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ISSUE 01

The Thaimes

Spring 2013

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EDITOR'S NOTE The crackling of the fire as sparks light the darkness around you; the chitter chatter soundtrack of market stalls as you meander through their wares; the aromatic hits that delight you as you tuck into freshly cooked street food; the inner joy that warms you as you stare, bewitched, by the colours of the sand and the water on a beach that you thought could never be made so pretty. Thailand is about moments. Moments that stir emotions, leave memories and create stories that you will share and cherish for the rest of your life. It’s why my company Black Tomato is so fond of the place. It never fails to captivate, challenge and inspire. It’s these characteristics that led us to create The Thaimes – our newspaper dedicated to highlighting some of our favourite facets of this very special country. Covering a myriad of experiences we hope it gives you a moment of escape and takes you away to the warm shores and rich colours of this wonderful place. As well as inspiring, it will be fresh. Simply roll your mobile device over the QR code on each page and be taken to a site where you will get the latest updates on what is happening in the area you are reading about. Inspire in print and update online. We like a combination. It’s what Thailand is as well. A wonderful combination of sensory experiences. Some places are just made special. Step forward Thailand. Tom Marchant, Co-Founder, The Black Tomato Travel Group.

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The Thaimes contents

5 THE PULSE OF THAILAND 9 CLASSIFIED KOHS 11 FESTIVITIES 13 DIG IN 15 PIPING HOT 17 RAYAVADEE 19 FLOAT ON 21 THE RIGHT DIRECTION 23 BEST KEPT SECRETS 25 INTO THE DEEP 27 A TRIBE CALLED QUEST 29 NOT TO BE MISSED 31 PAMPER PITSTOP 33 THERE AND BACK

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‘Bangkok is the perfect starting point for every Thai adventure’

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THE PULSE OF THAILAND South East Asia’s city that never sleeps, Bangkok is a thriving metropolis brimming with culture and gourmet gems Awash with exuberance, Bangkok offers a slice of energy and enigmatic chaos to the rest of Thailand’s gloriously hedonistic charm. With the continuous hum of traffic and people chattering streets comes an unrivalled street food culture, breathtaking monuments, hustling markets, a growing contemporary modern art culture and a diverse shopping scene. As most Thailand bound flights land into this vivacious metropolis, Bangkok is the perfect starting point for every Thai adventure. Sitting on the Chao Phraya River, this gateway to Thailand could rival New York as the city that never sleeps. Be it Wat Pho’s reclining Buddha and off-the-beaten-track art galleries to fine dining and street food markets, designer boutiques and flea markets via an impressively photo worthy Pak Khlong Talad Flower Market, be prepared for an extensive to do list. Post wat-hopping, street food indulging and retail therapy, only a suitably luxurious hotel will do to lay your weary head and rest your painful feet. Cue The Peninsula. Perched on the side of the Chao Prya river, The Peninsula climbs high into the skyline giving the most tremendous panoramic views over the city and, what’s more, each and every room is guaranteed a river view. The décor is traditional Thai paired with all the mod cons you could wish for - not to mention the exceptional in-house spa by ESPA and great cooking classes - you could wish for no more from a Bangkok hotel.

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CLASSIFIED KOHS Escape the crowds and find your slice of pristine coastal paradise Littered with jaw droppingly beautiful shores from tip to tail, Thailand’ s islands (known as Kohs) isn’t short of a beach retreat. However, in the name of hiding away from the tourist packs, head offshore to one of these less trodden, secret islands. We don’t want to just be part of the crowd now, do we?

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1. Koh Mun Nork

2. Koh Kood island

3. Ko Lipe island

As close to a desert island as you’re likely to find, Koh Mun Nork is idyllic and unspoilt by tourists. Simply kick back in a hammock, chow down on freshly caught seafood and enjoy a slice of crowd-free paradise.

