B’n’Tree – new hotel booking website helps reforest Southern Thailand

Girl plants tree B'n'TreeChris Kaiser, former manager of award-winning eco resort and elephant sanctuary Elephant Hills, has invented a new way for travellers to help save the environment – simply by booking a room: B’n’Tree. The concept of B‘n’Tree (Bed and Tree) is as simple as it is powerful: Whenever you book a bed using one of their partner links on the B’n’Tree website, they plant a tree, for free. Continue reading “B’n’Tree – new hotel booking website helps reforest Southern Thailand”

Sai oua: Thailand’s answer to curried sausages

sai oua thailand curry sausages

Sai oua (or sai ua) is a spicy pork sausage famously hailing from the mountainous area of Chiang Mai. Some say its roots could stem back to Burma and Laos. However, the key point of this culinary attraction is that the sausage derives its flavour from the same base as a red curry paste. So how easy is it to make sai oua?

Although there are a few variations on the recipe, sai oua can be made using some of the basic ingredients featured in khao soi, a traditional curry soup also hailing from the area in Thailand’s north.

Khao soi soup

In a recent interview, executive chef at Akyra Manor Chiang Mai, Phubase Chuprakong explained to SBS it’s a good idea to make both khao soi and sai oua directly after each other to cut down on food waste and boost your kitchen efficiency. “The paste for sai oua is similar to khao soi paste because it has galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and turmeric,” Chuprakong says. “Then you make the paste and mix it with the meat or pork and make it into a sausage.”

To make the spicy sausage from scratch, use the dried chilli, fresh turmeric and shallots that are leftover from your khao soi paste. Add lemongrass, a few kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste, soy sauce and sugar. Mix in your mince of choice – use pork if you want to stick to the authentic recipe. Fill the spicy meat mixture into a sausage casing and grill.

Read more about sai oua in the recent SBS Feature here.

Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai with kids

Chiang Mai is the provincial capital of Thailand’s north. It’s known for its rich cultural history and it’s one of the best places to visit in Thailand with family. What’s there to do in Chiang Mai with kids? We asked the professionals at Expedia.com.au to narrow it down for you.

Chiang Mai with kids Wat Phra Singh temple

Eat

 

Food stalls: Thai food includes kid-friendly options that may surprise you. Some favourites are sweet potato balls, cashew chicken, mango sticky rice, and roti (flatbread topped with condensed milk and bananas). The stalls near Chang Phuak Gate at the north edge of Old Town are a good starting point.

Chiang Mai with kids close up of food stall

Dash Teak House: This is a popular spot for Thai families and tourists alike. There are large tables, plenty of space outdoors for the kids to tire themselves out, and a big, diverse menu. What more could a family ask for?

iBerry Garden: Located northwest of the Old City in Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai’s trendiest area, this artsy ice cream shop offers cones, cakes, and great photo ops with its quirky art installations. Bonus: It has air conditioning.

Café de Thaan Aoan: You’ve had an exciting day exploring, and all you want is some cheap, tasty food and a nice blast of air conditioning. Enter this Old Town café, which has a huge menu and reasonable prices for the area.

Play

Old City temples: There are three temples in the Old City, located within walking distance of one another: Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Phra Singh. Teens will love Monk Chats at Wat Chedi Luang, which is just what it sounds like—a chance to sit down and chat with a monk!

Chiang Mai with kids Wat Chedi Luana temple

Saturday Market: The markets of the Old City are a must-visit for all travellers, including families. However, the Sunday Market tends to be more crowded; try the Saturday Market instead if you’ve got little ones in tow.

Cooking school: It’s perfect—a unique family activity that will keep the kids occupied and introduce them to the cuisine of a different culture. Many cooking schools in Chiang Mai welcome kids of all ages, complete with a trip to the market for ingredients.

Art in Paradise: This is an art museum with a twist kids (and adults!) love—it’s filled with impressive 3D murals. From the jungle to ancient Egypt, you’ll look like you’re really there. Don’t forget your camera!

Stay

Old City: If you want to walk to everything, the Old City is the most central place to stay in Chiang Mai with kids. Hotels here tend to be boutique, but are ideal for smaller groups who like that personal touch.

