Thai hotels all set to welcome a wave of domestic travellers during Songkran: SiteMinder
Apr 01. 2021
By THE NATION
A much-needed wave of travellers is set to arrive at the doors of Thailand’s accommodation businesses during the upcoming Songkran festival, data by SiteMinder, a global hotel industry guest acquisition platform, showed on Thursday.
SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index shows that guest arrivals for the Thai New Year holidays represent more than 24 per cent of all hotel guest arrivals expected over the next 12 months.
The visible spike in arrivals follows the government’s extension of the holiday to six days to stimulate nationwide tourism and accommodate those travelling to their hometowns across the country.
Already, the wave of travellers has helped to accelerate Thailand’s hotel booking momentum, the index showed. Since February 1, hotel bookings have risen from below 25 per cent of 2019 levels to almost 50 per cent – only one per cent below the global average.
“The steady rise of year-over-year hotel bookings in Thailand that we have seen due to the Songkran festival has been very encouraging,” said Bradley Haines, regional vice president of Asia Pacific at SiteMinder.
“It’s pleasing to see the government actively creating an environment so encouraging of domestic travel. Until international travel meaningfully recommences, it’s these types of events that will allow local hotels to continue to provide viable options for Thai travellers in the months ahead,” he added.
Thailand, which has historically relied on international travellers for approximately 70 per cent of its booked hotel stays, has increasingly depended on domestic holidaymakers since the pandemic began. More than 86 per cent of bookings made for Thai hotels in March have been by Thai locals, compared to just 34 per cent in April 2019.
Bangkok currently ranks sixth in Agoda.com’s search lists, highlighting a resurgence of interest in international travel.
Vaccine rollouts, talk of Covid-19 passports and alternative hotel quarantine have triggered an increase in international travel searches, said the popular travel platform on Tuesday.
However, Agoda reported Thailand-based searches had zero international destinations in the top 30 this month, indicating Thais are happy to stay at home.
The platform said its search data highlights growing optimism across Asia that international travel will start to return, with Australia, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia witnessing an increase in the number of international destinations in their top 30 searches in March compared to December.
Travellers from these markets are joining China, Taiwan and Singapore in their optimism for the resumption of international travel, said Agoda.
“There are definitely reasons for the travel industry in Asia to start to feel more optimistic,” said Agoda CEO John Brown, citing vaccine rollout and tourism subsidy schemes such as TTogether in Thailand and GoTo Japan.
However, he said the pace of vaccination will vary, with markets such as Singapore fully vaccinated this year and others like Thailand, Japan and Vietnam likely waiting until 2022.
“So these heavily tourism-dependent economies need to consider how to accelerate the return to normality. … alternative state quarantine [ASQ], as launched in Thailand and Hong Kong, might prove to be a sensible solution in line with a vaccine programme.”
Agoda said it had collaborated with Thailand’s Public Health Ministry to allow Thai nationals and residents to choose their preferred ASQ accommodation direct on the travel platform. Agoda’s ASQ platform would offer the same flexibility to international tourists when Thailand opening its borders this July, the company said.
“With more markets exploring travel corridors [or “bubbles”], alternative state quarantine accommodation provides a solution to help resume international travel by enabling travellers to choose a quarantine property that best suits their needs,” said Brown.
The Greek physician and occasional philosopher Hippocrates, known as the ‘Father of Medicine’ put it best: “Nature itself is the best physician”
Although he wrote these words some 2,400 years ago, they have arguably never been truer than today. Even without a global pandemic, our fast-paced urban lives often disconnect us from the planet we inhabit.
But as we gradually recover from Covid, we can take the time to reconnect with nature – and with it find a sense of purpose and peace, benefitting both the body and mind.
A growing body of evidence suggests that spending time outdoors can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate.
So whether it’s swimming waters teeming with life or hiking peaks, the only question is which of these brilliant outdoor escapes to choose to help you re-set and relax like never before.
Snorkel in the Andaman Sea’s crystal-clear waters
The tropical paradise of Krabi in Thailand is home to Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort which lets you discover Hong Island, Paradise Island and Pak Bia Island by traditional longtail boat. This island-hopping excursion to visit some of the Andaman Sea’s best-kept secrets provides secluded havens for swimming in crystal-clear lagoons that teem with wildlife. Back at the Phulay Bay resort, guests can relax further in the stunning natural beauty of Krabi that surrounds them, be that exploring the surrounding virgin rainforests, glistening beaches and majestic waterfalls where the only timepiece you’ll need is the sun.
When you stay at Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, you’ll enjoy a complimentary round-trip boat excursion to Koh Madsum, better known as Pig Island. The tiny spot takes its name from the pigs that roam freely on the sand and in the jungled clad interior. It’s an idyllic environment in which to enjoy the perfect white sand beach, bathe in the clear blue ocean and marvel at the underwater world. The resort’s convenient location also makes it the perfect base to explore Koh Samui’s surprising and diverse landscapes and seascapes.
