Among the most important things on your pre-travel packing list is, of course, your passport. Don’t leave home without it. And before you leave home, preferably well before you leave home, confirm that your passport is valid for at least six months after your period of travel, and that is has enough empty visa pages for your visa and/or entry stamp at your destination(s).  Yes that’s right – empty visa pages. Most passports have pages marked for visas, with a few additional pages at the end.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to fill that passport with visa stamps to the last page, and wind up standing jilted at some grey immigration counter, reckoning up the cost – and beach days lost – of flying back home or to the closest accessible embassy to have your passport reissued. If you are running out of empty passport pages, get a reissued passport – usually a straightforward process, but one which should be completed well ahead of your travel date. To issue an entry visa, most countries require at least one full empty visa page. Among the Southeast Asia destinations we serve, China, Indonesia and Singapore officially require two full empty passport pages. While the rest only formally require one page, we strongly recommend having more extra pages, which could be necessary in the event of any unforeseen change in itinerary. Make sure you have taken care of this well ahead of travel time so you can enjoy your holiday without unexpected hiccups!

Taking place this year from November 21 to 23, Cambodia’s annual Water Festival, known as Bon Om Touk, draws Cambodians from around the country to the capital for three days of boat racing and festivities. This treasured celebration heralds the end of the monsoon season, as well as marking a phenomenon unique to Cambodia – the changing direction of the Tonle Sap River. As seasonal rains swell the Mekong River, it pushes water up the Tonle Sap River to dramatically expand the size of Tonle Sap Lake, and as the level of the Mekong drops, the flow of the Tonle Sap again resumes its expected course. While celebrations take place throughout CambodiaPhnom Penh and Siem Reap will see major festivities. In the capital Phnom Penh, the riverside is packed with people enjoying the festive spirit. Parades of illuminated floats shimmer on the river, fireworks are set off, and the very serious business of boat racing commences. 

There is a village in Laos where pottery production has long been a way of life. Lao kings once relied on this community for quality pottery products. Today, the techniques used are still largely traditional, the results: hand-made and time-tested. While there are now fewer families actively practicing the techniques of their ancestors, the village is open to visitors and you can be a part of honouring and preserving this heritage. This is a window into village life in Laos – see potters in action and enjoy an engaging session of getting your own hands on the clay and creating something. Did we mention you’ll also be treated to delicious fresh Laos food? Easily accessible from Luang Prabang, this village offers a laid-back, truly Laos experience that will have you feeling like family. Ask us about including this on your Laos holiday itinerary.

Just off Vietnam’s central coast from the charming town of Hoi An, researchers from the Cham Island Marine Protected Area (MPA) have successfully released 800 baby turtles into the ocean after relocating 900 sea turtle eggs from the Con Dao Islands, as part of a conservation project reviving hopes for the future of turtles here. “Turtles often return to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs when they reach maturity about 30 years later. The baby turtles we released from Cham Island will likely return to spawn the next generation,” said a local conservation researcher. The green turtle is very sensitive to human activities and pollution. “We had to clean the beach for the turtles to lay their eggs at night. They leave if they find rubbish on beach,” one volunteer recalled. 
Since Cham Island’s recognition as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2009, local people have learned much about environmental protection and many more are now making a living in tourism services, adding more motivation to keep the island clean and green. “The successful story of turtle conservation on the Cham Islands is a magnificent example of education on environmental protection.” said Bui Thi Thu Hien, an IUCN expert. Cham Island is easily accessible from Hoi An, and is just one of many destinations in the area that can make your visit something truly special. Contact Haivenu for details.

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