This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals

Posted by - June 26, 2018

MODERN DAY TRAVELERS seeking off the beaten path attractions and experiences at their destinations like a true local will appreciate TakeMeTour.
Created by robotics engineering graduate Taro Amornched, the online platform aims to match travelers with locals – but not in the sleazy Tinder kind of way.
Bali’s ‘Airbnb Experiences’ second most popular in Asia Specifically, it matches travelers with locals who can show them around.
So whether it’s a gastronomical tour of Bangkok’s Chinatown, a hiking trip along Japan’s nature trails, or a dance in a sunflower field your heart desires, TakeMeTour will connect you with the experts with all the know-how.
“On our website, a traveler can browse tours, itineraries, and experiences that are offered by locals. Currently, we have more than 20,000 local experts from 55 different cities. It’s like having a friend, some people you can trust, to show you around,” Amornched said in an interview with The Jay Kim Show.
Let’s get started Log in to the website and select a city you’d like to visit.
Source: TakeMeTour.
Then, choose from the list of one-day tours and experiences available. Once you find what you like, pick a date on the calendar or chat with said local for availability.
When all details are confirmed, book with them directly. Bookings will only be valid once the payments are made through Take Me Tour with a valid credit card.
It’s like making one new local friend with every booking.
“All the local experts speak Thai and English. We have been focusing on English-speaking travelers in the past two years, but starting this year, we will start focusing on a third language. That means you would see local experts who can speak Japanese, Chinese, and French as a starting point,” Amornched added.
About safety and security Is it okay to throw caution to the wind and simply follow a local around in a foreign country?
How safe is it, really?
A post shared by TakeMeTour (@takemetour_thailand) on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:30pm PDT
“We have very strict security measures. We check the ID, bank account, criminal record, and the like to make sure these local experts are actually legitimate. We also make sure we know how to find them,” Amornched explained.
Newly-listed tours will go through stages of approvals by both TakeMeTour as well as its network of bloggers to assure they’re meeting quality standards.
What if things go bad?
“If something bad happens, we can still make refunds. We also provide accident insurance for both travelers and local experts,” Amornched said.
Every listing also includes reviews from previous guests so travelers can gauge if the experience is something that they’d like.
Healing on a holiday: Cheap rehabs boost Thailand’s medical tourism Currently, the Asian countries that TakeMeTour covers are Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan. The platform is looking to expand to Myanmar next month.
Check it out here.
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Soak up culture while sipping on coffee in charming Hanoi

Posted by - June 14, 2018

CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, the capital of Vietnam is not Ho Chi Minh (more commonly known as Saigon).
It’s Hanoi, a metropolis located in northern region of the country.
Vietnam’s tourism sector spreads its wings, aims for the sky The “Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh” debate is not new, but if you’re hankering for a holiday destination with history (Hanoi’s stretches back 4,000 years while Ho Chi Minh City is at just 300 years), coffee, culture, and charm, then Hanoi should be your top priority.
Known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences, Hanoi’s tourism has been gaining traction as of late. This is in large part due to the rise of low-cost carriers such as AirAsia, Scoot, and VietJet, making the charming destination easier to reach from just about anywhere in the world.
It’s also the second cheapest Asian country to travel around, according to Skyscanner, which makes a Hanoi vacation a bang for the buck.
In fact, VIETNAMNET Bridge reported that Hanoi served more than 13 million tourists in the first five months of 2018, a year-on-year rise of 10 percent.
What draws people to Hanoi? Plenty of things.
The main names that will turn up in search results when you Google “tourist attractions in Hanoi” include (but not limited to) the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, water puppet theatre, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, The Perfume Pagoda, Ngoc Son temple, Dong Suan market, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi Opera House, Ba Vi National Park, and the Temple of Literature.
The Temple of Literature entrance decorated with flags and lanterns for the mid-autumn festival in Hanoi. Source: Shutterstock.
Let’s not forget the heart of Hanoi, the chaotic but endearing Old Quarter, where Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) is.
The fascination never ends as you walk along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter that are dotted with well-preserved colonial buildings. Scooters and bikes may whizz past you carelessly as you explore the town. Just take deep breaths and stay on your path because the area is best explored on foot.
The streets are arranged by trade, which makes shopping a breeze. Sidewalk food stalls selling pho (rice noodles with herbs and meat in broth) and bahn mi (baguette sandwich various savory ingredients) are a dime a dozen, and you can fill your tummy with satisfyingly delicious Vietnamese food for pennies.
Heads up though, the kiddy-sized low stools and tables will take some getting used to. But nothing an adventurous traveller can’t handle, for sure.
Stuff your bahn mi any number of protein options, from sweet minced pork to sardines and even pate. Source: Shutterstock.
Be sure to wash it all down with a generous serving of Vietnamese ca phe (coffee), famed for the way it’s made – with a small metal drip filter. For those who are particularly bold, the yummy ca phe sua chua (yogurt coffee) is a must-try.
Don’t forget to take a leisurely stroll at Hoan Kiem Lake, a central feature in Hanoi.
Legend has it that Hoan Kiem Lake is where the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) lives. In reality, the lake is home to large soft-shell turtles. If you’re planning to visit, don’t forget to walk across the striking red Huc Bridge to get to Ngoc Son Temple on the small island in the center.
By day, Hoan Kiem Lake bursts with activities, as it’s a popular place for joggers, couples on a date, the elderly practicing tai chi, locals line dancing, and families enjoying themselves.
Hoan Kiem Lake at night with the striking red Huc Bridge. Source: Shutterstock.
After sunset, however, the lake becomes beautifully illuminated, giving it a romantic atmosphere.
What else is there to do? Its prime location makes Ha Long Bay, a Unesco World Heritage Site and the most visited tourist site in the north of Vietnam, very accessible. The bay is only about 170km east of Hanoi.
“Ha Long” means “Bay of Descending Dragons”, but it’s likely that no actual dragons were spotted there. It’s more famous for its scenic views, as it boasts hundreds (1969, to be exact) of limestone islets in different shapes and sizes rising up from the water.
Hạ Long Bay is known for its emerald waters and hundreds of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Source: Shutterstock.
To really experience Ha Long Bay, stay on board a cruise for a night. It’ll give you ample time to explore the bay on a smaller bamboo boat, visit hidden caves and floating villages, kayak or even swim if you’d like, before retiring and falling asleep beneath the stars on the top deck of your cruise.
How to get there? There are no direct flights to Ha Long Bay but getting there is fairly simple and straightforward.
The most popular and inexpensive way is to get on a local coach. The journey should take you about four to five hours long. Prices are anywhere between US$3.50 to US$7. Get your ticket to your ride here.
Alternatively, you can hire a private car and have yourself a little road trip from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. Prices depend on car and day (can be higher on weekends and holidays) but you should expect to splurge about US$25 to US$65 per day. Go to this website for more information.
There are a number of ways to get to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. Source: Shutterstock.
Finally, the easiest and most fuss-free option of making your way to Ha Long Bay is to book a cruise package here or here.
Most packages include a roundtrip transfer in which a shuttle will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel’s doorstep.
How to be an eco-friendly, alternative traveler Meanwhile, Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district launched its own tourism website to promote its tourism potential and attract more tourists to the area.
The Hanoi Department of Tourism has also been working with CNN to give its promotional efforts more mileage via CNN’s “Destination Hanoi” programme.
This year, Hanoi expects to serve more than 25.4 million holidaymakers, including 5.5 million foreigners, which will bring in some VND75.78 trillion (US$3.33 billion) in revenue.
The post Soak up culture while sipping on coffee in charming Hanoi appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Vietnam’s tourism sector spreads it wings, aims for the sky

