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NEWS FOR SOUTHEAST’S ASIA TRAVEL PLANNERS

Daily NEWS UPDATES at www.ttrweekly.com

MEKONG Siem Reap a Word Heritage bargain.

DESTINATIONS Myanmar slips by slowly on a boat.

YOUR STORIES Exploring traditional Bali in Kuta.

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VOL 42, ISSUE 41, 2 - 8 December 2019

Thailand visits hit 39m Thailand will close 2019 with slightly more than 39 million visits if the November and December volume match last year’s count. WITH just two months to the end of the year, Thailand is now set to score more than 39 million arrivals by the end of the year, based on the current performance for January to October.

Revenue earned from tourism during October was estimated at THB147,801.38 million up 9.27% compared with the same month last year. Based on the performance of the last two months of 2018, November (3,170,996 visits) and December (3,835,510 visits), and factoring in a 5% increase, the two remaining months of

The most recent Ministry of Tourism and Sports data, based on a headcount of foreigners at immigration checkpoints, recorded 32,508,014 arrivals for January to October up 4.29% year-on-year. Revenue for the 10 months of 2019 was estimated at THB1,577,048.72 million up 3.27% year-on-year. In October alone, the country recorded 3,042,282 visits an increase of 12.51% on the same month last year.

this year should deliver 7,356,830 visits. It would give the country 39,864,844 arrivals for the entire year. Even with a smaller percentage increase of around 4% for the remaining two months, visits would still surpass the 39 million mark as targeted at the beginning of the year. The 2020 target will be slightly higher than 40 million if current travel trends remain favourable in dominant Asian supply markets; China, India, Japan, Korea neighbours

in Southeast Asia. Despite negative news and forecasts, the China market has recovered following a slow start to the year. During the 10 months of the year, China supplied 9,344,423 visits up 3.48%. It was way ahead of Malaysia the second-largest supply market that delivered during the 10 months of 2019 3,287,964 visits up 5.70%. The other countries on the top five list for visits were India in third place, Korean fourth and Laos fifth. China and Malaysia due to the sheer volume of visits lead the top five revenue list. Chinese tourists generated a massive THB467,030.80 million up 5.52% and Malaysia THB83,996.25 million up 6.22%. Russia was the thirdhighest in revenue followed by Japan in fourth place and India in fifth. Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industry leaders are not convinced by the figures provided by the MOTS. They cast doubt on the headcount (visits) saying it does not differentiate between leisure, business and longstay expatriates working in the country or staying on retirement visas who make frequent overseas trips. As for revenue, the figures are based on exit surveys and estimates that are used to set a formula for each country and may not accurately reflect actual tourism earnings. But they will probably agree that the 10-month count for both revenue and visits does accurately identify the long-term decline in travel from Europe where very few country markets are showing positive gains. Of all the 14 listed European supply markets, the four gainers are the UK, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. But growth rates were small in all markets grew by around 3%.


EDITOR’S POST Time to touch up the trains Flight shaming hasn’t taken off in Asia. It probably won’t gain wings any time soon for one clear reason. There are very few alternatives outside of China, Japan and India where railway networks offer an alternative to air travel. As long as it takes 10 to 12 hours to travel 700 km from Bangkok to Chiang Mai then its a no brainer. We fly for THB1,500 one-way as opposed to a life-threatening bus ride for half the price or a painfully slow transfer by train. I always thought Vietnam’s north-south rail service between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi was on the right track. It is certainly is a cut above the rail services of neighbouring countries. Malaysia’s railway deserves more investment and even though the track on the Bangkok to Singapore line limits performance a joint effort between Thailand and Malaysia to upgrade the route and rolling stock would give travellers an alternative of the kind Europeans enjoyed for decades before high-speed trains arrived. Travellers would appreciate a massive upgrade of the Bangkok-Butterworth (Penang) service. Perhaps speeds of 100 kph could be squeezed out of the rolling stock and stations on the link would benefit from a new coat of paint. Flight shame could be the catalyst to launch a revival of crucial rail lines linking the countries of mainland Southeast Asia. We may never see the advent of highspeed train travel in the region this side of 2030, but at least we could look forward to travelling in comfort in an environmentally friendly fashion. It would disperse

