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Vietnamese Tet 2015

Vietnamese Tet 2015

Right now, friends and families throughout Vietnam are celebrating the Tet Nguyen Dan, or “Tet” as it is more commonly known.

Tet is the biggest and most popular festival of the year

Tet is the biggest and most popular festival of the year, and marks the beginning of the lunar New Year. Closely associated with the Chinese zodiac, this year, 2015, is a “Year of Goat.”

Preparation for the Tet holiday is a special and significant affair and begins well in advance of the holiday. Many Vietnamese cook special holiday foods and thoroughly clean their own home as well as the gravesites of their ancestors. Vietnamese begin cleaning early in an effort to get rid of bad luck before the New Year begins. One can not sweep during the holiday because one would be sweeping away the good luck. Painting one’s home, polishing all kitchen utensils and planting new flowers is common. Many people, especially children, purchase new clothes and shoes to wear on the first day of the year.

The first person to visit your home during Tet is considered a forecast of the coming year

During Tet, Vietnamese people visit their relatives and temples, attempt to make peace with anyone whom they have a grudge against, and hope for a better upcoming year. The first person to visit your home is considered a forecast of the coming year. Thus, the first visitor of the year is usually an invited guest who has been carefully chosen.

Along the same idea, New Year is considered to be a lucky time to begin a business venture, such as opening a shop.

Another well-known – and popular – custom during Tet is to put money in a red envelope and give it as a gift to children.

To all our friends in Vietnam, we wish you a safe and prosperous Tet!


If you would like to visit Vietnam, we offer many tours which can customized for individuals or groups.

Vietnam Classic    Mekong Delta Cycling    The Golden Center

The Living Land Farm Experience

One of the most often-heard requests from travellers is to “see how local people live”. . . to expand beyond the popular tourist stops and to truly appreciate the authentic daily life of the real human beings who call our destinations ‘home.’ Now, when you visit Luang Prabang, Laos, you can not only see, but experience the quintessential life of a Laotian rice farmer when you spend time with “The Living Land Company.”

Recently, Tina Grünenberg-Joseph, ICS Managing Director in Munich, Germany visited Laos and had the opportunity to participate in the Living Land experience herself.
"Living Land Laos"
"Living Land Laos""Living Land Laos"
You will learn about rice farming at the Living Land Farm, a community enterprise growing organic vegetables and rice.
"Living Land Laos"
"Living Land Laos""Living Land Laos"
"Living Land Laos"
Available in both half-day and full-day tours, “The Living Land” offers tours to its organic vegetable farm and rice fields. You will be educated in and participate in content presented by our farmers and craftsmen in Ban Phong Van.  The farm works with and supports the local community and helps educate children from disadvantages families.
"Living Land Laos"
Come and spend time at the Living Land Farm, situated in an idyllic countryside setting, surrounded by mountains in the middle of ancient rice terraces.  Contact your ICS Sales Representative for more information.

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Insider Tips | Mrauk U

If you like off-the-beaten-path destinations, you should check out the ancient city of Mrauk U. . .

Mrauk U

Our Country Manager in Myanmar, Carsten Schmidt, offers this ‘Insider Tip’ for guests visiting “The Golden Land”. . .

Ko Thuang Temple means “shrine of 90,000 images”

“If you like off-the-beaten-path destinations, you should check out the ancient city of Mrauk U in western Myanmar. The infrastructure is still developing, which helps to limit the growth, but the area is gaining popularity and it won’t be long before it is mainstream.

The area around Mrauk U is quite different from Bagan because it has more vegetation and is more hilly. Mrauk U is a former ‘king city,’ so there is a rich selection of temples and pagodas that were built when the city was the capital of the kingdom.

There is also a really interesting market, as well as the Ko Thuang Temple which means “shrine of 90,000 images.”

I also recommend that you do a boat trip to the Chin State – which is one of the most isolated parts of Myanmar – and visit the women with tattooed faces, as I did recently.”

Come travel with ICS to feel the ancient presence of this storied people and land!  Contact Us for more information!

Contact Us

We’re going to. . . ITB Berlin!

ITB Berlin 2015

Are you attending ITB in Berlin?


