What happens when 130 travel writers, travel public relations representatives and their partners descend on Thailand for their annual ASTW (Australian Society of Travel Writers) conference?
Well lots of talking and drinking for a start but also a good exploration of what Thailand has to offer. Thanks to Thai Airways for getting us all there efficiently and comfortably and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for organising a great showcase of Thailand.
After a few days conferencing in Bangkok, we spread from one end of the country to the other. Judging by the rapturous ravings post conference on Facebook, everyone had a really outstanding time.
Here are some tips from seasoned travel writers and travel PRs for making the most of your Thailand travel experience.
- A very good but not cheap tailor is World Garments at 1302 New Rd - between the river end of Silom and the Oriental. Can have a suit in two days but you'll need to allow time for an intermediate fitting. See Mrs Keng. David McGonigal
- When booking on guest house websites take all the info given with a grain of salt. We found the photos were way better than the actual rooms and some claims of restaurants and bars were wrong. Jodi Clark
- Mix up your transport. Take a tuk tuk for the wild ride but make sure you have sufficient energy to barter hard and then sufficient energy to avoid being taken to his auntie's jewellery store or his uncle's knocking shop. Then take shanks pony (that's olden day talk for walking). Brave the streets then compare the airbrushed experience of a walk under Skytrain, where the hustle-bustle goes down a notch. Then catch a metered taxi. Make the driver put the meter on. Insist. It'll save you many, many baht. You'll also be able to put pink Corolla on your life CV. Then ignore the journey and make for a destination: Skytrain is ludicrously efficient. And so's the underground. Use these simple, hassle-free transports to recharge your batteries then go all tuk tuk again. Fail to do these simple things and you risk being overwhelmed by Bangkok and its 11 million. David Scott
- Try stir-fried morning glory – it’s delicious, particularly when paired with a Singha beer. If you’re staying around Siam Square and Patumwan, take a map and walk to the many nearby shopping centres (MBK, Siam Paragon, Central World). A Skywalk is available. Don’t forget to pack your smile and wear it – this is the Land of Smiles, after all.Kara Murphy
- Carry a pocket full of local sweets to give to any children trying to sell you tissues or lighters while you dine. Giving them a lolly makes their day - they are kids after all! After a massage, pay the owner of the salon then give at least a 10 per cent tip to your masseur. Jo Hegerty
- The Lumphini Night Market in Bangkok was well worth a visit. We went via the underground rail system which was easy to decipher and very efficient. The market was full of local colour and great bargains. Everything from fake designer undies and Tiffany to fish that eat the dead skin off your feet - yes, really! Another good place for shopping is the MBK Centre which also has the advantage of air conditioning. Everything is here from massages, clothes and shoes to a full food court. Quicker to walk or train it as the traffic can be legendary. Kerry Heaney
Here are some of my favourite Thai water scenes
Beach at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort, Koh Samui. Great place to stay. Very helpful Australian manager Luke.
Ang Thong National Marine Park - some of the 40 islands with stunning rock formations, coral reefs for snorkelling, great beaches for sunbathing, rock caves - has it all really!
Looking towards Ang Thong National Marine Park from Baan Taling Ngam Resort and Spa, Taling Ngam Beach, Koh Samui. Exceptional views from all rooms. Set high on a cliff overlooking the beach with beach access as well.
Koh Nanh Yuan - a delightful swimming spot where the fish came right up to us. Excellent snorkelling earlier at Koh Tao which was equal, if not better, than what I've experienced on the Great Barrier Reef.
Beach at Bandara Resort, Koh Samui