Dining in Chiang Mai, Thailand vs. North America

Author: George Dowhan
Foreigners love their hamburgers, French fries, soft drinks and Thai's just have to have rice with every meal. But which would I prefer after living most of my life in Canada and now having retired to Chiang Mai, Thailand?

As with any large city there are an abundance of fine restaurants catering to different tastes and budgets. Chiang Mai is no different. Thai people love to eat. Restaurants are full of Thai's and foreigners enjoying all types of cuisine. Rather than deal with fine restaurants which we all dine at but not every day this article deals with the day to day dining of the Thai people here in Chiang Mai.

Popular restaurants in North America are Harvey's, McDonalds, and Burger King. Here we have the street vendors. The end result is a quickly prepared affordable meal.

The street vendors may sell fresh fruits such as pineapple, mango, watermelon, strawberries (locally grown), and more. Each fruit is cut up into small pieces and placed in a plastic bag and you are provided a long wooden stick with which to eat it. Cost is normally 10 baht which comes to about 25 cents U.S. and the fruits are kept cool and are delicious. Also vendors here sell fast foods and snacks. Get a meal of cooked rice, meat and veggies again placed in a plastic bag but this time wrapped tightly by an elastic band for about 20 baht or 50 cents U.S. Take your pick of a rice dish, or a noodle dish or a soup. Tasty and normally already prepared and wrapped and still warm or if you want to wait one minute they will take it out of the pot and put it into the bag while you wait. So a cooked meal and a tasty snack for a total of about 75 cents U.S. For many Thai's in Chiang Mai this is there most common meal. They then proceed to drive home, unwrap the elastic, put some rice in a bowl, place several cups of the table with a bottle of water and that is one of their meals.

We all love fast foods and we all want it to be affordable. That we have in common. What you will find different between here and there is the price, quality and service.

Price. The price of meals whether it be at restaurants, or street vendors is cheap compared to what we are used to. A filling meal can be had for less than a 1US dollar for a meal I described above which includes a bowl of rice, cooked meal from street vendor and fruit from street vendor. For only $2.50 U.S. you can dine out at an all you can eat full course buffet, desserts, coffee, tip and taxes included as well as a tip for the parking lot attendant The prices are low because the ingredients are locally grown and because the labor cost is inexpensive.
Quality. The quality of the food is much healthier here than back home. Back home KFC, McDonalds, and Harvey's are popular lunch and dinner restaurants. If you think you are thinking healthy foods there think again. Here you do not have the greasy French fries, Hamburgers stuffed full of ketchup, mustard, onions, mayo and more to hide the taste of the meat you are eating. Here you eat rice, fresh vegetables, fresh fish, drink water with the meals as opposed to a bucket sized plastic container packed full of ice and watered down sugar flavored soft drink.
Service. A teenager earning a few extra bucks in a fast food restaurant or an adult making a living out of working full time in a restaurant here. Which one would you expect to provide the best service? Nothing more needs to be said.

If you come to Chiang Mai do not go searching for restaurants that have what you normally eat. You may as well stay home and buy a video about Thailand, or watch a TV program about Thailand.

The foods here are tasty, healthy, and inexpensive.

The basic ingredient in all the meals is rice. Yes rice for breakfast too. I have never been one for rice. Potatoes was my staple. But here potatoes are pricey and although I admit to buying them and making potato soup and french fries it is the exception and not the rule.

As I have said before, the Thai's are known for making anything taste good.

So take fresh ingredients combine that with rice and special sauces which are the key to the taste and there you have it - Healthy, Tasty, and Inexpensive meals.

Top if off with locally grown fresh pineapple, watermelon, mango, strawberries or a dozen or more fruits and you have a meal you will enjoy and which is good for you.

The funny thing about foods is that whatever you really like is NO GOOD for you. What are your favorites? Cake, pies, French fries, hamburgers, ice-cream. Well they are not that good for you in terms of eating them regularly. What do you hate to eat? Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, brown rice, boiled chicken. Well these are good for you.

So if you come here to Thailand. do try several different types of Thai foods. You may find a soup that you just cannot get enough of, or a Thai dessert that you have no idea what it was and which you absolutely enjoyed, or fresh fish which is abundant here. Prawns, sea bass and more cooked up on a large plate will leave you wanting more.

I have eaten meals, snacks and fruits sold by small roadside food vendors and never experienced any problems. The ingredients are fresh, kept on ice if required and cooking areas cleaned regularly. So I see this as a safe, inexpensive way to buy snacks and meals. I would recommend that you carry a bottle of water which can be purchased at 7-11 for only 13 cents as you may get a bit dehydrated especially if you are doing a lot of walking and this if anything may be the cause of a quick jaunt to the rest room.

Are there things that I do not eat that Thai's eat? Yes there is a fruit called Durian, the Thai's just love it but it has such a foul odor that when I gave it a try I had to breathe through my mouth. Apart from the odor it has the texture of a pudding and is rich in flavor. What I did not have the courage to try and which I expect would be healthy to eat was the fried insects. I suppose that it is just a matter of getting used to the sight of them. Perhaps I could dine on both the fruit and insects regularly if I kept breathing through my nose and kept my eyes shut while I ate.

But you should try what we call Suki. It is a soup that you cook on your table in a pot with hot coals underneath. You decide on the ingredients such as chicken, beef, liver, fish and add them and take them out when they are cooked. Normally the meats go in first as they take longer to cook and then the vegetables. In about 5 minutes you have your soup. Two small bowls will accompany the meal. They are both made of hot peppers. One has the appearance of a green paste and the other a red paste. You can either dip your meat or fish into the paste or put a teaspoonful into your soup. The green paste is spicy, makes me perspire a bit and gives me a longing for a cold glass of water during I eat my soup. The red paste I do not touch and would not recommend you try it unless you are accustomed to eating it or you are Mexican. My girlfriend eats her Suki with the green paste and admits to making trips to the washroom during the middle of the night and not to brush here teeth. A filling meal for 4 people for about $3 U.S. and that includes taxes, tip, and bottled water with a bucket of ice.

Remember how earlier on I said that the Thai's have a reputation for making any food taste delicious. That is true. The KEY is the sauce. I do not know what ingredients go into the sauces but I do know that I was not a rice eater and now with I will be scraping the bottom of each bowl of food that is served to me. Normal white rice cooked in a rice cooker combined with fried vegetables and meat with the special sauce is simply delicious.

And if you want to know where I would eat given the choice now, a fast food restaurant there or a street vendor here? My reply would be a street vendor here. After the meal here I am filled up, the food is delicious, the fruits are fantastic and prices are so low and I feel fitter.

Want to learn more about Thai foods. Check out our Thai foods and recipes on our website.


Why Thailand Is A Favorite Travel Destination in Asia

No wonder people love to travel to Thailand these days. It's hot. It's fun. And it's cheap. Everything here is cheap -- hotels, food, shopping -- you name it. A coconut costs 20 baht (that's around 50 cents -US). A bowl of noodle costs from 30 to 70 baht (depending on how nice the restaurant is).

Hotels in Thailand are cheap. They have hotels to suit any budget you have. If you're a backpacker and want to stay in Bangkok, Kaosan road is your ideal destination. It's dirt cheap. If you have deeper pocket, you can stay in a small hotel for $40. But if you have $100 or $200, go for a nicer hotel. It's all worth it. You can be sure that the service is second to none. When you leave Bangkok for the beach, you have the choice of cheap bungalows or prettier resorts. You can book a room in advance or you can just walk in. Feel free to a look around and pick the resort you like once you get there.

You'll have a great time in Thailand. Bangkok is the capital. And you shouldn't miss it for the world. Dress politely and take a taxi to the Grand Palace, Wat Pra Kaew ("Wat" means temple in Thai) and Wat Po. If your hotel is by the Chao Phraya river (the main river in Bangkok), book the hotel's cruise for dinner. Also, remember to spend a weekend in Bangkok. Put on your summer outfit and take a taxi to Jatujak weekend market (open on Saturdays and Sundays). They have everything here. And when I say everything, I mean it -- from clothing, accessories, Thai handicrafts, to furniture. The place is huge. Be there around 11, have lunch there, and enjoy your shopping till late afternoon. Make sure you have a lot of cash with you -- you'll love to buy everything you see. Here you have to bargain, and they only take cash. Your travel to Bangkok can't be complete without going to Jatujak.

I often feel sorry for tourists who travel to Thailand with a tour group. They don't get to see much. Getting around Bangkok is especially easy. In fact, you don't need to take a tour. You can get around the city by skytrain, taxi or tuktuk. And if you want to get a little sun-tanned, just fly to the south -- to Phuket island, Samui island, Phi Phi island, or Similan island. You don't even need a tour guide once you are at the beach!

Thai people are incredibly friendly and helpful. All you have to do is ask. Just ask for help, and they'll help you as much as they can. They can speak a little English. You'll have no problem. If you approach someone who can't speak English, you'll still have no problem. Use your common sense. Use your hands. Speak in chunks, not sentences. Say the name of the place you want to go. If they walk away, that doesn't mean they don't want to help you. It simply means they can't speak English at all. And they're too embarrassed about that. So, don't take it personally. Don't give up. Ask the next person you see. They'll help you out -- I bet you a Pad Thai on that!

When you travel in Thailand, you should have no problem if you just learn to ask for help. You see, most tourists rely on maps (which are pretty useless when you're in Thailand). They just stand there clueless with their maps while Thai people walk past by (wondering deep down if they can help you out...You see, most Thais are shy. They won't walk up to you asking if you need help. You need to initiate the conversation.)

