Pakse shines as new star of MTF2011
By Reinhard Hohler
Compared to the well-known World Heritage Site Luang
Prabang in Northern Laos, the sleepy provincial town of Pakse in the
southern part of the country was far less-known, when some 250 delegates met
at the Champasak Grand Hotel on May 27-28 to attend the 12th Mekong Tourism
Forum (MTF) in Pakse, Lao PDR. This hopefully changed now for the better,
when Pakse and its tourism potential prominently shined as a new star during
this year’s event.
Under the theme “Destination Mekong: The Making of a Star” it quickly became
clear that the annual MTF presented the best opportunity for those in the
Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) tourism industry to meet and discuss travel
and tourism related issues. High-level government officials and
representatives of the six National Tourism Organizations (NTO) China,
Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam mingled with developers,
hoteliers, tour operators, tourism suppliers and international media.
The two-day conference featured sessions on tourism marketing strategies,
social media trends, human resource development, trans-national overland
journeys, thematic route proposals, responsible tourism, public sector
participation and destination marketing amongst other important country
presentations. Thus, Mr. Luzi Matzig, CEO of Asian Trails, firmly suggested
that each government in the GMS should do the funding and marketing, because
the private sector already is paying the taxes. In the same tone it was said
by others that uncontrolled tourism destroys the environment and should be
Connectivity is the name of the game. From the Chinese side high speed
trains are planned to reach the GMS in the future. For 2015, ASEAN is
aggressively promoting open sky policies, while the co-operation of ASEAN+6
is already the reality, including China, Japan and South Korea, Australia,
New Zealand and India. Furthermore, visa problems in the GMS are still
critical and should be addressed, while the proposed and intended single GMS
visa is out of question now because of a myriad of political problems.
Mr. Peter Semone, Chief Technical Advisor of the Lao National Institute of
Tourism and Hospitality (LANITH), introduced a Lao-Luxembourg initiative
that aims to raise the country’s service standards to an international level
by focusing on best practices and strengthen human resource capacity. In
Nicole Hausler, Mascontour Germany, speaking about the future trends of
European tourists, the forum heard an active advocate of sustainable
tourism, who mentioned the ambitious plan for no more domestic flights in
Germany as one step to save the environment.
Media delegates had a long way to come to reach Pakse, a sleepy town at the
Mekong River, either from Phnom Penh by motorcycle or by Bangkok by bicycle
on a pre-arranged trip. Other options were by airplane from Vientiane or Ho
Chi Minh City.
As I opted to take a bus from Chiang Mai to Pakse, I left the Arcade Bus
Terminal on May 25 on 17.15 with a VIP bus from Nakhon Chai Air (843Baht) to
reach Ubon Ratchathani at 9.00 in the morning. Only an half hour later, the
Thai-Lao International Bus (200Baht) left Ubon Bus Station to Chong Mek,
where is the border between the Kingdom of Thailand and Lao PDR. After
paying the visa fee of 30USD, the same bus continues from Vang Tao some 50km
into Pakse town crossing the Mekong River on the local Lao-Nippon Bridge.
In Pakse I was invited by GM Jerome Letemplier to stay at Pakse Hotel
downtown in the heart of the old business district. The multi-storied
building of the hotel was first constructed under the supervision of Chao
Boon Oum, the last king of Champasak in Southern Laos. In 1962 it opened as
a theater-casino and was the centre of all major events in the kingdom.
Totally renovated in 2003, the hotel has won the ASEAN Green Hotel Standard
Award and was certified as a three-star hotel by the Lao National Tourism
Association (LNTA) in 2010.
With its 65 well-equipped comfortable guest rooms, the hotel is famous for
its superb rooftop restaurant “Le Panorama” to enjoy wonderful sunsets over
the Mekong and Sedon Rivers and party until midnight. Other assets of the
hotel are “Le Patioh de Noy” for breakfast, lunch and dinner next to the
lobby as well as the Grand Hall Pakse, where the Ministry of Tourism and
Sports of Thailand hosted its Thailand Night Dinner on May 28 to feature
Chiang Rai 750 Years as Gateway to the Mekong and the next venue for
Another highlight of MTF was the Gala Dinner at Champasak Culture Hall on
May 27, where the invited delegates could experience the different tastes of
Lao cuisine accompanied by dance performances hosted by the LNTA. Last not
least, the event successfully ended with four complimentary post-forum tours
on May 29, which were open to all MTF delegates.
