Vol. VI No. 12 - Tuesday May 15, - May 21, 2007
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TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand tops list as favorite destination

Hot deal for our readers

Australians in Chiang Mai take note

Chiang Mai potpourri

Race on for health tourists

Thailand tops list as favorite destination

A survey conducted by Visa International Asia Pacific in conjunction with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) estimates that 52 percent of travelers were considering Asia as their next travel destination. Thailand topped the list as the number one destination of choice in Asia. Thailand’s local culture was the major reason cited by more than 50 percent of respondents. Some of the reasons that visitors have placed Chiang Mai as a popular tourist destination include:
NIGHT BAZAAR
Like Silom road in Bangkok, the area of Chiang Mai next to the river transforms itself nightly to a street market offering all sorts of delightful handicrafts. This is the first place to go in Chiang Mai, since artisans from all over Northern Thailand show their products here. For indoor shopping, there are two large handicraft malls on either side of the main street — Vieng Ping Night Bazaar and Kalare.
Best Kept Secret? Kalare has continuously running cultural shows — and they are free.
BAN TAWAI
About twenty minutes from Chiang Mai City by car, Ban Tawai is the center for handicraft decor and furniture items. Most of the “antiques” here are not much older than an Ikea sofa, but the designs are traditional and the makers are expert at aging them.
Best Kept Secret? Savvy shoppers go past the main area another half kilometer to see the articles being made, talk to the artists, and get the best prices.
BO SANG
Outside Chiang Mai on the SanKamPaeng road is an entire village whose inhabitants are dedicated to the making and trading of Thai handicrafts. Walking the main street of Bo Sang gives a sense of the variety available, but bargain hunters duck to the back rooms to find the real treasures.
Best Kept Secret? Factory direct prices for hand made mulberry paper are in a remote part of Bo Sang called Ton Bau. This is where the makers are, and all have shops for browsing.
SUNDAY MARKET
Every Sunday evening, the streets from Thai Pae Gate to Wat Pra Sihng are closed to traffic. Vendors from all over Thailand lay out blankets and sell striking and original items at bargain-basement prices.
Best Kept Secret? Many of the temples in the walking area also provide space for vendors. Shoppers find bargains while viewing temples at a time they would not normally be open to the public.


Hot deal for our readers

Great Rates until October at the Chaophya Hotel Bangkok.

The Chaophya Park Hotel in Bangkok is offering Chiangmai Mail readers a terrific 40% discount on all room types until 31 October, 2007.
Simply book your room on their website at www.chaoph yapark.com and quote CMM07.


Australians in Chiang Mai take note

Mr. Michael Walther is the Australian Honorary Consul in Chiangmai and the office is located at: Jinda Charoen Konsong Ltd., 236 Chiangmai Doi Saket Road (Opposite Castrol Gas Station) Chiangmai 50210. Contact numbers: Tel: 053-492-480 Fax: 053-492-426 Mobile: 018-377-750
In an emergency, Australians can speak to a duty officer in Canberra, Australia (24 hours) via the Australian Embassy in Bangkok by calling 02 344 6300 and following the voice prompts for the cost of a local call.
The latest travel advice for Australian Nationals in Thailand and information on passport and visa issues are available at www. dfat.gov.au or www.smartraveller.gov.au
Australian nationals can register their presence in Thailand at www.orao.gov