Bankok - Thailand Hot Spots


If you visit any destination in South East Asia, it may be imperative that you pass through Bangkok. Bangkok has a strange nature of evoking extreme sense of likes and dislikes amongst visitors. A few seem to loathe it while many others swear that it is the most wonderful, fascinating and exciting places on earth. Actually, Bangkok tends to be what a particular visitor wants it to be. Bangkok is a picture post-card haven with beautiful pagodas, pagodas and some of the world's finest hotels. Bangkok's renowned for it's nightlife in the Orient with an opportunity to savor some of world's most unique cuisines. Bangkok is a favorite and best shopping destination in South East Asia.

Bangkok inhabitants are known as Thais and their friendly ways would flatter the snootiest traveler. Bangkok is all in all, a load of fun and games and a great way to enjoy a civilized vacation. Thailand's history emerges from the Bronze Age, whereas Bangkok, the capital is a young city founded in 1782. With a population of around 6 million, 50% of them are under 30. Bangkok lies on the banks of the river "Chao Phraya", a wonderful working waterway full of sampans, wide variety of boats and rice barges.

Bangkok is a beautiful mix of the old and the new, the modern and the ancient evident from its skyline that comprises of Buddhist temples (wats), luxury hotels, high-rise office buildings and shopping malls making it a kaleidoscope. Under the thin veneer of new found Western influence you will find that the Thais are not devoid of traditional values. The sights of ubiquitous street food sellers, monks on morning begging rounds and women stringing jasmine blossoms on thread near wats will display the cultural heritage of Thailand that is not lost in the arc lights of modernity.


Bangkok is packed with more attractions per square mile than any other city in the world. Despite the crowds, the architecture and the attractions are worth the effort to travel and see. On the top of the list would be Wat Phra Khao and the Grand Palace for sightseeing for half a day. This can include the National Museum and the Wat Pho. Chinatown, Bangkok's major attractions has a unique traditional life untouched by modern civilization and could be fascinating. Historical sites like Rattanakosin Island (central point when Bangkok was founded) are also worth visiting. The main symbolic places of Bangkok are Wat Arun on the Chao Phraya River.

Cross the Chao Phraya to reach Thonburi and you can tour the klongs to appreciate the heritage and culture of the country of Thailand. The Vimanmek Palace, restored by Queen Sirikit, made of golden teak emphasizes the exquisite taste and oriental splendor of ancient Thai royal life.


The easier way to explore the country would be put up base in Bangkok and explore the region by using the interesting and unusual daytrips.

Ayutthaya & Bang Pa-In: This probably is the most popular day trip from Bangkok and takes you to visit the Ayutthaya (A-you-ta-ya), the previous and old capital of Thailand, about 50 miles north of Bangkok, the current capital. Ayutthaya has served as the second capital of the Kingdom of Siam for over 400 years. Travellers in the past have described the glittering palaces, temples and Buddhist images depicting it as one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. In an unfortunate event the Burmese burned the glories of this city in 1767. In Ayutthaya, you could hire a tuk tuk along with an English-speaking guide to take you around the celebrated temples (cost could be in the range of 250 bahts). You can also hire a long-tail boat for cruising the 12-mile Chao Phraya River trip that ends at the king's summer palace at Bang Pa-In (300 bahts).

Many such trips are available to be taken. Bangkok never ceases to amaze and so giving an approximate time frame of the trip becomes difficult. You could get there, relax, and see for yourself what Bangkok has to offer. May be you could go back when you have more time, or to see the rest of it. The magnetism of Bangkok is such that despite having been there many a time, travelers tend to come back.

To ensure your vacation recipe is complete, add in that special sprinkle of a Thailand vacation rental. Book Thailand Vacation Rentals matching your criteria. These vacation rentals are presented by their owners or managers.


Weddings in Exotic Thailand, A Dream Coming True

The Kingdom of Thailand lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina, Myanmar and Southern China. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions; the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula south.

Thailand constantly is winning awards for its tourism infrastructure, recently the Swedish travel publication, Travel News, presented the annual Grand Travel Award - the equivalent of the travel and tourism industry's 'Oscars' - for the fifteenth consecutive year.

Thailand is increasing in popularity as a wedding destination as people seek more exotic environments and are able to hold more lavish receptions at luxury accommodation. There is nothing quite as touching as to play a part in someone's wedding, and locations such as Koh Samui and Phuket offer stunning luxury villa rentals to accommodate such groups. Many villas are purposefully build to offer the best possible setting, secluded, romantic, and beautiful, surrounded by the deep blue ocean, and row after row of coconut palms.

Organizers can provide Christian, non-secular or Buddhist-style weddings, and each can be completely customized to ensure the most memorable day possible. Everything you need can you provided to make your wedding perfect, at only a fraction of the cost that you would pay in your home country. Nothing is quite as romantic as saying 'I do' on the beach, on a tropical island, under the shining sun and bright blue sky. You can share your special day with friends and loved ones or simply savor the moment just for yourselves. We can help make all your wedding dreams come true.

Luxury villas in Phuket and Samui can accommodate wedding parties of up to 85 people just within a villa, or they can cater for groups of up to 150 people if staying outside. If you are planning on having a large Koh Samui Wedding, please contact us in advance for more information about the special packages we offer.

Another advantage of having your wedding in Thailand is that the wedding and honeymoon are part of the same package. With hundreds of attractions throughout Thailand it is great opportunity to travel the country and to enjoy the time with family and friends.

Luxury villas catering to wedding groups are likely to expand into other areas of Thailand as infrastructure improves, Krabi is fast becoming the next fashionable destination for high end visitors and Koh Chang near the Cambodian border is also seeing a large increase in visitors who are more adventurous and want to experience different areas of the country.

Whatever destination a wedding couple chooses, they are sure to be offered great value for money and an amazing choice of Thai villas from any destination they choose. With the incredible diversity throughout Thailand guests are no doubt going to have the wedding of their dreams when staying in their luxury accommodation in the beautiful country of Thailand.


Live And Stay In Thailand With A Passport Holder

by Bradlley Mckoy
In a recent survey of the most traveled places in the world, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that made it to the top five, and very rightly so. Thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to the Kingdom all year round to frolic on the stunning beaches, explore the many mountains and rivers, and of course, take advantage of one of the world's most blatant sex industries.

Visits vary from a few days to a few years. Many visit on holiday and never leave, and understandably so. The country is gifted in more ways than one, the people are friendly with foreigners, and the cost of living is amongst the cheapest in the world. Indeed, there's a lot to be said about the mysticism of Thailand, how it reels you in with its beauty until you find yourself never wanting to leave and succumbing to its will.

Visa Runs

Barely a year ago, Thai immigration laws were relaxed and tourist-friendly. Though it varies for some countries, most foreign nationals are automatically given a 30-day grant to stay in the Kingdom upon entry. However, 30 days is grossly insufficient to explore the wonders of Thailand. Border runs were common and most foreign nationals can do as many as he or she chooses, the popular destinations being the neighboring countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. You simply needed to take a trip to the border, bearing your passport in its passport holder, and you get another 30 days.

With the ousting of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, however, immigration laws have since been tightened. Border runs are now limited to 2 instances, after which, a foreign national has to leave the country, passport holder and all, for at least 100 days. An alternative is getting a proper visa, which is a seemingly easy process that actually gets tedious as you go along.

Tourist Visas

For a fee, Thai consulates abroad provide tourist visas for foreign nationals seeking to stay in Thailand for a few months. If you are already in the Kingdom, you'll have to take a trip to a neighboring Asian country (or your own country) to get the tourist visa from a Thai Consulate.

It's a quick and painless procedure. Simply visit the consulate with your passport, safely stored in your passport holder, provide a couple of photographs, fill out a form, and pay the fee. You then get a 60-day tourist visa and you may apply for an extension of 30 days within the country.

Non-immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas are trickier. These are provided for foreign nationals seeking to stay in the Kingdom for a long period of time for employment, business, etc. Non-immigrant visas range from 90-day single entry passes to 1-year multiple entry passes. It's not as simple as walking into the consulate with your passport holder. You would need to be able to provide several documents, justifying your stay in the Kingdom.

For example, if you are an English teacher employed at a Thai school, you need to provide letters from the school declaring their intention to hire you, your school documents, criminal clearance records from your home country, and of course, your passport in your passport holder. As long as all documents are available, there should be no hitch in getting a non-immigrant visa.

There are more options to getting visas for extended stays in Thailand. However, the Thais are changing the rules quite frequently these days so nobody is really secure. It's important to keep on top of the latest Thai immigration news at all times. After all, you wouldn't want to leave the beautiful country in a hurry, passport holder and all.


Samui Lifestyle and Activities

By: Dan Wallace

Not that long ago Samui island was a favorite destination for adventure seeking sun worshippers. These seasoned travelers visited Samui long before it was in the guide books. Seaside bungalows were available for as little as 150 baht per night, and you could count on spending day after sunny day on the beach in near perfect tranquility. These visitors found there was an almost mesmerizingly restful and carefree feel to the island that often kept them here long after they intended to return home.

Those who have known and loved Samui Island since those early days may not agree about the current pace of development in some areas, but for the most part they do agree on one thing. The island retains its sleepy magic and Ko Samui is still a tropical paradise. These days' luxury Samui villas are popping up throughout the island and Ko Samui seems intent on catching up with its Andaman counterpart, Phuket in terms of development, infrastructure and the choice of Samui villas.