I opted for the full tour to the nearby Bolaven Plateau, as I have visited
the Vat Phou World Heritage Site or Khone Phapheng Waterfall further south
of Pakse many times before and the Tree Top Explorer jungle adventure with
Green Discovery Laos was limited to 16 guests only.
To the Bolaven Plateau we left Pakse with a big tour bus at 8.00 o’clock
from the Champasak Grand Hotel and headed 40km further east to visit the
picturesque Tad Yuang Waterfall, which falls more than 200m deep from the
volcanic plateau. At 10.00 o’clock we reached Paksong, a town surrounded by
pine trees. On the market, we saw banana, pineapple and durian in abundance.
From Paksong, we headed north to reach the beautifully landscaped Sinouk
Coffee Plantation & Gardens, which is a “must see” place offering a unique
experience among Coffee Arabica trees and French-style gardens.
We learned that the world of coffee business began in the ancient city of
Mocha on the Arabian Peninsula and included planting, trading, roasting and
brewing - in contrast to the tea tree which originated in China. Most of the
coffee plantations are nowadays spread throughout Middle and South America,
Central Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia. The Lao Bolaven Plateau is
well determined to grow coffee because of its height (600-1250m) and
volcanic soil. Organic cultivation features since 1920 and includes the
provinces of Champasak, Salavan and Sekong.
The owner of the Suan Sinouk Resort offered us a local lunch in the
restaurant and we had to leave him at 12.30 to continue our Bolaven Circuit.
Actually, he also is the owner of the new boutique hotel in Pakse named
Residence Sisouk with its 16 personalized rooms and located only 5km from
the new Pakse Golf Course overlooking the Mekong River.
Our next stop was at the Tad Hang Waterfall near the Tad Lo Lodge. At 14.30
we reached the jungle Tadsae Pasuam Waterfall, where it was possible to
study some ethnic minority houses of Mon-Khmer tribes such as the Katang,
Katou, Laven, and Ta-oy. Villages tend to be circular around a richly carved
and painted community house and special bachelor houses are common. At 16.00
o’clock we were back in Pakse after having seen one of the most unexplored
and less visited areas in the whole GMS.
Finally, MTF2011 featured a lively travel exhibition at the Champasak Grand
Hotel, but most of the exhibitors complained that there were not enough
buyers to sell their products except of a horde of school children who took
up the brochures and materials very quickly. Some of the most outstanding
tourism products exhibited will be mentioned as follows (in alphabetical
1. Charming Lao Hotel, Oudomxay/ Lao PDR: Best hotel in town (see
2. E-Visa, Kingdom of Cambodia: Valid at 5 Ports of Entry (see
3. La Folie Lodge: 12 bungalows set in a magnificently landscaped tropical
garden located on Don Daeng Island in the Mekong River facing Vat Phou (see
4. Inthar Heritage House: Designed, built and integrated by inspiration of
the culture of art & tradition in Shan State, Myanmar (see
5. Pakse Hotel, Pakse/Lao PDR: The Panoramic Boutique Hotel (see
6. Quang Tri Tourism, Viet Nam: Vietnamese province on the East-West
Economic Corridor (see www.vietnamtourism.com).
7. Shangri Lao in Luang Prabang: Classic Explorer Camp & Expedition (www.shangri-lao.com).
8. The Charm of Southern Isan: DVD by Tourism Authority of Thailand (see
9. The Elephant Crossing Hotel, Vang Vieng/Lao PDR: Idyllically located at
the Nam Song Riverside (www.theelephantcrossinghotel.com).
10. The Savannakhet Historical Trail: Example of Community-Based Tourism in
Laos (see www.tourismlaos.org).
11. The Vat Phou Cruises: A fantastic opportunity to discover the Southern
Mekong in Laos up to the “4000 Islands” world (see www.vatphou.com).
12. Villa Muong Khong Hotel, Don Khong Island: 32 comfortable rooms with
view of the Mekong River, Tel. (856.31) 21 30 11.
Coming back from Pakse to Chiang Mai on May 31 by the same way as described
before, I needed an urgent massage to compensate for the 20 hours of
overland travel. Also, I’m looking forward to the next venue of the MTF2012
in Chiang Rai/Thailand.
