Family run The first Laguna Lãng Cô Marathon will take place just north of Danang, on the central Vietnam coast, on Sunday, October 25. As well as a full race, there will be a half marathon, a 10km run, a 5km walk and a 2km kids' race spread over the weekend, so there's something for all the family. The event is being "hosted" by the Laguna Lãng Cô's two resort properties, the Banyan Tree and Angsana Lãng Cô, and both are offering 15 per cent off their best available rates for direct bookings made for the event weekend before the end of this month. For resort reservations, click the Travel link at lagunalangcomarathon.com, where you can also find full details of the races and register online.
Changing Chengdu The city of Chengdu, in Sichuan province, is rapidly taking shape as a major international tourist destination, with direct flights now arriving from as far afield as London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, San Francisco and, from next month, even Mauritius. International hotel brands have also been cropping up with surprising speed. A Ritz-Carlton opened in August 2013, followed by an InterContinental in the massive New Century Global Center - supposedly the world's largest building - and a St Regis last year. A Grand Hyatt is slated to open this year, with a Waldorf Astoria due in 2016 and a Mandarin Oriental on the cards for 2017. The next hotel to open will be the rather more modest (at least in size) Temple House, early next month. The third member of Swire Hotels' so-called House Collective, it joins The Upper House, in Hong Kong, and The Opposite House, in Beijing, with 100 hotel rooms and 42 serviced apartments within the new Chengdu Daci Temple Cultural and Commercial Complex. For more information, go to thetemplehousehotel.com.
Double deluxe The capital of Mongolia has just doubled its international luxury hotel count with the opening of the Shangri-La hotel, Ulan Bator. Until now, visitors requiring the five-star treatment have had only the Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace to check in to, and so this much anticipated 290-room property will be a welcome arrival. National carrier MIAT Mongolian Airlines has been operating scheduled flights between Hong Kong and Ulan Bator since 2011, and currently flies every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Most flights arrive in the late afternoon but the Monday departure gets in just after midnight, which is not a great time to arrive in the city. HKSAR passport holders can visit Mongolia without a visa for up to 14 days while United States passport holders get 90 days on arrival. Visas on arrival have been granted to British passport holders since last year, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, but this has yet to be confirmed on the website of the Mongolian Consulate in Hong Kong (hongkong.mfa.gov.mn/en). Phone calls and emails requesting clarification had gone unanswered at the time of writing.
Tongue-tied tourists In the late 19th century, residents of the small Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll decided they might attract more visitors by adopting the name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Since then, the village, with its tiny railway station, on the island of Anglesey, has boasted one of the longest and most recognised, though perhaps lesser-spoken, place names in the world. About 100,000 visitors a year show up from around the world at the tourist information centre asking to hear the correct pronunciation and pick up a postcard to send to amused friends and relatives. Or at least they did. Last month the centre was closed, in a bid by the local council to save money. Now tourists will have to make do with selfies in front of the railway sign, and pestering the locals for utterances of the unspeakable. Online information can still be found at www.llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.co.uk.
Deal of the week Swire Travel is offering a two-night package to the city of Xiamen, in Fujian province, from only HK$920 per person, twin share. Accommodation at this price is at the cheap and not entirely cheerful Hotel Ibis Xiamen Kaiyuan, which is currently languishing just outside the top 100 on TripAdvisor. Deals on the better hotels, however, are still very reasonable. For a package price starting from HK$1,590 you can stay at the Millennium Harbourview, while the Marco Polo and Le Meridien are offered from HK$1,670 and HK$1,690, respectively. Also included with this package, which will be available for departure until July 7, are flights with Dragonair and daily breakfast. For more hotel choices and reservations, visit www.swiretravel.com.