Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Sanchaya, best rated hotel in Bintan

Situated on the beautiful island of Bintan and located just a 10-minute drive from BBT Ferry Terminal, The Sanchaya offers luxurious and modern getaway with a private beach area, an outdoor pool, free WiFi access in all areas of the property, and free on-site parking for guests who drive. This resort also offers free return transfer service to the ferry terminal.

The beautifully designed rooms at The Sachaya are all air-conditioned. Each one is fitted with a seating area, a flat-screen satellite TV, an iPod dock, personal safe and an en suite bathroom featuring shower facility, slippers, bathrobes, and free toiletries. Fresh towels and linen are also provided. Some rooms have dining area and a well-equipped kitchen. Guests can enjoy pool, garden, or sea view from the balcony.

The concierge service at the 24-hour front desk can help guests with currency exchange, luggage storage, laundry requests, arranging car hire and bicycle rental, airport shuttle, and organising relaxing massage treatments at the spa and wellness centre. Guests can also purchase lovely trinkets at the on-site gift shop.

As for dining option, the on-site All Day Dining Restaurant serves Asian and Western dishes, while the Library & Bar serves light snacks and refreshing beverages.

Address:  Jalan Gurindam Duabelas, Plot 5, 29155 Lagoi, Indonesia Show map

The Riau Islands targets 2.5 Million international arrivals in 2015

The Head of the Tourism Office of the Riau islands, Guntur Sakti, informed the press recently that for 2015 the province has set itself the target to welcome2.5 million international visitors. While, the island of Batam alone,  the main entry gate to the Riau Islands,  is expected to receive 1.7 million foreign tourists,up from this year's 1.2 million. Which means that the other Riau islands comprising Bintan, Anambas, the Karimun Islands and other smaller islands are expected to receive another 800,000 tourists, up from around 500,000 in 2014. .  

To attract more tourists, Batam has put together an exciting Calendar of Events that include activities highlighting the area's Malay culture, music and dance. There will be popular Sports events like the Yacht Regatta, the Tour de Barelang cycling race, golf tournaments, traditional boat races and more.   The opening of the vast Batam ecopark this year is also expected to boost arrivals to Batam.

Up to now visitors to Batam arrive predominantly by ferries from Singapore and Malaysia, which ply several times a day.

Already a popular island resort resort for Singaporeans and Malaysians, Batam is also a favorite destination for expatriates and tourists visiting Singapore who wish to cross the border and take a peek at what Indonesia has to offer. Among these are tourists from China and Europe.  

Although Batam has a large international airport, nonetheless so far, the airport receives only domestic flights, and is quite a favorite destination for Indonesian tourists who come here for shopping and make Batam a hopping off point for a short holiday in Singapore. Besides being an industrial center attracting business people, Batam is popular for its international golf courses and delicious yet reasonably priced seafood such as chilli crab, freshly caught steamed prawns, oysters, and a whole array of mouthwatering fish prepared any style.     

To increase growth, the  Batam local government has asked the national government to push international airlines fly to Batam direct.

Meanwhile the Riau province, with its vast seas intends to base its tourism growth through the development of marine tourism that include yachting, sailing, fishing and diving around some of its pristine waters around  Anambas, and Natuna islands, increase cultural activities around Batam, Bintan and Lingga and highlight delicious cuisine across the islands.      

Bintan, the largest island in this archipelago has meantime also increased events with its popular  annual sports competitions like  the Bintan Triathlon, MetaMan Bintan, Tour de Bintan, Bintan Marathon and Golf Championships. These attract participants not only from Bintan and surrounding islands but also from Singapore and Malaysia.

North Bintan with its luxurious, fully integrated resorts and fantastic golf courses along a vast white sand beach that faces the South China Sea, has also become a favorite destination for tourists worldwide. While West Bintan with its Trikora Beach is usually filled with fishing aficionados from Singapore.  A huge shopping mall and more hotels are in construction at Lagoi Bay to attract more international and domestic tourists. While a second airport near Bintan Resort will soon open to accommodate wide-bodied aircrafts. The town of Tanjung Pinang and its historic island of Penyengat already draws thousands of visitors each year.  

