outdoor shower rooms tub, swing sofa and chaise lounges and one two-bedroom luxury tent with two king bedrooms and two semi-outdoor bathrooms. The one-bedroom tents have 45 square meters of living space and the two-bedroom tent boasts 110 square meters of living space. These glamping accommodations feature air-conditioning and ceiling fans, free WiFi, electronic safes, flat screen TVs and lots of other luxury amenities. This is definitely not the family camping trip you took when you were a kid!
  • Laos’ first Botanical Garden is now open.
    Set on the banks of the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Pha Tad Kae, is the first garden of its kind in Laos. After seven years of development, design and scientific research, the gardens opened just last month. This project, which was built in collaboration with such famous gardens as the Singapore Botanic Garden, the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden in Chiang Mai and Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, Pha Tad Kae’s focus is on ethno-botany. This is a wonderful and worthwhile endeavor for Laos and I hope it will be a great success. Luang Prabang was already a must-see destination  and Pha Tad Kae botanical gardens will only add to the town’s cachet.
  • Caves and caverns near Hanoi.
    According to local legend, Tu Vi, the brightest star in the heavens, fell from the sky and was transformed into a mountain which the locals named Tu Tram. Located approximately 20 kilometers from Hanoi, Tu Tram is a limestone mountain of caves and caverns. Long Tien, considered to be the most beautiful of these caves, has hundreds of stalactites of various shapes and sizes. Not far from Mt. Tu Tram is Mt. Trao, home to a small shrine on the top of a peak. This area can easily be visited as a day trip from Hanoi.
  • Rural Cambodian villages by ox-cart.
    Though its big draw will always be its fabulous Angkor temples, I encourage visitors to Siem Reap to consider exploring the surrounding countryside. Southeast Asia Tours already offers a number of excursions outside Siem Reap town and I’m delighted to add a new option. With your guide, you can venture into small villages and observe daily life via ox-cart. You’ll set out from Chreav, near Lake Ton Le Sap, on an easy trek to an organic vegetable farm. From there you’ll board your ox-cart for a close-up view of village life. This is a wonderful opportunity to see how people live outside the tourist areas, while traveling at the same pace as the villagers.
  • Off the beaten path in Thailand.
    For the past 20 years, in an effort to reduce poverty in the area of Bok Klua, an ongoing project has created new jobs in organic farming. In addition, new roads were built to reach Bok Klua, a lovely village located two hours drive from Nan Town, which is the closest Thai town to the Laos border. We’re pleased to be able to offer a new 3day/2night excursion that includes trekking in Phu Kha National Park, visits to a salt mine community project in Bok Klua, as well as Phu Fha Royal Project. Visitors can observe and learn about the success Bok Klua has had in the farming of organic herbs and mulberries. Accommodations are in a rustic hotel. This is an area that few tourists ever see.

Diane Embree
December 10, 2016