However, much of Samui Island, especially south coast, remains largely undeveloped. A day spent on a motorbike or in a jeep exploring this lush terrain is a day of sheer serendipity. With its spectacular and astonishingly diverse flora, and its dozy little neighborhoods peopled by some of the world's most amiable islanders, this kind of exploration is sure to provide the delights you imagined when you planned your holiday.

Short direct flights here now on Samui Island depart several times a day from Bangkok, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. You can also arrive by train, bus and boat.

The most obvious thing to do while holidaying on Koh Samui is to laze on one of the beautiful beaches, and swim or paddle in the warm tropical waters, but you will probably want to do other things as well, and there are lots and lots to do. Some of the more popular activities include Snorkeling. Snorkellers can accompany their diving companions on scuba dive trips, take a tour organized for snorkellers, a trip arranged by local fishermen to one of the many surrounding islands, or just snorkel from the beaches and rock formations dotted around the Island. Either way, the beauty of the coral and fish that can be seen through your mask is great.

Windsurfing equipment is available for rent from several water sport centers around the island. Lessons are available for beginner adults and children. Prices start from 300 baht per hour for equipment rental and from 500 baht for a one hour individual lesson (equipment included). The conditions for windsurfing are great, with good offshore winds throughout the year.

Scuba Diving is also very popular and the Gulf of Thailand offers a huge variety of dive sites suitable for all levels of diver. So whether you want to blow your very first bubbles underwater or you're an experienced diver looking for something more challenging, there are plenty of options to choose from.

One of the things that makes Samui so appealing is the fact that you can still stop at a street cart for a 30 baht plate of Pad Thai or Fried Rice, while just around the corner a lavish buffet is being served on the beach. All the options are here, including several Thai vegetarian restaurants.

In recent years an international community of entrepreneur restaurateurs have brought to Samui the cuisines of Japan, Italy, Germany, India, Brazilian, Switzerland, France, Sweden and Mexico, among others. Good Western cuisine can now be found in almost every village on the island. Need a "back home" style snack or a fast-food fix? There are excellent bakeries, ice cream parlours, McDonalds is in Chaweng and Lamai along with other well known pizza outlets.

If you stay long enough for your digestive system to begin to get acclimatized, you might try eating at one of the outdoor evening markets that locals frequent. Here you will find some of Samui's most authentic (and spicy!) Thai food. The seating arrangements may be crude and the air filled with the noise of nearby locals relaxing after work with Karaoke, but the food will be hot, tasty and cheap.
Article Source: ABC Article Directory



Start the day with rice soup

09.00: Begin the day with a sumptuous spread at one of central Chiang Mai's newest hotels - the D2(1) (00 66 53 99 9999' You can choose from Thai, Western and Chinese breakfast. The locals like thick rice soup with pork, a high-energy dish that wil help you through a packed itinerary. The D2 is run by the Thai-owned Dusit Thani chain and attempts to create Chiang Mai's first contemporary design hotel. It's a great location and the rooms are cute, minimalist cubes. Doubles start at Thai baht 4,940 (pounds 70) room only.

10.00: With more than 300 Buddhist temples it can be tricky deciding which one of Chiang Mai's places of worship is suitable for morning devotion. Situated at the end of Ratchadamnoen Road, Wat Phra Singh (2), with its relaxed atmosphere and leafy charm, is many people's favourite. Established in 1345, this beautiful Lanna-style temple houses the gorgeous Phra Singh Buddha image, which supposedly originates from Sri Lanka though it's more likely it came from Sukhothai, 200 miles down the road. Look out for the signs at the back of the temple imploring good behaviour - don't say you haven't be warned.

They do a lock-in at this spa

11.00: Why not be pampered and satisfy your conscience at the same time? In an unusual rehabilitation initiative, Chiang Mai's women's jail in the middle of the old city on Ratchaw-ithi Road (3) has opened a spa (00 6617061041) staffed entirely by female prisoners. The money goes directly to the masseuse, helping them to save some money for after their release.

Lunch on the waterfront

12.30: The Chedi (4), Chiang Mai (00 66 53 253 333,, is one of the few luxury hotels in the city centre. The calm, contemporary Asian design creates a soothing haven, though its riverside location makes it prone to flooding. Pitfals aside, its location makes The Chedi a great lunch spot and the authentic northern Thai food is excelent.

It's hip to wear Thai

14.00: Hip Thais avoid Chiang Mai's trashy night market beloved of most tourists and head instead for leafy Nimmanahaeminda Road (5) just west of the old city. Take a trip down Sois 1,4 and 7(asoiisa side street) where you'll find a colection f sleek shops. A good xample of modern Thai esigncan be found at asama (00 66 53 400 422'

Beetle on down o the museum

5.00: Want to find out al bout those nasty creepy rawlies that inhabit the ropics? Then visit the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders (6) 00 66 53 211891). This is run from the family home of he Rattanarithikuls, a husband-and-wife team of scientists. Manop is known as Mr Mosquito as he has discovred 18 new species.

Go abstract at he art gallery

16.30: La Luna (7) (00 66 53

306 678' on Charoenrajd Road is one of a growing number of contemporary art galleries opening in Chiang Mai. This airy, open-plan space houses abstract works and photography from all over Southeast Asia.

Step out for a mountain climb

18.00: Travel the 10miles out of the city to scale to the top of the 5,100ft Doi Suthep mountain (8). This overlooks Chiang Mai and is where you can soak up wonderful views and a glorious tropical sunset. Further down the mountain you'll find the 700-year-old Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. You'll need to climb 300 steps to reach this venerated site, but it'sworth the exertion.

Relax, you've earned a drink

20.00: On your way back down from Doi Suthep stop off for cocktails at the Palaad Tawanron Restaurant (9) (00 66 53 217 073' It's set on the lower parts of the mountain near a large waterfall and amid thick forest. Book a terrace table at the back and you'll secure an awesome view. Palaad also offers some of the best Thai food in Chiang Mai.

Have a nightcap at the market

22.00: To sample some blue-colar Thai-style nightlife - a mix of cheap whisky, loud music and fantastic food -head to the Anusan night market (10) at Soi Anusan, just off Chang Khlang Road. Snack on everything from Chinese-inspired seafood through to chili- covered strawberries and dishes prepared by the local Muslim community: delicious banana rotis, served warm and smothered in condensed milk, are a highlight of Chiang Mai's street food. There are dozens of masseurs offering foot massages, reams of gaudy decorations and blaring Thai pop music.

Copyright 2006 Independent Newspapers UK Limited
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.


The hottest THAI AMULET - Jatukam

Now if we talk about JATUKAM RAMATHEP in THAILAND, nobody are not known this name. Now Jatukam has more than 400 models cause Jatukam is a hottest talisman now.Jatukam is the most popular deity in Thailand today. His full name is Jatukam Ramathep and his image can be seen almost everywhere -on amulets, coins and statuettes and on incantation cloths are currently available at prices ranging from Bt40 (for fakes) to Bt2 million. The first amulet, made in 1987, cost less than Bt100. It is now worth between Bt500,000 and Bt600,000. The most expensive amulets cost between Bt1.5 million and Bt2 million apiece. Jatukam was established and made by laymen and Buddhist monks, based in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Songkhla and Ayutthaya. The Jatukam is depicted as a seated deity, with his right leg slightly lifted and sometimes with a seven-head serpent behind him. The black Pangpagan is shown seated cross-legged with his hands raised to cover his eyes and with serpents to his left and right. Rahu appears in a form of demon head. Other symbols in Jatukam talismans include the Sun and the Moon, the 12 animal signs representing the 12-year cycle and symbols of old Nakhon Sri Thammara's 12 subordinate cities in the south of Thailand


Ayuthaya Thailand

Ayuthaya was once the majestic and imposing capital of Thailand. Located on a series of islands on the Chao Phraya river upstream from where Bangkok is today, it was at the pinnacle of its influence and wealth in the 17 and 18th Century when foreigners first arrived in Siam. Today its ruins are a popular day trip or overnight river cruise from Bangkok.

The Ayuthaya court at the time was highly regarded even in Europe, with diplomatic relations extending to the French court and Louis XIV. Other countries that courted the Siamese here were England, Portugal, Japan and China. By the 17th Century Ayutthaya, or to give it its full name Phra Nakhon Si Ayuthaya, had become the cultural and financial hub of South East Asia, ruling over an empire that stretched from Malaysia to China and included parts of eastern Burma and almost all of present day Laos and Cambodia.

Known as Thailand’s capital city for 417 years, Ayuthaya is a testament to the ingenuity and decadence of King U-Thong (otherwise known as Ramathibodi I) court. Founded in 1350 the city grew at an amazing rate, largely due to the incredible trade opportunities offered in this fertile basin of the Chao Phraya River.

The rich heritage that remains at Ayuthaya is mostly founds within the Phra Nakhon Si Ayuthaya Historical Park. This city island, formed by an ox-bow and man made canal in the river, is where many of the ruins are concentrated, but the entire original site encompassed a much larger area which is today occupied by the modern city of Ayuthaya and ruins can be found scattered about the suburbs.