Chiang Mai with kids walls of the Old City

Nimmanhaemin: This neighbourhood just northwest of the Old City is great for families. Maya Mall has a movie theatre, food court, playroom, and arcade. The area is also home to off-the-beaten-path, kid-friendly attractions like the Museum of World Insects.

Riverside: Got a large family? If you’re bringing along everyone from bub to grandma—or travelling with multiple families—consider a stay in one of the spacious resorts of the Riverside area.

The Great Mekong Bike Ride

Serial cyclist and blogger Jack Thompson, of Jackcyclesfar gave up the 9 to 5 life in 2015, deciding instead to pursue his passion for ultra-distance cycling and adventuring around the globe on two wheels.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand invited Jack to join the Great Mekong Bike Ride to provide valuable feedback on this endurance cycling challenge and he ended up spending 12 days cycling in both the north and south. Here are a few highlights from his comprehensive blog post chronicling his journey through Thailand.

Having spent an incredible 12 days cycling around northern Thailand earlier this year, when the opportunity presented itself to return to this cycling mecca, I couldn’t help but say ‘yes.’

My most recent travels saw me spend another 12 days in Thailand. The first five days were spent in the North East racing in the official “Great Mekong Bike Ride” which attracts more than 700 riders from around the world. The remaining 7 days were spent touring ancient wonders, historical sites and culturally rich landscapes in the area just north of Bangkok, with good friend and fellow travel guide Sea Keong Loh from Venture Wander Travel.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand
Competing in the Great Mekong Bike Ride

The Great Mekong Bike Ride

Broken into three stages, the Great Mekong Bike Ride commences in Nakhon Phanom and showcases the very best of the region. Cities such as Sakon Nakhon are lit up with excitement as the race passes through. I guided 15 Australians to the race and we agreed, as a group, that it was the best organised event we have ever participated in.

Some of my favourite things about racing and cycling adventure travel in general, is the cultural immersion that comes from travelling by bike. The people you meet along the way, the fragrant aromas of the local cuisine and the rich market life.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand

Big grins greeted us at the start and finish of the race and as each racer finished, they were presented with food vouchers, so that they could choose treats from the many food trucks that were there serving us their local cuisine, fresh fruit smoothies and deserts. The camaraderie between the local and international riders was unreal.

After a quick flight back to Bangkok, the second part of my trip began and what a week I was in for!

Ancient Wonders of Bangkok and Ayutthaya

I was collected by my guides Tintin and Patipath, (aircraft mechanics in the Thai Army). We made our way back to the army base in Bangkok and settled in for the night. The following morning, Tintin whipped up a couple of Thai style omelettes and before long we had hit the road for our first day of riding.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand
Jack in the ancient city of Ayutthaya.

Our destination for the day was Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient Capital City.  Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya is home to many ancient ruins and as we arrived into town, we were greeted by spectacular, colourful stone temples.

The ride itself was 80km in length. Departing Bangkok, although busy, felt incredibly safe.  The drivers in Thailand are courteous, unlike that of the western world.  There is a sense of urgency, but very little risk is taken.  After 20 – 30 km we were out of the mayhem and riding the banks of a small river system en route to our finishing point in Ayutthaya.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand

There, we visited the floating markets, sampled the famous delicacies and continued to our hostel accommodation, ‘Busaba Ayutthaya Hostel’. Think 5-star New York Hamptons: white wood, lots of greenery and views of the river. If you find yourself in Bangkok and looking for something to do, I would highly recommend Ayutthaya.  The city is rich in history and the temples and monuments are brilliantly preserved.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand
On the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi.

Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai

We commenced our second day of riding on a local velodrome before heading south west towards our destination for the day, Kanchanaburi. Famous amongst backpackers for the huge number of attractions in the surrounding areas, Kanchanaburi is probably most famous for the bridge over the River Kwai – the start of the infamous World War 2 Death Railway to Burma.

