By Rama Gaind
THAILAND, as a vacation destination, continues to fascinate. There’s always something new that tickles your fancy and you’re galvanised to explore. What’s more, it looks like other travellers are also discovering its many delights.
The many appealing attractions of Thailand are no longer a secret.
The kingdom’s popularity as a holiday destination has been further sealed by readers of Travel + Leisure India and South Asia magazine as the World’s Best Country 2011 for leisure holidays and The World’s Best Wedding Destination 2011.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s deputy governor for marketing communications, Mr Prakit Piriyakiet, the award belonged to the “entire Thai travel and tourism industry for making Thailand such a wonderful destination for Indian visitors”.
“We are very happy that many Indian travellers consider Thailand to be the best country for their holidays as well as for tying the knot.”
Over the past decade, tourist arrivals from India have grown rapidly due to such factors as affordability, improved accessibility, facilitation and India’s growing economy.
India is today the biggest source-market for visitors from south asia and one of Thailand’s fastest growing markets overall.
In 2011, India became the sixth largest source market for Thailand with total arrivals of 916,787, up an equally impressive 20.27% over 2010 and close to double the 536,356 arrivals in 2007.
Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr Suraphon Svetasreni, says, “We project Indian arrivals certainly will cross the one-million mark by 2012. Effectively, they will have doubled in just five years—a remarkable achievement indeed”.
It was quite by chance that I learned of another means by which Bollywood had come to the capital—through Madame Tussauds Bangkok—the first world-renowned wax attraction in south-east Asia.
Speaking with Sonia Mohan (a guest from Dubai) in the hotel lobby, alerted me to this latest entertainment attraction and a chance to rub shoulders with world celebrities, famous politicians, A-list Hollywood stars, music celebrities heads of state, activists, sports heroes and heroines and even royalty.
The wax museum, in the Siam Discovery shopping centre, houses the newest collection of the biggest Bollywood superstars—Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan.
Here is where you can make the most of a revolutionary concept: be photographed as you touch, hug, play with or even kiss the exhibits!
While in the capital, stay at the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa which is a luxurious choice for lovers of peace, quiet and relaxation.
Nestled on the west bank of the majestic Chao Phraya River, it is an oasis of calm in the bustling city. Partake of happy hour at Loy Nam Bar, be game and try a couple (at least) of the 22 kinds of saki on offer at the Behihana or step into Numero Uno and be tempted by the smells of freshly, brewed coffee and rich chocolate. You’ll be amazed to learn that there are 305 different types of chocolate available!
If you would like to venture further, take a scenic drive from Bangkok to Samut Songkram, check out coconut plantations at Amphawa or seek a bargain in the many wooden row boats piled high with fresh produce at the Tha Kha Floating Market.
These are just part of some of the highlights of the Thai tourism industry’s ‘green’ initiatives, introduced by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, to promote an energy-saving and environmentally-friendly tourism schedule.
In a determined effort to create as little negative impact to the natural world as possible, Thailand’s global image as a dynamic destination will be further strengthened.
Rama Gaind was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa.
Contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Sydney, on (02) 9247 7549 or visit www.tourismthailand.org
Fast facts, visit: http://www.tourismthailand.org/about-thailand/
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