October 25, 2016 | TransIndus
Asia specialist tour operator, TransIndus, has long done things its own way – and its latest paper-based offering on the Far East is no exception. ‘Brochure’ in this instance is something of a misnomer. It’s intended more as a source of inspiration to help clients pinpoint which places they may wish to incorporate into their tours. It doesn’t try to sell anything. In fact, the first tours don’t appear until you’ve browsed over 60 pages of fascinating, informative and inspiring copy, studded with beautiful photography.
There are handy ‘Highlights’ rundowns at the beginning of each section, with spreads on interesting cultural themes, such as ‘Geishas in Kyoto’, ‘Tea in China’, ‘Timurid Tiles of Uzbekistan’, the ‘Mazu Pilgrimage’ in Taiwan and ‘The Tsataan Reindeer Herders’ of Mongolia.
Suggested itineraries are also showcased within the publication’s 164 pages, to give would-be travellers a clearer sense of what is possible in different time frames.
TransIndus’ Managing Director, Amrit Singh, explains: “We don’t publish brochures every year, preferring instead to create something special, compiled by professional travel writers and our own destination experts that our clients will wish to keep over time. It’s more like a richly illustrated guide book… a comprehensive tool that will help our clients to plan their dream trip.”
Covering China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia and the Silk Road states of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, its pages represent a distillation of more than 25 years’ experience of designing fabulous holidays in fascinating, culturally diverse parts of the world. The trips are very much a tailor-made proposition and the tour suggestions are just that: bases from which to build your perfect trip, inspired by the words and images that surround them.
What’s new and different?
In a rapidly-changing landscape, tourism in China has grown and blossomed. But TransIndus has gone to great lengths to identify places that retain plenty of heritage and cultural character, and that haven’t been swamped and over-commercialised.
China’s Sacred Mountains – TransIndus visits several areas that are little-touched by tourism and which deliver jaw-dropping scenery plus evocative Taoist monuments, providing a vivid sense of China’s religious traditions.
Off-track Xi’an – there’s a whole lot more to experience in and around this ancient city than the Terracotta Army – including Tang Imperial Tombs, China’s oldest mosque and some lesser-known museums.
Yunnan – TransIndus has identified some wonderful off-track gems that have escaped the commercialism of the main hubs – for example, Shaxi, and the ‘Songtsam Circuit’ around the Tibetan area of the far north.
China’s Silk Road – modern air travel has rendered the remote market towns of the old Silk Road across the Taklamakan and Gobi Deserts more accessible than ever. The distinctive character of the region is fast disappearing under a tidal wave of development – so now is the time to see it.
Example tours include:
NEW: Iconic Landscapes of China – a 17-day exploration of China’s most iconic and distinctive landscapes – from the limestone scenes of Zhangjiajie to the travertine lakes of Jiuzhaigou to the prehistoric wonders of Chengdu. Costs from £5,195 pp*
China’s Ancient Heartland – a 15-day itinerary revolving primarily around monuments, this is a trip for history buffs and anyone with a fascination for China’s past. Costs from £2,895 pp*
China’s Forgotten Himalaya – an 11-day trip that starts and ends in the regional capital of Shangri La. The tour covers all the main highlights of Yunnan’s far north, including the UNESCO-listed Songzanlin Monastery and the first great bend of the Yangtze River. Costs from £2,850 pp^
Legends of The Silk Road – a 23-day expedition following in Marco Polo’s footsteps on a journey from the imperial heartland of China’s eastern seaboard to the dry, dusty capitals of Central Asia – Kashgar, Bukhara and Samarkhand. A grand exploration of the fabled Silk Road. Costs from £6,245 pp*
Despite this being a hugely popular destination, TransIndus has taken pains to discover the off-track places where tourism is light.
The Kii Peninsula and the Kumado Kodo. For anyone wishing to experience the spiritual essence of old Japan, TransIndus provides hikes through the ancient cedar forests and temple complexes of this pilgrimage region southeast of Osaka.
Shikoku. The smallest of Japan’s four main islands sees relatively few foreign visitors and yet offers thickly forested hills and valleys, hiding a forgotten world of tiny farmsteads, swaying vine bridges, hill shrines and misty cedar woods criss-crossed by ancient paved trails – like a vision from a Japanese folk tale. Shikoku is also the home of the humble udon rice noodle – fame indeed.
Hokkaido. Although becoming far more popular, TransIndus has mapped this island in detail and has some great suggestions for wild landscapes and a self-drive, self-guided tour to the remote southeast corner, via the volcanic uplands and caldera lakes of the interior.
NEW tours include:
NEW: Hokkaido: Land of Fire and Ice – this 15-day fly-drive concentrates on the northern island of Hokkaido. Its quiet roads lead visitors through magnificent mountain uplands, past stunning caldera lakes and two days’ true wilderness, spotting whales, dolphins and eagles. Costs from £4,895 pp*
NEW: Sacred Trails – a 15-day itinerary exploring the Kii peninsula on Japan’s most traditional pilgrimage trail. Shinto and Buddhist shrines, cedar forests and soaring mountains in a land few foreigners know much about. Costs from £4,465 pp*
TransIndus gets particularly excited about the Mountain Shrines of the far south, which are overlooked by most tour operators, but which are set amid spectacular landscapes and contain a wealth of ancient art and cultural treasures.
South Korea Explorer – a 12-day itinerary that explores the best that the southern half of the Korean peninsula has to offer. Beginning in exciting Seoul it includes the natural splendour of Mount Seorak National Park, the traditional culture of the Andong region, and the ‘museum without walls’ that is Gyeongju. Costs from £3,298 pp*
Some of the places TransIndus recommends in this country are the most remote featured on its entire map – requiring days crossing taiga and grasslands on isolated roads to reach. In isolated communities, visitors will meet with reindeer herders in the far north, eagle hunters in the far west and camel herders amid the dunes of the Gobi Desert in the far south. Nearly all the accommodation used is in remote yurt camps where you’ll get a vivid sense of the landscape and local life.
NEW: Northern Exposure – 15 days to explore one of the last truly wild corners of the planet, covering the highlights of north and central Mongolia. From Ulaanbaatar, across the vast grasslands to Lake Khovsgol, where you’ll have a rare opportunity to visit an encampment of Tsaatan reindeer herders. Costs from £3,465 pp*
TransIndus has added some infrequently-visited destinations to this brochure, including the Korezm Desert Forts of the Oxus Delta – forgotten archaeological treasures in remote Central Asia. But for the most part, the focus is on the monumental architecture of the Silk Road cities – Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva – which form the pivotal points of its recommended itineraries.
NEW: Great Cities of the Silk Road – a 12-day exploration of the cream of Central Asia’s Timurid monuments and medieval bazaars, from Tashkent to Samarkand, Bukhara and on to Khiva. Costs from £2,695 pp*
For more details of TransIndus’ huge range of holidays across the Far East, Southeast Asia and India, visit www.transindus.co.uk or call 0844 879 3960 to speak to an expert.
*Includes international flights, accommodation, local transport and English-speaking guides.
^Does not include international flights.