Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is pleased to announce the return of popular shopping promotion for visitors to Thailand during 1 November 2019 and 31 January 2020 with the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges” campaign. The campaign helps visitors increase buying power on a wide variety of products and services from over 200 leading service providers.

IMG_5136

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a new ‘Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges’ project to stimulate travel spending by tourists travelling within Thailand during the high season from November to 31 January, 2020.

TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said, “We are working with strategic partners in both the public and private sectors to offer promotions and special privileges during the specific period for target markets.”

Over 200 participating shops in seven categories have joined in the initiative. The categories include department stores and shops; accommodation; restaurants, bars and cafes; spas; jewellery suppliers; hospitals, clinics and medical facilities plus entertainment and nightlife venues.

Examples of the great deals include Thailand Post offering a discount 500 Baht per bill for international shipping with the EMS World service, while Siam Paragon is offering a ONESIAM Tourist Privilege with discounts up to 30% off and six per cent downtown VAT refund at Siam Paragon.

 

Search for discounts on the Passport Privileges website and show your passport to participating vendors to receive special deals and lifestyle benefits until the end of January 2020.

6 Northern Thailand destinations to add on to Chiang Mai

 

Doi Chiang Dao, Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiang Mai
Doi Chiang Dao, Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has long been a popular destination, for its rich history, great shopping, fragrant food and surrounding mountain landscapes. But there’s a lot more to Northern Thailand than you may think. Here are 6 northern destinations to visit near Chiang Mai.

Bordering Myanmar and Lao to the west, north and east, northern Thailand comprises 17 provinces. Along with Chiang Mai, these are Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Lamphun, Lampang, Phetchabun, Nan, Tak, Uttaradit, Phichit, Phrae, Kamphaeng Phet, Uthai Thani and Phayao.

Here is a quick look at six of the secondary provinces to add-on to a visit to Chiang Mai:

  1. Chiang Rai

The northernmost province in Thailand, Chiang Rai is blessed with a dramatic landscape of mountains, rivers and forests, an ethnic diversity that includes various hilltribes and a strong Lanna identity that can be seen in its architecture, art, language, music and cuisine.

Chiang-Rai-Wat-Rong-Khun

Chiang Saen, on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, was a main city of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and chedis, Buddha images, earthen ramparts and pillars can still be seen today. The city is also famed for its views of the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Lao PDR. and Myanmar meet.

  1. Mae Hong Son

The mountainous and largely forested province of Mae Hong Son offers scenic natural beauty and outdoor activities, the fascinating culture of its ethnically diverse people and a captivating rural charm.

Mae-Hong-Son-Bua-Tong-Fields-at-Doi-Mae-U-Kho

The popular Mae Hong Son Loop touring route can be done by rented car or motorbike. A journey of some 600km that starts and finishes in Chiang Mai, taking in in places like Mae Chaem on Thailand’s highest mountain Doi Inthanon, the riverside town of Mae Sariang and the town of Pai with its chilled-out new-age, backpacker scene and activities like rafting, tubing, trekking and cycling.

  1. Lamphun

Founded in the 7th century by Queen Chamathewi, Lamphun is one of Thailand’s oldest cities. It was the capital of the Hariphunchai Kingdom and the northernmost city of the Mon Kingdom of the Dvaravati period.

Lamphun-Ban-Phra-Bat-Huai-Tom-Handicraft-and-Cultural-Centre

Lamphun town is just a 40-minute drive from Chiang Mai city. The province has three national parks; Mae Takhrai National Park, Mae Ping National Park and Doi Khun Tan National Park, which is home to Thailand’s longest railway tunnel.

The province is a major producer of the small round fruit longan (Lamyai in Thai) and around August it stages an annual longan festival.

  1. Lampang

The historic province of Lampang was for some years home to the revered Emerald Buddha that is now in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It is a city of unique sites including one of Thailand’s oldest wooden structures, and what many consider Northern Thailand’s most impressive temple.

Lampang-Thai-Elephant-Conservation-Centre

Lampang is also home to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, which for sick and injured elephants, and aims to conserve Thai elephants and promote ecotourism. Visitors can watch elephants bathing and feeding, while an exhibition provides a good introduction to the history and cultural significance of the Thai elephant.

