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”

Five New National Parks for Thailand

Thailand has added five new national parks around the country between 2016 and 2019, the new parks part of a 20-Year National Strategic Plan, which aims to increase the kingdom’s forest area to 55% of the entire country by 2037.

There are currently 133 national parks in Thailand with Khao Yai National park being the country’s first (established 1962) and Tham Sa Koen National Park in Nan being the last to be established during the reign of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. During the reign of King Rama X (2016 to present), Thailand has already added five new parks:

Namtok-Chet-Sao-Noi-National-Park

Namtok Chet Sao Noi National Park

Added December 2016, Namtok Chet Sao Noi National Park has a scenic waterfall with an interesting past. The name of the waterfall comes from a story about the people in the area. Long ago, seven women drowned together in the waterfall. Another story tells that it comes from a village named Ban Sao Noi and later renamed to Chet Sao Noi. The Park covers a total area of 40.89 square kilometres covering Muak Lek and Wang Muang districts in Saraburi province and Pak Chong district in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Doi-Ku-Sathan-or-Doi-Thong-Khun-Sathan-National-Park-Nan

Khun Sathan National Park

Added March, 2017, Khun Sathan National Park covers an area of 404.52 square kilometres in the districts of Na Noi and Na Muen of Nan province. The mountain ridge of Doi Phrae Mueang separates the boundaries between Phrae and Nan provinces while Doi Ku Sathan is 1,630 metres above mean sea level.

Mae-Takhrai-National-Park-DNP

Mae Takhrai National Park

Added December, 2017, Mae Takhrai National Park covers an area of 356.66 square kilometres in San Kamphaeng, Doi Saket and Mae On districts of Chiang Mai province along with Ban Thi and Mueang districts of Lamphun. The Park is origin to the main tributaries of the Ping River, and offers scenic views; such as, waterfalls, cliffs and hot springs.

Water-fall-in-Than-Sadet-Ko-Pha-Ngan-National-Park-DNP

Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park

Added November, 2018, Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park is situated on Ko Phangan, an island 100 kilometres off the Surat Thani coast and occupies a total area of 44.99 square kilometres. The Park has maintained the wilderness of the island on its rugged and steep mountain range. Khao Ra is the highest peak at an elevation of 627 metres.

Doi Chong National Park

Added April 2019, Doi Chong National Park covers an area of 346.18 square kilometres in Sop Prap, Thoen and Mae Phrik districts of Lampang province and Li and Thung Hua Chang districts of Lamphun province. The Park offers mountainous areas and a range of deciduous forests. The highest point, Doi Jong is 1,379 metres above mean sea level.

Doi-Chong-National-Park-DNP

With these five new parks, Thailand added a total of 331,952 rai (53,120 hectares) in additional forest area to its national park system. This brings the total forested area in Thailand to over 102,488 million rai, representing 31.68% of all area nationwide.

Another 22 national parks are in the process of being established, including 11 on land and 11 marine national parks, totalling 44 million rai or 13% of all area nationwide.

Photography tips for the Yi Peng Sky Lantern Festival

Photography tips for the Yi Peng Sky Lantern Festival

Photographer Andy Yee visited the Yi Peng sky lantern festival in Chiang Mai and shares his experience here with us. This year’s Yi Peng Sky Lantern Festival will be held 11 to 12 November.

The Yi Peng sky lantern festival in Chiang Mai in Thailand is fast becoming popular with photographers, who will love the challenge of photographing thousands of lanterns being released simultaneously into the night sky. Continue reading “Photography tips for the Yi Peng Sky Lantern Festival”

Camping in Koh Laoliang, a hidden gem in Trang

Award-winning Australian travel writer Louise Southerden tries “sea camping” on Thailand’s hidden island paradise, camping in Koh Laoliang.

You’ve probably never heard of Koh Laoliang. I hadn’t either, until a fellow traveller recommended it to me as an idyllic place to spend a few days camping in Thailand. It’s The Beach, he’d said, minus the hand-drawn map, the suicidal Scot, the despotic Tilda Swinton and, as I would soon discover, the hordes of sun-seeking day-trippers who daily descend on Koh Phi Phi (in neighbouring Krabi province), where the movie was shot. Continue reading “Camping in Koh Laoliang, a hidden gem in Trang”

Thailand Motorbike Tours – exploring Thailand’s hidden gems by motorbike

Thailand Motorbike ToursBeyond the crowded beaches and the bright lights, there’s another side to Thailand that few outsiders get to experience. Adventure Biking Asia’s Shane shares some of his motorcycle adventures to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Thailand.

