Thailand International Dog Show
Thailand’s International Dog Show is being held this weekend at the IMPACT
Arena in Muang Thong Thani. The show will cover an area of 10,000 sq.m. and
will feature over 200 local and international exhibitors showcasing the
latest trends in dog products, food, toys, clothes, training aids and more.
There will also be dog competitions including agility, beauty and breed.
From June 30 July 3 at Hall 5 and 6 at Bangkok's IMPACT Arena, Muang Thong
Phi Ta Khon Festival in Loei
The Phi Ta Khon Festival is unique to Dan Sai
District in Loei and begins this Friday, July 1.
The Phi Ta Khon festival is unique to the Dan Sai district in Loei Province
and reflects the local Isan belief in ghosts and spirits. Held once a year,
it is part of a grand merit-making festival known as the "Boon Luang"
The origins of the Phi Ta Khon Festival can be found in the tale of Lord
Buddha's last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment. In Buddhist
accounts, it is said that when Prince Vessandara, the Buddha's penultimate
incarnation, returned to his city, it was such a joyous occasion that the
village spirits came forth to join the welcoming parade. This very colourful
and vibrant Phi Ta Khon procession is the central focus of the celebrations.
In a lively re-enactment of the tale, the young men of the community dress
up as "spirits" wearing long trailing costumes made from colourful strips of
cloth sewn together.
The hideous-looking Phi Ta Khon mask which is made of dried sticky rice husk
is painted in bright red, green or other colours, and features the
characteristic long pointed nose. This completes the transformation. The
clanging sound of the square cowbells worn around the waist announces the
presence of the spirits who wield phallic-shaped long-handled swords
decorated with red paint. The good-natured, fun-loving spirits mingle among
the crowd, teasing and amusing all who take part in the procession.
Spectators and visitors are welcome to join in the fun.
There are two types of "spirits" featured in the Phi Ta Khon procession
namely the "Phi Ta Khon Yai" — the supreme Phi Ta Khon, and the "Phi Ta Khon
Lek", the ones that are commonly found. The making of the Phi Ta Khon Yai
involves the performance of a sacred ritual to seek the blessings of the
supreme powers before work on the Phi Ta Khon Yai masks can be initiated. It
is also a task reserved exclusively for the descendants of families in which
the tradition of making Phi Ta Khon masks has been practised for several
generations. The Phi Ta Khon Yai is made of bamboo and is dressed in either
male or female attire.
The Festival beings July 1 and runs through July 3. For more information
contact that TAT Tourism Authority of Thailand, Loei Office, 0 4281 2812.
[email protected] (TAT)
Chiang Rai Candle Festival
Chiang Rai will be holding its annual Candle Festival on July 16 when the
Municipality arranges a candle parade at Wat Phra Sing. Tung Park, Koam
Chiang Rai and Wat Phra Sing will host a series of public events - including
candlelight parades, live performances of the traditional Lanna music and
Wat Phra Sing was built in the 14th century, is one of the most popular
attractions in Chiang Rai. It is believed the original Pra Buddhasihing
image was once resident here before moving to Bangkok.
The festival will take place on July 16 with events at Tung Park, Koam
Chiang Rai and the main parade at Wat Phra Sing.
Chiang Mai star Oasis Spa opens in Phuket
Oasis Spa opened its latest branch in Kamala, Phuket. The Royal Thai spa
features contemporary traditional Thai-style structure with eight elegant
treatment rooms each equipped with its own Jacuzzi and Herbal Steam Room.
Oasis Spa with its Lanna style identity is the trendsetter in Thailand’s day
spa industry with branches in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Pattaya plans to carry
the brand to all major tourist destinations in Thailand. Oasis Spa received
the Thailand Tourism Award for Excellence in Day Spa two consecutive times.
Chiang Mai's Pu Sae Ya Sae spirits worshiped in style
By Reinhard Hohler
It was some three hours after midnight on June 15, when four men arrived
with a black water buffalo at the foot of Doi Kham Mountain to prepare for a
sacrifice, whose tradition goes back to the time of the Buddha. Doi Kham is
about 10km in the southwest of the city of Chiang Mai and located in Tambon
Mae Hia, Amphoe Muang.