tourism to the provinces, but first governments need to upgrade the rail system and get the average speeds a little higher than 60 kph. Tax papers deserve a better railway system. Yesterday, the US celebrated Thanksgiving Day, and there was little evidence that flight shame was cutting holiday booking trends. ‘Curbed’ a daily online news service in the US pointed out that during the 12 days of the Thanksgiving travel period, a record-breaking 31.6 million passengers will fly on US airlines; a 3.7% increase over 2018. US airlines added an estimated 859 flights per day during the peak Thanksgiving travel days. In contrast, in Europe, airports are reporting a decline in air travel and surprise the Dutch airline KLM is encouraging potential passengers to fly less to help reduce emissions. We can all play our part by reducing unnecessary air travel or using less pollutive alternatives, but that is easier said than done in Asia. Critics of the flight shame campaign argue airlines are a soft target, easy to criticise while the real offenders are getting away scot-free. Take the case of the 55 destinations in Thailand promoted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to disperse tourists from gateway destinations. Do any of them have public transport systems, let alone ones that are environmentally friendly and green? Many culprits cause climate change, but it is fashionable to point the finger at aviation that is responsible for 3% of emissions globally. The beef with airline travel focuses on where the pollution ends up; much higher in the atmosphere where it causes more damage. No matter how many carbon offsets we buy, it will never be enough to negate the impact. Don Ross, editor

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EVENTS 3

2 - 8 DECEMBER 2019

Phuket Laguna race declares winners Thailand’s top triathlon hosted at the Phuket Laguna lives up to its top billing pulling in a crowd of athletes and spectators. THE 26th Laguna Phuket Triathlon came to a close Sunday reaffirming its position as one of Thailand’s top sporting events that also boosts tourism to Phuket. Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild and Imogen Simmonds both gave stellar performances and took the top podium, overall and in the women’s field, Claiming his 3rd LPT championship, Wild completed the race in 02:21:07 less than two minutes ahead of his toughest contender and three-time LPT winner Michael Raelert (Germany) completed the course in 02:22:34. He was followed in third place by Krzysztof Hadas of Poland at 02:26:20. In the women’s field, Switzerland’s Imogen Simmonds was declared the winner with a time of 02:33:14 and claimed her first LPT’s title. Followed Simmonds in second place was Emma Pallant (UK) timed 02:39:31. Australia’s Dimity Lee-Duke came in third (02:46:12). The Phuket crowd cheered on a

field of more than 1,000 triathletes, representing 51 countries, in the unique destination distance of 1.8K swim, 50K bike and 12K run, with a USD20,000 prize purse, and the short-distance “25 For 25 Sprint”. The race started on the resort’s beachfront in mild weather conditions and relatively calm sea for the swim section. The bike and run courses became challenging as the Phuket heat kicked in. The Thai crowd cheered defending champions in the men’s and women’s fields; Jaray Jearanai was once again the

first Thai finisher (in 02:39:38), claiming his 9th consecutive LPT win (since 2011). Also defending her title as top Thai female was Nichakarn Ruttanaporn, in 03:17:06 and achieved her fourth consecutive win. The race followed the LPT Charity Fun Run, hosted Saturday (23 November) with 1,100 runners in the 2K Kids, 5K and 10K categories. LPT Charity Fun Run raised funds for Children First Fund in support of seven orphanages in Phuket, housing more than 400 children, and Kao Kon La Kao Foundation to help hospitals in Thailand.

Vietjet in top award league VIETJET has been named the “Best Ultra Low-Cost Airline for 2020” by AirlineRatings, a leading airline safety and product rating review website. This is the third consecutive year that Vietjet has been awarded at AirlineRatings’ Airline Excellence Awards, which recognises the world’s best airlines annually. According to AirlineRatings, Vietjet has grown its fleet rapidly with an increasing number of routes and travel destinations, making air travel affordable for all with low prices and well-trained cabin crew. Vietjet has recently been awarded

the highest ranking for safety with seven stars from AirlineRatings.com and has been a fully-fledged member of the

International Air Transport Association with the IATA Operational Safety Audit certificate since 2015. It has also been listed in the world’s 50 best airlines for healthy financing and operations by Airfinance Journal in 2018 and 2019, and most was recently awarded the title of “Asia Pacific Low-Cost Airline of the Year” by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). The world’s best airlines for 2020 list also names Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Emirates.


