Father of Skäl in Thailand named Skäl International “Personality of the Year”
Enrique Quesada, Dale
Lawrence, Andrew Wood, Gerry Perez and Marco Battistotti present the
‘Personality of the Year’ ward posthumously in honor of Malai Sakolviphak.
The Asia Area Committee of Skal International, the
world’s largest and oldest travel industry networking organization, has
recognized the outstanding achievements of the late Malai Sakolviphak.
Lawrence (left) and Andrew Wood pose with the award.
At the 41st Skal Asia Congress held in Penang, Malai Sakolviphak was named
“Personality of the Year.” Delegates held a minute’s silence in memory of
the travel industry legend regarded by many as the “Father of Skal” in
Thailand. The award was accepted by Skal Thailand President Andrew Wood and
Skal Bangkok President Dale Lawrence.
“Many moving and heartfelt tributes were paid by Skal members around the
world when they heard of Khun Malai’s passing. This award is yet another
fitting tribute to a travel industry professional, and a real gentleman,
whose contribution to Skal will probably never be surpassed,” said Lawrence.
The presentation was made by Skal International worldwide President Enrique
Quesada, who was visiting Penang from Mexico, Asia Area President Gerry
Perez, and Marco Battistotti - President of Skal International Penang.
Japanese government launches multiple entry visa for Thais
Starting from June 1, 2012 the Japanese government is
launching a multiple entry visa targeted specifically for Thai national
residing in Thailand who are temporary visitors to Japan. This is the result
of an agreement made in Japan on March 7, 2012 between Japanese Prime
Minister Mr. Yoshihiko Noda and Thai Prime Minister Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra.
It is hoped that the implementation of the new Multiple Entry Visa will
increase the number of Thai visitors to Japan, enhance business convenience
and strengthen cooperation between both countries.
Qualifying Thais will receive a visa with validity of up to 3 years with a
maximum length of stay for each visit of 90 days. Interested parties can
contact the Consulate General of Japan in Chiang Mai’s Consular Division,
Visa section at 053-203367.
Baby koalas at the Chiang Mai Zoo
The koala breeding program at
the Chiang Mai Zoo produced a female baby on May 21, 2012.
The Assistant Director of Chiang Mai Zoo Nipon Vichairat
announced the birth of a new Koala baby at the Zoo at 3:55 p.m. on May 21,
2012. The mother, Chiang Muan is four years old and the newest member of the
Chiang Mai Zoo is a result of her natural mating with Fulla. The gestational
period was 7 months and mother and baby are both in good health.
The Chiang Mai Zoo now has ten Koalas,
native to Australia. The koala program at the Chiang Mai Zoo is the result
of cooperation between the Zoological Parks of Thailand under Royal
Patronage and the Taronga Zoo in Australia.
The Zoo will hold a naming contest to
choose a name for the new female baby koala.
3 and 1 package for Chiang Mai sights
The Chiang Mai TAT head
Chalermsak Suranont joins with representatives from the Royal Park
Rajapruek, the Chiang Mai Zoo, the Zoo Aquarium and the Night Safari to
announce the new tour and stay package.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand Chiang Mai Office in
cooperation with the Chiang Mai Zoo, Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium, Chiang Mai
Night Safari Royal Flora Park are offering a special package to visit the
three zoos and one park in a package that also includes one night hotel
stay, 3 meals and bus service throughout the tour The package will be in
effect until September 15, 2012.
The package will include stops at Wat
Phra That Doi Suthep, the Chiang Mai Zoo, to see the pandas too, the Chiang
Mai Zoo Aquarium, the largest aquarium in South East Asia and the 133m long
underwater tunnel, the Royal Rajapruek Park to see the outstanding gardens
and learn more about horticulture, and a visit to the Chiang Mai Night
Safari to ride the tram and see the rare wildlife species at night. For more
information please contact Tel. 053-893111. (PR)
Thailand’s tourism income jumps
Despite experiencing major tourism woes, Thailand earned
tourism income exceeding Bt770 billion in 2011, an increase of 31 per cent
year-on-year, according to Thanitta Savetsila Maneechote, Deputy Permanent
Secretary for Tourism and Sports.