Chiang Mai potpourri

Central Hotels & Resorts has a golf package valid at Central Duangtawan Hotel, Chiang Mai. Prices start from 4,100 baht (US$126) per guest and are valid until October 31. Guests receive one night’s stay with breakfast, airport transfers, welcome drink and fruit basket, transfers to and from the golf course and green fees. www.centralhotelsresorts.com.
The Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel, Chiang Mai’s newest luxury property, is offering a special 35% Discount on all room types. This promotion is valid until October 31, 2007. For more information visit their website: www.puripunn.com
Moxie, the signature restaurant at the D2hotel, is listed as a new entry in Thailand Tatler’s “Thailand’s best restaurants 2007”. The famous dining guide recently released their latest reviews of over 200 best restaurants throughout the kingdom as chosen by their discerning readers.
The Four Seasons popular Sunday brunch is now known as the Sunday Jazz Lunch. From 12 noon to 3 pm at 1500 baht plus tax and service charge per person, and half price for kids. Additional food stations have been added such as the roast prime ribs and Indian food. Due to popular demand they have brought back the duck foie gras. www. fourseasons.com/chiangmai
Marc Dumur is leaving the Sofitel Chiang Mai to join Accor Hotel group in Bangkok. Brendan Daly takes over as General Manager.
The Farang Ses restaurant at the Dhara Dhevi Hotel is closed and will reopen July 31.
Alan Watts is the new General Manager of the Holiday Inn Chiang Mai and Mr. Daniel Chen is the new Food and Beverage Manager.
Popular Mediterranean themed cuisine restaurant Mi Casa has a new Tapas and tasting menu as well as specials on sangrias. Chef Kike and hostess Annie are terrific. Sunday brunch is good too! Call them at 053-810-088.
Dominique Bugnand, Executive Chef of Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is also preparing Tapas at their Mediterranean Restaurant, Akaligo, during the month of May 2007.
Parma ham with sweet rock melon and home baked grissini, lobster bisque flavored with white port wine and star anis, braised veal osso bucco with potato mousseline and pak choy are just some of the choices. The Tapas set menu from 600 baht plus 10% service + taxes. For bookings call 053-888-888 ext. Akaligo.
The much anticipated The Duke’s at the Night Bazaar has finally opened, located at 145 Changklan Road next to McDonalds. Gourmet pizzas, ribs, steaks and always big portions have made The Duke’s one of Chiang Mai’s favorite dining establishments.


Race on for health tourists

Imtiaz Muqbil, TTG
Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are projecting a deluge of Middle Eastern health tourists this summer. Strong marketing activities and product and service upgrades by the medical and travel industries of these countries are generating a steady flow of long-staying, high-yield clientele.
Bangkok’s Bumrungrad hospital reported that patients from the UAE, Oman and Qatar were among its fastest growing international patients in 2006. Of the 430,000 international patients last year, 50,000 were from the Middle East. Thanks to international patients, its total revenue rose from 39 per cent in 2002 to 46 per cent in 2006.
Other groups such as Bangkok General Hospital and Bangkok Nursing Home have opened immigration offices within their premises to help patients extend their visas and avoid overstaying fines.
The Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia has set up a dedicated website with a complete list of accredited hospitals nationwide, comparative pricing and packages.
In Singapore, the health ministry has aimed for one million foreign patients by 2012 and is seeking sites for new private hospitals, medical suites and supporting facilities.
However, the traffic of Middle Eastern medical tourists to Asia could slow down. The Dubai Government is developing the US$1.8 billion Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), described as the world’s first health care free zone (which does not require a local partner). It is teaming up with groups such as Harvard Medical International in medical education, health care systems development and strategic planning.
The Dubai government will put up the US$1.8 billion estimated infrastructure costs and is inviting international institutions in health care delivery, education, services, and research and development to take up tenancy, with promises of high returns.
Tenants must meet international building and quality standards, including accreditation within 36 months of start up, and face probation and then suspension of license if accreditation is not secured.
In the UAE, there is an estimated shortage of more than 2,000 beds. The DHCC is expected, among other things, to reverse the trend of affluent Middle Easterners seeking health care abroad.
Meanwhile, asset management and property development companies are seeking opportunities from health care.
Dubai real estate company Istithmar has a 19.5 per cent share in Bumrungrad hospital, and the two have set up a 250-bed Bumrungrad hospital in Dubai, expected to be operational in 2009.
The expected investment size remains at US$9.7 million. Istithmar provides the land and building through a lease to an operating company, and will hold 51 per cent of the shares.



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