Sawasdee and welcome to Thailand!
Welcome to the Tourism Authority of Thailand e-newsletter,
your guide to what's new and happening in Thailand!
FROM THE DIRECTOR
Happy New Year from the Tourism Authority of Thailand! We hope you enjoyed the winter holidays with your family and friends!
With the beginning of a new year upon us, we are pleased to share in this month's newsletter that Bangkok has been named as the top city on Travel + Leisure's "World's Best Cities 2012" list for the third consecutive year. Additionally, eight hotels in Thailand have been named to Conde Nast Traveler's "Gold List" by the publication's readers, denoting the world's best places to stay in 2013.
As part of this month's "My Time in Thailand," we will visit the Yee Peng Festival in Chiang Mai with Achiraya Buddhani, marketing executive at the Tourism Authority of Thailand in New York City.
We also have new happenings and exciting events taking place throughout Thailand, including the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony in February and the signing of the first InterContinental Hotel in Phuket.
We hope you will join us in celebrating a great 2013, and as always, we look forward to seeing you all, in person, very soon!
For more information about Thailand, please visit us at www.tourismthailand.org/us.
Kop koon ka (thank you!)
| || |
JANUARY'S FEATURED HOT SPOT...CHIANG RAI!
Chiang Rai Province is the ideal destination for those who want to travel back in time to see Thailand as it used to be. Known as the quieter neighbor of Chiang Mai, it is a land of spectacular natural beauty where travelers can explore the hill tribe villages, go trekking in the mountains and spot exotic wildlife. Established as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1262, Chiang Rai is rich in antiquities, ancient villages and Buddhist shrines. It is a fascinating region filled with cultural wonders including the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Burma come together, once the center of the opium trade. Visitors can immerse themselves in indigenous cultures and enjoy the scenic solitude of the region.
Chiang Rai offers a range of accommodations from backpacker lodges and home stays in rural communities to five-star spa resorts - and everything in between. For laid-back luxury, The Antantara Resort and Spa is located in the heart of the Golden Triangle where guests can enjoy the exhilaration of an elephant ride through a bamboo forest or a day of relaxation in the spa. For active adults and teens, The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle Resort is tucked in the remote bamboo jungles where guests interact with elephants and capture the spirit of 19th century explorers.
Chiang Rai offers many excellent dining opportunities including both Thai and international cuisine. Sample the authentic northern Thai cuisine including the traditional khan toke dinner served in restaurants throughout the province.
Adventurous travelers planning a trek to visit hill tribe villages are advised to first get briefed at the Population Development Association's Hill Tribe Education Center.
For more information on Chiang Rai, visit tourismthailand.org/us.
THAILAND RECOGNIZED BY READERS OF U.S. TRAVEL MAGAZINES
We're pleased to announce that Bangkok has been ranked as the top city on Travel + Leisure's "World's Best Cities 2012" list for the third consecutive year. Travel + Leisure's 17th annual poll was determined by nearly 47,000 discerning readers of the publication.
The 2012 World's Best Awards readers' survey results (listed by overall and regional rankings) and survey methodology are featured as part of a web exclusive for the January 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure and can be found online at travelandleisure.com.
We are also happy to share that eight hotels in Thailand were featured as part of Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List recognizing the world's best places to stay in 2013. They include:
The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai was also recognized for its Kids' Club offerings, which include rice planting, water buffalo riding and muay thai.
- Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai
- Anantara Phuket Villas
- JW Marriott Bangkok
- Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
- The Peninsula, Bangkok
- St. Regis
- Four Seasons, Chiang Mai
- Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
Readers of Conde Nast Traveler are presented with individual candidates (such as cities or hotels) and vote on a five-point scale: excellent, very good, good, fair and poor. Those scores, which represent the percentage of excellent and very good ratings, are averaged to calculate the final scores.
For more information, pick up a copy of the January 2013 issue of Conde Nast Traveler or visit cntraveler.com/gold-list/2013.
| THAILAND WELCOMES MORE THAN 21 MILLION VISITORS IN 2012 |
| On December 28, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and travel-related offices of the Thai public and private sectors organized a welcoming ceremony for the group of international tourists that pushed Thailand's tourist arrivals for 2012 to over 21 million people. Based on projections and the recent growth of the Thai tourism sector, TAT is confident that the year 2013 will see 24.5 million arrivals and an income of 1.149 million million baht. |
To commemorate the milestone at the Arrival Hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport, Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, TAT Governor, together with top executives from Thai Airways International, Airports of Thailand Public Co., Ltd. and representatives of Thai tourism associations, held a lively ceremony to greet tourists by giving away Nong Sukjai mascot dolls to arriving passengers. Recipients emerging from the baggage claim area were surprised but delighted by the ceremony. There were photo opportunities with the executives by the Thai media, which came in force to cover the historic occasion.