Despite problems which shook tourist
confidence in travel to Thailand and last year’s devastating flood, she said
the country still earned Bt776.2 billion, and recorded 19.2 million
tourists, an increase of nearly 21 per cent.
Of this number, 12.2 million visitors –
nearly two in three, or 63.7 per cent -- were revisiting Thailand, while the
remaining 6.9 million tourists, slightly more than one in three, 36.2 per
cent, were newcomers.
Regarding their purpose for travel, 8.9
million or 46.76 per cent were on holiday while about three million -- 15.82
per cent -- came for meetings.
The average stay period for foreign
tourists was 9.64 days with an average spending of 4,187 baht per day, an
increase of 2.66 per cent.
Meanwhile, last year, over 5.3 million
Thai tourists travelled overseas, an increase of 1.11 per cent from the same
period in the previous year, with average spending of 4,505 baht per day per
person. Total spending for their trips abroad amounted to Bt122 billion, an
increase of 0.48 per cent. (MCOT online news)
Influential Burmese monk refuses to be silenced
Buddhist monk Ashin Pyinnyar
Thiha has been evicted from his temple for political speech.
Citra Dyah Prastuti, Rangoon, Burma
Evicted from Sadu
Pariyatti monastery in Rangoon last December, Buddhist monk Ashin Pyinnyar
Thiha now lives in a small, open bamboo house on a deserted rice field
several hours from the Burmese capital.
Thiha was evicted after
he gave a speech outside a National League for Democracy (NLD) Party office,
the opposition party headed by resistance icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I will never be
silenced for any injustice,” says Thiha. “I now live in a bamboo house, but
I never regret any of my actions. My people are in misery. I’m just
following what Buddha did – to sacrifice for others,” he says.
After the 2007 Saffron
Revolution, monks must now obtain government permission to give a public
speech – including details of its content.
Last September the
Ministry of Home Affairs aslo banned Thiha from giving public lectures. He
angered the government because he allowed his monastery to hold a ceremony
to re-ordinate 40 monks released from prison in the January amnesty.
“It was an ordinary
speech,” recalls Thiha, the only Burmese monk to meet US Secretary of State
Hilary Clinton on her recent visit.
“I talked about simple
things, that young people should stay united. Like bamboo trees, they never
should stand alone because then a strong storm cannot destroy them,” he
Despite being lauded
for its current embrace of democracy, the Burmese government continues to
limit the public, and sometimes political activities, of the country’s
Thiha is not the only
Burmese monk whose activities are restricted. Abbot Thu Mingala, from
Mingala Monastery, was also banned from giving public speeches last
December. Local rights groups report that up to 1,000 political prisoners
are still behind bars in Burma – including several monks.
“When the people are
suffering, monks must stand for them and speak up. It’s a responsibility of
the monks,” declares Thiha. He might be out of the big city now, but Thiha
says he is still under police surveillance – and is still continuing his
A new one-story brick
building is under construction and is being funded by donations from his
followers and students. There is also plan to build a bigger monastery in
the village to accommodate hundreds of Thiha’s students from Rangoon.
Ashin Eain Daka, 25, is
in his second year at the monastery and says he is committed to following
“One of my favourite
teachings from Ashin Pyinnyar Thiha is that if you’re a monk, you have to
walk for all people, for all beings,” he says.
“He’s still under
surveillance, and so are we, his students. I don’t care about the
authorities. They’re doing their business and we’re doing our business,” he
Sitting on his chair
and chewing betel leaf, Thiha shares his ideas about building the nation
with his students. He says the government needs to loosen the restrictions
and work together with Aung San Suu Kyi and her party members from the NLD.