Our ride was 100km along predominantly flat roads.  It was great chatting with my guide, Patipath as we rolled along the rice fields. That afternoon we explored the war cemetery, the first portion of the Death Railway over The River Kwai and the War Museum. There was so much information to take in, that I would love to visit Kanchanaburi again and spend more time really getting to understand how the tragic events of WW2 unfolded there.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand

We spent the next day exploring Kanchanaburi by bike and completed 110km through the luscious green landscape.  The highlight of the day was visiting the Death Railway.  Perched high along the banks of the Mae Klong River, the railway was an impressive feat of engineering constructed long, long ago. The second portion of the day, and our finishing point was the Erawan waterfalls.  A spectacular landmark made up of seven, different levelled waterfalls.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand

Mae Klong Railway Market

For those who haven’t heard of this landmark, it is essentially a street market built on top of railway tracks. What makes it unique is that the railway tracks are still in operation, and every time a train approaches, the stall holders quickly pack up their stalls, allowing the train to sneak through and as soon as the train passes, the markets set up back on the tracks. After a walk along the markets we made our way south to Hua Hin, our destination for the final two nights of the trip.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand

Hua Hin

Hua Hin is a seaside resort on the Gulf of Thailand and located 200km south of Bangkok.  It is one of the most popular Thai holiday destinations for those living in the country’s capital and home to the best ‘Mango Sticky Rice’ in the country. Hua Hin is like Phuket but nowhere near as busy. There is an array of offerings for tourists such as local craft markets, traditional Thai massage, shopping centres and fitness studios.

The scenery in this part of Thailand is breathtaking. It is completely different to Thailand’s mountainous north. The south is flatter, and the seaside vibes reminded me of being back home on the beach.

Endurance cyclist Jack Thompson in Thailand

In my opinion, a mix of Chiang Rai and Hua Hin is ideal. Mountains for climbing and a somewhat sleepy seaside town for relaxing. Comparing my time in Chiang Rai to my time in Bangkok and the surrounding areas, I can honestly say that both are as brilliant as each other.

Later this year, Jack will be running a series of guided adventures to northern Thailand and in 2019 he will also run a trip from central Bangkok. Contact Jack for more information, and read his full blog post here.

The Foodie’s Guide to Bangkok Hotels

Bangkok is one of the world’s most popular destinations, and it’s easy to see why: the culture, the nightlife, and of course, the food! In fact, we’d argue that you can’t really consider yourself a true foodie until you’ve experienced Bangkok’s fine dining scene.

We enlisted the travel experts at Expedia to put together a list of the best hotel restaurants in Bangkok for those who like life on the finer side.

Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant, Bangkok

City Centre

The Pullman Hotel G has quite a few creature comforts, like a full-service spa, gym and recreation centre, and a pool terrace. It’s also home to Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant—37 floors above the bustling streets of Bangkok. This rather swish eatery consistently serves up some of the finest French cuisine in the city.

Other Awesome Eats in City Centre

St, Regis, Zoom Restaurant, Bangkok

Pathum Wan

We recommend a stay at the St. Regis and a meal at the on-site restaurant Zuma. Their thinly sliced seabass with yuzu truffle oil and spicy beef tenderloin with red chili and soy are go-to menu options. Finish off the evening with a nightcap at the lounge.

Other Awesome Eats in Pathum Wan

The Sukhothai, Celadon Restaurant, Bangkok

Sathon

At least once in your life you need to splurge on a set menu dining experience at an award-winning restaurant. Make your way to Celadon at The Sukhothai and take your pick between either the 9-course or 12-course meal. We’re willing to bet you’ve never had a dinner like this before.

Other Awesome Eats in Sathon

Oriental Residence Bangkok, Savelberg Restaurant, Bangkok

Embassy District

Located in the heart of the Embassy District off Wireless Road, the Oriental Residence Bangkok is exactly what you’d expect from a luxury hotel: amenities galore and one of the few Michelin-starred restaurants in Thailand. Savelberg is the creation of Dutch head chef Henk Savelberg – be sure to sample a tasting plate of caviar, among other delights.

Other Awesome Eats in the Embassy District

Mandarin Oriental, The Verandah, Bangkok

Bang Rak

For one of the best breakfast experiences in Bangkok, you can’t go past The Verandah at the Mandarin Oriental. We suggest the French toast with caramelized pears and a cup of freshly squeezed papaya juice.

Other Awesome Eats in Bang Rak

  • Ciao Terrazza
  • The River Shack Bangkok

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