For more information, visit tourismthailand.org/us.
MY TIME IN THAILAND...A NIGHT TO REMEMBER AT THE YEE PENG FESTIVAL
By Achiraya Buddhani, Marketing Executive, Tourism Authority of Thailand-New York
Few things in life leave an imprint on one's mind. A recent trip to Thailand in which I accompanied the contestants of the "My Thailand, My Story" National Geographic photography contest, sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand-New York, certainly has.
In November, I had the opportunity to accompany seven talented amateur photographers along with mentor Alison Wright, a photographer for National Geographic, to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, where they documented the amazing sights of Thailand through their captivating lens'. The highlight of our journey was a stopover in Chiang Mai for the Yee Peng Festival. As a native of Chiang Mai, I was happy to return and witness the spectacular procession of floating lanterns flying through mid-air, as it had been ten years since I last participated in this special event.
The Yee Peng Festival is certainly unique in its own right; it is northern Thailand's version of "Loi Krathong," which is also widely celebrated in Bangkok and other provinces. In its literal translation, "Loi" means to float while "Krathong" refers to a lotus or banana leaf-shaped container which floats on the water to express apologies to the Goddess of Water. The launching of the lanterns into the sky is believed to send away a person's bad luck.
Upon our stopover in Chiang Mai on November 27 and 28, 2012, I was amazed to see how tourists and locals alike came together to celebrate the "festival of lights," as it's commonly called in English. Adorned with traditional Thai clothes, the whole community gathered together to make merit and show their respect to the river with fireworks displays and floating lanterns. The photographers were excited to experience this amazing festival, and it provided them with an even greater appreciation of Thailand and its rich culture.
To sum it all up, there would be no better way to see Chiang Mai than being illuminated by thousands of lanterns, indeed a pleasurable memory that will certainly last for a lifetime.
LOOKING AHEAD: TRANG UNDERWATER WEDDING CEREMONY
From February 13 - 15, Thailand will host one of the most unique events in the world: the 17th Annual Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony. Trang, which is already one of the premier romantic destinations in Thailand thanks to its emerald-green sky, lush tropical rainforests, stunning beaches and breathtaking waterfalls, has gained worldwide recognition since the tradition started in 1996. The event was even recognized by Guinness World Records as the "Largest Underwater Wedding Ceremony" in 2000.
The annual event has proven to be instrumental in promoting an exotic traditional Thai wedding culture to foreign couples, divers and tourists from all over the world. In addition to the marriage registration which takes place underwater, the ceremony consists of Buddhism ritual and the traditional Thai wedding ceremony of pouring lustre water. The newlyweds are escorted to their honeymoon suites by old happily-married couples in accordance with the customary tradition that it might bring peace and the eternity of love. The bridal couples further experience and impress the symbolic hand-woven Thai wedding costume.
For more information regarding the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony, please visit underwaterwedding.com or tourismthailand.org/us.
| IHG SIGNS FIRST INTERCONTINENTAL RESORT IN PHUKET |
The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) signed the InterContinental Phuket Rawai Beach Resort, which will mark the first for the brand in Phuket. The property will be a redevelopment of the former Evason Phuket and Bon Island. When completed, the resort will feature approximately 240 keys comprising both rooms and villas. It is scheduled to open in 2014 and will become the flagship property for the InterContinental brand in Thailand.
Located on the south-eastern Rawai beach, the resort will offer an extensive range of facilities within its landscaped tropical gardens facing the Andaman Sea, fully catering to luxury travelers in both the business and leisure segment. The property is a 50-minute drive from Phuket International Airport; it is also 30 minutes from Phuket Town and 20 minutes from the popular nightlife area of Patong Beach.
IHG, the world's largest hotel group by number of rooms, currently has 14 hotels and resorts in Thailand with three in Phuket. These include the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket, Holiday Inn Phuket Mai Khao and the new Holiday Inn Express Patong Beach, which is set to open this month. Nine more are in the pipeline for Thailand, including hotel and resort properties for InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express.
For more information on InterContinental Hotels Group, visit ichotelsgroup.com.
| EMIRATES LAUNCHES FIRST FLIGHT TO PHUKET |
Emirates' first commercial flight to southern Thailand departed Dubai last month with the launch of non-stop, daily service to Phuket.
Phuket became the airline's 128th destination and the service will significantly boost the city's international flight capacity and connect it to Emirates' ever growing global network across six continents, including all seven of the airline's U.S. destinations - New York; Houston; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Dallas/Fort Worth; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
The launch also signifies Emirates' commitment to Thailand, a country that the airline has been flying to since 1990 when it began flights to Bangkok. Operated by a three-class Airbus A340-300 aircraft, EK378 departs Dubai at 12:45hrs and arrives at Phuket International Airport at 2155hrs. The return flight, EK379 departs at 0035hrs the following day and arrives at Dubai International Airport at 0435hrs.