Perched off the east coast of Thailand and a stone’s throw from Cambodia, Ko Kood (or Ko Kut) has, until now, been inaccessible to tourists. Not only has it maintained its original pristine beauty, but has been likened to the beaches in the Maldives. That’s all we’re saying…

Afloat in the Andaman Sea, off the southwest coast of Thailand, Ko Lipe is but one of more than 51 islands in the Ko Tarutao National Park. Lined with vibrant green jungle, speckled with coved beaches and lapped by azure waters, this teeny tiny speck of an island is as perfect as it sounds.

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Festivities A calendar brimming with annual festivals, here’s our pick of what not to miss It’s little secret that the Thai’s love a good old-fashioned party. Long been renowned for throwing decadent, colourful, varied and, in some cases, plain wacky festivals, locals and tourists flock far and wide to take part in the various celebrations. A defining experience of local culture, no Thailand trip should be without a taste of an infamous Thai festival. HERE’S A LIST OF OUR FAVOURITES:

BLACK TOMATO 'S TOP 5

1. Songkran (New Year festival)

2. Loi Krathong (Lantern Festival)

3. Phi Ta Khon (Ghost festival)

4. Tesagan Gin Je (Vegetarian Festival)

5. Bun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)

When 13th – 15th April Where Across Thailand

When Full moon in November Where Across Thailand

When June Where Dan Sai district, Loei province, 500 km north of Bangkok

When October Where Phuket

When May Where Yasothon province, Isaan

Lasting three days Songkran (Thai New Year) draws Thai’s and tourists alike for what’s basically one big street water fight.

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A feast for the eyes, Loi Krathong sees millions of candle lanterns released into the night sky to give thanks to the water goddess, Phra Mae Khon.

Quite possibly the most raucous of all the Thai festivals, revelers dress up as ghosts clad in sheets and don masks carved from coconut trees.

Not for the faint hearted this ceremony is laden with religion. Expect ritualized mutilation where participants impale themselves with knives, swords and razor blades. Yes, really.

The start of the rainy season in a country where 70% of the income is from agriculture clearly comes with a festival of a worthy size. Bamboo rockets are launched into the sky in the hope it will spur the god of rain to bring many a shower. blacktomato.com


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DIG IN Eating isn’t just a necessity in Thailand: it is way of life and a passion.

Whoever came up with the saying, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, must have been to Thailand. A land where people greet one another with ‘Gin khoa reu yang?” – translating literally to “Did you eat rice yet?” - it’s evident we are talking about a nation of food lovers. And, with Som Tam and Tom kha kai on the menu, who can blame them.

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Although we may think of Thai food as but one cuisine, we couldn’t be more wrong. Varying hugely from the east to the west and the north to the south, each region comes armed with its own cuisine. Hugely influenced by the closest neighboring country – Burma to the northwest, China and Laos to the north, Malaysia to the East and Thailand to the South, it’s

really best to sample them all. When in Thailand, and all that. Travelling is all about seeing the soul of the country – what makes it tick, what makes it unique and what makes it special. As food is the heartbeat of this fine country, there’s few better ways of getting under the skin of Thailand than to learn how to cook their delicious fare.

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Thai cooking Schools

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Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School

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Bai Pai Cookery School

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Silom Cooking School

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Baan Thai Cookery School

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PUM THAI COOKING SCHOOL

BLACK TOMAT O'S TOP 5


Piping Hot From street food and home cooking to molecular cuisine and Michelin stars, Thailand has a plethora of restaurants that will tickle every gourmand lover’s palette. Here’s five you just shouldn’t miss.

STREET FOOD The Maeklong Railway Market, Samut Songkram Thailand is awash with wonderful food markets selling delicious and local delicacies. The Maeklong Railway Market not only offers up wonderful fare but interestingly, finds home on an active railway line. With trains passing through eight times a day, watching the excitement as vendors collapse their stalls in 30 seconds flat is alone worth the visit alone.

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FOOD ON THE SCENE

BEACH-SIDE FOOD

Zense, Bangkok

Floating Kruvit Raft, Koh Maphrao

Perched high upon a downtown building, there are few better views in Bangkok to soak up the essence of this hustly bustly city than at Zense. As well four kitchens serving up diverse cuisines including Thai, Japanese, Italian and Indian, Zense also plays host to one of Bangkok’s most glamorous bars.