 With these developments in the offing  and to reach arrival targets,  Batam, Bintan and the Riau Islands hope that the envisaged free visa facility for tourists from China, South Korea, Japan and Russia can be realized as soon as possible, as well as easier regulations to allow entry and sailing of yachts in the Indonesian seas to come into force soon as planned by the National Government. 
(source: Kompas daily) (

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Historic 34th ASEAN Tourism Forum kicks off in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

The 34th edition of ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) kicked off today at Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) 1 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar with the 41st Meeting of the ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs). Some 300 delegates including tourism ministers and NTO officials are flying in for the event which is being held in Myanmar for the first time. Over the next few days, some 2,000 delegates from over 50 countries will gather in Nay Pyi Taw for ATF 2015.

H.E. U Htay Aung, Union Minister of the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, said, “We would like to extend a warm welcome to all ATF 2015 delegates, sellers, buyers, media and trade visitors to Myanmar. I hope the meetings, discussions and conversations we will have over the next few days will be fruitful, and that at the same time, you will have the opportunity to experience for yourself Myanmar’s rich culture and biodiversity, as well as our people’s charm and hospitality.”

From 22 to 26 January, the ASEAN tourism ministers and NTOs, together with their counterparts from countries such as China, India, Japan, Korea (Republic of Korea) and Russia will convene in a series of meetings to discuss issues concerning tourism in the region, as part of the official ATF 2015 programme.

Themed ‘ASEAN – Tourism Towards Peace, Prosperity and Partnership’, ATF 2015 will be officially opened on 26 January at an opening ceremony graced by H.E. U Thein Sein, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and Mr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO. At the opening ceremony, Myanmar will be formally presented the award for 'Best in Travel – AEC Country' 2014 by Lonely Planet Traveller. Also part of the programme are the presentation of the ASEANTA (ASEAN Tourism Association) Awards for Excellence and cultural performances.

From 26 to 29 January, key activities of the ATF 2015 Official Programme include:

  • ASEAN Tourism Ministers Press Conference (26 Jan)
  • ASEAN Tourism Conference (27 Jan)
  • Media briefings by each of the 10 ASEAN member countries’ NTO (27 to 29 Jan)
  • TRAVEX, the travel mart showcasing products and services by ASEAN sellers (28 and 29 Jan)
(For the latest complete programme, please refer to

ASEAN Tourism Conference

Themed ‘Tourism in the ASEAN Community 2015’, the half-day ASEAN Tourism Conference (ATC) on 27 January will feature a group of speakers from diverse backgrounds and expertise to discourse challenges and solutions for promoting tourism in the region. The panel discussion, moderated by Ms Carmen Roberts, a travel writer and television presenter with BBC, will cover a range of topics including Mutual Recognition Agreement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP), ASEAN Tourism Standards, ASEAN Open Skies Policy and Responsible Tourism Planning and Development in Myanmar.

Open to all participants of ATF 2015, ATC is an invaluable opportunity for tourism players to gain insights from industry experts and get the ‘Myanmar perspective’ from the country’s Union Minister of Ministry for Hotels and Tourism, U Htay Aung, and Chairman of Myanmar Tourism Federation, U Yan Win, who will deliver the keynote address and welcome speech respectively.

The detailed ATC programme and profiles of the speakers can be found on the event website at

Strong participation from local exhibitors and visitors

TRAVEX, the two-day travel exhibition component of ATF, has attracted strong participation, with host country Myanmar participating with its largest ever contingent. U Phyoe Wai Yar Zar, Chairman of Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM), said, “It is encouraging and heartening to see so many local companies participating given that this is the first time Myanmar is hosting ATF. It is also a reflection of the rapidly growing tourism industry in Myanmar. We are eagerly anticipating the start of TRAVEX and to share our country’s beauties and hospitality with all ATF participants.”

In total, some 1000 sellers comprising ASEAN hoteliers, tour operators and travel agencies, national tourism boards, airline professionals, restaurateurs, attraction and theme park owners, and companies from other sectors of the industry have snapped up 527 booths at TRAVEX on 28 and 29 January to showcase their destinations, products and services. (The list of participating exhibitors can be found at They will meet with some 300 buyers from over 40 countries at pre-scheduled one-on-one appointments to explore, negotiate and ink new deals. Three hundred local and foreign trade visitors are also expected to attend TRAVEX.