The launch of a daily non-stop flight to Phuket, operated by an A340-300, will take Emirates SkyCargo's weekly cargo capacity into and out of the country to more than 640 metric tons. This capacity is spread across four flights to Bangkok and one to Phuket.
Imports into Phuket are mainly meat, spare parts, diving equipment, office supplies and fish, while the top exports include tuna, live shrimp and crab. Due to the popularity of Thailand as a tourist destination, there is also strong demand for the movement of personal effects and household goods into and out of the island.
| THAI OFFERS "A380 SPECIAL" PROMOTIONAL FARES TO WELCOME THE NEW YEAR |
Thai Airways (THAI) is offering promotional fares to welcome 2013 with travel on its Airbus A380-800, THAI's newest and largest aircraft. Passengers can travel to and from three international routes operated with THAI's Airbus A380-800.
THAI's "A380 Special" promotional fares are offered on the following roundtrip international routes operated with the Airbus A380-800, whereby passengers may issue tickets from 1-31 January 2013:
Bangkok-Hong Kong-Bangkok (at $294 [8,935 Baht] in Economy Class)
Bangkok-Narita-Bangkok (at $607 [18,450 Baht] in Economy Class)
Bangkok-Frankfurt-Bangkok (at $1,310 [39,810 Baht] in Economy Class)
Passengers may depart from Bangkok from January 1, 2013 - March 31, 2013. There will be a limited number of special fare tickets available per flight, and the cost of tickets include taxes and surcharges. Taxes and surcharges for international air tickets may change according to the foreign currency exchange rate on the date of ticket issuance.
For additional information, contact THAI's sales offices or the THAI Contact Center at (02) 356-1111 (24 hours a day), or visit THAI's website (thaiairways.com) or official Facebook page (facebook.com/ThaiAirways).
SOAR ABOVE THAILAND WITH THE KIRIMAYA BALLOONING ADVENTURE PACKAGE
Set in 800 acres of lush greenery bordering a UNESCO world heritage rainforest and majestic mountains, is Kirimaya - an idyllic 64 room resort that combines natural beauty with the chic elegance of contemporary living. Located in Khao Yai, Kirimaya is a short two hour drive north east of Bangkok.
This magical setting is perfect for an early morning hot air balloon flight, and with the new Kirimaya Ballooning Adventure package, available from January 15 to February 28, 2013, you and your loved one can experience Khao Yai from above. Tea, coffee and juices will be served prior to the fight, and upon landing, guests will enjoy a sumptuous champagne breakfast complete with a live jazz band. Each couple will be presented with a certificate souvenir of their balloon flight from the Pilot. This package is priced at USD $517 (THB15,500) net per person.
Package rates inclusive of luxurious accommodation, breakfast and complimentary Wi-fi are also available starting from USD $833 (THB 26,500) net per night for Plantation View.
Kirimaya offers a choice of luxurious, spacious accommodation including four romantic Tented Villas (180 square meters) with indoor private spa pool and outdoor sundeck; as well as a variety of rooms and suites with private terraces, spacious finely appointed interiors and majestic views of the Khao Yai National Park mountain range. Exquisite Pool Villas are available at neighboring Muthi Maya (comprising 64 exquisite pool villas).
For more information, call +66 4442 6000 or visit kirimaya.com.
RIVA SURYA BANGKOK VALENTINE'S DAY PACKAGE
Riva Surya Bangkok, the recently opened 68 room riverfront boutique hotel on the Chao Praya River, has created a romantic Valentine's Package for guests to celebrate their Valentine's evening.
A sumptuous romantic candlelit dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. by the riverfront with live jazz entertainment poolside. A bottle of wine per couple and signature Rivajito cocktail per person are included. After dinner, the romance continues with a leisurely cruise on the Chao Phraya River to the majestic Temple of the Dawn. Free flow sparkling wine and soft drinks will be served during the cruise.
The Valentine's Day package is available from February 13-15, 2013 (dinner on February 14th) and is priced at USD $539 (Baht 16,189) for a double room. It includes the following:
- Two nights accommodation in a luxurious Deluxe Riva Room (River View with Balcony)
- Complimentary seasonal fruit selection on arrival
- Delicious daily breakfast for two
- Complimentary Wi-fi connectivity
- Set dinner for two on February 14
- One Rivajito cocktail per person and one bottle of wine per couple during dinner
- Live jazz entertainment during dinner
- After dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya river to the Temple of the Dawn, with free flow sparkling wine and soft drinks
Additional nights are available at best available rate for applicable dates, and are inclusive of accommodation and breakfast. All rates are net, inclusive of service charge and Government taxes.
For more information, call +66 2633 5000 or visit rivasuryabangkok.com.