Indochina

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AN INTRODUCTION TO VIETNAM

Vietnam is rich in history and culture blended from the diverse influences that have presided over the country and its people. From 2000 years of domination from the Chinese to the more modern influences of French colonialism and the turbulent independence movement of the 20th century, Vietnam is now being embraced by the world for its magnificent natural beauty, friendly and inquisitive people and its delicious food. Full of UNESCO and World Heritage listed sights, Vietnam is a treasure trove of memories, with the geography and man made monuments and structures being supplemented by the positive attitude of its people to create a country that is now captivating and infectious to all those who have had the pleasure to visit.

CLIMATE

Vietnam is located in a sub tropical climatic zone with the weather pattern roughly split into three different zones. The north has a distinct summer and winter with the high humidity monsoon/wet season lasting from May to October. The centre of the country experiences a long dry season lasting from January to the end of September before having its compact wet season. The south has a tropical weather pattern with two distinct seasons, wet and dry with the high humidity monsoon lasting from May to November. During the wet season in the south, the rainfall is usually a daily, heavy but short lived, downpour in the afternoon. The mountainous regions experience cooler extremes in temperatures due to the local topography. The best times to visit Vietnam are in the months of November through to March. April, May, September and October are also popular, though Vietnam can be at its most attractive during the monsoon due to lush growth of the vegetation.

 

 

 

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AN INTRODUCTION TO CAMBODIA

Cambodia is undergoing a rapid rise in popularity for visitors. This is due in part to the increased exposure of the sheer size and grandeur of Cambodia's major attraction located in the north of the country - the Temples of Angkor. It is also the gentle, polite nature and charming personality of the Khmer people, which makes Cambodia a memorable destination.

PHNOM PENH Phnom Penh is the political and commercial centre of Cambodia and sits on the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. It is a bustling city dotted with fine colonial buildings creating a charming atmosphere characterised by the exceptionally friendly Khmer people.

SIEM REAP/TEMPLES OF ANGKOR The provincial capital of Siem Reap is an energetic tourist destination due to its proximity to both the ancient Khmer national capital city of Angkor and Tonle Sap Lake. Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument, is the spiritual and cultural heart of Cambodia. The huge complex of palaces and temples were built on the sprawling alluvial plain to the north of Tonle Sap. No amount of words can do justice to these magnificent sacred wonders. In excess of 100 temples surround this area giving rise to a surreal atmosphere and historical presence.

CLIMATE

Situated 14 degrees north of the equator, Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate with the southwest monsoon (wet season) lasting from May to October bringing heavy tropical rains whilst the northwest monsoon (dry season) from November to April spreads dry weather and high temperatures throughout the country. These months, especially April, can be extremely hot with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius and humidity levels maintaining a sticky 80-90%. Rainfall is highest between May and June, and September and October. The coldest month is January. The best time to visit is during the cooler months of the dry season, although daytime temperatures can remain high, nights become much more tolerable with an average temperature of 22C. The air can be rather dusty during this period.

 

 

 

 

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AN INTRODUCTION TO LAOS 

Laos provides the traveller a chance to truly experience Asia as it once was. Largely undeveloped, devotedly Buddhist and blessed geographically with natural beauty, this country will forever leave a lasting impression on all travellers. VIENTIANE Weaving along the Mekong River, Vientiane, the capital of Laos, emits an atmosphere of timelessness. Vientiane, which translates as Sandalwood City, is a city of villas and boulevards. It is one of three classic Indochinese cities (including Saigon and Phnom Penh) that most strongly conjure up images of exotic Eurasian settings. Although Vientiane is the largest city in the country, it is still small enough to get to know easily. The tree-lined boulevards and old temples impart an old world charm in spite of passing traffic. This laid back town possesses a charisma that no one can resist.

LUANG PRABANG Set amidst a striking mountainous skyline, Luang Prabang is a beautiful town retaining its original enchanting character. This UNESCO listed city is 397 km from Vientiane, is the crown jewel of Laos and royal residence of the last king Sisavan Vatthana. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best preserved traditional city in South East Asia. It is a sleepy town which has preserved its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture set amongst splendid natural scenery. Magical and charming, Luang Prabang is one city that every traveller has to see in his lifetime.