Join us in Hall 26 B at Booth 227 to meet our sales team and product experts and learn more about exciting new products and services from ICS Travel Group.

To schedule an appointment, please contact sales@is-intl.com.


Schedule Appointment


Top 10 Movies Filmed in Southeast Asia

Do you like movies? Yes!

Do you like to travel? Obviously.

For the past 100 years, Hollywood filmmakers have been exploring Southeast Asia’s beautiful islands, steamy jungles, and twisting rivers…searching for the perfect backdrop to frame their tropical stories.  But what you may not know is that for various reasons, your favorite dramas, mysteries, love stories and action movies are not actually filmed in the locations where they are set.

We have uncovered 10 popular movies which were actually filmed in ICS destinations in Southeast Asia.  If you’d like, we can even take you to them. . .

1. Rambo



One of our favorite destinations in Thailand is the northern city of Chiang Mai, where we find tough-guy Rambo living peacefully in his fourth movie.  Unfortunately, some ill-prepared missionaries are kidnapped when they hike into Myanmar. The kidnapping greatly irritates Rambo, who proceeds to rescue them while unleashing destruction and chaos on some bad guys.


2. The Man With the Golden Gun

The Man With the Golden Gun

The Man With the Golden Gun

Even today, the island paradise/hideout of Scaramanga and his miniature sidekick “Knick Knack” is known as “James Bond Island.”  In the movie, the unusually-shaped island of Koh Tapu housed a diabolical satellite laser dish.  However, it is only a short trip by long-tail boat from Ao Nang, Krabi in southern Thailand. Some scenes from the movie were also filmed in Bangkok and Phuket.


3.  Tomorrow Never Dies

Tomorrow Never Dies

Tomorrow Never Dies

Pierce Brosnan’s second Bond movie saw him fighting a corrupt media mogul in the South China Sea.  The movie was supposed to be filmed in Vietnam, but some issues necessitated a move to Bangkok.  In the helicopter scenes you can still see clues such as landmarks and signs in Thai.  The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.


4.  Air America

Air America

Air America

Although the plot of this movie takes place during the Vietnam War, the movie was actually filmed around the Chaing Mai Airport, as well as Hae Hong and Mae Hong Son, Thailand.  To film the crazy airplane maneuvers, the producers had to hire actual war veterans who were the only people to have actually flown those planes in such a manner.


5. The Beach

The Beach

The Beach

One of the most well-known Southeast Asian settings is Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach.  The recent record-breaking success of Titanic had made DiCaprio a huge star and his presence brought a lot of attention whenever they filmed in locations like Bangkok’s Khao San Road, Khao Yai National Park, Krabi, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi Leh, which was the setting for the hidden slice of paradise.


6. Tomb Raider

Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider was the first film allowed at Angkor Wat in more than 30 years.  Swinging from the Cambodian temple’s iconic banyan-tree vines, Angelina Jolie runs and raids her way around Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Phrom.


7.  Good Morning Vietnam

Good Morning Vietnam

Good Morning Vietnam

As you might expect, this Robin William’s film (which was based on a true story) took place during the Vietnam War around 1965. However, the producers deemed it easier to film in Thailand, so as a substitute for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) they used Bangkok and Phuket.


8.  The Hangover, Part 2

The Hangover, Part 2

The Hangover, Part 2

The highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time, The Hangover 2 got massive press coverage when it filmed in Krabi and in Bangkok’s famous Chinatown. The incredible city view from Lebua at State Tower is still visited by many fans.  Even former U.S. president Bill Clinton and the Thai Prime Minister visited the set!


9.  The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields movie

The Killing Fields movie

This incredible movie won 29 awards, including 3 Oscars, and was nominated for a further 20 awards.  Although it was actually filmed in Bangkok, Phuket and Hua Hin, Thailand, the film tells the story of an American journalist and a local Cambodian who were friends, but were separated during the Khmer Rouge invasion of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


10.  Eat Pray Love

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love

A mid-life crisis leads a woman on a year-long journey to Italy, Indonesia and India in hopes of finding herself.  Some say this movie is worth watching just for the incredible scenery in Bali, Indonesia and Delhi, India.  See if you can spot Pataudi Palace in Haryana, India.