For a truly unique and off the beaten track beach side eating experience, Kruvit Raft - a floating restaurant off Coconut Island (Koh Maphrao) off the east coat of Phuket - will deliver some of the freshest and best seafood in the country. Accessible only by long-tail boat from Laem Hin, Kruvit Raft is truly a local secret. For now.

INNOVATive FOOD Sra Bua at Siam Kempinski, Bangkok While molecular food is still on the rise in Thailand, Danish chef, Henrik Yde-Andersen’s has brought some of his Michelin starred magic from his Thai restaurant, Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen. Sra Bua at the Kempinski Hotel serves up Frozen Red Curry with Baby Lobster Salad and Litchi Foam, it’s Thai food with a deliciously unique difference.

authentic food Huen Phen, Chiang Mai Renowned as being a must visit for seriously delicious and authentic Northern Thai food, Huen Phen is simple in appearance. Lunch is served out of an open street side kitchen, dinner in an antique clad house at the back. Appearances aside, chef Khun Garab serves up local favourites like nam phrik ong, (ground pork and chili dip served with raw vegetables and pork crackling).

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To see what specifically to order and for more info on each of these Thai gems, scan this


RAYAVADEE Tucked away on Thailand’s southern peninsula you’ll find Rayavadee, an idyllic and exclusive hideaway bursting with Thai charm. Exotic and exclusive in location, Rayavadee is accessible only by speedboat from Krabi Pier on the southern tip of Thailand. Hugging the Andaman coastline, the truly luxurious Rayavadee boasts not just perfectly turquoise water and a brilliant green tropical backdrop, but picturesque sheer limestone cliffs. Location (as amazing as it is) aside, it’s impossible to dream up somewhere more perfect for pure, indulgent, escapism. Here are two of our highlights.

The Food: With the obsessed foodie in mind, Rayavadee delivers on every level. Be sure not to miss The Grotto. Housed in one of the limestone cliffs on Phranang Beach, take in the sunset whilst sipping a cocktail and wondering how you shall ever drag yourself away. The Spa: No trip to Thailand is complete without some spa indulgence. Rayavadee’s spa menu offers more types massages of than there are hours in the day. We defy you to not return feeling all shiny and new.

FACTBOX WHEN TO GO : NOVEMBER TO APRIL IDEAL LENGTH : 9 NIGHTS PRICE : FROM £3,099 PP FROM THE UK FLIGHT TIME : 11HRS 50MINS FROM LONDON

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To experience the idyllic hideaway of Rayavadee scan the qr code for more information


FLOAT ON Quintessentially Thai, navigating the waterways are the ultimate way to absorb yourself in Thailand’s local food scene. Utilising canals and rivers to easily access towns, villages and cities, floating markets came into existence for pure practicality purposes. Nowadays, however, they attract people from far and wide for a slice of Thai hustle and the most beautiful photo opportunities. Not to mention some pad thai cooked on a little boat.

BLACK TOMATO'S TOP 3

1. Amphawa, Samut Songkhram Province

2. tha Kha, Samut Songkhram province

3. Damnoen Saduk in Ratchaburi

A favourite amongst the locals, Amphawa brings more authenticity with it than its more touristy counterparts. Laden with noodles, phat thai, traditional coffee and Thai desserts, call boats over and get the freshest food whipped up without the hassle of touristy crowds. The grilled squid is not to be missed.

Another more off the beaten track market, Tha Kha is how Damnoen Saduk (see number 3) was but 20 years ago. Operating as a traditional market, the main days of opening coincide with the waxing and waning moon on the 2nd, 7th and 12th. Be sure to get to Tha Kha early, its rural traditions bring a start early and finish early mantra.

The most popular and well-known of the floating markets, Damnoen Saduk is only an hour and a half from Bangkok. Perhaps not the best market to go to if escaping the other tourists is the name of your game, but it comes packed with photo opportunities and boats packed high with colourful produce.