“Our people are getting
poorer and poorer every day, and our economic situation is very bad. Reform
is urgently needed,” he says. “Democracy is the only way to open and develop
society, but people have to be patient. The country is now moving to the
On the wall of his
bamboo house, there’s a huge poster of Burma’s pro-democracy icon Aung San
“She’s the hope of all
the people in Burma,” says Thiha, studying the picture. “You can see the
honesty in her eyes. She will never do anything for her own interest, just
like her father,” he says.
Thiha is still banned
from giving public speeches, but he hopes to regain his freedom once the
Sangha Council is reformed. The Sangha Council – a board of senior monks
that some say are in cohorts with the government – recently extended his ban
for another year.
Older monks on the
council, says Thiha, should not have the authority to rule all the monks in
“They have to retire
and they should be replaced by new monks with fresh minds,” he says
purposefully, “The council should be free of government influence so it can
be an independent body.”
The three-storey Sadu
Pariyatti monastery in Rangoon is now abandoned, but as 37-year-old monk
Ashin Thuriya says, there are plenty of young monks ready to join Ashin
Pyinnyar Thiha in his new compound.
“He’s a very good in
delivering lectures, he’s a great teacher,” explains Thuriya, “He’s also
very brave to speak the truth and resist anything that oppresses him.”
This article was first
broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced
by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local
languages in 10 countries across Asia. It is published in conjunction with
the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai University. You can find more
stories from Asia Calling at
Mawlamyine emerges as a new destination in Myanmar
For the last 40 years foreign tourists
to Burma/Myanmar were normally able to just visit four destinations in the
country, namely Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inlay Lake in Shan State.
Nowadays, especially after the recent political changes, it is possible to
visit other destinations, such as Mawlamyine in Mon State or places in the
west and north of the country far away from the Burmese heartland along the
Luckily, I had the chance in February
this year to visit Mawlamyine (former name Moulmein), the capital of Mon
State, which is 300km southeast of Yangon. The easiest way to travel to
Mawlamyine from Chiang Mai would be via Tak and Mae Sot by road, but the
international border there is closed for international tourists until today
because of political reasons and it is forbidden to travel through Kayin
State to Yangon. Thus, I took Air Bagan to fly from Chiang Mai to Yangon, it
flies every Thursday and Sunday at 17.20, arriving in Yangon 17.50 local
time on February 19.
After one night in Yangon I decided to
take the earliest train from Yangon to Mawlamyine and went straight to
Yangon Railway Station to buy an Ordinary Class Ticket for $5 US. The train
departed at 7.15 and reached Bago at 9.00, giving view to the golden
Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which raises even several meters higher than the famous
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. The history of Bago goes back to the time of the
Buddha and was a very important center of the Mon people.
At 10.30 the train crossed the Sittaung
Bridge that marks the entrance gate into Mon State. At 12.15, the train
arrived at Kyaik Hto Station. From there, travelers head to Kyaikhtiyo to
hike to the Golden Rock, which is located at the top of a mountain range,
where pilgrims find accommodation. From the base camp, tourists have to go
with the help of a truck and walk the last stretch by foot. There is a small
pagoda on top of the rock and its hair relic of Buddha prevents the rock to
fall down to the deep valley. The train passed Thaton Station at 14.30 and
at 17.00 reached Mottama, which is located at the Thalwin River.
The Thalwin or Salween is one of the
longest rivers in Southeast Asia and originates high on the Tibetan Plateau
in China still wild and uncontrolled. To reach Mawlamyine, the third largest
town in Myanmar, the train has to cross the mighty mouth of the river. Since
early 2005, this is now possible via a two-part 3km long river-spanning
bridge and makes the entire country accessible to the southern-most part of
Myanmar. The bridge is a rail-cum-road facility and the two-lane motor road
is built on the rail track. The bridge superstructure is made of steel and
reinforced concrete, while the foundations are of reinforced concrete bored
piles. It is built near Khaungsay Island, where the river flows in torrents
causing giant whirlpools. Actually, Mawlamyine is dominated by the Thanlwin
River and some outlying islands, such as Bilu Island, protecting the town
from the sea. Last not least, the train pulled into Mawlamyine Railway
Station at 17.30.