4 TRENDS

2 - 8 DECEMBER 2019

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TTR WEEKLY

French nationality tops Quality Index French citizens can take satisfaction that their nationality has once again been ranked as the best in the world, while for citizens of the UK, the ramifications of a ‘hard’ Brexit could prompt a sinking feeling. FOR citizens of the UK, a hard Brexit could sink the quality of their nationality from 8th globally, to 56th (the current position of China). This is according to the latest findings of the Kälin and Kochenov’s Quality of Nationality Index (QNI), which is the

only ranking that objectively measures and ranks all the world’s nationalities as legal statuses. Holding the top spot for eight consecutive years, France earned a score of 83.5% out of a possible 100% — less than one percentage point ahead of Germany and the Netherlands, which sit in the joint-second place with 82.8%. While the difference between the quality of French and Dutch and German nationalities is relatively narrow, France’s comparative advantage lies in its greater settlement freedom (attributable mainly to the country’s former colonial empire). In the top 10 on this year’s index, Denmark finds itself in third place with a score of 81.7%, while Norway and Sweden hold a joint-4th spot with 81.5%. Positions 5 to 10 are held by Iceland (81.4%), Finland (81.2%), Italy (80.7%), the UK (80.3%), Ireland (80.2%), and

Spain (80.0%), in that order. The US occupies 25th place on the QNI with a score of 70.0% — the country’s relatively poor standing is primarily due to its low settlement freedom compared to EU member states. China ranks 56th — a fourplace improvement on last year and the Russian Federation climbs up two positions to 62nd place. The UAE has attained its highest rank ever, securing 42nd place. The bottom three nationalities on this year’s QNI are South Sudan (157th),

Afghanistan (158th), and Somalia (159th), with respective scores of 15.9%, 15.4%, and 13.8%. Brexit likely to sink quality of UK nationality EU countries generally perform extremely well on the QNI, largely due to the liberal degree of settlement freedom permitted between member states, as well as the stand-out quality of many of the nationalities in and of themselves. However, the UK could become the exception to this rule, with its current 8th position potentially in jeopardy if it crashes out of the EU without a deal in place. The index curators said: “The UK may be about to establish a world record in terms of profoundly undermining the quality of its nationality without going

through any violent conflict.” Depending on the still-to-bedetermined outcome of Brexit, the UK could see itself falling from the elite group of ‘very high quality’ nationalities into the ‘high quality’ bracket. A truly ‘hard’ Brexit would result in the UK having a nationality that does not grant its citizens settlement or work rights in any of the EU jurisdictions or Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland: a collection of the most highly developed places on earth, greatly diminishing the quality of its own nationality in an irrevocable manner: either you have such rights, or not – and in such a scenario UK citizens won’t have them.” Although unlikely, in the worstcase scenario and depending on the economic downturn caused by Brexit, the UK could possibly fall even further and into the ‘medium quality’ tier alongside China and Russia. French citizens can take satisfaction that their nationality has once again been ranked as the best in the world, while for citizens of the UK, the ramifications of a ‘hard’ Brexit could prompt a sinking feeling. For citizens of the UK, a hard Brexit could sink the quality of their nationality from 8th globally, to 56th (the current position of China). This is according to the latest findings of the Kälin and Kochenov’s Quality of Nationality Index (QNI), which is the only ranking that objectively measures and ranks all the world’s nationalities as legal statuses. Holding the top spot for eight consecutive years, France earned a score of 83.5% out of a possible 100% — less than one percentage point ahead of Germany and the Netherlands, which sit in the joint-second place with 82.8%. While the difference between the quality of French and Dutch and German nationalities is relatively narrow, France’s comparative advantage lies in its greater settlement freedom (attributable mainly to the country’s former colonial empire). In the top 10 on this year’s index, Denmark finds itself in third place with a score of 81.7%, while Norway and Sweden hold a joint-4th spot with 81.5%. Positions 5 to 10 are held by Iceland (81.4%), Finland (81.2%), Italy (80.7%), the UK (80.3%), Ireland (80.2%), and Spain (80.0%), in that order. Click - Full report of the story.