  1. Phrae

Phrae traces its history back to the Hariphunchai Kingdom of the Mon and was once one of Thailand’s largest centres of the teak trade. In the old town area of the provincial seat are historic buildings and locations that are testimony to these former glory days, while the province still boasts among the country’s largest teak forest reserves.

Phrae-Phae-Mueang-Phi-Forest-Park

The Phrae village of Ban Thung Hong is renowned for its products made from Mo Ham, a local indigo-dyed cotton fabric. An intriguing natural attraction is Phae Mueang Phi Forest Park, where 2 million years of erosion has created curious red sandstone rock formations.

  1. Nan

Lying 700 kilometres north of Bangkok, much of the Nan province is a beautiful wilderness, with the remainder a rural area focusing on rice and fruit cultivation. Nan town has a population just over 20,000 people making it a rather small provincial capital. It is an old city, though, dating back to the 14th century.

Nan-Bo-Kluea

Getting There

Chiang Mai International Airport and Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai International Airport are served by domestic and regional flights.

Getting Around

Travellers keen to explore more of Northern Thailand can do so by private tour, self-drive or using inter-provincial bus services. Domestic flights allow for the linking of one or more of the secondary destinations with Chiang Mai.

Mae-Hong-Son-Pai-Canyon

Thailand’s Top 7 for kids

Thailand is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world so picking a Top 7 for kids is a hard call. Travel writer Deborah Dickson-Smith shares her favourites.

Washing Elephants, Elephant Hills Safari

1. Elephant Hills, Khao Sok

About two hours’ drive from Phuket, at this safari-style luxury camping resort, you’ll learn how to feed and bathe elephants, as well as learn all about their connection with Thai people and the environmental challenges they face. As well as this, kids get to explore the great outdoors, with a raft ride down river, and at the nearby Floating Rainforest Camp, jump off your floating accommodation for a swim in the lake, take a guided trek through the jungle and look out for gibbons and hornbills in the tree tops.

flying-gibbon-chiang-mai

2. Flying Gibbon Zipline, Chiang Mai

One of the original tree tops course in Thailand, this mega-Zipline takes about three hours to complete as you make your way through a combination of Ziplines, abseiling, sky bridges and forest walks suspended high up above the valley floor. There are now also Flying Gibbons at Pattaya, Koh Pha Ngan and Siem Rep.

bai-pai-cooking-school-bangkok

3. Bai Pai Cooking School, Bangkok

There are cooking classes all over Thailand of course, in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi. Bai Pai Cooking Class takes you first to the markets to show you how to choose your ingredients and then it’s back to school how to cook them. Teaching kids how to cooks is a great way to get them to try new foods. My daughter has kept her Bai Pai cook book for a few years now, and every time we have a barbecue, she insists on making ‘her’ satay chicken with peanut sauce.

Bangkok Flower Market orchids

4. Bangkok’s Markets

Best visited after dark, the colourful and fragrant Bangkok Flower Markets is actually my favourite, but all of Bangkok’s markets are great fun to explore with kids. The sights and sounds, smells and tastes area festival for the senses. Take a trip to the outskirts of the city to visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and nearby Maeklong Railway Market – with market stalls set within centimetres of the passing trains.

Krabi Eco Tours - The Tree Top Adventure Park

5. Tree Top Adventure Park, Krabi

Located in Krabi, Koh Chang, Pattaya and Kanchanaburi, these high ropes courses are a bit out of the ordinary, with obstacle to master that include a ‘flying’ broomstick and a push bike you have to navigate across a rope bridge. I know I’ve already mentioned a treetops course above (Flying Gibbon) but this one is a completely different experience – challenging coordination as well as fear of heights! Also my kids never ever tire of tree tops course – the more the merrier. Nearby the park there are also some great walking trails though the rainforest and mangroves.