Since I was planning to take the same
way back on February 22, I bought a return ticket from Mawlamyine to Yangon
for $7 US and hired a waiting motorcycle driver to bring me to the Breeze
Guesthouse at Strand Road, where I settled down in a room for $7 US.
Surprisingly, there was a beer garden in walking distance, where I got good
Thai food and Tiger Beer from Singapore. The next two days I surveyed the
town, which seems to be very cosmopolitan with Buddhist pagodas and
monasteries, mosques, Indian and Chinese temples, and churches.
The Strand Road is the show-piece of
Mawlamyine, a town at the meeting point of 4 rivers, namely Thanlwin, Jain,
Attran, and Lay Myo. At the north end of the wide Strand Road is Zeigyi
Market, where tourists can find some good Burmese food stalls. Also, the
most popular tourist hotel is located there close to the long Thanlwin
Bridge, namely the bungalow-type Attran Hotel offering 20 superior
twin-bedded rooms and 10 suites. A newer hotel is the state-owned
Mawlamyaing Strand Hotel with a 400-seated reception hall, international
restaurant, and modern coffee bar. More economical is the centrally located
Ngwe Moe Hotel at the corner of the road to the KyaikThoke Pagoda.
The most famous pagoda is the 50m high
Kyaik-Than-Lan Pagoda, which houses a historic tooth and hair relic of
Buddha. The golden pagoda tops a small mountain range that dominates the
east side of Mawlamyine and is connected to other golden pagodas, such as
the Mahamuni, U Khanti and U Zina. In the U Zina Pagoda are enshrined seven
sacred hair relics of the Buddha and it is said that you can see the face of
the Buddha at the glittering top of the pagoda during sun-down. Less visited
is Judson’s Church that functions as First Baptist Church since 1827 for
missionary activities with the Kayin or Karen tribes.
Interesting to note is the Mon National
Museum and Library, overseen by the Department of Archaeology, Ministry of
Culture, where the history and culture of the Mon people is preserved going
back to the time of the Buddha. Called the Golden Land or Suvarnabhumi, the
Mon culture developed at its outmost level and is in a way closely related
to the cultural heritage of the Khmer. A Mon King in the 11th century even
built temples in Bagan as a prisoner-of-war of the Burmese King. The
highlight of the museum is a replica of Queen Shinsawbu’s crown in gold,
which is decorated with gems and jewels, belonging to the 14th and 15th
centuries. Furthermore, impressive Martaban jars were produced in Twante,
Bago, and Pathein, as Mottama served as port of the trade of jars finding
their way to Thailand, Indonesia, as well as the Middle East countries.
Mawlamyine has a modern university and
an airport in the southeast of the town. After the recent political changes
in Myanmar it is expected that the town will see a boom in developments,
investments, and infrastructure projects. Famous places to go around for
sightseeing farther south are Kyaik Khami Pagoda and Set Sae Beach,
Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery as well as a Death Railway Museum similar to that
one in Kanchanaburi in Thailand. So far, travelers cannot continue in the
train to Ye because of insurgency. But some brave backpackers already take a
bus ride to Hpa-an, the capital of Kayin State.
When I left Mawlamyine with the daily
night train at 20.00, I had no doubts to come back to Rudyard Kipling’s best
kept secret. As it was dark during the train ride back to Yangon, I missed
the beautiful scenes and natural views of the green paddy fields, golden
mountain pagodas, and still unchanged lifestyles of the people. When the
train pulled at 6.30 into Yangon Railway Station, I was again in a different
world and atmosphere.
Reinhard Hohler is a GMS Media Travel
Consultant based in Chiang Mai/Thailand and can be contacted by e-mail:
Myanmar set to rejoin UNWTO
The President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, U
Thein Sein, has announced the country will initiate the process of restoring
its membership of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The decision
was confirmed during an official visit of UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb
Rifai. On the occasion, highlighting the role of tourism in the future of
Myanmar, President Sein joined the UNWTO/WTTC Global Leaders for Tourism
Campaign (Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, May 7, 2012).
