Thailand – In celebration of a rich heritage

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A province of temples, old teak houses and stunning wood-carvings, Lampang basks in the slow life

Unlike neighbouring Chiang Mai, Lampang province has little in the way of fancy resorts or stylish restaurants to entice sybarites and well-heeled visitors. Small as it is peaceful, this northern province is a haven for culture buffs and disciples of the slow life. Rich in cultural heritage and proud of its glory days, Lampang is a destination that cries out to be discovered.

“Lampang has a reputation as a quiet northern town,” says my local guide as we make our way to Baan Sao Nak. “In fact, Lampang is very rich. The province earned a fortune from the teak and tobacco industries in bygone days. But the rich mostly left to live in big cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Stroll or cycle through the city and you’ll be amazed by the heritage buildings, the old wooden houses and temples.”

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In fact, Lampang was first to enjoy much of the progress that came from Bangkok, the capital, to Thailand’s North. The railway, for example, arrived at Lampang in 1915 and the service to the North ended here for almost 10 years before extending to Chiang Mai through the Khun Tan Tunnel. The Bank of Thailand also opened a branch here to attract business in the North. The Public Relations Department built a television broadcasting station in Lampang, making the province a gateway of information.

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The province also boasted a thriving tobacco business and was for decades the centre of the teak industry – as evidenced by the lumbering elephants at its Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.

Baan Sao Nak, the “house of many pillars”, offers a picture of the wealth of Lampang’s teak barons. Built in 1895 by rich and respected Burmese log trader, Maung Chan Ong, the traditional wood house boasts 116 square teak pillars. It served as the family home for decades before being turned into a local museum. The entire house is furnished with mildly interesting Burmese and Thai antiques and pays testament to the lavish life of Lampang. 

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“When the British were commissioned to export the teak from Thailand in the 19th century, they brought the Burmese along to look after their business,” says the guide. “Some of the Burmese were master loggers, and earned a fortune. They married local women, built lavish mansions like Baan Sao Nak, contributed to Buddhism and made merit.”

Two kilometres south of Baan Sao Nak is Wat Srichum, the largest Burmese-style temple in Thailand. Home to a pagoda and chapel hall, the temple was built by a rich Burmese teak trader towards the end of the 19th century. Legend has it that U Maung Gyi, or the “big boss” as the Burmese tycoon was known, brought the finest carpenters from Mandalay in Central Myanmar to build the main viharn (ordination hall). Teak carvings and decorations of delicately and exquisitely engraved woodwork reflect the craftsmanship of these masters.

“The walls, ceiling and wooden pillars are traditionally lacquered and covered with gold leaves,” says the local guide, directing my attention to the interior walls.

Surrounded by a wall and accessed through a large, elaborately decorated entrance gate topped with a Burmese Pyatthat roof, Wat Sri Chum has been declared a national treasure by the Thai Fine Arts Department.

One of the finest temples in Lampang is Wat Lai Hin, 40 kilometres west of Wat Srichum. Small yet graceful, the temple is a diamond in the province’s crown. The arched entrance, with elegant plasterwork depicting small angels and guardians, was the prototype for the entrance of Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang – the city’s most sacred pagoda.

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“This small viharn with its multi-tiered roofs makes a bold statement about Lampang architecture,” says the local guide. “Many experts regard it as finer than Chiang Mai architecture.” A tall pillar with a swan on top in front of the viharn pays testament to the Burmese influence. 

From Wat Lai Hin, we head to Wat Pongsanuk on the bank of Wang River. Built in 1886 by the Shan-speaking community in Lampang, the temple won Unesco’s Award of Merit 2008 for restoration. Although it lost much of its character during the renovation, the small, open-sided building stands on a mound is one of the few remaining local examples of original Lanna-style temple architecture. To get an idea of what it was like previously, look at the carved wooden gateway at the entrance to the north stairway.

For the history buff, a trip to Lampang is not complete without a visit to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. Perched on the expansive mound, the visitor has quite a climb up the Naga stairway to reach the main entrance – which is inspired by the arched gateway of Wat Lai Hin. It’s worth checking out for fine plaster designs. 

The main viharn houses a bronze Buddha statue called the Phra Chao Lan Thong. At the end of the viharn is a golden pagoda in Lanna architectural style containing a Holy Relic of Lord Buddha.

“Wat Phra That Lampang Luang draws visitors for the golden pagoda,” says the guide. “But the temple also has beautiful murals on wooden walls and these are said to be the oldest in the North.”

The murals tell the tales of Jataka through paintings of serpents, elephants and Lord Buddha as well as the stories of Ramayana and some Lanna folktales. 