Reinhard Hohler is a GMS Media Travel Consultant based in Chiang
Mai/Thailand and can be reached by e-mail: [email protected]
UK Embassy urges expats to encourage their guests to make travel preparations
Overstaying their welcome? Drinking all your beer? Not paying
Hosting friends and family from overseas can cause a degree of stress but the
good news is that some problems are avoidable with some simple preparation. The
Foreign and Commonwealth Office is calling on British expats to remind their
visitors to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy before their stay.
The request comes as new research reveals that young people are more likely to
buy a present for their host than take out a travel insurance policy.
The survey commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shows that a
third of people did not take out travel insurance the last time they stayed with
family and friends overseas. More than three quarters (77%) of those who stated
they were visiting friends and family this year said that saving money is a key
factor in this decision. However not taking out comprehensive travel insurance
cover is often a false economy as people could face serious financial difficulty
if they need medical treatment or lose valuable possessions.
Over a third (39%) of British nationals have relied on their host when things
have gone wrong during their trip. British expats hosting visitors have to deal
with a range of problems from taking their guests to hospital when they fall ill
to providing financial help.
Michael Hancock, head of the consular team in the British Embassy Bangkok said
“If friends or family visit you regularly it’s natural for them to feel very at
ease with their destination and not prepare in the same way for these trips as
they would for other holidays. Things can quickly become stressful if a guest
ends up in a tricky situation and doesn’t have travel insurance cover. When
you’re reminding your guests to bring out your favourite teabags or newspapers,
encourage them to get travel insurance cover and to do some research about the
country they’re visiting.”
Remind your guests to visit ukinthailand.fco.gov.uk and
Chiang Mai’s own Moxie restaurant named in Best Restaurants by Thailand Tatler
MOXIE; The stylish Moxie
restaurant at the dusit D2 is a relaxing and modern restaurant with friendly,
professional service and great food.
Moxie restaurant at dusitD2 chiang mai is named as one of
‘Thailand’s Best Restaurants 2011’ by Thailand Tatler magazine, the leading
English-language luxury lifestyle publication.
This is Moxie’s fourth year in the prestigious fine dining guide, which reviews
only the best dining venues, as selected by its discerning readers. Moxie is one
of just 14 restaurants in Chiang Mai to receive acclaim as one of the region’s
best, for its exceptional cuisine and service.
According to Tatler, Moxie “is offering wild and wonderful fusion dishes to
match its outgoing decor”. The guide recommends signature dishes including
Spaghetti with Chiang Mai Sausage, Baked Baby Pork Ribs and Escabeche of Shrimp
Tails. The publication also mentions Moxie’s array of charming desserts - and a
must-have chocolate cake in hot sauce.
Committed to supporting sustainable tourism, Moxie recently started serving
world-class organic coffee from nearby Doi Chaang in northern Thailand. The
selected Arabica blend is 100 per cent natural and offers up to 50 per cent of
the daily vitamins and minerals that the body needs. As ever, Moxie strives to
offer creative healthy choices for its guests while maintaining its
environmentally friendly community credentials.
Located on the lobby floor of dusitD2 chiang mai, Moxie restaurant is open daily
from 6.30am to10.30pm. (PR)
New clinic of Ayurveda opened in Chiang Mai
By Reinhard Hohler
It was on a nice sunny morning, when sitting together in the garden of a new
clinic in the compound of Regent 3 Village, which is located on the Chiang
Mai Airport Road - some 9km out to San Kamphaeng.
There was a cool breeze in the trees and flower bushes, while a lotus pond
in the corner of the garden features the ideal surrounding of calm and
serenity. I was talking with the owner of the clinic about Ayurveda and
holistic healing - a new trend far beyond the common spa treatments which
people can experience in the myriad of establishments all over the town of
Indian born Dr. Rajeev Marwah is a doctor of holistic medicine, specializing
in Ayurveda, acu-pressure, reflexology, gemology and magnet therapy. He is
the consultant of the Dheva Spa and Ayurvedic Centre at the Mandarin
Oriental Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai, where he is responsible for
conceptualization, planning, implementation and controlling the delivery of
all his treatments. He presided over a worldwide holistic healing seminar,
which was held in Chiang Mai in 2009. Also, he was the chairman of the
successful First World Congress of Holistic Medicine in Thailand, which was
held at Chiang Mai in 2004, and worked as consultant for the Department for
Traditional Thai and Alternative Medicine, Ministry of Public Health,
So what can Ayurveda offer to visitors and patients alike, who try to
consult Dr. Rajeev in all questions about health and individual wellness
programs, I wondered. I kindly asked him to give a small introduction and
outlook of his health products.