Mr Andrew Carroll, Global Head of Sales and Marketing at Exotic Voyages, said, “As a luxury travel company tour operator with a passion for extraordinary journeys, ATF has always been an important event for us to seek out new destinations and adventures for our clients. This year’s ATF in Myanmar is extra special, as Myanmar is a unique and new destination for international visitors in every sense of the word. Based in Vietnam with offices globally, we are in a unique position to provide expert local knowledge of the region to our clients from around the planet.”
(ATF 2015 opening day press release )

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Free Indonesia visas for Aussies on hold

Aussie holidaymakers heading to Bali look set to continue paying for visas on arrival until Indonesia can get fees waived for its citizens visiting Australia.
In November, Indonesia's tourism minister announced the government may scrap the $US35 fee for citizens of Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia from this month.
But so far, the ruling only applies to Japan.
Agus Barnas, spokesman for Indonesia's Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Law and Security, says Indonesia wants to pursue a reciprocal arrangement with Australia.
"For Australia, there's still obstacles on political and security issues," he told AAP.
"Other than that, free visas should be given reciprocally."
Japan has waived visa fees for Indonesians visiting for up to 15 days.
A tourism expert from Bali's Udayana University, Nyoman Sukma Arida, says it's wise to delay the plan.
"We have to research whether visas are a factor that deter more people from coming to Indonesia," he told AAP. "Are there problems with visas and is the fee a determining factor for tourists?"
He says the government is right to pursue reciprocal arrangements.
"We can't treat these free visas like a sale giveaway," he said.
Indonesia already offers free visas to ASEAN member countries and six others. It is aiming to boost foreign tourism by about seven per cent in 2015, to 10 million visitors.(Travelweekly)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Extraordinary Cap Go Meh Festivities in Singkawang

The 15th day of the Lunar New Year, or better known here as “Cap Go Meh”, forms the highlight of any Chinese New Year celebrations in Indonesia.
This is most elaborately held in areas with a large ethnic Chinese population such as in West Kalimantan, Bangka-Belitung and Palembang or in the Chinatowns of Semarang, Surabaya, Jakarta, Bandung,Manado and Medan. This year, as Chinese New Year (Imlek) falls on 19th February 2015, the Cap Go Meh Celebration will take place on 5th March 2015.

As always, Cap Go Meh will be celebrated with extraordinary festivities in the city of Singkawang in West Kalimantan Province. Already hotels in the city report rapid registration facing this year’s celebrations.

In Singkawang, the peak of the festival and of the entire New Year series of celebrations is highlighted with the parade of the ancient art of Tatung. Intended to repel misfortunes for the rest of the year, Tatung is the principle medium of the Cap Go Meh ritual to reject evil spirits. During the Tatung rituals, its participants will enter into a trance and perform many incredible stunts, such as stepping on a sword, or sticking steel wires or nails into their cheeks. This is quite unbelievable to see that despite such torture, the Tatungs are not wounded or even scarred.

Singkawang is the second largest city in West Kalimantan province, bordering the State of Sarawak, Malaysia. Unlike other towns in Indonesia, Singkawang has a distinct oriental atmosphere with hundreds of Chinese temples found around almost every corner of town. This is because over 70% of Singkawang’s population is of Chinese descent, predominantly of the Hakka tribe with some Teochew. Others are Malays, Dayaks and other Indonesian ethnic groups.

In the 18th century, West Borneo lured many from mainland China to the gold mines at Monterado (today called the Bengkayang district). The Chinese came by the thousands, and on their way there they used to overnight in Singkawang. Most settled here, and their descendents today form the majority population of Singkawang.

To reach Singkawang, one must first fly to Pontianak, capital of West Kalimantan, then take a taxi or public transportation to Singkawang.

Celebrated annually on the 15 day of the Chinese New Year, Cap Go Meh literally translated means the 15th night, on which the first full moon of the year occurs. As the pinnacle of the entire Chinese New Year Celebrations, this truly amazing cultural event is surely worth traveling for, to watch and experience firsthand. Be sure to have your accommodation confirmed since hotels during these festivities are at a premium. (

Pontianak hotels


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