Despite its size and provincial mien, Lampang in many ways maintains a slow Lanna pace. Unlike the big city like Chiang Mai, it charms visitors with its old-fashioned Lanna culture. Whether you choose to move around in a horse-drawn carriage, Lampang’s signature mode of transportation, cycle or walk, you’ll be delighted with the sense of discovery.

Source: TheNation

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The Sevenseas (4 Star) Resort, Koh Kradan, Trang Thailand

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The Sevenseas Resort located on the tranquil island of Koh Kradan, The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan offers luxurious beachfront accommodation. Free WiFi is available in public areas. Guests can enjoy relaxing treatments at a spa.

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The Seven Seas Resort is an 80-minute long tail boat ride from Pak Meng Pier located at Trang on the mainland. The Pier is about 1-hour drive from #Trang Airport.

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Rooms at The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan contain contemporary designs that balance between modern comforts and exotic island luxury. Each air-conditioned room features finely polished floors, dark wood furnishings, open-air bathroom and rain shower.

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Guests can enjoy a cocktail by the resort’s swimming pool while relaxing on a lounger on the wooden deck. 

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Enjoy a soothing massage and rejuvenating body scrub at The Seven Seas Spa, which features open air treatment rooms amid the resort’s gardens.

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The open-air Barnacles Bar is the perfect place to relax during the day or night time for coffee, juice or a cocktail. 

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The Seven Seas Restaurant serves traditional Thai, seafood and innovative international cuisines all day where guests can dine either by the pool or on the beach.

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Peace (4 Star) Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand

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Situated on Bo Phut Beach, Peace Resort offers 2 outdoor pools and an outdoor restaurant. Its spacious bungalows feature a private terrace with sea or garden views. Free WiFi is available in all areas.

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Equipped with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV with a DVD player, bungalows at Peace also come with a tea/coffee maker and a minibar. Private bathrooms feature a spacious layout and include a hairdryer.

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The Sea Wrap Restaurant serves French and Thai dishes, with the option of dining outdoors right on the beach. Guests may also enjoy a refreshing drink at the pool bar. Room service is provided.

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Guests can take a dip in the spa pool or have a quiet read in the resort’s library. Day trips can be arranged at the tour desk, which also assists with car rentals.

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Located opposite the resort is Peace Tropical Spa, which offers massage treatments. Peace Resort is 1.5 km from Fisherman’s Village and 6 km from Samui International Airport.

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This is our guests’ favourite part of Bophut , according to independent reviews.

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This property is also rated for the best value in Bophut ! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.

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Sirilanna (4 Star) Hotel, Chiang Mai Thailand

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Sirilanna Hotel boasts classy traditional Northern Thai decor, just 300 m from Chedi Luang Temple and one km from Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Air-conditioned rooms come with free Wi-Fi and a private spa bath.

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Hotel Sirilanna is just 3 km from Chiang Mai International Airport. Local attractions like Thapae Gate and Sunday Walking Street are within a 10-minute stroll from the hotel.

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Fitted with wooden furnishings, the spacious rooms at Sirilanna come with flat-screen cable TVs and DVD players. Each also has a well-stocked minibar and tea/coffee making facilities.

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Sirilanna Hotel features a large outdoor pool with sun loungers, perfect for guests to enjoy the sun. They can also enjoy a quiet evening at the hotel library.

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Guests can try a variety of local dishes at Sirilanna Restaurant or enjoy drinks at the bar. Room service is available on request.

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This is our guests’ favourite part of Chiang Mai, according to independent reviews.

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This property is also rated for the best value in Chiang Mai! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.

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Mamaison Hotel, Buriram

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Mamaison Hotel is a 10-minute drive from I-Moblie Football Stadium. It offers modern air-conditioned rooms with a balcony and free Wi-Fi. The hotel features a 24-hour front desk, pool and massage service.

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The hotel is a 45-minute drive to Buriram Airport. It is a 50-minute drive to Prasat Muang Tum and Prasat Phanom Rung.

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Rooms are furnished with contemporary décor. They are fitted with a flat-screen cable TV, minibar and electric kettle. Shower facilities are included in an en suite bathroom. Some rooms have a spa bath.

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For guests’ convenience, the hotel has meeting rooms, luggage storage and shuttle service. Free public parking is possible on site.

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Thai and fusion dishes are served at the restaurant. Room service can be arranged upon request.

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Pullman Phuket Arcadia, Naithon Beach

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Perched on the headland overlooking the Andaman Sea with direct access to Naithon Beach, Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach offers guests a tranquil and relaxing getaway. Featuring a spa centre, this luxurious resort boasts 2 outdoor pools, a children’s pool and a a gym. Guests can head to any of the 3 bars, bakery or 2 restaurants on-site.