There you go. . . our list of the Top Ten Movies Filmed in Southeast Asia.  Are there any other movies you believe should have been included on the list?  Let us know.



Did You Know? | The Lotus Temple

The Lotus Temple - Delhi, India

Did You Know?

…the lotus flower is sacred to several religions, including Hindus, Buddhists, and Baha’i. In fact, in India’s capital city of Delhi, there is a house of worship known as the “Lotus Temple” because it is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 gigantic “petals” that are covered in marble.

ASEAN Tourism Forum 2015

ASEAN Tourism Forum 2015

This week, ICS Travel Group will be at the ASEAN Tourism Forum – being held in Myanmar for the first time!

Come see us at Booth 2A-C57. We will be there Tuesday 27th thru Thursday 29th.

Ian Woods – Director of Sales
Carsten Schmidt – Country Manager, Myanmar
Raphael Kern – Asst. Country Manager, Myanmar
Nicky Thongpunparn – Sales Manager

Look forward to seeing you!

ASEAN Tourism Forum 2015

ASEAN Tourism Forum 2015

ASEAN – Tourism Towards Peace, Prosperity and Partnership

In 2015, ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) will be held in Myanmar for the first time since its inauguration in 1981. The 34th edition of this annual event will take place from 22 to 29 January 2015 at the Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) 1. The theme ‘ASEAN – Tourism Towards Peace, Prosperity and Partnership’ is in line with the theme of Myanmar’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014, based on the three pillars of building the ASEAN Community – peace, prosperity and unity.

ATF 2015 is expected to attract some 2,000 delegates from over 50 countries, including tourism ministers and officials, ASEAN exhibitors, international buyers, international and local media, as well as tourism trade visitors.

ATF 2015 is hosted by the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, organised by the Myanmar Tourism Federation and managed by MP Singapore and the Myanmar Ventures Group.

Kuang Si Waterfall | Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang in northern Laos is a family friendly destination. Explore the city sights and the surrounding scenery, witness the natural beauty of the country and discover its rich cultural heritage. You can visit beautiful temples, take a journey up the mighty Mekong River past rural villages and caves set within limestone cliffs, and swim in the cool water of a natural turquoise pool at a tumbling waterfall.

Our “Trek to Kuang Si Waterfalls” journies from Ban Long Lao through lush rice paddies and forest, visiting Tham Nam Ook along the way on a trek to the Kuang Si waterfalls.


You can visit Kuang Si Waterfall on our 4-day Luang Prabang Classic tour. . .

Luang Prabang Classic Tour

To find great ideas for your clients, please visit our tariff to find more information on these and other exciting excursions:

Shangri Lao Elephant Camp
Tum Tum Cheng Cooking school
The Living Land Farm Experience

Story Behind the Image | Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation, Ban Komaen, Laos
Tea Plantation, Ban Komaen, Laos

Tea Plantation, Ban Komaen, Laos

In the villiage of Ban Komaen, Laos lies a tea plantation which some experts say is up to 400 years old, making it the oldest tea plantation in the world.  The women of the Phounoy ethnic group, climb the trees to harvest the tea leaves.  The roots of these old trees extend very deep into the soil and the natural minerals give ‘Phongsaly Tea’ a specific taste and smell.


You can explore remote and unspoiled Northern Laos where tiny villages line the rivers and rustic villages dot the rugged mountains.  Try our 7-day “People and Nature of the North” tour and experience Oudomxai, a town of thatched roof houses which are home to different ethnic groups and the mysterious beauty of the misty mornings in the mountainside town of Phongsali. Travel downriver winding through towering limestone cliffs and enter into ancient caves filled with thousands of holy Buddha images.

People & Nature of the North

Meet the Guides | Mao Ra

Mao Ra, ICS tour guide, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Mao Ra, ICS tour guide, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Mao Ra, ICS tour guide, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The country of Cambodia and the city of Siem Reap are known throughout the world for the amazing temple complex at Angkor Wat.  However, ICS tour guide Mao Ra reminds us there is much more to the country called the “Golden Land.”

We sat down with Mao to ask him about his country, his favorite destinations, and his advice for first time visitors. Here’s what he had to say:

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