Get ready for “The Vietnam War” premiere on PBS

We’ve always been huge fans of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s documentaries. And given that the latest one – “The Vietnam War” – hits so close to home, we’re especially excited to see how this conflict is portrayed.

Click here to watch the extended trailer for the mini-series.

We’re also excited to be partnering with KNPB – our local PBS station in Reno, Nevada – to offer a special 10-day Vietnam tour for two which will take travelers through many of the key areas highlighted in the documentary, and allow people to hear first-hand accounts from survivors of the “American War” as they call it in Vietnam.

Click here for the Remembering the Vietnam War itinerary.

Over the years, we’ve created tours for a number of Vietnam War veterans and their families – tours that have helped bring closure and greater understanding of this generation-defining conflict. And we are proud to be able to donate this tour to help fundraise for KNPB and their amazing programing.

Of course, we’re always happy to customize this itinerary for anyone else interested in the history of this conflict and the beauty and culture of this amazing country. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would be interested in making a similar journey yourself.

So set your alarm for the premiere of the 10-part documentary series on “The Vietnam War” this Sunday, Sept. 17 on your local PBS station or streaming online via any number of PBS apps/services. Click here for how to watch.

Sincerely,

The Journeys Within team

Journeys Within joins Refill Not Landfill campaign

Refill Not Landfill campaign aims to turn Cambodia’s mountains of single-use plastic water bottle refuse into molehills

Taking a lead on dealing with plastic waste in Cambodia, Journeys Within Tour Company has joined with more than 40 members of Siem Reap’s hospitality and tourism industries and development sector in the launch of Refill Not Landfill – a campaign aimed at revolutionizing the way water is consumed by tourists in Cambodia and thus spurring a transformation of the kingdoms’ landscape.

At the foot of Angkor Wat — one of the most famous and increasingly popular tourist sites in the world — this informal consortium has come together to replace single-use plastic water bottles with reusable aluminum bottles that are refillable at designated venues across the city. The ultimate goal of Refill Not Landfill is to substantially reduce the amount of plastic waste produced in the Kingdom.

In 2015, 4,775,231 million visitors travelled to Cambodia, staying an average of 6.8 days each. During that time, these visitors consume an average of two liters of water per day, many from half-liter or 1-liter bottles, which means visitors have the potential to use, on average, 130 million plastic half-liter bottles every year. That is more than 10 million bottles per month, or 355,000 bottles per day, equivalent to 26 Olympic swimming pools filled to the brim with plastic bottles every single year, year after year. And that number can only grow as the number of tourists to Cambodia is projected to continue rising.

Globally, plastic has become a plague on the planet, killing wildlife, choking seas, and filling landfills for centuries to come. Few bottles are recycled as the facilities for doing so are virtually non-existent within Cambodia and the resources for transporting them to neighboring countries are informal and limited. Even in developed countries with formal infrastructure, such as the United States, as little as 23% of the plastic bottles sold end up being recycled. In Cambodia, they end up in landfills or blown around the countryside, which struggles under drifts of plastic discards along roadways, in rice fields and gardens, and along watercourses which often become blocked creating flooding and other damage.

Journeys Within Tour Company’s goal in participating in the Refill Not Landfill campaign is to replace the average of 27.2 single-use water bottles a visitor goes through during their stay in Cambodia with one refillable aluminum bottle, which will be provided to them free of charge upon their arrival.

With orders for 41,000 refillable bottles already across all participating groups, the initial stage of this campaign has the potential to offset the use of 1,115,200 plastic bottles in this way – a huge saving for the environment as well as the local economy.

This initiative reflects a growing global trend towards eliminating the use of plastic bottles and other products as an essential measure for environmental protection. Over the last 15 years, countries such as Ireland, Australia, the United States, India, Bangladesh, Rwanda, China and France have introduced restrictions on the sale and distribution of certain plastic products, including bottles, bags and dining utensils.

In Siem Reap, participating hotels, cafés and restaurants, attractions, tour operators and NGOs will issue their branded bottles to guests and clients in the manner they see fit, and they all have the option to brand them as they choose, meaning Refill Not Landfill can really become part of their identity. The back of the bottles feature the names of all of the free-of-charge water refill locations across the city helping visitors to find them with ease.

This is how one relatively small group is hoping to push along the revolution towards a greener, more beautiful country and planet, for the benefit of those living and yet to be born.