Best times to visit the markets: (rule of thumb is generally the earlier the better) Amphawa : 4 – 5pm because the afternoon heat eases off a little but it’s still early as it’s an evening market.

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tha Kha: 7am to beat the tourists

Damnoen Saduk: 7 – 8am before the crowds

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THE RIGHT DIRECTION Cover the right tracks and explore Thailand from top to bottom and from east to west on our best loved experiences

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North to South

East to West

This amazing holiday will take you the length of Thailand where you’ll find yourself hunting the markets of Bangkok for the best bargains, travelling north to ride elephants in the hills of Chiang Mai and coming down south to rest on the white sands of Phang Nga. Once you’ve landed in Bangkok, it’s straight to your hotel, the stunning riverside Peninsula. Soak in the sights, sounds and smells that make up Bangkok in all its vibrancy as your guide takes you through the streets and shops, cutting past the traffic by chartering a canal boat to the Grand Palace and Erewan Shrine or riding a tuk-tuk through the Khlong communities of Bangkok Noi.

Pioneer your way off the beaten track in this incredible journey, seeing untouched Thailand and all the treasures it carries. Switch the bustle of Bangkok for the north-eastern city of Udon Thani with a short flight and then prepare to give the crowds the slip as you cross the mystical Phu Lua mountain range to reach your hillside teakwood sanctuary at Phu Pha Nam, your base for the next two nights. From here you can explore Phu Luang Wildlife Reserve, home to more than a hundred elephants, rare flora and fauna and a mind-blowing 120 million-year-old dinosaur footprint.

We’ll take you out on a night stroll across Bangkok, visiting the night markets and snacking on delicacies. The next morning you’re off to the floating market of Tha Kha to try your hand at haggling for some bargains and to sample some more Thai food, then board a traditional long tail boat to cruise through the palm plantations and visit Talad Rom Hoob, the train station doubling as a market.

“there’s more than enough to keep you enthralled” Landing in Chiang Rai, head to your beautiful bolthole – Le Méridien Resort. Immerse yourself in the local culture and head over to Doi Mae Salong and the Golden Triangle for a gentle hike through the sloping tea plantations and hill tribe villages. Drive through the hills back down south for an afternoon tour of Chiang Mai: from the Doi Suthep and Wat Chedi Luang temples to the night bazaar, there’s more than enough to keep you enthralled. Take on the role of elephant trainer for the day as you learn how to feed, command, and best of all, ride your very own elephant. Amble along, 12 feet off the ground, through forest paths and up hillsides as you make your way towards the nearby waterfall for a spot of bathing with the elephants. After all the temples, markets, boat rides and elephants, we reckon you’ll have deserved some time off. Luckily, the Sarojin Resort in Phang Nga is designed to perfectly accommodate all your needs. Think infinity pools, long stretches of beach, even jungle dining besides the resort waterfall… If you’re still feeling adventurous, spend your last few days in Thailand exploring the nearby National Park of Khao Lak, or take a dip in the waters of the Surin Islands, one of the world’s top ten dive sites.

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Next, let the Mekong River guide you through sleepy villages and farming communities for a glimpse of unspoilt rural Thailand, stopping off to rest at the enchanting Mekong Villas, with unrivalled views of the idyllic still water and over the border to Laos. Continue your riverside trail to your next destination - the charming town of Nong Khai, rich in culture and influences from next-door Laos. Here you can drop by the fantastic Buddhist and Hindu-inspired concrete sculptures at Sala Kaew Ku and meet the friendly locals before resting up in the beautiful grounds of Nong Khai Resort.

“unrivalled views of the idyllic still water” Achieve enlightenment in one of the region’s wonders at Wat Phu Tok, a remarkable Buddhist temple atop scarlet sandstone cliffs and home to over fifty monks and stunning views. As your week winds to a close, traverse the beautiful rice plains and peaceful Ubonrat Dam to finish your trip with a bang in the glitter of Kohn Kaen. Dine in first-rate restaurants and sip in downtown bars before dozing off in the plush Pullman Raja Orchid - the perfect metropolitan ending to your unforgettable week in the Thailand where few have gone before you.

