• Thailand Tourism launches virtual tourism to top destinationsTravel And Tour World

    Published on : Thursday, January 28, 2021

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a virtual reality tour to top four leading tourism destinations, comprising of Phuket, Bangkok, Surat Thani, and Chiang Mai. Reportedly, the tours will be an immersive 360° adventure that enables visitors to explore the spots in 3D. Once inside an attraction, one can move around using the cursor and get all the information, regarding historical background and other details of the attractions, displayed in both English and Thai. Further, the 3D virtual tour will aid visitors to witness visual images of each attraction, which will likely encourage them to visit some of the attractions in the near future when the pandemic situation is over.

    In Bangkok, the virtual tour will let visitors explore Mekhala Ruchi Pavilion’s two-storey teak wood building in all its glory. It once served as the residence of King Rama VI when Phayathai Palace was under construction. Then, the virtual tour of Thewarat Sapharom Hall will take vistors through the beautiful and elegant palace’s throne hall, whereas the Phiman Chakri Hall will be a sight to behold. In Phuket, the virtual tours will be across the Chinpracha House, one of the most beautiful mansions in Phuket. Tourists will find that there are a number of Sino-Portuguese style houses that are now abandoned, whereas some are in bad condition, and some have been renovated. However, Chinpracha House somehow managed to survive till date and is worth a visit because of its unique design.

    Similarly in Chiang Mai, viewers will get an opportunity to dive deep into a virtual visit of Phra Chao Tan Chai Ma Tam Na Bun Chapel or the Big Reclining Buddha at Wat Chedi Luang. Apart from this, the virtual tour will take visitors around Phra Maha That Chedi, which is one of the largest pagodas in Thailand. The final two virtual attractions in Chiang Mai include Ma Tam Na Bun Chapel, and the statue of Khruba Chao Teung Na Ta Si Lo. Lastly, in Surat Thani, visitors will enjoy virtual tours of Khao Hua Jook. It is located on a hill with remarkable views of Samui Airport runway and the Chaweng Lake, which looks even more beautiful from the top of the hill. The golden pagoda is built on the building that houses several statues of Buddha, and the imprint of the Buddha’s footprint. Also, there is another Buddha statue inside the pagoda, which is behind the glass.


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    Tags: Thailand, Thailand Tourism, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

  • Thailand Travels: Snapshots from the Markets of Isaan

    I’ve spent the past week traveling through Isaan, the northeast region of Thailand, the agricultural heartland of the country. Few tourists make it up this way—Isaan is a long way from Bangkok and the tropical beaches to the west, and there’s little in the way of mainstream attractions in most of the industrial cities and Mekong border towns.

    But the region is a great place to experience a more traditional side of Thai culture—homestays are more common here than hotels—and the food is some of the most complex and intriguing in the whole country.

    The town of Nong Khai, in the northernmost province of Isaan, is best known as a gateway to Laos, which is visible across the Mekong River and accessible via the well-traveled Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. Despite its proximity to Laos, the food in Nong Khai is uniquely influenced by the Vietnamese community that settled in the area following the Indochina war in 1950s. The morning market downtown has a huge array of Viet-flavored prepared foods—miniature banh mis, lacy banh xeos and freshly steamed rice flour rolls—mixed in with the bounty of local produce on offer. Here’s a look at some choice picks from the Nong Khai market.*

    * Major thanks to my Thai guide, Tip of Trikaya Tours. Apologies for any transliteration misspellings!

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  • Thailand Travels: A Noodle Dish from Chiang Khan You Need to Know About

    [Photographs: Jamie Feldmar]

    I’ve spent a good portion of the past week camped out in Chiang Khan, a sweet, sleepy little town in northern Isaan’s Loei province, which borders Laos from across the Mekong River. Chiang Khan is a popular weekend getaway for Thai city-dwellers, famed for its traditional timber houses and the cute trinket-and-food-lined promenade that sets up along the river each night. There’s an abundance of coffeeshops here and plenty of street snacks impaled on sticks (meatballs, dried squid, barbecue chicken) to keep visitors happy.