Actually, Ayurveda is the science of self-healing, Dr. Rajeev explained,
showing me some collections of medical herbs. Together with his wife Dr.
Suchada, he is working to find a diagnosis for diseases which often appear
as a consequence of people’s wrong and misguided lifestyles. Besides feeling
the pulse of the patient, looking after tongue, face, lips, nails, and eyes
is equally important. Treatments follow according to the diagnosis such as
face and skin therapies as well as heat and specialized bodyworks.
Throughout the therapy the emphasis is on moderation, whether it is in food,
sleep, exercise, or the dosage of medicines. It is outmost vital to stay
within the limits of reasonable measure and balance. Also, after the disease
therapy is completed, rejuvenation therapy should be given to strengthen the
body part that was affected by the illness. Only then it may resist future
Just to explain the Sanskrit word Ayurveda: meaning the knowledge (veda) for
longevity (ayus). To say it more clearly: Ayurveda tells us, which
substances, qualities and actions are life-enhancing, and which are not. It
consists of valuable practical advice concerning almost every imaginable
aspect of life, from cleaning the teeth, to diet, having sex and exercise.
It is because of this pragmatic approach towards diseases that there is
nowadays a tremendous growth of interest in alternative therapies, allied
with a general disaffection for conventional medicine and pill-swallowing.
Thus, there is an undeniable notion throughout the world that the kind of
conventional medicine available to the ill today is not adequate to our
modern time, and that we must really look to alternatives to meet those of
our needs, which are not easily satisfied by pills.
It is here that doctors like Dr. Rajeev Marwah come in. Offering four
treatment rooms in his two-storied clinic in the outskirts of Chiang Mai,
people have the chance to prolong their lives by getting an early diagnosis
for diseases, which will ultimately come with the aging process. In other
words it is never too late to live healthy for a long time to come.
Finally, the highly recommended International Research Center of Natural
Sciences (IRCNS) is offering to you all its consultancy, wellness programs
and health products. When I left the new clinic in the afternoon, I was in a
pensive mood and aware that Ayurveda holds the key for keeping a healthy
For more information, please contact Dr. Rajeev Marwah by e-mail:
[email protected] or go to the new web-site: www.rajeevsuchada.com
Blooming Krachiao Festival
The Siam Tulip
Chaiyaphum in the North East is the scene of fields of blooming krachiao
flowers or Siam tulips from June 1 to August 31 at P Hin Ngam National Park
in Ban Rai district.
The unique geographical landscape of Chaiyaphum Province in the northeast of
Thailand gives rise to a range of natural attractions of exceptional beauty.
The fields of pinkish-purple Siam Tulip, or "Dok Krachiao", come in to full
bloom in the early part of the rainy season from June to August.
Also commonly called 'patumma', 'bua sawan' (heaven lotus), or 'bua bok'
(the land lotus), the Siam Tulip is a member of the ginger genera — Curcuma
Tourism Authority of Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima office: [email protected]
New direct bus to Phuket
from left, Pol Col Anu
Nernhard, Worakarn Yokying, Somchai Thongkhamkoon, and Ms. Kalyanee
Thongkhamkoon, manager of the Green Bus during the opening ceremony at the
Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal.
By Phitsanu Thepthong
Photos by Phitsanu Thepthong and Jittarporn Charasrum
Last week, the Chiang Mai Mail was invited by Somchai Thongkhamkoon, the
Managing Director of Chaipattana Transportation Chiangmai Co., Ltd. to
participate in the inaugural trip of the Green Bus between Chiang Mai in the
North and Phuket in the South.
passengers pay their respects to the statue of the heroines of Phuket,
famous for repelling the invading Burmese Army in 1785.
The 47 years old transportation company based in Chiang Mai organized the
Muan Jai Phuket Press Tour for three nights and four days travel covering
about 1,558 kilometers each way and about 50 representatives of most local
media attended the Press Tour program, held from May 19-22, 2011.
At the “Soft Opening” ceremony held at the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal,
Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Worakarn Yokying, Pol Col Anu Nernhard, the
Superintendent of Chiang Mai Traffic Police and Somchai Meekhamkoon launched
the two 24 seat tour buses. Fitted out with massaging chairs, a personal LCD
screen for video, movies, songs and games to entertain the passengers during
the trip, there are also four drivers taking turns to ensure safety and two
MD Somchai of the Green Corp (Chaipattana Transportation
Chiangmai Co., Ltd, said the company has provided transportation to over 60
destinations, with more than 1.5 million passengers, and more than 10,000
trips per year.
