Category Archives: Travel in Southeast Asia

Top Hotels for Touring Southeast Asian Countries

Cambodia

Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor*****
1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khum Svay Dang Kum
Siem Reap
Tel.: +855 63 963 888; Fax: +855 63 963 168
www.raffles.com/siem-reap/
Email: bookus.siemreap@raffles.com

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, in the Old French Quarter only 8 kilometres from the extraordinary Angkor Wat temple complex, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is the ideal place to explore the spiritual and archaeological masterwork. Relax and revitalise beside a magnificent pool inspired by Angkorian architecture or take a short stroll along the riverside to discover the vibrant local markets.

Grand_Hotel_dAngkor_SiemReap
Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor. Photo via Wikimedia by Kounosu
Vietnam

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi*****
15 Ngo Quyen Street
Hoan Kiem District
10000 Hanoi
Tel.: +84 4 382 66919; Fax: +84 4 382 66920
www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1555-sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi/index.shtml
Email: H1555@sofitel.com

Located steps from the Opera House in Hanoi’s French Quarter this legendary property brings guests into intimate contact with the opulence of another era. Surround yourself in heritage as you stroll stately corridors and explore a dramatic past. Behind its classical white façade green shutters original wrought iron details and stately wood panelling reside over a century of stories. Stand on the walkways that grace its lush courtyard lawn and immerse yourself in the hotels rich traditions.

Temple sites nearby:
Tran Quoc Pagaoda – 4km
Chua Dau Pagoda – 30km outside of Hanoi, Thuan Thanh district
Temple of Literature – 2.5km

800px-Hotel_Metropole_Hanoi_0418new
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. Photo via Wikimedia by Gryffindor
Laos

Settha Palace Hotel*****
6 Rue Pang Kham
Vientiane
Tel.: +856 21 217 581; Fax: +856 21 217 583
www.setthapalace.com
Email: reservations@setthapalace.com

In the heart of bustling Vientiane stands a remarkable hotel. Built in the early part of the last century, circa 1932, and painstakingly restored to its former imperial glory, the Settha Palace Hotel serves as testament to the long lost era of classical elegance, gracious service and French colonial charm.

Temple sites nearby:
Pha That Luang – 3.5km
Wat Sisaket – 800m
Wat Mixai – 1km

2979238069_ed25642d32
Settha Palace Hotel. Photo via Flickr by Peter Riccio – http://goo.gl/68Rlsj
Myanmar (Burma)

The Strand Hotel Yangon*****
92 Strand Road
Yangon
Tel.: +95 1 243 377; Fax: +95 1 243 393
www.hotelthestrand.com
Email: reservations@hotelthestrand.com

Declared “the finest hostelry East of Suez” by John Murray in his Handbook for Travellers written in the early 20th century, the 1901-built three storey 5 star hotel in Yangon remains one of Southeast Asia’s few grand hotels and one of its most awe inspiring.

Temple sites nearby:
Shwedagon Pagoda – 4.5km
Karaweik Hall – 3.4km
Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda (Reclining Buddha) – 6.6km

800px-Strand_Hotel_Entrance_(8391604920)new
The Strand Hotel Yangon. Photo via Wikimedia by Russavia
 Thailand

The Siam Hotel*****
3/2 Thanon Khao, Vachirapayabal, Dusit
Bangkok 10300
Tel.: +66 2206 6999; Fax: +66 2206 6998
www.thesiamhotel.com
Email: info@thesiamhotel.com

The Siam is the newest addition to, and crown jewel of, the growing portfolio of independently owned and operated properties that make up Sukosol Hotels. The Siam spirit is to create a luxury experience embracing every moment and every individual with sincerity and integrity and a passion for service.

Temple sites nearby:
Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing – 11km
Wat Arun – 8km
Wat Pho – 6km

800px-Wat_Arun_-_1
Wat Arun Bangkok. Photo via Wikimedia by Muisamart
Indonesia

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta*****
Jalan Jenderal Sudiman 9
55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 566617; Fax: +62 274 566856
www.mgallery.com
Email: info@thephoenixyogya.com

Located in the heart of Yogyakarta, near the popular Malioboro district, the historic Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, a member of theMgallery Collection, is a colonial landmark dating back to 1918. With 144 elegant rooms and suites, each boasting a balcony and a fusion of Asian and European décor, The Phoenix Hotel features a restaurant, wine bar and terrace bar overlooking an open courtyard. An inviting swimming pool, indulgent day spa and modern conferencing facilities complete the exclusive experience.