koh-yao-home-stay

6. Sample village life in a Home Stay

There are plenty of home stays dotted around Thailand, usually in the more undiscovered regions, or, like the one pictured above, actually quite close to bustling tourist hubs such as Phuket. The quiet island of Koh Lao is only a 30-minute boat ride from Phuket, but it’s like stepping into a completely different world – simple village life, where you can eat sleep and play with your host family. They’re a great way to meet the locals and learn a bit more about Thai culture – or ‘Discover Thainess’ as they call it.

bangkok-floating-market

7. Explore Bangkok’s Waterways and Canals.

Visit one of Thailand’s colourful floating markets (Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is not far from Bangkok) or take a combination canal and bike tour of the city’s waterways where you can explore the rivers and canals that have connected this city for hundreds of years, on two wheels and long-tail boat.

What are your favourite experiences with kids in Thailand? We’d love you to share them here!

Free-wheeling in Bangkok

Guest blogger and award-winning Australian travel writer Louise Southerden finds there’s more to the Thai capital than temples and tuk-tuks on a Bangkok bike tour.

Imagine a bike-friendly city and you’ll probably think of, say, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Not an Asian city, and definitely not Bangkok, that sprawling stopover of a capital inhabited by 12 million people and better known for tuk-tuks than bike trails. Continue reading “Free-wheeling in Bangkok”

Elephant Hills Safari experience in Khao Sok National Park

Elephant Hills credit Pete McGee (12 of 13)Elephant Hills Safari Tours, recently highly commended in the recent Thailand Green Excellence Awards, provide a unique Thai experience for visitors to Thailand looking for looking to get up close and personal with Thai wildlife.According to Elephant Hills CEO Chris; “Our approach at Elephant Hills is not to ride elephants and to abstain from elephant shows in order to offer a more responsible, unique and rewarding experience for both elephants and humans.

“We also aim at maintaining the highest level of animal welfare; guests get to feed, wash and interact with Asia’s largest land animal. This is an excellent opportunity to get up really close and personal with these gentle giants in a responsible way and at the same time learn about their status and situation in Thailand.”

Washing Elephants, Elephant Hills Safari

Your typical Elephant Hills Safari Tour takes two to three days, staying in either one or both of their tented sites in the Khao Sok National Park.

The Safari starts with an early pickup from your hotel in Phuket or Krabi and you’re provided with water and peanuts to sustain on the 2.5 hour journey to our first camp, at Elephant Hills.

On arrival you’re greeted with a slap up buffet lunch and shown to your glamping accommodation, before embarking on a kayak tour down the Sok river. After this you’re taken to the elephant camp a few minutes away.

Feeding Elephants, Elephant Hills Safari

Here you meet the elephants and are given a comprehensive lesson on everything from their behaviour in the wild, their use in the now defunct logging industry and what has eventually brought these beasts here, to a sanctuary in the far south of Thailand, a long way from home.

There is little natural environment left for Asian elephants to survive in, a legacy of the logging industry which has left disconnected pockets of rainforest throughout Thailand. So it’s hard for elephants to survive as they normally would, but also, some of these beasts have been domesticated for so long they’ve forgotten how.

Elephants bathing, Elephant Hills Safari

There are now many national parks in Thailand, the result of a grass roots-led environmental movement that started back in the 1980s. A movement that ended the logging industry, stopped the construction of a dam in central Thailand that would have had a devastating impact on the environment, and which has now created a generation of conservationists.

Limestone peaks, Khao Sok National park

Thais visit their own national parks more than any other nationality – the parks are not there purely for the benefit of international tourists like me. Looking after the natural Environment is a value that fits well with Buddhist philosophy, so after success of the grass roots environmental movement back in the 80s, it became something taught to the younger generation of Thais in schools by Buddhist monks.

And then there’s places like this, educational centres that introduce tourists to these magnificent creatures. These elephants have travelled from North and Central Thailand, and brought with them their Karen Mahouts who, dressed in colourful traditional garb, click, cluck and slap their cheeky charges into line as guests learn how to give them a scrub, before preparing a lunch of pineapple, bananas, sugarcane and elephant grass. In the evening, guests are treated to a dance recital by some local school kids and given a Thai cooking demonstration.

