GREAT ASIA ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Asia -

Seventh heaven: Cre­ative Hol­i­days has a seven-night pack­age for the price of six at the five-star Nexus Re­sort in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; the ex­pan­sive prop­erty fea­tures land­scaped grounds, 8km-long pri­vate beach, seven restau­rants and bars, three swim­ming pools and an 18-hole golf course. From $503 a per­son, twin-share if booked by De­cem­ber 31 for travel to March 31. More: 1300 747 400; cre­ative­hol­i­days.com.

Take a hike: Korea Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion is pro­mot­ing two new cy­cling and walk­ing trails. The bi­cy­cle route cov­ers stretches from Jam­sil Han River Park in eastern Seoul to nat­u­ral at­trac­tions in Gyeonggi and Gang­won prov­inces, such as Cheong­pyeong, Gapyeong (home of the Aus­tralian War Memo­rial), Chun­cheon and Yangpyeong; week-long tourist pack­ages are be­ing de­vel­oped for about $300, in­clud­ing meals and lo­cal-style ac­com­mo­da­tion. The hik­ing op­tions are in na­tional parks, in­clud­ing the am­bi­tious 300km Jiri Moun­tain trail, di­vided into 16 sec­tions. More: vis­itko­rea.or.kr.

Viet­nam for less: Stay three nights and pay for just two at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Hanoi West­lake from $216 a per­son twin-share with daily break­fasts. Add a half-day tour of the cap­i­tal for an ex­tra $47 a per­son or a sun­rise ex­cur­sion for $52; on sale to Novem­ber 30 for travel to March 31. More: 1800 044 066; travel-as­so­ci­ates.com.au.

Bloom­ing mar­vel­lous: Ja­pan spe­cial­ist Tours­gallery has a 13-day guided Cherry Blos­som Gar­dens Tour from April 1 with a fo­cus on Zen-style gar­dens and art mu­se­ums; ac­com­mo­da­tion is in tra­di­tional ryokan as well as con­ven­tional Western ho­tels in Tokyo, Hakone, Ka­makura, Okayama, Takamatsu and Ky­oto. From $8250 a per­son twin-share. More: 1300 307 317; tours­gallery.com.

To the moun­tains: Un­der the Aus­tralian Vol­un­teers for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment pro­gram, Aus­tralian Red Cross is re­cruit­ing starters for year-long ed­u­ca­tion and health as­sign­ments in the tiny Hi­malayan king­dom of Bhutan. Vol­un­teers re­ceive re­turn air­fares, mod­est liv­ing al­lowances and ac­com­mo­da­tion. More: (03) 9345 1834; ausaid.gov.au/vol­un­teer; red­cross.org.au.

River rover: Pan­daw River Cruises has an­nounced its 30-state­room Saigon Pan­daw will be re­branded Sa­gaing Pan­daw for 10 and 14-night sail­ings on the Ir­rawaddy and Chind­win rivers in Burma from July. Early­bird dis­counts of 10 per cent are of­fered for book­ings made 12 months ahead of cruise de­par­tures. More: pan­daw.com.

Fly me to the cruise: Cruise1st is sell­ing a 14-night voy­age aboard the lux­ury Aza­mara Jour­ney from Hong Kong to Sin­ga­pore via Hanoi, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Bang- kok; the pack­age is for an April 1 de­par­ture and in­cludes re­turn flights from Aus­tralian ports, two nights pre-cruise ac­com­mo­da­tion at the Royal Pa­cific in Hong Kong, and two nights post-cruise at Ber­jaya Sin­ga­pore Ho­tel; based on twin-share in an inside cabin, from $3799 a per­son ex Sydney, Mel­bourne, Bris­bane and Ade­laide; $3699 ex Perth; $ 3899 ex Canberra; or $ 3999 ex Ho­bart. More: 1300 596 345; cruise1st.com.au.

Please be seated: Cathay Pa­cific Air­ways has un­veiled its new re­gional short-haul busi­ness-class prod­uct as part of its 66th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions as Hong Kong’s home car­rier. Seats now of­fer an ex­ten­sive re­cline, ex­tended leg rest, im­proved head­rest and in­creased pitch. Each seat is en­cased in a fixed shell so there’s no in­tru­sion from pas­sen­gers in front. The prod­uct is be­ing pro­gres­sively in­stalled on re­gional Boe­ing 777-200/300 and A330-300 air­craft. Ear­lier this year Cathay Pa­cific in­tro­duced pre­mium econ­omy cab­ins and im­proved long-haul econ­omy-class seat­ing. More: cathay­pa­cific.com.

Be alert: Sure­save Travel In­sur­ance has com­piled a list of typ­i­cal tourist scams in Thai­land, in­clud­ing fake gems and con artists pos­ing as po­lice. The in­surer says per­sonal prop­erty mishaps ac­count for 35 per cent of claims for trav­ellers in Thai­land, a fig­ure sub­stan­tially higher than most des­ti­na­tions. More: 1300 787 376; sure­save.net.au.

Fine china: The Smith Fam­ily’s In­spired Ad­ven­ture 2013 is a new fundraiser to get the char­ity’s sup­port­ers in­volved in a China hol­i­day. Par­tic­i­pants are be­ing sought for an 11-day Great Wall of China and Bei­jing tour from May 31; pro­ceeds from the tour will help spon­sor the ed­u­ca­tion of two dis­ad­van­taged Aus­tralian chil­dren for one year un­der the Learn­ing for Life pro­gram. Five days will be spent trekking sec­tions of the Great Wall, in­clud­ing some rarely vis­ited by tourists and fea­tur­ing unique vil­lage stays. More: in­spiredad­ven­tures.com.au/the­smith­fam­ily/china.

Sea­sonal cherry blos­soms in Ja­pan

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