Temple sites nearby:
Bodobudur – 42km
Prambanan – 16km

800px-Borobudur,_Java
Borobudur in Indonesia. Photo via Wikimedia by Bernard Gagnon

 

Visiting Borobudur

When to go:

Yogyakarta is blessed with plenty of sunshine throughout the year. Generally speaking, the days are hot and humid, with only two seasons per year: the rainy season and the dry season. November to March is dominated by strong rainfall, therefore it is recommended to visit Yogyakarta during the dry season from April to October.

800px-Borobudur.Stupas.am003
Borobudur. Photo via Wikimedia by Klodo6975

 

Borobudur Opening Times:

Continue reading Visiting Borobudur

Visiting sacred sites and temples in Southeast Asia: how to avoid getting overwhelmed!

Crowds at Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok: it's easy to get overwhelmed! (image source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangkok#mediaviewer/File:Wat_Phra_Sri_Rattana_Satsadaram_07.jpg )
Crowds at Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok: it’s easy to get overwhelmed! (image source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangkok#mediaviewer/File:Wat_Phra_Sri_Rattana_Satsadaram_07.jpg )

South East Asia has many prominent pagodas, temples and monuments which are the major attraction to the region, for history buffs, pilgrims, and general travellers alike. One of the common issues for new travellers is fatigue from seeing too many places at one time and trying to absorb huge amounts of information. Here are a few tips on how to avoid temple overload when travelling…

Continue reading Visiting sacred sites and temples in Southeast Asia: how to avoid getting overwhelmed!

Southeast Asia Tour Companies List

There are so many options for tours around the countries featured in our Golden Lands Buddhist architecture book: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. All the big international companies offer readymade tours for a range of budgets, but for each country there are also more specialized and local tours available, if you search a bit deeper. There are also tour companies offering packages for adventure travel, culture, diving, pilgrimage, and rail journeys.

To help you discover some of the best options for SE Asia travel, we’ve researched and put together a mind map of the tour companies.

The following image is a preview of our mind map, and see the link below for the full web page.

Over 100 Tour Companies listed by country and type!
Over 100 Tour Companies listed by country and type!

Please click here to visit the full mind map including text and clickable links.

Some of the tour companies have Twitter accounts, and we’ve gathered the ones which are more focused  on these particular countries (not big generalists) into a Twitter list of Southeast Asia Tour Companies here, so you can subscribe to all their feeds with one click.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta, and nearby: a 7-Day Itinerary

Borobudur temple - photo by thrillseekr https://flic.kr/p/62bKbh
Borobudur temple – photo by thrillseekr https://flic.kr/p/62bKbh

DAY 1 – Introducing Yogyakarta

1200-1500: Hotel Check-In; freshen up

15:00: Visit the Tugu, Jogja’s most famous landmark:

For some people the Tugu might look familiar, as there is a bigger version in Jakarta. It has quite some stories to tell with an age of almost 300 years. The legend goes, that when students graduate from any university in Yogyakarta, they will come over to hug the Tugu and being thankful for passing all exams and for future success in life and on work.

Price: FREE

Motor scooter rental: IDR 50.000 for 24 hours

Taxi: ca. IDR 25000 for 15 minutes

Vredeburg Fortress in Yogyakarta - photo by  Landhes Bregas Manuhara  https://flic.kr/p/4Ac4Wo
Vredeburg Fortress in Yogyakarta – photo by Landhes Bregas Manuhara https://flic.kr/p/4Ac4Wo

15:30: Visit the Vredeburg Fortress:

Leave the Tugu via Jalan Malioboro, the hub of Yogyakarta. Have a short glimpse of bicycle-rickshaw drivers, shops in various sizes, fast food chains next to Warungs (small local restaurants).

The Vredeburg Fortress was a former Dutch fortress, but serves now as museum. Learn about the Dutch colonization of Indonesia until 1949.