Limestone peaks, Khao Sok National park

The next day guests are taking to Camp Two: a floating camp on Cheaw Lan Lake. Here you can take part in a 3-hour trek through the jungle, climbing one of the tall limestone pinnacles to reach a large cave.

Kayaking Khao Sok National Park

Back lakeside, the rest of the day and the following morning can be spent swimming and kayaking in the lake, or simply relaxing while listening to the surrounding creatures, cicadas, hornbills and gibbons having fun in the jungle.

For more information, visit the Elephant Hills website.

Night Noodle Market brings a taste of Thailand to Sydney

These totCrackling pork noodles from Shallot Thai

The Night Noodle Markets will once again transform Sydney’s Hyde Park into a bustling Asian street food festival this October. From 11 – 18 October, Sydneysiders can take a flavour journey through Asia with sizzling hawker-style stalls and live entertainment.

Feast on signature dishes and innovative new tastes from Bangkok Street Food, Calabang, Bao Brothers, Biang Biang Noodles, Chinese Dim Sum King, Donut Papi, Foodie Del Mar, Fly Over Fritterie, Fry’d, Gelato Messina, Hoy Pinoy, Johnny Bird, Korbq, Kumokumo, Let’s Do Yum Cha, Chur Burger, May’s Malaysian Hawker, Mr Bao, POKLOL, Puffle, Raijin, Satay Brothers, Shallot Thai, Teppanyaki Noodles, Okonomiyaking, The Bearded Pigs, The Muglan, Twistto, Flying Noodle, Waffleland, Wok Master and Wonderbao! While the Night Noodle Markets might be on for a reduced duration this year, we have extended the opening hours on the weekend!

Visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) stand for a chance to WIN a holiday for two to Bangkok!

Other highlights at the TAT Stand include:

  • Live cooking demonstration with Chef Sujet Saenkham from Spice I Am restaurant, which begin ‪at 6 PM this Friday‬ and ‪then at 5 PM‬ on the weekend.
  • Take a photo at our Photo booth, #hugthailand on your social media to receive a wooden spork.
  • Spin & Win (chance to win our amazing prizes)

Messina gelato Sydney Night Noodle market

Sweet Taste of Thailand from Messina

For this year’s Night Noodle Markets, gelato artisans Messina will deliver a rather special taste of Thailand. Messina’s latest limited-edition custom dessert menu is titled the Full Moon Gelato Party and features four cold concoctions available only at the Night Noodle Markets.

  • Coco Phangan is a textural trip combining a sharp yet smooth mango sorbet with coconut and pandan sticky rice and salted coconut sauce.
  • The Eye of the Thai-ger combines Thai milk tea gelato and cheesecake mousse sandwiched between tea sponge with a coating of coconut meringue.
  • The Phuket Bucket is a vibrant riff on the classic Full Moon Party beverage and the popular Taiwanese frozen dessert, combining sala and lychee shaved ice with condensed milk pudding, coconut and lychee gelato, and rainbow jellies.
  • Deep-fried banana fritters are the hero of the Bangkok Banana. Enjoy these crisp slices with a scoop of caramelised palm sugar and banana gelato, coconut and lime chantilly, plus peanut crumble.

Entry is free and to make things quick and easy, the markets are also cash-free (all major cards welcome) so guests can spend less time queuing and more time enjoying the night.

Opening Hours:

  • Monday and Tuesday 5pm-10pm
  • Wednesday & Thursday 5pm – 11pm
  • Friday 4pm – 11pm
  • Saturday 12pm – 11pm
  • Sunday 12pm – 10pm

Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Rd by Night: Boulevard of Dreams

Artbox Market Sukhumvit Road BangkokRip-roaring Thanon Sukhumvit, Bangkok’s boulevard of dreams and schemes is the city’s longest thoroughfare. Stretching 490 km east towards Cambodia, it is also one of the longest in the world. For most visitors Sukhumvit Road means the hyperactive strip between about sois 4 and 33, a glorious overload of people, shops, woks and insomnia.  Travel writer John Borthwick provides a guide to the after-dark hub of shopping  and eating in the heart of Bangkok. Continue reading “Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Rd by Night: Boulevard of Dreams”