To experience the best of Thailand for yourself scan here for more information


Best Kept Secrets Some secrets you just have to share The intrepid travellers amongst us are always searching out the little secrets of the less discovered places in the world. Finding these little gems makes for the most incredible memories, experiences and, on inevitably, stories. Although we appreciate the irony, here we share our Thailand secrets – they won’t be kept a secret for long, so be sure to get there soon.

Go by Motorbike Renting a motorbike is, without fail one of the best ways to see a country. Littered with mountains, rivers, forests, beaches and jungle (not to mention secret back roads covered in black tarmac), there’s few better places in the world than Thailand to jump on a bike and set off on an intrepid adventure. Starting at Udon Thani and heading along the Mekong River to Khon Kaen, the only thing between you and the clear road may be the odd chicken, water buffalo and parades.

Go North Those looking for ‘real’ Thailand, head to Issan. The Northeast area of Thailand is the least touristy area, and, with that, comes a certain charm lost in more developed areas. The locals rarely speak English, roads aren’t as well paved and it’s more underdeveloped than not, but you shall be immersed into the beauty of paddy fields and small towns with smiling, friendly and curious locals. Issan is for those who enjoy life off the beaten track.

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Sleep in a tree in Bangkok A beautiful eco-friendly hotel, The Bangkok Tree House is not accessible by car. And, while the name may be misleading (the rooms aren’t actually in trees) to find a hotel in the hectic city that is Bangkok that’s rural, calm and peaceful is quite a rare find and, undoubtedly a little secret. After a mile long cycle or walk to get there, your room greets you with views of the rural neighbours morphing into the iconic Bangkok skyline. But, with silence.

A tourist free temple in a cave Anywhere that tour buses don’t go is sure to be somewhere on the ‘can’t miss’ list. Khao Luang Cave in Phetchaburi is at the gateway to the sublime Phra Nakhol Khiri National Park. 90 feet underground is the most beautiful temple littered with nearly 200 Buddhas that catch the light from the cave chamber giving it an ethereal glow that can’t be recreated. It’s other worldly beautiful.

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INto THE

DEEP

Beneath the sparkling waves, Thailand boasts an underwater paradise teaming with tropical fish, fantastic shipwrecks and multicoloured corals just waiting to be explored. We’ve picked 5 of the best diving spots- all you have to do is dive in.

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BLACK 'S TOMATO 1. Richelieu Rock 5 P O T Surin Islands Home of the big boys, expect to run into whale sharks, rays, a manner of large sharks and barracuda. 2. Shark Fin Reef Similan Islands Does as it says on the tin: leopard and reef sharks a plenty. The highlight: a humphead parrotfish weighing in at a huge 100kg. 3. Hin Pusar (Elephant Head Rock) Similan Islands With plenty of tunnels, caverns and gullies to explore, there’s no shortage of beautifully coloured fish hiding in the dark cracks as well as the odd black and white reed shark. 4. Hin Daeng (Red Rock) Situated way out into the Andaman, best to get here by liveaboard from Koh Lanta. It shall be worth the effort when eyes are clapped on whale sharks and manta rays. BANGKOK

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5. Hin Mouang (Purple Rock) Again, another one of our secret gems, Hin Mouang is also quite a distance out into the Andaman, but not far from Hin Daeng. Expect the same, but with grey reef sharks thrown in to boot.