Originally Ayuthaya was made up of sixteen districts, reflecting some of Thailand’s more elaborate and magnificent architecture. There was a stunning blend of Khmer (Cambodian) architecture dating from the founding of this capital in the 14th century. It is characteristically comprised of constructions of brick, laterite and sandstone – making the structures incredibly durable. They are mixed seamlessly with the elegant and symmetrical designs of the Sukhothai influence.

There are many temple and palace ruins to visit but the pick of them include; Wat Phra si Sanphet which you will recognised from its three aligned chedis see on many postcards, and sited among the ruins of the largest temple complex and palace, dating from the 14th century. Wat Phra Mahathat was another important structure almost entirely razed by invading Burmese but worth visiting for its Khmer Phrang (tower). Wat Phanan Choeng is southwest of the main ruins precinct and charmingly reached by boat; it predates the main Ayuthaya kingdom and has a much revered Buddha inside. Wat Na Phra Meru is reached by crossing a bridge from the old Royal palace grounds and managed to escape destruction so it remains one of Ayuthaya’s best preserved examples and contains some prestigious Buddhas.

Over the centuries, the city went through an incredible period of prosperity, with more and more palaces and temples being built. Merchants came from across the globe to trade at the principal city of Siam. There were five dynasties of Thai kings that inhabited this city, among them 33 kings ruled Ayuthaya.

The death of King Ramathibodi II in 1529 heralded the start of a turbulent time for the city, when war began with Myanmar. After that conflict there came many more battles, notably in 1569 when the Burmese first invaded the city. In this instance the Thai king managed to repel the invaders and peace reigned in the city for a further 118 years. It was the return of the Burmese army in the time of King Rama I that witnessed the abandonment of Ayuthaya in favour of Bangkok as the Thai capital.

In times of peace the city thrived, whether in the political and diplomatic arena, or as the cultural centre of this diverse and exotic Kingdom. This is seen in the abundance of temples, over 400 of them, and the construction of three spectacular palaces.

Ayuthaya has many sections that seem to replicate the grandness and opulence of Angkor Wat. The city was essentially destroyed by in 1767 by the Burmese army, who sacked the city and destroyed many of its finest temples. However it has proved to continue to draw crowds of visitors every year. It was finally designated as a historical park in its own right, in 1976 and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981.

New findings are always being discovered at this site and usually there is some sort of archaeological dig taking place within the city. Wander through the streets and ruined temples, passing rows of Buddha’s that have had their heads removed during the sacking of the city and gazing in wonder at the magnificent obelisks and pagodas.

Culture vultures might also want to head to the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum which displays many of the artifacts saved from sites, and gives some insightful information on the areas history.

Modern Ayuthaya is a typical Thai city that has grown up around its historical surroundings, complete with busy roads, unsightly overhead cables, noodle carts everywhere and plenty of billboards for mobile phones and Honda Dreams. None-the-less it can be a pleasant place to base yourself for a couple of days and has more than enough average hotels and guest houses.

One of the more enchanting ways to see Ayutthaya is to take one of the old wooden live-aboard boat cruises up the river for a couple of days.

Bang Pa In Palace
Another site in the area which draws the crowds is the much newer Bang Pa In Palace which is 20kms south of Ayutthaya and boasts a number of architectural styles, some of European influence. Built as a summer retreat by King Rama V in the late nineteenth century, it has some pretty lakes, one with a fairy tale type pavilion on an island within, as well as a colourful Chinese styled palace; Wehat Chamrun and the light-house inspired building known as Withun Thatsana. Wat Niwet Thamaprawat, across the river, looks more like a church than a temple. A sad story accompanies the river, for it was here that one of the King’s consorts drowned after her boat capsized and onlookers were too afraid to break a rule of touching royal consorts to come to her aid.


Take The Discover Thailand Tour

Travel to Thailand and enjoy the excitement and intrigue of a whole new culture. In fact one of the best ways to see Thailand is by taking a tour.
This tour is a great choice for anyone who is experiencing Thailand for the first time. You’ll begin your adventure in Belgin in Bangkok.


Arrive in Bangkok where a local representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel for a three-night stay.


Your guide and driver will escort you on a private longtail boat ride along the Chao Phraya River and its residential canals. You’ll visit Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn Next the Grand Palace, the ceremonial home of the Thai Royal Family. Then visit the magnificent Wat Phra Kaew, the temple that houses the Emerald Buddha the country's most sacred religious image. Then it’s off to Wat Po which is home to the School of Thai Massage. You’ll loop back to Bangkok's central market, a labyrinthine maze of stalls alongside the Chao Praya River.

You’ll visit Bangkok’s flower market where beautifully traditionally dressed women will greet you and offer you flowers. Then it’s off to the silky tycoons Jim Thompson’s home which is filled with an incredible collection of Asian art and antiques. During the evening you can check out Thailand's excellent cuisine.


Early in the morning you’ll witness the monks practicing their chants at the Marble Temple. Proceed to the Monks Bowl Alley, one of the few places where traditional alms bowls are still handcrafted. Next you’ll get to tour the private Prasart Museum on a Bangkok estate which is surrounded by lush gardens and home to a private collection of Thai and other Southeast Asian art and artifacts dating back to the 13th century. The afternoon will be yours to spend as you like exploring the sights and sounds of Bangkok.


Today you’ll fly to Chiang Rai, the first capital of the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, for a two-night stay. Once you’re settled in your hotel you’ll embark on a full day Golden Triangle excursion. You’ll first stop at the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park where you can stroll along the beautiful botanical gardens, visit the golden pavilion, and admire the collection of northern Thai religious and secular art. From there it’s off to Mae Sai, the northernmost point in Thailand and an excellent stop for shoppers. Then you’ll cross into Myanmar and visit the market at Tachilek. After lunch it’s off to the Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar converge. Then you’ll take a drive along the Mekong River to the ancient ruins of Chiang Saen. You’ll be back at your hotel by sundown in time to enjoy the night culture.


The early morning starts with a boat ride up the Mae Kok River to the Karen village of Ruam Mitr followed by a two-hour elephant ride through rice paddies and precarious ridges. Then you’ll visit Yao hilltribe village where our representative will pick you up for a picnic lunch at Ya Pou. Spend some time walking to the Lahu village of Jaleh, and if you’re energetic continuing for another hour along the trail to the local waterfall. You’ll return to Chiang Rai by late afternoon and it’s time to explore on your own or take a peaceful nap.


You’ll depart by car for the northern city of Chiang Mai, where you will spend three nights. After you’ve settled into your room the rest of the day and evening are at your leisure. But be sure to visit the festive Night Bazaar.


Day 7 is a full day of private touring where you get to explore the city and numerous Lanna Thai temples of Chiang Mai. You’ll start with the mountain temple of Doi Suthep. Here you’ll find 300 intricately carved steps that lead to the temple gate. And what a view of Chiang Mai! After exploring Doi Suthep you’ll stop in at Wat Chedi Luang, the original home of the Emerald Buddha. Finally you’ll take a city tour through Chiang Mai which is considered the second most important city in Thailand, and it has an entirely different feel than bustling Bangkok.


You’ll have the day to explore and enjoy the facilities at your resort.


This morning you’lll be transferred to the airport for the flight to the resort island of Phuket, located in southern Thailand. You’ll spend a three relaxing nights at the resort

DAYS 10 - 11: PHUKET

For the next few days you’ll get to enjoy the splendor the white sand beaches and towering limestone stacks rising vertically from gentle, lapping aquamarine waters in Phuket. . Take a cruise, go sailing, snorkeling, or just relax.


Today you will fly to Bangkok where you’ll be driven to your hotel for an overnight stay.


It’s off to the airport for your flight home’

You’ll have wonderful memories to share with friends and family when you return! This is will be one of the best vacations you ever take!


Mu Ko Similan National Park

Similan Archipelago National Park (Mu Ko Similan)
The park offers extraordinary underwater sightseeing at depths ranging from two to 30 m and it also embraces powdery sand beaches, huge, smooth granite rock formations which plunge into the sea and form seamounts, rock reefs and dive-troughs.

Similan Archipelago National Park consists of a group of 9 petite islands and covers an area of about 130 square kilometers or 80,000 rai. Situated 50 km off the west coast of Phangnga amidst the Andaman Sea, it was designated as a national park on September 1, 1982.

Sometimes, Ko Similan is referred as Ko Kao, or Nine Islands as the nine of them also has the number as a nickname. Actually, similan is corrupted from the Malay word "sembilan" for nine. From the north to the south, the archipelago comprises Ko Bon, Ko Ba Ngu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (actually two islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, Ko Ku Yong. They are just petite islands and most of them are uninhabited except for park officials and occasional tourist groups.

Mu Ko Similan has been appraised by Skin-Diving Magazine of the USA as among ten loveliest places in the world. The Similans are also regarded as mainly deep water diving. Their reputation is deserved because of the great beauty of nature discovered on the islands and extensive surrounding coral gardens underwater. The islands are undeveloped and unspoiled. A considerable variety of species of fish, crustaceans, and other marine life flourish. The water in the area is as clear as a glass and excellent for diving.

Aside from the beautiful natural setting, thirty-two species of birds including resident birds: the Brahminy kite as well as white-breasted waterhen and migratory species of the pintail snipe, gray wagtail, cattle egret, watercock and the roseate tern are to be found on the nine islands. Some of the beautiful islands include:

Similan Island:The largest island among Similan archipelago has the largest granite outcrop shaped like a horseshoe in the north. One can reach the top to see an extensive panorama of the sea. Ko Similan is excellent location for hiking and snorkeling. It encompasses a long curving bay with powdery sandy beaches and wonderful underwater scenery. The water is shallow and beneath the waters coral reefs and colorful fishes abound. Spiny lobsters in rock crevices and sea fans and plume worms can be found in a small bay on the west.