Hiking the trails of Taiwan
Taiwan’s mountainous hiking trails continue to draw walkers from around the world, visitors seeking the surprising and stunning walking routes which criss-cross the island. The capital is a fast-paced and buzzy urban metropolis, where W Taipei in hip Xinyi – the Manhattan of Taipei –provides a sanctuary of serenity and energy. But the city is also brilliantly connected to let you escape quickly to the hills. Located in the picturesque Yangmingshan National Park, Mt. Qixing, literally “Seven Star Mountain,” is the highest point in Taipei and offers outstanding views at 1,120m above sea level.
Close to the capital sits another spot enveloped in magnificent nature, Taoyuan, home to The Westin Tashee Resort, Taoyuan. Located in the forested hills, it’s perfect for ‘forest bathing’ as you immerse yourself in nature, but Taoyuan’s mountain range comes calling. Our choice would be the Full Moon National Forest Recreation Area. There, in the upper reaches of the Big Leopard Creek in the Three Gorges, on a tributary called the Gnat Creek, there is a beautiful world with stunning waterfalls and red maples to truly put the mind and soul at rest.
Hiking Hong Kong’s Trails
As a densely populated city with literally thousands of skyscrapers, it’s easy to forget that Hong Kong is also a natural wonderland, with countless trails, beaches, mountains and parks to keep even the most experienced hiker busy for a lifetime. The newly-opened Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel, situated in picturesque Tung Chung on Lantau Island, could not be better positioned to let you explore. The iconic Ngong Ping trail, Big Buddha and the challenging – but truly breathtaking – Sunset Peak are all right on your doorstep.
Over on the south side of Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel is another green urban retreat from the city center which reinforces the stunning diversity of the city’s landscapes. Connecting with nature doesn’t get easier as beautiful Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay are minutes away, while picture-perfect hiking and jogging trails lead through some of Hong Kong’s finest coastlines and country parks. Don’t miss the splendid coastal views of Sham Wan, Ap Lei Chau and Lamma Island, all while breathing in the fresh country air.
Exploring Japan’s mountain ranges
A magnificent destination for those seeking time in nature, Japan dazzles both first time and regular visitors alike with its panoramas, hot springs, coastlines, forests and mountains. Hidden in Japan’s northern Kanto region and set along scenic Lake Chuzenji, The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko offers a pristine haven where nature is revered. Your accommodations overlook Lake Chuzenji or Mount Nantai, while there are endless opportunities to connect with the natural world. The surrounding waterfalls, lakes, wetlands, hot springs and plateaus of Okunikko were shaped by long-ago eruptions of Mount Nantai, a revered landmark that rises high above you. Dynamic beauty awaits explorers, be they hikers, cyclists or paddlers.
The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa offers the magical island’s plethora of natural escapes and activities. Traces of the Ryukyu Kingdom era remain in the form of nine World Heritage Sites while beaches offer snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. Accompanied excursions include a 30km Cycle Tour of Cape Manza with a Hotel Guide, as you travel from hotel to a scenic spot known as “Manzamo” or ‘elephant nose!’. Alternatively, for adrenaline on water join their Mangrove Kayaking tour on the Hija River to see completely untouched wilderness at its very finest, or discover the remarkable preserved Yanbaru forest.
Fairfield by Marriott Michi-no-Eki offers multiple locations from which to explore untouched wilderness, whatever your preferred mode of transport. The newly-opened Fairfield by Marriott Mie Odai, southeast of the historic city of Nara, lets guests immerse themselves in nature by swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Miya River or spending the day fishing for ayu sweetfish in the river. For those who prefer mountains, the hotel is near some of the most famous hiking trails in Japan, including Osugidani and Mount Somon, while the breathtaking Nanatsugama Falls are also close by.
Bali’s waterfalls and rice terraces
Located in Nusa Dua, The Ritz-Carlton, Bali is set on 12.7 hectares of expansive and beautifully manicured beach-front and cliff-top land. This expansive property is already a natural wonder in its own right, thanks to unobstructed views of the Indian Ocean and its dramatic location along the sweeping coastline. The luxury resort reinforces The Ritz-Carlton’s commitment to inspiring life’s most meaningful journeys, including in Nusa Dua’s lush volcanic mountains and verdant rice paddies. These experiences highlight and reinforce the healing power of nature – but guests are also encouraged to discover why Bali is a destination where people seek peace and quiet in every sense of life.
Finally, to the magical Indonesian island of Bali, renowned as one of the most spiritual destinations anywhere, as well as an island of extraordinary natural diversity. The Westin Resort & Spa Ubud, Bali sits in the historical royal capital, nestled in stunning tropical terraces
lush green hillside and picturesque rice paddle fields. As if that wasn’t already enough, then abundant natural beauty can also be seen at Ubud Monkey Forest and Campuhan Ridge Walk, a free and easy nature trek which takes you through temples, bridges, shrines and rice paddies. Other easily accessible outdoor adventures include mountain biking, rafting and ecotours.