“Tourism is a major sector of the
economy not only for Myanmar but also for all countries around the world. It
brings benefits to a country, boosts its economy, and create employment
opportunities,” said President Sein, “We, therefore, request that our
membership of UNWTO be restored so that we can obtain the relevant knowledge
to further promote and develop our tourism sector.”
Meeting with President Sein, Mr. Rifai
assured him that UNWTO stood ready to support Myanmar in taking full
advantage of its “tremendous tourism potential.”
“Myanmar is a country abundant in
natural and cultural resources, the foundation of any tourism sector,” said
Mr. Rifai, “Following talks with the Minister of Hotels, Tourism and Sport,
U Tint San, UNWTO will lend its expertise in a number of areas, ranging from
capacity-building to sustainable tourism practices and travel facilitation,
to responsibly develop tourism for the benefit of all.”
During his visit, Mr. Rifai, presented
President Sein with an Open Letter from UNWTO and the World Travel&Tourism
Council (WTTC) on the importance of tourism to global growth and
development. Accepting the Letter, President Sein stated that “tourism
should be considered a ‘smokeless industry’” and one that “boosts growth,
creates job opportunities, conserves the environment, and helps to maintain
traditional arts and crafts.”
“Given the political support for
tourism demonstrated today, Myanmar is set to significantly enhance its
tourism sector over the coming years,” said Mr. Rifai, “At the same time,
the international community has been greatly encouraged by recent reforms in
Myanmar, and this will no doubt be reflected in an increasing numbers of
tourists. These tourists will quickly prove a vital source of jobs and
economic growth, helping to secure the country’s future prosperity. UNWTO is
100 percent committed to supporting Myanmar, to make sure that its tourism
development is a success story.”
David Scowsill, President and CEO, WTTC
said: “I am pleased that the significance of the travel and tourism industry
is increasingly being recognized by Myanmar. With its rich eco-diversity,
natural, and cultural heritage together with a commitment to responsible
tourism, Myanmar is increasingly harnessing its travel and tourism
potential. In 2011, the industry contributed MMK1435.4 bn to the GDP of the
economy and contributed 726,500 jobs. By joining this global movement of
heads of state and government through this signing of the Open Letter, the
President demonstrates his commitment to support the growth and development
of its travel and tourism industry.”
According to UNWTO’s long-term
forecast, Tourism Towards 2030, international tourist arrivals to Asia and
the Pacific will increase from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million in 2030.
South Asia will be the fastest growing sub-region in the world, growing 6
percent a year. “Asia and the Pacific is the future powerhouse of global
tourism, and Myanmar is in a strategic position to receive a significant
share of these arrivals,” said Mr. Rifai.
MEDIA CONTACT: Principal Media Officer,
Marcelo Risi, Tel: (+34) 91 567 81 60, Email: mrisi@UNWTO.org , Web:
www.UNWTO.org ; UNWTO Communications Program, Tel: +34 91-567-8100, Fax: +34
New Tourist Information Center at the Governor’s House
Chiang Mai Governor M.L.
Panadda Diskul chats with a visitor to the new Tourist Information Center in
front of the Governor’s House.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
Chiang Mai and the Provincial Tourism and Sports Office have set up a new
tourist information center just off Nawarat Bridge in front of the
Governor’s Residence. Chiang Mai Governor M. L. Panadda Diskul opened the
new center on May 12, 2012 at 10 a.m. and chatted with tourists who stopped
by to have a look.
The Governor noted that the new center
was in a good location for tourists coming from the Night Bazaar area to
Nawarat Bridge. Visitors can pick up information on accommodation,
restaurants, shopping, attractions and maps from the Center.
He added the Governor’s Residence is an
important symbol of Chiang Mai and that the stunning architecture of the old
house is part of the attraction of the area. The new tourist center will be
open every weekend from next week.