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The property is a 10-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, a 12-minute drive from Splash Jungle and a 15-minute drive from Blue Canyon Golf Course and Laguna Golf Course. It is a 30-minute drive from Big Buddha and Royal Phuket Marina. Central Festival Department Store and Patong Beach are a 40-minute drive away, while Phuket Aquarium is a 45-minute drive away.

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Soundproof rooms at Pullman Phuket Arcadia are stylishly furnished with contemporary décor. Each one comes equipped with a balcony, a flat-screen cable/satellite TV and an iPod docking station. It has a seating area, a coffee machine and a minibar. Free toiletries are included in an en suite bathroom with a separate bathtub and rain shower.

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Staff at the 24-hour front desk can assist guests with currency exchange, luggage storage and laundry. The hotel also has meeting facilities, a library and a business centre. Other services include a shuttle service and a tour desk.

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Guests can enjoy a variety of international dishes at the restaurant. In-room dining option is available upon request.

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Kirimaya Golf Resort, Pakchong Nakornratcharima

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Leave the stress of the city behind for a peaceful retreat, as you head to Kirimaya, which offers luxurious accommodation and an exclusive golf course.

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A 2 hour drive away from Bangkok, the Kirimaya is surrounded by lush green hills and grasslands. Close to Khao Yai National Park, the area is known for its wild animals, scenic nature trails and majestic waterfalls. A shuttle to the local village is also offered.

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Rooms at the Kirimaya are furnished in a charming blend of Thai and contemporary styles. They feature hardwood flooring and a private balcony with a bamboo daybed. Amenities and services include a DVD player and wireless high-speed internet access, as well as room service.

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Lounge by the swimming pool with a good book or pamper yourself with a massage and body treatment at Maya Spa.

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If you’re looking to maintain your regular work-out, head to the fitness centre, while avid golfers will be pleased with the 18-hole championship golf course. Other activities the friendly staff can arrange include elephant trekking and visiting a local winery.

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After a long day enjoy a meal at Kirimaya’s 3 on-site restaurants offering Thai and international dishes, as well as fresh Japanese cuisine.

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Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai

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This 98-room Hotel has spacious, Lanna-styled pavilions that overlook terraced rice fields and the mountains of the beautiful Mae Rim Valley. The Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is situated close to Chiang Mai, with antique shops and art galleries just a short walk from the resort. The 5-star resort has an infinity edge pool that overlooks the property’s rice paddies. Guests can enjoy themselves with many recreational activities like taking a Thai cooking class or pamper themselves at the world-renowned spa. The on-site restaurant, Sala Mae Rim, offers upscale northern and vegetarian Thai cuisine and has a high teak wood ceiling and a sweeping view of the Mae Rim Valley.

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Review: Very helpful staff in this luxury resort
We enjoyed our stay at the Four Seasons but there is a bit of upgrading work going on at the moment which is very disruptive during breakfast time – the banging of hammers can be quite noisy and is not so relaxing. We brought our 4 month old baby with us and the staff at the Four Seasons were very good at recommending activities we could do where our baby would be safe. We really enjoyed the ELE elephant life experience where we got to ride the elephants in a private setting while the staff took care of our baby.

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The seven best waterparks across Thailand to escape the heat

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Vana Nava - Hua Hin

The seven best waterparks across Thailand to escape the heat.

When the sun moves out of Pisces in April, the heat starts to get serious. Temperatures rise to 40 degrees Celsius and beyond and drain us of all our energy. Some of us are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the country’s best beaches, others cycle to the nearby waterfalls and cascades to take a break from the heat. But for those of us who are stuck in the urban jungle, the choices tend to be staying cooped in an air-conditioned room or making tracks out of town to the nearest waterpark.

This week, we look at the seven best waterparks at which to chill.

SCENICAL WORLD KHAO YAI, NAKHON RATCHASIMA

Tucked away in Pak Chong district, a popular destination with Bangkok’s get-out-of-towners, Scenical World Khao Yai is a new kid on the block. A heady combination of amusement park, shopping mall and hotel, it’s also home to Splash World, where you can experience the water in a variety of playful and adventurous ways. In pride of place is the Splash Coaster where you sweep down, twist, turn and climb on a thrilling run of 180 metres. The brave can get their adrenaline kicks by whizzing along the circular slide at high speed before plunging into the Space Bowl.