Scan here to experience the best of Thailand’s dive sites for yourself


hilltribes

A Tribe called Quest

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Thailand’s Hilltribes are colourful in every way and some of the most beautiful and fascinating tribes in the world. A way of life that hasn’t evolved over the centuries, tribal rituals never fail to fascinate. From primitive hunting and gathering ethos’, beautiful and brightly coloured dress to sometimes unusual practices, it’s no wonder we search out to learn more about the intriguing ways of tribal living. In Thailand there are seven main tribes, know as the Hilltribes. While each tribe’s origins is drizzled with myth and legend, they can, in fact, be traced back to Southern Sino Tibet. Mostly farmers by trade, these semi-nomadic peoples were driven to move from Tibet by their need for new farm land. It’s during this nomadic

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search that the Hilltirbes stumbled upon the northern board of Thailand, Payap and set up home. These gentle tribesmen and women can still be found today on the lush hillsides of Payap. However, gone are the days where there are hard boundaries between the seven tribes - albeit they all preserve their distinct culture, religion, language art and style of dress. Welcoming of tourists and visitors, the tribes are wonderful to visit, but with western culture infiltrating as well as the proximity in which they live to local Thai communities, it’s thought we may be the last generation to be privy to such fascinating culture.

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Explore Thailand’s northern provinces and Hill Tribes for more, scan here for more information


NAME: World Thai Martial Arts Festival & Wai Khru Muay Thai ceremony WHERE: Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province WHEN: 17 March WHAT: A celebration and showcase of Muay Thai and tribute to other martial arts.

NAME: Phuket Raceweek WHERE: Phuket WHEN: 17-21 July WHAT: A prestigious regatta by day and a beachside party by night, yacht racers from all over Asia flock to Phuket’s raceweek.

NOT TO BE MISSED Get under the skin of Thailand with our checklist of not to be missed festivals and events

NAME:Pattaya International Music Festival WHERE: Chon Buri Beach Road, Pattaya, Chon WHEN: 22 – 24 March (postponed by a week) WHAT: One of Asia’s biggest international music beach festivals, it attracts about 400,000 young people from all over Thailand for a weekend of pop partying on the sand.

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NAME: Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival WHERE: Ubon Ratchathani, Ubon Ratchathani Province. WHEN: 22 – 23 July WHAT: Marking the beginning of the rainy season for the Buddhist monks, sculptors make elaborate wax sculptures for parade.

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NAME: Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series WHERE: TBA, Krabi Province WHEN: 26 October. WHAT: Ideal for adrenaline junkies, this is the final stop of World Series for cliff diving.

NAME: Thai Beer Festival WHERE: Bangkok WHEN: November/December TBC WHAT: Hog roasting and beer drinking on the streets of the capital, try some local brew and chow down on delicious street food.

NAME: Surin Elephant Roundup & Elephant Show WHERE: Surin Elephant Performance Ground and Si Narong Stadium, Surin WHEN: November WHAT: An elephant parade through the streets followed by the famous “Elephant Breakfast” where locals lay on fruit and vegetables for the elephants.

NAME: Buffalo Racing Festival WHERE: Chonburi, Chonburi Province WHEN: October (TBC) WHAT: Locals competitively race buffalo through the town of Chonburi. For those non-buffalo racers, there’s a fair, folk concerts and street food.

NAME: World Film Festival of Bangkok WHERE: Bangkok WHEN: 15 – 24 November WHAT: 11th annual International film festival showcasing independent films, including English-speaking films

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NAME: Monkey Buffet Festival WHERE: Pra Prang Sam Yot temple, Lopburi Province WHEN: 24 November WHAT: Locals lay out tonnes of food for Macaque monkeys and they come a running in the thousands. Ideal for animal lovers.


Pamper Pitstop Be it a detox or an indulgent dose of pampering, explore Thailand’s heavenly spa’s with a look at our favourites.

BLACK TOMAT O'S TOP 5

Synonymous with spa indulgence, Thailand hosts some of the most exquisite hotels that, in turn, come armed with holistic spa’s. Farewell stress. Four Seasons Island of Koh Samui Signature treatment The three-hour Full Moon Ritual. The waxing phase of the moon brings with it the most ideal time to calm body and mind. This scrub, chakra crystal massage and facial will leave you floating. Go for : Balance of mind, body and soul.

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Chiva-Som Hua Hin Signature treatment A three to fifteen night bespoke retreat. Entirely tailored to you, expect to be primped and pampered (and pushed) to the extreme and to feel brand new at the end. GO FOR : Weight loss and to quit smoking

Sarojin Phuket Signature Treatment The Faa Fairt Massage. Fusing together Thai, Swedish, Balinese, Shiatdu and Hawaiian massage techniques, this massage takes two therapists and is second to none. go for : Reinvigoration and healing.