137 Pillars House makes Travel & Leisure’s 50 best new hotels
Chiang Mai’s own 137 Pillars
House made Travel & Leisure magazines “It List” of the 50 best new hotels as
selected by their editors. The list covers 29 countries and will be in the
June edition of the magazine. The list has six categories; city, rustic,
design, resort, beach and renovation and includes not only new properties
such as 137 Pillars House but also hotels that underwent renovation in the
past year. 137 Pillars House was the only Thailand hotel to be picked and
one of 7 in Asia. (Photo courtesy of 137 Pillars House)
Name the new baby white tigers at the Night Safari
Dr. Sarawuth Srisakul of the
Night Safari is asking the public for help to name the two baby white female
tigers at the Night Safari.
Dr. Sarawuth Srisakul, the CEO of the Chiang Mai Night
Safari announced a contest to name the two baby white female tigers at the
Night Safari. The two tigers, born to Petch and Ploy, are located in the
North Zone. Dr. Sarawuth said that the tiger names should follow Lanna
traditions, the winners will receive free admission for one year and a gift
voucher worth 5,000 Baht. Please send your name choices on a postcard to the
White Tiger Naming Contest, Public Relations Department, Chiang Mai Night
Safari, 33 M. 12 Nong Kwai, Hang Dong, Chiang Mai 50230 before June 10,
Baby albino African Porcupines at the Night Safari
The Chiang Mai Night Safari
announced the rare birth of two albino Crested African Porcupines recently,
the mother, Taro gave birth to the twins on May 5, the Night Safari staff is
keeping an eye on the second twin as it came later and there was some cause
for concern over infection as it appears to be a bit smaller and weaker than
its sibling. The gestational period was 66 days, the Crested African
Porcupine is from Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. The animal is
usually dark brown and covered in quills with the crest at the back of the
neck which gives them their name. An adult porcupine adult crested porcupine
has an average length of about 60 to 83 cm not including the tail and weighs
from 13 to 27 kg.
AIRASIA X SHATTERS ANOTHER LOAD FACTOR RECORD WITH 87% IN 1ST QUARTER, 2012
SEPANG, 8 May 2012- AirAsia X, the long haul, low
fare affiliate of AirAsia today announced another load factor record in its
first quarter of 2012.
AirAsia X carried 0.69 million
passengers, a growth of 7.5% over the same quarter in 2011. This exceeded a
capacity increase of 5.5% to 4.5 billion Available-Seat-Kms (ASKs), which
was achieved with the same aircraft fleet of 9 Airbus A330s and 2 Airbus
A340s, and tempered by the suspension of flights to Mumbai in February, and
Delhi, Paris and London at the end of May.
In terms of passenger traffic, AirAsia
X grew by 12.4% to 3.9 billion Revenue-Passenger-Kms (RPKs) for Q1-2012,
resulting in a record-breaking quarterly load factor of 87%. This is an
increase of 6 percentage-points from the same quarter last year, where it
registered a load factor of 81%.
AirAsia X’s core markets in Australia,
Greater China, and North Asia continues to deliver strong passenger growth,
with continued positive increases in load factor, validating the airline’s
strategy of rebalancing its network from Europe and India towards Australia
and North Asia.
Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X,
said, “Our continued growth points to a clear positive demand trajectory for
2012 compared to 2011, despite the continuous higher and more volatile fuel
prices and uncertain global economies and competition. The airline’s
strategy is to establish an optimal network where there is scale, focusing
on its core markets where AirAsia X is in a position of strength.”
“We are confident we will keep growing
into the second half of 2012, where we have new enhanced innovation and
ancillary offerings. AirAsia X has improved its Fly-Thru connecting
transfer service to more attractive destinations with better flight
connectivity options across South East Asia and beyond. The airline
recently increased flight frequencies from Kuala Lumpur to popular holiday
destinations such as Ho Chi Minh (4X Daily), Bandung (4 X Daily) and
Singapore (13 X Daily).”