Miang Island: Miang Island is the second largest island of the archipelago; actually, it is two islands connected. The park office and guesthouses of the Similan Marine National Park are located on the island. Ko Miang is eminent for its beautiful beaches and colorful coral gardens. Scuba gear is not necessary as Ko Miang is perfect for snorkeling and the best location is at the channel between Ko Miang and Ko Payu.
Ba Ngu or Hua Ka Lok Island: The seventh island in the Mu Ko Similan chain is a rocky island with a strange feature of a skull shape. It is famous for its incredible underwater scenery with colorful fishes, grass and coral reefs. In association with the youngest princess of the present monarch and the Thai navy, an extra effort at environmental protection is made here, and a sea turtle preserve is operated on the island. Ko Ba Ngu is a place where you can see turtles laying their eggs on the white sandy beach.

Hu Yong Island: Ko Hu Yong is notable for having the longest white sandy beach in Similan Archipelago. Sea turtles come up to lay their eggs on the beach from November to February.
Exactly the same as elsewhere in the Andaman Sea, it is recommended to visit during December to May as the weather is good and the sea is clearest. To get to the park, one can take a boat trip from the pier in Tambon Thap Lamu, Amphoe Takua Pa or from the pier in Amphoe Khura Buri. The trip takes about three hours. Or one can take a boat trip from a pier in Amphoe Kuraburi which also takes about three hours to get to the archipelago.

Basic accommodations are available at the National Park Office on Miang Island and can be reserved at the National Park Division, Forestry Department, Tel +66 2 579 0529, 579 4842 or Mu Ko Similan National Park office Tel +66 76 411913 to 4.

"King of the Ring" Muy Thai Boxing

Six year old competitor, Ricardo "Boon" Hernandez will take on Gabriel Garcia in a popular amateur fight.

Bob Cohen - PVNN
Puerto Vallarta - Lanna Gym is putting on a local Muy Thai Boxing Extravaganza Saturday night, February 18th at the Collage Club in the Marina at 8:00 pm. Owner and professor of Lanna Gym, professional Carlos Solorio Cruz, invited a large gathering to Mariscos Tinos Restaurant in El Pitillal for a pre-event press conference.

Surrounded at the head table by Kick Boxing World Champion Santiago Manzanarez of Vallarta, new PV resident and world champion of mixed martial arts, Olaf Alfonso, and the Chief of Sports for the city of Puerto Vallarta, Ignacio "Nacho" Curiel Madero, the fight card was presented.

There will be 14 fights in total; the final four bouts will be professional fights. Lanna Gym fighters will host fighters from all of the seven Muy Thai gyms in Puerto Vallarta. The headline match will pit Lanna Gym's Jorge Estrada against Jose "Rayo" Uribe of Tanai Luark Vallarta Gym.

The phenomenon of Muy Thai boxing has taken Puerto Vallarta by storm the past few years, with two large events held for World Championships here in 2005. The quality of boxing, sportsmanship and respect of other competitors, has made the sport a fan favorite and sent many of Vallarta's youth to the gym for training.

The most popular amateur match will be between two six-year-olds, who were in attendance at the press conference. They have fought publicly before, receiving standing ovations after their bouts. Ricardo "Boon" Hernandez of Lanna Gym will take on young counterpart Gabriel Garcia of Tanai Luark Vallarta Gym.

Tickets are available in advance at Golds Gym or Lanna Gym at $100 pesos for adults and $50 pesos for children. At the door the prices will be $120 and $80 pesos. For a different type of Saturday night, don't miss this one.


Thailand - Asia's primary destination

by M. Ellis
Over six million foreigners fly into Thailand each year. It has become Asia's primary holiday destination and is well located, serviced and popular as a first stop on any overland journey through Southeast Asia.

Tourist money has played a significant part in the country's recent development. Yet amazingly Thailand's cultural integrity remains largely undamaged. In this country of fifty-three million people, over 90% are practicing Theravada Buddhists. King Bhumibol is a revered figure across his nation. Temple rooftops and saffron-robed monks dominate the entire country. Though some cities and beach resorts are have been westernized by high-rises and neon lights, the typical Thai community is the traditional farming villager. Still true to this day, ninety percent of Thais still earn their living from the land.

Most journeys start in Bangkok . It can be an overwhelming introduction to Southeast Asia, as Bangkok is characterized with its chaos, noise and pollution, but there are traveller-oriented guesthouses in droves here, and many spectacular temples to visit. It's also the best place for arranging onward travel and visas for neighboring countries. A popular side-trip from the city takes in the raft houses of Kanchanaburi, the infamous site of the Bridge over the River Kwai. After Bangkok, most travelers head north, via the ancient capitals of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai . They head to the enjoyable ad laid-back city of Chiang Mai. There, very often, treks are organised to the nearby hilltribe villages.

If tranquility is what you are after, you will find it in the countryside up in the northern highlands around Mae Hong Son and along the Mekong River in Thailand's northeast (Isaan). There you can stay in village guesthouses or even family shacks if you are lucky, then hop across the border into Laos. In northeast you will find two fine ancient Khmer ruins at Phimai and Phanom Rung, they are certainly worth a visit and give you something to boast about, as the are much less frequented by tourists. There is also Thailands most popular national park, Khao Yai .

After trekking, cycling, white water rafting or going for an elephant ride, as well as the rural relaxation experience, most visitors head for the beach - and Thailand's eastern and southern coasts are lined with magnificent white-sand shores, aquamarine seas and kaleidoscopic reefs. The most popular beaches in Thailand with its foreign visitors are the east coast backpackers' resorts of Ko Samet and Ko Chang, the Andaman coast of Laem Phra Nang, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta and Ko Tarutao and the Gulf Coast islands of Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao,. The southern island of Phuket as well as the east coast resort of Pattaya are more expensive, package-tour oriented areas. In the furthest part south, Thailand merges seamlessly with Malaysia. There are plenty of border crossing points there and the city of Hat Yai offers travellers long-distance bus and rail links to many Malaysian towns. Crossing over to Cambodia overland, alas, is not so easy, however, there are two crossings currently open, Poipet and Trat.

The climate of most of Thailand is governed by three seasons: rainy (roughly June to October), caused by the southwest monsoon; cool (November to February); and hot (March to May). The cool season is certainly the best time to visit, with Christam being the peak season for Thailand. In the hot season, temperatures can rise to 40°C. The rainy season hits the Andaman coast (Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi) harder than anywhere else in the country and usually heavy rains persist from May to October. On the other hand, The Gulf coast (Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao) hardly sees any rain between June and September, but is hit heavily by the northeast monsoon, brings torrential rain between October and January.


A guide to Phuket's best beaches

Located midway along the west coast, Phuket's number one and most visited beach is Patong; a behemoth in terms of tourist numbers and reputation. The beach is quite nice here, although the whole package of shops, restaurants and bars is what gives this beach its great appeal. Patong Beach travel resource online Just north and south of Patong are Kamala and Karon beaches respectively; both of which are a little less brash and easier on the eye. Karon is the busier of the two and is known for its collection of upmarket hotels and resorts.

Not far to the south of Karon is Kata Beach, perhaps Phuket's all-round best beach. Kata has better sands than that of Patong and Karon, has fewer shops and bars and has a great feel to it, with shaded seating areas and some great shopping. As with the previous beaches, Kata is very appealing to the water sports enthusiast and is the island's most popular surfing beach. Unlike Patong and Karon, Kata also has some resorts and one or two bars directly on the beach adding to its appeal.

Kata Noi Beach is just over a headland to the south of Kata and is one of the most attractive and peaceful of beaches on Phuket. It has lovely, golden sands and great bathing and is surrounded on all sides by dense jungle. There's only one main resort here - Kata Thani - and a handful of shops, cafés and bars. Kata Noi is just a short taxi ride from the main Kata Beach and reachable on foot.

Nai Harn Beach is farther south again and very much like Kata Noi for peacefulness and exclusivity. Nai Harn is mostly frequented by locals and the high season weekends will see it thronged with happy Phuket residents. Like Kata Noi, Nai Harn is fed by a no-through road making it much more peaceful and less polluted than most other beaches on the island. There are also some very exclusive hotels here such as the Le Meridian.

At the very bottom of the island is Rawai Beach, an interesting retreat best known for its seafood restaurants and laid back feel. Rawai is very popular with the ex-pat community although the beach itself isn't that much to look at. Friendship Beach, about three kilometres northeast of Rawai, is the only one worth visiting on the east coast.

There are also several other beaches of interest continuing north of Kamala Beach, including Laem Sing, Surin, Bang Tao and Nai Yang. Of these, Laem Sing, next to Kamala, is by far the prettiest but least accessible. An arduous climb down a set of steep steps is the only access from the road high above, unless you have a boat. Once down there, the cute little bay of Laem Sing will not disappoint, with its soft sands and crystal clear waters.

Surin Beach is just a few minutes by bike or car from Laem Sing and is as far north as most visitors tend to get. Surin is somewhat of an upmarket option flanked as it is by million dollar villas. The seafood restaurants on the beach here are very good and the surf is also appealing. Bang Tao is just over a headland to the north and is Phuket's longest beach at eight kilometres. Tourist Phuket info online Needless to say this beach is great for a stroll and its tree-lined shelter offers an excellent opportunity for a picnic.