Phra Bot painting hanging from a tree at the festival.
The moon was brightly shining just one night before getting full. Villagers
of ten villages had purchased the buffalo a few days before out in San
Patong and now one of the men killed the buffalo with a big knife to see how
it falls in the forest near the Mae Hia Creek originating from the mountain.
After one hour, they moved the animal to another platform with the head and
its horns looking east. This was the start of the annual Pu Sae Ya Sae
spirit worship ritual, which is nowadays more and more celebrated in style.
When I arrived at 6.00 o'clock in the morning, the outlay of the ritual
ground was already prepared. The killed buffalo was located within a marked
sacred space in front of twelve spirit houses, which were all named
according to personalities, which are all worshiped according to the legend.
The legend tells of the old cannibal couple of Pu Sae Ya Sae, who lived on
the two mountains of Doi Suthep and Doi Kham. Doi Suthep is north of Doi
Kham. In the time, when Buddha was still living and traveled the world, he
came to a village to take a rest. Thus, the Hindu Gods of Brahma and Indra
blessed the village by bringing a rainstorm of gold and silver. As it rained
gold at the village, the Buddha predicted that this place will be called Doi
Kham meaning "Mountain of Gold" in the future. As it rained silver further
north, the mountain there was called Doi Ngoen, meaning "Mountain of Silver"
later to be named Doi Suthep.
At the village of Doi Kham, Buddha noticed a kind of the emptiness and asked
for the reason. The villagers confirmed to him that there are two giants,
who live on the two mountains as husband and wife. They often come to the
village and catch people for food. That was the reason why it was so quiet
and empty in the village.
Buddha felt sorry for the defenseless villagers and left to talk to the
giants. He asked them to stop eating people and predicted that because of
his teachings there will be soon many monks to live in this area. When the
two giants heard Buddha's plea, they asked him to allow them to have two
buffalos per year instead of people and enlighten them with his teaching.
Buddha blessed them by revealing them the five precepts and left.
So it comes that even today, in the ninth month of the Lan Na Thai lunar
calendar, there still is a forest feast at the foot of Doi Kham for Ya Sae.
Actually, a parallel feast for Pu Sae was held at the foot of Doi Suthep,
but fell into oblivion a long time ago.
The ceremony started shortly after 8.00 o'clock, when some village women
prepared the prescribed offerings to the spirits, containing pieces of
bread, banana, popcorn, pork skin, sticky rice, sugarcane, tobacco and also
water. There were bundles of 24 big silver and small gold candles each. Six
trays for the spirit of the soil were prepared along 23 huge banana leave
trays for the spirit houses, each containing six cigars and betel nuts.
In the south of the ritual area was a "sala" which slowly filled up with
visitors to see the spirit medium, a Hang Dong villager in his thirties, who
was to be possessed by the spirit of Ya Sae. At 8.20 o'clock the ritual
master named "Achan Phromma" (77) appeared to read out the sacred texts to
call the spirits to reside in the different houses. Actually, there were two
spirit houses for the hermit "Suthep" which were erected in front of the
others. Traditional music of drums, pipes, and xylophone filled the air.
At 9.00 o'clock the ceremony culminated with the hanging of the "Phra Bot"
painting featuring a standing Buddha flanked by two disciples. The banner,
which was brought in a black coffin, is as nine arms length and vehemently
swings at a branch of a large tree with its back to the ritual ground facing
north. Nine monks from Wat Pa Chi, sitting under a tent, recited holy
incantations in the Pali language, while from a bronze Buddha image a white
cotton string went through the hands of the monks ending in a silver bowl.
At 9.30 strange noises were heard from the nearby "sala" and the spirit
medium was possessed by the spirit of Ya Sae in front of an altar covered
with flower bowls. Shortly after, the spirit of "Suthep Ruessi" was called
followed by the others. In the meantime the spirit medium had left the
"sala" and straight went to the buffalo to feast on its meat and blood. Then
he was guided by former Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and others to walk along
the spirit houses to end up eating raw meat and drinking blood in a nearby
tree. Some visitors tried to ask him for some lottery numbers (5-3-7) etc.