Cargo operations on the other hand were
affected by the discontinued India routes, with AirAsia X carrying 7,407
tonnes of freight for its current quarter, registering a 11% decrease from a
year ago. However, due to strong improvement in yields, cargo revenue
increased by a double –digit in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the
first quarter in 2011.
AirAsia X is the long-haul, low-cost
affiliate of AirAsia Bhd, Malaysia’s largest airline by market
capitalization and passengers.
About AirAsia and AirAsia X
AirAsia, the leading and largest
low-cost carrier in Asia, services the most extensive network with 150
routes. Within 10 years of operations, AirAsia has carried over 140 million
guests and grown its fleet from just two aircraft to approximately 106. The
airline today is proud to be a truly ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian
Nations) airline with established operations based in Malaysia, Indonesia,
Thailand and Philippines servicing a network stretching across all ASEAN
countries, China, India, Sri Lanka and Australia. This is further
complemented by AirAsia X, its low-cost long-haul affiliate carrier that
currently flies to destinations in China, Australia, Taiwan¸ Iran, Korea and
Japan. AirAsia was named the World’s Best Low Cost Airline in the annual
World Airline Survey by Skytrax for three consecutive years (2009, 2010,
Chiang Mai makes Trip Advisors Top 25 in the world
Chiang Mai made it into
travelers top 25 with its beautiful temples and elephant camps.
Trip Advisor, the popular travel website, has just
released their top 25 Travellers Choice destinations in the world and Chiang
Mai, as the only Thailand destination, ranked 24. The ranking was based on
members voting choices and Chiang Mai was picked for its street food
trekking, fabulous temples and historic sites, elephant camps and even
cooking classes. Strangely they didn’t list highlights such as Loy Krathong,
Songkran, the Flower Festival or the nightlife.
London topped the list which was
followed by New York, Rome, Paris, and San Francisco rounding out the top 5.
Followed by Number 6. Marrakech, 7. Istanbul, 8. Barcelona, 9. Siem Reap,
10. Berlin, 11. Chicago, 12. Florence, 13. Buenos Aires, 14. Sydney, 15.
Beijing, 16. Prague, 17. Las Vegas, 18. Bora Bora, 19. Shanghai, 20.
Honolulu, 21. Los Angeles, 22. New Orleans, 23. Cape Town Central, 24.
Chiang Mai, and 25. Dublin.
Miracle Tourism Forum to be held May 26-29
Chiang Mai Governor M.L.
Panadda Diskul and members of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association
and Northern Tourism groups announced the upcoming Miracle Tourism Forum at
the Holiday Inn.
The Chiang Mai
Tourism Business Association in conjunction with the Tourism Association
from the provinces of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, held a
press conference announcing the upcoming Miracle Tourism Forum (MTF 2012)
which will be held from May 26 –29,2012 at the Holiday Inn Hotel Chiang Mai.
There will be over 150 buyers in the
travel business, both inbound and domestic agents to negotiate business with
entrepreneurs in the Upper North (Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong
Tourism is one of Chiang Mai’s top
income earners and ranks fourth in the nation after Bangkok, Phuket and
Pattaya. Chiang Mai is being developed as the regional aviation hub of the
Greater Mekong Sub region and is also being promoted as a major convention
city under the Chiang Mai MICE city program, as well as a health tourism
destination and choice for long stay foreign residents. However obstacles
still remain in developing and promoting these different attractions in
The opening ceremony for the Miracle
Tourism Forum will be held on May 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn and
Chiang Mai Governor M.L. Panadda Diskul will present a special lecture
titled “Chiang Mai, Most Splendid City of Culture” and also present awards
to individuals who have shown outstanding service in tourism. The reception
party will be held at the Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa.
Lanna performances were held at the press conference.
Royal bathing ceremony for Haripunchai Pagoda in Lamphun
Government officials pay
their respect at the Haripunchai Pagoda in Lamphun.