Participating organizations:

Jaya House River Park Hotel; Phare, The Cambodian Circus; The Little Red Fox Espresso Café; Giant Puppet Parade; Beyond Unique Escapes; Journeys Within Tour Company; Rambutan Siem Reap; Templation Hotel; AMANSARA ; ABBA; EGBOK; Friends International; Sister Srey Café; Angkor Hospital for Children; Bambu Project; Pandaw Cruises; Smiling Albino; Park Hyatt Siem Reap; Sojourn Boutique Villas; Meru Asia; HUSK Cambodia; Babel Guesthouse; Angkor Fight Club; Charlie’s Bar; Knai Bang Chatt; Heritage Suites Hotel; Sala Lodges; Angkor Night Market; Firefly Guesthouse; PACTICS; Blossom Café; Cambodian Travel Partner; Angkor W Restaurants; API School; Memoire Hotels & Resorts.

Siem Ream refill station locations:

New Leaf Book Café; Phare, the Cambodian Circus; Made in Cambodia Market @ Kings Road; The Hive; Little Red Fox Espresso; Beyond Unique Escapes; Sister Srey Café; Masakan Ibu (Mama’s Recipes); Babel Guesthouse; Charlie’s Bar; Miss Wong Cocktail Bar; Angkor Hospital for Children; CONSTABLE Gallery at Large; Spoons (EGBOK Café); Marum Restaurant; Rambutan Phnom Penh; Hard Rock Café Angkor; Khmer Kitchen; The Triangle Restaurant; Mama Shop Italian Food; Chanrey Tree Restaurant; Sokkhak River Restaurant; The Glasshouse at Park Hyatt Siem Reap; Memoire d’Angkor Boutique Hotel.

Photo of single-use plastic water bottles floating in Tonle Sap river during the Siem Reap Water Festival courtesy of Ploy Photography.

Staff Journeys: Joy & Sone visit Cambodia

In April 2016, Kanchana “Joy” Junglin (JW Thailand Country Director) and Bouasone “Sone” Phonepaserth (Laos Booking Manager) took a trip to the Journeys Within headquarters in Siem Ream, Cambodia to meet the team there and share their knowledge of Thailand and Laos respectively. Below we share a few of their memories from the trip as well as their photos.

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Joy:

The trip was perfect 🙂 My son and I were very happy and enjoyed the trip, especially my son. He was very happy to go with the team everywhere. He made a new best friend – Win Win (Leak’s son). Win Win took good care of my son and played with him. They all had fun.

For me, my highlight was to see the Cambodian culture and history and also to meet the Journeys Within team as everyone was very friendly and was nice like a family. Thank you so much for giving me and my son the opportunity to go to Cambodia and have this new experience. My son and I loved this trip.

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Sone:

I send this e-mail to thank you for the kindness that you are always showing us. Thanks for giving me a very special trip to Cambodia. It was a great time to be there and meet our lovely team. I’ve seen and learned how they have done a very good job, and I had so much fun on tours with them and with our great guide Mr. Sina 😀

I can say there are many parts of this trip that I liked, but my favorite was the Quad Bike adventure. It was the first time in my life that I have done an adventure bike riding for 2 hours around a remote area. It was so much fun.

I was also very surprised with the flooded villages and thee high houses… I can imagine how difficult a time the residents must have in the rainy season.

Moreover, We are grateful to hear that you’re giving us a bonus for Lao New Year again. We all appreciate feeling that we’re part of the JW team’s success! We promise to do our best to ensure that our clients will have an amazing trip during their time visiting Laos!!

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Updates for Journeys Within travelers on Bangkok bombing

Here at Journeys Within, we were shocked and saddened to hear the news of the bombing near the Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. Our prayers will be with all of the victims, as well as with the Thai people as they attempt to recover from this terrible event.

Of course, the safety of our travelers in the region is our first priority, and our ground operations teams from our Bangkok and other Southeast Asia offices have been ensuring that all of our guests are safe and informed about the current situation in the Thai capital.

In addition, Journeys Within’s founder and CEO, Andrea Ross, will be diverting her Vietnam inspection tour to come to Bangkok to help assess the security situation and work with our ground operations teams in assisting any of our guests with plans to travel in the region.

Our teams are monitoring the news and advisories, and will be personally contacting all of our guests that may be impacted by this event to adjust itineraries if needed.

And we will provide updated information here on this blog post as it becomes available.