Nai Yang Beach is the only other main beach north of here and is the first beach coming from the airport. An affordable option, Nai Yang is becoming more and more popular with returning visitors who want something different and who can't be bothered to traipse all the way to the more popular southern Phuket beaches. A word of warning though: don't come to Nai Yang expecting a party!

Top 5 Beaches in the World

by William Brister
The lure of the bronze sun, vast azure skies and the endless blue-green oceans on a tropical paradise beach resort make for a perfect holiday destination. With hundreds of beautiful beaches to choose from, some have been given the distinction of being the best beaches in the world. Some of these resorts are listed below.

1) Ka'anapali, Hawaii One of the most populated, popular, and best beaches in Maui, Hawaii, Ka'napali is a paradise on earth. It is located in West Maui, two miles north of the historic whaling town of Lahaina and is surrounded by numerous elegant hotels and condominiums. The beach is three miles long and is full of fun-filled activities where you can snorkel, windsurf, jet-ski, parasail and even kayak. It is divided into two separate long stretches by a massive 300 foot cinder cone Pu'u Keka' known as the Black Rock. The rock divides the sand in two and swimmers find themselves bathing in deep water. The rugged lava coastline around the Rock is also an outstanding snorkeling spot, one of the best on the island. Swimming in the crystal clear waters is safe throughout the year but best outside the season of high winter surfs.

2) Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA With 60 miles of pristine beach, Myrtle Beach water sports and Myrtle Beach fishing are the finest among the different beaches in America. Besides lazing and tanning in the tropical sun, the soft wide beach provides ample opportunities for swimming, surfing, parasailing, shell collecting and volleyball.

Although your fun begins at the beach, always the most popular attraction, there is plenty more to do at Myrtle Beach. Besides beautiful beaches, it has delectable food, amusement parks, variety of shopping malls, lively nightlife and adventure sports. With hundreds of attractions, both indoors and outdoors, Myrtle Beach offers fun and excitement for all ages to enjoy.

This beautiful beach resort has more than 100 professional golf courses, a NASCAR sanctioned track, minor league baseball as well as tennis. You can take a deep sea fishing adventure from eight different piers or fish the backwaters and creeks all the way from Little River to Pawley's Island on the South Carolina coast. Moreover, there is a wildlife sanctuary where you are likely to spot alligators and deer combined with several boat tours to give you a real feel of the place.

3) Cancun, Mexico Cancun is truly known as the vacation haven of the 21st century with gorgeous beaches of white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Having started off as a fishing village of only 120 people, Cancun is now a bustling beach resort with a population of half a million and a tourist onslaught of more than two million a year. One of Mexico's popular and best beaches it features world class resorts, hotels, clubs and malls. It offers something for people of all ages whether it an all-day fun at the beach or an isolated, tranquil island. It is close to Miami and has a number of activities to choose from like parachuting, jet-skiing, scuba-diving and golf. Topless bathing is an accepted activity in and around the surrounding areas of Cancun.

With striking modern hotels along the beach front and a lively nightlife, it is a fantastic getaway for the weary traveler. It encloses a huge lagoon, with water on both sides. Also, much of the Yucatan is easily accessible from here. There are two quite separate parts to Cancún: the zona commercial downtown which houses the shopping and residential centre and the zona hotelera - a string of hotels and tourist amenities around the Cancún Island. This is a narrow strip of sandy beach connected to the mainland at each end by causeways.

4) Montego Bay, Jamaica Montego Bay is known for its long sandy stretch of bay with miles of coral reef and some of the most beautiful and best beaches in the world. Montego Bay is Jamaica's second largest city and rests between the gently sloping hills of Bogue, Kempshot and Salem. It extends approximately ten miles from the suburban rich area of Reading at its western edge to the plush villas and resort hotels of Ironshore and Rose Hall to the east.

Montego Bay is made up of two distinct parts - The Gloucester Avenue now called the Hip Strip and the city proper or the downtown.

All along the coastline are beautiful luxury hotels with three main public beaches which offer all amenities and several water sports. For a quieter and tranquil atmosphere you can head to the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean Beach Park, east of the town of Ironshore.

Montego Bay offers a wide variety of entertainment and sporting activities. From fun on the beach to the delicious food served at the waterfront, white water rafting and adventure sports, catamaran rides and fishing charters, it has it all.

5) Phuket, Thailand Sand between your toes, stunning tropical sunsets, cold drink in your hand and warm blue inviting seas - this is picture perfect Phuket. This island is known for its silky soft beaches, superb oriental hospitality and great value accommodation. You can go diving in the Andaman Sea, golfing at championship courses or indulge in exciting eco-adventures in the tropical forest of Phuket. Take an exhilarating speedboat trip to surrounding islands or a serene cruise around mystical Phang Nga Bay, or simply enjoy Phuket's vibrant nightlife in Patong Beach.

Known as the Pearl of the Andaman, Phuket is a large island in the Indian Ocean. The surrounding waters contain much varied marine life and the town is known for its quaint Sino-Portuguese architecture. It is a very attractive island for sightseeing with lovely seashores and forested hillsides.

Phuket as a tourist destination

Phuket the biggest island of Thailand, is approximately as big as Singapore and lies exactly 867 kilometres south of Bangkok surrounded by the Andaman sea in the Indian ocean.

The wealth of Phuket comes originally from its tinmines and its kautschuk. The island lies on a traditional trade route between India and China and is displayed often the logbooks of old foreign ships . The historical influences on Thailand are numerous. Even today houses built at the end of the 19th century bear witness to Chinese and Portuguese influence.
The Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traded peacefully with Phuket / Thailand.

Other visitors came with less peaceful intention. The most famous monument in Phuket is from the heroines Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sisunthon, who led the islanders successfully against an invasion by the Burmese in 1785.

Phuket has wonderful bays and sandy beaches with palm trees. Towards the interior of the island you will find jungle, waterfalls and lakes. The gastronomy and hotels are exquisite. All possibilities for sports and leisure are available.

On Phuket you can find everything to make your holiday an unforgetable experience.

Probably the main attraction of Phuket is its stunningly beautiful coastline. There are soflty rising sandy beaches with calm water and rocky cliffs with wild surge. From the northern tip of Phuket, where the Sarasin-Bridge connects the island with the mainland, range the following beaches and places of interest:

The provincial town is a sleepy town, but also a popular aim for shopping bargains. Neat colonial style residences and tradehouses, which were built in the 19th century from the tin and kautschuk barons, as well as shady arcades give it this very special character.

Rang Hill:
Located on the hill top adjacent to Phuket town. Enjoy a meal or a drink whilst enjoying a birds eye view of the hustle and bustle below. There is also a fitness-park.

The Thai Village:
In this thai village at the Thepkasattri Road you can have a typical southern Thai lunch. There is also a cultural show with Thai dancing, sword fighting, Thai kickboxing, a performance of local customs and a elefant show. You also can buy typical handycrafts.

Thalang National Museum:
Not far away from the monument of the two heroines is the Thalang National Museum. Within the museum is a permanent exhibition about the life on Phuket/Thailand. There are also artefacts and excavations exposed, which have been found at the coast, as well as souvenirs of the war with the burmese.

Mai Khao Beach (40 kilometers from Town):
This sandy beach lined by pines is the largest beach on phuket. From November to February giant turtles come onto shore to lay their eggs.

Nai Yang Beach (30 kilometers from Phuket Town):
is part of the Sirinath National Park. The biggest part of the woody beach contains of Casurina-pine-trees. There are also wide mangrove woods. The quiet surrounding makes it the perfect beach to relax, have a picnic, swim and snorkel.

Wat Phra Thong:
This temple is situated inland from Nai Yang beach and shelters a Buddha statue, which is partly buried underground. The legend says, that once a boy tied his waterbufflo to a protrusion from the ground. At this place both, the boy and the water buffalo became sick. The villagers started to dig and discovered, the pile was the golden tuft of hair of a Buddha statue. Nevertheless they weren't able to free more than the upper part of the statue. Thereupon they built a temple above. In the year 1785 burmese aggressores tried again, to fully excavate the statue, but they also failed, being attacked by a swarm of hornets.

Ton Sai Waterfall Forest Park & Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Park (22 kilometers from Phuket Town):
This 22 square kilometre national park teems with bears, porcupines, gibbons and makak-monkeys, lizards and more than 100 different kind of birds.
Roaring waterfalls provide the perfect resting place to cool down.

Pansea Bay, Surin Beach, Sing Cape & Kamala Beach (24 kilometers from Phuket Town):
These beaches lie very close together. Due to the high waves and the undertow it isn't recomended to swim at Surin beach. But there are beautyful sunsets to be seen. On the other hand the north end of Kamala beach is relatively safe for swimming.

Patong Beach (15 kilometers from Phuket Town):
The most developed beach of Phuket offers a huge variety of Leisure possibilities. Three kilometres of shopping, windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing, swimming and sunbathing. The nummerous restaurants invite you to sample cuisine from around the globe. There are a number of excellent seafood restaurants.

Karon and Kata Beach (20 - 17 kilometers from Phuket Town):
Both beaches are very long, relatively quiet and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, sailing and sunbathing.

Nai Harn Beach (18 kilometers from Phuket Town):
A white sandy beach with a shallow lagoon in between two rocky cliffs. Home to the royal meridien yacht club, Nai Harn provides for good swimming, sailing, sunbathing.