Entry fee: IDR 3000 per person (US$ 0.30)
Opening times: Tue-Thu: 08.30-13.30, Fri: 08.30-11.00, Sat&Sun: 08.30-12.00
Tel.: +62 274 586934 and +62 274 510996
Web: /
Address: Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani 6

Bank Indonesia, Yogyakarta - photo by Orangescale Studio https://flic.kr/p/4vnyDW
Bank Indonesia, Yogyakarta – photo by Orangescale Studio https://flic.kr/p/4vnyDW

17:30: See colonial Dutch architecture:

 

Now it is time to explore the surroundings by walking. Leave the Vredeburg Fortress and stroll around its neighbourhood; visit the nearby ‘Bank Indonesia’ or ‘POS Indonesia’ and see the colonial buildings which are in fantastic shape. On the opposite you can find lots of hawkers, selling silver jewellery at affordable prices.

Price: FREE

5225477636_b5f0ed005c_z

19:00: Indulge into Indonesia’s cuisine:

It’s time for an early dinner, since we have to leave early for Borobudur in the morning. Yogyakarta boasts all kinds of restaurants, from street food to splurge.

2458468567_545579d517_z

Recommendation: Start with Indonesia’s national dish, “Nasi Goreng” (fried rice), caution: It might be spicy! Tell the waiter: “Sedikit panas” (slightly spicy).

Price: start: IDR 10.000 (US$ 1) per meal

DAY 2: Borobudur Temple, Pawon & Mendut

04:00: Leave Yogyakarta in the early morning by a pre-booked bus or via private driver towards Borobudur, the single largest Buddhist structure on earth. Arrive right before sunset and climb up the top to see the sun rising.

Borobudur - photo by Peter Jackson https://flic.kr/p/f6paE4
Borobudur – photo by Peter Jackson https://flic.kr/p/f6paE4

Location: approx. 40km from Yogyakarta
Entry: IDR230.000, ca. US$ 20 per person
Transport: private car-with-driver rental recommended; Prices for full day (8-10 hours):
Web: www.borobudurpark.com

4366026611_fde53093ae_z

12:00: Only located 2 kilometres away from Borubudur, lays the Pawon Temple, the midpoint of the Three Buddha Temples. It is located right on the axis lines connecting Mendut and Borobudur.

Pawon Temple - photo by  Pandu Adnyana  https://flic.kr/p/7ZeNdp
Pawon Temple – photo by Pandu Adnyana
https://flic.kr/p/7ZeNdp

Location: 1.75 km northeast of Borobudur
Entry: IDR 3300 per person for Mendut and Pawon Temple
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun from 07.00 – 18.00

13:30: Visit the third important Buddhist temple, the Mendut Temple. Different from Borobudur, which faces the rising sun, Mendut is faced westwards.

Inside Candi Mendut - photo by  Prayudi Hartono  https://flic.kr/p/aoSvPF
Inside Candi Mendut – photo by Prayudi Hartono
https://flic.kr/p/aoSvPF

Location: 1.15 km to the southwest of Pawon
Entry: IDR 3300 per person for Mendut and Pawon Temple
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun from 07.00 – 18.00

16:00: Back to your hotel

DAY 3: Candi Prambanan Complex

09:00: Start your day by exploring Yogyakarta’s famous road Jalan Malioboro by trishaw, the tricycle-/ rickshaw combination.

You will find them all over. Don’t forget to haggle down the price you first get offered, it should cost not more than IDR 10.000-15.000 per ride.

Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta - photo by  Bryn Pinzgauer  https://flic.kr/p/njcB2n
Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta – photo by Bryn Pinzgauer
https://flic.kr/p/njcB2n

12:00: Check out from your hotel in Yogyakarta and leave towards the impressive Prambanan temple complex. Check-in new hotel.

15:00: Start with yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hindu Temple of Prambanan, built in honor of Lord Shiva and explore its compound of more than 200 temples. See the very interesting similarities between the previous visited Buddhist temple Borobudur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan. Once finished exploring the grounds, book a ticket for the Prambanan ballet at night.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - photo by Suanie https://flic.kr/p/n77SR7
Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta – photo by Suanie https://flic.kr/p/n77SR7

Location: about 17km south west of Yogyakarta
Entry: IDR 210.000 per person
Transport: Taxi: ca. IDR 50.000, around 20 minutes
Opening Hours: 06.00 to 18.00, ticket sell closes at 17:15.
Ballet at Prambanan: Tickets range between IDR 100.000 – 350.000, depending on seat location
Food: – Local food hawkers selling traditional Indonesian everywhere around the temple
– Abhayagiri Restaurant: Address: Dusun Sumberwatu, Sambirejo, Prambanan; Tel.: +62 446 9277 and +62 821 3453 5000
– Kali Opak Restaurant: Address: Bokoharjo village, Ngablak, Prambanan; Tel.: +62 274 652 2976