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6 MEKONG

2 - 8 DECEMBER 2019

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TTR WEEKLY

Siem Reap a World Heritage bargain

Siem Reap betters World Heritage towns in Laos and Myanmar for direct flights and cheap fares so you can splurge on colonial luxury. FRESH on the heels of its October reopening, Grand Hotel d’Angkor introduce a new fine-dining restaurant last week appropriately named ‘1932’ the year the hotel welcomed its first colonial guests. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor reopened for business 1 October following a six-month renovation of the classic French colonial-style property. Today’s travellers, regardless of the hotels they book, are more likely to fly on low-cost airlines to Siem Reap from cities around Asia, a far cry from the kind of travellers who first journeyed to this tiny village to explore the now world-famed Angkor Wat. In its early days, “The Grand” served as a base for archaeologists, explorers and visitors to the rediscovered kingdom of Angkor for less than USD25 a night. Today, rooms at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor start from USD230 and guests are more likely to be wealthy Asians rather than European aristocrats and explorers. Siem Reap, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Historical Park, competes with Luang Prabang in Laos and Bagan in Myanmar for the attention

of travellers who are keen to explore Southeast Asia’s iconic World Heritage destinations. Particularly for residents across Asia, the first consideration is the airfare. While each World Heritage town has its distinctive appeal for the short-break leisure traveller, direct flights and low fares are often the deciding factors. Siem Reap From the Bangkok, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh gateways, Siem Reap has a wide choice of direct flights with return fares as low as USD162, while from Kuala Lumpur and Luang Prabang return fares start at USD146. Singapore has the highest fare on flights to Siem Reap at USD345. Travelling from Danang in central Vietnam the roundtrip fare starts at USD209. Bagan Bagan, a more recent recipient of the UNESCO World Heritage badge, drops the ball when you compare fares with Luang Prabang and Siem Reap. Its out-dated domestic airport is served by direct flights from just Yangon, Heho and Mandalay with a fare of around USD170. Forced to fly through Yangoon or Mandalay’s international airports to pick up a domestic flight to Bagan, the fare is costly and the travel time varies from eight to 11 hours. A traveller living in

Bangkok is going to pay around USD311 to get to Bagan and waste a day in either direction. Out of Singapore, the fare averages USD488 and from Kuala Lumpur, it is even higher at USD581, and you will face an 11-hour trip. Luang Prabang World Heritage town Luang Prabang turns out to be a competitive option with direct flights from Bangkok and fares starting at USD177. There are direct flights with lead-in fares of USD202 out of Hanoi and USD212 out of Ho Chi Minh City. Out of Singapore, the fare costs USD297 (direct flight on the outbound sector with a stop on the return via Vientiane). Out of Vientiane a direct roundtrip domestic fare to Luang Prabang starts at USD112. Bottom line Siem Reap has cheaper fares and more international direct flights than either Luang Prabang or Bagan. Hoteliers resident in Bagan must be heaping the pressure on authorities to allow direct international flights to Bagan. If not they are calling for a significant increase in domestic flights that connect Bagan with flights arriving in Yangon from gateway cities around Asia. If it doesn’t happen the newest World Heritage site in Southeast Asia will miss out on shortbreak leisure travel from the region.


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8 DESTINATION

2 - 8 DECEMBER 2019

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TTR WEEKLY

Time slips by slowly on Myanmar’s riverboats Myanmar the birthplace for Asia’s iconic river cruises attracts visitors who love to slow down to a snail’s pace and watch the world pass by. IF you are planning a trip to Myanmar cruising on the iconic Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers percolates to the surface as the top options. That’s if you are determined to side-step the well-trodden paths of mass tourism.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to cobble together a triangular land trip that covers the key attractions Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. Still, by opting for a river cruise, you can see these three popular destinations from an entirely different perspective. You join the dots between popular destinations with enthralling experiences that bring river communities and their heritage up close. The only downside is the hefty price tag. Myanmar was the home of the original river cruises in Southeast Asia due to its long heritage of riverboat transport dating back to 1865. That era came to an untimely end during World War II when hostilities forced the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company to scuttle and sink its entire fleet of 600 vessels to prevent capture by the Japanese army. In the 1920s at the height of the riverboat era, the country’s enormous fleet of paddle steamers and later oilpowered riverboats plied the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers carrying between 8

to 9 million passengers and half a million tons of cargo annually to and from their home ports in Yangon and Mandalay. The country boasts over 7,000 km of navigable rivers and has probably the largest fleet of luxury riverboats in Southeast Asia. As Myanmar opened its doors to foreign visitors in the 1970s a new fleet of riverboats emerged this time adapted for wealthy Europeans looking for a

