Vietnam, Nepal, Laos and Easter Island are just a few of the destinations Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield is a bit excited about as he surveys another week in travel
WELL, WELL, WELL
Wellness tourism will grow at more than 20 per cent a year until at least 2025, research by the Global Wellness Institute shows. And it has been calculated that wellness tourists spend, on average, 35 per cent more than the typical international tourist. We’re feeling chipper about it, too.
JOBS IN TRAVEL
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that almost 700,000 new jobs will be created in the travel and tourism sector in the UK during the next decade — an average of 70,000 jobs a year will have to be filled annually for the next 10 years, despite the setback of the coronavirus pandemic.
A reader has found her credit card insurance no longer covers the excess when she hires a car in Europe. Credit card travel insurance varies so much, it’s always worth checking for changed terms and inclusions. Lots of travel insurance covers this, which is a good “saving” — look for the phrase “rental vehicle insurance excess”. For example, rental vehicle excess cover is included in Allianz’s comprehensive, multi-trip and domestic travel insurance policies (allianz.com.au). It is also included in Cover-More’s international comprehensive plan and international comprehensive+ plan covermore.com.au.
ON THE COROMANDEL
With New Zealand back on our travel radar, let me put The Coromandel back on yours. It’s a 1½-hour drive from Auckland, and often flies under the radar with Aussies (though New Zealanders are very familiar with its charms). Rugged mountains, 400km of coastline and hot water springs on this scenic peninsula. That’s a super mix. Make a note of the Hot Water beach, Cathedral Cove and walking in The Pinnacles. thecoromandel.com
BUNGEES IN NEPAL
Trekking has long been the “bread and butter” of tourism in Nepal. But, in a bid to crank things up again and boost this vital part of an economy ravaged by the pandemic, the country’s Department of Tourism is promoting bungee jumping, paragliding and sky diving. Bungee jumping in Bhote Koshi Gorge and Hemja, Pokhara, are not for the faint-hearted.
The world’s longest suspension footbridge has opened at the Dolni Morava vacation resort in the north-east of the Czech Republic. The 721m-long span of Sky Bridge 721 is in the Jeseniky Mountains.
It is planned to reopen Easter Island, 3500km west of the coast of Chile, for tourism on August 1. It is the island’s main source of income and it is planned to restart three flights a week for visitors. Also called Rapa Nui, it is, of course, most famous for its moais — stone statues standing like sentinels.
NEW SHIP COMING
Aurora Expeditions’ new ship, the Sylvia Earle, will sail its first voyage in November, to the sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia and the Falklands. The Australian-based company has up to 20 per cent off maiden season voyages, for bookings made by June 30, 2022. This includes that Subantarctic Safari, a 17-day voyage from November 4 to 20 from Santiago to Ushuaia. It is from $US14,076 per person ($19,870), based on twin share. auroraexpeditions.com.au and 1800 637 688
Sylvia Earle is an American marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer.
A friend’s partner has a big birthday coming up and she is planning a visit to Vietnam to mark the occasion. She says: “We don’t want to spend time travelling distances between areas and we like a base to explore from. We’re hoping to keep costs down and probably prefer to avoid moving from the south to the north given it’s quite a distance.”
Thought One I always think you can get a full dose of Vietnam in Hoi An, Danang and Hue. I also like being in one area, doing the local stuff, having time. It is a delight. I’d stay (as I have before) in Hoi An. I’m happy in little local places like De An Hotel or Dechiu. I’ve paid $70 to under $100 a night and felt local and happy. The mid-ground is The Watermark Beachside Hotel, which is newer, but the same sort of idea, and there are fancy places like Anantara.
Thought Two Frankly, I avoid Ho Chi Minh city, preferring the charm but still busy-city feel of Hanoi. There’s enough there for a few days (rooftop bars and restaurants, parks and museums etc). Most people combine it with Halong Bay — and that is fun, being out on a modern version of a junk. Two nights are plenty. But, if that feels like it could be too touristy and busy, consider a few-days trip from Hanoi up into what they call the White Thai, or Muong, ethnic villages in the north-west. It’s not far, about 130km, but very different.
I’m glad to see Laos open to the world again, with no quarantine, testing and no travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang offers a fusion of Laotian traditional style and French influence from the 19th and 20th centuries. Night market meets sweet bakeries. And Avani+ Luang Prabang Hotel, a stylish sanctuary in the centre of the Mekong riverside town has a three-night package to welcome guests back. From $US110 a night for two people in a deluxe room (for a minimum of three nights), it includes breakfast for two, return airport transfers, one sunset boat cruise and one sunrise alms giving experience . . . avanihotels.com/en/luang-prabang
. . . Dozens of saffron-robed monks move quietly through the half-light on a still morning in Luang Prabang, collecting food to eat throughout the day. This Tak Bat ceremony is a living tradition, and one that haunts me. The Buddhist monks will have typically started their day at 4am with a chanting session before coming out for the daily Tak Bat rounds. There are a few rules of etiquette for this. Remain silent, don’t touch the monks or speak to them, and don’t ask them to pose for photographs, and most definitely don’t use a flash. Oh, and don’t get in the way. This is a sacred moment.