A motorbike tour in Thailand is the best way to get to see places far off the beaten path, remembering as well, that the destination is a fraction of the overall journey, and the adventure is in riding to these special places on epic roads and soaking up the scenery.

Chiang Mai city makes an excellent base, and all my adventures commence from here. It is the northern capital, home to several million people and has its own distinct Lanna culture.  Situated in the north of Thailand near the borders of Myanmar and Laos, it is surrounded by wild mountains with a network of roads and trails just waiting to be explored. In some of the bars in the old town you may meet other fellow bikers ready to set off on an adventure too.

Samoeng

Samoeng – Easy chilled out riding

Getting to and around Samoeng is a nice easy ride from Chiang Mai once you exit the highway. There are many different routes to take and it is perfect for just exploring around and checking out the little villages.

There are many superb coffee shops and restaurants along the way. Make sure you try out some of these along the way. The quality of coffee is excellent with many using locally grown arabica beans. There is also no shortage of great food options on this leg of your motorbike tour.

Umpang

Umpang – The “death highway”

Umpang is in a very remote part of Tak province. There is only one way in and one way out along a road known as the “death highway”. It has 1,219 curves so your stomach and nerves will need to be tough. One of the main highlights is the waterfall called Thi Lor Su. It is supposed to be the largest waterfall by volume in Thailand.

Baan Sop Moei

Baan Sop Moei – A Karen village

This sleepy little village on the confluence of the river Moei and the Salaween river is in a beautiful setting. It is situated in on the banks of the river only metres from the Karen state of Myanmar and is about as remote as it gets. Most of the inhabitants of the village are Karen who migrated from Burma.

The journey to Sop Moei is for a seasoned adventurer or an off-road enthusiast. The motorcycle ride takes a few hours from the nearest town, and the road is a rough dirt trail.  If you are considering this motorbike tour, make sure to take some additional food and water just in case.

Khun Yuam

Khun Yuam – sunflower fields

Khun Yuam is best known for the Thung Bua Tong sunflower fields. During December the sunflowers come into bloom and the whole mountainside is covered in a yellow hue. It really is a very unusual and beautiful sight indeed.

There are several ways to ride to Khun Yuam.  One of my favourites is the route 1263 coming from Chiang Mai direction.  The road weaves through some spectacular mountain landscape and passes through many Hmong and Karen villages along the way.

Baan Rak Thai

Baan Rak Thai

The town of Baan Rak Thai is a quaint little town with stunning scenery situated right on the border with Myanmar (Burma). Once a frontier town for controlling the jade trade, it was settled by ethnic Chinese whose influence is still evident in the décor and food.  It makes a great spot to stop for lunch and to sample the local tea.

Riding to Baan Rak Thai, you turn off the main 1095 north of Mae Hong Son town and follow a small steep winding road until you nearly reach the Burmese border. The road passes lush green rice fields and climbs a steep mountain. If you chose to cross the border into the Tai Yai village on the Burmese side, you will have to leave your motorcycle with the order guards and walk across.

Doi Angkang

Doi Angkang

Doi Angkang is a monster of a mountain with steep roads and gnarly hairpin turns. Situated on the Burmese border, it offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  Further along the ridge at the top is a military base with spectacular views out into the Shan State of Myanmar.

There are a few ways to ride up Doi Angkang…. all of them steep, and all of them twisty.  An adventure motorcyclist’s dream. My favourite approach is from the Chiang Dao side which passes through a few Chinese villages established by former Koumintang soldiers.

Mae Salong

Mae Salong

This is a Chinese style town established by former Koumintang soldiers. It was once a hotbed for producing heroin. Back in the day the beautiful surrounding mountains were filled with poppies. These days the poppies are gone, and the town is best known for its Oolong tea and Chinese dumplings.

The roads leading to Mae Salong are windy mountain roads that offer superb scenery along the way.  The surface is excellent for the most part.  It takes about two hours to get there from the city of Chiang Rai.

Chiang Khong

Chiang Khong

Chiang Khong is a sleepy town on the banks of the Mekong, a gateway to Laos. There are lots of nice restaurants along the waterfront where you can get great views of the river and the Laos town on the opposite side.