By Nopniwat Krailerg
The procession of the
royally blessed water for the Haripunchai Pagoda at Wat Phra That
Haripunchai Woramahaviharn moved from Chiang Mai International Airport to
Lamphun on April 29, 2012.
Lamphun Governor Surachai Kanaasa and
Deputy Governor Chumporn Sangmanee led the procession of the water conferred
by HM the King to bathe the Buddha image at the Wat in Lamphun.
Wat Phrathat Haripunchai is one of the
holiest and most famous temple complexes in northern Thailand and was
founded by Queen Chamathewi on the grounds of her palace in the 8th
century. Phra Borommathat Haripunchai, or the pagoda, is the religious
center of the temple and is 46 m high and is over a thousand years old. It
underwent a major renovation in the 15th century. Lamphun was the
capital of the Mon Kingdom of Haripunchai.
The bathing ceremony, held annually for
locals to pay respects and worship the Buddha image in the pagoda, is being
held from April 29 to May 5, 2012 at Wat Phra That Hariphunchai
Woramahaviharn and the procession of bringing the sacred water from Kha Mhor
Mountain (Doi Kha Mhor) to Wat Phra That Hariphunchai Woramahaviharn will be
held on May 2, 2012.
procession of the Royally conferred water started from the Chiang Mai
International Airport to Lamphun.
in front of the pagoda were filled with officials and locals as the water
was brought in.
conferred water was carried on a float to Lamphun.
Deputy Governor Chumporn Sangmanee carries
the urn holding the water.
Governor Surachai Kanaasa speaks in front of the float.
City Pillar Ceremony begins May 17
Devotees fill the courtyard
at Wat Chedi Luang to pay respects to the City Pillar spirit in the Tham
Boon Kan Dok or Flower Bowl ceremony.
Chiang Mai will hold the annual
Inthakin or City Pillar Ceremony beginning May 17 at Wat Chedi Luang.
The City Pillar Festival is unique to
Chiang Mai and is held annually to give citizens the chance to venerate the
guardian spirits of the city associated with the Pillar. The City Pillar was
laid at the founding of Chiang Mai by King Mengrai at the auspicious time of
4 a.m. on April 12, 1296. The Pillar was originally at Wat Inthakin near 3
Kings Monument but was moved to Wat Chedi Luang in 1800 when King Kawila
defeated the Burmese and drove them out of the city. The Festival begins on
the twelfth day of the waning moon of the sixth lunar month.
The Procession of the Buddha Image
known as Phra Fon Saen Haa (the Five Hundred Thousand Raindrop Buddha) is
carried by the Mayor at 2 p.m. on May 17, 2012 along Phra Pok Klao Road to
Three Kings Monument, Ratchawithi Road, Chang Moi Road, Tha Pae Road,
Ratchadamnoen Road and to Wat Chedi Luang. At Wat Chedi Luang it is blessed
with lustral water and placed in the courtyard where devotees venerate the
Buddha and the City Pillar and place flowers, candles and incense in 28
bowls laid out in the temple in a ceremony called Tham Boon Kan Dok.
The Opening Ceremony for the Festival
will be held by Governor M.L. Panadda Diskul at 4 p.m. and at 5 p.m. the
Blessing Ceremony for the City Pillar will be held by 9 Buddhist monks.
There will be Lanna arts and culture shows at Wat Chedi Luang beginning at 7
From May 18 to 23 Buddhist followers
will pay homage by giving flower offerings to the City Pillar spirits daily
and every evening at 5 p.m. there will be a Blessing Ceremony held by 9
On May 19 the great ceremony for the
City Pillar Spirits will be held at the Inthakin at 1p.m.
The Closing Ceremony will be held on
May 24 when the Mayor of Chiang Mai prays to the Buddha Image and gives food
offerings to 108 monks. For further information contact TAT Chiang Mai at
Tel. 66 (0) 5324 8604, 66 (0) 5324 8607 every day from 08.30-16:30.