VANG VIENG Set amongst a backdrop of mountains and the tranquil Nam Song River, this breath-taking scenery captures the hearts of all who encounter the natural beauty of this town.

CLIMATE

Laos's weather ranges from tropical to sub-tropical, and temperatures vary accordingly between north and south as well as from season to season. The best time to travel is from November to February/March when the weather is dry and warm without being too hot. It can however get quite chilly in the north of the country during these months. From March, the temperature starts to warm up significantly, peaking in April/May, just before the rains come to signal the beginning of the humid wet season which runs until mid-October. Slightly lower rainfall occurs in the north of the country and as a result, Vientiane tends to be wetter than Luang Prabang.

 

 

 

 

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AN INTRODUCTION TO THAILAND

FULL COUNTRY NAME: Kingdom of Thailand

AREA: 517,000sq km

POPULATION: 62 million

CAPITAL CITY: Bangkok (pop 6 million)

PEOPLE: 75% Thai, 11% Chinese, 3.5% Malay, also Mon, Khmer, Phuan and Karen minorities

LANGUAGE: Thai

RELIGION: 95% Buddhism, 4% Muslim

CLIMATE: Thailand has three seasons: rainy from July to October, cool and dry from November to February, and hot from March to June.

CURRENCY: There are 100 satangs in 1 baht. (B=baht) Notes are issued in denominations of B1000 (gray), B500 (purple), B100 (red), B50 (blue), B20 (green), and B10 (brown). There are 10, 5 and 1 baht coin, and 50 and 25 satang. Most foreign currencies and traveller cheques are easily changed at banks, hotels or moneychangers. All major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the kingdom.

ELECTRICITY: The electric system is 220 Volt AC (50 cycles). There are many plugs and sockets in use. Travelers with shavers, tape recorders and other appliances should carry a plug-adapter kit.

VISAS: Visitors to Thailand who hold valid passports or travelling documents issued by any country included in an officially issued list of eligible countries are permitted one-month visa-free visits. If planning a longer stay, a Tourist Visa valid for 60 days must be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. Visa extensions can be applied for at the Immigration Department in Bangkok.

GOVERNMENT: Democratic constitutional monarchy

OVERVIEW: A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict.

The country divides into four regions - North, Northeast, Central and South - sharing borders with Malaysia on the south, Burma on the west, Lao on northeast and east, and Kampucha on the east. Thailand is an easy country to travel in, with efficient transport, cheap accommodation and a delicious national cuisine.

The Thais are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality to strangers. The Thais have an unlimited inclination to smile. Thais truely welcome visitors, they sincerely enjoy being of service and getting to know people. If you're interested in ruins, temples and deserted cities, this is the place to go. If the beach scene interests you, you're in luck. Thailand's islands and beaches are very nice and provide many lvels of amenities and services; everything from a $10 night bungalow to luxurious hotels. As for the urban adventure, a visit to one of the largest cities on earth is a must. Bangkok, although it can be a little overwhelming with its chaos and scale, can provide a lot of entertainment from its energy and cultural treasures.

 

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AN INTRODUCTION TO MALAYSIA

COUNTRY FULL NAME: Federation of Malaysia

POPULATION: 23,000,000

CURRENCY NAME: Malaysian Ringgit Code: MYR Symbol: RM

ELECTRICAL PLUGS: 240V 50Hz

LANGUAGES SPOKEN OFFICIAL: Malay

OVERVIEW: The British were relatively late arrivals to the region in the late 18th century, following Portuguese and later Dutch settlement, but they played a key role following the European wars of the 1790s and, in particular, the defeat of the Netherlands by France in 1795. The Federated Malay States were created in 1895, and remained under British colonial control until the Japanese invasion of 1942.

After Japanese defeat in 1945, the 11 states were once again incorporated as British Protectorates and, in 1948, became the Federation of Malaya. In 1963, the Federation of Malaya merged with Singapore and the former British colonies of Sarawak and Sabah, on north Borneo, to form modern Malaysia. Singapore seceded to become an independent state in its own right in 1965, leaving Malaysia in its present form.

Its convoluted history highlights why Malaysia is so ethnically and culturally diverse. Even better, the magnificent landscape is no less fascinating - dense jungles, soaring peaks and lush tropical rainforests harbour abundant and exotic flora and fauna.

 
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