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CARTOON NETWORK AMAZONE, PATTAYA

Leave it up to the kids and they’ll probably choose to spend every single day of the long school holidays at Cartoon Network Amazone in Pattaya. Here, at the world’s first Cartoon Network theme park, the young and not-so-young can have fun with much-loved characters such as Ben Ten and the Powerpuff girls. The most popular rides include the Omniverse, which is as high as an eight-storey building and home to six of the fastest and steepest water roller coasters, and the gravity-defying Goop Loop roller coaster where you clamber into an enclosed capsule to drop into a 12-metre free-fall that generates maximum G-force. The XLR8TOR is the park’s tallest and steepest ride, drawing its inspiration from Ben Ten’s lightning-quick reflexes and ability to reach speeds in excess of 480kph.

SIAM PARK CITY, BANGKOK

Billed as the “Beach of Bangkok”, Siam Park City is Bangkok’s very first waterpark and was built almost 40 years ago. Michael Jackson came to Siam Park to enjoy the water during his 1993 Dangerous World Tour, and the waterpark is still worth a day trip especially during the hot season. As well as the slide – which in 1970 held the world’s record for the highest at 75 feet – there is an inland sandy beach and a sea with giant waves right in downtown Bangkok.

VANA NAVA HUA HIN WATER JUNGLE, PRACHUAB KIRI KHAN

Thailand’s best waterpark is located in Hua Hin – the country’s leading beach holiday destination.

Vana Nava is built to mimic a tropical lagoon with palm trees and rock pools spread over 3.2 acres. As well as Boomerango, Thailand’s longest water slide, this waterpark also has the Abass – the largest ride of its kind, which soars to a height of 28 metres then keeps your spinning at 45kph before plummeting and splashing down into a pool.

FLOW HOUSE, BANGKOK

A different style of waterpark from the usual slides and rides, Flow House targets the urban dude and wannabe surfer. With artificial waves and water runners, the fun is real as thrill seekers dare to ride the waves and spin their boards. It’s a place to see and be seen and occasionally transforms into a party scene with DJs where a dude can roam around and show off this tattoos. Make sure you book in advance if you want to ride the waves as the surf house is always packed.

SANTORINI WATER FANTASY, PHETCHABURI

Inspired by the blue-and-white tones of Santorini Island in the Aegean Sea, this water park is an excellent choice if you want to avoid the queues at Vana Nava. The Vulcan’s Kamikaze ride from 18 metres might sound scary but it’s addictive. For a bigger adrenaline rush, try the park’s signature Ares’s King Cobra slide that keeps you running over 78 metres from the tail to the head of the snake-like ride.

Santorini Water Fantasy, Phetchaburi,

SPLASH DOWN, PATTAYA

While many amusement parks lay the claim for the “biggest, longest, fastest” accolade, Splash Down takes the form of a lake filled with inflatables designed to hurl thrill seekers into the sky and, of course, into the water. These include the Big Blob, where you jump and see how far you can fly and Big Red Balls that demand you bounce your way across eight, big ball without falling into the pool. Designed for adult and teenagers, this isn’t a place for the little ones.

Scenical World  - Khao Yai 2

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SONGKRAN, (Water Festival) Thais New Year

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SONGKRAN, (Water Festival) Thais New Year

Songkran 2016

Khao San Songkran shortened to 2 days to save water

Khao San Road is one of the most popular places in the city to water fight for Songkran. It has amongst the biggest, and wildest, crowds. But this year the party in the backpacker district will be shortened to just two days due to the worst water shortages in 20 years and government requests to save water.

Khao San Songkran will take place on April 13 and 14, between Banglampoo intersection and Kokwua junction from the morning of the 13th until 9pm each evening, according to Pol. Col. Rangsarn Praditapohn, superintendent of the Chanasongkram police station.

Songkran on Khao San is beloved for many reasons but one of them is the joy of seeing locals and tourists playing together with abandon. The shortened celebration means less of that but it’s also a hardship for many of the vendors who depend on making a lot of money during what is usually a three-day event on Khao San.

Piyabutr Jiuramonaikul, president of the Khao San Business Council, said that business owners of Khao San are pleased by the two-day celebration limit. He expects that tourists will use water guns but hopes that people won’t use talcum powder or show too much skin.

In response to the initiative to keep the water festival alcohol-free, he doesn’t expect the authorities to have much luck, especially trying to enforce the initiative on foreign tourists.

Alcohol is a big part of the modern Songkran celebration, and Khao San is one of the locations where people can imbibe heavily. Piyabutr thought that they may be able to cut consumption by 10 percent this year and maybe another 10 percent the following year. He doesn’t expect that they can remove alcohol completely from the celebration.

To keep the area safe, over 150 CCTV cameras will be recording and nine new security gates to keep weapons or alcohol from being brought into the closed streets. 300 police officers will also be patrolling the area 24-hours a day for the two-day celebration, according to Thai PBS.

Source: Coconuts

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