luxury “Orient experience”. Replicating the colonial vessels of the 1920s, they became templates for riverboats sailing the waterways of neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. There are now literally scores of riverboats offering cruises on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers in the heart of the country and more recently river and coastal cruises in the Mergui Archipelago in far south Myanmar. Here are our favourite Myanmar river cruises. A cruise on the Chindwin River, the largest tributary of the Irrawaddy River takes you beyond Mandalay and Bagan to places less sailed. A typical seven-night cruise embarks from Monywa, an ancient city about a three-hour drive from Mandalay and ends in Homalin near the border with India. Road conditions in the area are poor so travelling by river is a more

comfortable option to cover trips of 595 km with seven nights spent onboard a luxury riverboat. RV Zawgyi Pandaw due to its shallow draft that allows cruising through to the end of February to the furthest reaches of the Chindwin where the water level can drop below 1 metre in places. Water levels drop dramatically by midDecember. A replica of colonial period boats, the double-deck boat sports teak and brass trim with a spacious lounge and dining deck. In the promotional blurb, the company says a “trip up the Chindwin puts you in touch with local people. Guided excursions will take you to villages and the splendid teak monasteries of Mingkin. Further up the Chindwin, you’ll visit mystical places such as Nagaland or even play golf in Mawlaik, with its still-standing and occupied colonial buildings.” The seven-night cruise has a lead-in price of USD3,307.50 for non-members and USD2,940.00 for members. The cruise price includes a flight from Homalin to Mandalay. The price tag would suggest the trip is a very special celebration such as a wedding anniversary or a half-century birthday. Not everyone has seven days to spare for a river cruise to lesser-known reaches of Chindwin. Instead, they opt for the shorter Irrawaddy River cruise between Mandalay, a former royal capital and the heritage endowed Bagan is arguably the most popular option for travellers resident in Asia. Covering 2,169 km, the Irrawaddy River cuts a north-south course through the heart of the country ultimately spilling into the Andaman Sea. But it’s the 182 km Mandalay to Bagan section of the river that fascinates travellers. The trip can be completed in two to four days on a luxury riverboat, or you can take the daily ferry that departs Mandalay at dawn and sails into Bagan at sunset. Snacks are served on board. One of the top cruise experiences is served up by The Strand a luxury riverboat owned by the Strand Hotel in Yangon that offers a mix of two, three and four-night river cruises between Mandalay and Bagan. Prices start at around USD700 a night, which is steep, but the boat bears the Strand brand badge that might ease the price pain. Click - Full report of the story.


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10 TRADE TALK

2 - 8 DECEMBER 2019

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TTR WEEKLY

Over-tourism a worry for Bhutan officials Bhutan mulls over sustainable tourism fees and may introduce a USD250 minimum spend requirement for regional tourists. BHUTAN tourism officials may introduce a daily travel expenditure rule for regional tourists and a sustainable tourism fee to slow tourism growth. The Indian Express reported that the current exception that allows Indians, Bangladeshis, and Maldivians to visit the country without having to comply with a strict daily spend requirement could be ditched. All other nationalities have to show they are spending the minimum USD250 per person per day during peak season months, and USD200 during the rest of the year. The low seasons run from December to February, when it is bitterly cold and again during the heavy monsoon rains June to August. Now local media outlets in India report that might change as Bhutan struggles to control the influx of tourists that could endanger the country’s fragile Himalayan ecosystem. The Indian Express warned that Indian tourists to Bhutan might soon be required to pay a ‘Sustainable Development Fee’ and a ‘permit processing fee’ that would likely make visiting the Himalayan nation more expensive. Based on comments from tourism officials the fee will start in

January. The USD250 daily fee covers accommodation, transport within Bhutan, a tourist guide, food and nonalcoholic drinks, and entry fees. The daily spend also covers a USD65 daily “tourism levy” or “sustainable development fee (SDF)” (previously a government “royalty”, and the fees for the tourist’s visa. The minimum spend excludes the cost of airfares to Bhutan. There are other fees such as a USD40 charge for tourists travelling solo, and USD30 for each tourist in a group of two or more.

Up until now, Indians have been excluded from these fee requirements. They can travel visa-free to Bhutan and are not subject to the minimum daily cost of USD200 or USD250. According to the Indian Express, the Tourism Council of Bhutan directorgeneral Dorji Dhradhul confirmed there is a plan to introduce a minimal fee on regional tourists and revise the SDF of USD65 for international tourists. He argued that “regional tourists” usually explored the country on their own, so they were not aware of the do’s and don’ts when visiting Bhutan.