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Six Senses Yao Noi Phuket Signature Treatment The Sensory Journey. A journey of five senses, this treatment goes head to toe with a scalp massage, facial, non-traditional body massage, skin renewing treatments, a foot bath and foot mask. Go for : Natural, calming treatments.

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Shangri-la Bangkok Signature Treatment Ying Yang Harmonizing Massage. The ideal for jetlag, Ying Yang Massage will balance your CHI flow, release tension and restore a sense of peace. Go for : An urban retreat.


THERE and KC AB The essential facts to get you to Thailand

Best time of year to go: To get the best of the weather, i.e no torrential rain or unbearable temperatures, it’s best to visit between November and March, the months immediately post-monsoon (July to October) sees the country at its most beautiful and lush. The monsoon season itself is best avoided as some islands shut up shop and the boats run on a limited service. For the heat lovers, the shoulder season – the time between the high and monsoon seasons, namely April to June and September and October – may be the time for you. Hot and dry with quiet beaches, you’ll avoid the crowds and high season prices. Flights from London: Flight time is 11 hours and 50 minutes from London to Bangkok. Time difference: Thailand operates on GMT +7 and does not have daylight saving hours. Visa / entry requirements: British passport holders can stay in Thailand for 30 days without obtaining a visa beforehand when arriving by air or 15 days at land borders. If you plan to stay longer, then you’ll need to get an extension of stay or a valid visa. Make sure your passport is valid more than 6 months from your date of entry into Thailand and also that you have enough free pages in your passport – countries in Southeast Asia usually require up to one and a half pages. Fun facts: • Bangkok was named the hottest city in the world with an annual mean air temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. • Bangkok was once christened the Venice of the East because its buildings stood on stilts above the Chao Phraya River. • Thailand was called Siam until 1939 when it was renamed and now means Land of the Free. • Thailand has some of the most Guinness world records per person in the world and is home to the world’s largest Gold Buddha and the world’s smallest mammal, the bumble bat.

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Getting around: Plane: Air travel in Thailand is ideal if you’re tight on time. Most routes operate from Bangkok to smaller towns but Phuket, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui also fly to some smaller towns. Bus: Buses are reliable in Thailand, and a great way to see the countryside and meet locals. The most dependable are the BKS buses and tickets can be bought in advance at any BKS terminal. Train: With an extensive rail network catching a train in Thailand is a great option for long distance trips like Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Tickets can be purchased at any train station Boat: Long tail boats are popular for navigating Thai rivers or seeing the floating markets. Ferries and speedboats connect the mainland with the islands; we recommend booking during high season, especially around Full Moon party time. Tuk tuk: The iconic Thai mode of transport is the three-wheeled tuk tuk and no trip to Thailand is complete without hitching a ride in one. Agree the price and destination with the driver before you get in. Useful phrases:

If you want to be polite use khráp (for men) or khâ (for women)

Hello How are you? Fine, and you? What is your name? My name is… Yes/No Goodbye I’m sorry Thank you How much is this

sa-wat-dii (informal) sabaai-dii rue? sabaai-di láe khun lá khun chue aria? phom/dì-chan cheu… chai/mai chai laa kon kho thot khop khun nîi thâo rài?

Do: • Wear long trousers, cover shoulders and take off your shoes when visiting temples • Rise for the national anthem, played daily at 8am and 6pm. Respect for the king is extremely important in Thailand • Take a leaf from the locals’ book and smile a lot! • Eat with a spoon – use your fork to push food onto the spoon. • Avoid public displays of affection Don’t: • Touch people on the head as it’s considered sacred in Thai culture. • Try not to point your feet at others, especially when in a temple – sit with your feet crossed in front of you or tucked under you if possible. • Tie your shoes to the outside of your backpack or luggage in case they brush against somebody. • Raise your voice or lose your temper.

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