Package to India
Nanda Travel is selling a 'Retrace the Buddha's Footsteps' tour to northern India, which includes visits to some of the most significant Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world, most notably Bodh Gaya. The deal includes four days of exploration after a nighttime arrival at Delhi, the first of which involves an early morning flight to Patna, from where it's a five-hour drive to Bodh Gaya. The next two days are spent in and around this holy site, visiting the Bodhi Tree at Mahabodhi Temple (below), Lilajan River, the Bichkiliya waterfalls and elsewhere, with a stopover in Rajgir on the last night before driving back to Patna to catch the plane to Delhi, and from there back to Hong Kong. The package price, which includes four nights' accommodation, round-trip flights with Cathay Pacific to Delhi and round-trip Air India flights from Delhi to Patna, land travel by people-carrier, guides and transfer assistance, is HK$14,500 per person plus just under HK$3,000 in tax and fuel surcharges. A minimum of two passengers is required. For more details, contact Nanda Travel on 2522 3137, or visit www.nandatravel.com. For information on Indian visas, go to www.indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa.
China's flying past
Travellers flying into Kunming, Yunnan province, will from this week find themselves arriving at the new Kunming Changshui International Airport, about 30 kilometres from the downtown area. Previously, arrivals touched down at the Wujiaba International Airport, and some will be mourning the closure of this historic facility, which was one of the oldest of its kind in the mainland. Built in the early 20th century by the warlord Tang Jiyao, Wujiaba became a base for the famous Flying Tigers (below) and other United States Air Force units during the second world war. It was also the destination of pilots flying The Hump, a hazardous air route across the Himalayas from British India used to supply Chinese forces fighting the Japanese. Two pilots who flew that route many times were Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow, the founders of Cathay Pacific. A small museum dedicated to the Flying Tigers opened in Kunming last December and is worth a visit. Film director John Woo is reported to be working on a film tentatively titled Flying Tiger Heroes, which he has promised will 'emphasise US-Chinese friendship and the contributions of the Flying Tigers and the Yunnan people during the war of resistance'. Wujiaba airport, meanwhile, is due for immediate demolition.
Deal of the week
A two-night package to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, is on offer at Farrington American Express Travel from HK$2,150 per person, twin share. This price will get you a room at the All Seasons Chiang Mai (www.all-seasons-hotels.com), which is fine if you're on a tight budget. More upmarket offerings include the Shangri-La from HK$2,690, The Chedi from HK$3,290 and The Four Seasons Resort (bottom left) from HK$4,190. These will be available until the end of September (with a HK$300 flight surcharge from July 13 to August 24) and include daily breakfast and travel insurance. For more details, call 3121 3121 and quote tour code L2012CNXA143, or visit www.amextravel.com.hk.
The recent closure of Tibet to foreign tourists brought an end to Thailand-based cycle tour operator SpiceRoads' Lhasa to Kathmandu bike excursions, but it is offering a couple of interesting alternatives for those seeking a two-wheeled Tibet-style trip. These include a 10-day trip through Sikkim in northeast India (from US$1,950), 14 days in Bhutan (from US$4,275) and a number of trips through Nepal, including a 10-day ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara (from US$1,750). You can take your own bike or rent one from SpiceRoads, which offers well-supported cycling trips through most Asian countries. See www.spiceroads.com for more information. Before you commit, be sure to get your hands on a copy of Stephen Lord's Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook, which contains all you need to know to prepare for the kind of trips mentioned above.