Candi Lumbung - photo by Flip Nomad https://flic.kr/p/bqKp6g
Candi Lumbung – photo by Flip Nomad https://flic.kr/p/bqKp6g

DAY 4: Candi Sewu Complex

09:00: Start the day by visiting Candi Bubrah a Buddhist temple now in ruins and Candi Lumbung (Javanese: “Rice Barn Temple”), a temple which dates back to the 9th century.

The main temple is surrounded by 16 smaller temples. Both temples are located just a few hundred meters away from Prambanan.

Candi Sewu - photo by Marie  https://flic.kr/p/fDrH34
Candi Sewu – photo by Marie https://flic.kr/p/fDrH34

Then head over to Candi Sewu, located only 800m north of Prambanan and easily reached by walking. Candi Sewu means 1000 temples, but has in fact 253 buildings. It is the second largest Buddhist temple in Java, Borobudur being the largest.

13:30: Get energized! Have lunch at the ‘Abhayagiri Restaurant’ which offers casual dining with stunning views towards the Prabanan Temple and Mount Merapi.

Entry fee Candi Sewu, Bubrah, Lumbung: Included in Prambanan ticket.

*Note: No up to date information about whether Prambanan offers multiple day passes like Angkor in Cambodia does. The guests might purchase every day a new ticket or ask for information in advance at info@borobudurpark.co.id
Opening times: Mon-Sun 06.00-17.30

Lunch: as per consumption

Candi Banyunibo – By 井上 光 (プランバナン、インドネシア) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
15:30: Take a short drive towards Banyunibo – The temple in the middle of the field. The complex consists of one main temple and six supplementary temples. Banyunibo is situated in Cepit Hamlet, Bokoharjo Village.

Entry fee: FREE

18:30: Back to your hotel

Candi Kalasan - photo by  Photo Dharma https://flic.kr/p/e9MZjv
Candi Kalasan – photo by Photo Dharma
https://flic.kr/p/e9MZjv

DAY 5: Candi Kalasan, Candi Sari and King Boko Palace:

09:00: Now it’s time to visit Candi Kalasan, also known as Tara Temple. Though not considered as the most famous temple around Yogyakarta, Borobudur, it is the oldest Buddhism heritage site in Yogyakarta.

The building also inspired Atisha, a Buddhist from India who once visited Borobudur and spread Buddhism to Tibet. Candi Kalasan is located approx. 2km from the Prambanan Temple and reachable by walking.

Opening times: Mon-Sun 06.00-18.00
Entry fees: IDR 2000 per person

Candi Sari - photo by Photo Dharma https://flic.kr/p/e9Nxj2
Candi Sari – photo by Photo Dharma https://flic.kr/p/e9Nxj2

11:30: Visit Candi Sari, an interesting temple from the 8th century, which also served as dormitory for Buddhist monks. It is only 130 metres northeast from Kalasan Temple.

Opening times: 09.00 to 17.00
Entry fees: IDR 2000

13:00: Lunch

King Boko Palace - photo by Chauromano https://flic.kr/p/7keQeh
King Boko Palace – photo by Chauromano https://flic.kr/p/7keQeh

15:00: King Boko Palace was a luxurious building which is now a large archaeological site located almost 200m above the sea level and covers almost 15 ha. Its distance to Prambanan is about 3km. You are further able to see and visit Candi Batu Putih and Candi Pembakaran and the Pendopo (audience hall), which also features a number of small temples / shrines in its surrounding.

Opening times:
Entry fees: IDR 150.000 per person, special package prices available
Web: www.borobudurpark.com and info@borobudurpark.co.id

18:30: Back to your hotel

Candi Plaosan - photo by  Doni Ismanto https://flic.kr/p/aen7Ss
Candi Plaosan – photo by
Doni Ismanto https://flic.kr/p/aen7Ss

 DAY 6: Candi Plaosan

09:00: Check out from your hotel. (Option 1)

09:30-15:30: Today you will visit yet another impressive complex: Candi Plaosan. Located 1km north of Prambanan, the complex is divided into north -and south temple. Since both temples look very similar to each other, they are often called ‘twin temples’.