“This year, the company was given the license from the Land Transportation
Department to launch the first of its kind; linking the North and South with
buses. We also aim to further develop our business with modern passenger
busses, newly ordered from Shanghai.”
Managing Director Somchai
Thongkhamkoon explains the features of the new buses to operate between
Chiang Mai and Phuke.
While the inaugural trip was May 19, services are expected to begin June 3.
Stops include Lampang, Tak, Nakhon Sawan, Singburi, Petchaburi, Prachuab
Khiri Khan, Chumpon, Surat Thani, Phangnga and terminating in Phuket
covering a distance of 1,558 km and taking about 22-23 hours for a one way
Promthep Cape in Phuket is one
of the famous scenic sights of the island.
The Green Bus MD Somchai remarked that this new route is
expected to promote tourism between the two regions and encourage economic
In Phuket the bus was met by Phuket’s Deputy Governor, officials, media
organizations’ representatives, and mass media. The group toured Wat
Chalong, paying respects to the Luang Por Chaem, Luang Por Chuang and Luang
Por Chote and then visited Rawai beach, Promthep Cape, Naiharn, Kata, and
Chaiwat Thepee, Deputy Governor of Phuket said “this is a good news for the
travelling industry and transportation business to link Chiang Mai and
Phuket. It is the first of its kind with the Green Bus‘s VIP new services.
It is a new dimension in promoting travel between the two regions.”
The beaches of Phuket are very
popular with foreign and Thai tourists.
He added Phuket province has only 3 districts, Katu,
Muang and Thalang districts, located on the island of 17 Tambons, and 103
During the past 3 months of this year, there were about 800,000 tourists
visiting Phuket, which was a 39 percent increase compared to the last year’s
figure from the same period. More than 300 hotels now see a 78% occupancy
rate, he noted.
The Phuket Governor has been helping to promote Phuket in road shows held in
Europe and Thailand. The main magnets include outdoor activities such as
parachuting, boating, the Mini Marathon, the well known Vegetarian Festival,
walking street, and the commemorative celebration in March each year
honoring Phuket heroines Thao Thepkasatree and Thao Srisunthorn.
The new Green Bus to Phuket
will link the beaches of Phuket and the mountains of Chiang Mai.
Real estate investment projects have increased with this
year’s numbers outperforming last year. In the near future, he added, there
will be a large convention hall that could accommodate the ASEAN summit.
Additionally there are plans to expand the airport to accommodate the
increasing number of direct flights from countries such as Russia, India,
“We are glad to hear that Chaipattana Transportation Chiangmai Co, Ltd has
launched the tour bus linking Chiang Mai and Phuket and we offer our full
support for this venture,” the Deputy Governor added.
The Green Bus will officially begin from June 3 departing Chiang Mai Arcade
Bus Terminal at 4 p.m. and departing Phuket at 3 p.m. Tickets will run 1,770
baht a passenger per one way trip.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Featured in reality show The Bachelorette
The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai is featured in
an upcoming episode of the hit primetime TV reality show The Bachelorette.
Viewers of the ABC romance reality series’ seventh edition can view the latest
installment in bachelorette Ashley Hebert’s search for love unfold within the
resort’s luxurious setting. This series of The Bachelorette, which began in Los
Angeles, focuses on exotic locations in Asia. Chiang Mai and Phuket are the only
featured destinations in Thailand.
beautiful scenery of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi will show reality TV
viewers in the US the beauty of Chiang Mai.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai and the Tourism Authority of Thailand
worked together to help bring The Bachelorette to Thailand and with it, the
show’s immense global viewership and following. Ashley and 12 hopeful and
eligible men stayed at the resort in April for two weeks, to film Episode Five
of The Bachelorette, which ABC will screen in the US this June.
“Hosting such a popular TV show as The Bachelorette is indeed a great honour for
us,” noted Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai General Manager Greg
Liddell. Set in lush grounds, with luxurious rooms and an award-winning spa,
Mandarin Oriental, Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai provides a wonderful romantic retreat
for couples. “The filming of the episode allows us to showcase the beauty of the
resort to a wide viewership, and we hope this will also do a great deal to
promote Chiang Mai and Thailand as a holiday destination,” he added.