The ride into Chiang Khong, ‘Paradise Road’, is a beautiful road rolling through the hills that line the banks of the Mekong river. It offers spectacular views the whole way into the town and should definitely be included on your motorbike tour.

Nan

Nan – Motorbike tour paradise

Nan is all about the motorbiking. It is probably one of the least visited regions of northern Thailand but possibly one of the most rewarding for the motorcycling enthusiast. What it lacks in tourist attractions, it makes up for in quality of roads.

It is known as biker paradise, with epic rolling hills, excellent tarmac roads and a never-ending supply of curves that seem to go on forever. The famous route 1148 is a classic route for a Thailand motorbike tour and it offers dramatic scenery all the way. The less known 1081 is a beautifully paved road that carves its way through the ridges of the mountain range bordering Laos. It gets hardly any traffic and is a true real hidden gem.

Phu Chi Fah

Phu Chi Fah

Home of the legendary sea of fog. Phu Chi Fah is one of the best places to see this natural phenomenon. The best time to see this is at sunrise when the fog rises and flows majestically from the valley below.

Phu Chi Fah is located in the mountainous border region in the Phu Sang national park.  There are many ways to get to Phu Chi Fah. All of them are steep and twisty. The views from the roads leading there are stunning and are almost as good as the views from the top.

Thailand has much more to offer than just the usual tourist hotspots.  Getting off the beaten track is where the adventure begins, and a motorbike tour is the best way to explore.

The above places are only the tip of the iceberg. There are still countless other really cool places off the beaten path, however I don’t want to give away all the secrets. If you want to know more, you’ll have to buy me a beer or join me for a motorbike adventure tour.

For more information about Thailand Motorbike tours, and the full version of this article, visit Adventure Biking Asia.

Thailand joins the Color Run Love Tour in Australia

Color Run Love TourJoin the Color Run Australia Love Tour this year and you could win a trip to Thailand for four people, staying at Sea Sand Sun Resort and Villas, Pattaya, including flights with SCOOT.

Color Run Australia participants can visit the Tourism of Authority of Thailand (TAT) booth in the Color Run Village to enter the competition and follow Hug Thailand on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for a chance to win tickets to the Color Run events around Australia.

Color Run Love Tour

Name:                        The Color Run Gold Coast
Date:                          18 August 2019
Venue:                       Great Lawn, Broadwater Parklands, Gold Coast, QLD

Name:                        The Color Run Perth
Date:                          20 October 2019
Venue:                       Claremont Showgrounds (Perth)

Name:                        The Color Run Sydney
Date:                          10 November 2019
Venue:                       Cathy Freeman Park, Sydney Olympic Park

Name:                        The Color Run Melbourne
Date:                          24 November 2019
Venue:                       Flemington Racecourse

Color Run Love Tour

Color Run Australia – how the event works

The Color Run is a five-kilometer, untimed event. At each kilometer mark, Color Runners are doused from head to toe in a different colored powder. Participants wear white at the starting line and finish the race plastered in color. Once the race is over, the fun continues at the Finish Festival, a larger-than-life party equipped with music, dancing, photo ops, activity booths, vendors, and more massive color throws., which create millions of vivid color combinations. Trust us, this is the best post-5K party on the planet!

Color Runners vary in demographics and reasons for running. With no winners or official times, The Color Run caters to everyone—first time runners to seasoned athletes. More than half of our participants are first-time 5K runners. The Color Run is proud to be a catalyst that inspires our participants to live a more active lifestyle, on top of having fun!

Color Run Love TourColor Run Australia – Giving Back

To date, The Color Run has donated more than $5 million to charity. As a for-profit event management company, we love getting the opportunity to partner with a charity partner to help shine a light on their amazing work. We have worked with more than 80 local and national charities since 2012. To learn more about how The Color Run works with charities, visit our Charity Page.

In 2019, The Color Run Australia is continuing to join forces with the Starlight Children’s Foundation as our Official Charity Partner, who are committed to bringing fun, joy and laughter to sick kids and their families. The Color Run encourages participants to raise funds and awareness for the incredible foundation with the help of volunteers and activations on site.

Color Run Australia – Background

Founded in 2011, The Color Run was the world’s first COLOR 5K and COLOR DASH event. By creating a race that’s more about the memories you make than your mile-per-minute, we make running accessible to everyone, no matter their experience level or ability.

For more information about joining a Color Run Australia event near you, visit the website.