Posted by - May 4, 2018

VIETNAM, the land of timeless charm, has welcomed a record number of international tourists in the first quarter of 2018.
According to the General Statistics Office, 5.5 million foreign visitors have entered Vietnam since January 2018 until April.
Of the total 29.5 percent increase in tourism, 36 percent came in from other Asian countries, accounting for 4.16 million of the total visitors.
Asia: Beyond the tourist hot spots Like many other Asian countries, China acted as the main source of foreign visitors with just under 1.77 million travelers going to Vietnam in the last four months.
These figures will secure Vietnam’s tourism boom for a while longer.
They also adhere to a 2017 report released by the United Nation World Tourism Organization stating Vietnam’s tourism industry is the world’s seventh fastest growing.
How is Vietnam pulling in tourists? Last year, Vietnam implemented an easy to use online visa application service. Citizens from 40 countries including South Korea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Japan, Mongolia, and Brunei could start using the platform.
Vietjet, the nation’s main low-cost airline has also recently announced new flight routes to Taiwan and South Korea.
The route from Hanoi to Taichung is planned to run every day, twice a day except for Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Danang to Daegu route will fly daily making one flight to South Korea and then back to Vietnam.
Vietjet aims to become a predominant player in the budget airline game, and this new move will certainly help to attract more visitors.
Vietnam’s tourism goal The last decade has seen the number of international visitors triple and tourism-driven revenue has increased by nine times.
These shows in Asia are more tempting than a Broadway musical Tourism has since been identified as a key economic sector which will help to create jobs in real estate, retail, education, hospitality, and construction.
According to Bloomberg, the Vietnamese government is targeting 15-17 million visitors in 2018. This amounts to around US$98 billion of revenue for the economy.
Why visit Vietnam? A post shared by Sepps (@donkeykongrap) on May 3, 2018 at 2:19am PDT
Let’s begin with food Vietnamese food is a trademark of the nation. A fusion of French and Pan-Asian cuisine is mixed together for heavenly enjoyment.
From beef pho topped with a myriad of fragrant herbs, to the crunchy banh mi baguettes stuffed with carrot, scallions, daikon, crisp pork, lettuce, Siracha, coriander, and mint.
A post shared by The Hood Is Yours (@thehoodparis) on May 3, 2018 at 12:03am PDT
Not forgetting, arguably the world’s best coffee. Watch as the rich black coffee drips onto thick and creamy condensed milk – sure to give you the best start to the day.
Outstanding natural beauty A post shared by Văn Thành Công (@louisvanthanh) on May 1, 2018 at 9:23pm PDT
From miles of white beaches to the hazy mountains, Vietnam boasts some of the most Instagrammable spots in Asia.
Whether you want to sip cocktails on a unicorn float in a private bay or hike to the top of Fansipan, the landscapes won’t let you down.
Shopping A post shared by Piti Pri (@pricardamone) on Apr 12, 2017 at 7:18pm PDT
If you want to be bougie-on-a-budget, then Vietnam is the place for you.
Get a suit tailored for as little as US$100, indulge in streams of silk scarves or top up your jewelry collection.
Nothing is particularly expensive. In fact, Vietnam is the second cheapest Asian country to travel around, according to Skyscanner.
So, will you be helping Vietnam reach its tourism goal?
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