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    But the real culinary powerhouse of Nong Khai is a diminutive woman named Chi, the namesake proprietor of Chi Kum Man Tong, a small restaurant on a side street that serves several varieties of northern Thailand’s beloved som tum (papaya salad) and a handful of noodle dishes. While noodles aren’t exactly hard to come by in Thailand, Chi makes a dish that’s virtually impossible to find out of Chiang Khan: dong daeng.

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    Essentially Thai spaetzle, dong daeng are thick, short fermented rice flour noodles extruded from a small metal press and boiled to-order. The noodles themselves are a variation of kahnom jeen, a type of fresh, skinny fermented rice noodle you’ll see all over Thailand.

    Chi, a Chaing Khan native, claims to have invented dong daeng—named after the “dancing” motion the noodles make as they cook—some ten years ago, adapting a family recipe that called for bite-sized noodle balls nicknamed “gai muah,” or “chicken heads.” When Chi’s shop started drawing crowds, it took her too long to make the gai muah to order, so she developed the tubular dong daeng instead, which are more efficient to make.

    After the noodles are boiled, they’re tossed, along with a handful of fresh mountain greens, into Isaan’s ubiquitous mortar and pestle and mixed with garlic, chilis, limes, fish sauce and crushed peanuts. The finished product, served room temperature, is a wonderland of flavor and texture: the thick, chewy noodles are offset with crisp-tender greens, and the slight sourness of the noodles dovetails neatly with the tangy juice from the tomatoes and limes.

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    To round out a bigger meal at Chi’s, she borrowed some charcoal grilled meats from the barbecue man who sets up shop across the street in the afternoon: gai yang, chicken pounded flat and painted with a sticky-sweet fish sauce-and-garlic sauce; and miang plaa, a whole Mekong fish stuffed with fresh herbs and coated in coarse salt before cooking.

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    Chi prepared a beautiful selection of accouterments for the fish, including a tray of fresh lettuce and a platter of fresh kahnom jeen and sliced shallots, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. The idea is to systematically eat the entire fish bite-by-bite, in individual lettuce wraps topped with a piece of each sliced accessory. It’s a lot of raw, strong flavors in a small package, but they work together beautifully, proof that even the simplest ingredients can come together as more than the sum of their parts.

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  • Thailand Travels: A Quick Guide to Northern Thai Street Food

    [Photographs: Jamie Feldmar]

    You don’t see much Northern Thai food on takeout menus in America. Maybe it’s because the flavors of the mountainous, heavily forested region—bitter, spicy, delightfully funky—are harder to translate than the fried noodles and coconut milk curries popular further south.

    Maybe it’s because Northern Thais have a particular fondness for pig offal and blood, sometimes for breakfast. Maybe it’s because the staple of the Northern Thai diet, sticky rice, requires a labor-intensive process of steaming, turning and kneading before it’s ready.

    Portioning out a bushel of sticky rice at Thanin Market in Chiang Mai.

    Whatever the reason, it’s a pity that more people aren’t familiar with Northern Thai food, because it’s some of the most intriguing and satisfying in all of Thailand. Should you have the pleasure of finding yourself in Chiang Mai or its surrounding environs, keep an eye out for these dishes, all available from local markets and street vendors, that capture the taste and spirit of the region.

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  • Snapshots From Thailand: The Markets of Krabi

    [Photographs: Jamie Feldmar]

    When I went to southern Thailand this winter, it was a reunion of sorts. Years ago, I spent a month in Trang, a small industrial city that few people outside of Thailand (and many within) have ever heard of. I was ostensibly there to teach English, but I spent every spare minute hanging around the staff cook, trying to absorb her secrets through some sort of language-defying osmosis.

    During a school holiday, I went shopping at the morning market with the cook, and I’ve never been so overwhelmed and overjoyed all at once: bushels of futuristic-looking exotic fruit, blood-soaked fishmongers dispatching fresh seafood, and clusters of noodle soup vendors perfuming the whole joint with their spicy bubbling broths.