At 10.15 the spirit medium left the tree and continued his walk in trance to
the "Phra Bot" to worship the Buddha. Going back to the "sala" more and more
visitors got excited and tried to get in touch with the medium. Last not
least, visitors who had the chance to sneak into the sacred area could ask
the possessed man to fasten a white string around their wrists to get health
and good luck.
At 11.00 o'clock the ceremony was finally over. While the "Phra Bot" banner
was covered again in the coffin, fire truck, police car and food vendors
slowly went home to wait for the spectacular feast again in the coming year.
Some visitors even went home with a small copy of the colorful "Phra Bot"
purchased for some 300Baht =10USD each.
For further information, please visit the web-site: www.maehia.go.th or
contact GMS Media Travel Consultant Reinhard Hohler by e-mail:
Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2011 was surpassing all expectations
By Reinhard Hohler
In spite of the myriad negative news making headlines in
Thailand since 2006 and sending travel industry jitters, Thai tourism
performances are on a record high. According to the Tourism Authority of
Thailand (TAT) Governor’s Speech during Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TMM+)
2011 networking lunch on June 8, the last year 2010 turned out to be
excellent and ended up with a total of 15.9 million visitors – a 12.6%
increase over the previous year. “This positive trend has continued into
2011” was the surprised conclusion made by Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, Governor
During June 8-10, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok’s Muang Thong Thani, TTM+
2011 under the theme “Caring for the Earth” counted some 1000 participants,
including 150 members of the media from 30 countries around the world. Some
368 seller organizations were present, which featured their tourism products
within 401 booths at the exhibition hall, and could meet up with some 335
buyers from 54 countries. By balancing existing markets with equal emphasis
on new markets, TTM+ included countries such as Russia, India, China, and
Buyers and media had the opportunity to join one of seven complimentary
pre-tours and were picked up at one of the seven officials hotels, such as
the downtown Centara Grand at Central World or the new Novotel Impact.
Staying in the Rembrandt Hotel with the support of Swedish GM Mr. Eric
Hallin, I opted for the tour called “Golden Buddha Image” that started at
13.00 o’clock on June 7. The visited Golden Buddha Image was enshrined in
the newly built Phra Maha Mondop at Wat Traimit in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
There the world’s largest pure-gold Buddha, dating back to the Sukhothai
period, is housed on the top floor of a four-storied pavilion.
Originally, the Golden Buddha Image was completely covered with plaster and
only discovered as golden in 1955. On the 3rd floor of the building is an
exhibition area that features the history of the Golden Buddha Image, while
on the 2nd floor there is the impressive and elaborate Yaowarat Chinatown
Heritage Centre, which provides a wealth of information on Bangkok’s
Chinatown from the past to the present. Finally, the tour ended at 16.00
o’clock with a stroll through Chinatown packed with market stalls,
restaurants, medicine stores, gold shops, temples and spirit houses.
Now in its tenth year, TTM+ is the region’s leading trade show for Thailand
and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), which includes Cambodia, China, Lao
PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam. Sadly to notice, there were no official
representatives from China, Cambodia and Viet Nam this year. But when TTM+
ceremonially opened with a top modern dinner reception on June 8, everybody
was assured that TTM+ was nevertheless surpassing all expectations.
On June 9, there were media briefings of Thailand Convention and Exhibition
Bureau (TCEB), Airports of Thailand (AOT), and last not least, TAT. Under
the “Believe in Thailand” campaign, TCEB has seen a rapid recovery of the
MICE industry and the return of MICE visitors to the country. TCEB President
Mr. Akapol Sorasuchart announced a new initiative to build on this success
to further build Thailand’s image and presence in the high-end “Luxury MICE”
market. For this campaign Bangkok, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui
were selected as chic and charm destinations to offer captivating
experiences and services of unrivalled standards. The message is out:
Thailand is providing inspiration for your business success and will be the
gateway to the ASEAN region with a population of over 500 million.