Advice for Journeys Within travelers visiting Thailand in the future

At Journeys Within, guest safety is always our number one priority, and our Bangkok office will be monitoring the situation on the ground in Bangkok and throughout the country in the coming days, weeks and months to ensure that our guests are aware of any risks that might still exist after this incident.

While it appears that Thai authorities now have a suspect in the Monday bombing, information is still extremely limited at the moment; however, we will be in contact with all Journeys Within guests traveling to or near Bangkok to fill them in on our first-hand assessment from the ground vs. the current media hype.

Media coverage:

“Secret” beaches that aren’t so secret (plus better alternatives)

Secret beaches of Southeast Asia
Photos by Julia Cuthbertson and Carlos Jimenez (and lower right by April Cole)

Recently, our friends over at Travel + Leisure published a list of the “Best Secret Beaches on Earth” – beach vacation destinations worldwide for travelers looking to get away from crowds and noise.

Within Southeast Asia, they highlighted Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, as well as Koh Lanta, Thailand – both great islands that we have sent many guests to over the years.

But while these islands are certainly unheard of by most travelers, our Southeast Asia specialists April, Courtney and Naida had a few other ideas for truly off-the-radar beach destinations that we guarantee only those “in the know” have experienced. So read on if you’d like to find yourself alone on a white-sand tropical paradise anytime soon.

If you like the sound of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, try…

Koh Rong & Koh Rong Saloem, Cambodia

Both Phu Quoc and Koh Rong (map) are located off the coast of Sihanoukville Province, Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand; but unlike the larger island of Phu Quoc – which features an airport with multiple daily flights from Saigon – Koh Rong is only accessibly by speedboat from the mainland, and offers a private paradise of lush green jungles and a few laid-back resort options designed for relaxation and appreciation of the natural environment.

Beaches are the highlight of any trip to Koh Rong, as 43 km of the 61-km coastline are covered in white, beige or rose-colored sand, meaning there is always a way to find a secluded spot with nary another person in sight. (If you need more proof, the American television show Survivor filmed seasons 31 and 32 on Koh Rong from March through July 2015, so you know it offers secluded spots.)

Several small islets and off-shore reefs provide a beautiful marine environment for those willing to explore with mask and snorkel or sea kayak. And the interior features interesting sandstone rock formations and a number of seasonal waterfalls that can serve as an alternate activity to the endless beach time on offer.

For the ultimate in luxury, try the Song Saa Private Island Resort, located on an islet just off the main Koh Rong island in the northeast. Click here for April’s first-hand account of the Song Saa experience.

But for a more secluded setting, head to the Lazy Beach Resort on the southeastern side of the smaller island of Koh Rong Saloem (just below Koh Rong). Click here to read a blog post about a honeymoon at Lazy Beach.

Whatever you choose for accommodations, don’t wait too long to plan your escape to Koh Rong!


Click here for Koh Rong slideshow

And if Travel + Leisure’s description of Koh Lanta, Thailand sounds nice, try…

Koh Kood, Thailand

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Kood (also spelled Koh Kut – map) is a secret gem featuring less than 15 hotels on the entire island (compared to hundreds of options on Koh Lanta). And while development has been slow to arrive in Koh Kood, that may be changing… With 24-hour electricity just having been brought to the island in June of 2015, direct flights from hubs such as Bangkok and Siem Reap, and a growing number of unique and luxurious resorts on pristine beaches, we think Koh Kood is poised to become the next great “secret” getaway spot in Thailand.

In addition to secluded beaches, the island offers great snorkeling and SCUBA diving options, fishing trips, hikes to seasonal waterfalls and authentic Thai fishing villages worthy of exploration.

For those seeking luxury, the Soneva Kiri resort is an amazing choice. The property offers 24 gorgeous villas as well as 11 private residences, all of them offering a great combination of luxury with environmentally sensitive design and furnishings. With a fantastic spa, fun activities such as outdoor movies and an observatory, and unique dining options (you can eat dinner in a hanging tree basket!), it’s a place you will never be bored.

For those travelers seeking value, the Shantaa Koh Kood is a beautiful sea-side resort featuring private villas that offers a perfectly relaxing retreat in a more rustic setting. Palm-lined pathways lead down to the great snorkeling beach in front of the property, and the resort is happy to arrange for tours of the island or other activities.


Click here for Koh Kood slideshow