Phromthep Cape:
This cape, the southern tip of Phuket, directly follows Nai Harn Beach. The best place on the island to view the sunset. Although, can get crowded at weekends.

Rawai Beach (17 kilometers from Phuket Town):
This beach, lined by palm trees is famous because of the sea gipsies, who live there. This is a pebble rather than sandy beach. The best place to charter a longtail boat to one of the many islands surrounding Phuket.

Chalong Bay (11 kilometers from Phuket Town):
The restaurants here serve the best seafood all over Phuket.

Wat Chalong:
Inside the buddhist temple some kilometres up-country from Chalong beach are the statues of the most worshiped buddhist monks: Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang.

Phanwa Cape (10 kilometers from Phuket Town):
On the southern tip of this peninsula is the oceanographic institut and the Phuket aquarium, where you can see hundrets of exotic marine inhabitants of the waters around Phuket.

Pearl Farms:
On the neighbouring islands of Nakha, Rang Noi, Rang Yai and Bon are pearl farms. Special permission is required to survey them.


Travel to Thailand

by Robin Darch
Traveling around the world is still only a dream to many, but for those that have done it, their lives have been enriched by the experience. Different cultures, languages, and locations to us to appreciate the world in a new way. The world seems smaller once you travel around and the diversity of cultures makes you appreciate people in a new way.

If you haven't already done a lot of traveling, I suggest you save the money until you can. Life is way too short not to take the time to travel the world and appreciate its beauty. Meeting people from different countries gives you a whole new outlook on life and a new understanding about people in general.

In this article, I will tell you a few things about a wonderful place to visit . . . Thailand. They call Thailand "The Land of Smiles." The people there are great, always having a smile for everyone. They don't lose their temper or express bad behavior in public, because to do so causes "Loss of Face."

As I said before, one of the greatest things about traveling the world is meeting people with different cultures, different beliefs, and different attitudes towards life. In Thailand, the people do not believe in rudeness and brash behavior. They believe this is an embarrassment and it is not tolerated. Being from the US, I find that refreshing. Maybe we can learn from them.

Another great thing about traveling the world is the shopping. You will find shopping in different countries a great pleasure because you will find products that are not produced anywhere else. Each country has it's own unique products to offer you and in many countries the prices for these items is very low. Thailand is no different in this regard. The shops in Bangkok will keep you busy for days, so go prepared to shop.

There are a lot of alleys in Bangkok filled with shops, small cafes, and great Thai restaurants. They have a wholesale garment district called Wu Fen Pu, with more than a thousand clothing stores and shops that sell accessories, such as shoes, belts, purses, bags, and much more. Many of the items are hand made or locally produced and you won't believe how low the cost is for these items.

Another market to visit while you travel in Bangkok is Chatuchak. It's huge! You'll think you're in the Disneyland of shopping centers. It will take you a couple of days to browse all the shops at Chatuchak, but well worth it for all the bargains and unique products you will find there.

Another location for some great night shopping in Bangkok is the Shilin Night Market. They have a food section and another for shopping. There are more than one thousand stalls here and some of the best bargains you will find in Thailand.

You may not be allowed to shop on Fridays. That is when buyers from other stores go there to stock up on items for resale and business is focused on them. Just like here, if you plan to buy summer clothing, go in the fall and vice versa. Most shops in Bangkok are open to 11pm, so shopping in the late afternoon or evening is much better.

One of the most exciting parts of world travel is exploring and taking in the sights that are unique to each country. As you travel the world, the photographs you take at memorable sights will help you relive the memory of the great times you had in each country over and over again, so take plenty of film and your camera wherever you go.

Now let's talk about some of the sights you will want to see while traveling in Thailand. Ever see the movie, "Bridge Over The River Kwai, starring William Holden and Alec Guinness? I'm probably revealing my age by being familiar with this movie, but it was based on a true story and the actual bridge does exist.

A few hours by shuttle from Bangkok takes you to Kanchanaburi. That is where the actual Bridge over the river Kwai is located. Whether you have seen the movie or not, the sight of this bridge is impressive. It is one of the "must see" sights during your visit to Thailand. The river is beautiful and the fact that the bridge was built by prisoners of war makes the trip to the bridge worthwhile. The prisoners who built the bridge delayed it's construction long enough to save many lives. I suggest you watch the movie before your trip to Thailand, so you can fully appreciate the sight of the Bridge Over The River Kwai.

There are many "Wats" in Thailand. A wat is a Cambodian, Lao or Thai Hindu or Buddhist temple. They are considered a source for Buddhist spiritualism. Most of them are very beautiful and amazing feats of architecture built by hand out of love for Buddha. The architecture is even more amzing when you consider some of them were built many years ago by people who had very little to work with.

One such Wat is located in Ayutthaya City, the capital of Ayutthaya province in Thailand. The city was founded in 1350. The city was destroyed by Burmese troops in 1767 and the area where it was originally located is now called Ayutthaya Historical Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. The city itself was rebuilt a few kilometers away.

Another is located in Sukhothai Historical Park. According to, this park covers the ruins of Sukhothai, a 14th century kingdom. This historical sight should be part of any itinerary for traveling in Thailand. The area has walls all the way around it and has gates on each side. The remains of the royal palace and 26 temples are inside these walls. The largest temple is called Wat Mahathat. Thousands visit the area every year to see the ruins of this once great city.

Many areas mentioned in this article can be easily toured by bicycle, an often overlooked form of transportation when traveling the world. Whenever you travel to another country, sitting in a car going from sight to sight sometimes cheats you out of truly appreciating the beauty of the country you are traveling in. Check out the country and the sights by bicycle where possible and I guarantee you won't regret it.

There are many other Wats to visit in Thailand. I suggest you choose as many as your stay will allow. If you visit some of them in the evening, you can even experience the chanting of the Buddhist Monks. A couple of other Wats of interest are Wat Chedi Luang, in Chiang Mai City, which was once the home of the emerald Buddha and Wat Phra Kaew & the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Wat Phra Kaew is now called the The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Legends hold that the statue originated in India, but it first surfaced in Chiang Rai, Thailand in 1434.

One thing you have to remember if you plan to visit the Wats in Thailand is that you must wear long pants. Shorts or dresses are not permitted while entering these temples.

If you like beaches, then you must visit Phuket, 70 minutes flying time from Bangkok. The waters of the Andaman Sea are green and beautiful and the beaches are very clean. It is Thailand's most popular beach and resort destination. They have popular resort hotels, Thai and seafood restaurants, water sports, Wats, forests, coral reefs, and mountains. The tropical setting makes for a great part of any visit to Thailand.

Speaking of mountains, a visit to Mae Hong Son Mountain Wat is a special cite you may want to add to your itinerary. Mae Hong Son is located on the summit of a mountain. You can walk or take a tuktuk (like a rickshaw) up to the Wat, itself. There is also an observatory that overlooks all of Mae Hong Son and the mountains of Myanmar behind it.

We hope we have added some useful information and ideas for your trip to Thailand.

Holiday In Thailand

Thailand means "the land of the free" lies in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and one can only experience the exotic beauty of the place when you get there. The fresh air kissing your face when you walk on the beach, the mouth watering dishes and the rush and madness in the market is something you will perhaps not get to see anywhere else.

Thailand's geographical region is divided into four parts:

The mountains and forests are in the north. You can find fascinating handicrafts and multicolored orchids.

The central part where you will find paddy field, farms and all kinds of fruits. The northeast plateau is famous for its rich archaeological and anthropological heritage. You will find tropical islands in the southern peninsula. The people on this place are involved in fishing, rubber cultivation and tin mining.

The people of Thailand are very friendly and hospitable. This place is rich in monumental heritage and famous for its beaches. Thailand is an ideal holiday destination for all, from those who are looking for a romantic holiday, to shoppers to the food lovers as you get to taste varieties of sea food, down in the street to the most expensive restaurants. It offers something to every traveler.

Many travelers also come here for adventurous holiday. As this place offer all kinds of sport for all ages like scuba diving, snorkeling, wind-surfing and water-skiing .After all these activities you can simply relax by lounging on the beautiful beach sipping your favorite drink with a good company.

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand.Bankok means "city of angels", it is a small Thailand in itself. It is the centre of commercial, industrial and cultural activities. If you are looking for peace and simplicity you can visit the Buddhist temples and the amazing part is it stands by side by side with nightclubs and cafés. You can see monks walking in their red robes all over the place and one can only wonder how they can attain such peacefulness in this rush and hectic world.

Another main attraction in Thailand is Phuket known for its exotic island. The nightlife there is lively with its multicuisine restaurants and bars always filled with tourists. But of course if are looking for a quite meal you can do that by going to the right place.

Chiang Mai is another place which is a combination of modern city life and the old village charm. There are elaborate temples and cultural relics some of which are very old close to 700 years. On the top of the mountain is Doi Suthep monastery which overlooks the fertile valley embracing Chiang Mai.The local night bazaar is the favorite shopping place for tourists where you can get hand made local stuff, tribal wears and also latest modern junks for a good bargain.

You will have no problem communicating as most of the hotels, restaurants and tourist places speak English and other European languages. There are various modes of transportation. You can either hire a taxi to go around the city, or take the city bus .There is also something called Tuk-Tuk, a three wheeler. You would definitely enjoy the open air ride on this three wheeler and for longer destinations there are trains always running to all the places.