Candi Plaosan is surrounded by rice paddies, offering a picturesque landscape. It is made up of 116 stupas and 58 shrines. Take your time to discover the temple.

16:00: Back to Yogyakarta and hotel check-in (Option 1) or remain at the hotel near Prambanan until tomorrow (Option 2) >> This option is best if you would like to see/experience/buy anything from Yogyakarta.

19:30: Dinner in Prambanan (Opt.1) or time for a special cup of coffee in Yogyakarta (Opt.2)

Visit Angkringan Malioboro, next to the famous road Jalan Malioboro for a so called Kopi Jos. Sidewalks with carpets spread on are turned into coffee shops at night and you can see locals from all walks of life sipping coffee and eating Gorengan (tasty small fried snacks, e.g. fried tofu or banana). Tip: try Tape, a fermented rice drink!

Afterwards you can stroll on Jalan Malioboro for some last impressions and to buy souvenirs for family and loved ones.

Entry fee Plaosan: IDR 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 06.00-17.30
Prices Kopi Jus: Around IDR 25000 for 2 persons.

DAY 7: Candi Sambisari & transfer to airport

08:00: Check-out from your hotel >> if you are still in Prambanan, it would be best to check out by 07.30.

08:30: Before flying out of Yogyakarta, you will visit the Sambisari temple, located close to the airport. Actually a Hindu temple, it was buried about five meters underground and only accidentally discovered by a farmer in 1966. It took an impressive 21 years to reconstruct the temple piece by piece.

Entry fee: FREE
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 09.00 – 16.00

10:00: Departure towards the airport

 

Recommended Hotels in Yogyakarta:

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta –Mgallery Collection*****
www.mgallery.com
Jalan Jenderal Sudiman 9, 55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 566617; Fax: +62 274 566856; email: info@thephoenixyogya.com

Jambuluwuk Malioboro Boutique Hotel****
www.jambuluwuk.co.id
Jalan Gajah Mada No 67, 55112 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 58 56 55; Fax: +62 274 58 56 15

Recommended Hotels near Prambanan:
Hotel Tentrem****, 1.2km from Prambanan
www.hoteltentrem.com
Jalan AM Sangaji No 72a, 55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 641 5555, Fax: +62 274 641 5588; email: sales@hoteltentrem.com

Recommended Transport:

Driver + private vehicle:

ADAM Jogja Transport, standby at the airport
Tel.: +62 823 2389 7555, +62 858 7834 6106, +62 877 3936 5095
Example:
Toyota Avanza 1.3 M/T, 7 seater, 12 hours = IDR 325.000
Excluding: Fuel, entry fees
Fuel: IDR 6500 per litre

Motorbike:

Honda Vario or similar: IDR 50.000 per 24 hours
Note: There are many shops renting motorbikes, best to ask the concierge / front desk staff (who might put commission on top).

Good morning Borobudur - photo by Dennis Stauffer https://flic.kr/p/axFDLZ
Good morning Borobudur – photo by Dennis Stauffer https://flic.kr/p/axFDLZ

 

Article research and text: Kian

Photo selection via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 – please contact us for amendments and attribution improvements.

Visiting Myanmar? Don’t Miss These Most Famous Buddhist Monuments

Myanmar (Burma) is one of the best places in Asia to see Buddhist architecture and monuments. All over the country are countless iconic sights and pagodas. Here are three of the top Buddhist monuments to see on a visit to the country.

Shwedagon Pagoda - photo by Paul Arps https://flic.kr/p/iTfg8w
Shwedagon Pagoda – photo by Paul Arps https://flic.kr/p/iTfg8w

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon is the major Buddhist monument in Burma and is a landmark in Yangon. There has been a religious site here for over 2500 years and the golden stupa has been rebuilt several times; the latest in 1769.

Gilding the stupa began in the 15th century and today the golden zedi has thousands of tons of gold around its structure. At the very top are thousands of diamonds with a single 76 carat gem at the tip of the orb.

All around the zedi are smaller shrines for worship and a constant movement of people walking around the religious site, many in prayer.

Continue reading Visiting Myanmar? Don’t Miss These Most Famous Buddhist Monuments