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    Mmm, offal soup.

    My Trang tenure years ago set the stage for my three-month Southeast Asian adventure this winter, and I intentionally saved Southern Thailand for last. I based myself around Krabi, a low-key town on the Andaman coast that’s popular with tourists as a jumping-off point for several mind-bogglingly beautiful tropical islands offshore. Many visitors give Krabi short shrift, stopping only long enough to drag their backpacks off of a bus and onto a longtail boat, but I camped out in a dingy budget hotel for one reason: markets.

    Krabi’s morning meat/seafood/produce market (aka the “wet market,” named for the water that that keeps live seafood kicking, fresh produce sprightly, and sprays down the cement floors each day) is ginormous, while the two Krabi night markets have a reputation as a street food lover’s paradise.

    Curry!

    Southern Thai food is markedly spicy, even by Thai standards, and many dishes have a distinct sour kick. Due to its proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia, a Muslim beat runs through the cuisine, too: rich coconut milk curries like Massaman are popular, as is spiced biryani rice and roti flatbreads. Fresh seafood abounds, while pork is virtually absent (it’s kept in a totally separate building at the Krabi wet market); fresh herbs, leaves, and Indian-leaning spices like turmeric make frequent appearances. It’s a lush cuisine—bold and colorful and endlessly complex—seemingly designed to burn itself into your cerebral cortex, both figuratively and literally.

    Thai doughnuts

    Of course, certain street snacks know no regional boundaries: the “processed meats on sticks” phenomenon that seems to have all of Southeast Asia under its spell is in full effect here, complete with Angry Birds-shaped fishcakes on skewers. Orange-hued fried chicken confronted me at every turn, not that I mind meeting fried chicken in a dark alley at night. Fried dough balls have a place in every culture, it seems, and here they take the form of butterfly-shaped crullers, served with cups of sweetened condensed milk and pandan sauce.

    I spent two nights in Krabi, at the tail end of my trip. I’d been on the road, mostly by myself, in a very foreign part of the world for several months in a row. I wandered through the night market as it was gearing up for the crowds; the calm before the storm, with vendors wooing me with samples of cinnamon-laced massaman curry and eggy pad thai. At the morning market, I was the only tourist in sight, and I was rewarded with a breakfast of a singular steamed fish paste curry and a biryani so richly flavored I’m still ashamed for ever thinking rice was boring.

    At the tail end of my fact-gathering mission, I realized that as soon as I thought I had things figured out, something else would inevitably come along to blow my mind (and palate). And really, that’s what I had been looking for all along.

    Here’s a look at ten more market eats from Krabi that I’m still dreaming of today.

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  • Thailand to collect tourism fee for insurance coverage of foreigners

    Published on : Saturday, January 16, 2021

    The National Tourism Policy Committee has permitted the proposed guidelines for collecting a 300-baht tourism fee from each international visitor for managing local tourist destinations.

    The money will also be utilized to provide insurance benefits to international tourists visiting Thailand.

    Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said that each foreign visitor will be charged US$10 (300 baht) per visit.

    Mr. Phiphat said that Thailand expects to receive around 10 million visitors this year.

    He said that the 300-baht tourism fee would ensure that foreign tourists who fall sick or are injured are taken care of and given adequate medical attention.

    The ministry will have to discuss the details with the Finance Ministry and the Office of Insurance Commission.

    Of the 300-baht fee, 34 baht is expected to be utilized for the insurance coverage, said Mr. Phiphat.

    Tourism permanent secretary Chote Trachu said that the fee collection was expected to start last year, but it was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    He said that the National Tourism Policy Committee has evaluated the situation and agreed that the tourism fee collection should start this year.

    With a second wave of outbreaks worrying many countries around the world, particularly during the winter months, triggering fresh new lockdowns, Thailand is expected to wait longer – until the second half of this year – to see more visitors fly back into the kingdom and revitalize the already suffering industry.


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