AOT announced the plans to develop its responded airports in Thailand to be
world class airports together with green and clean policies. Senior
Executive Vice President in Business Development and Marketing, Mr. Nitinai
Sirismatthakarn, revealed that AOT has successfully operated six
international airports, such as Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Muang Airport,
Chiang Mai Airport, Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai Airport, Hat Yai Airport and
Phuket Airport, which all must function in an environmentally friendly
The concept of green tourism has already taken firm root in Thailand and is
gaining momentum. That is why TAT has long been an advocate of sustainable
tourism. To drive this message home and demonstrate a genuine commitment,
TAT has adopted the theme “Caring for the Earth” to spearheading a green
revolution, which is based on a balanced strategy. It integrates concern for
the environment as well as economics, society and technology into the
marketing strategy to achieve sustainable tourism. Also, Amazing Thailand is
a wonderful concise summary of what Thailand has to offer. Now it is
“Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You.”
With all this in mind, I repeatedly went through the exhibition hall to
single out the following “amazing” new tourism products (in alphabetical
Air Bagan: The airline operates average of 25 daily sectors, serving 19
major domestic destinations as well as Yangon - Chiang Mai – Yangon on a
twice a week regular charter flight (see www.airbagan.com).
Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok: Located on the banks of the majestic Chao
Phraya River, the hotel offers 396 rooms and suites as well as a ballroom
with seven additional function rooms of various sizes. There is also the
5-star Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake in Yangon/Myanmar, which offers 303
guestrooms and an outdoor swimming pool (see www.CHATRIUM.com).
Mekong Cruises: The Laos-based company has operated river cruises on the
Mekong River since many years and now opened The Luang Say Residence in
Luang Prabang, which is the pinnacle of luxury, providing 20 pioneer suites
in 5 colonial pavilions and 4 other explorer suites located in the main
building (see www.mekong-cruises.com).
Moevenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket: Its 159 suites and secluded
villas feature sundecks and outdoor rainforest showers. The main building
offers 175 upscale rooms, most with sea view, while Moevenpick Residences
Karon Beach has 30 beachfront apartments in an integrated resort concept.
Furthermore, Moevenpick operates city hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
in Vietnam and plans to open Moevenpick Suriwong Hotel in Chiang Mai this
year (see www.moevenpick-hotels.com).
Orient Express: The Singapore-based company takes tourists beyond the
conventions of today’s luxury travel. Whether you plan to stay in Koh Samui
in Thailand, Luang Prabang in Laos or Siem Reap in Cambodia, travel in Bali,
wish to take the Eastern & Oriental Express or discover the Ayeyarwady River
in Myanmar aboard the “Road To Mandalay” cruise ship, the company’s
experiences offer an alternative way to discover Asia (see
Pandaw River Cruises: The Company is the largest luxury river cruise one in
Asia. With five luxury ships exploring four countries, such as Myanmar,
Cambodia, Viet Nam and Borneo, there also is the Pandaw charity program,
where Pandaw passengers are keen to give back to the communities they visit
Patong Paragon Resort & Spa: Located at the most popular beach on Phuket
Island, the international deluxe resort offers 121 well-equipped rooms and
suites as well as a large free-form swimming pool (see
Phi Phi Natural & P.P. Erawan Palms Resort: Executive Director Mr. Vithaya
Lamyai explained it with great enthusiasm. It is a tropical paradise with
white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and a colorful reef in front of the
resort. Just come down to Krabi to feel it (see www.phiphinatural.com).