Thailand is blessed with three seasons-summers from February to May, Rainy season from June to October with plenty of sunshine and the cold season from November to January. A lot of people go for holidays in Thailand during December and January as it is the perfect season to relax and party. Thailand becomes a mini world as people from all over the world come here for holidays during this season.

Surely now you know what your next holiday destination is -God's very own creation Thailand!!!


The Kingdom of Thailand - Land of smile

by Suaprasong
The Kingdom of Thailand , the land of old culture with a beatiful nature for relaxing, traveling , and your vacation. Thailand, or Siam , or The Land of Smile which is located in Southeast Asia , the capital's name "Bangkok", the population amount 60 millions and most of people are Buddhist, has well known in beautiful traveling places. Every year there are many foreigners come and visit our country. The popular places are the beach and sea, island, waterfall , forest and mountain, and cultural places.

There are two side of the sea here ; 1. Andaman sea side and 2. Gulf of Thailand sae side

Andaman sea is full of under water world marine life such as corel, fishes, sea flower, etc. So Andaman sea is the paradise of scuba diving and snorkeling. The beach is very clean and has white sand which attract the tourist for sun bathing. Phuket Island is one of the province of Thailand which located at the Andaman sea side. This island is the most popular in Thailand. Every year many tourist come and visit Phuket expecialy the Europain and American because it has beautiful sea and beach. Around Phuket Area, there are many places which very popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. At Phuket you can choose to stay with economic hotel to 5 stars hotel because there are many hotels here. At night Phuket changes to the civilize town for tourist who want to eat and drink, lot of bars, pubs and restaurants are open for service you. That why the foreigner who love to come and visit Thailand never forget to go to Phuket also. The islands which are located in Andaman sea side such as Koh (meaning island in Thai) Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Similan, Koh Tarutao , etc. are very popular and beatiful not less than each others. Oh!! more than word to say and explain with them. Gulf of Thailand sea side is beatiful not less than Andaman sea side. The most popular island is Koh Samui wich located in Suratthani province. Europian and American likes to visit here. Near Koh Samui, there are Koh Pha-Ngan , Koh Tao, and Angtong islands which have nice sea and nature. In The East of Thailand, the popular island are Koh Chang, Koh Samed, Koh Mhak, Koh Man-Nork, Koh Man-Nai. The Asian likes to visit them. Contined to talk about the the waterfall, forest, and mountain. Kanchanaburi is the large province located in The West of Thailand. Here is full of the perfect forest. The popular waterfall here is Erawan waterfall which has 7 tires. The City is old with the history of The World War II. War Cemetery and The Bridge over The Kwai River are located here. Furthermore, the perfect and large forest in The Northeast of Thailand is Khao Yai has beatiful nature, waterfalls, you will enjoy adventure in the forest. Chiang Mai is the largest province of Thailand which has beatiful nature , forest and mountain. There are many cultural places here for cultural traveling. The tourist loves to go to Chiang Mai during Songrand Festival which call Thai New Year, in the middle of April to join with this tradition. From the above details is talk about the beach and sea, waterfall , forest and mountain in Thailand but if you are the one who love cultural traveling you should go to Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. They will attract and impress you with the old cultural places. All of Thailand information that I describe for you is just a little part of us. Come to visit and touch us by yourself, you will love us never forget Thailand.


Phuket Thailand Smiles Once Again For Visitors

by Denise Hummel
When Fred Varnier, General Manager of the Amanpuri Resort and Spa in Phuket, Thailand did his rounds at about 9 a.m., the morning of December 26, 2004, he noticed a strange, large puddle beside the pool. The weather had been dry for days and guests had yet to swim in it that morning. While he was ruminating about it, he received a call from Richie, an Australian lifeguard down at Amanpuri's private beach. "I've never seen the tide this low," he said, "You'd better come take a look." Fred's curiosity was peaked so he made his way down to the beach where 50 guests were already taking in the sun and gazing at the pristine white sands and crystal waters of the bay. What he saw alarmed him. The tide was indeed so low and so far out that local long boats were resting oddly and precariously on their keel. He didn't know where all the water had gone, but he was certain of one thing. It would have to come back.

Calmly, but swiftly, he evacuated the beach. Had he made the observation one day prior, the evacuation would have been incrementally more difficult. On Christmas day the beach was considerably more crowded as the Amanpuri had orchestrated an elaborate party, focused on the hotel's younger guests, complete with Santa Claus and elephant entertainment. Guests were told to leave everything and to immediately make their way up the stairs to the hotel, situated elegantly and safely on a cliff overlooking the sea. Moments later, a wall of water surged forward, taking out every beach lounge chair and umbrella on the beach. Minutes after that a second wall from the opposite direction took out the ocean-side gym. Fifty Amanpuri guests owe their lives to a savvy, young lifeguard and a confused, but decisive General Manager. The puddle of water Fred had seen earlier that buttressed his decision to evacuate the beach had been the result of the earthquake, too far away for people to take notice, but strong enough to have moved a significant amount of water from the pool to the surrounding walkway.

For the weeks that followed, Amanpuri sent a convoy of their hotel trucks filled with employees to Khao Lak, formerly an up and coming beach town which had been a tourist departure point for boats to the Similians. It was one of the hardest hit communities, and while the town was spared, most resorts were destroyed and many tourists and Thais were lost to the ocean's fury. Amanpuri employees, many of whom were trained in first-aid and most of whom spoke other languages, were among the first to aid the survivors in their quest to find loved-ones and to seek medical attention and shelter in the days to come.

In visiting the Amanpuri on October 5th this year, one would hardly be able to guess that it had been so close to such destruction. The gym has been rebuilt, beach chairs and umbrella's replaced, and the coral reef which abuts its beach, although probably changed in an ecological and geological sense, remains as beautiful as it was on Christmas day. The spirit of the Thai people, and indeed all employees of every nationality was clear to me, although directed to more pleasant endeavors, that being spoiling their guests who were back to frequent their favorite hotel and spa so quickly and in such numbers that the hotel was at 93 percent occupancy at the time of my visit.

I have come at a unique time, at the beginning of Ramadan and of the Chinese Buddhist Vegetarian festival. The Vegetarian Festival has attracted people in record numbers, locals and tourists alike, and the town was filled with street vendors selling local vegetarian delicacies. There is an air of festivity, although the holiday is also quite intense spiritually in that locals who practice Chinese Buddhism attend temple every day, walking kilometers in procession from one temple to another, some in a deep state of trance, preparing to engage in what can only be described as the self-flagellation and even mutilation that marks this ten-day period. Body "piercing" without anesthesia are among the rituals performed.

Back up the hill at the Amanpuri, surrounded by a coconut grove and insulated from the rest of the world, including the holiday commotion below, guests prepare for their spa treatments, so relaxed that they look like they are in a trance of their own. The usual spa body scrubs and reflexology treatments exist, but this is no "usual" spa. It was created by Zecha as a world of holistic healing with the world-renown consult of Rosamond Freeman-Attwood. Everything flows here: harmonious service, massive treatment suites with the serene backdrop of the ocean, and a black granite steam-room which is bigger than my living room in Italy. A Thai fruit-facial and a 90-minute Thai massage that is a combination of European technique and Thai gymnastics that centers the body and the soul is something to be experienced at least once in a life-time.

The Aman resorts are probably the most famous in Asia and are noted for having repeat guests, "Aman-Junkies" as they are known, who like me, a mere Aman novice, but striving junkie, like to go around telling their "in-the-know" friends and colleagues just how special these properties are. Thus my reason for telling all of you! Apart from the usual consistency of service, this particular Aman location is situated on a spectacularly beautiful peace of property with breath-taking views from almost every area of the property. Ed Tuttle, American architect and designer, has created a hotel which is a series of pavilions and villas, made of Maka wood (similar to teak) infused with such exquisite Thai design that one hardly wants to leave the property.

However, like me, you like to take in the local scenery and culture, I highly recommend a boat trip to Phang Nga bay. By Amanpuri yacht or kayak, the startling limestone formations jutting up from the sea will leave you speechless and humbled at the immense beauty of mother earth. If paddling isn't your cup of tea, let the Amanpuri staff cater to your every need as you sit back and take in the scenery.

I asked Fred Varnier what message I could give to my family, friends and colleagues in the United States. "Just tell them to come back as soon as possible," he said, "While we have been spared destruction and loss of livelihood here at the hotel, others in the area who rely so heavily on tourism to support the local economy are dependent on tourists having faith that this environmental anomaly will not revisit us in these next centuries. Let them know that we have recovered and that we are more than capable of receiving them with warm smiles and open hearts."

I did visit Khao Lak, one of the areas hardest hit by the Tsunami. Boats washed from the sea kilometers inland and still leaning precariously against buildings or beside roadways signal the absurdity of focusing on zoning set-backs from the ocean or formulating emergency drills. We must accept this historic event as a once in a lifetime seismic event and move on. As I headed back to the hotel to prepare for my flight to beautiful Chiang Mai, I asked my driver. "I have heard that Chiang Mai is quite spectacular; which do you like better Phuket or Chiang Mai." The Thai culture figured prominently into his response, "Well," he answered, "Chiang Mai has the mountains --- but we are lucky. We have the sea."

Many rebuilt hotels in the area are offering discounts that we will not see again as consumers, perhaps ever. There is no better time to come to this great land, both for our own enjoyment, and to be a part of the process of healing. As the Thais say, "Yin-dee-ton rub-krub-ma" -- simply said, "welcome back."