Pattaya City is ready to welcome tourists when more arrivals are allowed from April 1, governor Sontaya Kunplome said on his Facebook page on Sunday.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn had said earlier this month that area quarantine will be piloted in five provinces, namely Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani (Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan) and Chonburi (Pattaya).
Under the plan, tourists will quarantine in their rooms for the first three days and then undergo swab tests for Covid-19 at their hotel.
If they test negative, they will be granted access to the entire hotel or resort until their 14-day quarantine ends. After the quarantine is completed, they will be tested again. If they test negative, they will be allowed to travel freely in the area.
“So far, more than 20 venues in Pattaya have registered for the plan,” Sontaya said.
Phuket is back in favour with Thais, rising into the top three destinations for Thai travellers in 2021, according to booking data from Agoda.
Phuket has jumped from the fifth spot last year to No 3 behind Bangkok and Chiang Mai this year, leaping over Hua Hin (4th) and Pattaya (5th).
Beaches were the top attraction, said Agoda, followed by nature and scenery, then new food and dining experiences.
The holiday booking platform also highlighted heritage attractions such as the Phuket Mining Museum in Amphoe Khatu and the Jui Tui Shrine in the old quarter – both testament to the province’s Chinese influence.
Kayaking with underwater view
Other offbeat activities for visitors include kayaking at Paradise Beach, 4 kilometres from Patong Beach and has a great view right across Patong Bay. Acrylic-bottom kayaks offer a glass-clear window on the marine life below.
Agoda also highlights plane spotting at Mai Khao Beach, for a close-up look at aircraft coming in to land at Phuket Airport runway. From 10am to 2pm is peak time to take stunning photos with the white beach and clear sea as background.
Coral Island (Koh Hay) is known for its shallow coral reefs and wonderful snorkelling. Also on offer are banana boats and parasailing.
Meanwhile, Khai Islands comprise the three islets of Khai Nai, Khai Nui and Khai Nok, located 15 minutes by speed boat from Phuket’s east coast. Surrounded by corals with tropical fish, beautiful rock formations, and beautiful beaches, the islets are suitable for all ages. A private speed-boat charter is available for those who want a more personalised touch.
Maithon Island is a secluded paradise, home to a rich variety of birds, dolphins and tropical fish that can now be seen and experienced by a handful of guests at a time. Enjoy long walks and beautiful sunsets here. Getting to the island takes only 20 minutes by speedboat or 45 minutes by catamaran, operated daily from Phuket Deep Sea Port.
Thousands of tourists are flocking to Wat Kham Chanod in Udon Thani province during weekends after the temple reopened its doors to the public on Wednesday.
The temple stands on a lake that’s purportedly home to a fireball-breathing snake deity, but had been off-limits to visitors since December 24 due to the new wave of Covid-19.
Online reservations to visit Wat Kham Chanod can be made on the temple’s website, while temperature checks and limits on the number of visitors are also being followed as part of new Covid-19 measures.
Pongsak Srichana, Ban Muang subdistrict headman, said he expects up to 6,000 tourists to visit Wat Kham Chanod on Sunday, adding that about 7,000 tourists had visited the temple on Saturday.
“However, all tourists must strictly undergo measures to contain the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Tourists can visit Wat Kham Chanod every day from 8am to 4.30pm.
Ayutthaya to commemorate iconic Muay Thai master who stunned Burmese 247 years ago
ThailandMar 07. 2021Nai Khanom Tom monument at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
By The Nation
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province will organise an event to mark Nai Khanom Tom Day on March 17.
The event will take place at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province Stadium.
Provincial Governor Panu Yaemsri appointed his deputy Sarunphat Pramotaka to preside over the meeting on Friday in a bid to stimulate tourism.
The event commemorates the victory of Nai Khanom Tom, a famous Muay Thai master, against Burmese boxers in a tournament at King Mangra’s Palace on March 17, 1774.
King Mangra was so impressed that he reportedly remarked, “Every part of the Siamese is blessed with venom. Even with his bare hands, he can fell nine or ten opponents.”
King Mangra granted Nai Khanom Tom and his fellow-Thai prisoners freedom following the victory.
Later, King Taksin marked March 17 every year as Nai Khanom Tom Day to celebrate the Muay Thai master, while Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya people built the Nai Khanom Tom monument at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province Stadium.
Tourists can once again brave the mythical Naga that guards Wat Kham Chanod in Udon Thani from Wednesday, when the temple reopens its doors after more than two months.
The temple is situated on a lake that’s purportedly home to a fireball-breathing snake deity, but has been off-limits to visitors since December 24 due to the new wave of Covid-19.
Tourists can also try out the temple’s new wooden bridge, which stretches more than 100 metres to the lake’s island and offers spectacular views of the local scenery.
Online reservations to visit Wat Kham Chanod can be made at the temple’s website. Temperature checks and limits on the number of visitors are also in place as part of new Covid-19 measures, said Udon Thani’s deputy governor Chamras Kangnoi. Visitors from Covid high-risk areas will also be screened before entering, he added.