Air India postpones Hong Kong launch AIR India has again pushed back the launch date of Mumbai-Hong Kong service to 29 March 2020. Earlier the airline confirmed it had settled on an inaugural date in midJanuary 2020 following a postponement last May. It blames the postponements on protracted protests that have disrupted Hong Kong for almost six months. As it stands now the airline will start the daily flight 29 March with a departure from Mumbai at 0820 and an arrival scheduled for Hong Kong at 1635. The return flight will depart Hong Kong at 1800 and arrive in Mumbai at 2150 according to timetable information provided by Airlineroute. According to reports in the South

China Morning Post, earlier this week, anti-government protests forced airlines to reduce services. Garuda Indonesia has reduced from 21 flights a week to just four up at least into mid-December. Thai Airways International and Philippine Airlines

have each cut one of five daily flights a week to Hong Kong. Of an estimated 250 flights per week previously scheduled by mainland Chinese carriers about 100 have been temporarily dropped according to the SCMP report. Cebu Pacific, South Korea’s Jeju Air and Jin Air, AirAsia and India’s SpiceJet also made flight reductions or route cancellations Airlineroute confirmed. Emirates, which along with China Eastern is one of the 10 biggest airlines operating out of HKIA, also made reductions by downsizing some flights to smaller planes and cancelling a handful of services outright. Fights cuts could continue well into December.


12 YOUR STORIES

2 - 8 DECEMBER 2019

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TTR WEEKLY

Finding Traditional Bali in the Kuta playground Explore Kuta and Denpasar to enjoy a traditional Bali experience. DISCOVER a lesser-known side of Kuta, beyond its beautiful beaches and mesmerising sunsets. Wander through winding lanes, learn about traditional dance and puppetry, and fill your tummy with the best eats on the island. Bali often described as “The Island of Peace, the Morning of the World, or the Last Paradise”, but at the heart of this legendary isle, there is Kuta. Kuta has been the centre of Bali’s tourism boom since the 1970s. Within just a few years, the area had transformed from a sleepy seaside village

to a bustling town. Its once quiet beaches and back lanes are now filled with guesthouses, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Some of the island’s most popular hotels also call Kuta home, including the legendary Hard Rock Hotel Bali. Take a walk around Kuta, and you’ll feel a sense of boundless energy. From the odd to the kitsch, from beer on wheels, horse carriages, and golden sunsets to surfer dudes, beach manicures, and cheap alcohol, Kuta seems to be the party town. Yet, Bali’s most popular beach town isn’t just for backpackers and hippies. Families enjoy great entertainment here as well. There’s even culture and tradition to be discovered if you just wander around and let yourself get lost. A wonderful place to start is the area between Poppies Lanes 1 and 2, just minutes’ walk from Hard Rock Hotel Bali.

Both these lanes are narrow, and the web of alleyways and back lanes between them, even more so. It’s a strangely reinvigorating experience to wander into this labyrinth, zagging in and out of what seems like an endless and fascinating network of cottages, warungs, tattoo parlours, workshops, and homes. The joy is about not knowing what and whom you might encounter – an ibu hanging out her laundry, schoolboys on their way to class, a family making offerings to their gods in their home shrines. It just takes a little imagination to dream of what life might have been in a simpler, older time. When you’ve done enough walking, the best way to get around Kuta is on a set of wheels. Better yet, the Kura-Kura bus, also known as the “turtle” bus (that’s what kura means in bahasa). Don’t let its namesake fool you though. These public shuttle buses, the only ones in Bali, ply

several very useful and popular routes around the island, including within Kuta itself. All in the most efficient, fast, and economical way. For example, the route that takes passengers from Kuta to Ubud costs only 80,000 Indonesian Rupiah, which is just under US$6. Other than single trip tickets, there are also 1-, 3-, and 7-day passes, which make getting to Bali’s most popular destinations a whole lot easier and more affordable. For guests of Hard Rock Hotel Bali, there is also a bus stop conveniently located just outside the hotel. More information can be found at www.kura2bus.com In this story, we share with you some of the best traditional crafts, food and culture that Kuta and the often overlooked capital, Denpasar, have to offer. Article that you may like Nature of Bali: http://bit.ly/Bali-Nature-activities Where to Stay Check Out about Hard Rock Hotel Bali at http://bit.ly/HardRockBali-TTRWeekly


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