Rembrandt Hotel & Towers Bangkok: Offering 407 superb rooms and suites, it
is centrally located at Sukhumvit Road Soi 18, not far from many shopping
and entertainment places, also BTS Sky Train and MRT underground metro
stations. Try the Indian cuisine Rang Mahal Restaurant at the 26th floor and
relax with an Ayurvedic Oil Massage at The Spa of the 5-star hotel (see
Serenata Hotels & Resorts Group: The group now owns 13 multiple brands of
hotels and resorts in idyllic locations, such as The Legend Chiang Rai
Boutique River Resort & Spa in Northern Thailand as well as the Paradise Koh
Yao Boutique Beach Resort & Spa in Phang Nga, Southern Thailand (see
The Chedi Chiang Mai: The property belongs to the GHM Hotels and is an
84-room hotel and spa located in the centre of Chiang Mai along the Ping
River. Its colonial-style restaurant is offering the best Indian cuisine in
town and is housed in the former British Consulate. Other famous GHM Hotels
are the Nam Hai in Da Nang/Viet Nam and the Strand inYangon/Myanmar (see
Lastly, there were a cluster of booths featuring “Chiang Mai Creative City”
and some booths of the Japan National Tourism Organization. Furthermore,
buyers and media could book one of the six post-tours starting on June 11
and featuring “The Spirit of Lan Na” – “The Charm of Isan Life” – “Jewel of
Andaman” amongst others.
Next year, TTM+ 2012 will be held again in Bangkok, but the GMS event will
be scheduled back to back in Chiang Rai, when the annual Mekong Tourism
Forum (MTF) will taking place there, as Chiang Rai is celebrating its 750
Reinhard Hohler is a GMS Media Travel Consultant based in Chiang Mai and can
be reached by e-mail: [email protected]
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi wins award from Travel & Leisure magazine
The Mandarin Oriental Dhara
Devi is famous for its unique atmosphere and fantastic reconstructions of
Readers of prestigious publication, Travel + Leisure, US
June 2011 edition have awarded Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai the
No. 1 position worldwide for service in the annual World’s Best Awards
survey. The hotel gained top honours for best service in both the Overall
and Asia categories.
“We are extremely proud of this recognition from the readers of Travel +
Leisure. This award is testament to our daily mission of providing the
legendary service that Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is renowned for, and to
the commitment and passion of our colleagues to create lifelong memories for
our guests” commented Greg Liddell, General Manager of Mandarin Oriental
Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai.
To celebrate this achievement and allow guests to experience the resort’s
service first-hand, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai is delighted
to present a Sheer Indulgence offer - valid for stays from 1 June to 31
October 2011. Guests will receive a complimentary 60 minute Thai Massage for
two persons during each stay. Sheer Indulgence rates start at THB 15,899+ +
+ per night for a minimum of two nights. Guests can select from a wide
variety of luxurious villa-style accommodation, and enjoy a room upgrade.
For reservations please visit
Luang Prabang under threat
By Reinhard Hohler
One of Southeast Asia's most charming cultural heritage
destinations Luang Prabang in Laos is fast approaching a tipping point and will
soon come under threat.
According to the new Luang Prabang Hotel Market Update by leading hospitality
consulting firm C9 Hotelworks, a large-scale airport expansion and high-speed
railway are major indicators of imminent change. C9 Hotelworks Managing
Director, Bill Barnett, said that a runway expansion capable of handling
wide-body aircraft will open in 2013, and the following year a high-speed
railway link to China will become operational.
Key research data showed 2010's year-on-year growth in airport passenger
arrivals of 14% tallied in at 77,978. Growth in average room rates compensated
for a slight dip in market wide occupancy. A slow-down in tourist arrivals was
driven by two important source markets, Thailand and the UK, which declined 43%
and 16% respectively. Political events and currency deprecation accounted for
Recent developments on the ground include the opening of a 18-hole golf course
by a Korean joint-venture company which includes more phases for a 250 room
hotel and 100 upscale villas. The existing hotel supply of 44 hotels will
increase 16% by 2012. Two new branded properties from the Anantara portfolio
highlight the pipeline.
As to the impact on what has largely been a sustained low impact tourism
footprint during the last decade, Mr. Barnett added: "A short term identity
crises looks inevitable as one chapter closes and another is set to begin.
"Unfortunately the next development cycle looks set to focus on growth for
growth's sake, which is at odds with the destination's unique DNA. Airlift and
rail access improvements will see the emergence of new opportunities for a wider
range of hotel products due to an overall upward progression. I expect to see a
new mid-scale hotel tier emerge as the broader market edges towards more
reliance on volume."