Discovering Thailand

Known for its tropical beaches, stunning royal palaces, massive ancient ruins, and magnificent ornate temples, Thailand has become one of the most loved, quick getaways for Indians these days.The province of Mae Hong Son can be visited year-round. The famous Mae Hon Song Loop is a journey of around 600 kilometres that can be done in three to four days. It should be on every traveller’s list, as it passes through picturesque countryside like Mae Chaemon, Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, and the riverside town of Mae Sariang. Pai, which was once a sleepy and somewhat remote Shan town that lies on the banks of the Pai River, is today known for its fun and chilled-out new-age scene. Among local sights to visit around Pai is the Memorial Bridge across the Pai River which was built by the Japanese during World War II; it’s a ‘must-see’ photo-op for visitors.

Nestled between its neighbouring provinces of Lampang, Uttaradit, Nan, and Phayao, Phrae is home to some of the country’s largest teak forest reserves. Among places to visit is Wongburi House, a splendid two-storey teak mansion that was built in Phrae’s teak heyday of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today it’s open to the public as a museum. The nearby Khum Chao Luang Museum, built during the same period, likewise stands in proud testimony to the glory days of the area’s teak trade, and is a great place to soak up the local history. Meanwhile, the Betong Museum, Clock Tower roundabout, the self-proclaimed world’s largest Post Box, Betong Mongkollit Tunnel,

Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, and Baht Betong International Airport in Yala make for some breath-taking views. And of course, the 50-metre Iyerweng Skywalk, bathed in sunlight, gives visitors the feeling of floating above the clouds.

The ancient Lamphun and the Hariphunchai Kingdom gives us a wonderful glance at the lesser-known side of Thailand. Lamphun was the capital of the Hariphunchai Kingdom and the northernmost city of the Mon Kingdom of the Dvaravati period. In 1281 it was brought into the new Lanna Kingdom by King Mengrai, and Chiang Mai was made the capital. In the late 19th century, Lamphun became part of Siam. Other must-visit attractions include Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai, the province’s most famous temple; Wat Chamthewi, a smaller but highly revered temple that is believed to house the ashes of Queen Chamthewi; Hariphunchai National Museum, which houses exhibits and artefacts from the Dvaravati, Hariphunchai, Lanna and Rattanakosin periods; and Lamphun Community Museum, which focuses on a more modern era items from the past century.

Join us as we explore some amazing new Thai destinations and take a tour with the country’s leading B2B travel show: Thailand Travel Mart Plus! The five-day trip started in Autthaya, the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. Surrounded by three rivers, the city is located above the tidal bore of the Gulf of Siam, which effectively prevented it from foreign attacks. After a delicious breakfast at Kuay Tiew Pak Wan, the group visited Wat Phra Mahthat – famous for the Buddha head stuck in a colossal tree. Next was Wat Phra Si Sanphet, considered the spiritual centre for many Thais; a royal monastery called Wat Ratchaburana; and the UNESCO World Heritage site, Autthaya Historical Park. After lunching at Busaba, the group experienced a Plata Pier Wicker work, ate dinner at Reriva, and finally took a casual stroll around Krungsri Walking Street before retiring to bed.

The second day began with a scenic, two-hour boat ride through Chao Phraya River, followed by a visit to Museum Siam. Located in Thanin Sanam Chai, the building has been honoured with the outstanding award for art and architecture preservation. The group then had a scrumptious lunch at Eat Pad Thai and got to experience a fun cooking class at House of Taste, where they learned to cook sticky rice with mango. The night also entailed a fun Bangkok food tour after!

After a quick breakfast on the third day, the group attended a Mauy Thai class at RSM Muay Thai Academy. The fairly new gym boasts modern facilities with hints of luxury and a somewhat celebrity-based clientele. The group was hungry after a morning of intense training, and so was ready to dig into the lip-smacking food at ICONSIAM Harbour, after which they visited the ICONSIAM shopping mall. Known as the ‘Mother of all Malls’, it has 500 shops and 100 restaurants from over 30 different countries. They then went on visit Mathanakhon Sky Walk, one of the best-known attractions in the heart of Bangkok, combining unique views with an unmatched guest experience. Finally, the group set off for Pattaya.

The fourth day of the trip began with a visit to the stunning floating market – a colourful market featuring traditional Thai crafts and produce sold from boats and waterfront shops. Lunch was at the Chocolate Factory Pattaya, located along the cliffs at the western end of Prayamnak Hill in South Pattaya. The Italian restaurant and chocolate shop allows guests to see how chocolate is made and even offers a workshop every weekend. The day ended with everyone attending the TTM media briefing at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club. After another TTM seminar that included a one-on-one interview with a senior TAT executive on the final day, the group finally made their way back home, full of new experiences and fresh appreciation for this fascinating land and culture!         

- Tanya