Dispatches from Asia

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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:

Read more

Ceremonial Blessing at ICS Headquarters

Ceremonial Bless at ICS Headquarters

Today we were privileged to participate in the annual ceremonial blessing that took place at our office headquarters.

The blessing ceremony, is a traditional part of Thai life that has been passed from generation to generation. It combines Buddhist beliefs with social values and Thai customs and is a wonderful opportunity for people to gather and enjoy the moment together.


As part of the ceremonial blessing, the building’s owner tosses handfuls of flowers mixed with coins into the crowd.


The annual ceremony to “make merit” is regarded by Thai people as a very auspicious event and celebrates by performing a Buddhist rite to encourage good fortune and prosperity for the building and its occupants.


Monks play important role in the ceremony.  The host will usually invite an odd number of monks such as 5, 7 or 9 monks because odd numbers are regarded as a lucky.

Top Ten Flags of Myanmar

The colors and symbols on a flag are illustrations of the ideals of a country, reflecting the values, history and pride of its people. These are 10 historical flags of the enigmatic and enchanting, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and often referred to as the “Golden Land.”

1.  The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, 2010 – present

Flag of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar 2010

The current, official flag of Myanmar was adopted in 2010. The new flag was introduced along with changing the country’s name.

The white star in the center represents the unity of the various ethnic groups which make up Myanmar. The yellow stripe represents solidarity, green for peace and tranquility, and red for courage and decisiveness. Read more

Join ICS Travel Group at FITUR 2015

FITUR2015logoAttending FITUR 2015 28 Jan – 1 Feb in Madrid?

ICS Travel Group is attending this leading tourism event for the markets of Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Please join us at Stand 4G19 Hall 4 to learn more about our exciting new products and services.

Asistirá del 28 enero al 1 de febrero a FITUR en Madrid? Un año más ICS Travel Group participará en este evento líder en el turismo para los mercados de América Latina, España y Portugal. Por favor, únase a nosotros en el stand 4G19 situado en el pabellón 4. Obtenga más información acerca de nuestros maravillosos productos y servicios.


Representing ICS at the show | Estarán como representantes de ICS en la feria:

Mariam Marina, Sales Manager

Mariam Marina, Sales Manager

Mariam Marina, Sales Manager


Maite Mijares, Director of Sales, Latin America

Maite Mijares, Director of Sales, Latin America

Maite Mijares, Director of Sales, Latin America


Hope to see you there!


Story Behind the Image | Dalat Market

Avocado vendor in Dalat, Vietnam
Avocado vendor in Dalat, Vietnam

Avocado vendor in Dalat, Vietnam


Although Southeast Asia is famous for street food, there is another – more local – type of “street food” which is less noticed.  Many farmers will walk down thoroughfares and through neighborhoods to sell fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables which they carry in baskets.

Even during the rainy season, these open-air markets go on. This photo shows a vegetable dealer in the cool, relaxed town of Dalat in the quiet mountains of southern Vietnam. 

Although some vendors packed up their wares to take under shelter, this woman was unfazed and continued marketing her fresh produce as the rain fell.

These large baskets of bright-green avocados are a common site here and in other cities around Vietnam.  Avocados are a favorite in smoothies and on salads.





Story Behind the Image | Incense in Buddha’s Hand

Incense In Buddha's Hands, Petchaburi, Thailand
Incense In Buddha's Hands, Petchaburi, Thailand

Incense In Buddha’s Hands, Petchaburi, Thailand

From the forests and mist of the upcountry to the Korat plateau and the central plains, all the way to the islands and rubber plantations of the south, Thailand is steeped in Buddhist history, tradition and culture.

Its red texture slowly dissolves to create a beautiful hue of reds and whites.

One of the things that most impresses newcomers to this part of the world – and to Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand in particular – is how Buddhism so intertwined in the daily life of its population. Here, in a Petchaburi temple just south of Bangkok, a Buddha statue rests in contemplation. Its red texture slowly dissolves as the seasons pass to create a beautiful hue of reds and whites.

Incense sticks are lit and set in the lap or in the hands of the image by both monks and practitioners as they mediate and make merit on another day on the wheel of karmic life cycles.

Discover arts and culture, ancient and modern, with a trip to Asia with ICS Travel Group.

Art & Culture